Get Ready For More Jonah Lehrer Fabrications

by evanmcmurry

So this happened:

Three weeks ago, I received an email from journalist Michael Moynihan asking about Bob Dylan quotes in my book ‘Imagine.’ The quotes in question either did not exist, were unintentional misquotations, or represented improper combinations of previously existing quotes. But I told Mr. Moynihan that they were from archival interview footage provided to me by Dylan’s representatives. This was a lie spoken in a moment of panic. When Mr. Moynihan followed up, I continued to lie, and say things I should not have said. The lies are over now. –Jonah Lehrer

Something tells me the lies are not over. Plagiarism/fabrication tends to happen in chunks. Stephen Glass didn’t just fabricate the story for which he was caught; he fabricated dozens of them. Whether compulsivity is endemic to plagiarizing/fabricating, or whether the first act of dishonesty is a kind of sin of no return, nobody plagiarizes/fabricates once. Sure enough, the initial Jonah Lehrer scandal—self-plagiarizing in a New Yorker blog post—was quickly followed up by revelations of many more. I’d expect the same thing to happen over the next few weeks as people pick over his books and start tracing the sources of the quotes. I’ll bet A Flea’s annual budget that these quotes are not the only ones Lehrer fabricated.

More: As has already been thoroughly covered on Twitter, don’t falsely attribute quotes to one of the most studied and obsessed-over figures of the Twentieth Century. You’re gonna get caught.

More: Here’s the interview with the journalist who caught Lehrer. Moynihan comes off as a generous, empathic, but ultimately firm critic of Lehrer.

More: Somebody on Twitter asked about a refund for their copy of Imagine. Seemed like your standard smart-ass tweet at the time, but remember that Lehrer made a tidy fortune through speaking gigs, in addition to books and columns. If he was passing off fake quotes at those gigs, shouldn’t the people/companies/foundations/universities get their money back?