Map Quest

Meet Alabama weatherman James Spann. Between oppressive heat, thunderstorms, and tornadoes, James is very busy keeping residents informed of dangerous weather. If only they could read a map.

According to one frustrated Birmingham weatherman, James Spann, the U.S. has a geography literacy problem. Spann, chief meteorologist at ABC 33/40, asked on air, “If I were to give you a blank map with no labels, no highways, just county lines and state lines, could you draw a dot within 50 miles of your house?”

As an experiment, Spann visits rotary clubs and other venues near him to ask adults this same question. The answers have been cloudy.

Well, the first problem is you’re talking about people from Alabama. I’m kidding, don’t send hate mail.

“I would give them a blank map with county lines and state lines, and I would say put a dot within 50 miles of your house,” Spann (@spann) tells Here & Now’s Jeremy Hobson. “In most every situation, at least 60, 70 percent could not do it.”

Spann thought there was something technically wrong with the maps he was posting. But after getting the help of a group of social scientists, he found that most people just can’t find their house on a map.

Alabama jokes notwithstanding, this does not surprise me. Cellphones and the internet have made people dumber and lazier. They expect to find the answers to all their questions online, but when the internet is down or the phone’s battery dies, they are completely lost.

You should always be aware of your surroundings, and you should also be familiar with the areas surrounding your home. That information may save your life someday.

10 thoughts on “Map Quest

  1. It amazes me that little emphasis is placed on the basics of learning these days. No cursive, no civics, minimal geography. Many kids have no idea when it comes to north, south, east or west either. The dumbing down continues. It makes the masses much easier for the elites to handle and control.


  2. Most weather maps show Alaska and Hawaii next to each other and south of the USA. I worked with a woman that believed this was their correct location. She did have a small problem with one having palm trees and the other with snow.


  3. But the problem is, no one born after 1970 was taught basic geography in elementary school. Got in the way of sex ed, I suppose.

    And most likely what passes for sex ed these days was what was hidden behind the counter at the newsstands and was labelled “adult” reading back in my youth.

    (Got me up on a soap box again.)


    1. One of the most fun things I remember from grade school was memorizing the state capitals. My kids still learn geography, but they go to Catholic School, so…


      1. My siblings and parents used to sit in a circle on the floor at night and draw states’ & countries’ names out of a jar. The one who drew the name read the slip of paper, everyone else tried to be the first to name the capital. (Our TV was on the blink a lot back in the sixties. It was a way to pass time and learn stuff.)


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