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Welcome to the May edition of the theoryofknowledge.net newsletter, designed to encourage more discussion about real life situations and stories, and incorporate them more effectively into TOK essays and presentations.
 
This month, the newsletter features more KIs, expanded descriptions of each source, a more mobile-friendly design, and an extra section on 'thoughts and thinkers'. The last of these new elements not only provides several prompts for students to consider, but also presents them with the potential to research the lives and legacies of some of the individuals who have helped to shape the way we view the world.  
 
Alongside the theoryofknowledge.net website, the newsletter provides your Diploma students with the most up-to-date and engaging resource for this challenging, perplexing, and wonderful subject.
 
Click on the image or source type to take you to the story.
a. News stories

1. Chinese Whispers
AoKs/WoKs: Reason
KIs: Should we trust what we read on the internet? To what extent do social media sites exert a positive influence on society? Why do people prefer to believe rumours rather than evidence-based assertions? 
TypeArticle
Description: The tragic story of Sunil Tripathi - wrongly identified as one of the Boston bombers, and persecuted as a result - serves as a reminder of the dangers of believing everything you read on the internet. The Independent discusses this sad tale.
SourceThe Independent


2. Salinger becomes more human
AoKs/WoKs: The arts
KIs: To what extent do we need to know an artist to understand their work? Should an artist's 'morality' be measured in terms of their life or work?
TypeArticle
Description: New letters by the ultimate artistic recluse, J.D. Salinger, author of The Catcher in the Rye, have just been discreleased. Dave Itzkoff discusses whether this helps us to understand the writer and his work better.
SourceThe New York Times


3. :)
AoKs/WoKs: Language
KIs: Are emoji symptomatic of a dumbed-down society, or evidence that our language is richer than ever? Is there such a thing as progress (or regression) in terms of education and knowledge acquisition?
TypeArticle
Description: Emoji are the text images that are used to either replace or augment words and phrases in text messages. Rhodri Marsden muses on "the etiquette of 21st-century communication".
SourceThe Independent


4. Internet wars
AoKs/WoKs
: Ethics, human sciences, language
KIsIs the battle to control the internet a question of government oppression versus cyber freedom fighters, or a simple matter of upholding the law against criminals? Who should control the internet? To what extent should information on the internet be free to all? 
TypeArticle
Description: This long but very insightful article interviews various people who are facing long prison sentences for hacking. They like to see themselves as freedom fighters combating oppressive and unfair laws; the article examines to what extent this is true.
SourceThe Guardian


5. Controlling our mortality
AoKs/WoKs
: Human sciences, ethics
KIs: What is the significance of being able to control aging? Should we have a right to decide how long we live? Is medical experimentation on animals morally justifiable?
TypeArticle
Description: Scientists experimenting on mice have discovered what they believe is a mechanism in the brain that can be tweaked to lengthen or shorten life-spans. This article discusses the implications of such a discovery, and the medical benefits it could bring.
SourceThe Guardian


6. Humour as a way of knowing
AoKs/WoKs
: Language
KIs: Why is it difficult to translate a joke into another language? How important is language in getting to know another culture? Should humour be a way of knowing (or an area of knowledge)?
TypeArticle
Description: Eddie Izzard, one of the funniest stand-up comedians in the world, is determined to make his show work in various different languages. He's already crossed French off his list; will German be as easy to master?
SourceThe Guardian/Europa



7. Humour and God
AoKs/WoKs
: Religion, faith, ethics
KIsIs it acceptable to make fun of religious beliefs? Or at religious organisations? Should certain things be considered 'sacred'? To what extent is it possible for those without faith to empathise with those with faith?
TypeArticle/debate
DescriptionA Christian stand-up comic, and an atheist comedy writer debate the issue of whether religion is an impediment to humour.
SourceBBC
8. Profit versus care 
AoKs/WoKs
: Ethics, human sciences
KIs: Should certain companies have extra ethical responsibilities? Should capitalism be controlled within healthcare? Should life-saving drugs be owned by the state?
TypeArticle
Description: A chilling article highlighting the dangers of what happens when extremely powerful corporations are free to charge whatever they like for life-saving drugs.
SourceThe Independent


9. Reparing a shattered mind 
AoKs/WoKs
: Human sciences
KIs: How do you go about treating minds subject to traumas? Is 'to understand all to forgive all'? 
TypeArticle
Description: The story of the three Cleveland women kidnapped and help prisoner for a decade shocked the entire world. This article poses some questions about what such a trauma does to a person, and the ways in which they can be helped. It leads us on to many other questions about the way humans treat each other.
SourceGlobal News



10. The end of the world is nigh
AoKs/WoKs
: Human sciences
KIs: To what extent can human scientists make accurate long term predictions? Given that we are now our own worst enemy, can we honestly say that society has advanced? Is it useful to be aware of one's own demise?
TypeArticle
Description: The Oxford University 'Future of Humanity Institute' was set up to make predictions about society's future. One of the key questions, as discussed in the article link in their home site, is about the most likely reason for humanity's eventual agent of destruction.
SourceOxford University


11. Art for the masses
AoKs/WoKs
: The arts
KIsIs one of the characteristics of art that it should communicate to as many people as possible? What defines art? What makes art 'great'?
TypePhoto gallery
Description: A shared project, allowing people to upload their images of public art projects.
SourceThe Guardian 
12. High tech fashion 
AoKs/WoKs: Human sciences
KIs: Are there limits to technological innovation? To what extent is modern society the 'fastest developing' one in history? What dictates fashion? What is required to live a satisfying life?
TypeBlog
Description: The newest tech 'must have' are Google glasses, which allows wearers to have access to the internet, and control information they see in front of them by voice-controlled microphone. This blog investigates whether they'll catch on, and we'll all be wearing them soon, or whether they're just a fad.
SourceTechRadar


13. Affordable clothes?
AoKs/WoKs
: Ethics, human sciences
KIs: Should the developing world suffer in order to feed the needs of the developed world? To what extent should market forces be allowed to determine workers' rights? How much should we know about the products we buy?
TypeArticle and photo report
Description: This report looks at the devastation in Bangladesh after a poor-built and maintained building collapsed, killing hundreds of people mostly employed in 'sweat shops' producing goods for Western clothing chains such as Primark. It asks who should bear the blame for the disaster - leading us to conclude that we're all guilty to some extent.
SourceCNN


14. Science for the masses
AoKs/WoKs
: Ethics, natural sciences
KIs: Should scientific research be published on the net and be available to everyone? What effect might public access have on scientific research? Will this help or hinder the scientific method?
TypeArticle
Description: This article looks at the way in which laws are changing for the  Research Council UK, an organisation which uses taxpayers' money to fund scientific research. These stipulate that details and results of research must be made available to the public on the internet much sooner than was previously the case. 
Source: The Economist
b. Thoughts and thinkers 



When we remember we are all mad, the mysteries disappear and life stands explained. (Mark Twain)

The price of anything is the amount of life you exchange for it. (Henry David Thoreau)

Imagination will often carry us to worlds that never were. But without it we go nowhere. (Carl Sagan)

Imagination is everything. It is the preview of life's coming attractions. (Albert Einstein)

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