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 May 2018

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

TOK Essay: Prescribed Titles November 2012 Questions 2 & 6

This is not a book review, but perhaps the best thing we’ve read this summer – at least as regards TOK – is Stephen Law’s book, Believing Bullshit: How not to get sucked into an intellectual black hole, Prometheus Books, New York, 2012, 271p.

Law explores eight strategies used by people to defend their beliefs at all costs – usually at the expense of a particularly sound rational explanation. The book has one of the most lucid descriptions of the scientific method we have come across (pp37-8) and explores in detail the notion of the testing/refuting of statements of belief.

In fact, two entire chapters (Chapter 1: ‘Playing the Mystery Card’ and Chapter 2: ‘ “But it Fits!” and The Blunderbuss’), seem to be tailor made for Questions 2 and 6 of the Prescribed Titles for November 2012. In the first chapter, Law explores arguments used to justify belief in the traditional Christian conception of God and a strong counter argument in the form of the evidential problem of evil. In the second chapter, he examines the beliefs of Young Earth Creationists with numerous interesting passages on notions such as falsification, bias and, what is especially useful for your essay, the use of evidence/data in the confirmation of theories.

Law argues (pp75-8) that in order for a theory to be strongly confirmed by evidence/data, it must satisfy at least THREE conditions: it must make PREDICTIONS that are:

• Clear and precise
• Surprising
• true

It’s well worth spending the time on these chapters as part of your research into TOK Questions 2 & 6 of the November 2012 list.

Good luck – you still have two months to the deadline and this book should help guide you through.

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