Hansraj, Nadiyah

May 26, 2021

25. How can we distinguish between, knowledge, belief and opinion?

Object 1: Goodreads article stating the ‘100 Best Books of All Time’

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The article states the “100 Best Books of All Time” and was established by using a list of books and having 100 writers from 54 countries vote. However, is this article based off one’s opinion, knowledge or belief?

To distinguish whether this is knowledge, one can look at what criteria was used to create this list. Admittedly, it would make sense to use the books that are purchased the most (facts/data), however books may be purchased often due to the author who wrote them or the language they were written in. Furthermore, books can be written in different genres and therefore, the criteria set may be biased towards one genre than another or to one style or writing compared to others. Either way, one can argue that the best books would be ones that are purchased the most as many people would want to read them, such as Pride and Prejudice, which sold 20 million copies.

Opinion – every reader has their own definition of the best book. For children, the best book would be one with multiple images, whilst older readers may prefer mature fiction or historical books. One’s opinion greatly varies and influences what they believe to be the best book, as everyone has their own personal experiences/likes that influence their opinions on the same books – someone who likes mythology would prefer The Odyssey to 1984.

Finally, one’s ‘best book’ can be something they are told to believe. For example, growing up they were told that a certain book is the best book, they would be raised to believe this with no proof and no questions asked. Even if they didn’t like the book, they would believe that it is the best book as that is what they have been told, therefore the ‘best book could be a belief.

Object 2: An ‘Evil Eye’ Amulet

Object 2: An ‘Evil Eye’ Amulet

The evil eye is a look or stare that once given is believed to bring bad luck for the person on whom it is directed at, as the negative energy and bad thoughts travel through people’s eyes. In order to prevent getting the evil eye, and therefore being plagued by curses and bad luck, people carry this amulet to ward of this evil and protect them.

This object contributes to the exhibition as the evil eye amulet can be categorised as a belief as many argue that there is no proof that it works. There is no proof that another human can ‘curse’ another human or that the evil eye amulet would protect someone from such curse. In order for this to be knowledge, there would have to be proof and evidence that this works, but perhaps there is. People who believe such things to be true would share their stories, but then it is up to the audience to interpret this as a myth or as facts. Many would argue that it is just stories being told and that in order to be proven true, and therefore be knowledge, there would have to be real facts, not just stories that involve curses and protection.

The ‘evil eye’ amulet can be seen as a belief, such as one’s faith. The amulet can be compared to religions; they both date back to ancient times and both include stories that can be seen as mythical, involving gods and miracles. Similarly, to religion, individuals have different beliefs and it is unclear which religion is the so called ‘right religion’ or whether they are all right or wrong. The same principal can be applied to the amulet, it is unclear whether the evidence (stories) is true, made up, or one’s interpretation of events.

Object 3: Math Equation: 4 + 10 = 14 from the MYP5 Plus Textbook

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The math equation of 4 + 10 = 14 is an easy math questions to solve and is something taught to students at a young age – everyone knows that 4 + 10 = 14. There are countless ways to prove that this equation is true and that it will always equal 14. Humans and calculators both produce the same result every time when solving this equation. It simply is considered to be knowledge. Yet, how is this distinguished as knowledge and not just opinion or belief?

This object contributes to the exhibition as it gives a clear opportunity to compare knowledge, belief and opinion. As belief is usually acceptance of something without proof, belief can be rules out as there are countless essays and a range of proof. Opinion is one viewpoint and this can vary, and it not always based on facts. One’s opinion is not conclusive, however 4 + 10 = 14 is arguably conclusive as there is proof, facts and evidence to support the equation. Therefore, 4 + 10 = 14 is always seen as knowledge – its facts and no one questions it.

Furthermore, one can distinguish between knowledge, opinion and belief as knowledge is something that is accepted worldwide. 4 + 10 = 14 is something that is accepted worldwide no matter what. Many nations have different cultures, religions, way of life and languages – these we categorise as beliefs or opinions. However, regardless of these factors, math equations always equal the same thing all over the world. There is no place where 4 +10 would equal a different value.

Ultimately, the math equation 4 + 10 = 14 is considered as knowledge, rather than opinion or belief, as there is a variety of proof and it is accepted worldwide.

Reference:

Vollmar, Pamela, Edward Kemp, Michael Haese, Robert Haese, Sandra Haese, Mark Humphries, and Chris Sangwin. Mathematics for the International Student. Second ed. Adelaide Airport, Australia: Haese & Harris Publications, 2008.

“100 Best Books of All Time: The World Library List (100 Books).” Goodreads. Goodreads. Accessed May 10, 2021. https://www.goodreads.com/list/show/9440.100_Best_Books_of_All_Time_The_Worl d_Library_List.

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