“False Truths”: Ethics and Mapping as a Profession

Tom Koch



Think about this: You and your partner are the owners and operators of a struggling cartographic firm, Map-Off, Ltd. You are offered a lucrative contract, with more to come if they like your work, to make a map based on publicly available data (http://apps.nccd.cdc.gov/brfss). The client asks you to map healthy smokers over 70 years of age in the United States. You are free to find and use statistics (a barchart, for example), graphic images (of tobacco, of smokers, etc.) and anything else that will make your map the best statement possible. Your perspective client is the American Association of Tobacconists (AAT). Knowing that tobacco is a carcinogen responsible for the deaths of some but not all users, and some non-users affected by second-hand smoke, do you take the contract? Do you make the map?

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