That which can be asserted without evidence can be dismissed without evidence. (Christopher Hitchens). Do you agree?

Authors Avatar by s_samkit (student)

“That which can be asserted without evidence can be dismissed without evidence.” (C. Hitchens)                

K.International School Tokyo

TOK Essay

“That which can be asserted without evidence can be dismissed without evidence.” (Christopher Hitchens). Do you agree?


Samkit Shah

DP Candidate No.: 002120-028

Supervisor: Mark Cowe

Date of Submission:

Word Count: 1594


 Should statements that are asserted without evidence, be dismissed without evidence?

        Throughout my school life, I have been taught that evidence is very important. Through studying Science extensively, I have come to realize, that this is in fact true: evidence provides support for a theory and makes it very hard to refute. Even the most absurd claims, if backed by evidence, forces others to consider these claims. So for me the notion of a claim without evidence seems absurd and invalid. However upon studying Einstein’s theory of relativity, I began to doubt this notion. Furthermore through the theory of knowledge course, I have learned to think more deeply about the subjects I have encountered, for instance I learned to look at the history/development of various disciplines in science, and hence have come to realize that the above statement is not true.

        The objective of asserting statements is to spread knowledge, which Plato defined this knowledge as justified true beliefs. What this means is that knowledge cannot exist without belief. According to Einstein: “During the last century, and part of the one before, it was widely held that there was an irreconcilable conflict between knowledge and belief.” (“Belief Quotes & Quotations“). In the past people depended on simple logic. Hence it was common opinion that knowledge is independent of belief. However one example in contradiction of this is the geocentric model of the universe. According to this model, the Earth is the center of the universe. When Galileo used a telescope to confirm this theory, the data collected did not support the geocentric model. Instead, it stated that the Sun was at the center of the universe and that all of the planets revolve around it. Galileo even produced a set of three books to support the theory, but still found himself house-arrested for the rest of his life. Despite the concrete evidence, Galileo was held wrong. The reason for this is that people were stuck in the paradigm of the geocentric model and believed in it. This shows that statements opposing the current paradigms, despite being true, are held wrong, showing that knowledge is dependent on belief. If beliefs are justified, meaning that there is adequate concrete evidence, then it becomes knowledge. So what about phenomenon that are true but not believed? Today the geocentric model no longer exists. The reason for this is that people are generally inquisitive. Due to the concrete evidence, the more open-minded people accepted it. Then as the idea spread even people who were devoted to the church started to look at the evidence and realize the truth. Therefore the knew system became knowledge. What this shows is that for true statements that are not knowledge, evidences are found over time and people slowly start to accept it making it knowledge.

Join now!

        A book called ‘1984’ further helped me realize how dependent knowledge is on belief. ‘1984’ is about a totalitarian government that tries to manipulate everything. They manipulate everything from official data about the running of the government to even history. They even try to manipulate people so that they believe in everything they say. The reason they do this is that the people do not accept things they do not believe in. This was seen by the fact that the protagonist is always against the government. In the story he gets caught and is sent to prison, where he is ...

This is a preview of the whole essay