Murder, Fraud, and Other Dastardly Deeds Perpetrated in the Name of Science

Murder, Fraud, and Other Dastardly Deeds Perpetrated in the Name of Science

February 19, 2022
3:00 pm - 5:30 pm

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Please join us for our annual February program on science to commemorate Darwin Day. Sam Kean, a bestselling author of science books, will speak at a HumanistsMN Community Gathering about his latest work, “The Icepick Surgeon: Murder, Fraud, Sabotage, Piracy, and Other Dastardly Deeds Perpetrated in the Name of Science.”

Science is usually a force for good in the world. But Kean highlights cases where obsession led scientists to twist a noble pursuit into something sinister. “The Icepick Surgeon” guides the reader across 2,000 years of history, beginning with Cleopatra’s dark deeds in ancient Egypt. It covers the transatlantic slave trade of the 1700s, Thomas Edison’s mercenary support of the electric chair, and the warped logic of the spies who infiltrated the Manhattan Project.

Not all the sins of science are safely in the past, Kean reminds us. We can draw direct lines from the medical abuses of Tuskegee and Nazi Germany to current vaccine hesitancy, and connect icepick lobotomies from the 1950s to the contemporary failings of mental-health care.

Kean is a writer in Washington, D.C., whose stories have appeared in publications including The Best American Science and Nature Writing, The New Yorker, The Atlantic, Slate, and Psychology Today, and his work has been featured on shows including NPR’s “Radiolab,” “Science Friday,” and “All Things Considered.”

His other books include “The Bastard Brigade,” “Caesar’s Last Breath,” “The Tale of the Dueling Neurosurgeons,” The Violinist’s Thumb,” and “The Disappearing Spoon.” Kean also hosts a podcast, “The Disappearing Spoon.”

Discussion and a book signing will follow the presentation. Stay for social hour at 4:30 with nibbles and drinks.

HumanistsMN policy requires that all attendees at our in-person events be fully vaccinated against COVID-19.

This event is sponsored by HumanistsMN. If you are not already a member, please consider joining to help us cover our costs and build the humanist movement. Not ready to join? Donations are gratefully accepted! Donate or join at

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