Intro: Belief

The IB TOK usually accepts this definition of KNOWLEDGE – that it is a “justified true belief”.

But what counts as justification? Where does belief end and knowledge begin? What is the difference between BELIEF and OPINION? Does believing in something make it true? How do our core beliefs shape us as a person?

Perhaps it is best to think of belief and knowledge on a continuum, with unjustified beliefs at one end and beliefs  “beyond reasonable doubt” at the other end.




Examples (from Lagemaat, Theory of Knowledge for the IB Diploma):

VAGUE BELIEF: You may vaguely believe that eating tomatoes helps reduce the risk of heart disease, but have no idea where you came across this idea and readily abandon it in the light of counter-evidence.

WELL-SUPPORTED BELIEF: You may believe that Smith killed Jones, and be able to give eveidence for this belief, but still be unwilling to say you know that this is the case beyond a reasonable doubt.

BELIEF BEYOND REASONABLE DOUBT: You may find the evidence which supports the claim that Americans landed on the moon in 1969 so convincing and the counter-evidence of conspiracy theorists so flimsy that you are willing to say that you KNOW the Americans landed on the moon.

“Man can believe the impossible, but man can never believe the improbable” – Oscar Wilde


1. “3 corners”:

a. Mrs. B will read several “belief” statements. You will move to the corner of the room which suits you best: “I believe” / “I don’t believe” / “I’m wishy-washy”

b. Discuss with the group assembled why you feel that way. Provide real-life example

c. Share group findings with entire class.

2. Group Shared Belief:

a. In a small group, pinpoint a belief you all share. 

b. Find an image that represents that belief. If you find more, you can create a collage using

c. Upload your image to THINGLINK We will use the CLASS ACCOUNT (see board) to upload and store images. (see overview: ) 

 d. Each person in the group will ANNOTATE the image and provide justifications for holding this belief and/or examples. Feel free to link out to videos, audio, other images, articles, etc. ***each person should provide 2 annotations. 


“I believe in pink. I believe that laughing is the best calorie burner. I believe in kissing, kissing a lot. I believe in being strong when everything seems to be going wrong. I believe that happy girls are the prettiest girls. I believe that tomorrow is another day and I believe in miracles.”

-Audrey Hepburn