Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg has waded into the anti-vaccination debate on Facebook, where the CEO of the social media giant recommended a book he said would explain the science supporting vaccinations and examine the skepticism of them.
As part of Zuckerberg’s 2015 pledge to read and share a book with his Facebook followers every two weeks, the CEO on Wednesday posted a message advocating a book especially poignant amid the recent measles outbreak in the U.S., which has been largely attributed to “anti-vaxxers” — parents choosing not to immunize their children over fears that vaccines can cause autism and other health disorders.
“My next book for A Year of Books is ‘On Immunity‘ by Eula Biss,” Zuckerberg wrote. “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.”
Zuckerberg said the book was recommended to him “by scientists and friends who work in public health,” and “logically explains why the doubts are unfounded and vaccines are in fact effective and safe.”
Those doubts largely originate with a 1998 paper by British surgeon and medical researcher Andrew Wakefield linking autism to vaccines based on what was later concluded to be willfully falsified data. Wakefield had his license to practice medicine in the U.K. revoked in 2010 over the paper, which was retracted by medical journal The Lancet and widely disproven.
The study, which illustrated a connection between the triple vaccine for measles, mumps and rubella, and autism and bowel disease in children, was later shown to have been published by Wakefield after he signed on as a medical expert in a lawsuit against vaccine manufacturers, from which he pocketed more than half a million dollars. Wakefield did not report his conflict of interest to The Lancet, according to The Star.
“I was trying to find a book that would both explain people’s fears and explain the actual science,” Zuckerberg said in reply to a Facebook comment. “A number of people I highly respect recommended this book, so I think this is a good one to read and share.”
According to The New York Times Book Review, “On Immunity,” “seeks to cool and console,” while “stealthily” advancing the science to support vaccination.
“[Biss] advances from all sides, like a chess player, drawing on science, myth, literature to herd us to the only logical end, to vaccinate.”