Pittsburgh Legal Back Talk

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Prejudice Around Us.

Posted By Cliff Tuttle | May 3, 2010

The word prejudice means to pre-judge.  We see it everywhere we look, but don’t call it what it is.  Talk radio is full of it.  Hosts and callers are continuously reaching conclusions based upon very little evidence.  This includes cases coming up for trial. In most cases, the evidence to be presented at the trial, especially the defense, is unknown or at best speculative.

But can the refusal to pre-judge a matter before the evidence is in be a form of prejudice?  In some people’s view it can.  Consider the case of the Harvard third year law student who wrote an email saying that she won’t dismiss the possibility that genetic studies will ultimately determine that there is a racial component to intelligence.

When Above the Law reported the story, but didn’t reveal the name of the email’s author, others hunted her down. The headline in a tabloid on line publication called “Jezabel” tells it all: “Meet Harvard’s Racist Email Antagonist.”

The ability to withhold judgment when all of the evidence has not been collected is one of the skills that you learn in law school.  But anyone can and should learn this fundamental mental discipline.  When you withhold judgment until the appropriate time, you frequently discover that the answer is more complicated than previously thought and sometimes quite different from any of those previously suggested.

The mysteries of the human brain, how it really works and what it is capable of doing are being discovered at a rapid rate.  But it is safe to say that we still know far less than we don’t know.  We might as well admit it.  The alternative is a high probability of being wrong.



CLIFF TUTTLE has been a Pennsylvania lawyer for over 45 years and (inter alia) is a real estate litigator and legal writer. The posts in this blog are intended to provide general information about legal topics of interest to lawyers and consumers with a Pittsburgh and Western Pennsylvania focus. However, this information does not constitute legal advice and there is no lawyer-client relationship created when you read this blog. You are encouraged to leave comments but be aware that posted comments can be read by others. If you wish to contact me in privacy, please use the Contact Form located immediately below this message. I will reply promptly and in strict confidence.

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