I have the honor to design and teach a new master module in not one, but two master programs at the Charité. This new module has the title “Critical Thinking in Translational Medicine” and will focus on the concept that science is an exercise in uncertainty. But somehow, scientist – especially the young – do not seem to be trained in handling these uncertainties. Overselling of results, scientific fads and the why “most research findings are false” will be on the schedule of this 15 week course starting this October.
But that’s not all. We will also have some topics regarding new innovations and activities in the scientific enterprise: sharing of data, new ways to publish and share your results will be discussed by our students. The goal is that each week we will have some introduction perspective. Of course there will be a some exercise and group discussions. Each week 4 students have the task to summarise the results of the meeting, as well as prepare a pro-contra debate which will be held on two occasions. Perhaps these students even should write some blog entries?
The bottom line is this: science is more than a pipet, understanding confounding or knowing why a regression model does what it does. It is also about the scientific enterprise, which is what it is, and has many shortcomings. Some critical thinking on these topics, together with some good discussion will help our student to form their own thoughts on these issues and hopefully help them to prepare for a wonderful scientific career.