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 ...

“When will we ever learn?”: the arts and shared knowledge

http://youtu.be/QhnPVP23rzo “The establishment has always been concerned about music,” folk singer Pete Seeger said about his peace and protest songs.  “I’ve quoted Plato for years, who wrote, ‘It’s very important that the wrong kind of music not be allowed in the Republic.’ And I’ve also heard there’s an old Arab proverb, ‘When the king puts the poet on his payroll, he cuts off the tongue of the poet.’ I think they’re both right.” Pete Seeger, who died yesterday at the age of ...

international school kids ha ha

Do you share an experience with writer Autumn Jones?  You'll recognize it pretty quickly if you do!  I urge you to take a minute (you'll be glad you did) to scroll through "An International School Kid ('Your accent is so strange, you must be Canadian?')"  In TOK, we talk about scientists sharing knowledge, and artists sharing knowledge, and indigenous people sharing knowledge.  Some of it is shared through a conscious methodology, and some of it is shared culturally.  Where would you ...

TOK: the map, the territory

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 ...

Doing good is good for you: Ethics and the Human Sciences, TOK and CAS

Is there really anything newsworthy about the value of doing good to others?  So much has been said over so many centuries that surely current psychological research cannot add tremendously to our understanding!  And surely doing good falls within the scope of ethics -- and not within the scope of the human sciences! Yet, quite the contrary: recent studies in the human sciences do contribute knowledge, and delightful knowledge at that! Personally, I find the results of these studies give my heart ...

TOK dinner guest: Pigliucci on pseudoscience

“Indulging in a bit of pseudoscience in some instances may be relatively innocuous, but the problem is that doing so lowers your defenses against more dangerous delusions that are based on similar confusions and fallacies.”  So write Massimo Pigliucci and Maarten Boudry in an article on the dangers of pseudoscience.  This article is a very good compact treatment of “the borderlines between genuine science and pseudoscience”, with attention to implications in our lives of what we accept in our minds. ...

TOK and popcorn

Imagine a world where popcorn protects your mind from dark forces trying to penetrate it and rob you of your free will!  Does this sound like a ridiculous parody of a science fiction storyline? Well, it seems that this is not entirely science fiction. In fact, a research publication called The Journal of Consumer Psychology  has recently reported findings of a research group at the University of Berlin that advertisers and TOK students may find fascinating – though for very different ...

Ninja alert: TOK and the media

Would you trust “news” if it came from Ninjas?  In fact, do you fully trust any news at all?  As a TOK student, you no doubt have your antenna out when any media claim to provide you with “knowledge.”  When such a claim comes from a group that call themselves the “Midia Ninja”, you might be doubly alert. And yet, huge numbers of Brazilians are putting their faith in this source of information.  Why?  Well, these Ninjas aren’t like some of ...

Quebec Charter of Values in TOK: perspectives, symbolism, fallacies

[youtuber youtube='http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pTlDcDYf-ao'] Today protesters march in the streets of Montreal, opposing the newly announced Quebec Charter of Values.  The government of the Canadian province of Quebec has declared that certain values define their society, which has often had a fractious relationship with the rest of Canada.  Among those values – valeurs québécois -- are ones that would broadly capture agreement from Canadians, such as the religious neutrality of the state.  It is the application of this principle that has provoked outrage ...