At least the notion of authenticity is out there. It means we are looking for what we want to be true. That authenticity, however we define it, is important to us. It demonstrates a shift from earlier in the decade, at the tail end of an era.
The Winnie Foundation feels that plagiarists are unfairly maligned. The foundation conducted a survey, which proved that plagiarism scandals usually result in weeks of extensive reporting, thus providing new job opportunities for investigative journalists and academic committees.
Standing beside a large screen displaying brutal comments on Twitter, the disgraced science writer Jonah Lehrer today delivered a talk that seemed to be aimed primarily at rehabilitating his writing career, rather than offering any insights on his journalistic misdeeds.
Politicians do it. Journalists do it. Even Harvard students do it. Dissembling, stonewalling and outright lies all pass for political discourse these days. The culture of deceit appears to be not only pervasive, but quite acceptable as a way of doing business.
No apologizer in history has ever voluntarily confessed to any other of his misdeeds. These subsequent mishaps are only pointed out by others -- because the miscreants never really admit to what they have done wrong in the first place.
I am a fan of Malcolm Gladwell and his brand of writers (their books and articles make entertaining reads and add much to literary journalism and nonfiction); I just have a problem with it being called scientific writing. I read actual science on a daily basis. This is not it.
In the Internet age, everything we say becomes a potential building block for others to use, and the only way to ensure a solid foundation based on trust is to be truthful. And as Jonah Lehrer learned, lies will topple your world.
As a society, we rarely celebrate simple competence and the ability to deliver. Instead, we demand superstars. This non-stop need to do better and better is what unifies Lehrer with Wall Street miscreants.
The lack of intellectual integrity in Lehrer's work has been obvious all along. Only our cultural institutions welcomed it nonetheless because it fulfilled our need for bite-sized intellectual products.