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Swiss Jonah Lehrer update

Nassim Taleb adds this link to the Dobelli story.

I’m confused. I thought Swiss dudes were supposed to plagiarize their own stuff, not rip off other people’s. Whassup with that?


  1. Rahul says:

    What deserves a bit more irritation is that Nassim Taleb (and people like him) will endorse books & authors based on very limited information.

    If you will lend your credentials to an endorsement the least you can do is at least read the darn book you are endorsing. And to say “I endorsed the person not the book” is hiding behind a technicality that smacks of laziness.

    I can’t but feel a feeling of glee that this happened to Taleb: Serves you right, for lending your name to causes without doing your homework.

    • Andrew says:


      Hey, that’s pretty harsh—and I don’t just say that because Taleb blurbed one of my books! Promiscuous blurbing is not the best practice but I wouldn’t put in the same league as plagiarism.

      • Rahul says:


        I think you over-rate Plagiarism (which is BAD, no doubt) and my hunch is most academics do because it threatens their way of life and the way their incentive-structure / reputational edifice is constructed.

        In my more pragmatic / utilatarian calculus, the net-loss to (non-academic) society when someone with the reputation capital of Nassim Taleb makes a hasty, lazy endorsement is far more damaging than what one would at first glance think. e.g. How many of those one million copies sold simply on the strength of a Taleb imprimatur?

        Yes, I consider it richly deserved deserts for Taleb.

    • George says:

      Seems timely as last night I read several chapters of Taleb”s “Fooled by Randomness” and he discusses being mislead about a book by John Dos Passos (Manhattan Transfer) based solely on a jacket praise by Jean-Paul Sarte. His section (The best book I have ever read…page 161,162) seems to have come full circle.

      Although,unlike Rahul I find no particular glee in this.

      • Rahul says:

        Part of my glee is probably ascribable to a personal prejudice against Taleb’s work and his style.

        I’m also annoyed by the obsession of academics with plagiarism at the expense of several more serious problems that ail the system.

        • Andrew says:


          I have a fascination (I wouldn’t say obsession) with scholars who break the rules and refuse to apologize or admit wrongdoing. As far as I know, Hauser hasn’t even apologized to the monkeys who participated in his experiments. To sacrifice one’s life and then have your data misreported, that just seems like a horrible thing to do, even to a monkey.

          • Rahul says:


            I think you have a fascination with scholars who break certain types of rules. :)

            Not just you, but academics in general reserve a special part of hell for the plagiarizers & data-fakers. I wish bad-science or sloppy logic or hiding data or mis-leading abstracts or oversold results or lackadaisical reviewers and other evils got equal criticism.

            Though, you Andrew, I admit, are a pleasant exception. The scientifically bad studies like the “pink-clothes-and-fertility” are more insidious and less strongly rebuked than they ought to be.