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The Not So United States of Infographics
August 1, 2014 3:51 AM   Subscribe

One of the more ubiquitous formats for "infographics" these days is the U.S.A. Map Comparing Individual States and promoting interstate rivalries. After all, wherever you live in the U.S. of A., you need bragging rights for something, right?

Recently, Business Insider featured "27 Maps That Explain America" including ones that compared each state's percentage of residents with passports, most overrepresented job in every state, percentage of each state's population with a 4-year degree, number of billionaires in each state, number of Starbucks locations in each state, states' stances on climate change (judged by Think Progress), fast food consumption and exercise frequency (detail in a weird format here and here), and cavities per capita.

But Business Insider is certainly not the only site 'mapping the states'...

The "Vizual Statistix" tumblr has a lot of interesting graphs, charts and maps, like: Average Annual Salaries for Full-Time State and Local Government Employees, Average Color of Each State Flag, Cattle and Calves Per Capita and Dedication to Academics and Greek Life at the Largest Four-Year University in Each State.

As part of Slate's “Experiments in Multimedia Journalism”, Josh Levin assigned each state one unique sport (with some fudging to separate major sports into High School, College, Pro, and for Baseball, 'Spring Training').

Related to the billionaires map is this charting of the single wealthiest person in each state.

The site for the 'Blowfish' (alleged) hangover cure has maps showing states' favorite beers and shots, as well as ranking states by per capita drinking, hangovers ("Vermont has the most breweries per capita" but the fewest hangovers?) and people who admitted calling in sick with a hangover.

United Van Lines charted state-by-state inbound/outbound migration of its customers.

Some maps are assembled as simply as Googling the state's name with the word "loves" (otherwise how would we know that Ohio Loves Pugs?)

And the real estate site Movoto likes to summarize data collected from Facebook likes, from theMost Liked Video Game Consoles to the Most Liked Breakfast Cereals (dominated by Cinnamon Toast Crunch and Special K... huh?!?) to the States With the Most State Pride (Otherwise how would we know Ohio loves Ohio? Well I did say wherever you live in the U.S. of A., you need bragging rights for something).

Among the states maps previously shown on MeFi: Cat States vs Dog States (part of the Cat/Dog Countries comparisons), Each state's most distinct favorite band or recording artist, The most famous books set in each U.S. state and The animated map of most popular girls' names by state from 1960 to 2012.
posted by oneswellfoop (29 comments total) 34 users marked this as a favorite

 
The "Half of America lives in these counties." graphic really shows how useless any of the maps that are just state-by-state collection since each state is so dramatically divided internally into dense and sparse counties.
posted by octothorpe at 4:31 AM on August 1 [11 favorites]


A careful and considered look at which countries in the world are into anal
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 4:40 AM on August 1 [1 favorite]


Yes, Brandon, but it's too bad they didn't do the list of Anal States in map form...
posted by oneswellfoop at 4:45 AM on August 1


Looking at Brandon's link (which is, as if you couldn't guess, probably NSFW), you'll see that despite the 'Massholes' slur, Masachusetts ranks pretty low on the "who's looking for anal porn" list. New Hampshire, on the other hand ....
posted by Kirth Gerson at 4:47 AM on August 1


...most overrepresented job in every state...

Indiana: Boilermakers

I know getting a degree can seem like hard work sometimes, but attending Purdue is not a job.
posted by Thorzdad at 4:49 AM on August 1 [3 favorites]


And would you believe I forgot to include the states map that inspired me to do this post in the first place? "The Most Common Cause of Death That THEY Keep Covering Up" by state.
posted by oneswellfoop at 4:51 AM on August 1 [3 favorites]


I recognize "The Most Popular Band in Every State" from seeing it earlier (I believe on Metafilter, though I'm not 100% sure); it's actually the band whose popularity in that state is most significantly higher than its popularity in the average state, which is an entirely different thing than "the most popular band" in the state. And beyond that, if I remember correctly, the methodology used to arrive at determining which bands should be on that map was blatantly stupid in the first place.
posted by Flunkie at 5:13 AM on August 1


I love that the most common cause of death THEY keep covering up in Florida is Florida.
posted by lordrunningclam at 5:28 AM on August 1 [1 favorite]


BI shows no billionaires in 11 states. Movoto's map of the wealthiest person in each state has only three. How can a state with Christy Walton not have any billionaires?
posted by MtDewd at 5:36 AM on August 1


She buys a lot of those fancy handbags.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 6:06 AM on August 1 [1 favorite]


Metafilter: if I remember correctly, the methodology used was blatantly stupid in the first place.
posted by Herodios at 6:07 AM on August 1


Related to the billionaires map is this charting of the single wealthiest person in each state.

I didn't realize the Koch brothers lived so far apart. I always imagined them living together like the Collyer brothers, only buried under stacks of cash instead of old newspapers.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 6:12 AM on August 1


A careful and considered look at which countries in the world are into anal . . .
     . . . but it's too bad they didn't do the list of Anal States in map form.
          . . . despite the 'Massholes' slur, Masachusetts ranks pretty low on the "who's looking for anal porn" list. New Hampshire, on the other hand . . .


I guess it's up to me to point out that the 'favourite sport' map, Slate says Ohio's favourite sport is: cornhole.
 
posted by Herodios at 6:36 AM on August 1 [2 favorites]


BI shows no billionaires in 11 states. Movoto's map of the wealthiest person in each state has only three. How can a state with Christy Walton not have any billionaires?

I know there's at least one billionaire in Iowa but the BI map doesn't show him. Maybe he officially lives in the Caymans or something...
posted by the christopher hundreds at 6:52 AM on August 1


Slate says Ohio's favourite sport is: cornhole.

. . . and shouldn't it actually be Calvinball?


I didn't realize the Koch brothers lived so far apart. I always imagined them living together like the Collyer brothers . . .

Where can we say that a cat with 40 billion dollars, at least three houses, a Manhattan apartment and a 240-foot boat actually lives?
 
posted by Herodios at 7:00 AM on August 1 [1 favorite]


Oh man, having your cat be a billionaire CEO who can't pay taxes because they're a cat but who you happen to cohabitate with and do their all their work is the best tax avoidance scheme ever.

It's certainly just as legitimate as those towns that elect cats and various farm animals to be mayor.
posted by kiltedtaco at 7:09 AM on August 1 [1 favorite]


Don't be L7, daddy-o.
 
posted by Herodios at 7:23 AM on August 1


I'll just leave this here.
posted by freelanceastro at 7:28 AM on August 1 [3 favorites]


I didn't realize the Koch brothers lived so far apart.
Can't say I blame them.
posted by Flunkie at 8:05 AM on August 1 [2 favorites]


There is no way that state pride map is right. The only way I can believe Ohio is the #1 proudest, is if they based it on how much Ohioans like "Ohio State".
posted by gueneverey at 8:27 AM on August 1


Desli.de works!
posted by the man of twists and turns at 8:47 AM on August 1 [1 favorite]


maps don't explain
posted by oog at 8:58 AM on August 1


... most overrepresented job in every state ...

New Mexcio: physicists!

But we still have Governor Martinez (R), climate-change questioner and "friend of businesses" (in other words, repeal any thing that might be a "burden on businesses," like minimal regulations on GHG emissions).
posted by filthy light thief at 9:07 AM on August 1 [1 favorite]


New Mexcio: physicists!

well, You need all those physicists to decipher the alien technology from Roswell and the secrets of the Anasazi...

seriously, New Mexico has 2 major national labs-sandia and los alamos (which mean watermelon and cottonwood respectively and sound like awesome code names) so not really surprising.
posted by bartonlong at 9:19 AM on August 1


I am permanently resentful that New York City skews these things to The Bonfire of the Vanities and complaints about the subway. Upstate should have its own subcategory where we can put Theodore Dreiser, literary novels about North Country despair and chicken riggies.
posted by Snarl Furillo at 9:30 AM on August 1 [1 favorite]


Pretty sloppily done article - most were graphs cut-and-pasted from elsewhere on the web, and the theoretically new maps have obvious errors - the cavity one, #23, doesn't even have a legend explaining what the colors mean.
posted by fermezporte at 11:10 AM on August 1 [1 favorite]


They didn't "Explain America" to me, but did raise a lot of questions:

Why does Alaska have such a high passport rate?

Why are there so many psychiatric techs in Missouri?

Why are so many people moving to South Carolina?

Why is Utah so devoted to the Red Sox and the Yankees?

Why is William such a predominant name for boys in the South?

Inquiring minds want a lot more info.
posted by marsha56 at 12:26 PM on August 1


Inquiring minds want a lot more info.

These maps were obviously not made for "inquiring minds", just for the mass of Internet Users who like pretty colors and people with acquaintances in other states they want to forward a "AHA" link to.

How can a state with Christy Walton not have any billionaires?

Somebody couldn't believe that any of the Walton Siblings could possibly reside outside Arkansas. Just one thing about this kind of 'dis-infographic' I did this post to point out.
posted by oneswellfoop at 2:19 PM on August 1 [1 favorite]


Why does Alaska have such a high passport rate?

Because everyone who lives there fantasizes about getting as far away from it as possible?

(I kid, I kid, Alaskans. I'd have made the same cheap joke about my own home state.)
posted by The Underpants Monster at 12:22 PM on August 2


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