Quoting Wikipedia, the mission of Mensa is:

  • to identify and to foster human intelligence for the benefit of humanity;
  • to encourage research into the nature, characteristics, and uses of intelligence; and
  • to provide a stimulating intellectual and social environment for its members.

Assuming that the research part is better left for professional researchers, the average member can contribute by finding more high-IQ people and creating a network for them. But I'd say that Mensa fails at this too. Although this may be country-specific; I would say that British Mensa does much better in this aspect.

When I think about the goal of finding and connecting high-IQ people, my first idea is to create a website like Reddit, where only certified high-IQ people could register. Regardless of whether they are Mensa members or not. One website for the whole world; of course different subreddits could use different languages. Well, this already proved quite controversial.

It seems obvious to me to use one mutlilingual website for the whole world, instead of every national Mensa having to create and maintain their own software solution. First, it saves a lot of work. Second, I just don't see any reason why people should be divided by countries, especially if we talk about members of a world-wide organization. Sure, there is the language barrier; but that can be solved by creating a multilingual website, and specifying which subreddits use which language; there is no need to maintain a separate codebase for each country. This specifically applies to small countries, or not-so-small countries with few Mensa members, such as Slovakian Mensa with 200 members, which would save a lot of work by joining an existing solution, and would also gain access to a larger network.

To achieve this goal, it is not even necessary to get agreement of all local groups in advance. Just develop the website for one group, but already make it multilingual, already provide options for having multiple moderator teams (representatives of multiple local groups), etc. Then start using the website for one group. Then offer other groups the options to join you, one by one.

The argument for why the website should be open to high-IQ people who are not Mensa members is more tricky, but essentially, it's about the value of network. The same reason why phone companies allow you to call people who are not their customers. Because doing this increases the value for the customers. Sure, there is the free-rider problem; what is everyone will use this website, but no one will want to pay for Mensa membership? But I would assume that Mensa also provides some other services to its members. (Alternatively, the paying members could have some privileges on the website.) So why is it even necessary to involve Mensa in the whole project? Because if you want to have a high-IQ website, someone has to test those people, and Mensa is already doing this. The only change is that now they would also create web accounts for people who passed their tests, even if they don't want to become paying members.

I was willing to write the whole code myself (yeah, back then when I had a lot of free time). In the situation where the old forum was falling apart and no one else volunteered to fix the problem, so I wasn't really competing against an alternative. Yet somehow... :(

For some reasons that I didn't understand clearly, the members of Slovakian Mensa (about 200 members total, maybe 15 of them active online) objected both against having non-paying members on the website, and against international cooperation. So they literally wanted to have a web forum for 15 people. I am sorry, but for that amount of people, anything other than a mailinglist or out-of-the-box solution (I recommended phpbb) is a waste of resources. Unfortunately, they had some objection against all existing solutions. Sigh. (Meanwhile, for the Esperanto group I have installed mediawiki + phpbb + some hand-coded specific functionality, and everyone was happy.)

I'm rambling... the essence is that the Mensa members I know seem like they don't give a fuck about Mensa's official goals. Either that, or they are completely irrational at trying to achieve them.

people trying to appear intelligent

Yep, that's Mensa in the nutshell. People who have the IQ, but don't know how to use it for anything other than signalling. Actually, even the signalling becomes unimpressive once you recognize the pattern.

Esperanto fans are also quite obsessed with signalling, but there is a subgroup that gets things done. Maybe all groups are like that, that the people who get shit done are but a small minority, only somewhere the minority is large enough to actually become a group within the group.

Open thread, Apr. 18 - Apr. 24, 2016

by MrMind 1 min read18th Apr 2016176 comments


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