Lesson 13: More on Human Sciences

10th January 2014

Link for download -> human sciences

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Lesson 12: Memory, January 7th 2014

What is a memory? From a dictionary, memory is described as the following:

1- the faculty by which the mind stores and remembers information

2-  something remembered from the past

3-  the part of a computer in which data or program instructions can be stored for retrieval

Indeed, all of these definitions are correct. However, my own definition of memory is the ability to recall what we remember, felt/experienced and know. It is the pathway to our own past, something like a vision we create and see in our mind but also a path to our wisdom as memory is what creates us to be who we are now. This is because of what we remember is what we know, seen or experienced therefore we act the way we act next because either we went through it before and we have a better understanding of the situation therefore we know the best way to act upon it. Another scenario is if it’s like a task or skill, we memorise how to conduct that specific ability or skill such as mathematics and solving multiplication or division problems.

 

Do you consider Memory as a WOK by itself (and why?)

No I don’t think memory is a WOK by itself. I believe this because memory is constructed over time through the use of other WOK’s such as sense perception. Memory is built up by how we see, what we smelt (was it pleasant or disgusting?) and other senses as well as emotion like what we felt (did we feel happy or sad at that time?).

I think memory is like a virus in terms of characteristics. I say this because as we all know virus is not considered to be living because it doesn’t have the living characteristics that the ‘5 kingdoms of the living’ have (5 kingdom of the living- bacteria, protists animals, fungi and plants). Instead, viruses find host cells to invade, control and then to apply their own characteristics. They rely on other organisms to enhance their own ability. This is like memory. Memory relies on other WOK’s such as sense perception, and we use them to enhance the ability of memory to recall the past, recall what we remember or what we felt/experienced or what we know or knew. Memory is the process of recalling, repeating what we know and felt, however without the other WOK’s we would simply be recalling and repeating but we would have no data to repeat/recall.

 

We interact memory with other WOK’s therefore you could assume that memory should be very reliable. However there are existing problems with Memory and here are some reasons to why memory is not always reliable:

~ Confirmation bias

~ Selective memory

~ What we remember of an incident or an event may differ from someone else’s memory of the same event.

 

Real life incident which made everyone open their eyes that memory is not always so reliable (the courtroom + rapist story + psychologist and their questions twisting what the victim saw etc)

 

Testing memory effectiveness – tray game

Lesson 11: Learning (homework; self study), Friday 13th December 2013

Learning:

I define learning as a way in which a person develops a set of knowledge or skill through experience, observation, their memory and by being taught by others. Not only this, but after that, in order to be able to say they have fully learnt, I believe they have to apply that certain knowledge or skill in action. Whether this is in an educational manner like in a maths test, or more of a social manner in one’s ordinary life involving friends and trust issues etc.

For example, a person can say they have learnt and understood algebra when they get a relatively high mark on an Algebra maths test at school. Another example is a person (e.g. person “A”) can say they have learnt from their mistake when previously a friend (person “B”) told person A their secret and trusted him/her with it. However that person told other people, which shows disloyalty and mistrust therefore if person B would most likely not be able to trust person A again. However person A can say they learnt from his/her mistake when someone else entrusts person A with their secret, and by knowing and understanding how spilling one’s secrets may affect not only the person who told person A but also others and therefore keeps the secret to themselves; this shows that person A is learning from personal experience.

But this raises a few questions.

1- How can we know and say for certain that test results define if a person is learning or not?

I ask this question because learning and memorising is different. In a test, we can simply memorise texts/passages and basically apply them similar to “copy and paste” like on a word document while not actually understanding what it means. Can this really define learning and whether a person has learnt or not? Also, tests usually pick out certain questions to ask from on a wide range of topics therefore what if a person who did not revise that much was very lucky and decided to revise just one or two topics out of the 10 and coincidentally that test question was based on those one or two topics therefore he/she was able to do well on the test. Can luck determine our success and define whether we have learnt? I don’t think so. However, even today when Universities receive the applications from applicants, numbers and grades play a major role in acceptance. But Universities also have learnt from many years of accepting applicants that numbers are not always everything therefore they conduct other procedures such as applicant interviews where Universities get to see the person more on a personal level, understand and view the applicant from a different perspective.

2- It is an accepted fact that learning is a good thing. However, how can we say that what we are learning is actually correct?

Of course learning is good. However what we learn and who we learn it from may influence on whether what we learn is actually good or not. It is not true to say that learning something wrong is pointless/useless because once we realise that what we have been learning or have learnt is incorrect, we can decide to change and this is learning. However, in some cases, some continue to learn things that are thought or believed to be wrong in the eyes of others. Some examples to support this is such as psychological issues where a troubled mother raises a child. As natural, the child will obviously look for guidance and look up towards their mother as their role model. However, if the mother is not a good role model, this can affect the next generation and the generations following because the following child will always learn from their mother and believe it’s the right way or the right thing to do therefore act upon it, which may be different to how other mothers would act upon.

3- Also like in tests, school and revision, after one has learnt something, there is a high possibility that they forget it by sometime afterwards. Can this still show that they have learnt?

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Some traumatic experiences will cause the person to learn/understand even after they have received help and probably remember for life, however like examples raised earlier like on a maths test. One may revise for the test, learn how to answer questions and pass the test but after a while (like 3 months) they may forget how to solve the same questions. If they forget, even if they have learnt in the past, can this really show that they are learning?

Homework; ToK Blog self study:

The death of photography: are camera phones destroying an art form?

From this article, I understood that in our current generation where iPhone’s have dominated in technology and in the world, more people are using it to take photographs on a daily basis, and is expressed as “the world is downing in images”. The author of this article talks in a critical manner raising some examples such that 1- Professional photographers are less employed and less appreciated. 2- encourages narcissistic behaviour/attitude. 3- “photo-taking impairment effect” where psychologists explain as how if we take photos with our phone we are less likely to remember because we think that we have a digital memory of it 4- iPhone taking away one’s experience of being in the moment because they are too concentrated on trying to take a photo. 5- taking photos with iPhone an digital cameras are described as being “lazy” because the person taking the photo believes ‘oh one of these photos will work’ and takes multiple photos by pushing the button a couple of times rather than concentrating on capturing the one special image.

For me personally I understand where the author is coming from and I agree with the author’s voice however I also believe that the rise in iPhone and more convenient technologies to take quick photos should still be appreciated. I believe despite Instagram and iPhone selfies dominating the world, in the end, people will still appreciate the beauty of photography with professional cameras. How do I know this? Simply because I have seen it with my own eyes. My sense perception of sight gives me a clear understanding that despite iPhone selfies as quick and fun, at the end of the day, if I want a high resolution good quality image that I can blow up 20 times it’s original size and not be pixilated I would need to take that photo with a professional camera.

Lesson 8: Induction and Deduction, Tuesday 12th November 2013

What is induction and deduction, and what is the difference between them?

induction-deduction-1

Induction is the reasoning from the particular/specific instances to the more general principles such as, metal “A” expands when heated, and so does metal “B” and “C”. Therefore, all metals expand when heated. Another example for induction could be in history, every human I’ve read about has died, and I’ve never heard of a human who has not eventually died, therefore all humans will die. In this example, we logically proceed from every human I’ve read about (specific) to all humans will die (generalisation).

However, in inductive reasoning, no matter how extensive or thorough a person has conducted their research, they can never reach absolute certainty using inductive reasoning. This is because some kind of generalisation is always made from the observed or the non-observed.

To make inductive reasoning reliable, there are some aspects to consider such as how much research or examples ma-

Confirmation bias: we tend to believe what we wants to believe or remember what fits the pattern, and ignore or forget what goes against it.

Deduction is the complete opposite of induction, and it is the reasoning from general principles to the more specific instances such as, all metal expands when heated. “A” is a metal, and therefore “A” expanses when heated. Another example for deduction could be, all organisms have RNA. This fruit “f” is an organism, and therefore “f” has RNA. 

However these definitions of induction and deduction can be misleading for several reasons such that,

Lesson 6 and 7: Sense Perception

(Lesson 6 – Friday 11th October, Lesson 7 – Tuesday 22nd October)

Optical Illusion:

Do we trust what we see? Can we say for certain that what we see or what we perceive to see is actually true/real?

This also relates back to one of the first lessons when we learnt about selective attention. Selective attention can be applied to sense perception because if you choose to focus on something and force yourself to see something even when you don’t actually see it in the first place, you may end up being able to see it eventually. However, if you did not know of it in the beginning you may be completely oblivious to it and therefore may automatically arrive to the conclusion in your mind that it doesn’t exist.

Just because you cannot see it, does it mean it doesn’t exist? And just because you can see it, does it mean it does truly exist?

For example, using the text shown below, let’s see if you can read and understand it, because I was able to (or I think I was able to) despite the individual texts not actually being the proper English Language. I was able to read the individual texts and made them into complete sentences, “According to a research at English university, it doesn’t mater in what order the letters in a word are, the only important thing is that first and last letter is at the right place.”

However when we physically see the text, it doesn’t actually say “according”, instead it says “aoccdrinig” therefore this leaves us to question ourselves whether we see things that actually doesn’t make sense in plain sight but subconsciously try to rationalize and to interpret it in our brains so that we seem to understand it.

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Another example is the ‘Munker White Illusion’. Here are some pictures to explain this illusion:

Picture 47Picture 48

The grey bars between the black bars seem darker than the grey bars between the white bars. However when the black bars are removed from the background, it is clear that the shades of the grey bars are the same color. Darkness of the black bars has affected our perception of the bar’s color.

And the final example is the ‘checker board illusion’:

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At first we assume that tile A is darker than tile B because of the shadow created by the cylinder on the right corner. However, when the surrounding shadow and the cylinder is removed, it is clear that tile A and B is both the same color.

This applied for the ‘munker white illusion’ as well. Our brains compare the surrounding environment by comparing color and context in order to create our perception. We see things in a certain way so that we can interpret what we see as efficiently as possible and allow us to interact with our environment most appropriately.

For example, for the ‘checker board illusion’ the brain compensates by interpreting tile B as a lighter color when there is a shadow around it because we know that a shadow will cause a color to be a darker color than its normal.

(^ Snapshots for the munker white illusion and checker board illusion were taken from the YouTube video of “Can you trust your eyes?” by AsapSCIENCE)

Scientific explanation of how we see things:

Here are some diagrams showing scientific ways of explaining how we see things through our eyes. The first two diagrams shows how the eye adjusts depending on when it is focusing on an object that is close or on an object that is far away in the distance.

How the eye physically works allowing us to see objects and how our brain interprets what we see: First of all light is reflected off an object and that light travels into our eyes through the cornea and the pupil in a straight line. When that light reaches to the back of the eye, an upside down image is projected onto the retina and the photoreceptors in the retina then translates the image into electrical impulses that travels along the optic nerve and into the brain. The brain then interprets what we see by visualising the image we see and for example, if we see a wasp or a bee in front of our eyes our automatic response after interpreting that information would be to lean back in a fast motion or to simply take a few steps back.

McGurk Effect:

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McGurk Effect: hearing lips and seeing voices

The McGurk Effect challenges us between the interaction of hearing and the visual appearances we see in speech perception, leading to the question – can you trust what you hear in correlation to what you see? The McGurk Effect will clarify this for us.

The McGurk Effect is a video of a close up on a man, where they show two different clips: the first clip is where the man is contracting his facial muscles and saying “ba” where in the second clip it is of the man that appears to be saying “fa”. Or at least, his facial contractions appear to be motioning it. However in reality, both clips were of a man continuously saying “ba”. The second clip was dubbed over with the “ba” sound. However, when the clip was shown to my whole year group, everyone did not believe so, and instead believed that the man in the second clip was saying “fa”.

 So this leads to the question of how and why our sights influences what we hear. First off, how? Well the result of this experiment suggests that speech perception is multimodal and therefore it requires information from more than one sensory that can provide us with. Which leads us to the next question, why do we use both sight and hearing in speech perception? Well one of the most obvious reason is that it allows us humans to have more efficient communication and interactions with one and another. For example, if you only use one sense such as hearing and you were communicating with a friend and you were being sarcastic therefore the words you express contradicts  with what you actually want to say, that friend may not be able to understand if it is a sarcastic remark or a joke unless they see that friend’s facial expressions because it will show emotions such as a smile or a disappointed look. That friend will incorporate these two information to figure out in their brain if the person is joking around or if the person is serious. This is vital in communication to understand and interaction with others.

But it is difficult to interpret information from using one sense alone. For example, like people who have hearing deficiencies can compensate by learning how to read lips. However, this requires more work and effort than those who can communicate by using both hearing and sight simultaneously.

Resources: About the McGurk EffectThe real and illusory in phoneme perception <– Here is a link showing a full analysis conducted by these two researchers on the McGurk Effect (including discussions and conclusions)

Lesson 4: Friday 13th September

In today’s lesson we focused on the Monty Hall Problem.

Well here is a simple image that will help you understand what the Monty Hall Problem is:

Monty Hall 600b

To summarize this image:

It is saying that the probability of you getting a car (which is something your desire) instead of a goat (which is something you don’t desire) is higher when you switch your chosen door after the first door is opened/revealed.

The door that will always be opened at first will be of one of the goat doors, therefore some people may believe that the probability of getting a car after the door is opened will be a 50% chance because only two doors are remaining and the car can only be in one and therefore switching your choice will not make a difference (because its a 50% chance). However, during the lesson we’ve come to learn that this is wrong.

Well, why is this wrong? Because, as shown on the image^ it isn’t a 50% chance, but instead it is a 2/3rds of a chance of getting a car.

This is because, the first goat door will always be shown, therefore instantly this eliminates a 1/3 (3/3 – 1/3 = 2/3), leaving you with a 2/3 chance of getting a car.

Well then how does switching your chosen door help you increase chances of getting a car?

Switching doors is bad only if you initially chose the car, which happens only 1/3rd of the time. Switching doors is good if you initially chose a goat, which happens 2/3rds of the time. Thus, the probability of winning by switching is 2/3rds, or double the odds of not switching.

“Switching turns a loss into a win and a win into a loss,” says Jason Rosenhouse (mathematics professor at the James Madison University), “and since my first choice is wrong 2/3rds of the time, I will win that often by switching.”

How did this affect me, what i learnt from this experiment? and what impact does this have on my opinions on ToK ???

^^ work on this + also try this experiment on mum and review

Useful links: Scientific American – Monty Hall Problem

Lesson 3: 6th September 2013

Today’s lesson was solely based on the topic of price gouging.

Definition of price gouging: “pricing about the market price when no alternative retailer is available” from freedictionary.com

However there are other definitions of price gouging out there in the world depending on how you look at it. Most definitions are in relation to natural disasters. I think its fair to say that there is a range of definitions to this term, and there is not necessarily a right or wrong answer. Several states in the USA have put their own definitions into law, ranging from the vague to the specific. For example, Florida defines it as “unconscionable prices for goods and services following a declared state of emergency”, including their own graphic image –>price-gouging-law-300x100

We had to read an article of price gouging called… -talk about article-

Afterwards, we discussed in groups of 4 to 5 people of the different arguments for and against price gouging and how it impacts the economy, the customer/consumers and the world in general.

Here are some of the arguments we raised for price gouging:

  1. Helps the economy to keep running (GDP) – more tax on shops
  2. Shopkeepers want to make more profit
  3. Some argue to say that price gouging is actually beneficial for victims of natural disasters as increased prices prevents victims from buying large quantities of these necessities, therefore these necessities are more likely to be distributed to other people equally

Here are some of the arguments we raised against price gouging:

  1. Ethically and morally unjust
  2. It is taking advantage of the people who are suffering and unable to pay their bills (Exploiting people!)
  3. The businesses are already making profit anyways therefore they don’t necessarily need to overcharge. I believe this is the business just being greedy with money. (And if they weren’t making profit, it is their problem and they shouldn’t charge the customers with extra cash just to fix their own problem. Instead they should think of a better marketing strategy or think of methods to improve their products etc)
  4. Lack of responding to customer/consumer concerns
  5. Necessities will no longer be necessities, as customers/consumers may no longer be willing to pay for these price-increased products/services and may try to find alternatives as a replacement.
  6. However, people will find it difficult to live without them therefore people will have a much lower standard of living.
  7. In the article, it mentioned that people filed complaints and shops were fined