UPDATE: Sailer has responded in the comments. It seems cut’n’paste though, so I give him 0.5 points for it.

First off, let me admit that the only reason I’ve heard of Steve Sailer (and through him, everyone else on my blogroll, by one or two degrees) is because I read Freakonomics (in-store without paying, natch) and decided to read a bit more online about it, and came across Sailer’s disputation of Levitt’s abortion-cut-crime hypothesis. I have to say, I found much of Sailer’s “reality-check” analysis of crime-rates by time and age-cohort to be rather persuasive. His simple graph on rising illegitimacy seemed to put the lie to Levitt’s “unwantedness” explanation for why abortion would be effective.

Steve hasn’t forgiven Levitt and continually makes digs at him, at his own blog and others. At first I was glad that he was pointing out the holes in the theories of widely disseminated thinkers. I joined in the fracas at Malcolm Gladwell’s now defunct blog when he and Steve were feuding (I believe Steve though when he says he actually likes Gladwell). After a while it got tiring. He seemed to just be beating a dead horse because he had a beef with Levitt and no real progress was being made. True, other economists published critiques of Levitt’s theory and Steve highlighted these, but I don’t think us laymen are really competent to say if those critiques are any more valid than Levitt’s original paper or his replies. After his most recent post on the subject, I called him petty for his behavior.

If you haven’t seen the comments section at Steve’s blog, I should tell you that it is, as they say, “a wretched hive of scum and villainy” . I was initially happy during Le Affaire Gladwell that the comments got opened, but it quickly became flooded by cretins. (I’m glad that “Jupiter” guy who couldn’t figure out how not to post as anonymous even after we told him is gone; he was seriously deranged) It might just be my confirmation bias, but I didn’t consider the matter settled when most of them backed up Steve. What might me think twice was FuturePundit, who said many of his readers aren’t aware of stuff he regularly writes about, so it is helpful to harp on old topics repeatedly.

In case Steve shows up, I’d also like to ask him how he thinks his views as a conservative Catholic impact his perspective on this. I recognize that they aren’t in a morality dispute, as Levitt admits that even if we assign a very small moral weight to fetuses they outweigh the drop in crime from their aborting, but I can’t recall Steve really discussing that much. He usually tries to seem amenable to both godless scientific and traditional religious viewpoints, and I wouldn’t have become a regular reader if he wasn’t.

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