tok essay

At the beginning of TOK class, I was first challenged with what knowledge was. Although at first, I was very confident with the meaning of “knowledge”, the more I learned about it the more confused I became. When first brainstorming the prompt, I fell heavily into the idea that disagrees with Goethe’s sentiment about the quality of knowledge and argued instead that knowing more is a more effective way of learning new and open ways of thinking than knowing less. With this said, once looking at many examples, I realized that the prompt was a lot more complicated as I found many examples to agree with knowledge increasing doubt. In this essay I will analyze whether knowledge increases doubt, or if knowledge creates confidence using evidence from work on child development and implicit bias, as well as with extensive experience in social sciences.  When first looking at the prompt, I was strongly against the statement that with knowledge there is increased doubt, as I used reason and intuition to go against this. My initial thought process was that when we know more, we have more knowledge on a topic so therefore we are less doubtful. This idea used reason, which is the way of knowing which involves us in trying to make sense of the world using logic. Reason, in my opinion, is the most justifiable way of knowing as it is used in almost all areas of knowledge and in the lives of individuals with their experiences. Reason convinced me at first that knowledge doesn’t increases doubt because with reason, knowledge can only be acquired on the surface when you know little, but when you already know information you are less doubtful.  My intuition was also against the prompt, as at first glance, I did not have any evidence against the prompt, but I still thought that knowledge didn’t increase doubt. For my first real life example that I found, it went against the prompt. In math class, I have topics which I am more confident in and some which I am less confident in. For quadratic equations, I am able to solve them very quickly and easily because I have spent a lot of time in this topic, being taught well by my teacher, Mr. Jenkins. He covered this topic extensively with lots of examples, making me feel confident in this topic. On the other hand, when we have recently started studying calculus, it is a lot more difficult for me, as I do not have as much practice. This example relies on trusting teachers, but if we can trust textbooks and teachers, it is evidence for going against the prompt of knowledge increases doubt. Mathematics can be seen as a counterclaim to knowledge increasing doubt as in most cases, when you are more comfortable with a topic the more knowledge you have about it, which can be justified with reason.   While this example can be used to disagree with Goethe’s sentiment about the quality of knowledge, I soon found there were many examples that agreed with knowledge increasing doubt. This raises the knowledge question: Does increased confidence imply increased ignorance? A real life example which attempts to answer this question is with my brother’s friend. My brother’s friend has a background in Philosophy – he has studied it for over a decade, and has an MA in the subject. He’s spent thousands and thousands of hours reading, writing, and discussing philosophy with other philosophers. He has become very set in the kinds of philosophy that he takes seriously and the way of arguing and debating that he is comfortable with. Because he is so comfortable with his way of philosophy, the knowledge he is learning might be blinding him to new and important ways of thinking that aren’t compatible with the way he thinks. This allows for more rational knowledge to come to him quicker than things he isn’t used to. This made me thing for answering the question, I think that increased confidence in an area of knowledge can create more doubt. Confidence is important because it shows more knowledge in an area, allowing people to learn more about a topic, but the doubt that can increase from it can cause problems with knowing a topic, which ultimately might result in questioning if it is possible to know everything about a topic.  When looking into the prompt more, many examples showed up about the flaws that increased knowledge bring. Another real-life example which shows how increased knowledge creates more doubt is with my mother. My mother is a molecular biologist, she works a lot with the way predators of pollinators (for example, dragonflies eating bees) might indirectly affect the evolutionary direction of plants that those bees pollinate. Her work involves a lot of statistics and mathematics, since she’s dealing with huge amounts of data. The way this works is that when she comes to conclusions about her data using statistics, it can only say something very specific and limited, you can’t generalize from a small set of conclusions to a larger one. Science enthusiasts on the other hand, tend to vastly overstate the ability of science to explain the way the world is. They might say something like, “science and statistics can give us the answers to everything! We can predict future events using this sort of work.” The science enthusiast’s confidence in the ability of science comes from a lack of knowledge about what science and statistics are actually like, what it’s actually doing, and what it can actually accomplish. When learning about this, I soon realized that doubt can exist in all areas of knowledge when someone knows more. This goes against what I thought at first with my math real life example, which said that math can be seen as a counterclaim to knowledge increasing doubt as in most cases, when you are more comfortable with a topic the more knowledge you have about it, which can be justified with reason. This could be true, but the more you know about a topic, it often results in very specific findings, proving that when we know more, we might have less confidence in a topic as many doubts came into play.  Implicit Biases are biases that we aren’t aware of, but which affect our behavior and prevent us from being truly objective about an issue or situation. This means they make false confidence or intuition. Another example of knowledge increasing doubt is with the Effect of Race and Sex on Physicians’ Recommendations for Cardiac Catheterization. This raises the question, to what extent does personal or ideological bias influence our knowledge claims? The real life example is when doctors were shown patient histories and asked to make judgments about heart disease, they were much less likely to recommend cardiac catheterization (a helpful procedure) to black patients — even when their medical files were statistically identical to those of white patients. This goes against how science should, therefore, provide an explanation based on impartial research backed by rigorous checks and balances, and not belief. This can come from situations where we’re wrongly confident that we understand all aspects of it. This means that some physicians might think that he has knowledge of this situation and so doesn’t need to think critically about his own assumptions. If he knew less about this situation, he might be able to recognize that his judgment was flawed, and do something to fix it. This shows how intuition can often be an important factor when confident in a specific area. Even though reason should prove that no matter the race of someone, the treatment should be the same, it is often seen that races are treated differently without reason, but instead intuition which often isn’t done on purpose.  The prompt of confidence coming when we know little has example to support for and against it, but overwhelmingly I found many examples that went with increased knowledge causing increased doubt. At first my intuition and reason went against the prompt, as it did not seem to make sense, because it sounds reasonable to imply that the more we know the more confident we are in a subject. This could be shown with the first real life situation that showed in math class, I had areas I was more confident in because I have spent more time learning these topics. Even though this was my initial response, I soon found that it was merely a counterclaim to many examples that showed that increased knowledge caused increased doubt. When looking into implicit biases, learning from the same ways of thinking and being focused on very specific areas once you are an expert in a subject, it showed how overwhelming knowing more can cause doubt and biases.