'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

Florida International University Legal Studies Research Paper No. 09-08

31 Pages Posted: 1 Aug 2009 Last revised: 27 Feb 2014

See all articles by Joelle Anne Moreno

Joelle Anne Moreno

Florida International University (FIU) - College of Law

Date Written: 2009

Abstract

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

Suggested Citation

Moreno, Joelle Anne, 'It’s Just a Shot Away': MMR Vaccines and Autism and the End of the Daubertista Revolution (2009). William Mitchell Law Review, Vol. 35, No. 4, p. 1512, 2009, Florida International University Legal Studies Research Paper No. 09-08, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1440933

Joelle Anne Moreno (Contact Author)

Florida International University (FIU) - College of Law ( email )

11200 SW 8th St.
RDB Hall 1097
Miami, FL 33199
United States
305-348-1152 (Phone)
305-348-7293 (Fax)

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