Lott v. Levitt IV

David Glenn, in the Chronicle of Higher Education, has the definitive MSM reporting on the affair. (Permanent link here after Apr. 24.) He finds a mixture of scholars who agree and disagree with Lott on the “replicate” question. And, most notably, he does the first incisive investigation into the “peer-refereed” claim in the second count of the complaint—and makes it seem that Lott might not win that dollar after all. To top it all of it, he’s found a prescient quote from the now-late Otis Dudley Duncan:

“There is no excuse,” he wrote, “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.”

Separately, Tim Lambert recaps my previous post. See if you can spot the subtle differences.


  • Lott vs Levitt: around the blogs

    David Glenn’s article get discussed by Henry Farrell (lots of comments there), Ted Frank and King. Lott finally mentions the lawsuit on his blog. No comments there, so far….

  • The technical meaning of “replicate” in a refereed economic journal is irrelevant here. Lott is suing over a popular book, not a journal article. 99% of the readers will not know that “replicate” means something different to economists, let alone know what it means.

    In other sciences, “replicate” means to repeat the experiment and get similar results. For an attempt to replicate Lott’s work on guns, that would mean getting fresh data and seeing if some reasonable method of statistical analysis (like or unlike Lott’s) gave similar conclusions. What I understood Freakonomics to be saying is that such studies had not arrived at a statistically significant conclusion reinforcing Lott’s, not that recrunching of Lott’s data had indicated fraud.