Just-world hypothesis

The belief in a just world can, when taken to an extreme, result in very harmful and dehumanizing doctrines. Consider its logical end point in the statement of an official in the U.S. Department of Education in the early 1980s that disabled individuals "falsely assume that the lottery of life has penalized them at random. This is not so. Nothing comes to an individual that he has not, at some point in his development, summoned....As unfair as it may seem, a person's external circumstances do fit his level of inner spiritual development" (Gilovich, 1991, p. 143). As Gilovich went on to note, "This is not exactly the philosophy that one would want in the upper reaches of the Department of Education, the department that is responsible for overseeing educational opportunities for the handicapped" (pp. 143-144) - but it is the philosophy that invariably results if we refuse to attribute any outcomes to chance.

- "How To Think Straight About Psychology", by Keith E. Stanovich
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