This is a site where I post articles, videos, and various resources relevant to a Theory of Knowledge teacher or student. As I find things that are relevant to the class, I post them here. There is no particular order in which the resources are posted but you can search by relevant Area of Knowledge or Way of Knowing by navigating the tabs above. Some of them have specific subject tabs for topics that seem to come up often like “Animals” as a common theme under “Ethics.”
You can also navigate the “Misc Topics” tab to help you find other topics that frequently come up in the resources posted here.
Some posts are simply articles with an excerpt included to give you an idea what it’s about. All have some relevance to helping you think about theory of knowledge topics or ideas.
Some posts are more well developed collections of resources on a particular theme or topic like this one about the ethics of facebook experimentation that has a series of articles on that topic.
Please contact me by email if you have any questions or to report any broken links.
“The idea of reappropriation isn’t new. The process of turning negative words, symbols or ideas into positive parts of our own identity can involve repurposing a racial epithet or taking on a stereotype for sociopolitical empowerment. But reappropriation can be confusing. Sometimes people can’t figure out the nuances of why something is or isn’t offensive — government bureaucrats in particular.”
The question can further be narrowed to ask when governments should fund scientific research.
People who are critical of government spending often find government funded scientific research projects they deem wasteful and publicize them as examples of government waste. Sometimes the discussions are just political theater but the conversation does raise interesting questions. What is the government’s responsibility when it comes to funding science? What criteria should we follow when determining what is worthwhile and what isn’t?
Arizona Senator Jeff Flake has on multiple occasions published lists of projects he thought were wasteful but he also published an interesting list of 20 questions he thought should guide our decisions on which projects deserved government spending.
- Will this research advance science in a meaningful way?
- Will the findings advance medicine?
- Will it improve our national defense?
(You can find the full list here)
You can download his whole document here.
Science Magazine Responds
Analysis: Senator’s attack on ‘cheerleading’ study obscures government’s role in training scientists
Below is a link from Science magazine addressing the Senator Flake’s approach and assumptions.
“More importantly, perhaps, how NSF did spend the money illustrates an important point often lost in the sometimes highly partisan debates over government research spending: Most of those dollars go to educate the next generation of scientists. These students are trained in many disciplines and work on a wide array of projects—some of which might sound dubious to politicians. After graduation they use their knowledge to bolster the U.S. economy, improve public health, protect the nation from its enemies, and maintain U.S. global leadership in science.”
Planet Money Podcast: Shrimp Fight Club
These issues were discussed on a Planet Money Podcast which was adapted from another podcast Undiscovered.
“If you eat a lot of salt — sodium chloride — you will become thirsty and drink water, diluting your blood enough to maintain the proper concentration of sodium. Ultimately you will excrete much of the excess salt and water in urine.
“The theory is intuitive and simple. And it may be completely wrong.”
“Scientists began thinking and writing about how Native Americans understand the natural world in the 20th century. Instead of seeing a conflict between Western science and Native American knowledge, they started thinking about ways to learn how Native Americans addressed environmental and ecological issues differently.”
“But it is increasingly clear that the mind is mainly drawn to the future, not driven by the past. Behavior, memory and perception can’t be understood without appreciating the central role of prospection. We learn not by storing static records but by continually retouching memories and imagining future possibilities. Our brain sees the world not by processing every pixel in a scene but by focusing on the unexpected.”
Interesting discussion on the difference between “monuments” and “memorials” and how that distinction plays out with the contemporary controversy around the removal of Confederate Civil War statues.
“The debate around these monuments — Should they be destroyed, maintained or removed elsewhere? — has been heated and, I believe, misguided. We should be asking other questions instead: Are these statues really “monuments” by our present standards? Or are they rather “memorials”? Are we misled by the avenue’s name? Do we need to rename the avenue itself as we attempt to remedy our deferred maintenance of history?”