Judge Castillo issues decision on Lott v. Levitt

A copy of the judge's decision can be downloaded here. A Copy of Levitt's Correction Letter can be obtained here. Levitt's emails are also shown below.

1) The Judge has found that one of the two counts of defamation involving Levitt can proceed.

p. 15: ". . . Levitt's email sounds as if he was "in possession of objectively verifiable facts." In his email Levitt states: 'It was not a peer refereed edition of the Journal. For $15,000 [Lott] was able to buy an issue and put in only work that supported him. My best friend was the editor and was outraged the press let Lott do this.' First, it would be unreasonable to interpret Levitt's unqualified statement that the journal edition was not 'peer refereed' as Levitt merely giving his opinion on the 'peers' chosen to review,or referee, the Special issue. Indeed, the editor of the Journal might be able to verify the truth or falsity of whether the Special Issue was reviewd by peers. Furthermore, while Levitt argues that one person's "'peer' in the academic realm may be another person's 'hack'," this distinction is not reasonable when discussing the review process at a top university's academic journal. Second, a reasonable reader would not interpret Levitt's assertion that "For $15,000 [Lott] was able to buy an issue and put in only work that supported him" as simply a statement of Levitt's opinion. Levitt's email appears to state objectively verifiable facts: that Lott paid $15,000 to control the content of the Special Issue. . . . Levitt's motion to dismiss Count II of Lott's Complaint is denied."

2) p. 7: "The applicable standard, however, is not that of the 'world of academic research and scholarship' that Lott describes. Rather, the critical question is how a 'reasonable reader' would interpret the phrase. The reasonable reader in this case is the general population . . . . In everyday language replicating results does not necessarily mean analyzing identical data in identical ways . . . ."

Response: I think that the market for the book was also aimed at academics. The book is apparently marketed to a large number of economics classes and is read by academics.

Levitt's correction letter

Many comments have been posted on this letter based upon the news story written on it in the Chronicle of Higher Education, but few have seen Levitt's actual correction letter. Among those commenting on the original news stories please see Ted Frank, Ben Zycher, John Palmer, Craig Newmark, Robert Wallach, Clayton Cramer, Larry White, Steve Sailer, Xlrq, Jonathan Adler, Michael Munger, Steve Sailer again, Glenn Reynolds, Say Uncle, Jode Shoo, Singular Values, and
The Corner. Unfortunately, at this point, I am not allowed to really comment on this. One part of Levitt's letter that has not gotten any attention is the one that I think was his most important, his statement that:
"I also was aware at the time of the May 2005 emails to you that in connection with the preparation of conference issues for the JLE that the organizer of each conference issue needs to provide funding to the JLE to cover publication and mailing expenses. I did not mean to suggest that Dr. Lott did anything unlawful or improper in arranging for the payment of the publication expenses for the Conference Issue."

The Chronicle of Higher Education has had a couple of articles on all this:

See this from the Chronicle.

See also this:

According to the motion, new facts have come to Mr. Lott's attention since last year that significantly alter the character of his complaint. For one thing, he says, new information has come out about what he calls Mr. Levitt's malice toward him. The motion alleges that Mr. Levitt has publicly referred to Mr. Lott as "the anti-Christ" and that Mr. Levitt "offered publicly to pay colleagues if they would humiliate" Mr. Lott. (Mr. Levitt did not immediately reply to a request for comment today.)

One point that wasn't directly mentioned by anyone is that Levitt's response when asked to backup is claim that others hadn't replicated my research was that the research papers were not refereed. Not only is Levitt acknowledging that the papers backed up and replicated my research, but he is admitting that the papers that did so were refereed.

The date on this letter does not match when I received it.
Update: See also this follow up filing


Levitt's email exchange with McCall

Email from John McCall to Steven Levitt
You also state that others have tried to replicate [Lott's] research and have failed. Please supply me with appropriate citations so that I might check for myself.
Email from Steven Levitt to John McCall
There was a NRC/ natl acad of sciences panel I was part of about research on guns that came out in 2004. That will point you in the right direction. . . .
Email from John McCall to Steven Levitt
Hi Steve, I went to the website you recommended -- have not gone after the round table proceedings yet -- I also found the following citations -- have not read any of them yet, but it appears they all replicate Lott's research. The Journal of Law and Economics is not chopped liver. . . . Cordially, John McCall PhD
Email from Steven Levitt to John McCall
John, It was not a peer refereed edition of the Journal. For $15,000 he was able to buy an issue and put in only work that supported him. My best friend was the editor and was outraged the press let Lott do this. Steve
Email from John McCall to Steven Levitt
Returning to the $15,000 bribe issue of JLE and -- although I have not yet gone (I will find it tomorrow) to the NRC/natl. acad. of sciences panel you recommended -- I am wondering whether those deliberations were published somewhere, and, if so, who paid for that. Could such not have been essentially the same thing? I noticed that this issue of JLE was the results of a conference on crime safety and guns that was sponsored by AEI and the Yale Center for Studies in Law. I understand how your best friend the editor could have been outraged, and I hope he had the principle to resign his position in protest. However, we all eventually realize that an editor is but a small cog in a big wheel.
Email from Steven Levitt to John McCall
John, if you read the paper by Duggan in JPE, and Ayres and Donohue in Stanford Law Review, and the NAS/NRC report (which was not paid for by anyone, it is done by the National Academy of Sciences), you will see the other side of the debate. Steve


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I can see that you cherry-pick the comments on your blog as well.

1/13/2007 9:46 AM  
Blogger John Lott said...

Well, Anonymous, I am sorry that you feel that way. The Judge's decision is available for you to download from my website. I have also made the previous briefs available. I have not hidden anything from you. As to the quotes, I quoted from the judge what he said was the "critical question" as well as the central paragraph regarding the claim about the "bought" journal articles. If you need something else that I am able to provide, please let me know.

1/13/2007 6:50 PM  

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