- Hardcover: 448 pages
- Publisher: Simon & Schuster; First Edition edition (January 11, 2011)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1439158649
- ISBN-13: 978-1439158647
- Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 1.4 x 9.2 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars See all reviews (151 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #302,130 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Panic Virus: A True Story of Medicine, Science, and Fear Hardcover – January 11, 2011
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From Bookmarks Magazine
It might be possible to view Mnookin’s book as the final nail in the coffin for the contemporary antivaccine movement, given its recent scientific and legal setbacks. But Mnookin’s own conclusions would likely deny this; as several reviewers approvingly observed, The Panic Virus is just as much about how today’s society deals with information overload as it is about how it confronts disease. Many reviews echoed Mnookin’s condemnation of the American media for allowing false antivaccine findings to flower. Yet they also praised him for avoiding heavy-handedness and unnecessary jargon, even if the book breaks little new ground in the vaccine debate. Critics strongly recommended the book to anyone interested in medicine and public health, as well as to parents who may fear that booster shot.
Over the last three decades, the incidence of autism spectrum disorder, better known simply as autism, has risen dramatically in the U.S., from approximately 1 in 1,000 children to 1 in 110, arousing widespread concern among parents and psychiatrists alike. A few of the many potential possible culprits scientists have targeted are faulty genes and thimerosal, a mercury-laced preservative in vaccines. Former Newsweek senior journalist Mnookin focuses his masterful investigative skills primarily on the latter, highly controversial possibility, illustrating how the current, misguided anti-vaccine movement can be blamed almost equally on panic-driven parents, sensation-hungry media, and PR-challenged health authorities. In making his case, Mnookin covers a wide swathe of medical history, from polio outbreaks to the scare tactics of fringe British researcher Andrew Wakefield, who first forged the dubious vaccine-autism link. While Mnookin dismantles this link convincingly, his argument that multivaccine cocktails have been proven safe is ultimately less persuasive. Still, he’s an able, engaging wordsmith, and this cautionary tale about misinformed medical alarmism is thoroughly compelling. --Carl Hays
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Top Customer Reviews
Overall this book is very informative and even humorous at times. Mnookin presents both sides of the vaccination spectrum- those who are completely opposed and those who wholeheartedly support. He does a great job of explaining how certain groups of individuals could ignore current scientific data on vaccines in favor of listening to fringe doctors who appeal to their emotions. Autism research is discussed in great detail and there are several moving stories and families affected first hand by autism.
I found Panic Virus to be very timely considering the news coverage given to relentless anti-vaccine groups in the U.S. For someone like myself who finds it difficult to deny scientific evidence, the book gave me insight into the tactics of anti-vaccine groups. I can now see how a parent desperately searching for answers as to how their child became suddenly autistic.
I immediately knew how strongly the author felt concerning anti-vaccinators and the fake scientists who were spreading junk and bad science about the vaccines. The Title of the book, and some of the information concerning the book, did make it obvious what the book was going to be about, but the author was almost rabid in his opinions. I totally understood his impatience with these people who have ears, 'but do not hear' as the scriptures say. Normally, I try to avoid books that enter into a discussion that seems one-sided, but I wanted to read a book on this topic that provided all the necessary research, that Mr. Mnookin did. The amount of research that he included in this book from all areas involved in this current health crisis was phenomenal. I appreciated that he did all of the research and provided where that information came from. I'm planning on looking into some of the research farther.
I get so frustrated sometimes with people who choose not to get their children vaccinated. I understand the worry that parents go through concerning autism. I had three children, and I got them all vaccinated because I didn't want them to go through what I did due to these diseases. I have 6 grandchildren, and I also have a nephew that is high-functioning Asperger's. But the doctors who started this, Wakefield and others, were not doing correct experimental and objective science. They went into their 'studies' already decided on their hypothesis, and you just don't do that. I worked in labs on Alzheimer's and HIV for 6 years. You do not decide what you are going to find in your work prior to doing the experiments. You certainly do not allow money to influence your findings, and this is what these doctors did. Wakefield and company should be ashamed of themselves, because of their greed, children throughout the world continue to die needlessly.
Mnookin did express compassion for the parents of those children suffering from autism. I feel for them too. My sister's son is great, we love him a lot, and he's smart and a good kid. But his parents struggled all of his childhood to get him adequate medical care, and social learning. And we all worry about him. So I can't imagine what other parents are going through with children who are much worse off than my nephew. I understand the need parents have to find someone or something to blame for this autism crisis. But too many of them are being blind to the truth, and some of them are putting their children at increased risk of invasive medical care just to somehow prove their point. You do not put a child through a medical procedure such as drawing spinal fluid needlessly. I've been through that...it's extremely painful, and you only do it as an adult if you are trying to rule out something like cancer. I certainly would never put a child through it if you can avoid it.
I'm Deaf due to rubella. We've gotten so far away from these diseases, that current parents have no idea what kind of damage they caused. I also have numerous autoimmune diseases from undergoing exposure to these viruses 'naturally'. I read inn Mnookin's book that parents and some doctors say natural exposure to measles, mumps and rubella is better than the vaccines. Are they nuts? I want to tell these people to talk to me and other rubella babies that have been through so much due to natural exposure to these diseases. Believe me, if they listened to me they wouldn't be in such a hurry to expose their kids!
This is a necessary addition to the writings on the state of vaccination in the world. Hopefully, more people will read it and do the right thing by their children. Their kids will thank them for it.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Documenting the history of the anti-vaccine movement the book gives examples of the dangers of not vaccinating and...Read more