Friday, August 24, 2007

More discoverys about John Lott

Until recently I just didn't know much about John Lott, I'd not really paid much attention. I knew he wrote a book arguing that guns prevent more violence than they cause, although I'd never read the book. I knew he's sued Steven Levitt, although I didn't realize how weak the lawsuit was.

I didn't know he was delusional though. I think you pretty much have to be delusional to invent a sock puppet and use if for three years to prop up your ego. In my view anybody who behaves that way is at best intellectually unreliable.

His lawsuit against Levitt is a joke. There were two parts to it, one part was something Levitt said about Lott in the book Freakonomics. The other part was something Levitt said about Lott in a private email to a colleague.

The book part is really funny. Lott is using a take off on the Freakonomics title, calling his book Freedonomics, in a obvious attempt to boost sales. That's funny.

I've since read a couple of his research articles and I'm not impressed. I'll post about them later. For the most part his work seems driven more by politics than by theory, and his models are full of implicit assumptions about independence that I don't think stand up to close scrutiny. I'll get more specific over the next week or two.

I stand by my previous statement that they guy is scary. He seems just both intellectually and emotionally empty, yet he's held positions at places like University of Chicago, Yale, University of Pennsylvania, and the US Sentencing Commission. That's what makes him scary. He's unstable but has all this apparent influence.

What's sad to me is that I actually agree with his politics about gun control. Usually I think that anybody that agrees with me about something must be a smart guy. But not this time.

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