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.

Math – The Big Question

If mathematics is created by men, why do we sometimes feel that mathematical truths are objective facts about the world rather than something constructed by human beings?

I believe that we sometimes feel that mathematical truths are objective facts about the world due to the element of faith that is involved in mathematical understanding. In particular, when it comes to axioms, they are perceived as self-evident without the need for proof, and can simply be accepted and comprehended the way that they are. In terms of mathematical proofs, the use of deductive reasoning provides sufficient evidence for claims and statements, essentially proving them to be true. Even though mathematics is something constructed by human beings, enough time has passed to allow humans to make sense of and justify mathematical truths, as well as implement them into their daily lives with mathematics as an underlying order.

Mathematics Definitions

My definition: Mathematics is a type of science that exists as thoughts and ideas, consisting of number, quantity and space.

Definition #2: Mathematics is a type of science that exists as thoughts and ideas, consisting of number, quantity and space. It involves the investigation and observation of patterns that arise as natural phenomena, in order to understand concepts that may not normally be seen without the implementation of mathematics.

Definition #3: Mathematics is a type of science that exists as thoughts and ideas, consisting of number, quantity and space. It involves the investigation and observation of patterns that arise as natural phenomena, in order to understand concepts that may not normally be seen without the application of mathematics. It can further be categorised into pure math and applied math, which are somewhat interrelated and allow the fundamental concepts of mathematics to be transferred and implemented into other areas of science (e.g. physics, computer science).

The Arts – Ways of Knowing

One of our tasks in class was to create a diagram showing how 3 or 4 ways of knowing work with one another in the acquisition of knowledge.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The four ways of knowing that my group believed work together in the acquisition of knowledge are sense perception, imagination, emotion and reason. We concluded that the four ways of knowing work together in a cycle, in the particular order that was previously mentioned, starting from sense perception. Sense perception is one of the first ways of knowing that is put to use when looking at a piece of art, as we are actively taking what we see and changing it into thoughts, opinions and interpretations. This is then linked to imagination, as we use the creativity within our minds to come up with plausible analyses. We believed that imagination works hand in hand with emotion, as one’s current sentiments and feelings at the time could potentially affect the way that the artwork is being perceived. Finally, reason can be used to implement logic in order to fully make sense of the interpretation at hand and suggest . 

Knowledge of the Arts

What is the methodology behind the lightsaber as a piece of art?

I think that the lightsaber was a result of personal knowledge requiring imagination and creativity, as the weapon in Star Wars was originally meant to be a sword instead. However, due to the desire for a more futuristic approach, the normal sword became one with laser. This was further developed using reason, as the lightsaber was meant to represent the power and authority of the Jedi rather than constantly be used in fights. The relation to technology is also prominent, as it allowed the right effects to be applied during post-production of the film to make the laser of the lightsaber seem realistic. At the same time, creativity also had to be applied during the making of the film, as a flashlight was used as the basis of the lightsaber and the actors had to hold it with both hands in order to pretend that it was heavy.

 

Does Deadmau5 give you knowledge that goes beyond language?

I think that it gave me knowledge that goes beyond language. While listening to the song and walking around the classroom, I had the constant urge to move and dance. I believe that this is knowledge that goes beyond language, as this feeling and sensation that emerged cannot be fully expressed in words and can only be understood when it is actually felt.

Definition of the Arts

Personally, I believe that the Arts consist of the creation of visual expression and application, typically using creativity and imagination – such as painting, music, literature and dance. Nonetheless, many people have different views of what can truly be considered as art, so opinions and views on art are often rather subjective. Art is often made to be viewed and appreciated by a greater audience, but it is not always necessary depending on the intentions of the artist. 

Natural Science – WOK’s, Language and Concepts

  • Write about two separate networks that use the ways of knowing. The first network uses the ways of knowing to produce knowledge in the natural sciences while the second network uses the ways of knowing to acquire knowledge in the natural sciences. Each network should have a minimum of two ways of knowing in it.

Network for Producing Knowledge:

Imagination: Imagination must be utilised to come up with the initial spark or idea, allowing an investigation to commence and a hypothesis to be made. Without imagination, we would not have the ability to think of new ideas that might apply to the world around us.

Sense Perception: During observations, sense perception must be used in order to comprehend what is happening around us and process the information to draw conclusions.

Reason: After the observations have been made, an important aspect of the Natural Sciences is proving your conclusions and justifying them with relevant research and information. Without proper reasoning and proof, no one would believe any claims that are made.

 

Network for Acquiring Knowledge:

Language: Many aspects of the natural sciences are learned through definitions and explanations, all of which is learned by communicating through language. Although models and diagrams exist, textual and spoken information is ultimately more effective in learning concepts and making note of what is learned.

Faith: Faith is an important way of knowing during the acquisition of knowledge due to the fact that if people do not believe in or trust the information that is being given to them, they would not fully accept and process it. In order to acquire knowledge to the greatest extent, there must be an element of faith.

Memory: During the acquisition of knowledge, it would be pointless if the information was not remembered and was merely forgotten and ‘thrown away’. As a result, memory is significant in recalling concepts and applying it to daily life.

 

Why is it important for the Natural Sciences to have their measurements found in nature and not created by humans? How is measurement the language of Natural Science?

I think it is important for the Natural Sciences to have their measurements found in nature due to the fact that it is less likely to be modified or changed compared to measurements created by humans. Measurements created by humans have the tendency to fluctuate over time, so it is more reliable to utilise measurements that can simply be found around us instead. Measurement is the language of Natural Science due to the fact that it involves a lot of numerical values in many cases, as well as the need for quantification in observations, data and research.

Historical Development of Natural Science

What were five key events in the Historical Development of the Natural Sciences?

Advent of writing: This allowed people to record their knowledge for all, rather than storing information through memory and using it for purposes outside of survival. It also made it possible for knowledge to be preserved and passed on even after death.

Pre-Socratic philosopher Thales: He was dubbed the ‘father of science’ and was the first to postulate non-supernatural explanations for natural phenomena. He broke from the use of mythology to explain the world and the universe, and instead explained natural objects and phenomena by theories and hypotheses. This can be seen as the basis for the scientific method that we know and use today. Almost all of the other Pre-Socratic philosophers followed him in explaining nature as deriving from a unity of everything based on the existence of a single ultimate substance.

Plato and Aristotle in the Greco-Roman World: They produced the first systematic discussions of natural philosophy, which contributed to the shaping of later investigations of nature. They developed deductive reasoning which was important and useful to later scientific inquiry. Aristotle brought about the concept of empiricism, where scientific ideas had to be tested and could not purely be based on personal knowledge.

The invention of the microscope and telescope: The invention of these two particular scientific equipment allowed people to look past the visual spectrum of things and look into the microscopic world, leading to further experiments and discoveries with areas such as medicine, and the structure and behaviour of the atom.

Newton/Ibn al-Haytham’s development of the scientific method: The scientific method is one of the crucial aspects of the natural sciences, as it allows people to develop hypotheses, conduct experiments and draw conclusions, fuelling the rise of scientific theories and laws.

 

Is it inevitable that the Historical Development of the Natural Sciences has lead us to our current way of doing Natural Science? Why or why not?

I believe that it is not inevitable that the historical development of the natural sciences has lead us to our current way of doing natural science. This is because of the need for previous generations to do research, conduct experiments, draw conclusions and set the basis for future generations to carry on, prove and disprove, and build upon existing ideas and theories. It is only with the cultivation of knowledge and information from the past, whether right or wrong, that we are able to be where we are today.

On the other hand, I also believe that it could be inevitable to a certain extent. Even if one person did not exist and was not present to discover or create what they previously did, it is possible that someone else could have stepped in to produce the same ideas and come to the same stage that we are at today, regardless of the timeframe.

Natural Science – Methodology

In what ways does this quote help us understand the methodology in Natural Science?

“At the heart of science is an essential balance between two seemingly contradictory attitudes – an openness to new ideas, no matter how bizarre or counterintuitive they may be, and the most ruthless skeptical scrutiny of all ideas, old and new. This is how deep truths are winnowed from deep nonsense.” -Carl Sagan

I think that this quote allows us to understand the methodology in Natural Science in the sense that not all ideas should be accepted immediately, but not all ideas should be refuted immediately – as humans exploring the natural world we should be open to all ideas and generate observations and trends before we can completely support or reject anything. The possibility of the idea being reality signifies that everything should be viewed from an objective point of view before the final conclusions are known for sure. Without the nonsensical ideas, we would not be able to break free from the generalised shared knowledge that our society has given us. At the same time, without skeptical scrutiny of ideas, our world would be a mess of random ideas.

Relating this back to the pre-class video, a lot of natural science information comes from the initial spur of creativity, which is later tested and proved. Especially with the fact that computers can be left to carry out the scientific method on their own, a greater responsibility remains for us humans to generate the primary thought process that kick starts the scientific method and allow us to become more curious of the way the world works. This makes it even more important to carefully take all ideas into consideration and judge them from a fair and objective perspective. 

 

What is Karl Popper’s theory of Falsification?

Karl Popper’s theory of Falsification is mainly made up of the idea that scientists should go out of their way to refute their own hypothesis. This means that scientists should continuously try to prove that hypotheses are wrong – if they succeed, then they can make a new hypothesis and try again; but if they fail, they must keep trying and trying until they can prove that it is wrong.

 

How is it different from the way most people view Natural Science?

I think that people typically view Natural Science as the creation of new hypotheses and ideas, while conducting experiments and generating observations that prove them to be right or true. This is contrary to Karl Popper’s theory of Falsification due to the fact that Popper viewed Natural Science in the sense that hypotheses must be continuously proven to be wrong. This is an issue because this would mean that instead of developing new ideas about the world around us, scientists would be putting their full focus on refuting their own ideas.