The Panic Virus: A True Story of Medicine, Science, and Fear by Seth Mnookin

If you’ve been paying attention to the news over the past ten years, you’ve read about a possible connection between autism and vaccines. In 1998, a paper by Andrew Wakefield was published in the journal The Lancet claiming a relationship between autism, intestinal disorders, and the MMR vaccine. The world panicked and soon news reporters and concerned parents were raising hell. Lawsuits were filed against drug makers. Many parents stopped vaccinating their children, causing a rise in long thought dead diseases such as whooping cough and measles. Autism organizations banded together to promote safer vaccine regimens.
Flash-forward to 2011, and Andrew Wakefield has been discredited. News reports revealed that he had been funded by lawyers out to sue drug companies. His scientific studies were shown to be poorly managed. Numerous scientific studies were run to show that there’s no evidence to prove that vaccines cause autism. In engaging and humorous language, The Panic Virus describes the process by which fear of vaccines overwhelmed the medical community. Mnookin examines the history of vaccines and the history of autism, and shows how they became linked in the minds of parents around the world. Mnookin asks – how did such an idea take hold without clear scientific evidence? Why are people so willing to panic about an idea without becoming fully informed about it? Mnookin’s book is extremely well researched. At 429 total pages, 98 pages of the book contain a bibliography and notes, showing that Mnookin clearly researched and knows his stuff.
If you’re interested in reading a well-written and engaging science book that won’t bore you to tears, I recommend picking this one up.

Find a copy in our library catalog.

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