Posted On: Saturday - October 23rd 2021 5:04PM MST
In Topics:   Cars  Curmudgeonry  Artificial Stupidity  Geography  Female Stupidity
The recent Steve Sailer post Taliban Fail to Think Globally, had Mr. Sailer's quick thoughts and lots more of the commenters', on men's vs. women's ability to navigate using a map. Most of what the discussion was about* was summed up by iSteve thusly:
I recall a mid-1990s meeting at work to create our firm’s first home page on the World Wide Web:True dat, too - he "got" the web early on.
Woman: “To help visitors get to our office, let’s have street instructions like ‘Turn right on Lake Street then left on Clinton.'”
Man: “Let’s have a map instead.”
Woman: “Does anybody really look at maps?”
Me: “You know, on the WWW, we have room for both.”
Yes, men and women have different style brains. That works for us, if we let it. That means, as usual, by ignoring the feminist BS. Yes, men are much better in general with spatial thinking. Woman aren't, and I will give the reader a couple of anecdotes shortly. It's OK, too - we can laugh at each other, but how about women just appreciate this ability in the realm of navigation, and let us do what we ARE good at.
After 25 years of GPS being affordable to all, initially in aviation, but quickly for the automobile, some would say that the skill of map reading is like the skill of blacksmithing over a century ago - no longer necessary. I don't agree.
In the aviation world, indeed GPS position information has made flying safer and enabled more efficient routes and approaches. Situation awareness has been made easy, especially after the evolution from simple position/speed information to CRT graphics to full color moving maps. The skill of pilotage, a combination of map reading and pattern recognition may be lost to most pilots, but it can always be handy for certain situations.
Navigation on the roads has changed immensely too, but in a different way. Those who had a hard time using a map have it much easier, and the map reading skills of those who WERE good at it may be atrophying. It's the same story - if you navigate the old way when you don't need that GPS crutch, you keep up the skills.
There's more to it than that, though, for driving, from what I've noticed. In the aviation world it is still important to know where you are in general. For driving, with the moving map calculating the route, showing turns to be made, and now, telling you each step, you may not need to know where in the world you really are. I mean, I've seen people who have lived somewhere for years still use these things to get home. I'm sure they can remember the turns after a while, but that's not my point. Without having looked at the big picture on maps, these people really don't know where they live, in the context of the world around them.
I.e., if you've been using a map, you know "this road takes you on the north side of the lake, so you come right at this road where the first bridge is." or "This highway goes around the northwest side of town, to hook up with road southeast toward Cedar Rapids." When relying on GPS with voice instructions, you do not ever get this picture. You just blindly follow.
I know a certain boy who could be taught to read a map at 6 y/o. I missed a turn on a 200 mile road trip. I missed the one turn after we stopped for gas right at that intersection by just pulling out of the gas station oriented 90 degrees off. 20 miles down the road, after we arrived at the next town, it was obvious we were headed the wrong way. Rather than retrace, I pulled out the old road atlas, and figured out the best way toward the original route. My boy saw those roads and acted like the GPS voice, though much more pleasant, to steer me through 3 turns on the right way, from the back seat.
Meanwhile, around the same era, the boy’s Mom, having gone the simple way – with only 6 turns – to the judo place already 4 or 5 times, had run out of the monthly data plan on her phone (due to the same boy having used it for something or other, haha) and went ahead and paid $4.95 to get her app back in business to guide her to Judo. There were only 6 turns, and 3 of them are ones we take all the time.
“C'mon, Mama, it’s so simple! Whaddya’ need, refresher data? It’s all maps nowadays!”.
My wife will turn them on a few times when I have gotten lazy or it is worth using (on a long road trip at night, diverting to a certain store well off the route to get a birthday cake, for example). I am very glad we had the device. Alternatively, I would have had to print out a large scale map ahead of time, studied it good, and got my wife, no wait, my kid, to use it to guide me - it's not safe for me to try to read a map and drive at night.
However, she's a bit insistent on using the GPS as a crutch, not trusting that the skill of navigation is not lost to me. I'll get her to at least turn off the sound, if she is insistent on keeping this app going on her phone.
Now, FINALLY to the point and an explanation of the post title: Have you heard the sound from these things lately? I really believe the software developers were told by marketing to turn these apps into NWAs - that would be Nagging Wife Apps. I'm guessing only some of you Peak Stupidity readers have experienced the newest versions of these things. They will nag you and hound you. I mean, you get told 3 times coming up to a turn about making sure to keep right, it’s coming soon, etc. Both me and my boy kept going “OK, we got it!”
Maybe the audio prompts (invariably a women's voice) could throw in some additional admonishments like "You never listen to me, do you?", "You're as stubborn as your father is.", or "You did that on purpose, didn't you?" Heh! (Thanks, Mr. Anon.)
How'd these new app people do their research, family ride-alongs? From TomTom** to NWA was, IM(not so)HO, a big step in the wrong direction.
Well, finally, to wrap things up here, Peak Stupidity would be remiss in not including this great scene from our favorite old TV show The Office. As I wrote, you just blindly follow:
* The title refers to a tweet noting that some head Taliban guy doesn't know where Afghanistan is on a globe.
** A Netherlands based company that was one of the first - mid-'00s - to market these GPS based nav systems for cars.
[UPDATED 10/27:] Added Mr. Anon's humorous take, regarding the female instructions for the newest NWAs.