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

 

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

Did Amazon “steal,” “withhold,” or simply not “pass on” delivery drivers’ tips?

Interesting commentary on language. To be fair to the headline writers in the publications below, the FTC complaint itself uses the word “withholding.” To say “stealing” would be editorializing. Good discussion nonetheless.

Below a headline that states: “Amazon to Pay Contract Drivers $61.7 Million After FTC Probe Finds It Stole Tips to Pay Wages”

There Are No Experts On That for Which We Really Need Experts

Meaningful discussions around the concept of the production and utility of scientific knowledge, interdisciplinary knowledge, and the limitations of expertise.

It is, moreover, true that scientific consensus is often fleeting and regularly overturned, and that, in any case, consensus is neither unanimity nor a marker of infallibility. But the problem that we raise would remain a problem even if scientists were unanimous and infallible in their respective fields, and omnipotent about particular circumstances of time and place…

When the phenomena of multiple scientific fields interact, such as when it is necessary to trade off the health costs of a virus against the economic and other costs of a lockdown, policymakers can turn to experts about isolated phenomena. But there are no experts about the interaction of different kinds of phenomena or about the proper weighting of some against others. Policymakers can ask epidemiologists to weigh in on epidemiology, infectious disease specialists to weigh in on infectious disease, and economists to weigh in on economics. But there are no experts about how these subjects interact or how to balance them.

 

https://www.aier.org/article/there-are-no-experts-on-that-for-which-we-really-need-experts/

The Bloodsport of the Hive Mind: Common Knowledge in the Age of Many-to-Many Broadcast Networks

This article does a fascinating job of evaluating what the author calls “common knowledge,” similar to the TOK concept of shared knowledge, as a way to discuss the general idea of the role of communities in forming beliefs and how modern technologies change the nature of common knowledge.

It’s only with the growth of communities of people interacting that most people gain such courage in their convictions to defy that which authoritative sources (media, political, corporate) deem to be acceptable narratives and acceptable norms. These communities generate more than validation of one’s preexisting beliefs. They generate the common knowledge that I know that many others feel the same as I do, others to whom I am joined in a community.

The Bloodsport of the Hive Mind: Common Knowledge in the Age of Many-to-Many Broadcast Networks

 

Is the Schrödinger Equation True? Just because a mathematical formula works does not mean it reflects reality

How real are the equations with which we represent nature?


Physicists’ theories work. They predict the arc of planets and the flutter of electrons, and they have spawned smartphones, H-bombs and—well, what more do we need? But scientists, and especially physicists, aren’t just seeking practical advances. They’re after Truth. They want to believe that their theories are correct—exclusively correct—representations of nature. Physicists share this craving with religious folk, who need to believe that their path to salvation is the One True Path.

But can you call a theory true if no one understands it?

https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/is-the-schroedinger-equation-true1/