What happens when moral beliefs collide with documented evidence? For many people, it means doubling down on whichever compliments their worldview.
The authors offer two models for this system of rationalization. In the first model, moral concerns shift the correct criteria for making judgments—for instance, by lowering the amount of hard evidence deemed sufficient to justify a particular belief. “Morality changes how much evidence [people] consider to be required to hold [a particular] belief in an evidentially-sound way,” the authors write.
The episode demonstrates both the power and weakness of statistics: they can be used to amplify an entire worldview, and yet they often do not stand up to scrutiny. This is why statistical literacy is so important – in an age in which data plays an ever-more prominent role in society, the ability to spot ways in which numbers can be misused, and to be able to deconstruct claims based on statistics, should be a standard civic skill.
Statistics are not cold hard facts – as Nate Silver writes in The Signal and the Noise (2012): ‘The numbers have no way of speaking for themselves. We speak for them. We imbue them with meaning.’ Not only has someone used extensive judgment in choosing what to measure, how to define crucial ideas, and to analyse them, but the manner in which they are communicated can utterly change their emotional impact.
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.
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.
F.A. Hayek on the importance of humility and limitations of Economics and the social sciences in general.
I feared…the Nobel Prize confers on an individual an authority which in economics no man ought to possess.
This does not matter in the natural sciences. Here the influence exercised by an individual is chiefly an influence on his fellow experts; and they will soon cut him down to size if he exceeds his competence…
I am not sure that it is desirable to strengthen the influence of a few individual economists by such a ceremonial and eye-catching recognition of achievements, perhaps of the distant past.
Update: Most of what’s below was posted January 2019. Since then, the boy in the left of the image filed defamation lawsuits against several news agencies and a few of them have settled. Here are a couple of articles about those lawsuits and their resolution. This topic also fits well with the new course concepts around knowledge and knower, knowledge and technology, and knowledge and politics.
CNN Settles Lawsuit Brought by Covington Catholic Student Nicholas Sandmann (1/7/2020)
Numerous national media outlets painted Sandmann and his classmates as menacing — and in some cases racist — after an edited video emerged of Sandmann smiling, inches away from the face of Nathan Phillips, an elderly Native American man, while attending the March for Life on the National Mall. A more complete video of the encounter, which emerged later, showed that Phillips had approached the Covington students and begun drumming in their faces, prompting them to respond with school chants.
And another from 7/24/2020
Interesting situation from a TOK perspective. Below is a collection of articles about the topic. They raise a lot of interesting questions about how we acquire knowledge and the relationships among the various ways of knowing. It also lends itself to ask about the primacy of some WOKs over others.
TOK Day 31 (daily student worksheet)
What’s also interesting is how impactful the image was. The image seemed to be a perfect representation of how many people view the current moment in the United States. It fit perfectly into prior assumptions about the world and spoke to a deeper truth. Interpreting and explaining this image!and fitting it into preexisting mental schema seemed pretty easy.
Once more and more videos started to emerge and the greater context became known, there were some interesting developments. Some people Continue reading “The “Smirk seen ’round the world” Updated 7/28/2020″
The problem of users sharing links without reading them is not new. A 2016 study from computer scientists at Columbia University and Microsoft found that 59% of links posted on Twitter are never clicked.
Twitter’s solution is not to ban such retweets, but to inject “friction” into the process, in order to try to nudge some users into rethinking their actions on the social network. It is an approach the company has been taking more frequently recently, in an attempt to improve “platform health” without facing accusations of censorship.
Do the diversity or implicit bias training programs used by companies and institutions like Starbucks and the Oakland Police Department help reduce bias?
I’m at the moment very skeptical about most of what’s offered under the label of implicit bias training, because the methods being used have not been tested scientifically to indicate that they are effective. And they’re using it without trying to assess whether the training they do is achieving the desired results.
I see most implicit bias training as window dressing that looks good both internally to an organization and externally, as if you’re concerned and trying to do something. But it can be deployed without actually achieving anything, which makes it in fact counterproductive. After 10 years of doing this stuff and nobody reporting data, I think the logical conclusion is that if it was working, we would have heard about it.
Very well drawn and well explained. Each step listed here raises interesting questions and discussions as well as limitations but nonetheless is a good visual introduction.
Related, the problem with peer review.
The problem with peer review is the peers. Who are “the peers” of four M.D.’s writing up an observational study? Four more M.D.’s who know just as little as the topic. Who are “the peers” of a sociologist who likes to bullshit about evolutionary psychology but who doesn’t know much about the statistics of sex ratios?
This concise video goes over a lot of important ground by first establishing basic ideas about observations, explanations, and scientific models and then moves on to the problems of models that don’t actually simplify anything. Ultimately this leads to a discussion of science and pseudoscience. She also has other great videos on her channel as well.
The article summarizes what Mitra spoke about in his TED talk (linked below). This tells us a lot about the role technology can play in education along with the role of intrinsic motivation and self guided learning. Our recent foray into remote learning calls into question a lot of our assumptions about education.
One group in Rajasthan, he said, learnt how to record and play music on the computer within four hours of it arriving in their village.
“At the end of it we concluded that groups of children can learn to use computers on their own irrespective of who or where they are,” he said.