Theory Of Knowledge Essay 2013


000919-022 2these natural reactions over reason. Reason requires time for rumination to reach a conclusion,while emotion is immediate. The tendency to follow emotions, therefore, is undeniable, giventhat humans are likely to trust their gut when it comes to quick decisions, but the reliability of emotions for the sake of knowledge acquisition is low. For example, when it comes to risk  perception, emotional beliefs trump rationale because of the emotion of fear. According to

Thomson Reuters/NPR’s poll in 2011, about a quarter of the American population had worries

concerning the safety and benefit of vaccines (Ropeik). Scientific evidence demonstrates,however, that apprehensions about vaccines are groundless, since there is no link betweenvaccines and the contraction of certain diseases. So why do people fear vaccines and why isthere an anti-vaccination movement? Reason would invalidate these fears, but emotions makeirrational beliefs persist. In this situation fear affected the pursuit of knowledge, causing peopleto disregard or be suspicious of scientifically supported evidence. It would follow, then, thatcultures with superstitious beliefs founded in emotion, such as a belief in a spiritual world, would possess more irrational fears instead of valuing realistic evidence as more important. Likewise,reason could eliminate the beliefs in the supernatural and unsolved mysteries such as UFOs andthe Sasquatch. The claim would suggest that too-quick, emotional decisions are risky and ill-made, resulting in poor consequences, which could have incredibly influential implications on anational and legislative level.However, this perhaps is not always the case. Because emotion serves as motivation for action, emotion should be reliable in pushing one to acquire knowledge. An emotion such asawe or curiosity contributes to the pursuit of knowledge.

A curious child asks, “Why?” to every

claim his parents tell him to the point where they are unable to explain further. Curiosity pushedIsaac Newton to explore the idea of gravity and for theoretical physicists to investigate the

You are required to write a 1200-1600 word essay on a title set by the IB. The essays for 2013 graduation are here:

May 2013 TOK titles

TOK essays May 2014

Mr Langston’s Essay 5 and 6 Keynote

You may not change the title in any way. You should aim for 1600 words, as shorter essays rarely meet all the criteria.

The full essay criteria are here:    Assessment Criteria ESSAY

There is also a useful summary here:  Essay criteria breakdown

You are going to use this  essay_template to start thinking about your essay. You will need to turn this in next week.

This summary will help you structure your essay – TOK Essay Plan Template

Please download and use one or ALL of these planning sheets to help you get started.


Planning Sheet ToK Essay copy

One way of approaching your TOK essay

Essay Planning Form


Your cover page for final submission MUST look like this:


Here is a very good exemplar essay, together with the IB’s comments and marks.


Example 1 Marks



essay 10 marks


TOK essay: for the LAST time!

  • Have you read and understood all the different criteria for assessment? Really?

  • Does your essay number between 1200 and 1600 words? (it should be far nearer 1600 than 1200!)

  • Have you organized your essay into an introduction, 2-3 examples, and a conclusion?

  • Is your introduction concise, with a discussion of what the title means, and a brief plan of how your essay will tackle the question?

  • Are your knowledge issues organized CLEARLY (using linking sentences) into arguments and counterclaims?

  • Have you referred explicitly to the different AOKs and WOKs, and provided links between them?

  • Have you used personal examples, specifically from your experiences as an ‘IB learner’, and avoided hypothetical ones?

  • Have you used well-referenced examples that you have found out about from beyond the classroom (articles, documentaries, books, the ideas of thinkers, etc.)?

  • Have you considered other perspectives and points of view?

  • Have you identified implications of your arguments and some of the counterclaims?

  • Is your conclusion consistent with the rest of your essay?

Yes, to all of these? If so, you’ve done  great job. If not, go back and do a great job!

 Other essay resources

Six steps to writ­ing a good TOK essay: A stu­dent guide by Colleen H. Parker at SPHS

Writ­ing a TOK essay, by Richard van de Lagemaat

How to Write a Good TOK Essay, By Peg Robinson

This in link goes through a vari­ety of exam­ples of how to answer some of the ques­tions from pre­vi­ous years.

Mr Hoyes’ Notes on The ToK Essay

How to Write a Good ToK Paper, from Col­lec­tive Thinking

Writ­ing a TOK Essay, from ‘Find­ings’ Part One, Two, Three, Four, and Five.

10 Tips on Writ­ing a Good The­ory of Knowl­edge Essay, from the Amer­i­can Inter­na­tional School of Lusaka

Guide to writ­ing the TOK Essay, from IBCram

Tips for writ­ing a good ToK Essay by Ric Sims @ Noth­ing Nerdy


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