Different people "see" in different ways.
And there are many, many different ways people see differently.
Seeing maps is one (or more) of them.

"It's a good map." 

To those who easily use a map these are not "good maps."  They are, in fact, terrible maps, simply because they don't accurately represent the streets on the ground.  Representing streets is "obviously" an essential criterion for a street map. To those who can say, "It's a good map," that criterion is no better than "obvious but unobserved"—the "unobserved" is remarkably persistent.  We must conclude that some map readers cannot easily assess agreement between map and terrain. 


"Please give me a verbal description..."

This person was keenly aware that she did not see the relationship between map and streets.  She was very skilled at using verbal descriptions of routes.  (On the other hand, some people—I'm one of them—can't easily use a verbal description, perhaps because we don't easily remember verbal descriptions.) 

The use of maps resembles the use of the simple concepts of science in that we may need to take some "second glances"  before we can realize the full potential of the map maker's message. 

The problem is a little like dyslexia, which is a failure of one or more of the information processing steps that let us relate written manuscript to spoken language.  "It's a good map . . ." suggests a similar failure: failure to relate graphic representation of terrain to the terrain it represents.  Dyslexia wasn't recognized until recently in the history of literature, and it is generally seen as being unrelated to other facets of human intelligence.   A dyslexic person can be extremely intelligent by common measures of intelligence.   Once again, scalar ("g-factor") measure of intelligence blinds us to the reality of human complexity. 

To those many "It's a good map" people, the map errors remain "obvious yet unobserved."  Furthermore, the persistence and prevalence of the "terrible" maps is also "obvious, yet unobserved".   This "dyscartia" that parallels dyslexia is obvious yet unobserved.  Here's an interesting research topic for someone who would like to help people find their way in the world. 

Differences in seeing easily go unnoticed

...because if you "see," you find it hard to believe that anyone else would not.  And if you don't "see," it is virtually inconceivable that there is anything there to see.

Knowledge for Use.

Modern science and mathematics remains pervasively and  persistently unusable because it's unseen.  It requires ways of looking that are not quite the usual way of looking. Look Again!

Seek Eurekas.
"Although science education has been around for centuries, misunderstanding has pervasively and persistently overwhelmed understanding.  However, recent research suggests that understanding can be achieved, but that it requires concentrated thought working toward resolution of perceived discrepancies...and it will often be through a 'Eureka!' experience."
Understanding the flaws in these maps...

should come with on-the-ground experience with these maps.  Follow the lead of the Univ of Washington physics education researchers (follow the link to the left), and take your map for a walk in one of those areas where the map needs those red and green amendments.

Take some second looks at your map.

Return to Map Accuracy

The following are links to the Knowledge for Use web site.

Here are several second glances at simple (but subtle) science concepts for comparison with the problems with map reading.
With links to Knowledge for Use
Old way of seeing
not useful
New way of seeing
can be used to solve problems
"Energy" is seen as much the same thing as food or fuel, or at least as the thing that makes food or fuel useful to us.
The thing that makes food or fuel useful is seen as a complex of many influences of which energy is necessary but not sufficient.  Energy is profoundly abstract and is little more than its conservation law. Follow the science of silt.
Heat & Temperature
"Heat" is seen as virtually indistinguishable from temperature, the thing our skin's sense of temperature reveals to us.
Heat and temperature are seen as "stochastic" entities, things that follow certain statistical laws, much the same laws that govern casinos and which allow some people to take advantage of the many individuals who do not see those laws. What is heat?  What is temperature?
Distributing proportionately is seen as a group of additions.
Distributing proportionately is seen as a group of multiplications and divisions; as ratios. How do you apportion each person's share of the cost?
Rank Ordering
Comparing according to some measurement is seen as placing things in a line by "size."
Comparing according to some measurement is seen as placing things in a multidimensional array, the number of dimensions being the "degrees of freedom" of the measure. See like a bird.
The Cause
Effects are seen to have single causes and influences are seen to have single effects.
The world is seen as complex networks of causes and effects.  Understanding those networks requires a sense of multivariate relationships (Boolean relationships, for example). Become able to sense the logical relationships
...acquire faith in reason.
Symmetry - Fairness
Fairness is seen in terms of amount of personal advantage.
Fairness is seen in terms of symmetrical mutual reciprocity.  Symmetry is seen as a tool leading to new kinds of knowledge about things. What might lead something to be more fair to one side than the other?
Proof is seen as discovering an argument that confirms the hypothesis.
Proof is seen as a process of gathering all pertinent information and organizing and analyzing that information into a "theory" that improves your odds of anticipating outcomes of actions taken. Seek proof of any attractive hypothesis.

Anyone who wishes to become proficient with modern knowledge
must first master the modes of thought that underlie science.