The Democracy Index is an index compiled by the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU). It is based on 60 indicators grouped in five different categories: I Electoral process and pluralism: coexistence of different interests, convictions, and lifestyles. Are elections for the national legislature and head of government free? II Functioning of government Is there an effective… Continue reading TS012 – What makes a country democratic?
Before Enlightenment: Rulers claimed power because of a “divine right”. Power came from God. Enlightenment: Social Contract Philosophy The question: If people are born free and with certain rights, why does the government then have authority, for example to exercise violence (police), take my property (tax), freedom (prison)? The answer: The right to rule comes… Continue reading TS011 – On the Power of the Government: What is the Social Contract?
To what extent does math reflect the real world? Some mathematical equations deliver results that have no connection to reality. This episode applies the correspondence and coherence theory of truth to the area of mathematics. Originally I wanted to call this episode “Does Math Reflect Reality?” or “The Limits of Math” but then I decided… Continue reading TS010 – How can Math be Right and Wrong at the Same Time?
We use language to describe our subjective perception of the world. If I say “I feel cold”, then I use language to describe how I feel. This is nothing new. The interesting question now is: does it also work the other way around? Can the language that we use influence the way that we perceive… Continue reading TS009 – Does Language Influence our View of the World?
Ghost traps are very useful devices – they can be used to catch evil spirits. What? You say that this does not make sense because ghosts do not exist? You say that ghosts are a product of our imagination? Well… do you believe in time? Could it not be that time is a product of… Continue reading TS008 – Of ghost traps and wrist watches
The purpose of science is to make things simpler and not more complicated. Scientists strive to discover theories and explanations that simplify the view of our world and not complicate them. According to Wiliam of Ockham (c. 1288 – c. 1347), if there are competing explanations for a phenomenon, the simpler explanation is to be… Continue reading TS007 – Make it as simple as possible, but no simpler!
If we want to reach an objective description of our world, then we need to reduce these subjective influences. We need standardized procedures in gaining further knowledge of our world. The scientific method is such a standardized procedure in gaining further knowledge in the natural sciences. One of the goals of science is to explain… Continue reading TS006 – What is the scientific method?
In this edition of TOKSmart we will talk about Karl Poppers contributions to the philosophy of science. Sir Reimund Karl Popper is considered to be one of the most influential philosophers of the 20th century, and of course it is difficult, if not impossible, to summarize his contributions in a few minutes (or a few… Continue reading TS005 – What is the principle of falsification?
In this edition of TOKSmart we will explore if it is in principle possible to measure anything accurately. How does a measurement change the value of that what you want to measure? Listen to find out! Every measurement changes the object that we want to measure. This is called the Observer Effect. When we stick… Continue reading TS004 – What is the Observer Effect?
In this episode I would like to explain why hot water freezes faster than cold water, when put into the freezer. It is a very counter-intuitive observation, it’s a paradox. This is called the Mpemba Effect. The effect is named according to Tanzanian high-school student Erasto B. Mpemba who re-discovered the effect while making ice-cream,… Continue reading TS003 – The Mpemba Effect: Mind your variables!