The Panic Virus
The Panic Virus
How do we decide what the truth is?
In 1998, British physician Andrew Wakefield 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 and eventually lose his medical license. Meanwhile, one study after another failed to find any link between childhood vaccines and autism.
Yet the myth lives on, popularized by media personalities 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.
In his new book, The Panic Virus, author Seth Mnookin explores the autism-vaccine saga through interviews with parents, public-health advocates, scientists, and anti-vaccine activists. Join us for a special talk with Mnookin and tackle a fundamental question: How do we decide what the truth is?
Free and open to the public. Seating is limited; doors will open at 5:30 PM. Drinks and appetizers will be available for purchase. Books will also be available for purchase following the event.
Sponsored by Science in Society, Northwestern University's office for science outreach and public engagement. For more information, contact Beth Herbert via email at email@example.com or by phone at 847-467-2059.
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 New York Times bestseller 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, which was chosen by The Washington Post Book World for its “Best of 2004” list. A graduate of Harvard College with a degree in the history of science, he has been a fellow at the Joan Shorenstein Center on the Press, Politics, and Public Policy at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government. He lives in Brooklyn, New York, with his wife and young son.