Genius Takes Many Forms. It's Time We Recognized Them All.

For centuries, white males of European descent cornered the market on the title 'genius.' Today, we see flashes of it everywhere.

Who is a genius? This question has fascinated humankind for centuries—and it bedeviled us in putting together the cover story of this month’s issue.

Let’s stipulate: Einstein was a genius. His face (his hair!) is virtually the international symbol for genius, so revered is he as an intellectual titan. But for our story we wanted to go beyond one man and explore the nature of genius itself. Why is it that some people are so much more intelligent or creative than the rest of us? And who are they?

That’s where the trouble begins. When editors here first gathered portraits to create a gallery of geniuses past (because it’s hard to tell who among the living truly is a genius), the uniformity was obvious—and unsettling. In the sciences and arts, statecraft and literature, philosophy and industry, those hailed as geniuses were most often white men, of European origin.

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