Upsidedown Earth

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Abu Bishr

Senior Member
Afrikaans, South Africa
Hi Guys

Apparently, our current perception of the earth with North on top and South at the bottom is an artificial perception. An alternative perception is North at the bottom and South on top as shown in this link, or East on top and West at the bottom, or vice versa. Now, when you take a look at the upsidedown map of the world (provided in the link), you'll realize just how much perceptions and perspectives are conditioned by society for the upsidedown view seems almost wrong. You feel inclined to want to turn your head so as to view the map of the world from the perspective that you are accustomed to. It is the same with time, for example, the beginning and end of the year, or beginning or end of the week, and so on, or the beginning of the day starting by the international date-line, such that the East is before and the West behind in time.

Now for the question: Does the current map of the world influence our view of the world, and the way we perceive things in it, and is there any benefit in having two or multiple maps of the world in the world like driving on the leftside or rightside of the road? Also, what if we make Africa the center, would that make things different from what they are now? Or should there be no center?
 
  • maxiogee

    Banned
    English
    Well as our brains 'correct' the images our eyes send them by inverting them, can anything be said to correctly aligned in our perception of it?

    Maps ought to be banned from classrooms and replaced by globes. That's the only 'fair' way of presenting the earth to young minds. Anything flat is going to be a distortion no matter how the 'projection' is achieved.
    I can see the merit of south-over-north as an equally valid presentation, but I'd argue about east-over-west, as the concept of our rotation about the polar axis and our angular alignment vis-a-vis the Sun and the other planets tends to support north/south presentation.
     

    TRG

    Senior Member
    english USA
    I could be mistaken, but doesn't the northern hemisphere have the most land mass and the most people and would arguably be therefore the most important.:D
     

    elpoderoso

    Senior Member
    English
    That was quite strange, looking at that map I started to think Africa was Britain and Australia was Iceland.
    I guess I was looking for shapes to (kind of) fit what i expect on a map o' the world.
     

    ireney

    Modistra
    Greek Greece Mod of Greek, CC and CD
    Hi Guys


    Now for the question: Does the current map of the world influence our view of the world, and the way we perceive things in it, and is there any benefit in having two or multiple maps of the world in the world like driving on the leftside or rightside of the road? Also, what if we make Africa the center, would that make things different from what they are now? Or should there be no center?
    Not to me at least. You want Greece to point upwards? Fine. My dyslexic part would have a hard time when I was growing up if I had to memorise both maps (it's a long story) but right now you can turn it anyway you want. I always used key land masses to navigate myself and they are still there whichever way you look at the map.

    Africa in my mind is sort of in the centre :) You see I look at things from a European outlook and in looking at the map (in my mind) Europe is in the centre. That means that Africa is in the centre. Add to that that Africa always helps me navigate myself toward the right way to look for my miniscule country (it is easier for some reason to find Africa --> Egypt --> Greece than pinpointing anyother landmass/country) and you can put Africa wherever you want. It will still be the same for me.

    Not only from a geographical point of view. Africa is Africa , the American Continent is the American continent Eurasia is Eurasia.

    The point is I maybe using (as everytone else does) geographical terms for convinience's sake but I don't consider any place as superior or inferior or whatever because of its location on the map/compass. Maybe it's because Greece culturally belongs to both the East and the West and is South for Europeans and North for Africans. Maybe it's because I always kept in mind that what is the Far East for us Europeans is the West for the American continent. Maybe it is for a completely different reason.
     

    . 1

    Banned
    Australian Australia
    The maps that I see have Australia at the centre and I just can't find the country that is at the centre of my Earth Globe;) .
    There would be far too much confusion engendered by two versions of maps.
    All proper maps follow the same convention of North being up and this saves confusion when reading them.
    I would imagine that the fact that a compas points North could have something to do with the North is up convention.

    .,,
     

    maxiogee

    Banned
    English
    The maps that I see have Australia at the centre and I just can't find the country that is at the centre of my Earth Globe;) .
    There would be far too much confusion engendered by two versions of maps.
    All proper maps follow the same convention of North being up and this saves confusion when reading them.
    I would imagine that the fact that a compas points North could have something to do with the North is up convention.

    .,,
    Compasses also point south! The "north" end is only painted onto one end of the needle! ;)
     

    Athaulf

    Senior Member
    Croatian/Bosnia, Croatia
    Apparently, our current perception of the earth with North on top and South at the bottom is an artificial perception. An alternative perception is North at the bottom and South on top as shown in this link, or East on top and West at the bottom, or vice versa. Now, when you take a look at the upsidedown map of the world (provided in the link), you'll realize just how much perceptions and perspectives are conditioned by society for the upsidedown view seems almost wrong.
    But why stop there? Why shouldn't we also consider rotations by ever smaller angles, ultimately allowing for any relative orientation of the vertical and North-South directions? :D

    Now for the question: Does the current map of the world influence our view of the world, and the way we perceive things in it, and is there any benefit in having two or multiple maps of the world in the world like driving on the leftside or rightside of the road?
    That would be a good analogy -- just like the conventions about the driving side, the standard map orientation is an arbitrary convention, but once it has been established, there are significant benefits from everyone adhering to it.

    The reason is that when a human brain is used to recognizing the details of a certain well-known image, the ability for such recognition breaks down almost completely when the image is rotated by more than a small angle. This phenomenon is very effectively illustrated by this well-known optical illusion: http://www.hemmy.net/2007/01/07/mona-lisa-illusion/.

    When people learn geography, they learn to recognize the patterns of the shapes on the map. For the reason explained above, rotating the map would make this recognition much more difficult. Thus, anyone who ever needs to use a map benefits from the maps being oriented in a standard direction, thus making them easy to use for everyone.

    Also, what if we make Africa the center, would that make things different from what they are now? Or should there be no center?
    On most of the world maps I see around, Africa is right in the center, and any convex subset of a plane necessarily has a center point. So I'm not really sure what you're trying to ask here. :confused:
     

    Athaulf

    Senior Member
    Croatian/Bosnia, Croatia
    Maps ought to be banned from classrooms and replaced by globes. That's the only 'fair' way of presenting the earth to young minds. Anything flat is going to be a distortion no matter how the 'projection' is achieved.
    Globes are unfortunately impractical for most of the purposes for which world maps are used. If nothing else, annotated maps of the world are an indispensable means of presentation in literature dealing with any sort of worldwide statistics. I would say that the ability to read such maps quickly and easily is one of the more important goals of education in world geography.
     

    Jigoku no Tenshi

    Senior Member
    Venezuela-Castellano
    Hello Everybody!

    Today President Chavez made something similar Today when you see a map, left to right, it starts with Alaska, and ends with Russia, So Chavez used a Map where left to right it starts with Africa and ends with Brazil, if you can imagine it, you could see that Asia it's not that far away from America as you could think when you see a standard map, so as you can see, it could provide some advantage, see the map I attached and tell me if it doesn't feel like Asia is closer than it feels with a satandard map
     

    Attachments

    Abu Bishr

    Senior Member
    Afrikaans, South Africa
    The interesting thing about the map that Jigoku provided is that the Far East does not seem so far anymore. Incidentally, how did the term "Far East" come about? Also, Australia is not the only country that is downunder. Another interesting thing is that the Americas (North & South) become the Far East. This, obviously, is on condition that we keep the directions on the map constant.

    As for my suggestion to make Africa the center while it is already in the center on the standard map, is maybe for me , that is, it is not really in the center. It is in the center by default and not for its own sake, since the current map is Eurocentric, and not Africocentric., it just so happens that Africa whilst in the center with Europe is still under Europe.

    My point at the end of the day is that particular perspectives and paradigms are limitted and limitting, and once stuck in a paradigm it is often difficult to get out of it, as that paradigm becomes your comfort zone and point of reference. It often blinds us to the new insights provided by other perspectives and paradigms.
     

    danielfranco

    Senior Member
    And one should mention that the Mercator projection (much beloved of grade-school teachers), however useful for navigational purposes, also imposes a false sense of the relative sizes of continental landmasses. Because the latitudes are spaced apart in increasing amounts, the further away from the equator, the larger the landmass appears in the map. I wonder, had we all been taught Geography with an equal area map instead of the Mercator projection map when we were little, would we still think that the Northern Hemisphere (even if you'd live there) is more important than other parts of the world? I mean, Africa would be this humongous piece of real estate right smack in the middle of the world, and other places like North America would seem relatively puny in comparison.
     

    ireney

    Modistra
    Greek Greece Mod of Greek, CC and CD
    Abu Bishr the Far East was named Far East by the Europeans for which the Far East is admitedly far and east.
    I'm afraid I cannot very well understand the problem with Africa being below Europe. If you reverse the map Europe will be below Africa. I'm not sure what that will change. Do you honestly think that people cannot be prejudiced against Northeners and proud do be Southerners? :) ;)
     

    Abu Bishr

    Senior Member
    Afrikaans, South Africa
    Okay, Guys, I'm not going to try and defend this position, because at the end of the day it is not be a very defensible position, I have to admit. I should've chosen another continent :eek: . Maybe it's because I suffer from some sort of inferiority complex because I come from the bottom tip of Africa, Cape Down, I'm sorry, I meant to say "Cape Town" :D .

    Anyway, that is not my main point. My main point is to try and encourage looking at the world from a different and fresh perspective like rearranging the furniture in one's house. Who knows it could make a difference in the way we perceive people and the countries they come from, albeit not a big difference.
     

    Athaulf

    Senior Member
    Croatian/Bosnia, Croatia
    And one should mention that the Mercator projection (much beloved of grade-school teachers), however useful for navigational purposes, also imposes a false sense of the relative sizes of continental landmasses. Because the latitudes are spaced apart in increasing amounts, the further away from the equator, the larger the landmass appears in the map. I wonder, had we all been taught Geography with an equal area map instead of the Mercator projection map when we were little, would we still think that the Northern Hemisphere (even if you'd live there) is more important than other parts of the world? I mean, Africa would be this humongous piece of real estate right smack in the middle of the world, and other places like North America would seem relatively puny in comparison.
    The Gall-Peters projection does exactly that. It horribly distorts the shapes of the areas remote from the Equator, though.

    However, I don't think that the relative size of landmasses really influences anyone's thinking about the "importance" of individual parts of the world. Even on the Mercator map, Europe looks tiny compared to the other continents. Mercator's projection inflates significantly only the wastelands of Northern Canada and Asian Russia and the frozen polar landmasses.
     

    Thomsen

    Senior Member
    English USA
    I think that the only benefit derived from having a map oriented in one direction is that we have a standard reference. There are 360 degrees we could have chosen to split the Earth around. I don't see how choosing any particulr one effects perception. The North/South divide is economic and cultural, not geographic.
     

    maxiogee

    Banned
    English
    The North/South divide is economic and cultural, not geographic.
    I disagree. If there was a whopping great desert in the middle of Europe there'd be a very different economic divide. Imagine if, for the last several thousand years, the Sahara spread from Madrid in the west to Moscow in the east and from Athens in the south to Stockholm in the north - what sort of a world would we have?
     

    . 1

    Banned
    Australian Australia
    The North/South divide is economic and cultural, not geographic.
    How?

    I live in the Southern Hemisphere but, superficially, my life is virtually indistinguishable from that of a North American and there is no way to identify me physically or genetically as Southern not Northern. I wear the same clothes and eat the same foods (even the brands are the same)and use a monetary system that is practically identical. I drive the same cars (same brands) and speak the same language. I watch the same films and television. I speak the same language and live in a democracy that developed from the same basis as North America's democracy. My standard of living based on yearly expenditure on consumer goods is equal to or better than 90% of North Americans. The only way for a person to identify me as being a Southerner rather than a Northener is a very slight accent shift but even this is variable as many Northerners sound quite like me.
    It boggles my mind to think that the Equator is being used as a cultural marker.

    .,,
     

    Thomsen

    Senior Member
    English USA
    I disagree. If there was a whopping great desert in the middle of Europe there'd be a very different economic divide. Imagine if, for the last several thousand years, the Sahara spread from Madrid in the west to Moscow in the east and from Athens in the south to Stockholm in the north - what sort of a world would we have?
    Ooops, yeah, I should have said our perception of geography, not of course its physical realities!

    How?

    I live in the Southern Hemisphere but, superficially, my life is virtually indistinguishable from that of a North American and there is no way to identify me physically or genetically as Southern not Northern. I wear the same clothes and eat the same foods (even the brands are the same)and use a monetary system that is practically identical. I drive the same cars (same brands) and speak the same language. I watch the same films and television. I speak the same language and live in a democracy that developed from the same basis as North America's democracy. My standard of living based on yearly expenditure on consumer goods is equal to or better than 90% of North Americans. The only way for a person to identify me as being a Southerner rather than a Northener is a very slight accent shift but even this is variable as many Northerners sound quite like me.
    It boggles my mind to think that the Equator is being used as a cultural marker.

    .,,
    Exactly. Sorry I was using UN speak and not expressing myself clearly. But basically, what you said is what I meant, you just put it more eloquently.
     

    swyves

    Senior Member
    UK English, Living in Peru
    1: A compass needle point South exactly as much as it points North

    2: a friend of mine published an map of California with the state North-up on one side and South-up on the other. Most people using a map of the state are driving, and most (given the geography) are headed basically north or south. For driving south a South-up map is much easier to use, as you don't have to (a) mentally flip the map to navigate or (b) hold the map upside down and read the place names that way!
     

    HistofEng

    Senior Member
    USA Eng, Haitian-Creole
    There may possibly be something innate in the way our brains are wired that tells us "Where ever the compass points is up"
     

    maxiogee

    Banned
    English
    There may possibly be something innate in the way our brains are wired that tells us "Where ever the compass points is up"
    You mean that our brains were hard wired to cope with something which was only discovered thousands of years after we evolved? Unlikely, surely?

    More likely our brains were hard wired to deal (in terms of navigation) with the rising and setting of the sun. In Irish the word for south is derived from "on the right hand" and the word for "to the left" is the same as "against the direction of the sun" - which would mean that the ancient Irish aligned themselves by facing the rising sun.
     

    HistofEng

    Senior Member
    USA Eng, Haitian-Creole
    You mean that our brains were hard wired to cope with something which was only discovered thousands of years after we evolved? Unlikely, surely?

    Why is this unlikely?

    Our brains were/are hardwired to deal with the natural environment. But we have since built a technological world (replete with conventionalites) around us to suit or comply with our instincts (the way are brains are hardwired). The conventions we use may be caused by innate qualities of our senses.

    In the past the convention might have been east and west (as has already been stated I think) but this convention may have changed to north and south in some societies based on the invention of the compass.
    Conceptualizing the direction a compass points to as "up" may be a convention that is, at least somewhat, based on our neurology (certain modalities in the brain).
     

    . 1

    Banned
    Australian Australia
    Why is this unlikely?
    Is it possible that we share something with many other animals. Many animals seem to be able to navigate north south. Perhaps all life on Earth has evolved with some sense of magnetic orientation and that oritentation could be towards North.
    I am very aware that this is completely off the top of my head and I have utterly nothing to support it other than a fertile imagination.

    .,,
     

    maxiogee

    Banned
    English
    Is it possible that we share something with many other animals. Many animals seem to be able to navigate north south. Perhaps all life on Earth has evolved with some sense of magnetic orientation and that oritentation could be towards North.
    I am very aware that this is completely off the top of my head and I have utterly nothing to support it other than a fertile imagination.

    .,,
    Most animals seem to be able to navigate - end of story. The migratory ones don't seem to confine themselves to north/south, but travel laterally and diagonally (as we see those 'directions') from what I have seen of David Attenborough's programmes. It is known that some species of birds make long flights, even at night, when they can navigate by the sun's position. How they cope at night is not yet understood.
     

    Noel Acevedo

    Senior Member
    Puerto Rico, español
    Abu Bishr:

    It definately does influence. Like the very first map mentions, we see everything from an "Eurocentric/US perspective. Europe and the US dominates the world politically, econoimically, militarily; it's as if they are telling the rest of the world who is on top, who is the boss. During the second world war, Japanesse maps had Japan siting right smack in the middle and proportionately larger than what the islands truly are; just to let people know they were the boss. Just think of every space movie around. The crafts, from earth or alien, always show up looking at the planet "right side up" the way we have been taught to know it. Why even when NASA gives us views from a wandering space shuttle or station it's always "right side up" The Aussie who came up with the idea of the "upside down map" really hit a button.

    Noel





    Hi Guys

    Apparently, our current perception of the earth with North on top and South at the bottom is an artificial perception. An alternative perception is North at the bottom and South on top as shown in this link, or East on top and West at the bottom, or vice versa. Now, when you take a look at the upsidedown map of the world (provided in the link), you'll realize just how much perceptions and perspectives are conditioned by society for the upsidedown view seems almost wrong. You feel inclined to want to turn your head so as to view the map of the world from the perspective that you are accustomed to. It is the same with time, for example, the beginning and end of the year, or beginning or end of the week, and so on, or the beginning of the day starting by the international date-line, such that the East is before and the West behind in time.

    Now for the question: Does the current map of the world influence our view of the world, and the way we perceive things in it, and is there any benefit in having two or multiple maps of the world in the world like driving on the leftside or rightside of the road? Also, what if we make Africa the center, would that make things different from what they are now? Or should there be no center?
     
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