More Lott self reviews

Yesterday I showed how Lott would respond to unfavourable reviews of More Guns, Less Crime with his own, anonymous, five-star reviews. Today we are going to look at his other books. I hope you are not one of those people who like surprise endings—this story is very predictable.

The very first review published of The Bias Against Guns was a very negative one:

i-ca5366d20b995c41c5e842b2d1c03ab0-stars-1-0.gifLies, damn lies, and statistics, March 15, 2003
Reviewer: A reader from Maryland
I can’t believe John Lott has a doctorate and gets away with such flawed research. He “randomnly” called a little over 1000 people and made a conclusion for the entire nation. Can’t do it with such a small sample. … Lott uses statistics to confuse the naive and ignorant. Plus, he attempts to explain how the Taliban gained control of Afghanistan by confiscating firearms, yet never mentions the nation was and still is awash in guns. …
Lott uses “lies, damn lies, and statistics” to support his bias towards gun control laws and movements. Don’t waste your time with this trash. …

I agree with the one star rating, but not with the review, which gets basic statistics wrong. A random sample of 1,000 is perfectly adequate for making a conclusion about the entire nation.

Anyway, to figure out what happened next, just ask yourself: “What Would Lott Do?”.

Sure enough, the very next day this review showed up:

i-6da7393c8ff6de1c28d52199d33a151e-stars-5-0.gifThe 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 (…).

Note that this is “from Philadelphia, PA United States” which is where Lott lives. Lott also posted the blurbs from the first and second editions of More Guns, Less Crime as two separate reviews of that book.

Of course, with this five-star review and the one-star one, the average rating for the book was a mere three stars. What Would Lott Do?

You guessed it. A few days later this was posted:

i-6da7393c8ff6de1c28d52199d33a151e-stars-5-0.gifEndorsements 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.

Lott’s writing style and exactly the same attribution as the one on Washingtonian’s reviews. I read this review when it first appeared and I’m pretty sure that I would have noticed if it had said that the reviewer was from Swarthmore. It is most likely that this review was posted anonymously from Washingtonian’s account and the location only changed to Swarthmore quite recently as explained here.

And remember these were posted after he got into trouble for Mary Rosh’s five-star review. Lott is incorrigible.

But, wait! There’s more. Lott has published three books. The third one is Are Predatory Commitments Credible? Do you think he would review that book, too?

Look at this review:

i-6da7393c8ff6de1c28d52199d33a151e-stars-5-0.gifMust Reading for the Microsoft and American Airlines Cases, July 29, 1999
Reviewer: A reader
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.

It’s Lott’s writing style, and where have I seen the attribution “A reader” before?

It was in this review, which I decided was likely written by Lott:

i-6da7393c8ff6de1c28d52199d33a151e-stars-5-0.gifA MUST BUY! DEMOLISHES GUN CONTROL MYTHS THAT ENDANGER LIVES, July 30, 1999
Reviewer: A reader
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

Note that these two reviews, one of each of Lott’s published books at the time, were written one day apart with similar styles. I think it is clear that the same person wrote them, so I’ll count them as likely written by Lott.

In total, there are six certain and four probable self-reviews of Lott’s books. All of these reviews give him five stars.

And yes, there is still more to come tomorrow.


  1. #1 Anarch
    December 11, 2003

    The real question, of course, given Lott’s predictability is: did you attempt any experiments with his commenting? For example, you could get a friend to leave a nasty review at amazon at around 4pm Eastern — when Lott is likely at the office — and see not only how long it takes for a positive review to arrive, but from whence it comes. Rinse, lather, repeat, and see what correlations arise…

  2. #2 Tim Lambert
    December 11, 2003

    It would have been an interesting experiment, but the Amazon review process has been abused enough already.

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