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Jonah Lehrer on Learning From Mistakes

If errors are inevitable in the pursuit of anything worthwhile, then our most important decisions are inevitably made in their aftermath. 

“Being able to admit mistakes and learn from mistakes is a crucial part of success in every domain.”
            – Jonah Lehrer    


Jonah Lehrer made some big mistakes 

Back in April last year, we interviewed popular-science writer Jonah Lehrer, then at the top of his game. His new book Imagine: How Creativity Works had just hit the shelves. Its inspiring subject matter (who doesn’t love creativity?) and brisk, anecdotal style were a sure-fire recipe for yet another mega-hit in the booming genre of ideas-as-pop-culture. Then, a few months later, it was revealed that Lehrer had distorted and invented a number of Bob Dylan quotes for the book, which its publishers recalled from shelves at enormous expense. Twitter and the press went wild and, piranha-like, shredded Lehrer’s reputation in a matter of hours. Not only was Lehrer a liar, we learned, he was also a relentless self-plagiarizer (recycling bits of his own articles), a plagiarizer of others, and a wholesale inventor of facts. As Boris Kachka put it in New York Magazine

He was scrambling up the slippery slope to the TED-talk elite: authors and scientists for whom the book or the experiment is just part of a multimedia branding strategy. He was on a conveyor belt of blog posts, features, lectures, and inspirational books, serving an entrepreneurial public hungry for futurist fables, easy fixes, and scientific marvels in a world that often feels tangled, stagnant, and frustratingly familiar. He was less interested in wisdom than in seeming convincingly wise.

Soon after, Lehrer resigned his post as staff writer for the New Yorker, something former staff writer Dan Baum assures us nobody does voluntarily

Video: Jonah Lehrer on Making Mistakes

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