Journalist Seth 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 claims.
The Panic Virus is a gripping scientific detective story about how grassroots radicals, snake-oil salesmen, and cynical journalists have perpetrated the biggest health-scare hoax of all time. It explores what happens when the media treats all viewpoints as equally valid, regardless of facts, from parents who are convinced that vaccines caused their children's autism to right-wing radicals who believe that climate change is a myth. It also explains how the endless quantity of information available online has radicalized partisans by fueling their tendency to filter out anything that doesn't reinforce their way of thinking.
Tens of millions of dollars have been wasted appeasing denialists who think the government is perpetrating a health "holocaust" on children. Declining vaccination rates have caused recent outbreaks of measles, whooping cough, and Hib—and children around the country are dying as a result.
Like works by Oliver Sacks and Richard Dawkins, The Panic Virus uses everyday experiences to show how science affects our lives. Listeners will learn why definitive proof in science is virtually impossible, how rational decision making is ruled by emotion, and why paupers' graves in the 1880s led to an outbreak of throat cancer in the 1950s.
"A riveting and important chronicle of one life-and-death realm in which passionate, panicky belief has dangerously trumped reason---and put millions of children at risk." ---Kurt Andersen, author of Heyday
"A non-fiction story worthy of Michael Crichton." ---Jonathan Mahler, author of The Challenge
"This book will leave you scratching your head in pure amazement that this issue could get so out of hand when the science is so clear." ---Alison Singer, President, Autism Science Foundation
"A solid work of popular science, and sure to court controversy." ---Kirkus
"[Mnookin] is an able, engaging wordsmith, and this cautionary tale about misinformed medical alarmism is thoroughly compelling." ---Booklist
"Two-time Audie Award nominee Dan John Miller does a superb job of narrating." ---Library Journal Starred Audio Review
"Dan John Miller has hints of anger and indignation in his voice as he delivers the author's criticism.… Miller can also be somber as he tells of a child's death, which Mnookin blames on the fear-mongering." ---AudioFile
"A book that should be required reading at every medical school in the world…The Panic Virus is a lesson on how fear hijacks reason and emotion trumps logic." ---The Wall Street Journal
"[A] disturbing and well-told chronicle of the childhood vaccine wars in the United States and England." ---The Washington Post
"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." ---Publishers Weekly
"If...you want to learn how a 'perfect storm' of angst, deception and reckless media fanfare led to years of backlash against childhood vaccines, step right up." ---The Los Angeles Times