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Which sources of knowledge—books, web sites, the media, personal experience, authorities or some other— do you consider most trustworthy, and why?

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Introduction

Which sources of knowledge-books, web sites, the media, personal experience, authorities or some other- do you consider most trustworthy, and why? Eva Schreuder In this essay I will be looking at the above statement in relation to the problems of knowledge, using where appropriate my experiences as a knower1. To ascertain as to whether which source of knowledge one can claim to be the most trustworthy one would have to define them all first. The proposed sources are: books, websites, media, personal experience and authorities. When talking about books I would think that one was talking about non-fictitious books, for fiction would not be reliable as fiction is writings about events that have not really happened, something imagined or untrue2. The definition already says that the facts or things written in such books are un-true. Books I think are reliable only when one looks at encyclopaedias. Yet with the books one always has to be careful with who writes it. ...read more.

Middle

The more commercial sites will be more reliable I think, as they will be watched carefully by web-keepers to make sure they don't show things that are not correct. Internet is very likely to be biased. The minor websites don't have the restriction that major websites like www.msn.com do. Those major websites cannot be insulting or racist in any way; they are expected to keep with strong regulations. The uncontrolled smaller websites therefore can publish anything they want, from porn to autopsy pictures to extreme right websites, to extreme left websites. These are the kinds of websites that are the most biased. Of course there are the innocent websites that only have pictures of a family outing. But the sites that claim to have the prime story on what is happening in the royal home are not very reliable. One can never know whom it is behind the screen making up these stories. Web sites for me are only reliably if the author of the information is an established author, or things like a bibliography is present. ...read more.

Conclusion

A point that was raised earlier in class was the knowledge claim: "I may be mistaken about any knowledge claims because I have been mistaken in the past about previous knowledge claims". This already brings uncertainty in the reliability of my own information. In conclusion I think that there is not one source of knowledge that is the most reliable, to get a good overview one would have to consult all sources. If one fails to do so then that person should write an note or let the reader know that it is not the whole story, or that they where not completely informed before writing the piece. But this then brings the problem of weight of evidence: when do you know that you have consulted all the information possible. This is impossible to do; therefore there is not one source that is reliable. Word count:1,010 1 From hand out I used for this essay with the titles on it: International Baccalaureate Theory of knowledge prescribed titles. 2 The oxford school dictionary, 1994 edition, ISBN 0199103410 ?? ?? ?? ?? Eva Schreuder IB1 18-05-'02 TOK essay on reliability of sources. ...read more.

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