April 15, 2003

More High-Quality Research from the American Enterprise Institute

Who is the sleaziest senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute? Kevin Drum reminds me to link to Tim Lambert, who thinks it is concealed-carry crusader John Lott. In our last episode Lott adopted false identities to praise his own books and courses and slime his intellectual adversaries. In this episode Lambert thinks that Glenn Reynolds and Dave Kopel have been eager enablers and transmitters of Lott's anonymous poison pen, and that Lott has now been reduced to quoting his own anonymous slime at one remove. Lambert has a very strong case.

Kevin Drum: JOHN LOTT UPDATE....Tom Spencer reminds me today to go take a look at Tim Lambert's website, where he chronicles the ongoing adventures of prevaricating gun shill John Lott, something that I haven't done lately. And whaddaya know, it's a twofer: John Lott and Glenn Reynolds.

Long story short, here's what happened: back in 2001 there was an NAS panel charged with doing a gun study. One of its members was a guy named Steve Levitt, and Glenn and Dave Kopel wrote an NRO article complaining that the panel was stacked. In particular, they complained that John Lott was not on the panel and that Levitt, who they said "has been described as 'rabidly antigun,'" was.

Flash forward to 2003 and Lambert tells us that this line appears in Lott's latest book:

Another panel member, Steve Levitt, an economist, has been described in media reports as being "rabidly anti-gun."

And now the $64 question: who exactly was it that called Levitt "rabidly anti-gun" in the first place and then got quoted in Lott's book? Glenn seem oddly reluctant to say, but if you know anything about Lott you can probably guess. Still, if you want to know for sure you'll have to click on the link and visit Tim Lambert's website, where he has all the juicy details. I don't want to take away all of his fun.

Posted by DeLong at April 15, 2003 11:20 AM | TrackBack


Hmm let's see. Insty (a third-rate political hack at a second tier law school) joins with John Lott (an AEI hack who likes to impersonate his own students in praising himself on USENET) to tar Steve Levitt (a University of Chicago professor who is one of the most brilliant (and non-ideological) economists of his generation) as being an anti-gun hack.


I bet you even Insty's friends would shoot him down for that bit of hackery. heck, even Andrew Sullivan might not stoop that low.

Posted by: achilles on April 15, 2003 08:15 PM

There’s one important detail which is being overlooked: neither Andrew Sullivan nor Glenn Reynolds are making fools of themselves over John Lott. Reynolds has candidly admitted that Lott has some serious questions to answer. Lott cannot expect any knee jerk excuses by those who tend to agree with his general conclusions. Lott’s critics have justly pointed out a couple of problems with his work. The overall thesis, however, remains unchallenged.

Michael Bellesiles’ shenanigans (and the behavior of his Liberal defenders) were far more despicable. Lott may have damaged his career, but Bellesiles totally destroyed his reputation.

Posted by: David Thomson on April 16, 2003 03:43 AM

Nice try at diversion David, but I don't think anyone here (even those nasty liberals) would defend someone who obviously made up his work as Bellesiles did. Perhaps you were thinking of some other site.....

And I didn't say Lott was Bellesiles, I said Lott was a hack. I had a lot of sympathy for him given the extent of the data he collected and how willing he has been in the past to let his work be nitpicked by other researchers (by making his data accessible) but as he drifts further away from academia his career seems more and more dependent on saying things people in the gun lobby like to hear. Ayres & Donohue, Duggan etc. have shown us just how tenuous Lott's results are and how much he stretches the truth to make his points.

And any time someone like Lott starts trashing the skills and unbiasedness of economists with far more credibility than him like Ayres, Levitt or Duggan that should send up a red flag, even in a fan like you.

As for Insty. This is his usual MO, find someone who says what he likes to hear and parrot that opinion without having the time or the ability to check out the reliability of the source. Of course since he is now trashing reputable academics instead of bloggers I call him a hack instead of a self-indulgent blogger with a day job.

Posted by: achilles on April 16, 2003 06:20 AM

So who is this guy David Gross?

"Happily, as the concerns became more widely discussed, David Gross, a Minnesota lawyer, came forward to say that he thought he'd been surveyed by Lott back in 1997. I interviewed [Mr. Gross] at length and found him credible," Mr. Lindgren said.

Posted by: Bruce Ferguson on April 16, 2003 03:40 PM

Gross is a Minnesota lawyer. He is also a former national board member for the NRA (http://slate.msn.com/id/2078084/), and is also a co-founder of GORCA, or Gun Owners Civil Rights Alliance (http://atrios.blogspot.com/2003_01_19_atrios_archive.html#90225877. ). None of which disproves that he participated in the alleged survey. But since no one else giving or taking the survey has stepped forward, his pro-gun activism should give reasonable people pause.

Posted by: Ben Vollmayr-Lee on April 17, 2003 07:59 AM

There's definitely food for thought.

Posted by: Norm on April 19, 2003 04:51 PM
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