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July 17, 2008

In court, the not-so-credible Professor Zimbalist gets shredded twice

Atlantic Yards Report

Professor Andrew Zimbalist's interview with Brain Lehrer this week marks the second time in as many months that the well known sports economist has faced tough questioning.

[Zimbalist's] credibility was further undermined last month when he testified as an expert witness in a trial in Seattle over the departure of the Sonics for Oklahoma City.
One spur to the settlement, surely, was the poor performance of expert witness Zimbalist, whose stint on the stand provoked headlines like "Sonics defense shreds professor's report" and "Sonics lawyer stymies sports economist."

The Sonics' lawyer rubs Zimbalist's face in the professor's own boilerplate report:

Zimbalist was there to describe the tangible and intangible values of the team, but, as the 6/17/08 Post-Intelligencer reported, in a blog headlined "Defense rebounds with ugly flurry against plaintiff's economist," the going was tough:

Sonics lawyer Paul Taylor then tore into Zimbalist, basically accusing the author of taking the same report he wrote for the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim in 2005 and using it for the Sonics, showing Zimbalist several passages from both reports and revealing striking similarities, almost to the word, nearly destroying Zimbalist's credibility.

Taylor, who lost out on many exchanges with former Seattle Center director Virginia Anderson on Monday, pounded away at Zimbalist, an embarrassing conclusion to a shaky day for the city.

Apparently the lack of peer review of Zimbalist's work has been an issue before:

Taylor even pointed to another legal proceeding in which Zimbalist lost credibility. In an opinion issued 1/7/08 in the antitrust case Kentucky Speedway vs. NASCAR and International Speedway Corporation, Kentucky-based federal judge William Bertelsman wrote:

Zimbalist’s approach… has not been tested; has not been subjected to peer review and publication; there are no standards controlling it; and there is no showing that it enjoys general acceptance within the scientific community. Further, it was produced solely for this litigation.
Still, the judge's criticism of Zimbalist’s novel approach sounds a lot like... Zimbalist’s not-peer-reviewed study for Forest City Ratner, produced solely to get the project passed.


Posted by lumi at July 17, 2008 4:57 AM