Yet another academic is under fire for allegedly inventing evidence: John Lott, author of More Guns, Less Crime. At issue is a survey Lott says he conducted in 1997, which supposedly showed that in 98% of the cases where guns were used defensively, the weapon was brandished with no shots being fired. In the past, critics say, Lott attributed the 98% figure to other sources; more recently, he cites a survey he conducted himself. Unfortunately, he explains, the data from the survey was lost in a computer crash—and he can neither remember the names of any of the grad students who helped him nor (as of yet) produce evidence of their assistance.
Northwestern law prof James Lindgren—who helped expose the deceptions of Lott's ideological opposite, Arming America author Michael Bellesiles—has written a report on the dispute. Those interested in the details of the story should begin by reading it and a regularly updated website maintained by another scholar, Tim Lambert. Both men agree that the disputed survey does not, in Lindgren's words, "directly relate to the main thesis of More Guns, Less Crime." (Lambert puts it this way: "It is not even relevant to the main claim in his book, that concealed carry laws reduce crime.") On the other hand, if it turns out that Lott fabricated one piece of evidence, that obviously casts doubt on his book's other claims.
Reason is continuing to look into the controversy. We've asked Lott for his side of the story, and while he hasn't gotten back to us yet, a portion of his response to other inquirers has been posted here.