TOK and zombies

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Until this very moment I hadn’t realized exactly what’s been missing in my TOK classes.  Zombies! I’ve been missing zombies. For years I’ve introduced terms such as “justification”, “counter-argument” and “refutation”. For years I’ve compared areas of knowledge on the basis of whether their knowledge claims could be tested, and whether and why people in […]

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Conspiracy theories, intuitions and critical thinking: Part 1

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Did you know that the Charlie Hebdou attack was not, as the media tell us, an attack by terrorists offended by the satiric magazines’ portrayal of Muhammed, the Prophet? Did you know, rather, that it was orchestrated by the U.S. in order to punish France for its foreign policy decisions? Did you know that pop star Kate Perry is, in fact, a member of the Illuminati , bent on world […]

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Reliability in psychological science: methodology in crisis?

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“Scientific truth is a moving target,” wrote the editors of the Public Library of Science (PLoS) a decade ago. “But is it inevitable, as John Ioannidis argues …that the majority of findings are actually false?” In the decade since the editors posed this question, the psychological sciences have been shaken by further challenges to their credibility, including some widely reported controversies. It was August of this […]

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Small Picture, Big Picture: a photography resource for TOK

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Images and stories – singular tales have power to grip our imaginations and, in vividly capturing individual moments, to evoke a far more general experience. We’ve certainly witnessed the impact on political discussion of the single photo of a drowned child that I blogged on – and so did everyone else! – just recently. ( “How does a single photo of a single drowned child affect our shared knowledge? […]

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“Evidence-based medicine”: a class discussion, with a caffeine lift!

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(Originally posted on  Activating TOK)  Did you know that green coffee bean extract can help you lose weight? No? Me neither! Today, I’d like to propose a class discussion on thinking critically about media knowledge claims for products that yield fabulous (literally) medical benefits. The discussion is given a caffeine lift by a bite-sized example from a year […]

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“Evidence Based Medicine”: WOK Language and AOK Natural Sciences

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(Originally posted on Activating TOK) When we depend on language to mediate scientific knowledge, the field is ripe for misunderstanding and abuse.  And when life and death are involved, as they often are in medical science, getting it right is important. Hence the attempts of prominent figures who straddle both fields — medical science and communication (e.g. David Gorski, Stephen […]

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