Tag Archives: perspectives

Indigenous “enoughness”: Perspectives are more complex than they seem.

(by Eileen Dombrowski) Why do I have such ambivalent reactions to this video “Enoughness”, when it is so obviously a splendid film to take to a TOK class?  Not only does it give a short, pithy summary of perspectives on the natural world and their implications for how we treat it, with graphic illustration, but it also supports a new area of knowledge in the TOK course, indigenous knowledge.  Moreover, the value it places on sustainability puts it utterly in harmony with IB education.  But….but…but for me, perhaps it’s my objections to it rather than my general endorsement that make me consider it particularly valuable for TOK.

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Germany’s Pegida: “groping in the dark of logic”

(by Theo Dombrowski) “As a default, we humans are notoriously irrational,” writes Adam Fletcher. “Many of us suffer from something called dysrationalia which is being unable to think and behave rationally despite having adequate intelligence. Dysrationalia explains why otherwise smart people might believe in horoscopes, Yeti, the Easter Bunny, the Tooth Fairy, or Xenu, the ruler of the Galactic Confederacy.”

PEGIDA_Demo_DRESDEN_25_Jan_2015_116139835The failure to separate genuine knowledge from spurious claims can, of course, be dangerous. The contemporary world, in spite of increased education and awareness, is bristling with politically painful examples of widespread social problems arising from “dysrationalia”. In fact, the opening quotation is from a satiric article  focusing on the particular issue of knowledge-claims-gone-horribly-wrong — yet flourishing — in a protest group in Germany called Pegida.

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Poppies and remembrance: symbolism and perspectives

poppyfield(by Eileen Dombrowski, from TOK OSC blog) Controversy again over poppies and remembrance – or in TOK terms, over symbolism and shared knowledge! In Britain, a headscarf with a poppy pattern has been marketed to Muslim women to “raise awareness about the 400,000 Muslims, most of them Indian, who fought alongside British troops in the First World War.” Condemning this poppy scarf, one Muslim woman calls it one of “the most ill-conceived of the recent spate of ‘we are not extremists’ initiatives.” She adds,  “I also take issue with the fact that a symbol of my religion is being appropriated as a marketing tool for empire.”  (“Brits divided over ‘poppy hijab’”)

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The Shroud of Turin: perspectives, faith, and evidence

14 10 turin shroud(by Eileen Dombrowski, from OSC TOK blog) Intense emotions and extensive discussion have swirled around the 4-metre-long cloth known as the Shroud of Turin. Is it really the burial cloth that was wound around the body of Jesus Christ after his crucifixion (as many Christians believe), miraculously preserving His image? Or is it a hoax? Earlier this month (Oct 9-12), a conference in St. Louis, Missouri  brought together international presenters and participants on the topic “Shroud of Turin: The Controversial Intersection of Faith and Science”. However, it is an article by historian Charles Freeman that may at last give some definitive answers. In an article published this week in History Today, he argues that the cloth is neither a miraculous burial shroud nor a deliberate hoax, but a 14th century cloth used in church Easter rituals — with significance attributed later. His research is riveting for those of us interested in how knowledge is created. Continue reading

“Don’t Even Think About It: Why Our Brains Are Wired to Ignore Climate Change”

09 23 climate march(by Theo Dombrowski, from OSC TOK blog September 23, 2014) On September 21, more than half a million people in 166 countries (approximately 400, 000 in the New York flagship march alone) marched to demand that world leaders act to tackle climate change. Their demand was directed in large part to the leaders converging today for an emergency UN Climate Summit. Will their huge numbers have any effect on the attitudes–or beliefs–of those who have not already accepted the conclusions of 97% of the world’s climate scientists? Continue reading

Indigenous Knowledge: definition, implications, and controversy

whale-33817_640(by Eileen Dombrowski, from OSC blog Sept 13, 2014) About all areas of knowledge, we ask questions that take us straight to methodology and social context. Who owns knowledge? How is it passed on as shared knowledge, and within what controls of methodology or power? We may think instantly of the sciences, and even controversies over current scientific conclusions and scientific products (e.g. medicines and technologies). Yet some of the oldest knowledge in the world is equally ignited by these knowledge questions, Continue reading

Shared knowledge on climate change: methodology and PR

ipcc cover(by Eileen Dombrowski, from OSC blog Sept 1, 2014) Behind the stark issue of climate change — like the other challenges of our times — looms a concept essential to explore in Theory of Knowledge: shared knowledge. How does knowledge reach people? Through what process of sharing does the public gain knowledge that will affect their lives?  Two recent news reports highlight contrasting processes by which knowledge claims on climate change reach the public — with profoundly different implications for action. Continue reading

TOK and the User’s Guide to Economics

Chang-Economics(by Theo Dombrowski, from OSC TOK blog August 13, 2014) Interviewed in the TOK Course Companion, economist Susan McDade (working with the United Nations) comments that “most economic theories” used in the West are based on “assumptions [that] can be pointed out to be weak or not always true” and argues for a complex series of values that are typically ignored by economists.Economics, as we recognize in TOK, is very much a human science – inescapably human in its study and interpretation of aspects of human behaviour. In this regard, a useful further resource for our TOK treatment of the human sciences is a new book by Ha-Joon Chang, Economics: The User’s Guide. Continue reading

Shared knowledge: a moment of “Wow!”

14-08-01everest-screenshot(by Eileen Dombrowski, from OSC Blogs Aug 1, 2014) You HAVE to watch this video from Discovery Channel! Watch it, and then rotate your screen for the view at the end. First, just enjoy it. And then we can link it to TOK.   Mount Everest in 3D: Experience the Trek to the Summit. Continue reading

Bolivia reverses congress clock: symbolic representation and (disputed) meaning

(by Eileen Dombrowski, from OSC TOK blog, July 12, 2014) I love plenty of knowledge questions – but sometimes I delight even more in the answers, especially when they jolt me for a refreshing moment into someone else’s way of seeing the world. Did you see that Bolivia has reversed the direction in which the hands on the clock on its congress building in La Paz will move?   Continue reading