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Extended Audio Sample The Panic Virus: A True Story of Medicine, Science, and Fear, by Seth Mnookin Click for printable size audiobook cover
4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 4.00 (1,133 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Seth Mnookin Narrator: Dan John Miller Publisher: Tantor Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date:
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Who decides which facts are true?

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 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 heartbreaking medical detective story that explores the limits of rational thought. It is the ultimate cautionary tale for our time.

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Listener Opinions

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 by Sallie | 2/11/2014

    " Mnookin takes on the ever-growing anti-vaccine movement, armed with overwhelming scientific evidence rather than anecdotal support. There are many factors at play in the controversy, from Andrew Wakefield's severely flawed 1998 study linking the MMR vaccine to autism (sparking the current movement) to a media which chooses emotional soundbites over concrete evidence. Unfortunately, the decision to opt-out of vaccination is not a personal one; society as a whole is affected. Whooping cough, pertussis, measles and Hib are reappearing at alarming rates with often tragic consequences. Well-researched and clearly presented, Mnookin says what needs to be said. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 by Matt | 1/28/2014

    " Required reading for everyone, ever. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 by Bfg1971 | 12/9/2013

    " This was a well written book; however, it wasn't compelling enough to finish because all of the anti-vaxers relied on poor science and generally seemed to be kooks. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 by Michelle | 12/4/2013

    " The second very well-written and done expose of the antivaccine movement and what it costs us. This writer was not a scientist but a journalist and writer puzzled by the phenomenon of well-educated, affluent Americans who for odd reasons, believe in science, UNLESS it is science applied to vaccines, when they let fear-mongering and Playboy bunnies influence them instead. Another solid expression of the clear evidence, heart-rending stories of children who've been hurt by the loss of herd immunity, and clear finger-pointing. Mnookin is especially hard on the media and their coverage of the controversy, with almost completely one-sided reporting of the sensationalists only, with little understanding of the real science and the real issues. Top-rate, too bad we can't make it required reading for giving birth. "

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