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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[…]

Dershowitz would like to pick the brain of an innovative psychologist.

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