Lott's letter campaign continues

Another letter has been sent to the Washington Post, and by an amazing coincidence makes the same error about the Post article as the previous ones:

A column appearing in the Post yesterday (Feb. 11, "Fabricated Fan and Many Doubts") implies that economist John Lott made up the claim that a computer malfunction destroyed data from his research on gun control. At the time Lott was engaged in this research, we were colleagues at the University of Chicago Law School. I clearly recall John relating the computer data-loss incident to me then---many years before the current controversy about his work arose. Just so you know, I'm not relating this information to you because I support Lott's position on guns (I don't). I'm relating it to you because I think journalists---even the ones you employ to write political gossip columns like this one---should live up to their professional obligation to check out the facts before they make claims harmful to an individual's reputation.
Dan M. Kahan, Professor of Law, Yale Law School

Meanwhile, Glenn Reynolds thinks that the letters "have some probative value". This is not true, since no-one was questioning whether Lott had a disk crash. The only thing the letters are evidence for is the extent Lott will go to in order to make it appear as if the argument is over whether he had a disk crash.

Glen Whitman argues that we should not dismiss Lott's work on concealed carry laws just because of his misconduct about the survey. This is true as far as it goes. Others have verified that if you use his models and his data, you get the numbers he reports. The problem is that many critics, most recently Ayres and Donahue have presented good evidence that Lott's models are wrong, and when better models are used Lott's results vanish or are reversed. Now Lott disputes their findings, but his behaviour over his 98% claim demonstrates that whatever the truth of the matter is he will never admit to being wrong.

John Quiggin notes some parallels between John Lott and Trent Lott cases.

Postwatch complains that I misunderstood his statement about Lott bolstering his 98% claim. Apparently he just meant that Lott is attempting to bolster his claim. If that is all he is saying then we have another parallel with Bellesiles, since Bellesiles is also attempting to bolster his claims. You can visit his web site of probate material here.


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