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Tuesday, April 15, 2003  
The loathsome legend of John Lott

Must we revisit the topic of gun research fantasy writer John Lott? I'm afraid so. No matter how often the Diva incants, "Out you damn Lott!" he will not go away.

He Who Can Never Get Anything Right is now dragging another of his friends into the muck he has created by misrepresenting, ventriloquizing and just plain lying. Lawyer and pro-gun zealot David Gross came to Lott's defense (carrying, despite his failure to force through a concealed carry law in Minnesota, one supposes) as soon as a participant in Lott's alleged survey was needed. He is still the only person claiming to have participated in the survey. A rather strange coincidence. David Kopel, another advocate of guns here, guns there, guns, guns everywhere, joined the other Dave in defending Lott (with even more firepower, I guess) just about the time Lott's newest collection of fabrications was released by its publisher. Now cometh the InstaPundit, he of the very small blog entries and very large name recognition, and also apparently someone who bathes with a large caliber handgun nearby in case an ax murderer peeks through the window.

Glenn Reynolds has been a see-no-evil supporter of Lott all along, but has really stepped in the quicksand now. Reynolds and Kopel attacked a mainstream gun issues researcher, Steve Levitt, claiming he was biased. (Yes, the pot, the kettle and all that.) They cited an anonymous source. Now, the allegation has appeared in Lott's new book. People who follow the slimy trail Lott leaves behind him now believe the anonymous source is Lott himself. (Personally, I'm betting on Right Wing gun expert Mary Rosh.) You did read that right: Lott, as an anonymous source, being cited by Lott. CalPundit Kevin Drum explains it to you, too:

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."

No discussion of John Lott is complete without understanding the chronology and the players. The man with the facts on a journey that would make a carrier pigeon dizzy is computer science lecturer Tim Lambert. He has devoted an incredible amount of time and energy to following an often obfuscatory trail.

So, we know the 'what' about Lott and his friends: They are so pro-gun ownership they will bend the truth to serve their position at the drop of an empty shell. A really interesting question is 'why.' That is the inquiry I have been focusing on in my most recent research on Lott and company. I have come up with two reasons:

*Deeply held far Right beliefs, and


John Lott's extreme, even reactionary views extend beyond gun rights. He believes giving women the right to vote was detrimental to society. That there is a relationship between race and criminality, with blacks being 'naturally' violent. That hiring of women and nonwhites by police forces endangers the lives of the citizenry because of their alleged incompetence. And so on, and on, and on, until one wishes Mary Rosh would whack him with her purse.

In addition, as Atrios explained at length months ago, Lott misrepresented data to deny election irregularities that had a substantial impact in the 2000 election in Florida.

The real reason I care about John Lott is that the man testified to congress about the patterns of disenfranchisement in Florida during the 2000 election. The work was so hideously obviously deliberately dishonest, as Dr. Lichtman easily demonstrates, that the man obviously has no ethics. In fact, his willingness to present disinformation to cover up the disenfranchisement of voters makes him anti-democratic and anti-American as far as I'm concerned, and his willingness to try and cover up the disenfranchisement of black voters makes him a bigot.

How this all tangled up with religion deserves a separate entry, which I will try to write later this week.

Atrios is fortunate that he acquired material on Lott then. I have unsuccessfully attempted to download some papers by Lott several times during the last month. Writing the American Enterprise Institute and Lott asking the papers be emailed to me has also failed. This is particularly odd considering Lott has a history of going to online sites and practically begging people to download his papers.

Since Lott never really admits to any wrongdoing, I don't expect him to come clean about his anonymous source. Kieran Healy has looked into his crystal ball and sees Lott's coup de grace:

It seems that John Lott may be quoting himself at one remove in his new book. The natural next step is for Lott to falsely quote himself, and after that to lose the source of the false quotation, but use it anyway.

2:38 PM