Jonah Lehrer turns down speaker’s fee at University of Minnesota Duluth

Jonah Lehrer is back on the speaking circuit, but this time he’s not taking a fee.

The disgraced science journalist, who was paid $20,000 to speak at a Knight Foundation conference 13 months ago, is on the University of Minnesota Duluth campus three days this week for a creativity conference.

“He’s not being paid anything,” William Payne, head of the UMD School of Fine Arts, tells me. “We’re covering the cost of him getting here and putting him up, but he wouldn’t accept an honorarium.”

Lehrer is one of two speakers invited to the Duluth campus — CSU Fresno psychology professor Martin Shapiro is the other — to speak in classrooms, deliver “TED-style presentations” and participate in a Wednesday public discussion.

WDSE public television producer Karen Sunderman, who will moderate the talk, says there are no restrictions on questions for Lehrer. “I’ve been told that no question is off the table for his entire visit,” she says in a phone interview.

Payne confirms that, and says Lehrer will discuss his serial plagiarism. “He’s going to talk about the mistakes he’s made.”

I ask the dean if Lehrer’s conference appearance has been criticized around Duluth.

“We’ve had some conversations on campus about the [plagiarism] incidences you’ve mentioned” in our phone conversation, he says.

Lehrer’s campus critics must not be very loud, though. I ask University of Minnesota-Duluth Statesman editor-in-chief Maeggie Licht about Lehrer’s visit and she says it’s news to her.

* Jonah Lehrer at the University of Minnesota-Duluth creativity conference (
* Lehrer is coming to UM Duluth with baggage (
* After being criticized, Knight Foundation says it regrets paying $20K to Lehrer (