Mensa, Schmensa

Mensa is a society for people with high IQs, specifically for people with an IQ in the top 2 percent of the general population. In short, it’s supposed to be a society for smart people. A few months ago I had too much spare time on my hands and had to get my mind off a romantic tragedy so I decided that it might not be a bad idea to join them to distract myself. I passed their preliminary test but by the time they invited me to the real test I had a 60 hour work week and not too much time to kill, so I didn’t go. Mensa Austria is still sending me their publication “Diskussion”, though, of which I received another issue yesterday.

The puzzle column was a letdown, but I was used to that from the last issue I got. They seem to favor puzzles which are either entirely trivial or at best require a halfway competent programmer maybe an hour to solve with a computer.

What did surprise me was an article on “Morphic fields and human perception” (my translation). The German text actually talks about “morphogenetische Felder”, but they are clearly talking about Rupert Sheldrake’s morphic fields. The article is completely credulous on the existence of morphic fields and even discusses a purported practical application of them, remote viewing. It even tells the story of school teacher who, since asking students to remote-view exam questions in advance, reports much improved grades. The authors of the article are Karina Leitner and Viktor Farkas, the latter seeming to be a prominent conspiracy theorist and believer in (or at least proponent of) woo-woo ideas.

As anybody equipped with a web browser and a small dose of critical thinking can ascertain, there is absolutely no substance to either morphic fields, which are a ridiculous contruct invented to explain non-existant phenomena, nor to remote viewing, which has never been demonstrated in a well controlled setting. Specifically, the James Randi Educational Foundation will award anybody able to demonstrate remote viewing in a controlled study with a million dollars. The prize has been available for years and has not been claimed yet.

I wonder: Do they have no editorial process at all? And to add insult to injury the publication looks like it’s been typeset by a 3 year old on a PC with MS Word in 1992.

There is perhaps something to this quote, attributed to G. H. Hardy: “For any serious purpose, intelligence is a very minor gift.”


6 thoughts on “Mensa, Schmensa

  1. yea, intelligence is a very minor gift, but seems to be a time-killing toy good enough to compare with those of others to see which one is better than the other.

  2. Mensa is for somewhat intelligent losers. I joined the local group here in Tokyo a couple of years ago only to find it’s not as exciting as I had expected. Even though there were a few very interesting people who I’d like to hang out with, in general, most members are under-achievers who have to prove they are smart. I was also surprised to see young smarty-pants talk about a lot of nonsensical bullshit like pseudo science, occultism. Those who behave like a genius pissed me off. I wondered if they are not smart enough to realize the simple fact that the top 2% of the general population is not very remarkable.

    Did you know that there are a whole bunch of high-IQ societies beside Mensa? Some groups require an IQ which represents the top 0.1% of the general population. I don’t think that makes anything better than Mensa, though. There’s something in common among those groups.

    By the way, when will you replace your 10D with D300? :) Now, I am glad that I didn’t go for Pentax. I will probably wait for D90(?), the successor of D80, which should inherit many features from D300.

  3. I agree with ken. I’ve never been a part of Mensa or even tried their preliminary test, but according to my outside perspective, members just seem like people who think they have something to prove. It seems that if they were extraordinarily intelligent, they’d be extremely rich, solving the world’s real problems instead of playing games, or both. Furthermore, as far as I know, it’s never been proved that IQ tests reflect a person’s intelligence.

  4. I’m impressed by something else, by the event which triggered you to take IQ tests: a romantik tragedy. I’m sorry for you, but I have also noticed that people with high IQ and great professional life/ carrier are not very happy. Probably it’s not possible for them and it’s not about luck.

  5. As someone who joined Mensa in Canada, I have been fairly underwhelmed by my new membership. I thought when they told me I had an IQ of 149, I would feel taller? or stronger? faster? Turns out, I still need to put my pants on one leg at a time. Now what?

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