For nearly two years I worked in support of Vanity Fair writer Seth Mnookin on a book called The Panic Virus, which comes out today and which the Wall Street Journal says “should be required reading at every medical school in the world.”
The book is about the autism-vaccine scare and why it’s managed to rage so hot for so long despite any evidence (and really, there is no evidence) linking vaccines to developmental disorders. A large part of the answer has to do with an intellectual trend of our time that privileges personal intuition over scientific evidence, and which denigrates experts as elitists. The media has had a role, too, giving airtime to people like Jenny McCarthy and reporting “both sides of the story” long after it became clear that there was really only one. The consequences of this scare have been tragic. Immunization rates have fallen in many parts of the country (typically affluent liberal enclaves) and kids are dying of infectious diseases like whooping cough and Hib that should be ancient history in America.
I wore a lot of hats in the making of this book: researcher, transcriber, editor, collaborator. Throughout it was a privilege to work with Seth Mnookin, whose commitment to getting the story right and telling it fairly was inspiring. So, The Panic Virus, on sale today. Go grab a copy.