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TOK: the map, the territory

December 28, 2013

Wow!  Have a look at the ten maps picked out on the website Atlantic Cities as top ones for 2013.  ”The map is not the territory”, quoted from Alfred Korzybski, has been used repeatedly in TOK as a metaphor for the idea that beliefs about reality are not the same as reality itself.  Moreover, our symbolic representations (visual images, languages) are not neutral and objective records of the world but equivalent to maps, selected and shaped by our perspectives and intentions.  As our knowledge grows, we map it with new symbols or even new systems of symbols.  This is core TOK. But it’s not very often that these concepts of reality and representation are quite so graphically refreshed.  Do check out this article:  “Our Favourite Maps of 2013.” 

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guest blog for Hallowe’en: children, adults and the supernatural

October 31, 2012

witchWitches, fairies and even vampires—the world of supernatural beings is the stuff of children’s stories because, we assume, children are more likely than adults to “believe” in these exciting creatures.  We’re not often sure how fully children believe in such supernatural beings, but we do expect adults to draw a line more firmly than children between creatures for whose existence there is no scientific evidence and those for which there is—chickadees, gilla monsters, and paramecia.

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Filed under: TOK meets Global Citizenship — Tags: , , , , , , — Eileen Dombrowski @ 12:04 am

The Debunking Handbook

January 6, 2012

In a very simple model of knowledge, we accept ideas — believe them — on the basis of good justification.  The more the evidence and the better the reasoning, the more likely we are to believe a knowledge claim.  Alas that such a fine idea should be flawed!

Read more on The Debunking Handbook…

Filed under: TOK meets Global Citizenship — Tags: , , , , , — Eileen Dombrowski @ 5:49 am

TOK meets global citizenship: INDEX

January 3, 2011

Below (following “Read more”), you will find

1.  tips on how to search this blog most effectively

2. key terms on which I have developed ideas thematically.

My hope in writing this regular blog is to connect the critical thinking developed in TOK with important topics in the world relevant to the development of global citizenship. These companion interests of mine both deal with gaining better knowledge of the world, with appreciation of perspectives and well-justified conclusions.  Both deal with the logical, practical, and ethical implications of process and conclusion.  Thereafter, they diverge. TOK focuses on awareness, understanding of knowledge, and clear thinking; global citizenship takes the next step (possibly through CAS) into education for action.

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Numbers and Believers

November 2, 2010

The Power of the Number

Vivian Toy’s recent article “Sometimes, Lucky Numbers Add up to Apartment Sales“ in The New York Times (October 22, 2010) starts with “Emily and Willis Loughhead, whose lucky number is 19, included it in bids for an Upper East Side condo. They later learned the sellers’ twins and Mr. Loughhead share a birthday: April 19. “It’s amazing how much it shows up in our lives,” he said.”

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Filed under: TOK — Tags: , , , , , — Chris White @ 9:59 am

TOK and literature 2: believing and knowing as subject matter

September 15, 2010

Since long before the IB was founded and TOK created as a subject, literature has been dealing with ideas that are intimately connected with many topics we raise in TOK. As a teacher of literature myself, I came to TOK with a sense of familiarity, first noticing the similarities then, as TOK came into focus for me, increasingly seeing the differences. I invite any teacher of both literature and TOK to add to the few thoughts that I offer here.

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International Water Day: bottled water and “manufactured demand”

March 23, 2010

Happy International Water Day!  This 8-minute video called “The Story of Bottled Water”, released for the occasion, is done by the same Annie Leonard who gave us “The Story of Stuff”.  It deals with “manufactured demand”, or the creation through advertising of a desire for something we don’t need.  (

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Filed under: TOK meets Global Citizenship — Tags: , , , , , — Eileen Dombrowski @ 4:28 am

magic tricks and belief

March 12, 2010

Don’t watch this video if you faint over needles.  I had a hard time watching it to the end, but was far too interested in magic and belief to stop. Magician Eric Mead, in context of TED talks, does a couple of tricks on video and comments simultaneously on the placebo effect:  “For some time I have been interested in the placebo effect, which might seem like an odd thing for a magician to be interested in, unless you think of it in the terms that I do, which is something fake is believed in enough by somebody that it becomes something real.”

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Religion and the brain

March 10, 2010

Lionel Tiger, an anthropologist from Montreal Canada, claims that religious beliefs are neurological. He argues that beliefs in God(s) are remarkable processes that exist consistently across most communities. He sees religion as pushing us to harbour feelings of guilt and concede personal control, but also allowing for participation in democratic processes and the creation of community. Overall, in Tiger’s mind, belief is neurologically soothing. He contends that the brain creates religion, yet does not rule out the possibility of the existence of God(s). Tiger’s explorations of religion differ from earlier anthropological explanations that base themselves in social needs, rather than cognitive processes (although not sure it strays entirely from Malinowski!).

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Filed under: Social and Cultural Anthropology — Tags: , , , , — Laura Fulton @ 7:06 am

Olympics 2: patriotism for profit and pleasure

February 18, 2010

What harm would it do to join the party?  I could wear my BELIEVE hat and scarf, wave my red mittens, and cheer on our Canadian athletes in the Olympics.  All the fun seems to be on the inside, so do I want to be a sour grouch on the margins, throwing stones?  I commented earlier on the CTV BELIEVE campaign, and must now face the question: am I doing any harm by accepting the jumble of factual assertions, values, predictions, and soaring emotion?

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Filed under: TOK meets Global Citizenship — Tags: , , , , , , , — Eileen Dombrowski @ 3:28 pm
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