So who needs language?

:roll:   Can we write more directly and more effectively to each other by chucking out all those words and using emoticons or emoji instead?  Three social networks are offering images to bypass text altogether.  Could this be, at last, a universal language? Emoticons are not new.  But till now they've stayed in place as an adjunct to text. What's new is the advent in the past two months of emoji-only apps that claim to replace text and still achieve communication. To ...

“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 ...

How ever did they manage?

“How ever did they manage?” I’ve spent today at the Mesa Verde World Heritage Site  in Colorado, tromping around pueblo sites and gazing at the cliff dwelling houses of the native peoples of the American southwest. It’s hot out – too hot. How ever did the people get water to drink and irrigate their corn? Simply eating and drinking in this arid environment would be such a problem. Then what comes to my mind is one definition I’ve read of ...

Indigenous Knowledge: definition, implications, and controversy

About all areas of knowledge, we ask questions that take us straight to methodology and social context. Who owns knowledge? How is it passed on as shared knowledge, and within what controls of methodology or power? We may think instantly of the sciences, and even controversies over current scientific conclusions and scientific products (e.g. medicines and technologies). Yet some of the oldest knowledge in the world is equally ignited by these knowledge questions, which burn hotly in our news. As ...

Shared knowledge: 2 stories of significance

Behind the stark issue of climate change -- like the other challenges of our times -- looms a concept essential to explore in Theory of Knowledge: shared knowledge. How does knowledge reach people? Through what process of sharing does the public gain knowledge that will affect their lives?  Two recent news reports highlight contrasting processes by which knowledge claims on climate change reach the public -- with profoundly different implications for action. The two reports I pick out are from science ...

“The eye sees only….”

Ongoing research on the eye gives fresh meaning to an idea that runs right through TOK – literally most relevant to sense perception, but metaphorically to confirmation bias (WOK intuition) of all kinds. This 3-minute video on the way the brain anticipates changes in the visual field takes as its opening a quotation from French philosopher Henri Bergson: “The eye sees only what the mind is prepared to comprehend.” This quick, clear video raises knowledge questions about our screening of the world, involving selective attention and ...

Education for Tomorrow

One reads a lot about robots these days, and also about "21st century education", "learning for tomorrow", etc. (If you doubt me, do a search on these terms).  But how far away is "tomorrow" -  a "time that is to come"? The other day this video, "Humans Need Not Apply" from CGP Grey,  came up in my YouTube subscription: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7Pq-S557XQU The script for this video is at http://www.cgpgrey.com/blog/humans-need-not-apply, and links to all the technology mentioned is on the "About" tab on the YouTube page. Watching ...

Cupcakes and sushi: fads, trends, and questions of knowledge

What’s the difference between a fad and a trend? How is the passing craze for cupcakes relevant to knowledge in the human sciences? A light story on food fads raises some general knowledge questions. My friend and co-author Mimi Bick has sent me a link to a podcast and a personal story, both of which use entertaining ways to connect everyday social and economic responses to the larger questions of how we study human beings. THE PODCAST In Q the podcast, Jian ...

TOK and The User’s Guide to Economics

Interviewed in the TOK Course Companion, economist Susan McDade (working with the United Nations) comments that "most economic theories" used in the West are based on "assumptions can be pointed out to be weak or not always true” and argues for a complex series of values that are typically ignored by economists. Economics, as we recognize in TOK, is very much a human science – inescapably human in its study and interpretation of aspects of human behaviour. In this ...