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Examples of themes for group presentations and discussionsWork in groups of 2-3 people and present briefly the main arguments of both sides in these controversial science-related issues 30 Jul 2013 - Transcript of TOK natural sciences presentation. TOK Presentation Natural Sciences Real life situation. Knowledge issue. The Fukushima Nuclear Radiation Crisis Why does science prevail in generating faith despite the uncertainties associated with it? Real Life Situation The Japanese nuclear reactor .

Then present your own stance and/or lead a short discussion about it. astrology - are horoscopes worth anything?homeopathy - hoax or good alternative medicine?acupuncture - same questionmilitary technology - is it ethical to use our scientific knowledge to make better weapons?UFOs: have aliens visited us?radiation from mobile phones - a threat to us?genetic engineering and food safetyetc.

Comments to the 25 questions in the IB TOK syllabus pp. Can the word science mean somewhat different things in different languages? What subjects or disciplines could the term 'natural sciences' include?-The English word "science" often implies that we are referring to "natural science", not to history or the study of languages. Academic titles like Bachelor/Master of Science vs.

vetenskap/tiede means "science" in a more general sense, including natural, social and other sciences, humanities etc.

- a borderline case is geography, which includes parts related to natural and social sciences. - in Finland, physics and chemistry are together with mathematics and computer science called "mathematical subjects", in other countries maths and physics/chemistry/biology are more clearly separated2.

Should the natural sciences be regarded more as a method or more as a body of knowledge?It is possible to regard them as both "method" and "body of knowledge". They can also be difficult to separate - if one studies the history of science, one will focus both on what experiments or other investigations were done and how they were done, but also what knowledge they yielded.

Some issues concerning the scientific method:expectations and perception: the double blind experiment: test and control group - Case example: a chemical factory in the former Soviet Union has an accident, possibly dangerous chemicals are let out. Did they cause diseases? - People living around factory are carefully examined and the result after is: more of some diseases per 1000 people than the national average are found=>the accident caused them? Is this conclusion justified?randomisation-Case example: car testing, state and private, belief that private more lenient, investigation: private stations fail 29%, state 27% =>privates stricter.

Is this conclusion justified?correlationcausation-Example: people eat more ice cream in summer, people are more likely to drown in summer =>eating ice cream causes drowning? 3.

14. tok and natural sciences - jnoodle

we study many swans in nature and find that they all are white, and then present the theory: "Swans are white".

- deductive reasoning: from a general assumption(s) we logically find the consequences in a special case (which then may be tested). We know the density of iron and the density of water, and that things generally float in a liquid only if they have a smaller density than it. That this will be the case may be a hypothesis we try to test (it is falsifiable, can turn out to be wrong). - most scientists would use both inductive and deductive reasoning.

To some extent deductive reasoning is more important if the research requires expensive equipment (one would not send a probe to Mars to just generally drive around and see what if anything is found, but the place where it lands and the instruments on it are designed so that existing hypotheses can be testet. With less specific equipment, inductive reasoning becomes more important, ex.

if we investigate which species of insects are found at the top of the trees in the jungle. Possible philosophical foundations of science:realism, the idea that there is a reality independent of humans and that what is true and false ultimately depends on how things are in this reality.

Such knowledge is often called objective knowledge, as opposed to the subjective knowledge. Key words: realism, objectivism, constructivism, the idea that there is no independent reality but all knowledge is constructed or invented by humans, either individually or socially.

Key words: subjectivism, relativism (not to be confused with Einstein's theory of relativity, see later!), postmodernism (this word implies that "modernism" is outmoded and realist philosophy to be replaced by the more 'mature' constructivism). Confusing terminology and selectivity- an important problem in the debates between realists and constructivists is that these philosophies can be used in different versions, e.

if a a realist attacks a constructivist and describes constructivism as absurd, the constructivist often responds by retreating to a more moderate version of "constructivism", where some difficulties in obtaining objective knowledge are pointed out, but the existence of a physical reality not denied- conversely, there are versions of realism, such as critical realism where the pessimism regarding the possibilities of finding objective knowledge are so emphasized that this philosophy may be better placed among the versions of constructivism- the terminological difficulties are exacerbated if different versions are used in different contexts"When one analyzes these writings, one often finds radical-sounding assertions whose meaning is ambiguous, and which can be given two alternate readings: one as interesting, radical, and grossly false; the other as boring and trivially true Natural Sciences course notes for IB Theory of Knowledge (ToK). Key points for essays and presentations for the Area of Knowledge (AoK) Natural Sciences. For example, when the structure of DNA was first discovered, genetic engineering wasn't considered a practical possibility. Today, genetically modified crops have .

"- or if realism and constructivism are used with selectivity: realism for ideas we want to believe in ('science has proved this') and constructivism for those we don't like or care about ('this is just something the scientists think now, tomorrow we may have a totally different idea')- illustrating various philosophical standpoints (from the center outwards):A.

Tok natural sciences presentation by karan suresh on prezi

Moderate realism: Reality - Ways of Knowing - Areas of Knowledge - Knower(s) or Reality - Ways of Knowing - Knower(s) - Areas of KnowledgeC. Radical constructivism: Knower(s) - Ways of Knowing - Areas of KnowledgeD.

Moderate constructivism: Knower(s) - Ways of Knowing - Areas of Knowledge- Reality- other possible illustrations than concentric circles?- for a summary (ca 25 pages) of different philosophies of science, see Jean Bricmont and Alan Sokal : Defense of a modest scientific realism (2001) at:4. What are the implications of the following claim? 'One aim of the physical sciences has been to give an exact picture of the material world.

One achievement of physics in the twentieth century has been to prove that this aim is unattainable' (Jacob Bronowski)The claim is probably connected to "modern" (ca 100 years old) physics such as Einstein's theory of relativity and quantum physics which by some constructivists/postmodernists has been used as support for their philosophy. Relativity theory: A theory in physics where quantities such as length, time and mass are not absolutes but depend on our speed.

that mass and energy can be converted to each other as E = mc2 (that is, very little mass is needed to produce a lot of energy. Contrary to its name, this theory does not support philosophical relativism. The postulates of special (a limited form of) the theory of relativity is: 1.

The speed of light is the same for all observers (in inertial frames of reference). The laws of physics have the same form in all (inertial) frames of reference. The general theory of relativity extends to non-inertial frames of reference.

Note: Our reason for believing that the theory of relativity is valid is that it fits experimental results. Quantum physics: Everything has both a wave and particle nature.

Objects are described by wave functions which are included in the so-called Schr dinger equation, which is an expression of what we can know about a physics system.

Theory of knowledge presentations examples of effective

There are also limiations to the precision we can have in certain pairs of measurements (the Heisenberg uncertainty relations).

The Schr dinger equation of the system is however, not affected by this Treatment of knowledge issues) and C (the use of examples to demonstrate the significance of the topic). The entire presentation focuses on the natural and human sciences. Although it would have been possible to extend the analysis to theories in the arts or ethics, etc., limiting the scope to two Areas of. Knowledge permits .

Quantum physics can be said to change what we can know objectively, not whether anything can be known objectively. Chaos theory: In a system with nonlinear feedback, small changes in the initial values may cause large changes in the outcome in such a way that the outcome under certain circumstances cannot be predicted.

Example: Take the equation y = ax2 - ax and insert an x-value between 0 and 1. Take the y-value and reinsert it as a new x-value.

Repeat this many times (easiest done with Excel). For some a-values a small change in the initial value gives almost the same final value, for other values the situation is "chaotic".

(A closer inspection of a graph of the chaotic region with the y-value as a function of the iteration number shows that seemingly random pattern contains small "copies" of the initial bifurcation pattern. This two-dimensional pattern is therefore actually of a dimension between 1 and 2, a "fractal").

Incoherent and unclear references to "modern" physics has in recent decades been used by prominent social scientists to support constructivism/postmodernism; for an analysis of this see:Alan Sokal: "Transgressing the Boundaries: Towards a Transformative Hermeneutics of Quantum Gravity" at5. In the Diploma programme, Group 4 subjects are designated 'Experimental Sciences'.

What counts as an experiment? Can experiments be undertaken in other subjects? Are there some necessary conditions for an activity to be an experiment, for example, hypotheses, data, manipulation of variables, observations, generalizations and expectations of outcomes?-The reason for using the name "Experimental Sciences" instead of the better "Natural Sciences" may the very questionable pedagogical idea that all science should be taught by experiment rather than transmission of theoretical knowledge. - the concept of an "experiment" usually involves manipulation of variables, rather than mere observations such as astronomical ones where we cannot affect the object of observation- besides Group 4 subjects "experiments" can be undertaken in at least psychology, possibly economics; one may also refer to political events as "experiments" such as the Soviet era in Russian history6.

What are the similarities and differences in methods in the natural sciences and the humans sciences? To what extent do their fields overlap? To what extent would it be true to say that the human sciences appear less 'scientific' because their subject matter is more complex?- similarities: the conflict between realism and constructivism is present also in human sciences such as history. Some historians would claim that all historical knowledge is a subjective interpretation, and that there is no historical reality - even the Holocaust may be denied.

Is the scientific method a product unique to Western culture, or is it universal?- The Nazis rejected Einstein's theory of relativity and other "Jewish science" while preferring "Aryan science"- today multiculturalists refer to a profound difference between "Western" and "indigenous" science in a similar way- multiculturalism is usually stronger connected to constructivism than realism8.

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What knowledge, if any, will always remain beyond the capabilities of science to investigate or verify? If there is, or can be, such knowledge, why will it always elude effective scientific treatment?- ethical values, artistic and aesthetical aspects and religious issues (see nr 20) are sometimes considered outside the scope of science. Is this justified? Discussion of this later, at questions nr 15 and 20.

What can be meant by Poincar 's comment that 'It is through science that we prove, but through intuition that we discover?- there is no limit to what hypotheses one may present, and they often arise more by intuition, guesses, coincidences etc.

Testing whether the hypothesis is correct is done by the scientific method11.

Is science about establishing cause and effect relationships? If so, how is this achieved?- a constructivist may use the difficulty in finding cause-effect relationships in some phenomenon as an argument against realism- a realist answer could be: science is about describing reality. If there are cause and effect relationships in reality, it is our job to describe them.

If not, then we should not force ourselves to "find" them. What may Poincar have meant by 'Science is built of facts the way a house is built of bricks: but an accumulation of facts is no more science than a pile of bricks is a house'?- a "brick" may represent the discovery of a singular fact about nature- it is then the business of science: to describe the bricks AND how they are arranged - if and to whatever extent they arranged in some regular way. It is not the job of science to arrange the bricks into a house but to tell how they were found lying (as a house or as an unorganised pile)- the question reveals the constructivist bias of the TOK curriculum in the IBO: the way it is posed it implies that any "house" (ordered pattern described by science) must have been constructed by the scientist rather than have been discovered in nature.

How different are the knowledge claims of those disciplines that are primarily historical, such as evolutionary biology, cosmology, geology and palaeontology, from those which are primarily experimental, such as physics and chemistry?- in "experimental" natural science one can repeat an experiment, while in "historical" natural science one can only study what nature offers; ex.

there is a limited number of fossils of a certain type, or supernova explosions (astronomical events which give a lot of astrophysical information) occur rarely and cannot be caused by an experimentator- the difference is not very radical, even if the experiment can be repeated many times in a test tube the number of practically possible experiments is never infinite14.

What kinds of explanations do scientists offer, and how do these explanations compare with those offered in other Areas of Knowledge? What are the differences between theories and myths as forms of explanation?- the answer to what the difference between a theory and a myth is depends on which main type of philosophy one prefers: in constructivism all theories are "myths" and modern science not significantly better than voodoo or astrophysics while in realism the difference is in the degree to which they correspond to an objective reality15 A TOK Presentation on the Natural Sciences. How is Perception and Assumptions a factor towards gaining .

To what extent can all the natural sciences be understood through the study of just one science, for example physics? If biology relies on chemistry and chemistry relies on physics, can it be said that all natural sciences are reducible to physics? If so, what would be the implications of this position?- physics is universal in the sense that it studies properties that e. living and non-living have in common such as mass, length, time, speed etc. : a stone and a fish may have the mass 50 g, the length 4 cm, move at the speed 7 ms-1 etc- the connection between physics and chemistry is rather non-problematic; chemical rules for how many electrons fit into a certain electron shell are simplified versions of a deeper quantum-physical description- biology relies on chemistry which is relevant for a discussion about the foundations of ethics (see p.

Which (if any) of these actions are unethical and why?splitting a molecule in half with a chemical catalyst splitting a tree in half with an axe splitting a lab rat in half with a knife splitting a human being in half with a sword 16.

Is scientific knowledge progressive? Has scientific knowledge always grown? In this respect, how do the natural sciences compare with other Areas of Knowledge, for example, history, the human sciences, ethics and the arts? Could there ever be an 'end' to science? In other words, could we reach a point where everything important in a scientific sense is known? If so, what might be the consequences of this?- since in the past, older theories have been replaced by newer ones, will this always continue?- ex. flat earth ->spherical earth ->ellipsoid earth .

What will come next - cubical or tetraedric earth?- is this different from history: will future historians discover that it was the Jews who killed 6 million Nazis or will what we know about the Holocaus today be the approximate historical truth about it?17. Is it accurate to say that much of science investigates entities and concepts beyond everyday experience of the world, such as the nature and behaviour of electromagnetic fields, subatomic particles or the space-time continuum? To what extent do these entities actually exist? What consequences might questions about the reality of these entities have for the public perception and understanding of science?- example: show and draw picture of a bar magnet with magnetic field (illustrated with field lines).

We then have:an object that exists (the magnet) a picture of it (the sketch on the blackboard) the magnetic field around the magnet (does not exist, but described what would happen to a small test compass put there) the picture of the field (the field lines in the sketch) - science sometimes refer to non-existing entities in the same way as to existing ones (e. the field lines go out from the north pole and into the south pole) which may be confusing- philosophical constructivist: there are no actually existing objects18. How does the social context of scientific work affect the methods and findings of science?- the realist view would be that it affects what type of problems are studied, the constructivist view that it also affects the outcome of investigations- Issue for discussion: if women were "in power", what if anything would be different in science?19.

What values and assumptions about knowledge underpin science? What findings might emerge from a consideration, for example, of whether or not scientific knowledge is amenable to public scrutiny, whether or not it is intrinsically worthwhile, and whether or not it will continue to be valid in the the future?- values, see nr 22. What could be meant by 'I have been steeped in science all my life, now I am ready to pray' /(Stephen Hawking) ?- relations between science and religion have been difficult, ex.

evolution- especially the "constructivist" view of science similar to that of so called New Age religiosity (combinations of buddhist/hindu views, religions of indigenous peoples)- the Gaia cult (see nr.

Tok presentation natural sciences - youtube

The first comes from a front-page article in last Tuesday's New York Times (10/22/96) about the conflict between archaeologists and some Native American creationists. I don't want to address here the ethical and legal aspects of this controversy -- who should control the use of 10,000-year-old human remains -- but only the epistemic issue.

There are at least two competing views on where Native American populations come from. The scientific consensus, based on extensive archaeological evidence, is that humans first entered the Americas from Asia about 10-20,000 years ago, crossing the Bering Strait.

Many Native American creation accounts hold, on the other hand, that native peoples have always lived in the Americas, ever since their ancestors emerged onto the surface of the earth from a subterranean world of spirits. And the Times article observed that many archaeologists, "pulled between their scientific temperaments and their appreciation for native culture, .

have been driven close to a postmodern relativism in which science is just one more belief system. " For example, Roger Anyon, a British archaeologist who has worked for the Zuni people, was quoted as saying that "Science is just one of many ways of knowing the world.

The Zunis' world view is just as valid as the archeological viewpoint of what prehistory is about.

" (from Alan Sokal: A plea for reason, evidence and logic at - in some situations terminology with religious origin is removed (ex. the year "500 BCE = before common era" instead of "500 BC = before Christ"- in other cases such terms are still used, e.

= ancient Roman gods) or weekdays (Thursday from Thor)21. Is scientific knowledge valued more for its own sake or more for the technology which it makes possible? Is there any science which can be pursued without the use of technology?- the working scientist is often driven by interest in the issue, but those who fund the research in the possible usefulness of it- difficult to predict what research will lead to technological or medical applications: ex.

X-rays were discovered by accident by researchers not trying to produce anything useful, but were very soon used to diagnose bone fractures22. Should scientists be held morally responsible for the applications of their discoveries? To what extent would it be true to say that technological advances drive changes in values and morality? Is there any area of scientific knowledge which is morally unacceptable?- a more general question must be answered first: should anyone be held responsible for any actions? Is there anything that is morally right and wrong?- like for scientific theories, there are two main alternatives:ethical realism: some things really are right or wrong ethical constructivism: all ideas of what is right or wrong are constructed by humans (individuals or cultures); nothing is "really" right or wrong - like for scientific theories (see nr.

3), there is a problem with selectivity: one may use ethical realism for some things ('it is really wrong to drop nuclear weapons on civilians') but ethical constructivism in other areas- if one would choose ethical realism, one could say that we make moral observations with a conscience, like we make other observations with other senses. What if any are the similarities and differences between moral/ethical and other observations?- if some things really are morally right or wrong, these may affect what scientists do; ex.

is it right to work to develop new military technology? or: is it ever right to use animal tests in science? Discuss!23. If natural sciences are defined as investigating the natural world, what is meant by 'natural' and 'nature' in this context? What difference might it make to scientific work if nature were to be regarded as a machine (for example, as a clockwork mechanism) or as an organism (such as some recent interpretations of the Gaia hypothesis)? How useful are these metaphors?- the Gaia hypothesis: the idea that living organisms and the planet earth together form a planetary organism, or at least show some features of a such.

geophysiological Gaia: this is done in a way that makes the planet and the biosphere resemble a living organism, which may develop4.

optimizing or teleologic Gaia: the Gaia organism does so in a way that shapes the environment to suit its (her?) needsIn addition we have:- Gaian environmentalism: humanity as a part of Gaia can be viewed as a disease, or alternatively as the "brain" that should keep the global ecology in balance- Gaia cult: religious worship of the earth goddess, sometimes combined with a belief that this religion is supported by or at least consistent with hard science