Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Geography of Sin

Thanks to my colleague Bryan Baldwin for thinking of me when he saw this collection of maps from the geographers at Kansas State University. Bryan saw it originally in Wired magazine, and I found an additional story with somewhat different maps on a newspaper site in – wait for it – Las Vegas. The article is proof that geography can be about anything!

I like Abigail Goldman’s description in the Las Vegas Sun: “precision party trick — rigorous mapping of ridiculous data.” Be that as it may, these maps are excellent illustrations of what geographers (and other social scientists) call “proxy variables.” Lust itself is not mappable, but STDs are, and they probably have at least some correlation.

I would like to see one more map. Hypocrisy could be estimated by dividing the other variables by membership in Mean-for-Jesus fundamentalist churches or subscriptions to the publications of James Dobson’s Focus on the Family.

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