Inside the Mind of a Genius: Elyn R. Saks

MacArthur Foundation
MacArthur Foundation

Now that you know How to Be a Black Genius, members of the 2009 class of MacArthur fellows give some insight into the way they live and think.


Age: 54

Hometown: Miami, Florida

Current Location: Los Angeles, California

Occupation: Law professor

1. What four adjectives would your first best friend use to describe you?

I asked my best friend, and he said "brilliant, loyal, tenacious and genuine."

2. What dish do you make well?

Cold cereal.

3. What was your favorite song when you were in high school?

All Beatles songs.

4. What is the quickest, best form of charity?

Giving money to organizations known to do good.

5. Do you believe in magic?


6. What's your drink?

Coffee or iced tea.

7. What's the oldest piece of clothing you own?

A pair of gray jeans.

8. Do you handle compliments well?


9. What habit would you like to break?

I'd like to keep my office neater.

10. Mac or PC?


11. Who would you destroy?

No one (at least consciously)!

12. What holiday do you enjoy?

I don't much like holidays.

13. What is your favorite of the first 10 amendments to the Constitution?

The Due Process Clause.

14. What is the difference between genius and talent?

I'm not smart enough to tell.

15. On a scale of 1-10, how lucky are you?

For an unlucky person, I am very lucky—not sure how to grade that.

16. What is your definition of luxury?

Something that you want but don't need.

17. Do you make your bed every day?


18. You own three novels by the same author—who is it?


19. What has been the most extreme opposition to your work and way of thinking?

Some people want to coerce people with mental illness more than I, and some want to coerce them less than I.


20. Vanilla bean, dark chocolate or Bing cherry?

Vanilla bean.

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