The judge for Lott’s lawsuit against Levitt has thrown out Lott’s claim that he was defamed by Freakonomics. (Decision is here.)
Some quotes from the decision:
The Court will grant a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6) only if “no relief could be granted under any set of facts that could be proved consistent with the allegations” … When considering a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6), this Court views all facts alleged in the complaint, as well as any inferences reasonably drawn from those facts, in the light most favorable to the plaintiff.
By claiming that other scholars have tried to “replicate” his research and results, but come to different conclusions than Lott, Lott claims that the sentence in Freakonomics alleges that “Lott falsified his results.” … In everyday language, replicating “results” does not necessarily mean analyzing data in identical ways, and thus it is reasonable to read the sentence at issue as not accusing Lott of falsifying his results. In fact, it is more reasonable to read the sentence at issue as stating that other scholars testing the same hypothesis have done separate research, with possibly different data and statistical analyses, and come to different conclusions, thus disproving Lott’s theory
The litany of partial dictionary definitions of “replicate” cherry-picked by Lott do not change this analysis.
Lott takes some solace in the fact that his claim that Levitt defamed in an email wasn’t thrown out, but it’s hard to see what damage Lott can demonstrate from an email to one person who doesn’t seem to have believed it (since he forwarded it to Lott).