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No. 48, November 2003

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The Political Compass
"The old one-dimensional categories of 'right' and 'left,' established for the seating arrangement of the French National Assembly of 1789, are overly simplistic for today's complex political landscape." This test measures where in a two-dimensional scale of "rightism" and "leftism" you lie, and compares your results with that of famous leaders'. Its thought-provoking questions encompass judgments in politics and ethics. (Thanks to Marney Bruce.)
The Yuk Factor (Taboo)
I was first introduced to the "yuck factor" by Tim Henly, who argued that many of our moral and aesthetic values are based on repugnance: when actions or things make us say "yuck," (or, I suppose, "yuk" in the UK) we equate them with "wrongness," "evil," or "immorality." This online quiz at The Philosopher's Magazine website, appropriately called "Taboo," provides several situations that attempt to measure to what extent we have good reasons for the moral judgments we make. The analysis of results raises questions about the influence of emotion on moral judgments. On the same vein check out Ophelia Benson's article, "The Yuk-Factor," at
The Argument Clinic
Unsure of whether an argument is sound or not? Type in the argument, and [not immediately] receive a response about its validity from the folks the the University of Northern Colorado. The "previous submissions" link can be found below the Submit button, and is worth checking. At the bottom of the page, other resources about arguments and informal fallacies. (Thanks to Carolyn P. Henly for submitting this site, found by her school's library media specialist.)
What if Einstein was wrong?
João Magueijo, a 35-year old physicist, is questioning Einstein's postulate that the speed of light is constant throughout the universe. This article, written by Tim Folger and published in Discover magazine (April 2003), provides a good example of science in the making. For a concrete glimpse into paradigm wars you can also conduct a search at for Magueijo's book, Faster Than the Speed of Light: The Story of a Scientific Speculation, and read what people are saying.
"Reaching for the stars": an interview with George Walker,5500,1010832,00.html
On August 2, 2003 The Guardian published an interview with the IBO director general. Worth reading, especially the phrase that describes what many seasoned TOK teachers know: "Students might be sceptical about theories of knowledge, but years later they come back and say it's the one thing they remember in the IB. They are really grateful for it." (Thanks to Mike Clarke)

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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 .