BAFA BAFA Cross-Culture Simulation

This past week, my students and I participated in a cross-cultural simulation called Bafa Bafa, which is a significant title for the Beta culture. The Alphas do not learn the meaning of the name until the conclusion of the experience. Here’s how it works.

Students were divided into Alphas and Betas. Then they learned the rules and values of their new culture and began to play “games” related to those same values and rules. The Alphas are social, tactile, and paternalistic. The Betas, however, are individual, capitalistic, and goal-oriented. Next, an observer from each culture is sent to just observe and report. After discussion and hypothesis, the game continues and then small groups of visitors are sent to each culture. They are given artifacts and they are encouraged to try to learn the rules of the other culture. Each returning group of visitors report and brief discussions focus on claims, beliefs, language, interpretation, and culture.

The stated purpose of Bafa Bafa is to 1) explore the concept of culture 2) create feelings 3) analyze the process for gaining knowledge.

Specifically for Theory of Knowledge we want to consider these ideas:

belief, certainty, culture, evidence,
experience, explanation, interpretation, intuition, justification, truth, values
Click here for “Understanding Knowledge Issues” Understanding Knowledge Issues

The follow-up discussion created a range of strong emotional reactions and claims about each culture. Groups were even hostile toward one another (in a kind of playful manner like “Boo Alphas suck!). Our discussion questions can be reviewed here Bafa Bafa Discussion Questions

The next day, we brought our analysis away from the culture simulation and considered the more personal questions:

1. Which of your knowledge communities’ values and rules do you feel you best know? How might “outsiders” see you and your kn. community?

2. Have you felt like an “outsider” or visitor before? When? Why?

3. In our world, where do we see polarities like the Alphas and Betas?

We identified these alpha / beta analogous relationships:

male/female; Iran/USA; teacher/student; Pakistan/India; Muslim/Christian; World/USA; parent/child; science/religion; art/science; rich/poor and many more.

The entire experience lasted nearly three hours and we are considering these questions to further our personal reflection and insights:

Consider your BAFA BAFA experience and write a reflection, providing specific examples from your BAFA BAFA experience as well as examples from your life.

  1. How do cultures’ values differ with respect to the ways of knowing and areas of knowledge?
  2. How do beliefs about the world and beliefs about what is valuable, influence the pursuit of knowledge?
  3. What constitutes ‘good evidence’ within the different ways of knowing and areas of knowledge?
  4. What are the dangers of equating personal experience and knowledge?
  5. What are the difference between persuasive explanations, good explanations, and true explanations?
  6. To what extent does classification systems (labels and categories) adopted in the pursuit of knowledge affect the knowledge we obtain?
  7. To what extent does the truth of a statement depend on the language used to express it?
  8. To what extent do the different ways of knowing influence the values adopted by individuals and societies?

39 thoughts on “BAFA BAFA Cross-Culture Simulation

  1. B

    Different beliefs change our influence in the pursuit of knowledge. For example in the game we played of BAFA BAFA my Beta culture believed that accumulating points was valuable so that changed my pursuit of knowledge. The Alpha culture valued family and that changed their pursuit of knowledge.
    My pursuit of knowledge was different than that of the Alphas because we valued different things. Me valuing point led me to the pursuit of how can I get more points faster and how can I trick people. As I was playing the game I was observing that people were getting more points than me and they had the cards I needed but they would not trade with me. So I figured that since they were making two sets at a time I will give them the card for the one I do not need. So I traded with someone else then with that person. My pursuit of knowledge during the game was to find out what people had and how I could trade with them. I was not thinking of anything else than how to trade.
    The Alpha culture valued more the male family members than anything else. When I went over to their side I observed that everyone was either talking about someone’s brother or father. IT was all about them and they were peaceful. I think their pursuit of knowledge was how people’s father or brother was. They might also have pursuited the knowledge of how they can become a chief. They had no focus on accumulating points or trading cards. Their beliefs in family and peace led them do think differently on what to go for than we the Betas.
    Different beliefs lead people into pursuing different knowledge. Today in the modern society we live in a capitalist country where it is all about making money. Many people pursuit the knowledge of how to become rich and that’s all they want to know. This is how a capitalist belief changes people. Some other people who have different beliefs might not want to pursuit the same knowledge. For example Buddhists, their pursuit is for enlightenment. Their belief that one day they will achieve this makes them go on the pursuit of the knowledge of enlightenment. They do not want to learn how to make money, they want to learn how to achieve enlightenment.
    In conclusion different beliefs and values change what kind of knowledge people pursuit. Like when I was a Beta I wanted to learn how to trade better and faster. That was my ultimate goal and nothing else. Today people want to learn how to make money and that is their goal. We have different beliefs like pints for me is more valuable and for capitalists money is more important. This is how our beliefs shifted our pursuits of knowledge.

  2. Prompt: D. what are the dangers of equating personal experience and knowledge?

    When representing the Alpha Tribe Patriarch, I learned the dangers of exploring and interacting with the Beta Tribe. By trying to learn prophetically from the previous visitors that visited the Beta Tribe, we used the bits of data given to us from them. In personal, we learned that the Beta Tribe had a language and communicated through a card game, before we would interact with their Tribe. When I had gone into the group of visitors to go and interact with the Beta men, Dominic had already sprung up to me yelling “Dooga Dooga Dooga”, and I responded with gibberish, since that was what the Beta Tribe language sounded like to me. In Knowledge and truth, the Beta’s used the card game as communication and their names were represented in the cards by the 3-digit number. The Dangers of equating personal experience and Knowledge, is that personal experience prevents knowledge from being obtained, through the original explorer’s [Kong] experience, we relied on that knowledge, and attempted to build up what the tribes true intentions were, rather than Co-existing with how they live.

    • Do you think since you just shouted jibberish to me this denotes we interpret things as they appear not looking at any other aspect of it? Meaning since you heard jibberish, you ignored the fact that it was an actual language and an actual pattern that we were using. That might sound confusing

      • I think it was a way of learning dominic. We all try to fit in by acting like others. So Teddy tried acting like the Betas. Even though he did not understand the aspect of it, he tried learning, getting clues to understand the aspect.

  3. Alixsel Tapia
    Mr. Coey
    Prompt: What are the differences between persuasive explanations, good explanations, and true explanation?
    When we were playing BAFA BAFA I experienced something new with the Beta culture, which in fact made me feel isolated and but in addition to that it made me want to try to communicate with them in the way they communicate amongst themselves. Once it was my turn to an Alpha to go observe the Betas I thought it would had been really easy to figure them out but it was harder than I thought, I left even more confused than when I had first entered the Beta territory. What are the differences between persuasive explanations, good explanations, and true explanation? Persuasive explanations are explanations that get you into doing something you aren’t quite sure about or are not so familiar with. With not being so sure about it you still go out and attempt to interpret what is being persuaded upon you. For example, when I was an Alpha and it was my turn to go and observe the Betas I took some of the knowledge that the observers before me took in, used it to my benefit and tried to interact with the Betas. The Beta’s culture persuaded me into trying to be like them, it made me want to learn more about their ways. The fact that I didn’t know what the Betas were talking about persuaded me to attempt to be like them.
    Good explanations I believe could be like the directions that were given to us that defined us as Alphas and Betas as Betas. Good explanations are explanations that make sense and correspond to the topic being explained. Good explanations may also be an interpretation of a lie buried under some facts that are true or seem to be true. Fact is you don’t always know when the explanations given to you are justified to be true. Good explanations are explanations that make sense. The directions given to us were good explanations; I saw the directions to be more of rules that we had to follow that made us Alphas. The explanations to being Alphas made sense so we took it in as good explanations easy to understand, so we were good Alphas.
    True explanations are true and there is no questioning the truth. In the Alpha culture the women were the men’s territory and weren’t allowed to talk to other men without the consent of the head chief. If so the men trying to speak with the women would be ask to leave without explanation. The women of the Alpha culture didn’t question why they were the men’s territory because they knew it was true and there was no explanation for it. There was no fighting it because the fight would be lost with the outcome of the women losing. True explanations are the truth and you can’t run away or fight it. The Alpha women were born and grew up with this tradition and I think by questioning why the women were men’s territory would be offensive to their culture.
    The differences between persuasive explanations, good explanations and true explanations are all different and have their own meaning of explanation. In other words these three explanations have their own way of being explained and understood, it’s just a matter of how they’re explained.

  4. PROMT: What are the differences between persuasive explanations, good explanations, and true explanations?

    There are many distinctions between persuasive, good, and true explanations. Persuasive explanations may either be true or false but regardless what they are it still is most likley to be believed. They are more dependent on our personal experiences and what we know. For example, when playing Bafa Bafa with my Tok class, when our observer came back and explained to us how the other cultures’ lifestyle was like, it was easily determined that they value cards most within their culture most. This explanation was persuasive because we shaped what we knew about our culture and we formed it into believing that it was true. Our culture valued trading and cards and higher status so we took what we knew, and we shaped it into believing their culture was similar to ours. This explanation was only persuasive because we made it appear that way ourselves. Persuasive explanations also can be thouroughly justified in order for us to believe them. As long as whats being claimed is valid, then it is seen as being reliable. For example in the 9-11 Conspiracy documentary it claims that the governement planned everything and evidence to support this was the fact that the towers falling at free fall speed. This applys to the laws of physics. The way that the bulding fell, it could not have been because of an airplane crashing into it. There had to be some sort of explosion involved in it.

    At first a lot of people believed what everyone said about 9-11 being done by terrorists and this is because the government told them. Because of the high status of power that they hold, everyone expects that whatever they say is correct. If the government wanted to, they can take advantage of this by lying to us. This is what a good explanation is. The fact that we believe something that is told to us because of the person who tells us. We can never be too sure if persuasive or good explanation claims are true. Good explanations can easily be spotted but we should never rely too much on them. They also can be easliy be determined if they are true or not. For example, it can be easily determined that the first president of the united states is George washinton because it says so in our history text books. However if it wanted to be done, it could be certain that what it says in all of these books can all be lie. It’s up to who ever is in charge if them. The government can easily request for false information to be put in the books. Good explanations come from groups that we usually trust like the news. The majority of people trust what the news says but there has been cases where what they have said was not true. I have actually trusted the weather cast on the news like on my birthday, and it did not follow up to what was said was going to happen which was rain instead it was sunny.

    True explanations are what they appear to be, true. It is what is revealed by the person who knows all about it. For example, in Bafa Bafa when it was revealed how the alpha cultures’ lifestyle was, it made perfect sense to us. The way that it was explained to us matched what it was in reality, revealing all of the aspects of the culture.

  5. What are the dangers of equating personal experience and knowledge?

    There are dangers of equating personal experience and knowledge around our community. We have our own ways of knowing which we go through a process of experiencing what we have to know or to learn, however there are challenges that we have to learn by ourselves because we have to acquire that knowledge and put it into the right direction that can lead us to no danger, but the dangers are that we are uncertain that we are always going to the right way or not. Our knowledge comes from language and sense perception. We gained knowledge from language and sense perception. At school, in Hmong class, we learned from communicating through language, which we learned from translation from Hmong to English, however the danger to language is the lost of translation that can misguide us to communicate with one another because Hmong has a lot of words to describe one thing, and English has only one word to describe one thing also, and it comes to a misunderstanding. However, personal experience and knowledge are both equal of dangers because we can be misguided by sense perception. During T.o.K. finals, we played the game “BAFA BAFA”, which there were two separate groups known as the Betas and the Alphas. Both were aware of how one’s culture would be more understandable, but the dangers were that they were misguided about understanding one’s culture. When the Betas were observing the Alphas, they were confused and only studied the intentions of the Alphas, which the Alphas did the same also because they were misunderstanding each others culture from being misled, and it brought a danger to the misunderstandings of the rules and values of both culture that were trying to interact with one another.

    Reflection to BAFA BAFA

    How can knowledge and personal experience escape danger?

    During BAFA BAFA, there were two separate groups, the Alphas and the Betas. Both groups had there own background information for example both groups were like areas of knowledge such as science and art. When both groups were observing each other, it was difficult and confusing. As a Beta, the strengths that a Beta had was its own language to speak, which the danger for the Alphas were to understand and it was an advantage for Betas to hide what they value most, however the danger for the Betas were the rules because the Betas’ rules were played as a game, and it was easily notified and observed by the Alphas. The strength of the Alphas was difficult to understand because the Alphas were quiet and touching, which gave them the advantage to hide there values and rules from being in danger.

    I think that Betas are more like a democracy culture and Alphas are more like a communist culture. Why? Because Betas socialize more and are willing to communicate with other cultures, and Alphas remain silent with no communications unless other cultures are forced to wait so that they can become an Alpha. Also Betas had their own free-will with the right to speak and enjoy anything as long as they follow the rules of a Beta. The Alphas had the right to remain silent or have a conversation that doesn’t involve anything important, and the Alphas have a strong authority over its own people because it has a leader to guide them. Both culture’s knowledge are different, however there dangers are the same because they have to hide there information about what they value and what the rules they follow, so that both can experience or learn from one another through knowledge.

  6. 1/29/2011

    Every human being is a born into a culture and that culture has a influence in our lives. As for me my culture is the Hindu culture and Hinduism is my religion. During the Bafa Bafa experience my culture was the Beta culture and some people were the Alpha culture. When the Alpha culture came to meet the Beta culture we could tell they were having a hard time understanding our culture. In the Beta culture our values were mostly trading and in the Alpha culture I really couldn’t understand their values and how their culture worked. When I came into the American culture I had a hard time adjusting,but couple of years later I got a hold of this culture. When I went back to my country, Fiji, I had a hard time adjusting to that culture and I couldn’t fit in with the people over there and it got me frustrated. I believe that our culture means more to us than the ways of knowing and the areas of knowledge that we learn in TOK. I always wondered,” How does our culture influence our ways of knowing and influence our beliefs?” Human beings also judge cultures too because some people believe that their culture is the dominant culture. For example the Nazi’s believed that they were the dominant culture and the Jews were like trash to them and the Nazi’s wanted to exterminate them. The Nazi’s culture influenced their ways of knowing and their belief. Another example was when the Alpha culture came to class and the Beta culture booed and taunted them because we thought we were the better culture and we had better values than the Alphas. So our cultures value and the ways of knowing and areas of knowledge influences our life.

        • After i thought about all this, i realized none of us were rude. When we went to observe each other, we weren’t acting like our culture. We were just trying to fit in. Neither of the cultures were rude, our way of observing was rude. We were trying to fit in but resulted in negative connotations of each culture, when no such thing existed about each culture.

  7. Bafa Bafa Reflection Prompt:

    E. What are the difference between persuasive explanations, good explanations, and true explanations?

    Well, Persuasive explanations is trying to convince the person to think how you think. Also, it may not be necessarily true but still convince one person to think in a way you are. Language is definitely used in persuasive explanations because it is how you said it and the words you choose to make the person think that that is the best explanation.In the Bafa Bafa game, when the Betas came back and told the other Betas what was it like over at the Alphas, they described boring, touchy, and very calm. I was one of the last Betas to visit the Alphas and when more Betas kept coming back with the same results, i assume that that was what i was definitely going to see at the Alpha. So i was definitely persuade that Alpha was a boring culture. A good explanation is an explanation that has some support/ reasons to back it up. For example, When i went to visit the Alphas, I tried every way i can to communicate with them. That included yelling, touching, screaming, laughing etc. I had a good explanation for this for the other Betas did the same. I thought this was a good way to get their attention and communicate with them, for we Betas, would do hand signals and speak a different language to communicate. A true explanation is when you have support, reasons, sources, evidence etc to prove your explanation. For example, a true explanation would be when the Betas and Alphas explained their culture to one another. This is a true explanation because they have reasons for their doing, they have support from the people in their tribe etc. Another example would be when Hurricane Katrina hits. Scientists and other politicians predicted that Hurricane Katrina will hit with evidence and reasons. This is a true explanation. So What is the difference? Persuasive is to convince someone to think like what you are thinking even if it is not true. A good explanation is that you have some sort of support/ reasons to back up your explanation. A true explanation would be to have proof and reasons to make this statement true.

  8. PROMPT: How do cultures’ values differ with respect to the ways of knowing or areas of knowledge?

    Cultures’ values differ with the respect to the ways of knowing. Considering the BAFA BAFA experience, Alpha and Beta, both respect the ways of knowing and area of knowledge differently. Ways of knowing consist of emotion, reason, sense perception, and language. They may focus on same ways of knowing, but, they both have different perspective. The Alphas love to touch one another, communicate about the men in the family, play the matching game, and then talk about their likes. Betas have their own language and hand signals, play a trading card game relative to Go-Fish, receive points for collecting seven same cards, and race to have most point.
    The Alphas view emotion by loving to be close to another. Touching or being close to another reveal that they do not dislike them. Thus, the few actions reveal their perspective on the concept emotion. They are happy that the other does not dislike them, the bond of friendship they both hold, and communications between them. The alphas emotion is triggered depending on the closeness of the other alphas. Their language is English, and they communicate about the men in the family. They can also show the language of not liking one another by staying far away from that person. So, not only they have spoken it out, they can show their emotion through the language of action. The language of action in example would be ignoring one person because he/she had broken the rules of the Alphas and keeping a far distance from him/her. Staying far away from that person show that you dislike him/her, also, you did not have to tell him that you like him/her because you showed it. The sense perception is being aware using the five senses. The alphas can be aware of who can be able to communicate and play matching game with the females. A signature from the leader of the tribe is needed in order to converse with the females. If any non-alpha does converse with the females without any signature from the leader, he then will get kicked out. This is the alphas ways of knowing.
    The Beta in the other hand can show emotion of annoyed to new members because new members do not know the game and the betas at the same time are restricted to give any teachings of the meaning of the game to the new members. Their language and facial expression says it all, from their tone of voice to the face they express. But, viewing them play to other Beta members, they do express happiness playing the trading card game. They communicate with their own language, even during the card game. They have hand signals that express “I don’t have the card” without them even having to speak. In the game, they would ask for a certain color and the color card they want, they would use the first letter and add a vowel to it, making it a two letter word. Then it is followed by a two letter word and repeated an amount of time to ask for the number on the card they want. Using their five senses they can be aware of the cards they need and they hold in their hands. Which it would help them to achieve their cards and receive points.
    As a shaman, I try my best to stay faithful to my culture, follow the laws, and learn new laws as I grow up. I was a shaman since at birth and hopefully would still be. As growing up with a relative of mine, Michael Vang, who was not a shaman. I was introduced into the culture of Christianity. Michael asks me to join him on Sunday church and I am able to go because it is not against any law that I know of in my shaman culture. I also received bible studies on Saturday. Whenever I am over at Michael’s place, they would invite me to eat with them. But I always insist saying “no” to show respect. In the end, I do end up sitting at the table and eating with them. But before they ate, they prayed and thus, I joined them instead of looking like I did not respect their culture. We all are humans, thus, we do express our emotion the same way if we were bothered. But, to break a law in my culture, my parents would be ashamed of me thus emotion is triggered if I was to break a law of the shaman culture. Having bible study at the same time, I learned the ethics of GOD’s teachings. It appealed to me that Christianity did make me feel more of a better person in life. The bible was like a buddy I can look over and it would teach me to make the choices that I am not aware of. The bible is translated in many language and I do own both English and Hmong bible. But, I understand more in the English bible because growing up learning to read in Hmong was not much of a hassle but one thing that I did not found myself learning. Michael’s culture values the good moral and teachings of GOD, while my culture value our ancestor to be there for us in life.

  9. Prompt: What are the difference between persuasive explanation, good explanation and true explanation?

    There are many explanations in the world that would either be persuasive, good or true. The difference is that a persuasive explanation is to convince people to give or to do. Such as advertisement or from the BAFA BAFA. As the alphas enter to the beta culture, there are many options that misled the alphas. Is perception same as having knowledge? Going up to one of the beta, she wanted a card but which one. Saying the word “ele” is persuading me to give a card. Still it was really confusing that when the beta was doing a hand signal as it symbolizes away or never mind, I left. Could language gives us
    doubt? Persuasive explanations are convincing that could lead to misunderstanding. Just like when back into TOK class of discussing a statement, some says that the statement is persuasive and some says it’s not. But then there were no misunderstanding because it’s a statement and not an explanation. However a statement can still be persuasive.
    A good explanation is almost in the same situation as persuasive explanation. An in between persuasive and true explanation. Just like proficient, basic and below basic. As in a good explanation is giving an understanding process of explaining the reason why. Such as when having signal (shaking head yes or no) from the beta that, that is the card s/he wanted. Just like in history class when the teacher explain what is the importance of the declaration of independence. She is giving a good explanation because she is an history teacher. But if it’s a student there could be misunderstanding and misled, just like when the beta’s gave a misunderstanding situation.
    Finally true explanation tells the truth, has facts and is not false. Where then a true explanation could still be persuasive and good. Due to the face that some explanation gives fact and some don’t. The Beta people give true explanation when they give signal. As from the bafa bafa, the beta gave hand movement, signal such as “come here”, where then the alpha understands it. True explanation could also be
    misunderstanding in a way, because of giving signal gave us alpha’s some thinking process. However could language help us to understand or comprehend?

  10. What I found very interesting about this activity was that even when we weren’t in our “home room” anymore, our cultural values and beliefs carried over. For example, the Betas came into the Alfas’ room all lively and such, and the Alfas’ were standing very close to the Betas when we were visiting (as I heard). Not to be mean or anything but I came to dislike the Betas and saw them as “rude” people. I think by being accustomed to a culture, we view other culture differently. How would the world be different if we were all one culture? To what extent does our culture play a role in how we perceive other cultures?

  11. yesenia gonzalez

    What are the difference between persuasive explanations, good explanations and true explanations?
    The difference between persuasive explanations good explanations and true explanations is that persuasive explanations is a way in how a person tries to get someone to believe the same as that person. That person trying to persuade that other person might use a different method that helps the other person to see that that person might have a good conclusive reason to what he or she is saying to be true. This person might use a passive voice and a language understandable for both of them. It also has to do with perception, how you view the explanation makes you believe it and also view it the same way.
    A good explanation has the same method but instead it has some good reasons for that person to believe so. For example in the bafa bafa game it deals with many of good explanations on why sometimes should or shouldn’t we believe that same perspective and trying to get that person to also believe the same thing but using different methods like words to describe it or emotions. Another example of this is when someone a little girl is behaving bad and her parents’ spank her is because they have a good reason to do it so but if the girl wasn’t doing anything bad then they wouldn’t have any reason to do that. Another personal example, when I was in my science class and I got bad grade on my test and I had a good explanation for this results and it was because I didn’t study as much that’s why I got a bad grade.
    A true explanation is the one that everyone believes to be true and there is evidence that that is why is true. This person has good evidence that supports that explanation as well as persuasive explanation. In reality everything has something to do with each other you need both of this three to make a true explanation. To make a persuasive explanation one needs a little of both good explanations and true explanations. The good explanations need persuasive and true explanations.
    This concludes to the idea that difference between this explanations is that they all function together to make a persuasive, good, and true explanation.

  12. Prompt- How do beliefs about the world and beliefs about what is valuable, influence the pursuit of knowledge?

    Among the innumerable number of knowledge communities that exist in our society, beliefs, misconceptions, stereotypes and generalizations are made. The beliefs we have toward a certain knowledge community can either act as a barrier or stimulation for acquiring knowledge. It all the depends on the knower’s personalty traits. Certain beliefs will make us want to expand our knowledge and others would not. During that Bafa Bafa exercise, I ( along with the rest of the alphas) believed that the Betas had their own language to communicate with each other. The idea of figuring out how their language worked incited my curiously, and made me want to go and interact with the Betas as a way to trying to know their language. I even remember repeating some of the gibberish Beta members were saying. There are times, however, when our beliefs prevent us from acquiring knowledge. I remember the summer before entering high school as a freshman. People, ( usually parents) would tell my mother to not send to to Burbank because it was a bad school where everyone fought, and was overall an insecure place to be. They said, they would not send their sons/daughters to Burbank for the said reason. Their beliefs terrified me! My mother, on the other hand, decided to disregard what these parents said, and opted for Burbank, which turned out great! In this case, the beliefs these parents had prevented their children from going to Burbank and acquiring not only the academic knowledge offer there, but the knowledge found within the diversity of its students. Like I said before, personality traits determine if we will see a certain belief as a barrier or as an incentive to knowledge. My open-mindedness and curiosity for the Beta community made me want to know more about them, even if it meant putting myself into uncomfortable situations. And being surrounded by a group of people who talk to you in a unknown language is quite unpleasant. Moreover, My mother was skeptical on relying the sources presented to her when deciding the school she would send me. These, “sources” were parents who believed Burbank was not a safe place. Her skepticism led her to what I believe was the best choice ( sending me to Burbank.) Finally, the lack of judgment from the parents who believed Burbank was not a good place, made them not send their children to this high school.
    Likewise, our ability to evaluate a certain belief will determine the path toward knowledge we take. And the knowledge communities we belong sometimes determine the value of such beliefs. For example, not to long ago, my Environmental Systems and Society class teacher, Ms. Tellez, showed us an article that talked about scientists trying to revive Wolly Mammoth by inserting some of its genes into an elephant that would then breed it. In the class we discussed the ethical implications of such action. Some students ( and scientists) believed it was valuable to do this for research purposes, others believed it was just an anthropocentric desire, that it would not have any benefits to society or the world in general, leaving aside the fact that it would go against ethical and religious beliefs. In this case, the scientists kn. community belief breeding a mammoth is valuable, which will enable them to pursue a knowledge path, while religious groups and some students do not value the belief the same way, closing themselves from the knowledge that will result from breeding a mammoth.
    Ultimately, our personality traits determine if a belief will help us adventure into different journeys of knowledge or will hinder us from doing so. And the knowledge communities we belong have some bias in determining the value of having a certain belief.

  13. TOK: BAFA BAFA Reflection

    Prompt: What are the dangers of equating personal experience and knowledge?

    To what extent does your prior knowledge affect your future, personal experiences? The prompt question is asking “what are the dangers of equating personal experiences and knowledge?” If you contemplate about the four ways of knowing, you truly earn knowledge through personal experience. However the flaw is that, what can we classify as knowledge and as excess information? Well the four ways of knowing are “Sense Perception, Language, Reason and Emotions.” If we were to deny all personal experience as knowledge, then we would be denying all our ways of knowing, however if we were to accept everything that we learn through our ways of knowing as knowledge, we would be valuing everything we learn through personal experience. This is why we “reason” to “classify” what is knowledge and what is useless information. We use reason to justify why we “value” a specific knowledge and why we neglect completely another piece of knowledge. So by classifying we lose knowledge, yet we also gain knowledge. This deduces that the knowledge we gained benefit us more than the knowledge that we neglected, or at least that’s my philosophy, on classifying ideas.
    My experiences as an observer limited my learning experience of the BETA culture. However the information I came back with was detailed enough for my Alpha companions to figure most of the BETA culture. Although we slowly came back with more and more detailed information of BETA culture, we failed to learn the language of the BETA culture. In my opinion I believe Alpha culture was much more shy than BETA culture, but learned more about BETA culture than BETA culture could learn about Alpha culture. We Alphans saw that the Betans were indeed trying to communicate with us, however they were too impatient and always tried to speak to us before being spoken to. I thought that after so many Betans failed to communicate with us through quick contact, would have evolved and tried to wait for us to communicate with them instead. However their persistent curiosity drove them to try and communicate with us over and over again, failing them in their quest for communication with the Alphans.
    The Betans applied their rules of their culture to our Alphan culture, and failed to absorb Alphan culture. Alphans, I believe used their patience and waited for the Betans to do the work of “explaining” the rules of Betan culture to the Alphans. If the two cultures were given more time I believe the Alphans would have learned the Betan Culture faster than the Betans could learn the Alphan culture.

    • I now see the meaning of “there are no stupid questions” because a given question would be answered then that answer would be question. Thus, a whole new knowledge would be acquire.
      Thanks =] even though you did not mention about “there are no stupid questions”.
      The idea came to me when you mentioned “useless information”. They may be useless but those question where the start of the whole area of knowledge because using our personal experience of noticing the repetition that keeps showing up in the result would allow us to acquire that knowledge. An example would be, a person observe and planted apple seeds and no matter if he wanted an orange tree nor peach tree, he will get an apple tree. Thus, he now acquire the knowledge that an apple seed will only grow an apple tree. Then he may question if the seed from another plant will grow the same plant that its seed came from. It may lead him to test his question which then will lead him to new knowledge acquired because of “useless information”.

  14. To what extent does classification systems adopted in the pursuit of knowledge affect the knowledge we obtain?

    Classification systems affect the knowledge we obtain. During the Bafa Bafa experience, we had two different cultures. Each culture had set rules and values. The goal was to figure out each culture’s rules and values. Each group would send three people at a time to observe the cultures. When we observed each culture, emotions developed classification. For example, when the Alpha members went to observe the Beta Culture, Alphas felt kind of angry and pleased. They categorized the Betas as annoying, rude, playful and talkative. These emotions lead to mixed categories. When Betas went to view the Alpha Culture, they felt angry and ignored. They categorized Alphas as silent, touchy and odd. The emotions lead to a type of false reasoning. Both cultures could not understand the other culture’s rules and values because of their emotions. Each culture used different types of body language and verbal language. Alphas ignored other groups of people, but Betas welcomed people into their trades. Alphas talked mainly about male family members and Betas talked in a language that was not understandable. These types of language lead to emotions that made groups feel isolated, which lead to reasoning and also lead to classifying both cultures. Sense Perception helped view language, arouse emotions, and develop reasoning and make classifications. When I went to view the Beta Culture, I tried to fit in with them but still I felt isolated because I did not know the rules and values. I kind of felt angry but I enjoyed communicating with them. When we classified, we tended to ignore the depth and the feelings, the values of the cultures. And it is not necessary our classifications are valid. False reasoning can lead to false classifications. As a whole, classification is important when obtaining knowledge because it helps us understand. As for us, it helped us try to figure out the opposite culture even though there were false classifications.

    • “Betas talked in a language that was not understandable.”
      Sorry Gurleen, but I think me and my fellow Betas understood one another. 🙂

      To what extent can rumors about a person affect how we perceive them?

      In the BAFA BAFA experience, when our observer and visitors returned from their stay at the other culture’s community, they shared with us what the other culture did and how they were like. In the end, we learned the secrets and values of both cultures. How did what they (the visitors and observer) share about the other culture affect how we perceived that culture?

      • Wesley I mean’t alphas did not understand betas. And when we learned about each culture at the end, our perpectives changed. We learned the values of the cultures which changed our emotions towards them.

        • I know that our perspectives changed when we learned about the other culture in the end, but what I was trying to ask was:

          “How did what the observers and visitors share about the other culture affect the way we perceived them before we knew what was going on?”

  15. Prompt: How do beliefs about the world and beliefs about what is valuable, influence the pursuit of knowledge?

    As humans, we have the desire to have more of what makes us feel good or happy so that we can better our lives or another’s. Because of that desire, we create methods to increase the income of whatever we want. For instance, in the shallow area of a river, we may use nets to collect fish. However, because it is difficult to collect fish in the deeper areas of the river, we try to find some way to fish for those other fish. The question that is asked is: “How do we fish for the fish in the area that is hard to reach?” Inventions such as fishing rods or fishing boats are then created because those objects increase the amount of fish that can be collected. Another example is online gaming. Usually, in online gaming, the player with the highest stats or level is the most respected by other players because they can play the game proficiently and sometimes, even godly. A typical gamer might ask, “what can I do to play as good as him/her?” To reach that level of prestige, the gamer then considers two ideas which would allow him/her to reach that goal: one, play the game more often and improve his playing skills, or two, find a way to hack into the game and improve the character’s skill rather than the player. Both methods of becoming a prestige gamer are successful in every means necessary. However, there is usually a penalty for game hackers. Because they have cheated other players in the game, their gaming account is banned from online gameplay, or they are kicked from every game they enter with other players naming them as “chammers” or “hacker noobs.”

    In the cross-cultural simulation called Bafa Bafa, the Betas value cards because if they can collect a set of seven cards in the same color numerically, one through seven, then seventy points are added to their score. The Beta with the highest number of points is the top Beta in the community because he/she is the most efficient trader of that community. When I was in the Beta community, it was difficult for me to trade cards and collect points. Why? Well, because the Beta culture has its own verbal and body language, which made it difficult for me to trade another for their cards. Also, because every Beta was trying to promote their rank to top trader, they did not want to let go of certain cards with certain numbers which were essentially the ones I needed. Throughout the whole game, I could not get more than seventy points which was, in total, only one set. I then asked, “How can I add more points to my score without the difficulties?” In an attempt to add more points to my own score, I decided to “cheat” by turning in a set of seven blue cards that consisted of double numbers rather than the singles of one, two, three, four, five, six and seven. Mr. Coey who overlooked the trading was almost fooled by the trick; the penalty for trying to cheat and trick the Alpha-Beta was that whatever points you had collected would be deducted from your score and added to the top trader’s score.

    In conclusion, our pursuit of knowledge is influenced by what is valuable in a community because we want more of it. In the pursuit for knowledge, we create methods to can get us whatever it is that is valuable most efficiently.

      • Can you clarify the question “what responsibility do individuals have for accepting or rejecting cultural values?”

        I think that value is determined by a community’s wants and needs. For example, food is valuable to some African countries because there is not enough of it. To have enough food to last, money and other existing food must be preserved. For the USA, however, even though food is valuable (because we need it to survive), it is everywhere so there are times when food are wasted and thrown away. Most kids in my community would rather have a PS3, Xbox 360 (if they don’t already have one), games for the console, and internet for online gameplay, rather than having three square meals a day.

  16. Yer Lee
    ToK BAFA BAFA Reflection
    January 30,2011
    Mr. Coey
    How do beliefs about the world and beliefs about what is valuable influence the pursuit of knowledge?
    One’s beliefs about the world and beliefs about what is valuable influence one’s pursuit of knowledge. Our beliefs and curiosity are the reasons for our actions; our actions towards finding information and this is the process of gaining knowledge. The more we believe in something, the more we will try to understand it or simply find evidence to support our beliefs, if it is necessary.
    When I was an Alpha in the Alpha culture, our goal was to find out about the rules and values of the Beta culture and we would reach that goal by visiting the Betas. As an Alpha, we have our own rules and values too; our values are that we like to laugh and touch as a way of letting each other know that we are friendly, we would talk about the males in our family when we meet other Alphas, and women are properties of men. The rules of the Alpha culture are that when we want to join a conversation we must stand to the side and wait to be tapped on the shoulder by the other Alphas, we would talk about the males in our family then play a matching game, in the matching game there is leader, if there is a man then he leads, the rest of the Alphas would try to match their cards with the leader, after the matching game, they would talk about casual things such as sports, television or interests.
    When we went to visit the Betas, my beliefs about the Beta culture were that they must have values and rules similar to ours, the Alphas. When I was interacting with the Betas, I observed for similarities that our two cultures could have shared. I observed for leaders, distance of each other and conversation topics. Being an Alpha, I have beliefs that men have higher status than women and that laughing and being close to one another are ways of respecting; therefore, when i visited the Betas, I tried to gain knowledge about their values and rules through what I believed was valuable in Alpha culture.

  17. Nancy Moua
    Period: 06
    January 30, 2011
    TOK: Bafa Bafa

    Bafa Bafa

    Prompt: What are the dangers of equating personal experience and knowledge?

    There are dangers of equating personal experience and knowledge. The dangers of equating personal experience and knowledge according to the bafa bafa experience, the dangers are the ways how the alpha and betas understand each other culture. In the alpha culture there are different ways how the alphas communicate with one another and outsiders that is not in their culture. The way how the alphas communicate with one another is that they speak calmly and ask about the men of their family. The alphas however, do not like to have the outsiders jump into their conversation and start to talk instantly with them. The alphas like to call the outsiders in and when the outsiders is noticed that they are accepted into the alphas conversation and family, the alphas would come to gather around the outsider and touch that person or peoples. The dangers of equating personal experience and knowledge in the alphas, is that the outsiders would think that the alphas are mean but calm, the outsiders will feel isolated, and unwelcome to their culture. The dangers of the knowledge are the ways how each different culture communicates with one another. The alphas and betas do not understand each other culture. The alphas speaks English and with cards. The knowledge that the alphas has is different from the knowledge that the betas has. The knowledge that the alphas have is polite and knows how to treat each other with respects. The alphas does not let or either tell the outsiders that are not welcome into their family, or culture with words. The alphas would tell with cards. The alphas would have three cards in their hand and would hold up to the person or outsiders when they are disrespecting, or unwelcome into their culture and or family. The dangers of the knowledge that the betas does not have is how they understand the alphas. The betas love to trade and values trading. The betas when they see that the alphas are holding cards and seems like they are trading with one another, the betas would think that the alpha culture is all about trading too. Although, it is not what the betas have thought. The betas speak their own different understandable language, that also includes sign languages that the alphas may think that it has the same meaning as their language. As the communication continues on between the alphas and betas, there are dangerous ways how these two cultures understand each other. The dangerous ways are how they understand each other. The betas do not feel welcome when they communicate with the alphas but the alphas think that the betas are not polite when the alphas communicate with the betas. The alphas think that the betas are not polite because the betas love trading and the betas would like to communicate with alpha badly because they want to trade with the alphas. Although the alphas do not understand the betas language so the alphas thinks that the betas are mean or not polite.

    • Nancy,

      I see you have described the BAFA experience. What personal connections do you make to the BAFA experience?

      What exactly are the “dangers” of saying your belief (personal experience) is knowledge?


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