Jonah Lehrer got paid $20,000 for his appearance at a conference in Miami. This isn’t surprising. Who believed he was going to disappear forever after admitting to fabricating Bob Dylan quotes, and being humiliated for his lack of journalistic ethics during a riotous few weeks? A “compelling” bad guy is worth as much as a popular good guy. Everyone loved Jonah Lehrer, then everyone hated him, then everyone agreed that they felt sorry for him, kind of.
What’s intriguing about this little twist, to me, is how such things bring culture a little closer to video games. Lose a life, gain a life. Game over? Start again.
Mr. Lehrer, who was paid a $20,000 honorarium, dived right in with a full-throated mea culpa. “I am the author of a book on creativity that contains several fabricated Bob Dylan quotes,” he told the crowd, which apparently could not be counted on to have followed the intense schadenfreude-lacedcommentary that accompanied his downfall. “I committed plagiarism on my blog, taking without credit or citation an entire paragraph from the blog of Christian Jarrett. I plagiarized from myself. I lied to a journalist named Michael Moynihan to cover up the Dylan fabrications.”
“My mistakes have caused deep pain to those I care about,” he continued. “I’m constantly remembering all the people I’ve hurt and let down.”
Admit you lose, and you’ll be given a new life. Get caught cheating, and get booted off the server for a while. Who cares? Okay, not the best analogy to make. But.