(Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg. Reuters/Adnan Abidi)
As his new year’s resolution, the Facebook founder has opted to read and discuss a new book every two weeks with his online following of millions.
Written by Eula Bliss, “On Immunity” discusses the science behind vaccines and why people oppose them. It’s an Amazon bestseller,and was praised by Slate as “elegant and bracing.”
Vaccinations are a hot topic at the moment, with outbreaks of measles across the US blamed on the increase of “antivaxxers” refusing to vaccinate their children because of unfounded fears that vaccines can cause autism and other health issues.
Zuckerberg’s topical choice is a deliberate one. “The science is completely clear,” he writes. “Vaccinations are important for the health of everyone in our community. This book explores the reasons why people question vaccines, and then logically explains why the doubts are unfounded and vaccines are in fact effective and safe.”
The theory that vaccinations can cause autism has been thoroughly debunked, and has its origins in a (now-disproved) 1998 paper by British doctor Andrew Wakefield. Wakefield has since been accused of a conflict of interest, struck off the medical register, and banned from practising medicine in the UK. Nonetheless, fears of vaccines persist.
In the comments below his post, Zuckerberg expanded on why he chose “On Immunity.” He says he was “trying to find a book that would both explain people’s fears and explain the actual science. A number of people I highly respect recommended this book, so I think this is a good one to read and share.”
Here’s the book’s Amazon description:
Upon becoming a new mother, Eula Biss addresses a chronic condition of fear—fear of the government, the medical establishment, and what is in your child’s air, food, mattress, medicine, and vaccines. She finds that you cannot immunise your child, or yourself, from the world.
In this bold, fascinating book, Biss investigates the metaphors and myths surrounding our conception of immunity and its implications for the individual and the social body. As she hears more and more fears about vaccines, Biss researches what they mean for her own child, her immediate community, America, and the world, both historically and in the present moment. She extends a conversation with other mothers to meditations on Voltaire’s Candide, Bram Stoker’s Dracula, Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring, Susan Sontag’s AIDS and Its Metaphors, and beyond. On Immunity is a moving account of how we are all interconnected—our bodies and our fates.