Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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February 8, 2003
By: Kevin Drum

JOHN LOTT UPDATE....Mary Rosh has just become a TV star! On Capitol Gang tonight, Al Hunt's "Outrage of the Week" was John Lott's use of his Mary Rosh sock puppet to defend himself on the internet.

This story has now been in the Washington Times, Washington Post, US News & World Report, and Capitol Gang, and there's just gotta be some hungry young investigative reporter out there who can pick this up and start some serious digging into the 1997 survey business. As a public service, just in case any enterprising reporters are reading this, here's a recap:

  • Lott claimed that 98% of defensive gun uses involved merely brandishing the gun, not firing it. His source was a survey done by Gary Kleck.

  • When it was pointed out that he had misread Kleck's survey, he changed the second edition of his book to claim that the 98% figure came from a survey he himself had done.

  • Last year somebody finally thought to ask Lott for some details about this survey. He said all the data had been lost in a hard disk crash.

  • Oh, and all the hard copy had also been lost, he didn't remember the names of any of the students who had done the phone work, and there are no funding records because he paid for the whole thing out of his own pocket.

  • Not enough? It turns out that his sample size was 25 people. How do you get 98% out of a sample of 25?

So does the 1997 survey exist or not? It's time for someone out there to do what the press is supposed to do: hold people accountable. A serious investigation into John Lott would be a good place to start.

Kevin Drum 5:06 PM Permalink | Trackbacks

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