John Lott sues "Freakonomics" author Steven Levitt


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Justin
April 11, 2006, 02:29 PM
Via the Chicago Tribune (http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/nearwest/chi-0604110214apr11,1,5117533.story?coll=chi-newslocalnearwest-hed)

Hat tip to Reason Magazine's blog Hit 'n' Run (http://www.reason.com/hitandrun/)

Best-seller leads scholar to file lawsuit
Defamation allegation targets U. of C. author

By Michael Higgins
Tribune staff reporter
Published April 11, 2006

A scholar known for his work on guns and crime filed a defamation lawsuit Monday against University of Chicago economist Steven Levitt, co-author of the best-seller "Freakonomics."

John Lott Jr. of Virginia, a former U. of C. visiting professor, alleges that Levitt defamed him in the book by claiming that other scholars had tried and failed to confirm Lott's conclusion that allowing people to carry concealed weapons reduces crime. Publishers Weekly ranked "Freakonomics" eighth this week for non-fiction hardcover books.

According to Levitt's book: "When other scholars have tried to replicate [Lott's] results, they found that right-to-carry laws simply don't bring down crime."

But according to Lott's lawsuit: "In fact, every time that an economist or other researcher has replicated Lott's research, he or she has confirmed Lott's conclusion."

By suggesting that Lott's results could not be replicated, Levitt is "alleging that Lott falsified his results," the lawsuit says.

Lott is seeking a court order to block further sales of "Freakonomics" until the offending statements are retracted and changed. He is also seeking unspecified money damages.

Lott acknowledged in the suit that some scholars have disagreed with his conclusions. But he said those researchers used "different data or methods to analyze the relationship between gun-control laws and crime" and made no attempt to "replicate" Lott's work.

The lawsuit alleges that Levitt and his publisher, HarperCollins Publishers Inc., made the statements with reckless disregard for whether they were true and that the book damaged Lott's reputation.

Neither Levitt nor HarperCollins officials could be reached Monday.

According to the lawsuit, Levitt also defamed Lott in an e-mail that Levitt sent to an economist in Texas last May. The e-mail described work that Lott published in an academic journal in 2001. It falsely stated that Lott's work had not been peer-reviewed and that Lott had blocked scholars with opposing views from appearing in the same issue of the journal, the lawsuit said.

Lott's books include "More Guns, Less Crime: Analyzing Crime and Gun Control Laws," published in 1998. Levitt won the John Bates Clark Medal for economists younger than 40 from the American Economic Association in 2003.

The case was assigned to U.S. District Judge Ruben Castillo.



----------------------------

I'm not sure what to make of this. Given some of Lott's antics in the past, I'm hesitant to follow the path of others by christening him as The One.

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geekWithA.45
April 11, 2006, 02:46 PM
I imagine this post will hit Tim Lambert's automated technorati scans, and he'll be checking into this thread in 10...9....8....

Henry Bowman
April 11, 2006, 03:56 PM
Why, oh why did he sue in Chicago????? Surely he could have gotten personal jurisdiction over Levitt somewhere else.:banghead: Levitt also defamed Lott in an e-mail that Levitt sent to an economist in Texas last May. Then sue him in Texas!!!!!

cbsbyte
April 11, 2006, 04:41 PM
Hasn't Lott's work been throughly discredited by scholars? I Believe his work is at best misleading, and in truth more likley wishful thinking. He only looks at part of the data to show his conclusion, when it fact if one takes all the data collected it proves guns have little effect on crime. By sueing the writer he is proving he is very full of himself.

Creeping Incrementalism
April 11, 2006, 05:20 PM
No, his work hasn't been thorougly discredited, except for one survey where he can't produce any data.

He looked at the entire FBI uniform crime report for about 20 years, and then ran regressions for every other factor that might affect crime that anyone could think of, and his work was thoroughly peer reveiewed.

Zundfolge
April 11, 2006, 05:24 PM
Of all the criticisms of Lott's work that I've read, the only credible ones are about the whole "Mary Rosh" fiasco (which I and most of us here could just kick him in the tukus over...for pete's sake he could have come here and got an army of real people to do everything he had "Mary Rosh" do :rolleyes: ).

El Tejon
April 11, 2006, 05:28 PM
I'm with Mr. Bowman. That's some real bad forum shopping.:uhoh: :banghead:

publius
April 11, 2006, 05:35 PM
More Lawsuits, More Publicity?

Maxwell
April 11, 2006, 06:20 PM
Hmm... let me get this strait.

One guys writes a book suggesting that recenly passed ccw is responsable for the recent downfall in crime.
Well, being pro-rkba that makes sense to me. Fewer unarmed victems means fewer victems overall.

Another guy writes a book that suggests (if I recall correctly) a higher rate of abortions years ago was responsable for the same recent downfall in crime. Possibly implying that fewer minorities or poor means fewer crimes.
Thats a... kinda disturbing conclusion for someone to reach. :scrutiny:

I dont believe that human nature has changed or that more or less of a specific race/class causes changes to the crime rate as much as a community thats just decided not to be victimized anymore, and bent the law to its favor.
I dont know how far each man whent to review his numbers, but one theory makes more sense than the other. For what its worth I think the press from this one could turn out to be a good thing.

tulsamal
April 11, 2006, 06:45 PM
Hasn't Lott's work been throughly discredited by scholars?

Maybe you should drop on over to amazon.com and buy his book. The most recent edition devotes an entire chapter to criticisms of his work. It is VERY hard to read that chapter and then make the statement that you just made. I think a lot of people just assume that Lott wrote some pop culture book to support his own views or something. In truth he wasn't a gun owner or NRA member or any of that. If you read his book you will see what a real academic level study looks like. 40-50 footnotes every chapter. Careful reasoning without jumping to any unwarranted conclusions. This isn't Rush or anything like that.

I don't doubt that you've heard people in the media say his work was "discredited." Of course I've heard the media say a whole bunch of things that I knew for a fact weren't true.

And I love the way that Lott wraps up his chapter on his critics. The various critics tried to twist his data every which way until a few of them were able to at least make a statistical case that CCW laws might only reduce crime a _little bit._ As Lott points out, there is a certain black humor in that. They make every possible effort to attack his work in ways that really aren't warranted and the very best they can say is that more guns doesn't mean any MORE crime. And isn't that exactly what a whole bunch of us having been trying to say for a long time? I don't personally know _for sure_ whether passing CCW laws will lower crime in State X. But I can show _for sure_ that passing those laws will not result in higher crime rates. If people legally carrying guns doesn't make crime go up _for sure_ and _might_ even lower it slightly, what is the justification for opposing such laws? (At that point a deadly silence usually comes from the anti-gun side of the room.)

Gregg

Firethorn
April 11, 2006, 06:56 PM
Another guy writes a book that suggests (if I recall correctly) a higher rate of abortions years ago was responsable for the same recent downfall in crime. Possibly implying that fewer minorities or poor means fewer crimes.

I'd take it as fewer kids growing up in broken/single parent homes means fewer crimes.

Standing Wolf
April 11, 2006, 07:04 PM
Leftist extremists invariably refer to academics who disagree with them as "discredited."

Silver Bullet
April 11, 2006, 07:51 PM
Hasn't Lott's work been throughly discredited by scholars?
Discredited ? You must be thinking of Michael Bellesiles.

http://www.vdare.com/francis/bellesiles_resigns.htm

Carl N. Brown
April 11, 2006, 08:12 PM
Lott has shared several data sets, all but the questioned "lost" 1997
phone survey; researchers have either replicated his results or
gotten very minor differences.

He has hurt his credibility by publishing the results of one survey
without being able to provide that dataset, but that should not
negate ALL his other work that can be checked, and has been
published in peer-reviewed (refereed) journals.

And when people reacted to the signature on his emails rather
than his arguements, be started using a pseudonym; no matter
what the excuse or reason, it made him look foolish.

That has enabled those who do not want to look at the major
conclusion of the massive Lott-Mustard survey to point fingers
and the attention to "98 percent" and "Mary Rosh".

And that conclusion is, gun control has either in Lott's analysis
caused crime, or in his critics' analysis done no good or bad at all.

gc70
April 11, 2006, 10:17 PM
Hasn't Lott's work been throughly discredited by scholars? I Believe his work is at best misleading, and in truth more likley wishful thinking. He only looks at part of the data to show his conclusion, when it fact if one takes all the data collected it proves guns have little effect on crime. By sueing the writer he is proving he is very full of himself.Quite a provocative statement that could have been avoided with the meagerest personal research.

KriegHund
April 11, 2006, 10:25 PM
Wow, way to make yourself look good there Mr. Lott :rolleyes:

roscoe
April 12, 2006, 01:35 AM
Freakanomics says gun control has no effect on crime.

Scottmkiv
April 12, 2006, 02:10 AM
I found Freakonomics to be a vary weak piece of work academically. It was full of un-supported assertions. Lott's work is in a whole different ballpark. HE provides data to back up all of his points.

xd9fan
April 12, 2006, 03:16 AM
Lott is fearless, love em. When your in the right...fight.

NukemJim
April 12, 2006, 08:16 AM
Freakanomics says gun control has no effect on crime.

As does CDC.

As does NAS

As does the experience of states that have gone "shall issue" If you do a search 1year, 5 years and 10 years after the states have gone to CCW you will find many articles stating how CCW has not caused the problems predicted by the antis or the benefits predicted by the pros. I have never found an article saying how much crime has decreased or increased due to CCW. If anyone has one please forward and post.

We can argue statistics till we are blue in the face ( and everywhere else ;) ) and we can be sure of 2 things

1 "There are lies, D____ lies, and statistics" Samuel Clemmons.

2 There will always be another statistician with a different viewpoint.

Kevlar/Nomex/Forcefield/Shield ON

NukemJim

NineseveN
April 12, 2006, 08:45 AM
Oh man, this could be a fun one to watch. :)

Lobotomy Boy
April 12, 2006, 09:10 AM
You all might want to read "Freakanomics." The book is overall very pro-gun and pro-gun ownership. I think the author would agree with the old cliche about there being lies, damned lies, and statistics. His point is not to get into politics, but to provide a guide for sifting some truth out of those statistics. He points out that carrying guns has no statistical impact on crime one way or another. I'm not aware of a single instance in which a permitted handgun has prevented a crime on the books in Minnesota since we got our shall issue law. I know of a few instances that ocurred before the passing of the law, but so far all I hear is anecdotal evidence since the passing of the law. I have yet to see a single police report confirming any of these. I still carry a gun whenever I can, and I'm sure that sooner or later there will be cases on the record. These cases will still be "statistically insignificant," but for the individuals who are protected by their handguns, they will be extremely significant.

As for the abortion part of the book, the author presents some evidence that is a lot more irrefutable than anything Lott presents.

He also spells "very" correctly. ;)

agricola
April 12, 2006, 09:12 AM
Just read this over on Tim Lambert's blog. Before commenting any further, some of you may want to check out Lambert's quite clear background to the dispute between Lott and Levitt which seems to have begun when the composition of the NAS panel was announced.

http://timlambert.org/category/lott/levitt/

Frankly, if Lott is fool enough to have his career gone over in minute detail in Court then he deserves the contempt that will come his way. I appreciate that people will say "Well, he only did Mary Rosh and the 98% thing", but that by itself is enough to make him look stupid - and a scan of Lambert's blog will show that that is by no means the sum total of evidence against him. As has probably been mentioned about a thousand times by now, this was exactly the same type of legal overreaction to a percieved slander that led to the downfall of David Irving.

One also has to ask the question why Lott decided to sue now, some time after the book was released and about a year after he himself (well, anonymously) reviewed (and presumably read) Freakonomics:

http://timlambert.org/2005/05/economist123/

The problem of course comes for you when people line up behind him because they (mistakenly) feel that he represents an issue, when they would be far better off defending the issue irrespective of statistics, as Nukemjim states. There are pro-gun statisticians and pundits who dont get the negative attention Lott gets, for a very good reason.

Nukemjim,

Strangely enough the ex-Police officer Colin Greenwood came to the same conclusion about gun control here in the UK.

CAnnoneer
April 12, 2006, 11:05 AM
No carry: Perp kills unarmed victim. Statisticians mark one crime-related death.

Carry: Armed victim blows away perp. Statisticians mark one crime-elated death.

Conclusion: Statistics may not change, but practical results do.

Food for thought: RKBA is a "right". It does not need to be justified by statistics to be upheld. People that put equal value on the life of a victim and the life of a perp are dangerous lunatics.

NineseveN
April 12, 2006, 11:16 AM
I think the real problem is when we make the error in thinking that reports such as theye truly matter. I will agree that they are interesting in an academic sense, however, as John Ross put it in one of his columns:


THEY SAY: “If we pass this License-To-Carry law, it will be like the Wild West, with shootouts all the time for fender-benders, in bars, etc. We need to keep guns off the streets. If doing so saves just one life, it will be worth it.”



WE SAY: “Studies have shown blah blah blah” (FLAW: You have implied that if studies showed License-To-Carry laws equaled more heat-of-passion shootings, Right-To-Carry should be illegal.)



WE SHOULD SAY: “Although no state has experienced what you are describing, that’s not important. What is important is our freedom. If saving lives is more important than the Constitution, why don’t we throw out the Fifth Amendment? We have the technology to administer an annual truth serum session to the entire population. We’d catch the criminals and mistaken arrest would be a thing of the past. How does that sound?”




From: http://www.john-ross.net/mistakes.htm

antsi
April 12, 2006, 11:27 AM
-quote--------
Hasn't Lott's work been throughly discredited by scholars?
---------------

Vast overstatement. There is one study of his that has some major questions about it. His other work has been tarnished by association, but "thoroughly discredited" is off the mark.

Agricola, I am so surprised to see you chime in on a thread about John Lott ;)
I think the comparison to David Irving is a bit stretched. Lott's move to sue may turn out to be a bad tactical decision, but Lott's work does not belong in the same category as holocaust denial.

gc70
April 12, 2006, 08:35 PM
Lott's work does not belong in the same category as holocaust denial.It might... in the eyes of the British government. :neener:

ElTacoGrande
April 12, 2006, 08:59 PM
Academics should win based on the strength of their reasoning. For Lott to bring the court system into this only discredits him. Academic reasoning is stronger the more it can stand up to scrutiny and attacks.

From my informal impressions and observations, it seems like gun control and CCW has little impact on crime one way or the other, although statistics don't tell the whole story and shouldn't be the only factor in making decisions.

NukemJim
April 12, 2006, 09:35 PM
Food for thought: RKBA is a "right". It does not need to be justified by statistics to be upheld.

Absolutley. Suppose, hypotheticly speaking that statistical proof showed without any doubt (remember I said this is hypothetical ) that CCW increased the crime rate/murder rate (PLEASE note I am not saying it does, this is a hypothetical discussion ). If the data showed that would anyone want CCW to stop? I sure would not. The right to self defense is not based upon statistics.


John Ross is a far better writer and proponent than I shall ever be for firearms rights. ( If you have not read UC Get it and read it! he sums it up far better than I can

THEY SAY: “If we pass this License-To-Carry law, it will be like the Wild West, with shootouts all the time for fender-benders, in bars, etc. We need to keep guns off the streets. If doing so saves just one life, it will be worth it.”



WE SAY: “Studies have shown blah blah blah” (FLAW: You have implied that if studies showed License-To-Carry laws equaled more heat-of-passion shootings, Right-To-Carry should be illegal.)



WE SHOULD SAY: “Although no state has experienced what you are describing, that’s not important. What is important is our freedom. If saving lives is more important than the Constitution, why don’t we throw out the Fifth Amendment? We have the technology to administer an annual truth serum session to the entire population. We’d catch the criminals and mistaken arrest would be a thing of the past. How does that sound ?

NukemJim

agricola
April 13, 2006, 08:27 AM
I wasnt comparing Lotts' views with Irving's - should have explained it better.

Basically (for those who didnt know already) David Irving famously sued an author who claimed he was a Holocaust denier, and ended up being permanently and very publically labelled as one as a result of his own action.

In the same way my view was that Lott, for whom there is an awful lot of areas that even a mediocre lawyer could use to make him look a fool, could end up being shamed despite bringing the case himself.

Hope that clears it up.

beerslurpy
April 13, 2006, 09:49 AM
Agricola, guns arent a magic switch that turns off crime. Crime is a very complex phenomena. I'm sure you realize this. In the US at least, crime is mostly confined to a few bad neighborhoods in a few cities. Regarding CCW, there is a negligent effect on crime in many states because:
-they already had a form of carry before they got concealed carry. Many states have had legal open carry since they were founded. Obviously concealed carry isnt going to reduce crime much when everyone was carrying before the law.
-they didnt have a severe violent crime problem, so few people were at risk without a conealed weapon
-they had a severe violent crime problem, but the people in the high crime areas couldnt take advantage of the carry laws, so none of the at-risk people became less at risk due to people elsewhere carrying but still avoiding their neighborhood.

To reduce crime from existing levels, CCW has to result in either:
a) criminals encountering carrying victims where they previously encountered unarmed victims. If the only places that carry after the law were already protected in some way (by geographical isolation or effective police patrols), crime wont be affected.
b) high visibility self-defense shootings that reinforce the legality of the act and also advertise that seemingly vulnerable targets are actually armed due to a recent law.
In both cases, criminals have to perceive a change in the status of their victims and be aware of the increased cost (in the form of risk) of attempting to transact a robbery or murder. If crime is already low or the victims participating in the violent crime "market" remain vulnerable, crime will be unaffected.

It dropped in Florida because
-Florida had a severe violent crime problem in the 80s, there was no carry except for politicians. The Florida murder rate had been much higher than the national average (about 50 percent higher on a statewide basis).
-When the law was passed, it made permits shall-issue and made car carry no-issue. Many people began carrying immediately after the law went into effect. There were highly publicized shootings of carjackers and robbers shortly after this, and it had an immediate chilling effect on criminal behavior.

agricola
April 13, 2006, 11:41 AM
Beerslurpy,

I agree with you - thats the same point I have been making almost every time someone (which includes Lott btw) comes along and claims that the reason crime is rising in the UK is because of any one of a number of gun bans.

I remind you again that the issue many people have with Lott is not because of his message, or the message of his detractors (as has been pointed out here, Levitt is pro-gun), but rather that he has used/is strongly suspected of using dubious methods to "prove" his point. You can illustrate this by contrasting him with someone like Gary Kleck, who is widely respected.

Jay Kominek
April 13, 2006, 01:22 PM
I found Freakonomics to be a vary weak piece of work academically. It was full of un-supported assertions. Lott's work is in a whole different ballpark. HE provides data to back up all of his points. I listened to the audio book of Freakonomics, so maybe I missed out on a lot of footnotes, but it doesn't seem to have even presented itself as an academic work. It is a piece of popular science writing that attempts to convey that economics is about incentives and people, not just about inflation and fiduciary whatsits. So comparing it (which is a watered down summary of Levitt's research career) to Lott's book (an academic work on a single topic) doesn't really make sense.
That said, making direct assertions about someone else's research without anything to back it up isn't very tasteful, regardless.

Henry Bowman
April 13, 2006, 02:38 PM
You can illustrate this by contrasting him with someone like Gary Kleck, who is widely respected.ROTFLMAO! That's a good one, Agricola! :D

Carl N. Brown
April 13, 2006, 03:50 PM
I'm not aware of a single instance in which a permitted handgun
has prevented a crime on the books in Minnesota since we got our shall
issue law.

What book would a prevented crime show up in? Who keeps statistics on
crimes that do not occur?

Wright's survey of 1874 convicts showed that 34 percent rcounted
incidents of planned crimes that were cancelled because the intended
victim was found to be armed with a gun. Now, would a survey of
victims by Kleck, Lott or anyone get a response that the victim had
successfully been defended by the presence of a gun, if they were
unaware that a planned crime had been canceled?

cbsbyte
April 13, 2006, 04:45 PM
Sorry, I was mistaken about Lott's complete discrediting. But many scholars have discredited him because of the incident. Anyone that does something like that might be looked at differently than someone who actually has some scruples.

NineseveN
April 13, 2006, 06:37 PM
Well, everyone makes mistakes, the ones that get caught and have a popular agenda wedged against them get crucified for it.

agricola
April 13, 2006, 08:13 PM
Henry,

Are you saying Kleck isnt respected? Most the things I have read about him are positive - indeed a google search only brings two negative things on the first page, one a sanctimonious review from the Harvard School of Public Health, and one detailing a Mr. John Lott's aversion to Mr. Kleck.

Carl N. Brown
May 9, 2006, 04:22 PM
University of Chicago student newspaper the Maroon:

Freakonomics claim sparks defamation lawsuit

By Kim Velsey

April 21, 2006 in News

John Lott, Jr., a former visiting professor at the University filed a defamation lawsuit on April 10 against economic professor Steven Levitt, co-author of the New York Time bestseller Freakonomics

Lott said the book misrepresents his work on guns and crime, according to court documents. The lawsuit does not name journalist Stephen Dubner, though he co-wrote the book with Levitt.

Freakonomics, which melds Levitt’s economic essays with Dubner’s flowing prose, remains high on the bestseller list. The book’s success, however, may have prompted the legal action, as the lawsuit references the popularity of Freakonomics as a factor contributing to Lott’s damaged reputation.

The lawsuit states that the book “damages Lott’s reputation in the eyes of the academic community in which he works, and in the minds of hundreds of thousands of academics, college students, graduate students, and members of the general public who read Freakonomics.”

The contested material is on pages 133–134 of Freakonomics, in which Levitt writes that researchers have been unable to confirm Lott’s conclusion that right-to-carry gun laws actually reduce crime.

Freakonomics states, “Then there was the troubling allegation that Lott actually invented some of the survey data that supports his more-guns/less-crime theory. Regardless of whether or not the data was faked, Lott’s admittedly intriguing hypothesis doesn’t seem to be true. When other scholars have tried to replicate results, they found that right-to-carry laws simply don’t bring down crime.”

According to the lawsuit, Lott acknowledges that his findings have come under scrutiny in the academic community, but he maintains that he used “different data or methods to analyze the relationship between gun control laws and crime.”

The lawsuit states that scholars who have replicated Lott’s work have achieved the same results. “Every time that an economist or researcher have tried to replicate [Lott’s] results, he or she has confirmed Lott’s conclusion.”

Carl Moody, a professor of economics at the College of William and Mary, said he successfully replicated Lott’s findings and published the results in 2001. Moody said Levitt’s accusation is wrong.

The lawsuit, which also names Levitt’s publisher HarperCollins, states that the publisher acted with malice by failing to verify the statements. It seeks a court order to halt sales of Freakonomics until the statements are retracted or amended and also demands that Levitt and HarperCollins pay unspecified monetary damages.

HarperCollins would not comment on the lawsuit, but a company representative said, “HarperCollins Publishers firmly stands behind Freakonomics and its authors, Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner.”

The ABC show 20/20 featured Freakonomics in an hour-long special on April 14. However, there was no mention of the lawsuit, and Levitt has yet to comment on it publicly. The book’s website, Freakonomics.com, which has Levitt’s and Dubner’s weblogs, includes a brief mention of the pending litigation.

“While we were away [in London promoting the paperback edition of Freakonomics], the economist John Lott filed a lawsuit claiming that Freakonomics has libeled him,” wrote Dubner on his blog.

Lott’s website made no mention of the lawsuit.

The lawsuit has opened up discussion on the veracity of Levitt’s claims and whether a lawsuit is an appropriate forum for an academic debate.

The litigation has also shed light on what can happen when an academic book attains blockbuster status.

“Most academic debate is so trivial no one would care,” Moody said. “If the book had appeared and no one had bought it, it wouldn’t be an issue. But Levitt is accusing this guy of falsifying his results in front of millions of people.”

Carl N. Brown
May 10, 2006, 12:27 PM
Sidetrack:
I wonder if agricola would agree that "crime is rising in the UK in spite
of any one of a number of gun bans"? rather than because of?

The reason we pick on UK is because the US gun control movement
in the 1950s and 1960s credited the perception that UK had a lower
crime rate due to the strict gun laws starting with the British Firearms
Act of 1920. Plus Rebecca Peters of IANSA is seen as a British
(OK Australian) export seeking to impose UK style guncontrol in the
US via UN which we find Unacceptable. UK gun control did not lower
the crime rate in UK, if I read Colin Greenwood correctly.

To the thread:
Hasn't Lott's work been throughly discredited by scholars?
Shortly after Lott's More Guns, Less Crime was originally
published, Lott provided the datasets for his studies cited
in his book to thirty-seven researchers: thirty-four got
similar results, three got minor differences. John Donohue of
Stanford and Ian Ayres of Yale did a regression of Lott's data
that they claimed proved More Guns, Little or No Effect.
As law professor James Lindgrem pointed out, Johm Lott has been
open about sharing his raw data with critics, and you don't do
that if you deliberately miscode your results.

Lott's serious problems are citing a statistic derived from a
solo survey lost in a harddrive crash: that harddrive crash
affected at least five co-authors on other projects: four
co-authored projects were delayed as the data sets were
reconstituted from backups and hardcopy; one co-authored
project was canceled because the dataset could not be
recovered. Then Lott like a DAMF cited his solo survey as
the source of his 98% brandishing only DGU statistic
knowing the dataset was not available for criticism.
Then when he could not post as "John Lott" without
getting flamed on the internet, he started using an email
account based on the first letters of his sons names MaRyRoSh
and family members posted favorable comments about his
books at amazon.com as MaRyRoSh. Dumb and distracting
from his serious work, in that it allows dismissal of all his
work under the falsus in uno, falsus in omnibus doctrine.

That would be like totally discrediting someone over their use
of the term "baited breath" instead of "bated breath."
http://www.thehighroad.org/attachment.php?attachmentid=34120&d=1137531572
If we have to be perfect, then none of us have any value.

agricola
May 10, 2006, 05:04 PM
Carl,

Firstly, as anyone in the UK would be able to tell you, the 1997 and 98 gun bans could not, would never have, and were never intended to lower the crime rate. Pre-1997 England and Wales had a hugely strict firearms control system, so banning handguns (for which you required a s1 licence anyway, and couldnt carry loaded or unloaded in the street except locked away) in an effort to reduce crime doesnt make sense.

Why it did happen is, like the 1968 and 1988 Acts, is because the Governments of the time wanted to react to a public outcry following a mass shooting (in 1968 it was the murder of three Policemen in West London, in 1988 the Hungerford Massacre) in the way Governments usually react to public outcries - more legislation and banning of objects.

All of which is what Colin Greenwood has shown, though you are right to fear you arent reading him correctly. Greenwood explains it best:

"The British Government seeks to make the most of the confusion caused by its change of statistical recording methods claiming that the ban on handguns may have had some small effect. Some commentators have claimed. that the use of handguns in crime has increased by some staggering amount from the moment that handguns were banned. Neither claim is true. The ban on handguns has been a total irrelevance and underlying crime trends have continued unchanged now that only outlaws have guns."

[from: http://www.pierrelemieux.org/greenwood-citizen.html ]

Why would banning a small number of legally held objects responsible for a (statistically speaking) miniscule amount of crime, almost all of which involved illegally held objects anyway, have any effect at all on the overall crime rate?


Which sort of brings us to John Lott. Your summation of the charges against him are simplistic to say the least, but while we are on the subject of the UK it is as good a point as any to begin. Lott apparently believes that the ban in 1997 has some responsibility for the rise in violent crime (for which as regular readers of UK-themed posts will know, there are very many actual causes):

http://www.nationalreview.com/comment/lott200508190817.asp

For the reasons already listed above, this is a deeply flawed conclusion. What makes it worse is he makes the same claim repeatedly:

http://www.americandaily.com/article/1340

Or makes new ones up (as he does below- I defy and will reward the finder with cold, hard, Pay Pal cash any one of you to find the piece of legislation he claims exists that "makes it a felony to use guns defensively"), as well as peddling the old ones:

In 1996, Britain banned handguns and also made it a felony for people to use guns defensively.

http://www.strike-the-root.com/3/chapin/chapin10.html

When one sees such behaviour carried on by a man who ought to know better then it makes one rather more ready to believe the claims of Lambert and others, claims which are far too numerous to be listed here but which can mostly be found off his blog:

http://scienceblogs.com/deltoid/

As for the overall effect of guns on crime-rates, I rather think that Greenwood and the NAS are correct when they say there isnt any rise or fall in recorded crime as a result of gun control legislation.

Of course, to start making that argument is to make the error of assuming your possession of firearms is dependent on, and justified by statistics, instead of it being a right.

Carl N. Brown
May 10, 2006, 06:28 PM
UK gun control did not lower the crime rate in UK, if I read
Colin Greenwood correctly

.... you are right to fear you arent reading him correctly ....

As Posted by agricola:
The ban on handguns has been a total irrelevance and underlying crime
trends have continued unchanged now that only outlaws have guns.
Duh. Hunh? Hummm. What?

OK, although UK gun control has been billed as crime control for fifty years
or more that I have been aware of the issue, the UK government purpose
was not was not crime control. Therefore, apparently,
the lack of effect on crime is irrelevant.

So what was the purpose of UK gun control?

The legal justification usually given for gun control is crime control;
Tennessee State Constitution Section 26, and state attorney general
opnions and supreme court rulings: the state may regulate arms, but
cannot restrict or prohibit the citizens's right to keep and bear arms
for self defense and other lawful uses: in 1996 the requirement for
liability insurance for carry permits was dropped as unduly restrictive
of self defense rights. Regulation of arms must be with a view to
prevent crime, else it has no legal standing in Tennessee.

Why would banning a small number of legally held objects
responsible for a (statistically speaking) miniscule amount of crime,
almost all of which involved illegally held objects anyway, have any
effect at all on the overall crime rate?

That goes to my original confusion: what was the reason to ban them?*

Of course, to start making that argument is to make the error
of assuming your possession of firearms is dependent on, and justified
by statistics, instead of it being a right.

Ah, but statistics are used to justify restrictions, as well as to
defend rights, but then statistics are not something I would totally
depend on either--

The Numerical Reliability of Econometric Software, McCullough
and Vinod, Journal of Economic Literature, Vol XXXVII, Issue 2, 1999.

The Vancouver Stock Exchange started an index at 1,000.000
which was recalculated after each transaction to the nearest
.0001 then truncated to report only the last three decimal
places. Within a few months the stock index had dropped to
520.000 due to constant rounding down. When properly
calculated, the actual stock index was found to be 1098.892
(Toronto Star, 29 Nov 83).

______________________________________
* "Banning legally held objects responsible for ... crime, "
Semantics, semantics: "banning legally held objects similar to
those used by other people actually responsible for crime." The
objects were not responsible for diddley squish. The people whose
legally held objects were banned were not responsible for the
crimes either. "now that only outlaws have guns." The problem
is Rebecca Peters will get my gun like Carrie Nation will get my
Guiness Stouit: when she pries the empty from my cold dead
fingers.

Carl N. Brown
May 10, 2006, 06:34 PM
Kleck is more careful than to publish a result after losing a survey;
does not engage in overly simplified one-page op-ed pieces
and has never been caught using a ridiculous pseudonym.

agricola
May 11, 2006, 02:22 AM
Carl,

That goes to my original confusion: what was the reason to ban them?*

It was contained within my original post:

Why it did happen is, like the 1968 and 1988 Acts, is because the Governments of the time wanted to react to a public outcry following a mass shooting (in 1968 it was the murder of three Policemen in West London, in 1988 the Hungerford Massacre) in the way Governments usually react to public outcries - more legislation and banning of objects.


My point about you not reading Greenwood was that you only referred to half of his findings - that gun control did not lower crime in the UK - when it would be more correct to point out that he found that gun control had no effect on crime levels at all.

Finally, I dont see what relevance the law in Tennessee is to this debate, since we are at this juncture talking about crime levels in the US. What gun control in the UK has been billed as in the US is also irrelevant, because its not been painted as "crime control" in the UK (which is of course far more relevant, it being here and all) since at least 1987 and probably since 1968 - as I mentioned above, the reason nearly every piece of legislation has been brought in is as a reaction of the "this must never happen again" kind.

agricola
May 11, 2006, 02:27 AM
Kleck is more careful than to publish a result after losing a survey;
does not engage in overly simplified one-page op-ed pieces
and has never been caught using a ridiculous pseudonym.

Kleck is more careful than to publish inaccurate surveys, he doesnt engage in factually wrong one-page op ed pieces and has never used pseudonyms.

Mr.V.
May 11, 2006, 04:17 AM
what was the reason to ban them?

The overall crime rate in Britain is likely dropping after the gun-ban. Ironically, however, gun-crimes themselves are up. The issue was discussed more or less ad nauseum on this thread:
http://www.thehighroad.org/showthread.php?t=156343&highlight=britain+crime+rate

Guns should be had by the people for the means of shooting other people who get a bit too intrusive.

Getting into an argument about their use in crime is dangerous. There is almost no reasonable way of scientifically testing the "guns prevent crime" hypothesis and therefore little reasonable way of it being proven.

However, arguing like John Lott does attempting to generate, at best, a tenuous association, legitimizes the debate point of relating gun-rights to crime. Opponents can then argue that guns are linked to more crime or worse more violence (which you will invariably be able to show somehow as guns tend to kill people, sometimes children, and a plethora of cute furry animals) you risk losing people who don't understand the difference between association and causation and go with the visceral desire to avoid violence.

Mk VII
May 11, 2006, 02:53 PM
That goes to my original confusion: what was the reason to ban them?
Their reasoning was:-
(i) "We control guns for the same reason that we control explosives and strong poisons; because they are dangerous."
(ii) "We cannot identify any changes to the present system that will achieve any substantial improvement in public safety. All those tweeks have already been done. As the choice lies between doing nothing and a complete ban, then a ban it will have to be."
(iii) "This change is necessary to maintain public confidence in the system of firearms control in this country."

At that time the Major Administration was limping towards its close, and the Government's majority in the House was wafer thin or non-existent. The Scottish Secretary, Michael Forsyth, (who was coincidentally the MP for the Dunblane area) reportedly said in Cabinet that if he didn't get a complete ban then he would have to resign and vote against the Government on the principle of the Bill, otherwise he could not hope to survive the next election. This would have been a heavy blow to John Major; defeat on an important Bill would reinforce the impression of a government which could not even get its own Bills through the House (a much more serious consideration in British politics than US ones) and quite likely would precipitate the fall of the government.

Carl N. Brown
May 11, 2006, 04:09 PM
On the 1997 UK handgun ban:
- The government purpose was not a reduction in street crime.
- The government purpose was to show that they did something
about mass shootings.
- The government purpose was to quell outrage by 700,000 possible
voters over actions by Thomas Hamilton by sacrificing the rights
of 54,000 licensed handgun owners.

The media and politicians have generated the expectation that
gun bans will dramatically reduce crime; this expectation
goes back to gun control advocates (in the USA including Carl Bakal,
Robert Sherrill, Nelson Shields, Sarah Brady, Et Alia.)
Irregardless of the purpose of a gun ban, people are conditioned
to want to know: what was the effect of a ban on crime.

I can not blame John Lott for that expectation, since it was
widespread before Lott began researching or publishing.

Also, since UK gun control is used as a model by US control
advocates, it is relevant to me. I did download and read the
enture Greenwood article. He is still worth reading.

On UK self defense law:
There is no 1996 law specifically outlawing self-defense with a gun.
I can blame Lott (or at least the editor of that column) for
referencing a non-existant law. Gary Kleck, Donald Kates and
James Wright are meticulous about details and do not do the
popular media, where you are oftem lucky if your name is
quoted appoximately.

There were a series of gun laws in 1996, 1997 and 1998 generating
public confusion. The Crown Protective Services in January 2006
issued a pamphlet outlining UK self-defense rights, in large part
because UK media, politicians and quasi-government sources like
Mothers Against Guns funded by the British Home Office, had
muddied the issue to the point there was mass confusion and calls
for clarification of the law.

Self protection is not legally accepted as a reason for police
issue of a certificate to buy and possess a firearm in the UK.
Use of firearms in self-defense is subject to limitations that,
first, force used in defense must be porportional to the threat,
and second, use of weapons is limited to "something at hand."
If the something at hand is a teargas spray or a handgun, since
teargas spray and handguns are banned, use leads to a felony
five year sentence for illegal possession, but not for use in
self defense. Conceivably, one could be justified in use of an
illegal weapon on grounds of self-defense, but go to prison
for possession of an illegal weapon.

Plus news like this does not help clarify the UK issue:
Burglary victim to go to jail (January 19th, 2005)

From South London Press:

THE victim of a vicious armed burglary is facing jail after
confessing he kept a gun at his home "for protection".

Steven Chapman, 47, told police from his hospital bed the
.32 pistol was put through his letter box with a note reading,
"This may help". . . . .

The assumption was that Steven Chapman must have been a bad person.
I mean, he had a gun in his home for protection and he got beat up.
As the 2006 CPS pamphlet pointed out in general: "Things are not
always as they seem. On occasions people pretend a burglary has taken
place to cover up other crimes such as a fight between drug dealers."

Then a news item 15 Feb 2005 detailed that the burglary victim
Steven Chapman--a bodyguard--had disputes with dangerous people in
his role as security for foreign royals. He had been "gifted" a gun
after threats against his life. Chapman was pistol whipped by home
invaders: the beating may have been related to his security contracts.
He admitted to police that he had an illegal handgun in his home
for protection, even though the gun was not involved in the incident.

The Home Office imposed a mandatory five-year prison sentence for
illegal possession of a firearm. Under the Criminal Justice Act,
judges do retain some discretion, and the sentence against Chapman
was drastically reduced. Lucy Cope, head of Mothers Against Guns
(which was funded--I repeat--by the British Home Office), protested
that Chapman should have gotten the full five years, not six months.
(I wonder if Cope was speaking for Mothers Against Guns or for
the British Home Office?)


Also, the right to self defense in England IS completely
stripped away depsite all your arguments to the contrary.
Codswallop.

Had (Chapman) had a 12-guage pump-action shotgun loaded with buckshot,
there'd be no charge against him. But a .32 pistol is illegal to
own in the UK at the moment (unless you're in Northern Ireland),
and that's the charge he's guilty of. It's got nothing to do with
his right to self defence, which is intact and untouched.
- - - - - -
Amongst the 11 cases tried in the past 15 years in the UK where
someone claiming self-defence was actually tried (according to
the CPS), you had cases like a teenager being shot for stealing
an apple from an orchard, and another where a burgler was knocked
unconcious, tied up, and then set on fire.

Points that seem clear to me:

One, lawful self defense cases in UK are not publicised: the
exceptions get publicity.

Two, self defense is not a legal justification for a UK gun certificate.
(Under the New York Sullivan Act self defense is the only legal
justification for permission to purchase and possess.)

Three, cases like Steven Chapman getting six years for handgun
possession do get publicity, lotsa publicity.

Four, public statements like Mothers Against Guns supported by the
British Home Office re-enforce the impression self defense with a
gun in UK deserves drawing-and-quartering in the public square.

I have given teargas spray to a girl for her defense, and helped
arm another couple with a revolver that was used to chase off a
home invader. Teargas spray or revolver would be illegal weapons
in UK; but apparently if I advised them to keep a spray can of
oven cleaner or a "skeet gun" with #00 buck handy, that would
meet the UK legal "use of something at hand" as a weapon if the
threat justified a that level of force. Geez.
Compared to oven cleaner or buckshot, teargas spray and pistol
bullets are more humane and less lethal.

BTW can you keep a poker by your electric fire, just to have
at hand as decoration, of course, not as an intentional weapon?

agricola
May 11, 2006, 05:22 PM
Carl,

John Lott passes himself off as a statistician, he doesnt get a pass as to following the herd and thinking the 1997 bans were a part of crime control because - if he had done any research - he would have found that they were nothing of the kind. I'd also remind you again that the post-Dunblane measures were never intended as "crime control", which you looked like you had found out given your first three findings. Those three findings are the sum total of what and why the 1997 and 8 Acts were brought in, the bits about how it was reported in the US are an irrelevance, given that these were UK legislation, brought in due to concerns in the UK.

Also the issue of the Crown Prosecution Service re-issued the guidelines solely because (as you state later) the issue had become (deliberately) confused in the public consciousness by widespread media scaremongering (but not "Mothers against Guns") that began with the Tony Martin case. The same media elements (as you note) hyped up and twisted other cases, and eventually the issue was seized upon by the Conservative Party who introduced a Private Members Bill, which was - along with the media campaign - swiftly killed by the reminder issued by the CPS, though not before the then Tory leader (Michael Howard) had to admit he couldnt name one case of someone being sent to prison for defending themselves.

On your end-post comments:

i) Self-Defence is not a reason to get a s1 or a shotgun licence, it is however a reason to get a s5 licence (which covers handguns). Over here the law is different than US law (as I understand it) as the Police over here have a duty of care when made aware of a threat. The threat has to be proportionate but there are s5 licences issued when there is a clear risk of harm to an individual (historically these have almost always been given to people on one of the "death lists" periodically seized off Northern Irish terrorists);

ii) Chapman got six months, not six years - thats a typo, given that you had the right figure further up the post. I'd also warn you away from reading to much into what was after all a defence argument - as Chapman pleaded guilty much of the prosecution case against him was never heard, especially the "gun fairy" parts;

iii) "Mothers Against Guns" is not supported by the Home Office (except when it would be politically expidient to do so). In fact the CPS is controlled by the Home Office and so they are partly responsible for re-emphasising the nature of self defence in the UK. The idea that self-defence is illegal in the UK is a product of our media, desperate Tory politicians and some of the more stupid pro-gun crowd over in the US.

Finally, I could have a gladius, spear, pugio or mace next to my fire, kept there solely for the use of defending my home against burglars - possession of such items within the home is not covered by any law in the UK, nor is their use in defending oneself.

Carl N. Brown
May 11, 2006, 06:15 PM
Dang, I had the PDF of the Crown Prosecution Services pamphlet
open. Could have used the text select, but relied on my blundering fingers,
and forgot my main rule: Preview, Edit, then Post.

Typo: Chapman was sentenced to five years, reduced to six months.

The idea that self-defence is illegal in the UK is a product of
our media, desperate Tory politicians and some of the more stupid
pro-gun crowd over in the US.
More from the anti-gun crowd in the US.

sterling180
May 12, 2006, 06:36 PM
Okay for once and all, Im going to explain why these acts of Parliament,came into force:

1988 Firearm Ammendment Act:A modification of the original 1968 act,that was ammended in 1988 to ban the following:assault weapons,pump and semi-auto centrefire rifles.
Reasons for banning:1:Assault weapons are inapropriate for civillian use,dangerous,nothing but anti-human weapons,etc,etc.2:Not enough people owned them on a license or wanted them anyway-so the bright Tories banned them outright,along with the assault weapons.

1997/8 Firearm Ammendment Acts: Modifications to both previous acts than banned the following:All handguns,except long-barrelled pistols and revolvers and those that qualified as Section 7 antique pistols.All match pistols and rimfire were added,because they were classed as standard-pistols.

Reasons for banning: GCN wanted centrefire pistols banned,because they were used by Thomas Hamilton to kill the children at Dunblane primary school and they wanted to prevent shooters from owning,what they percieved to be "unnessessary weapons" and wanted "sensible gun laws" introduced,to prevent further massacres,from occurring again, in the future-using handguns.

When the GCN learned that match pistols and rimfire pistols were still legal they pressured the Labour government into banning them,so the anti-gunners in Labour agreed.However Labour is considering re-instating pistols because of the Olympic games and that shooting-sports is a proven to be one of the safest sports around-despite what the anti-gunners say and think.

As for the banning of the match pistols,the GCN don't want them to be legal,because their legal status could undermine the GCNs policies and could cause the fall of the 1997 Firearm Ammendment Act.

Basically the present UK government doesn't trust citizens with weapons,because they feel not everyone will be responsible and non-violent with them as demonstrated by Thomas Hamilton and Micheal Ryan.But they do know why people want to shoot with them and are aware of the governing bodies,that administer the various shooting-disciplines.

Also the Labour Party and its leader-the current PM -is Scottish by origin and sympathised with the victims of Dunblane and their families.Labour gets alot of votes from Scotland-which could affect it's term in power and the PMs term in office.

agricola
May 12, 2006, 07:38 PM
Sterling,

The 1988 Act came in because of Hungerford, not because the Tories felt like it - they brought it in because of the pressure that was upon them to do something about it.

Also the 1997 Act was brought in by the then extremely weak Tory government under John Major, and it was a manifesto promise of New Labour (then in opposition backed by the Snowdrop Campaign/GCN) that would close the "loophole", which as you rightly state came in in 1998.

I would also be utterly amazed if the Labour Government, in its current dire straits, reversed the 1998 Act. Reason does not enter into the debate when it comes to firearms in this country, especially when the Government are getting battered from all sides.

Art Eatman
May 12, 2006, 08:51 PM
Me, I don't care about the whys and wherefores of England and its gun laws. As near as I can tell, human behavior there doesn't match most of the US:

Three neutral to mildly anti-gun reasearchers, at least two of whom were statisticians, spent a few years studying gun laws and gun-associated crimes in Florida. The primary conclusion was that no gun control law there had ever affected crime rates. That study's results were published in 1985: Wright, Rossi and Daly, "Under the Gun", Univ. of Fla. press.

Then came statistician Gary Kleck of florida State University, a card-carrying ACLU member who did the largest telephone survey in the U.S.--at least at that time--and provided the range of figures of 800,000 to as many as 2,000,000 instances per year of the use of a firearm to avoid some criminal act. This was at a time when the use of guns in crimes of all sorts ran about 600,000 per year, per federal government info.

Somewhere along about the time of Klecks publishing his findings, the Florida legislature passed its concealed handgun laws.

Violence towards individuals slacked off notablY, per press releases from the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE). About that time, attacks on tourists at highway rest stops and on rent-a-car folks leaving airports began to rise. When asked about their actions and targets, various criminals commented that they couldn't take a chance with Florida residents being armed, but that tourists would not be armed--particularly those arriving by airplane. If the conclusions from that are not obvious to you, go to the Chaplain and get your TS card punched.

For all practical purposes, although that one major study by Lott is helpful, it merely suppports earlier findings. The data from the FDLE provides real-world results of CHL.

We know from published data from the FDLE and the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) that the crime rate among CHL holders is near miniscule. From the standpoint of violence it's right at "statistically insignificant", as is said. We thus know that no harm is done to society from having the CHL system.

My opinion of the desirability of having a system of concealed carry throughout the United States follows an often-heard justification for other views: "If it will save just one life!"

:), Art

sterling180
May 13, 2006, 11:16 AM
Agricola,-I understand that public/media and police pressure was on the Tories in 1987,to ban assault weapons,but they as polititions had a choice and they chose the easy way out,by banning SLRs of all types to win hearts and minds-possibly for the 1987 General Election.They didn't seem to give much of a stuff about those who had expensive M14s,G3s,AR-15s and PSG1s-it was a case of "too bad,its banned now".

By the way I understood very well that the Tories didn't ban SLRs because they "felt like it."If that was the case,then they could have banned them in the 1970s.A combination of pressure from various sources,the Hungerford massacre-in terms of the death toll-and the 1987 General Election,all were factors that contributed to the ban.

The Tories could have still made exeptions to the ban by allowing sporting centrefire pumps and semi's,but they included them,despite the fact that they were used by farmers,deerstalkers,pest-controllers,etc.

.22 pumps and SLRs were exempted from the ban,because they were popular-and I have read this before on the internet.

However they still allowed pistols to be legal-but that didn't last long.

The Tories themselves voted amongst themselves in 1987,as to whether or not SLRs,should be banned and guess what it seemed that quite alot of MPs in the Tory Party,were horrified at the devestation caused by Micheal Ryan,so they voted to ban them outright-in the hope of preventing another gun massacre.But it certainly didn't.

By the way the content in the above paragraphs information came from one the UK NRAs documents,that is available online.

No talk, a few years after, of reinstating SLRs/Pump centrefires to section 1 status,no Tories were quite happy with the way things were.

A similar policy was adopted 10 years later,to ban handguns,when the weak Tories tried to win hearts and minds and secure more votes,than the popular Labour Party, in the 1997 General Election.John Major and Micheal Howard even admitted that it was the wrong decision to of made in 1996 and its a case of:guess what guys, its too little too late,you sacrificed our rights to pistols to in a desperate attempt to gain votes.How typical of you and your party.

Carl N. Brown
May 15, 2006, 11:53 AM
To the issue of John Lott's lawsuit against the book
Freakonomics:

Side note: the Publisher Weekly and Washington Post announcements
of Dubner and Levitt's Freakonomics do not mention Lott or guns.

The book does state:


According to Levitt's book: "When other scholars have tried
to replicate [Lott's] results, they found that right-to-carry
laws simply don't bring down crime."

But according to Lott's lawsuit: "In fact, every time that an
economist or other researcher has replicated Lott's research,
he or she has confirmed Lott's conclusion."

Soon after the publication of Lott's More Guns, Less Crime
Lott provided his data sets to thirty-seven scholars,
thirty-four replicated his results, and three who used
different weighting of variables got minor differences
in results.

Lott's critics like Tim Lambert regard the three as trumping
the thirty-four: falsus in uno falsus in omnibus and all
that. "Lambert also notes that Lott has repeatedly generated
estimates based on data sets flawed by coding errors and
refused to acknowledge these problems when the errors were
brought to his attention."--Yale Law Review. At first I thought
Lott's data was flawed and he refused to answer critics. It
turns out, the critic said Lott's coding of his regression
was flawed, not that the dataset was flawed: the critic used
Lott's data set, fer cryin' out loud. And Lott pointed out
what he considered errors in the way the critic weighted
variables in his regression: scarcely refusing to acknowledge
a problem.

John Donohue (Stanford Law School) and Ian Ayres (Yale Law
School) have been more critical of Lott's results than anyone
else: their analysis of CCW shows some increase in some crimes
and some decrease in other crimes dependent on time and place:
their increases and decreases are very small and do not
support claims that CCW causes a net increase in crime and
do not support the claims that Lott misrepresented his
original data or that he deliberately miscoded his original
regressions.

The NAS in the past claimed that guns were bad and gun
control was good. The fact that most researchers who take
the Lott-Mustard survey data and apply his regressions have
confirmed the More Guns, Less Crime thesis, has led the NAS
to back a different weighting of the regression to claim
More Guns, Little or No Effect, and to claim that now, after
all, none of the gun control policies can be proven to have
more benefits than costs. How this reflects badly on Lott
and cheers his critics is hard for me to see.

The justification in US law for gun control is largely
crime control. Guns are not treated like cars, poisons or
explosives as dangerous but useful things that need
regulation but not prohibition: the popular title for the
1934 National Firearms Act is the "Gangster Weapon Act."
The New York State supreme court ruled that under the 1911
Sullivan Act New York City could not issue target shooters
permits, only carry or on-premises self-defense permits.
The simplistic drumbeat of the last century has been
guns=bad gunowner=badguy and "if its against guns, it's
gotta be good."

The latest NAS release is a sea change in the academic
view of guns and gun control. Make no mistake: academia
is knee-jerk liberal and pro-gun control: academia hailed
Michael Bellesiles' revisionist gun denial history
"Arming America" and sneered at what they considered
right-wing pro-gun critics like "amateur historian"
Clayton Cramer, who pointed out at the Columbia U
Conservative Club several serious falsifications in
"Arming AMerica" the very night that Michael "The NRA's
Worst Nightmare" Bellesiles was awarded the Columbia U
Bancroft Prize. But when liberal, pro-gun control academics
started to defend Bellesiles from critics, but found
instead lie after lie, Bellesiles' defenders dwindled
away, the publisher refused to reissue the book as too
flawed to salvage even with revisions, Emory U pulled
his tenured professorship after a major investigation,
and Columbia revoked his Bancroft Prize for Arming
America, the first time that that has happened. But
Academia paid no heed to criticism of Bellesiles, until
it came from self-identified liberal, antigun academics
who openly wished Bellesiles was right. Academia is
still dominated by the liberal antigun ideology, which
perhaps explains the vitriol directed at Lott.

Lott and Levitt disagree on more than the more guns, less
crime thesis and this may color or cloud things. Lott
considers Levitt "rabidly anti-gun" and Levitt denies being
rabid or antigun. (Of course, after seeing "Old Yeller" if
I were rabid I would be antigun myself.) Levitt believes
that increased abortion after Roe v Wade brought down crime
by reducing the crime-prone demographic: unwanted poor kids
in single parent households.

So when Florida passed right-to-carry, then the crime rate
went down, the causation was .... abortion. Florida muggers
and carjackers started avoiding cars with Florida state tags
and started targeting cars with tourist rental tags or
out-of-state tags because of .... abortion (not because over
100,000 Florida residents had CCW licenses). When the majority
of 1,874 convicts told James D. Wright the thing they feared
most was being shot by a victim, they were actually afraid
of .... abortion. (OK, I am being snarky; what else is new?)

Levitt and his co-author often appear to throw out ideas to be
shocking and to make one pause and "think outside the box."
Lott is also known for doing the same: his stance on guns and
crime is shocking and outside-the-box for an academician.

While Levitt seems not to believe that CCW reduces crime,
his book Freakonomics also says gun control has no effect
on crime either.

My prediction in all this is that more copies of Levitt's
Freakonomics and Lott's The Bias Against Guns will be sold
as a result of this controversey.

agricola
May 15, 2006, 01:51 PM
Carl,

All of which is the usual fluster thrown up when Lott is scrutinized.

For a start, even that article, which is broadly pro-Lott, recognizes that it wasnt the case that "every time that an economist or other researcher has replicated Lott's research, he or she has confirmed Lott's conclusion".

Secondly, the issue is restricted by you to MGLC, but you then use a quote from Tim Lambert:

Lambert also notes that Lott has repeatedly generated estimates based on data sets flawed by coding errors and refused to acknowledge these problems when the errors were brought to his attention.

Lamberts criticisms of Lott's data sets are aimed at a later paper (one he co-authored with Plassman and Whitley but then distanced himself from), not MGLC. Lambert has a complete list of these shenanigans here:

http://scienceblogs.com/deltoid/2006/01/yet_another_attempt_by_lott_to.php

Where Lambert (and others including Lindgren (who took the time to listen to Lott's side of the story) and Duncan) have criticized MGLC is mainly over the issue of the missing survey data and the 98% claim, a claim which is made more attractive by the fact that Lott used the figure before the survey he claims occured had finished, to say nothing of the almost complete absence of evidence that the survey was actually done. This and other errors are listed below:

http://timlambert.org/guns/lott/Lotts_of_Errors.html

Defenders of Lott point out that the 98% reference is but one sentence in MGLC, but Lott himself used that statistic a great deal before all the controversy broke in a lot of op-eds, and it still gets mentioned a great deal by those referencing the book.

Its immaterial that Lott is right or wrong if the methods he has used are fraudulent. Sadly (for him) the Courts are rather good at exposing the truth of such matters - if this gets as far as a Courtroom.

Carl N. Brown
May 15, 2006, 03:35 PM
According to Levitt's book: "When other scholars have tried to replicate
[Lott's] results, they found that right-to-carry laws simply don't bring
down crime."

That is the statement in Levitt's book that is being challenged.
The replication of Lott's right-to-carry results has been done
by other researchers using Lott's data and math; by weighting
the regression, some have gotten slightly different results.
So other scholars have replicated Lott's results and other
scholars have not. Both ways. The Ayers and Donohue results
showed minor increases here and minor decreases there.

Someone told me that progunners' rights should not be dependent
on statistics. By the same token, antigunners would not accept
statistics either. I seriously doubt if Anne Pearston or Rebecca
Peters would concede to any statistics supporting RKBA or CCW.
So betting the baby on anyone's stats is foolishm and
Lott is just one out of Kleck, Wright, Rossi, Kates, Et Alia.

Defenders of Lott point out that the 98% reference is but one sentence in MGLC
Yes, in his investigation of the survey, James Lindgren said he and Otis
Dudley Duncan agreed with the statement someone made that the 98%
stat was just one sentence and was not critical to the right-to-carry
argument in MoGuLeCr.

The teapot tempest over the Ayers and Donohue vs Plassman, Whitley and
Lott articles reaches hurricane porportions only by applying a lot of spin.

It is true that Lott has damaged himself by publishing the 98% result
with the dataset AWOL, using the ludicruous pseudonym, etc.,

I do not know which would be worse to witness in court: John Lott defending
Mary Rosh, or Tim Lambert reading into the record his Lord of the Rings
parody featuring Lott as The Gollum. Hopefully, rules of evidence would
be restricted to issue at hand.

Carl N. Brown
May 15, 2006, 03:41 PM
For those who might have heard of the others, but wonder
about whos is Et Alia?

Et Alia is a modern descendant of the ancient philosopher Ibidus.
H.P. Lovecraft wrote a biography of Ibidus after reading a student
paper remarking on the widespread quotes attributed to Ibidus.
Ibidus, who is also known by his knickname Ibid, was a contemporary
of Op Cite, another widely quoted ancient Academician. I believe
that Academicia was located somewhere on the trade route between
Imperial Rome and Ancient Athens.

agricola
May 15, 2006, 04:37 PM
Carl,

i) Lambert isnt being sued - why would he be in Court?;

ii) No-one, except from Lott and a few of his defenders, is making this into an issue of pro- vs anti-gun (as you noted, Lott is the person who labelled Levitt "rabidly antigun", anonymously) and an argument on the relative merits of gun rights / gun control. If he (and they) do manage to make it into that then, when he is publicly exposed, one would have thought there would be quite a bit of fallout;

iii) the 98% isnt critical in MGLC, but Lott himself highlighted it repeatedly, and its an issue about which (as Lambert has shown) he has been dishonest - his first reference to it being before the survey was completed (Lott himself told Lindgren the survey was done over three months in early 1997, the first mention by Lott was on Feb 6 1997, and the survey was not referred to in the first edition of MGLC). The dataset isnt AWOL, in all likelyhood it didnt exist because the survey was never done, which is why people focus on it.

iv) finally did you read the links? The debate over the Plassman/Whitley (Lott) paper focuses more on Lott's attempts to distance himself from it when the data was examined, and then his clumsy attempts to surreptitiously "fix" the data and claim it was never broken in the first place, than any debate over the wider issue at hand.

eghad
May 15, 2006, 10:08 PM
He points out that carrying guns has no statistical impact on crime one way or another.

It has a very big effect on statistics. If legally used for self defense it might prevent that person from becoming a homicide statistic in the FBI Uniform Crime reports.. :what:

Armed Citizen: 1, Criminal: 0 looks like a mighty good statistic to me even if only 1 citizens life is saved.

I dont think the Criminals read too much...but an armed citizens weapon is like braille to a blind man when a criminal sees it.

ArmandTanzarian
May 16, 2006, 01:08 AM
Hasn't Lott's work been throughly discredited by scholars?

Absolutely NOT. It's held up to intense scholarly scrutiny, IINM. It's multiple-regression-analyzed to control for variables, and otherwise impeccable in every way.

I Believe his work is at best misleading, and in truth more likley wishful thinking.

I believe you would be incorrect on that score. If you read his works, he explains in excruciating detail how his work has stood up to the attempted 'criticisms' of it. Get More Guns Less Crime - it's not too much money, and highly interesting (to me anyway).

He only looks at part of the data to show his conclusion, when it fact if one takes all the data collected it proves guns have little effect on crime.

That's just not correct, I don't think. The data he looks at is highly relevant, both time and geography wise, and statistically significant enough from which to draw conclusions, and as regression-analyzed for variables. He proved conclusively that shall issue concealed carry laws, on a state-by-state and county-by-county basis, reduced the rates of violent crimes overall *significantly* (rape, robbery, murder, aggravated assault), while slightly increasing property crimes, as compared to before passage

By sueing the writer he is proving he is very full of himself. Yes, and he should be, as his work has been, from a statistical/social scientific perspective, impeccable, as mentioned.

And yes, he was a blithering idiot for pretending to be the fictional "Mary Rosh" and anonymously lauding his own works online, but that nevertheless does not directly impugn his scholarly analysis of CCW laws.

agricola
May 16, 2006, 12:30 PM
http://dunamai.com/Humor/BagdadBob/images/bagdad_bob_large.gif

There is nothing wrong with Lotts work! Everyone else is lying!

Carl N. Brown
May 16, 2006, 02:45 PM
If I had a picture of Cotton Mather I would answer that one.:evil:












It is funny, tho.,Even tho I don't think Lott, Ayeres or Donohue are liars.
Having differences of opinion is not telling falsehoods with intent to deceive.
My gut feeling is that academicia does not want to look at the
possibility that on the whole gun control has done more harm than good,
and the great antigun crusade has been a net loss for public safety.

agricola
May 16, 2006, 06:11 PM
Carl,

I dont think Ayres and Donaghue are liars (indeed has anyone accused them of being?), but there are some issues around Lott that would suggest dishonesty, as has been highlighted. Also, the issue around gun control and its statistical success is irrelevant, whats important is whether he is guilty or not of the allegations Lambert and others have made.

What is somewhat concerning is the way people blindly back him because of his stance, as ArmandTanzarians post just showed, if he isnt another sock puppet.

:neener:

Carl N. Brown
May 17, 2006, 03:56 PM
Your summation of the charges against him {Lott} are simplistic to say the least, ...
It is the nature of summations to be simplistic, just as water is wet and rock is hard. ;)

Finally, I dont see what relevance the law in Tennessee is to
this debate, ....
Germane to the subject of More Guns, Less Crime, Section 26 of the Tennessee
Constitution both guarantees the right of the citizen to keep and bear
arms and reserves the authority of the state to regulate wearing of
arms in public. So it is relevant to the subject. :neener:

Me, I don't care about the whys and wherefores of England and its gun laws.
With IANASA seeking to impose IANSA/GCN style gun laws on US citizens
through an international UN treaty, you should not only care, but
as Geena Davis warns in "The Fly" Be afraid, be very afraid. :)


the issue is restricted by you {CNB} to MGLC, but you then use a quote
from Tim Lambert:
Lambert also notes that Lott has repeatedly generated estimates
based on data sets flawed by coding errors and refused to
acknowledge these problems when the errors were brought to
his attention.
Lambert's criticisms of Lott's data sets are aimed at a later paper
(one he co-authored with Plassman and Whitley but then distanced
himself from), not MGLC. Lambert has a complete list of these
shenanigans here: at link to lambert deltoid
(The quote was from a Yale Law Review article referencing Lambert.)
That later paper, in response to Ayres and Donohue's "Shooting Down
the More Guns, Less Crime Hypothesis," was Lott, Plassmanm
and Whitley's "Confirming More Guns, Less Crime" so even if
I did restrict the issue to MoGuLeCr, so what? You asked me:
did you read the links? I ask you: did you read the links? :confused:

I lost patience with Tim Lambert back when I was lurking at History News
Network. I do not bump his website hit count if I can find articles
elsewhere, especially at their original sources free of his spin.
I am beginning to move from snarky to cranky.

long post, five parts

1. my opinion
2. Media Law Prof BLOG Lott Sues Levitt, 20 April 2006
3. ABSTRACT Confirming More Guns, Less Crime, Lott, Plassman, Whitley, 9 Jan 2003
4. ABSTRACT Latest More Guns, Less Crime Misfires, Donohue, Ayres, April 2003
5. EXTRACT Chronicle of Higher Education on Lott, Donohue, Ayres,
Plassman, Whitley, and Lindgren [/b]

my opinion

The claims in Freakonomics outlined in the Media Law Prof Blog
suggest to me that Steven Levitt, by implying
- that all other scholars who tested Lott's hypothesis got different results,
and by stating
- that the Journal of Law and Economics special issue was NOT peer reviewed when it WAS, and
- that Lott put in only work from those who supported him whem he solicited an article from Levitt himself,
that Steven Levitt allowed his zeal to lead him to cross the line or
pop culture co-author Dubner negligently "jazzed-up" what Levitt
originally wrote for mass market appeal, again just my opinion,
folks, ferwadeveritswerth.

The Abstracts on the Lott, Plassman, Whitley article and the
Donohue, Ayres article and the Chronicle of Higher Education
extract indicate to me that Levitt's Freakonomics claim is
not backed by other critics of Lott, at least to the extent of
saying that his results have not been replicated by researchers.
That is Levitt and Dubner.

Ayres and Donohue do miss a point long made by right-to-carry
(RTC) supporters: it is expected that RTC will force criminals
from people-crime to property-crime, substituting
- car-theft for car-jacking,
- burglary for home invasion, and
- larceny of goods for robbery of people.
The expected result of RTC is not and has not been a drop in
property-crime; if fact, it has long been predicted that RTC
would cause a rise in property-crime as robbers of people became
thieves of property.*

Donohue does acknowledge one thing:
No scholars now claim that legalizing concealed weapons causes
a major increase in crime.
NO RIVERS OF BLOOD OVERFLOWING THE GUTTERS FROM WILD WEST
SHOOT OUTS AS THE TATTERS OF CIVILIZATION DESCEND INTO A
HOBBESIAN MAELSTROM OF BRUTAL "LORD OF THE FLIES" ANARCHY????
No, just a small increase in property-crime, as criminals try to
avoid being shot. RTC supporters (Ayoob, Cooper, Jordan) have always
claimed RTF would reduce crimes against the person, not property.

Before Lott, it was common in academia to claim that legalizing
concealed weapons would cause a major increase in crime.
There has been a sea-change, people, wake up and smell the surf
spray in the morning: it smells like .... Victoria.
----------------------
*If policy-makers value the slight increase in the monetary cost
of property-crime over the slight decrease in the monetary cost of
people-crime, frelle them. ;evil;



Media Law Prof Blog

A Member of the Law Professor Blogs Network

April 20, 2006

Lott (More Guns, Less Crime)

Sues Levitt (Freakonomics)

Over Book's Statements, Email

John Lott, the author of More Guns, Less Crime has sued
Steven Levitt over statements Levitt made in Freakonomics,
the book he wrote with Steven Dubner, as well as an email
that Levitt sent last year in which Lott claims Levitt
defamed him. Lott's complaint cites this passage from
Freakonomics as an example of the type of defamatory
statements made in the book concerning Lott and his
research:
Levitt in Feakonimics
Then there was the troubling allegation that Lott actually
invented some of the survey data that supports his more
guns/less crime theory. Regardless of whether the data were
faked, Lott's admittedly intriguing hypothesis doesn't seem
to be true. When other scholars have tried to replicate his
results, they found that right-to-carry laws simply don't
bring down crime.
The email of which Lott complains occurred during the
following exchange. John McCall, a Texas economist, emailed
Levitt concerning the question of replication of Lott's
research, saying (according to the complaint):
John McCall to Levitt
"You also state that others have tried to replicate
[Lott's] research and have failed. Please supply me with
appropriate citations so that I might check for myself."
Lott's complaint
In a subsequent e-mail, McCall referred to a special issue
of The Journal of Law & Economics..., which contains a
collection of scholarly articles, including one by Lott...
an article that also addresses right-to-carry laws....
After discussion with the editors, Lott raised the funds
to pay the journal's printing and mailing costs....
In his e-mail, McCall stated as follows;
John McCall to Levitt
I went to the website you recommended--have not gone after
the round table proceedings yet--I also found the following
citations--have not read any of them yet, but it appears they
all replicate Lott's research. The Journal of Law and Economics
is not chopped liver....
Lott's complaint
Levitt responded by e-mail that same day and stated as follows:
Steven Levitt to McCall
It was not a peer referred edition of the Journal. For $15,000
he was able to buy an issue and put in only work that supported
him. My best friend was the editor and was outraged the press
let Lott do this....
Lott's complaint
The foregoing allegations are false and defamatory.
The Special Issue was, in fact, peer reviewed. Levitt knew it
was peer reviewed because Lott asked him to contribute an
article and told him that the papers would be peer reviewed....
Levitt's statement that "For $15,000 [Lott] was able to buy
an issue and put in only work that supported him" is also
false and defamatory. Lott did not "buy" the issue nor did
he "put in only work that supported him"...

April 20, 2006

===============================================================

ABSTRACT
Confirming More Guns, Less Crime

By John R. Lott Jr., Florenz Plassman, John Whitley
Posted: Thursday, January 9, 2003

PAPERS AND STUDIES
SSRN Electronic Paper Collection
Publication Date: January 9, 2003

Available from the Social Science Research Network.

John R. Lott, Jr., is a resident scholar at AEI. Florenz Plassmann
is part of the Department of Economics at the State University of
New York at Binghamton. John Whitley is part of the School of
Economics at the University of Adelaide.

Confirming More Guns, Less Crime

JOHN R. LOTT Jr.
American Enterprise Institute (AEI)
FLORENZ PLASSMANN
State University of New York - Department of Economics
JOHN E. WHITLEY
University of Adelaide - School of Economics
------------------------------------------------------
December 9, 2002

Abstract:
Analyzing county level data for the entire United States from
1977 to 2000, we find annual reductions in murder rates between
1.5 and 2.3 percent for each additional year that a right-to-carry
law is in effect. For the first five years that such a law is in
effect, the total benefit from reduced crimes usually ranges
between about $2 billion and $3 billion per year.

Ayres and Donohue have simply misread their own results. Their
own most generalized specification that breaks down the impact
of the law on a year-by-year basis shows large crime reducing
benefits. Virtually none of their claims that their county level
hybrid model implies initial significant increases in crime are
correct. Overall, the vast majority of their estimates based on
data up to 1997 actually demonstrate that right-to-carry laws
produce substantial crime reducing benefits. We show that their
models also do an extremely poor job of predicting the changes
in crime rates after 1997.

Working Paper Series

Suggested Citation
Lott, John R., Plassmann, Florenz and Whitley, John E.,
"Confirming More Guns, Less Crime" (December 9, 2002).
Available at SSRN:
http://ssrn.com/abstract=372361 or DOI: 10.2139/ssrn.372361


===============================================================


ABSTRACT
The Latest Misfires in Support of the More Guns, Less Crime Hypothesis

JOHN J. DONOHUE III
Yale Law School; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)
IAN AYRES
Yale Law School; Yale School of Management
------------------------------------------
April 2003

Stanford Law and Economics Olin Working Paper No. 253;
Yale Law & Economics Research Paper No. 278; Yale Law School,
Public Law Working Paper No. 53

Abstract:
John Lott, Florenz Plassman, and John Whitley ("LPW") have
criticized our article, Shooting Down the More Guns, Less Crime
Hypothesis, by arguing that some aggregated statistical models
that we criticized support their "more guns, less crime" claim
(which leads them to say we "misread" our results) and by
offering new regressions on an expanded county data set. We
maintain, however, as we did in our original article, that the
aggregated models favored by LPW are flawed by a serious
selection effect problem (and in any event we show that the
findings LPW point to are undermined by controls for pre-existing
state trends in crime). Indeed, we illustrate that simply
dropping the states that adopted concealed carry laws during
the crack epidemic leads to estimates that concealed carry laws
strongly increase crime (which underscores the importance of
the omitted crack phenomenon in driving the initial Lott and
Mustard results). Moreover, we discovered that the ostensibly
supportive results obtained by LPW after extending their county
set to 2000 were caused by some mis-coding errors they made in
extending their data. When we correct these errors, their
findings are reversed: LPW's preferred spline model fails to
generate a statistically significant effect for any crime
category, while the only significant results in the other
possible models show the laws to be associated with increases
in various property crimes (and in one case for rape).

The running head in the journal for "The Latest Misfires in
Support of the More Guns, Less Crime Hypothesis" was
"Latest More Guns, Less Crime Misfires."

===============================================================


begin: EXTRACT Chronicle of Higher Education

. . . . .

In the years since Mr. Lott's first publication, at least six
scholars have published studies that tend to confirm his findings,
while at least four other studies have tended to cast doubt on
his findings. Mr. Donohue noted in an interview that Mr. Lott's
research has convinced his peers of at least one point:
Donohue
No scholars now claim that legalizing concealed weapons
causes a major increase in crime.
Even Mr. Donohue's analysis, which is highly critical of Mr.
Lott's, finds only "modest pernicious effects," in his words.

Mr. Lott's 1997 paper on gun policy was, "to that point, the most
important piece of empirical research that has ever been done in
the social sciences," says Jeffrey S. Parker, a professor of law
at George Mason University. "I doubt that even Ayres and Donohue
would dispute that point."

Mr. Ayres and Mr. Donohue's critique of Mr. Lott's scholarship
runs as follows: The models used by Mr. Lott and his co-authors
have not taken sufficient account of the broad differences
between states that permit the concealed carrying of guns and
those that do not.

In particular, Mr. Ayres and Mr. Donohue suggest that the spike
in murders associated with the crack-cocaine epidemic of the
late 1980s was concentrated in urban areas in states with
restrictive gun laws, while states that permitted people to
carry concealed weapons in the 1980s tended to be relatively
rural and unaffected by drug violence.

That imbalance, Mr. Ayres and Mr. Donohue say, has given the
right-to-carry states an artificial boost in studies by
Mr. Lott and his allies.

In their reply, Mr. Plassmann and Mr. Whitley argue that their
opponents' own data, when properly read, demonstrate immediate
state-level benefits from the legalization of concealed weapons.
They also present new county-level data for the period 1977-2000,
which they say further supports the more-guns, less-crime thesis,
whether one uses their opponents' preferred statistical
techniques or their own.

It is here, in this new 1977-2000 data set, that Mr. Ayres and
Mr. Donohue claim to have identified a serious set of coding
errors. Mr. Plassmann and Mr. Whitley failed to assign dummy
variables (which researchers use as place holders, to stand for
meaningful variables that they may have neglected to identify)
for the states of Alaska, Massachusetts, and Pennsylvania for
certain years in their calculations.

Correcting those errors, Mr. Ayres and Mr. Donohue write,
"completely reverse[s]" the paper's conclusions and "restore[s]
the conclusion that concealed-carry laws were associated with
increases in crime (or no effect) for all crime categories." . . .

Mr. Lott replies that the alleged coding errors are irrelevant
to the larger debate. "Whether one believes the regressions in
the Plassmann and Whitley piece or not, just looking at Ayres
and Donohue's own results -- you can't look at the graphs that
Plassmann and Whitley have of Ayres and Donohue's results and
not see a significant drop in violent crime."

"The basic results are not fragile," Mr. Whitley writes in an
e-mail message. "Minor errors in coding would not undermine
them (and an entire literature)." Mr. Whitley says that he could
not reply to the charges in detail because he had not yet had
time to carefully review Mr. Ayres and Mr. Donohue's comments.
Because the allegations appear in a law review rather than a
peer-reviewed academic journal, no third-party scholars have
reviewed the claim of coding errors.

Six tables that derive from the same allegedly miscoded data
set appear in Mr. Lott's new book, The Bias Against Guns:
Why Almost Everything You've Heard About Gun Control Is Wrong
(Regnery, 2003). James Lindgren, a professor of law at
Northwestern University, says, "If Donohue and Ayres's account
is as it appears -- and I'm not in a position to judge that --
then Lott should withdraw the book for revision."

Mr. Lindgren adds that he believes it extremely unlikely that
any coding errors were the result of a conscious intent to
distort the study's findings. He notes that Mr. Lott has not
only shared his data sets with other scholars, but has made
them generally available to the public on his Web site.
"You tend not to do that if you've intentionally miscoded
your variables," he says.

. . . .. .

Chronicle of Higher Education EXTRACT end

agricola
May 17, 2006, 07:57 PM
Carl,

i) Tennessee legislation was not relevant to that portion of the debate where we were discussing UK legislation, Tennessee not being part of the United Kingdom;

ii) the extract you mention for Lott, Plassman and Whitley is the actual paper that Lott denied having co-authored after errors were found within it and he was caught altering dates and tables (Plassman and Whitley now claim he just "helped them out with it"). This can be checked out here (in Lott's own words) -

http://johnrlott.tripod.com/other/MediaMatters012506.html

iii) the data set in the Plassman, Whitley and Lott article is actually from Appendix 1 of The Bias against Guns, which you would have known if you had read the links. This is not the same data as that in MGLC, which your quote suggested that it was.

iv) Your summation of the lawsuit is laughably wrong. Firstly:

The claims in Freakonomics outlined in the Media Law Prof Blog
suggest to me that Steven Levitt, by implying

- that all other scholars who tested Lott's hypothesis got different results

This is some miles away from what he - and it was quoted on the very first post on this thread, so you have no excuse - actually said (and what the lawsuit actually says):

"When other scholars have tried to replicate [Lott's] results, they found that right-to-carry laws simply don't bring down crime."

This in itself is interesting because of what Lott didnt consider false and damaging. The above sentence comes from a paragraph which I reproduce below:

Then there is the troubling allegation that Lott actually invented some of the survey data that support his more-guns/less-crime theory. Regardless of whether the data were faked, Lott's admittedly intriguing hypothesis doesn't seem to be true. When other scholars have tried to replicate his results, they found that right-to-carry laws simply don't bring down crime.

Lott doesnt consider the repeating, in print, of an unproven allegation that he made up statistics (referring of course to the 98% controversy) to be false and damaging?

http://www.overlawyered.com/lott_complaint.pdf/Lott%20v%20Levitt.pdf

Secondly:

- that the Journal of Law and Economics special issue was NOT peer reviewed when it WAS

There is some debate as to whether it was peer-reviewed:

Mr. Lott's lawsuit has a second component, which hinges not on the meaning of "replicate" but on the meaning of "peer-refereed." In May 2005, Mr. Levitt exchanged e-mail messages with John J. McCall, a professor emeritus of economics at the University of California at Los Angeles, where Mr. Lott earned his degree. Mr. McCall had suggested that the Freakonomics passage was unfair and asked Mr. Levitt why he had not cited various scholarly papers that support Mr. Lott's theory.

In particular, Mr. McCall pointed to several papers that appeared in a supplemental issue of The Journal of Law and Economics in 2001. Mr. Levitt replied: "It was not a peer-refereed edition of the Journal. For $15,000 he was able to buy an issue and put in only work that supported him. My best friend was the editor and was outraged the press let Lott do this."

That statement was false and defamatory, Mr. Lott charged.

If you're wondering whether a private e-mail message can be libelous, the answer is yes. Courts have generally found that an e-mail message, even if sent to just one person, falls under defamation law, explained David A. Anderson, a professor of law at the University of Texas at Austin. "As long as it's an e-mail to a third person, it counts as publication," he said. "If Levitt had just said these things in an e-mail directly to Lott, there would be no publication and there could be no claim for defamation."

It might have been better for Mr. Levitt to have explained to Mr. McCall why he believed that the journal articles were weak rather than to have dismissed them as "not peer-refereed." But was his e-mail message essentially false?

All of the papers in question were originally presented at a 1999 conference sponsored by the American Enterprise Institute and Yale University's Center for Law, Economics, and Public Policy. Mr. Lott, who was then a senior research scholar at Yale, was the primary organizer. In his lawsuit, he says he invited critics of his theory, including Mr. Levitt, to speak at the conference. Mr. Levitt, who did not speak there, did not reply to The Chronicle's question about the matter.

As is fairly routine, Mr. Lott arranged for the papers to be published in a special issue of The Journal of Law and Economics, provided that he cover its printing and postage costs. The papers were sent out to anonymous peer referees before publication.

In "symposium" issues of journals, there is a tacit understanding that all, or nearly all, of the papers will be published, said Jeffrey A. Miron, a visiting professor of economics at Harvard who participated in the conference. "The rate at which the journal accepts these papers and chooses to publish them is 90 to 100 percent," he said. "So it's not refereed in the same way, or subject to the same standards, as if you submit something cold to The Journal of Law and Economics." (The journal's normal acceptance rate is less than 10 percent.)

Mr. Miron said Mr. Levitt's characterization of the issue as "not peer-refereed" was an exaggeration but not an outrageous untruth, and Mr. Miron doubts Mr. Lott will win on this point in court.

from http://www.google.co.uk/search?hs=xW9&hl=en&safe=off&client=firefox-a&rls=org.mozilla%3Aen-GB%3Aofficial_s&q=%22Journal+of+Law+and+Economics%22++Lott&btnG=Search&meta=
(fifth entry, select the google cached page of the chronicle)

agricola
May 17, 2006, 08:05 PM
to continue:

The Abstracts on the Lott, Plassman, Whitley article and the
Donohue, Ayres article and the Chronicle of Higher Education
extract indicate to me that Levitt's Freakonomics claim is
not backed by other critics of Lott, at least to the extent of
saying that his results have not been replicated by researchers.
That is Levitt and Dubner.

and Lambert, the late Otis Dudley Duncan, and at least eight other peer-reviewed papers -

It is far from clear, however, that "replicate" is in fact consistently used by social scientists in the way Mr. Lott and Mr. Moody say it is used. Mr. Levitt, who declined to comment for this article, will almost certainly tell the court that in Freakonomics he was using "replicate" in a looser sense, meaning something like "confirm."

If that is the case, the Freakonomics passage might be unfair -- Mr. Moody has counted nine peer-reviewed papers that support Mr. Lott's theory, versus eight that do not -- but it would not be defamatory in the specific way that Mr. Lott claims in his lawsuit.

from http://www.google.co.uk/search?hs=xW9&hl=en&safe=off&client=firefox-a&rls=org.mozilla%3Aen-GB%3Aofficial_s&q=%22Journal+of+Law+and+Economics%22++Lott&btnG=Search&meta= (fifth one, the Google cached Chronicle entry)

finally:

Ayres and Donohue do miss a point long made by right-to-carry
(RTC) supporters: it is expected that RTC will force criminals
from people-crime to property-crime, substituting
- car-theft for car-jacking,
- burglary for home invasion, and
- larceny of goods for robbery of people.
The expected result of RTC is not and has not been a drop in
property-crime; if fact, it has long been predicted that RTC
would cause a rise in property-crime as robbers of people became
thieves of property.

Which is all an irrelevance as to the debate over the quality of Lotts work.

Carl N. Brown
May 19, 2006, 12:02 PM
I) Tennessee became a state in 1792 when the British Bill of
Rights 1688 was a fond memory; Tennessee Constitution Section 26
(rev. 1870) is relevant to the Anglo-American tradition of RKBA.

II) As I recall, I was linked to my PDF of the Lott, Plassman, Whitley
paper via Lott's website, a very strange denial to say the least.

III) It is my understanding that the dataset in AD, LPW and
Bias is the MoGuLeCr dataset extended by county
data since the original publication of MoGuLeCr. Same
hypothesis, extended dataset.

IV) All my summations are laughably wrong to you. :) Nothing new.
(Yes, my old summation of UK gun law was off-base factually.)


The paragraph in your post #66 from Freakonomics was previously
in my post #39. Calling the controversy over the missing survey/98%
statistic a "troubling allegation" is fair and is not a "false"
statement because it is an allegation, it is troubling and the issue
is not settled. Even Lambert said the 98% stat was not central to
the MoGuLeCr hypothesis (that right-to-carry laws reduce crime) and
Duncan and Lindgren agreed with that.

The "false and damaging" statement central to the MoGuLeCr hypothesis
is Levitt or Dubner stating without qualifiers:
"When other scholars have tried to replicate his results, they
found that right-to-carry laws simply don't bring down crime."
Other scholars have tested Lott's data and hyppothesis and many
did not just try they did replicate his results, so that
flat declaration is "false" in my view; whether it is "damaging"
under the law is another issue. A few weasel words and Dubner or
Levitt could have covered their derierres on that one.

The acceptance rate of new journal articles is irrelevant to the
peer-review referee status of symposia articles. It was my
understanding that articles in symposium issues of journals are
almost always published because the articles are usually reprints
or revisions of articles that have previously been published
subject to peer-review or referee. If the papers were indeed
"sent out to anonymous peer referees before publication," then
Levitt was "exaggerating" in telling McCall the issue was not
peer-refereed.

Whether you agree with Lott and the nine peer-reviewed papers
that support his theory, or with Levitt and eight that do not
(the nine and eight counted by Carl Moody), Lott, more or less,
has forced a radical change in the standard academic view of
the impact of right-to-carry on crime rates.

For the fifty years I have followed this issue, gun control
advocates have claimed that guns are useless in self-defense,
that an assailant would just take a gun away from a woman and
shoot her with it, and that guns should be banned as the root
of all evil and crime. In the 2004 Kings College Great Gun
Debate Rebecca Peters declared a UN treaty should not allow
women to defend themselves because guns just escalate violence.

I have known several women who defended themselves with guns:
the assailants left the premises without a single shot being
fired; these incidents lead to a burglar immediately arrested
(held by victims at gunpoint for police) and a home invader who
fled later arrested. One incident very probably prevented a
gang rape. In one case, a woman did get in trouble: she was
charged with illegally "going armed" but the judge dismissed that
charge on state constitutional RKBA grounds. So when John Lott
says that guns in the hands of the lawabiding prevent more crimes
than they cause and that 98% (1997) or 95% (2002) of self defense
is brandishing only, my gut reaction is that Lott is closer to
the truth than his critics.

-------------------------------
The font used in Table 1C of the Ayers-Donohue article is missing
in the PDF that I downloaded; that implies a last minute edit and
update, a typical SNAFU in electronic publishing, but if it appeared
in a Lott article PDF I would expect Lambert to make a mountainous
blog about it (my cynicism).

agricola
May 19, 2006, 02:30 PM
Carl,

i) For the last time, the state of the law in Tennessee is irrelevant to the UK, because (as you note) the Constitution was drawn up after the War of Independence. It may have been inspired by 1688, but given as you raised it when talking about events that have happened in the last seventy years, its irrelevant;

ii) Lott has denied being the author of the P+W(L) paper, as you would have known had you clicked on the link. I repeat it once again:

1) "Lott and two coauthors produced a statistical model ("Model 1") that showed significant crime decreases when states passed concealed carry gun laws."


-- The paper that is being referred to here was published by Florenz Plassmann and John Whitley in the Stanford Law Review. I was not an author on their published article. I had helped them on this project and I regard their paper as overall very well done, but dropped out before publication (see Plassmann's statement on the fact that John Lott helped us out on" it, their paper also has a footnote making a similar statement). Florenz's work in this and several papers on count data is not given the attention it deserves, but overall Plassmann and Whitley provide a devastating critique of the Aryes and Donohue paper.

http://johnrlott.tripod.com/other/MediaMatters012506.html

Please note that repeatedly throughout his argument (while he states he helped them with it) he nowhere states that he co-authored it (in fact denies it, as shown above), which is so clear that even you recognize that he did do so. Interestingly, Plassman provides an alternate version:

Dr. Lott had asked that his name be removed because he would not agree to changes in the paper that the Stanford Law Review mandated to accommodate a late changes in the original A&D article ("Shooting Down the 'More Guns, Less Crime' Hypothesis"). Specifically, we were given an ultimatum to either: (A) agree to the changes and our paper would be published in the Stanford Law Review, or (B) the Stanford Law Review would publish only A&D's original paper but neither our paper nor A&D's reply. These changes violated an agreement that we had reached with the Stanford Law Review about the editorial process and constituted a "final straw" to Dr. Lott in what had been a grueling editorial process.

Although Dr. Lott was prepared to withdraw the paper from the Stanford Law Review at this point and attempt publication elsewhere, he did not want to impose the cost on his junior coauthors of possibly losing the publication and generously offered to withdraw his name from the paper. Although we (Plassmann and Whitley) fully understood and agreed with Dr. Lott?s dissatisfaction, we decided to accept his offer, to accept the mandated changes to our paper, and to proceed with publication.

http://johnrlott.tripod.com/postsbyday/6-9-03.html

So Lott did coauthor it, then he dropped out to spare his coauthors cost, and finally he didnt coauthor it, just helped them out. Given the importance exact phraseology is to his lawsuit, you would think he would practice what he preaches. For those who are interested, Tim Lambert has the reason why Lott removed himself from the article - as the email on the link below shows:

http://timlambert.org/2003/04/0430/

The actual word he demanded be changed:

http://timlambert.org/2003/05/0507/#comments

iii) Lambert's quote is clearly talking about the controversy surrounding the Plassman/Whitley (Lott) paper, as the link demonstrated. The fact that the data in that paper is partly the same data Lott used in MGLC, together with Ayre's and Donohue's expansion, is irrelevant - Lott having made a mistake, then tried to cover it up.

iv) "When other scholars have tried to replicate his results, they
found that right-to-carry laws simply don't bring down crime."

Other scholars have tested Lott's data and hyppothesis and many
did not just try they did replicate his results, so that
flat declaration is "false" in my view; whether it is "damaging"
under the law is another issue. A few weasel words and Dubner or
Levitt could have covered their derierres on that one.

This is what I find laughable. Firstly, Ayres and Donohue tested his hypothesis using expanded data, and came to the conclusion that he was wrong. Secondly, even you state people tested his hypothesis and came to the conclusion he was wrong:

Whether you agree with Lott and the nine peer-reviewed papers
that support his theory, or with Levitt and eight that do not
(the nine and eight counted by Carl Moody), Lott, more or less,
has forced a radical change in the standard academic view of
the impact of right-to-carry on crime rates.

Lott's lawsuit rests on two things. Firstly, that other scholars did not try "to replicate his results, they found that right-to-carry laws simply don't bring down crime". As you have demonstrated, more than a few other scholars tested his hypothesis and found that right-to-carry laws didnt bring down crime. Secondly, that Levitt was defamatory when he said:

"It was not a peer-refereed edition of the Journal. For $15,000 he was able to buy an issue and put in only work that supported him. My best friend was the editor and was outraged the press let Lott do this."

As has been shown, it was not a "peer-refereed" edition of that particular journal, at least not in the normal sense of the word. Lott did pay the printing costs. Whether he put in work that only supported him is something that can only be seen by looking at the paper, though given how Lott has acted in other situations - such as with the Stanford Law Review - it is not beyond belief. If Levitt's best friend was the editor, and was outraged that the press let Lott do it, then we will find out if this ever gets to trial.

Carl N. Brown
May 22, 2006, 10:34 AM
I dont think Ayres and Donaghue are liars
(indeed has anyone accused them of being?)
In Post #62 Bagdad Bob said:
"There is nothing wrong with Lotts work! Everyone else is lying!"
:evil:

August 4th, 2003, 05:45 PM #23
agricola
Senior Member
Join Date: Dec 2002
Posts: 1,725

and they say satire is dead

Dunno if anyone remembers but i had a brief email correspondance with
John Lott in the TFL days - he was polite and helpful, so why he did
the Rosh thing is a mystery to me.

What happened?

----------------------------------------------
ERRATUM: The font problem in Ayres-Donohue PDF is in FIGURE 1C;
I may have reported the error as in Table 1C.
----------------------------------------------

This will get back to Freakonomics. Eventually.

Since Freakonomics author Steven Levitt is a co-author with
John J. Donohue III, perhaps the Ayers-Donohue articles are
relevant to the credibility of Freakonomics after all.

Confirming More Guns, Less Crime
John R. Lott, Jr., Florenz Plassmann and John Whitley
December 9, 2002

IV. Evaluating Some General Claims Made by Ayres and Donohue
A) Has previous work acknowledged both the costs and benefits of guns?
"[Lott and Mustard] never acknowledge cases on the other side of the
ledger where the presence of guns almost certainly led to killings.
For example, the nightmare scenario for those asserting the value of
defensive use of guns is not mentioned: the case of the Japanese
exchange student, Yoshihiro Hattori, on his way to a Halloween party
in October of 1992 who mistakenly approached the wrong house and was
shot to death by the owner Rodney Peairs." -- Ayres and Donohue, p. 6.
This is Ayres and Donohue's first criticism and they frequently revisit
the claim that Lott and Mustard ignore the costs of guns. Yet, Lott
reports exactly this story about the Japanese college student on page 1
of his book and refers to it as showing "how defensive gun use can go
tragically wrong." Lott and Mustard's original paper also describes this
same incident on page 2. Lott's book also explicitly notes many gun
crimes and repeatedly discusses how one must analyze the "net effect" of guns.

The Latest Misfires in Support of the More Guns, Less Crime Hypothesis
Ian Ayres & John J. Donohue III
STANFORD LAW REVIEW Vol. 55:1371

We do confess error on one small point, though. We stated in a
footnote that the nightmare scenario of the unlawful shooting death of
a sixteen-year-old Japanese exchange student on his way to a Halloween
party was not mentioned by Lott and Mustard. See Ayres & Donohue,
supra note 1, at 1200 n.12. We should have said that, although they
mentioned the incident in passing, Lott and Mustard inaccurately stated
that the killing was not found to be unlawful. See John R. Lott, Jr.
& David B. Mustard, Crime, Deterrence, and Right-to-Carry Concealed
Handguns, 26 J. LEGAL STUD. 1, 2-3 (1997). Although the killer was not
convicted of criminal homicide in that case, he was deemed to have acted
tortiously and a substantial civil judgment was levied against him, as
our footnote 12 noted. Ayres & Donohue, supra note 1, at 1200 n.12.
Hence, the shooting was indeed unlawful. Although we had actually
pointed this out to John Lott prior to the publication of the original
Lott and Mustard paper, the error was not corrected.

Ayres and Donohue "confess error on one small point" but then
laboriously try to turn that point around and accuse Lott of
not correcting what they considered an error. In MoGuLeCr 2nd Ed
Page 2 Introduction, Lott wrote that the criminal court did not
find the shooting to be criminal. A-D claim that the fact
the shooter was found liable in civil court made the shooting
unlawful and that by reporting the criminal court finding
of not criminal, Lott was in error.

The killing was found not criminal in criminal court: the shooter
was motivated by a fear of death or bodily harm. The death was
found tortiously wrongful in civil court: the college student was
knocking on a backdoor Halloween night at the wrong address.
This was a classic lawful killing but wrongful death case.
The killing of the Japanese student is used by self-defense
instructors as a cautionary tale, and by gun control advocates
as an international cause celebre.

Lott uses this incident to introduce the statistic that annually
there are 30 mistaken deaths by civilians and 330 accidental deaths
by policemen. This point has been commented on widely by reviewers
and analysts of MoGuLeCr. For Ayres and Donohue to miss this is the
kind of sloppiness in research used to skewer Lott by his critics:
pages 1 and 2 of MoGuLeCr discusses an incident that A-D claim L-M
did not mention.

One, the incident that A-D claim is "not mentioned" by L-M
is actually cited to raise major points on two pages of the
Introduction.

Two, a finding of not criminal in criminal court and a finding of
wrongful in civil court does not make the act itself unlawful.
Tragic, a nightmare scenario, tortious, but not criminal.

"General Claims Made by Ayres and Donohue
A) Has previous work acknowledged both the costs and benefits of guns?"
A-D then accuse L-M of ignoring costs of guns.

o Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology Fall, 1995, Northwestern
University, School of Law; Guns and Violence Symposium, Page 188.
A Tribute to a View I Have Opposed, by Marvin E. Wolfgang, shows
that benefits of guns have largely been ignored in the academic
literature on guns and that only costs were considered in the past.

o In a National Academy of Sciences workshop Lott asked the other
participants, according to the tape transcript: "How many people are
speakers here? How many of those people who are speakers think that
on net gun regulations probably cause more problems than good?"
Virtually all the hands went down.

My conclusion?
+ L-M consider both costs and benefits in MoGuLeCr.
- Academia has traditionally been biased toward the view that guns
are all cost and no benefit.
o L-M are guilty of academic heresy by considering benefits of guns.

http://www.thehighroad.org/attachment.php?attachmentid=40276&stc=1&d=1148304324

?Freakonomics represents the level of academic criticism of Lott?
This BS generates sympathy for Lott.

agricola
May 22, 2006, 04:44 PM
Carl,

i) Lott was polite and helpful over that conversation, and I am struggling to find where I said he was neither of those things. As an aside, Jim March had a similar conversation with him where he was polite, if less helpful -

http://www.thehighroad.org/showthread.php?t=81258&highlight=%22john+lott%22

Of course, suing someone over an academic dispute, and a slander in an email, is neither polite or helpful, especially when Lott himself slandered Levitt prior to the NAS study.

ii) Donohue's position is relevant to Freakonomics and the lawsuit, in that he is a scholar, who attempted to replicate Lott's work, and found his hypothesis to be false. Therefore, thats part of Lott's lawsuit falls down;

iii) To quote you:

In a National Academy of Sciences workshop Lott asked the other
participants, according to the tape transcript: "How many people are
speakers here? How many of those people who are speakers think that
on net gun regulations probably cause more problems than good?"
Virtually all the hands went down.

That is actually arse-about-face. Lott initially claimed the scene went like this:

Unfortunately, this is not the only stacked National Academy of Sciences panel. During August 2002, I was asked to participate in a National Academy of Sciences day long workshop on “Children, Youth, and Gun Violence.” I was one of the last people invited for the September 18 meeting. Despite my concerns that I was being included simply so that they could claim that had a “balanced panel,” I was assured by the staff person who invited me, Mary Ellen O’Connell, that the workshop would be balanced. I only attended my session, and at the beginning of my talk I asked the audience of over a hundred people: “How many people here are presenters?” About twenty-five people raised their hands. I then asked of those who were presenters: “How many of you think that it might be possible, not for sure, but just possible, that existing gun control produces more problems than benefits?” All the hands went down. Not one of the presenters was even willing to acknowledge the possibility. Even worse than the bias, the problem was that the academy was unwilling to even acknowledge their biases and were unwilling to engage in a balanced debate.

It was only when the fact that an audio transcript of it was found on the web that he revised it back. Ironically, one of the first people to call Lott on this was Tim Lambert:

http://timlambert.org/index.php?s=national+academy+of+science&submit=Search&paged=2

Carl N. Brown
May 22, 2006, 05:10 PM
Either version of the NAS workshop story supports my
conclusion "- Academia has traditionally been biased
toward the view that guns are all cost and no benefit."
How is that bass ackwards?

agricola
May 22, 2006, 07:18 PM
Carl,

I wasnt referring to your theory, but rather that story you came up with (ironically once again showing Lott in a bad light).

In any case, I would hardly equate "Academia has traditionally been biased toward the view that guns are all cost and no benefit" with "How many people are speakers here? How many of those people who are speakers think that on net gun regulations probably cause more problems than good?", and to try and prove it from one example is bound to run into problems.

Like everything else, individual academics have probably at some stage looked at the issue from all standpoints, however much certain people would like to claim that they were the first or most important.

Carl N. Brown
May 23, 2006, 01:12 PM
The history of the Bellesiles scandal impressed on me that
academia is knee-jerk "if it's against guns it's gotta be good."
The `balance' of the NAS panel was one example to confirm
that impression.

agricola
May 23, 2006, 02:13 PM
Carl,

Actually the Bellisiles scandal demonstrates how academia cant be summed up as being pro- or anti- an issue, because it is so diverse a community.

The article where Bellisiles' theory (ie: before Arming America) was initially aired was subject to scrutiny by the Crime and Justice Network of the Social Science History Association, where they came to the conclusion that the work hadnt been peer-reviewed (because of problems they had identified through examining it, and because they would have been the persons asked to peer-review it).

The Organization of American Historians, however, was less critical and awarded it high marks, as have several bodies since.

Jim Lindgren sums the duality of the initial response to Bellisile's work best:

...those who are most expert on the subject of guns in early America or tend to understand numbers best were most skeptical about Bellesiles’s work, while those who know less about guns or less about numbers were most enamored of it

http://hnn.us/articles/930.html

What is of course worth remembering is that, once Bellisiles had been exposed as a fraud, he was effectively sacked, his academic prize was taken from him and he was widely recognized for what he was.

However Lott, against whom very similar, well documented claims have been made, remains cited as a source by many.

Carl N. Brown
May 24, 2006, 11:15 AM
Let's see, Lott claims whole percentage points decline in crime from
Right-To-Carry laws; his critics claim plus 0.15 or minus 0.20.

Bellesiles claimed that probate records showed only 7 percent of
Colonial Americans owned firearms, while other researcvhers
found 40, 70 or 80 percent based on location, with an estimated
average in the high 60s.

Not similar.

Lindgren found that 75% of colonial probate records showed guns
but only 25% showed clothing. To reduce the point to absurdity,
probate records show that 25% of colonial Armericans were
unarmed and 75% were nudists.

Flash back time (wobblity wobblity ripple effect):

Five months before Bellesiles' book Arming Americacame out,
Anthony Ramirez of the New York Times promoted the book in
the NYT book reviews, saying that the probate records were
"Mr. Bellesiles's principal evidence."

2000 Sep --- For Fall, Alfred Knopf published Arming America.
Knopf's publicity claimed that Arming Americawas "the NRA's
worst nightmare" and would "completely transform America's gun
debate." Press releases by Knopf gushed: "A myth-busting tour
de force... deeply researched, brilliantly argued... good
history.... an authoritative account.... sensible analysis...
a superb piece of historical work.... a classic work of
significant scholarship.... an eye-opener."

Knopf Press Release and back cover of Arming America
quoted Stewart Udall: "Thinking people who deplore Americans'
addiction to gun violence have been waiting a long time for
this information. Michael Bellesiles has uncovered dramatic
historical truths that shatter the 'Ten Commandments' hokum
peddled by the National Rifle Association and its ersatz Moses."

John Chambers, a military historian from Rutgers, reviewed
the book for the Washington Post saying that the probate records
were Bellesiles' "freshest and most interesting source."

Edmund Morgan, one of the country's leading historians of
colonial America, followed suit, exclaiming in the New York Review
of Books, "The evidence is overwhelming. First of all are the
probate records."

2000 Sep 10- New York Times Book Review, Gary Wills:
"Arming Americahas dispersed the darkness that covered the
gun's early history in America." Wills praised Bellesiles for
debunking the myths of the gun lobby: that early gun ownership
was common and the Second Amendment is an individual right.
Bellesiles' research, especially the probate data, showed that
Colonial Era gun ownership was rare; therefore, Second Amendment
only guaranteed the power of the state to arm the militia.

2000 Sep 25- National Public Radio's "Fresh Air":
Q: "Do you think that the gun lobby in America has been drawing
upon false history to justify its desire to prevent any further
regulation of guns?"
Bellesiles: "If I may restate that, I think they have been drawing
upon a mythologized past to justify their position in terms of
opposing any gun regulation today. I think that is correct...."

Chicago-Kent Law Review, Vol. 76, No.1, symposium edited by
Carl T. Bogus was devoted to articles criticising the
"Standard Model" or individual rights interpretation of the
Second Amendment, right to keep and bear arms.
Michael Bellesiles' article, Second Amendment in Action,
concludes: "The Second Amendment confirmed [a] commitment to
organize and arm a militia."
Most participants recruited by Bogus had joined Brooklyn Law
School Professor David Yassky in signing amicus curiae briefs
in the case of United States v. Timothy Joe Emerson
(U.S. Court of Appeals, 5th Circuit, case no. 99-10331)

2000 Nov 14- Bellesiles appeared on KQED, San Francisco.
When asked his position on gun control, Bellesiles responded
that he had never taken a position on current gun policy.

When "amatuer" historians like Clayton Cramer raised questions
about Bellesiles book, professional academia poo-pooed them.
Then self-professed liberal and self-described gun control
advocates in academia began looking at the criticism, with
a view to debunk the critics, and instead ended up debunking
Bellesiles.

Bellesiles claimed that there were so few gunsmiths in colonial
Virginia, that when the Virginia armory was established they had
to import gunsmiths from Ireland. In fact, as pointed out by
Clayton Cramer, local gunsmiths refused the low pay offered by
Virginia because the private sector paid better, and Virginia
imported Irish-American gunsniths already at work in Pennsylvania.

Researchers who bothered to look up sources cited by Bellesiles
found they seldomn said what he claimed they said. Bellesiles
claimed that an 1630 gun census showed only 100 guns in a colony of
a thousand men: the source cited in the footnote was an order for
100 guns and 100 sets of clothes for 100 new colonists dated 1628.

Two words about Arming America: Caveat Lector!

Historian Gary Wills wrote a glowing NYT review of Arming America
when it first appeared. After the book became a controversy, Wills was
asked to defend it; Wills replied: "I was took. The book is a fraud."

William & Mary Law Review, Law Professor James Lindgren and
attorney Justin Heather, "Counting Guns in Early America."
The authors found that Bellesiles claimed he examined about a hundred
wills in Providence, R.I., that do not exist, and that he also miscited
the records that could be found. They found that Bellesiles's main 1700s
probate contentions, included in this book and in an article in 1996,
were "mathematically impossible."

++ And this was not like the John Lott case where nine articles got
similar results and eight articles got minor differences: this was
every attempt to look at Bellesiles' probate research got radically
different results, even those who started as his defenders.

On Bellesiles comparison of guns in San Francisco County
probate records comparing 1849-50 with 1858-59:
"When I asked [Bellesiles] point-blank whether he had used probate
records from San Francisco County, he answered: "I used county probate
records from the Superior Court. I had to go the courthouse -- the San
Francisco Superior Court." But the deputy clerk of the court, Clark
Banayad, says flatly, "Every record at the San Francisco Superior
Court predating 1906 was destroyed . . . in the 1906 earthquake.""
--Melissa Sekora, reporter

According to the Emory University Wheel student newspaper, Bellesiles
has told them several contradictory stories about the Bowden Hall Flood
of 2 Apr 2000 that allegedly destroyed his probate notes.

"If I am wrong, I want you to be able to fix my mistakes. The only
way that can happen, however, is if I share my data and make clear
exactly what sources I looked at. Michael hasn't done that yet."
--Professor Randolph Roth, Ohio State University

The probate data--cited as key to Arming America by Gary Wills
in the NYT Book Review, as "Mr. Bellesiles's principal evidence" by
Anthony Ramirez (NYT) and as Bellesiles' "freshest and most interesting
source" by John Chambers (Rurtgers)--vanished in the sunlight like
a will-of-the-wisp.

"Bellesiles fails to provide even basic information about the probate
figures that form the basis of his claims for the rarity of guns. And
he repeatedly makes general statements that are extreme. But if you
check his footnotes, a more disturbing pattern emerges. It is not just
an odd mistake or a difference of interpretation, but misrepresentation
of what his sources actually say, time after time after time."
--Professor Joyce Malcolm, History, Bentley College

The Federal Lawyer published a favorable review of Arming America
written by Michael Coblenz in January 2001. In the October 2002 issue,
Coblenz retracted his review:
"As a result of my limited knowledge, I have always been skeptical
of NRA claims of universal gun ownership .... Bellesiles' book
confirmed many of my suspicions.... Bellesiles' argument ... has been
shown ... to be wrong. As a result, it is inescapable that Bellesiles'
book is fundamentally flawed. My previous review of the book was ...
to a large degree wrong ... the evidence shows ... a significant
percentage of the population did own guns, somewhere around
two-thirds or three-fourths...." [Bellesiles claims one-seventh.]

"I don't hold with book-burning, but I think we ought to consider
burning Bellesiles at the stake as punishment for the harm he has done
to the cause of gun control and to the credibility of America's left."
--David Lloyd-Jones, American student, liberal

"I still do not believe in any shape or form he fabricated anything.
He's just a sloppy researcher."
--Jane Garrett, Bellesiles' editor at Knopf Press

19 April 2001 Columbia U awarded the Bancroft Prize to Arming America.
13 Dec 2002 Columbia rescinded the Bancroft Prize and asked Bellesiles
to return their money, the first time in the history of the Bancroft award.

To label John Lott a "Bellesiles of the Right" is an exaggeration
or the result of ignorance of the problems with Arming America.
The objections raised to John Lott and MoGuLeCr are tiny next to
Michael Bellesiles and Arming America. This speaks to nothing
about the validity of MoGuLeCr but speaks volumes about bias on the
subject of gun control in Academia and the Media.

agricola
May 24, 2006, 12:24 PM
Carl,

For a start, you use Lindgren as a source and yet ignore important strands of what he said. To me, thats inexcuseable, given that you were provided the link, and yet you maintain that it was "amateur" historians like Clayton Cramer (if indeed someone who has been published at least five times on historical topics prior to Arming America being released can be considered an amateur) who raised concerns that were poo-pooed by "professional" academia.

Lindgren showed that Bellisiles' initial work was scrutinized and found wanting by academics, years before Clayton Cramer examined it. Of course, some people backed Arming America, and probably would have done so irrespective of the facts, but once he was exposed Bellisiles was shunned.

Lott, on the other hand, has only found one tiny piece of evidence that his 98% survey was completed, and thats after claiming the figure came from Kleck's work, then "national surveys", and finally his own survey. We also have his history of cherry-picking data in order to prove his various theories, almost all of which have shown to be wrong. There is then the issue over who actually wrote the response to Ayres and Donohue, which (as we have found) depends on who you ask. There is also the question of why, when he was the person who slandered Steve Levitt, he then feels the need to sue him over two claims, one of which is - as even you concede - deeply wrong (everyone has replicated his results! except Ayres and Donohue! and the other seven studies!). All of that, without even starting to talk about Mary Rosh and the various Amazon reviews....

Carl N. Brown
May 25, 2006, 11:07 AM
I went out to the public library and refreshed myself on the
Dewey Decimal 363.33 category; got a laugh out of the absurdity
of Josh Sugarman's Every Gun is Aimed at You: The Case for
Banning Handguns; I know that no one wants to ban handguns
that is a lie by the gun lobby. Har har. Bellesiles rubs shoulders
with Wayne LaPierre.

In reviewing my archives on Don Kates and History News Network:
Tim Lambert has accused Donald B. Kates and Gary Kleck of the
same kinds of "misconduct" of which he accuses John Lott of
being guilty.

For History News Network on or about August 2002, Don Kates wrote
"Do Guns Cause Crime?" as an examination of Joyce Lee Malcolm's
"Do Guns Cause Violence?" (Guns and Violence: The English
Experience (Harvard, 2002))

Tim Lambert responded that Kates "carefully selects the evidence
he presents to prevent his readers from learning about facts that
contradict Mr Kates' thesis" in other words, cherry picking
his favorite accusation aimed at John Lott.

Lambert accused Kates of citing "only quotes from pro-gun
criminologists."

Lambert accused Kates of disservicing the readers by not citing
works by Zimring and Hawkins or Cook and Ludwig: "it is misleading
to pretend, as Kates does, that their work does not even exist."

On another point, Kates had quoted a passage by Kleck; Lambert
responded that "Kates fails to mention that Kleck was forced to
correct his claims in the passage quoted."

In Kates response, we begin to see illumination of the rhetoric
techniques used by Lambert:

Kates quoted a Kleck passage from an NAS presentation. The
correction was to an error in a later Kleck-McElrath article on
the same subject. Both were actually in favor of the point that
Kates made. The fact that Kleck had to correct his K-M statement
was not germane to the issue. Kates claims the corrected statement
was even more supportive of his point.

Since his article did not include anything contradicted by Zimring
or Cook, Kates did not realize he had a need to mention them,
especially since he was constrained by the editors to 3,000 words.
Don is on a first name basis with Frank and Phil, has co-authored
with them, and would hardly snub them intentionally.

One of the "pro-gun criminologists" cited by Kates was Marvin E. Wolfgang!?!?
http://www.thehighroad.org/attachment.php?attachmentid=40415&stc=1&d=1148565452

"I am as strong a gun-control advocate as can be found among the
criminologists in this country. If I were Mustapha Mond of Brave
New World, I would eliminate all guns from the civilian
population and maybe even from the police. I hate guns--ugly,
nasty instruments designed to kill people."
--Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology Fall, 1995, Northwestern
University, School of Law; Guns and Violence Symposium, Page 188.
A Tribute to a View I Have Opposed, by Marvin E. Wolfgang
What made Marvin E. Wolfgang a "pro-gun criminologist" in the eyes
of Lambert? After Wolfgang went over Gary Kleck's data on defensive
gun use, Wolfgang was willing to consider that the benefits of defensive
guns might possibily outweigh the costs of criminal guns. He still
hated guns and supported most forms of gun control, but to the
Witchfinder General of OZ Wolfgang was a heretic.

Kates accused Lambert of "meaningless quibbling."

I concur.

If Lott is guilty of cherry picking, Lambert is guilty of nit-picking.
Anyone who gets their information on Lott from Lambert is getting
a very skewed and one-sided picture.

Carl N. Brown
May 26, 2006, 11:52 AM
Before Tim Lambert's inquisition of Lohn Lott, I actually
considered Lott a Johnny-come-lately and was more willing
to hang my hat on Kleck, Kates, Rossi, Wright, and that
classical pundit Et Alia (op cite). I still am.

But all this has forced me to raise my head out of the moss
and take an overview of the forest.

In the popular imagination, Levitt, Donohue, Lambert threaten
to do for Lott what the mob did for the Frankenstein monster:
generate sympathy. Talk about unintended consequences!

For a published academic like Steven Levitt to claim that
he was using the term "replicate" in the layman's sense
of "confirm" is disappointing. Replicate should mean
something specific in Academia. Esse est esse. Replicate
is replicate.

In the long run, a lot of this is meaningless.
After all, the convoluted econometric regressions in
- The Impact of Legalizing Abortion on Crime Rates, by
John Donohue and Steven Levitt, Quarterly Journal of Economics,
May 2001
- Abortion and Crime: Unwanted Children and Out-of-Wedlock
Births, by John Lott, John Whitley; Yale Law School
Working Paper Series, Year 2001 Paper 254
have not affected my revulsion to the killing of the innocent
out of convenience.

I would no sooner support a ban on guns from an econometric
regression, than I would have told the three girls I knew with
problem pregnancies to get abortions based on an econometric
regression by Levitt and Donohue.

And in my re-view of gun control sources other than Lott and
Lambert, I was reminded of the emotional context of all this:
this is not occurring in a historical or political vacuum.
GUN CONTROL: A REALISTIC ASSESSMENT
By Don B. Kates Jr.

4. RESPECTABLE BIGOTRY.

We are so inured to the vituperative terms in which the gun
debate is carried on that it may be useful to consider the issue in
a wholly different context. Recently a psychiatrist publicized the
terrifying story of her repeated vain attempts to control, or have
incarcerated, a malicious bi-sexual patient who continues to have
promiscuous, unsafe sex with people who don't know that he has the
AIDS virus.{20} Doubtless other examples could be cited of people
who spread AIDS irresponsibly or even deliberately. But enlightened,
liberal people would not jump from the few such examples to
vilifying bi-sexuals or gays or gay rights activists, in general.
Enlightened, liberal people rightly see it as bigotry to blame the
wrong-doing of an irresponsible, aberrant few on a whole group of
innocent, responsible people.

Returning to gun control, studies trying to link gun ownership
to violence rates find either no relationship or a negative, i.e.,
cities and counties with high gun ownership suffer less violence
than demographically comparable areas with lower gun ownership.{21}
Summarizing these and other studies, a recent National Institute of
Justice analysis finds:

It is clear that only a very small fraction of privately
owned firearms are ever involved in crime or [unlawful]
violence, the vast bulk of them being owned and used more
or less exclusively for sport and recreational purposes,
or for self-protection.{22}

Concommitantly, it has been estimated that 98.32% of owners do not
use a gun in an unlawful homicide (over a 50 year adult life
span).{23}

In sum, murderers comprise only a small, highly aberrant (and
malignant and irresponsible) subset of all gun owners. Why, then,
is it enlightened and liberal: to vilify the 50% of American
householders who have guns as barbaric and/or deranged ("Gun
Lunatics Silence [the] Sounds of Civilization"{24}), "gun nuts",
"gun fetishists", "anti-citizens" and "traitors, enemies of their own
patriae"{25}, as sexually warped{26} "bulletbrains"{27} who engage
in "simply beastly behavior"{28} and represent "the worst instincts
in the human character"{29}; or to traduce pro-gun groups as the
"pusher's best friend"{30} and their entire membership as
"psychotics", "hunters who drink beer, don't vote and lie to their
wives about where they were all weekend"{31}; to characterize the
murder of children as "another slaughter co-sponsored by the
National Rifle Association"{32} and assert that "The assassination
of John Lennon has been brought to you by the National Rifle
Association"{33}; and to cartoon gun owners as thugs and/or
vigilantes, intellectually retarded, educationally backward and
morally obtuse, or as Klansmen?{34}

The NIJ Evaluation accurately describes how the anti-gun
advocates sees gun owners: as "demented and blood-thirsty
psychopaths whose concept of fun is to rain death upon innocent
creatures both human and otherwise." It is really quite remarkable
for such calumnies to issue from people who, rightly, regard it as
egregious bigotry when other bigots: seek to blame AIDS deaths on
gays whom they revile as sexually warped, moral degenerates who
engage in simply bestial behavior; or blame gay rights activists
for AIDS because they lobby against ordinances that would close
bath houses; describe abortion rights activists as murderers, "baby
butchers" and abortion clinics as "merchants of death"; dismiss all
homeless people and welfare recipients as slackers, drug addicted,
alcoholic or retarded; or traduce the ACLU as the "best friend" of
criminals and drug pushers.

The fact that anti-gun crusaders are commendably eager to
oppose racism, gay bashing and other evils they recognize as
bigotry does not excuse their inability to recognize their own
bigotry. On the contrary, it compounds that bigotry with myopia, if
not hypocrisy.

5. The Political Cost of Bigotry.

As important as the issue of bigotry is that this incessant
vilification of gun owners precludes reasonable compromise over gun
laws. The gun lobby press faithfully reports the philippics, and
reprints the most vituperative anti-gun cartoons, to inflame its
readers.{35} Why would the gun lobby actually pay royalties to
Herblock, Oliphant etc. for their anti-gun cartoons? Because the
gun lobby's purposes are best served by convincing gun owners they
are a hated minority. There can be no greater incentive for
monetary contributions to the gun lobby and fanatic hatred of gun
law proposals, no matter how apparently reasonable.

Gun owners are convinced (in part, by bitter experience) that
gun laws will be invidiously administered and unfairly enforced;
and, just as important, that gun owners are anathema to persons
and groups like the ACLU to whom other American can look for help
against mistreatment at the hands of the state.{36} So gun owners
hysterically oppose controls substantially similar to ones they
readily accept for cars and prescription medicines. This is only
natural, given the rancor with which controls are advocated and
the purposes avowed by their more extreme advocates. Would driver
licensing and automobile registration have been adopted if they had
been advocated on the basis that having a car is evidence of moral,
intellectual or sexual incapacity -- or that the desired end is to
progressively increase regulation until cars are unavailable to all
but the military and the police? Would not diabetics and others
with chronic illness hysterically oppose the prescription system
if doctors were under constant pressure from church groups and
editorialists denouncing medication as immoral? Do not gay rights
activists vehemently oppose policies (however apparently
reasonable), they see as motivated by enmity to gays and likely
to be administered in that spirit of enmity?

Two clarifications are in order here: 1) I recognize that
cars, guns and medicines are different commodities that may require
very different policy responses. My point is only that no policy,
however rational in the abstract, can succeed if those it regulates
see it as motivated by hatred, contempt and denial that they have
any legitimate interests to be considered. 2) I also recognize that
gun owners respond to anti-gun attacks no less hatefully. But there
is a crucial difference: gun owners are not seeking to make their
enemies own guns. In contrast, what control advocates do by heaping
contempt on gun owners is forever alienate those whose compliance
is indispensable if gun laws are to work. However satisfying it may
be to anti-gun crusaders to portray gun owners as "demented and
blood-thirsty psychopaths whose concept of fun is to rain death
upon innocent creatures both human and otherwise", the result is
catastrophically counter-productive to the cause of gun control.

REFERENCES

20. "A Doctor's Horror: Death on the Loose", reprinted from THE
WASHINGTON POST by the SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE, May 14, 1989.

21. See, e.g. Murray, "Handguns, Gun Control Law and Firearm
Violence", 23 SOCIAL PROBLEMS 81 (1975); Lizotte & Bordua and
Bordua & Lizotte, above; Kleck, "The Relationship between Gun
Ownership Levels and Rates of Violence in the United States" in D.
Kates (ed.) FIREARMS AND VIOLENCE (1984); McDowall, Gun
Availability and Robbery Rates: A Panel Study of Large U.S. Cities,
1974-1978, 8 LAW & POLICY Q. 135 (1986); Bordua, "Firearms
Ownership and Violent Crime: A Comparison of Illinois Counties"
Kleck & Patterson, "The Impact of Gun Control and Gun Ownership
Levels on City Violence Rates", a paper presented to the 1989
Annual Meeting of the American Society of Criminology (available
from the authors at Florida State University School of
Criminology). See also Eskridge, "Zero-Order Inverse Correlations
between Crimes of Violence and Hunting Licenses in the United
States", 71 SOCIOLOGY & SOCIAL RESEARCH 55 (1986).

22. J. Wright & P. Rossi, ARMED AND DANGEROUS: A SURVEY OF FELONS
AND THEIR FIREARMS 4 (N.Y., Aldine: 1986) (hereinafter denominated
NIJ felon survey).

23. As to the aberrance of homicide perpetrators, see the section
of this paper devoted to that issue. The estimate of handgun owner-
murderers is Prof. Gary Kleck's and derives from a comparison of
handgun homicide data to the number of respondents to the 1987 GSS
Survey answering that they personally owned a gun.

These estimates probably grossly over-estimate the number of
legal handgun owners who murder. After all, illegal gun owners
(a group that composes a very substantial proportion of murderers)
are disproportionately unlikely either to be asked to respond to a
GSS Survey or to incriminate themselves by honestly answering that
they own a gun. Prof. Kleck was kind enough to give me this set of
estimates as a personal communication. It will eventually appear
in an as yet untitled book he is preparing for Aldine de Guyter
Press (c. 1991), hereinafter cited as Kleck-Aldine.

24. Braucher, MIAMI HERALD, July 19, 1982; see also his Oct. 29,
1981 column "Handgun Nuts are Just That -- Really Nuts."

25. Wills, "John Lennon's War", CHICAGO SUN TIMES, Dec. 12, 1980,
"Handguns that Kill", WASHINGTON STAR, Jan. 18, 1981 and "Or
Worldwide Gun Control", PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER, May 17, 1981.

26. The psychiatric evidence for and against this aspersion is
discussed infra. Its advocates include Harriet Van Horne (N.Y. POST
magazine, June 21, 1976, p. 2), Dr. Joyce Brothers, Harlan Ellison
("Fear Not Your Enemies", HEAVY METAL, March, 1981), U.S. CATHOLIC
magazine (editorial "Sex Education Belongs in the Gun Store",
August, 1979).

27. Grizzard, "Bulletbrains And the Guns That Don't Kill", ATLANTA
CONSTITUTION Jan. 19, 1981.

28. "Gun Toting: A Fashion Needing Change" in 93 SCIENCE NEWS 613,
614 (1968).

29. WASHINGTON POST editorial, "Guns and the Civilizing Process",
Sept. 26, 2972.

30. Guest editorial by Senator Edward Kennedy, "Pusher's Best
Friend, the NRA", March 22, 1989 NEW YORK TIMES. See also P.
Hamill, NEW YORK POST, "A Meeting of NRA's Harlem Branch", April 4,
1989, LOUISVILLE COURIER-JOURNAL MAGAZINE, Aug. 7, 1988, p. 6 ("The
National Rifle Association, its propagandists and it supporters
work day and night to make sure that every hood in the country can
get his hands on a gun. They couldn't be more guilty if they stood
there slipping pistols to the drug dealers and robbers. If justice
were done, they would be in prison."). In fact (though it has often
obtusely opposed even reasonable controls that affect law abiding
citizens), the NRA has consistently supported, indeed is the
principal architect of, laws comprehensively barring gun ownership
by anyone who has been convicted of a felony. Cf. 82 MICH. L. REV.
209-210 (citing state laws dating from the early 20th Century and
federal laws from the 1930s through the present day).

31. A remark by N.Y. Governor Mario Cuomo who subsequently wrote
the NRA to apologize because it is "unintelligent and unfair" to
"disparage any large group." TIME, May 27, 1985.

32. Editorial cartoon, MILWAUKEE JOURNAL, Jan. 22, 1989, p. 12J.

33. Ironically, the assassin, who was himself a gun control
advocate, was legally licensed in one of the highly restrictive
states that (over the NRA's fervent objection) require licensure
to purchase a handgun. Moreover he obtained his license as a
security guard, a status that would carry legal entitlement to
a handgun under even the most stringent anti-gun proposals.
Jacobs, "Exceptions to a General Prohibition on Handgun
Possession" 49 LAW & CONTEMP. PROB. 5, 6-7 (1986).

34. Morin (Miami Herald) cartoon, ARIZONA REPUBLIC, March 21, 1989
(showing gun store with sign "drug dealers, gangs, welcome"),
Herblock cartoon, WASHINGTON POST, March 21, 1989 ("these guys who
want to spray the streets with bullets"); SAN JOSE MERCURY-NEWS,
March 3, 1989 ("I.Q.-47"), LOS ANGELES HERALD EXAMINER, January 31,
1989 (showing "Crips, Bloods and NRA" as "Three Citizen Groups
Opposed to Outlawing Assault Rifles"), Interlandi cartoon, LOS
ANGELES TIMES, Dec. 16, 1980.

35. Stell, "Guns, Politics and Reason", 9 J.AM.CULTURE 71, 73
(1986). See, e.g. GUN WEEK, February 1, 1980, p. 2 ("Roger Caras
Labels NRA 'Collection of Psychotics'"); also the July 8, 1983 and
August 30, 1985 issues reprinting anti-gun cartoons.

36. See examples given and general discussion in Kates, "The Battle
over Gun Control", 84 THE PUBLIC INTEREST 42 (1986) (hereinafter
cited as "Gun Control", 84 THE PUBLIC INTEREST).

(c) Doanld B. Kates 1990
____________________________
Extracted from GUN CONTROL: A REALISTIC ASSESSMENT
By Don B. Kates Jr.
THE PACIFIC RESEARCH FOUNDATION
177 POST ST.
San Francisco CA 94108
Available in printed form for $10.00 under the title
GUNS, MURDERS AND THE CONSITUTTION.

agricola
May 26, 2006, 12:32 PM
Carl,

So Lambert is correct, he is just being finicky?

Some views:

i) Lambert does not accuse Kleck or Kates of the same kind of misconduct as Lott - as anyone who has read his site knows. Lott is accused of a lot of things, especially being dishonest, wheras Kates and Kleck are accused (with good reason, Kleck was wrong) of being mistaken. One also has to compare the volume of Lott stuff with that of items on Kleck and Kates;

ii) I dont know why you didnt provide the HNN links for that article and the debate which followed -

http://www.historynewsnetwork.org/articles/871.html (article)
http://www.historynewsnetwork.org/readcomment.php?id=1904&bheaders=1#1904 (debate)
http://hnn.us/articles/906.html (Kates response)

What is interesting is that Kates doesnt respond to most of Lambert's points, only the one about "pro-gun criminologists", ignoring the statistical questions and the issues about comparing England with the US.

Instead, he creates a strawman about the efficacy of guns for self defence, and tries to show that he himself might be considered anti-gun.

What is of course relevant to this debate is that, even if you ignore the questionable parts of Kates article, even he rubbishes (though he isnt actually nice enough to come out and say it) Joyce Lee Malcolm and Lott's contention that gun crime / crime in general has risen as a result of the various bans in the UK. I hope you will remind people of this the next time the issue comes around.

iii) again, you try and pretend a strict and exclusive definition for "replicate" where non exists - as the two critique's of Lott's suit show below (it seems even Lott doesnt use "replicate" in such a strict definition):

http://www.elsblog.org/the_empirical_legal_studi/2006/04/lotts_of_replic.html
http://www.elsblog.org/the_empirical_legal_studi/2006/04/lotts_replicati.html

Finally, can you please format your text so it fills the page properly.

Carl N. Brown
May 31, 2006, 12:51 PM
To stick to the thread start:

iii) it is not my "strict and exclusive" definition:
Random House Websters Unabridged Dictionary
replicate
adjective
1. folded; bent back on itself; also, replicated.
verb transitive
2. to bend or fold back: a replicated leaf.
3. to repeat, duplicate, or reproduce, esp. for experimental purposes.
verb intransitive
4. to undergo replication.
noun
5. something that is replicated, as an experiment or procedure.

replication
noun
6. the act or process of replicating, esp. for experimental purposes.
In the physical sciences, "replicate" has a specific meaning:
chemists and physicists confirm one another's experiments by
rerunning the experiments to see if they get the same results
by the methods claimed by the experimenter. Prof. Gary King at
Harvard, among others, have been promoting the same sense of
"replicate" for the social sciences, including economics.

If economics is to be something more than the illegitimate
stepchild of the sciences, yes, replicate should have a strict
and exclusive definition.

Now, whether a lawsuit against the author of a book entitled
"Freakonomics" is the best way to advance the issue, that is
another question, all together. (And the chorus chimes in
unison, that is another question.)

Steven Levitt, Freakonomics:
Then there is the troubling allegation that Lott actually
invented some of the survey data that support his more-guns/
less-crime theory. Regardless of whether the data were faked,
Lott's admittedly intriguing hypothesis doesn't seem
to be true. When other scholars have tried to replicate
his results, they found that right-to-carry laws simply
don't bring down crime.

According to the engineers and chemists I have met through
family members employed at the local chemical plant, to
"replicate" the experiment of another, you use the same data
and methods as published to test the original experiment.

In the context of Levitt and Lott: Levitt offered the
hypothesis that abortion--by reducing the crime prone
demographic of unwanted children born into impovershed
single parent households--redced crime. Lott and Whitley
(L-W) replicated the results reported by Donohue and
Levitt (D-L) using the data that D-L supplied L-W; that
is, L-W used the D-L data, D-L regression and got the
same result. L-W did not claim that the D-L results could
not be replicated. L-W then examined variations of the
method with supplemental data and got different results;
L-W referred to that as replicating using supplemental data.

I think the use of replicate in "Freakonomics" and
in the second sense of L-W is sloppy and both deserve
erratum slips. L-W state they replicated the D-L results
with the original data and method; they then ran variations
with supplemental data and got different results. The same
thing can be done with the Lott-Mustard study: Levitt
implies in "Freakonomics" that L-M cannot be replicated
with the same results when it can.

agricola
June 9, 2006, 07:47 AM
Carl,

i) Economics is not a physical science;

ii) Even Lott doesnt use "replicate" in the narrow definition required for his lawsuit to be successful, so in front of a jury even an incompetent hick lawyer could make him look like an idiot simply by quoting his own words at him;

iii) both HarperCollins and Levitt have filed motions to dismiss.

http://www.elsblog.org/the_empirical_legal_studi/2006/06/lott_v_levitt_m.html

grampster
June 9, 2006, 10:10 AM
CAnnonneer hit the nail on the head.

Carl N. Brown
June 9, 2006, 11:28 AM
Least we forget:


No carry: Perp kills unarmed victim. Statisticians mark one crime-related death.

Carry: Armed victim blows away perp. Statisticians mark one crime-elated death.

Conclusion: Statistics may not change, but practical results do.

Food for thought: RKBA is a "right". It does not need to be justified by statistics to be upheld. People that put equal value on the life of a victim and the life of a perp are dangerous lunatics.

i. Granted that economics is not a physical science, the sloppiness
of "social" sciences like economics is due to inexact use of concepts
like "replicate." To physical scientists, the Reagan era term "voodoo
economics" is redundancy.

ii. As I pointed out, the Lott-Whitley article uses "replicate " "with
supplemental data," which strictly speaking is not replication.
A lawyer should have asked Lott "You intend to sue the author of
a book entitled Freakonomics over strict scientific terminology?"

iii. If they did not file motions to dismiss, they would be remiss.

One, I feel with Prof. King that if the "soft" sciences continue to be
sloppy with concepts like "replicate" they will never have the respect
of the "hard" sciences.

Two, should fundamental rights, say freedom of speech, depend on
the weighting of econometric regressions? NO.

Three, Levitt was wrong to claim that the More Guns, Less Crime
hypothesis could not be replicated with the same results. I cannot
escape the impression that has some connection to Lott's and
Levitt's zinging over the More Abortions, Less Crime hypothesis.

agricola
June 9, 2006, 12:48 PM
Carl,

One, I feel with Prof. King that if the "soft" sciences continue to be
sloppy with concepts like "replicate" they will never have the respect
of the "hard" sciences.

Does anyone care what "hard" science thinks? I know I dont - in my University days, my dissertation was on Roman campaign camps in the North of England and their relationship to the sources (mostly Tacitus), and got to spend a summer walking around that most picturesque of areas. My Physics-studying friend had to describe the motion of a spring. He quit.

Two, should fundamental rights, say freedom of speech, depend on
the weighting of econometric regressions? NO.


I agree - but Lott using statistics exposes his argument to the same kind of scrutiny, and the danger is that while he is supported by pro-gunners he can damage your argument when he falls.

Three, Levitt was wrong to claim that the More Guns, Less Crime
hypothesis could not be replicated with the same results. I cannot
escape the impression that has some connection to Lott's and
Levitt's zinging over the More Abortions, Less Crime hypothesis.

Levitt didnt claim that. Once again:

"When other scholars have tried to replicate [Lott's] results, they found that right-to-carry laws simply don't bring down crime."

Other scholars did try and replicate his results and they did find that RTC laws dont bring down crime. Lott can argue about the meaning of "replicate", but he himself doesnt use it in the strict definition that it requires, so his opposition is fundamentally meaningless. Finally, the argument predates Freakonomics because of Lott's slandering of Levitt when the NAS panel was announced, and possibly earlier.

Carl N. Brown
June 9, 2006, 01:47 PM
Levitt (or Dubner or Levitt edited through Dubner) wrote:
"When other scholars have tried to replicate [Lott's] results, they
found that right-to-carry laws simply don't bring down crime."
That still implies to my reading that (all) scholars, other that Lott,
could not replicate his results.

Scholars other than Lott have not been unanimous on this point.
Some other scholars have confirmed the MoGuLeCr hythothesis.
Some other scholars have, by different weighting or supplemental
data, found small increases.
Even other scholars have found small decreases in some crimes and
increases in other crimes.

Lott has been subjected to unfair criticism in the past--that the
grant from the John Olin Foundation represented Winchester
influence for example--that Lott reacts defensively and criticism
of Lott is often viewed as more of the same.

Writing a dissertation on Roman campaign camps and spending a
summer walking around the original sites in North England sounds
good to me. Beats arguing on the internet over squabbles between
economists--or sitting home eating mush.

agricola
June 9, 2006, 04:44 PM
Carl,

I think you are reading it wrong, given thats not a point Lott's lawsuit or the summary of facts picked up on.

Oh, and if I could traipse around that part of the world all day I would, but I cant, and I am poor until payday so this will have to do.

:neener:

Carl N. Brown
June 12, 2006, 11:54 AM
Re-reading the lawsuit, I think Lott did not raise a minor point
that irritated me the more I thought about it.

Levitt and Dubner, Freakonomics:
Then there is the troubling allegation that Lott actually invented some of the survey data that supports his more-guns/less-crime theory....

James Lindgren's inquiry into the 1997 survey:
I recently contacted Otis Dudley Duncan, who first raised questions about Lott's claim that 98% of defensive gun uses involved the mere brandishing of a weapon. He agrees (as I do) with this statement of Tim Lambert on Lambert's website:
I should comment on the overall significance of this question. Lott's 98% claim takes up just one sentence of his book. Whether or not it's true, it doesn't affect his main argument, which is about alleged benefits of concealed carry laws.
So there is agreement even among those who have raised questions about Lott's work that his 98% claim is not central to his book, More Guns, Less Crime.
Lott has pointed out that he brought up the 98 percent
no-shooting statistic in the context of the issue that the
news media ignore self-defense shootings, because most of
the time in defensive gun use there there is nothing
newsworthy: no blood, no ER, no body in the morgue.

Levitt is wrong on his first point: the allegedly invented survey
data does not support Lott's More Guns, Less Crime hypothesis,
according to critics Duncan and Lambert and investigator Lindgren.

The allegedly invented survey data does support Lott's Media Bias
Against Guns hypothesis. Can anyone argue with a straight face
that the Media are Biased in Favor of Guns? :D

Unlike "Dr. K" who refused to share with the rest of the class,
or "Prof. B" who boxed his wet notes in the attic and could not
be bothered to bring them down and dry them out (or which notes
were thrown away by third parties while B was in England that
summer of 2000, or which B threw away when he came back from
England that fall, whatever story from B you care to believe),
Lott has shared his data with friend and foe alike:
From: "Ian Ayres" <ian.ayres@yale.edu>
Date: Tue, 26 Feb 2002 14:39:08 -0500
To: "John R. Lott, Jr." <JLott@aei.org>
. . . . . .
You have been incredibly generous with us and others already
(and Levitt and I have not responded in kind) . . . .
. . . . . .
It has been Lott's willingness to share data with all comers that
has put Lott in this predicament, where a question over one
survey clouds rest of his work.

agricola
June 12, 2006, 12:58 PM
Carl,

I wonder why Lott didnt raise that point? After all, as I mentioned above, one would think it (saying that he made up his study) would be far more defamatory than saying someone couldnt replicate his findings.

That said, I think you are deluding yourself when you just pass on its significance with no comment on whether or not its true. IMHO its fairly clear that - in all probability - the "98% study" did not actually take place, and he did make it up (see previous posts on this thread).

Finally, it was dealt with as part of More Guns Less Crime because that is the book in which he first made the claim. I think any criticism you can make of Levitt on that basis is pretty much worthless for that reason.

Carl N. Brown
June 12, 2006, 01:15 PM
The "troubling allegation" about the survey was cited by Levitt
as an allegation.
The not replicate was cited as a matter of fact.

Carl N. Brown
June 14, 2006, 10:50 AM
In further research on "Lott" AND "Levitt" AND "lawsuit"
I found postings by Ted Frank at OverLawyered.
Separately, Tim Lambert recaps my previous post (Lott v Levitt III).
See if you can spot the subtle differences.
Well, let's see. Lambert summarizes a passage of Frank's
discussion with Ben Zycher of Lott's strict definition of
"replicate" in paragraph 12 of his lawsuit against Levitt:
Ben Zycher:
"In the context of refereed economics journals, 'replicate'
has one meaning only: The use of an author's data and model
to ensure that falsification of findings is not an issue."
Lambert's recap of Frank:
So Frank looked in economics journals and found lots of
examples contradicting Zycher's claim.
Frank's full text that Lambert recapped above:
Edward Kane, "Why Journal Editors Should Encourage the Replication
of Applied Econometric Research," 23:1 Q.J. Econ.:
"Replication includes but is not limited to slavish duplication
of a predecessor study's specific procedures."
The Foote and Goetz paper criticizing Levitt/Donohue's
abortion-crime thesis:
"The first column replicates the odd-numbered columns of
Table VII (DL 2001), using an updated data set from Donohue's
internet site."
In other words, same analysis, different data.

Justin McCrary, in a paper trying to replicate a 1997 AER paper
by Levitt:
The weighting procedure used in producing [Columns (2) and (3)]
is incorrect, and gave crime categories with higher variance
more weight. Column (3) instruments police growth rates with
election year indicators and the covariates described above.
Weights for column (3) are based on the 2SLS standard deviations
in column (1). Columns (4) and (5) replicate Levitt's estimates
using correct weights.
In other words, same data, different analysis (albeit the analysis
apparently originally intended but not performed).
Lambert then quotes Frank verbatim:
Frank quoted by Lambert:
And, perhaps most importantly, Steven Levitt himself. If Levitt uses
"replicate" consistently in [Lott's] sense, perhaps he can't hide
behind the ambiguity argument. But in Donohue & Levitt's "The Impact
of Race on Policing, Arrest Patterns, and Crime," we see:
We perform this calculation using parallel estimates to Table 5,
but based only on the set of 45 states for which we have arrest
data. When we replicate Table 5, but with only these 45 states,
the coefficients are 10-15 percent larger.
Another "subtle difference":
Ted Frank NOT quoted by Lambert:
Same analysis, different data. (Or should we interpret the "but"
to mean that this isn't a real replication?) In Donohue and Levitt's
Reply to Foote and Goetz, we see the following discussion:
The data set we provide to researchers who want to replicate
our findings reflects the improvements we made to our approach
after the original paper was published, e.g. it includes
abortion measures both by state of occurrence and state of
residence, and also extends the years covered beyond the original
sample. We find it puzzling that Foote and Goetz chose to use
the longer data series (which slightly reduces the point
estimates) when "replicating" our original Table 7, but did
not elect to use or even discuss the better abortion measure
(which substantially increases the estimates), in spite of
citing Donohue and Levitt (2004) which argues strongly for
the improved measure.
Again, discussing the use of the same analysis and different data
to replicate--unless the scare quotes indicate otherwise. Is there
a clearer example? I haven't found it yet. The other two uses of
"replicate" in the response to Foote & Goetz are within [Lott's]
definition; in Donohue & Levitt's Reply to Joyce, the four
instances of "replicate" are consistent with Lott's definition.

Let me repeat some of the "subtle differences" between Frank's posting
and Lambert's reportage: according to Ted Frank,
- Unresolved: should we intrepret D&L's "but" as not real replication?
- Unresolved: should we intrepret D&L's quoted "replicating" as not
real replicating?
- D&L in responding to Foote & Goetz did use "replicate" twice
within the semse of Lott's definition; and,
- D&L in replying to Joyce did use "replicate" four times consistent
with Lott's definition.
These are eight instances in Donohue and Levitt that tend to indicate
that Lott's definition of replicate is not outside the mainstream of
economics.

____________________________________
I presume Q.J. Econ. is Quarterly Journal of Economics;
AER is American Economic Review.

Carl N. Brown
June 14, 2006, 03:37 PM
I recently contacted the managing editor of an economics
journal that I did computerised typesetting for from 1974
to 2003 for a working definition of "replicate."
I have usually heard "replicate" in economics to mean either you use the
author's model and data and get the same results OR you use the model
with different data and verify the result - the same thing is happening
with different data.
In the first case, replication checks the accuracy of the model and data
to verify the result; in the second case, replication checks the accuracy
of the model to verify the model.

agricola
June 14, 2006, 03:58 PM
Carl,

Yes, Tim Lambert was so determined to hide what Ted Frank had said he linked to Overlawyered twice in the context of his post so people could check it for themselves:

http://scienceblogs.com/deltoid/2006/04/ted_frank_on_lott_vs_levitt.php

Besides, on ELS (as linked previously) its quite clear that, while Lott's definition of replicate is valid, it is by no means an exclusive definition of it:

http://www.elsblog.org/the_empirical_legal_studi/2006/04/lotts_replicati.html

Indeed, even your typesetter friend states that Lott is wrong in his exclusive definiton of what "replicate" means. From the complaint:

12. The term "replicate" has an objective and factual meaning in the world of academic research and scholarship. When Levitt and Dubner allege that "other scholars have tried to replicate his results," the clear and unambiguous meaning is that "other scholars" have analyzed the identical data that Lott analyzed and analyzed it in the way Lott did in order to determine whether they can reach the same result. When Levitt and Dubner allege that when "other scholars have tried to replicate his results, they found that right-to-carry laws simply don’t bring down crime,” they are alleging that Lott falsified his results. . . . (emphasis mine)

http://www.overlawyered.com/lott_complaint.pdf/Lott%20v%20Levitt.pdf

Surely even you must realise he is wrong now?

Carl N. Brown
June 14, 2006, 06:19 PM
Gee, Ted Frank asked: "See if you can spot the subtle differences."
And all I did was list the subtle differences. I ascribed no motive to
Lambert and he very well may have not copied the whole post due
to lack of space for all I know. His recap does have subtle differences.

I was the "typesetter friend" for the journal for 29.5 years; it was
the Managing Editor who gave me the usual meaning of
replication in economics. My previous post is clear on that point.

The quote from Civil Action O6C 2007 paragraph 12: "the clear
and unambiguous meaning is that "other scholars" have analyzed
the identical data that Lott analyzed and analyzed it in the way
Lott did in order to determine whether they can reach the same
result" breaks down likr this: "the clear and unambiguous meaning "
refers to the meaning of the Levitt-Dubner statement that ""other
scholars have tried to replicate."

The clear and unambuguous meaning of "when other scholars have
tried to replicate his results, they found that right-to-carry laws simply
don’t bring down crime," is that when the other scholars used the
author's model and data, they did not get the same results, under
the usual meaning of replication. But other scholars have used Lott's
data and model to replicate his results successfully, different
other scholars, several times.
Therefore, Levitt and Dubner are wrong.

agricola
June 14, 2006, 08:15 PM
Carl,

I think we have reached the point where you are being deliberately obtuse.

"the clear and unambiguous meaning is that "other scholars" have analyzed the identical data that Lott analyzed and analyzed it in the way
Lott did in order to determine whether they can reach the same
result"

This is Lott and his legal team attempting to define what the sentence means. It is not Levitt and Dubner. For Lott to be correct about how the sentence defames him he has to show that "replicate" has the narrow and exclusive meaning that "clear and unambiguous" suggests, and that Levitt and Dubner were wrong to say that other people hadnt been able to replicate it.

Firstly, it has been demonstrated by numerous sources on this thread, including you and Lott himself, that "replicate" does not hold such a narrow and exclusive meaning, even in economics.

Of course, Levitt and Dubner werent using "replicate" in that narrow and exclusive term, which is why (which was also contained in the link) they cited Ayres and Donohue as a source. Also note that Levitt and Dubner did not give any exclusivity (which is implied in your last post) to the statement, as if no-one had been able to replicate Lott's research - such a statement comes from Lott's suit:

In fact, every time that an economist or other researcher has replicated Lott's research, he or she has confirmed Lott's conclusion.

That is patently false, as the last four pages have demonstrated.

The fact that you persist with this, even when you yourself have shown that the main plank of Lott's lawsuit is a crock, is a shame.

Carl N. Brown
June 15, 2006, 01:21 PM
I try to be neither obtuse nor acute, but to be right.
That's my angle.

Levitt and Dubner wrote:
Then there is the troubling allegation that Lott actually
invented some of the survey data that support his more-guns/
less-crime theory. Regardless of whether the data were faked,
Lott's admittedly intriguing hypothesis doesn't seem to be true.
When other scholars have tried to replicate his results, they
found that right-to-carry laws simply don't bring down crime.

The allegedly invented 1997 survey about the 98% brandishment stat
supports the li]Media Bias Against Guns[/i] theory. It does not
support the More Guns/Less Crime theory. It is not a premise
on which the MoGuLeCr theory rests. Falsus in that uno does not
render the MoGuLeCr omnibus falsus.

The Lott-Mustard dataset that supports the More Guns/Less Crime
hypothesis has been distributed to over a hundred scholars none
of whom say that data was faked, as a plain reading of Levitt-Dubner
implies to me as a lay reader.

When other scholars use Lott's model and data, they get the same
results; that is the usual meaning of "replicate" to test results
in economics. Other scholars can and have replicated Lott's results
with his data and his model.

I believe that when Lott set up his cost-benefit regression on
guns, ran the data through it and found that the benefits
exceeded the costs, he was genuinely surprised, since this goes
against the common wisdom of academia, which is overwelmingly
biased in the anti-gun direction. (In the 1995 symposium attended
by Kleck and Wolfgang among others, Wolfgang was surprised by
Kleck's showing that there were social benefits from guns as
well as social costs. Marvin E. Wolfgang, "Tribute to a View
I Have Opposed," The Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology,
Fall 1995, pp. 188-192.)

I also believe that the problems that Lott has had are the
result of his defiance of the conventional wisdom of academia
and his refusal to yield in the face of criticism. Otis Dudley
Duncan wrote "There is no excuse for continuing the practice
of labeling critics or defenders of Lott's work with offensive
epithets and imputing motives to them." Duncan called for an
end to the ad hominem attacks. I feel the ad hominem attacks
started with the critics. 14 Mar 2006 I posted "Blatant liar
is a little harsh" in response to an assessment of Lott;
15 Mar 2006 TimLambert rejoined "Blatant liar is accurate."
I at first was willing to ignore Lott over 1) widely quoting
a stat without the survey to back it up, and 2) using the
MaRyRoSh pseudonym in on-line defenses. The more Lambert has
forced me to re-examine Lott, the more I am convinced that
Lambert is riding a hobby horse grinding an ax. The overblown
hyperbole of dismissing Lott as a "blatant liar" and
"Bellesiles of the Right" has actually forced me to defend
the guy. Chrisomitie, I see his eyebrows like River Tam saw
Shepherd Book's dishevelled hair: EEEEEK!

John R. Lott, Jr., v
Steven D. Levit and Harper Collins Publishers, Inc.
Received APR 10 2006 Civil Action No. O6C 2007

Extract on Count One:

9. Levitt amd Dubner devote approximately one page of their book to Lott and his reseach. At pages 133-134, they allege as follows:
Then there is the troubling allegation that Lott actually invented some of the survey data that supports his more-guns/less-crime theory. Regardless of whether the data were faked, Lott's admittedly intriguinghypothesis doesn't seem to be true. When other scholars have tried to replicate his results, they have found that roght-to-carry laws simply don't bring down crime.
10. Levitt and Dubner cite two scholarly articles in footnotes at the back of their book which purportedly support the above quoted statement. At page 221, the authors state as follows:
133-34 Lott's gun theory disproved: See Ian Ayres and John J. Donnohue III, "Shooting Down the 'More Guns' Less Crime Hypothesis,' Stanford Law Review 55 (2003), pp. 1193-1312; and Mack Duggan, "More Guns, More Crime." Journal of Political Economy 109. no. 5 (2001), pp. 1085-1114.
In fact, neither of the two articles relied on by Levitt and Dubner states or concludes that they have been unable to "replicate Lott's results."

11. The allegation that when "other scholars have tried to replicate his results, they found that right-to-carry laws simply don't bring down crime" is false and defamatory. On information and belief, there are no published articles in which an economist or other researcher has attempted to replicate Lott's results and concluded that "right-to-carry laws simply don't bring down crime." In fact, every time that an economist or other researcher has replicated Lott's research, he or she has confirmed Lott's conclusion. While other scholars have used different data or methods to analyze the relationship between gun control laws and crime, and in some cases have reached a conclusion that has lead them to disagree with Lott's conclusion, no scholar who has replicated Lott's statistical analysis has concluded that the data and methods on which he relied don't support his conclusion.

12. The term "replicate" has an objective and factual meaning in the world of academic research and scholarship. When Levitt and Dubner allege that "other scholars have tried to replicate his results," the clear and unambiguous meaning is that "other scholars" have analyzed the identical data that Lott analyzed and analyzed it in the way Lott did in order to determine whether they can reach the same result. [/b]When Levitt and Dubner allege that when "other scholars have tried to replicate his results, they found that right-to-carry laws simply don't bring down crime," they are alleging that Lott falsified his results.

13. The allegation that "other scholars" are unable to "replicate [Lott's] results" is not an expression of opinion. Whether or not a scholar can replicate another scholar's results is a fact which is either true or false.

14. The allegation that "other scholars" have been unable to "replicate [Lott's] results" is defamatory per se because it attacks Lott's integrity and honesty in his profession as an economist, scholar and researcher. The aforesaid allegaion is defamatory per se because it damages Lott's reputation in the eyes of the academic community in which he works, and in the minds of the hundreds of thousands of academics, college students, graduate students, and members of the general public who read "Freakonomics."

15. Levitt's allegation that "other scholars" have been unable to "replicate" Lott's conclusion was made with actual malice and with the knowledege that it is false or with reckless disregard for whether it is false. ....(Lott cites evidence of Levitt's familiarity with research on all sides of the gun control issue).... Levitt's statement that "other scholars" have been unable to "replicate [Lott's] results" was made with the knowledge that it is false or with reckless disregard for whether it is false.

Dang, reading this stuff reminds me of the Farscape episode
about the planet Litigara where the main economic activity was litigation.

agricola
June 15, 2006, 04:09 PM
I guess when a poster ignores the evidence in favour of a theory, even when his own evidence wholly disproves the same theory, the debate is pretty much over.

Carl:

i) The 98% claim is in the book "More Guns Less Crime". It is not in the book "The Bias Against Guns". It is that blatant fact that should show you why you are wrong. The fact that Lott appears to have made it up does not detract in itself from his theory, but the fact that he did it means that his work needs to be regarded with extra scrutiny - which is what you criticize Lambert and others for;

ii) Even you provided evidence that replicate does not mean what Lott claims it exclusively means. That, in addition to the whole reams of evidence you, and I, have posted showing that replicate doesnt mean what Lott claims it exclusively means, should show you (just as it should show anyone able to read) that Lott is wrong.

Carl N. Brown
June 20, 2006, 12:09 PM
I have criticised Lott for publishing the 98% stat knowing he
could not produce the dataset. I have stated in other threads
that I avoid citing Lott because it ends up discussing not the
gun issue but the 98% question and MaRyRoSh. Of course, this
thread is about Lott and the Freakonomics lawsuit, so
it is hard to avoid mentioning Lott.

Lott is not above criticism or scrutiny, but neither are his critics.
Gun control and right-to-carry have a lot of people on both
sides in ossified positions. I think we need to bear in mind
what I call Otis Dudley Duncan's last request:
Otis Dudley Duncan:
There is no excuse for continuing the practice of labeling
critics or defenders of Lott's work with offensive epithets
and imputing motives to them. This kind of rhetoric simply
obscures or distorts the plain evidence of the public record.
Maybe it would help if all parties would imagine themselves
in a court, serving as witnesses or attorneys. They would
quickly be called down for any ad hominem remarks.
--April 2003

Lott does not claim an "exclusive" meaning for "replicate"--
He claimed: "The term "replicate" has an objective and factual
meaning in the world of academic research and scholarship."
An objective and factual meaning for replicate is to run an
author's data through the author's model to verify that the
author's results are not miscalculated or even falsified.

In Par.11 of the complaint, Lott writes: "While other scholars
have used different data or methods to analyze the relationship
between gun control laws and crime, and in some cases have
reached a conclusion that has lead them to disagree with Lott's
conclusion, no scholar who has replicated Lott's statistical
analysis has concluded that the data and methods on which he
relied don't support his conclusion."

One theme of Freakonomics and the lawsuit is other
scholars' failure to replicate Lott's study. Jim Lindgren
mentions a couple of definitions for "failure to replicate"
that bear repeating:
One might mean that:
1. Using different data drawn from a different era or a
different population, a replicator found that the patterns
in the data between the new study and the earlier one are
meaningfully different.
OR
2. Supposedly using the exact same data, a replicator was
unable to get the same coefficients in the same models.

Jim Lindgren, June 13, 2006
. . . . . .
First, on the narrow view of replication, it may be factually
incorrect if Carl Moody has indeed replicated Lott's analysis
using the exact same data and published the results. Accordingly,
it may be somewhat misleading to say that Lott's results have not
been replicated when they have been in the narrow sense, but not
usually in the broader sense (even in the broader sense, the
results may be a bit more mixed than Freakonomics implies).

Second, and more troubling to me, Freakonomics juxtaposes
concerns about whether Lott ever did his 1997 study with the
nonreplicability of Lott's main studies presenting his main
thesis: "More Guns, [lead to] Less Crime." These are completely
different studies, linked mostly by the person who reported them.
If I didn't know this fact, I might conclude from reading the
passage in Freakonomics that the reason that Lott's research
asserting that more guns leads to less crime supposedly hadn't
been replicated (in either sense of the word) is that he may not
have done it in the first place. That strikes me as misleading,
since the work that people have tried to replicate was most
assuredly done (and Lott has shared the data from his main
study).

It would seem to me that this passage in Freakonomics should be
revised to separate more clearly the two points being made and to
explain the sense in which Lott's work has and has not been
replicated.

Even though I find Freakonomics misleading in its juxtaposition
of problems with two very different Lott gun studies, Lott
obviously has an uphill quest in persuading a court that the book
is defamatory. . . . .

Bottom line: I think that Freakonomics is misleading in its
juxtaposition of different studies, a juxtaposition that might
bring one to conclude that the reason that the main More Guns,
Less Crime research was not usually replicated in other studies
is that there was some chance that a study was never done. Yet,
to the extent that Lott's lawsuit is based on a failure to
replicate being per se defamatory, I would think he has a
difficult chance of winning.

(Full Lindgren posting at: http://volokh.com/posts/1150219697.shtml)


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

For different data and methods, compare graphs on trends in
rape before and after right-to-carry (RTC). (Rape is a crime one
might expect to be deterred by the prospect of an armed victim.
Since the figure for Black and Nagin full sample shows five years
before and five years after, I have cut all four graphs off at
five years before and five years after.) Here are John Lott's
results on effect of RTC on Rape using two different data sets:
http://www.thehighroad.org/attachment.php?attachmentid=41334&stc=1&d=1150815296
This figure shows the Black and Nagan 'full sample' using different
variables from Lott, and the Ayres and Donohue state-level data,
showing percent of change in rape rates 5 years before and 5 yeers
after RTC:
http://www.thehighroad.org/attachment.php?attachmentid=41333&stc=1&d=1150815296
Dan Black and Daniel Nagin used different variables and compared
the average rate two or three years before RTC to the average two
or three years after and published that there was "no evidence of
an impact on rape" contrary to Lott. I do note that while A-D
consider the state-level data more reliable than the county-level
data, they do NOT consider the county-level UCR data used by
Lott-Mustard to be faked or invented as a casual reading of
Levitt-Dubner in Freakonomics implies. I believe that I
am correct in saying that, although Lott, Mustard, Nagin, Black,
Ayres and Donohue use different data and models for different
conclusiona, they do not accuse each other of "faking" or
"inventing" or falsifying anything.

Carl N. Brown
July 10, 2006, 06:42 PM
Stephen Levitt in "Freakonomics" implies that Lott's data
is faked and invented, and his results cannot be replicated.
Chicago Tribune reporter Linnet Myers in 1999
Three professors interviewed at separate universities
said Lott's data and computations were mathematically
correct. But because each professor's analysis differed,
one didn't find significant drops in crime while another
found more dramatic decreases than Lott did.
The third said Lott's results have been "confirmed
in the sense that they've been replicated."
The first meaning for replicate in published research is
to run an author's data through the author's mathematical
model to see if the computed results match the published
results.

If the results cannot be replicated, that implies that the
published results were done with older data or with a model
that has been updated, or some such problem. Or, in the
worst case, that the results were falsified.

Levitt claims to be using a less strict meaning of replicate.
The Ayres-Donohue article, the Lott-Plassman-Whitley response
and the A-D reply were cited previously in this thread to
illustrate this less rigorous definition of replicate.

However, A-D wrote:
"Table 9, line 1 presents our replication of Lott's 2SLS
estimates for the 1977-1992 time period. . . . we were
gratified to see that we had basically succeeded in
replicating Lott's 2SLS results. . . . Line 2 of Table 9
presents the results of the identical 2SLS regressions of
line 1, except excluding the logs of crime rates as
instruments."

Unlike Levitt, Ayres-Donohue do not claim that Lott faked or
invented the Lott-Mustard county-kevel data set or the
More Guns, Less Crime mathematical model. They actually
pride themselves on replicating the original results with
the original data and model. A-D got different results either
by using different data sets (state level data sets vs county
level) or by using different variables in their regression.

As Ted Frank found, Steven Levitt used "replicate" in the
same strict sense as Lott at least six times, and Levitt used
replicate with different data as 'replicate but' or as
"replicating" in quotes, the but and quotes implying that
was not strict replication.

Carl N. Brown
July 14, 2006, 11:45 AM
John Donohue is Steven Levitt's frequent co-author and
shares his POV on John Lott and Defensive Gun Use (DGU).

Fordham Law Review, November, 2004
Symposium:
The Second Amendment and the Future of Gun Regulation:
Historical, Legal, Policy, and Cultural Perspectives
Panel III: Public Policy Perspectives
GUNS, CRIME, AND THE IMPACT OF STATE RIGHT-TO-CARRY LAWS
by John J. Donohue
(Cite as: 73 Fordham L. Rev. 623)

These views are largely polarized between those who believe
that guns are primarily used to protect law-abiding citizens and
those who believe that guns mainly serve to exacerbate lethal
violence--both intentional and accidental--and encourage more
frequent suicides.

I ask anyone on The High Road forum to list why you own guns and
what you use them for: there are more uses for guns than allowed
for by the philosophers of Academe.

And the legislation they propose is more likely to regulate and
restrict the law-abiding than to affect those who break the law.
I believe that crime causes guns: means is not motive , in either
homicide or suicide.

Those who have followed the troubling tales of alleged misconduct
in academic research by gun researchers Michael Bellesiles (from
the left) [FN2] and John Lott (from the right) [FN3] may draw the
conclusion that in America the topic of guns is so ideologically
charged that no researcher can be believed.

[FN2]. Michael A. Bellesiles, Arming America: The Origins of a
National Gun Culture (2000); see also infra note 5.
[FN3]. See infra note 6 and accompanying text.

Proven misconduct by Michael Bellesiles includes:
1. Sources cited in text that say the opposite of Bellesiles' claims
1.a. e.g., MB cited a 1630 census of 100 guns in a colony of 1,000 men.
1.b. Document was 1628 order for 100 guuns for 100 new colonists.
2. Claims about Colonial probate law supported by no other probate scholars.
3. His analysis of San Francisco probate data lost in the 1906 earthquake
4. Multiple stories about the 2 Apr 2000 Bowden Hall Flood and pulped notes
4.a. MB went to England; flood; 3rd parties threw away notes; MB returned
4.b. Flood; MB went England Mid-May; MB came back; discarded notes himself
4.c. Flood; MB took wet notes home and stored in attic in boxes.
5. Fabrication of Colonial laws on gun ownership and storage
6. Representing arms status of one militia unit as status of whole company

For hundreds more lies by Bellesiles, see: Fall from Grace: Arming America
and the Bellesiles Scandal, by James Lindgren, Professor of Law, Yale Law
Journal, Vol. 111: p.2195-2249, April 26, 2002 4/26/02 12:34 PM.

Alleged misconduct by John R. Lott, Jr, consists of
1. Citing the 98% statistic after allegedly losing the survey data.
2. Allegedly not conducting the survey since there is little evidence.
3. Lott and his family using am email pseudonym MaRyRoSh to defend him.

For elaboration of these allegations see: Donohues' source Tim Lambert at:
http://www.cse.unsw.edu.au/~lambert/guns/lott98update.html
For an interesting intellectual exercise, capture Lambert's recaps of
sources on Lott, follow the link and capture the original source, then
do a text compare between the recap amd the original.

Back to Donohue on Lott:
John Lott, who has championed the view that more guns
lead to less crime, was also accused--by one of Bellesiles' major
accusers, Northwestern Law Professor James Lindgren, as well as
by the eminent sociologist Otis Dudley Duncan--of manufacturing
data to support his claim that 98% of the time, merely
brandishing the gun was enough to terminate a violent attack. [FN6]
The point was important because critics of the "more guns, less
crime hypothesis" noted that if defensive gun use were as
prevalent as Lott has claimed--he accepts claims that there are
roughly 2.5 million defensive gun uses per year--one would expect
that there would be far more dead criminals lying around than the
relatively meager number (less than 170 per year) that the federal
government identifies in the Uniform Crime Reports. [FN7] Cook and
Ludwig find that a more reasonable estimate is "that there are
about 100,000 instances per year in which someone uses a gun to
defend against an assault or break-in." [FN8]

[FN6]. The details of the charges against Lott raised by Lindgren
and Duncan are recounted in exhaustive detail in a web page by
the highly talented Australian professor Tim Lambert. Tim
Lambert, John Lott's Unethical Conduct, at
http://www.cse.unsw.edu.au/~lambert/guns/lott98update.html (last
modified Sept. 20, 2004). Lambert also notes that Lott has
repeatedly generated estimates based on data sets flawed by
coding errors and refused to acknowledge these problems when the
errors were brought to his attention. Id.
[FN7]. FBI, Crime in the United States 2002: Uniform Crime
Reports 28. Justifiable homicide by private citizens using all
types of firearms averaged almost 170 during that period. Id.
[FN8]. Philip J. Cook and Jens Ludwig, Principles for Effective
Gun Policy, 73 Fordham L. Rev. 589 (2004).

The claim "....Lott ... was also accused--by ... Lindgren, as
well as ... Otis Dudley Duncan ... of manufacturing data" is
not precise. The timeline sequence is:
1999 May - Otis Dudley Duncan questions the accuracy of
Lott's 98% brandishment only DGU statistic: "The '98 percent'
is either a figment of Lott's imagination or an artifact of
careless computation or proofreading.".
1999 May 21 - Lott calls Duncan and tells him that the 98%
figure came from a 1997 phone survey by Lott.
2000 Sep/Oct - in the Criminologist John Lott claims that he
lost the Spring 1997 survey data in a Summer 1997 harddrive crash.
2002 Sep 15 - Tim Lambert claims on FirearmsRegProf that Lott
fabricated the study. Tim Lambert is a lecturer on Computer Graphics
at U of New South Wales, Australia, who has pursued statistics on
gun control as a hobby since at least 1993.
Shortly therafter, James Lindgren, law professor, offers to
investigate the charges against Lott on FirearmsRegProf.
Lott calls Lindgren and accepts his offer to investigate the issue.
Lindgren did not make the accusation: he investigated it after
Duncan first questioned the statistic, then Lambert claimed Lott
fabricated the survey.

Not only did Donohue get that wrong, but he exaggerates the
importance of the 98% statistic to the More Guns/Less Crime
hypothesis. To quote James Lindgren:
Comments on Questions About John R. Lott's Claims
Regarding a 1997 Survey, Personal Note, January 17, 2003:

I recently contacted Otis Dudley Duncan, who first raised
questions about Lott's claim that 98% of defensive gun uses
involved the mere brandishing of a weapon. He agrees (as I
do) with this statement of Tim Lambert on Lambert's website:
"I should comment on the overall significance of this
question. Lott's 98% claim takes up just one sentence of his book.
Whether or not it's true, it doesn't affect his main argument,
which is about alleged benefits of concealed carry laws."
So there agreement even among those who have raised questions
about Lott's work that his 98% claim is not central to his book,
More Guns, Less Crime. Both Duncan and Lambert, however, emphasize
their belief that whether the study was done does go to John Lott's
credibility.
Donohue then claims that Lott's 2.5 million DGU per year figure is
too high and other scholars find only 100,000 DGU per year. Lott
is not alone in claiming far more than 100,000 DGU per year in USA:
Gary Kleck published a figure of 1 million DGU in 1988; in a later
study in 1995, Kleck published a figure of 2.5 million DGU. When
Prof. Philip J. Cook reviewed Kleck's figures for the Clinton DoJ,
Cook said the DGU figure could be as high as 4.7 million.

The DGU figure published by Lott from his 'lost' 1997 phone survey
was 2.1 million, not 2.5 million. Less than Kleck, less than Cook.
While the 100,000 DGU from Philip J. Cook and Jens Ludwig (DGU in
assaults and break-ins) may be more pleasing to Donohue's prejudices,
it is lower than total DGU estimates from scholars other than Lott.

The FBI Uniform Crime Reports UCR2001 gives these figures for "the
killing of a felon, during the commission of a felony, by a private
citizen" by year: number--
1997: 238, 1998: 170, 1999: 158, 2000: 138, 2001: 176.
Donohue claims "less than 170 per year" but the average for these
five years is OVER 170 per year, ranging from 138 to 238 per year.

The UCR itself points out that the uniform crime report data
reflects police reports, and does not reflect adjudication by
district attorney, grand jury, judge, trial jury or appeals court.
In many jurisdictions, self-defense is not adjudicated by the
officer making the initial police report. The actual number of
"voluntary manslaughters" eventually adjudicated as self-defense
or justifiable homicide is probably more than 170 per year.
The UCR definition of "the killing of a felon, during the
commission of a felony, by a private citizen" is a narrow
definition for justifiable homicide to begin with. The state
law definitions may vary by jurisdiction, but justifiable
homicide law covers more than just the UCR circumstance.

Gary Kleck has often published DGU studies showing 8,000 to
16,000 woundings, more than ten times that many misses or warning
shots, with the remainder of DGUs being "brandishment only" or
"chase offs." It is actually very easy to take the UCR ~175
justifiable homicides, extrapolate woundings, misses and warning
shots, then divide into Kleck's 2.5 million DGU or Cook's
possibly high 4.7 million DGU and get 95 to 99 percent
non-shooting DGU. As Gary Kleck has established to most
fair-minded observors, 99.99% of DGU do not involve killings.
Gun control advocates minimize self defense first by counting
only killings, then by counting only killings where the
"victim-offender" had a verified felony connviction record.

Then this passage in Donohue's article left me speechless:*
A. Gun Brandishing Saves Lives--Or Does It?

In 2001, two boys aged sixteen and seventeen killed two popular
Dartmouth College professors in Hanover, New Hampshire. [FN16]
Since their assault was with hunting knives, guns cannot be
blamed for the murders. Indeed, there is reason to credit guns
with saving two lives in the period prior to the Dartmouth
killings, since the two boys had previously planned on killing
the inhabitants of a cabin in Vermont. But when the boys knocked
late one night, the Vermont cabin owner refused to open the door
to them and showed them a handgun through a window. No gun was
fired, but the mere brandishing of a handgun certainly may have
discouraged the two aspiring criminals from trying to force their
way into the house (they had already cut the phone lines to the
cabin). [FN17] It is not unreasonable to think that gun ownership
by the Vermont cabin owner did save him and his son, which at
first sounds like this was a case of crime deterrence. [FN18]

But the ostensibly beneficial use of guns in this case might not
show up in any reduction in crime because the defensive gun use
may have saved two specific lives, without reducing the total
number of killings. In other words, this may be a case not of
crime reduction, but rather a case of crime transfer, since the
gain of the two in Vermont was the loss of the two in New
Hampshire. Thus, a successful defensive use of a gun through
brandishing--as opposed to the killing of an offender--may not
reduce the total crime count if the offender just moves on to
the next target.

[FN16]. Lawrence J. Scholer, Zantop Murderers Sentenced: Tulloch
Gets Life, The Dartmouth Review, April 9, 2002, available at
http:// dartreview.com/archives/2002/04/09/
zantop_murderers_sentenced_tulloch_gets_ life.php.
[FN17]. See id.
[FN18]. Id. All we know is that the cabin owner would have been
viciously attacked if he had opened the door to his cabin and
that things worked out well for the cabin owner when he showed a
gun and refused to open the door. It is also possible that things
might have ended happily if he didn't have a gun and had just
refused to open the door. Still, without the brandishing, they
might have (we will never know for sure) tried to knock his door
in, which would certainly have been a criminal violation
regardless of the outcome, and the gun was almost certainly a
comfort for the cabin owner who had to spend the night in the
cabin with his phone lines cut. Id.
If the home invaders had used guns, Donohue would blame the guns
for the murders of the NH profs; apparently, he blames not only
the knives used by the home invaders, he indirectly blames the
gun used by the VT cabin owner to scare off the home invaders
when they pounded on his door earlier.
I blame the home invaders for the murders.
Means is not only not motive, means is not an actor.

Apparently Donohue believes that if the Vermont cabin owner and
his son had been killed, the two home invaders would not have
broken in and killed the two New Hampshire professors "since
the gain of the two in Vermont was the loss of the two in New
Hampshire." Get real. If the two Vermonters had been killed,
there is no reason to believe that the two predators would not
have gone on to kill others, if not the two professors. The
successful killing of the Vermonters could just as easily have
lead to more than two more, by emboldening these home invaders
to go on a killing spree. The fact that they killed the two
NH professors is probable cause to surmise that they would have
killed the VT father and son if they had not been scared off by
handgun brandishment. The equation could just as equally have
been two lost in VT AND two lost in NH, not two gained in VT
for 2 lost in NH.

_______________________________________
* Yes, me speechless is an inconceivable concept.

Malum Prohibitum
July 14, 2006, 12:46 PM
I love your rundown on the Michael Bellesiles issue at the top of page 4. :) To make it complete, however, you need to add one fact.

None of the above facts stopped the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals from citing to Michael Bellesiles as a source in the Silveira v. Lockyer case. They cited him in finding no Second Amendment right exists for individuals long after he had been exposed as a fraud.

No excuse for that!

And it says a lot about the court out there . . .:rolleyes:

Carl N. Brown
July 20, 2006, 03:45 PM
Carl N. Brown

I love your rundown on the Michael Bellesiles issue at the top
of page 4. To make it complete, however, you need to add one fact.

None of the above facts stopped the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals
from citing to Michael Bellesiles as a source in the Silveira v.
Lockyer case. They cited him in finding no Second Amendment right
exists for individuals long after he had been exposed as a fraud.

No excuse for that!

And it says a lot about the court out there . . .

The court's opinion in Silveira v Lockyear was
filed 5 Dec 2002.

The law offices of Donald Kilner filed a Notice of Fraud in
the Case of Silveira v Lockyear 30 Dec 2002:

In his Silveira v. Lockyer, F.3d , 2002 U.S. App.
LEXIS 24612 (2002) opinion, Judge Reinhardt cites the academic
works of Michael A. Bellesiles in Footnotes 1 and 37.
Plaintiff/Appellants respectfully submit that the academic
integrity of the authors of law review articles cited in
appellate decisions are at least as important as the cite
checking of cases and statutes.

The integrity of the academic work by Michael Bellesiles
must be seriously questioned in light of the actions taken
by the Columbia University Board of Trustees. The recission
of the Bancroft Award was in part based upon a report
issued by a panel of scholars from other universities.
The panel was established at the request of Emory University.
(Mr. Bellesiles also recently resigned from his tenured
teaching post at Emory.) That report found "evidence of
falsification" and "serious failures of and carelessness
in the gathering and presentation of archival records and
the use of quantitative analysis."

The court's opinion was amended 27 Dec 2003.
ORDER
The majority opinion filed Dec. 5, 2002, is hereby amended
as follows:

1. At Slip Op. at 7, footnote 1, replace
"See Michael A. Bel-lesiles, Gun Control: A Historical Overview,
28 CRIME & JUST. 137, 174-76 (2001) (discussing the enactment
of the National Firearms Act of 1934, ch. 757, 48 Stat. 1236
5801-72)), as a reaction to the use of machine guns by mobsters
and the depiction of such violence in films such as Scar-face)."
with
"See EARL R. KRUSCHKE, GUN CONTROL: A REFERENCE HANDBOOK 84, 170
(1995) (discussing the enactment of the National Firearms Act of
1934, ch. 757, 48 Stat. 1236 (1934) (current version codified
as 26 5801-72), as a reaction to the use of machine guns by
mobsters and "organized crime elements")."

2. At Slip Op. at 44, footnote 37, delete
"(quoted in Michael A. Bellesiles, The Second Amendment in
Action, 76 CHI.-KENT L. REV. 61, 65 (2000))"

Malum Prohibitum
July 20, 2006, 04:21 PM
And so it is!

I had printed the opinion off as soon as it came out, and I did not know of the revision.

It makes me feel a little better.

I would have felt a lot better if they had reversed themselves!

They struck out mention of the fraud upon whom they relied, but left the opinion unchanged.


Thanks for the info.

They still have the John Adams quote with ellipses to change the meaning, though :rolleyes:

Carl N. Brown
July 31, 2006, 07:16 PM
a summary of the legal issues
Levitt's motion to dismiss
Lott's counter
Lebitt's reply to Lott's counter

PDF files require Acrobat Reader

Filing Date Filesie Filename·
2006 June 2 73,341 joint_initial_status_report_june_2_2006.pdf·
2006 June 2 49,668 motion_to_dismiss_levitt.pdf·
2006 July 10 334,331 Opposition_to_Dismissal.pdf·
2006 July 24 132,178 motions_to_dimiss_defendants_reply.pdf·

Carl N. Brown
August 24, 2006, 05:14 PM
TAILORING THE LAW SUIT

2006 Jan 11 - Lott wrote Levitt requesting a correction on Levitt's
claim that other scholars have been unable to replicate Lott's results.

2006 May 17 - Lott's lawyer wrote Levitt and his publisher requesting
a correction and a retraction.

2006 Apr 10 - Civil Action 06C 2007 (defamation) filed by John Lott
against Steven Levitt and his publisher over comments about Lott's
work in the book Freakonomics, and over Levitt's e-mail to John McCall.

2006 Jun 2 - Joint Initial Status Report

2006 Jun 2 - Defendant Levitt's Motion to Dismiss Filed.
Defense: Levitt's comments on Lott were not presented as a matter of
fact but as a statement of opinion.

2006 Jul 10 - Plaintiff Lott's Opposition to Defendant Levitt's Motion
Rebuttal: no they were not, they were presented as matters of fact.

2006 Jul 24 - Reply Memorandum in Support of Motions to Dismiss
Defense: nobody would take the word of Steven Levitt as a matter of
fact, so there cannot be any defamation.


ISSUE ONE: REPLICATE

Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner, Freakonomics
(Harper Collins, 2005) Excerpt:
Then there was the troubling allegation that Lott actually invented
some of the survey data that supports his more-guns/less-crime theory.
Regardless of whether or not the data was faked, Lott's admittedly
intriguing hypothesis doesn't seem to be true. When other scholars
have tried to replicate his results, they found that right-to-carry
laws simply don't bring down crime.


ISSUE TWO: THE J LAW ECON SYMPOSIUM ISSUE

e-mail John McCall to Levitt May 2005
"I went to the website you recommended--have not gone after the round
table proceedings yet--I also found the following citations--have not
read any of them yet, but it appears they all replicate Lott's research.
The Journal of Law and Economics is not chopped liver...."

e-mail Steven Levitt to McCall
"It was not a peer refereed edition of the Journal. For $15,000 he was
able to buy an issue and put in only work that supported him. My best
friend was the editor and was outraged the press let Lott do this...."


2, 4, 6, 8 WHAT THE HECK IS REPLICATE?

Replication is part of the peer-review or referee process used by
academic journals. Replicate means to run an author's data through
the author's math to verify that the published results were not
miscalculated or falsified. A very common problem in economics is
an author getting preliminary results, writing an article, extending
his data set or tweaking his equation in what the author thinks
are minor ways, and not double-checking the results before
publication. (Then there is out-and-out fraud: in Michael Bellesiles'
Arming America, there is a table of probate records for 1850s
San Francisco County; when researchers went to the sources Bellesiles
claimed he used, they found that the records had burned in the
fire following the 1906 San Fancisco earthquake. In other tables,
where records could be found, researchers found ten times the number
of guns that Bellesiles claimed he found.)

Levitt's motion to dismiss 24 Jul 2006:
The Book's audience consists of mainstream, everyday readers.
To these readers, one reasonable meaning of the Excerpt is that
other scholars disagree with or criticize Plaintiff's ideas.

Two scholars who disagree with and criticize Lott's results, Ian
Ayres and John Donohue, in one of their critiques wrote: "....we were
gratified to see that we had basically succeeded in replicating Lott's
2SLS results...." When they criticize and disagree, they say "criticize"
and "disagree," they do not say "try (and fail) to replicate."

If Levitt's "reasonable meaning" was the meaning intended, why not
write "disagree with" or "criticise" rather than "try to replicate"?
If that was the intended meaning, why not comply with Lott's 11 Jan 06
request for an erratum?

Please--any mainstream, everyday readers--read the excerpt[.b] and then
ask yourself if you agree with Levitt's (or more likely Levitt's
lawyer's) "reasonable meaning." To me, the Plain Jane reading of the
excerpt is that Lott invented and faked his data, and when other
scholars checked Lott's More Guns/Less Crime hypothesis, the results
could not be replicated.

Levitt-Dubner cite as a source Ayres-Donohue "Shooting Down the More
Guns Less Crime Hypothesis" yet when A-D discuss Table 9:
. . . line 1 presents our replication of Lott's 2SLS estimates for
the 1977-1992 time period. According to this method, shall-issue law
adoption reduces violent crimes by 61%, murders by 43%, rapes by 20%,
robberies by 51%, and aggravated assaults by 64%. While these numbers
should seem implausibly large, we were gratified to see that we had
basically succeeded in replicating Lott's 2SLS results....

Ayres-Donohue tried and succeeded in replicating Lott's results
even though they criticised those results and disagreed with them,
using different data and different math ("weighting of variables") to
demonstrate their points. It is clear from the Ayres-Donohue quote
that replicating results and disagreeing with or criticising those
results are two seperate issues.

[b]Reporter Linnet Myers responds to Lott:
"Various researchers have praised John Lott's thorough research,
although some disagree with his results, which indicate that
crime drops when laws allow citizens to carry concealed guns.
Whether his findings have been "confirmed" may depend on exactly
what that means. Three professors interviewed at separate
universities said Lott's data and computations were mathematically
correct. But because each professor's analysis differed,
one didn't find significant drops in crime
while another found more dramatic decreases than Lott did.
The third said Lott's results have been "confirmed in the
sense that they've been replicated.""
Chicago Tribune - June 20, 1999 Sunday
(emphasis added by cnb)
The statements by those three scholars reported by Myers refute the
Levitt-Dubner claim that "When other scholars have tried to replicate
his results, they found that right-to-carry laws simply don't bring
down crime." This is from a newspaper reporter in 1999: there is no
excuse for a scholar in 2005 to be unaware of other scholars
replicating Lott's results.


SO THE J LAW ECON IS UP FOR SALE

Levitt told McCall the J Law Econ symposium articles were
not evidence that other scholars had replicated Lott's results
because the edition was not peer-refereed and Lott had bought the
issue and put in only work from supporters. The articles were
peer-reviewed and it is common for sponsors of symposia special
issues or festschriften to defray the expenses of printing and
distribution. Lott did solicit work from his critics--including
Levitt--for the symposium.

2006 Jul 24 - Reply Memorandum in Support of Motions to Dismiss
"The E-Mail is susceptible to the reasonable non-defamatory per se
construction that Plaintiff merely provided funding for the publication
of articles which supported his position and that one individual
disagreed with that decision."

Levitt did not tell McCall that he or his friend disagreed with the
finding of the articles: Levitt told McCall those articles were not
proof that other scholars had replicated Lott's work.
2005 May - e-mail Steven Levitt to McCall
"For $15,000 he was able to buy an issue and put in only work that
supported him. My best friend was the editor and was outraged the
press let Lott do this...."



YOU GOTTA LOVE LAWYERESE

According to Levitt's lawyer, when Steven Levitt told the public that
scholars cannot replicate Lott's results and when Levitt told McCall
the articles in the The Journal of Law & Economics symposium are
not evidence that Lott's results have been replicated because Lott had
bought that issue of the J Law Econ, that is not defamatory
because --drum roll please-- the public, and McCall, should have known
that Levitt's declarations were not meant to carry the weight of fact,
but were meant to be lightweight opinions. Please, read the 24 Jul 06
Reply Memorandum in Support of Motions to Dismiss. It's hilarious.

Malum Prohibitum
August 24, 2006, 06:45 PM
So, I take it "truth" has not even been asserted as a defense?

Father Knows Best
August 24, 2006, 07:12 PM
So, I take it "truth" has not even been asserted as a defense?

While I haven't read the pleadings, I am confident that truth has been asserted. It's a defense based on facts, however, which means it can't be established until trial. More to the point, Mr. Lott has to plead and prove falsity at trial.

What is going on now is typical pre-discovery motion practice. Levitt is trying to get the case thrown out quickly without having to incur the expense, hassle and delay of discovery and a trial. Since statement of "opinion" cannot be false, and are protected by the First Amendment, they also cannot form the basis for a claim of defamation. Whether a statement is an assertion of fact or is merely an expression of opinion is a legal question, meaning the Judge gets to decide. Therefore, defendants in defamation actions will always bring an early motion to dismiss the action on the grounds that the identified statements are merely opinion. If the Judge agrees, the case is thrown out. If the Judge disagrees, and holds that they are statements of fact that could be proven or disproven, then the motion is denied and the case goes forward with discovery and, ultimately, trial on the merits. Thus, the defendant has nothing to lose by bringing the motion to dismiss, and stands to save a whole lot of trouble and money if the motion is granted.

Carl N. Brown
February 1, 2007, 05:18 PM
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE NORTERN DISTRICT OF ILINOIS (sic)
EASTERN DIVISION

John R. Lott, Jr. Plaintiff
v
Steven D. Levitt and,
HarperCollins Publishers Inc, Defendants,

No. 06 C 2007

Judge Rueben Castillo


. . . . .

CONCLUSION

The Seventh Circuit has stated that "judges are not well equipped to
resolve academic controversies, . . . , and scholars have their own
remedies for unfair criticisms of their work--the publication of a
rebuttal." Dilworthy v. Dudley, 75 F.3d 307, 310 (7th Cir. 1996).
The statements about Lott in Freakonomics reflected just such
an academic controversy, and nothing more. In his email to McCall,
however, Levitt made string of defamatory assertions about Lott's
involvement in the publication of the Special Issue of the Journal
that--no matter how rash or short-sighted Levitt was when he made
them--cannot be reasonably interpreted as innocent or mere opinion.

After studying the parties' briefs and the book, Freakonomics, and
viewing all facts alleged in the complaint and all inferences reasonably
drawn from those facts in the light most favorable to Lott, the Court
finds that Lott does not state a claim upon which relief can be granted
in Count I of his Complaint. Accordingly, Harper Collins' and Levitt's
motion to dismiss Count I of Lott's Complaint is granted. (R. 15.)
Since Harper Collins is only mentioned in Count I, it is hereby dismissed
with prejudice. Levitt's motion to dismiss Count II of the Complaint is
denied. (R. 16.)

This lawsuit is hereby set for a status hearing on January 24, 2007 at
9:45 a.m. The parties are requested to fully exhaust all settlement
discussions in light of this opinion.

Entered: Judge Reuben Castillo
Dated: January 11, 2007

On the issue of replication or non-replication:

"... a reading of the entire chapter of Freakanomics supports
an innocent interpretation of the the disputed sentence. The chapter,
entitled "Where Have All the Criminals Gone?", reviews multiple
theories as to why crime decreased in the 1990's and discredits every
theory except Levitt's own theory, that the legalization of abortion
in Roe v Wade in 1973 prevented the birth of would-be criminals
of the 1990s. See generally, Freakonomics, Ch. 4, "Where Have
All the Criminals Gone?", pp. 115-144. In this context, the allegedly
defamatory sentence could be innocently read as disagreeing with the
results of Lott's research--that more guns decreases crime--in the
same way that Levitt disagreed with the results of multiple other
theorists on the topic of why crime decreased in the 1990s. Levitt
disagrees with a host of theories and theorists including: the theories
of criminologists James Alan Fox, James Q. Wilson, and George Kelling;
the theories that crime dropped because of tougher gun-control laws
(the opposite view of Lott's); the bursting of the cocaine bubble;
innovative policing strategies; the increased number of police;
increased punishment; the aging of the population; and improvement
in the economy. [i]Id.[/] In fact, while Levitt sets forth his own
theory of what actually caused the crime rate to decrease in the 1990s,
he does not claim to definitely know the answer. Rather, the chapter
demonstrates that scholars and academics have widely debated the
controversial issue of whether gun control laws reduce crime. ...


Levitt claims in Freakonomics: "When other scholars have
tried to replicate his results, they found that right-to-carry laws
simply don't bring down crime."

Chicago Tribune reporter Linnet Myers:
"Three professors interviewed at separate universities
said Lott's data and computations were mathematically
correct. But because each professor's analysis differed,
one didn't find significant drops in crime while another
found more dramatic decreases than Lott did.
The third said Lott's results have been "confirmed
in the sense that they've been replicated." "
--Chicago Tribune June 20, 1999 Sunday

Ian Ayres and John Donohue:
"Table 9, line 1 presents our replication of Lott's 2SLS
estimates for the 1977-1992 time period. . . . we were
gratified to see that we had basically succeeded in
replicating Lott's 2SLS results. . . . Line 2 of Table 9
presents the results of the identical 2SLS regressions of
line 1, except excluding the logs of crime rates as
instruments." Stanford Law Review, Vol 55 Iss 4 2003.
"Shooting Down the "More Guns, Less Crime" Hypothesis,"
p. 1193

I do know that John Lott has served as peer-referee for thirty or
more economics journals and I do know that in economics, replication
in the referee process means verification of published results from
the data and math used by the author: failure to replicate means the
data and math do not add (or multiply or log) right, indicating
incompetency or fraud. Ted Frank with very little effort was able to
find six instances where Levitt had used "replicate" in the review
sense that Lott claims is the usual sense of the word in economics.
For crying out loud, Lott's critics claim to have replicated his
results: Ian Ayres and John Donohue in "Shooting Down the More Guns
Less Crime Hypothesis" and the NAS in their review of firearms
policy, before going on to test his theory, by adding data or giving
different weight to variables.

The fact is that in 1986 the US murder rate was 8.6 per 100,000 per
year. In twenty years, about twenty states went "shall issue"
right-to-carry. The murder rate for 2005 was 5.9 per 100,000 per year.
Murder went down nearly 30%. Lott attributes 5% of the decrease to
R-T-C, the rest to the other variables of the Lott-Mustard regression.
The Lott-Mustard regression includes weights for per capita income,
police per 100,000 population, arrest rates, population demographics
(age, race, etc). It is not--as some have implied--just weighted for
right-to-carry laws. Like the U of Wisconsin study of the late 1970s,
mentioned in Donald B. Kates' Restricting Handguns (North River 1979),
the Lott-Mustard regression tried to weigh every known factor
believed to influence the crime rate. (The U of WI study used state
data; the Lott-Mustard study used 300 megabytes of county data.) Like
the U of WI study, Lott-Mustard found that there was no benefit
attributable to any anti-gun laws. Except, Lott-Mustard found benefits
from right-to-carry, which has been a recent development. Both CDC and
NAS could not find measurable benefits from any gun control law.
NAS found that the Ayres-Donohue hybrid Lott model showed that R-T-C
caused a temporary spike in numbers of crimes but accelerated the rate
of decline thereafter. NAS did not consider that very strong or robust.

But after all is said and done, "judges are not well equipped to
resolve academic controversies, . . . , and scholars have their own
remedies for unfair criticisms of their work--the publication of a
rebuttal." Dilworthy v. Dudley, 75 F.3d 307, 310 (7th Cir. 1996).

glen avon
February 1, 2007, 09:21 PM
"I'm with Mr. Bowman. That's some real bad forum shopping."

yeah.

it happens to be a notoriously conservative circuit.

Malone LaVeigh
February 2, 2007, 03:37 AM
Leftist extremists invariably refer to academics who disagree with them as "discredited."
Some people will invariably use the phrase "leftist extremists" to refer to anyone who disagrees with them.

agricola
February 2, 2007, 06:04 AM
I must admit, I am surprised that the whole caboodle wasnt thrown out along with the "replicate" issue. Its sad though that the likes of Carl throw up yet more irrelevance and disproved statements (not only in that decision, but also earlier on this thread where even Lott showed that "replicate" did not have the exclusive meaning he claimed it did).

Carl N. Brown
February 2, 2007, 06:14 PM
Since I posted the others, here is the 11Jan07 judges opinion.

agricola
February 3, 2007, 07:34 AM
"The litany of partial dictionary definitions of "replicate" cherry-picked by Lott do not change this analysis."

:D

Carl N. Brown
February 6, 2007, 05:31 PM
NAS: Firearms and Violence: A Critical Review (2004)
from Chapter Six: Right-To-Carry Laws
The statistical analysis of the effects of these laws was initiated by
John Lott and David Mustard (1997) and expanded by Lott (2000) and Bronars
and Lott (1998) (hereinafter simply referreed to as Lott). Lott concludes
that the adoption of right-to-carry laws substantially reduces the
prevalenace of violent crime. Many other researchers have carried out
their own statistical analyses using Lott's data, modified versions of
Lott's data, or expanded data sets that cover the more recent time period
not included in the original analysis.[2]

[2]Two other general responses to Lott's analysis deserve brief mention.
First, some critics have attempted to discredit Lott's findings on grounds
of the source of some of his funding (the Olin Foundation), the methods by
which some of his results were disseminated (e.g., some critics have
claimed erroneously that Lott and Mustard, 1997, was published in a student-
edited journal that was not peer reviewed), and positions that he has taken
on other public policy issues related to crime control. Much of this
criticism is summarized and responded to in Chapter 7 of Lott (2000). The
committee's view is that these criticisms are not helpful in evaluating
Lott's data, methods, or conclusions: Lott provides his data and computer
programs to all who request them, so it is possible to evaluate his
methods and results directly. In the committee's view, Lott's funding
sources, methods of disseminating his results, and opinions on other
issues do not provide further information about the quality of his
research on right-to-carry laws.

A second group of critics have argued that Lott's results lack credibility
because they are inconsistent with various strongly held a priori
beliefs or expectations. For example, Zimring and Hawkins (1997:59) argue
that "large reductions in violence [due to right-to-carry laws] are quite
unlikely because they would be out of porportion to the small scale of the
change in carrying firearms that the legislation produced." The committee
agrees that it is important for statistical evidence to be consistent with
established facts, but there are no such [established] facts about whether
right-to-carry laws can have effects of the magnitudes that Lott claims.
The belief or expectations of Lott's second group of critics are, at best,
hypotheses whose truth or falsehood can only be examined empirically.
Moreover, Lott (2000) has argued that there are ways to reconcile his
results with the beliefs and expectations of the critics. This does not
necessarily imply that Lott is correct and his critics are wrong. The
correctness of Lott's arguments is also an empirical question about which
there is little evidence. Rather, it shows that little can be decided
through argumentation over a priori beliefs and expectations.

Even researchers with strong prior committments to supporting
gun control and opposing R-T-C, when they test the Lott-Mustard
regression with different data or different weighting of variables,
simply do not find great pernicious effects from the passage of
R-T-C laws. And contrary to Levitt, the allegedly invented survey
is not part of the Lott-Mustard regression. Contrary to Levitt, the
Lott-Mustard regression is not based on survey data at all.
The Lott-Mustard regression is based on using county-level UCR
crime stats, 3085 counties for 1977-1992, to test the effect
not only of R-T-C but a whole slew of factors.

(model and table numbers reflect NAS numberinng in Chapter 6)
http://www.thehighroad.org/attachment.php?attachmentid=52718&stc=1&d=1170796709
The database and the program supporting the Lott-Mustard formula are
freaking huge, about 300 megabytes. Scholars who have run the data
and regression have confirmed Lott's published figures. Scholars who
have tested by giving different weight to different variables are in
four camps: some find greater benefits from R-T-C, some find the same
benefits Lott did, some find no benefit and some find slightly more
costs than benefits.
Here is the NAS committee's replication of Lott's results:
http://www.thehighroad.org/attachment.php?attachmentid=52719&stc=1&d=1170796709
The line LOTT is Lott's published results using the dataset before
his summer 1997 harddrive crash. The line NAS(1) is NAS replication
using the reconstructed dataset and the line NAS(2) is the NAS
replication with an extended dataset. The NAS went on to show how
one can get different results than Lott's.

Lott's critics Ayres and Donohue combined Lott's 6.1 and 6.2 regression
to a "hybrid" model, which, according to NAS, produced this:
http://www.thehighroad.org/attachment.php?attachmentid=52716&stc=1&d=1170796709
The NAS had no confidence in the "robustness" of either Lott or his
critics' results. Speaking of both Lott and his critics, the NAS said
it is impossible to draw strong conclusions from the existing literature
on the causal impact of these laws. NAS opted for the "out" of calling
for more research, preferrably a survey of convicts to see if criminal
behavior is changed by R-T-C, similar to the DOJ survey reported by
Wright and Rossi in Armed and Dangerous (Aldine, 1985), but with
questions designed to test effect of R-T-C on criminal decision-making..

I look through chapter six for examples of the "miscoding"
charge leveled against Lott by his critics. Lott includes in his
regression nearly all of 3,000 US counties and to avoid divide-by-zero
errors codes 0 crimes or 0 arrests as 0.1 (I know Sullivan Co TN
(1999 pop 149,000) had no murders in 1999 and probably other years
as well.) Lott's critics call this "missing" data. Lott critics Nagin
and Black exclude 85% of the counties from their regression (WV was
represented in Nagin and Black by Kanawha Co alone which includes
the city of Charleston (WV was the only state in their test to show
a "statistically significant" increase in murder. If in a regression
to test if various laws affect the crime rate, you exclude counties
with no reported crimes or count only urban centers, to me that is
worse than coding 0 as 0.1.)

Also Lott-Mustard counted AL and CT as being R-T-C in 1977 but
Vernick and Hepburn (2003) coded CT and AL as not having R-T-C.
(In my late step-dad's books I found a 1979 CT application for CCW
license, and I do know that today CT issues more carry permits
than TX; so could you apply for and recieve a CCW in CT in 1977?
Would any CT readers with knowledge about CT CCW ca 1977 care
to respond?)

The coding of the date of adoption of R-T-C is another thorny issue.
Some discretionary permit systems are near prohibitory (NY Sullivan
Act 1911) while some discretionary permit systems were and are laxer
than current TX and TN "shall-issue" right-to-carry. In some counties
of VA under the descretionary law, the judge would approve permit
applications with a rubber stamp, while in other counties the judge
would not approve any. A state like VA going from discretionary to
shall-issue may actually be going to a system with more uniform
standards of control. Lott-Mustard code ND and SD as R-T-C in 1977
but Vernick and Hepburn code ND and SD as adopting R-T-C in 1985.
Would any SD-ND readers with knowledge about SD-ND CCW ca 1977 care
to respond?) Some of Lott's critics rely on Handgun Control Inc.'s
evaluation of gun laws which are notoriously skewed.

Lott's regression does not include some folks' favorite pet causes.
The economic control is per capita income: he does not include
rate of poverty or rate of unemployment. Some consider those
economic factors included in per capita income; others think they
should be evaluated seperately. Many disagree on what weight these
and other variables should have. Lott does not include measures of
the crack epidemic "bubble" (Donohue's pet) or the rate of abortion
(Levitt's pet). Others complain that the data set at 300MB is too
huge and and the regression is unwieldy to work with.

Chapter Six sounds like the usual academic bickering about my kung
fu dojo is superior to yours (always amusing to spectators) and does
not evidence the charges of fraud, fabrication and blatant lying
leveled by Lambert against Lott.

Lott was not a priori[/b] pro-gun: he became pro-gun a posteriori
based on his own studies. He was not "bought" by Winchester. He was not
"bought" by the NRA.

The same thing was true of James Wright (James D. Wright, Peter Rossi and
Kathleen Daly, Under the Gun (Aldine, 1983)). Wright was selected
by the Carter Administration to study guns, crime and violence in 1977.
Part of Wright's credentials was that he was involved in demographic
research at the U of MA at Amherst and had published an article on
the demographics of gun control in the Nov 1975 issue of the Nation.
The study for the DoJ was released by the government in 1981, and
expanded into the book Under the Gun. (Wright's Nov 1975 Nation
article became Chapter 6 "Characteristics of Private Weapons Owners"
of Under the Gun.)

(We at Kingsport Press worked on typesetting that book in 1982: I still
have a set of VideoComp proofs of their chapter one: Weapons, Crime
and Violence: an Overview of Themes and Findings dated 5 Jan 83 07:34;
I state this because I have been accused before of "mis-citing" Under
the Gun as 1982 which is when I worked on the book. I also worked on
Robert G. Sherrill's Saturday Night Special book in the mid-70s.
I state this because I am tired of being accused of being "duped" by
John Lott when I have being doing my own, independent research on
gun control off-and-on [i]since 1959. Robert Sherrill remarked in
his book that he was surprised in researching for his book to find
that he had written a vast number of the articles listed on gun control:
I laughed when I read that because in the sixties and seventies I yearly
went to the Readers Guide to Periodical Literature, subject Firearms
Legislation, and it was not news to me.)

Starting as anti-gun liberals, Wright, Rossi and Daly concluded:
"We conclude that the probable benefits of stricter gun controls
. . . in terms of crime reduction are at best uncertain and at worst
close to nil and that most such measures would impose rather high
social costs."

Chapter 7 "On Crime and Private Weapons" Wright et al. looks at
private weapons as 1) a cause, 2) an effect and 3) as a deterrent
to crime. "The existing research on all three hypotheses is highly
inconclusive. ... {1)} there is little or no conclusive, or even
suggestive, evidence to show that gun ownership among the population
as a whole is, per se, an important cause of criminal violence."
Wright et al. found that {2)} few guns were bought based solely on
fear of crime and on {3)} "... the risk to a home robber or to a
burglar striking an occupied residence of being shot and wounded or
killed by the intended victim is on the same order of magnitude as
the risk ... of being apprehended, convicted, and imprisoned . ...
It is thus plausable that much crime is deterred because those who
would otherwise commit it fear the possibility of being shot. ..."

Lott's major conclusions in More Guns, Less Crime (that most
gun control measures do not work against criminals and self-defense
deterrs crimes) were presaged by Wright et al. In fact, they were
presaged by Donald B. Kate's Restricting Handguns: the Liberal
Skeptics Speak Out (1979). Wright and Rossi questioned their own
a priori assumptions on gun control and they, too, were
attacked by those who will not objectively analyse their own a priori
assumptions because hating guns and NRA and feeling superior to gun
owners is so essential to their concept of who they are.

On: the troubling allegedly invented statistic

Even though Lott's questioned 1997 survey is not part of the
Lott-Mustard regression model, I would like to say this about the
98-2% question:

Approximately 1,000 to 3,000 USA voluntary manslaughters are adjudicated
as justifiable homicide by prosecutor, grand jury, judge, trial jury,
appellate court. Handguns are usually used in justifiable homicides
and the handgun kill-to-wound ratio is about 1 to 4, giving about 4,000
to 12,000 justifiable woundings. Police reports on shooting incidents
show about 4 shots fired for every shot that hits. That projects to
20,000 to 60,000 shots fired for every killing and wounding. If Gary
Kleck's NSDS 2.5 million DGUs or Philip Cook and Jens Ludwig's NSPOF
4.7 million DGUs are accurate, then 20,000 to 68,000 shooting DGUs
represent less than 3% of all DGUs.

I am aware that the Kleck-Gertz survey, from self-reporting by the
NSDS positive DGU respondents, shows 23.9% shooting (600,000 shooting
DGU per year, 213,000 wounding DGU per year). I am also aware that
in evaluating the positive respondents of the NSPOF survey,
Cook-Ludwig wrote that the number of positive respondents could give
you an estimate of the number of DGU among the general population,
but the subset of DGU respondents is too small to give a statistically
reliable projection about details of over-all DGU.

Carl N. Brown
August 22, 2007, 06:52 PM
As settlement of part two of the Lott v Levitt lawsuit, Levitt
sent this letter to John McCall. Recall that Levitt told McCall
that the Conference Issue was NOT peer-refereed (even though
Levitt was one of the referees); Levitt acted like Lott had done
something improper by paying the conference issue espenses;
and Levitt told McCall that Lott put in only articles that supported
him, even though Lott invited Levitt to submit an article.

July 26, 2007

John B. McCall, Ph.D.
576 Rocky Branch
Coppell, Texas 75019

Dear Mr. McCall:

You may recall that I sent you emails on May 25 and 26, 2005,
which made certain statements about the Conference Issue of the
Journal of Law and Economics ("JLE") which was dated October 2001
(the "Conference Issue"). I now want to clarify and correct some
of the statements I made in, and impressions I may have created
by, those emails.

In those emails, I did not mean to suggest that Dr. John R,
Lott, Jr, or anyone acting on his behalf, engaged in bribery or
exercised improper influence in the editorial process with
respect to the preparation and publication of the Conference
Issue. I acknowledge that the articles that were published in the
Conference issue were reviewed by referees engaged by the editors
of the JLE. In fact, I was one of the peer referees. As far as I
know, all papers published in the JLE are refereed.

At the time of my May 2005 emails to you, I knew that scholars
with varying opinions had been invited to participate in the 1999
conference and had been informed that their papers would be
considered for publication in what became the Conference Issue.
Along with other people, I received an email from Dr. Lott
inviting my own participation in that conference. I also was
aware at the time of the May 2005 emails to you that in
connection with the preparation of conference issues for the JLE,
that the organizer of each conference issue needs to provide
funding to JLE to cover publication and mailing expenses. I did
not mean to sugggest that Dr. Lott did anything unlawful or
improper in arranging for the payment of the publication expenses
for the Conference Issue. I have discussed the wording of this
letter with my counsel and am willingly signing it.

I hope the foregoing clarifies and corrects my statements
contained in the emails which I sent only to you.

Very truly yours,
(signed)
Steven D. Levitt.


But the fat lady aint sung. Lott's new lawyer wants to revive the
first part, on the issue of replication, dismissed by the Chicago lawyer.

In more than one of my postings on the seperate Lott 98% issue,
I have claimed that exact statistics and sociology do not belong in
the same sentence and cited The Numerical Reliability of Econometric
Software by B. D. McCullough and H. D. Vinod from Journal
of Economic Literature, Vol. XXXVII (June 1999), pp. 633-655.

The replication issue is related to the Lott-Mustard econometric
regression, as applied to 1977-1992 county-level Uniform Crime Report
data. The Lott-Mustard 1997 journal article and John Lott's
book More Guns Less Crime (1998) claim to show measurable crime
reduction attributable to passage of Right-To-Carry (RTC) laws.

In re-reading McCullough and Vinod 1999 recently, I found this
passage especially striking:

Even in rare instances when a software package is
identified in an article, and the package is later discovered
to be defective in a way which affects the article's results,
updating the results with a reliable software package is
problematic. The reason is that virtually no journals require
authors to archive either their data or their code, and this
constitutes an almost insurmountable barrier to replication
in the economic science. Scientific content is not dependent
merely on writing up a summary of results. Just as important
is showing the precise method by which the results were
obtained and making this method available for public scrutiny.

To our knowledge, only the journal Macroeconomic Dynamics (MD)
requires both data and code, while the Journal of Applied
Econometrics (JAE) requires data and encourages code, and the
Journal of Business and Economic Statistics (JBES) and
The Economic Journal require data; all four journals have
archives which can be accessed via the worldwide web. In the
context of replicability and the advancement of science,
the advantage of requiring code in addition to data is obvious.
While it may be trivial to use the archived code to replicate
the results in a published article, only if the code is available
for inspection will other researchers have the opportunity to
find errors in the code. Just as commercial software needs to be
checked, so does the code which underlies published results.

(this was five years before the publication of Freakonomics
and six years before the Lott v Levitt lawsuit)

In discussion of the accuracy of econometric software in June
1999, authors McCullough and Vinod used "replication in the
economic science" in the same sense that John Lott claims is the
"objective and factual meaning in the world of academic research".
This is the meaning that I derived while doing computer typesetting
for a major economics journal from 1974-2003. To quote myself:
"Replication is part of the peer-review or referee process used by
academic journals. Replicate means to run an author's data through
the author's math to verify that the published results were not
miscalculated or falsified." When the Lott v Levitt lawsuit came
up, I contacted the managing editor of the journal asking for the
usual uses of "replicate" in economics and I was informed:
I have usually heard "replicate" in economics to mean either
you use the author's model and data and get the same results OR
you use the model with different data and verify the result -
the same thing is happening with different data.
I had always read using a model with a different data set as
"testing the robustness" of an econometric model. So there are
two common uses of replicate in economics: the peer-referee
sense of verifying published results and the testing sense of
using different data to test the same model.

I would like to point out that John Lott has made his data and
his code available publicly even before publication, irregardless
of the data and code requirements of the journals. Lott critic
David Hemenway rejected Lott's results because they seemed
"counter-intuitive" to him. At least Lott's data and code can be
tested, unlike Hemenway's intuition. In fact, if Lott did not
openly share his data and code, if Lott kept his data and code
deeply closeted, like Arthur Kellermann or David Hemenway, neither
replicating nor testing of his results would be possible.

There is a movement in the social sciences promoted by
Prof. Gary King of Harvard to make the social sciences more
respectable as sciences by requiring stricter discipline, in
particular making "replicate" and other terms used in science
have the same strict definitions in the social sciences as used
in the physical sciences.

So, in the "soft" social sciences, there has traditionally been
a laxer approach to issues of replication of results and publishing
of data and code than in the "hard" physical sciences. McCullough,
Vinod, King, Lott and other social scientists independently
advocate the stricter approach.

Steven Levitt claimed in Freakonomics (HarperCollins, 2005):
"When other scholars have tried to replicate [Lott's] results, they
found that right-to-carry laws simply don't bring down crime."

In the peer-referee sense, even Lott critics Ayres and Donohue
claimed to have successfully replicated Lott's published results
from his data and math in their Table 9, Line 1. The National
Academy of Sciences claimed they replicated Lott's published
results in their Table 6.1 Line 2. Given that Levitt cited the
Ayres-Donohue article in Freakonomics, it is hard to see
how he missed that. I guess that happened the same way he
missed the fact that the conference issue had been peer refereed.

In the "test the robustness" sense of replicate, the finding
that "right-to-carry laws simply don't bring down crime" is not
universal. By using different data or different variables in the
math, some scholars have shown that RTC laws:
1. don't bring down crime,(*)
2. bring crime down about as much as Lott claimed, or
3. bring crime down even more than claimed by Lott.
When other scholars have tried to replicate Lott's results, they
have found results all over the map: less, similar or more.

To claim that Lott's results cannot be replicated in either the
peer-review or test-the-robustness sense is simply not true.
Levitt's use of "replication" in his court papers in answer to
Lott's lawsuit appears so soft as to be formless. Ted Frank, with
very little search, found six instances where Steven Levitt used
replicate in the sense that Lott claims is the "objective and
factual" use of the term.

Lastly, Lott did not "sue out of the blue" as some have claimed:

2006 Jan 11 - Lott wrote Levitt requesting a correction on Levitt's
claim that other scholars had been unable to replicate Lott's results.

2006 Mar 17 - Lott's lawyer wrote Levitt and his publisher requesting
a correction and a retraction.

2006 Apr 10 - Civil Action 06C 2007 (defamation) filed by John Lott
against Steven Levitt and his publisher.


{ None of this addresses the issue of whether a court of law is
the proper venue to resolve an academic dispute. In dismissing
Count 1 over the Freakonomics/replicate dispute, Judge Ruben Castillo
quoted an earlier court ruling: "judges are not well equipped to
resolve academic controversies, ... , and scholars have their own
remedies for unfair criticisms of their work--the publication of a
rebuttal." Dilworth v Dudley, 17 F.3d 307, 310 (7th Cir. 1996).
On Count 2 over Levitt's comments about Lott to economist John McCall,
Judge Castillo opined "Levitt made a string of defamatory assertions...
(which) ... cannot be reasonably interpeted as innocent or mere
opinion." None of this seems to advance the cause of elevating the
soft standards of the social sciences to something worthy of the
name science. }

wjustinen
August 22, 2007, 08:46 PM
Self-Defence is not a reason to get a s1 or a shotgun licence, it is however a reason to get a s5 licence (which covers handguns).

Seems Britain is just like any other "gun ban" nation in the world. Self-defence isn't a legitimate reason to own a gun, but we reserve the right to authorize those with sufficient economic or political clout to own and carry.

I wonder how long the approval process takes compared to the fellow who wants to shoot at a club.

SWMAN
August 23, 2007, 10:18 AM
Freakanomics says gun control has no effect on crime.

Then why do we have gun control??? It only makes gun prices higher and government more costly while doing nothing to control crime.

willbrink
August 23, 2007, 12:01 PM
Though not relating to replication of Lott’s conclusion(s) per se, having multiple Nobel Prize winners in economics finding his work robust and worthy of great praise, lends credibility to his conclusions and methodology for those conclusions:


"John Lott's thoughtful study should be read by everyone interested in the control of violent crime, and protection against terrorism." --Vernon L. Smith, 2002 Nobel Prize Winner in Economics

"John Lott's 1998 book, More Guns, Less Crime, created quite a stir among the gun-control romantics, whose expressive advocacy involves neither sound analytics nor empirical evidence. In this follow-on book, The Bias Against Guns, Lott continues the struggle, and responds to his critics, motivated by his strong conviction that analysis and evidence must, finally, win the day." --James Buchanan, 1986 Nobel Prize Winner in Economics

"Another major contribution by John Lott to the evidence on the effects--good and bad--of gun-control legislation. An important supplement to his More Guns, Less Crime."--Milton Friedman, 1976 Nobel Prize Winner in Economics

"John Lott is a scholar's scholar and a writer's writer--and his book shows why. That gun ownership might bring social benefits as well as costs is a story we do not often see in the press, and Lott here explores why. With a blend of new data, evidence, and examples, he unpacks the bias against such stories in the media."--J. Mark Ramseyer, Harvard Law School professor

Carl N. Brown
August 25, 2007, 06:49 PM
Both Steven Levitt and John Lott have published what many
consider pop lit which is SO infra dig. REAL scholars only
publish in peer-refereed academic journals or university
presses with circulation of no more than a few thousand
readers. Real scholars certainly do not make the New York
Times bestseller list and -- shudder -- do not make a profit
off their writings. And Lott writes incredibly facile one-page
op-eds on subjects that require at least a 300 page thesis
(and half of that footnotes and source citations). Heresy!!

And Lott claims that his empirical research contradicts the
academically fashionable assumptions about gun control
based on surmise and speculation that have stood the test
of time as axioms of conventional wisdom. How dare he!
That forces defenders of the conventional wisdom to do
their own empirical research, which has been known to
induce headaches. Surmise and speculation are easier on
the brain.

Yes, yes, Levitt in Freakonomics points out that no gun
control measure has had a beneficial effect; which only
differs from Lott's position that no gun law except shall-issue
carry license has a beneficial result, while Levitt claims
shall-issue has no effect either. In Restricting Handguns (1979)
Don B. Kates cited a federally-funded study at the U of WI that
looked at state-level crime data and demographic statistics believed
to affect crime and found no benefit from any state gun law, years
before either Freakonomics or More Guns Less Crime.
Obviously they are all either insane or on the payroll of the
NRA, for all university people capable of abstract reason are
anti-gun (see the Wikipedia talk section on the John Lott article,
commentary by Gzuckier).

And if I sounded funny, that's how I talk with my tongue in cheek.
(Some wish I kept my tongue in check.)

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