MSE 1700

MSE 1700

Course information provided by the Courses of Study 2024-2025.

Scientists excitedly announce their latest result—"it's a breakthrough!"—and science journalists and others proclaim that the breakthrough will revolutionize our lives. But is it so? Or are they speculating, exaggerating, or complicit in fraud? Some scientific breakthroughs do change our lives (CRISPR-Cas9) while others fade away ignominiously (Theranos). Case studies will help us develop a critical eye: we will read red-hot announcements along with dispassionate retrospectives, identifying the signs that distinguish flimsy or inflated claims from solid and credible statements. To detect hype, we need only common sense and logical reasoning, not specific or deep scientific expertise. Using carefully constructed and richly argued essays, along with dialogues and speeches, we will interpret and assess the claims of some prominent examples of trumpeted breakthroughs.

When Offered Fall.

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  •   FWS Session. 

  • 3 Credits Graded

  • 20179 MSE 1700   SEM 101

    • MWF Upson Hall 152
    • Aug 26 - Dec 9, 2024
    • van Dover, R

  • Instruction Mode: In Person
    For more information about First-Year Writing Seminars, see the Knight Institute website at