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  • The Panic Virus

  • A True Story of Medicine, Science, and Fear
  • By: Seth Mnookin
  • Narrated by: Dan John Miller
  • Length: 10 hrs and 44 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 245
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 180
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 179

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

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • FINALLY!!! The truth about the vaccine scare

  • By tara on 06-18-13

Captivating, Enlightening, and Thoroughly Written

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 09-07-18

I found The Panic Virus, a non-fiction work by Seth Mnooke about the vaccine-autism controversy, to be fascinating and captivating - in fact, I finished the entire book in one day. Previously to reading, frequently hearing snippets here and there about the supposed harm of vaccines, I was not only curious about the subject but also frustrated that I didn’t know enough about it to defend the field of medicine, a honorable field that I someday hope to enter.

I was very grateful for the enlightenment I gained through reading this book, even as a college student without imminent plans of raising children. Thus, I can only imagine how appreciative parents might be for it. Mnooke recognizes parents’ fears without being accusatory or making them feel guilty for fearing or questioning, brings those fears directly into the limelight, and transparently addresses them using cold and hard logic. He also routinely incorporates an assortment of candid vignettes, compelling the reader to identify with the characters he descibes. Each of these anecdotes is crafted to just the right length, providing satisfying detail without becoming boring or excessive.

Additionally, Mnooke provides miniature lessons in psychology in an effort to help the audience gain insight on the reasoning (or lack thereof) behind the actions of the book’s characters. One such lesson, for example, was on a type of cognitive bias called cognitive dissonance and how pioneers of the anti-vaccine movement developed strengthened beliefs in response to evidence of their glaring mistakes and reports of their pseudoscience methods. Overall, Mnooke does an impressive job explaining this subject, especially since it’s one that he knew relatively little about previous to the start of this project.

As a result of reading this book, I’m upset about the damage that the anti-vaccine movement has caused but hopeful that more people will read this and come to their senses. Looking ahead, I agree with Mnooke that the best thing that parents can do is educate themselves and become more active in medical discussions, particularly during prenatal care, where things like a crying baby, gullible preschool parents, and temporal pressures cannot distract them from truly understanding why vaccines are imperative to their future child and all of society.