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February 08, 2005

Ward Churchill: Credible Claims of Academic Fraud

Via Instapundit and Paul Campos at The Rocky Mountain News comes a new development in the Ward Churchill academic freedom case. It seems he has indeed done something that should cost him his job, if Professor Thomas Brown's convincing exposition of Ward Churchill's fraudulent writings on Indian history is to be believed. The problem here is not insensitivity or lack of patriotism, but academic lying:...
This article analyzes Churchill’s fabrication of a genocide. Churchill invented a story about the US Army deliberately creating a smallpox epidemic among the Mandan people in 1837 by distributing infected blankets. While there was a smallpox epidemic on the Plains in 1837, it was entirely accidental, the Army wasn’t involved, and nearly every element of Churchill’s story is a total invention. My goal here was to show how and why Churchill engaged in such blatant fraud, and why no one has challenged him on it until now.
As Instapundit says,
At my institution, we don't hire people without reading their publications. We don't tenure people without reading them and sending them for outside review by leading scholars in the field. Yet Churchill was both hired and tenured -- and made department chair -- in the ethnic studies program at Colorado. I'm not sure what's more damning: If they didn't perform these checks first, or if they did, and if people on that faculty, and in that field , thought Churchill's work was just fine. As with the Bellesiles scandal, this suggests some serious problems with peer review in the discipline.
This suggests a need to check out all the faculty at Colorado's Ethnic Studies Department, and to inquire into who hired Ward Churchill, who promoted him, and who made him chairman of the department. In particular, which administrators at the level of dean and higher are implicated in this?

It remains true, of course, that Ward Churchill should not be fired for his writings on 9-11. As I have said before, we must be careful to separate out different issues. In particular, the hue and cry over his 9-11 writings may be his chief legal defense to being fired over other things. He can truthfully claim that nobody would have noticed the fraud claims if he didn't have unpopular political views. But the fact that the outside world didn't notice the fraud and force it upon the attention of the University until his 9-11 writings came to light should not exonerate him. If the University had been doing its job, it would have investigated the fraud claims earlier, without the glare of the public eye.

Posted by erasmuse at February 8, 2005 12:50 PM

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Churchill seems to be guilty of literary fraud, academic fraud, and faking his Indian heritage. Now a report uncovers that he may be guilty of art fraud as well. "> Little Green Footballs [Read More]

Tracked on February 25, 2005 10:31 AM


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