[We’re starting a new short series of blog posts today that we’re calling, “Acquiring a Point of View.” Each post is written by one of our acquiring editors and is inspired, in some way or other, by one (or more) of the books they signed that’s coming out between March and August this year.]
I get most of the vaccines my doctors recommend. Long ago I approved vaccines for my child without a second thought. I shudder at the media reports about disease outbreaks exacerbated by people who refuse to vaccinate themselves or their children. And yet. I understand the whole controversy differently now that I have read Bernice Hausman’s forthcoming book Anti/Vax, which, as the subtitle explains, reframes the vaccination controversy.
Reading her book, I was stunned to realize that much of the reasoning behind the decision not to vaccinate resonates with my own beliefs, my own fears, my own skepticism about medicine. I’ve just come to a different conclusion. My feeling after reading this book reminds me how I felt reading the best of the political commentary after the surprise election of Donald Trump. We are not listening to one another. We are demonizing those who hold different opinions rather than listening and understanding the source of discontent. Hausman is not trying to change my mind. She is just pointing out that the gulf between the two sides is not as wide as appears at first glance. Indeed, if we could understand the source of the beliefs—on both sides—we might be able to come up with better policy and practice. This is true in so many different realms.
In the meantime, I continue to get flu shots and though I’m dragging my feet will probably eventually get the new shingles vaccination as well.
Fran Benson is Editorial Director of ILR Press, an imprint of Cornell University Press. She’s currently in Florida where she tries to hide views of palm trees from us on Skype.