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Wednesday, December 10, 2003

The Dog Ate My Homework

What does it take to be an expert on a particular issues these days? What qualifies a person to become a talking head on t.v. news shows? Not much, apparently.

News shows often rely on Washington's 'think tanks' for expert opinion when discussing everything from abortion to xenophobia. The American Enterprise Institute is a conservative think tank whose guests frequently appear on news programs. Their most notorious 'expert' is John Lott Jr., author of the book "More Guns, Less Crime". When fellow academics questioned his research, Lott claimed that the data was "lost in a computer crash"; in other words, he's using the age-old "dog ate my homework" defense. But that's not all--Lott even went so far as to pretend he was a woman for three years. His alter-ego waxed nostalgic about her days in his classroom, defended his book in an Amazon review, and attacked his critics. When he was busted by the Washington Post on Feb. 1st, 2003, he even admitted his deceit! "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". Right, John. Now, apparently, John is up to the same old monkey business. You can't make this stuff up.

The worst part of this whole shenanigan is that John Lott Jr. still writes frequent editorials on behalf of AEI, still appears on news shows, and his blatant dishonesty has received very little public censure. AEI gives this clown legitimacy. Every time this supposed expert slithers out from underneath a rock to spead lies and disinformation, write to your newspaper, call in, and call him on his lies. Confront the AEI, their enablers in the mass media, and the thoughtless dupes who don't question their sources.

To antagonize your pro-gun friends, challenge them to a debate on the gun control issue. When they bring up the bogus research of Lott (which they inevitably will--their whole argument is built on the clay feet of his research), call them on it and present them with a dossier accquired through the following sites:
The WP article exposing Lott:
The Recent Questionable Activity:
Both articles discovered via check it out!

Have fun!

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