Read the short essay penned by Author Sam Harris titled, “Sleep Walking Toward Armageddon.”
When finished, reflect on the following questions:
- Harris writes, “Which will come first, flying cars and vacations to Mars, or a simple acknowledgment that beliefs guide behavior and that certain religious ideas—jihad, martyrdom, blasphemy, apostasy—reliably lead to oppression and murder?” What are your thoughts on this statement? There is no doubt beliefs guide behavior, but do the beliefs stated lead to the behavior cited?
- To what extent should beliefs that lead to bad behavior be tolerated?
- What are the individual and societal benefits of religious knowledge systems? If they were to be eliminated, what would take their place and fulfill the benefits you stated?
- Harris puts forth the thesis that acknowledging and critiquing of the “dangerous beliefs” which he states are inherent in Islam would be a start to solving the problems that he believes stem from islam. Do you agree? How would it and how wouldn’t it?
- What is the way forward? Education? Censorship?
We’ve been discussing myth making via our reading of Sapiens as well as our recent examination of the myths that exist in our society. We’ve discovered that there is often a very fine line between what Harari would describe as MYTH and what our society calls TRUTH.
While watching the Zeitgeist documentary on 9/11, many of you questioned the “truth” of the situation.
Your task is to examine work through this learning helper as it guides you through the examination of a conspiracy. We’re looking at conspiracy theories because they are excellent exercises in “truth making” Through our analysis, we’ll gain great insight into the tools of knowledge used to construct “truths” as well as gain greater insight into what that word means.
So click on the link here and start analyzing:
As you read in Sapiens, Harari contends that myths are necessary in order for humans to live in large groups cohesively. He contends that until we had myth making, we remained living in small clans of extended families. So myths certainly serve a purpose, and they certainly can unite and do good; however make no mistakes—they serve the purpose of mind control.
At this point, it’s important to comprehend that “mind control” is not meant to be a pejorative term. Mind control can be used to create a society of caring, loving, intelligent and altruistic humans. However it can also be used for a variety of other purposes.
The point of this activity is for you to become aware of the myths that surround you so that you can examine the origins of your beliefs as well as the knowledge you consume.
Download and work through this learning helper: Myth Making
See link below to lots of great knowledge questions for every 2017/18 TOK essay prompt, generated by you!
After watching the TED talk by Dr. Anil Seth below:
Meditate on the following questions in TOK JOURNAL form:
- What are implications of “reality as a shared hallucination”?
- For knowledge acquisition?
- For Truth?
- For Shared Knowledge?
- For Perception?
As an aside, my favorite quote from the talk, “When we agree about hallucinations, we call that reality.”
Karl Popper, a famous Austrian philosopher of science from the 20th century put forth the thesis that too much tolerance is a bad thing.
Watch the Vice Media coverage of the Charlottesville Neo-Nazi gathering/protest below and assess your position on tolerance and censorship:
Questions to Consider:
- What arguments exist that the group should the group NOT be tolerated? I.e not allowed to protest and spread their ideas?
- What arguments can you come up with that the group should be tolerated and allowed to protest and spread their ideas?
- What dangers exist in letting the group speak? What dangers exist in preventing them from speaking?
- How would this issue be viewed from a utilitarian perspective? How would the issue be viewed from a Kantian perspective?
Popper’s argument against too much tolerance is summarized below, what logical fallacy could you argue is present in his argument?
And lastly, let’s return to our title question: is tolerance the root of democracy’s demise?