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How to Think Versus What to Think

23 September 2016

by Sammi Huang, Y13

At NAIS Pudong, we are constantly presented with a wide variety of exceptional opportunities, ranging from the arts to sports, to academics... the list goes on. On Tuesday, we were extremely fortunate to welcome Anu Ojha OBE, the Director of the National Space Academy, back to our school, as he presented a compelling and thought-provoking lecture.

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Mr Ojha's lecture was largely based upon the conspiracy theory, with a focus on space science. Many students, like me, were not sure what to expect heading into the lecture. However, I left the lecture, nothing short of being absolutely fascinated.


His lecture talked about how many conspirators believe that the Americas never made it to the moon in 1969, as well as other conspiracies, such as how the Twin Towers that came under attack on September 11, 2001, was actually planned as an inside job, prior to the attack, the conspiracy that President Obama was born outside of the US and possibly the most worrying of all - Holocaust deniers. All the issues mentioned above were all issues that I have personally been exposed to, so it was interesting to be able to explore these issues in more depth, with a Theory of Knowledge (TOK) twist to it.


As an IB student, we are constantly encouraged to challenge what we know through critical thinking, collecting evidence from various sources, but also simultaneously stressing the reliability, credibility and accuracy of these sources. To see how TOK is integrated into the field of science, as well as other real life situations, simply proves the high relevance of TOK in the real world - a key reason why TOK is so important in the IB Diploma Programme.


Mr Ohja pointed out that scientists never speak in absolutes. Rather they aim to provide the best understanding of reality based on the available evidence. A key feature of science is that all claims are subject to scrutiny through the process of peer review and falsification. Consequently, a healthy scepticism coupled with an objective critical outlook should be actively cultivated at all times, not just in the field of science but in all areas of human endeavour. This is an example of how discipline-specific skills are transferable and relevant to our experience as lifelong learners. In this day and age, it is very easy to post a theory or idea onto the Internet, with what seems like convincing pieces of evidence. However, as Mr Ojha emphasised: don't let other people do your thinking for you. As IB students we are taught how to think and not what to think.


It was a pleasure to have Mr Ojha deliver this lecture and we hope that he returns in the future to continue to broaden our knowledge on space science and the philosophical aspect attached to it as well.


Sammi Huang

Year 13