Kicking Off the Book Club, Round Two: Autism's False Prophets

Hello. Thanks for stopping by the ScienceBlogs Book Club. It's my pleasure to introduce our next title, and the panelists who will be discussing it with you.

Autism's False Prophets: Bad Science, Risky Medicine, and the Search for a Cure, by Dr. Paul Offit, describes how the belief that vaccines might cause autism arose and gained popularity during the early years of this decade. The book discusses the scientists, politicians, and parent groups that helped fuel the fears that vaccines, or a mercury-containing preservative in them, accounted for a sharp rise in autism cases worldwide, and the scientific work that later showed these fears ungrounded. Throughout, Offit pays attention to the interplay of a number of concerned parties: doctors and scientists, the parents of autistic children, politicians, personal-injury lawyers, and the media. He argues that the public was seriously and dangerously misled about autism and vaccines, and his analysis aims to understand how a specific piece of scientific misinformation was able to spread widely and obtain great traction.

Joining Dr. Offit to discuss Autism's False Prophets are Kristina Chew, PhD, author of the blog Autism Vox; Kev Leitch, author of the blog Left Brain, Right Brain; Bob Park, PhD, a University of Maryland physics professor and author of the weekly online column, "What's New by Bob Park;" and Orac, the pseudonymous surgeon-scientist author of the blog Respectful Insolence on ScienceBlogs.

Dr. Offit will be posting shortly. You are invited to add questions and commentary to the 'comments' section of posts. The panelists will be reading along and attempting to react t your thoughts, as well as each others', in their own posts. The result, we hope, will approximate an old-fashioned book club, minus the overcrowded living room.

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