Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Law does not equal Science. Say it with me now.

Fox news doesn't get it.  Feel free to take a look at that video.  Watch it as long as you can stomach, as they talk about this "bombshell report."  In fact, if you want, feel free to go look at the report itself.  Note that it's a legal report, not a scientific report.  Note that it even says clearly "This assessment of compensated cases showing an association between vaccines and autism is not, and does not purport to be, science." (p. 482 for those following along)

Law does not equal science.  Legal rulings do not determine science.  If you want to prove that vaccines cause autism, you do it using science, not using the logic that "if someone paid me compensation for having autism, I must have autism."  It seems an underhanded tactic to use this faulty logic to try to argue your point.  It's like running to dad for permission when mom already said no (moms are the smart ones, aren't they?).

Not that these cases really involved individuals with autism, either.  David Gorski yet again writes about this much more eloquently than I could.  Of note is his reference to the weakness in their legal study, since it's really not anything remotely close to a scientific study.

Sorry for the short post here.  I'd like to write more on it, but I'd have to read a lot more into this paper than I have the stomach to bother with, and I'm currently studying for my final in a class on cancer.  Scary stuff, cancer.  I find myself constantly looking at my skin these days, fearing I'll develop a new spot somewhere.  Two people I know got diagnosed with cancer this semester, one of which was my father.  Still, it's interesting, which is why I study it.

Update: As another interesting example of law messing up the science.  The Florida Senate accidentally outlawed sex.  It's not perfectly related to the antivax story above, but it's hilarious and I thought I should share.

Update^2: I suspected as much (as funny as it originally was), but the ruling did not *really* accidentally outlaw sex.  It's still hilarious based on the wording of the law.


  1. Cosmic Rays = Cancer (:D) Sorry to hear your father got diagnosed with it. Does it look like he'll be able to beat it?

  2. Yeah, I just spoke with him today. As far as they can tell, they got it all with surgery, so now it's just a matter of going in for regular checkups. Thanks for the concern.