Remember Jonah Lehrer, the pop-psychology author and New Yorker staff writer who invented Bob Dylan quotes and somehow managed to plagiarize himself? After resigning from his magazine gig in mid-2012, and watching his publisher retract two of his three books, Lehrer laid low for a few years—but not so low as to prevent him from issuing a mealy-mouthed apology during a journalism conference, or signing a fourth book contract with Simon & Schuster. And now he has a new book to sell.
I broke the most basic rules of my profession. I am ashamed of what I’ve done. I will regret it for the rest of my life. To prevent these mistakes from happening again, I have followed a simple procedure in this book. All quotes and relevant text have been sent to subjects for their approval. This also applies to the research I describe: whenever possible, my writing has been sent to the scientists to ensure accuracy. In addition, the book has been independently fact-checked.
As the Post notes, this apology “is an improvement over Lehrer’s 2013 Knight Foundation speech, in which he applied classic Jonah Lehrer formulations to his own misdeeds, investigating ‘the neuroscience of broken trust’ to explain what he had done.” But Lehrer’s apparent remedy raises its own issues, too. Sending “quotes and relevant text ... to subjects for their approval” describes the controversial practice of quote approval, which is discouraged within journalism circles because it frequently allows subjects to rewrite candid remarks.
As for the book itself: A Kirkus review from May called it “as nebulous as its title suggests” and “looks more like an academic paper than a work of popular psychology.” According to A Book About Love’s Amazon page, the book does not appear to have received any promotional blurbs. It goes on sale July 12.