Featured Posts

SitP: Committee for the Scientific Investigation of... Join us once again in our search for a new home. This month we are checking out Cambridge Common, on Mass Ave just north of Harvard Square. No special topic this month. But since it's Halloween week,...

Read more

Book Club: What If? by Randall Munroe [caption id="attachment_1983" align="alignright" width="150"] Scientific analysis of real-life problems[/caption]Our next book is "What If?: Serious Scientific Answers to Absurd Hypothetical Questions...

Read more

Book Club: What If? by Randall Munroe [caption id="attachment_1983" align="alignright" width="150"] Scientific analysis of real-life problems[/caption]Our next book is "What If?: Serious Scientific Answers to Absurd Hypothetical Questions...

Read more

Book Club: Life Ascending by Nick Lane This month we are reading Life Ascending: The Ten Great Inventions of Evolution by Nick Lane. Nick Lane is a Reader in Evolutionary Biochemistry at University College London. He has written books about...

Read more

  • Prev
  • Next

SitP: Seth Mnookin

Posted on : Dec-01-2012 | By : John | In : Blog Post, Event, Skeptics in the Pub

Tags: , , ,

0

Our speaker at the December Skeptics in the Pub is science writer Seth Mnookin, author of The Panic Virus:A True Story of Medicine, Science, and Fear as well as books about the Red Sox and journalistic ethics. He teaches science writing right down the river at MIT. Seth has been embedded in the front lines of the Vaxx Wars, and will share his experiences with us on Monday, Dec 10 at Tommy Doyle’s in Harvard Square, upstairs at 7 PM as usual.

If, like me, you believe one of the most important things skeptics can do is combat pseudoscience in medicine, don’t miss this event. In The Panic Virus (see a review by our own Todd W.), Mnookin has thoroughly researched the modern vaccine/autism controversy and its history from Wakefield’s 1998 paper through his eventual disgrace and loss of his medical license. He has looked at the issue from all sides and reaches the conclusion that, like many manufactured scientific controversies, there aren’t two equally valid sides to every issue, as conventional journalist wisdom would hold, but one side with evidence, logic and science and another side with a mix of economic interests (the cynical purveyors of alternative, untested or disproven medical theories and practices) and wishful or magical thinking (the desperate people who turn to them for help and the enablers who truly believe they are fighting for the little guys against powerful vested interests.)

In the end, the problems tackled by the book, like so much skeptical literature, also leads to a deeper understanding of why people believe false and ultimate harmful ideas:

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.

This promises to be a fascinating and important discussion.

See our Facebook event page for more information.

Be Sociable, Share!

Write a comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.