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Join the conversation! There are now 13 comments on “What were they thinking? pg 19
  1. Alectric says

    Extra History is now doing a series about this on YouTube!

  2. Gabriel Russell says

    Because then twice as many people want it as don’t.
    Seems like a fair ratio.

        • It’s not the same because different seats within a state legislature usually come up for election at different times it takes longer to get that many people supporting something into the key positions. This would then potentially enforce a sort of discussion time before a state’s decision could be given. It would also provide a limit on the sort of mob rule that happened in France during the reign of terror.

          I am mostly just coming up with reasons of the top of my head though, so the real reason may be completely different.

        • Even so, state populations are not equal, so two thirds of state legislatures does not guarantee representation of two thirds of the people.

  3. Antistone says

    It’s the simplest fraction greater than 1/2

  4. armorsmith42 says

    Did they have orange chalk back then?

    I assume not…but did they? That would be cool.

    • Sadly, that’s another one of my convenient anachronisms. Although students had been using white chalk on slates since the 11th or 12th Century, colored chalk (dyed chalk powder compressed into sticks) wouldn’t be invented until 1814. Nowadays we don’t even use chalk; gypsum is the powder of choice. And slate has been replaced with porcelain or even with matte paint.

        • And a brilliant invention it was, too!

          William Playfair was a Scottish engineer whose buddies praised him for making easy-to-digest visual representations of complex, non-obvious data. In 1801, he tried to show the world. To demonstrate that infographics were really useful for political statistics, he published a volume of statistics about European nations with accompanying charts. He used circles to visualize area (he said people had a better grasp of the size of the planets than of their own countries, because spheres and circles are easy to comprehend). But he wanted to show lots of data all at once, not just area. And he also wanted the interrelationships between the different data to be apparent. To accomplish this, he invented the bar graph, comparative line charts, and the pie chart.

          The second illustration in the book shows the land area of various nations, their population, and their tax revenue. It also shows population per square mile, and how steep the taxes per person were. He also thought it important to show how much of a country’s land was where. And in the first two countries you can see the invention of the pie chart take place.

          First was the Russian Empire, with a bit of land in Europe and a lot of land in Asia. To represent this, he drew a big circle for the total area, and a smaller core circle to represent the European bit. It’s a little misleading, because a core appears to have more area than it does, while the outer rind appears smaller than it is. There was room for improvement.

          Next, was the Turkish Empire. It had land in Europe, Asia, and Africa. Three concentric circles would have really been confusing. So he ditched the idea, and instead divided the circle into pie wedges. A quarter for Europe, about sixty percent for Asia, and the rest for Africa. The world’s first pie chart!

          [The German Empire posed a more difficult problem. Its land area was divvied up among Austrian, Prussian, and Other interests. But their political influence didn’t correspond to their territory. So he had to use a combination of a pie chart AND a venn diagram to represent it all! (Also, in the 1804 edition, he decided to add the new United States for comparison. He showed it with a concentric dotted line outside the Turkish Empire. Neat!)]

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