There are a lot of quotes out there attributed to folks like George Carlin, Mark Twain and Bob Dylan. They all said more than their share of quotable phrases. So, why "make up" quotes by these keen observers of life? Why, to sell a book, of course.

The latest in what seems like an epidemic of journalistic "fudging" is Jonah Lehrer. Now the boy finds himself in hot water and without a job.


Jonah Lehrer released a statement yesterday through his publisher, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, saying that some Dylan quotes appearing in “Imagine: How Creativity Works” did “not exist.” Others were “unintentional misquotations, or represented improper combinations of previously existing quotes.” Lehrer said he acknowledged his actions after being contacted by Michael Moynihan of the online publication Tablet Magazine, which released an in-depth story on the Dylan passages in “Imagine.” Among Lehrer’s inventions was a quote that first appeared in the famous documentary from the mid-1960s, “Don’t Look Back,” in which Dylan tells a reporter about his songs that “I just write them. There’s no great message.” In “Imagine,” Lehrer adds a third sentence – “Stop asking me to explain” – that does not appear in the film. According to Tablet, Lehrer also invented quotes on how Dylan wrote “Like a Rolling Stone” and, when confronted about them, alleged that he had been granted access to an uncut version of “No Direction Home,” a Dylan documentary made by Martin Scorsese. Lehrer now says he never saw such footage.

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