Clarkson University Common Conversations 2018

An opportunity for the campus community to engage in the shared intellectual exploration of ideas around a theme or concept, inspired by readings, podcasts, videos, and other media.  This year we launch our discussions from Pandora's Lab: Seven Stories of Science Gone Wrong by Paul A. Offit, M.D.

Join the Conversation!

Sunday, August 26th,  5:30-6:15pm

New Student Orientation discussion groups

All first year students will be assigned a session to attend


Attend Convocation

Sunday, August 26th at 7pm in Cheel Arena

The Van Sickle Endowed Lecture: 
A select few Clarkson professors will share stories of a time they have seen science go wrong. 

All Clarkson students, faculty, and staff are invited and encouraged to attend these events.

These events are free and open to the public.

Book Summary

What happens when ideas presented as science lead us in the wrong direction? 

History is filled with brilliant ideas that gave rise to disaster, and this book explores the most fascinating—and significant—missteps: from opium's heyday as the pain reliever of choice to recognition of opioids as a major cause of death in the U.S.; from the rise of trans fats as the golden ingredient for tastier, cheaper food to the heart disease epidemic that followed; and from the cries to ban DDT for the sake of the environment to an epidemic-level rise in world malaria. 

These are today's sins of science—as deplorable as mistaken past ideas about advocating racial purity or using lobotomies as a cure for mental illness. These unwitting errors add up to seven lessons both cautionary and profound, narrated by renowned author and speaker Paul A. Offit. Offit uses these lessons to investigate how we can separate good science from bad, using some of today's most controversial creations—e-cigarettes, GMOs, drug treatments for ADHD—as case studies. For every "Aha!" moment that should have been an "Oh no," this book is an engrossing account of how science has been misused disastrously—and how we can learn to use its power for good.