Jonah Lehrer — the former New Yorker scribe caught inventing Bob Dylan quotes, plagiarizing press releases, and recycling his own copy — is in trouble again. Less than three weeks after Lehrer offered a flawed but seemingly sincere mea culpa at the Knight Foundation in Miami, the publisher Houghton Mifflin Harcourt has begun pulling Lehrer's 2010 book about the cognitive underpinnings of decision-making, How We Decide. According to journalist Michael C. Moynihan, whose report for Tablet in July prompted Lehrer to resign from The New Yorker, the publisher uncovered "significant" (but unspecified) issues during an internal audit of the text. Moynihan convincingly speculates, however, that Harcourt pulled Lehrer's book because in it Lehrer appears to invent an interview with a pilot, putting in his mouth words that the same pilot gave at a lecture in 1991.
It gets weirder. Moynihan reported this particular invention six months ago, in August 2012, in a note he published on Twitter. It's a bit baffling, then, why Harcourt dawdled in investigating Jonah Lehrer's work, and waited until after Lehrer declared that he was done lying about his array of journalistic sins. But apparently Lehrer believed he had done no wrong in How We Decide, even after he flayed himself at the Knight Foundation. Per Moynihan:
Even after the Dylan fiasco, after Imagine had been pulped, and after he publicly declared that the “lies were over now,” Lehrer told me via email that he had indeed interviewed Hayes—providing an email thread of their initial communication—and that the pilot had said the exact same thing, in the exact same language, to him twenty years later.
If you want to check the passage in question out for yourself, head over to The Daily Beast — or buy a copy of the book on Amazon before it gets Harcourt's memo. Right now, it seems like Lehrer could use the money.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.