Jonathan M. Berman
In Anti-Vaxxers: How to Challenge a Misinformed Movement (MIT Press), science writer Jonathan M. Berman explores the development and use of vaccines and the history of anti-vaccination movements, noting that while “lists of facts” have rarely served to convert opposition to public health measures, other approaches might be successful. Please join us tonight for a lively and informative conversation about this vital topic.
“Science professor Berman debuts with a useful guide for readers concerned about the opposition to vaccinations. He surveys the history of vaccine hesitancy and the varying motives behind it, noting that, for instance, a young Mahatma Gandhi opposed the Raj's heavy-handed approach to vaccinating its Indian subjects, but later changed his mind after a smallpox outbreak. Berman then discusses recent opposition to vaccination, persuasively eviscerating claims that it causes autism, most infamously in a 1998 British medical paper later proven a fraud. He also examines the role social media and celebrities have played in keeping these claims alive, noting that Russian intelligence operations against Ukraine extended to promoting anti-vaccine Twitter accounts to that country's population. The book's greatest value comes from its insights into how common cognitive errors can lead even the well-informed to see false correlations between vaccination and health problems. Berman also provides practical suggestions about how best to engage, and potentially convert, vaccine opponents, arguing that "people change their own minds; we can't do it for them." Given hopes for a Covid-19 vaccine, this accomplished exploration of a vexing topic couldn't be more timely.” - Publishers Weekly.
Jonathan Berman is Assistant Professor in the Department of Basic Sciences at NYITCOM-Arkansas. His writing has been featured on New Scientist, Harvard Business Review, TEDxSanAntonio, and others. An active science communicator, he served as national co-chair of the 2017 March for Science.