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May 2024 TOK Essay Title 6: Are we too quick to assume that the most recent evidence is inevitably the strongest? Discuss with reference to the natural sciences and one other area of knowledge.
Be careful here with this title that you’re really talking about evidence and not the interpretation of evidence in the form of theories! This one is worth a listen just for how we talk about ways to approach TOK Essay Titles in general, nearer to the end.
One more word about the arts after further consideration: recent evidence could be uncovered in the arts in many ways, for example the use of x-ray can uncover new evidence about artists’ intentions, techniques and processes. Check out the Art News article linked below
Links from our discussion:
Guest: Rhodri George
Music: sounds recorded on the beach in Pak Lap and a random bass line from Garage Band... I really need more music! Contact me if you have any you want featured.
May 2024 TOK Essay Title 1: Is subjectivity overly celebrated in the arts but unfairly condemned in history? Discuss with reference to the arts and history.
Be careful with this title: you need to really interrogate assumptions about the role of subjectivity in both arts and history. Think about instances where subjectivity may be overly celebrated in the arts and where objectivity could be of value. Likewise, think about where subjectivity is condemned and where it might also have value in history.
Guests: Kevin Hoye, Robert Scheer
After we finished the last episode, Kevin Hoye and I kept our conversation going about each of the titles, and I decided to keep the mic on to capture our conversation in the form of a quick little bonus episode to point out some things to watch out for and some interesting bits about each of the 6 titles. Class of 2023 TOK students… listen up!
Again, thank you random musicians on this track… speaking of which, if you’re a musician and would like to be featured,reach out to me!
In this episode, I talked to Ian Galley (IBDP English Language & Literature) Nicole Mamphey (Science and Applied Ethics) about TOK Essay Title 3: Does it matter if our acquisition of knowledge happens in “bubbles” where some information and voices are excluded? Discuss with reference to two areas of knowledge.
We had a rich discussion about “bubbles'' as they exist in social media networks and internet platforms as well as within academia, algorithms, and how this contributes to, enhances and distorts our bubbles. We also discussed many of the real world consequences (why it matters!) that what we’re learning may occur in these bubbles.
We discussed relevant ideas including retracted findings of psychology and vaccination studies, bubbles in comedy and how it fits with the Benign Violation Theory, perspectives and the Soldier vs. Scout Mindset by Julia Galef, Spiral of Silence Theory and the social tendency to reinforce bubbles and silences descending voices, and the Metaverse. We discuss the difference between a community and a bubble: which one is more open to other ideas? How do they overlap?
We unpack and explore: Does it matter (to who? for what?) Does it matter to our acquisition of knowledge? Does it matter to the voices that are excluded? We challenge the notion that science is objective, and discuss how even in the sciences we want to reinforce what fits our own perspective and beliefs. We also begin to discuss voices that are excluded: silenced voices - why this matters!
In this episode, I met with Dr. PS and Janka Steinkamp (both IB English teachers to talk about Essay Title 4: Do you agree that it is “astonishing that so little knowledge can give us so much power” (Bertrand Russell)? Discuss with reference to the natural sciences and one other area of knowledge.
I hope you find this episode as interesting as we did. If you’re looking for the TOK Essay Title Posters I mentioned, you can find them here.
“Real knowledge is to know the extent of one's ignorance” (Confucius in 500 BC)
Today I had a really insightful discussion with IB Theatre teacher, Alex Campion. We talked about May 2023 TOK Essay Title 6: To what extent is the knowledge we produce determined by the methodologies we use? Discuss with reference to history and one other area of knowledge.
Of course we talked about the Arts, attempting to give light to artistic methods in contrast with "the scientific method". I really enjoyed this one, and hope it leaves you thinking a little about the connection between the way we choose to produce knowledge and the impact it has on what we know. Stay tuned for more of these Essay Title discussions in the next few weeks!
Today I had a coffee with Bill Kyzner and Bob Scheer and we unpacked the 2023 May Title 2: For artists and natural scientists, which is more important: what can be explained or what cannot be explained? Discuss with reference to the arts and the natural sciences. Questions that arose included: When does one become an “artist” or “scientist”? What does it mean to “explain”? Important for the artist/scientist to do what? So many different questions and ideas came up as we talked, I hope this gives you some food for your TOK thought!
Do good explanations have to be true?
Today’s topic is a previous TOK Essay title: “Do good explanations have to be true?” To help me explore this question, I am joined by four fellow IB & TOK Teachers: Mr. Bill Kyzner representing Political Science, Mr. Francis Wynne, representing the Classics, including Latin Language & Greek Mythology, Mr. Jordan West-Pratt representing Natural Sciences, and today I’ll be representing the Arts.
Questions we discuss in relation to Natural Sciences, Political Science, Classics and the Arts:
Three things that stand out to me after this conversation:
Finally, I still am left wondering about the relationship of truth to the goodness of an explanation, and how that might differ depending on the audience of the explanation - who is the explanation for? what is its’ purpose? and does that determine what makes it good rather than its truth quality? There’s still much to be considered here. A title like this one seems so simple, and yet so complex once we start to unpack it.
No matter if you’re a TOK student, teacher or knowledge enthusiast, I hope that our discussion got you thinking about the relationship of good explanations and truth in your areas of interest or expertise. Tune in again next time for the next episode of TOK Talk.
Thank you to the random street performer in Shanghai for the intro and outro music.