Talk:Jonah Lehrer

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If you find this link useful may you please add it to the article’s external links: "/interviews/jonah-lehrer-on-decision-making Interview with Jonah Lehrer on Decision-Making" website being fivebooksDOTcom. Thank you, Anon111 (talk) 17:43, 14 April 2010 (UTC)Anon111

Not done This account only seems to exist for the purpose of getting this link into Wikipedia. See WP:LINKSPAM. ThemFromSpace 20:11, 22 April 2010 (UTC)

NPOV dispute[edit]

It seems to me that since the beginning of the current self-plagiarism controversy (and possibly before?), positive facts about Jonah Lehrer have been systematically removed from the article, and there have been efforts to re-focus the entire article on this controversy. This is in addition to the comments about the controversy itself and the bias in the reviews already mentioned on this page. No matter his current status, Jonah Lehrer has published 3 successful books and written for a number of esteemed magazines and newspapers -- there must be something positive to say about him Lbarquist (talk) 23:21, 22 June 2012 (UTC)

There have been a number of edits to the "Books" section that have included more positive reviews (in addition to the negative reviews that were already present), and the self-plagiarism controversy seems to have settled down in the past week. In my opinion, the article presents a reasonably balanced view now, so I'm removing the NPOV dispute tag. --Lbarquist (talk) 00:01, 30 June 2012 (UTC)
I have tried to systematically address any negative slant in the latest series of major edits (praise given by Radiolab, undergraduate publication, etc.). Try it on, and start a new Talk section below with any ideas. However much we spin it, though, having 2 of 3 of your books recalled by your publisher, and being let go by all major writing venues—his was some seriously foul kettle of fish. Cheers. Le Prof Leprof 7272 (talk) 04:01, 16 April 2016 (UTC)

Plagiarism Controversy[edit]

Can we please limit discussion of the current self-plagiarism controversy to the appropriate section? As this event has only been unfolding in the past 3-4 days, I think it is premature to turn the entire article in to a discussion of this incident. Please remember to maintain NPOV. Lbarquist (talk) 16:39, 22 June 2012 (UTC)

The following (or similar edits) have been made repeatedly to this article, see [1]. This appears to be reuse of a quote, rather than plagiarism. Malcom Gladwell himself has stated this does not constitute plagiarism, see: In the absence of further evidence of plagiarism, I do not believe this should be included in the article. I would be grateful if additional editors could weigh in on this issue. --Lbarquist (talk) 20:54, 24 June 2012 (UTC)
I should also note that an accusation of plagiarism with little evidence is potentially libellous and must be removed under BLP policy. --Lbarquist (talk) 20:59, 24 June 2012 (UTC)
However, multiple reputable journalism publications have come out and said that regardless of what Gladwell thinks, it constitutes plagiarism. Additionally, the truth is an absolute defense in any libel situation. In this case we see an example of direct plagiarism so there is absolutely no issue of libel. It may be plagiarizing a quote, but that does not matter. Plagiarism is plagiarism. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 21:11, 24 June 2012 (UTC)
Here is what the Columbia Journalism Review (perhaps the most respected publication in the field) has to say about the plagiarism “Yes, people are still working out what does and does not work on blogs, but what Lehrer did has nothing to do with those mutable conventions. It has to do with one of the most basic and established conventions of journalism: honest reporting.”[source?] [ Unsigned comment]
I would be open to including some mention (possibly a sentence?) noting the *accusations* of (non-self) plagiarism, with the qualification that the accusations were based on reuse of a single quote. This is the whole basis of this particular controversy, correct? My main objection is to the re-making of the section so it appears that Jonah Lehrer has been demonstrated guilty of wide-spread (non-self) plagiarism. Also I would like to apologize for my use of the word "libel," I may have been getting a bit overzealous. --Lbarquist (talk) 22:03, 24 June 2012 (UTC)
69., at this point, rather than argue somewhat in the abstract, it would be helpful if you would post here (below) what you would like this section to say (with your sources - don't put the sources in as formal citations, just the URLs surrounded by single brackets, which, in turn, are surrounded by parentheses). I strongly urge you to keep the content as small as possible. Otherwise, the sheer weight will undermine any progress we can make toward reaching a consensus. I've created a subsection to separate out what you propose.--Bbb23 (talk) 22:56, 24 June 2012 (UTC)
I like the part where it says "Lehrer had previously published related sentences"! OMG, time for a Burning of a Living Person, At the Stake! (talk) 21:26, 31 July 2012 (UTC)

Overly critical?[edit]

The article, in its current state, seems to be mostly critical of Lehrer without containing any positive review of his work. NPOV? (talk) 00:52, 21 June 2012 (UTC)

I agree... particularly the "Books" section seems to have cherry-picked reviews and quotes. Lbarquist (talk) 14:23, 21 June 2012 (UTC)
Terribly done so far, it just seems like a hackjob done by a hater. No one else's literary biography would contain ONLY criticisms and a lot of them at that. Silly. -WhiskeySeven — Preceding unsigned comment added by WhiskeySeven (talkcontribs) 04:30, 23 June 2012 (UTC)
Facts are facts. I came here to read up on Leher as a fan. I have always liked his work and would rather read all negative truths and be done with it than have to sift through a buffer of attenuated positive nonsense. I am still a fan, regardless of his wrongdoing. Have faith that your viewers can form their own opinions. NPOV is not a function of balance; it is a function of factual representation. [Unsigned comment]
I agree with WhiskeySeven. A number of the recent edits, such as here and here, look like the work of someone (or several someones) with an axe to grind against Lehrer. It was reasonable for Lbarquist to revert some of those edits. We all need to be careful not to get too carried away describing the more sensationalistic aspects of the reporting on Lehrer's missteps as a writer. Taking out mentions of the positive comments in the reviews of his book while beefing up the critical comments from the reviews is at odds with the spirit of maintaining a neutral point of view. Dezastru (talk) 06:25, 31 July 2012 (UTC)
Does anyone agree that the lede text about Jonah could use some strong citations? Phillopian (talk) 07:27, 24 April 2013 (UTC)
Ideally, a lead should contain no citations. A lead is supposed to summarize and highlight the most important parts of the body. The body should be cited. Therefore, the lead needs no cites if it's done properly.--Bbb23 (talk) 14:29, 24 April 2013 (UTC)
Agree with Bbb23, and all the content for the current lede is sourced in the article, and a note appears in the markup explaining this. Leprof 7272 (talk) 04:10, 16 April 2016 (UTC)


Lbarquist has repeatedly removed any information on the page that is in any way critical of Lehrer and claims it violates NPOV. I remain mystified how providing examples of plagiarism can be seen as violating NPOV. I understand that it is suboptimal to have negative information appearing on one's Wiki entry, but facts are facts regardless of how one feels about them.

It is indisputable that plagiarism took place. For an author this is an extremely serious charge and should be described accurately and fully. Lehrer's actions go far beyond self-plagiarism as the examples in section that Lbarquist continuously deletes show. I suggest tat Lbarquist refrain from editing the plagiarism section of the Jonah Lehrer page as s/he continues to remove important and relavant information on Lehrer. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 21:01, 24 June 2012 (UTC)

I have not removed "any information on the page that is any way critical of Lehrer," as evidenced by the multitude of negative book reviews still left in the "Books" section, and my own contributions to the "Self-Plagiarism" section. I have repeatedly tried to engage you in good-faith discussion on this page, as well as the BLP noticeboard where I have requested comments, as I posted two days ago on your talk page: see here [2]
I have also requested a third opinion for the edits you propose: see here [3]
You are free to respond to the points I have made in the appropriate section of the talk page or the noticeboard. --Lbarquist (talk) 21:17, 24 June 2012 (UTC)
As I've already stated at BLPN, you both need to stop editing the article and work the content dispute out here and/or elsewhere. Edit-warring will only result in blocks. 69., don't use the term vandalism. It's wrong and inappropriate. What Lbarquist is doing is NOT vandalism. Lbarquist, don't use legal terms like libel. They can be perceived as legal threats, and they unnecessarily chill discussion.--Bbb23 (talk) 21:27, 24 June 2012 (UTC)

Removing criticism[edit]

User:, a WP:SPA, has been removing sourced reviews critical of Lehrer's work. I've reverted a couple of times, warned him, and just now issued a 3RR warning. Another editor reverted most recently. There is absolutely nothing wrong with the material that the IP is removing except that he doesn't like it. His edit summary ("I deleted quotes from negative reviews (which isn't included in Wikipedia pages for thousands of other authors with both negative + positive reviews") is unsupportable.--Bbb23 (talk) 18:32, 3 July 2012 (UTC)

Fully concur and support Bbb23's efforts here, earlier. Cheers. Leprof 7272 (talk) 04:13, 16 April 2016 (UTC)

Jim Lehrer[edit]

I went to this article because I was curious about whether Jonah Lehrer is related to Jim Lehrer. I think it would be good if the article says how, if at all, the two journalists are related. Pha telegrapher (talk) 01:44, 31 July 2012 (UTC)

And what do we do if they are not? Esrever (klaT) 02:10, 31 July 2012 (UTC)
They are not related. Jim Lehrer's wiki page says he has three daughters. I don't think it's necessary to include the fact that people with the same name are not related unless there is widespread confusion, as in the case of Al Yankovic and Frankie Yankovic. Anson2995 (talk) 16:42, 31 July 2012 (UTC)

Quote Recycling?[edit]

The newly-added bit about quote recycling doesn't make sense in context. Lehrer was accused of recycling quotation he previously used in his OWN work, but the example shows Lehrer using a quotation that Malcolm Gladwell also used. That's not the same situation at all. Can someone pls address this? -- SlickVicar (talk) 23:26, 05 August 2012 (UTC)

An example of the problematic self-plagiarism (recycling) is provided, now in bullet form. Re-use is not the issue. Failing to make clear that one has been paid once already for—not the idea, but rather—the precisely crafted text, only to submit it for a second paid gig… this is the issue. A builder does not take the walls of house he has built for one client, and place them into the home of a second, unless all approve. While the analogy fails in the digital, virtual realm, the limitation of the "recycling" prose is nonetheless clad. Recycling suggests the value to the first client has fully lapsed, so it has no value, except to reclaim what you could term component value. And the appearing example makes clear—Lehrer was not rehashing his strongly held views, restated in unique form each time. He was cutting and pasting past paid work into new paid submissions, without telling the new client they were getting warmed over material. While there can be some argument, the voices of Seife (on the academic side) and Engber (on the practicing side) make clear, not only that this is problematic, but that this was likely a case of turnstile jumping/fare evasion, where the willingness to make decisions to cut corners in this area, was an indication of other ethical propensities as well (as Mike Moynihan sensed, and determined, so clearly). My view, Cheers. Le Prof Leprof 7272 (talk) 04:21, 16 April 2016 (UTC)

Shulman House[edit]

According to Shulman House, he paid $2,250,000 for it as a 29-year-old. Is it common for US authors to be able to do that? --Tim Landscheidt (talk) 11:16, 15 March 2013 (UTC)

Edits of this date[edit]

I began today simply looking for information, but things were in such bad shape, I felt compelled to do some scholarly editing. First, I introduced a more standard Early life–Career–… Personal life structure, after finding no clear list of published works, and a Personal life section stuck in the middle of the article (and containing Career, early life, and personal content).

I then did a source review, looking at the usual indication of problems (bare URLs, dead links, badly presented and incomplete sources, large strings of sources as sole sources at end of paragraph, etc.). In doing this I found problem after problem, many of which I addressed (e.g., all bare URLs, all found dead links, string of non-applicable sources replaced by an actual valid source; tens of incomplete citations checked and completed; content checked against sources, and inaccurate content corrected; quotes/facts lacking a source had sources found; noted places where no sources appeared at all, providing initial sources when possible, etc.).

I then consulted sources at places lacking key details, like the date of an event being reported upon, and thus added many month-year dates to the controversy and other chronologies (even to Personal life), and other facts when the source made them clear, and they were judged relevant.

Finally, after the several hours on the main body, I compared lede to main body, and finding it lacking, redrafted the lede. It can be shortened, of course, but it now parallels the content of the article.

The article still needs a ton of work, but at least the lede is accurate to the article, and the article is increasingly accurate to its sources, its sources are beginning to present a common format, and redundant and simply bad sources have been removed (Lehrer's self-published sources no longer appear), and the article's structure is closer to standard BLP.

Cheers, good luck with taking the article the rest of the way. Le Prof. Leprof 7272 (talk) 05:23, 14 April 2016 (UTC)

"Books" section[edit]

I boldly cleaned up the "Books" section from "Books (a paragraph overview listing his three books) / List (a list of those three books again) / Descriptions > In print (a paragraph about the first book) / Descriptions > Withdrawn (two paragraphs about his second and third book" into a single four-paragraph prose "Books" section earlier, and was reverted by User:Leprof 7272 with a capslock "DISCUSS" and the explanation that the nested structure is better for expanding with future books.

I can't see that it is, though - four nested sections (with a redundant "Descriptions" superheading) seems a confusing structure. Is there a relevant manual of style guide for author biographies? If it's important to have a bulleted WP:BIBLIOGRAPHY, where should that go in the article? --McGeddon (talk) 18:50, 14 April 2016 (UTC)

@McGeddon:, I generally always will be with you in converting lists into prose, unless there is good reason not to. In this case, I am guided by (1) the standard appearance, for prolific writers, of "Published Works" sections, and (2) the clear expectation that this guy will never stop producing books. (Even with the disgrace and controversy, he has a new one out, and a further reported book deal.) That being said, I fully expect these lists to grow, making a prose paragraph of published works untenable in the long run. I am no expert on the format of these—several different appear—and I am very open to someone else making these look even better. But I think that to make them prose, making it harder for future editors to see what information on new books we expect, for content that we can fully expect to grow and ultimately become a full "Published works" (separate full section), this makes no sense to me. (Look back before the recent edits began, and you will see 3 books listed in prose, but with inconsistent inline presentations, and no footnotes, so ISBNs, etc. in the text. That style of presentation, at least, is frowned upon.) Apologies in any case for the revert, without extended discussion, but I was just finishing sorting out the content for his latest collaborative book, and I wanted to get it in. Cheers, and look forward to any guidance (from you or others) on the best styles in this case. Cheers. Le Prof. Leprof 7272 (talk) 03:43, 16 April 2016 (UTC)
P.S. I agree about the Description section, by the way. Most often this would be a fully separate section as well, perhaps "Critical response," akin to for film. Here, it is all confused, and made more difficult by the fact that he has two bodies of work (or even three): not recalled, pre-controversy; recalled; and post-controversy. Best I could think was to group these in two categories, "In print" and "Withdrawn," and deal with books chronologically in each. I would hope someone can add a "critical responses" to the 2015 volume, and perhaps condense the remaining. I do believe it important, however, to leave in place sufficient material to make the overarching point, that before the Mahoney story broke, he was widely praised for his style and seeming general erudition by the popular press, while being chastised by specialists in his undergraduate neuroscience field. Cheers again. Le Prof Leprof 7272 (talk) 03:49, 16 April 2016 (UTC)

Further reading[edit]

Have a look at the growing list of more recent articles on the subject, from reputable sources. Feel free to review, and integrate into the text. I came here as an ER doc, not as a GP. Please, help bring this patient to full health. Cheers. Le Prof. Leprof 7272 (talk) 04:25, 16 April 2016 (UTC)

Note in terms of remaining inline tags (and trust of sources you find)[edit]

When I came—see "Edits of this date," above—the article had, for instance, a long list of venues for which he had written or served as contributing editor, and this appeared (a) unsourced, and (b) not in the Career section, but in Personal life. Hence, on arrival, the structure was a real mess, with redundant and inconsistent placement throughout, no consistency of source presentation, and much material (like the publications employing) that were in violation of WP:VERIFY.

Much of this has been rectified, but it is still perhaps half done, and the rest is hard work. If one fully eliminates all self-published sources (how can we not, for this individual?), and fully minimize reliance on un-critical sources (e.g., magazine interviews that open with a list of everyone [Lehrer told them] he had worked for, one is left with a conundrum, about how to source claims of affiliation, employers, etc. On the employer matter, the way I have begun, is to go to each source, and search their archives, and develop date-spans and citations from those archives. This is, in a rigourous sense, it is a bit of WP:OR, but it is the only way I have been able to arrive at what this subject actually has and has not done. For instance, a Columbia University (local) magazine has indicated that Lehrer was—alongside announcing his Rhodes award—editor of the renowned Columbia Review for two years. Is that true? If it was he who told them two years, did they fact-check/corroborate? Possibly, possibly not. Maybe it was 24 months, or 18, or even 13. With his record, we have to question. But the "two years" is sourced, reasonably well, so it is in for now. As for his contributions there, at the Review (which I added as a separate activity, his writing vs. his editing there)—I have seen a list of some poetry, etc., and it will make its way into the article (he liked to write poetry, apparently). But the Review's archives are not complete, and so describing what is observed from it will be tricky (and so I have not yet taken the time to determine their span, or number).

Bottom line, the citation issue is always a challenge for BLP articles on individuals of contemporary (rather than historical) interest—Kissinger is BLP, but historical as well—and all the more when their well-documented behavioural flaws mean the WP guidelines on independent, third party sources become tantamount. So, please, join in expanding and sourcing this article, but be careful. Cheers. Le Prof Leprof 7272 (talk) 04:44, 16 April 2016 (UTC)

Progress in improving references, so article refimprove tag can be removed[edit]

Checked and completed a number of citations (first 11 are done); issues with employer list not yet complete. Leprof 7272 (talk) 14:32, 17 April 2016 (UTC)

First 29 references have been cursorily checked. (talk) 22:06, 18 April 2016 (UTC)
  • Qualifications. The section on College and university suggests Lehrer has a masters degree in literature and philosophy, but the reference for this assertion does not support the assertion, mentioning only that he studied. In other words, as it stands, this section is a complete fabrication about his credentials. On that basis the last ten words of the second paragraph should be removed. Any objections? Peter S Strempel | Talk 08:25, 11 November 2016 (UTC)
Are you talking about the sentence that says "Lehrer was a 2003 Rhodes Scholarship recipient, supporting his study at Wolfson College at Oxford University, where he obtained a master's degree in philosophy and literature"? The Guardian says he has a masters from Oxford. The NY Daily News source currently in the article says "Lehrer was awarded a Rhodes scholarship and headed to Oxford to study literature and philosophy." Is the question whether his masters degree was actually in literature & philosophy, or whether he received one at all? Safehaven86 (talk) 17:14, 11 November 2016 (UTC)
Both questions arise. The way the article reads right now, the Guardian is not cited at all about his qualifications. I think reference [10] (New York Daily News) actually needs to link to the Guardian piece you cited above, which I can't see mentioned in the article at all. As a disinterested reader the wording and referencing of the entire section seem vague and misleading, creating a reasonable suspicion that more is made of inferences than should be. The Guardian piece you cited is the only one that specifically talks about a master's credential, but even it does not give details that would permit cross-checking (ie MA Lit, MPhil, or some other alternative). Are we buying into a credulously repeated but unsubstantiated claim here? Avoiding that would seem particularly important in this article. Peter S Strempel | Talk 07:03, 16 November 2016 (UTC)
I made this change to the article, adding the Guardian piece and clarifying what the available sources say. Reliable sources say he received a master's from Oxford, but I haven't found any that say what the master's degree was in--the NY Daily News piece says he studied philosophy and literature, not that he necessarily received his degree in those fields, so I've clarified the content to reflect that. Safehaven86 (talk) 16:39, 16 November 2016 (UTC)
Best that can be done at this time. Thanks for the effort. Peter S Strempel | Talk 21:42, 21 November 2016 (UTC)