Peter Bearman

Peter Bearman is the Cole professor of the social sciences at Columbia University.

Recent Articles

The Roots of the Vaccine Panic

Two books tell the story of the panic over vaccines.

Deadly Choices: How the Anti-Vaccine Movement Threatens Us All , Paul A. Offit, Basic Books, 270 pages, $27.50 The Panic Virus: A True Story of Medicine, Science, and Fear , Seth Mnookin, Simon & Schuster, 429 pages, $26.99 Do vaccines cause autism or other neuro-developmental disorders? Scientists know that vaccines don't, but the idea lingers everywhere -- on talk shows and blogs and in conversations between parents and their child's pediatrician. It lingers because many people in this country and elsewhere think that vaccines just might not be good for us. In two books that tell the story of the panic over vaccines, Paul Offit, chief of infectious diseases at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, and Seth Mnookin, a contributing editor at Vanity Fair, argue that bad people pursuing careers or fame or ratings or God knows what became purveyors of falsehoods that duped otherwise decent people into thinking vaccines could harm their children. That duplicity has led parents to...