View Full Version : Jonah Lehrer’s Deceptions (faked Bob Dylan quotes)

07-30-2012, 05:31 PM
“It’s a hard thing to describe,” Bob Dylan once mused about the creative process. “It’s just this sense that you got something to say.”

The sense that one has something to say, some story to relate, is the stuff that fuels all writers. That Dylan observation can be found in the first chapter of journalist Jonah Lehrer’s best-selling new book Imagine: How Creativity Works, an exploration of how neuroscience explains creative genius (http://www.guardian.co.uk/music/2012/apr/06/neuroscience-bob-dylan-genius-creativity%20). Lehrer has much to say on the matter, from a meditation on the inventor of the Post-It note to an investigation into the way Bob Dylan’s mind works, which included the quote above.

The problem, though, is that there is no proof that Dylan ever said this.
Last month, Lehrer was accused of a curious journalistic offense: the act of “self-plagiarism.” Lehrer, a staff writer at The New Yorker and celebrated author of three books, cannibalized his own work, posting often word-for-word excerpts from Imagine on The New Yorker’s blog without noting that it had been published elsewhere. To some, it was a tenuous charge—as one journalist commented to me, this was like “being accused of stealing food from your own refrigerator.” Others highlighted (http://www.theatlantic.com/national/archive/2012/06/a-partial-defense-of-jonah-lehrer/258840/) the pressures brought to bear on young writers to produce more and more content....