My first thought is that it's easier to get things done in an Esperanto group because the goal-- spread Esperanto-- is more obvious than what a Mensa group should do, but perhaps I'm underestimating how much is obvious for a Mensa group to do.

I was a member of Mensa for a while, but was underwhelmed by the intellectual quality. I know a couple of very smart people who are or were in Mensa, but they weren't local to me. I've been told that there's a lot of variation between local groups.

There's a pattern I saw in local Mensa publications that I now have filed under people trying to appear intelligent. The article starts with a bunch of definitions that don't look obviously awful, but which somehow lead to a preferred conclusion.

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 B... (read more)

1gjm4yMy impression is that the point of Mensa is to provide smart people who would otherwise be isolated with opportunities to interact with other smart people. Now: * These days, the internet makes this much less of a problem than before, so Mensa has less value, so people who might otherwise have joined will be less inclined to do so. * There's always been a tendency for smart people to congregate in places with a high density of other smart people, not only for social reasons but also because that's where good smart-people jobs tend to be. * So entrance to Mensa has to be easy enough that you get a reasonable number of potential Mensa members even in places where most of the smart people have gone elsewhere. * And then the people in a given place who want to join Mensa will tend to be the ones who haven't found other things to do (there or elsewhere) that put them in contact with other smart people. And who don't form satisfactory (to them) relationships with other not-so-smart people. So Mensa seems likely to be selecting for the following combination of attributes: * Intelligent * ... but not too intelligent * Not especially social * Not especially ambitious * Not a lot of specific strong intellectual interests Now, of course not everyone there will fit that pattern, for all kinds of reasons. And some people who do fit that pattern may be interesting fun people capable of getting things done. But it doesn't seem like it should be a big surprise if a lot of them aren't.

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

by MrMind 1 min read18th Apr 2016176 comments


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