Appearing in the UK four years after its original US publication, Proust Was a Neuroscientist is an assured debut by Jonah Lehrer, best known. A few weeks ago, I wrote about Jonah Lehrer’s book How We Decide being removed from sale because some of its contents were plagiarized. Neuroscience now knows that Whitman’s poetry spoke the truth: emotions are generated by the body. Ephemeral as they seem, our feelings.
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This occurred just after Lehrer had made his first public appearance in several months, giving a speech apologizing for his previous journalistic misdeedsincluding self-plagiarism and fabricated quotes. But there is a troublesome pattern of misquoting neurosciengist selective quoting, in addition to a number of debatable statements, and mistakes that are just plain lazy. Before I detail the problems I found in Proust Was a Neuroscientist henceforth Proustlet me explain my reasons for making this post.
Proust Was a Neuroscientist – Wikipedia
So this post could be interpreted as an unnecessary further attack on someone whose work has already been pretty thoroughly discredited. However, Lehrer himself said in his speech of apology: So in looking at Proust more closely, I focused on the four chapters dealing with artists and writers that I feel I have some familiarity with: This many problems in only one-half of the book suggests that Proust is yet another example of Lehrer acting in the way that Seth Mnookin described: The arrogance to believe that he has the right to rejigger reality to make things a little punchier, or a little neater, or a little easier for himself.
Most writers ensure that material inside quotation marks is directly quoted and accurately quoted, not only out of respect to the original source, but also to maintain their own credibility.
I find it troubling that the misquotes above are not only incorrect, but also that some wording seems to have been strategically altered.
In his apology speechLehrer claimed: I have learned about parts of me that I tried for too long not to see. But entangled with that truth is the possibility of improvement….
Proust Was a Neuroscientist by Jonah Lehrer – review
Less tempted by shortcuts and my own excuses. How Did This Happen?
There are a couple of other writers who deserve a close reading, Malcolm Gladwell and Paul Tough connect to Lehrer and produce the same sort of dubious pseudo-nonfiction. How Children Succeed is a rather transparent shill for education reform; and The Tipping Point supposedly shows how anyone can capitalize on market trends but is really more a celebration of corporate power.
Their writing is a form of disinformation; some part of it may result from laziness, but I want to know who is actually paying them. I suppose I can no longer say that and I have to admit that I was duped.
I am disappointed because I really like the idea of linking the brain and the fine arts together in the way the author did or in this case failed to accurately do. Thank you for writing this.
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Proust Was a Neuroscientist by Jonah Lehrer: review – Telegraph
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Poet Rainer Maria Rilke is quoted on page as saying: But the paragraph actually ends with an additional line: It is not clear why the last line of the paragraph was omitted, as the rest of the paragraph is subsequently discussed fairly thoroughly.
The complete quote in its original context is: This reason is completely different from the reason that Lehrer describes. On pagea quote from philosopher Karl Popper begins: The actual quote begins: And here are some examples of debatable statements and lazy mistakes: According to online sourcesphilosopher Albertus Magnus was working with photosensitive chemicals in the 13 th century. A footnote on p. The source of this story is not referenced, and I could not find any source online that verified it.
The same is true of the quote from Leo Stein on page The speaker of a quote on p. These are examples of what I found; the complete list is available on request.
Proust Was a Neuroscientist by Jonah Lehrer: review
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