Jonah Lehrer's Moral Compass 'Badly Broken'

Probe uncovers more plagiarism and fabrication
By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 3, 2012 5:41 PM CDT
Jonah Lehrer.   (Getty Images)

(Newser) – Seems Jonah Lehrer's penchant for cooking up quotes and committing plagiarism dates back further than we knew. Probing Lehrer's old blogs for Wired, science reporter Charles Seife uncovered many instances of Lehrer recycling material, copying press releases, messing with quotes, and even messing with the facts. "Unlike recycling, plagiarism and fabrication are fundamental betrayals of the reader's trust. ... And betraying the reader is the cardinal sin in journalism," Seife writes at Slate.

Seife got to interview Lehrer for 90 minutes about it, but can't legally quote or even sum up their talk. "But what I can say is that a number of his responses to my questions made me suspect that Lehrer's journalistic moral compass is badly broken," writes Seife. One caveat, though: While older reporters had editors vetting their work, Lehrer "rose to the very top in a flash, and ... was operating, most of the time, without a safety net. Nobody noticed that something was amiss until it was too late to save him." (Read more Jonah Lehrer stories.)

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