Rhode Island Professor Denounces Science, Statistics, and Technology As “Inherently Racist”

We have previously discussed the radical declarations of University of Rhode Island and Director of Graduate Studies of History Erik Loomis who has defended the murder of a conservative protester and said that he saw “nothing wrong” with such acts of violence. (A view defended by other academics). Loomis is now back in the news with a declaration that “Science, statistics, and technology are all inherently racist because they are developed by racists who live in a racist society, whether they identify as racists or not.” It is a curious position from the person who heads graduate studies in history at the University of Rhode Island.

For many, science and statistics are fields that are inherently objective not racist. While racism can certainly impact any field in a myriad of ways, these fields are based on proven experiments and calculations. One can support scrutiny of our programs to root out racism without dismissing all fields as “inherently racist.” Yet, this view of math and science is being voiced by others, including those who denounce math as a “tool of whiteness.”

Loomis’ statement came as part of a tweet in reference to a New York Times article and added “This is why I have so much contempt for those, including many liberals, who ‘just want the data.’ The data is racist!”

 

I have defended the right of Loomis to make his past comments as a matter of free speech. While Loomis has shown nothing but intolerance for opposing views, he has every right to express disturbing, extremist views.

On this occasion, he is making a statement that would appear to undermine the basis for graduate studies at his school and other schools.  While I still view the statements as protected, they would appear to undermine faith in the basis of much of the work of his colleagues.  The tweet prompted University of Rhode Island Assistant Director of Communications Dave Lavallee to issue a statement:

“Mr. Loomis’ recent social media posts on science, statistics and technology are entirely his own opinions, and in no way represent the positions or values of the University of Rhode Island..His recent tweet runs completely counter to URI’s first Cornerstone Value, which says, ‘We pursue knowledge with honesty, integrity and courage.

In making such remarks, Mr.Loomis calls into question the work of thousands of researchers and scientists across the country and particularly the outstanding work done by our talented and diverse researchers at URI. While Mr. Loomis has a First Amendment right to make such comments as a private citizen, he does not have the right to make such unsubstantiated claims in the context of his university position or role.”

From my perspective, the most important aspect of that statement is the acknowledgment that Loomis has First Amendment protections in uttering such viewpoints. The question for the university is whether those viewpoints undermine his role in leading graduate studies, particularly in dismissing the very basis for much of that work as racist.  Loomis claims that “all” science, statistics, and technology is racist. Period. It is a patently absurd statement that is devoid of any intellectual foundation or inquiry. It will certainly appeal to many who relish extremist and rejectionist views, including some in academia. However, it is the very antithesis of our intellectual mission as scholars and it does a great disservice to the many respected academics at the University of Rhode Island.

Nevertheless, Loomis wrote a column entitled “When Fascists Attack” for the site Lawyers, Guns, and Money. Loomis is listed as as one of a handful of “members” who contribute to the site. (For the record, that is the same site that ran a column by a Colorado law professor who claimed that raising questions about the 2020 was akin to Holocaust denial. That attack occurred a few days after the election when I noted that there were irregularities in the election, including an error in reporting the results from a district using Dominion software. I noted that the error involving a few thousand votes that was quickly corrected, did not indicate any widespread fraud, and would not affect the outcome of the election. It merely raised the question of whether such systems were still vulnerable to “human error.” The site denounced that statement was akin to denying that the Holocaust ever occurred.)

In his column, Loomis blasts the university by writing: “I guess this is how my administration responds to the need for anti-racism in American life and on campus, by openly throwing professors who talk about racism and technology under the fascist bus. Great job URI.”  It appears that now Rhode Island, in Professor Loomis’ view, is opposing anti-racism efforts and supporting fascists by rejecting his view of science, statistics, and technology.

Loomis insists that his rejection of all science, statistics, and technology as racist was

“utterly uncontroversial point that when facial recognition technology is throwing innocent Black people in prison, it reflects much larger problems of how racism influences our technology and science in an inherently racist society. … This is…utterly uncontroversial? Or it should be anyway. We see this over and over and over again, from how the medical profession ignores pain in Black patients no matter their social status, how Black people are wary of the vaccine because of traditionally poor treatment by the scientific community, how all sorts of forms of technology end up exacerbating discrimination, etc.”

What is striking about this response is that it is divorced from his actual statement. It is raising insular issues like facial recognition that have been discussed by others without rejecting the entirety of science or statistics. Indeed, I just published a long study that addressed that issue and its underlying causes as part of a comprehensive look at biometrics and privacy.  See Jonathan Turley, Anonymity, Obscurity, and Technology: Reconsidering Privacy in the Age of Biometrics, 100  Boston University Law Review 2179 -2261 (2020).

Loomis’ reference a couple of specific areas where racism is a well-documented problem and many of us have sought to suggest ways to address racial injustice. It is not a defense of Loomis’ categorical rejection of all science, statistics, and technology.  That view is not “uncontroversial,” it is unhinged and irrational.

 

This column was edited.

112 thoughts on “Rhode Island Professor Denounces Science, Statistics, and Technology As “Inherently Racist””

  1. “Academia” is a dumb word. Dumb group. Why don’t they tell their students to stop smoking tobacco? Why don’t the profs stop smoking?
    Went in dumb, come out dumb too. 410,000 Americans died in 2020 from smoking tobacco. That’s more than covid.
    Hey professor:. Why you so dumb?

  2. Loomis is showing his ignorance of how science, math and technology developed on multiple continents over past millennia, involving Africans, Eurasians, and Native Americans. OK, writing systems emerged at different times in different places, and printing was first developed by Chinese and paper manufactured in the “stans”. Moveable type developed in Germany.

    I don’t think the First Amendment confers any right other than to have government not act as a censor, and then, only in the realm of political speech. It may be even narrower than that….non-violence and non-insurrectionist speech and writing.

    Loomis is being told by U of RI that “you’re on thin ice”. The freedom of public University Presidents and Administrations to set standards of conduct, and craft institutional message is what Loomis is up against. The lone individual, after gaining great power, is now seeing the pendulum swing the other way….institutions are asserting their power over individuals. We might next be seeing a repudiation of “the loudest voice” style of journalism, where people like Loomis are just ignored. How about it, JT?

  3. Trofim Lysenko set Soviet genetic science back by his rejection of Mendelian principles. And of course, not “towing the party line” in the 1930’s USSR came at a high cost. Similar to now, except the US does not physically imprison or execute those who are insufficiently devoted to BLM and ‘diversity’.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trofim_Lysenko

    If Professor Loomis really believes what he is saying, I strongly encourage him to fly an airline whose ads say, “We put diversity first”, live in a minority neighborhood or send his kids to a minority school. Of course, he wouldn’t do any other those things but would gladly denounce and destroy others who also refused to do so. I often say, don’t go by what leftists say but by what they actually do.

    Blacks are America’s gods in the “Church of Wokeness”. Their lives matter more than others, their feelings are a national concern, and their misdeeds go unspoken. They require respect at every turn and we must place them at the center of our history. They’re superior to whites in every regard — athletics, music, dancing, humor, and especially in virtue. Blacks have an entire month where we worship their invention of peanut butter and the super soaker.

    BUT it is simply amazing at how white leftists avoid these “gods” whenever they are present in large numbers and they have the means and money to do so. Again, all while condemning others for “white flight”.

    Another reason to despise upper middle class liberals. They talk a good game, love to virtue signal but refuse to get their hands dirty. I hope Professor Loomis has a close, personal encounter with diversity. Have a feeling that being a good leftist will be of little help at such a moment.

    antonio

  4. The professor’s whole piece is “holey”….so many holes…..It seems that one can infer that his primary postulate is that racism IS automatically present in all white adults….his second seems to be that this state of being will automatically tinge any efforts that are supposedly objective….. testable…to both favor whites and hurt any/all non-whites…..and all of this being unconscious ! (you just are !….admit it !…)

    He ends by giving examples that supposedly demonstrate this effect….unfortunately for him, and anyone that swallows these, what he listed are all examples, not of bad, racist science, but of mis-application by politicians and/or social engineer wannabe types….you know…the “follow-the-science-guys”….except when it doesn’t fit…

    Good science is naturally conservative….men are frequently impatient…and frequently biased….but good scientists develop the discipline to wait for…insist…on collegial verification….of both the data and the interpretations.

    Maybe this poor man means well, thinking he’s looking out for the oppressed, but I suspect he regularly imbibes the cup of self-righteousness, and is drunken thereby.

    In his 9:23 post, ArtD suggested arrested development….anyone ever run into that rare teenager who knows it all ?…if they stay that way, I think I can guess which party they join….

  5. I read LGM and do find Prof. Loomis’s posts quite informative, But remember that he is a labor historian,not a scientist, mathematician, or engineer. He has a deep understanding of labor history, and the social forces that influence it. Racism and the lasting effects of racism is integral to labor hisotry and thus Prof. Loomis’s work. I take what he says about areas outside of his field of study with a grain of salt.

    1. Racism and the lasting effects of racism is integral to labor hisotry and thus Prof. Loomis’s work.

      He hasn’t a clue as to what the ‘lasting effects’ were because he has no competence in econometrics and just declared it racist.

  6. Our kids are being “educated” by the likes of Loomis. Brings to mind how a few, mostly Muslim, students at Rutgers U orchestrated the cancelation of Condoleeza Rice as commencement speaker at the 2014 graduation. Many of the RU faculty were complicit.

  7. Academia and entertainment have a vocational bias, which is to say liberals and leftists prefer to work in those areas, more so than conservatives. Conservatives prefer faith, national security, and law-enforcement employment.

    One might suggest that makes the left and right morally equivalent. They are not. The military and law enforcement are NOT 80% to 90% dominated by conservatives. Neither is faith. Academia and entertainment are that saturated by the left.

    Vocational bias isn’t a problem until it gets over two to one. Past that point, vocational bias torques into confirmation bias—the echo chamber that magnifies the most extreme views. This is overwhelmingly a problem with the left.

    Diogenes tried to explain all this to his beloved, college daughter. I said she should respect her educators, but she should critically challenge what they say. As an adult, she should critically challenge what I say as well. I don’t want her to agree with me. I want her to learn how to reason. Good things will follow from that.

    Alas, poor Diogenes was ignored. She believes egghead confirmation bias without question. But she still loves her Diogenes, and she would never turn me in to the thought police. I’m luckier than some parents in that respect.

    Imagine if our military and law enforcement had leaders openly calling for the extermination of Democrats. Imagine if Raytheon, Lockheed, and General Dynamics had advertising, training, and public events that ridiculed Democrats as stupid and deviant and insulted Democrat values. All might get defunded!

    If we can defund the police, why not defund public schools and colleges that pump hate, confirmation bias, and speech codes into their classrooms? Why should they get more public money when the police get less?

    IF YOU REALLY WANT UNITY, CONSIDER THAT.

    1. If we can defund the police, why not defund public schools and colleges that pump hate, confirmation bias, and speech codes into their classrooms? Why should they get more public money when the police get less?

      Interesting, very interesting, Diogenes!

  8. If those subjects are racist perhaps it is time for us to become racists. Seems everything good is racist these days.

    That attack label is dead.

    1. Basically, stop being afraid of that accusation.

      They hurl it to stop an argument they are losing. They hurl it to attack someone they don’t like. They hurl it to create racial hostility and division. They hurl it do evil.

      The accusation has become a tool of evil.

      Just look at the people who are using it and it will become clear.

      Evil.

  9. Thank you for your well written articles. It shouldn’t be surprising that a professor who believes in Critical Race Theory — an insane, truth-devouring collection of Orwellian, self-contradicting nonsense designed to destroy sense and reason — should promote a view that annihilates reason and common sense.

  10. Our so called “Professor Loomis” is a complete looney. His acceptance of acts of violence should apply to him as well. “Hanged Drawn and Quarted” as they used to do in England should be a relatively painful experience for him. He should be allowed to say what he wants, but the fact that he is in any position of responsibility shows the deplorable state of some (unfortunately most) American Schools of Higher Learning.

  11. I suspect that Loomis is a troll.

    He gets publicity (which his academic writings would never get), he derives great joy from irritating conservatives, and he signals virtue.

    He does however lack integrity.

    And heaven help us if he ever gets power.

    1. Many of his former students think he is awful

      QUALITY
      1.0
      DIFFICULTY
      3.0
      Computer IconHIS365
      😖
      AWFUL
      Sep 9th, 2020
      For Credit: Yes
      Attendance: Mandatory
      Would Take Again: No
      Grade: B
      Textbook: Yes
      Online Class: Yes
      Bring your sleeping bag
      GET READY TO READ
      GRADED BY FEW THINGS
      LECTURE HEAVY
      Thumbs up 0
      Thumbs down 0
      Reviewed: Sep 10th, 2020

      QUALITY
      1.0
      DIFFICULTY
      1.0
      HIS141
      😖
      AWFUL
      Sep 9th, 2020
      For Credit: Yes
      Attendance: Not Mandatory
      Would Take Again: No
      Textbook: No
      horrible, just horrible
      Thumbs up 0
      Thumbs down 0
      Reviewed: Sep 10th, 2020

      QUALITY
      1.0
      DIFFICULTY
      1.0
      HIS141
      😖
      AWFUL
      Sep 9th, 2020
      Would Take Again: No
      Textbook: No
      Makes really embarrassing public statements.
      HILARIOUS
      Thumbs up 0
      Thumbs down 0
      Reviewed: Sep 10th, 2020

      QUALITY
      1.0
      DIFFICULTY
      3.0
      HIS365
      😖
      AWFUL
      Aug 17th, 2019
      For Credit: Yes
      Attendance: Not Mandatory
      Would Take Again: No
      Textbook: Yes
      Liked this teacher a lot until he accidentally gave me a C in the gradebook when in reality I got a B. It was only changed because I noticed it and reached out, and took a few weeks.
      GIVES GOOD FEEDBACK
      GET READY TO READ
      PARTICIPATION MATTERS
      Thumbs up 0
      Thumbs down 0
      Reviewed: Sep 10th, 2020

  12. Science, statistics, and technology, like philosophy, history, and the social sciences are different ways of understanding reality. The race and sex of those who invented and developed them is irrelevant to their usefulness to that end. Period. That is where the discussion ends, unless you are a racist who views everything in terms of skin color.
    Loomis appears not to understand that science, statistics, and technology are value-neutral disciplines which can be used for good or evil (atomic bombs and nuclear power plants come to mind). Whether we use them to create a more prosperous and happy society or one that is oppressive and miserable are political choices.
    Lord Acton concluded that power corrupts, not science or technology. In Orwell’s 1984, evil does not reside in the monitor but in those using it to control and manipulate others. In academic disciplines, whether “hard” or “soft,” disinterested, objective research should be the norm, not causistry and sophistry. Alas, in our postmodern world, too many, including those in academia, appear to be more comfortable with spurious arguments based on speculation and assertion than with careful observation and conclusions based on demonstrable evidence.
    Given his views, Loomis might be happier in a department which specializes in subjects like critical race theory than as head of graduate studies.

  13. Academic freedom is one thing, and should be protected (even if it’s not for conservatives), but this is beyond the pale

    1. He’s an arrested development case. He does it because he’s never been meaningfully penalized for it. His colleagues are pleased to have an arrested development case on their faculty. His colleagues would never hire Victor Davis Hanson or Thomas Woods (who are normal adults).

      1. Arty:
        Likely true but in any event, I’d nominate this waste of protoplasm to be the first to walk the 13 steps when the revolution comes. Something about smarmy evil no one cottons too. Banal evil may be the norm and malicious evil the most dangerous but smarmy is the most annoying. Rhode Island is too pretty a place to have to deal with the likes of him.

      2. Of course Loomis is an arrested development case. They all are. He has focused his life on learning that the state can gather all the information in the world when in reality individuals have more information than the state ever can ever gather. Time and place create tiny bits of information that disappear before they can be assembled by those involved in group-think.

        Loomis arrested his development instead of continuing to learn. Such a failure should never be in the position of teaching others.

        1. Allan………good comment….and I would add that not only was his development arrested, I’d say it did hard time, as well.

    2. Yes, this is beyond the pale because he is explicitly rejecting the dual missions of the university: learning and teaching.

    3. Loomis is a thug, a luddite, an anarchist, and a criminal. A system which fails to extirpate these cancers will not live long

      Sal Sar

  14. Loomis thinks and talks like a Fascist wannabe dictator. Why in the world such a humanoid is
    retained by university and given such a position is sheer lunacy. Many of us have had to put up
    with college professors who use their position as an indoctrination platform from which they derive great pleasure
    intimidating and holding hostage students. Anyone challenging such professors are blacklisted,
    bullied, targeted and invariably penalized with lower grades no matter how brilliant
    they are. Universities have lost their shine with few exceptions: a great many have for decades now
    turned into “re education” camps run by extremist radicals and outright demented individuals like
    this idiot.

  15. “‘We pursue knowledge with honesty, integrity and courage.”

    Those criteria seem to be what most universities of today lack.

  16. this person is evil and teaching evil, not fired or censored but probably given a raise…and his students love it…

  17. https://theothermccain.com/2012/12/19/university-president-repudiates-professors-violent-anti-nra-messages/

    Loomis has had these episodes for some time. That he was in the intervening years granted tenure by the university (and that he made it through all the hoops to land a position there to begin with) tells you something you need to know about the history faculty at the university. This sort of thing will not stop until the board goes Kenesaw Mountain Landis on departments who hire cretins like this. Only until it means the department gets shut down and every professor therein loses his job will the social dynamic which gave a public sector job with lifetime tenure to the likes of Erik Loomis be reversed.

      1. If this “professor” represents the typical instructor at Rhode Island University. Pull your kid out! You’re paying good money to have your your kid’s head filled with stupidity.

    1. There are no men in power today with the backbone of Kenesaw Mountain Landis and even if they somehow sneaked into power, powers that be would get rid of them

      THEY WANT MORE ERIK LOOMISES NOT LESS

      They intend to cull the herd and with nutjobs like this fouling up public debate, its all the much easier to get where they are going

      The flunkies that pose for trustees and directors of universities are all handpicked for their lack of testes and their utter subservience to globalism

      There is no way out without attacking globalism and specifically globalists in every sense imaginable.

      Sal Sar

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