The Oct 12 Wichita Eagle has a story with a brief comment from John Donohue on Lott’s work:

Among his most vocal academic critics is John Donohue, a Stanford University law professor whose published critiques of Lott’s works cite errors in handling crime data.

“It’s abundantly clear that there is no support for his thesis,” Donohue said. “It borders on fraud for anyone to try to make the case that there is a drop in crime.”

He said Lott’s earlier work failed to account for the peak and subsequent decline in violent crime related to the advent of crack cocaine in the 1980s and said later updates had coding errors.

Lott responds on his blog:

See Plassmann and Whitley’s paper (p. 1361) for a discussion of the claim that “Lott’s earlier work failed to account” for cocaine.

If you look at at the page he cites, you find that Donohue is correct. Lott did not account for the peak and subsequent decline in violent crime related to the advent of crack cocaine. He included a variable for cocaine price, which does not measure cocaine consumption. Even Lott admits that it does not measure demand for cocaine.

Lott continues:

The language used by Donohue is very disappointing, but it has become extremely typical of the type of statements that he makes and this particular statement is probably relatively mild. I suppose that he feels that these statements will draw more attention to his claims. One has to wonder what other academics think about this.

Well, this academic feels that Donohue’s description of Lott’s behaviour is accurate. And it’s not hard to figure out what Michael Maltz, or Mark Kleiman, or Brad De Long think of Lott’s conduct.

Comments

  1. #1 Michael Maltz
    October 27, 2003

    It is well-known that the crack cocaine phenomenon hit different cities (and counties) at different times. The only way that Lott could conceivably have taken crack cocaine consumption in his (county-level) model is to have county-level data on crack cocaine, which he does not have. I suspect that he used national price data, which is meaningless in this context. This is another example of Lott attempting to use a “fudge factor” to explain away the deficiencies in his analysis.

  2. #2 Tim Lambert
    October 27, 2003

    Good point. On page 1361 of “Confirming More Guns Less Crime” he claims he used “yearly county-level pricing data”. However, if you look in MGLC (p279), you find the pricing data was at the regional level. “County level”, “regional level”, for Lott, the distinction is unimportant.

  3. #3 Atrios
    October 27, 2003

    Regions are usual census divisions. There are 12, compared to 3000+ counties.

  4. #4 Atrios
    October 27, 2003

    …usually… that is

  5. #5 Tim Lambert
    October 27, 2003

    Actually there were only eight regions in his cocaine data (which was cocaine and not crack cocaine in any case). 3000+ counties versus 8 regions, you have to be pretty picky to quibble about such a trivial difference.

  6. #6 Tim Lambert
    October 27, 2003

    Actually there were only eight regions in his cocaine data (which was cocaine and not crack cocaine in any case). 3000+ counties versus 8 regions, you have to be pretty picky to quibble about such a trivial difference.

  7. #7 Tim Lambert
    October 27, 2003

    Actually there were only eight regions in his cocaine data (which was cocaine and not crack cocaine in any case). 3000+ counties versus 8 regions, you have to be pretty picky to quibble about such a trivial difference.

  8. #8 Tim Lambert
    October 27, 2003

    Actually there were only eight regions in his cocaine data (which was cocaine and not crack cocaine in any case). 3000+ counties versus 8 regions, you have to be pretty picky to quibble about such a trivial difference.

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