Month: March 2013

The Problems with Jonah Lehrer’s “Proust Was a Neuroscientist”

A few weeks ago, I wrote about Jonah Lehrer’s book How We Decide being removed from sale because some of its contents were plagiarized. This occurred just after Lehrer had made his first public appearance in several months, giving a speech apologizing for his previous journalistic misdeeds, including self-plagiarism and fabricated quotes.

In his story on How We Decide being pulled off the market, journalist Michael Moynihan – who uncovered the fabricated quotes which led to Lehrer’s book Imagine also being removed from sale – reports that How We Decide‘s publishers also reviewed 2007’s Proust Was a Neuroscientist, the first of Lehrer’s three books. The review “did not uncover any problems and…[the book] ‘will remain in print’ “.

After examining some parts of Proust Was a Neuroscientist more closely, I think that the book does have “problems”. (more…)

Another Critique of Malcolm Gladwell’s “10,000 Hour Rule”

I’m currently reading a very interesting book entitled Selling the Dream: How Hockey Parents and Their Kids are Paying the Price for Our National Obsession. (The “our” is Canada, if you hadn’t already guessed that from the reference to hockey.) If nothing else, this book has made me, as a figure skater, realize that participating in hockey can be almost as expensive as participating in figure skating, especially when parents put their kids into all kinds of additional hockey training and coaching.

However, the part of the book that I found particularly fascinating was its comments on Malcolm Gladwell’s “10,000 hour rule”, which I have criticized in another post(more…)

All About Work’s First Birthday

(credit: own photo)

(credit: own photo)

Today marks the first birthday of All About Work. In one year, it’s received over 10,000 hits, and working on it has been a lot of fun for me.

The five posts that received the most hits during the year are: (more…)

Scabby the Rat Gets Some Well-Deserved Attention

Although strikes and other labour-related actions often get negative coverage in the media, occasionally there are light-hearted parts to these events. And one of these is Scabby the Rat, the giant inflatable rat that shows up in front of American workplaces where union members are on strike or locked out.

This week, the VICE website posted a wonderfully entertaining and informative article about Scabby, prompted by a suggestion by one US union leader that Scabby no longer reflected unionism’s new “value proposition”. (more…)

Academics Behaving Badly: Not Just Irritating, But Also Expensive

Around this time of the academic year, the enthusiasm of last September has been almost completely exhausted. Deadlines for big class projects are fast approaching, everyone is sniffling with a cold or has gigantic lack-of-sleep circles under their eyes (or both), crankiness is running rampant, and the end of the semester seems a looooong way away. So maybe that’s why my eye was caught this past week by two different discussions of academic bad behavior. (more…)

Jonah Lehrer’s 2nd Book Pulled by Publisher

Despite Jonah Lehrer’s very public and very lucrative apology last week for his plagiarism problems, those problems don’t seem to be going away.

Michael Moynihan, the journalist who uncovered Lehrer’s fabricated Bob Dylan quotes, has posted a story today that Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Lehrer’s book publisher, has removed How We Decide from sale. How We Decide was Lehrer’s second book, published before the (in)famous Imagine; I’ve written about some of the other problems with that book here.

The reason given for taking the book off the market was an “internal review” that uncovered “significant problems”. The “problems” weren’t specified by the publisher, but Moynihan points to a set of quotes in How We Decide allegedly from an interview conducted by Lehrer specifically for the book, but which bear a remarkable similarity to 20-year-old quotes on Wikipedia about the same issue.

The Knight Foundation, which hired Lehrer for the $20,000 speech, later apologized for the decision to pay him that much (although they didn’t ask him to return his speaking fee, at least not publicly). I’m thinking that right about now they’re probably really sorry…..