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Today In the Perfect American Meritocracy


I hope those of you who have criticized the great James Bennet will apologize for not properly deferring to your social superiors:

Remember last week, when the New York Times ran an op-ed from the gun ‘researcher’ John Lott, who has been thoroughly and consistently debunked by basically everyone else who researches gun violence?

Apparently, the Times —yes, the people wot run the bad op-ed in the first place—does not remember! The paper issued an editorial today on criminal justice reform, which included this paragraph dunking on Lott:

Perhaps the most insidious part of the Trump administration’s approach to criminal justice lies in its efforts to link crime to its broader crackdown on immigration. In a speech last month, Mr. Sessions said undocumented immigrants are far more likely than American citizens to commit crimes, a claim he found in a paper by John Lott, the disreputable economist best known for misusing statistics to suit his own ideological ends. In this case, it appears Mr. Lott misread his own data, which came from Arizona and in fact showed the opposite of what he claimed: Undocumented immigrants commit fewer crimes than citizens, as the vast majority of research on the topic has found.

I would like to note that I also linked to that same Cato Institute debunking of Lott’s racist fake research, which tells me the Times editorial board is reading my posts. Hi!!! You should all resign!!!

As many of you know, “disreputable economist best known for misusing statistics to suit his own ideological ends” is actually understating it:

But Lott’s recent successes belie a far more shadowy past. A little over a decade ago, he was disgraced and his career was in tatters. Not only was Lott’s assertion that more guns leads to more safety formally repudiated by a National Research Council panel, but he had also been caught pushing studies with severe statistical errors on numerous occasions. An investigation uncovered that he had almost certainly fabricated an entire survey on defensive gun use. And a blogger revealedthat Mary Rosh, an online commentator claiming to be a former student of Lott’s who would frequently post about how amazing he was, was in fact John Lott himself. He was all but excommunicated from academia.

Note too that this is strictly a one-way ratchet. If you’re a reactionary pushing a horrible substantive agenda, having literally fabricated data is no bar to publication on the nation’s most prominent op-ed page. I’m pretty confident that Michael Bellesiles would get a considerably less welcome reception.

Still, John Lott’s op-ed surely PROVOKED the Times‘s readership and CHALLENGED THEIR ASSUMPTIONS, which is much more important than such trivial matters as “is this guy a repeatedly demonstrated fraud?” So I’d say one heck of a job.

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