Iain Murray has a post where he insists that askjohnlott.org is not a parody, but

an attempt by persons to pass off the site as being by John Lott himself without revealing their own identities or motivations.

The only argument that he offers to support his claim that it was not a parody is this:

The homepage and the bio page look as if they could have been produced by John himself. It is only when one starts reading the FAQ that one becomes aware that things are a bit rum.

The FAQ includes stuff like this:

Q: I want to get roughly ten hand guns for my friend’s 50th birthday party, but I really don’t want the police to know about this. Is there any way for me to do this without getting reported?

A: Hopefully, you haven’t saved this for the last minute. By law, licensed gun dealers must report to federal law enforcement whenever someone buys two or more handguns in 5 business days. So, if you have two months before the party, you can just buy one gun every six days, and you shouldn’t have any problem at all.

It is possible that someone could read this and not realize that it was a parody, but it is not possible to believe that the author was trying to pass this off as a real question and answer.

Argue, if you will, that readers might not have realized that it was a parody, but it is ridiculous to claim that the passage above was not even intended to be a parody.

I also note that Iain Murray, as a subscriber to firearmsregprof, has been familiar with the Lott affair from the very beginning. He also possesses the statistical background to understand the survey and coding errors issues. It is very disappointing that his first blog entry on Lott is on this trivial matter instead of the important issues.

Murray also characterizes the parodist as “dishonest”, while describing Mary Rosh’s lies as unwise “tactics”. He excuses Lott’s misconduct because Lott suffered from ad hominem attacks. Well, Lott used to follow me around on Usenet making ad hominem attacks on me. Can I have a free pass too?


  1. #1 anon
    August 7, 2003

    the gun debate, etc., aside…

    until the disclaimer was added, explicitly stating that the site was not run by lott, it was, in fact, technically identity theft. furthermore, it appears that the operator of the bogus site unambiguously claimed in emails to be the real deal (which, by the way, are often admissable in court as evidence, just as regular letters are)



  2. #2 Ken
    August 7, 2003

    A good parody is supposed to hit close enough to the mark to make the reader waver at least momentarily before realizing it is a put-on. Even the disclaimer is at best a regretable necessity. We are dealing with exceedingly humorless and defensive people here.

  3. #3 Rick
    August 7, 2003

    Might have a stronger “identity theft” case if the site wasn’t signed, over and over, by “Ask John Lott” rather than John Lott.

    For example:

    Ask John Lott: is a resident scholar at the American Encherprise Institute. Before joining AEI, he wasn’t a senior research scholar at Yale University’s School of Law. He has also held positions at the University of Illinois, Berkeley University, Greendale, the Stern Business School, and Brown University.

    Unless Lott’s real name is Ask John Lott, it’s just a parody. Now, if it had been called Ask Mary Rosh…

  4. #4 Guy Cabot
    August 7, 2003

    Frankly, the case for ‘identity theft’ is one made by and for idiots. First, Lott is a public figure; second, nowhere on the site is there any attempt to fraudulently solicit money.

    I’d also add that anyone who is fooled by what is very clearly a parody site…well, it explains why some are fooled by the fiction that is the ‘Standard Model.’

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