Wikipedia 2, John Lott 0

Last year an anonymous person from the American Enterprise Institute
repeatedly tried and failed to remove all
criticism
of Lott from his
wikipedia page. He
eventually admitted to being
Lott
and claimed
that the “posting contains a huge number of inaccuracies and outright
lies”.

Over the past few weeks a sequence of more subtle changes were made to
the Lott article from several different IPs. For example, this change
was made by Mr 38.118.73.78:

Before After
Lott’s actions were discovered when weblogger Julian Sanchez noticed that the IP address Lott used to reply to an email was the same used by “Mary Rosh”.

Lott’s actions were discovered when weblogger Julian Sanchez noticed
that the IP address Lott used in a post was for Comcast within
southern eastern Pennsylvania as was also true for “Mary Rosh”. The
main similarities is that they had both written word for word the same
statements. When asked about the similarities in the writing, Lott
stated that he had used the pseudonym.

This change tries to make it look like Lott owned up to being Mary
Rosh when he didn’t have to. In fact, the IP addresses were the same,
and since Comcast provides a unique IP to each home account, that
meant that Rosh was posting from the same house as Lott. And
38.118.73.78 resolves to
aei.org.

There were many other edits pushing Lott’s point of view made
anonymously from several different IP addresses.
One IP address used was 69.143.118.89. Oddly enough, that’s the IP Lott
used that was implicated in The Case of The Vanishing
Wishlist
(proof
here).

My favourite edit is this addition, attacking me and linking to
Xrlq:

Warning: The person making these claims is linking names that have
no obvious connection with Lott and the variety of different names he
claims were done by Lott and the person making these claims has been
caught altering evidence to show links that didn’t
exist. [22]

The IP address used for this edit was 70.179.74.49. I don’t have a
record of Lott using this one, but it’s located in Washington DC and
the browser used was Safari, just like Lott uses.

After he had made fifteen edits, I undid them all. Someone with IP
address 69.141.3.180 redid them all. By some strange coincidence,
Maxim Lott (Lott’s son) has posted using this IP address.

Note that he started using all these sock puppets on Wikipedia after
I had exposed his
previous set of sock puppets. He just can’t help himself.

Comments

  1. #1 Chris Jarrett
    July 18, 2005

    It is somewhat amazing that Lott hasn’t tried to set up a sock puppet who pretends to be one of the student researchers from his imaginary 1997 survey.

  2. #2 Barry Freed
    July 18, 2005

    Tim, you are the Red Death at the Sock-Puppet Masquerade. If my training were in psychology or psychiatry I would be keen on writing up the description of this rather pathetic monomania of Lott’s.

    After all this time, being tracked by his IP you’d think someone with his level of education would learn how to…or perhaps some eager-beaver fresh young-faced intern at AEI would hip him to how he can….And there’s even a nice little…for Mac OSX that can be obtained at….

    No, no, to the bitter end.

  3. #3 Meyrick Kirby
    July 18, 2005

    A minor point but, “Mixim Lott”, as in Maxim gun? Is someone taking the piss?

  4. #4 z
    July 18, 2005

    It’s also worth noting that pretty much nobody posts like this
    “Warning: The person making these claims is linking names that have no obvious connection
    etc. etc.”
    on wikipedia; even the folks who have longstanding bitter personal disputes tend to keep this kind of stuff to the discussions attached to each topic page.

  5. #5 Darwin
    July 18, 2005

    I’d love to take Lott’s presure every time he reads Tim’s posts.

    Lambert, you are a genius!

  6. #6 Chris Jarrett
    July 18, 2005

    Barry, look up Oppositional Defiant Disorder.
    http://www.mentalhealth.com/dis1/p21-ch05.html

    It generally applies to children but it can apply to adults. I’d say that Lott fits the requirements.

  7. #7 Rod
    July 18, 2005

    Hi Tim,

    This is the first time I’ve looked at your webblog and have been surprised that you’ve devoted so much of your lifes energy to discredit one man. Is this a personal thing for you or do you just have strong views against the use of firearms for individual self defence? Just interested in what drives somebody to go to the lengths you’ve gone to.

  8. #8 ben
    July 19, 2005

    Lott and Krugman need some group therapy, I think.

  9. #9 Steve Bloom
    July 19, 2005

    Like all Australians, Tim dreams of becoming a Murrcan (and if at all possible a Texan, but I digress). Unlike Rupert Murdock, though, Tim is not a complete megalomaniac during his waking hours and has never actually made the move to Murrca. Thus limited to symbolic acts of Murrcanism, Tim pursued the essence of what makes a Murrcan a rill Murrcan: The full exercise of his rights under the broadest possible interpretation of the Second Amendment to the the US Constitution. (With me so far?) Unfortunately, because of his lack of a Murrcan education (this resulting in turn in his being a literate user of the English language), Tim inevitably became disillusioned when he discovered that no Australian state had a militia for him to join. So now, in an ongoing act of displaced self-hatred, he takes out his frustration on the deluded crazies who think the Second Amendment has something to do with possession of guns in a context other than that of state militias. (In the spirit of McIntyre and McKitrick, that’s my hypothesis and I’m sticking to it.)

  10. #10 Ian Gould
    July 19, 2005

    Heck. long before this point, if I hadn’t simply given up, I’d be doing my posts from an internet cafe.

  11. #11 Ian Gould
    July 19, 2005

    <>

    Rod, I can’t reply for tim but i will make a couple of quick points.

    1. Tim hasn’t gone after other pro-gun academics. Dr. Kleck (forget his first name)is a well-known academic supporter of gun rights. Tim has cited his work a number of times.

    2. Tim has gone after Lott on a number of issues not related to guns.

    3. Tim is on record as opposing the stricter gun laws introduced in Australia in 1996 (he accepts they probably resulted in a small reeuction in gun fatalities but argues that the cost was too high for the benefits.(He also criticised the assault-weapon ban in the US.)

    My impression is that Tim cares about intellectual honesty and proper scientific method and feels that Lott deserves to be criticised.

  12. #12 Steve Bloom
    July 19, 2005

    My lame attempt at humor aside, I should mention that I generally agree with Ian’s points except to add that Tim has done some pretty important stuff on issues having nothing to do with Lott or guns, e.g. global warming, the DDT ban hoax and the Iraq civilian body count. Even many of the Lott-related posts have a much broader utility, see e.g., http://scienceblogs.com/deltoid/2003/09/cluster.php. Plus his sense of humor is way better than mine.

  13. #13 Tim Lambert
    July 19, 2005

    Rod, I do not have strong views against the use of firearms for self defence. I do have strong views against academic misconduct. Yes, there’s a lot of stuff on Lott here, but that’s because he has done a lot of bad things.

  14. #14 Noumenon
    July 21, 2005

    The Lott stuff is not at all a witch hunt or an obsession — if I could find that many twists and turns in someone’s behavior, I’d keep checking on them too! I mean, certain bloggers have their bete noires and you just tune them out on those topics, but Lambert on Lott has been interesting every single time. Imagine someone you know online being this devious!

  15. #15 z
    July 21, 2005

    “Imagine someone you know online being this devious!”
    How sure are we that this isn’t some sort of TV reality show?
    Seriously, looking at the situation from some perspective, I really detect this general fleeing from reality on the part of the rightwing, which of course includes the inability to admit error and to alter their behavior. I find it very troubling that people with that attitude are in power. As I’ve discussed elsewhere, I think part of it is a divide between data-driven personality types, and gut-feeling-driven personality types. What little I know about this pop psych stuff tells me that the two personality types are very different, do not communicate well, do not trust each other, do not value each other’s contributions, will not give each other consideration as possibly being correct, etc. I don’t know how this got aligned with the right/left axis but it’s sort of illuminating considering where it shows the American people as lining up, in percentage, geography, and political clout.

  16. #16 Ian Gould
    July 21, 2005

    I haven’t checked it lately but at one point I noticed that the overwhelming proportion of political urban legends collected on the Snopes site were essentially right wing – a huge number of attacks on clinton and Kerry, virtually no equivalent attacks on Bush.

    Even rumors that you’d think might take off – such as Larry Flynt’s claims that Bush procured an illegal abortion for one of his girlfriends back in the 60′s – simply don’t.

    Whether this represents any innate bias towards fabulism on the part of some elements of the American right or soemthign else (such as selection bias on the part of the site’s authors or the people referring material to them) I don’t know.

  17. #17 Russell Allen
    July 22, 2005

    Wikipedia is annoying. I inserted an entry that Sandra Sully was a notable Brisbanite and it was removed. It’s soooo subjective.

  18. #18 Jonathan Arnold
    July 23, 2005

    Just one slight clarification. While it is true that Comcast assigns unique IP to each home account (it would have to!), that IP is not fixed in any way. They are free to change it at any time, and assign your cable modem a new IP address. Comcast, for whatever reason, assigns IP addresses via a DHCP server, with a very short lease life (like 48 hours).

    In practice, however, the IP address rarely changes. The first time I had a cable modem, it never changed over 4 years (bar one month where it went crazy). Since I went back to cable modem recently, it has been two months with the same one.

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