Thursday, April 7, 2011

New Books in Public Policy

One of the new podcasts that come out of the recently instituted New Books Network is New Books in Public Policy. On this show that has produced three interesting issues already, Tevi Troy interviews the authors of recently published books in this field. (feed)

The first two issues immediately reveal a theme that Troy is engaged in: the dangerous consequences of unscientific medicine in general and the anti-vaccine movement in particular. He had first Robert Goldberg on the show to talk about his research into the workings of the internet as a source for medical information. Although also the scientifically supported medicine is described on the internet, the medium is giving equal footing to quackeries. At best this gives the uninformed public an illusion of two equally valuable perspectives, but frequently, the unscientific is propagated if only for the attention effect it can resort. Goldberg's opinion is that this is done for profit and for fear mongering.

The other interview was with Dr. Paul Offit which explicitly looks at the anti-vaccine movement. His point is that among specialists there is not a shadow of a doubt that vaccines are much needed and basically harmless. He describes the awful consequences of the diminishing percentages of people who have their children not vaccinated. Not only do these children get sick and often suffer terrible long-term handicaps or even death, but in general the population is less well protected than a decade ago. Diseases that could have been exterminated by now are in fact returning.

Troy is a very engaged interviewer which makes this podcast a valuable addition to the NBN.
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