Imagine: How Creativity Works by Jonah Lehrer is currently #14 on the NY Times Nonfiction Hardcover Best Seller List and has sold over 200,000 copies to date. The Times summarizes the book by writing, “An account of the science of creativity argues that it is not a gift but a thought process that can be learned.” I think this is an interesting topic and I’d previously put this onto my Amazon wish list to check out later.
Now his book is being pulled from the market by publisher Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. I just checked and both the hardcover and e-book versions have disappeared from Amazon (although the audio book version is still there).
It seems that Lehrer might have been a bit too creative when writing his book, fabricating quotes from Bob Dylan. The Wrap reports:
“Three weeks ago, I received an email from journalist Michael Moynihan asking about Bob Dylan quotes in my book ‘Imagine,’” Lehrer, 31, said in a statement. “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.”
He’s now resigned from The New Yorker.
Lehrer has also come under fire for plagiarizing himself.
The seemingly prodigious young writer drew criticism last month when he admittedly recycled his own writing in blog posts for the New Yorker, including lines taken almost verbatim from previously published Wall Street Journal essays.
Lehrer’s other books include The Decisive Moment and How We Decide. I’d be curious to know more about the decisive moment when Lehrer decided to simply make up stuff.