Mark Zuckerberg's book club fights US fear of vaccination

Mark Zuckerberg has tapped into an area
of growing social anxiety with his fourth
book club choice, announced on
The Facebook founder showed his talent
for surfing the zeitgeist by selecting On
Immunity: An Inoculation, by essayist Eula
Biss, which investigates the fears around
vaccination in the context of her own
terrors as a new mother.
On Immunity was among the New York
Times Book Review’s top 10 books of 2014
and is published in the UK this week by
Fitzcarraldo Editions.
The choice comes as the US confronts a
measles outbreak linked with a breakdown
in “herd immunity”, exacerbated by more
and more families opting out of
vaccination.Biss’s UK publisher says she “addresses a
chronic condition of fear - fear of the
government, the medical establishment,
and what may be in your children’s air,
food, mattresses, medicines, and vaccines.
“She extends a conversation with other
mothers to meditations on Voltaire’s
Candide, Bram Stoker’s Dracula, Rachel
Carson’s Silent Spring, Susan Sontag’s Aids
and Its Metaphors, and beyond. On
Immunity is an inoculation against our
fear and a moving account of how we are
all interconnected - our bodies and our
In a Facebook post on Wednesday for his
series A Year in Books, Zuckerberg said he
chose Biss’s book because it addresses “an
important and timely topic.”
“The science is completely clear:
vaccinations work and are important for
the health of everyone in our community,”
Zuckerberg wrote. “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 explores why some people
questions vaccines, and logically explains
why the doubts are unfounded
Mark Zuckerberg
Since launching his project, in an attempt
to “beat the popularity of Oprah’s book
club”, Zuckerberg has attempted to
introduce his 31 million Facebook
followers to economics, psychology and
The announcement of his first choice,
Moisés Naím’s The End of Power, caused
the book to shoot up the charts, though the
Q&A that followed was lacklustre, with the
Washington Post reporting: “Hardly
anybody showed up. (And of those who
did, few had actually read the book.)”
He followed that book with Stephen
Pinker’s The Better Angels of Our Nature
and Gang Leader for a Day: A Rogue
Sociologist Takes to the Streets by Sudhir
His Facebook post suggested that his
failure so far to match up to Oprah’s
success may have taught him one valuable
lesson. “This book was recommended to me
by scientists and friends who work in
public health,” he wrote. “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.”