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John Lott sues "Freakonomics" author Steven Levitt

Discussion in 'Legal' started by Justin, Apr 11, 2006.

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  1. Justin

    Justin Moderator Emeritus

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    THE CHAIR IS AGAINST THE WALL
    Via the Chicago Tribune

    Hat tip to Reason Magazine's blog Hit 'n' Run

    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.
     
  2. geekWithA.45

    geekWithA.45 Moderator Emeritus

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    I imagine this post will hit Tim Lambert's automated technorati scans, and he'll be checking into this thread in 10...9....8....
     
  3. Henry Bowman

    Henry Bowman Senior Member

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    Why, oh why did he sue in Chicago????? Surely he could have gotten personal jurisdiction over Levitt somewhere else.:banghead:
    Then sue him in Texas!!!!!
     
  4. cbsbyte

    cbsbyte Member

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    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.
     
  5. Creeping Incrementalism

    Creeping Incrementalism Member

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    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.
     
  6. Zundfolge

    Zundfolge Member

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    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: ).
     
  7. El Tejon

    El Tejon Member

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    I'm with Mr. Bowman. That's some real bad forum shopping.:uhoh: :banghead:
     
  8. publius

    publius Member

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    More Lawsuits, More Publicity?
     
  9. Maxwell

    Maxwell Member

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    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.
     
  10. tulsamal

    tulsamal Member

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    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
     
  11. Firethorn

    Firethorn Member

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

    Standing Wolf Member in memoriam

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    Leftist extremists invariably refer to academics who disagree with them as "discredited."
     
  13. Silver Bullet

    Silver Bullet Member

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  14. Carl N. Brown

    Carl N. Brown Member

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    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.
     
  15. gc70

    gc70 Member

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    Quite a provocative statement that could have been avoided with the meagerest personal research.
     
  16. KriegHund

    KriegHund Member

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    Wow, way to make yourself look good there Mr. Lott :rolleyes:
     
  17. roscoe

    roscoe Member

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    Freakanomics says gun control has no effect on crime.
     
  18. Scottmkiv

    Scottmkiv Member

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    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.
     
  19. xd9fan

    xd9fan Member

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    Lott is fearless, love em. When your in the right...fight.
     
  20. NukemJim

    NukemJim Member

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    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
     
  21. NineseveN

    NineseveN member

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    Oh man, this could be a fun one to watch. :)
     
  22. Lobotomy Boy

    Lobotomy Boy Member

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    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. ;)
     
  23. agricola

    agricola Member

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    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.
     
  24. CAnnoneer

    CAnnoneer Member

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    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.
     
  25. NineseveN

    NineseveN member

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    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:



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