Mensa – by Duncan Harley


Seemingly anyone who has shown they have an IQ in the top 2% can submit evidence of this to join Mensa.
I have never joined Mensa. Not that I can’t afford the application fee – some £26.87 plus VAT or other – it’s just that I can’t make head nor tale of the admission process.

“Does your child prefer Charles Dickens to Cbeebies, or do they find school boring and unchallenging? You could have a bright spark on your hands!”

“There are many confusing notions about what giftedness is and is not. Indeed, in several respects, the life experience of the gifted individual seems paradoxical.”

“Mensa hosts a limited number of group supervised tests at centres around the British Isles. This package provides you with a rounded assessment of your capabilities, for a one-off fee of just £24.95.
We also offer schools the chance to test their pupils aged over 10 and a half.”

Oh really?
Seemingly ‘Mensa is the largest and oldest high IQ society in the world. It is apparently a non-profit organization open to people who score at the 98th percentile or higher on a standardized, supervised IQ or other approved intelligence test.’ I don’t doubt it for a minute, but why boast about it. I mean, if you’re smart then keep it to yourself for godot’s sake. Boasting about being in amongst the first two percentile of the population only leads to trouble.

The likes of Churchill and Stalin and that wigged Trump probably made the grade. Winston at least could paint as well as Hitler but both Stalin and the Donald lacked somewhat in the art-department.
But back to Mensa. An article in today’s Times alludes to the club, for that is what it is. Giles Coren helpfully strips the group to its core. Alongside an allusion to dimness, he takes issue with the notion that except for the chosen them, we are all dull and less than in the top percentile of intelligence. And, he is of course probably correct.

Ever since I failed my eleven-plus, I have superseded those of my contemporaries who went on to join Mensa. Those silly enough to pay the admission fee have mainly died, committed suicide or failed to do much in life – although some did become bankers.
I have to kind of agree with Giles when he concludes that ‘Were I any brighter than I am, I should feel guilty for having wasted my talents. But I have learned to love my dimness and to be grateful for what it has brought me, safe in the knowledge that – of which Mensans are living proof - that clever people are quite the stupidest of us all.’

As for me? I am quite content to have the mental capacity to hold the entire contents of a couple of 200-page books in my head while running on a treadmill and simultaneously multiplying 23 X 12 without the use of a calculator.

Duncan Harley is author of The A-Z of Curious Aberdeenshire plus the forthcoming title: The Little History of Aberdeenshire - due out in March 2019

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