Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Blog for Blog's Sake: Accepting My Lott in Life

Interesting now to look back at this article from the Chron of Higher Ed, nearly two years old now.

Most people, even in the U.S., don't know what a "blog" is today. Two years ago, you had to be pretty up on things to read blogs.

Here is Crooked Timber's list of academic bloggers. It is clearly not up to date (it doesn't include Mungowitz End) but tasteful (it doesn't include Mungowitz End).

From the Chronicle article:

One of the most combative strains of scholarly blogging is the investigation of alleged academic misconduct. The work of John R. Lott Jr., a gun researcher who has been accused of inventing the results of a telephone survey out of whole cloth (a charge he denies), has persistently been scrutinized by at least six bloggers. Mr. Lott's research, in fact, is the sole topic of a blog maintained by Timothy D. Lambert, a lecturer in computer science at the University of New South Wales, in Australia. And it was another blogger, Julian Sanchez, a staff writer at the Cato Institute, who discovered and confirmed that Mr. Lott had been participating in Internet discussion groups under the name "Mary Rosh."

Well, I was just on a panel at the Public Choice meetings with John (who I have known for nearly 20 years, and who I consider a friend), and I can at least confirm that he is not DRESSING as Mary Rosh. Not that I didn't ask him to. Beg, really.

And I had never seen the Lambert blog. Good lord. The guy is a "large mammal" on the TTLB ecosystem. WTF?

UPDATE: I take it back. I spent about 45 minutes reading different part of Lambert's blog, and I can easily see why people read it, and link to it. As I said, I really do like John L, and admire his ability as a scholar. But he has made some (to say the least) questionable choices.

And, a personal anecdote. I had agreed to serve as a discussant on a panel at Public Choice, a panel John himself had organized. The papers were: Groseclose/Milyo, Lott himself, Dan Sutter, and Ricardo Puglisi. I had been going to offer comments on the G/M paper, but had prepared remarks on everything. This was an excellent panel, one of the best and most coherent at the meetings, and John Lott did all the work of organizing it. There were probably 40 people in the room, a very good turnout.

When Milyo could not come to the meeting (because he's a weasel; yes, Jeff, I said that), that meant that my primary discussant role was cut. But I had worked for a couple of hours on other things to say.

Well....what happened was that the other papers' time was expanded. Near the end, I got ready to speak. But we hadn't had time for audience questions, so I said I would wait until the audience had a chance. John Lott took up all the remaining time, giving detailed point-by-point refutations of even the tiniest remark or question. In the end, I never got to speak at all.

I don't blame John for this. He can't help it. And, to be fair, he had asked me to go ahead and take my turn earlier, so it wasn't like he didn't give me a full opportunity to speak if I wanted to. He did; he asked me to go ahead. But the audience hadn't asked questions yet.

The point is that, when there was open time in the panel, which I thought we would use for audience questions, he just had to take it himself. It's an obsession, not a choice.

I think this explains the book reviews, and Mary Rosh comments: he needs the positive response, or else he has to take as much time as there is available to rebut any negative response. Sad, really. Because he really is a good guy, and very smart.


Anonymous said...

It was Lott and Munger an a panel, how could we not attend. Now if had been Lott V Munger everyone at the conference would have been there.

As to your not speaking at the panel. My friend and I started referring to it as the Munger Bait-and-Switch. Your name would appear on the program but then when one showed up for the show it was not to be.

However your threatening of Dr. Drezner and telling Dr. Lawrence that he would have a great career "in another field" made it all worthwhile (the beads were a nice touch too).

-Robi from UGA

Chris Lawrence said...

Well, I was seriously considering a management career in the middle-tier casual dining industry (say Fazoli's or Steak 'n' Shake) already... Mike's encouragement was all I needed to make the jump!

I kid, I think.

(Oh my lord, my picture is actually showing up here. Ick!)

Anonymous said...

And how much time would have been left if I did show up?

-- weasel

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