MacArthur ‘genius grant’ myths debunked

Winners of the MacArthur Foundation’s $625,000 “genius grants” will be named on Wednesday morning.

“We make the public announcement at 12:01 am eastern time tomorrow morning via our website, Twitter, and enewsletter,” MacArthur spokesman Andrew Solomon tells Romenesko readers in an email. “Fellows are generally notified by a phone call (out of the blue).”

The foundation, in a Washington Post piece, lists five myths about the award:

1. You have to be a genius to win it. (“‘Genius’ is both too narrow and too broad to describe MacArthur Fellows.”)
genius2. The selection process is shrouded in secrecy. (“We are actually quite open about the process for selecting Fellows; it is posted on our website.”)
3. The winners are usually academics and artists. (“Many fellows are engaged in highly practical work.”)
4. Creativity “just happens.” (Creativity isn’t just a flash of brilliance.)
5. It’s all downhill after winning the Fellowship. (“If every Fellow hit only home runs, we would worry that they were not taking enough risks or that we’d chosen the wrong people.”)

* Five myths about the MacArthur “genius grants” (macfound.org)

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