Academic Exposed as Huge Fraud After Truth About His Mass Shooting Study Comes Out


It’s the mass shooting study liberals cling to like a life raft: a survey that showed the United States had nearly half as many mass shooters as the rest of the world combined over a 46-year period. The paper gets touted pretty much everywhere as if it were the gospel truth.

The fact that it’s just one study probably should have alarmed everyone who touts it, even if it were conducted with the utmost academic integrity. You may not be surprised to discover it wasn’t.

The title sounds like pretty dry reading, and it is: “Public Mass Shooters and Firearms: A Cross-National Study of 171 Countries.” It was written by Adam Lankford, a criminology professor at the University of Alabama, and published in Violence and Victims in 2016.

In the paper, Lankford claims that he was able to get reliable statistics on every mass shooting between 1966 and 2012.

“The United States had by far the most public mass shooters of any country, with 90 offenders,” he writes. “Only four other countries even reached double-digits: the Philippines (18), Russia (15), Yemen (11), and France (10). Homicide rates, suicide rates, and firearm ownership rates varied significantly by country, as did population size and urbanization.”

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This put 31 percent of mass shooters in the United States; the rest of the world allegedly only had 202 mass shooting incidents. However, economist John R. Lott, Jr. examined the study and found quite a bit to be skeptical over:

Here’s a TL;DR version: Lankford’s data collection methods are questionable and he hasn’t let others take a look at it, which should raise even more alarms.

While Lankford states that “(c)omplete data were available for 171 countries,” Lott noted that most of these nations don’t speak English and would report mass shootings as a local phenomenon in local languages, detached from a worldwide discussion regarding mass shootings. Most of the time period he was covering took place before the advent of the internet, especially in countries that aren’t as developed as the United States is.

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“Few governments collect this data,” Lott states. “Finding complete data for mass public shootings in just one developing country — say, India in the 1970s — would be an incredible feat.”

Compare this with the blanket coverage that mass shootings usually receive in the United States, where Lott notes they’re “hard to miss.”

“If Lankford undercounted foreign cases because he missed finding old newspapers or had trouble with language barriers, his paper’s entire conclusion — that the United States had the most public shootings — would fall apart.”

Then there’s the problem of data transparency, or the lack thereof; Lankford has refused to give a list of the incidents he used or even a complete breakdown by country. He has also refused to discuss his methodology of finding the incidents themselves.

He gave a bit of a hint when Fox News raised some red flags about the paper at the time of its publishing.

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“Lankford says he took NYPD data on mass shootings — which he acknowledges misses international cases — and ‘supplemented (it) with additional data’ internationally,” Fox reported in July 2016.

“Lankford does not say exactly how he collected that additional international data, just noting that it came from searches of ‘open source’ documents and that ‘all efforts were made to ensure that the same data collection methodology employed by the NYPD was used.’”

The NYPD’s statistics only use English-language sources, however, raising further questions about his data collection internationally. As for the open-source nature of the documents he used, we again come back to the fact that such reports from the pre-internet days probably wouldn’t be available to him, particularly in developing nations.

Lankford told Fox News that he was “open-minded about sharing data with other scholars for collaborative purposes, and consider those opportunities on a case-by-case basis. This is all the assistance I can provide at this time.”

That assistance hasn’t exactly been forthcoming in the intervening years, with no particular clarification of how the study was conducted. Lott is a scholar who has written papers on gun violence, yet according to him, Lankford wasn’t “open-minded about sharing data” enough to even respond to simple questions via email.

So, Lott decided to do a study of his own in conjunction with his Crime Prevention Research Center, complete with translators. They found that using the same definition as Lankford used — four or more people killed in a public place, not connected to any other crime, not an act of genocide or sponsored terrorism and not an act of war — they were able to calculate a whopping 3,081 such incidents in other countries.

In Lott’s survey, the United States ranked 62nd in mass shootings per capita.

Lott isn’t the only academic who feels that the Lankford study is flawed.

“The Lankford ‘study’ is nothing more than junk science disguised as research, and never should have been published in a responsible scholarly journal,” Florida State University criminology professor Gary Kleck told Fox News.

The fact that mass shootings were covered more comprehensively in the United States “would rig results in favor of finding a positive association between gun ownership and mass shootings,” he added, noting that “it would more completely count mass shootings in the U.S., which undoubtedly does have a high gun ownership rate, while yielding artificially low counts of mass shootings in other nations.”

“Lankford does not claim to be able to read all the languages used in those 171 nations, or to have made use of others with this ability,” Kleck said. “This method would result in a near-total omission of relevant news stories outside of the English-speaking part of the world.”

Neither Lankford’s nor Lott’s studies likely tell the full story of mass shootings, but that’s the entire point — if they’re willing to use one study as God’s honest truth on MSNBC and CNN, why won’t they consider the other? From what we’ve seen, Lott has been much more transparent about how he found his cases and did a lot more to uncover shootings in the non-English-speaking world. If Lankford’s study passes muster, the other ought to as well.

From past experience, however, we can get an inkling about why they’ve chosen to cling to Lankford even as the evidence mounts his paper was fatally flawed.

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C. Douglas Golden is a writer who splits his time between the United States and Southeast Asia. Specializing in political commentary and world affairs, he's written for Conservative Tribune and The Western Journal since 2014.
C. Douglas Golden is a writer who splits his time between the United States and Southeast Asia. Specializing in political commentary and world affairs, he's written for Conservative Tribune and The Western Journal since 2014. Aside from politics, he enjoys spending time with his wife, literature (especially British comic novels and modern Japanese lit), indie rock, coffee, Formula One and football (of both American and world varieties).
Morristown, New Jersey
Catholic University of America
Languages Spoken
English, Spanish
Topics of Expertise
American Politics, World Politics, Culture