Reasoning as a WOK Unit


First off, here is the STUDY GUIDE you need to do as you read the section on Reasoning as a Way of Knowing in Chapter 2. Please post answers on your blog and check the due date for your class in Managebac.

Google Doc Link

or Download this:

Download this file

Some questions to ponder:

       How do we reason?

       What is the significance and power of reasoning? 

       How do we learn to reason? What tools do we use in order to reason? 

       How does reasoning differ from the other Ways of Knowing?

       What is the role of Reason in Science and other areas of Knowledge?

       How do we use “deductive” and “inductive” reasoning?

       What is the difference between “validity” and “truth”?

       How do we effectively make counter-claims?

       How do we creatively reason?

       How and why do we classify?

       How do stereotypes and prejudice relate to reason?

       What constitutes a “good reason” for belief?



ad hominem

argument ad ignorantium

belief bias

binary thinking

circular reasoning

confirmation bias




double standards

fallacy (logical fallacy)


lateral thinking



loaded questions




vested interest

vicious circle / cycle

Download this file







Perception Lesson

(as adapted from Richard van de Lagemaat, Theory of Knowledge for the IB Diploma)

“It’s not what you look at that matters, it’s what you see” – Henry David Thoreau

“Two-thirds of what we see is behind our eyes” – Chinese proverb

“Things do not seem the same to those who love and those who hate, nor to those who are angry and those who are calm” – Aristotle

“You can’t depend on eyes when your imagination is out of focus” – Mark Twain

“If the doors of perception were cleansed, everything would appear to man as it is – inifinite” – William Blake


THE ARTSTo what extent to the arts help us to see the world with new eyes?

ETHICS Do “good” people see the world differently from “bad” people? 

HISTORYShould we trust eye-witness accounts?

HUMAN SCIENCESHow does the act of observation influence what is observed?

EMOTIONHow does your mood affect your perception of things?

NATURAL SCIENCESHow far do expectations influence observations?

LANGUAGEHow does the way we describe something affect the way we see it?

REASON Which is a more reliable source of knowledge – perception or reason?

What is Perception?

Perception = the awareness of things through our 5 senses, or the “gates and windows” of the mind, the channels of communication between ourselves and the outside world.

5 senses = sight, sound, touch, taste, smell

If you had to sacrifice ONE of your senses, which would you be most willing to lose and which least willing to lose?

MOST people answer that they’d least be willing to lose sight, and most willing to lose smell. Smell is sometimes referred to as the “mute sense”. Think about it – we have thousands of terms for colors but not much other than “smells good/bad”. In reality, we can distinguish more than 10,000 distinct odours. Moreover, smells can trigger powerful emotional responses in the brain, as this sense has a more direct route than then other four.

What is Empiricism?

Empiricism is a major school of philosophy that states ALL knowledge is ultimately based on perceptual experience, and that, in essence, one cannot be born with knowledge or obtain it without perceiving it. Some famous empiricists are David Hume, George Berkeley (UC Berkeley named after him), John Locke, and to some extent, Leonardo da Vinci, who said “All our knowledge has its roots in our perceptions”

Caution- some adult language in the above vids!

What is Common-Sense Realism?

This suggests that perception is passive and straightforward – that our senses are more or less reliable and give us an accurate picture of the world…HOWEVER, we all know that our senses can fool us sometimes, and that our experience of the world is affected by our unique sense organs and minds as well.

What are the 2 Main Factors in Perception?

Sensation– which is provided by the world

Interpretation – which is provided by our minds

***First have fun with the BBC challenge

VISUAL ILLUSIONS can illustrate how these 2 factors come into play. Keep in mind the following:

CONTEXT: the way we see something depends partly on the context in which we see it. For example, we understand perspective so seeing a larger figure in the foreground does not necessarily mean it is in reality larger than the figure in the background, which is further away.


FIGURE AND GROUND: When we look at something we tend to highlight  certain aspects of what we see (“figure”) and treat other parts as background (“ground”)


VISUAL GROUPING: We have a tendancy to look for meaning in what we see and group our perceptual understanding into shapes and patterns. Even with little sensory information, we can construct meaning out of an object by “filling in” the gaps.



How long did it take you to figure out what is in the image above?

Collection of Categorized Illusions

Spanish Castle Illusion

Dragon Illusion (with video)

The Stroop Effect

94 Optical Illusions



Why is it so hard to proof-read a paper for typos? Our expectations definitely play a huge role in how we see things. 


Our mind (our unconscious) does a great job of making sense of what we take in with our senses. Consider this- your image in the bathroom mirror is actually about half the size of your head- but when you’re checking yourself out you never think you’ve shrunk – it always appears to be the right size.

Unfortunately, some people suffer from a condition called visual agnosia, in which their damaged brain makes them lose the ability to interpret what they see.

Here is a great story by Hilary Lawson on that experience


One reason for being cautious about what are senses tell us is that perception is by nature selective. Our minds have to pick and choose what to notice since there is a constant deluge of sensory information coming at us at all times. Like a figure/ground illusion, certain aspects of all situations “Stand out” and others fade into the background.

What makes things “stand out”? One is INTENSITY– something strong or loud, pungent or colorful, for example. The other is CONTRAST– like that coffee spill on your white tee shirt! Another is MOVEMENT – evolutionary speaking, we need to be startled by movement in order to protect ourselves. 

But of course there are other factors that play in – such as personal interest and mood. Photographers are really great at captalizing on what catches their eye as aesthetically pleasing or able to tell a story.

How would a TREE be seen by: a: a logger  b: an environmentalist  c: a biologist  d: a native American ?

When our interests shift, so do our perceptions, which explains the phenomena that pregnant women suddenly notice scores of other pregnant women wherever she goes.

Mood explains the glass half full/glass half empty differences between optimists and pessimists. When you begin a romantic relationship, you notice everything you have in common; when it dissolves, you point out all the things that made you different and incompatible. The “Fear Factor” greatly alters our perceptions, which is why after telling ghost stories around a camp fire even the rustle of leaves scares the pants off you! 

Finally CULTURE can affect our perceptions – how does it affect yours?

It can be said that we often see only what we want to see – how do your beliefs affect the way you see things?

Imagine you’ve witnessed a violent crime and get a brief but clear glimpse of the assailant. What confidence would you have that you could correctly identify one of the following men?


Eye-witness accounts have traditionally been trusted, but recent DNA tests have proved that they are not infallible. The eye is not a camera – everytime we “remember” something, we actually reconstruct it. 

Think back to an early childhood memory. Are you sure about the SOURCE of this memory? Do you recall experiencing it, or did your parents tell you so many stories about it you think you remember it?

Even though we might misremember, misinterpret, or fail to notice something, it would be impractical to be overly skeptic about everthing we take in through our senses.

How can we effectively distinguish between appearance and reality?

 1. Confirmation by another sense – does it look like and apple AND taste like one? Can you see the wall AND bang your head against it?

2. Coherence – does it “fit in” with your overall experience of the world?

3. Independent Testimony – what do other people say? do they “confirm” your perceptions?



Galieo once quipped: “The tickle is not in the feather”. If you burned your hand on the stove, you know enough about biology to agree that the pain is in your hand, not some thing in the stove coils independent of your experience with it. If you drink a soda it tastes sweet – does the sweetness exist in the soda itself, or only in your mouth? Is the “Sweetness” a subjective experience resulting form the interaction of your taste buds and your mouth.

But what about things like colors? Surely snow is white(ish) and grass is green. BUT if we apply the same reasoning as the soda/stove then the green is no more in the grass as the sweetness was in the soda. So….the “green-ness” is merely a result of the ways our eyes are sensitive to light wavelengths and the physical structure of the grass. Does this mean, in effect, the world is colorless?


You’ve probably heard the well-known saying “If a tree falls in the forest and there’s no one there to hear it does it make a sound?” If you think that the sound of a tree falling is nothing more than the effect of air vibrations on our ears, and if there were no ears in the region, then the tree does NOT make a sound. But can we make a distinction between the kinds of “sound”?

Physical Sound = vibrations in the air caused by things like falling trees

Experienced Sound = the actual crash or whatever we hear when trees hit the ground

Given these definitions, we can say in our puzzle that there IS “Sound #1” but NO “Sound #2”

Does this mean that in the early days of Earth’s formation the planet was silent, or if we removed all ears and other hearing devices from all creatures our planet would again be totally hush? Extending that to color…if no one had eyes or the ability to see would roses not be red and grass not green (at least in the “experiential” sense)?

This reasoning leads us to wonder whether anything can be said to exist independent of our experience of it.


After everyone leaves campus for the day, how do you know the tables/ desks are still in the classroom? It’s like “How do you know the light goes off when you close the firdge door?”

Perhaps tables on behave when someone is watching them, but as soon as no one’s around they dance around and create havoc. Even if you filmed the room you could still ask: “how do you know the images of the obviously static tables stay on the film when you are not watching it?”

Perhaps right now you might be skeptical of philosophers who ponder these seemingly inane questions and are saying to yourself WHO REALLY CARES??!!  Perhaps you are thinking we shouldn’t worry about what tables do on their own time…all that matters is how they act when we’re around.


There are 3 major theories about the relationship between perception and reality:

1. COMMON SENSE REALISM (Slogan: What you see is what is there)

The way we perceive the world basically mirrors the way the world really is. BUT…since we’ve explored how what we perceive is determined (at least in part) by our own unique sense organs, there migth be some good reasons for rejecting this theory

2. SCIENTIFIC REALISM (Slogan: Atoms in the Void!)

The world exists as an independent reality, but is very different from the way we perceive it. Just think about all the electric charges, atoms and other miniscule moving parts that comprise a seemingly static, solid object like a chair. According to this theory, the wolrd is a colorless, soundless, odourless realm of atoms whizzing around in space.

***most scientists are intuitive realists and believe they are making discoveries about an existing independent reality.

3. PHENOMENALISM (Slogan: To be is to be perceived)

This is radical empiricism (all knowledge is based on experience). Phenomenalism says that matter is simply the permanent possibility of sensation, and the world is not independent of our experience of it. I bet you can think of some Hollywood movies that use this philosophy. It emphasizes we see the world from a human perspective and shouldn’t really be philosophizing about the nature of reality!

Some Perception plots in films:

Chinatown; Donnie Darko; Memento; The Truman Show; Fight Club; Inception; The Matrix; Vanilla Sky; Mulholland Drive; Shutter Island; The Sixth Sense; Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind; The Crying Game; The Manchurian Candidate; Pleasantville; The Machinist; Brazil


Practically speaking, it probably only makes sense (no pun intended) to doubt our senses only if there are good reasons for doing so – after all, evolutionarily speaking they got us this far. And if knowledge is defined as something a bit less than certainty, that works! ***If the perceptual evidence is consistent with other Ways of Knowing, such as Reason and Intuition, then it is probably a reliable source of Knowledge.



Fractally Breathing

Moving Illusions

BellaDonna Effect (with Video)

Escher-esque impossible drawings

Shifting Objects Illusion

Now you see it – now you don’t (with video)

A New Kind of Color Blind (with video)

Checkerboard Illusion and the Munker-White Illusion

Sillhouette Illusion (with video)


1. Read this entire post thoroughly and explore all the links

2. CURATE an optical illusion (or more than 1)  you find particularly interesting and post to your blog so we can share them. If you can explain how it works that would be great.

3. Choose 1 sense (sight, hearing, taste, touch, smell). CHoose 1 hour of your day and keep track of absolutely EVERYTHING you experience through that sense ONLY and record it on your blog.

4. Respond with a paragraph regarding your reading of Hilary Lawson’s story about visual agnosia

5. Which of the 3 “Theories of Reality” do you most adhere to? Explain.

6. We are all very good at seeing only what we want to see. Can you give some examples of the way in which our BELIEFS, CULTURE, or MOOD affects the way we see things?

7. CURATE and article or video regarding ANY of the senses and sene perception. Try to find at least 2 knoweldge issues and post all to blog


DIY Infographics – Remix, Ideate, Create

Now that we’ve explored the science, history, and future of Infographics, it is time for some real-world investigation and application. Keep in mind that this is about how we CREATE KNOWLEDGE by MAKING SENSE of DATA and INFORMATION through SENSE PERCEPTION (in this case, visuals, or sight, and text, or language).

Infographic creation goes back to Early Man (click here for more)

Step 1: Peruse WIRED MAGAZINE for a real-life example of a non-interactive, print-based infographic. 

Step 2: REMIX the exisiting Infographic. You will trasnform it and give it new life by taking the data available and changing up how it is presented. Be adventurous, and use the tools in the links provided below.

Step 3: D.I.Y. Infographic. You will be telling an original story with data and visuals/text. If you choose to do this by hand, you’ll need to scan or take a photo of it for your blog.

This link has a lovely infographic chart which spells out the process.


Here is a SCRIBD slideshow which highlights your basic goals

***Be sure to work on something that interests you. You might even want to tie it to another project such as CAS, EE, or something you are doing in another DP course. Or, it might be something to do with a hobby or other interest you have. OR you might want to create your own resume- type infographic like the ones found HERE


Livebinder on Infographics (the tab called “Creating Infographics”)

TOK blog – scroll to “Creating Infographics” pink title and search the sources below – this would be a unique tool to use, especially if you choose to incorporate photography

Free Word Cloud generators


Top 2011 Infographics (very cool) My personal fav is this flow chart on the History of Science Fiction


Here’s a close-up


Here are 2011 Infographics that are Still Relevant Today. One of my favorites is the Apple Tree:


This website offers a look into the sketching phases and ideation of a data viz team. I like the one called “Arrested Development“, about the #OccupyWallStreet Tweets and arrests


If you click HERE their process is explained in detail


Visualizing Data: Infographics and Sense Perception

Infographics are perhaps the new storytelling medium. They can take a lot of information and put it in a form that is fun and easily understood. Studying and experimenting with infographics is a perfect start to our new unit on SENSE PERCEPTION. Although we have 5 senses, a great deal of what we “know” comes from what we “see”.

“We now live in a world where information is potentially unlimited. Information is cheap, but meaning is expensive. Where is the meaning? Only human beings can tell you where it is. We’re extracting meaning from our minds and our own lives.”- George Dyson

“The purpose of Visualization…is INSIGHT…NOT pictures” – Ben Schneiderman at U. of Maryland

Why do Infographics Matter? – “your message is only as good as your ability to share it”…one designer comments that “TRANSPARENCY is the NEW BLACK”…it’s all about the open data


by Column Five Media



TOK -related ARTICLE: “When Data Struts Its Stuff – Read about the implications, benefits, and risks


Is “SEEING really BELIEVING”? Why do humans gravitate toward the visual and pictoral? Why is a “picture worth a thousand words”? Neurologists define this phenomenon as the “PICTORAL SUPERIORITY EFFECT”, claiming that our brains are actually hard-wired to remember things that are presented as or with images much more than mere text or speech. But we have to be war of “DATA-WASHING”, or the “selective and manipulated framing of information aimed at steering your understanding of it in a specific direction”. We need “GRAPHICS LITERACY”.

For the video “CHART WARS” please see this Brainpickings post:

Read this Wikipedia entry on the MISUSE OF STATS, which includes discarding unfaorable data, loaded questions, biased samples, overgeneralization, misreporting error, false causality, proof of the null hypothesis.


We will begin with a video series: “Journalism in the Age of Data“, put out by Stanford University, which has an excellent media program. (a collection of 8 short videos) 

“Data Visualization is here to stay…so we better all get on board’ 

Here’s an INFOGRAPHIC ABOUT INFOGRAPHICS to give you some background. It says the steps are:

1. IDEATION– what is an idea that will “blow up”?

2. IDEA SELECTION – finding that diamond in the rough

3. RESEARCH – getting the facts (legit and interesting!)

4. CONCEPTUAL VISUALIZATION – what will the art/design be like?



Finally, here’s the LIVEBINDER with everything you’d ever need to know about Infographics




Here is his TED talk:

He claims statistics is “the sexiest subject around”

and a similar VIDEO: BBC: POPULATION 7 BILLION (a must see!) If it doesn’t work, then see it on YouTube HERE


Google Street View Stop-Motion 


Address Is Approximate from The Theory on Vimeo.

In this 5 minute TED talk, a “creative technologist” demonstrates CYMATICS,  process for making soundwaves visible.


In this 6 minute TED talk, we are exposed to the “ALLOSPHERE” – a new way to see, hear, and interpret scientific data.



David McCandless is a leader in data visualization, and in his TED talk he suggests it is the best way to navigate the “information glut”



How can data visualization aid those in the medical field? In this TED talk, Swedish expert Anders Ynnerman describes virtual autopsies and all kinds of goodies!



Prepare to be wow’d! Alexander Tsiaras uses art and technology to visualize the unseen human.




DataArt – BBC Blurring the boundaries between art and information

3 Trends That Will Define the Future of Infographics

Quora answers: What are the Best Blogs about Data?

BBC Dimensions- How Big Really? (this is so cool!)

Information is Beautiful 

Hive Group


DID YOU KNOW...Many people are creating inforgraphics to use as CVs/Resumes? A company called helps.  This is an example from a friend:



llllllll    Above – an interesting combo of kinetic typography and infographics, set to film llllllllllllllll

“Visual Storytelling: A New Language for Data Overload” (has amazing examples) (prob the most cool site- with examples in “Explore”)

Social Media Stats Viz

Students and Social Media (a good one for you!)

Hardest Places to Survive on Earth

What words does CHINA censor?

Mapping Internet Names with TOKYO subway

What’s in a surname? (INTERACTIVE)

TasteBuds (by David McCandless)

Designer Toolkit (what are the most prized products?)

MUSIC VID: “Numbers in Action” by Wiley (infographic-inspired)

Big Data: Digital Deluge

Google vs. Facebook – on Security and Privacy

How Texting is Changing the World

Interpretation of Death in Different Cultures

Infographic about Tumblr

Just how Connected are College Students? (surprising!)

Obesity Worldwide

VIDEO: We are the 99%

1 YEAR of Infogrpaphics

TONS of Interesting Infographics as tweeted by @russelstarr

Students Through the Ages

Visual Storytelling (about the book, with examples)

Vive le Tweet! A map of Twitter’s languages

What are the Hardest Languages to Learn?

Where are you Guilty of Text Messaging?

Understanding Shakespeare with Visualization

INTERACTIVE: Choosing a College

Various “State of the World” infographics from Myriad

INTERACTIVE: U.S.A. Happiness factors

U.S. Mood Throughout the Day inferred from Twitter (WITH VIDEO)….and to find out how they did that, check this article on TWITTEROLOGY, the new social science

30 Top Infographics for Designers

GOOD infographics ( a bunch of them, posted by the site GOOD)

FastCompany- Infographic of the Day

55 Social Media Infographics

Science and Health-related Data Viz

Language, Arts, Entertainment Data Viz

History/Politics.Econ Data Viz

Hot Body Language

“Faces of the Dead” (made for our fallen heroes)



Using Vuvox and Photography (with a trusty Sharpie), Nichole created an amazing infographic on Revolutions throughout History


Oil’d from Chris Harmon on Vimeo.


iCharts – create interactive charts for free

MANYEYES (by IBM) – one of the most popular

TIPS in designing effective Infographics

Designer’s Inside Scoop on Data Viz

TIPS, TRICKS, RESOURCES for making your own

10 TIPS for Designing Infographics

How to make a Good Infographic

Google Public Data Explorer

Mrs. Burvall’s DIIGO list re: Infographics (about 23 links now)

Main TYPES of Infographics



1. Analyzing and Evaluating Infographics (and the Knowledge Issues related to data viz)

2. Remixing/Transforming Existing Inforgraphics

3. Creating original examples of Data Viz

Get inspired by watching THIS VIDEO about a famous graphic designer at work.