Tok Essay

Topics: Science, Scientific method, Stanford prison experiment Pages: 5 (1653 words) Published: October 26, 2010
To what extent do we need evidence to support our beliefs in different areas of knowledge?

Depending on the area of knowledge, there are different needs for the level of evidence to support our beliefs. Without some evidence to prove our beliefs, it would be irrational to believe such things. Some ideas already exist and there is no evidence that can scientifically prove it but are still believed by the majority of the world. This means that not everything needs to have much evidence to be believed, some ideas are imbedded in people's belief system so well that there doesn’t have to be much evidence. The ways of knowing include reasoning, language, sense perception, and emotion. Depending on the area of knowledge, there are ways of knowing that are more suitable to discuss. It is interesting to consider the different areas of knowledge especially in ethics, human sciences and natural sciences to see if this changes our approach to the title. This essay will examine to what extent evidence is needed to support our beliefs through these areas of knowledge and try to come to a conclusion about these knowledge issues. There are no exact amounts of evidence needed to support beliefs.

In the area of knowledge, natural sciences, there should be a lot of evidence to support someone’s belief because the word science itself means the “systematized knowledge derived from observation, study, and experimentation carried on in order to determine the nature or principles of what is being studied.” The evidence in natural sciences is the most important because it can be proven through experiments and are not a matter of believing so much as the matter of learning the truth. Scientists will try to come up with a rule or formula in which certain reactions will lead to a product, through experimenting. If the experiment goes according to plan and the hypothesis is correct, that is the evidence to prove the rule or formula. However, the same experiment will have to be done many times to prove that the first time wasn’t luck or a mistake. Most of the time, experiments will disprove something than prove it. As there are millions of possibilities that the experiment is a failure and disproves the hypothesis, lots of evidence needs to be shown. In 1996, the first animal to be cloned was born. The sheep, Dolly, is an example of evidence and is also the clearest proof that cloning is possible. Of course out of 277 tries, she was the only sheep that lived into adulthood. There are many things that are incredibly rational, which cannot be scientifically proven, for example science itself. Although this is true, overall a large amount of evidence is needed to support beliefs in natural sciences because it could be measured, studied, and disproven.

In human sciences, it is harder to trust the evidence because it is the study of human reactions and thoughts. Still evidence is needed to point out different possible outcomes and to compare with other similar tests. People act differently according to stress, pressure, and other factors such as individuality, which makes it impossible to say something will always cause humans to behave in a definite way. There are experiments that are done which can draw vague conclusions. For example the Milgram’s experiments on obedience to authority done in 1961 is a possible explanation for how Nazi soldiers could commit crimes during the holocaust when ordinary people say they could never do the acts these Nazi soldiers did in concentration camps. However I don’t think the results of the participants can be used to excuse or accuse anyone but it is just a new discovery that helps humans understand human actions and minds better. In a simpler example, one student who doesn't do their homework may come up with an elaborate excuse and lie, while another student might just apologize to the teacher and ask for an extension. Another example of evidence that cannot be scientifically proven would be when...

Bibliography: February 20, 1991
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