‘Local weather Change’ Map Trended On Twitter – Instance Of How Misinformation Can Simply Unfold

The Thios map was created by Bret Dräger and published for the first time on December 26th on The Arcadian Ideal blog. … [+] 2015 as “The Mediterranean of America”.

Bret Dräger

On Tuesday afternoon, a map was posted on Twitter that supposedly looks like what the US would look like 30 years from now if climate change is not addressed. The map indicated that the central part of the country would be flooded while much of the coast would remain intact. Anyone who knows anything about the dangers of rising sea levels could quickly see that the map was wrong.

User @ mrj880 completely jokingly posted the map with the caption, “Scientists say this map will represent the US in 30 years if we don’t reverse climate change.”

@ Mrj880 told me on Twitter, “I thought it might get the reaction, but I never expected that many. I thought at some point in Italy people would sit there and say, ahh, you got me. But it seems to have arrived at this perfect place where people go into their corners and scream. “

That short tweet actually became one of the hottest science topics on Tuesday. It was liked more than 22,000 times and had around 8,200 responses. Many were quick to shout that this was not correct, especially as the flooded areas looked too much like the coastline around the Mediterranean, but it sparked a real discussion nonetheless:

“I think a key component of this is how the eyes work,” added @ mrj880. “People didn’t see Europe straight away, it’s almost as if the negative space was more defining than the European continent.”

Some users also replied on Twitter for a more accurate “worst case” map:

Not about climate change

Obviously, in the age of social media, few really did the research, as a quick Google search revealed that the map was created by Bret Dräger and, on the 26th, “It shouldn’t suggest what the United States might look like if sea levels rise, but rather.” rather, show how the size of the Mediterranean corresponds to that of North America.

“I had the pleasure of cruising around the Mediterranean a few years ago. My wife and I had so much fun exploring the historical places and artifacts and the life of foreign cities, ”Dräger wrote in his blog post. “I thought it wouldn’t be great if the Mediterranean wasn’t so far away?

“Well, I’ve examined maps and globes and found that the Mediterranean Sea is at the same latitude as the United States,” he added. “If only it were possible to turn the Mediterranean Sea on our side of the planet? Would it fit? What impact would that have? What about the states … new coastlines in the middle of the country … new relationships … torn states “?”

The author took the time not only to lay the sea over the United States, but also gave names to the waters and islands, including the Illinois Sea, the Great Salt Islands, and the Confederate Sea. The last one should clearly be an indicator that this map has not been made in the past few years! He also noted that “Michigan is losing a large part of its ‘mitten’ and the Upper Peninsula is becoming the state it always wanted to be, Superior.”

As Dräger explores the country in detail in his blog post, he concluded: “If I were a writer, I would like to explore the alternative history of the United States in this new version. Anyone want to deal with it?”

Dräger told me by email on Wednesday morning that he was surprised that it was now attracting attention.

“I was just proud of the idea at the time and I thought the Mediterranean was at the same latitude and could fit into the United States,” he added. “I posted it on Reditt and found that a lot of people with alternative histories thought it was an interesting idea. That led to some surprisingly interesting stories about how the Great Sea would create new stories in the middle of the United States. “

He also noted that after making the first map, he made a “Mediterranean of Australia” and he was pleased to see that it really went well with China too, and even turned the Mediterranean eastward and overlaid China.

“I decided to mirror it so that the opening on the Strait of Gibraltar would be on the coast,” said Dräger. “My thought experiment was carried out as far as it could easily be.”

The spread of misinformation

The fact that his card was trending in a completely independent way this week should show how easily misinformation and even disinformation can be spread. Obviously there are some who were at least partially serious about the post. This shows the power Twitter has in sharing information, even if it seems almost ridiculous.

“People don’t want to take the time to check this out and see if it passes the smell test,” said Jason Mollica, program director and lecturer at the American University School of Communication

“There is really no end in sight to this kind of spreading of misinformation,” Mollica told me in a telephone interview on Tuesday afternoon. “Too often, social media shows how people believe what others have posted, be it an infographic, meme, or story. That’s the biggest problem with social media today. We are a society that believes something and accepts it as legitimate because it is shared on social media even if it does not match what they have read or taught. “

The more followers a user has, the more nonsense can appear credible.

“It takes advantage of the ‘gotcha’ angle people have in our culture,” Mollica said. “If a post goes against what experts say, rather than questioning it, the post can be used to dispel much of what they may have done in the past. Then when more people get involved, it can be in trend and then gain credibility. ” . However, it does not mean that it is true. “

The question is whether such contributions do any harm here. The map creator didn’t even think about climate change while @ mrj880 probably posted it jokingly too.

“Unfortunately, even when something is posted out of humor, we’ve seen people pick it up and someone take it seriously,” said Mollica. “It will make a conversation and that doesn’t always mean it will be positive.”

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