Inside the Mind of a Genius: Esther Duflo

Illustration for article titled Inside the Mind of a Genius: Esther Duflo

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: 37

Hometown: Paris

Current Location: Boston

Occupation: Professor

1. What four adjectives would your first best friend use to describe you?
Short, French, voracious, pig-headed.

2. What dish do you make well?

3. What was your favorite song when you were in high school?
"Tete en l'air" by Jacques Higelin

4. What is the quickest, best form of charity?
Old-fashioned but true and tried: Go online and give money to an organization that does something that has been shown to work, e.g. Immunization Project by Seva Mandir on 

5. Do you believe in magic?
I'd love to. This reminds me of Nick Drake's "Made to Love Magic."

6. What's your drink?

7. What's the oldest piece of clothing you own?
Oh … I don't even know. At least 15 years old in any case.

8. Do you handle compliments well?
Sure. Bring it on!   

9. What habit would you like to break?
E-mail checking.

10. Mac or PC?

11. Who would you destroy?
No one, really…


12. What holiday do you enjoy?
Climbing with friends

13. What is your favorite of the first 10 amendments to the Constitution?
Cruel and unusual punishment.

14. What is the difference between genius and talent?
The fact that a bunch of other people, usually for no apparent reason, decided it to call that way.

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


16. What is your definition of luxury?
A 10-hour night, followed by a wholly uncommitted day

17. Do you make your bed every day?

18. You own three novels by the same author-who is it?
A.S. Byatt


19. What has been the most extreme opposition to your work and way of thinking?
I must say this is part of my luck: Most of the opposition, if vigorous, has been and still is, quite civil and intellectual. It has allowed all of us to make progress.

20. Vanilla bean, dark chocolate or Bing cherry?
Vanilla bean, if I had to choose between those three, but I'd rather have chestnut.