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Perspectives, Biases, and Paradigms – TOK Summative Task #1

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 “We see the world, not as it is but as we are.”

– Talmud

I believe that this quote is true and applies to so many situations in life. Every person has a completely unique life experience, therefore their knowledge varies from the knowledge of every other person. Because of this, every individual has a different way of perceiving the world, which forms different people’s opinions and beliefs and each of their own paradigms. From this, I agree with the statement by the Talmud. I however also believe that we should be conscious this fact and consider that other people have a different paradigm and therefore might have a completely different opinion that is also true. Nevertheless I think that each individual should balance out between viewing the world from our own perspective, and taking other people’s paradigms into consideration, so that one person can express their opinions and beliefs openly, while most likely not conflicting with other people’s beliefs or opinions.

A very good example for this is the Internet itself. Nowadays, there are numerous different social media website, such as Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, and so many more. Almost everyone who uses social media has at least once observed how people discussing and arguing underneath a post about a certain topic, either being for or against it. Most of the time, people put entire walls of text in response to a post, in a battle against their “opponents” who don’t share the same opinions as they do. As I often use social media, I have often been reading these kind of comment “wars”, but I always feel like all of the opinions that are stated below a post have a truth within them. Coincidentally, only last week, I found a post showcasing the picture which can also be viewed above, which conveys that there might be a lot of different truths regarding a certain topic, that can look entirely different, depending on the perspective. I think that this image perfectly portrays the statement created by the Talmud.

Another example that I found interesting was narrated by Stephen Covey in a video talk about his book “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People”. In his example, Covey was sitting in a train, when a father entered with is children. The children were creating a lot of noise, disturbing the surrounding people, including Covey. The father however didn’t attempt to take care of this problem. When Stephen Covey confronted the father and asked him to take care of his children, the father answered that the children’s mother died about an hour prior and that both him and his children are not sure how to handle the situation. Covey immediately changed his attitude towards the father and created more sympathy towards him, due to a paradigm shift. If Covey had been conscious of the fact, that there might be more than one reason for why the father and his children acted this way, he probably would have acted in a different and more appropriate way.

In conclusion, I believe that the statement by the Talmud, “We see the world, not as it is but as we are.”, portrays how society is today. Decisions and actions are taken depending on the unique experiences, beliefs and opinions of individuals. In order to grow as individuals and become more open minded, we have to be more aware of the fact that there is more than one way to look at a topic and that people will behave differently, depending on the perspective they have on the topic, or more specifically, we have to be aware of the singularity of each individual’s own paradigm.

The Medium is the Message – Reflection

Imagine that this blog post was a video. Imagine the different sounds you would hear, the gesture and mimic of the speaker, the tone of the speaker and so on. Would that change the meaning you would get out of it? I think it would. Media is widely used in modern society and is nowadays pretty much necessary to bring across a certain opinion to a bigger mass of people.

The Medium is the Message was a project, in which each student was to make a poster about a topic of choice, after conducting research on that topic out of different points of views. These points of views would eventually provide different opinions on the topic. The different opinions partially are made up by the different types of media that are used to convey these opinions. Therefore, the student’s posters, next to the topic itself, focused on the way that media is used.

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My own poster looked at the different viewpoints on propaganda. I chose this topic, because I am very passionate about graphic design and graphic design can be used to create propaganda. The sources I used were a Youtube interview, an online article, a political cartoon, a propaganda poster and a book extract. Most of the sources had very critical opinions on the topic propaganda. What I found interesting and what I also didn’t know before was, that even though most people think that propaganda is not a very positive thing, a lot of the sources claimed that propaganda is essential for many countries. Also, propaganda is said to originally be a good thing, as it helps to support a countries action, however, the countries itself change it into the negative, as they use lies to boost their status and support their actions.

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In the end of the project, we were allowed to look at the other student’s poster and to take notes. The first poster I looked at was Ken’s. He researched on the topic “anti smoking”. In order to find out more about his topic, Ken looked at an infographic, a PSA, a medical study, an editorial and an advertisement poster. These different sourced conveyed that smoking in fact is bad for the smoker and for their surroundings. As smoking kills, some media advertise with alternatives to smoking, such as the product Nikotinell, which is an alternative gum. I thought that the poster which Ken looked at was very interesting, as it used satire to show the negative aspects that smoking comes with.

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Another poster that I looked at was Hye-won’s which was about Designer Babies. Designer babies are genetically changed babies, that are either aimed to be as close to perfect as possible, or are used for other purposes. As sources Hye-won used a movie, a book, a political cartoon and a news article. Most of these sources conveyed how designing babies is against the moral, as it is almost like playing god. Also, I thought it was interesting that the act of designing babies basically aims to defy the commonly known phrase: ‘Nobody’s perfect’.

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Furthermore, Gen looked closer at the Zinedine Zidane Headbutt, which took place during the 2006 World Cup. In order to observe the different perspectives on the Zidane Headbutt, Gen looked at a newspaper article, a statue, a news cast, a meme, a song and a cartoon. The song, such as a few other of his sources, on one side used mockery to make fun of Zidane’s Headbutt, but on the other hand it also supports it. A lot of other types of media also made fun of this event. I really thought that it was fascinating how many types of media there are, as Gen even looked at a statue.

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Lastly, Brian looked at the Oculus Rift VR, which are virtual reality glasses that are made to enhance the experience that is received while playing video games. These glasses are supposed to make the user feel like he is actually in the game. To find out more about his topic, Brian looked at a news review, a cartoon, a news article, a video review and an article. These sources had mostly very objective viewpoints, as they on one side explained the very high quality of the Oculus Rift VR and its ability to create a reality-like feel. On the other hand however, a lot of the media showed how the virtual reality is slowly starting to take over and makes it difficult for many people to differentiate between both realities. Additionally, some of the sources also showed the immediate negative affects that come with using the Oculus Rift, such as nausea and orientation problems.

In conclusion, I was very surprised on the variety of media that exist and how all of them have different effects and use different techniques to convey their opinion. A news article might not be able to bring a certain mood or atmosphere across as good as a video or song would do it. A dance might not be able to precisely communicate the topic, if the topic is not directly acted out. I think that media is used effectively, if it was decided beforehand what type of media should be used to fit the situation and the features that are required to convey the correct opinion.

I hope this gave you a little insight into the project The Medium is the Message. If you have any suggestions, thoughts, ideas or anything similar you can always comment down below.

Design Criteria Summary and Challenges

A – Inquiry & Analysis:

This criteria is about gathering information to find a solution for a given problem. You have to explain and justify the need for a solution to the client. Then you have to start constructing a plan, while prioritising the primary and secondary research. You also can look at other’s solutions for similar problems. At last you should make a design brief for planning. The main challenge is to find different methods to approach the problem and to find different ideas for the solution.

B – Developing Ideas:

Criterion B focuses on developing detailed design specifications, that explain the success criteria for the design of a solution based on the analysis and research you did before. You have to develop a range of feasible design ideas using appropriate mediums. You should be able to present the chosen design and justify it’s selection fully and critically with detailed reference to the design specs. Lastly you have to develop accurate and detailed planning drawings or diagrams, that outline the requirements needed for the solution. The main challenge is to find the right solution that is needed for the problem.

C – Creating the Solution:

This is about making the solution through developing a detailed and logical plan and showing excellent technical skills while following it. The plan you follow should have efficient time management and resource use. At last you have to record any changes that were made to the plan and fully justify them. I think that a main challenge is to follow the plan correctly while adjusting it until it works correctly.

D – Evaluating:

The main focus of this criteria is on evaluating the success of the solution. You have to design relevant testing methods to measure the success of the solution and after doing that you should be able to evaluate the success of the solution against the design specification. In the end you have to explain how the solution could be improved. One of the main challenges could be finding an improvement in the solution if you think it can’t be improved anymore.

Being Defenceless

Imagine you would lose all of your senses and your ability to move instantly. Is it even possible to imagine that without experiencing it? I think I couldn’t. But I can guess that it would be a very lonely life. How would you communicate with others? You wouldn’t even notice the people that cared for you, while you couldn’t do it on your own.

Our task in English was to stay awake 20 minutes, while having as few sensory input as possible. That meant staying in a dark room, not hearing or smelling anything and not moving at all. After that we had to record our experience, which included our physical, mental and emotional state and our concentration.

While doing the task I had different impressions. In one way I felt bored, my body was numb, and I probably already wondered if the 20 minutes were up after a few seconds. But on the other side I started to think of what other people were doing in that exact moment. Besides that I felt completely comfortable, my breathing was deep and slow and my heart rate was relatively low. I couldn’t really tell how I was feeling, due to neither feeling happy, nor sad. My biggest concentration was on staying awake, which was the thing I thought of in the first couple of minutes, but at some point I stopped thinking of anything. What I realised, but only after the task was over, was, that as soon I heard a sound, no matter how quiet it was, my whole concentration went over to that certain sound. All in all I felt like coming a bit closer to the feeling of people with almost complete physical and sensory deprivation. Especially the ones that have to live like that for years.

I think there is a big difference between losing your senses since birth, or in your later life. If you would lose them since birth you wouldn’t be able to tell how life with them would be like, as you didn’t learn it.  Your experience of how the real world was like wouldn’t be there. By that you wouldn’t even miss it. Other than that, losing your senses only later in your life would mean that you missed the world as you experienced it. On the one side you could have a pretty boring life. But on the other side you could have a long time thinking about the actions you took and achievements you made in your life before. However, almost feeling more like an object than like a human, you would be completely defenceless. You would have to rely on others to care for you.

I think that I couldn’t live if I couldn’t see, hear, smell, taste move or feel – there is too much more I want to know and to learn. Perhaps I could try it out if I already was an old wise man and “had seen it all”. What do you think?

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