Session 9 Reading Response: Controversial Data

The reading suggestions for this week both discuss an important issue in historic data research, or any other research, lack of precision and usage of incorrect data. In E.W. Sanderson and M. Brown's "Mannahatta: An Ecological First Look at the Manhattan Landscape Prior to Henry Hudson" the two instances when human error is mentioned is during a reassembly of the British Headquarters Map reproduced by Cohen and Augustyn in 1997 where the two original pieces of the map are assembled incorrectly. The second error type mentioned is geometrical accuracy, where the errors may be due to problems with map assembly, reproduction of the map or miscalculations in the original surveys. In John Parker's "The Columbus Landfall problem: A Historical Perspective", a few controversial reports are described where various historians have tried to hypothesize about the landfall trajectory of Columbus through Cuban Islands, each describing a completely different event. Overall, both bring forth the importance of verifying sources and never consider one sole source as factual truth and always compare information from more than one source. In an effort to avoid fallacious and controversial data our group has been following the motto that "money does not lie" and we have opted for researching financial information about the private waste management companies towards lobbyists and campaign contributions.

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