Precepts to use in everyday life

1. Think for yourself, 2. Be yourself, 3. Speak up, 4. Feel free to agree and disagree, 5. Be honest with yourself and others, 6. Be open-minded, 7. Avoid being judgmental and 8. Question everything - even your own thinking.

TOK Essay Titles Nov 2020

Monday, November 30, 2009


Human Sciences (Psychology) and Natural Sciences (Technology)

Think about all the technology that predominates over us in our lives: from our ever-fancy digital watches and mobile phones, to the highly complex home cinema systems and virtual reality video games. A new gaming culture has arisen in the wake of the technological revolution of the last ten to fifteen years.

We know from the last two posts that some people are still suspicious about how technology can be used to manipulate us into conformity and apathy. We know also that those who are producing this technology are highly creative and inventive people. So what is it about the technology that is so compelling? Consider the following thoughts:

1. Technology has always made life easier for us by saving our energy and effort.

2. Technology saves time so as to allow us more (we hate the phrase, but here it is) 'quality time' with the people and things we care for for.

3. Technology helps us to go beyond the limitations of human perception and reason - without building the right kind of ships, we couldn't have discovered the rest of the world.

4. Technology provides us with much of the information we require to base some fundamental decisions in our lives.

There are of course many downsides to each of these points - for example, the fact that we rely on machine technology to cook the pre-processed and pre-packaged food that is readily available in shops, might not only make us lazy in the kitchen, but also be harmful to our bodies and the environment.

But here's another question that we sometimes overlook: how does the technology make its way to the general public?

It sounds like a strange question to ask, especially because we take for granted everything out there in the market place, but do you really think that technological knowledge is harnessed for the benefit of you and us? That there's somone somewhere who is thinking philanthropically about helping us?

Let's be a little sceptical about this and say 'No!'.

Here's an idea that you can verify for yourselves: nearly all the technology available on the high street is funded, researched into and developed by the Government for their own purposes (which are not always the same reasons as those we voted them in for), usually to enhance the defence capacity of the nation. The technology is then re-packaged and re-distributed in small doses in the public field, trickled out in palatable forms to keep us happy.

Here are some examples:

1. Lycra: it started off as a material developed in the making of space suits, now it's used for tights and underwear.

2. Theme parks: these began life as testing grounds for military and space training: what could humans endure in extreme situations?

3. Video games: again, these were created for simulation purposes to help refine the reaction skills of soldiers and astronauts.

Nothing suspicious in this, you might think. However, if you relate this back to the economic crisis and the political decisions that are made in high places, you can begin to visualise a scenario:

  • Technology is big business and it's in the interest of governments to keep a control over it so as to ensure the business comes to them and to ensure they keep power.
  • Technology is a usful tool for controlling a population (their minds and their behaviour) - just look at CCTV, the proliferation of speed cameras and GPS systems, as well as the desire of governments to enforce an ID card system.
  • You are always under threat of having your identity stolen from credit or debit card fraudsters

In short, our lives are no longer private and in extreme cases, not our own anymore. So next time when you sneeze in the street, just beware because Big Brother is watching you!

Sunday, November 29, 2009


History and The Arts

Following on from the last post and what Gerald Celente said in his interview about the so-called 'revolution' that is coming and will transform not only the United States, but also the world economy, consider this statement:

"Revolutions don't happen from the people that are going to be watching American Idol or waste their time away playing video games and their minds lost in celebrity culture, in pop culture..."

That's you and I he's talking about, folks! Are you going to take it lying down?

Either he's just another old man who's tired of life and especially young people, or he's expressing a sound truth. But what evidence does he have to suggest that the general public who are fed on a diet of reality TV and fast food, fast money and fast fame (and so many other fast things!), have become apathetic, self-satisfied, spoilt and, the shame of it, especially for those of you passionate about TOK, unthinking, unquestioning wretches?

Before you answer that, have another look at Max Keizer and his analysis of something that you all might be fascinated by at this time: 'Twilight' (you only have to watch the first 2 minutes to get the idea):

Keizer argues that "The Establishment - and that is the Hollywood-Washington-Wall Street Axis of Evil - is trying to train this next generation to be Goldman-Sachs Bankers and J P Morgan Derivative Traders. How better to do that than to introduce them to the wonderful world of vampires and zombies..."

Like begets like, it seems, in the political and economic rat-race of the world and the social impact of this is to perpetuate the values of greed, exploitation, get-rich-quick and don't care over whom you trample in the process.

Is this your future inheritance? The world into which you are heading after your studies? Perhaps our question should be: how far do you want to go into that world with closed eyes and an unthinking mind?

We'll leave you with a historical thought over which to ponder: it was the Roman Emperor Nero (who had as many flaws as the power-hungry people who allowed the present world crisis to take root), who said that the best thing for the general public, so as not to upset them into revolution against the Holy Roman Empire, was to ensure at all times that they had two things: food and games...

Monday, November 23, 2009


Human Sciences (Politics/Economics) and Ethics

Question: How does an event become attached to a conspiracy theory?

Answer: When people try too hard to look for answers that aren't there...

Consider the causes and effects of the so-called 'Global economic crisis' in the context of the following clips by economic specialists based in the U.S.A.

Ask yourself if they are simply doom and gloom merchants and political revolutionaries intent on slandering the powers that be, or genuine critics of the Capitalist system and objective analysts with the intention of promoting positive change.

Here's Max Keizer (first shown on 03/09/09): "The banking system is terminally ill..."

Here's Gerald Celente (first embedded on geraldcelentechannel.blogspot on 14/09/09): "It's not a recovery; it's a cover up...There is no recovery..."

And here's Max Faber (first youtube on 22/09/09): "The hour of truth will come one day...But the next crisis will bring down the entire Capitalistic system." (Part 2 of this interview can be found on youtube.)

You'll hear many more profound statements on these clips than the quotations listed above, some of which may appear fairly libellous!

But these people appear to know what they're talking about. So to what extent are they looking for answers that aren't really there? How far are they creating a conspiracy about the financial crisis when a simple economic explanation will do?

What do you think?

Thursday, November 19, 2009


Human Sciences (Economics/Politics) and Ethics

We know from past experience that many of you like to do your TOK presentations on conspiriacy theories. But ask yourself this:

Question: When is a conspiracy not a conspiracy?

Answer: When the motive for an action is out in the open.

When things are kept secret and close to the chest of only a few people, we commonly assume that something devious is happening behind the scenes. Think of all the usual conspiracy theories.

When the politicians who are in power and who lead governments justify the use fiction and deceit to keep order and peace and safety in the world, are they not also simply working to hold onto their power?

So how can we know that this is what they are really doing? That the interests of the general public is NOT at the heart of their motives, but only their own personal interests? We know either because they're doing it openly or because someone digs into their affairs and exposes them (cf. the recent expenses scandal in British politics).

Now look at this clip and decide for yourself if the actions that brought about the war in Afghanistan could be regarded as being part of a conspiracy theory. In other words, are the motives for fighting there hidden or open? And does it make any difference?

The clip lasts for just under 15 minutes, so be patient and try to follow the argument and to think about the TOK aspects of the talk...

Michael Ruppert analyses the present geopolitical crisis

[ Source: - November, 2009 ]

Monday, November 16, 2009

The TOK Essay

The Year 13s will be starting to turn their attention to their final essay drafts while the Year 12s will be attempting their first essay.

For the Year 13s, we would say:
  • Use all your experience of preparing your Presentations in approaching your final drafts

  • Use the same structure for the essay as you did for the presentation

  • Choose your essay title/question and PLAN the essay from scratch WITHOUT looking at the original one you did

  • Then WRITE the essay without looking at the original one

  • Finally, compare the new essay with the original and take from this only the best elements

You might be surprised at what you produce.

For the Year 12s, we would say:

  • Don't worry - this essay is like nothing you've ever done before

  • Use the advice on the blog and the website to help you

  • It's not so much the content that you're marked on as the quality of your mind and how you apply it in exploring the implications of the question

  • Just go for it!

For both Years, here's a sheet that you can use to focus your mind on the writing process: TOK Essay Self-Evaluation Sheet.

If you want a consultation on the Essay, make sure you follow the advice on this sheet and bring a PLAN of your ideas. Do not come to us EMPTY-HANDED!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Life, the Universe and Everything

Here are some of the TOK-related statements from Andy Fletcher's seminar that you should ponder carefully over a period of time:

Reason: "Our assumptions drive our conclusions."

If this is true, then what consequences does it have for our knowledge? What sort of assumptions are we talking about? Are thee assumptions different within each subject area? To what extent is all our knowledge 'stained' by our assumptions? How so we filter out these assumtions?

Perception: "The universe is not as it appears to be."

You saw that the Einsteinian Universe breaks down everything that the traditional Newtonian view of the Universe had presented. If the Universe began as a singularity AND if a singularity remains in a state of quantum uncertainty until an observation is made, then what collapsed the uncertainty to bring the Universe into being? An observation...

Language: " 'Good' science does not set out to give 'proof'; it works in the realm of 'evidence'. "

This is not just a matter of playing word games. The idea is that even the so-called watertight truths of Mathematics can never give us an absolute truth about the way the world works. The equations of Quantum Theory, for example, explain how the world works but not in a way that we can fully understand. We live in a relativistic universe in which there are no absolute truths or certainties; the truths od science are probabilistic and depend on their veracity on the evidence that scientists provide for their hypotheses.

Emotion: "This is the single-most incredible intellectual experience you are likely to have in your lives."

After participating in the seminar, you may have asked yourselves 'what was all that about?' or 'what was the point of all that?'. This is not an unusual response. In our experience, the last six generations of TOK students have felt exactly the same way. However, we always tell them to think of the seminar as an experience - allow the ideas to wash over you like sea-waves; absorb the complexities of the language like the heat of the sun when sunbathing. Give the ideas a chance and they will grow inside you like flower seeds; feed them with your curiosity and nurture them with your attention. At some point, you may wish to harvest the ideas for your writing or presentations or even a future career!

So what are we left with? A rational belief that the the Laws of Nature govern our experience of the existing Universe combined with the irrational beliefs that it was somehow predisposed to exist for us (Anthropic Priciple) and came to be through some kind of strange observation...