The title suggests

that as we gain more knowledge through experience or study, doubt increases. This

claims that our confidence and faith in knowledge is inhibited which hinders

certainty as well as we learn more. For example, when I was studying IGCSE physics,

I was highly confident and certain about what I was studying but as I progressed

to IBDP standard level physics, as concepts became more complicated, my doubt

increased and my confidence of the subject decreased. In a broader sense, this

phenomenon can be recognized across a range of disciplines, academic fields and

from the perspective of experts and non-experts alike. To analyze this claim, I

will respond to the following two knowledge questions. Firstly, to what

extent does gaining knowledge of the natural sciences limit our confidence in

its understanding? Secondly, how far can knowledge gained within the

mathematics provide us with certainty?

In this essay, I am going to illustrate and

evaluate the central claim, with a balanced approach using supporting evidence.

To answer these questions, I will explore the role of

doubt in furthering the development of the Natural Sciences and how far the

application of Mathematical concepts in other areas of knowledge limits the

certainty and therefore confidence of the knowledge produced.

In the Natural

Sciences, it can be suggested that increased knowledge limits our confidence in

its understanding. The nature of science is a constant development. For

example, if a new hypothesis comes up, it will drag new questions, and proofs

are required if the new hypothesis is to be appreciated as science. According

to Karl Popper, he claimed that scientists don’t use inductive reasoning but use deductive reasoning.

By having more experiment about the theory, new observations that contradict

the conclusion can come out. Scientists then prove that the hypothesis is wrong

and this is called falsification. Therefore, falsifying the theory with new

observation suggests that any current established knowledge can be disregarded.

And since we disregard current established knowledges, our confidence starts to

decrease. For example, Stuart Firestein, a teacher and neuroscientist suggested

that knowledge generates ignorance. He illustrates that James Clerk Maxwell

said that “Thoroughly conscious ignorance is the prelude to every

real advance in science”1. It means in some point of science we have to neglect

what we know. Because the nature of natural science is constant development,

scientists keep research for new knowledge. Thus, knowing a lot of more data

leads to more ignorance. And we use our knowledge to create a higher quality

and better ignorance. According to a graph of what people know about something and

how much do they actually know about it, undergraduate students have a high

interest on everything but they have a shallow knowledge about them. Master’s degree students know more than undergraduates but

their interest has been decreased and PhD students know a lot about nearly nothing.

Therefore, what do students know and how much do they know had indirect

proportional relationship. It shows that as students get higher education,

their certainty on the subject decreases and their confidence might also

decrease as well.

However, there is

also an evidence to suggest that through gaining knowledge in science, our

confidence increases. Scientific method is a rigorous process which provides a

high degree of certainty and reason which increases confidence about developing

new knowledge. Not only reason and confidence, but scientific method provides

us reliability and certainty. Therefore, confidence can increase from

reliability and certainty because scientific method has provided sufficient reasons.

Scientific method includes testing process, analysis of results, comparison

with other similar studies and peer review from other scientists. One example is

the development of vaccination of Ebola. Ebola Virus Disease outburst in

December 2013 and left 27,000 cases and 11,000 deaths in West Africa.2

Due to the problem, an experiment involving 4,000 people has been undertaken by

scientists, doctors and drug companies. When Ebola occurred, lots of researchers

vaccinated every contact of sick people who are willing. To see how well the

vaccine protected people, the group of people were randomly assigned into two

groups. One group received vaccine as Ebola confirmed and another group

received after three weeks. The group which received a vaccine immediately had

no cases of Ebola for 10 days after vaccination but another group had several

cases. This proved to the scientists that receiving vaccination as soon as

possible reduces the risk of getting infected to Ebola from experimenting two

different sample groups. Using an empirical methodology, it allowed the

scientists to generate new knowledge about the Ebola vaccination usage when the

Ebola occurs in a country and this showed scientists how to use the cure in the

future. With this new knowledge, scientist can have more confidence in future

use of vaccination. However, the limitation of the experiment is there are only

thousands of volunteers who got tested for the experiment so experiment is yet

perfect.3

Although there is a limitation, because of this undergone process, people can

trust the vaccination and it will serve people a reliability.

It can be argued

that Mathematics provides us with a highly reliable and certain form of

knowledge which can be applied to a wide range of practical applications,

giving us a confidence about it as an area of knowledge. Mathematics is one of

the most objective and logical areas of knowledge that requires the application

of reason and rational thinking. And because mathematics relies on reason,

answers should be drawn from valid mathematical theorem. For example, Pythagorean theorem is a representative theorem in

mathematics. It illustrates that the square of hypotenuse is equal to the sum

of the square of adjacent and opposite. People can’t debate about this theorem since it has been already

proved by mathematicians. Moreover, I could apply Pythagorean theorem to

concepts I have learned in IB physics. For example, I used Pythagorean theorem when

I tried to find a resultant force vector in a physics lesson. I didn’t have a right-angel triangle but because I had an

obtuse-angle triangle, I extended a line and made a right-angle triangle and

found a resultant force by using Pythagorean theorem. By applying mathematical

knowledge to physics, I could reach a high reliability and certainty. Not only

reason but mathematics also relies on language because unique mathematical

language such as pi( or integral ( can transfer

information to anyone in the world which increases certainty and validity.

However,

Mathematical models don’t always provide

reliable results in their application.

When Mathematics are

applied to a subject such as Economics, it reduces our certainty and

reliability. When I tried to apply mathematical model into Economics, model that

requires probability completely contradicted my mathematical knowledge and it served

me doubt in mathematics. For example, when I was studying microeconomics in year

12, I came across with a concept called “Price Elasticity”. In price elasticity, there is price elasticity of

demand(PED). It shows the responsiveness of

demand after a change in a price of goods. However, where Economic concept

contradicted my mathematical knowledge is when I saw negative percentage sign. In

order to calculate PED, I should figure out the change in percentage of

Quantity demand and the price of goods. When the figure of a previous year is

bigger than the year after, it gives negative percentage value which means that

the amount of price or quantity demand has been decreased compare to the

previous year and in Economics, we express it as –X%. However, what confused me

was in mathematical knowledge, percentage cannot be negative since the

percentage is a certain amount in hundred. But negative percentage came up when

calculating PED (% Change in

Quantity Demand / % Price change). This served me doubt

about my knowledge in mathematical model. Therefore, when I saw negative

percentage, which contracts my existing concept, my certainty started to decrease. Thus, I realized that in a subject such as Economics,

AOK such as Mathematics doesn’t always work.

To conclude, I believe

that the statement “With more knowledge

doubt increases” is fair to some

extent in the areas of knowledge of Natural Science and Mathematics. In Natural

science, because of the nature of Natural Science which constantly develops, if

a new hypothesis comes up, a new question will come up. In order to be

appreciated as a science and gain validity, it has to be proved but because

scientists use deductive reasoning, they always try to falsify their hypothesis

with new observation which disregards current knowledge. Therefore, increased

knowledge of natural science might limit our confidence in its understanding

and more knowledge will enlarge doubt. And this has been experimented by Stuart

Firestein from a survey of how much do bachelor’s students to PhD students know. The survey about how

much they know and what they know showed inverse proportional because PhD

students studies in-depth, which increases doubt. So although increased

knowledge might increase doubt, scientists will have to gain more evidence to

prove their hypothesis and gain validity from other scientists.

Mathematics, one of

the areas of knowledges that relies on reason and language might limit our

confidence when it is applied to certain subjects such as Economics. Although

Mathematics provides us with a reliable knowledge if applied to physics, with a

high degree of certainty, when Mathematical knowledges are applied to

Economics, it contradicts current established mathematical knowledge such as

percentage with a negative sign in some content in Economics, and this will

increase our doubt and decrease our certainty.