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But with truth so far off, what good will it do?


Ruh-roh — apparently Jonah Lehrer keeping one step ahead of the persecutor within caught up with him. It’s pretty hard to imagine that this was the only part of his work that won’t hold up, either, particularly since the fabricated quotes are far from the only thing he got wrong.

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  • CZHA

    If you’re foolish enough to fabricate quotes and “facts” for a story, don’t target someone as widely studied as Dylan.

    • Spuddie

      Hey it works for David Barton.

      The guy has an entire industry of quote fabrication of figures widely studied by professional historians.

      • rea

        It’s different for Barton–he doesn’t lose his job if he’s caught faking it, any more that Goebbels would have.

        • Spuddie

          Plus despite all opinions to the contrary, Dylan is still very much alive.

          Although Dylan can tell the public the quotes are bullcrap, nobody will understand a word he said.

  • (the other) Davis

    This seems so silly. If you’re going to make shit up, why not just go full Jayson Blair and make a career out of it? All Lehrer managed was a few tidbits in a book that earned mediocre reviews.

    Seriously though, as someone who was a Lehrer booster early on (I really enjoyed his blog, back in its Scienceblogs days), I find this whole ordeal pretty disappointing. And on the same token, I’m glad I had decided not to pick up this book.

  • Karla

    As a scientist who’s interested in the neurobiology underlying the creation and appreciation of art, I was disappointed by Lehrer’s _Proust Was a Neuroscientist_. I picked it up thinking that I might assign it in a course. Aside from some disagreements about the science, what bothered me most was that the book could have been a series of examinations of how people – artists, writers, scientists – can arrive at some truths in more than one way, but instead it had a tone of “yeah, scientists finally figured this out, but [Proust, Whitman, Monet, etc.] got this a long time ago.” I suppose his approach was easier.

    • Yeah, Lehrer’s not really a science writer. He gets an idea (artists intuitively “got” what modern cognitive scientists are just now getting), and he then makes the facts fit it (hey look, Whitman talked about the body!). I thought that I read Proust Was a Neuroscientist, which was just bad (I disagreed with the science more than you, I suspect), and apparently it’s reached the point where he just makes the facts up so they fit it.

      Also, if you read the phrase “conceptual blending” in a book on the mind, throw the book away.

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