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Is the claim "having a black cat walk in front of your path brings bad luck" to be given the same knowledge status as the claim "the gravitational constant is 9.8m/s2"?

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Ahana Nanavati

Ms. Brys

TOK 11c

December 3, 2003

Is the claim “having a black cat walk in front of your path brings bad luck” to be given the same knowledge status as the claim “the gravitational constant is 9.8m/s2”?

Knowledge is an art on its own. It represents ideas, beliefs, individualism, culture and a lot more. The claims of knowledge like art exist in many forms and styles. A knowledge claim reveals ideas that are formed by emotion, reason, language or perception, the four ways of knowing. At the same time, knowledge claims can be scientific, mathematical, religious, mythical, superstitious etc. A superstition is an irrational belief based on ignorance, fear or characterized by reverence for omens and charms. It is a ritual, or a notion that comes from a person’s strong belief. Contrastingly, science is a skill or technique. It is a systematic study of nature and the physical universe. It is knowledge that is organized in a systematic manner based on observation, experimentation and measurement.

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2, is based on experiments, carried out step-by-step with reason and logic.

        Both of the claims though, hold at least some uncertainty. The validity of the superstition on black cats is very doubtful. The term ‘bad luck’ is commonly used to comfort a person from believing that a mistake or a mishap in their routine lives was their own fault. Black cats bring bad luck, according to many. This statement transfers one’s own blame, guilt, unhappiness and regret onto the black cat. People that are insecure, that need support from elsewhere, are unstable, or are frightened by life and its obstacles, believe in this superstition to run away from reality. This shows how and why this superstitious claim is very different than the scientific claim, as it holds emotions. Gravity, on the other hand, is an idea that is formed by careful experiment and is not yet refuted. There are no emotions involved in a scientific claim.

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belief claim. In contrast, the gravity constant cannot be scientifically discredited today. Yes, maybe in the future, in the vastness of nature, and humankind’s perpetual discoveries, the law may be proven wrong. But today and tomorrow, gravity on earth will be 9.8m/s2 and until that discovery that under some circumstances the gravitational constant is different, the claim is given the scientific status. A scientific claim is one that is objective, unbiased and neutral. It has no link to emotion, creativity and imagination. It is solely based on empirical knowledge, rational knowledge, and scientific knowledge.  To be a justified, a scientific claim is proven by experiment and after that is accepted as a truth. These ideas clearly show that the claim “the gravitational constant is 9.8m/s2” is a scientific claim. Thus, the two claims are given very different status, as they hold ideas that are poles apart.

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