2nd Jonah Lehrer Book Pulled From Shelves After Publisher Admits 'Significant' Inconsistencies In 'How We Decide'

   on March 02 2013 12:59 PM

Disgraced journalist and author Jonah Lehrer is in hot water again after he recently apologized at a lecture in Florida for fabricating Bob Dylan quotes in his 2012 book "Imagine" -- fabrications that effectively destroyed his reputation and forced his resignation from the New Yorker.

Lehrer’s publisher, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (HMH), announced that it will pull the author’s second book, 2009’s "How We Decide," from bookshelves after an internal investigation raised “significant” questions about an interview that may have been plagiarized in the book.

Michael Moynihan -- the same journalist whose Tablet report first shed light on Lehrer’s misgivings in July 2012 -- raised the issue about "How We Decide" months ago on his TwitLonger page.

Moynihan claimed that an alleged interview in the book with Capt. Al Haynes, the pilot of United Airlines Flight 232, which crashed in 1989, killing 111 passengers, was plagiarized. The following is a transcript from Lehrer’s book (found on pages 254-255) with the footnote “Al Haynes, interview with the author, January 21, 2008.”

"For most of my career, we kind of worked on the concept that the captain was the authority on the aircraft," says Al Haynes, the captain of Flight 232. "And we lost a few airplanes because of that. Sometimes the captain isn't as smart as we thought he was." Haynes freely admits that he couldn't have saved the plane by himself that day. "We had 103 years of flying experience there in the cockpit [on Flight 232], trying to get that airplane on the ground. If I hadn't used CRM, if we had not had everybody's input, it's a cinch we wouldn't have made it."

Moynihan, and now HMH -- although it’s unclear what took the publisher so long to pull the book -- point to a lecture Haynes gave on May 24, 1991, which contains significant similarities to the quote above:

"Up until 1980, we kind of worked on the concept that the captain was the authority on the aircraft. What he said, goes. And we lost a few airplanes because of that. Sometimes the captain isn't as smart as we thought he was,” said Capt Haynes. “And we would listen to him, and do what he said, and we wouldn't know what he's talking about. And we had 103 years of flying experience there in the cockpit, trying to get that airplane on the ground, not one minute of which we had actually practiced, any one of us."

The new allegations, this time of plagiarism, come after Lehrer attracted criticism for a speech in Miami in which he blamed his own “carelessness” and “arrogance” for his errors. He was paid $20,000 by the Knight Foundation to deliver his remarks.

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