Accidental Maps: Unintentional Cartography

Image via Strange Maps.

Strange Maps has a terrific post up right now about accidental maps; when something takes the uncanny shape of an actual geographic item of cartography (not to be confused with fauxtography — yes, there is such a thing). I know that we’ve all seen things like this a lot, and while the post’s collection of pics is very satisfying, they are indeed looking for more submissions:

(…) In its most general definition, this experience of seeing patterns in random data is called apophenia – a term that also covers the phenomenon of ‘false positives’ in statistics, for example.
A more specific type of apophenia, applicable here, would be pareidolia: perceiving significance in stimuli that have none. This perceived significance is usually more revealing of the perceiver than of the stimuli,which is why this principle is used in Rorschach (i.e. inkblot) testing. It also might explain why it’s often the devout that see images of Jesus on a piece of toast.
But, as mentioned before, sometimes the stimulus is just too convincing, the pareidolia too blatant. This blog already covered a few examples of cartographic pareidolia (Britain in a cloud, #154, and Jamerica, #268). Here are a few more examples that have trickled into the Strange Maps mailbox over the last few months, and a few others found adrift on the internet. If you have a nice picture of a cloud that looks like Denmark, an Alaska-shaped inkblot on your school book, or any other form of accidental cartography, please send it in and I will add it to this post! (…read more,

The comments are great, including a reference to a book called “All Meat Looks Like South America.” In further investigation, I found the entertaining Flickr pool, Looks Like A Map. I mean, who can resist tectonic toast?

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