TOK Method and Tools Knowledge Question: To what extent is the knowledge constructed in some areas of knowledge more reliable than the knowledge constructed in others?

Knowledge constructed in some areas of knowledge can be far more reliable than the knowledge constructed in others. In the area of knowledge of mathematics, for example, experts can “proof” something to be true and that constructed knowledge cannot be disproven once proved. The nature of mathematics also assumes that axioms are always true, and the theories are not purposed to model reality. In human sciences, however, conclusions constructed from results of a psychology experiment can rarely be completely proven as a fact because human behavior is largely subjective. Experiment results lack reliability because of its confounding factors in the process that may have influenced the results in some way. Due to this, psychologists struggle to conclude definite knowledge and thus the knowledge constructed lacks reliability. Moreover, the results of psychology experiments lack reliability because of the unnaturalness of most designed situations. Participants are often placed in situations that never occur in their real-life; hence the results lack reliability given that definite conclusions cannot be made. In this example, knowledge constructed in the mathematics field is way more reliable than knowledge constructed in the human sciences field. Another example can be the high reliability of knowledge in the field of natural sciences. Although there are factors that may influence the results in scientific experiments, scientists are able to produce empirical evidence that supports their conclusion of knowledge. Despite the uncertainties that it obtains, knowledge in the natural sciences field is still far more reliable than knowledge in the human sciences field. Both examples demonstrate how knowledge constructed in some areas of knowledge can be far more reliable than the knowledge constructed in others.

TOK: Reflection – Who am I Politically and What are the Implications of this for Me as a Knower?

Do I consider myself to be “political”? Why or why not? What does it mean to be political?

(I answered the first two questions together)

Personally, I think there are two definitions of “political”. The first definition is “to have a strong opinion on politics and is actively participating in political practices”. In this case, I do not think I am “political” because I am barely actively search or find out what is going on in the present world politically. Since I do not even know everything about politics and only briefly have an outline of an idea, I do not have a strong opinion on politics, and accordingly also do not actively participate in political practices.

The second definition of political to me is “to be influenced by politics”. In my opinion, I am very much “political” when the term means this second definition. I think everyone is more influenced by politics than they are aware of. There are many factors in our life that are covertly influenced by politics, therefore I think I might be political to a certain extent.

Is everything political? Why or why not?

I think everything happens to be political, it is only that the extent they are political may vary. I think so because politics is present globally; there are no countries or cities that are not “political” because they all exist because of politics. Given so, everything in those places should, therefore, be political.

How important do you feel it is to be aware of what is going on in politics?

I do not feel it is very important for me currently to be aware of what is going on in politics merely because of my age and that I am still a student. Living with my parents means are very few political occasions that I have a say on. This led to me never growing interest on politics and I had never thought it was necessary to actively keep myself on top of what is going on in politics. However, I do feel that it is quite helpful to be aware of what is going on in politics because the occasions of where I need political knowledge is slowly increasing. Assessments like the IO in both of my English and Chinese Language and Literature course includes global issues that could possibly be politic-related. Nonetheless, I still do not feel it is very important to be aware of what is going on in politics.

What are some political issues that I believe are most important right now and why?

I am not sure of political issues that are most important right now because I am not very up to date with current political issues.

TOK Semester 1 Reflection

  1. During the first semester, we considered knowledge questions related to “Knowledge and the Knower” and “Knowledge and Technology.”  Looking back, what learning engagements stand out to you the most and why?

One of the learning engagements that stood out to me the most was the knowledge and technology group challenge. My group chose to answer the knowledge question: “Have technological developments had the greatest impact on what we know, how we know, or how we store knowledge?”. This group project really challenged my group and me because first, one of our team members is not physically at school, and second, the live performance-style presentation that we need to complete. Since not all of us were at school, our choices for ways of presenting were limited. However, my group was able to overcome these challenges speedily and found a solution that will meet all the requirements and including all our team members. In the end, we produced a relatively creative way of presenting our response, therefore this learning engagement stands out to me the most.

  1. In what ways, if any, has your perspective shifted as a result of your participation in this course so far?

My perspective has definitely shifted as a result of my participation in this course so far. Before taking TOK, I have always thought of theories and philosophical questions as distant and unfamiliar topics that are rarely needed in daily life. However, after exploring different topics in the first semester, I have come to realize how trivial and daily the questions we answered and the reasoning we have used are. Having experienced answering TOK questions, I have started to start noticing nuances in life and how they contribute to a global point of view. I would try to connect the objects I noticed and began exploring whether if they are helpful in answering any questions that I have faced or generated on my own. These changes in my perspective make me realize the influences participating in this course has on me.

  1. Looking ahead to the exhibition requirement, what do you want to keep in mind?

Looking ahead to the exhibition requirement, I especially want to keep in mind to start noting down objects or ideas on how I can answer the questions for the TOK exhibition. I think by reading over the questions and choosing ones that interest me, I can keep in mind to try and find objects that I can use in the future in order to support my exhibition writing. I believe that it is beneficial to accumulate ideas on a daily basis rather than hastily coming up with three objects on the spot.

  1. Thinking back on the writing you have done so far in the course, what can you do to continue to hone your skills?

Thinking back on the writing I have done and the feedback I have received so far, I should explore my responses to be more in-depth because I have received feedback on how my writing might sometimes be a bit brief. For example, in the Ways of Knowing summative blog post, I was told to have written a rather interesting and thoughtful response to the question, though I did not fully explore my opinion that truth was personal and subjective. I might have had these thoughts when I first started writing, but I did not explore them in-depth enough to further answer the question as thoroughly as possible. In the future, I will continue attempting to explore my ideas deeper regarding similar responses and will try to participate more in class discussions in order to communicate with my peers to receive diverse but interesting opinions as well.

Interview with Grandparents: Development of Personal and Shared Knowledge

I interviewed my grandparents who are both Chinese and born in 1948.

Grandpa and grandma, what tools did you use when you were going to school to learn and produce knowledge? What were your experiences in school like? How is it different compared to mine?

 

Grandpa: When we were in school, we only had big white sheets of paper the size of a desk to cut into 32 smaller sheets, then we would take thread, since staplers were scarce, and sew them up stitch by stitch to make a notebook, or take nails to make a dent in the stacked paper to keep them together. This is what we used as books when we were going to school. We wrote on both sides of the book, and when we finished using one side, we turned it over use the other side. After both sides were used up, we bought new paper and made new notebooks. We used pencils, like the kind of pencils you draw with now, which were not as expensive as the current ones. Pencil sharpeners were made after I grew a bit older. For backpacks, if you are rich, you can afford to buy a piece of cloth, use a sewing machine to sew a couple of straps, and make a shoulder bag to carry books in it. Those who are poor and could not afford clothes used a washcloth to fold in half and sew the sides together. There are people who simply took a towel to wrap their books together to carry around. There were no pencil cases at that time, and the pencils were all thrown in the bag. Eventually, those who had money bought pencil cases and those who didn’t had money kept them all in their backpack. We passed down the utensils after our elder siblings finished school. I had to walk eight miles to school, unlike now you have cars to drop to and pick you up from school.

 

Grandma: Your mother was a little better off than us, but it still wasn’t easy when she went to school. In winter, she had to carry firewood to school to build a fire, her classmates took shifts bringing firewood from their homes to build the stove. Your mother would return home every day, your grandmother and I were not there because of work, she had to build the stove herself or else the house was too cold and do homework with her friends. There was nothing at that time, unlike what you have now. There were nothing back then. Your mother had no one to supervise her doing homework and no one could help her, so she studied by herself. The kids nowadays are so lucky to have computers and phones to help them look up problems and questions. She had to do pages of homework all by hand and it was so tiring she could not lift her shoulders, unlike how you now can type words all down on the computer.

After listening to my grandparent’s responses, I realized the immense amount of development regarding the tools used when attending school. The tools used directly influences the acquirement of knowledge and the process of obtaining it as personal knowledge. With the assistance and support from more advanced tools, like computers and phones, students are able to obtain knowledge from an immeasurable amount of sources. Compared with my grandparents, who only had access to shared knowledge taught from their teachers, and my mom, who had no one to ask questions to, we have a huge advantage in the source and process of acquiring knowledge. Students like my grandparents and my mom also had various factors that hindered their obtainment of knowledge. Hindrances such as walking to the school, crafting their own notebooks, and as far as having to start their own fires at school impeded in their learning. All these evidences indicates the development of personal and shared knowledge.

Reflection on Debate: “Is Ignorance Bliss?”

“Is ignorance bliss?”

On the pro side, the key arguments of ignorance is bliss were the uncertainties and consequences that knowing might lead to, as well as the limitation of the debate question itself. Key evidence that was given to support the point that there are consequences that knowing might lead to is the Chinese show where rich kids switch their lives with poor kids, resulting in the lack of willingness to work hard and pursue goals from the poor kids. The pro team also used the society of the movie Matrix to demonstrate the uncertainties that knowing withholds. The con side’s points were that ignorant is not bliss are that ignorance prevents individuals from achieving real fulfillment and satisfaction in life. The opposing team also used economic reasons, specifically “financial illiteracy”, referring to Tsar Nicholas II’s ignorance that led to their defeat in the Russo-Japanese War. When arguing that ignorance is voluntary, the opposing team utilized the popular asteroid example and stated that by not knowing the existence of the asteroid, one is not in a bliss state of “perfect happiness” but instead in a neutral state of continuing life. The con team ended up winning the debate. Nevertheless, although the speakers persuaded the judges, they have not persuaded me in my stance of “ignorance is bliss”.

Presuming that the world an individual is ignorant of is better than the ignorant one they are currently in. However, if one already feel satisfied with your current life situation, why would they want to take the risk of facing the consequences and negative effects it might bring just to know the truth?

Ignorance is involuntary because no one would purposely choose to not know a better truth. If they state that ignorance is voluntary, they are fundamentally saying that the world the individual is ignorant of is in a worse state than the one they are currently in, therefore they choose to be ignorant of the truth.

The statement that by not knowing an individual is not in the state of bliss cannot be justified because as humans who is unaware of the absolute future, individuals cannot define whether or not they are in the state of definite and eternal happiness. One can only be sure of the current state we are in. It is the various flaws in the con team’s argument that drives me to further believe that “ignorance is bliss”.

The only responsibility we have when it comes to acquiring knowledge is maintaining an open mind. When individuals acquire knowledge, they may or may not accept and agree with the information for many reasons. The only responsibility that our role as knowers has is to be always open to new ideas, no matter how absurd they are.

TOK Summative Blog Post: Are some ways of knowing more likely than others to lead to truth?

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

As individuals mature, we acquire and obtain knowledge that develops our ken. These knowledge include personal knowledge (knowledge we personally have), innate knowledge (knowledge we are born with), and a priori knowledge (knowledge purely by reason) (Lagemaat et al). Such knowledge is obtained through the ways of knowing: language, sense perception, emotion, reason, imagination, faith, intuition, and Memory. These WOK (ways of knowing) cooperate with one another in order to accumulate an individual’s knowledge. Our obtained knowledge assures us of whether what we know is the truth, which accords with fact or reality, or faithfulness to a standard (Lagemaat et al). Despite that there is an interconnection between the ways of knowing, I believe that there are some ways of knowing, specifically faith, that are more likely than others to lead to truth.

In a video produced by the Youtube channel HiHo Kids, Megan, a former religious extremist and former member of the Westboro Baptist Church, spoke about her experience in the church of around 80 people. Growing up, she spent her evenings with her family studying the bible. Megan was raised with the belief of “love is to obey God, and to tell other people that they have to obey God too”. She was told by her church that “God hated gay people” and that “gay people deserved the death penalty”. The people of her church “see being gay as something that is as egregious as murdering someone” (Hiho Kids). In Megan’s case, her opinions (a view or judgment formed about something) and beliefs (confidence that something exists or is true) are comprehensively influenced by her tribe, resulting in tribalism (Lagemaat et al). Tribalism is “the behaviors and attitudes that arise out of loyalty to a social group” (Lagemaat et al). The constant input of knowledge by her tribe resulted in faith, which is the “allegiance to duty or a person”, to the belief of her tribe (Merriam-Webster.com). She firmly believed in the morals her tribe had taught her, consequently participating in extreme protests to exhibit their principles. The only reason for doing so is because her faith has led her closer to what she believes is the truth.

Some may argue that what her faith has led her to is not the truth. However, it must be recognized that truth cannot be justified or proven, it can only be suggested or argued with pieces of information that function as evidence. To Megan, the only information she was exposed to was the bible, which was heavy with bias and subjectivity due to the influence of her tribe’s interpretation. Megan had most likely lost judgment and objectivity as a result of tribalism because to her, her community holds the authority, the moral right to make decisions of her knowledge or activity (Lagemaat et al).

I strongly agree that “all knowers are dependent on their tribal and culturally relative beliefs” (Lagemaat et al). Although all the WOK contributes to the growth of one’s knowledge, they construct one’s faith as well. The faith constructed is then more likely to lead an individual to their personal sense of truth. 

 

Work Cited

“Belief.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/belief. Accessed 27 Oct. 2020.

“Faith.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/faith. Accessed 27 Oct. 2020.

Hiho Kids. Kids Meet a Former Member of the Westboro Baptist Church | Kids Meet | HiHo Kids, 18 Dec. 2019, www.youtube.com/watch?v=fC0eoM5Jwg4.

Lagemaat, Richard van de, et al. Theory of Knowledge for the IB Diploma: Course Guide. Cambridge University Press, 2020.

“Opinion.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/opinion. Accessed 27 Oct. 2020.

 

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

Hi everyone! My name is Sophia Qiao and this is my eighth year at ISB. My Chinese name is Qiao Mulan, and yes, I am named after the original Mulan from the Chinese traditional tales. I have a twin sister whose name is Christina, her Chinese name is Muzhen Qiao. In the past few years of learning, I have developed a sense of the demanding system of IB and is therefore quite nervous to begin my two years of high school.

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

Certainty in knowledge is definitely not a topic frequently discussed on a daily basis, some may not even consider such a vague concept once in their lifetime. However, when asked the question: “what do you know for sure, and how do you know it? ”, I almost immediately disclosed potential replies to answer this question.

As a young adult myself, I can recall that most of the knowledge I obtained before beginning my elementary school years were information that I was told of by other individuals or drafted conclusions over my personal experiences. As children, we were raised to believe what we have been told and continue developing our individual values and perspectives of the world with the basic information that we have received.

Growing up, our intrinsic as humans guide us to be curious. I remember asking my parents, whom I trust the most within the world, questions for every small detail of the world. Their replies were carefully stowed into my knowledge, accumulating steadily. I consider these information that varies in the form of facts, data, and verity to be what I know for sure. The answer to how do I know it is the fact that the information was informed to me directly from my trusted individuals who earned our trust through nurturing us. Since I trust the source of the information, I indicate to myself that these are facts I know for sure.

As we get older, the sources for things that we know for sure also grows. We now have our own judgment for reliability and credibility that we use to determine whether or not I would choose to believe the information. We now know information from all over, internet, people, and experiences are all sources of how we know the things we are sure of. It is only a matter of which verities one will decide to believe and know for sure.


Engineering Blog Post #4: Reflect and Share

My final product Portable Wind-Powered Mobile Charger

 

Explanation:

My project was to create a portable wind-powered mobile charger. The original variable of this design is that I added in the “portable” section. It is simply an updated version of the original wind-powered mobile charger I discovered online. After several trials, my prototype did not work. Even though I did not successfully complete my design, but through the building process, I was able to learn about engineering and design which I did not know a lot of. But also showed growth as a student.

Successes in product + process:

Throughout the building process, I personally think that I was successful in overcoming issues and difficulties. Whenever I encountered a problem that I have not met before, I always reflected on myself and tried to overcome those issues by looking for other solutions. For example, during the building process, I had trouble trying to find a way to connect my components together. Though after thinking and research, I decided to use super glue on my prototype. In the past, I would always reach for help, but during the engineering project, I instead reflected on my past knowledge and chose wisely for my decisions. This was definitely a growth in me as a student and as a learner during the engineering project.

Improvements in product + process:

Even though there were parts that I succeeded in the process of creating my product, there are also many improvements that could be made my final product. I think that a crucial reason for the failure in my prototype is the connection between my circuit. Even though I used the correct material for connection, I used the incorrect way for lining up my connections, causing the circuit in my product to mess up. If I was to do this product again, I would most definitely research more so that I will have more of an idea and knowledge about connecting my circuit. I think that there are more improvements that could be done to my final product and during the building process.

Impact of product to the world (environment + potential client + consumer)

My product could impact the world in many different ways. From an environmental perspective, my product would be able to save energy on the planet because unlike other portable chargers with an energy bank, my product is wind-powered. This is a positive impact on the environment. From the potential clients and consumer’s perspective, my product will be more convenient to them than other chargers. For example, in a real-life situation, a portable charger is more convenient than looking for a charging cable and waiting in one spot for their phone to charge. The fact that my product is wind-powered also impacts potential clients and consumers positively. Clients can easily use the charger on cars or bikes or anywhere that they have access to wind. This also means saving money to the clients without the need for energy. These are all positive impacts towards the environment, potential clients, and consumers.

Engineering Blog Post #3: Create and Improve

Finished gathering materials
Starting Prototype #1

Finished Prototype #1

Prototype #1

At first, it was difficult for me to gather all the materials needed for my project and I had to order them one by one. Though after gathering all the materials that I needed, I focused on creating my prototype #1 for two classes and by the end of the last class, I was ready to test my prototype.

There were multiple issues that I went through while I was building my prototype. When I first started to use superglue, I kept on making mistakes and the components were not sticking together very well. Though after a few tries and mistakes, I was able to get the hang of it and proceeded continuously so throughout my building process. This showed my growth and improvement to me as a student and my engineering design.

Engineering Blog Post #2: Develop and Plan

Materials (Portable Wind Powered Charger):

-plywood board

-plastic thread spool

-12v DC motor & plastic propeller

-male to female USB cable

-capacitor 1000UF 25v

-7805 IC

-IN4007 Diode

-General Purpose PCB

-Plastic Box

Time Plan:

Wednesday, Jan. 9 ==> approved sketch and plan + gather materials

Friday, Jan. 11 ==> start creating Wind Powered Charger

Tuesday, Jan 15 ==> continue creating Wind Powered Charger + transfer into Portable Charger

Thursday, Jan 17 ==> finish Prototype +testing + modifications