If you have looked around this blog, you will notice I mention being a member of Mensa International, for short just plain Mensa. Some people have never heard of this organization of brilliant minds, filled with people from all over the world. If you weren’t put in honors courses in High School or College, if you didn’t belong to the “smart kid” group in Elementary School where they pull you out of class to test your IQ, I doubt that this was group was ever introduced to you. Mensa International is a group open to any individual, anywhere in the world, that can prove their IQ is in the top 2% of the population worldwide. We are a large number of faces and stories, with varying talents and contributions to the world. Not all of us come from fancy or privileged backgrounds, but each of us has taken the time to develop our intellect to a point at which the majority of people will never reach. The word Mensa means “table” in Latin. The group uses this title in reference to the group being open to anyone in the world with the high IQ. It is irrelevant what race you are, your age, education level, or where you come from in the world.
Mensa is made so that this rare group of people can come together to form relationships and enjoy activities together. After all, what is better than one extremely smart person? A whole bunch of the working together!
To give you a little background, Mensa started in Europe- England, specifically. In 1946 two very talented individuals named Roland Berrill and Dr. Lance Ware wanted to create a group where they could socialize and collaborate with people of their same mindset. Each of them had extremely high IQs, so this became the qualification for entrance. What made their idea so awesome to me, is that they made the membership free of any political agenda, radical ideology, or religious affiliation. Instead, as a whole, we focus on serving as an immediate way for people to find the brightest individuals on Earth, for the benefit of all. We also promote research in the world, and much like those group activities the “smart kids” in school took part in, we support a wide array of intellectually challenging opportunities for members.
Mensa is comprised of people from 100 different countries around the world. Each continent on Earth, except Antarctica, has its own organization. Many people find a familial feeling in the group, while others see it as a loose social gathering. In this way it is brilliant, in its ability to serve as many different things to many different people, meeting all kinds of communal needs. Often, members meet their best friends in the group, or even their husband or wife. We are a lively bunch, and because of our high intelligence, can talk about almost anything! If you belong to the organization, you get the honor of being referred to as a “Mensan.” There are lifelong members (some as young as 2 years old), but most of our members are between 20 and 60 years old. Most of us are just like anyone else. We are teachers, artists, doctors, and even truck drivers. The types of employment in the group vary widely from one person to the next. Some of us are even famous! Maybe you have heard of some of these well known Mensans: Terance Black (screenwriter), Donald Petersen (former chair of Ford Motor Company), and Geena Davis (Academy Award winning actress).
Because IQ tests vary widely in their equivalency to each other, Mensa uses a percentile goal to grade each applicant. No matter which IQ test was administered, the applicant must have scored higher than 98% of people taking the test. There is also a specific Mensa test that can be administered; this is how I got into the organization. You can also take a pre-test in your own home, to get ready, in some countries. The pre-test scores are submitted and if they are high enough you are invited to take the supervised official Mensa test. There are also, fun Mensa online tests that will not gain you entry into the organization, but are a fun way of getting an idea of what the organization is all about. It is referred to as a Mensa Workout. If this sounds like something you are interested in, check with a Mensa office and they can help you have the test administered, officially.
You might be wondering why someone would want to join the organization. There are meetings and conferences to attend where, as I mentioned above, you can meet people from all walks of life who are of similar intellect. Also, our national magazine and newsletters are chocked full of intriguing activities and articles for our members. Mensa has different interest groups you can belong to called SIG, which stands for Special Interest Group. There are 200 of them in a wide array of topics from chocolate to African Violets. If there is not one to suite you, start your own! “Mensa World Journal” will keep you abreast of what members are doing throughout the world. “Isolated M,” the group’s newsletter, is also available to keep you informed. Mensa even puts out a scholarly research journal to the general public called the Mensa Research Journal. It has a very low sticker price, but delivers high quality, informative research. In some countries, Mensa has credit card offers for their members and even insurance. What I am most proud of in this organization are the ways we contribute to society through volunteer actions and the many scholarships and resource programs provided to gifted children.
Next time you find yourself around a group of highly intelligent people, ask around, you might just have met the next Mensa member in your midst!