science history arts ethics mathematics essay and presentation teachers logics sense perception emotion language

Excellent TOK Videos (German)

Here is a recommendation of several 15 minute videos (in German) with direct TOK relevancy.

I would like to recommend the following videos for the TOK course. They are in German, and if you happen to understand this language, then I think you should watch them, because they directly address TOK topics, especially relating to the Area of Knowledge Science.

The videos (each one 15 min. long) can be seen online, but it is not possible to download them. You may need to install RealPlayer. The show alpha-Centauri was produced by the Bayrischer Rundfunk (Bavarian Broadcasting) and was also aired on television. The host of the show, Prof. Harald Lesch, is an Astrophysicist and Philosopher and works at the Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich (LMU). Continue reading »

Tags: , , , , , ,

Reflections on a TOK Presentation that made me think

Old castle
A few days ago one of my students had her TOK presentation which sparked a thoughtful classroom discussion that filled nearly two periods. For me, as a TOK teacher, both the presentation and the follow-up discussion were a great enjoyment: both reflected the “TOK spirit” of a balanced insightful exploration of the topic.

It’s TOK presentation time. And this presentation started a thoughtful discussion in the classroom. The presentation analyzed different ethical approaches relating to the controversial Body Worlds Exhibition. There are several Youtube Videos online if you want to inform yourself a bit more (search for “Body Worlds”). As a matter of fact, I do recommend you to have a look at the exhibition’s Web site so that you know what I’m talking about. The exhibition shows preserved real human bodies, presented in an artistic way to the public. The corpses are “plastinated”. In this process the body liquids and fats are replaced by plastic. This is a way of preserving the body, and it is important to understand that they do not show plastic models. The specimens are displayed in a way that makes them appear very alive, engaged in various activities, such as sports. Continue reading »

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

Of Science, Math and Beauty

Colorful Houses
In this post I’m pondering on the relationship between math and beauty. Can math be beautiful as well? And what is beauty in the first place?

I recently read an article about the mathematics of beauty. Researchers found out that beauty is not in the eye of the beholder, and that beauty can indeed be quantified. If you want to read the article, here is a link.

Now, if it is possible to describe what beauty is using mathematical formulas, maybe it is also possible to look at the issue the other way around. Can math itself be considered beautiful or ugly? I did find an answer to this question by the English mathematician G. H. Hardy (1877-1947):
Continue reading »

Tags: , , , , , ,

What is Logical Positivism?

Office Windows
Logical Positivism was one of the most important schools of philosophy of science in the beginning 20th century. The “Vienna Circle”, a group of scientists, mathematicians and philosophers, contributed greatly in promoting this philosophical view.

When I was younger, in my teens, I started to discover my love for the sciences. I was fascinated by Biology and Physics and I think I must have driven my teachers crazy with my constant request for “proofs” and evidence. I liked science so much that I even included chemical formulas in my literature essays. Instead of saying “The water waves are gently moving in the sunset.” I’d write “Waves made of H2O are gently moving in the solar spectrum.” My English teacher then responded, “Don’t forget about the H2SO4 (sulfuric acid) which is dissolved as well!”. An then I didn’t feel as bad about the bad mark on the test anymore… Now I am teacher myself and occasionally I meet some students who remind me very much of myself. They are constantly confronting me with the words “How do you know that?” – always eager for empirical, scientific evidence. They want to see things before they believe it. They want formulas. They want cause and effect relationships. Without having been aware of it, I myself as well as my students, were followers of a certain philosophical school. We were “Positivists”. Continue reading »

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Of Justified True Belief and the Snouters

Ocean waves
In this episode, I’m going to apply Plato’s definition of knowledge (justified true belief) to the recently discovered mammals, the Rhinogradentia. Can you know that they existed?

Have you ever heard of the strange looking group of mammals, the Rhinogradentia? If you don’t know what they are, then maybe the name Snouter rings a bell? No? Don’t worry, I’m going to explain what they are. In this episode I’m going to use the names Rhinogradentia and Snouters interchangeably, they refer to the same animals. And, yes, I’m also not forgetting about some Theory of Knowledge aspects. In particular I’m going to address the concept of “justified true belief” as a definition of knowledge. So in that sense this episode is somewhat introductory in nature. But first, let’s talk about the Rhinogradentia, the Snouters.

The Rhinogradentia are a group of mammals and were first discovered by the Swedish explorer Einar Pettersson-Sk√§mtkvist in the year 1941. They are a fairly recent discovery, even if this was over 60 years ago. He discovered them on the Polynesian Hi-yi-yi islands in the Pacific ocean, while escaping captivity as a prisoner of war. This was during the second world war. Unfortunately only a few years later, in 1945, the island was destroyed by an earthquake. Continue reading »

Tags: , , , , , ,

Is the Word “scientific” Overused?


Tropical sunset
In this edition I want to give a little warning. Sometimes the words “science” or “scientific” are used to increase the value of certain claims, even if the use of these terms is not justified.

There are many claims out there that give the appearance of being scientific but they are not. Sometimes claims are shrouded in fancy language and sophisticated vocabulary – very serious sounding stuff. “It’s gotta be true, it sounds so scientific!” The media is full with claims that sound scientific but are not.
Continue reading »

Tags: , , , ,

What are Some Problems with Conspiracy Theories?


There are several problems with conspiracy theories, which are outlined in this episode.

I want to start this episode with a little example. Imagine that you are walking in the forest and that you see a burning tree. I give you two possible explanations:

  • Somebody dropped a burning cigarette and accidentally set the tree on fire.
  • The government tested a secret weapon, which accidentally set the tree on fire.

Which one of these two explanations is the better one, and why is it better? Many would probably say that the first explanation is the more reasonable one, but why is it more reasonable? The second explanation could be correct as well! Maybe there is a secret weapons program, and we don’t know about it! Could it be that the first explanation, with somebody dropping a burning cigarette, is too “normal” to be true? There just has to be more to it, right?
Continue reading »

Tags: , , , , ,

What are the differences between Facts, Theories and Opinions?


Houses on a hillside
The terms facts, theories and opinions are often confused. The objective of this edition is to clarify these terms. Facts are observations or measurements from an experiment, theories are the explanation of these facts, while opinions are assessments or evaluations.

The terms facts, theories and opinions are often confused. The objective of this edition is to clarify these terms. Facts are observations or measurements from an experiment, theories are the explanation of these facts, while opinions are assessments or evaluations. Opinions are often not scientifically verifiable or falsifyable.

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

What is Determinism?


Lake, tree, hut and fence in spring - a classic
Determinism refers to the idea that the future is not up to chance, the future can be predicted. Determinists claim that if you had sufficient knowledge of the current situation, then you could in theory predict the behavior of a system into the future. Certain systems are indeed deterministic, many others are not.

In this edition we will have a look at the concept of determinism. In a deterministic system the initial conditions of the system determine the future behavior of the system. The behavior of both a falling apple and a rolling die depend on the initial conditions. Even the same laws of physics apply, namely classical mechanics. Both falling apple and the rolling dice are deterministic systems. But I am able to calculate the landing position of a falling apple, but I am not able to calculate the result of a die roll. Why? How are these two examples different? Why does the die seem to behave according to chance, but not a falling apple? A rolling die is chaotic and it is unpredictable, even though it is deterministic. Even if we know all the physical laws and the starting conditions of a system, it is still not possible to predict the future behavior of chaotic systems.
Continue reading »

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

What are Thought Experiments?


It is not always necessary to conduct real-life experiments to reach a valid scientific conclusion. Thought experiments may in some cases also suffice. In this edition I will illustrate you a thought experiment from physics: In a vacuum, all objects accelerate the same way and they both have the same velocity. Heavy objects will not fall faster. But how can we test this? We do not have a large vacuum chamber to test this. A thought experiment can be useful in this case.

In this edition of TOK-Talk I will explain you what a thought experiment is. Is it always necessary to conduct real-life experimets to reach a valid scientific conclusion? Listen to find out!
Continue reading »

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

General Info

Areas of Knowledge

Ways of Knowing



RSS Feeds

Popular Tags

analytic | anatomy | anthropology | Areas of Knowledge | Arts | assumptions | axioms | beauty | belief | bias | categorical imperative | certainty | Columbus | communication | consequentialism | creatvity | culture | deontology | determinism | dignity | dilemmas | emotions | enlightenment | essay | Ethics | facts | falsification | frank | General TOK | graphs | Great Minds | guide | History | human | Internal Assessment | jokes | Kant | knowledge | knowledge issues | Language | life | linking | Logics | marking | math | Mathematics | morality | Mpemba | Ockham | opinions | paradigms | paradox | Perception | physicalism | Plato | poetry | Popper | positivism | pragmatism | predicatbility | Presentation | proofs | puzzle | reason | Reflections | relativism | religion | schlick | Science | sense perception | speeches | statistics | syllabus | ted | theorems | theories | tok | TOK Essay | Truth | utilitarianism | variables | Videos | vidoes | vienna circle | Ways of Knowing
The good life is inspired by love and guided by knowledge.

- Bertrand Russell -
Copy Guarded by IamShekhar's WP-CopyGuard.