John Lott’s online book reviews

This is an annotated list of John Lott’s on line reviews at Amazon
and at Barnes and Noble.

Most of his reviews were posted anonymously or under a false name, and he used this anonymity to post many five-star reviews of his own books and to pan rival books.

When you post a review at Amazon.com, you can choose to post it
anonymously (in which case it is attributed to “A reader”), or under a
pseudonym that you choose. Lott posted some his reviews using
pseudonyms: maximcl and href="#sherwinrl">sherwinrl, the names of two of his children and
washingtonian2 and href="#maryrosh">maryrosh, the names of href="http://scienceblogs.com/deltoid/2003/12/othersock.php">two of his sock
puppets.

Lott’s other reviews were posted anonymously,
but because Amazon included the location of the reviewer for anonymous
reviews, it is possible to work out which account some of the anonymous reviews were posted from.

Amazon’s Canadian and US sites treat the location of the reviewer
differently. On the US site, all the reviews by a reviewer have
the same location
—the one given for the most recent review.
This location changes if the reviewer posts a review of some other
book and gives a different location.
On the Canadian site the location is the one given
when the review was posted. In the list below I put the location
found on Amazon’s Canadian site in square brackets, and earlier
locations found on the US site in round brackets. For example,
the href="#malcolm">review of Joyce Lee Malcolm’s book is quoted
like this:

Reviewer: A reader from Washington, DC (Swarthmore, PA USA) [Washington, DC]

That means that on Amazon’s US site the reviewer is from
Washington, DC (where Lott works), the location on their US site used
to be Swarthmore (where Lott lives), while on their Canadian site the reviewer is from Washington (where Lott works).
There are several other reviews with the same pattern of location changes.
These changes in location occurred at the same time.
In November 2003 the location changed from Washington DC to Swarthmore when washingtonian2 posted a review (now deleted) of MacOS X 10.3.
The reviews changed back to being from Washington DC on December 7, 2003 when washingtonian2 posted a review of The Company : A Short History of a Revolutionary Idea.
We can be certain that all these reviews were posted from washingtonian2′s Amazon account, the same account used for the review of Joyce Lee Malcolm’s book.
And we know this review was written by Lott because he signed his name to it.

The other reviews were picked out from the reviews of Lott’s books
because of the writing style. It may not be so obvious when you see
them in this list, but when you see them amongst all the other reviews
at Amazon, they stand out because of the distinctive use of language
(such as phrases like “as an academic” and “sets the standard”).
and repeating Lott’s favourite talking points about his book.

After the reviews were picked out because of the writing style, this was corroborated by the reviewer location:
places where Lott lived or worked.

Chicago
Lott worked at the University of Chicago till
mid 1999
Madison, Wisconsin
Lott lived here while working at Chicago
Swarthmore, Philadelphia
Lott lived here after mid 1999
Washington DC
Lott currently works at the American
Enterprise Institute in Washington

More Guns, Less Crime

by John Lott

Comments from the book’s reviewers:,
March 10, 1998
Reviewer: john_lott@law.uchicago.edu from Madison,
Wisconsin
“This sophisticated analysis yields a well established conclusion that
supports the wisdom of the Second Amendment to the United
States Constitution rather than of those who would limit the
right of law-abiding citizens to own and carry guns. The
general reader may find of most interest chapter 7 which
documents how far ‘politically correct’ vested interests are
willing to go denigrate anyone who dares disagree with
them. John Lott has done us all a service by his thorough,
thoughtful scholarly approach to a highly controversial
issue.”-Milton Friedman

[Other quotes omitted]

For this review Lott did the right thing—he signed his own name
to it and told Amazon that it was from the author and hence it
does not include a star rating. Would that he had done that for
all the ones below.

More Guns, Less Crime

by John Lott

Required reading for those interested in
what causes crime!
, August 8, 1998
Reviewer: A reader from Madison, Wisconsin [Chicago]
More Guns, Less Crime is a very readable and thorough examination of
the relationship between gun ownership and its deterrent
effect on criminal activity. Professor Lott explodes myths
about crime that go unquestioned in the press
everyday. Should people behave passively when confronted by
a criminal? Are people that we know a threat to us? What are
the real risks in having a gun in the home? Do guns save
more lives than they endanger? This book answers these
questions and many, many more. I will never listen to the
news media reports on crime the same way again. –This text
refers to the Hardcover edition

Lott’s first anonymous review. At that time he was a John M. Olin
Fellow at Chicago and not allowed to style himself as “Professor
Lott”. He calls himself “Professor Lott” in several other reviews
as well.

More Guns, Less Crime

by John Lott

Extremely well written book, August 10, 1998
Reviewer: A reader [from Madison, Wisconsin]

This book explodes many myths about crime and guns. Professor Lott has
put together a truly monumental study on crime. This is one book
that people will be discussing for many years to come.

More Guns, Less Crime

by John Lott


Clearly written and a truly thought provoking book
, January 15,
1999
Reviewer: A reader [from Chicago]

It is too bad that there isn’t more of this clear headed and factual
discussion of important issues that directly impact people’s
lives. This book may not have completely changed my mind on
the issue of gun control, but I have certainly gone from
automatically supporting controls to a much more agnostic
position.

Probably the most important thing that I learned from this book is
that sometimes what may seem like the most obvious, simplest
solutions to problems can have unintended consequences. I
guess that I have become more concerned that we must be
careful that gun control policies do not the primarily disarm
law-abiding “good” citizens, who are most likely to obey any
new laws. I guess that I have also come to believe that guns
not only have obvious bad effects, but also beneficial ones
for people’s safety and that we must ask what is the net
effect of new rules. Lott’s powerful evidence that it is poor
minorities who live in high crime areas who benefit the most
from being able to defend themselves hit me hard.

The evidence on accidental gun deaths was also very surprising. With
all the national news coverage of accidental gun deaths
involving young children, I would never have guessed until I
read Lott’s book how infrequent these events are. Again what
is most powerful about the book is not that Lott denies the
problems, but that he asks how do the benefits compare with
the costs: Do guns on net save childrens’ and adults’ lives?
Just as getting rid of pools would prevent drownings but
simultaneously eliminate important benefits, Lott shows that
more lives are saved than lost from gun ownership.

I was also deeply bothered by the outrageous attacks that gun control
organizations like Handgun Control launched against Lott. –This
text refers to the Hardcover edition

More Guns, Less Crime

by John Lott

A reviewer, from Madison, Wisconsin, April 19, 1999, src="http://scienceblogs.com/deltoid/5stars.gif">
Clearly written and a truly thought provoking book
It is too bad that there isn’t more of this clear headed and factual
discussion of important issues that directly impact people’s
lives. This book may not have completely changed my mind on the
issue of gun control, but I have certainly gone from
automatically supporting controls to a much more agnostic
position. Probably the most important thing that I learned from
this book is that sometimes what may seem like the most obvious,
simplest solutions to problems can have unintended
consequences. I guess that I have become more concerned that we
must be careful that gun control policies do not the primarily
disarm law-abiding ‘good’ citizens, who are most likely to obey
any new laws. I guess that I have also come to believe that guns
not only have obvious bad effects, but also beneficial ones for
people’s safety and that we must ask what is the net effect of
new rules. Lott’s powerful evidence that it is poor minorities
who live in high crime areas who benefit the most from being
able to defend themselves hit me hard. The evidence on
accidental gun deaths was also very surprising. With all the
national news coverage of accidental gun deaths involving young
children, I would never have guessed until I read Lott’s book
how infrequent these events are. Again what is most powerful
about the book is not that Lott denies the problems, but that he
asks how do the benefits compare with the costs: Do guns on net
save childrens’ and adults’ lives? Just as getting rid of pools
would prevent drownings but simultaneously eliminate important
benefits, Lott shows that more lives are saved than lost from
gun ownership. I was also deeply bothered by the outrageous
attacks that gun control organizations like Handgun Control
launched against Lott.

This is the only review he posted at Barnes and Noble. It is just a copy of
the previous review.

More Guns, Less Crime

by John Lott

Clearly written and a truly thought provoking book, April
23, 1999
Reviewer: A customer from Springfield, Illinois

This well written book explodes many myths about crime and guns. It
is really amazing how many claims printed in the mainstream media
really endanger people’s lives (e.g., should you behave passively
when confronted by a criminal?). It is amazing how many “facts” the
mainstream media tells us are completely misleading (e.g., they tell
us that most murders are committed by acquaintances, but they forget
to inform us that most acquaintance murders are committed by rival
gang members).

I learned a great deal from this book, and it was enjoyable to read.
Professor Lott has put together a truly monumental study on crime.
This is one book that people will be discussing for many years to
come.

This review does not have a location where Lott lived or worked, but it is
an expanded version of this review by Lott.

More Guns, Less Crime

by John Lott

A straight forward accounting
of both the benefits and costs
, April 30, 1999
Reviewer: A reader [from Chicago, Illinois]

This book may not have completely changed my mind on the issue of gun
control, but I have certainly gone from automatically supporting
controls to a much more agnostic position. A friend of mine had
been begging me for a while to read the book, and I have to
confess that I am glad that she did. It has surely caused me to
think more critically about the current debate.

I must say I have been most impressed by Professor Lott’s ability to
acknowledge both the costs and bennefits of guns. When there are
costs or benefits Lott lays them out and tries to measure them.

I have also been learned that what might appear to be the most obvious
response is not always the best. With all the heat that this
debate has generated, it is nice to see someone clearly and
dispationately lay out all the evidence.

Here he is pretending to be someone on the other side who has been
swayed by his book. He uses this device in several other reviews.

href="http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/0202305694/qid=1070770750/sr=1-2/ref=sr_1_2/102-4303283-8753732?v=glance&s=books">Targeting Guns

by Gary Kleck

Pretty disappointing, May
13, 1999
Reviewer: A reader from Madison, Wisconsin

I thought that Gary Kleck’s “Point Blank” was OK, but this book is
basically a reprint of that one with a few updated numbers and a new
title. I must confess that I felt cheated.

What bothers me the most about this book is that Kleck continually
argues that guns produce no net benefit or harm, but I could not find
any evidence that directly proves this contention. If someone could
point to the page that he provides direct evidence on this, I would
appreciate it because I completely missed it.

I thought John Lott’s book (More Guns, Less Crime) was vastly
superior. When he makes a claim the evidence he marshalls is directly
on point, and I thought that his book was much more clearly
written. The two books aren’t even close in quality.

Finally, I was also bothered with some of Kleck’s discussion of other
research. Kleck gets upset when others attack him by saying that
something might explain away his results, but they refuse to say what
those unexplained factors are. Kleck is correct to be upset this
with. But he unfortunately does the same things to others.

In this book Kleck rejected Lott’s conclusion, writing :

More likely, the declines in crime coinciding with relaxation of carry laws were largely attributable to other factors not controlled in the Lott and Mustard analysis.

Kleck said that “other factors” likely caused the crime reductions and
this is what Lott is complaining about in his last sentence and
why he panned this book.

href="http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/0226493555/qid=1077023149/sr=1-3/ref=sr_1_3/102-6943186-5964128?v=glance&s=books">Are Predatory Commitments Credible?

by John Lott

Must Reading for the Microsoft and American Airlines
Cases
, July 29, 1999
Reviewer: A reader [from Washington, D.C.]
If you want to understand the government’s charges against American
Airlines or Microsoft, this book lets you know where they are
coming from and why their cases make so little sense. I saw Lott
recently on CSPAN discussing this book and it lived up to its
billing. As the Chicago Professor says in a dust cover blurb,
Lott demolishes any evidence that predatory pricing is an
important phenomenon. This book is worthwhile reading even if
you only want to learn how to set up and present empirical
evidence in a clear convincing manner. I was particularly
impressed by how he took the time to clearly describe the
arguments on both sides of the debate.

More Guns, Less Crime

by John Lott

A MUST BUY! DEMOLISHES GUN CONTROL MYTHS
THAT ENDANGER LIVES
, July 30, 1999
Reviewer: A reader [from Philadelphia]
Great book. As an academic, with all the garabage research that gets
covered by the press, I can’t believe that this book hasn’t
gotten more news coverage. If everyone actually read this book,
we would have a lot fewer deaths. It is extremely well written
and explains to people where the different claims that they hear
come from. I have never seen such a careful indepth study of any
issue. This guy really sets the standard for research! Despite
what might be good intentions (though after reading chapter 7 I
have real doubts about their intentions) gun control advocates
are endangering people’s lives. The press really needs to think
twice about the impact that their newscoverage has on people’s
safety. I can understand why bad events get so much news
coverage relative to good events, but this lopsided coverage
creates some real misimpressions. –This text refers to the
Hardcover edition


More Guns, Less Crime

by John Lott

SAVE YOUR LIFE, READ THIS
BOOK — GREAT BUY!!!!
, August 18, 1999
Reviewer: href="http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/cm/member-reviews/-/A2YEJJ5M2WQK4J/ref%3Dcm%5Faya%5Fbb%5Frev/102-4303283-8753732">maryrosh (see more about me) from Philadelphia
If you want to learn about what can stop crime or if you want to learn
about many of the myths involving crime that endanger people’s
lives, this is the book to get. It was very interesting reading
and Lott writes very well. He explains things in an understandable
commonsense way. I have loaned out my copy a dozen times and while
it may have taken some effort to get people started on the book,
once they read it no one was disappointed.If you want an emotional
book, this is not the book for you. If you want a book with the
facts, a book that tells you the benefits and risks from
protecting yourself and your family from crime, a book that will
explain the facts in a straightforward and clear way, this is the
book to get.This is by far the largest most comprehensive study on
crime, let alone on gun control. Professor Lott examines crime
rates as well as accidental gun deaths and suicides for all 3,056
counties in the United States by year for 18 years. By comparison,
the previous largest study on gun control examined 170 cities
within one single year 1980. Lott examined 54,000 observations and
the previous largest study looked at 170 observations. Lott used
all the FBI data that was available from the first year that they
released the county level data to the last year that they had put
it out when he wrote his book. Unlike other studies, Lott used all
the data that was available. He did not pick certain cities to
include and others to exclude. No previous study had accounted for
even a small fraction of the variables that he accounted for.

This is Lott’s most famous anonymous review, making it into the href="http://www.washingtonpost.com/ac2/wp-dyn/A8884-2003Jan31?">Washington Post. Lott claims that his thirteen-year-old sold wrote it but
href="http://cgi.cse.unsw.edu.au/~lambert/cgi-bin/blog/2003/02#0201">his claim is almost certainly false. It was later deleted by Amazon.

More Guns, Less Crime

by John Lott

Very well written, solid researched
book
, 30. Januar 2000
Rezensentin/Rezensent: Rezensentin/Rezensent aus
Philadelphia

This book is an excellent read that demolishes the many myths spread
in the popular press about guns and crime. By grossly
exaggerating the risks of having a gun in the home and failing
to report the frequent defensive uses of guns, the media
endangers people’s lives.

I have a hard time believing that most of the negative reviewers have
even read the book. The reviewer who worries about the impact of
Florida on the results could not have read the book (see for
example pp. 139-41). It is simply bizarre to claim that Lott
doesn’t give enough attention to the issue of causality. Not
only does the decline in crime occur in many different states
when those states adopted their laws in many different
years. But the decline is closely related to the number of
permits issued. Lott also goes through evidence of counties
which border each other in neighboring states with and without
the right to carry laws. Guess what the crime rate goes down in
the county with the law at the same time that it is going up in
the neighboring county without the law. Lott has about 5 other
points on the issue of causality.

The earlier reviewer from Australia who mentions the international
comparison has definitely not read the book. Lott specifically
points out how when you look at all the countries for which the
data is available higher gun ownership countries do not have
higher homicide rates. This myth is because of the selective
picking of only a few countries to make a comparison with.

Finally, let me say that those who attack the book because it is
supposedly not a fun read are just trying to discourage others
from reading the book. I have seen statements from everyone from
Tom Sowell to Milton Friedman to James Q. Wilson saying what a
well written book this is and how valuable of a factual source
it is. Those attacking the book will stop at nothing to keep
other people from even looking at it. They know that once people
read it they will understand that all the attacks on it are
completely bogus. The media has done a horrible job covering
this book. It is so easy to verify whether Lott has taken into
account the other explanations for why crime rates have changed
over time, and they are afraid that those who have lied about
Lott’s research will lose their credibility.

Those attacking Lott will stop at nothing to keep you from reading
this book. Don’t let them succeed. As Sean Hannity says, “this
is the most important, best written book that has ever been
written on guns.”

This review seems to have also been deleted when the href="#maryrosh">Mary Rosh review was deleted. Presumably
that was because this review was posted anonymously from Mary
Rosh’s Amazon account
and when Amazon deleted all of Mary Rosh’s reviews they also
deleted the anonymous ones. I retrieved it from Amazon’s German
site (the Mary Rosh review is still there as well).

More Guns, Less Crime

by John Lott

Well-written, important,
powerful book
, June 12, 2000
Reviewer: A reader from Philadelphia, PA
Here are just a few of the academics who have expressed admiration for Lott’s pathbreaking book. Few people have both the real world law enforcement experience and extenstive research background to take on this explosive issue of guns and crime. This is what the experts in the field think of Lott’s book. (The quotes are from the paperback version of the book.)

“John Lott has done the most extensive, thorough, and sophisticated study we have on the effects of loosening gun control laws.” — Gary Kleck, Professor, Florida State University

[Other quotes omitted]

The book has gotten similar positive comments from those working in law enforcement. This is a great book.

href="http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/0202305694/qid=1070770750/sr=1-2/ref=sr_1_2/102-4303283-8753732?v=glance&s=books">Targeting Guns

by Gary Kleck

NOT ANYWHERE AS GOOD AS LOTT, June 13, 2000
Reviewer: A reader from Philadelphia, PA

This update of Kleck’s “Point Blank” is useful, though I have a few
serious problems with it and ultimately I came away from the book
disappointed. Before stating my problems, however, I will give Kleck
this much, he is frequently unfairly attacked by gun control
advocates. In some sense, Kleck’s work really should not bother them
too much because he is really saying that guns don’t matter. If they
want to get rid of guns and it makes them feel better, let them do it
because nothing will change.

I will also say that the book provides a useful source for the
literature on guns.

Here are my most basic problems with the book:

How does one get from his survey data to his conclusion that guns on
net produce no benefit?

Kleck oversells the quality of his empirical work. If one wants to see
the best empirical work on crime, read Lott’s More Guns, Less Crime
(the second edition is even much better than the first). The
difference in the amount of time that these authors put into doing
their studies isn’t even comparable. The inability to even account for
other factors like arrest or conviction rates or the death penalty or
prison sentences or illegal drug prices or almost anything else is
disturbing. As to the previous review that Kleck somehow alone in
understooding that higher crime rates can cause increased gun
ownership, my advice is that he actually read Lott and see how one is
supposed to take this into account correctly. By the way, once one
does this and takes into account the other factors that influence
crime, Lott is correct: More Guns mean Less Crime.

Personally, I also don’t understand Kleck’s criticizisms of Lott’s
work. In a sentence he guesses that something else might exist which
could explain away why concealed handgun laws reduce crime, but then
he fails to even hazard what else should be accounted for.

The previous day, Lott posted a review of his
own book, quoting praise from Kleck. He returns the favour by
stabbing Kleck in the back.


href="http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/0202305694/qid=1070770750/sr=1-2/ref=sr_1_2/102-4303283-8753732?v=glance&s=books">Targeting Guns

by Gary Kleck

Interesting reference book,
though somewhat dry
, July 10, 2000
Reviewer: sherwinrl from Miami, Florida

Kleck has but together quite a useful overview of the research on
guns. I liked the detailed discussions of the existing
literature, and, as a nonacademic, I did not find it too
difficult to read. Unlike the other reviewers who are picking
a fit between Kleck and Lott, I thought that both were
valuable. They both have their strengths. Kleck’s is to use
survey data, while Lott’s is to examine the impact of gun
ownership and gun laws on crime rates. Both books go into the
other’s territory (as they should), but their relative
strengths are clear.

On the survey data, I wish that Kleck would have dealt more with the
survey data about offensive gun use. I also wish that he could
explain why his survey data does not imply a net benefit from
using guns.

My only real complaint on the quality of the writing is that too much
of the book is such and such shows this and such and such
shows that and …. This is fine if the book is to serve as a
reference source. It is not too thrilling to have to read
through.

sherwinrl would be Sherwin R Lott, John Lott’s fourth
son, the Sh in MaRy RoSh and about eight when this
review was posted. Lott also posted a review under the name
maximcl, his oldest child. Cute trick he has, posting under his
children’s names. Anyway, the first review is confirmed as one by
Lott and I’ve found yet another one of Lott’s reviews of Kleck.

And notice how in this review he writes “Unlike the other reviewers
who are picking a fit between Kleck and Lott, I thought that
both were valuable.” He’s referring to two previous reviews,
one by “A reader from Philadelphia” and one by “A reader from
Madison Wisconsin
“. Only they were two more of Lott’s sock puppets.
We’re entering higher-order sock puppetry when you have
your socks arguing with each other.

More Guns, Less Crime

by John Lott

If you are interested in the facts, read
this book
, July 10, 2000
Reviewer: A reader from Miami, Florida

A couple of friends of mine have been nagging me to read this book for
a couple of years. When the second edition came out I finally
gave in and got it (for $9.60 I couldn’t argue that the price
was too high). Anyway, I am only sorry that I didn’t read this
book earlier. As an academic and a person who has been
somewhat anti-gun, I had two reactions to the book.

1) I was amazed by how much research went into this book. I have never
seen so many different data sets been used so
comprehensively. State level, county level, and city level
data is used, and not just from a few jurisdictions but for
the entire country. Just the work that he has done on the
impact of police on crime is amazing by itself.

2) The attacks on Lott disgust me. I confess that I have seen some of
these claims in the press (about things like whether he
accounts for certain factors or not), but one thing is obvious
– the point of these attacks is to keep people from even
reading the book. It is a high risk strategy because anyone
who spends a half hour with this book will realize that those
attacking Lott are lying constantly. How amazingly false these
attacks surely made me wonder about other things that the
media tries to push.

Finally, let me just say this is a book that shows you how research
should be done. It is also written in a way that I wish
other research was written. It is very clearly written and
accessible to a very wide range of readers. To much of
what academics write these days is filled with
jargon. This book has changed my views when I didn’t think
that they could be changed.

Miami is not one the locations associated with Lott, but the same day
he posted another review from Miami and signed it with his son’s
name, so we can be sure this is by Lott as well.

More Guns, Less Crime

by John Lott

Second edition is even more
powerful than the first edition
, October 26, 2000
Reviewer: maximcl from Philadelphia
As an academic I can honestly say that I have never seen so much data
assembled to study a topic. There is no doubt that Lott has
done by far the most comprehensive study on crime ever
conducted. Not only is it the largest number of counties and
cities studied over the longest period of time, but he
accounts for more factors than anyone else has even come close
to accounting for. It is an impressive accomplishment, but
just as amazingly Lott provides this information in a readable
and interesting manner. Most academics are unable to explain
what they have done in common sense easily understandable
terms. Not Lott. He eliminates the useless jargon that fills
academic discussions and discusses what he has done in readily
accessible terms. If you understand percentages, you will
understand this work.

I also have to comment on some of the critical comments made by other
readers here. I can only conclude that they have not read
the book. As someone who has seen and been involved in
academic debates, this is a particularly strange
discussion. People repeat claims that they must have heard
others make, but they are not correct. Take the review below
by Mark Wylie.

1) The Robbery Problem. “In fact, Lott finds that the impact of
shall-issue laws on robbery rates is far smaller than on
other violent crimes.” This is false. Here is just a
fraction of the pages that argue that the effect on robbery
is very large (indeed, the largest single effect): 78, 133,
137, 173, and 215-217.

2) The Adult/Juvenile Homicide Problem. Wyle writes: “Lott’s analysis
makes no distinction between murders of adults and
juveniles.” Again, this is completely false. Lott not only
discusses this possibility early on but he goes through a
discussion to explain how the results for these different
age groups all fit together. See for example Lott’s
discussion on pages 98 and 147-148.

3) The Stranger Homicide Problem. Lott explains that gun ownership can
also stop attacks when the attacker knows the victim. For
example, see his discussion on pages 148-150.

Possibly, these attacks will work as long as they keep people from
reading this book, but once people read it they will be
amazed about how much that they have heard is so completely
false. It is amazing that those like Wylie, who make claims
such as Lott “makes no distinction” about the impacts of the
law by age, make attacks that are so easily disproved once
someone reads the book. Either he did or did not make this
distinction. Any reader will clearly see that he spends
substantial time on this point.

maximcl would be Maxim Christopher Lott, John Lott’s son, the
“Ma” in MaRy RoSh. The same son who Lott tried to
blame
for the Mary Rosh review. Now it is obvious from the writing
style that John and not fourteen-year-old Maxim wrote it, but
anyone who wants to argue that Maxim did write it has to face the
fact that it begins “As an academic” and fourteen is
too young to be an academic.

Gun Violence : The Real Costs

by Philip J. Cook, Jens Ludwig

Very disappointing
research
, September 21, 2001
Reviewer: A reader from Washington, DC (Swarthmore, PA USA) [Washington, DC]
This book is obviously strongly on our side, but unfortunately it is
not going to provide us with serious evidence. Suppose someone
challenges me on how they got their $100 billion estimate of the
costs of guns. Will I be taken seriously if I tell them that the
book relies on one public survey question in one survey? If I do
use this number, where does that leave me in arguing with gun
nuts that cite these wacky surveys showing that guns are used
defensively 2.5 million times a year? So they have 16 surveys. I
don’t believe any of them, but what do I say when they say I
only use a survey to measure the costs, why not also the
benefits? What if the gun nut morons point out that the
estimates of benefits from the surveys are greater than our
estimated costs? The one paragraph that Cook and Ludwig have on
defensive gun uses being silly could just as well be used
against their reliance on a survey. I want to use the figures
here, but could one of the people on our side write a review
saying how I could respond to these concerns. Absent that this
book risks making us look rather silly and
hypocritical.

Now, some would argue that Lott is being dishonest here in pretending
to be a supporter of gun control who is looking for good evidence
to use against those “gun nut morons”, but I would
like to suggest an alternative explanation: John Lott really is on
the side of gun control and he really thinks that the pro-gun
folks are “gun nut morons”. The whole “More
Guns, Less Crime” thing with the fake survey and the
cherry-picked models has been an elaborate plot to discredit the
pro-gun side of the debate. So far it is working.

href="http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/0756764211/qid=1115825238/sr=1-2/ref=sr_1_2/104-3638334-5299164?v=glance&s=books">Arming
America: The Origins of a National Gun Culture

by Michael Bellesiles

Fraud, October 2, 2001
Reviewer: href="http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/cm/member-reviews/-/A2E612F97JB6X2/1/ref=cm_cr_auth/102-4303283-8753732">washingtonian2 (see more about me) from Washington, DC

It is deeply troubling when an academic refuses to give his data to
others. It is also deeply troubling when he can’t even tell other
academics where he got the data, especially when by all accounts it
doesn’t exist. What data does exist does not remotely match the
results that Bellesiles claimed in his book. After reading the Boston
Globe piece see:

http://www.nationalreview.com/search-results/01oct01/seckora100101.shtml

, which details the other continually changing explanations Bellesiles
has provided for where he got the data.

The Boston Globe
September 11, 2001, Tuesday ,THIRD EDITION

A few days later, Mary Rosh made a href="http://cgi.cse.unsw.edu.au/~lambert/cgi-bin/blog/guns/files/maryrosh.html#2001-10-05">similar criticism of Bellesiles on Usenet. This review has since been deleted.


More Guns, Less Crime

by John Lott

Important accurate info that
Opponents constantly distort
, November 8, 2001
Reviewer: href="http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/cm/member-reviews/-/A2E612F97JB6X2/1/ref=cm_cr_auth/102-4303283-8753732">washingtonian2 (see more about me) from Washington, DC (Swarthmore, PA USA) [Washington, DC]

This is by far the most comprehensive study ever done on guns. It
provides extensive evidence on waiting periods, the Brady Act,
one-gun-a-month rules, concealed handgun laws. For some gun
laws this is the only study available and it is important to
note how many academics have tired to challenge his work on
concealed handgun laws and failed and that no one has even
bothered to try and challenge his work on one-gun-a-month laws
and other gun control laws.

I am constantly amused the lengths to which reviewers here will go to
distort Lott’s research. Take the one by the Australian who
claims that Lott doesn’t explain why he uses the polling data
that he does on gun ownership rates. If he was honest, he
would note that Lott talks about these being the largest
surveys on gun ownership rates available and that it is
necessary to have such a large survey to get detailed
information at the state level. A survey of 1,000 or even
1,500 people nationally is not enough to allow you to make
comparisons across individual states.

These guys will do anything to keep people from reading Lott’s work.

“Washingtonian” was a href="http://cgi.cse.unsw.edu.au/~lambert/cgi-bin/blog/2003/12#othersock">pseudonym
that Lott used on freerepublic.com. Although the href="http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/cm/member-glance/-/A2E612F97JB6X2/002-8445506-6695243">About
washingtonian2 page just gives the nickname “washingtonian2″, if
you look at washingtonian2′s href="http://www.cse.unsw.edu.au/~lambert/guns/jlwishcache.html">Wish
List, you’ll see that washingtonian2′s real name is “JL”. These
are, of course, John Lott’s initials. A few minutes after I posted
the link
to washingtonian2′s Wish List, it was href="http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/cm/member-glance/-/A2E612F97JB6X2/002-8445506-6695243">deleted
(the link above is to a copy I saved).

href="http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/0195136861/cm_aya_asin.title/102-4303283-8753732?v=glance&s=books">Punishment and Democracy: 3 Strikes and You’re Out in California

by Zimring, Hawkins and Kamin

Disappointing, December 13, 2001
Reviewer: href="http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/cm/member-reviews/-/A2E612F97JB6X2/1/ref=cm_cr_auth/102-6943186-5964128">washingtonian2
(see more about me) from Washington, DC (Swarthmore,
PA USA)[Washington, DC]
This is an important topic, but the empirical work in this book is at
the level of the average newspaper. The work doesn’t even take
into account that all counties in California didn’t follow the
rules. What about simultaneously trying to account for arrest
rate and conviction rates or changes in any other factors that
affect crime?

Oddly enough, Zimring and Hawkins wrote an article dismissing
Lott’s “More Guns, Less Crime” thesis.

href="http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/0761525580/ref=pd_sim_books_3/102-4303283-8753732?v=glance&s=books">The Seven Myths of Gun Control

by Richard Poe

Well done popularized version
of earlier work
, December 26, 2001
Reviewer: A reader from Washington, DC
This book is a fast read, and it serves a useful niche taking the
research done by others and presenting the work in such a way
that it is easily understood by a wide audience. While the book
addresses second amendment issues, the biggest emphasis is on
how gun control increases crime. It is on this last point that
the book relies very, very heavily on John Lott’s More Guns,
Less Crime and his op-ed pieces. Even though I had read Lott’s
book, I hadn’t read some of his op-ed pieces, so I still got
something out of even this discussion. I also think that Poe
does a good job of simplifying some of Lott’s discussions. My
bottom line: is that Poe’s book is still a valuable addition to
Lott’s book.

I almost think this should count this as another five-star self-review of
More Guns, Less Crime, since it mentions Lott twice as often as
the author of the book that is ostensibly being reviewed.

href="http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/1573928836/qid=1070769546/sr=5-3/ref=cm_lm_asin/102-4303283-8753732?v=glance">Armed: New Perspectives on Gun Control

by Kleck and Kates:

How many times can you write
a book repeating the same point
, January 1, 2002
Reviewer: A reader from Washington, DC

I have read Targeting Guns and Point Blank. Point Blank was a
classic. Target Guns, despite the different title, was simply an
update of that book. I have also read the previous book by Kates and
Kleck entitled The Great American Gun Debate. My biggest problem is
that the same arguments keep on getting repeated over and over
again. What is the deal with this?

My second problem is why does Kleck seem to always feel so strongly
that guns do not on net decrease crime. This book again talks about
defensive gun use and implies that it is much more prevelant than the
bad things that happen with guns used in crime, but never, ever
explains why he thinks that the net effect is a wash. Can someone
please explain this to me?

My third problem is Kleck appears to really dislike Lott. He can’t
even accurately discuss what research Lott has done on concealed
handguns. To Kleck the only thing that Lott has done is examine the
before and after crime rates with respect to concealed handgun
laws. Give me a break!

I confess that I couldn’t bring myself to finish reading this book. By
the time I got 3/4′s of the way through I realized that the odds that
“Armed” would bring up a new argument were extremely small. If it
wasn’t for my respect for Kleck’s work in Point Blank, I would have
given this book only one star.

What evidence is there in this book that “Kleck appears to really dislike Lott”? Kleck hardly mentions Lott at all. In 360 pages, this is all he says about him:

Economists John Lott and David Mustard found that crime rates declined in states with right-to-carry laws after the laws went into effect, to a greater extent than in states without the laws, and attributed these decreases in a greater perception of risk from victims among prospective offenders. Deterrence was necessarily very indirectly inferred, and crime decreases that might have been attributed to other factors were attributed to unmeasured changes in criminal perceptions of risk.

I think Lott was sore because Kleck did not give Lott’s
research the prominence that Lott thinks it deserves, so Lott let
him have it with another anonymous two-star review.

href="http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/6304016476/ref=cm_aya_asin.title/104-9145895-8863133?%5Fencoding=UTF8&v=glance">James Stewart Westerns Boxed Set

Shenadoah is a classic, January 1, 2002
Reviewer: href="http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/cm/member-glance/-/A1AKCBCIK88ARJ/ref=cm_cr_auth/104-9145895-8863133">John R. Lott, Jr. from Washington, DC – See all my reviews

Jimmy Stewart has many great films, but Shenandoah is one of his
best. The struggle of the Stewart character to keep his family out of
the Civil War is deeply moving. It is only when the North captures
Stewart’s youngest son that he is forced to take action.

The
Far Country and Bend of the River are also good movies, but I would
buy this again just for Shenandoah.

Nothing wrong with this review, so he didn’t post it anonymously, but
notice that it was posted on the same day and from the same
location as the preceding review of Kleck’s book.

Bubbleology: The New Science of Stock Market Winners and Losers

by Kevin Hassett

A “how to book” that is not
very clear
, August 3, 2002
Reviewer: A reader from Washington, DC (Swarthmore, PA USA) [Washington, DC]
Despite Mr. Hassett’s track record with his previous book “Dow
36,000,” I saw him appear on CNBC during the early morning show
and thought that he did well enough that I should buy the
book. He promised that you could use his book to figure out what
stocks were overvalued and which ones weren’t. A pretty
important topic given the current market environment. However,
after reading this short book I have no idea of how to actually
rank stocks on the 1 to 6 scale that he uses. He doesn’t
actually provide concrete examples, only that he says that he
put together this ranking and it worked really well. My other
problem is that if this approach works so well how come he
didn’t use it when his “Dow 36,000″ book came out when the stock
market was at its peak. Some explanation would have been useful
for why Hassett, who is marketing this book as a full proof
approach to spotting bubbles, wasn’t able to use this approach
himself over just the last couple of years to warn people and
predict which stocks were going to crash, a period when he was
supposedly writing this book. Claiming that you use a not
clearly stated formula to identify overvalued stocks after they
have already crashed seems like a scam to me. —This text refers
to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title

Why would Lott anonymously attack a fellow AEI scholar? It’s
intriguing. Perhaps there was a fight over a parking space? Or
maybe there is some internal AEI politics going on here?

Guns and Violence: The English Experience

by Joyce Lee Malcolm

A sweeping history of the
English crime rate, a must read
, September 16, 2002
Reviewer: A reader from Washington, DC (Swarthmore, PA USA) [Washington, DC]
Joyce Lee Malcolm has put together an excellent, very readable study
that should cause many to rethink the claims that Britain has a
lower homicide rate because they have so many gun control
regulations. What Malcolm shows is that British murder rates
were declining for centuries before gun control was started and
had reached very low rates by the turn of the last century. It
is only once gun control was implemented that the crime rate
began to slowly rise. Malcolm’s findings should be a warning to
those who rely on simple cross-sectional comparisons, without
taking into account that crime rates can vary for many different
reasons. Any one interested in history generally or in the gun
debate in particular will find this very interesting reading.

John R. Lott, Jr.

We know Lott wrote this review because he signed his name at the end. The reviews in this list with the
same pattern of reviewer location changes were posted from the same Amazon account and must also have been written by Lott.

Nine Crazy Ideas in Science: A Few Might Even Be True.

by Robert Ehrlich

Very low level of
sophistication
, October 23, 2002
Reviewer: A reader from Washington, DC (Swarthmore, PA USA) [Washington, DC]
The level of data analysis in this book is somewhat above op-ed
writing, but not very much. Crime rates are analyzed without any
other factors being accounted for. The analysis on energy is no
more sophisticated. The guy should stick to his areas of
expertise, but this is really poorly done.

This is the only one-star review of this book on Amazon. All the other
reviewers gave it at least three stars. Why such a negative review?
Well, one of the nine crazy ideas is Lott’s “More
guns, Less crime” and Ehrlich doesn’t think much of
that idea. (You can read an on-line debate between Ehrlich and
Lott here.)

href="http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/0895261146/qid=1077022915/sr=1-1/ref=sr_1_1/102-6943186-5964128?v=glance&s=books">The Bias Against Guns

by John Lott

The Blurbs Say It All, March
16, 2003
Reviewer: A reader from Philadelphia, PA United States

Even for a cynic such as myself, Lott’s documentation of how the
media and the government distort our perceptions of guns is
amazing. The research that went into this book is
impressive. He documents not only the imbalance in
newscoverage but also how the media actually makes news to
discredit guns. He shows how government studies systematically
measure only the bad things that happen with guns and never
discuss the benefits.

“If you want the truth the anti-gunners don’t want you to know… you
need a copy of The Bias Against Guns.” —Sean Hannity, of Fox
News Channel’s Hannity & Colmes

[Other quotes omitted]

Most impressively he also provides all his data to people who what to
recheck the work that he has done on the benefits of keeping
guns in the home as well as his work on gun shows, concealed
handgun laws, one-gun-a-month rules, and “assault weapons”
bans. The web site is noted in the book as (…).

Posted less than a week after the book was released.

href="http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/0895261146/qid=1077022915/sr=1-1/ref=sr_1_1/102-6943186-5964128?v=glance&s=books">The Bias Against Guns

by John Lott

Endorsements from Three Nobel
Prize Winners and a Rock Star!
, March 21, 2003
Reviewer: A reader from Swarthmore, PA USA
This book deserves the endorsements that it has from three Nobel Prize
winners. The discussion of media and government bias is great,
but it could be even longer than the two chapters currently
devoted to the topic. I liked the stories that he had about the
New York Times and the Washington Post, but the facts on how the
media systematically only reports bad events goes beyond
annecdotal stories and really nails the argument. The discussion
of government funded research was also very interesting as Lott
shows how easy it would be to look at both the costs and
benefits of guns but that the government is only interested in
measuring the costs. This book is a very important book.

… and he posted another review a few days later for good measure.

More Guns, Less Crime

by John Lott

Powerful book that sets the standard for academic
research
, April 19, 2003
Reviewer: A reader from USA

Few books have had their conclusions evaluated as closely and
carefully as this book. Academic after academic has replicated his
results, and since he has made his data available to others many have
examined to see how sensitive to including other variables to explain
whether the crime rate declines after shall issue concealed handgun
laws are adopted. The data has been re-examined by academics at many
universities and has survived remarkably well. The fact that Lott can
write so well and clearly and that his findings can be understood by a
large audience only helps explain why gun control advocates attack him
so viciously.

This classic has stood the test of time.

The location is not a city where he lived or worked, but it uses Lott
phrases like “sets the standard” and “powerful book”. The date it was posted is also
telling, because Ayres and Donohue had just
href="http://cgi.cse.unsw.edu.au/~lambert/cgi-bin/blog/2003/04#0426">published a comprehensive review and analysis that showed that Lott’s thesis
had not stood the test of time.

Invasion: How America Still Welcomes Terrorists Criminals & Other Foreign Menaces to Our Shores

by Michelle Malkin

Not very carefully researched,
filled with ascertions
, May 6, 2003
Reviewer: A reader from Washington, DC (Swarthmore, PA USA)
As a conservative and someone concerned about immigration, this was a
real disappointment. Some horror stories are sprinkled through
the book, but there is no real solid analysis. No notion of the
trade-offs or attempts to meassure the returns to expending
money on different measures. Just a lot of
ascertions.

Now why would a conservative give Malkin’s book such a negative
review? It couldn’t possibly be payback for this column,
written three months earlier, could it?

The New Financial Order: Risk in the 21st Century

by Robert J. Shiller

Overall not very convincing,
July 12, 2003
Reviewer: A reader from Washington, DC (Swarthmore, PA USA)
Whether it is home value insurance or other improvements that Shiller
offers to fix the market, the one question that Shiller never
deals with is why those policies don’t already exist. He simply
assumes that he is smarter than the market and that others have
made mistakes in not offering these options. Might there be
moral hazard problems in home value insurance? No discussion is
offered. This approach of simply asserting an “optimal”
arrangement without really asking why it doesn’t exist if it is
so “optimal” is something that infects a lot of economics, but
you would think that if a service is so valuable the first
question would be “why doesn’t the market already provide this?”
Instead Shiller’s presumption that he is so smart.

Hmmm, I wonder what Shiller did to annoy Lott?

Freakonomics : A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything

by Steven D. Levitt, Stephen J. Dubner

An empirical book based on faulty numbers, May 1, 2005
Reviewer: Economist123See all my reviews

Published Thursday, April 21, 2005, in Wall Street Journal

Abortion Legalization and the Crime Rate

Not surprisingly, Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner’s new book
“Freakonomics” ignores their academic critics, but Steve Landsburg’s
review disappointingly does so too (Leisure Arts, April 13). Take just
the books first claim: Unwanted children are more likely to grow up to
be criminals and that abortion can therefore reduce crime, a plausible
idea that has been around since the beginning of the abortion debate.

Yet, despite Messrs. Levitt and
Dubner’s claims, legalization doesn’t explain 75% of the drop in
murder rates during the 1990s, and if anything the reverse is true.

If Messrs. Levitt and Dubner were correct, crime rates should have first started falling among younger people who were first born after legalization. Only as they aged would you start seeing crime fall among older criminals. But in fact the precise opposite is true. Murder rates during the 1990s first started falling for the oldest criminals and very last for the youngest.

John R. Lott Jr.
Resident Scholar
American Enterprise Institute
Washington

He signed his name to this one, but if you follow the “See all my
reviews”
link, you’ll see that John Lott aka “Economist123″ is the
same person as “washingtonian2″, who posted the five-star review of
More Guns, Less Crime
above.

In total, there are seventeen anonymous five-star reviews of his own
books and ten anonymous pans of rival’s books.

This list was last updated on 7 July 2005. Unlike regular blog postings I have not indicated all the changes I have made to the list, since it would be just too messy to show them all.