Political Identity Reflection

Politics refers to how people make decisions to apply members to their group and understand how to allocate power; political science is a study of framing the past and predicting the future by creating a hypothesis based on what people have historically done. Being political means to have impact on a certain outcome without participating in activities such as voting. Thus, despite the fact that an individual is ignorant and uninterested in politics, they may still be considered as political. The state of being political applies to diverse factors of human affairs, including conflicts, actions, institutions, branches of science etc.

According to the three tests I took, I am more of a libertarian than authoritarian; I am more of a totalitarian than libertarian. The results imply that as a part of a certain country, I seek for political freedom and freedom of choice, while I also seek for interventions from the government and some prohibition from the opposing parties to a certain extent. Furthermore, I am a person that seeks for approximately 40% of personal freedom and approximately 35% of economic freedom, which leads me slightly towards the left wing (liberal). Hence, I am a supporter of “maximum government, maximum freedom,” while I also pursue a small amount of necessary prohibition and constraint from the government over the country, which may reduce conflicts.

The political issue I consider as most important right now is distributing vaccines for COVID-19. Since the pandemic is currently lasting for approximately one year, there should be an effective method and solution to deal with the global problem and make sure the pandemic ends as soon as possible. Thus, vaccines are significant to all the countries where confirmed people constantly increases. In order to effectively distribute vaccines, the relationship between countries, and the relationship the citizens and the government is highly important. For instance, the government could decide on how much the patients should pay for their treatment (free or need to pay money) and how many people they can afford vaccines to. In this case, the freedom and rights of the citizens to receive proper treatment, along with some government intervention is necessary.

Overall, being aware of what is going on in politics is significant for an individual to live within a country despite some ignorance and lack of information. As a knower, individuals should be able to have knowledge and interest towards political issues in order to express their opinions and thoughts on the political conditions of a nation and how it should be improved.


The Social Dilemma

The Social Dilemma reflects the ethical concerns of the advanced social networking services, along with how people are “naive of the flip side of the coin,” as users are psychologically hacked and dependent on social media. In terms of addiction and algorithm, the documentary indicates the negative consequences of media development.

The biggest take away from the documentary was how social media industries seek and compete for advertisement and the users’ attentions; these industries do not make it “less” addictive but more, in order to receive data for further development. As individuals are exposed to social media, they start to have thoughts that they did not intend to have, such as plastic surgery, politics, and culture due to a business model created to compete for people’s attention and engagement. Plastic surgery and its news on social platforms is one example of social medias’ ability to implant unconscious thoughts that lead people to compare themselves from unrealistic standards of beauty. This refers to conspiracy theory, which means how individuals are exposed to such information that they have never searched before in their life. These consequences are closely related to algorithms, which sometimes convince individuals with false information (e.g. the Earth is flat), as well as send signals for people to look more thoroughly into the new information they have encountered. For instance, on YouTube, we may find videos that are recommended according to our past data and interests, which are precisely recorded and monitored; a third person manipulates the system and modify an individual’s behavior through anticipating the next move. For instance, in terms of politics, algorithm and social media are involved. Twitter, a type of social media, sometimes delete some posts related to politics in order to manipulate the users’ view and opinions. This is an evidence of how social media platforms are biased and expose people to such information and knowledge that may not always be true.

When having a group discussion with my peers, we had a conversation about how technological developments led to an increase in data being collected without people’s consent or when they are unaware it is being collected. We thought about how our personal data is exposed to social media and how they tend to manipulate our actions online; the media platform/third person guesses our interests and identity in order to create a more addictive subject to grab our attention, which is data and information they gather when we are unaware about it. The documentary’s title refers to a “social dilemma,” which demonstrates both positive and negative sides of social media development; despite the disadvantages, people still benefit from it, which makes it hard for social media industries and the users to stop their actions. However, despite the inevitability of social media usage, individuals could think more deeply into the concept of algorithm and how their actions and thoughts are being manipulated in order to show healthy and appropriate usage of these platforms.



TOK Interview: implications for the development of personal and shared knowledge

Recently, I got an opportunity to interview my mom, who went to school during the 80s and 90s. When asking her about the way she produced knowledge and the experiences she had back then, I not only noticed some significant differences but also realized that there are some similarities. Moreover, since I am attending an international school in China, there was a clear contrast that I have noticed when considering my mom’s life as a student in a local school in South Korea.

Back when my mom attended elementary school in the 80s, there were no electronic devices used in class; there were no computers, projectors, phones etc. Therefore, the teacher mainly educated the class by writing on the black board and drawing diagrams that would help the understanding of complicated concepts. Moreover, the teachers wrote the report cards by hand since computer was not affordable for everyone. On the contrary, our classrooms nowadays mainly utilize laptops and projectors. A majority of teachers and students open their laptops during class in order to take notes, catch up, find resources, and read the textbook. Despite the fact that my mom mentioned how there were televisions in each classroom when she was about to graduate from elementary school, there are still divergence between the two time periods. Another difference I found was researching processes and the way of acquiring knowledge. As mentioned before, computer was not a popular research tool during the 80s and 90s in South Korea, therefore, my mom usually went to the library in order to collect information. She would use the copy machine to copy the section of knowledge she needed for her research and bring it home. However, I always use the computer and obtain data and information since computers are able to save files with high capacity, which was nearly unavailable 30 years ago. Last but not least, there were cultural differences in the school curriculums. When my mom attended middle school and high school during the 90s, students did not use a calculator when solving math problems, and this is same for the South Korean students in the 21st century. South Korean education requires students to not use their calculator and helps them improve their abilities to do calculations in their head. The exam questions are designed in a range that the calculator is not needed (for example, the graph questions are designed in order to draw it by hand). However, in international schools, it is different. For instance, the IB curriculum require math students to use a calculator when solving problems from paper 2, which is significantly different when comparing it to South Korean education.

This interview demonstrates how technological development contributed in building up personal and shared knowledge. Nowadays, due to appearance of diverse technologies and softwares, we are able to obtain personal knowledge shortly. Since modern students mostly carry their phones and computers with them, they are able to search up information they were curious about and need for their classes. However, in traditional classrooms, this was limited since internet was not developed and it was not in the speed as it is today; students had to rely on each other and the teacher’s explanations. Similarly, we could acquire shared knowledge through technology. We are living in a interconnected world, and this is possible through the use of social networking services that help people from all over the globe to communicate. However, in the 80s and even before, it was not common to encounter people from other countries, and the communication devices were mostly phone calls and letters, which is hard for people to reach out to other parts of the world. Thus, modern technologies and higher accessibility to these resources allow people to develop their personal knowledge and shared knowledge.

Debate reflection “ignorance is bliss”

This week, our class had an opportunity to debate over the following question: Is ignorance bliss? As a participant from the pro side, I had to argue that ignorance is bliss.

The main arguments made by the opposition were that despite the positive influences of ignorance, there are negative consequences to be considered. Moreover, they argued that ignorance of one individual cannot exclusively affect other individuals from a wider population. They stated that there is no valid proof or evidence regarding that bliss is defined as perfect happiness; ignorance is rather a backward step for mankind. For instance, the opposition argued that violence and genocides such as holocaust, the US civil war, women’s suffrage movement, and discrimination towards people with color all rooted from ignorance of the surroundings, which created a backward step rather than a forward step. Compared to ignorance, innovation and sufficient/practical knowledge should be more valued when considering “bliss” of a certain population.

The pro side, however, considered ignorance as a main source of bliss since it contributes in reducing people’s anxieties and negative emotions. One example would be the placebo effect: that patient’s symptoms get better when they receive a fake medication, which they believe is real. The patients were ignorant of the reality, but saw positive effects at the end. Another example would be people with PTSD. Aaron Darrell, an individual who developed complex PTSD from growing up with parents, stated that he was angrier when he recognized the lecturers and tutors as men who rented his mother. He would have been better off when not being exposed to prostitution and sexual assault; PTSD is not blissful due to lack of ignorance. One hypothetical situation regarding economics suggests that consumers are better off when being ignorant. In situations where they were tricked and payed a significantly higher price compared to the original price, they would see positive effects when not realizing the fact that they were tricked by the sellers. On the other hand, if the consumer finds out the original price of the product, their positive emotions may transfer into anger and frustration.

I personally stand at the pro side since I have experienced situations where it was better to be ignorant. For instance, when my favorite celebrities’ negative sides were revealed, I would be depressed, which clearly shows how it is better to not know than to know. Accordingly, lack of ignorance brings negative emotions due to the fact that individuals are exposed to facts that would not benefit them in the short run. Not being ignorant would put people into the risk of knowing too much, and they would eventually be afflicted between truth and ignorance, which would cause chaos. Therefore, ignorance is bliss.

Are some ways of knowing more likely than others to lead to truth?

Is there a way for us to know the absolute truth? In reality, it is challenging for individuals to figure out the complete truth. For instance, when watching videos that stimulate immediate attention, a majority of individuals would doubt whether the information provided is sincere and profound. However, after completing the station activities, I received an idea of some ways of knowing that are more likely to lead individuals to “truth.”

In general, there are diverse ways of knowing: perception, reason, emotion, language, imagination, memory, faith, and intuition. Some ways of knowing are more effective when leading to truth, whereas some are not. Among the eight ways of knowing, I believe “memory” as one effective way of conveying the truth. According to the Oxford Dictionary, memory is defined as “the faculty by which the mind stores and remembers information.” An example of memory conveying the truth would be card flipping game. Participants are required to turn different image cards as they are not allowed to see the images. Then, they would take turns flipping two cards each, looking for the identical cards. During these circumstances, memory is important since the participants should remember the location of each cards when they are revealed in order to match it with the other identical card, which would benefit them to win the game. This aspect of memory would lead individuals to truth because when accurate, others could not refute the argument that a certain card is located in a particular location: this is nearly a “fact.”

On the other hand, despite the advantages of memories, there are still limitations in areas where individuals’ memories are distorted: schema and source amnesia. In some cases, memory are not exact record of events since it is vulnerable to reconstructions. First, schema, a mental model of events that include knowledge, could distort memory. Lets consider an individual who does not have any past exposures to the haunted house, and who just came back from one. Even though he/she has not been to a haunted house, there is a possibility that he/she has encountered the mood, appearance, and atmosphere of the haunted house through movies or books. After coming back from the visit, he/she may describe the haunted house as “there were many spider webs hanging on the walls,” “blood was everywhere,” while these elements were not visible in reality. Second, source amnesia indicates how individuals are unable to accurately remember the origin of a certain event. For instance, let’s suppose that a man witnessed a car crash on the freeway. He would later tell his friends about the accident with sufficient details, but it would turn out that the information is not from the single accident: he cannot figure out where all the pieces information/memory came from.

Overall, memory may be inaccurate in some cases, but I still believe that it is one effective way of conveying the truth: as long as the individuals remember certain circumstances with accuracy, it would be “true.”

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What do you know for sure, and how do you know it?

Hello! My name is Amy, and I am from South Korea. This is my second year at ISB but my thirteenth year living in China. During my free time, I like listening to music and playing with my dogs.

Generally speaking, to “know” refers to being aware of facts and basics of a particular subject through observations, inquiry, and obtaining information. Knowing something for “sure” may connect with the nature of being aware of a certain subject or situation in depth, and being confident about the knowledge. For instance, we “know” that ISB is an international school. All facilities, students, alumni, and parents do not tend to argue that ISB is an non-international school since they are aware and sure of the fact that it is an international community with diverse cultural backgrounds. Moreover, we “know” that washing our hands and checking our daily temperature is mandatory during the current pandemic; we “know” how to get back home without utilizing a map or other navigation devices; we “know” how to log into our school account and check our daily homework and assessments; we “know” that caffeine causes negative consequences in our body, which leads us to warn people with excessive consumption of caffeine to reduce their intakes.

Overall, these examples reflect our daily and long term experiences and the current circumstances we are placed in. Since we are currently placed in a pandemic, we are aware of the fact that keeping ourselves clean and checking our daily body conditions are significantly important. In addition, finding our way back home and logging into our school account happens in a daily basis, which we are clearly familiar and experienced with.

Scientific evidences may also contribute to what we “know for sure” since they are objective and based on irrefutable statistics (such as caffeine consumption).