The Causation Conundrum – Knowing Why.

The Greek philosopher Aristotle stated that one cannot claim to have proper knowledge of anything until one has grasped the cause of it. Whether something exists, happens or changes it is assumed that it is as the result of some cause external or internal to it. The why without which nothing could be or happen. This idea is commonly known as causation or the law of cause and effect. It is applicable to all spheres of human knowledge and if ...

How to Lie with Numbers

By Monday, September 12, 2016 , , , , 0

There is a common saying in English, “numbers never lie”, which presumably expresses the idea that any argument backed up by data, statistics or quantifiable information must therefore be trustworthy or inherently credible. One of the key tasks of TOK is to step back, analysize and reflect on the basis of anything presented as evidence for an argument. We live in a world where data is generated at an unquantifiable rate, we are bombarded by constant information whilst being asked ...

How wolves change rivers: variables and causation

This four and a half minute video, with splendid filming of animals in Yellowstone National Park in the USA, could be effective in a TOK class on the topic of the search for cause in the natural and human sciences: http://youtu.be/ysa5OBhXz-Q  It could be used to stir thoughts (or summarize them) about causes, variables, experimental controls, and the limits of experiments outside a lab. It's not often that in nature, with all its intricately interconnected variables, one variable can be be traced ...

Correlation or causation?: climate change and increased violence

Few recent scientific studies have received as much media coverage as one published recently in Science, arguing for a causal link between climate warming and violence.  The range of media sources covering it is as impressive as the number:  not just general news media at all levels, in many parts of the world, and not just science journals, but also those with particular perspectives, among them religious (or, at least Christian) environmental, police-based, medical and business.  Why should this particular ...