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Friday, September 15, 2006

Mailvox: on Mensa

Redneck Joe asks about my critics' great bete noire:

Vox I wonder why you use Mensa as an identifier for yourself. I believe that a 1250 SAT score is a prequalifier for Mensa (I looked into joining a couple of years ago). This falls around the same percentile as a 132 IQ, from what I have briefly read.
I'm an electrical engineer, and I would bet that everyone in my office accomplished that. I scored 800 math and 630 verbal in 1987. Sometimes I have to read your articles slowly 2 or 3 times to follow them. I think you should look into the Triple Nine society (99.9th percentile).

It's funny that you should mention those annoying Triple Niners. Presumably thanks to my spatial relations retardation, Big Chilly qualifies for Triple Nine while I fall a tenth short. Naturally, this has led to many a magnanimous offer to explain things to me in the event that I should fail to understand them.

Mensa, as some commenters have already noted, is no big deal. If there are 2,000 daily visitors here, at least 40 are likely Mensa material. I joined primarily to give myself at least one qualification that some readers might recognize, since at the time I joined the commentary page every other writer had a radio show, an ambassadorship or had been a presidential candidate. Now it's unnecessary, but at the time it gave the column a unique identity of sorts. It's a bit shocking how many columnists wouldn't qualify for Mensa; while they can hide their shallowness of thought by regurgitating talking points, they seldom manage to do so in the sad publications that are optimistically described as their books. The odd Coulter, Frum and Ponnuru aside, most books by columnists are all but unreadable. [Feel free to insert your slam on my novels here....]

I should mention that an additional benefit of Mensa membership was the way in which it defanged the usual left-liberal criticism, which consists of doing nothing but calling the other side stupid. It's amazing how much it appears to upset them, especially considering that there are literally millions of Americans with 132+ IQs. But leftists often fall prey to the tautological fallacy of believing themselves to be more intelligent on the sole basis of their leftism, which would be odd even if one were to ignore the left's long and ignominious historical legacy.

A tangential note: I reject the concept of numerical genius. IQ is merely a measure of cognitive potential, genius is the unique and noteworthy application of that potential to create something genuinely new or accomplish something of historical significance.

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