My Political Identity

Write a blog post in which you reflect on who you are politically, and what the implications of this are for you as a knower. Be sure to include your results on each of the tests as well as touching on some of the questions from the start of the lesson:

Below are the results from my tests

Regarding the political compass, I think it was fairly accurate in determining my political leanings. I’ve taken this test on several occasions before, and I noticed that there’s several “gotcha” questions that prompts a particular response. Despite this, it placed me in the authoritarian right quadrant, not too far off the center. I think of myself as a moderate conservative, which I think is a good place to be. Personally, I think that extremism AND precise centrism are equal in the sense that they disrupt public discourse. In my view, a lack of opinion can be equally harmful to society.

Interestingly, the nolan chart also places me into the “right wing” conservative boundary. Interestingly enough, it’s just a tad right from the moderate boundary, so I think it’s an accurate indicator of my moderate conservatism.

I was actually very intrigued by the results of this test. Although I acknowledge that I have a political bias, I think that the test was flawed in the way it was designed. To begin, I think that this test was directed towards an American audience, as there were certain questions regarding American protectionism and policy. I try to reduce my political polarization by subscribing to different sources of news, and gathering information from all sides of the political spectrum. I must say that I do have a slight political bias, in that I tend to have a higher degree of skepticism regarding news coming from left-wing news channels, as it’s quite obvious they have a clear political agenda as well. The right wing media certainly has its own agenda, so that’s why I try gather information from diverse sources.

Despite all this, I have a lower political bias than around 70% of test-takers. I think this is in line with my personal policy of referencing different sources of information. I think this is good, because it’s an indicator that my political stance does not largely affect me as a learner or a knower. I judge sources and information based on their true objectivity and value.

  • Do you consider yourself to be “political”? Why or why not?
  • I do consider myself more politically inclined than the average junior. I think this can be attributed to my friend group, and just my subjective opinion that politics is really interesting.
  • What does it mean to be political?
  • I think the greatest indicator of whether someone is political is whether or not the person has an active interest in government or public affairs. One who stays on top of current events is usually more politically inclined.
  • Is everything political? Why or why not?
  • Like in class, almost anything can be linked to politics. Eric even linked mundane things like water to politics. While I certainly think that one can establish a connection if looking for one, it can be a bit of a stretch. I think that there are things that are disassociated with politics.
  • How important do you feel it is to be aware of what is going on in politics?
  • I think it is of utmost importance that we are aware of what is going on in politics. As we grow older, we will discover the importance of participating in public spheres. A nation with a diminished awareness to what is going on in politics is most susceptible to a totalitarian government takeover.
  • What are the political issues that you believe are most important right now and why?
  • The biggest issue is the polarization of discourse in public spheres. I actually wrote a report on this with my fellow General Assembly President, a prospective Harvard student.
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The Social Dilemma

First and foremost, the most shocking piece of information I took away from this documentary is the extent to which our data is exploited and sold. Before watching the documentary, I knew to some extent that the web services we use collect our information – I figured this from the ads I got as well as the countless times big-tech has gotten in trouble with the law. However, this didn’t prepare me for the extent to which our personal information is dissected and sold to the highest bidder.

Apart from our data being sold to corporations for their means of profit augmentation, the question of “How has technology had an impact on how we browse, search and filter data and information? Can algorithms be biased?” is rather intriguing. The documentary opened my eyes to how algorithms can lure unsuspecting users into rabbit holes, and lead to incomprehensibly bizarre ideas like the flat-earth theory and the pizzagate theory. I can’t help but wonder, has this influx of modern technology led to a blur between what is intrinsically “true” and what is not? Has it created a blur between credibility and falsehood – or even information and entertainment? To a great extent, I think so.

To be fully honest, this documentary was frightening to say the least. The very notion that this algorithm, artificial and incomprehensibly advanced, analyzes our every action, every click of the mouse, to prevent us from leaving our devices is quite frankly like something from a dystopian novel. Despite this, I’m glad I had the opportunity to watch this film because it opened my eyes to what’s happening on the other side of my screen. This way, I can at least be more cautious of the things I do on the web.

The Development of Personal and Shared Knowledge

To answer these two prompts, I had a discussion with my father, who attended school in Korea for the better part of his educational life.

Because this was before the prevalence of the internet, his main source of information and knowledge was through national libraries and his teachers. Apart from the instructional knowledge he gathered through school and his teachers, the majority of his knowledge came from public libraries, as mentioned before. He recalls that he would spend a lot of time in the library, and that he and his friends even regarded it as a form of entertainment.

An anecdote he shared was that his father bought him a 50 volume encyclopedia. Through these volumes, he learned about the world, chemistry, biology, physics, and many snippets of trivial knowledge. Because his resources were limited, he says that he read each volume at least 30 times.

I definitely think that technological advancement has paved the way the development of personal and shared knowledge. The internet itself is a seemingly unending source of information, with millions of volumes, archives, and resources just a click away. I think this has vastly improved the development of knowledge, and has allowed individuals to gain a deeper understanding of all branches of knowledge.

Conversely, the development of technology has also limited our ability to distinguish between entertainment and knowledge. Unfortunately, the problem of “fake news” is as prominent as ever, and people seem to trust everything they read on the internet. When my father was a student, the information he had access to were mostly academic resources, so there was a clear distinction on what was true and what was not. These are all factors me must consider when discussing the development of knowledge.

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

While I certainly do believe that there are some ways of knowing that are more likely than others to lead to truth, I believe that there is a preliminary need to define the word “truth”. In this case, I define the word “truth” as an objective veracity or certainty that is validated through the principles of science, mathematics, and logic.

After exploring the 8 ways of knowing, I can confidently state that a combination of reason and perception are more likely to lead to truth than the other ways of knowing.

Despite this, an opposing argument could state that ways of knowing like intuition and faith are just as likely to lead to truth. An example of this would be the Getty Kouros that we explored during class. The Kouros is a statue made of dolomitic marble that had all the time-tested indicators of veracity. It was made of the right marble, the records matched, and even initial scrutiny of the dolomitization of the marble passed with flying colors. The archeometry, reason and perception all pointed towards its authenticity. However, in this case, what lead to the truth of the kouros’ inauthenticity was actually intuition. Through decades of work with these statues, experts in this field were able to recognize the statue as a fake, through solely intuition. This is an example of how ways of knowing like intuition can lead to truth as well. However, while it may have been the intuition of these experts that initially detected the kouros’ inauthenticity, one must consider that it was the carbon dating and the archeometry that confirmed the truth behind the statue.

Furthermore, while there may be cases like the kouros’ where intuition has led to the truth, more often than not, ways of knowing like reason and perception are far more likely to lead to truth than other ways of knowing. For example, faith led millions of people to believe that the Ganesha statue could magically drink milk, thrusting them farther from truth because of confirmation bias. In reality, it was reason and perception that led to the truth behind the Ganesha Milk Miracle. Through tedious observations and experiments, scientists were able to confirm that the statue appeared to drink milk because of the capillary effect, which causes a mix of surface tension. This is one of countless cases where through science, reason and perception have led to the truth behind the falsehoods presented by other ways of knowing like faith and intuition.

This fully supports my argument that a combination of reason and perception are more likely to lead to the truth than other ways of knowing. While there may be occasional exceptions like the kouros, the overwhelming majority of truths have been revealed through the information gathered through perception, coupled with the reasoning that links the information together. After considering both sides of the argument, I conclude that, yes, some ways of knowing more likely than others to lead to truth.

Works Cited

Jayaraman, T. “Obscurantism vs Science Behind the Milk-Drinking `Miracle’.” IMSC, The Institute of Mathematical Sciences, www.imsc.res.in/~jayaram/Articles/milkb.html.

Kimmelman, Michael. “Absolutely Real? Absolutely Fake?” The New York Times, The New York Times, 4 Aug. 1991, www.nytimes.com/1991/08/04/arts/art-absolutely-real-absolutely-fake.html.

1st TOK Debate Reflection

Yesterday, we had the first TOK debate of the year. The topic was “Ignorance is bliss”, and I was arguing against this statement.

The main argument that the opposition made is that there are benefits from not being aware of something. For example, they used an example of how early exposure to things of explicit nature can lead to unnecessary harm. While I agree with this statement, I would argue that there are better, more definitive arguments for the “against” side.

Our team built the argument that ignorance is not bliss because, ignorance has always been a backward step for mankind. I argued that what drives us closer to our pursuit of bliss is knowledge, not ignorance. I effectively delivered my point through the use of examples; I stated the countless wars and conflicts where ignorance caused the regrettable loss of human life. Our team also formulated an argument around the current pandemic, where the ignorance of certain individuals has caused the suffering of many more.

Personally, I can side with both sides of the argument. I believe that ignorance can lead to bliss in certain situations, but in some situations knowledge brings us closer instead. For example, if I was drafted into a war, I would rather remain ignorant of my friend’s and comrades’ deaths, because it will cause me greater anxiety and extreme grief in times when my solidarity is crucial. However, there are certainly examples of times where I would rather know, than to be ignorant. For example, I would like to know if there’s a pneumonia like disease spreading all across the globe, so I can wear a mask and protect myself. Because both sides of the argument are valid to a certain extent, I do believe finding a delicate balance between the two is the way to go.

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

My name is Young Soo, and I’m from South Korea. I enjoy MUN and Stuco.

I do believe there are certain unknowns with clear, definitive, and quantifiable answers, such as  what color is the sky . Since the anglophone world has assigned the four letters “blue” with the specific electro-magnetic radiation our retinas are receiving, I know that the sky is blue through observation. However, one could argue, if a color-blind man is told the sky is blue, is the sky still blue to him? Do colors only exist to those who can experience them? How do we prove that the “blue” one person sees is the same “blue” that everyone else sees?

I personally choose not to focus on the latter questions. As complex it may be, we all have our own definitions of “thought”. To me, what I know, is what I have personally experienced or have observed. In accordance with the dictionary, I know the sky is blue, because based on 16 years of consistently seeing blue skies, I am absolutely certain and sure that the sky is blue. There’s now way to determine if the “blue” I see is the same as the blue you see, but we can both point at the sky and definitively say that the sky is “blue”. That’s how we know the sky is blue.

This supports the idea that our knowledge is limited to certain assumptions we have to make. This is further corroborated by Occam’s razor, which suggests that objective truth is achieved by having the least assumptions possible. As we delve deeper into the more abstract concepts regarding knowledge, assumptions are are necessary to broaden our understanding of knowledge.

 

sources:

Photo from Mac System Dictionary

Occam’s razor

https://www.britannica.com/topic/Occams-razor

Science Engineering Task Blog Post #4

1st photo, project successfully charging kindle device

2nd photo, Components inside the project

3rd photo, birds-eye view

How the device works is not a simple process. There are 4 leads slaughtered to the 5V USB module. There are two ways that the device can charge another device, but here is when the 1N914 Diode comes into play. There is a battery pack inside the device, so when there is input from the solar panel, but no output for the 5V USB module, the solar panel charges the battery pack, instead of charging another device that can be connected. However, when the battery pack turns on, the current does not go back to the solar panel, and this is because of the 1N914 diode. It only allows for the electrical current to go one way, so the solar panel can charge the batteries, but the batteries don’t output electricity to the solar panel. After the rechargeable batteries are charged, they can charge a USB device connected to the USB module. Another way that the device can be charged is directly. When the battery pack is turned off, the solar panel can directly charge the 5V USB module. Those are the two ways that this device can charge another device.

Although it worked, I don’t define my success on this project whether the product worked or not. Sure, it is a part of my success, but I feel like I was successful because I was able to get the project done during the given class time, and I was able to overcome the challenges of lacking some of the materials as well as the shipping complications.

Some things I would do differently would be that I plan earlier. By the first lesson, I identified the materials I needed. But after the first class of building, there was a lack of materials that restricted me from moving on. However the shipping was taking an extremely long time. Because it was getting close to Chinese New Year, the shipping and TaoBao deliveries took longer, because they had to process a larger amount of requests. So this complicated things. I had to wait for the materials to arrive before I was able to proceed on my build. If I had anticipated this, I could have ordered the materials as soon as I identified them, but I did not know that the school did not have them.

As for the environmental impact of my project, this was my first time actually experiencing solar energy, and how it could serve as an alternative energy source. I feel like in the long run if we started using these sorts of alternative energy it would be efficient in using these types of renewable energy. This is a small project that only needed a couple of materials, and it was very interesting to learn how solar energy could be used in different ways.

A way that the customer could use it was in a place that would not have easily accessible energy sources, like plugs. this could be a compact device that could b used in situations like camping, to charge small devices, or even some emergency situations.

Overall, the project was very fun, and it was very interesting to learn the positive effects using renewable energy sources. It was overall a very fun project to do and I recommend it for next year as well.

Science Engineering Task Blog Post #3

CLASS 1

In this first class, I got a lot of things done in regard to my project. unfortunately, my 5V USB module as well as my 1N914 diode did not arrive, and this was making me nervous, because I could not move ahead in this project because I did not have the parts that were crucial in completing my project. In class today, I took a drill and drilled two holes in the Tupperware container, to make space for my positive and negative leads of my solar panel. Also, I got a battery pack with rechargeable batteries, and soldered their respective leads to one another. Next I need to solder the positive lead of the solar panel to a 1N914 diode, and solder their connected leads to the 5V module, which was also yet to arrive.

Class 2

In this second class, I finally got the parts that I needed to complete my project. The 5V USB module arrived, so I soldered their respective leads. As for the diode, I soldered it to th solar panels positive lead as shown above. In todays class, I realized that in order to allow for the USB cord to fit in, i needed to drill a hole. I found that a step bit was the most effective, so i made a circular opening for the module. Because the hole was too high, I elevated the module with two wooden sticks, and it fit perfectly because I sanded it down to fit the height.

I am done with the majority of the project, and what is left now is to test it on a variety of different USB modules.

3rd class.

During this class, I decided to get some feedback from the design teachers. I was disappointed to find that my project was not able to provide enough power to charge a phone, so they suggested that I tests it out on different USB powered devices.

After testing it on a variety of different devices, I realized that it can charge devices with a lower voltage, such as my bluetooth earphones, or my kindle.

There were some improvements that needed to happen, and the two were that after using it for a while, the leads would break their solder, and fall apart. So, I glued my leads down to the case, so they would not be as ripped off easily, because soldering  it again would take more time and decrease the conductivity. The second improvement that I made was that I used double sided tape to the bottom of the case, so nothing inside would move around. I feel like these changes were really beneficial. 

Below is the video of me testing the product, which successfully charges the headphones.

Science Engineering Task Blog Post #2

DEVELOP & PLAN

After considering my options from the following class, I chose to make the SOLAR-powered USB charger, because I thought that it could be used for the most diverse amount of situations.

Below is my plan

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The materials as well as the wiring process is detailed in the plan above

PLAN

As for the materials, all the materials I need were in the classroom, except for three components. Yesterday after school, I bought a Tupperware container from the convenience store, and the other two components I need are the 1N914 electrical diode, as well as the the USB 5 volt USB module. After my materials arrive the only thing left to do is prototype and build.

Science Engineering Task Blog Post #1

Part of our 9th grade science curriculum is a engineering and design project that the entire grade partakes in. In this project, we are provided with a variety of options to build something that we are interested. Among those, I personally would like to either make a project that could transform and transfer energy, or maybe a toy that has some relation with energy concepts.

This first class, i was did not consolidate my choice on what I wanted to do, but after looking around the internet, I found some cool ideas that could be possible for the project, most of which were based off solar panels and solar energy powering some kind of mechanism.

One of the ideas that I found to be pretty cool as well as possibly efficient was a solar charger, which took a solar panel, and used the energy to power or charge any USB-powered device.

Another cool idea that I found was a solar powered car, which could be a fun and interesting toy for this project

The last project that I found was a solar power fan, which was most appropriate for modeling different energy transformations.

For the first idea of the solar charger, it would have the most practical and usable outcome, because it can be used for a variety of real life situations, and it would be the most useful and efficient. One Con of this project would be that since it requires lots of components, it would be hard to acquire the materials as well as test the project out a few times within the time frame.

For the second project, a solar car, it would be a fun toy that could be used for smaller children, and it is a cool alternative toy that also incorporates science. One downside of this is that it is not very applicable to target audiences of our own age.

The last project, the solar powered fan, it is quite as interesting as the first project, but the downside is that it is limited in a sense to be used in the most practical and efficient ways. The solar charger is more compact and portable, whereas the the fan is only applicable to certain situations. Another con of this fan is that it could be simply replaced by the first project, the solar charger, because it could also power a USB-powered fan itself.