Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s New Year’s resolution was to read a book every two weeks and discuss it with the Facebook community. So far, he’s chosen deep dives into sociological issues.
His fourth pick, “On Immunity: An Inoculation,” by Eula Biss, which was published last fall, expresses his pro-vaccine stance in the cultural debate that’s been going on in the US and parts of Europe.
A study published in The Lancet in 1998 that linked autism to children’s vaccinations is largely seen as a main source of fear for parents refusing to vaccinate their kids — despite the fact that the study was debunked and the author’s medical licence revoked.
While parents may feel they’re exercising their rights, Biss says choosing to forego inoculating their children can create a community-wide problem if once-contained diseases spread rapidly. The Disneyland measles outbreak from January, for example, has resulted in 182 cases in 18 states and Washington, D.C., CBS News reports, even though the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention declared measles eliminated in the US in 2000 due to widespread vaccination.
Zuckerberg explains his latest book pick for “A Year in Books” on his personal Facebook page:
Vaccination is an important and timely topic. The science is completely clear: vaccinations work and are important for the health of everyone in our community.
This book explores the reasons why some people question vaccines, and then logically explains why the doubts are unfounded and vaccines are in fact effective and safe.
This book was recommended to me by scientists and friends who work in public health. It’s also a relatively short book — one that you should be able to read in a few hours. I encourage you to check it out and to join the discussion.
“Though I’m the kind of thinker who’s very drawn to compromises and to nuances,” Biss tells NPR, “I think in this particular area, the position that is sometimes seen as extreme — which is vaccinating a child fully and on time — I’ve come to believe is not an extreme position. I think that protecting children at the age where they’re most vulnerable against diseases that are highly contagious is prudent.”
“A Year in Books” so far:
- “The End of Power: From Boardrooms to Battlefields and Churches to States, Why Being In Charge Isnt What It Used to Be” by Moisés Naím
- “The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined” by Steven Pinker
- “Gang Leader for a Day: A Rogue Sociologist Takes to the Streets” by Sudhir Venkatesh
- “On Immunity: An Inoculation” by Eula Biss
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