Jonah Lehrer, a staff writer on the New Yorker magazine, has resigned after admitting that he fabricated Bob Dylan’s quotes in a book.
He had previously dismissed claims about falsifying the quotes in his best-selling book, Imagine: how creativity works, but finally came clean yesterday.
In a statement issued through the book’s publisher he explained that he had received an email from another journalist, Michael Moynihan, asking about Dylan’s quotes. Lehrer said:
“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.”
Lehrer’s admission of both making up and misattributing quotes followed an article by Moynihan in Tablet magazine in which he mentioned other complaints about Lehrer’s journalistic work.
The New York Times reported that Lehrer had been forced to apologise for recycling some of his previous work from the Wall Street Journal, Wired and other publications in blog posts for the New Yorker.
The New Yorker’s editor, David Remnick, said of Lehrer’s resignation: “This is a terrifically sad situation but, in the end, what is most important is the integrity of what we publish and what we stand for.”
And the publishers of Lehrer’s book, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, said it would recall copies. According to the Wall Street Journal, Barnes and Noble and Amazon are halting the sale of digital and print copies of the book.
Imagine is Lehrer’s third book. He graduated with a degree in neuroscience from New York’s Columbia University and then took a masters at Oxford as a Rhodes scholar.
[Jonah Lehrer via poptech / Flickr]