Geography + Economics HL TOK

“All models are wrong but some are useful.”

Explain what this quote means with reference specific models in your Group 3 subject and your Group 4 subject.

Group 3: Geography + Economics

Group 4: Chemistry

Models in both Group 3 and Group 4 subjects are valuable in the sense that they allow for the provision of insight and application into complex concepts to facilitate and enhance the acquisition of knowledge, for their respective AOKs. In particular, models in the human sciences can be more applicable to a range of specific situations, in terms of the factors or conditions that are being changed or affected. For example, the Demographic Transition Model (DTM) demonstrates the birth rate and death rate, and total population of a country, showing their growth rate cycles through stages as they develop economically. It can be applied to various countries in order to predict their level of population growth. However, it is a broad generalisation of what a country may experience, as it assumes all countries will go through the same stages – an unrealistic assumption. On the other hand, in Chemistry, the Lewis Dot Structure consists of diagrams that show the bonding between atoms of a molecule and the lone pairs of electrons that may exist in the molecule. They provide a simpler and larger visual representation of atoms and molecules that are normally too small to be seen by the naked eye, and allow for problem solving to determine certain chemical properties when the name of a molecule is given. One of the limitations of this model is the fact that there are four representations of the diagram for the same molecule, so it is possible for the different portrayals to convey only certain aspects of the molecule. At the same time, is merely a 2-dimensional representation, not allowing for the portrayal of bond angles and the shape of the bonds.

Overall, although models in Group 3 and 4 both have their own strengths and limitations as simplified visual representations of more complex concepts, they ultimately serve as useful methods strengthen the acquisition of knowledge, whether it be for understanding, use in problem solving or for extrapolating to make relevant predictions.

Human Sciences Definition

Oxford Dictionary:

“A branch of study which deals with people or their actions, including the social sciences and the humanities, as contrasted with the natural sciences or physical sciences.”

I personally believe that the human sciences is an area of study which investigates human behaviour and the way various human interactions have influenced the way we live in society today. Although the scope and application of each individual human science (e.g. economics, human geography, psychology) may differ, they all utilise case studies and real life situations to formulate and justify theories as part of their methodology. The human sciences as a branch of study is rather modern, from the 18th and 19th century, but the concepts themselves have already existed since the times of early human civilisation.

For example, in terms of individual differences, economics concerns the allocation of scarce resources within a local or global economy, while geography looks into demographics, as well as trends and patterns in human activity over time. Psychology focuses more on the brain’s functions and the way humans think and act, whereas sociology involves the theories behind human interactions.