William Ford reports on the oral arguments in Lott’s appeal of the dismissal of his lawsuit against Levitt:

Evans and Sykes asked all the questions. Ripple remained silent. I have only glanced at the briefs, but based on the questions and comments during the oral argument, Lott’s chances do not look very good. … An mp3 of the oral argument is now available here.

I listened to the mp3, and I was rather struck by an “up is down” argument offered by Jeffrey Parker, who was arguing for Lott.

Here’s the relevant bit of the district court’s ruling:

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

And Parker’s argument:

the district court’s construction of the challenged passage here was not even a construction, much less a reasonable one or an innocent one. The reason is that the district court took a construction of this passage that essentially said the words “tried to replicate” could be construed to mean “tried to differ”. And it seems to me that whatever you define as “replicate”, it can’t mean “differ”. Those are opposite concepts — they’re not the same. So it’s not even a construction.

At the risk of pointing out the obvious, the district court took “replicate” to mean “not differ”. Jeffrey Parker is a professor at George Mason School of Law.


  1. #1 ben
    October 24, 2008

    Right, just like Obama was a lecturer in constitutional law. Doesn’t mean a damn thing, unfortunately.

  2. #2 Pinko Punko
    October 25, 2008

    ben ben ben ben ben.


  3. #3 bi -- IJI
    October 25, 2008

    So let’s see… John Doe tries to fly by jumping off the table. Since “trying to fly” isn’t the same thing as “trying to jump off the table”, therefore John Doe’s action cannot exist.

  4. #4 Craig Pennington
    October 25, 2008

    Actually the judge did not say that the phrase “tried to replicate” could be construed to mean “tried to differ” nor did the judge take it to mean “to not differ.” What the judge did say is that the interpretation of the larger phrase (“tried to replicate his results”) as implying only that others tried to test the same hypothesis perhaps with different (but relevant) data or methods of analysis is more reasonable than Lott’s asserted interpretation that it implies no more and no less than that others went about checking the math.

  5. #5 z
    October 25, 2008

    rather like Palin’s attorney’s reply to the report on her alleged attempts to use her position to exact vengeance on her ex-brother-in-law; it couldn’t have been abuse of power, in that she did not stand to gain financially.

  6. #6 Eli Rabett
    October 26, 2008

    Must be something about George Mason, the guys at Volkoh tried on the bit about Obama and the U C law school and got their ears pinned back. As the University of Chicago said

    From 1992 until his election to the U.S. Senate in 2004, Barack Obama served as a professor in the Law School. He was a Lecturer from 1992 to 1996. He was a Senior Lecturer from 1996 to 2004, during which time he taught three courses per year. Senior Lecturers are considered to be members of the Law School faculty and are regarded as professors, although not full-time or tenure-track. The title of Senior Lecturer is distinct from the title of Lecturer, which signifies adjunct status. Like Obama, each of the Law School’s Senior Lecturers has high-demand careers in politics or public service, which prevent full-time teaching. Several times during his 12 years as a professor in/ the Law School, Obama was invited to join the faculty in a full-time tenure-track position, but he declined.

    You can read about the bennies over at volokh

  7. #7 ben
    October 27, 2008

    Don’t you need a JUD or PhD to be a “professor” these days?

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