Knowing How You Know/annotated

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Annotated Template[edit]

This is an annotated version of the template used to develop your own theory of knowledge. The same questions appear here as in the template, however tutorial information and source material you may want to study before you answer each question is also provided.

The questions from the template are shown in bold blue to distinguish them from the suggested reference materials.

  1. How do you assess the reliability, objectivity, and relevance of an information source?
    1. The Wikipedia guidance on identifying reliable sources may provide helpful answers for you to consider.
    2. The Wikipedia article on criteria of truth may be helpful.
    3. Understanding the role of objectivity in journalism along with other elements of journalism ethics and standards can be helpful in assessing sources.
  2. How do you evaluate the credibility, reliability, objectivity, and relevance of an expert or authority?
    1. Study this Wikipedia article on expert, and these various meanings of the word authority.
    2. Determine the extent and nature of each conflict of interest various experts and agencies have regarding the advice they are providing.
  3. How do you assess the relevance of evidence?
    1. How do you assess the relevancy of anecdotal evidence compared to systematic evidence?
      1. Read these Wikipedia articles on anecdotal evidence and scientific evidence.
    2. How do you assess the credibility, reliability, objectivity, and relevance of information based on statistics?
      1. Read this Wikipedia article on misuse of statistics.
    3. When empirical evidence contradicts a firmly held ideology, how do you resolve the conflict?
      1. Be aware when your thinking is being influenced by allegiance to an ideology.
      2. Be aware of your own confirmation bias and take steps to counteract this natural tendency.
    4. This essay on the nature of evidence may be helpful.
    5. How important is consistency, convergence of evidence, and the unity of knowledge? How do you understand the principle of consilience and what role does it play in your theory of knowledge?
    6. Please study the Wikipedia article on the scientific method and this on-line book on scientific methods.
    7. The rules of evidence used in courtrooms and other forms of evidence law are conservative and are intended to exclude information that may be more emotionally compelling than relevant or factual.
    8. Separate observation from interpretation. Events are experienced as: 1) neutral observations, 2) cognitive judgments, and 3) emotional appraisals.
  4. When do you find expert testimony more or less compelling than direct examination of evidence?
    1. This essay on the tyranny of evidence may be helpful.
    2. Beware of the many distortions that bias our perceptions.
  5. How do you maintain your objectivity when subjected to various forms of influence?
    1. Sources of influence include direct observation, listening, dialogue, suggestion, recommendation, advice, opinion, education, previous experience, existing beliefs, ideology, reading, advertisements, indoctrination, propaganda, censorship, counseling, peer pressure, attachment, and habits.
    2. Study the results of the Asch conformity experiments.
    3. Study the effects of social influence.
    4. Understand how your beliefs are influenced by peer pressure.
    5. Understand how your beliefs are influenced by various advocacy groups.
    6. Understand the nature, prevalence, and influence of propaganda.
    7. Understand the prevalence of conformation bias and the effects it is having on how you assess evidence, and how you discount evidence contrary to your beliefs.
    8. Scan this list of cognitive biases and stay alert to influences that exploit these biases.
  6. How do you maintain your objectivity when subjected to various forms of power?
    1. Power may be present in the form of
      1. Dominance—The ability to inflict harm, also known as aggressive coercion, or
      2. Stature—The ability to provide help, also known as leverage, or
      3. Influence—altering people's beliefs.
    2. Read this paper on the difficulty and importance of speaking truth to power.
    3. Understand the prevalence and effects of various forms of censorship, including chilling effects and self-censorship.
    4. Understand the prevalence and effects of fear mongering and intimidation.
    5. Beware of charismatic authority and undue influence by various celebrities.
  7. When do you examine your beliefs from a variety of reference frames?
    1. What happens when you drill down to a much smaller and more detailed scale of time or space?
    2. What happens when you frame up to a larger and more comprehensive scale of time or space?
    3. What happens to your beliefs when you adopt a global perspective?
    4. When and how might you change your beliefs if they are contradicted when examined from a particular reference frame, such as those mentioned above?
  8. How do you maintain your objectivity when a compelling narrative depends on incredible beliefs?
    1. These essays on the popularity of pseudoscience may be helpful.
    2. Scanning this list of logical fallacies can help alert you to their use.
    3. Studying the nature of objectivity may be helpful.
  9. How do you assess nonfalsifiable claims?
    1. Read about Russell's famous teapot.
    2. Notice where the burden of proof is being placed.
  10. When are you comfortable describing your assessment of a belief as “unsure” rather than as strictly true or false?
    1. Consider this Wikipedia article on the nature of truth.
  11. What does it take for you to change your mind?
    1. Recognize that we all take comfort in feeling certain.
    2. Understand the nature of certainty, skepticism, and doubt.
  12. How do you distinguish well-founded beliefs from assumptions, rumors, myths, and opinions?
    1. Consider the Wikipedia articles on rumors, myths, and opinions.
    2. How do you distinguish Pseudoscience from reliable science?

You may wish to study examples from this gallery of Theories of Knowledge.