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A popup book of horrors that requires close examination
on 11 November 2015
So I'll happily say I'm not anti-vaccine. If you want to ignore the review at this point then please do.
I was asked to read this book to get opposing views on my decision making as a parent and dutifully did. This book is completely anti-vaccination and makes no effort to provide you with an informed or balanced view. Which would be fine if it didn't also deliberately misrepresent facts and if it wasn't so horribly compressed in its delivery.
More than 15% of the pages in the book simply list the references used (over 800). Which is great because you get to cross reference them, which you MUST do to add any kind of context or understanding to the bite size paragraphs presented to you.. With less than 100 pages of content, in a large font and with many diagrams taking up more space, the reader is given sentences such as "Studies show vaccines increase the risk of XXX." followed by several notes of reference. Reading these gives a context and understanding of the actual study and reveals a more nuanced reality, be it supporting the authors assertions or not. Some references are acceptable and historical, others are horrible summations of lengthy and detailed work. The author further pads out the book by telling you such facts as "The vaccine is taken in three courses, costing $120 per instance or $360 for the full course". If you cannot determine that fact alone then you have more pressing issues than what this book is trying to tell you.
Language used is very selective. In order to avoid making a clear point, words such as "many", "some", "may" and "might" are bandied around with no accompanying reference or statistic. Magnitudes and units are used interchangeably in a way that can easily cause confusion with percentages having widely varying acceptability. 10% rates of an event in support of non-vaccine use is described as fantastic where as 4% for pro-vaccine is wrapped as "only 4%!". Some statistics are deliberately not framed. 25,000 events over 7 years is presented in one case with no framing of what the number of potential events is in either percent or raw numbers. Multiple occur simply "in the thousands".
The book also uses a usual trope of graphic parental testimony as well as big scary words. Either those the reader would need to research to understand, or simply things like mercury, aluminium or formaldehyde with no explanation or reference as to why they are bad or how quantity relates to natural occurrences in the body, food or environment.
Overall, if you actually want to be informed then this book may provide that. But only if you're prepared to cross reference almost all of the articles and studies the author makes use of. If you really are anti-vaccination then this book won't do you service. You're better off writing down "vaccines are bad" 500 times and reading that instead as it'd save you £10 and you'd be as about informed. This book might help you stay cynical but it won't help you stay smart.