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May 2021 TOK Essay Title Tips 2

In this post, I will unpack the remaining essay questions for May 2021.


Please note that the below points serve as a guide only, not a comprehensive essay plan.


4. “Statistics conceal as much as they reveal.” Discuss this claim with reference to two areas of knowledge.


Key terms:


‘Conceal’


The notion of hiding something, often deliberately.


‘Reveal’


This may be defined as bringing the truth to light.


Potential AoK’s:


Natural sciences


Human sciences


Ideas to explore:


In the beauty industry, brands may deliberately skew the results of scientific studies which purportedly support the effectiveness of their products (e.g. by removing inconvenient data).


The deceptive use of statistics can also be rife in political polling as a result of such surveys containing ‘loaded questions’ (e.g.: Do you support the government’s plans to provide better quality healthcare to all citizens?) or ‘overgeneralizations’ (e.g.: Do you agree that immigrants with prior criminal convictions present a danger to the citizens of this country?).


While it is clear that statistical information may be misused across various AoK’s, is it fair to say that such information is always open to abuse? If statistics are presented in the appropriate context, alongside other relevant information, then arguably not.



5. “Areas of knowledge are most useful in combination with each other.” Discuss this claim with reference to two areas of knowledge.


Key terms:


‘Most useful’


This suggests that a greater quantity or quality of knowledge may be gained in this way.


‘In combination’


Simultaneously analysing a Knowledge Claim through the lens of each respective AoK’s and drawing conclusions based on both of these perspectives.


Potential AoK’s:


Religious Knowledge Systems


Natural Sciences


Ideas to explore:


In this essay you should look at examples where the two AoK’s you have chosen appear to complement one another in the pursuit of knowledge, as well as any cases where they are best left independent of each other.


Certain religious scholars, particularly in more recent times, have argued that science and religion can not only coexist but that scientific knowledge may be used to support religious knowledge claims in topics such as the creation of the universe.


Nevertheless, various skeptics of religion, such as Richard Dawkins, have argued that these two areas of knowledge are incompatible with one another and therefore using them in combination is counterproductive.



6. “Avoiding bias seems a commendable goal, but this fails to recognize the positive role that bias can play in the pursuit of knowledge.” Discuss this statement with reference to two areas of knowledge.


Key terms:


‘Bias’


Being predisposed to either a positive or negative attitude towards an idea or group of people.


‘Commendable goal’


In the context of this question, this would imply that there is something intrinsically wrong with bias and preventing it is an undeniably positive aim.


Potential AoK’s:


Natural Sciences


Human Sciences


Ideas to explore:


Bias against other people based on their political views, religious beliefs, sexuality or ethnicity can certainly be harmful to an open and tolerant society. When talking specifically about the pursuit of knowledge, bias can prevent us from engaging with and understanding different points of view. In these politically and socially divisive times we can clearly see the results of bias through the formation of ‘echo-chambers’, in which individuals will only pursue and accept information which corresponds with their own beliefs.


As a counterclaim to this, one could argue that in certain ways bias may be considered useful in the pursuit of certain types of knowledge. Indeed, exploring biases could be very useful for psychologists and sociologists seeking to understand the human mind and behaviour. This may not negate the fact that bias has an overall negative impact on knowledge acquisition, but it could certainly be worth exploring it from this perspective.


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The full list of prescribed titles for the November 2022 Theory of Knowledge essay assessment will be posted here shortly. Please check back here soon.

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