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March 2nd, 2013

By Philip Turner in: Books & Writing; Media, Blogging, Internet; Publishing & Bookselling

Jonah Lehrer’s Reputation Falls Another Rung, as Plagiarism is Seen Again


As reported in the Daily Beast, Jonah Lehrer’s publisher Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (HMH) is going to ask bookstores to take How We Decide off their shelves and return the book to their warehouse for credit. The title will no longer be available from them. Having earlier pulled Lehrer’s book ‘Imagine,’ they’re now doing the same with HWD after seeing evidence of Lehrer’s plagiarism in it provided by journalist Michael Moynihan, who earlier exposed egregious authorial misdeeds by Lehrer. HMH says they see no problem with Lehrer’s first book, Proust Was a Neuroscientist, and they will keep it in print.

HMH’s latest announcement comes only two weeks after Lehrer appeared at a public venue for the first time since his reputation crashed, when he gave a paid address at the invitation of the Knight Foundation. He apologized during that talk and in a tweet, but it only raised more criticism of him, since he was paid $20,000 for the occasion.

Knight, which beforehand evidently had no problem with rewarding a plagiarist with an ample payday, should have known better. After the news of the hefty honorarium was disclosed, they backtracked as rapidly as they could, though they’d damaged their own reputation, as well.

A round-up of Lehrer coverage can be found at the Poynter.org website, at this link.

It’s been a sad shameful chapter for Lehrer who’s also lost magazine posts at the New Yorker and Wired. I hope Lehrer, 31 years old, can someday rehabilitate himself as a writer and a trusted journalist. He’s dug himself a big hole.

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