Jim Lindgren thinks the panel was too generous to Lott:

From the portions that I have read, I found the report sober, impressive, and fair, though there are substantial parts of this literature that I am unfamiliar with. As to Lott’s work, I actually thought that the Council’s report was too generous to his research in spots. In particular, I thought that it failed to point out just how much Lott’s results are driven by poorly executed demographic controls, a point that Ayres and Donohue make effectively in their Stanford exchange. While the Council’s report raises a lot of questions about Lott’s use of control variables in general, particularly in its Appendix D, the Report does not seem to focus on the degree to these questionable demographic controls determine some of Lott’s results.


  1. #1 Kevin Baker
    December 28, 2004

    Of course, it doesn’t hurt that Lindgren states that you have “the most thorough coverage on the report” either! ;-)

  2. #2 Carl Jarrett
    December 29, 2004

    Historians in Trouble: Plagiarism, Fraud, and Politics in the Ivory Tower (New Press, 2005)
    see: http://hnn.us/articles/9216.html

  3. #3 Terry
    December 30, 2004

    From the Sun online,
    “Chief Inspector of Constabulary Sir Keith Povey blasted the rise in violence recorded by police as “unprecedented”.”
    and “There has been a troubling increase in the use of firearms.”
    And “Incidents of violence against individuals soared nearly 15 per cent to 955,800 in 2003/04 – up from 834,900 the previous year.”
    And finally, “Shadow Home Secretary David Davis fumed: “After seven years of this Government, violent crime has spiralled out of control.”
    So Tim explain how banning law abiding citzens from owning the most effective tools for self defense makes them safer?

  4. #4 dave heasman
    December 30, 2004

    Terry quotes the Sun (!) and enquires : -

    “So Tim explain how banning law abiding citzens from owning the most effective tools for self defense makes them safer?”

    Occam’s Razor suggests that UK police will fasten on any increase in a particular crime to divert attention from the massive drop in total crime that might threaten their jobs.

    And Terry makes two dubious assumptions – one that it is only “law abiding citizens” that are banned from owning guns, when most citizens only abide some laws, some of the time, and also that guns are the most effective tools for self “defense” (that’s interesting, it seems Terry isn’t British) when accident stats might indicate that they’re (also?) the most effective tools for inadvertantly reducing family size, and number of pets, and that there are other candidates for the “most effective” title.

  5. #5 Eli Rabett
    December 31, 2004

    A newly published book of some interest to this blog summarized by the author and reviewed on History News Network (which, IMHO is also a remarkable blog).

    Historians in Trouble: Why Some Get Nailed
    By Jon Wiener


    It deals with the different treatment different folk get when they are caught plagerizing, cheating and such. Two of the cases, of course, are Bellesiles and Lott.

  6. #6 ChrisPer
    January 1, 2005

    Of course, the question of topicality at the time they are exposed bears on whether the media hammer them. And lets face it, Bellesiles was end-to-end fraudulent and got serious academicians endorsing his work while Lott has been exposed for pathetic hackery and relatively trivial fraud. Both deserve sanctions, but not the same. As well, the anti-gun moral imperative in academy, media and politics presumes a degree of moral authority which is more threatened by internal fraud; pro-gun interest groups are far less self-policing despite the air of aggrieved self-righteousness. For instance, all those morons who still quote the NRA’s (from the Geelong Times) ‘Victorian murders up 300%’ are not willing to delete it when I testily correct them.

  7. #7 Carl Jarrett
    January 2, 2005

    ChrisPer, you are, as usual, wrong. When Bellesiles research was demonstrated to be fraudulent, the people (the serious academics) who had supported him dropped their support and soundly condemned his behavior. Lott’s research has been demonstrated as fraudulent several times and he is still supported by people like Glenn Reynolds, David Friedman, and the gunners in general. Reporting results on data you know you do know have is not trivial, it is a serious breach of research ethics. Both Bellesiles and Lott reported results on data they did not have and neither should be treated as legitimate researchers.

  8. #8 ChrisPer
    January 2, 2005

    So I don’t get a cookie for trying to get pro-gunners to take down that 300% stuff? And did you not like the flattery inherent in suggesting the morality of the anti-gun side held them to a higher standard?


  9. #9 RH Morgan
    January 4, 2005

    A few corrections for Carl Jarrett. It is only on the January 2nd, 2005, on C-SPAN, that Garry Wills (who gave Bellesiles a laudatory review in the NYTBR) has labeled Bellesiles a con man. Zuckerman and Norton, both of whom provided encomiastic blurbs, have only commented to the effect that Bellesiles’ thesis remains intact. Bernstein was supporting Bellesiles right up until the report came out from Emory, and has not withdrawn his remarks in favor, but has retreated to silence. Wiener’s defense of Bellesiles was trashed by Sternstein. Rather than Bellesiles suffering at the hands of the right-wing (as Wiener asserts, without evidence), Bellesiles was granted an NEH grant partly on the basis of a recommendation which explicitly cited the usefulness of his work to anti-gun advocates, and despite the fact that his work was an ongoing topic of ethical controversy, as revealed in H-List conversations monitored by the very people who gave him the grant in Chicago — the NIH then withdrew its name from the grant.

    Tim has sliced up Lott. Lott enjoys no more welcome in academia, and is reduced to plying his stuff from the safe confines of think tanks that don’t have effective policing mechanisms. Tim has demonstrated that the point estimate was invented. Wiener persists in the claim that Bellesiles is merely guilty of error, and only in one table.

  10. #10 Eli Rabett
    January 4, 2005

    As far as charlatans are concerned, the New York Times is a lott more dangerous place than the American Historical Review or whatever scholarly journal you care about

  11. #11 Carl Jarrett
    January 4, 2005

    Morgon, Bellesiles was denounced by quite some time ago. Your ‘corrections’ are inductive fallacies as they are not representative. Getting turfed from Emory and having the prize revoked is a significantly, serious, and public statement. Claiming that it is only being done now is ignoring the majority of people who denounced it not long after Clayton Cramer clearly demonstrated the fraud. Prominent Pro-gun writers, like Kopel, Reynolds, and David Friedman, however continue to support Lott and his work. Gunners in general, on blogs and discussion groups, continue to cite Lott’s work. Lott lost his welcome in academia years ago when he demonstrated his inability to accept criticism. He failed to get tenure at UPenn because his colleagues knew that he wasn’t a honest researcher. He was unable to get a tenured job in any University because his reputation preceeded him.

  12. #12 RH Morgan
    January 5, 2005

    I agree completely with Tim’s take in “Lott and Bellesiles, together again”. Lott continues to get funding from institutions devoted to influencing policy, and which don’t have the same standards as academia. Where I disagree with you, Carl, is on specifics, and on the drawing of too clear contrasts between the receptions of Bellesiles and Lott.

    For one, my previous post does indeed fail as ‘inductive fallacies’ — an unsurprising notion inasmuch as I didn’t offer it in that spirit, but as counterexamples to what looks like a categorical claim by you, to wit:
    the serious academics that had supported Bellesiles dropped their support and soundly condemned his behaviour. As a categorical claim (a plausible reading), I believe it false.

    As for Cramer, I think we also have a different take. I haven’t suggested that Bellesiles is only being denounced now (as you have me saying). But neither do I believe that Cramer enjoyed the efficacy which you attribute to him. In fact, Cramer was widely ignored by academia (when he wasn’t being condemned). Things changed somewhat when Lindgren made his case, but Lindgren too was raked by Bernstein and Wiener.

    I can’t speak to Lott’s career at Penn. Certainly he hasn’t been granted a tenure track position since. His rejection by academia was not as yet complete — as I implied — since he got research fellowships at Chicago and Yale. Now even that is beyond him, as it also seems beyond Bellesiles now.

    I’m not up on what ‘turfed’ means — is it Oz slang? In any case, academia did not run him out. Bellesiles resigned, claiming he had the assurance of retention at the lower rank of associate professor, but that his deep sense of honor prevented him from staying on. For my part, I believe that nonsense. In the US, as a general rule, if you are fired for cause, you lose all your accrued TIAA-CREF pension benefits (certainly an inducement to resignation).

    I think you’ll find that Bellesiles’ work was promoted and rewarded, like Lott’s, not for its quality, but for its politics. And true, having the Bancroft revoked is a significantly serious public statement. On the other hand, the JAH has refused to withdraw his article, as they have refused to revoke his Binkley-Stephenson Prize. In the spirit of Tim’s post, I believe that if Lott were in academia now, formal charges would have been pressed by researchers, and he would have been bounced by now. In other words, the relevant feature that points to the differing outcomes is not right vs. left, but academia vs. political mills. I would go so far as to say that the best parallel to Lott is none other than Wiener — Wiener published his Bellesiles effluvia in the Nation, a rag as devoted to the notion that scholarship is just politics by other means as the CATO Institute is.

  13. #13 Carl Jarrett
    January 5, 2005

    Only one point of disagreement. As much as I dislike Clayton Cramer, I doubt that Bellesiles would have suffered his eventual fate had it not been for Cramer’s research. As for ‘turfed’ – AFAIK, it is a relatively common slang in the US. It comes from college football, I believe, where getting hit on a hard tackle means that one is thrown down into the turf.

  14. #14 RH Morgan
    January 5, 2005

    Surprisingly, I think you’re right about Cramer, I just think his influence was indirect. I don’t think many were directly converted by Cramer to disbelief, but I do think a handful of researchers were converted to researching the issue more carefully, and their work … (you get the idea). Cramer kicked some snow off the top, and the resulting avalanche buried Bellesiles.