John Quiggin comments on the collateral damage the Lott affair has inflicted on Lott’s allies and supporters. Chris Lawrence has an update to his earlier post. Tapped has a brief summary of the latest installment in the saga.
Julian Sanchez and Kevin Drum mention Lott’s response, posted by Glenn Reynolds. Lott says that reason that he removed his name from the paper was because of an editorial dispute with the Stanford Law Review:
When I agreed to do the paper for the Stanford Law Review that responded to Ayres and Donohue’s attack on my work, I got a promise both verbally and in writing that “any reaction to your responses won’t be incorporated into their article, but rather will be part of their reply” (see e-mail below dated August 29, 2002 from Ben Horwich). However, after we completed our piece, Ayres and Donohue insisted on making changes to their original paper. Initially, I declined letting them make the change. The Stanford Law Review (due to pressure from the authors) would not take “no” for an answer. In response, I offered a compromise where we could make one change in exchange for allowing them to make their change. That was turned down. We were then given an ultimatum where we either agree to the change being made or Ayres and Donohue’s paper would be published without ours. (Not surprisingly, the issue of a new change for Ayres and Donohue was revisited yet again when Plassmann and Whitley dealt with the final galleys, but I don’t have the e-mails on this.)
I talked with Jeff Parker at George Mason University about this and he suggested that we withdraw the paper from the review and send it someplace else. That seemed fine with me, but I knew that my younger co-authors would be more risk averse and also wanted the Stanford Law Review’s name. As a second alternative, Jeff suggested that I withdraw my name from the piece and hopefully use it as leverage to get the editors to do the right thing. After communicating with my co-authors that is the response that we agreed to take, and I thought that would be the end of the story.
However, the Stanford Law Review allowed Ayres and Donohue to add an addition to their piece commenting on all this.
The surprising thing about this response is that Lott does not say anything about the serious charge made by Ayres and Donohue: that the results in the Confirming “More Guns, Less Crime” were the product of systematic coding errors. You would think that if there weren’t such errors he would have said so. Or, if there were errors but those errors made no difference to the result, he would have said that. All this stuff about the Stanford Law Review’s editorial practices, even if true, just seems to be an attempt to distract from the vastly more important issue of advancing results based on bad data.
Lott also writes:
“Just for the record, I still believe that ‘Ayres and Donohue have simply misread their own results.'”
Confirming “More Guns, Less Crime” offered two main arguments:
- “Ayres and Donohue have simply misread their own results.”
- “Analyzing county level data for the entire United States from 1977 to 2000, we find annual reductions in murder rates between 1.5 and 2.3 percent for each additional year that a right-to-carry law is in effect.”
Lott says he still believes in number 1. Fine. I’m sure he’s wrong, but what about number 2? Does he still believe that an analysis of correct data from 1977 to 2000 gives those results? Why didn’t he say something like “I stand by everything in that paper”?