Jonah Lehrer, who wrote a book published last March called 'Imagine: How Creativity Works,' has admitted he got too creative in compiling it: Lehrer has acknowledged that some of the quotes from Bob Dylan in the book are made-up.
The 31-year-old, who has written extensively for The New Yorker, released a statement through his publisher, 'Houghton Mifflin Harcourt' (HMH), on Monday, and detailed about how it was he came to be caught and subsequently admit to the fabricated quotes.
The book has quotes in it that simply were never made by anyone but Lehrer and his imagination. As his statement details, it was Tablet Magazine, an online magazine, that caught Lehrer out. Their writer Michael Moynihan, got suspicious and confronted Lehrer over the phone.
“I told Mr. Moynihan that (the quotes) were from archival interview footage provided to me by Dylan’s representatives. This was a lie spoken in a moment of panic," Lehrer writes. "When Mr. Moynihan followed up, I continued to lie, and say things I should not have said."
Lehrer: Sorry for transgressions
While he doesn't detail precisely what he said to Moynihan that he should "not have said" he now says he has come completely clean on the made-up quotes. “The lies are over now. I understand the gravity of my position. I want to apologize to everyone I have let down, especially my editors and readers.”
His book, which contained “unintentional misquotations, or represented improper combinations of previously existing quotes" as well as the quotes that were entirely fictional, is now being pulled from the market. It had spent 16 weeks on a non-fiction best-sellers list and sold over 200,000 copies.
“We rely on the authors’ contractual warranties that the work is original and, for non-fiction, accurate,” Houghton Mifflin’s senior vice-president Bruce Nichols said in a statement. 'We consider accuracy and originality to be essential standards, and whenever any of our authors transgresses these standards we take it very seriously.”
Mr. Lehrer has resigned from the staff of The New Yorker.