One appropriate response to this incident is to say, "This raises some very interesting philosophical questions about whether 'self-plagiarism' is really even possible. Can we steal from ourselves?" But that response is only appropriate after you've already said, "Of course, the fucking New Yorker, of all places, does not hire a writer--especially not a writer whose whole schtick is writing about 'the mind' and other smart-guy topics--so that they can republish his warmed-over old material that's already run in other places." The fact that Lehrer has apparently done this before is bad; once is an oversight, but several times is a pattern. A pattern of self-plagiarism can only mean A) a wanton disregard for the rules, or B) outright stupidity. I don't think Jonah Lehrer is stupid. (Though he really should stop writing about sports.)
For Lehrer, whose work traffics in insights into creativity, ingenuity, and how we think, these sorts of well-crafted yarns are particularly important. When he gives an interview, Lehrer sells his book and himself. He crafts his delivery to make us believe that he is a source of wisdom--that these are not just insights, but his insights...Most of us journalists have one great idea every few months, maybe two if we drink industrial levels of caffeine. For professional thinkers like Gladwell and Lehrer, the key to maintaining a remunerative career is to milk your best ideas until there's no liquid left and pray you've bought yourself enough time to conjure up new ones.