Thursday, August 4, 2022

Book Report: Viral BS

 Kaitlyn LeVance


Viral BS by Dr. Seema Yasmin was published in 2021, and is a book I believe should be read by everyone.  Dr. Seema Yasmin is a doctor, journalist, CDC trained disease detective, and a professor. Using her  knowledge she has gained from her experience in these areas, she goes through and debunks the myths that get spread around across the globe. She focuses mainly on medical myths and explains throughout the book that false science often spreads faster than actual factual science. This is because the false science gets construed into these myths, that often cause hysteria amongst people causing all logical thinking to be thrown out a window, allowing for these myths to be easily spread across the globe. Humans tend be drawn towards the dramatics and conspiracies rather than the factual and "boring" science, which is what contributes to the rapid spread of these myths. Dr. Seema Yasmin debunks 46 myths within her book, each chapter focuses on a different myth. Within these chapters she addresses the viral myth that is being questioned. From there she focuses on finding the answers to why it was created, is there any truth to it, do people still believe it, and is it completely false. As she debunks the myth, she simultaneously explains to the reader how to debunk these myths on their own by analyzing their own thinking. She stresses to her readers that knowing the scientific method and knowing how to slow down your thinking when processing the information of these claims to avoid what she calls "fast thinking" tendencies. 

Favorite Part

Although I found the entire book to be very interesting and eye opening, the chapter that stuck out to me in particular was the one that covered whether or not mammograms  cause more problems than they detect. This chapter stuck out to me in particular because as a women, mammograms are a very important routine medical tasks to keep up with in order to ensure overall health. A few of my family-friends have been diagnosed with breast cancer, which also made this chapter stick out to me. In this chapter Dr. Seema Yasmin explains that this myth derived from when women go to get their mammograms, some may be sent back for testing of suspicious lumps and they end up being nothing. The book states,  "So for every 424 women screened in the trial, one women was over diagnosed with breast cancer and potentially received unnecessary treatment"(Seema 61). She goes on to explain that screening, such as mammograms, cause an ethical question of what to do if you see a lump that may be cancerous. And that its the job of the doctor to provide all the information to their patient and let them choose. Factors such as age, family history, medical history, lifestyle, and so many other factors can effect a women's likelihood to develop breast cancer. And that in the end its up to the patient to decide to get mammograms and if something suspicious does appear, the patient can decide where they want to go from there with the information provided from a doctor. 

This chapter along with the message of the entire book ties into lecture 9, mass delusions and hysterias. Just like the mass hysterias mentioned in the lecture, like the Salem Witch Trials, rather than people using logical thinking to find the reason those girls ere acting that way, they immediately fell for the story that they were witches. This is because, like many of the reasons people today believe the medical myths covered in the book, they rely on fast thinking tendencies and believe what makes for a more exciting story. 


This book can be used beyond this class because not only does it provide you with factual information about myths that were believed by many, it also gives you skills to help you from believing any new myths that may be construed in the future. Knowing to analyze your own thinking, slow down and think about the logistics, and being aware of your "fast thinking" tendencies are skills that can be applied through all real world problems and situations. This book is extremely useful, and has taught me a new skill set to help me make sure I don't fall into the viral bs that can get spread around. This is extremely useful in todays world as social media and technology is a big factor in todays society and false information gets spread on there in the matter of seconds. So knowing how to decipher what's true and what's not is an important skill set to have. 

Creative Extension

Below I linked a YouTube video of Dr. Seema Yasmin covering 10 myths that are circulating around Covid-19. Most of the myths have to do with preventing and treating the disease. I believe this is an important thing to cover and educate our selves on because Covid is still relevant and people are still being infected by this disease. So understanding what is true and false when it comes to the control and spread of this virus is important. 

No comments:

Post a Comment