Think of this well-known image as a visual analog for the genius hunt:
Because the MacArthur Fellowship Program is both grounded in and committed to institutions and practices dating back to the 19th Century, it yields an old crone. By adopting the simple rule of not giving awards to people on staff at elite institutions they can turn the program around and orient it toward the future, the young woman.
Effecting such a gestalt switch is, alas, very difficult. Regardless of how you interpret it, that drawing consists of the same lines and shadings. Nothing that makes up the drawing changes from one interpretation to the other. So it is in the socio-cultural domain. The constituent parts and processes are the same. Thus the MacArthur Foundation thinks their program is a young woman when, in fact, it’s an old crone.
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Image by William Ely Hill [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons.
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Earlier in this series: