Speaking of Book Covers…


Here's the cover of John Lott's latest opus Freedomnomics. You'll notice it's a straight—and ridiculous—rip off of the successful Freakonomics, which fronts an apple being sliced open to reveal orange slices. This coming, what, 11 months after Lott sued Feakonomics author Steven Levitt for defamation? Via Kieran Healy, who jokes:

Presumably it's blurbed by Mary Rosh. Now if you'll excuse me I have to get back to the final chapters of my two forthcoming books, Greedonomics: A rogue trader shoots first and Fritonomics: Exploring the hidden side of snack foods.

Mary Rosh, remember, was John Lott's psuedonym, a fact exposed by Reason's own Julian "Let Me Taste Your Tears" Sanchez. Lott had been inserting himself into the controversy over his own work.

Meanwhile, several of the bloggers who had been writing about the controversy—a group that included me—drew the ire of someone called Mary Rosh. Rosh, who identified herself as a former student of Lott's who had long admired his fairness and rigor, said that it was irresponsible to post links to the survey debate without calling Lott first. This sounded odd, not only because bloggers very seldom do that kind of background research before posting a link, but because Lott had made precisely the same criticism several times in e-mails to bloggers covering the story.

A Google search revealed that Rosh had for several years been a prolific contributor to Usenet forums, where she regularly and vociferously defended the work of Lott. On a whim, I compared the I.P. address on Rosh's comment to the one on an e-mail Lott had sent me from his home. They were the same.

I posted all of this, and to his credit Lott confessed. "The MaRyRoSh pen name account," he explained, "was created years ago for an account for my children, using the first two letters of the names of my four sons."

Of course that controversy is probably alien to the people who'll see this book in airports and think "Ooh! Freakonomics II: This Time It's Oddly Patriotic!" I assume that was Regnery's goal in the cover design, not piggybacking the Lott-Levitt legal tiff.