Mensa

Mensa


Life is like a zoo in a jungle.
– Peter De Vries, writer

Today’s journal entry will be more personal thoughts and debatable ideologies. There won’t be much in the department of my latest writing or web-related projects. Those shall be focused in the coming soon future…

Genius. Didn’t that word MEAN something once?
– Wallace, from Frank Miller’s Sin City: Hell And Back

I got my results of the Mensa test that I took about 3 weeks ago. (For those that don’t know, but should know, Mensa is the ‘High IQ Society’ who claims to represent the top 2% intelligent of the general population.) I don’t qualify. That’s all the results said. Mensa doesn’t actually tell me my scores but one needs to score 98% out of a 100. But I’m not here to gloat that I had not pass but to comment.

I didn’t take the test with much intent of hoping to join Mensa. I took it to see if I could qualify. Why did I care if I had qualified or not? Maybe it was an ego thing but I do try my best to not fall back on such a selfish notion. It was one of those things that I felt that I should at least try in Life… for the experience. Others dream of skydiving, vacationing in Maui, or becoming a pop musician. I wanted to take the Mensa test to experience the knowledge of what exactly one would need to know to qualify as a Mensan. What do I have to lose except not try? I wanted to see how far I could go in understanding why Mensa was this elite intelligent organization. Human curiosity was the motivation here. But please read the following passage from Isaac Asimov’s autobiography. Maybe it was a good thing I had not passed.

“…though I have been a lifelong beneficiary of intelligence tests, I don’t think much of them. I believe they test only one kind of intelligence — the ability to answer the kind of questions other people with the same face of intelligence are likely to ask. My IQ rating has always been out of sight, but I am perfectly aware that in many respects I am remarkably stupid. …it seemed to me to be beneath my dignity to take an intelligence test. Surely, my life and work were ample testimony to my intelligence (such as it was).

…[But] I took the test, scored high, and became a member of Mensa.

It was not on the whole, a happy experience. I met a number of wonderful Mensans, but there were other Mensans who were brain-proud and aggressive about their IQs, who, one got the impression, would like, on being introduced, to be able to say,’I’m Joe Doakes, and my IQ is 172,’ or, perhaps, have the figure tattooed on their forehead. They were, as I had been in my youth, forcing their intelligence on unwilling victims. In general, too, they felt underappreciated and undersuccessful. As a result, they had soured on the Universe and tended to be disagreeable.

What’s more, they were constantly jousting with each other, testing their intelligence on each other, and that sort of thing becomes wearing after awhile.

Furthermore, I became uncomfortably aware that Mensans, however high their paper IQ might be, were likely to be as irrational as anyone else. Many of them believed themselves to be part of a ‘superior’ group that ought to rule the world, and despised non-Mensans as inferiors. Naturally, they tended to be right-wing conservatives, and I generally feel terribly out of sympathy with such views.

Worse yet, there were groups among them, I found out eventually, who accepted astrology and many other pseudoscientific beliefs, and who formed ‘SIGs’ (‘special interest groups’) devoted to different varieties of intellectual trash. Where was the credit of being associated with that sort of thing, even tangentially?

Eventually… I did resign.”

Isaac Asimov, I. ASIMOV: A MEMOIR

What if I had passed the test? Would I still be rationalizing with a ranting like this? Probably with variations of making the same point. I would have probably humbly admitted that I passed it out of shear luck of educated guessing. I am confident that I am a reasonably intelligent, rational human being. But that was more out of taking the advantage of the freedom to read and experience Life. I don’t know officially what my IQ is. Regardless, IQ won’t determine my destiny in Life. By chance, I can be just as vulnerable to the uncertainties in Life as the next person. And I don’t believe in boasting too much in general. Whether it’s the car you drive, the money you make, or IQ, it does come down to what you can prove as a person. Not what comes out of your mouth.

There are a lot ‘geniuses’ that inspire me. Eminem, Michael Shermer, Kevin Smith, just to name a few. None of them give a fuck about Mensa. Yet, they create great bodies of work that are diverse in their thinking and will probably resonate for most of humanity kind.

I’m not a Mensan. Now I can move on with Life itself.

I got the good chance to check out Chink-O-Rama. But this will not be a review. There are enough reviews out there that tell you that it is good stuff. I loved it myself. I highly recommend it. Kate Rigg is a genius. I don’t think she gives a fuck about Mensa. Kate created the comedy show to deconstruct the use of the word ‘chink’. As she explains on her ‘chink theory’ section on the Chink-O-Rama website:

“The word “chink” is linked to the kind of racism that tells us that all asian people look/are the same. Presumably a diminutive for Chinese “chink” is theoretically leveled at Laotians, Vietnamese people, Japanese people, Indonesians, Koreans etc. It is a bullshit word that therefore take its meaning from its (usually bigoted) user. We at kate’s chink-o-rama are reoccupying the word, exploring the people and ideas behind its generalizations and fighting those ideas by unabashedly holding the word “chink” (and by implication words like it), up to the theatrical light, to bring it into discussion and debate–so that eventually it will have no power in the mouths of venomous users.”

This, of course, is reflective of the use of the ‘N’ word among the African-American urban culture. I believe, in an argument against political correctness, that whatever words are used in spoken or written, it’s the actual intent of the word that should be questioned and not the word itself. I’ve had African Americans use the ‘N’ word when speaking to me, and even Asian Americans have used it when acknowledging my presence. I don’t find offense, in their use towards me because I do find it similar to saying ‘Dude’. (It’s ironic, when racial issues are usually debated between only Black & White.) And, yes, I admittedly have playfully used–I’m just playin’!–the word ‘chink’ and ‘chinamen’ towards other Asians but it’s always among known comfortable friends. My intent was my ironic ability to have the power to use it and diminish it’s racist intent. And the reaction was always understood as such. Well, if you disagree, then don’t call me a ‘chink’… Here’s a good article in the Chronicle: click here

Here’s a good article on that so-called psychic (read: con artist) named John Edwards on Salon.com: Read: SHOOTING CRAP By Shari Waxman. How many times I gotta tell ya folks that it’s all cold reading. It’s a technique magicians and mentalists use to pump answers to the questions they are forcing upon you. Look, you can even order the book online: Tradecraft: The Art and Science of Cold Reading that teaches how you can be a mentalist too.

The ShieldI’ve briefly mentioned it before but if you haven’t heard me: The FX series THE SHIELD is the (good) shit. Why? Because it deals with the issue of ambiguous morality that humans are burdened to carry with because… they are an intelligent species. Well, a few enough of them are. (Most aren’t members of Mensa, though. But I think we’ll do okay.) And this issue of morality is told through the story of a police drama–where the forces of Good & Evil are supposedly clear-cut and defined. Or are they? Do y’all folks remember in y’all younger days when your parents threatened that they will call the police to take you away if you didn’t behave? No? You were that good, huh? Anyways, I remember them days. But I always was uncomfortable with the idea that respect for authority is equated with fear for authority. Didn’t y’all remember that last scene in TRAINING DAY? But in THE SHIELD, the story lines are entangled with this dilemma as each police officer tries to deal with their moral baggage of doing the right thing to protect the innocent. Shawn Ryan is a genius. Check out THE SHIELD. “The Road To Justice Is Twisted.”

One final comment in this journal entry. On JREF’s newsletter dated for 6/21/02, Mr. Randi tells of a school in Arkansas called the Arkansas Governor’s School, which offers the following warning to its applicants:

“Do not apply if grades are more important to you than learning, if social activities are more enriching to you than intellectual and cultural activities, if watching soaps and cruising are your favorite summertime activities, if you never take time to read a novel, if you hate having others challenge your ideas, if you feel threatened by social and political controversy or by others who think differently than you do.”

If only Life itself had such a sensible warning.

Well, until next we read, I continue my quest in someday marrying Sung Hi Lee to attain much needed Wisdom…

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