More shenanigans at Amazon.com

The last time I looked at the reviews of More Guns, Less Crime at Amazon.com I noted how, after a negative review was posted, Lott would post a five-star review to push the negative review off the front page. On December 11, someone posted a negative review of More Guns, Less Crime, pointing out that several of the reviews were written by Lott. The very next day two five-star reviews were posted, pushing the negative review down the page.

i-6da7393c8ff6de1c28d52199d33a151e-stars-5-0.gifPowerful evidence for reducing crime, December 12, 2003
Reviewer: Greg Kopp (see more about me) from Garfield Heights, OH USA
I found out about this book from a friend and read it with great interrest. I never realized just how wrong gun control advocates were.

The author used data straight from the government and showed that by allowing law abiding citizens to excercize their god-given right to self defense using hand guns, you reduce overall crime.

Some of the data is difficult for the lay-person to understand, but this can be overcome by reading the synopsis offered by the author.

i-6da7393c8ff6de1c28d52199d33a151e-stars-5-0.gifRead this book first. Best book on the subject., December 12, 2003
Reviewer: James Irvine from U.S.A.
This is a great book. Dr. Lott explains in plain English exactly how and why more guns means less crime. He did the largest study on the subject ever conducted.

If you want all the statistics, it's in here. If you want a general explanation, it's there. If you don't understand anything about statistics, that is fine. Wether you want to make a living studying guns and crime or just want to sort our the truth from the lies for your family, this is the place to start.

The information contained in this book is so valuable that you will keep coming back to it as you read other studies on guns. It is the best book I have ever read on the subject.

The next day, another five-star review pushed the negative review off the front page.

i-6da7393c8ff6de1c28d52199d33a151e-stars-5-0.gifShock and Awe, December 13, 2003
Reviewer: christianmusicstuff from Toledo, OH
This is a book that sends gun control advocates packing. Some of the statistical jargon is, I admit, over my head. But the conclusions are easy-to-read. The questions deserved to be asked, and Lott & Mustard bring shock and awe with their answers.

Well, my first thought was that Lott was up to his old tricks, but then I noticed that the writing style was not his, and that two of them gave what looked like real names. A Google search found the contact page for Ohioans For Concealed Carry, which had emails for both of the named reviewers. It seems that Greg Kopp is the webmaster for OFCC, while Jim Irvine is the Public Relations Chair. Note that they posted their reviews on the same day and the review posted the next day was also from Ohio. It seems likely that there was some collusion amongst the three reviewers. I decided to email them to see what explanation they had for the coincidence.

I asked: "What prompted you to post a review of "More Guns, Less Crime" at Amazon.com a couple of days ago?" Jim Irvine replied:

I was just telling someone new to the gun debate about this book. They were not familiar with it so I told them to go to Amazon.com and look for it. They told me they checked and there were several bad reviews. Not knowing I could "review" books on Amazon, I went and read some of the reviews for myself. Sure enough, there were both raving reviews and dribble and outright lies by "readers" who seem to have a political agenda. I doubt they even read the book.

Anyway, I read this book a few years ago, and I have recommended it to so many people that don't understand the debate, know the media is lying to them, but don't trust the NRA either. This is a great book that works with facts, not emotion and rhetoric. So I thought it my duty to leave a positive review to counter the same old nonsense people have been saying to discredit Lott for years. I'm sure you are familiar with the old strategy, if you can't refute the evidence, attack the character.

While Greg Kopp replied:

I bought his books, read them, liked them, so I posted a review.

This didn't really explain why they both just happened to have reviewed it on the same day, so I emailed back, pointing out that there had been three reviews in two days from Ohio, and that this seemed too much of a coincidence. Irvine replied:

Only three reviews from Ohio last week. That does seem like a low number to mee too. Ohio just sent an act to Gov Taft to allow concealed carry. It's in the news all the time here, there are open carry walks almost every weekend, and people are ready to finaly join the other states that have passed a law and have lower crime. There is a huge amount of interest in the issue, so it makes sense that poeple will read and comment.

While Kopp wrote:

By the way, you do realize Ohio is a big state, don't you?

Rather evasive, I thought. After several more emails where I told him that I thought he was working together with Irvine to stack the reviews, Kopp replied:

Jim Irvine's name is very familiar to me and I am sure I have met him a few times. It is entirely possible that Mr. Irvine and I were at the same gun show and that he happened to be standing near me when I was telling a friend that I saw some pretty stupid and absurd reviews being posted about Dr. Lott's books on Amazon.com. I had recalled to my friend that I had never posted a review about John's book and that I had done so when I saw them. Just to be clear, I never urged my friend to do the same. It just happened to be one of many topics we were talking about, and not all of them had anything to do with firearms.

So, if Mr. Irvine took it upon himslef and decided to post his own review, it was not at my request. Unlike the anti-self-defense movement, the pro-self-defense movement is very large. We don't have to rely on organized propaganda by a few small groups all run my the same people under different names. The people in this movement are caring individuals, that when they see an injustice, they do what they can to rectify it or to help alleviate pain.

This story directly contradicts the one that Irvine told. Now, I don't see anything wrong, or unlikely, with one of them telling the other that he had posted a review and that inspiring the other one to do the same, but that is not what they told me. Their evasiveness and their contradictory stories suggest that they decided together to post positive reviews so as to push the negative ones off the front page. They don't want to just put forward their views, they want to prevent opposing views from being heard. (And don't you love the bit about how his "movement" doesn't rely on propaganda from the same people under different names?)

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A minor point is that the opening para of Kopp's review " I found out about this book from a friend and read it with great interrest. I never realized just how wrong gun control advocates were." is highly misleading, given that he's an active member of a pro-gun lobby group.

Of course, it can be read in a way that just avoids outright lies . The first sentence could mean that several years ago a friend mentioned that Lott's book had come out. The second could be parsed as "I always knew the gun control advocates were wrong and this book strengthened my belief".

to push up books that are full of bs, and push down books like Arming America. One things for sure, pro gun people apparently have little else to do then play mafia on the itnernet.

By ThinkTank (not verified) on 22 Dec 2003 #permalink

Nah, we've got plenty else to do. It's just as the one guy said, there are a lot of us, so we can work in shifts. LOL

By Brett Bellmore (not verified) on 22 Dec 2003 #permalink

http://www.gunlawsuits.org/xshare/pdf/041003.pdf

Page 43

For example, Ricker directed a project in which manufacturers' sales representatives worked through retail dealers and gun shows to register gun buyers as California voters. Funded by several manufacturers and the publisher of Guns & Ammo magazine, the campaign registered over 25,000 gun owners.273

Likewise, distributor RSR used its dealer network to help defeat a proposed Colorado ban on certain semi-automatic weapons and high-capacity magazines. RSR used its established lines of communication with Colorado dealers to flood key state legislative committees with phone calls and faxes opposing the measure.274 That success inspired RSR's president Michael Saporito to form "Mike's Militia," a dealers' action network coordinating opposition to legislative initiatives throughout the nation.

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It is entirely possible that a side job for these deaer networks is to flood the internet with pro gun viewpoints, especially on places that do reviews like amazon and barnes and noble

By ThinkTank (not verified) on 22 Dec 2003 #permalink

I see that the recent negative reviews have been removed from Amazon, including the ones that speculated about the identity of some of the favorable reviwers and/or pointed to Tim's posts on the subject. Might be interesting to enquire of the Amazon editorial staff why that occured and whether anyone requested it.

John Quiggin claims that Kopp must have lied in his review? Why? Couldn't it be possible that he read the books years ago and just now decided to post a review?

By Frank Sliwantoski (not verified) on 08 Feb 2004 #permalink

Yes, I'm the one who is named in these e-mails. And yes, I was purposely evasive (although truthful) in the statements I made in e-mail.

Why, you ask? Because I knew who this moron was. I knew he was an anti-gun nitwit, who can't stand the fact that Lott's peer-reviewed and accepted research has yet to be countered by any respectable statistician. These left wing liberal nutcases can only come up with anti-self-defense researchers who use the same junk-science techniques as the global warming crowd. Why should I make it easy on him?

My review was honest and fair and actually spoke to the material in the book, unlike the negative reviews posted on Amazon, which only dealt with speculation and hysterics. Which is exactly why Amazon, in thier correct judgement, deleted them.

Lambert needs to get over that fear-mongers like him and the Brady's have been plain wrong the whole time.

By Greg Kopp (not verified) on 09 Feb 2004 #permalink

Greg, you were not truthful. You wrote:

It is entirely possible that Mr. Irvine and I were at the same gun show and that he happened to be standing near me when I was telling a friend that I saw some pretty stupid and absurd reviews being posted about Dr. Lott's books on Amazon.com.

when you knew perfectly well that was not what happened. This is not being "truthful". It is lying.

How is that being untruthful? I said it was possible that is the way it happened. And quite frankly, I still think it could have happened that way. I told you, Jim Irvine's name is very familiar to me, and that was the truth. It is also the truth that I have seen Jim at gun shows while he was manning a booth. It is also the truth that I have talked about Lott's books to people at gun shows. It is also the truth that I have talked about these books, while standing near the booth that Jim happened to be at. Nothing I said to you was a lie. Evasive, perhaps, but not a lie. So it all boils down to this. You are an anti-gun biggot and can't stand the fact that WAY more people agree with us than you. You look for the worst in people you don't agree with. Rather than trying to bring forth PEER REVIEWED research, you slam those that have differing opinions. You have the right to do that. As I have the right to let people know what kind of a snake you are. Tell me, why didn't YOU tell me about your anti-Lott bias when you first contacted me by e-mail? I call that lying by omission.

By Greg Kopp (not verified) on 11 Feb 2004 #permalink

Unfortunately for your credibility, your story contradicts the one given by Jim Irvine. You can't both be telling the truth. And if <em>either</em> of your stories were true, there wouldn't be any reason for the other one to tell a different story. And both of your reviews were posted on the day after the negative review. So if you posted your review, and then talked about it at the gun show, and then Irvine posted his, the gun show would have had to have been that day as well. Which was a Friday. And gun shows are held on weekends. Oops.
And you have a lot of cheek to dare to accuse me of lying by omission. I contacted you using my own name. You could find out what I thought of Lott in a few seconds if you did a search. I didn't include my life history in the email because it wasn't relevant. Why should my opinion of Lott affect your answer to an honest question? And when Jim Irvine asked me I thought of Lott's book, I answered honestly. I didn't evade and evade and evade like you did.

LOL - Your process of deduction is a joke. Get a life.

By Greg Kopp (not verified) on 17 Feb 2004 #permalink