Whom would you like to interview?

Alan Dershowitz is the Felix Frankfurter Professor of Law at the Harvard Law School. In addition to his teaching, Dershowitz is a prolific author who makes frequent media and public appearances, and who is known for his commentary on the Arab-Israeli conflict as well as his work on numerous high-profile cases. As a criminal appellate lawyer, Dershowitz successfully argued to overturn the conviction of Claus von Bulow for the attempted murder of his wife, Sunny. He also served as the appellate advisor in the criminal trial of O.J. Simpson.

Dershowitz joined the faculty of Harvard Law School as an assistant professor of law in 1964. He was made a full professor of law in 1967, at the age of 28, becoming, at that time, Harvard's youngest full law professor in the school's history. Dershowitz is also the author of more than 20 works of fiction and non-fiction, including Blasphemy: How the Religious Right is Hijacking the Declaration of Independence (2007), The Case for Israel (2003), the bestseller Chutzpah (1991), and Reversal of Fortune (1986), which was made into an Academy Award-winning film. More than a million of his books have been sold worldwide and in numerous languages.

Dershowitz joined the faculty of Harvard Law School as an assistant professor of law in 1964. He was made a full professor of law in 1967, at the age of 28, becoming, at that time, Harvard's youngest full law professor in the school's history. Dershowitz is also the author of more than 20 works of fiction and non-fiction, including Blasphemy: How the Religious Right is Hijacking the Declaration of Independence (2007), The Case for Israel (2003), the bestseller Chutzpah (1991), and Reversal of Fortune (1986), which was made into an Academy Award-winning film. More than a million of his books have been sold worldwide and in numerous languages.

  • Transcript

TRANSCRIPT

Question: Whom would you like to interview, and what would you ask? 

Alan Dershowitz: There are so many people that I’d love to interview, living and dead. I’ll limit myself to a living one and one fairly close by. I would want to ask Howard Gardner – who is a very innovative psychologist who has come up with concepts of multiple intelligences – how we can use the fact that people are smart in so many different ways, to increase the productivity of people who aren’t smart in the traditional way that we think of smarts. Academically smart. Smart in school.

I would combine it with the insights of another friend of mine, Michael Porter, and ask how the human mind, in its very different forms, can be used to create competitive advantages to populations in the world today which seem to be competitively disadvantaged.

The idea of exploring the wide range of human intelligence that today we don’t explore.

I think of it again biographically. I’m sure my great grandparents were smarter than I was; and yet they had no opportunity. Nobody was able to exploit their great brilliance and their intelligence. It took opportunity. It took education to be able to mold a generation.

What do they say about the Jewish immigration experience? First generation, ladies’ garment workers union. Second generation, American Psychiatrist Association and the American Bar Association. Third generation, President of Harvard, Yale, and many other places in America. It only takes a few generations, and there’s nothing unique about Jews.

Any group can have that experience if they are given the right opportunities. The idea of Muslims and Arabs who used to have one of the greatest cultures in the world, and clearly have the innate ability to make enormous contributions to the world, to give them an opportunity to achieve a competitive and intellectual advantage by encouraging that kind of generational leap would do so much good in the world today.

Recorded On: June 12, 2007


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