[Note: This is a copy of a document found at this link on John Lott’s website on April 6, 2003. I have added critical commentary, written in italics like this.
Tim Lambert ]
Statement on John Lott’s Survey Work on Self-Defensive Uses of Guns
by David B. Mustard
Monday 10 February 2003
John and I started working on our concealed carry paper in the fall of 1995. I was finishing my Ph.D. in Economics at the University of Chicago, and John was a faculty member. We worked on our paper intensively from about February 1996 to September 1996. We presented it at the American Law and Economics meetings in Chicago and at some workshops in the spring of 1996. We finished the JLS proofs in August or September. We then completed our work together and interacted much less frequently. In the summer of 1996 Lott talked about working on other projects related to guns. Once our paper was finished he started to work on a number of extensions. I did not work with John on any of these other projects because I had to finish my job market paper and send out my job applications (most due by 1 December 1996). In the rest of December 1996 I worked on my job market paper and practiced interviews. In January 1997 I went to the American Economic Association annual meetings and interviewed. I had campus visits through early February and signed my contract with the University of Georgia around the second or third week of February in 1997. From March to June I finished my dissertation and taught an undergraduate class at Chicago. In July I defended and traveled a lot, and my wife moved to Georgia. I moved to Georgia in early August.
Do I have direct first-hand evidence about John Lott’s survey?
I did not co-author the work on the survey with John, I did not work for John as a paid employee, and I do not know anyone who worked with John on the survey. I have not seen any survey instruments or primary data from the original survey.
I have copies of both the survey questions and the survey data from his 2002 survey that he did to replicate the original survey. I did not work with John on the follow-up survey, but was given the questions and data once the survey was completed. These data are qualitatively consistent with John’s statements about his first survey.
[In other words, no.]
Did John have a computer crash in the summer of 1997?
I believe beyond a reasonable doubt that John had a computer crash during the summer of 1997. On Friday 8 August 1997 my wife and I closed on our home in Athens, Georgia. While we were unloading our belongings in our new home a phone rang, which surprised us because we had not yet unpacked or plugged in our phones. We learned that the house had a phone in the garage, which we had not noticed. John Lott was on the phone. I believe that he told me at this time about his computer crash and having lost all his data. During the next few weeks I had additional conversations with John about his hard drive collapse and his lost data, and I agreed to provide him with all my data. My office at Georgia was not set up until late August (we were on quarters at that time and did not start until fairly late). I had a severe infection for a number of days in mid-late August. I returned to Chicago for about 5 days in late August (about August 27-1 September) for my graduation (on Friday 29 August) and to close out our affairs in Chicago. My grandfather died in early September and I returned to my home in Buffalo, NY for a number of days at that time. When I returned to Athens we had orientations and I had to prepare for classes. I likely provided John with the data from our concealed carry paper in mid-September to October. [Lott keeps proving over and over again that he had a disk crash, because he has no evidence that he conducted a survey in 1997.]
Did John specifically mention that he lost his survey data in his computer crash?
John told me that he had lost all his data in the crash. He specifically told me that he lost all data related to our paper, which I later restored to the best of my ability. He also mentioned how he lost many things related to his book, which set him back in completing the book and forced him to eliminate some things he intended to include in the book. [In other words, no.]
Was their evidence of Lott’s intending to do a survey?
As we worked on the concealed carry paper, John talked about pursuing other projects to extend our work on concealed carry and guns. We talked extensively about self-defensive uses of guns and how we knew how frequently guns were used for self-defense and in what contexts they were used. John articulated a desire to learn more about self-defensive uses through a survey, just like he articulated an interest in many other extensions, like using city-level data (which we did not use in the 1997 paper), decomposing the effects more by time and place (which we started to do in the preliminary paper), decomposing the effect by different types of robbery classifications, and determining whether surrounding areas experienced increases in crime after a concealed carry law was passed. (This is a partial and not complete list of the extensions of the gun-related research). John generally followed through on these extensions. He further decomposed the effects by time and place and used city-level data in his book More Guns, Less Crime. He analyzed the effect on surrounding areas with Steve Bronars in "Criminal Deterrence, Geographic Spillovers, and the Right to Carry Concealed Handguns." American Economic Review. Vol. 88, n2 (May): 475-479. He was unable to decompose the effect by robbery type because he was unable to find robbery data that allowed him to do so.
[But the survey Lott claims to have conducted does not provide more information about self-defensive gun uses. If it really was conducted, the number and scope of the questions were much less than in previously conducted research.]
When do I first remember talking with John Lott about the survey?
I do not remember the first time John Lott and I talked about the survey. At the time there was nothing exceptional about the survey for me to associate with it and help me remember when I first learned about it.
I think it highly probable that John told me he had completed the survey at the time of my talk at the Academics for the Second Amendment conference in Washington, DC in November 1998.
I know beyond a reasonable doubt that John and I talked about the completed survey before I testified to the Maryland House of Delegates Judiciary Committee on 20 October 1999 about Maryland House Bill 736 to allow citizens to carry concealed weapons. I also know beyond a reasonable doubt that we had talked about the survey multiple times before then, because in our conversation in Oct. 1999 I clearly remember having knowledge about the survey.
[The only date that Mustard is sure of is that he was told before October 1999. This is consistent with the other dates when Lott told people about the survey—the May 13 letter and May 21 phone call to Duncan, the May 25 letter to the Wall Street Journal, and the June 23 email to me. It seems likely that Lott told Mustard about the survey around the same time and this is why Mustard recalls that he had already heard about it in October 1999.]
Comment on John Lott’s data distribution policies
John has always impressed me with his willingness to give out his data. To my knowledge John has always released his data to anyone who asks for it. In fact, we gave out our data about 4 months before the article even came out in print. We have now given our data to about 75 people from around the world; perhaps more. This behavior sets John apart from many scholars who will not release their data even after multiple requests to do so.
[However, Lott would not answer reasonable questions about his survey from Otis Dudley Duncan.]
Forwarded message from John Whitley
(originally sent to James Lindgren)
Mon, 10 Feb 2003
John Lott has kept me informed on some of the highlights of your investigation into the survey he conducted in the mid-90’s. In particular, he indicated you were having trouble finding corroborating evidence to his hard drive crash at the time and overall evidence that he conducted the survey. I can definitely vouch for the hard drive crash and I do have some recollections which may be from the survey, but I am not very sure of those.
I started graduate school in economics at the University of Chicago in 1996. I met John in my first year and began working for him as an RA the summer of 1997 when my core exams were finished (I don’t know the exact dates off the top of my head, but I can look them up if you would like). That work was on city police departments for his paper on affirmative action in policing and we then went on to collaborate on a paper on safe-storage gun laws and have worked together several times since.
As I said above, I can definitely corroborate the hard drive crash. He mentioned the crash to me in at least one conversation we had in the months leading up to my starting as an RA. It came up because he was telling me he was telling me he was very far behind in his work because he was having to dig out from a hard drive crash. I think it came up in the context that he couldn’t yet tell me what I was going to be working on when I started as his RA because he was so far behind, but I can’t remember for sure. His specific comment was worded as a complaint about how "you think you have these things backed up and it never works" or something similar (it could have been that he wished he had backed it up or something, I don’t really remember the specifics). Although I remember very little from those early conversations I had with John, that particular comment stuck out and I remembered it because, although I had had a computer as an undergraduate, I was really just then becoming computer literate as a serious user. I hadn’t really thought about backing up hard drives and the like at the time and John’s comment opened a range of issues I had never thought of. It has stuck in my head ever since because I have been more careful since and I remember it every time I change or use my backup systems.
[Lott keeps proving over and over again that he had a disk crash, because he has no evidence that he conducted a survey in 1997.]
Unfortunately, I can’t directly corroborate the survey, but I do have one memory which may be related. I remember stopping by John’s office one time I think during my first year and there were some undergraduates in the office. John was finishing up with them and my recollection is that he introduced me to them and then they left. I think he introduced their names (which I don’t remember) and said that they had recently worked for him (although I don’t remember if he said on what), they then left and I met with John to talk about working as an RA for him. I am pretty sure they were undergraduates because I seem to recall them being impressed when I said I was an econ graduate student (anything that inflates your ego during the first year of graduate school at the University of Chicago is a big deal at the time).
In that situation, what I really remember most is the scene and not the words. I don’t know when exactly it was, but I can remember the room. It was in John’s old office, when he was in the middle of the back wall of the Chicago Law School library (before he moved over near the stairwell to the smaller office). I can remember him sitting at his desk and the students (I am pretty sure there were two students, but not 100% positive) were standing between me at the door and John at his desk against the far wall. I think one was taller than me (I am 5’6") and had lighter hair while the other was shorter and had darker hair (the heights I am pretty sure of, the hair color I am less sure of). The taller one was closer to me and seemed to be more of the leader. For some reason, that image sticks in my head.
Unfortunately it is possible that I am mixing this scene up in my head with other events, but it is fairly clear in my head so I am at least reasonably confident in it. If my recollection is correct, it is entirely possible (very likely, in fact) that these were some of the students who had worked on the survey (I do have some vague recollection that they had coordinated something and that others may have been involved, but this recollection is so fuzzy that even though it would be definite corroborating evidence I don’t want to make a big deal out of it). Unfortunately that is all I can really remember on that one right now, sorry I can’t be more specific. [In other words, Lott once had some students in his office. This is not evidence that he had students conduct a survey.]
School of Economics
Statement by David Gross about taking the 1997 survey, with follow-up comments by me
Tuesday, February 11, 2003
Statement from David Gross:
The answer to your question is a factual one that emphasizes three things: 1) that I was the subject of a telephone survey in early 1997, the only one that I have been a respondent in; 2) that during your talk for the Center of the American Experiment in Minneapolis on January 27, 1999, you mentioned the "98% survey" of DGUs (not attributing it to yourself, at that time) in a manner that caused me to approach you and to comment that I had been a respondent in the "98% survey" that you had mentioned in your talk "a couple of years ago;" and 3) when I became aware of the controversy made over the issue of whether the "98% survey" had been, in fact conducted, I re-reminded you of my comment to you and wondering whether the survey I had responded to was the same one whose existence was, now, being questioned.
Both of those events preceded any controversy and are clear in my memory, the first event having been refreshed in 1999 and the second event being a "recording" of the first. I was not sure, at first, that the 1997 survey was in fact connected to the current controversy, but was willing to discuss my recollections and the circumstances with anyone who was willing to inquire.
James Lindgren contacted me the same evening of the day that I emailed you with my suspicions and probed my recollections in detail and in general. I was able to place the date of your talk in Minneapolis within a week of its occurrence (subsequently documented) and I gave the "details" of what I recalled to James Lindgren without the benefit of any "coaching" by you or any format or details of the challenged survey or not.
I kept myself "pure" and untutored so that others could judge whether or not my recollections were sufficient to verify that it was your survey. I wanted to remain a neutral witness to the facts and not be able to be accused of manufacturing any memories. I think I accomplished that, for good or ill, along with the fact that I cannot claim a perfect, super-human memory, just a good one.
I’m still not absolutely sure of ALL of the details of the survey, but my clear recollection DOES include:
1. Its brevity: the fact that it was focused, short, and involved DGUs and something about permits to carry;
2. That it was in the evening, from a student in the Chicago area (for some reason, Northwestern University plays a part, an impression, in the memory that I have and that the student explained to me that Northwestern was in the Chicago area; but I knew that.);
3. After my conversation with James Lindgren and his questions, I recalled that it contained a questions as to whether the incident(s) had been reported and, I vaguely recalled, something about "warning shots." The whole conversation with James Lindgren had stimulated me to think hard about what it was that I recalled, to let it come back to me as best it could. James Lindgren did not "feed" me any information on the survey, if only because I refused to accept any implicit or explicit assumptions of fact that I could not recall. The conversation with James Lindgren had already stimulated the memory of the tape, whether or not I could find it or locate a substitute.
4. My clear recollection of the comment to you about having participated in the 1997 survey ("a couple of years ago"). Even I wanted to know, to recall what revelation it was that had startled me and had motivated me to make a comment to you about having been a respondent in that survey, even though I didn’t know it was yours at the time.
5. It was the only phone survey on DGUs and such in which I have ever participated.
The rest is all about the PROCESS of association, recollection, corroboration, and verification of the circumstances.
During my conversation with James Lindgren, I recalled purchasing the tape of the talk from the Center (I mailed in a check and the tape was sent by mail) and obligated myself to attempt to find it. I know that I had not listened to it and expected to find it in its mailing envelope. Failing that, I could contact the Center to see if they had an archival copy, or the master. I was, also, absolutely clear that I had approached you, as you were leaving the talk in order to go the Minnesota Legislature and to testify on the issue. I was with Joe Olson and he can verify the fact that I did approach you, but he cannot verify the conversation "in passing." Frankly, you were preoccupied, and I felt a little foolish making the comment, "as if you cared." I did not attend the committee hearing. I know that I made the comment to you about my having been a participant in the survey you mentioned in your talk "a couple of years ago;" but during my conversation with James Lindgren, I was unable to "put my finger" on exactly what it was that caused me to reach that conclusion and motivate me to make the comment to you as you were being ushered to the committee hearing in St. Paul. It was some unique characteristic that you mentioned that made me sure that I had been a respondent in THAT survey you had referenced in the talk; and I wanted to know/remember what it was. The tape would either refresh my memory or it would fail to do so.
I found the tape and listened to it, making notes. When the talk got to the point where the survey you mentioned contained a distinction concerning "warning shots" as distinct from shots AT the attacker, my memory, the circumstances, and the motivation for my comment to you all "clicked." It was the warning shot issue that caused me, in 1999, to recall the uniqueness of the survey in 1997. My memory of the survey had been refreshed/jogged in 1999, and the incident including the comment to you, in my mind, serves as a "recording" of the clear recollection I had then. My memory was much clearer, then, in 1999, being only two years removed from the survey, instead of six years; but my memory of my emotional/intellectual reaction to the sophisticated handling of the warning shot issue (Aha!), my then certainty as to the uniqueness of the survey I had taken in 1997, and the physical action and effort to make the comment to you is, today, crystal clear, even though we are four years removed from that event. Most importantly, my vague recollection of the survey’s question of the warning shots prior to listening to the tape, the talk’s drawing a distinction between warning shots and shots AT the attacker, and I remembered what it was that caused me to react and to comment with certainty, then.
[Note that in his talk, Lott did not say that it was his survey.]
I can’t help but to analyze "evidentiary" matters in the legal context, not only because that is my training and professional experience, but also because the legal context has such real, practical value as the embodiment of the human condition and the search for the "truth." These evidentiary rules are the distillation of human experience and have real value to real people in their ordinary affairs of daily life as well as the important ones. They help one to think clearly and to guide analysis of real situations. They work well in the context of real-life, human society.
I became sure that the survey to which I had responded was yours because my January 27, 1999 reaction and comment to you serve as a "recording" of my memory of the survey from 1997, at a minimum on the point of the warning shots aspect of the survey. I recalled enough "details" independently (short, Chicago, student, DGU, carry laws/permit, reported, and vaguely, warning shots) that the timing (which fact I supplied in 1999 and which was not mentioned in the talk) and the warning shots issue nail it down dramatically. In the absence of another survey going on with similar features, the rule of circumstantial evidence allows one to draw only one conclusion, which I unabashedly do, especially when combined with my direct memory: circumstantial evidence supports a finding of fact when it directly points to/allows the inference of the existence of a fact and, at the same time, reasonably excludes the existence of a contrary inference or conclusion.
Where is that other survey I could have been a respondent in? Even James Lindgren suggested to me that, in the absence of another survey with which I could have confused the two, it was clear that I had been a respondent in your survey.
If you look at my initial email to you, you’ll see that my reaction and comment to you in 1999 were a main component of my willingness to come forward and possibly to shed some light on the matter. All the rest has been confirmation of the unique details, of most of which I was unaware until after I had exhausted my ability to remember/recall.
Now, some people have suggested that I have come forward in order to "cover" for you and that I am biased and willing to lie for you. I mean no offense; but John, I don’t know you that well. I don’t believe that I know anybody that well. Even though I follow the rules of evidence (and common sense) in my daily life in evaluating the credibility of people with whom I come into contact, it has become apparent to me that there is a dearth of common sense, analysis, or respect for others’ integrity in the "politically correct" world out there. Even academia, where proven, valuable standards are supposed to be rigorously maintained by those trained and experienced in them, appears not to be immune from political pressures and the consequent lowering of standards. This is how thought control and fascism gain a foothold. That will be the community’s loss comparable to the loss of the library at Alexandria.
The fact that I confirm the survey in 1997 has nothing to do with the validity of the conclusions you drew from it, the propriety of your use of it, under the circumstances, or its sufficiency. Those matters are pretty much beyond my expertise, although what I recall of it from the talk in Minneapolis seemed powerfully and intuitively reasonable and accurate, to me, based upon my understanding and experience, as well as from other research.
[Gross did not mention that when he wrote the above he was actively involved in lobbying to get a concealed-carry law passed in Minnesota. See here for more details.]
Note from John Lott:
I know of no other self-defense surveys on guns that were done in 1997. Hemenway et. al. did a survey in the Spring of 1996 and Spring of 1999, but both of those surveys are not only in different years but also quite different than the survey described by Mr. Gross. All the other surveys have been done by professional polling services, not students. Hemenway et. al.’s polling firm was based in Albany, New York, while my survey was based out of Chicago. It is not clear how many questions were asked by the Hemenway et. al.’s survey since it is not stated how many questions were asked before the respondents discussed if they had used a gun defensively. After two questions identifying who has used a gun, up to an additional 30 open ended questions were asked. It is not possible for that survey to have been completed in the short period of time discussed by Gross. Also, after the 1994 National Survey of Private Ownership of Firearms National Survey of Private Ownership of Firearms, there were no other surveys that specifically asked respondents about "warning shots."
evidence that part of original book being lost
From: Geoffrey Huck
To: Julian Sanchez
CC: John Lott
Date: Wednesday – January 15, 2003 9:57 AM
Subject: Re: John Lott Survey
Dear Mr. Sanchez:
Since I no longer work for the University of Chicago Press, I don’t have access to the Press’s files. Nevertheless, I am pretty certain that there is nothing in those files that would help you. The Press generally did not keep any draft manuscripts, tables of contents, etc., after publication – there was simply not enough space to accommodate all that that would entail. I have purged all my Press files from my home computer, and I would doubt that there are any electronic files at the Press that would answer your questions. That leaves my archived home e-mail files (some of which I still have) and my memory (which isn’t all that reliable). As to the latter, I have a vague recollection of a chapter or a section or sections of a chapter that had to be scrapped because of the computer crash, but I don’t at this stage remember the subject of it (or them). At the time, we were talking about a variety of things John could do (e.g., including a chapter on mass public shootings). As to my e-mail archives, there are a couple of brief mentions in John’s and my exchanges about the crash and loss of data, though I have found nothing explicitly about the defensive use of handguns in them (which doesn’t mean anything in itself, since we were mostly talking on the phone and there must have been all kinds of things that were lost in the crash that we didn’t discuss in the archived e-mails I still have). There is one message from July of 1997 that gives some sense of the magnitude of the problem we were dealing with, though. We fortunately did have an earlier draft of the manuscript in hard copy at the time of the crash and a disk with some – but not all – of the tables. My assistant Theresa let me know what was missing. I don’t at this point know what these tables are – you might want to ask John about that.
[Lott keeps proving over and over again that he had a disk crash, because he has no evidence that he conducted a survey in 1997.]
Date: Fri, 25 Jul 1997 16:13:03 +0000
From: Geoffrey Huck
Subject: More about tables
John: Theresa tells me that she has on the disk you gave her all the tables from 1 to 30 except 2, 5, 16, 21, 24, and 25, and 2 appendix tables. I asked her to e-mail you the contents of the disk. Hope this helps.
There is also one e-mail message I have from February 1997 which contains an attachment that I’m not at this point able to decode. If that file turns out to be decodable and has anything of relevance to add to this question, I (or John) will let you know.
I hope you find this information useful.
Statements by others documenting the loss of my computer hard disk in July 1997
From: Dan Kahan
Date: Thu Feb 13, 2003 12:49:32 AM US/Eastern
To: Letters, Washington Post
Cc: John Lott
Subject: Feb. 11, "A Fabricated Fan and Many Doubts"
A column appearing in the Post yesterday (Feb. 11, "A Fabricated Fan and Many Doubts") implies that economist John Lott made up the claim that a computer malfunction destroyed data from his research on gun control. At the time Lott was engaged in this research, we were colleagues at the University of Chicago Law School. I clearly recall John relating the computer data-loss incident to me then — many years before the current controversy about his work arose. Just so you know, I’m not relating this information to you because I support Lott’s position on guns (I don’t). I’m relating it to you because I think journalists — even the ones you employ to write political gossip columns like this one — should live up to their professional obligation to check out the facts before they make claims harmful to an individual’s reputation.
[Lott keeps proving over and over again that he had a disk crash, because he has no evidence that he conducted a survey in 1997.]
From: Richard Manning
Date: Tue Feb 11, 2003 2:50:46 PM US/Eastern
To: Letters, Washington Post
Subject: Article about John Lott in today’s Post
The Washington Post unfairly casts doubt about whether John Lott suffered a hard disk crash on his computer in 1997 ( A Fabricated Fan and Many Doubts, February 11). I was co-authoring a paper with him at the time and I was affected by some data that were lost. We lost a very large data set that had been used to estimate the wage premium paid to workers exposed to long-term latent hazards in the workplace. The loss prevented us from performing additional research and significantly delayed publication.
Richard L Manning, PhD
203 Putnam Road
New Canaan, CT 06840
From: Lawrence Kenny
Date: Tue Feb 11, 2003 2:21:58 PM US/Eastern
To: John Lott
Subject: Wash Post letter
This is what I sent to the Washington Post. John Lott and I worked together on a project examining the impact on government spending of women being granted voting privileges. Some of this research, utilizing older census data, was published in the Journal of Political Economy in December 1999. But the publication of other research utilizing recent survey data was set back when the basic data was lost in 1997 when John’s hard disk crashed. Thus, assertions that John fabricated the story of his disk crashing are incorrect.
Lawrence W. Kenny
Professor of Economics
University of Florida
From: Jonathan Karpoff
Date: Thu, 13 Feb 2003 23:55:13 -0800 (PST)
To: Letters, Washington Post
Subject: John Lott
A column the Post published this week implies that John Lott fabricated a story that a computer crash destroyed some data related to his gun research. I have collaborated with Lott on two research projects — neither related to guns — and remember him talking about the crash several years ago. The crash indirectly affected one of our projects, as Lott had to divert much time to re-create his lost databases. I recall him telling me how some of his philosophical opponents refused to help him by returning a copy of some of his data, despite the fact that the only reason they had the data in the first place was that Lott had given the data to them!
During our collaborations, John Lott has been an exemplar of integrity in academic research. It is not always easy to work with John, as we sometimes have disagreed over how best to conduct our tests and write up our results. But always, Lott has been honest, insightful, and willing to consider arguments and accept data that do not agree with his prior beliefs. He is an excellent social scientist.
It is time to put to bed any rumors that question Lott’s credibility or seriousness as a researcher. Give him credit for taking unpopular positions, sticking to those positions in the face of vitriolic personal attacks, and sharing his data and exposing his research to scrutiny more openly than his opponents. You — and I — might not like like all of his conclusions. But that makes him all the more important to engage seriously in policy debates.
Jonathan M. Karpoff
Norman J. Metcalfe Professor of Finance
Managing Editor, Journal of Financial and Quantitative Analysis
University of Washington School of Business
Seattle, WA 98195
From: David B. Mustard
Date: Wed Feb 12, 2003 12:04:50 PM US/Eastern
To: John Lott
Subject: Re: Sample letters that were sent in to the Washington Post
This is a copy of my letter, which I sent to the Post yesterday morning shortly after we talked.
On February 11, 2003, in the article "A Fabricated Fan and Many Doubts", the Washington Post incorrectly questioned whether John Lott experienced a computer crash in the summer of 1997. [The Post did not, in fact, question the existence of the disk crash, but whether he had conducted a survey.]
I can testify that Mr. Lott’s computer crashed at that time and that he lost everything he had on his hard drive. He and I discussed this crash many times. John and I were co-authors on a project that ended prior to the crash. Because he lost all the data from our project, I replaced as much of the data as I could.
From: John Whitley
Date: Tue Feb 11, 2003 5:50:16 PM US/Eastern
To: John Lott
Subject: [Fwd: Letter to the Editor]
Here is the letter I sent to the Washington Post.
I believe you draw an inaccurate comparison between the issue of Dr. Lott’s survey and the Dr. Bellesiles case in your article "A Fabricated Fan and Many Doubts" of February 11. I am not an expert on the Dr. Bellesiles case, but my understanding is that there was little or no contemporaneous corroborating evidence of the flood that he reported as destroying his records and that his results were not reproducible by other scholars in the field. Whatever the case is with Dr. Bellesiles, these are definitely not true in Dr. Lott’s case. [In fact, the flood at Emory is well documented. Several scholars had books destroyed. There is however, no evidence that Bellesiles’ notes were destroyed in the flood, just as there is no evidence that Lott’s survey data was lost in his disk crash.]
There are numerous contemporaneous witnesses to Dr. Lott’s hard-drive crash – I am one of them. I began working for Dr. Lott as a research assistant shortly after the hard-drive crash in 1997 and I distinctly remember him mentioning it to me at the time. More importantly, Dr. Lott’s general results have been reproduced in many peer reviewed academic journals and he has a strong reputation among academics for distributing his data and publishing reproducible research.
[Lott’s survey results have never been obtained by any other researcher. Just about all Lott’s results on guns and other issues has been criticized by academics for serious flaws. His reputation is such that he has been able to get a job in academia.]
Dr. Lott himself has now reproduced the survey and released the names of all people who worked on it and the phone records from the calls. The results are largely in line with his previous results and no one has questioned the integrity of the new survey.
[The results of his new survey are quite different from the results of the survey he claimed to have done in 1997. Lott has simply misrepresented the results of his new survey.]
Dr. Lott has a strong academic reputation for remaining faithful to the scientific protocol. Your comparison was unwarranted and inaccurate.
School of Economics
Adelaide University, AUSTRALIA 5005
Other claims about not giving out data
CNN SHOW: CNN CAPITAL GANG 19:00
February 8, 2003 Saturday
Transcript # 020800CN.V40
SECTION: News; Domestic
LENGTH: 7888 words
HEADLINE: Powell Makes Case Against Iraq; Bush Submits Budget to Congress; Will Space Program Be Continued?
GUESTS: Tommy Thompson, Chris Smith, Christopher Caldwell
BYLINE: Mark Shields, Al Hunt, Robert Novak, Margaret Carlson
SHIELDS: Now for the "Outrage of the Week."
HUNT: Mark, conservative John Lott (ph) produces research that conforms to his ideology without showing us the data. Lott claimed thousands of Bush voters in Florida left voting lines 15 minutes before the polls closed after they saw TV projections of a Gore victory. Lott contends crime drops when there are more guns, prompting one police chief to facetiously suggest we ought to fire all the cops and give everybody machine guns.
Now we learn that Mary Rosh (ph), who defends Locke passionately on the Internet, is fictitious. She’s actually Lott himself.
It’s a lot easier, Mark, if you make it up.
SHIELDS: You’re right, Al.
It has been my practice to give out the data to people when I have been asked for it. Often the data has been given out before my research has been published and even sometimes before the research has been accepted for publication. For the paper on the impact of the early media call I gave out my data previously to academics such as John Lipinski at the Yale Political Science department.
As for the work on guns that that shows a relationship between guns and crime rates, I have given the data out to academic critics such as Ian Ayres, John Donohue , Michael Maltz, Dan Black, Dan Nagin. Other critics include Frank Zimring and a graduate student named Debra working for David Hemenway.
This data has literally been given out to dozens of academics on both sides of the issue. Seven papers in the October 2001 issue of Journal of Law and Economics were based upon the data that was provided by me. These data sets range from 36 MB in size to over 300 MB. Some such as Ayers and Donohue have received all the different versions of the data.
About Using the Fictional Character Mary
The media has made a great deal out my creation of the character Mary Rosh (alternatively maryrosh, MaRyRoSh,) in internet chat rooms. [Lott used “Mary Rosh” in online discussion groups (principally Usenet), not in chat rooms. Chat rooms are places where real-time conversations occur, rather then leaving messages for later response. ] Some of the critique is valid, but much is simply wrong or even outlandish. I want to set the record straight on this.
Though others might disagree, I do not consider it was wrong in principle to create an anonymous, fictional character. It sometimes allowed discussions of facts that otherwise wouldn’t have been possible. I did use my real name in internet chat rooms for a while, but the discussion often turned personal and resulted in people calling me at my office with threatening or obnoxious messages (especially whether I had been paid off by gun makers).
[Before Mary Rosh was active, Lott made some postings to Usenet between 3 June 1998 and 14 July 1998. All the responses were polite. In one of his postings Lott complains about getting threatening phone calls, but not about phone calls from other Internet posters:
“You ought to see what happens to my telephone calls when someone like a Charles Schumer or Josh Sugarmann or Sara Brady makes this charge. I get lots of threatening telephone calls and letters. These calls don’t bother me, though they do greatly upset my wife.”
Not only does a fictitious character avoid focus on the real writer, but it also allows the perspective to be seen from a different point of view. As to my character Mary Rosh, she was a relatively young woman of small build in the potential high-risk group for assault or rape. When she asks internet chat room participants what she should do when confronted by a much larger man, I was challenging the internet chat room participants to see the question from the point of view of a vulnerable woman. As many of my supporters have pointed out, writing under fictitious characters is nothing unusual and has a long history even before the internet. Benjamin Franklin was a master of this art, with a host of detailed characters, including "Poor Richard" (as in the almanac) or Richard Saunders as well as several detailed female ones, e.g., Polly Baker.
[There is nothing wrong with writing under a pseudonym. However, Lott used Mary Rosh to accuse colleagues of fraud, praise his own teaching, attempt to find out the identity of an anonymous reviewer and to rig the SSRN download counters.]
However, creating a fictional character poses a risk. My presumption was that internet chat rooms were filled with fake persona. Further, I always assumed that many people suspected that I was behind the character, especially since I was sometimes asked outright whether I was John Lott or asked general questions about my relationship with Lott. Then I would simply dodge the question, e.g. by retorting "Are you….?" [Google groups has an archive of the discussions involving “Mary Rosh”. I read all of Mary Rosh’s postings while compiling this selection and never encountered anyone asking if Rosh was really Lott.] Unfortunately, my detailed descriptions of Mary as an enthusiastic, former student of mine, while done to allow her comment on various issues, should have been given more thought. There was however a basis in fact for the description since I received a perfect teacher’s evaluation in the Ph.D. class that was being described, with every student giving me the top possible score.
[Lott offers no evidence in support of his claim to have gotten a perfect teacher’s evaluation.]
Given that I always presumed that many people suspected me to be behind Mary Rosh, I certainly was not particularly surprised when Julian Sanchez made the exact same linkage based upon the similarity in the language used in my postings. Because of the way Comcast’s IP addresses are set up, when Sanchez made his charges, he was only able to say that both accounts used Comcast in Pennsylvania. (I knew that he was wrong about how he initially thought that the IP addresses worked for Comcast.) But when he put up that statement on his web site, I immediately e-mailed him that I was using both accounts and wrote him an e-mail confirming his suspicions. This is the first time that I had conceded that Mary really was me.
The media is trying to make the case look much more suspicious than it is. Yet, the fact is that Sanchez did not truly "catch" me. Not only had others suspected me to be behind the character before, but also – since Mary was described as having been a student of mine at Wharton, located in Philadelphia – it would have been quite likely for her to also be a Pennsylvania Comcast subscriber as it is a popular provider. (If I really would have wanted to hide, I could simply have blocked the IP-address when using her character. Or, perhaps I could have blamed it all on my wife, who has a Ph.D. in economics and who I sometimes co-author articles with.) So, to me, it was neither surprising that the connection was made nor was the revelation a particularly momentous one.
[There is other evidence linking Mary Rosh to John Lott. For example, several Mary Rosh postings were made from the American Enterprise Institute. ]
Another misunderstanding in the media is that I was lying as to whether I had ever participated in internet chat rooms. I have never made any general statement that I do not participate in such groups. And, obviously, I did participate under my own name for a substantial period of time. There are however two separate statements, one in an email to Glenn Reynolds on 1/13 and one in an email the following day (1/14) to Eugene Volokh that – taken out of context – can be made to look like I am making such a nonsensical statement. At issue here was a posting that Glenn Reynolds had made on his web site (1/12), expressing concern that I was not responding to certain questions regarding my surveys. I only learned indirectly that my surveys had been discussed extensively at the Discussion List for Firearms Regulation Scholars. [In fact, to keep him informed, I sent copies of my postings to firearmsregprof to Lott. Other participants in the discussion did so as well. For example, James Lindgren sent a copy of his September 14th posting to Lott, prompting Lott to call him as described in Lindgren’s report] Reynolds’ posting was the first time that I had ever heard of the other blog sites. So my denial of participation was only with reference to why I was not aware of the current debate of my survey work, in particular as to how it had been conducted at the main forum, Discussion List for Firearms Regulation Scholars FIREARMSREGPROF, a list serve site that I was not subscribing to. The statement to Volokh that I had not participated in "the firearms discussion group nor in the apparent online newsgroup discussions" was again specifically for the Discussion List for Firearms Regulation Scholars to let those participating in the discussions there know that I hadn’t been following their debate. (For anybody doubting this, Eugene Volokh can verify that neither Mary Rosh nor I participated in any discussions on this topic in FIREARMSREGPROF prior to 1/14. The same holds true for any other forum debating the merits of my surveys.)
[In fact, Mary Rosh was an active participant on Usenet while his survey was being discussed. For an example, see this posting where I raised the matter of Lott’s survey with her. She responded by asking me what I thought of Bellesiles.
Furthermore, in his Jan 14 email Lott wrote “I am not going be involved in these online groups”. On Jan 15 Mary Rosh posted to a Usenet discussion about Lott’s survey, and joined into discussions in other online groups over the next few days. ]
All the facts about guns that were mentioned using this pseudonym were accurate, and even the most embarrassing discussion of teaching abilities was based upon the fact that the students who took my Ph.D. level class at Wharton gave me a perfect score on my teacher’s evaluations.
[It is not true that Rosh’s facts about guns were accurate. For an example of a blatantly false Rosh claim, see here.]
Despite other claims to the contrary, I have always used my own name in writing letters to the editor for newspapers and I did not write the review of my book on Amazon.com that has been attributed to me.
Claim in the Chronicle of Higher Education
( February 14th Hot Type) that I had denied participating in chat room discussions on guns and that it was contradicted by my use of the pseudonym. Glenn claims that I denied ever participating in internet chat rooms and then points out that I had indeed participated using a pseudonym. [In fact, Glenn said that Lott denied participating in such discussions in 2002.] In fact, I did participate under my own name for a substantial period of time. My denial of participation was clearly in the context of referencing the Discussion List for Firearms Regulation Scholars FIREARMSREGPROF , where I learned that there had been extensive discussions of the surveys that I had conducted. [Lott also denied participating in “the apparent online newsgroup discussions”. Lott made 173 “Mary Rosh” postings in 2002. Lott was also well aware of the discussion in FIREARMSREGPROF—I emailed him important postings.] The two statements on this were in a long January 14, 2003 e-mail that I sent to Professor Eugene Volokh of UCLA to post on that list serve. It was the first posting that I have made to that forum, and the statement regarding "the firearms discussion group nor in the apparent online newsgroup discussions" was in the context of whether I had been following the discussions there, not as a general denial of ever participating in internet chat rooms. Eugene Volokh can verify whether I participated in that particular forum, neither as myself nor as Mary Rosh. The quote Glenn used was later in the same e-mail that I sent to Volokh. The quote also needs to be read in conjuction with the beginning of the section that quote is in.