Dr. Stat

Dr. Stat is a Statistics Professor. This blog is his opportunity to share ideas and opinions about education (especially math education), politics, and whatever else comes up.

Thursday, February 10, 2005

Ward Churchill: Worse than we Thought

I dismissed Churchill's lunatic ravings as just more left-wing rhetoric. I didn't think it would have any lasting impact. I may have heard of him previously, but didn't remember the name when Bill O'Reilly did a piece on Fox News demanding that his appearance at Hamilton College be cancelled.

Last night, my eighth grade daughter brought up that she had been taught in history class about the distribution of small-pox infected blankets to the Indians in North Dakota in a deliberate attempt to spread the disease. I discussed this a bit with her, because I didn't think the story was credible, though I'd heard it before. While not denying that smallpox might be spread by blankets, I said that smallpox is a highly contageous air-borne disease and that is how it is usually spread. An infected person merely needs to walk through a room and breathe to spread the disease. Also, I questioned who had done this deed--white settlers? they were not in close contact with Indians at this time. Fur traders? That would destroy their livelihood. Soldiers? Was the army active in the area at that time? I didn't know enough to definitively answer any of these questions, but I said that such things need to be questioned and not taken at face value. This is a highly suspicious story.

It turns out I was right-on. This report by Thomas Brown of Lamar University is a must read. Unbelieveably, the same Ward Churchill, who claims the 9/11 victims deserved to die and the terrorists are right, INVENTED the story of smallpox genocide on the Dakota plains.

We don't need to call upon his university to fire him for inflammatory remarks, slander, or any such "mild" offenses that are being bantered about around the blogosphere. He must be fired for fruadulant research and perjury. That's a real, legitimate, legal, uncontestable reason for a university to fire somebody. It has nothing to do with free speach or academic freedom. There is no academic freedom to dessiminate fraudulent research, whether it's inflammatory or not.

PS. In defense of my daughter's history teacher, it turns out that my daughter got mixed up... they learned in class about the 1763 attempt by the British to distribute smallpox-infected goods to the Indians. They were not referring to the epidemic on the great plains. BUT Churchill was...