> He represented himself as someone who had taken courses from himself and
presented testimonials about his character from that persona. That isn't

I confess I find the whole discussion of John Lott a bit bizarre, although
it may be that after nearly two decades of working as a full time academic,
I am willing to settle for academics who do not commit battery on their
colleagues (I have seen it more than once, and it has been unpunished).  I
am not pleased by Lott's presenting false testimonials, although given the
massive personal assault he has endured since his book, it does not surprise
me a lot.  It is unusual academic behavior.  In my experience, academics are
more inclined to stick to anonymity when they start libelous rumors about
other academics.

But if we are going to talk about firing people, then it seems to me that a
little consistency is in order.  Remember the JMCB replication project, that
ended with piles of irreproducible papers?  I do not recall that leading to
dismissals.  Lott has his data sets available, online.  I had no economist,
now at Harvard, tell me he would not publish in the AER once they started
demanding that data sets be revealed.  I do not think he was hiding fraud,
just acknowledging that the profession offers zero rewards for putting
together a good data set, and he did not want anyone to beat him to
publications.  Nevertheless, if replication is the hallmark of science, then
Lott is among the least of the profession's sinners.  I have rarely had an
economist refuse to share a data set; they just ignore the request.  So let
us start with the serious offenses.  Should every failure to share data be a
firing offense?  What if you share the data and your published results are
reproducible?  Those of not at think tanks have to teach.  A former
colleague walked into a seminar one day, completely unprepared, with his
coffee cup, and spent two hours telling grad students they should think of
questions to ask about the coffee cup.  He called this cupology.  Will every
case of unprepared teaching gets the same scrutiny, or is it just the
politically unfashionable Lott who gets scrutiny..

Lott's offense strikes me as trivial by academic standards.  I am willing to
cooperate with pillorying Lott if every academic gets the same degree of

William Sjostrom

William Sjostrom
Senior Lecturer
Centre for Policy Studies
National University of Ireland, Cork
Cork, Ireland

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