Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Mensa, and the Intelligence of the Public

I've recently taken the entrance exam for, and been accepted to, American Mensa. Mensa, for those who don't know, is an organization whose members all test in the upper 2% of registered IQ. And while intelligence is relative (as I often muse that Einstein would say), it's pretty solid that one needs to be a very smart cookie to qualify.

I wasn't even sure it was a good idea to sit for the exam. The original plan was to have come home from work, at my usual 6:30 in the morning (because I'm 3rd shift), and sleep from 7 until about 1:00 in the afternoon, then go for the test appointment feeling well rested. But, no, I ended up being so excited about the exam that I couldn't sleep a wink. I nearly called and cancelled. I showed up for testing feeling quite tired, having not slept in 23 hours, and certain that I would bomb.

I arrived at the Oak Creek Public Library where the test was to be proctored, and found that there were only two other people there: A portly engineer-looking type of man, and an attractive middle-aged brunette wearing physician's scrubs. We were given two exams over the course of three hours, and told that to gain admission, we would need a passing score in one or both of these, but that we would not be told the final score. Instead, we would simply be notified by mail in 7 to 10 business days whether we would be extended a membership offer. I completed my tests, went home, and still couldn't sleep. I wondered if I could possibly re-take the exam later.

Two weeks went by before I got my response in the mail. It was an acceptance letter, telling me that, based on my scores, I was hereby offered membership to American Mensa.

Nobody was more shocked than I.

Seriously, I'm not especially gifted at calculating figures in my head compared to other science majors. I re-took chemistry twice and am about to re-take calculus a second time. I daydream constantly. I sometimes forget what I went into the next room for (which, when your mother has Alzheimer's becomes a rather scary phenomenon!). Sure, I read a lot, and I tend to see things others don't by means of divorcing myself as much as possible from all credulity, but I find it hard to believe that makes my hunk of grey-matter worth all that much.

However, upon reflection, perhaps I really shouldn't be quite so shocked. After all, 45% of the American public think that human beings were created pretty much in their present form, and less than 10,000 years ago. 6 to 8% think that the lunar landings were hoaxed. 25% of registered Republicans think that Obama is the Antichrist, and somewhere around 15% of the general public think he's a Muslim. No, I don't think I'm all that gifted. The ugly truth is that I got into Mensa, because the standards are dumbed down. The stupidity of America has lowered the grade curve. I'm a Mensan, because people are morons.

Okay, that's rather harsh, I admit it. But America needs to hear it, if nothing else so it can be snapped out of its collective sleepwalk. I understand that most are too busy with kids or mortgage to really be well informed, but damn, there's some really stupid shit that people believe! Years after it first went on the market, people still buy Extenz pills. (Now THAT's dumb!) Discovery's most popular shows include Ghost Hunters. Fox News still gets away with calling itself "fair and balanced."

Sure, it sounds conceited of me to take my new membership and use it as a club on people. But seriously, if this is what I'm capable of while groggy and sleep deprived, what other high IQ societies could I possibly join if I tested sharp? Maybe Cerebrals? (Featured in the film, 'A Beautiful Mind, and which only accepts the upper 0.03%.) Or perhaps the Prometheus Society? (Upper 0.003%.) Makes me wonder...

Look, I don't want to insult people, and I certainly don't want to sound like some big-shot. But I've been thought of as dumb all through grade school, and this turnabout feels good. So let me just say: knowledge really is power, ignorance is not bliss, and the cold, prickly truth really is better than the warm and fuzzy belief systems of our grandparents. Now a member of Mensa, I find that my credit score suddenly jumped! I now qualify for financial benefits and loans I couldn't before. Insurance companies like Geico are offering me discounts! In short, people feel safer with their money in the hands of a smart person, despite Enron.

The air isn't so thin up here. Won't more of you come up here and join me? I think you can!

Eric


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