Seth Mnookin, author of The Panic Virus: The True Story Behind the Vaccine-Autism Controversy, took part in an online Q & A with Talk about Autism on 15 August 2012. He answered your questions about the history of the autism and MMR vaccine debate. You can read the transcript below.
Seth Mnookin is the Co-Director of MIT’s Graduate Program in Science Writing. His most recent book, The Panic Virus: The True Story Behind the Vaccine-Autism Controversy, was one of The Wall Street Journal‘s Top Five Health and Medicine books of 2011 and was a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize. His first book, 2004′s Hard News: The Scandals at The New York Times and Their Meaning for American Media, was a Washington Post Best Book of the Year.
From Seth's website: In 1998 Andrew Wakefield, a British gastroenterologist, 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. Meanwhile one study after another failed to find any link between childhood vaccines and autism. Yet the myth that vaccines somehow cause developmental disorders lives on.
In The Panic Virus, Seth Mnookin draws on interviews with parents, public-health advocates, scientists, and anti-vaccine activists to tackle a fundamental question: How do we decide what the truth is? The fascinating answer helps explain everything from the persistence of conspiracy theories about 9/11 to the appeal of talk-show hosts who demand that President Obama “prove” he was born in America.