Note to John Lott

If you use a pseudonym to post a five-star review of your book:

More Guns, Less Crime by John Lott
i-6da7393c8ff6de1c28d52199d33a151e-stars-5-0.gifImportant accurate info that Opponents constantly distort, November 8, 2001
Reviewer: Economist123See all my reviews

This is by far the most comprehensive study ever done on guns. It provides extensive evidence on waiting periods, the Brady Act, one-gun-a-month rules, concealed handgun laws. For some gun laws this is the only study available and it is important to note how many academics have tired to challenge his work on concealed handgun laws and failed and that no one has even bothered to try and challenge his work on one-gun-a-month laws and other gun control laws.

I am constantly amused the lengths to which reviewers here will go to distort Lott’s research. Take the one by the Australian who claims that Lott doesn’t explain why he uses the polling data that he does on gun ownership rates. If he was honest, he would note that Lott talks about these being the largest surveys on gun ownership rates available and that it is necessary to have such a large survey to get detailed information at the state level. A survey of 1,000 or even 1,500 people nationally is not enough to allow you to make comparisons across individual states.

These guys will do anything to keep people from reading Lott’s work.

Don’t use the same Amazon account to post another review and sign your name to it:

Freakonomics : A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything by Steven D. Levitt, Stephen J. Dubner
i-ca5366d20b995c41c5e842b2d1c03ab0-stars-1-0.gifAn empirical book based on faulty numbers, May 1, 2005
Reviewer: Economist123See all my reviews

… Not surprisingly, Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner’s new book “Freakonomics” ignores their academic critics, but Steve Landsburg’s review disappointingly does so too (Leisure & Arts, April 13). Take just the book’s first claim: Unwanted children are more likely to grow up to be criminals and that abortion can therefore reduce crime, a plausible idea that has been around since the beginning of the abortion debate. …

If Messrs. Levitt and Dubner were correct, crime rates should have first started falling among younger people who were first born after legalization. Only as they aged would you start seeing crime fall among older criminals. But in fact the precise opposite is true. Murder rates during the 1990s first started falling for the oldest criminals and very last for the youngest.

John R. Lott Jr.
Resident Scholar
American Enterprise Institute
Washington

You see, when people click on the See all my reviews link, it’s kind of obvious that you wrote a five-star review of your own book.

Note: This is a different review to the one he posted as “Mary Rosh” and blamed his son for. Besides these two, Lott has posted sixteen other five-star reviews of his books.

**Update:** Lott used his “Tom H” sock puppet to attack me in the comments to this post, managing to further incriminate himself. Details are [here](http://scienceblogs.com/deltoid/2005/05/jlwishlist.php). And economist123’s review of More Guns, Less Crime has mysteriously vanished.

Comments

  1. #1 TallDave
    May 11, 2005

    Funny! Good catch. “I’ve read my book — and it was great!” Of course, if asked he’d probably say the publisher made him do it.

    Reminds me of the widely feted anti-gun book that showed gun ownership was rare in early America, that later turned out to be based entirely on fabricated sources. http://fightback.grimfacts.org/ArmingAmericaFraud.html

  2. #2 Brian S.
    May 11, 2005

    Would he say the publisher made him do it eighteen times? Maybe he would say that

    And I wonder, I wonder, who could this awful Australian be? I’m sure that person should be ashamed of denigrating such a wonderful scholar.

  3. #3 Ethical Werewolf
    May 11, 2005

    Tim, I’ve occasionally wondered (here and on the global warming degrees/radians thing) to what extent it’s the case that you are truly awesome, and to what extent it’s just the case that your opponents are completely ridiculous. I’m sure a compromise position that mixes the two alternatives is available.

  4. #4 markus
    May 11, 2005

    uhm, could it be that someone other than Lott wrote these and the signature is a fake?
    Don’t get me wrong, I believe you got it right and Lott’s past behaviour certainly justifies the assumption. Still, its a grave charge …
    Now, if he was working at a real research institute, you might be able to get the department to help getting amazon to cough up some details on Economist123 …
    Anyway, great work, great find.

  5. #5 Tom H
    May 11, 2005

    I don’t think that this is a very honest discussion. Tim writes: “Don’t use the same Amazon account to post another review and sign your name to it.” He makes it sound as if the reviewer just signed the review, but the problem is that he edits out the beginning of the review which makes it very clear that the person who provided the review was just pasting in the review what looks like a letter in the Wall Street Journal. It was easy to follow the links. If someone just puts in someone else’s letter that is not the same thing as a person signing the review. This editing comes across as being very dishonest.

  6. #6 Darwin
    May 11, 2005

    Tom H might be one of Lott’s sons, and Talldave’s attempt to smuggle in an anti-anti-gun, crypto-defense of Lott is rather pathetic.

  7. #7 Tim Lambert
    May 11, 2005

    So, Tom H, you claim that Economist123 is just somebody else who reposted Lott’s review. Trouble is, if you look at Econmist123’s wish list, it reveals that his initials are “JL”.

  8. #8 jet
    May 11, 2005

    Darwin, oh, pro-gun people have a lot to be pissed over when it comes to unethical authors. The link TallDave provides was not only cited in court cases but in legislation. So this “catch” just makes pro-gun people laugh. Hell, this is down right honorable behavior by the yard stick of the left ;)

  9. #9 Xrlq
    May 11, 2005

    Where? I followed the link but couldn’t find any personal infromation at all.

  10. #10 Dan Navarro
    May 11, 2005

    In the words of Daniel Davies:

    There is much made by people who long for the days of their fourth form debating society about the fallacy of “argumentum ad hominem”. There is, as I have mentioned in the past, no fancy Latin term for the fallacy of “giving known liars the benefit of the doubt”, but it is in my view a much greater source of avoidable error in the world.

    Given the whole “Mary Rosh” affair, I’m quite happy to believe that Lott is a known liar, and subsequently ignore everything he has to say. There’s six billion people out there, and I’m not going to listen to the ones that I know have unapologetically lied to me in the past. It’s a waste of my time, and I don’t even think my time is all that valuable. Of course, complaining about my wasted time is quite another ball of fish…

  11. #11 Darwin
    May 11, 2005

    In Jet’s world if someone opposed to his point of view is unethical, wherever, whoever, however unrelated, then John Lott, who apparently shares his point of view, migh be excuse in his scummy, pedantic, pathetic, dishonest self-promotion.
    In his world that probably is the standard of fairness and moral clarity.

  12. #12 Tom H
    May 11, 2005

    Why did Tim say the reviewer had signed the review when he knew it was a Wall Street Journal letter? He should not have cut out the beginning of the review that made that obvious. That was very dishonest. He makes up one claim that is easily seen to be false. He must believe that no one will check the post. Now he makes yet another equally false claim in the same discussion about personal information that is not there.

  13. #13 Eli Rabett
    May 11, 2005

    Once more we enter the realm of implausible deniability

  14. #14 Tim Lambert
    May 11, 2005

    “Tom H”, your personal information is no longer there because you deleted it. As you full well know.

  15. #15 Betty Collins
    May 11, 2005

    You are very articulate as you speak, very knowledable of your subject matter. I enjoy your perceptions very much. Keep it up.

  16. #16 ChrisPer
    May 11, 2005

    Nothing wierd about authors writing reviews on Amazon under pseudonyms. Check this one out… he responded to my negative review with a bucket of perfume over his own head. http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/0130869724/qid=1115791948/sr=1-1/ref=sr_1_1/104-0614708-1710366?v=glance&s=books

  17. #17 Agricola
    May 11, 2005

    rofl

  18. #18 Tim Lambert
    May 11, 2005

    Check out Xrlq’s lame defence of Lott.

  19. #19 jet
    May 11, 2005

    Darwin,
    To understand why people who agree with Lott are laughing over this, it might serve to look at the media circus that surrounded “Arming America” and how once questions about its accuracy started to arise, the detractors were shouted down by everyone. Bellesiles’ peer reviewed book was used in court cases (most noteably the 9th circuit) and quoted from in legislatures. The left will pay a long bloody debt for backing that book to the end. Hell it was a year before anyone took the accusations as more than a looney lawyer making shit up.

    So yeah, given the left’s acceptance, then complete defense of Arming America (for at least a year after questions of its validity were raised), I couldn’t give a shit (and I’m sure many on the right of this issue agree) if Lott sparkled up his Amazon reviews.

  20. #20 Agricola
    May 11, 2005

    “…backing that book to the end”

    You know, I could have sworn that once Bellisiles had been exposed he was sacked, his prizes revoked and has pretty much lost all credibility, even from the “left”.

    Funny how Lott, for all his (numerous) sins, remains free to peddle his rubbish… until (as these people all do in the end) he takes it one step too far and ends up taking a lot of people with him. The same goes for JLM as well, who has been caught “paraphrasing” texts to make her point. Its sad that some in the pro-gun lobby are willing to let “their” academics Bellisiles-them.

  21. #21 Darwin
    May 11, 2005

    Tom H, Mary Rosh, John Lott… could they be all the same? “Lott” is becoming the official entry for “pathological lier” in the blogosphere dictionary.

    Jet, your excuses for supporting unethical and dishonest behaviour are dumb. Come on. Dishonesty is good because it was used by someone else before? Is that what you learn at Church?

  22. #23 mndean
    May 11, 2005

    Darwin, I think it’s called “the ends justify the means”, a very popular argument with certain groups. Tim, did xrlq actually edit your post so the link you put in would point elsewhere? If true, that seems rather…Lott-like.

  23. #24 Tim Lambert
    May 11, 2005

    Good catch, Agricola. I’ll add it to the list. I like this bit: “washingtonian2″ on Bellesiles:

    It is deeply troubling when an academic refuses to give his data to others. It is also deeply troubling when he can’t even tell other academics where he got the data, especially when by all accounts it doesn’t exist.

  24. #25 jet
    May 11, 2005

    Agricola, perhaps you don’t recall the drama that was Bellisiles’ book? Let me explain, no there is to much, let me sum up. Bellisiles releases his peer reviewed book. Books is widely aclaimed as the new battering ram of gun control advocates. Lawyer looks at it and calls BS. Lawyer is pounced upon by acamemics and by the media. A year later Lawyer has gained enough allies that serious investigation begins. Almost a year AFTER THAT does Emory come to any conclusion about firing Bellisiles (after staying real still and quiet and hoping it would all go away).
    My favorite part of the story was how when issues were first raised there was nothing from acadamia but ad hominems against the critics. Why, I might see a trend, this thread is pretty much an ad hominem against Lott now isnt’ it?

    But waiting a year to accept evidence of Bellisiles falsities is certainly waiting to go down with a sinking ship. So yeah, my platitude stands, acadamia stayed with him until the end. At least Lott’s research only has some doubt about an ancillary survey that merely led depth to his thesis. Kind of on par with Joseph Ellis. But I can’t seem to find the thread in the archives mocking Ellis, I wonder why?

  25. #26 Tim Lambert
    May 11, 2005

    jet, you don’t know what you are talking about. Emory investigated Bellesiles. The AEI refuses to investigate Lott. That is the difference between the two cases. It is wrong to compare the situation with Ellis. Lott’s self-reviews are similar to what Ellis did. His fabricated survey is similar to what Bellesiles did.

  26. #27 Tim Lambert
    May 11, 2005

    mndean, his posting software seemed to eat my link, but I just put up a new one and it worked, so I probably didin’t close a quote or something.

  27. #28 Agricola
    May 11, 2005

    jet: at the end of the day Emory sacked Bellisiles and he was shunned by all and sundry. over a longer period of time Lott has done rather more questionable acts, acts which he is rather bad at concealing, and remains at the AEI, remains on FOX, and remains making money out of it all.

  28. #29 Xrlq
    May 11, 2005

    Jet’s comment about Bellesiles is right on, apart from a minor detail: Clayton Cramer, the guy who exposed him, is not a lawyer. Yes, Tim, he was eventually investigated and had his Bancroft Prize revoked, but only long after Cramer had left them with no other choice. Despite the fact that it is now obvious his entire book was a fraud, the book remains in print to this day, albeit by a different publisher (aptly named Soft Skull Press), and Bellesiles continues to pose as an “academic” to this day.
    Amazon has updated his book’s entry to keep the publisher information current, but they haven’t removed or even edited Lesly Reed’s fawning review of the book.

    All this has zero/zip/nada to do with Lott, of course.

  29. #30 Tim Lambert
    May 11, 2005

    Oh, and for people who missed it when Lott deleted it, I saved a copy of Economist123’s wish list.

  30. #31 Terry Josiah
    May 12, 2005

    You can’t dodge the fact Lambert.
    You argue that more guns equal more crime and over and over your proven wrong. But you never confront it.
    It should be “deeply troubling” to you that you cannot accept the fact that your wrong.
    You are a hypocrite.
    Now when you consider your obsession with Lott, you are also nuts.
    And pathetic.
    Sincerely,
    Terry Josiah

  31. #32 TallDave
    May 12, 2005

    Darwin.

    It’s not remotely a defense, it’s just noting another fake piece in the same vein but on the other side, and your hilarious labelling of it an “anti-anti-gun, crypto-defense of Lott” is rather pathetic on your part.

  32. #33 mungowitz
    May 12, 2005

    This is one psychotic thread. Many of you people should consider getting a life. I think K-Mart is having a sale.

    The question of whether John L has paid a price for his….well, actions….is an interesting. I am a past President of the Public Choice Society, and a tenured prof at Duke Univ in North Carolina. I have known John for more than two decades, and I like him personally. I see him at the Public Choice meetings pretty often.

    However….It is clear he has paid an enormous price. His publication record, in solid journals, is excellent. Now, whether the data would stand up I don’t know, but I think some people have replicated John’s academic stuff and it stood up pretty well.

    Here’s the thing: Bellisiles had a tenure-track job, at Emory, a very fine university. Lott has not been able to hook on at a university, not in a tenure-track line, for more than a decade. The fact that he was conservative meant he was unemployable; being a conservative in economics is like being a creationist in biology–not intellectually respectable.

    Bellisiles, by contrast, because he was a leftist propagandist, was rewarded for being extreme, outre, and radical.

    Now, sure, when Bellisiles did some outright fabrications he got sacked. BUT LOTT WAS NEVER HIRED in the first place.

    So…saying that Lott was not punished after his inadequacies were exposed is little disingenuous. He was punished his whole career, for being conservative. You can’t take away something a guy doesn’t have.

    Should AEI sack Lott? He is a great fundraising tool; so they should keep him.

    Besides, I’ve seen him in a bathing suit. He is in great shape. Looks a lot like Ann Coulter, if you squint and you’ve had a lot of beers. Like, 70 beers. Try it.

  33. #34 Tim Lambert
    May 12, 2005

    Mungowitz claims “The fact that he was conservative meant he was unemployable; being a conservative in economics is like being a creationist in biology–not intellectually respectable.”

    Yes, because Milton Friedman couldn’t get tenure and nobody would recognize his achievements….

    In fact, plenty of conservative economists get tenure. The fact that Lott couldn’t wasn’t because he was conservative but something else.

  34. #35 Jim
    May 12, 2005

    Sorry Tim, but this apparently is a WSJ review that someone simply copied:

    http://newmarksdoor.typepad.com/mainblog/2005/04/john_lott_of_th.html

    This contains a date, so it should be easy to check

    April 21, 2005
    John Lott of the American Enterprise Institute wrote a letter to the Wall Street Journal regarding Freakonomics. Here is the letter, published today:

    Not surprisingly, Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner’s new book ignores their academic critics, but Steve Landsburg’s review disappointingly does so too (April 13, p. D14). Take just the book’s first claim: unwanted children are more likely to grow up to be criminals and that abortion can therefore reduce crime, a plausible idea that has been around since the beginning of the abortion debate.

    Yet, despite Levitt and Dubner’s claims, legalization doesn’t explain 75 percent of the drop in murder rates during the 1990s, and if anything the reverse is true. Their data had a serious error. The Planned Parenthood affiliated organization that supplied them with the data incorrectly claimed that when abortion was legalized during the late 1960s and early 1970s states went from a complete ban to complete legalization, but abortions had been allowed before complete legalization when the life or health of the mother was endangered. The Centers for Disease Control data show that before Roe v. Wade many states that had allowed abortions only when the life or health of the mother was endangered actually had higher abortion rates than states where it was completely “legal.”

    If Levitt and Dubner were correct, crime rates should have first started falling among younger people who were first born after legalization. Only as they aged would you start seeing crime fall among older criminals. But in fact the precise opposite is true. Murder rates during the 1990s first started falling for the oldest criminals and very last for the youngest.

  35. #36 derrida derider
    May 12, 2005

    If Mungowitz is in fact a tenured prof (Tim, what’s his IP address?), this speaks very poorly of the powers of reasoning that such a position requires. I hope you wouldn’t accept such a shabby argument as “well, I like him, and he brings in a lot of money for his employer, so the rest doesn’t matter” from a freshman.

    And the claim that being conservative is enough to make an economist unemployable is simply laughable. The boot’s very much on the other foot – try being a Marxist economist (not sociologist) and see how far you get.

    The point remains that if AEI tolarates these sort of these capers it’s evidence that it has no standards. Tim should be copying some of this stuff to his employers – eventually the loss of reputation must hurt their bottom line, so they ought to put a stop to it.

  36. #37 Ken Miles
    May 12, 2005

    The fact that he was conservative meant he was unemployable; being a conservative in economics is like being a creationist in biology–not intellectually respectable.

    I love this line.

  37. #38 Thomas Palm
    May 12, 2005

    If Mungowitz is in fact a tenured prof…

    There is a Michael Munger at Duke university and a former president of the Public Choice Society. Unless this Mungowitz has stolen his identity I think he is genuine.

  38. #39 mungowitz
    May 12, 2005

    Tim, Tim, Tim:

    1. Lott is ALREADY being punished. He is a marginalized figure, subject of scorn. Is it because he is a conservative, or because he is a fraud? We’ll never know. But he was a conservative first. Now, one can say that the fact that I got tenure at a place like Duke is an indication that such discrimination against conservatives, if it even exists, is not insuperable. And I would have to say that is right.

    2. Read back up the more than 30 comments in the thread I made the “get a life” comment on. They are just squabbling.

    3. If it matters, I consider the Lambert work Fisking Lott to be important. But I am pretty sure that Tim does not wake up in the morning worrying about what I think.

    4. Am I real? And do I lack the ability to make basic logical arguments? Perhaps you are giving too much credit to Duke profs. As my teenage son says, “If Dad can do it, how hard can it really be?”

  39. #40 mungowitz
    May 12, 2005

    And….another thing.

    I say, “Get a life” to some of posters in the thread, and Tim gets pissy.

    But, he calls them “sockpuppets” in one of his own posts, and that’s okay?

    Oy. (Okay, the sockpuppets post did make me laugh, so no hard feelings).

    For those who doubt my identity, send me an email:
    munger {at} duke.edu
    or check my main web page:
    http://www.duke.edu/~munger

  40. #41 Eli Rabett
    May 12, 2005

    Mungowitz, Lott was a baby first. He is obviously being discriminated against for having been a baby. Hmmm.

  41. #42 mungowitz
    May 12, 2005

    And….another thing.

    I say, “Get a life” to some of posters in the thread, and Tim gets pissy.

    But, he calls them “sockpuppets” in one of his own posts, and that’s okay?

    Oy. (Okay, the sockpuppets post did make me laugh, so no hard feelings).

    For those who doubt my identity, send me an email:
    munger {at} duke.edu
    or check my main web page:
    http://www.duke.edu/~munger

  42. #43 Nabakov
    May 12, 2005

    So Munger babe. lecture in sophistry do you?

    “Is it because he is a conservative, or because he is a fraud? We’ll never know.”

    Let me return the goalposts to their original position for you. He’s being scorned because his conservative ideologies drove him to commit fraud. Now you know. You are equally free to scorn others on the same terms.

    So then why are you here? I mean aside from now just nitpicking over the quality of the debate here.

  43. #44 Tim Lambert
    May 12, 2005

    For a marginalized figure he sure gets a lot of op-eds published, garners a lot of speaking invitations and gets his opinions quoted in papers.

    You yourself stated that 3 out of 8 academic economists were conservatives. Clearly being conservative isn’t the reason why Lott failed to get tenure. It wasn’t because he was a fraud because that wasn’t widely known then—it was because he was and is incompetent. Copious examples can be found on this weblog.

    Please do not insult me by referring to my work as a “Fisking”. The word is based on a personal attack on journalist Robert Fisk and “Fiskings” are generally superficial, poorly reasoned rants.

  44. #45 Xrlq
    May 12, 2005

    Oh, please. A fisking is a line-by-line rebuttal of a published article. In and of itself, it’s neither good nor bad. Some fiskings are superficial, poorly reasoned rants, while others are extremely good. That you would take offense at someone else complimenting you on a fisking suggests you are either (1) extremely thin-skinned, or (2) Robert Fisk.

  45. #46 Tim Lambert
    May 12, 2005

    “Fiskings” are, as a rule, crap, introducing one of the worst features of Usenet to blogspace. The occasional OK one does not wash away the general connotations of crappiness.

  46. #47 mndean
    May 13, 2005

    Geez, xrlq, although I’ve enjoyed reading some fiskings in the past, even I know that they’re totally disreputable and an extremely poor form of argument. Snark is about their only value.

  47. #48 mungowitz
    May 13, 2005

    Well, then, I have learned something. I did not know that the verb “Fisk” had a negative connotation. Such connoting was not what I had in mind.

    How about “hold arguments up to scrutiny, to check for logical rigor and empirical correctness.” Or something like that. (It was the line-by-line dissection that “fisk” meant to me, but okay, I was wrong).

    But….”hold arguments up to scrutiny, to check for logical rigor and empirical correctness” is too long.

    Let’s call it “Lamberting”, since that is what the good TL considers himself to be doing.

    So, to restate, without the unintentional insult: I am glad that someone is Lamberting our John Lott.

    And, for op-eds….A. Coulter has lots of media exposure. I think you are just calling me on yet ANOTHER unintentional insult. For me, being excluded from academics would be appalling. But that means that I am just another arrogant, isolated academic, the sort who doesn’t even know that “fisk” is an outrageous insult.

    If you do NOT consider such exclusion to be a bad thing, and maybe even a sign of good sense and contribution to the world of ideas, then, you are quite right, both Anne Coulter and John Lott are at the very core of intellectual success.

    I learn SO MUCH here. Perhaps I can try out as a sock puppet.

  48. #49 Agricola
    May 13, 2005

    mungowitz if Lott is “a marginalized figure, subject of scorn” then I guess those of us who arent would like to be, given the amount of money he makes from the scorn.

  49. #50 Tim Lambert
    May 13, 2005

    How is he excluded from academics? The Federalist Society sends him on speaking tours to various universities. And I remain perplexed why you think that his failure to get tenure is because he is conservative. Maybe Lott told you this, but remember that he is a habitual liar.

  50. #51 Eli Rabett
    May 13, 2005

    The problem with disputes about definitions is that there are usually sources that specialize in defining terms which can be consulted. RTFD, in this case, since fisking in the Robert sense has not made it into the OED, RTFD on the web.

    From http://catb.org/~esr/jargon/html/F/fisking.html

    “fisking: n. [blogosphere; very common] A point-by-point refutation of a blog entry or (especially) news story. A really stylish fisking is witty, logical, sarcastic and ruthlessly factual; flaming or handwaving is considered poor form. Named after Robert Fisk, a British journalist who was a frequent (and deserving) early target of such treatment. See also MiSTing, anti-idiotarianism”

    and from the wikipedia

    “Fisking, or to Fisk, refers to the act of critiquing, often in minute detail, an article, essay, argument, etc. with the intent of challenging its conclusion or theses by highlighting logical fallacies and incorrect facts. The practice was named after British journalist Robert Fisk after he issued a dispatch from Pakistan describing his savage beating at the hands of Afghan refugees.”

    It is true that fisking has acquired a bad reputation on discussion groups, but it is an academic sport practiced since the year dot as anyone who has every been to a faculty meeting can tell you. OTOH, this is not what Tim Lambert is doing, he has taken the core elements of Lott’s claims and shown them at best to be dubious and at worst to have been deliberately falsified. He has also shown considerable evidence of a pattern of dishonest behavior by Lott.

    Now given this, I fail to see why Mungowitz is claiming that either Lott or Coulter should have academic appointments at first rank universities. They are both what I consider to be “Publicists” whose obsession is self promotion and provocation. Given their behavior, I would not defend either, would Mungowitz?

  51. #52 mungowitz
    May 16, 2005

    That’s a fair point.

    Coulter, no, of course not. But then *I* never claimed Coulter deserved academic status. Mentioning her was a reductio ad absurdum. I said Lott gets no respect, the reply was that he does op-eds, so I said, ah, then Coulter must get respect. I think I agree about the “publicist” distinction you make.

    Lott…at one point, yes, he should have been given more academic respect. But he was chased out of Montana (that leftist bastion!) by the legislature. Since, he has become more of a publicist, I agree, but that is because his academic work is no longer taken seriously (and, possibly, rightly so).

    As I said, hard for me to sustain a claim of universal discrimination against the right, given how overpromoted and overpaid I am myself.

  52. #53 Eli Rabett
    May 16, 2005

    Seems to me that for every economist on the left you find in an eco department you find five on the right in business schools. You seldom find a truly leftist tenured economist who rejects market capitalism, but you do find a lot of boosters on the libertarian right in economics departments and business schools.

    Given what I know about Lott, I find it difficult to accept that he EVER was deserving of any respect for his academic work. As to Montana, as with many western US states, there is a strong thread of populism that lurks and is often confused as being leftist.

  53. #54 jonathan frisby
    May 16, 2005

    Lott didn’t get tenure because (a) he’s a conservative and/or (b) he may have committed fraud by fabricating a survey he mentioned dozens of times in print and elsewhere. I seriously doubt the first reason is the case, since people with Lott’s publishing record can get jobs, despite their political views. We can all think of examples, even ones who did not win Nobel Prizes – Kenneth Elzinga, Eric Rasmusen (though he did get denied tenure at UCLA I hear), David Mustard, etc. The list isn’t all that short. And Lott had trouble getting tenure well before it all hit the fan with that survey (made worse by the Mary Rosh stuff). Isn’t it more likely that he cannot get tenure track jobs because of his personality? Most people that know him simply cannot stand him. Even some of his closest friends seem utterly embarassed by the things he says and does. I swear, sometimes I think he is foaming at the mouth over Levitt’s work on abortion and crime because he’s jealous of Levitt. Levitt got the big job at Chicago, the John Bates Clark, editor of JPE, and the new book. Lott used to be that guy, in many ways. He did, and continues to do, important work in economics. The econometrics in the work he and Mustard did, as well as followup work with Landes, is from what I understand strong. Ayres and Donahue have published a piece in the Stanford law Review that may cast some seriously doubt over the “more guns, less crime” hypothesis, but that’s not the same as saying that the original work was bad, per se. At the worst, I think those responses show that guns don’t seem to make matters worse, and may in fact make things better. As an economist, putting aside the survey stuff and the Rosh stuff, Lott strikes me as a good thinker.

    But he seems so insecure, and prone to narcissism and even jealousy, and from what I hear, he’s simply intolerable among his colleagues. I think that’s probably the easiest thing to believe – not that he’s being persecuted for his political views, or what that he’s being stigmatized for his dubious ethics, but mroe simply that people who spend time with him do not like him. I mean, tenure means you have to be around the person, and if the person is a walking negative externality, then it really could swamp out whatever gains there may be from having him on board.

    I feel bad for the guy, but he brings it on himself. He needs Jesus, to be frank. When i see him, I see someone who is consumed with self-righteousness and bitterness, and though I am a huge debtor to his original insights and hard work, he does rub me the wrong way in other important ways.

  54. #55 Tim Lambert
    May 16, 2005

    mungowitz, what is the source for your claim that Lott was chased out of Montana by the legislature? I ask because there is no mention of a job there in his CV.

  55. #56 mungowitz
    July 11, 2005

    Sorry; been away a long time.

    Check this:

    http://www.billingsnews.com/story?storyid=17594&issue=269

    but, you are quite right–no mention on the c.v. How odd. It should be listed in 1985-6.

    I knew about it because I remembered when it happened.

    Why in the world is it not listed on the c.v.? There is no gap in the annual affiliations.

    I admit I am stumped.

  56. #57 mungowitz
    July 11, 2005

    On p. 13 of the c.v., there IS listed a talk at Montana State (the one in Bozeman, where the alleged events occurred) in 1986.

    But that is hardly proof he was an assistant prof. there. In fact, quite the contrary. Was I taken in? Was it all a hoax?

    I feel so….dirty.

    I did find this:

    “One externality that has been tested empirically did little to enhance the case for public spending on education. John Lott Jr. of Montana State University and the Hoover Institution discovered that, all other things being equal, public schooling appeared to be positively correlated with juvenile delinquency.”

    Here:
    http://www.forbes.com/freeforbes/1986/1229/0722.html

    …for all that that’s worth.

  57. #58 Tim Lambert
    July 11, 2005

    More discussion on the Lott at Montana State University mystery here.

    In particular, I managed to find this piece where Lott tells his story of what happened.

    He says “I was affiliated with Montana State University” and

    By late August, it came to my attention that the Commissioner of Political Practices had almost filed felony charges against me because of a law forbidding state employees from engaging in political campaigns. I had no idea that such a law even existed. Fortunately, I wasn’t on state salary at the time because I was planning to be on leave at the Hoover Institution in Stanford, California, for the coming academic year. When the commissioner’s office was informed of this fact, the proposed charges were dropped.

    The story about the felony charges is likely made up, but he probably was at MSU in some capacity. Still odd that it’s not on his CV.

  58. #59 Al Lowe
    August 31, 2005

    “You see, when people click on the See all my reviews link, it’s kind of obvious that you wrote a five-star review of your own book. ”
    So, he’s really John Micklethwait? Or didn’t you look. :D

  59. #60 Tim Lambert
    September 3, 2005

    Well spotted, Al — he has deleted the review. I wonder why?

  60. #61 Chris Jarrett
    September 3, 2005

    In the book:

    Public Choice (Historical Archive)
    Publisher: Springer Science+Business Media B.V., Formerly Kluwer Academic Publishers B.V.
    ISSN: 0048-5829 (Paper) 1573-7101 (Online)
    DOI: 10.1007/BF00123875
    Issue: Volume 52, Number 2
    Date: January 1987

    Pages: 169 – 186
    Political cheating

    John R. Lott Jr. 1,2
    (1) Hoover Institution, Stanford University, 94305 Stanford, CA
    (2) Department of Agricultural Economics and Economics, Montana State University, 59717 Bozeman, MT

    And this chapter:

    Public Choice (Historical Archive)
    Publisher: Springer Science+Business Media B.V., Formerly Kluwer Academic Publishers B.V.
    ISSN: 0048-5829 (Paper) 1573-7101 (Online)
    DOI: 10.1007/BF00123808
    Issue: Volume 54, Number 1
    Date: January 1987
    Pages: 89 – 96
    The institutional arrangement of public education: The puzzle of exclusive territories

    John R. Lott Jr. 1,2
    (1) Department of Agricultural Economics and Economics, Montana State University, 59717 Bozeman, MT
    (2) Hoover Institution, Stanford University, 94305 Stanford, CA

    Also:

    Televising legislatures: Some thoughts on whether politicians are search goods
    GM Fremling, JR Lott – Public Choice, 1988 – springerlink.com. This paper was accepted while Lott was at the Hoover
    Institution and Montana State University.

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