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WiReD surgically removes damaged neurotrash 'expert'

Jonah and the wail

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Glossy lifestyle magazine WiReD will sever its relationship with pop neuroscience journalist and author Jonah Lehrer, the author of Imagine: How Creativity Works.

In late July, Lehrer was cut loose by New Yorker after he manufactured Bob Dylan quotes and then fibbed about their provenance to grownups at the posh mag. Lehrer had already come under fire for recycling his WiReD Frontal Cortext blog posts for the New Yorker's website, prompting dozens of "you may have read this crap before" flags.

But WiReD, curiously, kept him on.

The mag's publisher Conde Nast then commissioned a study into Lehrer's online output, and gave a journalism professor a random sample of 18 of the scribe's blog posts. Some plagiarism was allegedly discovered, although to be fair most of the sample involved the sort of churnalism practised by most of Fleet Street: recycling press releases.

(A study of BBC science journalism last year by the BBC Trust found that 75 per cent of science stories were based on a single press release, and 7 out of every 8 of those contain no other source other than the issuer of the press release.)

WiReD wouldn't publish the Lehrer probe's findings, but Slate magazine, with its best more-in-sorrow-than-anger voice on, did. You can read it here. Having caught wind of Slate's story, WiReD finally pulled the trigger.

It must be a coincidence that WiReD editor-in-chief Chris Anderson was discovered lifting huge chunks of material for his book Free from Whackipedia. We discussed the ironies of that story and Lehrer's Dylan blunder here. ®

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