Fake, P.C. #NativeHistory ‘map porn’ storms Facebook

Fake, P.C. #NativeHistory ‘map porn’ storms Facebook
Imaginary map scratches bias itch. (Map: ScientiaOmniaVincit via Reddit and Facebook)

If you weren’t sure America’s schools are turning out a whole lot of people of, shall we say, uneducated potential – well, dither no more.  Certainty can be yours.

A fantasy map of North America, posted in a Reddit forum on 6 August, has taken Facebook by storm – and with it, the impressionable minds of hundreds of thousands of Facebook members.

The original map was an exercise in projecting what North America might look like in 2015 if there had been no colonization by Europeans.  As the comments at Reddit indicate, the original map made quite a number of, um, uneducated errors.  But the important point for now is that the map never purported to reflect any kind of historical reality (and it didn’t).  It was an essay in alternative-history imagination.

America before colonization…. I’ve never seen this map in my entire 25 years of formal education. Not in one history…

Posted by International Indigenous Unity Flag on Saturday, August 15, 2015

That didn’t stop Facebook peeps from seizing on the map and sending it viral, with comments like these:

America before colonization…. I’ve never seen this map in my entire 25 years of formal education. Not in one history book or one lesson. This is not a mistake… Representation matters!!! ‪#‎NativeHistory‪#‎BeforeAmerica

I’m heartbroken to know that I’ve never once seen this in schools.‪#‎beforeamerica ‪#‎nativehistory This is so important, I’m so happy to be able to share this.

America before colonization. this is an actual factual map,, apparently never seen in an american history book ever…….‪#‎NativeHistory‪#‎BeforeAmerica

Have you ever seen this?
I LOVE maps!
Really changes the way you think about American History.
‪#‎NativeHistory ‪#‎BeforeAmerica

As of this writing, the map has been shared on Facebook more than 343,000 times.  It’s all over Twitter too.

Occasional LU contributor Caleb Howe, in his benchmark post on this at RabbleWriter, points out that the folks experiencing this imaginary map as an epiphany are having a bout of confirmation bias.  He’s right on the money, I think.

It’s not just that Americans have been left in woeful ignorance about actual history, which makes them prey to foolishness as well as to false claims made with evil intent.

It’s that too many Americans have been taught to assume that modern life is a titanic struggle to peel back layers of falsehood about the past, and hold rituals of indignation about them.

American students have been taught to expect that a Dead White Male conspiracy has been plotting against history and trying to keep them from knowing its truths.

This is primitive-fabulist anti-empiricism, perfectly compatible with a life that is parochial, suspicious, narrow-minded, economically stunted, spiritually fatalistic, and intellectually primordial.

And – congratulations, taxpeeps – it’s the product of America’s education system.

The tragedy of indoctrinating our people with a primitive-fabulist mindset is that it makes them too complacent about their biases to do any due diligence.

But the comments at the Reddit forum, again, are a good place to start if your mind is still a frisky beast, and you don’t just accept whatever bias-confirming presentation comes along to make you feel good about not being a hater.  I agreed with a number of the criticisms about the imaginary map offered by the commenters, and learned new things from others.  Far from being steeped in enforced ignorance about the indigenous peoples who lived in the Americas before organized European exploration began, we have an extensive – and growing – body of knowledge to draw from.

It’s encouraging that there are still many people out there who have acquired actual knowledge, and prize its value enough to pursue it.  Caleb Howe found one map representation of the indigenous peoples at the time the first Spanish explorers arrived; a Twitter user posted another one, as an antidote to the Confirmation Virus spreading on social media with ScientiaOmniaVincit’s imaginary map.

The Reddit user who started it all didn’t mean to dupe anybody.  But we’ve produced a generation with a very large number of Americans who for all practical purposes dupe themselves.  That’s going to take some undoing.

J.E. Dyer

J.E. Dyer

J.E. Dyer is a retired Naval Intelligence officer who lives in Southern California, blogging as The Optimistic Conservative for domestic tranquility and world peace. Her articles have appeared at Hot Air, Commentary’s Contentions, Patheos, The Daily Caller, The Jewish Press, and The Weekly Standard.


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