Science as a way of thinking


Tragopogon Dubius by Ron de Boom, Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs License

In a recent graduation address linked below, Atul Gawande, a surgeon and researcher, spoke of science as a way of thinking. It isn’t, as he explains, a natural way of thinking, but one that has to be learned. He describes how his undergraduate degree gave him a new set of “truths” to replace the ones he had previously held, but how it took him much longer to adopt a sceptical scientific way of thinking.

This is a transition we are trying to encourage in the Masters programme. Often when we teach undergraduates, we teach them one “best” way, or one “truth”. We need to keep it simple, as there is so much to learn. However at Masters level we can start unpicking what has been taught before and help students understand where the knowledge comes from, how it is an approximation of truth, and the ever-changing product of collective effort.

Atul Gawande’s speech is very engaging, inspiring and well worth reading. You can find it here.



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