Next Article in Journal
Relation between the Disability of the Arm, Shoulder and Hand Score and Muscle Strength in Post-Cardiac Surgery Patients
Next Article in Special Issue
Familial Screening for Left-Sided Congenital Heart Disease: What Is the Evidence? What Is the Cost?
Previous Article in Journal
Development of Evidence-Based Disease Education Literature for Pakistani Rheumatoid Arthritis Patients
Previous Article in Special Issue
The Evolution of Pediatric Disease—A Moving Target in Public Health
Font Type:
Arial Georgia Verdana
Font Size:
Aa Aa Aa
Line Spacing:
Column Width:

Risk Evaluation Requires an Independent Mind

Christian Schmidt
* and
Joachim Storsberg
Fraunhofer Institute Applied Polymer Research (IAP), Division of Life Science and Bioprocesses, Department of Biomaterials and Healthcare, Potsdam-Golm 14476, Germany
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Diseases 2017, 5(4), 28;
Submission received: 13 November 2017 / Revised: 21 November 2017 / Accepted: 21 November 2017 / Published: 24 November 2017
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Pediatric Diseases)


Biomedical research pertaining to pathologies observed in adolescents can involve areas where patients can expect no immediate benefits. Here, Congress stipulates that local review boards are restricted to approving procedures posing no greater than minimal risk (45 CFR 46.404). An evaluation of risk embraces the current state of the art with regard to the safety and efficacy of procedures. A tendency of biomedical scholars to cite highly cited documents can introduce a bias in an argumentation in favor or against a given recommendation in the context that bias in citations can be correlated with an imprudent use of funds for research. We use choice examples to highlight the necessity of approaching any scholarly task with an independent mind.

Progress in biomedical sciences is measured by comparing new publications against the existing precedent. The inherent problem with this comparison is that what we term existing precedent is, by and of itself, not absolute in the sense that it is dependent on the context of its creation, or, in other words, as good as the understanding of a given problem was at the time of the writing and revision of the respective manuscript. Because our understanding of the intricacies of biological systems continuously progresses, using an, phrased in the extreme, obsolete standard renders the progress of life sciences accessible only in the context of contemporary papers and references therein. Where can one turn since we, to the best of our knowledge, are forced to concede that assessing the knowledge extracted from literature in biosciences is only valid if truly contemporary references are used? How far can one stretch the credible meaning of ‘contemporary references’ with the apparent preference of biomedical scholars to cite highly cited papers [1,2]? This bias could lead to unintended consequences, such as “sins of omission” with, in extreme cases, consequences relating to the validity of results [3,4], up to what Congress termed "minimal risk" as a guidance for review boards as they consider the approval of procedures [5].
If the information we assume that we have, or the perception of whatever we think, is the real and complete information about the given system we are investigating, whatever it is that causes the quantum entanglement to collapse [6] could also result in a subset of realizations of probability functions that mirrors the limitation we introduce before we start planning or conducting the experiment. This phenomenon, seen in the realm of quantum entanglement, may not be so very different from deciphering what we seem to label ‘background noise’ in life sciences [7]. Are we, in other words, limiting the truly possible outcomes of an assay by our prejudice regarding the experiment, the model chosen, and the analytics employed to acquire quantifiable data from this very assay? If so, what truly independent reference is appropriate to avoid such bias?
Because of the inherent limitation discussed above, one could perhaps turn to so far undisputed lessons drawn from other areas of scholar activity, or, equally as important, universally applicable guidance that could be useful in addressing the problem of bias that, by, of, and in of itself, constitutes an inherent limitation of the validity of the observation of an experimental model.
In law, what is termed an independent mind of a person not vested in the outcome of a given case, or resolution of a dispute, has been a time-honored approach to ascertain the weight and quality of the adversarial presentation of aspects or viewpoints of a given issue, assuming that the arguments or viewpoints presented fully encompass the aspects of the problem, which shall be assumed charitably for the sake of this argument [8]. This, however, still does not adequately address a true point of reference to what we have termed ‘independent mind’. Perhaps a resolution of this conundrum can be found in means of expressions that do not involve the inherent imprecision of language [9], say, music and arts.
Music and arts can be likened as a medium to convey sentiments throughout the ages, which can certainly inspire the mind of the beholder or listener, regardless of the state of mind [10]. On occasion, focus on the art itself for the sake of focusing on the art can provide a vehicle to sort mental processes to yield what is described as focusing on the current mental task or problem to be pondered [11]. What is it that music and art provide that so many scholars use to purge one’s mind? Could it be an alternate form of expression, which conveys ideas and concepts without words, in perfect harmony with the means of the expression of ideas and concepts using words [12]?
Embracing these independent strains of communication, and other means, could be summarized as a complete expression of what we perceive our surrounding environment to be with our senses and methods of logical deduction. Calming one’s senses by removing one’s ego from processing intellectual problems via aligning the mind and ideals with concepts, validated throughout the ages, can serve us well in conserving intellectual energy as each of us ponders seemingly intractable intellectual assignments in an increasingly complex scientific endeavor [13].


All sources of funding of the study should be disclosed. Please clearly indicate grants that you have received in support of your research work. Clearly state if you received funds for covering the costs to publish in open access.

Author Contributions

C.S. drafted the first version of this paper. J.S. assisted in revising and added significant content to it.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflict of interest. The founding sponsors had no role in the design of the study; in the collection, analyses, or interpretation of data; in the writing of the manuscript, and in the decision to publish the results.


  1. Frandsen, T.F.; Nicolaisen, J. Citation behavior: A large-scale test of the persuasion by name-dropping hypothesis. J. Assoc. Inf. Sci. Technol. 2017, 68, 1278–1284. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef] [Green Version]
  2. Schmidt, C.; Brown, M.A. Relating the Pendulum of Democracy with Oncology Research. J. Clin. Exp. Oncol. 2015, 4, 3. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
  3. Schmidt, C.; Brown, M.A. The Sins of Omission. J. Clin. Exp. Oncol. 2015, 4, 2. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
  4. Sel, S.; Storsberg, J.; Brown, M.A.; Schmidt, C. Choice Meaning and Context: Two Sides of the Same Coin? Am. J. Immunol. 2017, 13, 89–90. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
  5. Shah, S.; Whittle, A.; Wilfond, B.; Gensler, G.; Wendler, D. How do institutional review boards apply the federal risk and benefit standards for pediatric research? Jama 2004, 291, 476–482. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef] [PubMed]
  6. McQueen, K. Does Consciousness Cause Quantum Collapse? Philos. Now 2017, 4, 17–20. [Google Scholar]
  7. Newman, J.R.; Ghaemmaghami, S.; Ihmels, J.; Breslow, D.K.; Noble, M.; DeRisi, J.L.; Weissman, J.S. Single-cell proteomic analysis of S. cerevisiae reveals the architecture of biological noise. Nature 2006, 441, 840–846. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef] [PubMed]
  8. Peirce, C.S. The law of mind. Monist 1892, 2, 533–559. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
  9. Miller, A.S. Statutory Language and the Purposive Use of Ambiguity. Va. Law Rev. 1956, 42, 23–39. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
  10. Robinson, J. The expression and arousal of emotion in music. J. Aesthet. Art Crit. 1994, 52, 13–22. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
  11. Klatt, M.; Harpster, K.; Browne, E.; White, S.; Case-Smith, J. Feasibility and preliminary outcomes for move-into-learning: An arts-based mindfulness classroom intervention. J. Posit. Psychol. 2013, 8, 233–241. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
  12. Shippey, T.A. The magic art and the evolution of words: Ursula Le Guin’s Earthsea Trilogy. Mosaic A J. Interdiscip. Study Lit. 1977, 10, 147–163. [Google Scholar]
  13. Fanelli, D. “Positive” results increase down the hierarchy of the sciences. PLoS ONE 2010, 5, e10068. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef] [PubMed] [Green Version]

Share and Cite

MDPI and ACS Style

Schmidt, C.; Storsberg, J. Risk Evaluation Requires an Independent Mind. Diseases 2017, 5, 28.

AMA Style

Schmidt C, Storsberg J. Risk Evaluation Requires an Independent Mind. Diseases. 2017; 5(4):28.

Chicago/Turabian Style

Schmidt, Christian, and Joachim Storsberg. 2017. "Risk Evaluation Requires an Independent Mind" Diseases 5, no. 4: 28.

Note that from the first issue of 2016, this journal uses article numbers instead of page numbers. See further details here.

Article Metrics

Back to TopTop