Title 2 – TOK Essay May 2017 KQ 1 : How do theories make sense of the data?



A theory is a set of interrelated concepts, definitions , specifying relations among variables that explain , predict and provide a systematic way of understanding events , behaviors and situations.

In Social Sciences , the theories are concieved as “ Models” that work in a limited range of settings compared to Natural Sciences where the theories are laws that hold and apply universally. Scientists recognise and differentiate correlation from causation and that no conclusions can be drawn on the basis of correlation and without underlying mechanisms and models , data is just noise.

Without the theory, without knowing “ the causation and the whys”, without understanding “ whys and the hows” – the data is hard to interpret and it is almost impossible to predict. Consequently, a hypothesis based on an established theory is an educated guess and has a greater chance of being correct.

Since theories summarize and organize a great deal of information by connecting facts and giving them meaning – by building a framework that is so broad in scope that can relate and compare to other research studies and wide range of situations and areas- specially important in research and progress in sciences where researchers build on each other’s work.

The data in itself can only suggest correlation.Even with using enormous amount of Data for “ speak for itself” – there is a case of Implicit theorizing without knowing , without testing the underlying assumptions. Pure data can not possibly substitute for hard thinking.

Compared to Big Data / and tons and tons of facts , elegant and good theories tend to be parsimonious- they explain and predict a broad range of phenomenon with few variables and simple principles –easy to understand , use and remember – without assistance of supercomputers and calculating programs.