Map #50: July 31, 2017

Difficulty Level: 8

July is Cal Poly Month here at Weekly Map. This map was made by an undergraduate student in Cal Poly’s data science program.

This map is a choropleth of the states of the United States. (Do you need a refresher on what a choropleth is? Visit our “Basics” page for a quick primer.) On this map, each state is shaded in accordance with a particular statistic. States with a darker shade have higher values for the statistic in question. This map has a logarithmic scale, which means that the darkest states have a lot more of the statistic in question than the lightest states. Your job is to figure out what statistic is represented by this choropleth.

Stumped? Check back Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday for hints about where to focus your investigation. The answer will be posted on Monday, August 7. Good luck!

Tuesday’s hint: The first thing to notice about this week’s map is how dark Maine is. As we mentioned above, this map has a logarithmic scale, which means that Maine has by far the most of this statistic. It’s a per capita statistic. Can you find some categories in which Maine leads all other states? You should be able to find quite a few such categories, since Maine is a unique and interesting state. In fact, if you start googling fun facts about Maine, you’ll find a lot of categories in which Maine ranks first. Does any of them fit the rest of the map?

Wednesday’s hint: One interesting feature of this map is the opportunity to compare neighboring states. Look how much darker Wisconsin is than neighboring Minnesota. These are states that have a lot in common. But what are some special aspects of the culture of Wisconsin?

Thursday’s hint: Another interesting discrepancy on this map between neighboring states is that Utah is considerably lighter than all of its neighbors. We had a previous map on which Utah was fairly light—Map 44, our map of tobacco smoking percentages. We attributed the low smoking rate in Utah to the large Mormon population. What else might Mormons do less than non-Mormons (be specific!).

Friday’s hint: This is a per capita map, so you’re looking for the thing that each state has the most of per person. The entire state of Mississippi has in total nine of these things. Contrast that with Bend, Oregon, a city of some 90,000 people, which has a remarkable 22 (and counting?).