Friday, 22 August 2003

John Lottapalooza

Kevin Drum basically sums up my reaction to the latest John Lott go-around. Since being an arbiter of whose econometrics is less shoddy is not (yet) my job, I’ll just say I’m not convinced by either Lott or Ayers & Donahue. So far, the case Ayers & Donahue have made is that using the corrected Lott data and Lott’s (quite possibly flawed) econometrics, there is no statistically-significant evidence of there being any effect.

What this means substantively largely depends on how much stock you put in the so-called precautionary principle (and thus is a political question). I’m one of those people who thinks human liberty is more important than fretting about what people might do with that liberty, so my inclination (even aside from constitutional guarantees) is to reject any regulation that does not show a significant positive effect.

Anyway, this is probably the last I’ll say about Lott until either (a) someone who actually knows what the hell they’re doing with econometrics analyzes the data (something I’ve seen absolutely zero evidence of thus far, since even the statisticians involved in the debate apparently refuse to dirty their hands with real-world data) or (b) I analyze it myself after sitting down with my copy of Greene for a nice long while and realizing I’m probably kissing my academic career goodbye by even getting involved.