You can tell the conservatives liberals fear most because they start being automatically referred to as “discredited.” Ask Sen. Ted Cruz. But no one is called “discredited” by liberals more often than the inestimable economist John Lott, author of the groundbreaking book “More Guns, Less Crime: Understanding Crime and Gun Control Laws.”
Lott’s economic analysis of the effect of concealed-carry laws on violent crime is the most thoroughly vetted study in the history of economics, perhaps in the history of the world.
Some nut Dutch professor produces dozens of gag studies purportedly finding that thinking about red meat makes people selfish and that litter leads to racism — and no one bothers to see if he even administered questionnaires before drawing these grand conclusions about humanity.
But Lott’s decades-long studies of concealed-carry laws have been probed, poked and re-examined dozens of times. (Most of all by Lott himself, who has continuously re-run the numbers controlling for thousands of factors.)
Tellingly, Lott immediately makes all his underlying data and computer analyses available to critics — unlike, say, the critics. He has sent his data and work to 120 researchers around the world. By now, there have been 29 peer-reviewed studies of Lott’s work on the effect of concealed-carry laws.
Eighteen confirm Lott’s results, showing a statistically significant reduction in crime after concealed-carry laws are enacted. Ten show no harm, but no significant reduction in crime. Only one peer-reviewed study even purported to show any negative effect: a temporary increase in aggravated assaults. Then it turned out this was based on a flawed analysis by a liberal activist professor: John Donohue, whose name keeps popping up in all fake studies purporting to debunk Lott.
In 1997, a computer crash led to the loss of Lott’s underlying data. Fortunately, he had previously sent this data to his critics — professors Dan Black, Dan Nagin and Jens Ludwig. When Lott asked if they would mind returning it to him to restore his files, they refused. (One former critic, Carlisle Moody, conducted his own analysis of Lott’s data and became a believer. He has since co-authored papers with Lott.)
Unable to produce a single peer-reviewed study to discredit Lott’s conclusions, while dozens of studies keep confirming them, liberals have turned to their preferred method of simply sneering at Lott and neurotically attaching “discredited” to his name. No actual discrediting ever takes place. But liberals think as long as they smirk enough, their work is done.
Average readers hear that Lott has been “discredited” and assume that there must have been some debate they didn’t see. To the contrary, the leading source for the claim that Lott’s research doesn’t hold up, left-wing zealot Donohue, was scheduled to debate Lott, one-on-one, at the University of Chicago twice back in 2005. Both times, Donohue canceled at the last minute.
Donohue accuses Lott of libel for pointing this out. Suggestion for Mr. Donohue: Instead of writing columns insisting you’ve been libeled, wouldn’t it be better just to agree to a debate? It’s been eight years!