Victimization As An Art Form
I’ve belonged to Mensa (they claim to be the top 2% of IQ in the general population) for a long time so that I can debunk their claims from the inside. This is approximately as hard as predicting that the American League will win the World Series or a presidential debate will feature wealthy, boring people.
I have never believed that taking a test and scoring well means anything other (in terms of measuring intellect) than that you can score highly on that particular test. Too many people I’ve observed over the years are brilliant in ways not detected by tests, or they are lousy test takers; too many people I’ve observed scoring highly on these tests resemble people who have been raised in the wilds by wolves. And those are empirical observations.
Case in point: Mensans are forever whining that they are NOT successful by dint of their “gifts” (it’s never “intelligence,” it’s “gift,” like something Santa left by the cookies). People don’t understand them; their bosses resent them; their colleagues bore them. They are victims of their high intelligence, er, “gifts”!
In fact, Mensans represent a rather average, not intellectually elite, cross-section of the population. At the conventions they hold and in the publications they provide, word games and sexual innuendo seem to predominate. Either a lot of these people cheated on the test, or the test is worthless. (And you can substitute for certain qualifying tests—for example, submitting your GRE scores, and we know a lot of people cheated on THOSE tests! I don’t think it’s any harder to get into Mensa than it is to enter the myriad “Who’s Who” books which require only that you buy the book. Can you imagine—people put “Who’s Who” vanity books on their resumés….)
Mensans rave about Issac Asimov, the late, famous science fiction writer, as a member, yet that’s because he was such an exception to the normal membership. Most members are in humdrum jobs writing letters about crop circles being of alien origination or the Loch Ness Monster still lurking beneath the waters, despite the evidence of the faked photos many years ago.
How ironic is it when a self-selected elite group claims perpetual victimhood? At least in “West Side Story” the gangs claimed “we’re depraved on account of we’re deprived.”
It’s unfashionable NOT to be a victim. That’s why the few of us taking our own fate in our own hands and determining that successes and failures are solely due to our talents and not fate, technology, luck, O.J, or DNA, are doing so well.
If you don’t believe that, well, you can always join Mensa, which refuses to take political positions or social positions, and doesn’t encourage debate within its publications or meetings about its own validity. One woman wrote a letter to the editor of Mensa’s Bulletin proclaiming that she doesn’t need proof of Mensa’s testing, she just “feels smart.”
Success is what counts, whether financial, societal, contribution to the environment, family, business—whatever. I’d think it reasonable that if you’re all that smart, you’d be enjoying great success, not whining about why you’re not.
Maybe Mensans are victims….of their own vanity.
© Alan Weiss 2007. All rights reserved.