Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Whole Lott-a Baloney


The New Zealand Police have organised a conference on "gun safety" and one of the keynote speakers is John Lott. There are at least four other pro-gun speakers at the talk including a lobbyist who has been paid by the NRA in the past.

Fair enough, I guess, that the conference have speakers expressing different perspectives (although, really, the conference should probably have a different theme like "Debates on Firearms Legislation and Safety"). But I've just heard one of the conference organisers interviewed on National Radio (the interview doesn't seem to be on the schedule though) and he argued that the keynote speakers had been chosen for the quality of their empirical research.

Indeed the subtitle of the conference is: "solid research, not pious hopes".

Solid research? Honestly those are not two words that I would normally associate with Lott. As Tim Lambert shows here and here and here and here and here and here (most of these links are to categories - that is, pages of multiple posts on Lott as opposed to individual posts) Lott's research is contestable to put it politely. Not only that but Lott appears to be unafraid of stooping to using sock puppets when debating his opponents.

Given that the police are co-organising this conference, no doubt some of my tax-payer dollars are going into giving Lott a platform. Personally, I don't mind taxes being used to fund debate (enhancing our democracy) but I draw the line when it comes to crank pseudo-lobbyists masquerading as researchers.

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