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Best-seller on creativity featured fake Bob Dylan quotes

A young star of American journalism has acknowledged he concocted quotes from Bob Dylan in his best-selling book of creativity featuring the American folk legend, a magazine article revealed Monday

AFP, Tuesday 31 Jul 2012
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The creative process "is a hard thing to describe (...) It's just this sense that you got something to say," read a quote that Jonah Lehrer, a 31-year-old staff writer at The New Yorker, attributed to Dylan in his book "Imagine: How Creativity Works."

"The problem, though, is that there is no proof that Dylan ever said this," wrote Michael C. Moynihan in an article published online Monday by a Jewish-American magazine, Tablet. Moynihan, a Dylan enthusiast, wrote that he questioned Lehrer about seven quotes in the first chapter of his book, "three of which aren't detectable anywhere else, at least not in the forms in which they appear in the book; three others of which include portions of real Dylan quotes; and one that is dramatically removed from its original context to conform to the narrative of 'Imagine.'"

Lehrer initially told Moynihan he had obtained the quotations from an "extended -- and unreleased -- interview shot" in acclaimed director Martin Scorsese's documentary on the musical legend, "No Direction Home," obtained from Dylan's manager Jeff Rosen.

But Moynihan wrote that Lehrer later confessed to him that he had never met Rosen or seen the unedited footage.

"I panicked," Moynihan quoted Lehrer as saying.

The New York Times reported that Lehrer has resigned from his position at The New Yorker, citing a statement he made through his publisher.

The publisher of "Imagine," Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, said it will recall print versions of his book, the Times said.

 

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John Herald
04-08-2012 09:48pm
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A Travesty but the Responsibility Is Shared
The last person in the world you would want to choose as a subject for something like this would be Bob Dylan. Not only has more been written about Dylan than any other recording artist except perhaps the Beatles, but as with the Fab Four, there are thousands of fans who have pored over the minutia of his background to qualify as experts in their own right. If biographers like Howard Sounes and Clinton Heylin or scholars like Sean Wilentz and Michael Gray don't find you out, one or more of these fans are bound to. What's also incredible is that the publisher failed to provide the level of fact-checking that you would think would be standard procedure to protect itself and its readers. The author obviously deserves the condemnation he's earned for his dishonesty, but no less than Houghton Mifflin does for its sloppiness.
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