Saturday, November 18, 2006

World Happiness Map and Why Everyone needs a Geographer/Cartographer

Adrian White of the University of Leicester's Psychology Department has done research and created a map (PDF) showing the happiness level of countries.

Denmark and Switzerland are the happiest places on earth while Zimbabwe and Burundi come dead last. Mr. White avoided North Korea, Iraq, Afghanistan, Somalia, and a few others for somewhat obvious reasons.

Mr. White's methods were based on health levels, education, and prosperity. While this does ignore "environmental" issues I feel Mr. White's results are more realistic than the "World Happiness Index" which had Saudi Arabia as a happier place than the United States and said Catholicgauze was as happy as Cambodia.

Now for the second part of the post...

The map (be sure to take a look at THE MAP in PDF) will be published in the a psychology journal and will also be presented at a conference this year. It has been featured by many news organizations. Why am I making a big deal about this? Because the cartographer, the journal, the BBC, and every other internet source which covered it (I did searches) included other geography blogs have yet to notice and mention the horrible cartographic mistakes on the map! For instance:
  • Yugoslavia is back in full
  • Yemen is two countries again (the joined up in 1990)
  • Eritrea is shown as part of Ethiopia
  • East Timor is part of Indonesia
  • West Bank is shown as part of Jordan (which disavowed any claim in the mid-1990s to help setup a Palestinian State)

Several big errors noticed by no one! If anyone can find anyone else pointing these errors out let me know, but I have been unable to find anyone else in the know. The fact that these errors got past so many editors from so many organizations just shows how widespread geographic illiteracy is. In the cutthroat world of academia or the business world an incident like this could prove to be very counter productive and embarrassing. All the more reason for cartographers and geographers to be part of any group.


Daniel said...

My question: why are Arabians so happy when (apparently) Muslims as a whole, and even Arabs as a broad group, are not?

Catholicgauze said...

Shows a problem with the "happiness" methods. But Sweden has a higher suicide rate than the Arab countries.