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August 01, 2007

More on Lott vs. Levitt and HarperCollins

Regarding John Lott, Jr.'s lawsuit against Steven Levitt and HarperCollins: you may have seen Monday's article in The Chronicle of Higher Education that described how Levitt made "a doozy of a concession".

What you may not have seen is this: John has moved to file an amended complaint. In that motion John states (pp. 2-3), "First, since the entry of the Order, Lott has uncovered explicit evidence of Levitt’s malice towards him, which was previously unknown to Lott and which now is specifically alleged in the Amended Complaint. (Ex. B, ¶¶ 16-20.)”

Paragraph 17 of Exhibit B is as follows:

“Examples of Levitt’s hostility to Plaintiff [John Lott] abound. For example, and not by way of limitation:

a.       Levitt accused Plaintiff publicly of reaching rigged statistical results;

b.      Levitt asserted publicly that Plaintiff may suffer from mental illness;

c.       Levitt publicly described Plaintiff’s scholarly arguments as nonsense and as embarrassing or fraudulent;

d.      Levitt made defamatory statements about Plaintiff to an individual who was a total stranger to Levitt, but after pretrial discovery demonstrated the falsity of Levitt’s statements he admitted that they had been untrue;

e.       Levitt publicly referred to Plaintiff as an idiot and the anti-Christ;

f.        Levitt stated publicly that Plaintiff as engaged in stupid and misleading distortions of data; and

g.       Levitt said publicly that an academic presentation Plaintiff was scheduled to make would be filled with outrageous lies, and Levitt offered publicly to pay colleagues if they would humiliate Plaintiff for Levitt."

I stress that any evidence for these allegations has not been presented in court, let alone adjudicated.

But I, for one, would very much like to hear what John has.

Notes.

1. The motion I've quoted from is publicly available. To access it, one must register for the federal government's PACER system. At least when I offered credit card information, registration was easy and quick. After registering, go to the site for the federal district court for the Northern District of Illinois. Click on "ECF/PACER access". Click on "Query". Then enter case number "1:06cv2007". Run the query. Click on "History/Documents" and run the query again. The first quote above was taken from Document 60, "Main Document" and the second quote was taken from Document 60, "Exhibit Corrected". Please note that the government will charge you $.08 per page that you download to your computer.

2. John and I were classmates in graduate school at UCLA, and he is a friend.

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X

As someone currently being sued, and who was legally threatened by a best-selling author for calling him a fool, I'm not sympathetic towards using the legal process frivolously. I would hate to live in a world where I can't say someone is an idiot without being sued, or where I cannot freely admit I don't like someone. Levitt is a best-selling celebrity now, so his bad words should only give credibility to Lott. Being ignored would have been much more damning.

JorgXMcKie

Well, I would say that a and g are fairly serious charges, and the 'fraudulent part of c as well. Those, if true, go well beyond what I believe non-defamatory free speech usually implies. That is, he is accusing Lott of deliberate fraud and attempting to improperly interfere with Lott's career. Of course, a defense would be evidence that the charges are/were true. Has Levitt (and I liked his book and some articles I've read) offered up this defense?

Richard

X, I don't think that you understand what is happening here. These are not thinks that Levitt is being sued for. To show defamation against a public person (which I assume Lott is probably), you have to prove that the person doing the defamation did so with malice. These points go to try and show some deep disliike that Levitt had for Lott.

Steve Sailer

It sounds like a big moral victory for Lott over Levitt.

theo

Lott's only victory so far has been in being so vexatious that he's driven Levitt nuts.

Richard

OK, Leo explain what Lott did to make Levitt so dishonest about so many things. Just read Monday's article. Didn't those happen before the suit? On top of that "Levitt offered publicly to pay colleagues if they would humiliate Plaintiff for Levitt." Is this serious academic behavior? Is this the way that we want academics to act to one another?

thomas marvell

I have long known Lott and Levitt, having had very productive sharing of data and comments. I wrote one of the articles in the LJE issue involved. I tend to disagree with the substance of both of their publications.
What concerns me about this altercation is whether the emotion goes behond the personal attack. If scholars act with obvious retorical positions, does that mean that their analysis is also tainted by a lack of scholarly objectivity? It certainly taints it.
I do not believe that the free play of scholarly criticism is an adequate response to charges that scholars push their adjendas too much. There should be constant attempts to correct oneself, as well as others,

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