How to Lie Using Maps

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Both of these maps were generated using the exact same information, however both maps portray two very different interpretations. Surprisingly enough, just like statistical data can be manipulated to show to sharply contrasting graphs, simply manipulating the legend and the number of buckets presented in the map can also skew maps, and produce two very different diagrams. Bucket is a term used to define percentage intervals represented by different colors on the map. These maps were generated by strategically merging two sets of given data, one set was the school district racial composition data used in the Sheff v. O’neil case and the other set was the Connecticut town boundaries based on the 2010 census.

Map 1 – Sharp Racial Differences

Key for Map 1







Map 2 – More Widespread and Diverse

Key for Map 2







First I entered the data as is and produced a general map. Then using the change the map style option I adjusted the buckets to two separate extremes. First I only used two buckets with a percentage interval from 0 .0 to 0.5 and from 0.5 to 1.0. By using only two buckets I was able to portray sharp racial differences for this specific Connecticut region. To produce my second graph I divided the map into eight percentage intervals (buckets). The eight buckets in this map started at 0.0 and increased by 0.125 until 1 was reached. In doing this I was able to produce a map with more colors thus portraying a more widespread diverse map. It took a matter of a few minutes to manipulate these maps and depict two completely different stories. This makes me think about maps I have analyzed and interpreted in the past and if they were possibly manipulated for what ever the reason maybe.