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Introducing Geographic Information Systems with ArcGIS: A Workbook Approach to Learning GIS, 3rd Edition by Michael D. Kennedy

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You Ask: “What Is GIS About?”

A poem “The Blind Men and the Elephant” tells the story of six sightless men who approach an elephant, one by one, to satisfy their curiosity.

It was six men of Indostan

To learning much inclined

Who went to see the Elephant

(Though all of them were blind)

That each by observation

Might satisfy his mind.

The First approached the Elephant,

And happening to fall

Against his broad and study side,

At once began to bawl,

“God bless em! But the elephant

Is very like a WALL!”

The Second, feeling of the tusk

Cried: “Ho! what have we here

So very round and smooth and sharp?

This wonder of an Elephant

Is very like a SPEAR!”

The Third approached the animal,

And, happening to take

The squirming trunk within his hands,

Thus boldly up and spake:

“I see,” quoth he, “the Elephant,

Is very like a SNAKE!”

The Fourth reached out an eager hand,

And felt about the knee

“What most this wondrous beast is like

Is mighty plain,” quoth he:

“’Tis clear enough the Elephant

Is very like a TREE!”

The Fifth, who chanced to touch the ear,

Said: “E’en the blindest man

Can tell what this resembles most;

Deny the fact who can,

This marvel of an Elephant

Is very like a FAN!”

The Sixth no sooner had begun

About the beast to grope,

Than seizing on the swinging tail

That fell within his scope,

“I see,” quoth he, “the Elephant

Is very like a ROPE!”

And so these men of Indostan

Disputed loud and long,

Each in his own opinion

Exceeding stiff and strong

Though each was partly in the right

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