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. It also explains how the endless quantity of information available online has radicalized partisans by fueling their tendency to filter out anything that doesn't reinforce their way of thinking.
Tens of millions of dollars have been wasted appeasing denialists who think the government is perpetrating a health "holocaust" on children. Declining vaccination rates have caused recent outbreaks of measles, whooping cough, and Hib—and children around the country are dying as a result.
Like works by Oliver Sacks and Richard Dawkins, The Panic Virus uses everyday experiences to show how science affects our lives. Listeners will learn why definitive proof in science is virtually impossible, how rational decision making is ruled by emotion, and why paupers' graves in the 1880s led to an outbreak of throat cancer in the 1950s.