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

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The Panic Virus: A True Story of Medicine, Science, and Fear Cover

ISBN13: 9781439158647
ISBN10: 1439158649
Condition: Standard
Dustjacket: Standard
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Review-A-Day

"The news in 1998 was as startling as the jab of a needle: Dr. Andrew Wakefield, in new study in the influential medical journal The Lancet, had made a connection between MMR vaccination and the onset of autism.

'My concerns,' he announced dramatically at a London press conference, 'are that one more case of this is too many.'

There was something to be concerned about, all right. Recently, the British Medical Journal found that Wakefield, who had undisclosed financial interests in discrediting the MMR vaccine, had forged patient records to get his results." Paul Collins, The Oregonian (Read the entire Oregonian review)

Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

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 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.

Review:

"In this searching exposé, the recent hysteria over childhood vaccinations and their alleged link to autism be-comes a cautionary tale of bad science amplified by media sensationalism. Journalist Mnookin (Hard News) treats the belief that autism is caused by common vaccines as an epidemic, tracing its origin to a young British doctor's dubious research into Crohn's disease and measles in the early 1990s. This 'panic virus' spread through online communities of parents desperate for answers; fueled by mainstream media, it has created a growing reluctance on the part of parents to vaccinate their children, which, Mnookin warns, results in an increased rate of children dying from preventable infectious diseases. Crucial to this virus's spread was the unwillingness of reporters to parse complex health statistics and their embrace of a populist story line about feisty 'Mercury Moms' challenging a corrupt and covert medical establishment. Mnookin presents a thorough and lucid debunking of the claims of a link between vaccines and autism and the charlatanism and profiteering of those who publicize it. The result is a hard-hitting contribution to the debate and a troubling portrait of a public sphere that elevates intuition and emotion above reason and evidence. (Jan. 11)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright PWyxz LLC)

Synopsis:

Mnookin presents a searing account of how vaccine opponents have used the media to spread their message of panic, despite no scientific evidence to support their fears.

Synopsis:

A searing account of how vaccine opponents have used the media to spread their message of panic, despite no scientific evidence to support them.

About the Author

Seth Mnookin is a contributing editor at Vanity Fair and a former senior writer for Newsweek, where he covered media, politics, and popular culture. His writing has appeared in The Washington Post, New York magazine, and many other publications. He is the author of The Panic Virus: A True Story of Medicine, Science, and Fear; Feeding the Monster: How Money, Smarts, and Nerve Took a Team to the Top and Hard News: The Scandals at The New York Times and Their Meaning for American Media.  He lives in Brooklyn, New York.

What Our Readers Are Saying

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Average customer rating based on 1 comment:

Ashley Bowen-Murphy, March 1, 2012 (view all comments by Ashley Bowen-Murphy)
This book offers a great overview of how 1 researcher with questionable motives and qualifications but great PR skills can change the course of public health. Mnookin's prose is easy to read for those who do not have a background in medicine or public health while still using the vocabulary of vaccine science, autism specialists, and CDC representatives. His list of citations and footnotes are extensive and make his central claims nearly impossible to dispute.

"The Panic Virus" is especially critical of the media and non-experts who make for good TV. I worried that Mnookin would assign all the blame to the internet. Happily, his argument is more nuanced and acknowledges the frustration and isolation that parents of special needs children often feel. He is also willing to criticize the medical profession for not responding to the emotional needs of these parents.

I wish he'd spent a bit more time on how important "herd immunity" is and how theUSis seeing outbreaks of diseases once thought more or less extinct. That. Said, this is a story about HOW we got to this point-- not what will happen if the trend not to vaccinate continues. It's a cautionary tale for us all-- with or without children.
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Product Details

ISBN:
9781439158647
Subtitle:
A True Story of Medicine, Science, and Fear
Author:
Mnookin, Seth
Publisher:
Simon & Schuster
Subject:
Public Health
Subject:
General
Subject:
Public Policy - General
Subject:
Health and Medicine-History of Medicine
Edition Description:
Hardback
Publication Date:
20110111
Binding:
Hardback
Grade Level:
General/trade
Language:
English
Pages:
448
Dimensions:
9.25 x 6.125 in

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Related Subjects

Health and Self-Help » Child Care and Parenting » Children's Health
Health and Self-Help » Child Psychology » Autism
Health and Self-Help » Health and Medicine » History of Medicine
Health and Self-Help » Health and Medicine » Medical Specialties
Health and Self-Help » Health and Medicine » Politics of Health Care
Health and Self-Help » Psychology » Autism
History and Social Science » Politics » General
Reference » Science Reference » Philosophy of Science

The Panic Virus: A True Story of Medicine, Science, and Fear Used Hardcover
0 stars - 0 reviews
$18.95 In Stock
Product details 448 pages Simon & Schuster - English 9781439158647 Reviews:
"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "In this searching exposé, the recent hysteria over childhood vaccinations and their alleged link to autism be-comes a cautionary tale of bad science amplified by media sensationalism. Journalist Mnookin (Hard News) treats the belief that autism is caused by common vaccines as an epidemic, tracing its origin to a young British doctor's dubious research into Crohn's disease and measles in the early 1990s. This 'panic virus' spread through online communities of parents desperate for answers; fueled by mainstream media, it has created a growing reluctance on the part of parents to vaccinate their children, which, Mnookin warns, results in an increased rate of children dying from preventable infectious diseases. Crucial to this virus's spread was the unwillingness of reporters to parse complex health statistics and their embrace of a populist story line about feisty 'Mercury Moms' challenging a corrupt and covert medical establishment. Mnookin presents a thorough and lucid debunking of the claims of a link between vaccines and autism and the charlatanism and profiteering of those who publicize it. The result is a hard-hitting contribution to the debate and a troubling portrait of a public sphere that elevates intuition and emotion above reason and evidence. (Jan. 11)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright PWyxz LLC)
"Review A Day" by , "The news in 1998 was as startling as the jab of a needle: Dr. Andrew Wakefield, in new study in the influential medical journal The Lancet, had made a connection between MMR vaccination and the onset of autism.

'My concerns,' he announced dramatically at a London press conference, 'are that one more case of this is too many.'

There was something to be concerned about, all right. Recently, the British Medical Journal found that Wakefield, who had undisclosed financial interests in discrediting the MMR vaccine, had forged patient records to get his results." (Read the entire Oregonian review)
"Synopsis" by , Mnookin presents a searing account of how vaccine opponents have used the media to spread their message of panic, despite no scientific evidence to support their fears.
"Synopsis" by , A searing account of how vaccine opponents have used the media to spread their message of panic, despite no scientific evidence to support them.
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