Where am I, Politically.

Figure #1  Figure #2

Figure #3

The textbook definition of being “politic” is one “Seems sensible and judicious under circumstances” (Oxford Dictionary). I do admit possessing strong perspectives regarding various global issues highlighted from my political compasses, I wouldn’t go as far as describing myself as being political. Politics is often overlooked as having a voice on controversial matters with strong characteristics of global awareness, yet the side of being actively engaged and building connections is what separates “opinions” and being “political”. Often times media outlets would categorize global leaders as being “political” as one thing common is that power is implanted in their names. Their aggressive participation in developing social relations is their attempt in making difference through the gathering of common ideologies. The fact that they have stances on particular subjects and their ability to make a difference is not the level of action that I could achieve. Reflecting on my political compass, I’ve always thought that am more of a right person than a left person, but considering that my dot in figure 3 is relatively centered I would still describe myself as being relatively neutral. The best part is being unswayed by political bias highlights my ability to diffracted between real and fake news in an already concluded world of political news. I feel that to a certain extent it is important as being a globally informed student in today’s world is crucial. However, I do acknowledge that since politics is a social science, after all, there are often times that there are parts of politics that are just misleading and fraudulent. Being able to capture key parts of politics that going to possibly affect our lives is the only thing required, otherwise, you can easily be misinformed by your own ignorance. China-US trade war, as that’s going to affect the economies of the future and the possible room for job acquirement. COVID-19 vaccinations, determine the process of being immune to the virus that has already killed millions of people.

The Social Dilemma Reflection

What really intrigued me when watching this documentary was the theme that was being portrayed here. I knew that social media was designed to make users attached to it 24/7 never really thought about the further possible implications that it brings. Indeed a formulation of addiction towards social media may bring health concerns due to the increased screen on times on these devices, but The Social Dilemma really opened up the greater picture here. The same applications once created were to bring people closer together are now stripping away the fundamental methodologies in how our communities work. Social media has effectively outsmarted the brains that created it in the first place. Originally, I was fine with “adaptive” feeds that recommended content based on your historical loggings. Because indeed,  it was more convenient, more efficient in pinpointing the content that I would dwindle away time on. However, at the same time, this tunnels user’s vision of what they would know about the world and their surroundings. The attraction of content that you enjoy and evaporating the ones that lack “engagement” funnels us into thinking that the world revolves around us and that everyone agrees to what we believe which fuels our ego. Even worse,  ads recommended based on content that one enjoys, further provokes users into believing they are the singularity with all matter orbiting around them. This fuels extremism which leads to possible violence destroying communities that once depended on free speech. Such can be already seen with massive demonstrations around the globe, often spurred by online social media groups spreading fake news to get people to protest for their own good. From this documentary, I have learned the importance of one’s ability to differentiate between misinformation and true content. It is crucially important that students develop such skills as further generations will be living in this digital world. In addition, governments should take immediate action on tech firms that places human wellbeing over “engagement times” and instead power should be at least partially diverted to the community.

Interview Elderly Regarding Their Ways of Knowing

  1. What tools did they use when they were going to school to learn and/or to produce knowledge?

When my parents went to school, the tools that they had access to that actually help them gain knowledge were only books and the TV. However, once they started to get into high school, they got to use the computer once in a while. yet the internet was still in its early stages at that point and thus computers were only really used to help calculate or store information and not to gather resources or information. However, I think that there are also pros to this. Without the internet, all your information should come from published textbooks which tend to be reviewed by editors in making sure that information is accurate thus there is less misguidance and misinformation. Also, textbook information is usually more in-depth and not shallow thus making sure that we aren’t ignorant of what we think we know.

  1. What were their experiences in school like, and how do they compare with your own?

Because there was a lack of internet, that meant that if they wanted to seek help, they would have needed to go to libraries to borrow books that weren’t always available. This meant a slower learning pace and a rougher journey to mastery in general. Also, back then because there were no social media it was just much more cost-effective to go to each other’s houses to do homework together instead of calling each other. My parents also didn’t come from a wealthy family, therefore went through a hard-working period of schooling in order to get to what they are today. That also meant that they went to a local school, which is far more competitive than what we experience here in international schools. Because of increased competition, it was also much harder for students to ask questions for the teacher as he/she has probably already a million other questions asked by other students. Furthermore, local schools just don’t compare to international schools in terms of facilities as it would be much harder to manage with the increased number of students.

 

I would say that the main difference between the tools that we have as sophomores compared to our parents is the internet which is saying a lot. The arrival of the internet makes it harder for us to develop personal knowledge as our reliance on the web increases, making our minds think less. However, the internet for sure increases our shared knowledge as anyone can upload what they know on to it. Thus, regardless if it is true or not, that is still contributing knowledge to our entire humankind.

Ignorance is Bliss Debate Reflection

Personally, I saw holes on both sides of the argument which failed to sway me in any way to believe in one side over the other. But this was ok given the limited time we were provided and the lack of practice we have on such a category of discussion. Some points that might have helped on the opposing side could be the lack of linkage to more real-life examples instead of just speaking to theoretical events. Furthermore, the implementation of ethos would have significantly strengthened their argument citing possible “geniuses” that we refer to today (eg. Albert Einstein, Issac Newton). For the pro side, there could have been a better organization to their argument as statements were vague and evidence was sufficient but incorrectly placed. They had a balance of primary and secondary examples which was good, but just lacked the sheer conciseness that made what the opposition so convincing.

Speaking of which side I fall on, honestly, finding the balance between ignorance and intelligence would be an optimal position in answering such a question since neither of them is perfect. Trying to grasp an understanding of everything within this universe would be like entering a black hole, it’s never-ending. For example, counting brought a common way of calculating quantities -also known as numbers, the discovery of numbers leads to formula, formulas lead to a better understanding of the earth, information about the earth wondered the information of other planets, other planets brought the question of extraterrestrial life, extraterrestrial life introduced galaxies, and what did galaxies tell us? That we have only discovered less than 0.000001% of the universe. As Will Durant once said, “education is a progressive study of our own ignorance.” Disappointing right? The more that we put effort into trying to complete the race for knowledge, the more we seemed to be dragged back due to our ignorance. Besides, after knowing so much how does that benefit us? After all, what happens a billion light-years away, does not even tickle us at all. Yet, ignorance at the same time can just be equally as dangerous as if watching someone jump into the black hole of knowledge just to realize that you are falling with them at the same time. A great example of unintelligence could be crossing the road when the light is still red and getting hit by a car. In this case, knowledge tells us to use “common sense” to decipher whether or not our probability of avoiding all these cars who are moving at high speeds is likely or not. Without intel, it would be like crossing the road blindly. In fact, because blind people don’t have vision assistance to help them compile information and infer whether or not it is safe to cross the road or not, oftentimes they are actually a good example of how dangerous a lack of information could be. From watching last week’s Jimmy Kimmel’s show, it sufficiently demonstrates how ignorance can often contribute further foolishness towards the subject or group that is speaking. Thus when trying to articulate knowledge, it often comes back to the question if the argument is worth further contesting or not. If it is, then further studying it will help to articulate our knowledge, but identically if is not, then why bother and just move on with life.

Are Some Ways of Knowing More Likely than Others to Lead to Truth?

Throughout last week’s hands-on interaction with the 8 Ways of Knowing in TOK, it can be said with certainty that some ways of knowledge are more likely than others to lead to truth. An analysis of memory could be used as an example. Memorization can help us come up with more informed conclusions/inferences, backing up claims with evidence-based on Posteriori Knowledge- knowledge gained through experience. As Immanuel Kant once said, “All knowledge begins with the senses, proceeds then to the understanding, and ends with reason.” If we know that 5mins isn’t enough to get to school, one would learn to wake up earlier next time by bearing the consequences of snoozing into school time. Memory can also help us prove statements, citing “common sense” as the referable source giving us a general consensus about contestable and non-contestable arguments.  For example: If one were to drop their pen what would happen to it? In this case, our memory immediately recalls that all objects drop towards the center of the earth, and thus can conclude that the pen would fall and hit the ground without needing a complicated explanation or argument about it. Thus, whether the pen will hit the ground or not is also a non-contestable claim as it is just “common sense” and we are better off moving on from this foolish inquiry. However, memory is all subjective- knowing something through inferences/interpretations from personal judgments- hence, the same tool that once assisted ones to their claims could just as easily backfire, stabbing themselves in the back by their own ignorance. Let’s just use the flat earthers society that we studied a while back as an example. While our sensory cues hint at the existence of a flat earth, our consciousness instead had deviated us farther from the truth. Since memory is a roller coaster ride through Posteriori Knowledge, the subjectivity that led to one’s conclusion can equally be questioned by the skepticism of others. Thus, saying that “common sense” tells us that the world is flat could be just as easily used as a fallacy making the borderline between contestable and non-contestable arguments somewhat arbitrary. Such concepts could be applied to all other ways of knowing such as language. Literature can be descriptive, reasonable, imaginable -justifiable, and yet is still subjected to uncertainty and vagueness. Sylvia Plath’s “Metaphor”, an amazing piece of writing, dozes readers into a world of imagination. And yet in many stances approaching does the full stop leave people in confusion about what she is trying to describe. Thus, the same way that literature has flattered “Metaphor”, could it be equally criticized for its ambiguity. As a result, each method of knowing to have its own strengths and weaknesses, and yes while some ways of knowledge are more likely than others to lead to truth, at the end of the day it is still context that determines the most accurate way of knowing.

What Do We Know For Sure and How Do We Know It?

In this society where we’re constantly notified by variations of intelligence, the question of what to believe, and what not to can be somewhat arbitrary. And even after deciding if one thing can be validated or not, how can we identify our accuracy in judgment? TOK embraces such wonder by evaluating the truth and reassessing its credibility from an open-minded perspective. A video by the YouTube channel, Neo highlights such critical thinking skills by questioning naming schemes on Google Maps that differ depending on your location. Such how can one geographic identity have two distinctive names? One great example could be the ongoing clash in maritime claims within The South China Sea. China claims to have historical allegations over the Spratly Islands citing a single hastily drawn map back in 1958 that embraced such islands within its borders. Thus, should expand its Economic Exclusive Zone (EEZ) nearly 3.15 million km south overlapping into multiple South-East Asian country maritime borders. Furthermore, illegal fishing boats from China have flourished these areas and exploited its resources thanks to its rich fishing grounds despite being in foreign territories. This has sparked anger among many ASEAN nations including Malaysia, Vietnam, Brunei, the Philippines, and even so far down into Indonesia. This is where the map comes back into context. If you went on Google Maps in China, the nine-dash line would clearly be drawn as a part of Chinese territories. However, if you looked up Google Maps anywhere else, such agonizing illustrations would not be there. So which map should you believe in? Nationalism and religious beliefs aside, it is extremely difficult to claim that one is more accurate than the other. Arguments on either side would be stalemates, and thus given scenarios like such it is important that we use TOK critical thinking skills and accept differing explanations by remaining open-minded. Often times answers can make us more informed, however only when we question where we got those answers can we comprehend. “To know, is to know that you know nothing. That is the meaning of true knowledge.” -Socrates

Excellent YouTube Video of Questioning What we Know by Neo: “Google Maps Is Different Depending on Your Location”