'It’s Just a Shot Away': MMR Vaccines and Autism and the End of the Daubertista Revolution
William Mitchell Law Review, Vol. 35, No. 4, p. 1512, 2009
31 Pages Posted: 1 Aug 2009 Last revised: 27 Feb 2014
Date Written: 2009
This Article predicts the demise of the Daubertista Revolution in science and law. Using the example of the February 2009 Federal Vaccine Court decisions that thoroughly and specifically debunk the belief that childhood measles, mumps, rubella ('MMR') vaccines cause autism, the Article posits that Daubertista hegemony over the field of science and law will and should end because we consistently ignore non-evidence legal cases even when courts engage in sophisticated analyses of vital and complex scientific questions. Other glaring examples discussed in the Article include our almost complete disinterest in science and law in the context of Intelligent Design Theory cases including the ground-breaking science-sentered decision in Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District. Many cases that do not involve the admissibility of scientific evidence provide insight into how law uses and misuses science and create new (currently neglected) opportunities explore and predict shifts in social and judicial attitudes and behavior. The Article acknowledges that many Daubertistas have made significant contributions to the field, but proposes a new, more inclusive, transdisciplinary approach to both the study and practice of science-based legal controversies. This new approach would begin outside the courthouse with more explicit recognition of shared systemic social obstacles to sound science-based legal decisions in all fields such as: (1) growing American scientific illiteracy; (2) balanced media coverage of all so-called scientific “controversies” from evolution to alien abduction; and (3) effective efforts to exaggerate scientific uncertainty or distort scientific claims to advance theistic, normative, political, or pecuniary objectives. By starting the analysis outside the courthouse, the Article more effectively links traditional Daubertista concerns of evidentiary quality control to more global questions of science, law and society.
Keywords: Measles, mumps, rubella, MMR, vaccines, autism, childhood, Federal Vaccine Court, Daubert v. Merrell Dow Pharmaceuticals, Inc., Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District
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