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Hullabaloo


Wednesday, January 25, 2006

 
Resurrection

by digby


Responding to all the Claud Rainsing on the right yesterday about manipulation of Amazon reviews I wrote a post about their own long standing manipulation of Amazon reviews.

How serendipitous, then, that one of the most notorious of Amazon manipulators in history should show up on the pages of the NY Times today. John Lott was long ago discredited as a social scientist. Indeed, economists at the University of Chicago use his work to illustrate shoddy scholorship. But naturally, even though he is held in almost universal opprobrium by every expert in his field, because he is a right wing academic he was granted a cushy sinecure at AEI and a lucrative speaking schedule. That he has now landed on the most valuable journalistic real estate on the planet, however, is nothing short of shocking.

But as I mentioned, Lott is even more interesting than just being a lousy (dishonest) scientist. In one of the blogosphere's earliest triumphs, Lott was exposed as being slightly nuts:

Mary Rosh thinks the world of John R. Lott Jr., the controversial American Enterprise Institute scholar whose book "More Guns, Less Crime" caused such a stir a few years ago.

In postings on Web sites in this country and abroad, Rosh has tirelessly defended Lott against his harshest critics. He is a meticulous researcher, she's repeatedly told those who say otherwise. He's not driven by the ideology of the left or the right. Rosh has even summoned memories of the classes she took from Lott a decade ago to illustrate Lott's probity and academic gifts.

"I have to say that he was the best professor I ever had," Rosh gushed in one Internet posting.

Indeed, Mary Rosh and John Lott agree about nearly everything.

Well they should, because Mary Rosh is John Lott -- or at least that's the pseudonym he's used for three years to defend himself against his critics in online debates, Lott acknowledged this week.

"I probably shouldn't have done it -- I know I shouldn't have done it -- but it's hard to think of any big advantage I got except to be able to comment fictitiously," said Lott, an economist who has held senior research positions at the University of Chicago and Yale.


[...]

Julian Sanchez, a Cato Institute staffer, is the cybersleuth who tracked Mary Rosh back to John Lott.

Sanchez is a blogger -- someone who maintains a Web site where they report and comment on the news -- who had been tracking the debate between Lott and critics of his gun research. He became suspicious about Rosh after he noticed that several of Rosh's online defenses of Lott seemed to track closely with arguments the scholar himself had made in private e-mails to Sanchez and other bloggers. He tracked Mary Rosh's IP address (the computer code translation of the standard e-mail address) to Pennsylvania.

"I compared that IP with the header of an email Dr. Lott had sent me from his home address. And by yet another astonishing coincidence, it had originated at the very same IP address. Now, what are the odds of that?" he wrote in a posting on his Web site. "Sarcasm aside, we're a little old to be playing dress up, aren't we Dr. Lott?"



I hear that South Korean stem cell researcher is out of work. Maybe The Times can get him to come on board as their science editor. Credibility is certainly not a requirement.



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