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No. 48, November 2003

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Bits & Pieces

Birllaint Obsrevatoin...

When I studied Shannon's Information Theory I learned about the built-in redundancy in most natural languages: many letters or entire words can be deleted without preventing the recipient of the message from understanding its content. A classic example is the phrase “mre mssgs r snt than ncesry to cnvey infrmtn ntendd by sndr.” This apocryphal text that has been circulating on the Internet suggests that our brains are quite proficient in deciphering messages of this kind in English. A friend confirmed that Portuguese also works. Please let us know if it works in other languages! (Thanks to Harvey Levy for the submission.)

Aoccdrnig to extnesvie rseeacrh conudcetd at Oxofrd Uinervtisy in Enlgnad, it deosn't raelly mttaer in waht oredr the ltteers in a wrod are, the olny iprmoetnt tihng is taht the frist and lsat ltteer is at the rghit pclae.
The rset can be in a toatl mses and you usulaly can sitll raed it wouthit much porbelm. Tihs is bcuseae we do not raed ervey ltete by it slef but the wrod as a wlohe.
Jsut thnik a momnet abuot all the tmie you and I watesed laernnig how to splel wrods croreclty!
Responses: Counterclaim by Nick Alchin

Round the world with the TOK Wheel (Thanks to Carolyn P. Henly)

I have a large poster-sized TOK wheel that displays the sections of the TOK diagram as layers that can be turned, so that we can line up the various elements to demonstrate what complex of relationships is under discussion at any given moment. We might, for instance, decide that in discussing a chapter from Rocks of Ages by Stephen Jay Gould, we are talking about the KNOWER-REASON-SCIENCE interaction, and/or the KNOWER-EMOTION-SCIENCE interaction, and/or the KNOWER-PERCEPTION-HISTORY interaction, and so on.

I have found this to be a useful way of helping students understand that the various elements on that diagram interact with each other, rather than existing as separate categories. I have also had students make their own individual TOK wheels; they rely on these fairly frequently to help them clarify an idea. An interesting sidelight is that from time to time students come into my class from another class, and head directly to the wheel. They use it to demonstrate what they were talking about in a previous class. TOK travels!

Inadvertent humor from essays submitted in the May 03 session

“...members of the clergy are skilled speakers who are trained in the art of heretics.”

“R. Abel once wrote: ‘All seeing is seeing-as, there is no innocent eye.’ Nietzche called this ‘the fallacy of Immaculate Conception.’”

“Repetition can determine what we believe to be true because it is repetitive.”

Finally, these are for the anals (sic) of TOK:
  • “...Meaning: when a person is enculturated into their particular area, family, group, society, excreta, they were taught beliefs that they now hold as truths.”
  • “Despite this new insight, Carroll's statement is still quite constipated.”
  • “Other sources of knowledge, such as books, websites, authorities, and the media offer only an institutional, impersonal and sometimes biased experience and are essentially only suppositories of information.”

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Forum is jointly published online at by the International Baccalaureate Organization and Lena Rotenberg Educational Consultant, © 2000-2004. Forum is a peer-reviewed publication aiming to offer original, thoughtful articles promoting Theory of Knowledge (TOK) teaching, in a fashion that is immediately useful to teachers. It is published twice per year in English (November and May) and twice per year in Spanish (February and August). Page last modified 2 August, 2004 .