The 24 recipients of the 2015 MacArthur Foundation “genius grants” were announced Tuesday, with each fellow given a no-strings-attached gift of $625,000 over five years to pursue their boldest artistic, academic, or scientific work. Here is a step-by-step guide to how the MacArthur Foundation awards its grants:

  • Step 1: MacArthur scouts dispatched to studios, laboratories, and lecture halls throughout the country
  • Step 2: Selection committee asks each candidate why he or she most wants to be a genius
  • Step 3: Committee member throws in 43-year-old data entry clerk Tim Conners from Ohio to give rest of committee a laugh
  • Step 4: Committee ensures candidates have never before been declared a genius by another foundation to preserve fellowship’s prestige
  • Step 5: Candidates who admit that they hate human progress are immediately disqualified
  • Step 6: Finalists examined by leading phrenologists
  • Step 7: Some fucking avant-garde puppeteer makes more money over the course of a phone call than you will in your life
  • Step 8: Winners awarded MacArthur Foundation tote bag
  • Step 9: Recipients receive painfully awkward, disingenuous congratulations from peers and colleagues
  • Step 10: Winners required to submit two forms of ID plus voided check stub in order to begin direct deposit
  • Step 11: Snubbed geniuses vow to use talents to wreak devastation upon humanity
  • Step 12: Public waits for five years in feverish anticipation for poet’s 18-page chapbook

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