The Panic Virus

The Panic Virus

A True Story of Medicine, Science, and Fear

Book - 2011
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In 1998 Andrew Wakefield, a British gastroenterologist with a history of self-promotion, published a paper with a shocking allegation: the measles-mumps-rubella vaccine might cause autism. The media seized hold of the story and, in the process, helped to launch one of the most devastating health scares ever. In the years to come Wakefield would be revealed as a profiteer in league with class-action lawyers, and he would eventually lose his medical license. Meanwhile one study after another failed to find any link between childhood vaccines and autism.

Yet the myth that vaccines somehow cause developmental disorders lives on. Despite the lack of corroborating evidence, it has been popularized by media personalities such as Oprah Winfrey and Jenny McCarthy and legitimized by journalists who claim that they are just being fair to "both sides" of an issue about which there is little debate. Meanwhile millions of dollars have been diverted from potential breakthroughs in autism research, families have spent their savings on ineffective "miracle cures," and declining vaccination rates have led to outbreaks of deadly illnesses like Hib, measles, and whooping cough. Most tragic of all is the increasing number of children dying from vaccine-preventable diseases.

In The Panic Virus Seth Mnookin draws on interviews with parents, public-health advocates, scientists, and anti-vaccine activists to tackle a fundamental question: How do we decide what the truth is? The fascinating answer helps explain everything from the persistence of conspiracy theories about 9/11 to the appeal of talk-show hosts who demand that President Obama "prove" he was born in America.

The Panic Virus is a riveting and sometimes heart-breaking medical detective story that explores the limits of rational thought. It is the ultimate cautionary tale for our time.
Publisher: New York ; Toronto : Simon & Schuster, 2011
Edition: 1st Simon & Schuster hardcover ed. --
ISBN: 9781439158647
Characteristics: xvi, 429 p


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Jun 30, 2015

I firmly believe in vaccines and vaccinations, but - - a prestigious French research institute did find a correlation between the AMOUNT of vaccines received by very young children prior to the age of 3, and the onset of autism. The NUMBER of vaccines administered to children and its connection autism has never been addressed by America's scientific establishment and to date they still refuse to address this point!

Jul 28, 2014

If you are thinking of NOT immunizing your children, please read this book. Well-written explanation of how poorly the Wakefield "study" really was done, how its false message spread around the internet and was swallowed whole by otherwise intelligent people, and what the risks actually are. Disclosure: I am the parent of 1 autistic child and 3 neurotypical ones, and they all got vaccinated.

Oct 24, 2013


debwalker Feb 21, 2011

Vanity Fair contributor Mnookin explores a "long, disturbing and deadly scandal" that started when a Canadian-trained researcher suggested a link between childhood vaccination and autism. The research was a hoax - the proposed link did not exist then and doesn't now - but parents made life-changing decisions based on it. The resulting drop in vaccination rates has led to the return of diseases like whooping cough, measles and mumps - and childhood suffering and death. Horrifying.
Oakland Ross
Toronto Star Jan 23, 2011

Feb 09, 2011

An excellent book on the supposed controversy on childhood vaccination and autism. I say supposed controversy since numerous credible researchers that Mnookin cites have shown time and time again no connection between vaccination and autism.
Mnookin covers all the angles in this book. How autism advocacy groups were hijacked by the shrill and uninformed with an anti-science agenda. No nothing politicians jumping on the anti-vaccine bandwagon for political gain (50 years ago they would have been attacking fluoridation as a communist plot).
Particularly infuriating are the vaccuous media celebrities that used their fame to propagandize even though they should have sought out the actual science of vaccine and public health. Oprah and Jenny McCarthy have demonstrated how dangerous the spread of misinformation truly is.
He also shows how Dr. Wakefield's MMR "research" was driven by pure financial interest. A point many of his supporters willfully ignored.
The book is a cautionary tale on how lies, half truths and ignorance can spread. (Many of the anti-vaccination zealots quite openly state that they used "feeling" instead of using evidence in this issue). Then they can spread their affect far and wide causing harm throughout society.

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