More pro-gun bloggers abandon Lott

Say Uncle writes:

Lott’s credibility issues have essentially damaged any real positive impact his research may have had on the gun debate. It’s a pity Lott and I are on the same side.

He’s not as bad as Bellesiles (who Tim is hard on as well) but when comparing fraud with sloppiness, no one really wins. Tim is right, Lott is on Lott’s side.

In comments, Kevin Baker (of Smallest Minority) agrees with Say Uncle.


  1. #1 Kevin Baker
    December 22, 2003

    It was some time back, though.

    I was surprised, in fact, when you didn’t link this one.

  2. #2 Tim Lambert
    December 22, 2003

    I try to link to all the posts about Lott, but I classified that one as about Bellesiles. What struck me about that incident is that almost all the bloggers who posted about the Bellesiles/Smith thing did not post updates when it proved false.

  3. #3 Kevin Baker
    December 22, 2003

    Ackerman said: “Either Bellesiles and Smith are in cahoots and Bellesiles is using Smith as a mouthpiece in order to garner self-respect in the wake of his downfall, or Benny Smith is Bellesiles.”

    If Smith is Bellesiles’ mouthpiece, rather than actually being Bellesiles, how much difference does it make, really?

    And that has not been disproven.

    Then again, the only evidence that Smith is not Bellesiles is an IP address. Perhaps Bellesiles knows something about mail routers that Lott doesn’t?

    I’ll withold judgement on this for now, until somebody shows a picture of Smith with a positive ID.

  4. #4 ThinkTank
    December 22, 2003

    and his thesis still stands. The image of a people armed and numerous during the early history of America is false. It is a creation of a gun industry and its poitical lobbyist allies foisted upon America to sell a product for which there are few if any good uses.

  5. #5 Philip Railsback
    December 22, 2003

    Is Say Uncle saying that Bellisiles is a fraud, but John Lott simply suffers from sloppiness? That’s the way it reads to me. Lets be clear: Lott is a fraud. A sloppy fraud, yes, but a fraud nonetheless.

  6. #6 Tim Lambert
    December 22, 2003

    ThinkTank, I must disagree. I don’t think he has addressed the problems with the 1st edition and I have no confidence in his work.

  7. #7 ThinkTank
    December 22, 2003

    and he’s answered all the claims from critics. What more do yuo want, or are you just covering for lindgren?

  8. #8 SayUncle
    December 22, 2003

    I’m saying that bellisiles is a fraud and (from research, not personal habits such online personalities) lott’s work appears to be sloppy. So, yes.

    The entire basis of arming america was a lie. In lott’s book, there were questionable items but no outright fraud that has been proven beyond a reasonable doubt.

    “The image of a people armed and numerous during the early history of America is false”

    I tend to doubt that immensely. Even the first navy ships and cannons in america were owned by private citizens. Also, maybe you should define widespread. I mean (depending on the source) 80 to 100 million americans own guns now, is that widespread?

  9. #9 JadeGold
    December 22, 2003

    SayUncle’s take on Lott is far too generous. Either SU hasn’t read the record WRT Lott or he’s content on ignoring it on purely ideological grounds.

    Lott’s fraud (and there’s really no other word for it) is far more damaging to society because his ‘work’ has had (and continues to have) an impact on public policy issues. IOW, decisions affecting US citizens are being taken bases upon Lott’s fraudulent ‘work.’

    Even if we accept every word Bellesiles has written as a lie; it has had no bearing whatsoever on public policy or safety. Nobody is going to propose or write firearm legislation on the basis of how many people owned or didn’t own guns in colonial times.

    Yet, firearms laws are being written on the basis of Lott’s fraudulent work.

    Unfortunately, the gun extremists think this is a football game where one side is ‘winning’ and another must be ‘losing.’ You can always tell when a group or organization really has no cogent or logical argument when they are unwilling to abandon the view of the fraudulent and the extreme.

  10. #10 SayUncle
    December 22, 2003

    I gather that tim is in australia but as for the demographics of the rest of the commentors, i don’t know. Bellesile’s assertion relates specifically to the meaning of the second amendment. His work was used to support the matter of factly incorrect collect rights argument. That is public policy. Period. Try again. In fact, one of the ninth circuit court decisions quoted bellisile’s fictitous works in reaching the conclusion that there is no individual right to arms. Am I an ideologue with respect to gun rights? No more than you are to gun control. “You can always tell when a group or organization really has no cogent or logical argument when they are unwilling to abandon the view of the fraudulent and the extreme” Pot to kettle, come in, over. The fact is with respect to carrying weapons decreasing or increasing crime, both sides need to acknowledge that correlation does not equal causation. There are other factors that play a part, like economy, socioeconomics, ad infinitum. There is as much indication that gun control laws affect gun crime as there are that they don’t. In the US, it is at this point a civil liberties issue.

  11. #11 Philip
    December 22, 2003

    The problem of both Bellisiles and Lott’s work is a problem of credibility. You have to have a sense that a scholar is telling you the truth — even if it is biased — before you can accept his work. Otherwise you have to check each and every footnote and put it in context. Bellisiles flunked the test. His theories may indeed be one hundred per cent correct, but his lack of credibility undermines his thesis to such an extent that it can’t be accepted. Same problem with Lott. His use of statistics and mathemetical problems is so complicated that the layman must have trust that he is not using them to pull the wool over your eyes. His problem is that he is a proven fraud. He’s been caught. His followers just refuse to accept it. Yes, they admit, he lied when he claimed to be a student and praised his own teaching; yes, he lied when he said he was a five foot two woman; yes, he almost certainly fabricated a phony survey, etc, etc. But other that he’s a pillar of truth and the American way. The fact is he is practiced in deception. Why do you think he would suddenly become a paragon of honesty when he’s dealing with statistics. As Mark Twain once said about John Lott (amazing prescience, that man) “Figures lie and liars figure”. The only way that I could accecpt John Lott’s work is if I spent the next six years in college mastering statistics, then examined his models in detail. Truth is, I’d be crazy to take anything John Lott says about anything with 100% verification.

  12. #12 Philip
    December 22, 2003

    Oops. That last line should have read “without 110% verification”, not “with”. That’s what you call sloppiness. Lott is what you call fraudulent.

  13. #13 JadeGold
    December 22, 2003

    Again, SU tries to keep score. If you read Bellesiles, you’d know he says his book has no bearing on the Second Amendment or on any gun issue. He made that abundantly clear.

    The fact also remains that an individual guaranteed right to guns is not a right in this country. In fact, the opposite happens to be settled law. Why pretend it is otherwise?

  14. #14 JadeGold
    December 22, 2003

    Philip is correct. Personally, the gun extremists are using Bellesiles as an excuse to justify Lott’s behavior. That is, so long as they can keep dragging up Bellesiles, it’s somehow OK for Lott to be pumping out his fraudulent bilge. It’s kind of funny in a pathetic way but the gun extremists *need* Bellesiles.

  15. #15 SayUncle
    December 22, 2003

    I am not keeping score. I am pointing out matter of factly your blatant hypocrisy (hypocrisy inherent in most anti-gun types). Period. You seem to thing it’s OK for one side of the debate to engage in the tactics you abhor (i.e., your side) and not the other. You have done in this post alone the things you accuse gun extremists of doing. Like excusing bellisiles’ work (not Lott’s). Labeling the opposition extremists. You take bellisiles at his word and not Lott (i wouldn’t take either at their word). Both Bellisiles and Lott have done damage to their respective sides. If you think bellisiles is not on the pro gun control side just because he says so, then you’re quite disillusioned. I haven’t read a book by either of them and won’t. And the fact of the matter is at the end of the day there is no proof that gun control reduces crime. Period. And i am glad i don’t live in your country that has no individual right to arms. But in mine, we do. I am reminded of an exchange on a message board once: anti-gun guy: ‘why don’t you gun guys start your own country?’ gun-guy: ‘we did, who the hell let you in.’

  16. #16 Dominion
    December 22, 2003

    The fact is that JadeGold and SayUncle is two sides of the same coin.

    Phillip had the right of it. BOTH men should be disgraced by their fraudulent behavior. BOTH men have squandered any trust that anyone should have in them. Neither of them are worthy of the name scholar. It is as simple as that.

    If you blame one and not the other you are only playing the hypocrite.

  17. #17 JadeGold
    December 22, 2003

    Just a minute, I never claimed Bellesiles’ fraud was justifiable or acceptable. What I took exception to was the prevailing gun extremist view that because Bellesiles did it, it’s somehow acceptable for Lott to do it. One only need to take a look at Clayton Cramer’s views as an example. Cramer has plainly stated he won’t discredit Lott because, apparently, any criticism from advocates of gun control is not to be believed.

    I also take exception to the notion that somehow Bellesiles’ fraud is more egregious; I flatly reject such claims. Bellesiles work is the field of history; as such, his work has zero bearing on public policy. Moreover, Bellesiles stated upfront that his book has no bearing on the Second Amendment of any firearms issues or legislation.

    Yet, Lott actively seeks to have his fraudulent work introduced as evidence to support various firearm agendas and public policy.

  18. #18 Kevin Baker
    December 22, 2003

    “Bellesiles work is the field of history; as such, his work has zero bearing on public policy.”

    I don’t think so. Bellesile’s “work” has been quoted in Appeals Court decisions, just as one example. Don’t tell me it doesn’t affect “public policy.”

  19. #19 ThinkTank
    December 22, 2003

    just because you and your gun nut friends are scared to death that someone has put the lie to your rantings you seek to silence him. So fuck off. The NRA, $100 million deficit and faling membership. Gun control works. and that means in time, this will all be put behind us and the USA can finally enter the world as a CIVILIZED nation.

  20. #20 Kevin Baker
    December 22, 2003

    Even they got tired of your ranting? Were you “silenced?”

    We ARE a civilized nation, ThinkTank. There’s just a small criminal minority among us that causes the problem.

    Oh, and Bellesiles wasn’t “silenced.” The appropriately named Soft Skull Press is publishing his “revised” book. He was appropriately censured by an independent, nonpartisan panel, and quite appropriately resigned his position as a result of that censure.

    I find it fascinating that so many people protesting their being “silenced” who do so on national television, radio, and in print, not to mention over the internet.

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