I was curious about Mensa, the organization for the "super-intelligent", and while casting about the web found a document called The Odd Way Mensa Began. According to Mr. Serebriakoff (the author), the organization was founded by Roland Berrill, an intense, bug-eyed Englishman. Twenty-two years later when Berrill died, Launcelot Ware became the founder of the organization.
There was a brief intermediate period in which the two men were co-founders.
I am not making this up; you can go look for yourselves.
The article didn't specify whether Mensa is currently seeking a founder, or what qualifications one needs for such a position. However, it did inspire me to propose to organizations of any kind that they seek a founder. Common sense dictates that the founder be dead and of course in some way connected (at least philosopically) with your organization. If the founder doesn't work out, you can always get a new one. This is the beauty of the idea.
I liked the idea so much that I wanted to found an organization just so we could elect a new founder every year.
I also got the notion that Mensa would be better off using Nicolai Tesla as their founder, but what do I know.
I have to say that I am not one of the super-intelligent, so I admit that I may be missing something here, but in my own defense I must say that I tried to do my homework. I did look up the word "founder" and could not find any other sense of the word that fit. It couldn't be founder in the sense of blacksmith, could it - or could it?
I also did a bit of research into the name Mensa. The society always claims that it means table, which indicates that they socialize and communicate. However, you have to remember that we're dealing with the super-intelligent here; something else must be hidden in the name.
A little research uncovered a humorous historical accident. The society was actually named in memory of Akyea Mensah, the Odikro of Apedwa, who was murdered in 1943. When the first announcements for Mensah (as the organization was originally called) were being printed, the final "h" was dropped by a zealous printer who took the name to be the Latin word for "table." None of the original members thought to proofread the documents, and afterward decided to cut their losses by accepting the altered name.
A good example of how a little knowledge can be a dangerous thing.
Members in the know repeat the printer's explanation of the name with a sly smile, though many have taken it as gospel.
For more information about Mensah the man, read Murder and Politics in Colonial Ghana by Richard Rathbone (Yale University Press, 1993).
And while we're talking about Mensa, something should be said about the science-fiction novel The Bell Curve. I forget the author's name but it must be Something Bell, like Daniel Bell or John Bell or Ding-Dong Bell or whatever.
Now I haven't read the book, but that never stops a professional reviewer, so I won't let it stop me from speaking about it.
Apparently the book predicts that America will degenerate into a fascist, custodial state in which low-IQ people will be herded into something like the Indian reservations while high-IQ people will run the country and a middle class will make money and be afraid of what the low-Q types would do if they broke loose.
You can see how this idea would appeal to those super-intelligent types, just as romance novels appeal to bored housewives.
But let's be realistic! People with high IQs running the country? When could that ever happen?
Let's reduce this idea to its elements: first of all, an IQ is a score on a test. It can be used to predict a person's performance on other similar tests, how well a person will do in school, and how well they will do in certain jobs. HOWEVER, there is no correlation between IQ and ability to govern. In the same way, there is no guarantee that a person with a high IQ will even be able to take care of him-or-herself in life. Are there any statistics on how many of the super-intelligent are still living with their parents?
Let's face it. This idea of the super-intelligent ruling the country, or the world, or the universe, is just wishful thinking. The authors of The Bell Curve are woolgathering. Think about it this way: if they are not ruling now, the chances are very small that they'll be ruling in the future.
[ 1 January 1998 ]