I disagree on the second point. John Lott's children are just as free 
to submit reviews as anyone else--and lots of people use false names 
on Usenet. The more interesting question is whether his son had read 
the book--but I gather his mother helped with the review, and she 
surely has.
David Friedman

>>>David, I wouldn't dispute his son's or his wife's right to write the review or use 
>assumed names. However, if any member of my family did that (particularly if they 
>were using my "pen name" as in this case) I would certainly ask them not to as I 
>would consider it very dishonest. Using a pen name isn't necessarily a breach of 
>ethics, but if the purpose would be to cover up ones personal relationship to the 
>author, it certainly is. That is information that should affect how people reading 
>the review interpret it (I would put less weight on a review of one of my books from 
>my family than from an anonymous third party).  Further, if my family went ahead and 
>submitted the review, despite my request that they not do it, I would inform Amazon 
>of their true identities. I would hope that I would do this without any extrinsic 
>incentive simply because it would be the right thing to do, but in part I would do it 
>because I would be scared silly that:

1) people would think that I had written the review and had committed a serious breach 
of academic ethics (there would be no way to prove that I didn't if the review is 
submitted from my home computer) . 
2) Such a breach of ethics would rightly call into question my integrity and therefore 
my reliability as a scholar. I wouldn't think it at all unreasonable for people to 
believe that someone who played fast and loose with truth in one arena wouldn't in 
others. Most of the value of an academic work is lost if you can't trust the written 
to accurately represent the facts. If you have to check every footnote and re-run 
every regression that someone presents in most cases there is little point in reading 
what they write. 
3)  The perceived loss of integrity would adversely affect all my colleagues at 
Brookings as people would rightly ask what sorts of standards Brookings was applying 
in its hiring. 
4) I would therefore expect that the institution would investigate the facts of the 
matter and finding that I took no action to stop the publication of the deceptive 
review or to inform the public of its deceptive nature once it was published that I 
would be fired to protect the reputation of the institution. 

As I said, it will be interesting to see how AEI responds to this.  - - Bill Dickens

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