In his defense, Dubner blogs on the New York Times in Global Warming in SuperFreakonomics: The Anatomy of a Smear:
Yes, it’s an ancient cliché: a lie can travel halfway around the world while the truth is putting on its shoes. But it’s still accurate.
Gosh, Steve and Steve, you don't say!
Funny how Levitt became a global celebrity for theorizing in 1999 that legalizing abortion cut crime, even though juvenile homicide rates for teens born in the half decade following legalization were several times higher than for teens born in the half decade preceding legalization, as I pointed out in our debate in Slate in August 1999.
A half dozen years later, he made that theory the centerpiece of Steve's and Steve's Freakonomics despite having no plausible refutation other than it was all based on very complicated statistics that little me wouldn't understand. Then, late in 2005, Boston Fed economists Christopher Foote and Christopher Goetz tried to replicate Levitt's findings and found he had simply made two technical mistakes in his programming that made a hash of his results.
By then, however, Steve and Steve's lie had traveled all the way round the world and their permanent celebrity status was assured.