Witches, 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.
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!
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.
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.”
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.
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. (http://storyofstuff.org/bottledwater/)
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.”
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!).
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?
February 11, 2010
The music soars, the camera pans across spectacular winter scenery or captures the flitting lines and shadows of an ice arena. An ultra-resonant voice slowly doles out evocative words. Enter an athlete graceful and powerful, a character with a narrative. In the final seconds, that athlete turns toward the camera as evidently instructed and tries not to look foolish and self-conscious while uttering the slogan words, “Do you believe?”