TOK Essay: What criteria do you use to distinguish between knowledge, opinion and propaganda?"

Essay by KeirHigh School, 12th grade March 2006

download word file, 5 pages 3.0

Title: "There are many different authorities, including academics, politicians, global organizations and companies, who make knowledge claims. As an experienced TOK student, what criteria do you use to distinguish between knowledge, opinion and propaganda?"


These days, in the information age of the 21st century people in our society are engulfed in the mass media and receive many kinds of information. All this abundance of information raises fundamental questions on information its self. How much information and of what value do we get every day, from either seeing something, being taught in school or just watching TV? From all the opinions and propaganda we are exposed to every day, how much of that has turned into our knowledge? In what way has our knowledge, with the help of propaganda formed our opinion?


I believe that the criteria for distinguishing between knowledge, opinion and propaganda are:

1) To analyze what type of people, in terms of cultural, historical and educational background believe in a certain issue.

- This will help to classify different groups of knower(s), provide an insight into the reasons for certain beliefs and give each belief a sort of value or "degree of truth".

2) To incorporate as many objective perspectives as possible, on a certain subject, be it a conversation, newspaper articles, books, TV, historical records or even just a rumor.

- This will help to draw a more distinct line between the different groups of knower(s) and provide a substantial argument for the justification of one's belief.


Knowledge is the information, understanding and skills that one gains through education or experience. It is something certain, a fact that can only be replaced or changed by another fact held as being "truer" or "more true".

Why is it that we, students of the IB-Program examine...