Showing posts with label fact check. Show all posts
Showing posts with label fact check. Show all posts

Friday, September 19, 2014

Maps of How Scotland's Regions Really Voted

Good geographers know that maps can lie to you. Every map emphasizes some aspects of a place at the expense of others, giving it a lot of power to lead careless readers astray. Maps of Scotland's recent independence referendum are misleading us about the reality, even if not intentionally.

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Map of results in Scotland's September 18, 2014 independence referendum. Voters were polled on whether or not to separate from the UK. Map shows relative proportion of yes and no votes for each of Scotland's council areas, using a gradient rather than contrasting colors for small differences.
Map by Evan Centanni, based on blank map by TUBS and NordNordWest (CC BY-SA)
By Evan Centanni

Misleading Maps
By now you've probably heard the results of Scotland's independence referendum: voters chose "no" by a solid margin of 55% to 45%. Check out our previous article to learn more about what would have happened if Scotland had voted "yes".

Maps like this one from the BBC and this one from Wikipedia have popped up since the results came out, showing how each of Scotland's council areas voted. Most of the country is in red for "no", with a few "yes" areas in green.

But if one area went 51% for "yes", and another 51% for "no", those two areas actually voted almost identically - yet contrasting red/green maps make us feel like they're polar opposites (not to mention that one-in-thirty readers has trouble seeing the difference between red and green).

How the Councils Really Voted
Whether each area's people voted just over or just under 50% in favor isn't actually that important. What matters is how far the balance was tipped in each region. This is not the U.S. presidential election, where the final vote is actually made by delegates obligated to go by the majority in each state. All the votes across Scotland were pooled together to determine the result, so which side of the 50-yard line each area came out on has no effect .

Saturday, March 8, 2014

How Sharply Divided is Ukraine, Really? Honest Maps of Language and Elections

There's no question that Ukraine's current crisis arose from major political divisions in the country, and it's true that language is an issue. But some online news websites have sensationalized and exaggerated these divisions through misleading maps. PolGeoNow offers a pair of maps that better communicate the blurriness of the supposed lines between western and eastern Ukraine. 

(For a map of current events from January up to this week, including protester control, government occupations, and the Russian invasion, purchase our premium map of the Ukraine crisis or become a member.)

Map of the results of Ukraine's February 2010 presidential runoff election between Yulia Tymoshenko and Viktor Yanukovich
A more honest map of Ukraine's 2010 presidential election. By Evan Centanni.
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Article by Evan Centanni 

Misleading Ukraine Maps
In January, the Washington Post's Max Fisher wrote a popular map-illustrated blog post about the political and linguistic divisions fueling Ukraine's crisis, then at the height of its pro-Europe protest phase. Later, CNN followed the Post's lead and published a similar set of maps. However, the maps in both articles are designed in a way that makes the divisions look much sharper and more black-and-white than they really are. There's not, as Fisher preposterously claims, "an actual, physical line" splitting Ukraine in half. Instead, there's a gradual shading of mixed populations whose ethnic identities and voting history don't always correlate to the country's current political divisions.