TOK essay 2015: Is there any such thing as a neutral question?

Dr Roger Revelle
  1. There is no such thing as a neutral question. Evaluate this statement with reference to two areas of knowledge.

The obvious interpretation of ‘a neutral question’ is one where the questioner has no vested interest in the answer. Ie, the questioner will accept the answer which emerges, eschew confirmation bias and refrain from seeking to weight the outcome of an inquiry in favour of preconceived ideas, prejudices or predictions. So, a neutral question is a detached, impersonal, open question, and yes, some people are capable of asking them. 

Or least, they would be if there was any such thing as a neutral question. The problem is judging whether a question is neutral or not.

Clearly, the scientific method is predicated on the existence of such questions, but the history of science is riddled with instances where the treatment of answers – ie experimental results – reveals rampant confirmation bias, and suppression of experimental data which threatens a cherished hypothesis, a career-building hypothesis, a triumphant, vindicating hypothesis, a hypothesis which would make sense of the universe and make somebody very famous.  Continue reading “TOK essay 2015: Is there any such thing as a neutral question?”


Remix/Regroup: Active Structure in TOK

Image borrowed from Physical Magic Spectacles theatre group.

Theory of Knowledge is a unique feature of the IB Diploma, and was always conceived as the element which makes it different from any other. So of course it poses unique challenges to the teachers tasked with delivering it, as well as unique opportunities.

The most obvious challenge for TOK teachers lies in the interdisciplinary nature of the course. We have to address the full range of academic fields – the arts, natural and human sciences, mathematics, history, ethics, and now, ‘indigenous knowledge systems’ and ‘religious knowledge systems’. And all of this in only one TOK class per week? Continue reading “Remix/Regroup: Active Structure in TOK”