Month: October 2017

Pseudoscience

In all honesty I believe that the distinction between what is/is not art and the distinction between what is science and what is pseudoscience are two different things. This is because art as a subject is all about showing ones perspective and ideas  and is suppose to spark debate between two or more points of view. In conclusion, saying that the distinction of what is art and what is not art is not always very clear is accurate. However could the same be said about science and pseudoscience?

Pseudoscience consists of statements, beliefs or practises that are claimed to be factual or based on the scientific method, but are actually not based on any hard evidence and not constrained by appropriate scientific methods. However the distinction between pseudoscience and real science is different to find since it is littered with definitional disagreements and the categories are too broad and fuzzy to solidly determine what is pseudoscience or not. In science we have the scientific method where we observe things in the natural world and then find further evidence to support our observations, in order to eventually create a general theory or formula. A famous example of this is Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution where he observed the differences in different species of finches, then collected more evidence which eventually led to his theory. Pseudoscience is notorious for doing the opposite of the scientific theory, where it starts by having a general theory and then starts finding evidence of that, and sometimes refuting contradictory evidence. An example of this is astrology (not to be confused with astronomy), where people are designated to be of a certain zodiac and will thus display certain traits. For example a person born from April 20 – May 20 is a Taurus and will thus display the things that a Taurus likes and dislikes. However the problem with disproving that there is no grounds for making such a claim is that it is technically true in a way. You cannot prove that no Taurus does not display the traits that a Taurus is “supposed” to have, because the strengths, weaknesses, likes and dislikes of a Taurus or of any horoscope is simply too general to not apply to a wide range of people. As a result, people who believe in the horoscope can say that based on this method, the horoscopes are real.

Natural Science

After learning about the Natural Sciences in TOK and after watching a very interesting and educational TED Talk video,  I have relearned why the common people should trust the evidence provided by Natural Science (unlike what some people nowadays may think) and also learned about what Natural Science is and what it is not. FYI when I talk about natural sciences, I am referring to the sciences that deal with the natural world like biology, chemistry and physics. Basically what natural science is, is the science of the tangible and observable world, so even things like gravity which is observable is included in the natural sciences.

Compared with other Areas of Knowledge (AOKs), natural science is different, because it is the only AOK that requires it’s knowledge to be deemed plausible by an external group of well-versed scientists and has it’s knowledge built upon the progress and works of previous scientists. In AOKs like the arts, ethics and possibly human sciences, knowledge and the evidence of it does not have to be put under the scrutiny of an external party of other people who are also well-versed in that AOK. In mathematics and history the knowledge that is accepted is either not very flexible or is not the product of the work of the people who researched the topic beforehand.

However, this is not to say that the natural sciences is a full-proof method to understand the universe in all of it’s wonders and mysteries. This is because in natural science, scientists have to make a lot of assumptions when creating their “rules”, formulas and theories. Furthermore scientists also try to adjust their theories and formulas to fit the general pattern, and they do not know for certain whether these general patterns that they observe are applicable to all corners of the universe. On the other hand, this is the best method that we humans have right now to help us make sense of some of the great unknown.

Faith and Intuition

As WOK’s, Faith and Intuition are similar in some aspects and different in others. Knowledge that is derived from faith is often simply widely accepted without need for any prior knowledge or reasonable deduction, whereas knowledge derived from intuition is often based on past experience or a “sixth sense”. Both of these WOK’s have the capacity to be useful and problematic to people when it comes to knowledge.

Knowledge that is derived from faith can provide people with an answer to commonly unanswerable questions such as “Why are we here?”. The answers to these questions provide society with moral guidelines and provide people with a sense of purpose and clarity. However faith can also be problematic, because there is no real proof that the knowledge derived from faith is accurate. For example most religions believe that there is a higher being, whether it be god, jesus, allah or some other higher being. However there is no real proof that these beings exist, which does suggests that the existence of these higher beings may simply be something the human mind made to cope with the vast unknowns of the universe.

Knowledge that is derived from intuition can be justified because in some cases, it allows people to be somewhat of a harbinger in that it can allow people to foretell what is to come. This is useful because it allows people to be ready in a moments notice, without an immediate need to be. For example if you see a glass teetering at the edge of the table and you see someone nearby who is unaware of the glass and whose elbow is almost touching the glass, then you intuitively know that the person will knock the glass off the table and send it crashing down to the ground. The observer to then position himself in a way to catch the glass if it falls, or to move the glass to a safer position beforehand. However knowledge garnered by intuition is also a gamble in a way, because it is not always 100% accurate. Take the above example for instance, there is only a possibility that the person will knock over the glass. It is just that there is a high probability based on the observers past experiences and prior knowledge, that he has come to the conclusion that the person will knock over the glass.

Memory and Imagination

Claim: Despite the imperfections of imagination and memory as ways of knowing, the Areas of Knowledge have developed in such as way as to overcome them. Discuss this claim with reference to at least two AOKs.

 

Basing knowledge solely on imagination and memory is not societies ideal way of getting knowledge, because there are many problems that come with using imagination and memory to attain knowledge. For example when trying to build a case in court, sometimes lawyers utilise eye witness testimonies to make their points. However this is not the ideal since people’s memories are not always precise and there are bound to be limitations to what the human mind can accurately recollect, meaning that eye-witness testimonies are always subject to bias which affects the reliability of the knowledge derived from memory. Furthermore knowledge gained from imagination is, in a way, a kind of extrapolation of all your prior knowledge to create new knowledge. While this may be useful in some areas, it is still just an extrapolation and therefore it does not take into account other external factors that may affect the results.

However there are AOKs that have developed ways to overcome the limitations of imagination and memory, and these AOKs are history and the natural sciences. This is because even though new knowledge is initially conceptualised through memory and imagination, it is ultimately backed up by further evidence of the initial concept. In history we do not know for 100% what something from the past looks like, and therefore we must use our imagination or memory to visualise it. However we are also able to use external facts and evidence to corroborate the knowledge that we derive from our imagination and memory, in order to ensure that the knowledge we are attaining is more accurate. Similarly with the natural sciences, if a scientist has a theory about something that is based on his/her imagination of something, then the theory will require physical evidence in order to be generally accepted by the general public.

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