As the world turns, the Lott soap opera goes on producing new plot twists on a more or less daily basis. The emergence of a witness, David Gross, supporting Lott’s story of a survey lost in 1997, and his acceptance by respected expert James Lindgren as a credible source, convinced many, including me, that the case of fabrication against Lott could not be sustained on the available evidence. The fact that Gross was a member of a pro-gun lobby group, which was known to Lindgren, wasn’t in itself a reason to doubt him. The NRA has 3.6 million members, so a survey of 2000 Americans ought to pick up twenty or thirty of them, and these are the people most likely to hear about the controversy and contact Lott.
Next came the news that Lott was posting all over the Internet in his own defence (including personal testimonials and book reviews) under the false name Mary Rosh. This was enough to convince me he was dishonest.
Now it appears Gross is not merely an opponent of gun control He’s Founding Director and Past Pres. of one of the most extreme pro-gun groups,. He condemns the NRA because it supports the enforcement of existing gun laws. Moreover, it’s been claimed (lost this link, sorry!) that , in a piece of sharp practice, he took over the registrations of a number of gun-control organizations when they were accidentally allowed to lapse, an impressive instance of either dishonesty or sharp practice, depending on your viewpoint.
The odds of Lott’s survey picking up a member of a pro-gun organisation are pretty favorable, but the odds of picking up someone as prominent and extreme as Gross are not. And the alternative hypothesis, that Gross is willing to engage in dishonesty for the cause and sharp enough to present himself as a credible witness, is looking better all the time.
Finally, Tim Lambert notes a piece in the Washington Times defending Lott. Tim is critical, but there’s a positive side to this. The Washington Times has a circulation of 100 000, making it about even money that at least one reader was involved in the putative survey. If the issue makes it into the mainstream press in a substantial way, we ought to get dozens of witnesses. Or not, as the case may be.
Update A mildly interesting fact I discovered is that the very first review of Lott’s book on Amazon (5 stars!) was by Glenn Reynolds, in the days before InstaPundit. You can read it. here – use the ‘oldest first’ option.