Baghdad Murder Rate

Chris Lawrence defends Lott against the charge Wyeth made yesterday. James Joyner also comments.

Lawrence is correct when he points out that Lott’s claims about Baghdad murders are not lies unless Lott knows them to be false, and, in the absence of reliable data we don’t know whether they are false or true. However, what Lott did was write with reckless disregard for the truth. Rumsfeld was actually comparing combat deaths of US soldiers in Baghdad with murders in Washington, DC, so Lott had absolutely no basis for his claim. The important point for someone reading Lott is that any event, you should not believe anything he writes unless you have an independent source for it.

Lawrence also writes:

Indeed. And, that would be a worthwhile critique of Lott’s analysis, which gets to the whole “causal mechanism” thing I discussed above. The best I can say for Lott (if you accept his claims about the dispensation of the survey data, which I find dubious but not entirely improbable) is that he’s a sloppy social scientist—albeit perhaps not an not extraordinarily sloppy one, given the pure sludge that often is passed off as strong evidence in many peer-reviewed journals.

\* Lott’s missing data only affects a small part of his overall argument; it may speak to his overall credibility, but the vast majority of his data is available and has been analyzed by other scholars.

And when Ayers and Donohue analysed that data they found systematic coding errors, which, when corrected, caused his results to go away. Lott still will not admit to the errors or deny them.