Comments on: Jonah Lehrer’s recycling business Tue, 10 Feb 2015 19:54:39 +0000 hourly 1 By: josephmartins Sat, 06 Jul 2013 22:30:10 +0000 Hypocrites all of us. Need I say more? No.

By: askpang Mon, 25 Jun 2012 06:25:53 +0000 People can “repeat” themselves as much as they want, and Mr. Gladwell is welcome to either copy and paste his comment or point readers to it. The question is whether it would be ethical to sell it twice to two different publishers, each of whom expect to get original work. That, it seems to me, is what Lehrer mainly stands accused of.

Granted, Gladwell and Lehrer live in a world in which they’re paid to repeat themselves, to some degree. Generally, people who invite Gladwell to give a talk don’t expect something dramatically new; it’s more like hiring Billy Joel to play your end-of-year, hand-out-the-bonuses concert. You don’t care about his new avant-garde direction. You want him to play “Piano Man” and “Captain Jack,” and maybe “Zanzibar” if you’re feeling really wild and crazy. If you get a Keith Jarrett Trio improvisational experience instead, you’re going to be highly disappointed.

But one of the hallmarks of professionalism is knowing what your audience expects, what you can do, and what you CAN’T do. It’s one thing to give a talk you’ve given before; those earlier performances can be justified as practice, as a later audience gains the benefit of your having tried out your material on earlier audiences, worked out your slides, gotten your pauses right, etc.. Places like The New Yorker don’t contract for pieces that include big chunks of recycled material. And everyone knows it.

And Hollywood turns out nothing but stories. Is there not another one with the moral “no one knows anything in this town?”

By: daphnesylk Sun, 24 Jun 2012 23:02:56 +0000 One presumes he could have said, “As I wrote in the XYZ two years ago…” and been clearer about his recycling. Or he could have been sneakier and reworded the idea, use a similar but not the same examples. The fact that he put it out there identically either shows naivete, the editors did sloppy work in not Googling the content for duplication in the first place, or he thought the idea had enough merit to simply bear repeating. He should have asked someone, he didn’t. Let’s cut him some slack and see if he learned something, perhaps his error will help the next columnist avoid the same mistake. If he knowingly plagiarized work, that’s a different issue, quoting someone with attribution is not plagiarism.

By: jeffdomansky Sat, 23 Jun 2012 18:24:42 +0000 A quick follow on my earlier comment to note The New Yorker has flagged at least five of Lehrer’s posts with Editor’s Notes saying in part, in each: …”We regret the duplication of material.” Appropriate? Yes. Credible? No.

By: jeffdomansky Sat, 23 Jun 2012 18:17:15 +0000 Surely the self-plagiarization issue is one of honesty, transparency and disclosure? Lehrer did not disclose this “source” (himself) to The New Yorker which then posted this disclaimer on Lehrer’s post after the issue broke:
“Editors’ Note: Portions of this post appeared in similar form in an April, 2011, post by Jonah Lehrer for We regret the duplication of material.”

How good does that make TNY feel about its standards? As a reader, I’m not impressed with the ethics though he is a pretty good writer.

We can debate forever whether self-plagiarism is ethical, proper or acceptable journalism. Maybe we’ll have more ideas after finishes reviewing his 300 previous posts. I really don’t care. It seems to me the real victim is credibility which seems in short supply some days.

I hope editors everywhere are diligent, assuming there are any still employed.

By: drmabuse Thu, 21 Jun 2012 19:13:29 +0000 What both Jack Shafer and Malcolm Galdwell conveniently omit (and what indeed the blindingly handsome sexiest man who works at NPR alive also observed) is that Jonah Lehrer took the very same elided fragments and the very same ellipses that Gladwell did.

Here are the specifics:

Malcolm Gladwell, “The Formula.” The New Yorker (October 16, 2006): “One of the highest-grossing movies in history, ‘Raiders of the Lost Ark,’ was offered to every studio in Hollywood, Goldman writes, and every one of them turned it down except Paramount: ‘Why did Paramount say yes? Because nobody knows anything. And why did all the other studios say no? Because nobody knows anything. And why did Universal, the mightiest studio of all, pass on Star Wars? . . . Because nobody, nobody—not now, not ever—knows the least goddamn thing about what is or isn’t going to work at the box office.’”

Jonah Lehrer, Imagine, p. 144: “For instance, one of the highest-grossing movies in history, Raiders of the Lost Ark, was offered to every studio in Hollywood, and every one of them turned it down except Paramount: ‘Why did Paramount say yes?’ Goldman asks. ‘Because nobody knows anything. And why did all the other studios say no? Because nobody knows anything. And why did Universal, the mightiest studio of all, pass on Star Wars. . .? Because nobody, nobody — not now, not ever — knows the least goddam thing about what is or isn’t going to work at the box office.’”

Goldman’s quote is indeed famous. But what is distinct is the identical manner that Lehrer parsed it from Goldman’s book, as seen here (as well as the identical language outside the quote):

By: thomasswiss Thu, 21 Jun 2012 18:04:31 +0000 Seriously! Gladwell has this right.

Does anyone remember when Fantasy Records sued John Fogerty in 1985 for borrowing from John Fogerty — ‘stealing’ from himself?
A summary:  /archives/85039

A similar, silly charge with predictable results.

Best words in the best order from a good writer Lehrer — well worth repeating, I say.

By: malcolmgladwell Thu, 21 Jun 2012 14:33:06 +0000 In 2006, I quoted a line from William Goldman about how no one knows anything in Hollywood. In Imagine, Jonah Lehrer quotes the same line. This is not surprising, since Goldman’s comment is one of the most famous things ever written about Hollywood and has been quoted, by journalists, probably hundreds of times since it was written. If Lehrer is plagiarizing me, by quoting the same quote I quoted, then I am plagiarizing the person who used that quote before me, and that person is plagiarizing the person who quoted it before them, and so on and so forth, and we have a daisy chain of “plagiarizing” going back forty years and plagiarism, as a ethical concept, has ceased to mean anything at all.

By the way, if I run across the same absurd allegation anywhere else, I intend to reproduce my comment verbatim. Why? Because I thought about what I wanted to say, I’m comfortable with the way I said it, and I see no reason to tinker with my own language for the sake of tinkering with my own language.