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.
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.