The Panic Virus: A True Story of Medicine, Science, and Fear

April 16, 2011

Download Story
CCST/file
Cover of Seth Mnookin's book "The Panic Virus" (detail)

In 1998, a British gastroenterologist published a paper with a shocking allegation: the measles-mumps-rubella vaccine might cause autism. The media seized the story and, in the process, helped launch one of the fastest-spreading health scares ever linking childhood vaccines and autism. Listen in to this lecture by former Newsweek senior journalist Seth Mnookin, author of the critically acclaimed book The Panic Virus: A True Story of Medicine, Science, and Fear. He 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?

Seth Mnookin is also the author of the 2006 New York Times-bestseller Feeding the Monster: How Money, Smarts, and Nerve Took a Team to the Top about the Boston Red Sox. Since 2005, Seth has been a contributing editor at Vanity Fair. He graduated from Harvard College in 1994 with a degree in history and science, and was a 2004 Joan Shorenstein Fellow at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government. A native of Newton, Massachusetts, he and his wife currently live in Brooklyn with their six-year-old dog and their one-year-old son.

Recorded Saturday, April 16, 2011 at the Museum of Science and Industry.