About this site

This is a site where I post articles, videos, and various resources relevant to a Theory of Knowledge teacher or student. You can find handouts, activities, and day to day plans on the resources for the TOK class page.

You can follow my day to day lessons with my Year 1s here.

The folder linked above lists the daily lessons chronologically. For the individual articles and resources linked below, there is no particular order but you can search by relevant Area of Knowledge or Way of Knowing by navigating the tabs above.

This site is currently configured for the “old” TOK course whose last assessment is 2021. Here is what I have gathered about the new course.

Please contact me by email if you have any questions.

TOKTopics[at]gmail.com

 

Practice Analytically, Perform Intuitively

Seeing the errors in how people intuitively think about the golf swing made Bryson question how other parts of the game were played. Having majored in physics at college, he operates like a scientist. He subscribes to Charles Dickens’ famous line from Great Expectations: “Take nothing on its looks; take everything on evidence. There’s no better rule.”…

Trusting empirical data over intuition was one of the defining ideas of the Enlightenment. Through paradigm shifts like the Copernican Revolution, which found that humans weren’t the center of the universe, people began trusting instruments over their senses. That isn’t to say that science is always correct, but ever since the Enlightenment, it’s been obviously foolish to ignore it. Yet, that’s exactly what golfers did—for decades…

Like aspects of Bryson’s swing, some of the computer’s most effective chess moves are ugly to the human eye because they violate our intuition for what a good chess move looks like. But if you spend enough time watching the computer move, you can incorporate those tactics into your intuitive game and become a stronger player. Intuition isn’t as static as we think. With the right tools, it can improve over time.

https://perell.com/essay/practice-analytically-perform-intuitively/

The Quest to Tell Science from Pseudoscience

Philosopher Karl Popper famously asked how to tell the two apart. His answer—falsifiability—hasn’t aged well, but the effort lives on.

Jettisoning falsifiability won’t solve our initial problem, however: demarcation is simply inevitable. Scientists have finite time and therefore must select which topics are worth working on and which are not: this implies some kind of demarcation. Indeed, there seems to be a broad consensus about which doctrines count as fringe, although debate remains about gray areas.

https://bostonreview.net/science-nature-philosophy-religion/michael-d-gordin-quest-tell-science-pseudoscience

Translating Amanda Gorman

Is experiencing white supremacy all she is? And if not, why do her translators have to be people just like her?

Our racial reckoning has put many new ideas afloat. One of them is that a black female poet’s work should only be translated by other black female people. Or at least black people…

The logic is supposed to be that only someone of Gorman’s race, and optimally gender, can effectively translate her expression into another language. But is that true? And are we not denying Gorman and black people basic humanity in – if I may jump the gun – pretending that it is?

https://johnmcwhorter.substack.com/p/translating-amanda-gorman?token=eyJ1c2VyX2lkIjoyNzk5MjAwLCJwb3N0X2lkIjozMzk4NjMxMCwiXyI6ImNpWEY5IiwiaWF0IjoxNjE2MjU4NjU0LCJleHAiOjE2MTYyNjIyNTQsImlzcyI6InB1Yi0yNzIyMzQiLCJzdWIiOiJwb3N0LXJlYWN0aW9uIn0.3nE4p85gCGII1AcxTGOl1E8HW0ZDXJm9UvGvuVpRdXw

No, Shawn Bradley Wasn’t Paralyzed in a “Bicycle Accident”

THE MEDIA FLUBBED THE LANGUAGE OF THE FORMER NBA PLAYER’S DEVASTATING INJURY AFTER HE WAS HIT BY A DRIVER WHILE ON HIS BIKE.

While we cyclists clearly love our bicycles, it’s more likely that Bradley would just be very, very sad that a car hit his bike—not grievously injured.

Simply put, the media missed an opportunity for a slam dunk with its headlines and stories on the news, and similarly missed a chance to begin to right a long-running wrong against the cycling community. As Henry Grabar wrote for Slate, “A child falling off his bike in the park is a bicycle accident … Getting rammed from behind by a car is not a bicycle accident.” And yet, for decades, media reports have used this framing when reporting on cyclists who are hit by drivers and injured or killed.

https://www.bicycling.com/news/a35880731/shawn-bradley-paralyzed-hit-by-car-during-bike-ride/

IT DOESN’T MATTER WHEN YOU KILL ALL THE CIVILIANS

Interesting discussion on the moral implications of actions one takes while playing a video game.  

If you do bad or good things in a game does that mean you are a bad or good person? No…

I don’t think the player has any moral responsibility or energy or potential in a game whatsoever — whatever the player does is neither moral nor amoral, but unmoral

IT DOESN’T MATTER WHEN YOU KILL ALL THE CIVILIANS

The Good Fight Podcast: Why Do We Always Think We’re Right‪?‬

What transforms reasonable people into an angry mob? Why are we so eager to dismiss those who disagree with us as inherently evil? These are questions which Jonathan Haidt has spent his career trying to answer. One of the world’s most influential social psychologists and a member of Persuasion’s Board of Advisors, he argues that a lot of recent cultural shifts are encouraging emotional fragility rather than resilience. A professor of ethical leadership at NYU’s Stern School of Business, Haidt seeks to employ moral psychology to promote dialogue rather than division.

In this week’s episode of The Good Fight, Yascha Mounk sits down with Jonathan Haidt to discuss psychological differences between the left and the right, the human tendency to discriminate in favor of the in-group, and how to build a less tribal culture and country.

https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/why-do-we-always-think-were-right/id1198765424?i=1000508883293

Passages from “Cribsheet” by Emily Oster on the use and limitations on data and studies on parenting

Attached are some passages from the book, Cribsheet by Emily Oster, an economist who wrote a data-driven guide to parenting. I put together some interesting passages from the introduction and from one of the chapters that does a nice job contextualizing the concepts of data driven decision making, what a good study is, the limits of those studies, and the ultimate uncertainty of all the knowledge produced using data.

Meaningful connections to constructing knowledge and data collection in the human sciences (particularly economics), natural sciences, and cognitive biases. Also deals well with problems of sorting out the differences between correlation and causation.

Generally great book for parenting, not just for its TOK connections.

How can you identify a good study? This is a hard question. Some things you can see directly. Certain approaches are better than others – randomized trials, for example, are usually more compelling than other designs. Large studies tend, on average, to be better. More studies confirming the same thing tends to increase confidence, although not always – sometimes they all have the same biases in their results

Passages from Cribsheet by Emily Oster

 

Radiolab Podcast: Facebook’s Supreme Court

Since its inception, the perennial thorn in Facebook’s side has been content moderation. That is, deciding what you and I are allowed to post on the site and what we’re not. Missteps by Facebook in this area have fueled everything from a genocide in Myanmar to viral disinformation surrounding politics and the coronavirus. However, just this past year, conceding their failings, Facebook shifted its approach. They erected an independent body of twenty jurors that will make the final call on many of Facebook’s thorniest decisions. This body has been called: Facebook’s Supreme Court.

So today, in collaboration with the New Yorker magazine and the New Yorker Radio Hour, we explore how this body came to be, what power it really has and how the consequences of its decisions will be nothing short of life or death.

https://www.wnycstudios.org/podcasts/radiolab/articles/facebooks-supreme-court

Click here for other topics tagged “Facebook”

How Americans Came to Distrust Science

For a century, critics of all political stripes have challenged the role of science in society. Repairing distrust today requires confronting those arguments head on.

Arguments over science underlie some of our most divisive and consequential policy debates. From climate change to fracking, abortion to genetically modified foods—and much else besides—contemporary political battles generate disputes over the legitimacy of scientific theories, methodologies, institutions, concepts, and even facts. In this context, scholars, citizens, and policymakers must think carefully about science and its cultural and political ramifications. The prevailing views on these matters will significantly determine our future—and perhaps even our survival as a species. And to understand why science is so widely distrusted in the United States, it is essential to understand how that attitude has arisen.

http://bostonreview.net/science-nature/andrew-jewett-how-americans-came-distrust-science

There are a bunch of great articles from the Boston Review about science topics.

What Makes Science Trustworthy

The “scientific method” of high school textbooks does not exist. But there are scientific methods, and they play an essential role in making scientific knowledge reliable.

http://bostonreview.net/science-nature-philosophy-religion/philip-kitcher-what-makes-science-trustworthy

Other articles

http://bostonreview.net/tags/science-and-technology