damnum absque injuria

May 11, 2005

Lottsa Personalities?

Filed under:   by Xrlq @ 12:08 am

Right now, someone has egg on his face, but it’s not clear who. Tim Lambert thinks he caught John Lott in a lie, and Michelle Malkin appears to agree. It all boils down to the identify of an anonymous Amazon reviewer who calls himself/herself/itself “Economist123” and, alternatively, “Washingtonian2.” Whoever that is wrote a glowing review of Lott’s book, More Guns, Less Crime, albeit a poorly researched and not particularly well written one. This would be very bad if Lambert’s theory proved correct that Economist123 was Lott himself. However, Lambert’s “proof” is so thin as to border on laughable. His smoking gun? Economist123 copied and pasted a review of another book that had previously been published by the real John Lott. Well, gee, that settles it. I mean, it stands to reason that anyone who can copy and paste a book review written by John R. Lott must be John R. Lott himself. Right?

The premise is so weak I’m tempted to stop right here. Just for kicks, let’s take a look at some of the reviews John Lott – a research scholar at the American Enterprise Institute and a former law professor at University of Chicago and Yale – supposedly wrote. The More Guns, Less Crime review says the following:

Important accurate info that Opponents [sic] constantly distort.
November 8, 2001

This is by far the most comprehensive study ever done on guns. It provides extensive evidence on waiting periods, the Brady Act, one-gun-a-month rules, [sic] concealed handgun laws. For some gun laws this is the only study available and it is important to note how many academics have tired [sic] to challenge his work on concealed handgun laws and failed and that no one has even bothered to try and challenge his work on one-gun-a-month laws and other gun control laws.

I am constantly amused the lengths to which reviewers here will go to distort Lott’s research. Take the one by the Australian who claims that Lott doesn’t explain why he uses the polling data that he does on gun ownership rates. If he was [sic] honest, he would note that Lott talks about these being the largest surveys on gun ownership rates available and that it is necessary to have such a large survey to get detailed information at the state level. A survey of 1,000 or even 1,500 people nationally is not enough to allow you to make comparisons across individual states.

These guys will do anything to keep people from reading Lott’s work.

As one who has met Lott in person, I can assure you that he has a much better command of the English language than Economist123 does. Then again, Economist123’s writing abilities do seem to be better than those of some of the other anonymous Amazon reviewers whom Lambert assumes to be Lott. One of these supposed alter egos derides another’s book as being filled with uncorroborated “ascertions” without attempting to “meassure” the associated costs and benefits. Another invents such non-words as “indepth” and “misimpression,” while yet another priases Lott’s work eagerly awaits a convincing “rebuttle.”

Aside from writing worse than the real John Lott, Economist123 betrays a shallow understanding of the substance of More Guns, Less Crime. Economist123 says the book is about “waiting periods, the Brady Act, one-gun-a-month rules, concealed handgun laws,” presumably in that order. In fact, the book focuses almost entirely on concealed carry laws, as studied in depth (not “indepth”) in the 1996 Lott-Mustard study. The book contains relatively few references to waiting periods and the Brady Act, all in passing, primarily for purposes of pointing out their relative insignificance by comparison to concealed carry laws. One-gun-a-month laws are not a major focus of the book; in fact, to the best of my recollection Lott’s book doesn’t mention them at all. [UPDATE: I’ve been advised that the second edition of the book, which I have not read, does contain more information on other areas of gun laws, and that its focus is not limited to CCW, as was generally the case with the first edition.] And if Lott really had it in for “the Australian” who challenged his work, don’tcha think he might have gone the extra mile and mentioned the guy by name?

Perhaps Lambert’s right. Perhaps Lott’s strategy really is to pose as many different personalities, some with writing skills similar to his own, others with much worse skills, and some of whom are rah-rahing idiots who haven’t read his book at all. Hell, for all most of my readers know, maybe I’m John R. Lott myself. Lambert’s attacks on Lott don’t seem to have all that much traction outside the blogosphere, so for all I know, maybe Lambert is, too.

Or maybe not.

UPDATE: More sock-puppet silliness here. Meanwhile, I’m still waiting for Lambert to produce the allegedly incriminating IP address from yesterday’s exchange. It may be very incriminating indeed, or it may prove Lambert is full of crap, but unless and until he provides it there’s no way to tell.

UPDATE x2: Welcome, Instapundit readers! Yes, both of you. Netting about 100 in a day, this has got to be the lamest Instalanche ever.

30 Responses to “Lottsa Personalities?”

  1. Tim Lambert Says:

    Do you recall what happened last time we had an argument? (Just checking to see if I can post links.)

    [You should be able to post links. I’ve moved them to where they presumably were intended to go.]

  2. Tim Lambert Says:

    OK fine no proper links.

    1. Lott’s Mary Rosh posts also contained lots of spelling mistakes and typos.
    2. Economist123’s review actually displays an uncanny familiarity with his book — certainly more than you did in your review. Lott did statistical analyses of the Brady Law (p90), waiting periods (p84) and one-gun-a-month laws (p200). He also gives Lott’s answer to the criticism of why he ignored GSS data on gun ownership. (This reason isn’t even in his book.)
    3. The “wish list” for Economist123 showed that his initials were “JL”. Oddly enough, this was deleted minutes after I posted a comment to that effect and minutes after someone with an IP associated with Lott viewed that page.
    4. “Washingtonian” was Lott’s pseudonym when he was posting at freerepublic.com. After I pointed this out in a post in Nov 2003 he stopped posting there. Washingtonian vs Washingtonian2: is that another coincidence?
    5. I do not “assume” that the other reviews were by Lott. I provided good evidence. Which you have ignored. Again. From our previous discussion: You misrepresent the evidence on the book reviews. It is not just based on the location of the reviewer but on the writing style, the review dates, and the fact that he wrote some of them under the names of his pseudonyms Mary Rosh and Washingtonian and the names of his children maximcl and sherwinrl. You have some other explanation for this? I explained carefully Lott’s reason for panning Kleck’s book but you ignored all of this. And no, his reviews of Kleck were not acceptable at Amazon. They were deleted when Kleck told Amazon about them.
    6. Oh, and compare their reviews: Mary Rosh: “This is by far the largest most comprehensive study on crime, let alone on gun control.” Washingtonian2/Economist123: “This is by far the most comprehensive study ever done on guns.”
  3. Xrlq Says:
    1. None that stand out like these. A few typos maybe, third grade grammar, no.
    2. We must be reading different printings of the book. I have the first, which says precious little about these topics, except to distinguish them as noise factors, and the last chapter ends on page 165. There is a page 200, in footnotes, but it doesn’t say anything about one-gun-a-month laws.
    3. What is an “IP associated with Lott?” Whatever that IP address is, feel free to post it here. Next time, get a screen shot.
    4. I’m pretty sure Washingtonienne is not John Lott. Countless other Washingtonians aren’t, either. Whenver I drive up to visit my parents in L.A. I pass a street called “Lambert.” Should I assume you are behind it?
    5. Hardly. In that post, you cite timing issues, such as a bad review ostensibly from Lott coming mere days after that person did something that could have offended Lott. Yet, by your own admission the “ascertions” about Michelle Malkin come a full three months after the article he is supposedly retaliating for. And assuming Hiroshima-dude is Lott solely because he posted from Washington, D.C. and used the word “solidly” is nonsense on stilts. I’m not say there isn’t good reason to think Lott forged these reviews, only that if such evidence exists, you’ve not provided it, nor even identified which of those “some” contained the allegedly tell-tale nicknames and which ones do not.
    6. I’m about 99% certain I’ve uttered that exact same phrase myself about the same book on a Usenet forum somewhere. Does that mean I’m John Lott too?
  4. Tim Lambert Says:
    1. Apparently your elite proofreading skills desert you when you read Mary Rosh. I’ll post a list in a separate comment.
    2. Yes, the one-gun-a-month analysis is in the 2nd edition. Which is what washingtonian2 was referring to. Again we see that he was more familiar with Lott’s work than you.
    3. Of course I saved a copy of his wish list. Now, your explanation: Economist123 is just some random guy who coincidentally shares the same initials as Lott? And just happened to coincidentally delete it within minutes of my linking to it?
    4. So you are trying to say that using the same pseudonym is another coincidence? What do you think the odds are?
    5. The review by “maximcl” is another coincidence? Try a Google search for maximcl and tell me how common it is. The location for washingtonian2 changed from Washington to Swarthmore and back to Washington. He just happened to live in Swarthmore? Another coincidence? There was also a review of Joyce Lee Malcolm’s book that Lott signed his name to. The location of the reviewer for that review also changed from Washington to Swarthmore to Washington, indicating that it was posted from the same Amazon account as washingtonian2. Your explanation?
    6. Your review of Lott’s book does not contain that phrase.
  5. David Weigel Says:

    Another invents such non-words as “indepth” and “misimpression,” while yet another priases Lott’s work eagerly awaits a convincing “rebuttle.”

    John Lott uses the word “misimpression”: 1 2 (In his defense, it is a word.)

    Alas, “rebuttle” isn’t a word, and although I don’t see John Lott using it for sure, now I wonder who WCW is.

  6. Tim Lambert Says:

    Here are some of Rosh’s spelling/grammatical errors

    If you are interested in Belleslies book, you should read the devistating review of it by Strassel in the Wall Street Journal.

    The Boston Globe also really nailed him on the complete mischaracterization of the quotes regarding guns being broken. Their September 11th story went through example after example where he had claim that the probate records listed a broken gun when in fact they did no such thing.

    Why should Lott bother responding to a nothing like Lamber who isn’t in the area and who isn’t particularly honest?

    A kinfe is less lethal and it is also less of a defense. As a woman, who weighs 114 lbs, what am I supposed to do if I am confronted by a 200 lbs. man?

    Do you really think that most women can out run you typical criminal, a man between say 18 and 24 years of age?

    Have you call up Lott?

    Lott has published many academic articles in very prestigous journals. When I took a class from him at the Wharton School of Business in the early 1990s he was even then considered one of the young stars in the profession.

    Lott exposes the Maltz and Targonski paper as a sloppy fraud. This is a devistating piece. Gun control types are going to be sorry that they ever pointed to this paper.

    You should be very careful relying on the Violence Policy Center, the source of this quote on Lott, for any information. This particular quote about dioxin is actual from a book review that Lott did of two books, where one of the books was making this claim.

    I had Lott as a teacher about a decade ago, and he has a quite noticable scar across his forehead. It looked like it cut right through his eyebrows going the entire width of his forehead. While I never heard him discuss what caused it, the scar was so extremely noticable that people talked and joked about it.

    As to his supposed biases, when I took Lott for classes about a decade ago, he assigned some of his papers on political markets that I think some would probably classify as leftwing.

    Could Clayton tell us the siize of the difference in the two surveys? Are we talking about 30 percent or something much larger than that?

    You are going to have egg all over your face on this one Lambert. You are already starting to look desparate.

    Why Lindgren discounted statements from Professor David Mustard and Geoffrey Huck because they couldn’t remember precises points in 1997 when events occurred then is beyond me.

    Other blogs have gone into this issue in much more detail. My understanding is that Lott has done two surveys that have come to similar conclusions about defensive gun use rates In one that was done six years ago, there was a hard disk crash and the data was lost.

  7. Xrlq Says:
    1. Apples and oranges. “Precises points” and “have you call up Lott” appear to be careless typos, while “if he was honest” suggests that the writer has yet to master the subjunctive. Omitting the “and” in “the Brady Act, one-gun-a-month rules, concealed handgun laws” suggests that Economist123 was cobbling together a laundry list of items the book was supposedly about, and didn’t even realize he’d reached the end of the list on the first go. At least, when I’ve made that error myself, that was the reason.
    2. I’m not surprised that the Gun of the Month Club gets some mention in the second printing. That’s not the point. The point is that unless the second printing is really a completely different book from the first, it’s not about one-gun-a-month laws, waiting periods or the Brady Act (not that it really makes sense to discuss those last two as separate items anyway). This “review” reads like it was written by someone who took the title of the book, ran with it, and scoured the index for specific gun control laws that got any mention whatsoever. It certainly doesn’t read like a review by “Mary Rosh,” who seemed to know just about everything there was to know about the book, or about Lott himself.
    3. Not sure why the font sizes are different between JL’s wish list and Economist123’s, but I’ll assume for argument’s sake there’s an innocent explanation for that, and that his handle really was “JL” until he changed it at the last minute to “Economist123.” If that’s so, then why didn’t his review of Freakonomics originally appear under that name, also? Assuming the facts are as you say, I’ll grant you this: a swift change from a pen name of “JL” to anonymity does imply that Economist123 is either John Lott or someone spoofing him. Presumably, if it were Lott himself attempting to evade detection, he’d have changed his handle to a name that was not clearly associated with his real identity as an economist. It’s also unclear why he would use an anonymous profile to repost his a published review he had already signed his real name to. It’s not as though he didn’t have a non-anonymous profile he could have used for that purpose instead. I asked before what the IP address was of “Tom H.,” whose IP address you allege is associated with Lott. I ask again. It would go a long way toward either proving or disproving your theory, and if it turns out to be damning, I’ll be the first to say so. My interest is in getting at the truth, not in attacking you or defending Lott.
    4. That depends on the handle. If the handle were something really bizarre like “Xrlq,” it would be reasonable to assume two communications in two different fora were written by the same person – although even then it wouldn’t be foolproof, as neither xrlq@aol.com nor xrlq@yahoo.com is me. “Washingtonian” is a much more generic nickname, particularly among those who hail from Washington, which Lott doesn’t. [Washingtonienne probably doesn’t, either, but her whole schtick was to be some anonymous bimbo from Capitol Hill, without giving away which state’s Congressman she worked for.] Where do you think the final 2 came from? Is Washingtonian supposed to be John Lott also?
    5. Which of the specific reviews that I cited above were you referring to? I’m going by the reasons you gave on the page I linked to. If you have stronger reasons for drawing the same conclusions but have hidden the ball elsewhere, you might want to update your site accordingly. No point putting your worst foot forward.
    6. I never said it did. I said I had probably used that phrase somewhere on Usenet. The point is, it’s not such an unusual phrase as to justify your conclusion that everyone who utters it is the same person.
  8. Tim Lambert Says:

    1. Leaving a final “and” from a list is just another a typo. It does not prove that the author does not understand the rule. Many people do not bother with the subjunctive any more — let’s see your proof that Lott used it.

    2. Mary Rosh made the same argument again and again, Mary Rosh wrote: “As to the list of people you put down, notice that none of them one result that contradicted Lott’s work on the Brady act, waiting periods, or safe storage laws, one-gun-a-month rules.” Oh, and notice that the “or” is the wrong place and there is another grammatical error in the same sentence.

    3. I suspect that his original handle was “JL” and he changed it to washingtonian2 and then to Economist123. Previous were left lying around due to vagaries in Amazon’s software. He wasn’t trying to avoid detection for the Freakonomics review but had forgotten how he had posted the MGLC review back in 2001. He uses several IPs: the one that viewed the page in the 40 minute window between my posting and your discovery that the wish list was gone was

    4. Again, what are the odds? Washingtonian is not that common a handle. Given the other evidence pointing to Economist123 being Lott it’s one hell of a coincidence that they chose the same handle. Swarthmore has only about 5000 people, how many have initials “JL”? 20? 50? How many of those are economists? And would choose Washingtonian as a handle? And think John Lott is wonderful and Steve Levitt is not? And are extremely familiar with Lott’s work?

    5. Look at the location of the reviewer and how the location has changed.

    6. Again, it’s not proof by itself, but one more coincidence you have to explain. How many other reviews of his book used that phrase?

  9. Xrlq Says:

    3. That doesn’t make sense. The names on the wish list typically match those that appear elsewhere, including on reviews. For example, my ancient review of Lott’s book was originally posted under my real name, not Xrlq, but now appears as Xrlq once I changed my profile to that. Shouldn’t Lott’s have done the same? As to the IP address, it’s interesting to know that viewed your page, but was that the IP address associated with Tom H.’s comments?

    4. Economists in Washington – especially the self-professed variety – are a dime a dozen. I don’t know why you think he’s in Swarthmore. It’s a hell of a commute from there to D.C. As to how many JLs there, Amazon alone has too many to count, and that’s just the subset who choose “JL” as a handle.

    5. You didn’t answer my question.

    6. Just about all of the ones you attribute to Lott. Then again, there may be a bit of selection bias.

  10. Tim Lambert Says:

    3. The names on the reviews change when you change your name, the name on your wish list. Your wish list still appears under your real name. I’m still waiting to hear your explanation of why JL’s wish list vanished within minutes of my linking to it. I’ll tell you about the IP numbers when you quit evading that question.

    4. He gave the location Swarthmore on one of his reviews so ALL of his reviews changed to that location. Originally his MGLC review had Washington as the location. Later it changed to Swarthmore, later to Washington and later still to nothing. Yes, it’s a hell of a commute. How many economists with the initials do you think “JL” do it?

    5. I did answer your question. Look at the location of the reviewer and how the location has changed. Look at the location of the reviewer and how the location has changed.
    LOOK AT THE LOCATION OF THE REVIEWER AND HOW THE LOCATION HAS CHANGED. Is there some reson why this is beyond you?

    6. Feel free to look through the others and see if any of them use that phrase.

  11. Xrlq Says:

    3. Your answer still doesn’t make sense. Why would JL/Economist123 change his real/fake name to Washingtonian2/Economist123 if he were trying to cover his tracks? That sounds more like something somebody spoofing John Lott – Ask John Lott II, anyone? – might do. I don’t know what that has to do with the your continued refusal to provide the IP address that are supposedly associated with John Lott, let alone to explain how they are so associated.

    4. Hardly anyone commutes from Swarthmore to D.C. However, having a profile that lists one city for a while and later lists another is not the same thing as commuting. Plenty of people move between the cities, for example. But if your statements about the JL switch are true, then there’s a good chance we’re talking about someone pretending to be Lott himself, in which case the answer to your question is “exactly the same number of ‘economists’ who know that detail about John Lott.”

    5. Nothing’s escaping me, you’re simply refusing to answer my question. If Lott’s actual review of Malcolm’s book and his supposed review of his own had been made from the same account, they’d have the same name on them. And you still haven’t said what maximcl has to do with any of the specific reviews to which I referred in this post. It sounds like you’re resorting to the familiar “point and divert” tactic of non-argument.

    6. Which phrase? “This?” I’m sure plenty say that. “Comprehensive?” A bit less common than “this,” but hardly a rarity. The exact phrase “This is by far the largest most comprehensive study on crime, let alone on gun control,” as uttered by Mary Rosh? In that case, no one else said it, including Economist123.

  12. Tim Lambert Says:

    Oh, so now you are going to argue that he was framed? A frame-up that started in 2001 when the MGLC review was posted? Or earlier when the first self-review was posted? And the framer just posted the reviews and waited years for someone to notice them? And how did the framer know to use Lott’s Washingtonian pseudonym?

  13. Xrlq Says:

    I’m arguing many things are possible. And I’m still waiting for Tom H.’s allegedly damning IP address, which you still have not provided.

  14. Tim Lambert Says:

    As I wrote before: I’m still waiting to hear your explanation of why JL’s wish list vanished within minutes of my linking to it. I’ll tell you about the IP numbers when you quit evading that question.

  15. Xrlq Says:

    I don’t claim to know the history behind the alleged disappearance of a wish list no one other than you has even seen. For all I know, you could easily forged it yourself, simply by copying Washingtonian2’s wish list to your server, editing the document, and replacing all three references to Washingtonian2 with JL.

    Assuming that you haven’t played any games, and the profile really did exist under that name, then it’s a reasonably safe bet that whoever changed the profile, did so in response to reading your entry. You think that someone is Lott himself, but have yet to explain why. Basically, you are asking me to take your word that Lott is not only a pathological liar, but that he also stupid enough to (1) create an Amazon profile that is intended to be anonymous, but call it “JL,” (2) once caught by Tim Lambert, change the name on his ostensibly anonymous profile to another name that Tim Lambert has long accused of being him, or even (3) use his “anonymous” profile to repost his own book review, despiting having a separate, above-board profile, aptly named “JohnRLott,” that would have been much better suited to this purpose.

    Your repeated refusal to provide Tom H.’s IP address, and your insistence on tying that issue to an unrelated one, does not reflect well on your overall credibility. As far as I’m concerned, until you provide that information this conversation is over.

  16. JRM Says:

    Boy, Xrlq, I think you’re on the wrong side of this one. Lott’s prior, similar behavior and the fact that Lott took credit for another Economist123 review is pretty damning. Lott’s behavior over the years has shown a high degree of weirdness and dishonesty, and supporting him at this point seems like willful blindness.

    Bellasiles and Lott came from the same barrel. Lambert – like Cramer – may well have a sharp axe to grind, but that doesn’t mean he’s wrong. Hell, Lyndon LaRouche is sometimes right.

    There may well be good arguments against many forms of gun control. Citing John Lott for any of them shows an unwillingness to require honest sources.


  17. Xrlq Says:

    JRM, I’m not on either “side” of this. Do you have a link to support the “fact” that Lott has taken credit for another Economist123 review? And if you do, how much light does that shed on whether or not this Economist123 is Lott himself, or someone attempting to spoof him?

  18. Tim Lambert Says:

    It is disappointing that you can’t even get basic facts about what happened correct. You link to my post exposing Lott as Washingtonian apparently without noticing that the review in question was included in my post because it had been posted under the name “washingtonian2”. Here’s the likely sequence of what happened:

    1. Lott creates Amazon account with initials JL, buys books, creates wish list.

    2. Lott decides to post a review of MGLC. Changes his account name from “JL” to “washingtonian2” to cover up who wrote it. Gives his location as Washington DC.

    3. Lott posts another review from that account (of some Mac software — review is no longer there). He gives his location as Swarthmore. All his other reviews change to location Swarthmore, including the MGLC one and the one of JL Malcolm’s book that he signed his name to.

    4. I notice the Swarthmore thing. This leads me to the discovery of Lott’s “Washingtonian” sock and the post you linked.

    5. Lott decides to post his review of Freakonomics. Because I’ve exposed “Washingtonian” but he doesn’t want to admit this, he changes his review name to Economist123 and removes the location.

    6. Hilarity ensues.

    7. When I point out the wish list, Lott removes the incrimating evidence. Apparently you can’t think of a reason why he would do this, so let me explain: by removing incriminating evidence he makes it harder for people to prove that he is Economist123. He probably didn’t know that I had saved a copy, but even then he can’t on fanatical Lott supporters like xrlq to accuse me of forging it. (Yes, I know you claim not to be on Lott’s side, but you could be lying through your teeth.)

    So what’s your explanation? If Economist123 is just some random Swarthmore economist with initials JL, why would he remove the wish list? Well?

    oh yeah, Tom H’s IPs:,,,

  19. Xrlq Says:

    1. Plausible.

    2. Less plausible. As of 11/8/01, Lott had only been at AEI for a few months, and did not even reside in Washington, DC, let alone identify himself with the area (no self-respecting gun owner does). If this was the real Lott attempting to accurately describe his location, he would have put down Swarthmore. If he was trying to cover his tracks, he’d have chosen a city he had no connection to whatsoever.

    3. Even less plausible. First “JL” dishonestly changes his name and location to sort-of cover his tracks, now he is so overwhelmed with honesty he changes his location back to where he really lives? Why on earth would he do that? By contrast, hundreds if thousands every year graduate from high school in and around D.C., and move to Swarthmore to attend college.

    4. That goes without saying. You have a long history of “noticing” just about everything that can possibly be tied, however tenuously, to Lott.

    4 1/2. After having made in incredibly lame attempt to anonymize his existing profile, Lott creates a second profile, this time using his full name, and reviews a VHS boxed set. For some oddball reason, Lott does not create a wish list for his above-board profile. Perhaps he thinks people will be more likely to give gifts to some random schmuck they’ve never heard of than to John Lott?

    [Note: the review was on 1/1/02, so depending on when the profile was actually created, and when the review described in #3 took place, it’s possible this item should have been numbered 3 1/2.]

    5. You’ve still dodged the question why Lott, having decided to post his own published review of the book under his own name, would use his ostensibly anonymous profile rather than the above-board one he created on or before 1/1/02.

    6. Hilarity is right. Last time I checked your blog, one of your commenters, along with another on Crooked Timber, was accusing me of being Lott. So far, the only conspiracy I’ve not heard from anyone is the possiblility that you are John Lott, faking a stalking site against yourself in much the same way Kerri Dunn and countless others have faked hate crimes against themselves. Don’t worry, it’s only a matter of time till someone gets around to it.

    7. Only “Lott” didn’t do that after all. He (you?) changed the semi-incriminating handle “JL” to the equally incriminating name “Washingtonian2,” which both the fake and the real one already knew to be on your radar screen.

    The IP address, and refer to AOL servers in Manassas and Sterling, VA, respectively, while points to Speakeasy.NET, a DSL provider, and to Comcast’s server in Pennsylvania. The first three IP addresses tell you nothing about Tom H.’s physical location, as Speakeasy does business in all areas in the country where DSL is available, and AOL is a dial-up service. The last one, however, is a cable provider IP you can’t just “call into” from anywhere. Thus, to the extent we can safely assume all four comments attributed to Tom H. were in fact posted by the same person, the only thing we can be reasonably certain of us that he posted the comments from somewhere in Pennsylvania. Do you disagree? If so, why?

  20. JRM Says:


    …is the link to the Freakonomics review. It certainly looks like Lott, and it sounds like Lott’s sort of criticism.

    Why would Lott do this? For the same reasons he did Mary Rosh. And partly for the same reason New York State’s chief justice got in hot water: He’s not good at crime, and he’s got no ability to learn that he’s not good at crime.

    The Freakonomics review was published 5/1, and I see no indication that Lott has alleged a spoof; I presume Amazon would be happy to remove the review if so.


  21. Xrlq Says:

    No one disputes that John R. Lott was the original author of the Freakonomics review, which first ran in the April 21, 2005 Wall Street Journal, and was later posted on his web site. All that proves is that Economist123 copied and pasted John Lott’s book review. It doesn’t say a f’n thing about who Economist123 is. It only looked that way when Lambert dishonestly snipped the review to make the name “John R. Lott” look like a signature to the Economist123 review, rather than the tail end of what he had copied and pasted from Lott’s web site.

    In your previous comment, you referred to the Freakonomics review as “another” Economist123 review, despite the fact that this is the one we were discussing all along. If in your mind Freakonomics was “another” review, what did you think the original one was?

  22. Tim Lambert Says:

    2. You don’t find it plausible that someone who works in Washington would choose washingtonian as a handle? Are you now going to deny that Washingtonian was Lott’s handle at freerepublic beacuse you don’t find it plausible that he would choose that name?

    3. How many times do I have to explain this? When you post a review and give a location, ALL of the reviews posted from that account change to that location. Lott wasn’t aware of that — I certainly wasn’t until I tried an experiment. He posted a perfectly innocuous review of some Mac software and put down Swarthmore as his location. He didn’t expect his MGLC review to switch to Swarthmore. What is more, the same thing happens to all the anonymous reviews posted from that account. These don’t appear under the account name, but they do (or did — Amazon seems to have changed this) appear with the location of the reviewer given. This gives us a way to identify who posted these anonymous reviews. If they change locations at the same time and in the same way they come from the same account. As I explained several times before, the review of Joyce Lee Malcolm’s book that Lott signed his name to exhibits the same Washington -> Swarthmore -> Washington pattern. That means that the Malcolm review that Lott signed his name to was posted from the economist123/washingtonian2 account. You will no doubt try to evade this fact yet again.

    4 1/2 In his review Lott gives his location as Washington DC. I thought you said it wasn’t plausible that he would do this?

    5 He only used the John R Lott account once, but he used the other one for several reviews, including the JL Malcolm one that he signed his name to. If you accept a cookie, Amazon logs you straight into your account. So if you post a review/buy a book the next time you will do it from the same account unless you take the trouble to log out and log back in to a different account. He may well have forgotten about the other account or lost the password.

    6. Do you even know what the word “conspiracy” means? Who has alleged that Lott conspired with somebody? Lott used one of sock puppets to post a link to your blog in that Crooked Timber thread. Like Mary Rosh, you defend Lott way way past the point at which any rational person would concede. Like Mary Rosh, you say you’ve met him and praise his abilities. If people mistake you for one of his socks, well, that’s your fault.

    7. Economist123 was already tagged with washingtonian2. “JL” was another piece of evidence that pointed strongly to economist123 being Lott. Which is why he deleted the wish list. If economist123 isn’t Lott, why would he delete the wish list? Well?

    Maxim Lott also posted from Are you going to claim that is another coincidence?

  23. Xrlq Says:

    2. No, I don’t find it plausible that anyone who neither hails from Washington nor lives there would call himself “Washingtonian” solely because he recently took a job there. You do, of course, but only because you live in Lambertville, where all roads lead to Lott.

    3. You haven’t “explained” anything. I know full well that your handle change when you change your location. When I posted my own review of MGLC I didn’t call myself Xrlq, nor did I live anywhere Rancho Santa Margarita. The fact that somebody moved from D.C. to Swarthmore is unremarkable. Many people have moved in that direction, while Lott himself has not.

    4 1/2. Nice try. I said he wouldn’t claim to be from D.C., which he isn’t. I never said he wouldn’t claim to be in D.C., which he is. If you quit your job tomorrow and moved to Canberra to work for some think tank, I would expect that you’d update your Amazon profile that you were now in Canberra. I would not expect you to change your handle to “Canberran,” let alone “Canberran2,” unless you had some other, deeper connection to the city.

    5. Impossible. He may have only posted one review under that profile, in 1999, but that doesn’t mean he hasn’t “used” that profile since. Common sense dictates that he must have accessed the account at least once after that, as he had no connection at all to Washington, D.C. until 2001 – just about the same time as the other guy reviewed MGLC. Your theory that he promptly forgot his password and ditched his real account within months of updating it is beyond silly. I’ve forgotten my own password on Amazon plenty of times, and never had any trouble at all getting it back.

    6. Of course I know what a conspiracy is; I was just trying to give you the benefit of the doubt. While it is theoretically possible that one person might have both a Speakeasy DSL account and a cable Internet account from Comcast, it’s less clear why anyone in his right mind would want to. It’s even less plausible that a single person would have two separate cable Internet accounts from a single company ( and If you had alleged that the “sock puppets” were separate individuals working in concert, that would have been far-fetched but at least theoretically possible. Instead, you’ve asked me to believe John Lott was in two separate locations at the same time.

    7. That’s not an answer. If any wish list was deleted, it was the one associated with John Lott’s real profile, not the one you are attempting to peg on him. That Maxim Lott, or someone claiming to be him, posted a comment on the Speakeasy account is irrelevant. I’ve already addressed the possiblity that Tom H. is the spook; if he is, expect more comments from his IP address under names Johnny Lott, Mary Rosh, Economist456, Washingtonian69, HelloTimLambert, or what-not.

    Now that you’ve asked me to believe that a single person viewed your site and posted comments from two separate Comcast accounts during the same period, it’s up to you to explain how that’s even possible, let alone probable. Either that, or admit you were wrong, and that you owe an apology to Lott, me, and everyone else you’ve carelessly smeared as a Lott fanatic and/or “sock puppet.”

  24. Tim Lambert Says:

    2. Another evasion. Are you now going to deny that Washingtonian was Lott’s handle at freerepublic because you don’t find it plausible that he would choose that name?

    3. Another evasion. The changes were Washington -> Swarthmore -> Washington. And they all happened at the same time. At the same time as Lott’s revie of Malcolm’s book. No doubt you will evade this again. And no “many people” do not move from Washington to Swarthmore. Swarthmore only has about 5000 people and there aren’t many reviews at Amazon from Swarthmore. In fact, my list contains every single one by “a reader from Swarthmore”. And all of them changed at once to a “reader from Washington”. Are seriously trying to argue that was coincidence? Seriously?

    4 1/2. He doesn’t claim to be from DC. You think Washingtonienne was claiming to be from DC?

    5. “Impossible”???? It is impossible for him to use an account that he used several times before as opposed to one he only used once? (Yes once, he posted that one review in 2002, not 1999.)

    6. If, you look at my post that lists all of his sock postings you might notice that they were not all posted on the same day, but over a year. And guess what? People sometimes change ISPs. From September to December 2004, Tom H was posting from the speakeasy IP and there were frequent visits to the Lott posts (and just the Lott posts) on my blog. After there was not a single visit from that IP. It seems that Tom H swtiched ISPs because instead there were visits from the first Comcast IP and posts by Tom H from that IP. One interesting feature was that the first visit of a day was not to the front page but to the comments of a post about Lott that Tom H and Bob had commented on extensively. Clearly Tom H had booked that page and used it as an entry to my blog. All visits from this IP stopped on April 15. On April 17 frequent visits started from the second Comcast IP. The very first hit was to Tom H’s bookmarked post. There have been frequent visits from that IP since then — he visited the post about economist123 about a dozen times on the first day it was posted.

    ISPs sometimes change the IP assigned to you if you turn your computer off. Between April 15 and April 17 Tom H upgrade his computer to MaCOS 10.3.9.

    7. The wish list that was deleted was the one associated with the washingtonian2/economist123/JL account. It was not some other wish list.

    It’s good to see that you have struck out your false claims about the content of Lott’s book. Now, how about you strike out your false claims that Lott would not make spelling mistakes like washingtonian2 did?

  25. Xrlq Says:

    2. I’m not going to discuss the alleged Free Republic issue, or any of your other attempts to evade Unsupported Allegation A by swiftly changing the subject to Unsupported Allegation B, then to Irrelevant and Unsupported Allegation C, and so on until. You’ve been allowed to “win” too many arguments that way already. You’re not getting away with it this time.

    3. Do you even know WTF Swarthmore is?! People move there from the greater D.C. area all the time. Lott, by contrast, has never moved from D.C. to Swarthmore, only in the opposite direction.

    4 1/2. Of course she was. The whole idea behind that name “Washingtonienne,” which she isn’t, was to stress that she worked on Capitol Hill, while keeping everyone guessing what state she hailed from. Had she called herself Ohioanne her identity would have been much more easily detected. Just this morning my wife, who is unaware of this discussion, was asked if she was a Californian. Her answer was “no,” without even having to think about it, despite having lived here 9 years and despite her being the one who wants to stay.

    5. Impossible that he forgot he had an account in his own name, despite having updated it around the same time he supposedly used the other account to review his own book. The only way your wacky theory would work is if he had deliberately set up one account for purposes of being himself and the other for purposes of pretending to be someone else. He wouldn’t have simply “forgotten” about that. You were right about the date of the review; I goofed and copied the date that the boxed set came out. However, the correct date, 1/1/02, does not make your forgetfulness theory any more plausible, given its proximity in time to Non-John’s 12/13/01 review of Franklin Zimring’s book.

    6. I don’t have the time, energy or frankly even interest to investigate every wild accusation you’ve made in full. I would be interested in knowing the truth behind the present one, but it’s clear you either unwilling or unable to discuss it honestly. First you claimed to have a bunch of incriminating IP addresses that all pointed to Tom H. Then you had to be asked twice to produce any IP addreses at all, and four more times after that to reveal any alleged to be associated with Tom H. And now you are trying to tell me that Tom H. used two different Comcast accounts, despite having previously told me only one was used by Lott in his alleged capacity as Tom H. And no, cable providers do not change any part of your IP address except the final segment when you disconnect and reconnect. If were to turn off his cable modem and turn it back on, he might conceivably return as or even, but there is no way he would come back as 69.143.118.XX And turning off his computer wouldn’t have any impact on his IP address at all.

    Within the span of a single thread you have now lied or deliberately misled readers in at least six ways. First you “dowdified” an attribution to make it look like a signature. Second, when called on that you changed the topic to a wish list no one other than you has ever seen. Third, when called on the absence of proof for that, you suddenly “discovered” a copy of the list you’d supposedly had all along. Not even a screen shot, which at least requires a fair amount of skill to forge, but simple HTML, which anyone can easily edit to make it say anything. Fourth, when called on that, you falsely accused me of accusing you of forging the document – not that you’d have anything to complain about if I had, given your pattern of assuming the worst of others. Fifth, you attempted to change the subject to irrelevant details too many times to count. Sixth, you stated as fact that Lott had posted under multiple accounts, despite having no evidence to support that claim beyond some hocus-pocus “style” analysis, which amounts to little beyond the mere usage of the word “comprehensive.” [UPDATE: most of this paragraph was lost on the original posting, and has since been restored from memory, a few hours after Lambert’s response below.]

    Either you are too both too myopic to recognize a troll jerking your chain and too arrogant to admit you’ve been wrong, or you are every bit as dishonest as you accuse Lott of being. Either way, your opinions are utterly worthless. Have a nice day.

  26. Tim Lambert Says:

    2. Yet another evasion. Lott used the handle Washingtonian at freereupblic. This disproves your absurd claim that he couldn’t possibly be washingtonian2 because Lott would never had chosen such a handle despite the fact that he worked in Washington.

    3. Yet another evasion. I think it is now over a dozen times you have evaded this point. It’s very clear that you have no answer. The changes were Washington -> Swarthmore -> Washington. And they all happened at the same time. At the same time as the changes to the location of Lott’s review of Malcolm’s book. Are you seriously trying to argue that some other economist with initials JL, with a writing style the same as Mary Rosh and an uncanny familiarity with Lott’s work was shuttling between Swarthmore nad Washington just like Lott. And also was posting reviews to Amazon. And changed his location when he posted a new review at the same time as Lott. And then this mystery JL economist deleted his wishlist within minutes of my pointing it out. If he’s not Lott, why would he do that? You don’t have an answer, do you?

    4 1/2 You admit that Washingtonienne adopted that name because she workede in Washington, but you insist that isn’t possible that Lott would use the same Washingtonian even though he worked in Washington. Right.

    5. My “wacky” theory is that if you review a book on Amazon you will likely use the account you used for your previous review because that is what Amazon automatically logs you into. Your claim is that this is “impossible”.

    6. Apparently you now think you can make up “facts” about computers and fool me with with your fabrications. ISPs do not always allocate you IPs in the same /8 range. IPs are in short supply and that would be a very inefficient scheme. They have a pool of IPs that they allocate from. I haven’t moved or changed ISPs in the past two years and my IP has changed many times. Even the first part of the IP has varied: sometimes it has been 211.x.x.x, sometimes 220.x.x.x.

    And now, since you’ve run out of arguments, you are turning to abuse. In your original post you called my site “paranoid rantings” and claimed it was mostly gratuitous personal attacks on Lott. You then proceed to call me “Timmy”, “Tim the Great”, “Dim”, “Timwit”, “Timbecile”, “a jerk” and “Dim Lambert”. You also used the category to call me a moron and the title to call me an asshat. I see we’ve come full circle.

  27. Xrlq Says:

    2. Your fantasy that Lott used the name “Washingtonian” in a different forum proves nothing. Even if it were true, which I strongly doubt, that still wouldn’t prove that Economist123/Washingtonian2 was the same person. It is equally consistent with the much more plausible theory that you’ve been had by a troll who was familiar enough with your site to know which buttons to push. [That too would explain the “2,” which you have not even attempted to do. Why would the real Lott – as opposed to a fake one trying to get your attention – want the name “Washingtonian” so badly as to accept a number at the end rather than picking something else?]

    3. The answer is that you are full of crap. You can’t move from Swarthmore to Washington and from Washington “at the same time,” in real life or on Amazon. And you have no proof Lott posted any reviews on Amazon at all beyond the one for that boxed set. The fact that all of the reviews of Economist123 fka JL (maybe) changed at once proves nothing beyond the fact that all reviews associated with the profile that is now called Economist123 are in fact associated with the profile that is now called Economist123.

    4 1/2. Are you being deliberately dense? Jessica Cutler didn’t adopt the name “Washingtonienne” solely because she worked in Washington. She did so to conceal where she really was from. If Lott followed Cutler’s logic, he’d have called himself “Pennsylvanian” instead. And if anyone did use a profile like that to describe Lott favorably, you’d doubtless be touting that as proof that he’s John Lott, too.

    5. Yes, as a matter of fact, it is impossible that Lott would inadvertently log on to the JL/Economist123/Washingtonian2 account anytime after 1/1/02, when he posted a review under his real name. And yes, the switch back would have had to have been inadvertent for your theory to be remotely plausible, as neither as neither the real John Lott nor your little fake friend has posted a single review since then which the real John Lott would have had any reason to keep anonymous.

    6. Maybe your ISP works that way, and for all I know, maybe all Australian ones do, but mine sure as hell doesn’t, nor did the one I had at my prior residence three years ago. I’ve been blogging since 12/02 and using Sitemeter since 1/03, and have never had a problem excluding my own page views from their count, using a system that takes your current IP address and replaces the final octet with a wildcard. This very weekend I’ve experienced massive outages, with the service down for hours on end and returning only intermittently. I’ve also been instructed by my ISP to power cycle my modem twice, and done the same on my own two more times, establishing a fresh connection each time. Yet, for some strange reason, the IP address associated with this here comment is exactly the same as the one associated with my first in this thread. All a strange coincidence, I’m sure. Or, better still, “made up.” Right.

    Yes, we have come full circle, but no, that doesn’t mean I’ve run out of arguments, only patience. You can only hide the ball and move the goalposts so many times before you either “win” an argument by wearing the other side down (as you did last time) or you lose it big by exposing yourself as either a dupe or a fraud (as you did this time).

    Last time I called you those nasty names based on some initial impressions, which I had neither the time nor the resources to prove correct, and thus had little choice but to presume incorrect when challenged. This time, you’ve provided all the proof I lacked, and more. In light of that, I hereby retract my earlier apology. I do appreciate you reminding me to re-file the current entry under “morons,” however. I really mean that.

  28. SayUncle : Windmills ahead! Says:

    […] SayUncle|

    Tim Lambert accuses many different online personalities of being John Lott. Xrlq is unconvinced. While Lott has a history of using internet pseudonyms (yeah, I’m one […]

  29. Deltoid » John Lott’s number two fan Says:

    […] This year I noted that Lott had signed his name to a review of Freakonomics using the same Amazon account that he used for a five-star review his own book. Over the years the account name had changed from JL to washingtonian2 to economist123. Xrlq leaped to Lott’s defence, calling me a moron and asserting that I was “either a dupe or a fraud”. He argued that washingtonian2’s review of Lott’s book could not have been written by Lott because it contained spelling and grammatical errors and because it “betrays a shallow understanding of the substance of More Guns, Less Crime.” Here is the paragraph that he based this on (”sic”s added by Xrlq): […]

  30. Al Lowe Says:

    From one John Lott “pseudonym” to another, Lambert really needs to get new hobby.

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