Using Maps to Lie

A few days ago, “Geographic Travels with Catholicgauze” had a great post about the size of the crowd at Jon Stewart’s “Rally to Restore Sanity“.
It seems that conservatives have been passing around an image that shows Glenn Beck’s rally with a much larger crowd, but the images were taken from slightly different viewpoints to make thing look different than they actually were. He uses some great images (with overhead maps) to show that the rallies were roughly the same size.

beckvstewartorg.png

You’ll want to read his full post to see how he put it all together, but it makes sense.
The reason I bring this up is because GeoEye just released a beautiful high-res image of the crowd that day. While it doesn’t definitively answer the question of which rally was larger (and I’d rather avoid the politics of determining that), it certainly shows quite a huge crowd at Stewart’s rally:
stewart-rally.jpg

To view it in Google Earth, I’ve taken the high-res version of the image and created an image overlay for it. Download that file and you can zoom down pretty close to check it out.

About Mickey Mellen

Mickey has been using Google Earth since it was released in 2005, and has created a variety of geo-related sites including Google Earth Hacks. He runs a web design firm in Marietta, GA, where he lives with his wife and two kids.



Comments

  1. nickvet419 says:

    Hmm… I did my own calculations using an area calculation tool. I simply outlined the crowds and removed the area for the reflecting pool, street, and lawn where there were voids in the crowd. Here are the numbers I came up with…
    Beck’s Crowd:
    100871.17 m²
    0.10 km²
    24.93 acres
    1085768.26 feet²
    0.03 square nautical miles
    Stewarts Crowd:
    112762.75 m²
    0.11 km²
    27.86 acres
    1213768.16 feet²
    0.03 square nautical miles
    So, even though it seems like Beck has the bigger crowd from the pictures, Stewart did have the larger crowd area. Now, you still have to factor in the density of the crowd to get the true numbers of attendees, but this shows pics can be deceiving.

  2. Rationalist says:

    Good comments. However, I have to ask the question,… when do photos transition from lies to a snapshot of truth…? The midterm elections told the real story.

  3. Rationalist says:

    Good comments. However, I have to ask the question,… when do photos transition from lies to a snapshot of truth…? The midterm elections told the real story.

  4. I can’t stand all the wretched fighting in politics, but thought that people who are reading this post would also find this entry on the Photosynth web log to be of interest.
    http://blogs.msdn.com/b/photosynth/archive/2010/10/31/comparing-crowds-on-the-national-mall.aspx

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