Inside the Mind of a Genius: Richard O. Prum

Illustration for article titled Inside the Mind of a Genius: Richard O. Prum

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: 48

Current Location: New Haven, Connecticut

Occupation: Professor at Yale University

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

Enthusiastic, passionate, adventurous, nerdy

2. What dish do you make well?

Blueberry pie and baba ganoush

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


“Box of Rain” by the Grateful Dead

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

Pay your taxes. Vote green.

5. Do you believe in magic?


6. What's your drink?

One beer slowly; I had/have Meniere's disease in my left ear which cause years of vertigo problems, so I don't drink much anymore.

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

A old chamois shirt from the 1980s with embroidery on it by an old girlfriend.

8. Do you handle compliments well?

Aw shucks…

9. What habit would you like to break?

Obligatory second helpings of everything.

10. Mac or PC?

Mac since about 1987

11. Who would you destroy?

I am lover, not a fighter!

12. What holiday do you enjoy?

Thanksgiving! It's all about the food.

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


Number 1—Freedom of religion (or not), speech, press and assembly.

14. What is the difference between genius and talent?

Don't know yet.

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

10! Finding a life passion that is actually supported as a legitimate activity by society at large is an unbelievable gift. To be doing science at a time when the quality of tools is so high, doubly fortunate.

16. What is your definition of luxury?


To be bad to study birds.

17. Do you make your bed every day?


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

Vladimir Nabokov and Graham Greene

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


Adaptationist evolutionary biology

20. Vanilla bean, dark chocolate or Bing cherry?

Dark chocolate

Tomorrow's genius: Esther Duflo

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