Zak Ziebell, then a 17-year-old San Antonio senior, challenged 30 people to sketch a map of the world, then combined them into a vague smudge. Then he produced this unnervingly realistic map of the alternative Earth lurking in his subjects' collective memories.
"Just to give an idea of the population sampled, I did this in the summer of 2012 at the University of Michigan Ann Arbor campus," wrote Ziebell, who is planning on majoring in studio art and history, in a thread at Reddit. "Most were 18-22, and there was a roughly even split between male and female. I'm pretty sure they were all American except one Italian guy."
Added the high-schooler: "Before anyone calls me out for participating in my own study, this really wasn't meant to be scientific at all, just a fun side project."
A selection of the original maps, as sketched by the participants, reveals a wide range of skill and knowledge. One includes details such as the Falkland Islands and Lake Victoria. Another is hardly more than two shapeless blobs.
"Nobody drew East Asia or Italy that well," wrote Ziebell.