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  Extract from TOK Essay Guide May 2019 Title 1: Quality of knowledge, consensus and rejection. Clarifying the terms of the Q: The expression ‘how many people’ points to the central thesis of  the title: knowledge is determined by majority rule or consensus. Knowledge is somehow  ‘democratic’ rather than ‘dictatorial’. Metaphorically speaking, people tend to ‘vote with their feet’  when accepting knowledge claims: they move in the same direction as the majority with or  without justified reasons. But the appeal of knowledge – the measurement of its ‘quality – can be  ambiguous… Understanding the Q: Knowledge is accepted or rejected depending on where the  preponderance of evidence falls. That is, evidence that has passed the test of truth is more likely  to be accepted, whereas a lack of reliable or relevant supporting evidence can lead to  controversy or disagreement. While we can dispute knowledge claims for their lack or  misapplication of supporting evidence, resolving such disputes towards a consensus always  seems to be possible… Knowledge Questions: How far is it possible to acquire 100% consensus in the Sciences? In  Ethics? Are disputes over knowledge claims desirable?  Perspectives History: Consider how historical revisionism works: reinterpreting the past according to ‘new’  political or social paradigms or in the light of emerging evidence of the past. This can push  historians into disputes in the same way as scientists when paradigms of doing science start to  change... 1
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Extract from TOK Essay Guide May 2019 Title 2: Shared & personal knowledge and collaboration. Clarifying the terms of the Q: Shared knowledge is more often ‘objective’ and influenced by  statistics and data and methods of justification which are much harder to access because they  take a lot of work and training. Think about the scientific method in H & N Sciences; logical  methods in Maths; the comparative method to evaluate sources in History; the method of prayer  and meditation in Religion… Developing the Q: Consider this scenario: the shared scientific perspective about the geocentric  model of the universe persisted for millennia and resisted all attempts of individual scientists’  attempts to dispute it and overthrow it in favour of the heliocentric model. In this case, the shared perspective of traditional thinkers clashed with personal perspectives of the more ‘modern’  thinkers.… Knowledge Questions: To what extent does shared knowledge help/hinder the verification of  personal knowledge? How can personal knowledge influence personal knowledge?
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