Just when and how the Lott-Levitt feud started is not clear — neither man would directly comment on the lawsuit for this article. Levitt’s friend Austan Goolsbee, also an economics professor at the U. of C., remembers when Levitt, then a junior fellow at Harvard, visited Chicago in 1994 to present a paper. Lott had just been named a visiting professor. “Even before Steve was on the [academic] job market, John came to the first seminar Steve was giving at Chicago and brought his own slides to the talk and attempted to get up and rebut what Steve was saying during Steve’s own workshop,” Goolsbee says. “I cannot even tell you how unusual that is — I have never heard of anything like that happening.”
Meriner quotes Dan Polsby, dean of George Mason Law School on Lott:
He is one of the most energetic, gifted econometricians of his generation, if not in history.
I beg to differ. Lott can drive a stats package, but he has no deep understanding of what he is doing. For instance, here’s a question I put to him:
X is positively correlated with Y, r=0.7. X is positively correlated with Z, r=0.7. Does it follow that Y is positively correlated with Z?
Yes, of course.
I think that one of the most gifted econometricians in history would have got that one right.
And you don’t have to take my word for it. What do econometricians think? Well, Lott has not been able to get a tenure-track position doing econometrics. In the entire world, there is not one university that has recognised Lott as being a one the most gifted econometricians ever. It seems that the only people impressed by Lott’s skills in the field are those like Polsby, with has no training and has done no research in econometrics.
Meriner quotes Lott’s excuse for using Mary Rosh:
He later wrote on his Web site, “I had originally used my own name in chat rooms but switched after receiving threatening and obnoxious telephone calls from other Internet posters.”
This is not credible. First, he didn’t come up with this excuse till several weeks after he was exposed. Second, Internet posters who disagree with you post their own comments or email you. All the responses to Lott’s postings were polite. Third, he also posted under his own name while he was using Mary Rosh.
And I get a mention (the post he refers to is here):
In continuing online debates over gun issues, Reynolds and Kopel have refused to identify the anonymous source. However, Tim Lambert, a computer scientist in Australia who maintains an anti-Lott blog, has said on his blog that Levitt told him he was nearly certain that Lott was the source.