I have a penchant for maps, as some of you know.

They are remarkable feats of human cognition - not only in our capacity to create them, but for our ability to discern from them the relationship of places and things on vast scales.   All of us can draw a simple diagram of places in the sand, and all of us can understand them instinctively.

Maps reveal a little bit of genius in all of us. 

And as a communicator, I have an interest in the visual image as a persuasive vehicle for abstract ideas.  

At their best, images like maps are data-rich treasure troves, delivering at a glance and in an instant a complete download of useful information.

At their worst, they're the perfect canvas for propaganda and agit-prop.  Cheap to produce, easy to replicate distortions of reality to leverage fear, hate or anxiety. 

The Economist has assembled a remarkable collection of maps used - depending on your perspective - to inform, persuade or deliberately distort. 

Thanks Paddy Blewer for pushing this my way.