Seventh Entry:”Categorizing Knowledge”

•March 8, 2009 • Leave a Comment

Thursday, 19th of February 2009

Today we took a look at the same page of the IB ToK Textbook we were summarizing on our previous lesson. On the page is a list of random statements, each starting with an “I know …”. Our job was to carefully analyze each statement/phrase, and then put them into categories. We can categorize the statements in anyway we want, however it should be as comprehensive, logical, and consistent as possible. I myself chose to categorize the statements as either being a “Specific Knowledge – Things That I Might The Only One Who Knows About” or “General Knowledge –  Things That The Public/Others Should Be Knowing About.”


Sixth Entry: “What is Knowledge?”

•February 21, 2009 • Leave a Comment

Wednesday, 18th of February 2009

Despite being a double lesson (which should be about 80 minutes long), today’s lesson has been cut short due to the yearly “Swimming Carnival” event. Today we were to read pages 90 to 92 of the IB Theory of Knowledge textbook, then write a simple and comprehensive summary of those two pages. Pak Richard prefers our summaries written in dot-point format; for both ease in writing and simplicity; but some of us (including myself) had written the summary, though still comprehensively rich and brief, in paragraph format.

The stuff we needed to summary basically deals with what knowledge is. According to the book, the characteristics of knowledge can be compared to those of a world map. Like locations written on a map, some knowledge can be justified; however, similar to longitude and latitude grid lines, some knowledge cannot be justified, but doesn’t mean that that particular knowledge is incorrect. Also, knowledge can also be presented in different ways or perspective, similar to how a map of the same location can be presented in various ways. The book also notes that knowledge is not “something we know/acquire outside of our heads”, the book defines knowledge as a type of idea: brainchild.

Fifth Entry: “Amnesty International, Groups, Wikipedia”

•February 18, 2009 • Leave a Comment

Thursday, 12th of February 2009

For today’s lesson, we had brief discussions, planning the creation of a TOK-related Wikipedia page of our own. We had short talks about the possible topics we might write about, which should be in relation to the stuff we have learned so far; and we thought about writing about reasoning, the different kinds of fallacies, and many more. Unfortunately, most of the possible topics we had come up with were either taken (by that I mean Wikipedia already has a page about that particular topic), or irrelevant. For that reason, we decided to continue the discussion tomorrow, and proceed with the lesson.

First task was more like a discussion. Each students were to list (as many as possible) groups they might belong to. After everybody was finished, we had to discuss any stereotypes other people might make upon our groups, and also the things different groups might share in common; then we were to discuss how and why people make stereotypical judgments.

Second task involved reading and analyzing a news article from the Amnesty International USA (AIUSA) home page. We were randomly divided into groups of three, with different stories to read and analysie for each group. I was teamed with Darnel and Kevin, and we were given an article regarding “Harrassment in Worshipping Places”. Long story short, the article is about 2 different people from different ethnic groups, one in the US and another one in Mexico, experiencing harrassment from local police (in the form of verbal insults) in the vicinities of a worshipping place. We were given the task of reading the article, understanding it, then list the “evidences being considered” and “evidences not considered” by the police.

Fourth Entry: “Everything You Know is Wrong”

•February 18, 2009 • Leave a Comment

Wednesday, 11th of February 2009

To be honest, this is a rather boring lesson, compared to all the previous lessons we have been having. In a nutshell, we spent about 80 minutes on a single-page sheet, titled “Everything You Know is Wrong”. Pak Richard started the lesson off by explaining more about the sheet. The sheet had four short words/phrases, along with a definition and a blank space left for us to write examples for each word.

In my opinion, those words involve things which may affect a person’s ability to make rational decisions or evaluations. The four words were:

  • Prejudice (A preconceived belief about all people belonging to one type or category. Even if a stereotype is based on reality – and many are not –  it will not be true for every member of a group. Assuming that you know someone is like because of the groups they belong to, is prejudice, and it can keep you from rationally evaluating their motives and choices.
  • Partisanship (The tendency to favor those with whom you would agree with. We tend to make positive assumptions about groups to which we belong. Among other assumptions, we believe that people who think like us are more rational and informed, than those with whom we disagree. This hinders reasoning because we accept arguments based on who makes them, not on their content or support.
  • Provincialism (The tendency to believe that the issues we feel most strongly about, are the most important)
  • Herd Instinct (The tendency to adhere to cultural norms of belief and behavior)

These terms, despite how silly they might sound, are deeply related to everyone; as most people might conduct/adopt these with/without actually being aware of it.

Third Entry: "Reading and Summarizing Reasoning"

•February 5, 2009 • Leave a Comment

Thursday, 5th of February 2009

Today we summarized a relatively small section (which I had read the night before) of the ToK textbook, regarding Reasoning. There are 6 main points to summarize, and since we were in groups of three (I was working together with Darnel and Kevin), we divided the rather complex task into 3 simple tasks. Below is our own version of the 5-page long section:

  • Inductive Reasoning

Inductive reasoning is proposing/stating a generalization based on what we experience through our senses. It is used pretty much on a regular basis, by pretty much everybody, but most of the time we are not aware of it. Basically, we tend to reason things based on the regularity of the things we see. Consider the question “Will the sun rise tomorrow?”. Since we have always seen the sun every morning, we would normally say “Yes, the sun will rise tomorrow,” because of the fact that we have seen the sun every morning, despite the chances (although probably tiny chances) of the sun collapsing at any day.

  • Classical Induction

We tend to make assumptions/generalization based on observation and numbers. These generalizations are very weak, as just one evident contradiction can demolish that generalization.

  • Statistics

Statistics give one the range of generalization, that is: we cannot make generalizations beyond the given statistical-data. But, there are instances where statistics is manipulated, and therefore the generalization-range is not true and shouldn’t be taken into account.

  • Analogical Reasoning

We tend to make speculations/generalization based on what we see in the current space and time, and would normally imply these speculations to things beyond the scope of the current time and space.

  • Hypothetico-Deductive Reasoning

Humans tend to conclude things by eliminating the irrelevant things, and also taking account the relevant things. Those things taken account will then be furtherly processed to give us a more refined conclusion.

  • Creative Reasoning

When we are doing hypothetico-deductive reasoning to generate a conclusion, we may overlook some things that we should have been taken into account. This is why we must always be open to new things to take into account, and also new conclusions. We should be able to think outside the box to reach the 100% correct conclusion.

Second Entry: "Fallacies"

•February 4, 2009 • Leave a Comment

Wednesday, 4th of February 2009

Unfortunately, I have been sick for the last two days in the last week, and therefore had missed one ToK session (the session after the one I had written about in the last entry, see below). Apparently, during that session I had missed, the class have been reading and discussing a short-story entitled “Love is a Fallacy”, and the three questions regarding the story were answered and discussed today. I, together with several people who were also absent during that session, did not have a chance to read through the 4-page-long story. We only had time to take quick runs through the story in order to answer the aforementioned questions.
To this point of writing this entry, I still have not found the time to read through the whole story. But I am assuming that this story is about how love could lead the people involved in love to develop fallacies (for the sake of the relationship, for example). In the class, “fallacy” is explained to be a “misconception resulting from incorrect reasoning.” The story includes 8 types of fallacies:

  1. Dicto Simpliciter (arguments based on unqualified generalization)
  2. Contradictory Premises (when the premises of an argument contradict each other)
  3. Ad Misericordiam (appealing instead of resolving)
  4. False Analogy (making analogies for different situations)
  5. Hypothesis Contrary to Fact (drawing conclusions from an un-proven hypothesis)
  6. Poisoning The Well (e.g. calling someone a liar before he/she even begun talking)
  7. Hasty Generalization (drawing a conclusion too quickly)
  8. Post Hoc (blaming something before something happens)

In order to get these listed out, I had to read through the final parts of the story (well, to be more precise, I only had to run through and search for them, I haven’t actually read the whole final part). Max Shamul’s explanation about these fallacies are highly interesting, intriguing, and basically fun to read. I think understanding fallacies will help us create closer-to-perfect arguments and hypothesis during our ToK Essay later, and of course this would also help us create stronger and more robust opinions (during everyday life).

First Entry: The Importance of "Self Evaluation and Reading"

•February 4, 2009 • Leave a Comment

Wednesday, 28th of January 2009

After almost a two-week absence, we finally have our teacher (who is also our School Principal), Pak Richard back to guide us to the right path of ToK. During his absence, he had left some work for us, the students, to finish. After coming back, he decides to have us do a little “house work”, or “secretary work”, which basically means a tidying-up and task-recapitulation. Unfortunately, not everybody managed to complete those set tasks. There was a total of 3 school-tasks to complete, most of the students had managed to complete the first task, some of them (including myself) managed to complete the first and second tasks, but none of us actually met the 3 tasks in the given deadline.
Pak Richard was disappointed, and we eventually used this whole first session with him discussing the importance of reading, and how he won’t be able to guide us throug ToK without us reading for further understanding by ourselves.
Before having this reflective session, I never actually understood fully how important it is for us to read through the IB ToK textbook (and also other subject textbooks). My parents, especially my father, have been complaining about how little amount of reading I have been doing, and how important and helpful reading would be later in University. After discussing with the whole class and Pak Richard, I guess listening as a student is far more effective than listening as a son.
Through this session, despite having no materials digested, I have learned that interest is an important success factor; not only in ToK (or other subjects), but also in other things in life.