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Theory of Knowledge: Measuring The Quality of Knowledge by The Amount of People Accepting

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The quote, “We are drowning in information but starved for knowledge” by John Naisbitt seems to refer to the quality of knowledge issue, as some knowledge claims tend to lack quality. What the quote claims to mean is how one can separate quality of the information with the amount of information given and thus accept it, is quite relevant to the title.

The title given, expresses that having more or less people accepting a certain piece of knowledge, is the most effective way to measure the quality of that particular piece of knowledge. Measuring the quality of knowledge by the amount of people accepting it is a claim I would abide to, however there are occasions where it is not the best way to measure quality of knowledge being produced. The main focus of the essay, which is Knowledge, has many definitions in general. The philosopher Plato defined knowledge as “a Justified, true belief” which is a plausible definition to philosophers and individuals alike. This directly relates to the quality of knowledge where by quality can be defined as; the standard of something or an attribute in contrast to something of the same kind.

I will first tackle on how to measure quality of knowledge and then continue on to argue whether the amount of people accepting a knowledge claim would indicate quality of the knowledge claim.

And therefore, it is more important to address the following knowledge question to justify the arguments, ‘How can we measure the quality of knowledge?’ It is rather important to know what steps to take in order to find out whether a piece of knowledge is of high or low quality before accepting that particular piece of knowledge. There are many ways to measure the quality of knowledge but it is necessary to look at the claim, accessibility and verifiability of knowledge claims are what determine quality of knowledge. For instance, in Biology, it is believed that oxygen is produced by green plants as they take in the carbon dioxide we release. This piece of knowledge is accepted by a vast number of individuals as it is ‘accessible’. This knowledge is available in books and the internet which are two of the main sources of knowledge and thus, an individual can accept this through deductive reasoning as there are numerous sources which are accessible to the individual. Recently, I had conducted an experiment for my ESS internal assessment which was measuring how many oxygen bubbles are produced by the Elodea plant per minute with different levels of water ph. Through this experiment, I was able to ‘verify’ that green plants do produce oxygen even in water through sense perception (sight) as well as comparing results with existing knowledge on the same type of experiment. Thus, if knowledge is accessible and verifiable, it is of high quality.

On other hand the Reliability of the knowledge proves that the knowledge is of high quality. The book 1984 by George Orwell seems to be a very relevant example to support this counterclaim as a work of art. In 1984, Orwell describes a totalitarian country overlooked by Big Brother and “his party”. The Protagonist, Winston Smith, is one of a few who are against the retched party and has a different ideology from that of the party. Winston is described to work in the records department of the Ministry of Truth, and his job is to rewrite historical articles and newspapers to resonate with what the mercurial party says in the present. Things that provide/inform us of knowledge accessible seem to not be as reliable as we assume it to be, this issue is also relevant in today’s world with all the mass media available to us. There are many incidents within the book which talk about this matter, especially in chapter 7, where Winston discusses a children’s book from the past, various claims given by the party and the three individuals. “Everything faded into mist. The past was erased, the erasure was forgotten, the lie became truth” is a quote to be remembered as it was what the party was doing. The most significant incident, is when Winston recalls an encounter three men, Jones, Aaronson and Rutherford who had confessed to old crimes and other new ones as well and were supposedly executed in 1968. According to Winston’s memory, after 5 years, in 1973, Winston had discovered a photo of a party function in which the men were present and named. Hence, concluded “the confessions were lies”. It can be concluded that reliability of the knowledge plays a huge part in determining its quality through various ways of knowing like Memory which leads me to the answer of the KQ, there are many ways to measure the quality of knowledge including how many people accept it but one should consider its availability, verifiability and its reliability as well since, these are the factors that determine the quality of the knowledge and therefore measuring the quality of knowledge by the number of people accepting it.

This raises another knowledge question; To what extent would acceptance of knowledge claims by people, indicate its quality?

Given that quality can be measured through various ways (but there are a few that should be used), acceptance of knowledge claims by people also have an impact on the quality of the knowledge. In some cases, quality of knowledge is indicated by the number of individuals accepting it. Art can be defined as, an expression of human creative skill in order to produce a given work , and thus music is an art-form. The American rapper, J. Cole released an Album recently named KOD which addresses Addiction, racism and other social issues which have impacted or are impacting Cole and the millennial generation whom Cole targets. The album is an acronym for the following; Kids On Drugs, King Over Dosed and Kill Our Demons which are the social and personal issues which have inspired Cole’s work; the first refers to the popularity of using drugs within today’s young generation, the second refers to J. Cole himself and his experience with drugs and lastly the third, which signifies society’s ultimate goal to face their fears. These are the few reasons as to why Cole’s work is of high quality.

Given that Cole doesn’t have a huge fan-base compared to other artists like Drake, his album has broken various records and has been nominated for ‘Album of the Year’ awards. Cole shares what he observed and felt during his life and uses emotion, reasoning, language, memory and sense perception in order to create his artwork which appeals to his audiences and thus, is able to convey his messages to them. Because his work refers to many social and personal issues, many individuals are able to relate to his message and understand his expressions and hence, gives his work credibility and in that way, defines its quality. It is through the acceptance of many individuals that Cole’s project has achieved its success, despite the competition from other famous artists.

However, a significant counterclaim is that in some cases, individuals tend to believe hypothetical claims which are not of high quality. With rational reasoning to back theoretical assumptions, one is able to produce knowledge which is not of high quality and cannot be applicable in the real world. For instance, Dalton’s atomic theory claimed that matter is composed of very small particles called Atoms and are indivisible. This claim was to an extent of quality but it was hypothetical. This theory was later disapproved by J.J. Thomson who discovered that atoms were made up of electrons making the ‘Plum Pudding’ Model and received a Nobel Prize for his work. Other scientists continued to improve the model and theory indicating that the quality of knowledge was increasing since Dalton. This suggests that Dalton’s claim wasn’t of high quality as there was a room for even though many did accept it however, it is still valid as atoms do exist and also suggests that improvement of knowledge indicates that the quality is increasing. In exploring the title, it is certain that measuring the quality of knowledge by how many people accept it, is not the only way to measure the quality of knowledge. Accessibility, Reliability and Verifiability of knowledge should be considered when measuring the quality of knowledge. In my opinion, acceptance of knowledge indicates quality of knowledge to a great extent although there may be loop-holes to this as indicated which leads me to the point that we should also acknowledge production of low quality knowledge as it leads to improvement of knowledge and hence, production of quality knowledge.

To conclude and thus share my view, I feel as if the quality of knowledge is not best measured by how many accept it alone, but rather in a collective way which includes how many individuals accepting the claim as well as Availability, verifiability and reliability, since it is hard to measure quality of knowledge when only looking at one point of view, which also relates to everything we do, in different areas of knowledge.

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