Press "Enter" to skip to content

Man of straw

Since I think this piece may make the rounds, some deflating is in order.

John Lott purports to have proven that the media is biased in favor of black quarterbacks. He claims that his research means that Rush Limbaugh was right. However, his research (whether or not it’s sound) is completely irrelevant when judging what Limbaugh had to say about Donovan McNabb. Limbaugh made a very specific claim about one quarterback in particular. Straw man fallacy.

Above and beyond that, his research is kind of shaky. Problem one: he only considered newspaper data. Justification? “[T]his is measurable and it is not clear why newspapers would be so different from the rest of the media.” That’s assuming the conclusion. Good research tests assumptions like that.

Problem two: the data on which he bases his report is flawed.

“We also collected data by week for each of the first four weeks of the season on a host of other factors that help explain the rate at which a player is praised: the quarterback’s rating for each game; whether his team won; the points scored for and against the team; ESPN’s weekly rank for the quarterback’s team and the opponent; and whether it was a Monday night game. In addition, I accounted for average differences in media coverage both in the quarterback’s city and the opponent’s city as well as differences across weeks of the season.”

Points scored against a team generally aren’t seen as the quarterback’s fault. A better metric would be the points scored off a QB turnover. Why is it important that it’s a Monday night game? Why are all these elements weighted equally? Are they weighted equally? Lott’s not saying.

Not atypical of the man.


  1. I hate to be a blogger triumphalist, but how anybody can cite any research performed by Mary Rosh with a straight face any more is beyond me.

  2. The National Review employes K-Lo. There’s little hope for them.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *