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Jonah Lehrer's Sick, Cynical Quest For Forgiveness Gets A Book Deal

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http://www.forbes.com - If you don’t go away, they’ll never miss you, the saying goes. It’s hard to imagine that anyone has missed Jonah Lehrer much in the 10 brief months since his career flamed out over revelations that he’d made up quotes, plagiarized from other writers and recycled his own work.



As if that weren’t already a compressed timeframe for a comeback, there was his ill advised — and handsomely compensated — speech before the Knight Foundation in February to remind us all that he still exists and retains his talent for making facts mean whatever he wants them to mean.



Yet here comes Lehrer again, securing a deal with Simon & Schuster to publish a new book, his fourth. This one’s called “A Book About Love,” at least tentatively. It finds its source material in the author’s own fall from grace and his alleged realization that the love that remained in his life after the loss of his career and the wealth and prestige it brought him was the only thing that really mattered in the first place.



“We believe in second chances,” Simon & Schuster publisher Jonathan Karp tells the Times.



Who doesn’t, really? And that’s what makes this whole thing so icky to anyone who cares about journalism, or integrity in general. Both Karp’s positioning of the deal and, in a different way, the content of the book itself are clever pieces of manipulation, luring critics via a false choice into acquiescing to Lehrer’s comeback.



Second chances are great; we all need one from time to time. This isn’t Lehrer’s, not remotely. His first chance came when he was busted for passing off work he’d previously published as new. He could’ve come clean about everything then but opted for a wrist-slap and continued deceit. The second arrived when Michael Moynihan asked him why the Bob Dylan quotations in his book couldn’t be found anywhere else; Lehrer tried to throw Moynihan off the scent, unsuccessfully.

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