Seven Reasons to Study History

  1. History provides us with a sense of identity
  2. History allow us to better understand the present
  3. History enables human civilisation and creativity
  4. History enable us to look into mankind’s future
  5. History enable us to put our present day human societies into perspective
  6. History allows us to understand human behaviors
  7. The study of History serves as intellect training and help us to look for truth

” History provides us with a sense of identity” was placed first because we have to fully understand ourselves, including our behaviors, our origins etc in order to understand what we are doing currently and what might happen in the future based on the predictions of ourselves. “The study of History serves as intellect training and help us to look for truth ” is placed at the bottom because we will never be able to find the truth regardless of how intelligent we are. As each individual contains certain degree of bias when explaining history, it is one of the nature of humans. Therefore, history is often biased and is not completely true. We can only ensure it to be more objective by comparing various sources.


History is simply the collection of Facts

History is simply the collection of facts about the past.


Unpacking the claim

It is important to define what each term means. I would personally define “history ” as events that happened in the past and helped altered the way things are. Events that happened in the past doesn’t necessarily mean events that happened a long time ago, it could be events that happened moments ago which changed the view of a particular person. Events can vary from as small-scaled as personal history ( such as when you were born) to large-scale ( such as World War Two). Both of the events had somehow shaped the world. I would define “collection of facts” as things or information that is known to be true or proven to be true. They are very objective and are the reality of what the thing or information.  The claim as a whole would mean that history is the study of the past which reflects the reality.


However, this claim paints an unfair picture of the study of history because

  1. History is not a collection of facts

History might not contain purely facts.  People who wrote history can affect the reliability of history as often, they incorporate their own views, causing history to be biased. There are often disagreements in historical accounts due to the way different people intepret the situation. As history is often written by winners, historical accounts are often exaggerated, part of the situation might have been magnified and exaggerated while some are ignored and were not covered. Also, during the translation of history, the words used to explain situations might affect one’s interpretation. For example how do we know if the New Testament Text are reliable and completely reflect the originals destroyed almost two millennia ago? Communication is never perfect; people make mistakes. Errors are compounded with each successive generation. When we try to conceptualize how to reconstruct an original after 2000 years of copying, translating, and copying some more, the task appears impossible. It has also been translated into different languages, the wording used might not have accurately reflected on the situation, some words might appeal to our senses and emotions, causing individuals to integrate differently.

2. History not only study the past events, it also helps the predictions in future

By looking back to the past to what is called history, we can better understand the present and predict the future. With history we can track our origins and compare past patterns with present and future patterns. Modern technology teaches us new ways to do things. Looking back into history tells us why we do these things. We should be able to see mistakes made in the past and hopefully we can learn and avoid repeating them while at the same time look and learn of the good things of the past.

Can HS use a scientific approach?

Once presentations are over, students read the pages on ‘Can we use scientific approach with humans” and answer one of the following questions:

  1. summarize in your own words the reading ‘Can we use scientific approach with humans

There are a lot of uncertainties when using human science to predict human behaviour. Human are unique, each person has different emotions, they responds differently with different situation due to their ways of being brought out, therefore we cannot generate law describing human’s behaviou.  There is also no way to test or generate theories because objects are constantly changing. It is difficult to run the same experiment on different people due to the environmental factors that are different every time. Similar to the subject area of natural science, although objects such as trees, rocks and oceans are made up of the same molecules and they have the same structure, none of them are identical and they are changing as they interact with other magnetism.  We human are learning every day and it affects our behaviour and how we interact with people.  It is also difficult to work with social experimental data in numerical form because it is hard to quantify our emotions. Numbers are useful to predict and draw conclusion of the overall trend of a situation but it is not targeted towards each individual.

Human Science Research Task

Human Science

Research Question: How does the volcano eruption affect the economics of the country?

  • Hypothesis: Volcanic eruptions affect the economy through the destruction inflicted upon the landscape during an eruption: lahars and pyroclastic flow destroying bridges and homes, ash ruining crops and water, lava flows overrunning communities. It causes thousands of death and destruction of infrastructures. It requires a lot of effort and money to reconstruct the community. 
  • Method(s)/tools of data collection: The economic loss of the country can be measured by the number of people who died, the number of infrastructures that require reconstruction, the GPA of the country etc. 
  • Techniques for analyzing your data: Making predicts of the loss by comparing similar volcano eruption that happened in the past. 

Natural Science

  • Research Question: How do the substances emit from volcano causes effect on human?
  • Hypothesis:  The explosion and the gas emitted from the volcano might cause the death of human and long-term diseases such as lung cancer. 
  • Method(s)/tools of data collection: Estimate the number of people living near the volcano and rank the injured people based on their severity. 
  • Techniques for analyzing your data: Calculate the percentage of people who were injured and died out of the total number of people who live nearby the volcano. 
  • —————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————-
    Compare the reliability/certainty of the knowledge your experts will acquire.
  • The certainty and reliability of the knowledge the human scientists acquire are relatively low compared to the knowledge natural scientists aquire.  The knowledge human scientists acquire is usually from observing and analysing similar situations that happened in the past and formulate with some theory to predict future. Predictions made may not always be reliable and certain as different disasters are taken place in different time and place, environmental factors such as the advancement of technology and communication systems might influence the predictions. Our emotions and reason also cause some limitation in the production of knowledge from this AOK. Every single person has different emotions and even thinks in a different manner. Different experts might have different opinions towards the economic loss of the country. On the other hand, the knowledge from the natural science is more reliable and certain,  although the knowledge in natural science is not definite as they are only theories where it has not been falsified, there has been evidence that supports the knowledge.
  • Identify the factors that contribute to (or take away from) reliability/certainty.
  • Natural Science:
  • The experiment can be done as many times as you want to generate more reliable and certain data.
  • They are just theories that have not been falsified, they are not defined
  • Human Science:
  • Not all situations follow the same pattern as the ones from the past
  • different perspectives have different predictions towards the same situation

    ways that Human Scientists can increase the reliability of their claims: 

  • After collecting quanitative data from different situations, models and formulas are made which helps in predictions. Different perspectives should be considered when coming up with claims.
  • What can you say ‘in general’ about HS as an AOK.

Human science is the study of human behaviours as a group or individuals. There are a lot of limitation as to the current methodology for this area of study reducing its reliability and certainty. Human scientists may be faced with bias on the part of the researcher as well as the object of research. Anthropologists may be unable to access the way people of different knowledge communities know due to linguistic difficulties or due to their own biased cultural memories. A sociologist may face ethical dilemmas when conducting experiments.


Math: Discovered or invented Reflection

Link to Presentation

Natural science is one of the AOKs that makes sense to ask the question of discovered or invented. The concepts exist independant of the theories, we came up with those theories so that we can understand things in a way. But then there are things such as theoretical physics where the ideas are not yet proved and disproven ideas, for example the concept of aether. These things are invented and represent things that may or may not actually exist (or have been proven not to exist). Plus even our description of things is an invention, as often it turns out that as theories evolve and become better understood the concepts become more and more refined to be more and more accurate descriptions of the forces at work; just look at the differences between Newton’s physics and Einstien’s physics – while Newton wasn’t wrong, Einstien’s descriptions are more accurate and detailed. He found out new aspects of existence and invented terminology and theories that described things better. Some would say that the base principles of the universe exist, and are uncovered and modelled through experimentation.

Whether arts are discovered or invented is also debatable. Some believe that music is discovered because any type of sound is a type of music. It is simply where different kinds of sounds are put together. It could be derived from nature, such as the thundering of skies or rain,  it could also evolve from emotions.  Some might argue that music is invented because The evolution of music is what provokes ‘inventions’. It is not music that is invented but its elements such as pitchrhythmtempometer,, and texture.

In the field of Music too a similar scenario is seen. Music is a subject that is originally discovered. This is because no one invented music; it is simply sounds put together. Music can include any type of sound. It could be the thundering of the skies and rain on a monsoon day that can create music. Music may evolve from self driven emotions which can make one perceive what one wants music to be. The earliest humans would make music by putting sounds together which could be beating on something, rubbing sticks together, clapping, humming, whistling or making any other such sounds or noises. The evolution of music is what provokes ‘inventions’. It is not music that is invented but its elements. Common elements of music are pitch, rhythm, tempo, meter, articulation, dynamics, timbre and texture.From sounds put together by hitting strings on a guitar to pressing keys on a piano that creates different pitches and different genres of music such as hip-hop and rap. This may also be considered as a form of ‘discovery’ since it is on the basis of the elements that these genres are formed. These may be discoveries derived from inventions.



Math Scoope

Conjecture is something that hasn’t been proved. They are proposed by mathematicians who thinks that they are true, however, they are usually lack of sufficient evidence.   When someone proves a conjecture, at that point the conjectures turns into a theorem. A theorem is a mathematical statement that is supported with evidence using rigorous mathematical reasoning.

In THE VIDEO  Eduardo Saenz de Cabezon uses the example of people being surprised that folding a normal piece of paper 50 times, will reach a thickness as high as the sun. He challenges us to ‘do the math’ and see that he is correct. He also said that math dominates intuition and tames creativity. By claiming that “Math dominates intuition”, he is suggesting that the application of math has more to do with our ability to understand something instinctively. The concept of how “certainty” and accurate in math has nothing to do with our instincts. I agree with his idea as in math we require proof and we tend to find the answers based on rules set by mathematicians and mathematical reasoning. If we solely follow our instincts when doing math and jump to conclusion, it might lead to an inaccurate answer. By claiming ” Math tames creativity”, it is suggesting that there are boundaries in math and strict rules that do not allow creativity to take place. However, I disagree with the statement, I believe that mathematics is not just a rigid subject that requires one solution and one way of solving,it is a subject with a broader scope that enables a combination of algorithmic-convergent and creative-divergent task performance, there are multiple creative ways to solve one problem. 
3.Saenz de Cabezon claims that the truths in maths are eternal. Do you think this gives maths a privileged position in TOK?

I believe that this gives maths a privileged position in TOK because this area of knowledge has truth that is very certain and definite whereas in other AOKs, such as Arts, a lot of debates are fuelled up on how to define what art is or what beauty is. It has many answers to that one answer whereas there is only one definite solution in math. The knowledge we learn in science is not perfect, they are just theories that haven’t been disproven. Therefore, the knowledge in math is more reliable and accurate.

4. List any of the knowledge questions related to maths that came out of your discussion in class.

can people communicate with solely math?

How are people’s perspective affected by math?

Art and Beauty

Does beauty lie in the object itself of how the audience view it?  Is beauty subjective or objective? Is the thing defined by us or does it exists apart from us?

One might argue that beauty is objective as there are some objective qualities that helps to determine how beautiful objects are in the element of design. Elements such as shapes, lines, textures and colour were discovered in artistic works and they established a foundation of what makes something beautiful. During class, we have also done an experiment where each student have 20 minutes to create our own art piece with materials provided. We then have to select one of the objects which we think is the most aesthetically pleasing. All of the objects that we view as the most aesthetically pleasing ones are usually those that follow the element of design. This shows that all of us unconsciously set universal rules to define what makes something beautiful. An example of rules that makes something viewed as beautiful is the golden ratio, There is actually extensive research declaring that there actually is a system for “beauty” hard-wired into our systems. The human face in particular can be shown to universally appear more “beautiful” based on geometric comparisons. Our perceptions of beauty are very definitely related to mathematical proportions found in the human form that are related to the golden ratio. People whose facial dimensions vary significantly from this ratio will be perceived by most to be unattractive or even deformed and grotesque.

However, some might still say that the experience of beauty varies from man to man, beauty cannot be objective. It varies by person based on their background, such as the way they are brought up, religion, culture and their belief. It is very difficult to get people to agree on aesthetic judgments. For example, different people have different taste in music. In an experiment done by Valorie Salimpoor, participates listened to the first 30 seconds of 60 songs they were unfamiliar with and they were offered the chance to purchase it with their own money. Results show that our brains create “musical memory templates” based on past musical experiences we’ve had. Depending on what styles of music your brain has recorded, it will choose to reactivate them or not when listening to a new piece of music. Basically, your brain’s pleasure center predicts how you’ll feel from a song based on similar music you’ve heard. If you’ve never heard classical music before, and your brain has no musical template for it, then odds are you will feel bored or disappointed after turning on a new classical piece.


What is Arts?

“Unlike the arts, science tells us something valuable about the world.” 

Defining the statement: Valuable is something that benefits the world and allows people to obtain some form of prossession such as knowledge .

Arts does not offer us knowledge about how the world works and is not essential for living. Unlike the science, it does not help explain how stuff works in real life. It doesn’t provide knowledge that we are required to have in order to survive. For example, robots can live although they don’t feel emotions, meaning that there is a possibility that they can not understand or interpret the meaning behind the art piece or the emotion felt and do not create art.  In contrary, science gives us valuable facts, data and explanation to the phenomenon and directly gives us suggestions and knowledge. We wouldn’t be able to survive without science, for example, all of us would have gone extinct if we do not have an understanding of the diseases and medications that could kill them. Art might be biased, different people might view the art piece and interpret them differently, people might find it hard to understand a particular message conveyed from a piece of artwork.  The piece itself does give us any form of knowledge,  information comes from the sharing of information and opinions of a collective group about the artwork.

Art has it’s place and purpose in society. Art allows us to understand the world better in different subjects, such as psychology, history and the sciences. It tells us about human behaviours and the existence of human. Through novels and literature, the characters’ inner thoughts, actions and how they react to situations allow us might help explain the behaviours of certain people. It also allows us to have a better understanding of the history or the living conditions. For example, photographs taken during the war time help us or the future generation to better visualize the situation and the human emotions captured in these photographs again help us understand emotions of human.  Arts can also be in form of diagrams or models. These diagrams and models are extremely helpful in the sciences. Some people are able to learn in science through diagrams as it helps us visualize subjects that are not visible. One example of knowlege from art would be looking at drawing of atoms and drawing of graphs. These art pieces give us knowledge of how the atomic structure looks like or how a certain equation looks like.