“Cometomancy” and Francisco Sánchez: an additional reflection on to causality

Main Article Content

Oriana Rosero
Fabian Jaimes


causality, Bradford Hill, causal criteria, Francisco Sánchez, philosophical origin


The search for a causal mechanism begins with the observation of an association, but there is a long way until the fact that is observed as an association can be configured as a cause. The scientific community has historically demanded tools that facilitate the determination of causality. In 1965, Sir Austin Bradford Hill proposed nine postulates, which were adapted by modern epidemiologists as criteria. Later, Alfredo Morabia in 1991 showed that the concern to establish causality came from more than two hundred years ago, recognizing a great similarity between Hill's criteria and David Hume proposals for causality. However, the origin of these criteria could even come from four hundred years ago. In this reflection, we present the arguments taken from an ancient poem and contrast them with Hill's criteria, to propose Francisco Sánchez as one of the first authors and physician trying to give a logical and rational order from association to causation, probably introducing the philosophical origin of the current Hill´s criteria.
Abstract 62 | PDF Downloads 40


1. Hume D. A treatise of human nature. Open Court Publishing Company; 1945. Clarendon Press; 1978.
2. Susser M. What is a Cause and How Do We Know One? A Grammar for Pragmatic Epidemiology. Am J Epidemiol. 1991;133(7):635–48.
3. Berkeley G. A treatise concerning the principles of human knowledge. The Bobbs-MerriJ Company; 1957.
4. Russell B. The Problems of Philosophy. England: Oxford University Press; 1912.
5. Bunge M. Causality and Modern Science. 3 ed. New York: Dover Publications; 1979.
6. Rothman KJ, Greenland S. Causation and causal inference in epidemiology. Am J Public Health. 2005;95 Suppl 1:S144-50.
7. Rothman KJ. Causes. Am J Epidemiol. 1976;104(6):587–92.
8. Olsen J, Jensen UJ. Causal criteria: time has come for a revision. Eur J Epidemiol. 2019 Jun 15;34(6):537–41.
9. Morabia A. On the origin of hill’s causal criteria. Epidemiology 1991;2(5):367–9
10. Hill SAB. The Environment and Disease: Association or Causation? Proc R Soc Med. 1965;58(5):295–300.
11. Palmer E, Post B, Klapaukh R, et al. The association between supraphysiologic arterial oxygen levels and mortality in critically ill patients a multicenter observational cohort study. Am J Respir Crit Care Med. 2019 Dec 1;200(11):1373–80.
12. Buehring GC, Sans HM. Breast cancer gone viral? Review of possible role of bovine leukemia virus in breast cancer, and related opportunities for cancer prevention. Int j environ res public Heal. 2020 Jan 1;17(1).
13. Monsé C, Raulf M, Hagemeyer O, et al. Airway inflammation after inhalation of nano-sized zinc oxide particles in human volunteers. BMC Pulm Med. 2019 Dec 30;19(1).
14. Orden Jiménez R. Francisco Sánchez, El Escéptico: Breve historia de un filósofo desenfocado [Internet]. 2012 [cited 2020 Mar 17]; Available from: http://www.larramendi.es/francisco_sanchez/es/cms/fichero.cmd?id=ms/francisco_sanchez/ficheros/fsanchez_estudio_fundacionlarramend.pdf
15. Iriarte J. La canción del cometa de 1577. Edición preparada por Juan de Churruca. Bilbao: Universidad de Deusto; 1996.
16. Orden Jiménez R. La teoría de la causalidad natural de Francisco Sánchez el escéptico. An del Semin Hist la Filos [Internet]. 2003 Jan 1;20. Available from: https://revistas.ucm.es/index.php/ASHF/article/view/ASHF0303110247A