Michael Maltz on Lott

Brian Linse comments on Mark Kleiman’s post and suggests that people should write to the University of Chicago Press and ask them to investigate Lott. Tom Spencer also comments on Kleiman’s post, as do Kevin Drum and Matt Yglesias.

Lott has just published an op-ed in the Minneapolis Star Tribune entitled “Gun control advocates’ credibility on line”. This op-ed is largely recycled from one published a couple of weeks ago in the Columbus Dispatch. He cites research by Olson and Maltz that he alleges shows that concealed carry reduced gun carrying by criminals:

Other research, by David Olson at Loyola University and Michael Maltz at the University of Illinois, found that when law-abiding citizens carried concealed handguns, criminals were much less likely to carry guns. In fact, they found gun murders fell by 20 percent.

Maltz replied in a letter to the editor (I don’t know if it was published):

In an effort to promote laws permitting the carrying of concealed weapons, in the April 24th Dispatch John Lott supports his own position by citing research I did with David Olson, purporting to show that these laws reduce homicide. In doing so, Lott bends the truth so much that he breaks its back. Specifically, Lott is well aware of a paper Joseph Targonski and I published in September of last year that points out that the data that we used in that study was problematic and should not be relied upon. The conclusion of our more recent paper is that Lott’s data (and ours) were so error-laden that they cannot be used with any degree of reliability.

What is all the more galling is that Lott has used a pseudonym (“Mary Rosh“) on the Web to vilify my research and that of others. He also used this same pseudonym to write an enthusiastic review of his own book on Amazon.com and to inform others that he was an excellent teacher; in fact, “Mary Rosh” (Lott) wrote of himself that “I have to say that he was the best professor that I ever had.”

Moreover, he claims that he did a survey in 1997, with phone interviews of over 2000 people, for which he has no evidence, saying that the crash of his computer wiped out all of the data. Having gone through the same misfortune, I can well understand how this could devastate one’s research. However, he has no record of how he obtained the sample, of what questions were asked, of who made the phone calls, of how or whether he paid the interviewers, of how they were supervised and their results validated, indeed, of anything that would support his claim that he actually conducted the survey. In short, Lott is not a person whose research I would trust; he is obviously a gun advocate, but he claims to be an unbiased researcher, which he clearly is not. Rather than using research to clarify important policy issues like this one, he instead selects only those “facts” that support his own political position. Worse, he misrepresents the work of other researchers to further his own unsupported claims.