Jonah Lehrer, formerly of Wired and recently hired by The New Yorker, is in serious trouble. Jim Romenesko pointed out that Lehrer lifted parts of a New Yorker piece from one he wrote for The Wall Street Journal, and the situation has snowballed since then. New York’s Daily Intel noted several other instances of Lehrer plagiarizing himself and now Edward Champion explains that Lehrer recycled material for his book, Imagine. Poynter also found that he lifted quotes from a story written by someone else:
An editor’s note at the foot of his excellent New Yorker piece on brainstorming says some Noam Chomsky quotes within it ‘were not made directly to Jonah Lehrer’ and that ‘Chomsky and his colleague were interviewed by Peter Dizikes for his article in the November/December issue of Technology Review.’ Gulp.
Gulp indeed. As of now, the only comment from the New Yorker is from its web editor, Nicholas Thompson, who called the plagiarizing “a mistake.” A slew of Lehrer’s posts on his “Frontal Cortex” blog also have editors notes tacked onto them. But how long until Lehrer gets the axe? He can’t possibly keep his job after all this, can he?
Sadly, the longer this goes on, the worse it seems to get. We reached out to David Remnick for comment, and we’ll update when we hear back.
The Daily Beast spoke to Thompson, who said he has been in contact with Lehrer, but didn’t comment on Lehrer’s future. “He understands he made a serious mistake,” said Thompson. “He understands the rules. It’s definitely not going to happen again.”
Lehrer told the New York Times, “It was a stupid thing to do and incredibly lazy and absolutely wrong.”