Friday, January 25, 2013

A Morsel of Mensa Measurement


For those of you who don't know, Mensa is an organization of individuals who score in the top 2% or 98th percentile of intelligence tests. Founded in 1946 in Great Britain in has 100,000 members worldwide and 57,000 members in the US.  If the IQ tests normative data were correct, there would be 6 million of the over 300 million people in the US eligible for membership in the US.  Their site says their membership ranges in age from 2 to 102 and includes actress Geena Davis, Dilbert creator Scott Adams, and science fiction writer Isaac Asimov.


This month (January 2013) the US organization is letting individuals take the short form of their admission test online for free.  Out of curiosity I took the test.  They asked me for personal information like where I lived, my age, gender, and other demographic info.  Items include object rotation, word association, and math reasoning to make them as culturally and age unbiased as possible.  It has four sections and you're given 8 minutes for each section.  Another reason that they are doing this is to test out items for their comprehensive entrance examination  that people who want to join would have to pay to take.  

I scored 56 out of a possible 80 in the raw score which they estimate (I assume is a 95% confidence interval) would put me between the 62nd and 88th percentiles on their comprehensive exam which at best is 10% below Mensa's cutoff.  Of course I had the TV on in the background but I have no intention of taking the big Mensa test.  

With the right practice and coaching, I could conceivably beat the Mensa test just as Kaplan makes a lot of money off of SAT test takers trying to get into the Ivy League but why?  In my post My N Word I argued that those who are studious and intelligent who have been shunned sometimes create their own elite group in response to that shunning.  While it may be fine for Geena Davis, Scott Adams, and Isaac Asimov (I wonder how many times they took the test before they got in?) I believe that this is the wrong response.  I believe it is better to share it with the masses.  Former Dallas Coach Jimmy Johnson is said to have an IQ in the Mensa range but is not listed as a member.

This January's opportunity to take their test is a chance to see behind the curtain. You can see how you measure up to the Mensans for free until January 31 here after that you will have to pay.  After you give them your information they will send you a key to login to the test and it may take a few hours before you receive the email with the key.



**Related Posts**



My N Word 

 

Testing Question

 

The Audacious Epigone

 

ADHD, Genetics, and Causality: A Chicken-Egg Problem

Monday, January 21, 2013

Winning?

This is the phrase that Charlie Sheen popularized when he was fired from his sitcom Two and a Half Men.  We all want to back a winner but we never ask what the price of winning is. Today Barack Obama has been inaugurated for a second term after garnering 51% of the vote over Mitt Romney last fall. He has many challenges coming up on gun control, the economy, Afghanistan, and who knows what else.  He had to raise billions of dollars for his campaign and millions more to pay for the ceremony today.  How many favors will be expected in return?


In April, the Thomas Merton Center in Pittsburgh will be honoring Sheen's father Martin for his peace activism.  I'm not saying he doesn't deserve the recognition but please don't ask him about Charlie.  His activism has not come without a price just like it has for the rest of us.

Lance Armstrong has finally come clean to Oprah Winfrey (but not yet under oath) on using performance enhancing drugs.  I have written before about how abuse of these drugs goes far beyond Armstrong. He is an extreme case of gaming the system.  If he had raced clean and finished in the top 20 seven years in a row in the Tour de France would that have been any less heroic? Sure he wouldn't have had all the money or fame which he so desired but we all wanted a hero for cancer survivors everywhere who suffer with the disease and get no recognition.  I still wear the Livestrong rubber bracelet which he first popularized in 2005 and people ask me why.  Yes Lance is flawed and who isn't.  He can still become a hero even without winning bike races or heads a foundation.  Is the Livestrong Foundation bad because of his extreme bullying to preserve his titles?  Life is full of contradictions that we must negotiate.

So much energy, legal and illegal, is invested in winning.  We need to ask ourselves when is the price worth it?

**Related Posts**

 

'The Secret' Gets the CSI w/o Dead Bodies Treatment

 

Lance, Issac, and Joe: Lessons of Hubris?

 

2012: A 1916 Rerun

 

Olympic Medal Counts Still Reflect National Power (or the Need for it)