Lifestyle & Belief

Jonah Lehrer resigns from New Yorker after fabricating Bob Dylan quotes


NEW YORK, NY - May 29: Science writer and contributer to Radio Lab, Jonah Lehrer attends the "You and Your Irrational Brain" panel discussion at Water Taxi Beach in Long Island City in conjunction with the World Science Festival on May 29, 2008 in New York City.


Thos Robinson

Jonah Lehrer, a staff writer for The New Yorker, has resigned from the magazine.

The New York Times reported the decision follows an article published in the online magazine Tablet that says Lehrer admitted to making up Bob Dylan quotes in his best-selling book “Imagine: How Creativity Works.”

“Three weeks ago, I received an email from journalist Michael Moynihan asking about Bob Dylan quotes in my book ‘Imagine,’” Lehrer said in a statement, the Times wrote.

“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.”

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“The lies are over now," Lehrer wrote. "I understand the gravity of my position. I want to apologize to everyone I have let down, especially my editors and readers. I also owe a sincere apology to Mr. Moynihan. I will do my best to correct the record and ensure that my misquotations and mistakes are fixed."

Moynihan, an avid Dylan fan, wrote "I’m something of the Dylan obsessive — piles of live bootlegs, outtakes, books — and I read the first chapter of Imagine with keen interest. But when I looked for sources to a handful of Dylan quotations...I came up empty."

As Poynter mentioned, last month Lehrer was accused of “self-plagiarism” for posting sometimes word-for-word excerpts from "Imagine" and other books and articles of his own on his New Yorker blog.

He apologized for the self-plagiarism in June, and his editors backed him up, adding an Editors’ Note to one story that read "The introductory paragraphs of this post appeared in similar form in an October, 2011, column by Jonah Lehrer for the Wall Street Journal. We regret the duplication of material."