Chapter 3 Course Companion Study/Action Guide

Knowledge and the Search for Truth

Pg. 90:

 a. Take a book you’ve read recently (could even be a text for one of your classes) and

___answer the 4 questions on this page.

As you post to your blog, try to

___add specific words from the book to support your answer for #3, and perhaps at least

___1 example of a photograph, diagram, or drawing (you can even take a photo with your phone to post as evidence)


_____Read the green box from Yeshey of Bhutan (don’t step on a book!). _____Then read about and watch Thomas Pettit, a Danish philosopher, discuss the Gutenberg Parenthesis and his view of books (tear one up!).

_____Answer: What are your thoughts about the sanctity of books and how did you arrive to your decision?

_____Answer: Do books really “hold learning”?

_____Answer: How would you rate where you get knowledge – media (various), books, teachers, family, friends, celebrities, etc.? (draw a continuum or explain)

Pg. 91: Classifying Knowledge


_____Check out the chart– we will take some time in class do this with a partner and discuss

*why do other languages have several different words for “to know”? What are the constraints of English?

Pg. 92-3: Types of Knowledge


_____Check out Mohammed Youssef’s explanation of the 5 Stages of Knowledge / Wisdom in Arabic.

_____Provide a real life example of each, as it applies to your life.


_____Make your own list of an experiential knowledge (“knowing through direct experience”) you have,

_____procedural knowledge (skills; “knowing how”),

_____and a knowledge claim (“knowing that”- tied to language)

_____What type is the easiest to learn? What type tends to stick the longest?


_____Which ways of knowing (sense perception, language, emotion, and reasoning) are most relevant to each of the 3 categories  – try to provide a specific example.


_____In which category would you place the statement “I’ve heard about that” and why?

_____READ THIS ARTICLE outlining the different theories of learning and how Twitter could be used for each.

_____Answer: Which theory do you think best applies to our IB program? Which theory do you find most helpful as a style of learning?

Below is a scene from Good Will Hunting that touches on experiential knowledge versus rational knowledge…beware…some adult language.

Pg. 94-7: IB DP Subject Activity


_____Check out the green chart.

_____Choose 3 other of your IB DP subjects (not Lang A) and also CAS…make a similar chart. Then brainstorm with your group (maybe they have the same subjects!)…we’ll do a little shifting around and move into different groups to share more ideas…after we can analyze to see if the subjects are balanced or not. WE WILL DO THIS IN CLASS

_____read the CAS experience of Emily on pg. 95 to understand how CAS is a certain kind of knowledge acquisition. Then click here for another real-life CAS experience video.

i. The 3 kinds of knowledge are stored differently in the brain. Remember how Mr. Wearing could still play the piano?

_____Curate something on one of the following types of memory or at least find out what they all are:

_____procedural memory,

_____working memory,

_____long-term memory,

_____declarative memory,

_____episodic memory.

Here’s a cool explanation of “earworms” by neurologist Oliver Sacks, and then his discussion of the Power of Music and the Power of Doing…that is, procedural memory.

Pg. 98-100: Voodoo Activity

 j. We will discuss the questions in class in groups, but

_____check out the green section on pg.100 to see what other students responded to the question: “Does it matter of what we believe in is true?

Pg. 100-103: TESTS for Knowledge Claims

 What are the strengths and weaknesses of the following tests for truth? Discuss the questions in each section with a partner and be prepared to sum it up for the class

 k. Identify if these tests are commonly used in the IB DP subjects you are studying now.

_____Coherence – based on other claims you believe – (do they agree?)

_____Correspondence – must match the evidence – (go and check it out!)

 _____Pragmatic – must be able to be applied effectively in practice (does it work?)

_____be sure to understand why, in TOK, we abandon the catch-all “true-for-me” relativism and think in terms of “true-for-all” (see pg. 103)


A Physicist’s Guide to the existence of Santa Claus

Pg. 104-5: 3
 Truths and a Lie game and 1-9 “Good Reasons for Belief” (in class)

_____What is the difference between being sincere and being right? What is the difference between making a false statement and lying?

Pg. 105-6: Kinds of Claims

After reading about rational, observational, metaphysical, and value judgments, we will play the partner game on pg. 106

Pg. 108-9: Justification Types

After reading about reliable sources (experts and general consensus), memories, emotions, intuition, faith, and revelation, 

_____describe what role these might play in the Areas of Knowledge (your subjects)…for example, how might emotion affect and artist or intuition affect a scientist?

_____Here’s an awesome TED TALK which discusses the intuitiveness of the arts and sciences.

Pg. 110-111: Intensity of Belief

_____Draw or diagram something that represents the relationship between belief, truth, knowledge, and justification.

Pg. 112-113- Pseudoarchaeology

Pg. 114: Do I Believe?


_____After reading about the 3 “s’s”: SOURCE, STATEMENTS, and SELF, choose something you’ve learned recently and evaluate it based on these, using specific examples.


Liar Liar Cheat Cheat

Liar Card Game- Questions

The point of this exercise was to examine the nature, extent, acceptability of various kinds of deception. 

Answer the following questions on your blog:

1. Which cards did your group find easiest to place? Which did you find most difficult?

2. How similar or different was your order from that of other groups? Were there any surprises?

3. Were there cases where you’d need more information about the context before placing it?

4. How many of these forms of deception have you engaged in – be honest :) ?

5. How widespread do you think deception is in the population at large?

6. How do you define a “lie” – which of these cards would you classify as “not a lie” and why?

7. Under what circumstances, if any, is it acceptable to mislead or deceive other people? Should we tell the truth at any cost, or are other things, such as happiness, more important?

– adapted from Richard van de Lagemaat

Pam Myer at TED : How to Spot a Liar

Dan Ariely at TED: Why We Think It’s OK to Cheat (Sometimes)

Cheating: Collaboration? and Part II and Part III

Harvard University Cheating Scandal

More Thoughts on Harvard Cheating Incident (from student perspective)

NY TIMES: Cheating Epidemic (or is it a survival skill?) – Cheating in 21st c. Ed

Cheating (in school) FACT sheet

Belief and Doubt

“Science is the belief in the ignorance of experts” – Richard Feynman, 1918-88

TOK LINKING QUESTION: To what extent should we accept knowledge by authority?

How do you know what to believe when there is so much propaganda? How can we trust what scientists claim, if the science itself is baffling? How can we trust any claim which may be instigated by special interest groups or political parties?

Edward Harrison, prof. of Physics and Astronomy at U. of Massachusetts, 1987


I. Provide a reaction paragraph about this article, including addressing the line: “The creative mind fashions the world in which we live”

“If the world should blow itself up, the last audible voice would be that of an expert saying it can’t be done” – Peter Ustinov, 1921-2004

II. Although this is a PSA told from a biased stance, check out this video on climate change. On your blog, record your thoughts regarding this piece. To see some humorous but poignant animated videos also produced by Climate Reality Project, click here


III. on YouTube or the Internet

A. Advertisers sometimes appeal to the authority of “experts” and/or “science” to sell products. Find an example (think foods, drugs, other products) and post on your blog with a brief description. You will definitely want to check out “106 Science Claims and a Truckful of Baloney” – a Popular Science Magazine article which asked a reporter to analyze the “scientific” claims he encountered on a typical day (1 every 10 minutes!)

IV. On Twitter…Be sure to post to your blog post with a brief analysis (for example- check out the author’s creds)

B. I typed in “climate change” on Twitter and found some interesting tweets, like this one:

Try doing this yourself with climate change OR another controversial hot topic (pun intended)

Here’s another: