Enemies of the truth

I bashed Michael Moore on my personal blog recently for being a lying propagandist. One person defended him for being a liberal antidote to conservative lying propagandists, and I replied that what we needed was more truth and not counterbalancing lies. I detest Moore even when I agree with some of his ideas (the Iraq war is bullshit, health care in the US is screwed up), because of his disregard for the truth. To me, honesty is more important than what your political views happen to be. Which is a good segue to bashing John Lott.

Lott is a good example of how someone can get wrapped up in a set of political ideas to the exclusion of the truth, which I consider a bad thing even when I agree with those ideas. Now, we've all heard about the Mary Rosh incident, but there is more:

Exhibit A: While I haven't read Lott's latest book Freedomnomics, Bryan Caplan's review mentioned the first highlight as "In order to forestall the creation of a secondary market by customers who buy the cats [$3950 + $900 shipping] and then breed them themselves, Allerca simply neuters all the cats it sells." Now, as someone who is terribly allergic to cats, yet has many friends who love them, I have kept tabs on Allerca, and as it turns out, they have never actually shipped any cats, and as far as anyone can tell at this point, their product is vaporware. (See Wikipedia, or Google for [Allerca vaporware]). Citing the economic theories of a vaporware producer w.r.t. their product does not exactly suggest careful scholarship.

Exhibit B: David Friedman tells me that John Lott likes to use, in speeches, a particular stirring story about a horrible crime that would have been averted had there not been gun locks on a family's guns. David investigated that story, and found that while the crime had happened, the part about the gun locks was bogus. He passed his findings on to Lott - who continued to use the story in future speeches.

So, much as I love freedom, I'm staying well away from Freedomnomics. And as for the Lott-Levitt fued, while Steve Levitt may not be a libertarian, at least he's an honest guy. As far as I'm concerned, that means he's on the right side.

I have enough confidence in my ideals that I believe more truth and more honesty will only help them - no matter what political alignment it comes from.  And if more truth makes my ideals look worse - well, so much for those ideals.

Share this

AEI should fire John Lott

Yeah, I don't understand why anyone takes Lott seriously at all. The fact that he's an employee at the American Enterprise Institute makes me discount my opinion of any research that they publish. After all, if they can overlook his dishonest behavior, what other dishonest behavior are they overlooking that has not yet come to light?


Dear Patri:

Thanks for your two comments.

1) The paragraph that I had on the Allerca cats was based on two news stories that came out when was writing the book last fall (Meghan Daum, “$4k Cat Is Nothing to Sneeze At,” Los Angeles Times, October 7, 2006, and “Hypoallergenic Cats for Sale,” ABC News, October 6, 2006 (http://abcnews.go.com/Nightline/story?id=2537618)). The point was a simple one that simply giving a producer a patent isn't always enough to ensure that the producer can earn the profits necessary to encourage innovation. I used the cat example because it was very current. There were of course other examples that could have been used. I have no idea who is correct on this point and I appreciate you bringing it to my attention (if indirectly).

2) As to the Merced instance, I believe that I sent your Dad these references here, here, and here. I also believe that I mentioned to him that I had talked to the children's grandfather. If he didn't get this information, I assume that it must have been my fault, but the newspaper articles and Fox News interview is still relevant for determining the facts. I investigated this carefully and if you think that I am wrong, please let me know.

I look forward to your response to claims about the book containing falsehoods. Thanks.


The posts that John Lott links above were written in response to the posts on my blog here. (Lott does not mention this in his posts, because he does not want his readers to see my posts.) None of the news stories supports his claim that "the sensible girl ran for where the family guns were stored. But they were locked up tight."

Patri's point in Exhibit B remains correct. And it's reinforced, because Lott still won't admit it.

Exhibit B

I have the detail's of Patri's Exhibit B here if anyone is interested.


Possibly you could explain the statement from the father of the daughter who died: "If a gun would have been here today, I'd have at least a daughter alive." Of course, there are the other news stories that I cited.

Photos of fake cats!

Check out the photo gallery at New York Daily News. It's pretty amazing what they can do with green screens these days! Rumor has it that the so-called "cats" in the photos are actually run of the mill Yorkies dressed up in Halloween kitty costumes.

Corrections II

Dear Brad:

Thanks again for the picture!

Responding to David D. Friedman's posting on Econlog.com. This was posted in a discussion that linked to this posting by Patri.

Thanks for the comment. I would note that I was interviewed on a radio show with one of the Grandfathers of the girl who had been killed (he is a minister) (and I also talked to him at a later date on the telephone). In both conversations, he confirmed the statement that you point to "they were locked up tight." The one discrepency was that it was my understanding that there was only one gun. I believe that I related this information to you.

In any case, Fox News did a story on the incident and the reporter interviewed myself and the father. I was interviewed first by the reporter and told him what I knew of the story. It was my understanding that the reporter then used that information as the basis of the interview that he had with the father. While the discussion could be a little clearer, the reporter did not apparently find anything that contradicted what I told him:

Lott cited a Merced, Calif. family whose guns were put away because of the state's safe storage law. John Carpenter, who lost two children in an attack in 2000, said a gun would have stopped the man who broke into his home with a pitchfork.

"If a gun had been here, today I'd have at least a daughter alive," Carpenter said.

For several years, gun control advocates have been quoting a study that reached a very different conclusion. University of Washington doctors claimed that in a dozen states which had safe storage laws, 39 children's lives were saved.

Gun locks and the inability to access guns because of those locks was the whole point of the story (the title was "Study: Guns No Safer When Locked Up").. If so, the story would not have been run using that example if the original claim that you disagree with was false.

at least read the book

If you are going to bash something, at least read it first. There is no credibility left when something is dismissed out of hand. I expect there is good and bad in the book and it would be nice to get a credible review to counter the props being given the book from the likes of Coulter.