Transforming the meaning of evidence and truth

This morning I read a post at Engadget titled Researchers make a surprisingly smooth artificial video of Obama "Their program grafts audio-synced mouths onto existing videos." The post describes the process used by the University of Washington researchers: "The researchers used 14 hours of Obama's weekly address videos to train a neural network. Once trained, their system was then able to take an audio clip from the former president, create mouth shapes that synced with the audio and then synthesize a realistic looking mouth that ...

Alternative Facts

This week a post on The Adventures of Library Girl (a blog by written by Jennifer LaGarde,  the Lead School Library Media Coordinator/Digital Teaching and Learning Specialist for New Hanover County Schools in Wilmington, NC.) titled Fake News, Alternative Facts and Librarians As Dedicated Defenders of Truth pushed me to think about the idea of Fake News and how librarians, classroom teachers, ICT teachers and schools in general have been working for decades to help students sort the wheat from the chaff when ...

CONTEMPORARY ART and THEORY OF KNOWLEDGE

 I recently spent a day at the TATE MODERN gallery with a group of Norwegian students and their teachers, who were staying in London for a few days having left Oslo the day before. We were looking for links between, and questions about, Art and the Theory of Knowledge. My role at the Tate on that day was to introduce and explain to the students some of the tricky issues that infuse and surround contemporary art. Tate Modern is the ...

The Beauty in Maths

A few months ago the BBC conducted a survey to find the most beautiful mathematical equation in the world. There is of course a long history of the relationship between the idea of beauty and mathematics. The ancients certainly pondered that relationship as well as connecting it to the concepts of truth and of goodness. In Plato’s mind certainly, as well as in the mind of others, the true, the good and the beautiful were objectively one in the transcendental ...

Reason: A Goddess with Feet of Clay

In the wake of the French revolution in the 1790s emerged a new religion, the Cult of Reason. This new faith was dedicated to the de-Christianizination of Europe and in churches all over France a new goddess was enthroned. Sensibly the new high-priests shied away from objectifying Reason by setting up statues of it, instead women, often young and scantily clad, were sat on newly erected altars whilst holding torches symbolizing enlightenment. Reason was to shine its guiding and liberating ...

Was Plato Right?

Plato’s definition of what knowledge is, ‘justified true belief’, has been trotted out by countless IB students for generations, often without much thought as to its genuine value or validity as a definition of what knowledge is. However, what are we to make of the fact that the definition includes the term belief? What does the definition actually mean? Is it not possible to interpret the definition in different ways? And has anyone since Plato not provided a better one? Let us explore ...

Can that be real?

When reading a news post on the web, I often have occasion to ask myself "Can that be real?" or "Is this true?" and I'm often thinking about the image accompanying the post (as well as the post itself). "Can that be real?" can have two meanings - does this image come from the context the text describes, and/or has it been "photoshopped" - altered in some way. Luke Winkie has written a very informative post about 3 easy ways to tell if a ...

Misinformation, implications, and responsibility: fact-checking on Africa

"What do these statements about Africa have in common? A white farmer is killed every five days in South Africa. Earlier this year Nigerian Islamists Boko Haram burnt 375 Christians alive. The Democratic Republic of Congo is the rape capital of the world. Johannesburg is the world’s biggest man-made forest. Answer: despite being widely accepted, none of them are true." ("Get your Africa facts right") Sorting fact from fiction is particularly difficult when the stories come from afar and are buried in myths previously ...

“Don’t Even Think About It: Why Our Brains are Wired to Ignore Climate Change”

  On September 21, more than half a million people in 166 countries  (approximately 400, 000 in the New York flagship march alone) marched to demand that world leaders act to tackle climate change. Their demand was directed in large part to the leaders converging today for an emergency UN Climate Summit. Will their huge numbers have any effect on the attitudes--or beliefs--of those who have not already accepted the conclusions of 97% of the world's climate scientists? According to the author ...

Journalism: Window or Filter on the World?

Today I want to step back from the passing show of a year's events in review to recommend a not-so-recent commentary on the very nature of journalism and its relationship with truth.   I encourage everyone to listen to a 10-minute BBC World Service broadcast from two years ago in which Own Bennett Jones introduces Martin Bell for his commentary, based on earlier writing reflecting on his years as a war correspondent, entitled The Truth is Our Currency: reflections on the limits ...