Recently the British Medical Journal dealt yet another blow to 1998 scientific study that first terrified the public about the possibility that vaccines might cause autism. The paper, the Journal alleged, was nothing less than “fraudulent.”
Amazingly, however, no one expects anti-vaccine advocates to retract, change their minds, or cease their activities. Which raises the question: How did they grow so strongly and doggedly convinced to begin with?
That’s where Seth Mnookin’s new book The Panic Virus: A True Story of Medicine, Science, and Fear comes in. It tells the page turning story behind the thoroughly refuted-but still devoutly believed—claim of a link between vaccines and autism. The book explores not only the science, but also the parents involved, the autism advocacy and support community, and the crucial role of the media, the Internet, and celebrities like Jenny McCarthy in spreading misinformation about vaccines.
Seth Mnookin is a contributing editor at Vanity Fair, and was previously a senior writer at Newsweek. He’s the author of two previous books: Hard News: The Scandals at the New York Times and Their Meaning for American Media and the bestselling Feeding the Monster: How Money, Smarts, and Nerve Took a Team to the Top, about the Boston Red Sox. The Panic Virus is his third book.