Horizon: Does the MMR Jab Cause Autism?: We cannot win

BMJ 2005; 331 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.331.7508.111-a (Published 07 July 2005) Cite this as: BMJ 2005;331:111
  1. Neville W Goodman, consultant anaesthetist (Nev.W.Goodman{at}bris.ac.uk)
  1. Southmead Hospital, Bristol BS10 5NB

    EDITOR—For measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) and autism, epidemiology is dismissed.1 For power lines and cancer, epidemiology is king.2 3 As MacAuley wrote, many parents might have found such [anecdotal] arguments seductive.

    This is the problem. Personal experience speaks loudly. It is difficult to deny the evidence of one's own eyes. The “MMR dissenters” start from the proved fact that MMR causes autism (because they've seen it); the “electromagnetic fields cancer advocates” know power lines cause cancer (because they've seen it). All later evidence is interpreted on the basis of that experience. The rapid responses to the articles in the issue of 4 June will be witness.

    As Watts writes in favour of perspective: “In 2002, according to the Child Accident Prevention Trust, more than 36 000 children were hurt in road accidents and around 200 were killed… five cases annually of childhood leukaemia may be associated with power lines.”3 But perspective is precisely what is rejected by personal experience: so we have illogical campaigns to uproot speed cameras, to move pylons, and to give single vaccines.


    • Competing interests None declared.


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