Saturday, October 24, 2009

John Lott and Michael Bellesiles

Laci the Dog posted an interesting piece about two professores, one disgraced and the other praised, in thier respective fields.

I have been asking this question for quite some time: How can Michael Bellesiles be ripped to shreds for his book Arming America, yet we still see John Lott cited as authoritative about CCW reducing crime?

John Lott makes Bellesiles look honest as heck. Tim Lambert catalogues Lott's unethical behaviour. In fact, Lambert basically rips apart everything John Lott says.

I know the answer to that. It's due to the incredible tenacity of the pro-gun movement in America. They can ruin someone or make him a hero, regardless of the truth. Citing an old Mother Jones article, Laci submitted this:

The right has good reason to stick by Lott: "The entire ideology of the modern gun movement has basically been built around this guy," says Saul Cornell, an Ohio State University historian who has written widely on guns. Over the years the pro-gun intellectual agenda has had two prongs: Defending a revisionist legal understanding of the Second Amendment in constitutional law, and refuting social scientists and public-health researchers who argue that the widespread availability of guns in America plays a key role in the nation's staggering number of homicides and suicides. Without Lott's work, the latter argument becomes much harder to make.

What's your opinion? What do you think about those "two prongs" described by Saul Cornell? The first is a "revisionist legal understanding of the 2nd Amendment" and the second is the old DGU business, that guns do more good than harm. Do you agree that these are the two fronts upon which the gun battle is being waged? Are the pro-gun folks winning this battle?

What about the difference between Lott and Bellesiles? Are they very different really in their methods, in their ethics?

Please feel free to leave a comment.


  1. MikeB...

    You are a genius.

    Now I now for sure that you are actually a pro 2A person who has taken on a a false persona.

    Well played.

  2. Of course we all know the "revisionists" are the ones creating the collective-civic rights nonsense in the 1970's.

    The difference between the two researchers is that Bellesiles was ripped apart by his peers and the academic community at large. Lott has only been ripped by a couple of anti-gunners.

    Most people forget that Lott has one thing in common with the likes of Bellesiles and Saul Cornell: they were all anti-gun before they started their "research". The difference is Lott was swayed by his findings while the others swayed their findings to fit their agenda.

  3. FWM, People have changed sides of this argument in both directions. I don't think it proves anything.