Wednesday, August 4, 2021

Book Report

                                                                         Viral BS

For decades, fake news has been spread everywhere into the corners of society. From newspapers, television, magazines, social media, and more, fake news has been extremely harmful to society in all types of ways. Seema Yasmin, a British physician, exposes the medical myths and pseudoscience of society in her book, Viral BS. Yasmin uncovers numerous myths from lead being in lipstick, the health benefits of eating your baby’s placenta, to the government banning research on gun violence. Many things that we were taught growing up or things that we heard from a source we deemed as reliable or factual, are not true and are uncovered in the book Viral BS.

Not only does the author leak medical myths, but she explains to the reader why these myths are believed by so many people. One large reason is simply storytelling and anecdotes. Stories help us find order in a world bursting with uncertainty. As Yasmin stated “the more fantastical, the better.” Unfortunately, humans are gullible and if something sounds interesting to them, even with the slightest bit of factual evidence thrown in there, they will not only believe it’s true, but they will spread the myth by telling their friends and family. During the COVID-19 pandemic, Yasmin also helped to unmask myths about the coronavirus. With almost everybody in the world having their eyes glued to a tv or smart phone, myths about the coronavirus were easy to spread.

One interesting part of this book was in Chapter two, when Yasmin calls out a very well known person and a myth they may or may not have had intention of spreading. It was the famous Kim Kardashian, who stated that eating her placentas helped her with postpartum recovery. Yasmin quickly revealed that such action has no medical benefits at all. In fact, studies show potential harm from the practice, since the organ can carry a lot of damaging cells and bacteria. Like in class, much evidence was provided for things that have been debated as fact or fiction overtime. Something that we have believed for the longest time came out to be untrue, or vice versa, things we always believed to be myths actually turned out to have evidence of existence. 

    In class, we learn much about paranormal activities, old sci-fi creatures, and other strange things that lead to numerous conspiracy theories. Some of these topics are believed by some, neglected by others, or even kept a secret in some cases. We just don’t really know. However, we believe what is interesting to us, or what we think makes sense, or what other people are saying is true. Like Yasmin explained, myths spread like wildfire and many medical myths are untrue. However, with well known or well educated influence, things are easier to believe which is why Yasmin begins Viral BS by introducing herself as a physician, director of the Stanford Health Communication Initiative, and a former epidemiologist at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. This is more likely to buy the readers trust when uncovering facts and fiction. Yasmin and GSS Paranormal and Pseudoscience class have both taught me ways to distinguish the fake news from facts and I believe the world would be a much better place to live if us humans were not invested with lies.

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