My favorite read of the summer had been Jonah Leher’s book Imagine: How creativity works. I greatly enjoyed the book as I read it in the car during our family vacation. I’d frequently pause during my reading and share snippets of it with my wife. Once we got home from our trip, I skimmed through it again with my highlighter, marking my favorite passages. I sent out several tweets and Facebook posts with my recommendation of it. I even started taking notes to put together a blog post here. There were many parts of the book that I thought would be so beneficial to educators and parents.
But the author has recently admitted that he made up several quotes he attributed to singer songwriter Bob Dylan, who was a focus of major parts of the book. Lehrer had also previously found trouble for self-plagiarization, recycling too much old work into new columns of his own. Now Lehrer has resigned from his position at The New Yorker, and his book is being pulled from shelves. I’m sure that other writers and researchers will now comb through Imagine and find other inaccuracies, intentional or not. Research and fact checking are so much easier in this highly connected digital world.
There were so many great points in the book. I should go to the original sources Lehrer used and read those studies. Not sure that I’ll do that right away, but what has been made clear to me (again) is the importance of honesty and truthfulness. Be careful about what you say and share in this connected world. It’s easy for others to check facts of what we claim. Don’t let laziness or ego coax you into a problem that may ruin your reputation and career. Another lesson in citizenship in this digital world has been created for us to learn from. The truth can set you free, but it can also hunt you down and kick you in the rear.