Has Jonah Lehrer Plagiarized Again?

Simon & Schuster has decided to gives fabulist, plagiarist, and self-plagiarist Jonah Lehrer another shot. The book will tackle the “Power of Love” in the same pop- (pseudo) science fashion of his previous work. Upon reading the book’s 62-page proposal, Slate’s Daniel Engber notes that Lehrer appears to pick up right where he left off.

A chapter on the secret to having a happy marriage, for example, comes close to copying a recent essay on the same subject by Adam Gopnik, Lehrer’s one-time colleague at The New Yorker. Gopnik wrote:

In 1838, when Darwin was first thinking of marriage, he made an irresistible series of notes on the subject—a scientific-seeming list of marriage pros and cons. … In favor of marriage, he included the acquisition of a “constant companion and friend in old age” and, memorably and conclusively, decided that a wife would be “better than a dog, anyhow.”

Here’s Lehrer’s version, from the proposal:

In July 1838, Charles Darwin considered the possibility of marriage in his scientific notebook. His thoughts quickly took the shape of a list, a balance sheet of reasons to “marry” and “not marry.” The pros of wedlock were straightforward: Darwin cited the possibility of children (“if it please God”), the health benefits of attachment and the pleasure of having a “constant companion (& friend in old age).” A wife, he wrote, was probably “better than a dog anyhow.”

Gopnik, again:

And the Darwins went on to have something close to an ideal marriage.

And Lehrer:

This might seem like an inauspicious start to a relationship, but the Darwins’ went on to have a nearly ideal marriage.

And there’s more where that came from. All that’s left is for Malcolm Gladwell to write a contrarian piece on the personality traits shared by disgraced public figures attempting comebacks.