Mark Zuckerberg just made a huge statement in his next pick for his Facebook book club, and it's just the thing he should be using his elevated platform to do. The Facebook book club pick is On Immunity by Eula Biss, a book that investigates why there's a fear around vaccinations, for his massive online book club A Year of Books. And if it was unclear what Zuckerberg was stating by choosing this book, he puts it right out there in his post about his choice:
My next book for A Year of Books is On Immunity by Eula Biss.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.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 was recommended to me by scientists and friends who work in public health. 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.
When he first started his A Year In Books book club, Zuckerberg stated that he wanted book that would "emphasize learning about new cultures, beliefs, histories and technologies." On Immunity: An Inoculation certainly fits the bill, particularly right this moment in our culture. An outbreak of the measles in the happiest place on Earth, Disneyland, over the holiday season reignited a pro-vaccination and anti-vaccination debate in the United States. Wealthy, well-educated communities seem to be those hit hardest by diseases that do have vaccinations, perhaps because of anti-vaxxer campaigns lead by wealthy celebrities, including Bill Maher and Jenny McCarthy, who famously blamed vaccinations for her son's autism diagnosis despite scientific evidence to the contrary.
And, as in most arguments in the Internet age, the debate is heated. In fact, immediately after Zuckerberg's Facebook post announcing his choice, anti-vaxxers asked him to read books that have a "diametrically opposed viewpoint, backed by evidence from the scientific community" and made claims that someone had forced him to make this book choice, which Zuckerberg denied.
In fact, it seems a perfect book for Zuckerberg to choose, particularly considering his controversial past with vaccinations. Bill Gates famously slammed the Facebook founder for saying that getting everyone on Earth Internet connectivity is "one of the most important things we can do in our lifetimes" Gates' counter-point? Um, how about child survival using malaria vaccinations? Zuckerberg seems to genuinely want to inform himself on vaccinations, as education and understanding was the mission statement behind his book club, and it's so great to see a wealthy, well-educated person use his platform to promote not just his own, but other educated views on this crucial topic.