Sunday, April 16, 2006

Defamation Suit Over Paragraph in Freakonomics

John R. Lott, Jr., the author of More Guns, Less Crime: Understanding Crime and Gun-Control Laws is suing a Steven D. Levitt, coauthor of Freakonomics, for defamation. Lawsuit Accuses Best-Selling Economics Professor of Defamation in 'Freakonomics', Chronicle of Higher Education, April 13, 2006. [This link should work for people using UW computers or others with subscriptions to the Chronicle For five days, others can see the article here.]

In describing Mr. Lott's work on statistical relationships between crime rates and laws on firearms ownership, Mr. Levitt and Mr. Dubner write that "when other scholars have tried to replicate [Lott's] results, they found that right-to-carry laws simply don't bring down crime."

Mr. Lott says in his lawsuit that the book's assertion is false, adding that "there are no published articles in which an economist or other researcher has attempted to replicate Lott's results and concluded that 'right-to-carry laws simply don't bring down crime.' In fact, every time that an economist or other researcher has replicated Lott's research, he or she has confirmed Lott's conclusion."

The lawsuit also alleges that "neither of two articles relied on by Levitt and Dubner" in the accompanying endnote "states or concludes that they have been unable to 'replicate Lott's results."
A copy of the complaint is at, which also has some discussion.

Thanks to the reader who sent me the story.

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