Mensa is an organisation open to people of any age, sex or race, whose sole criterion of membership is an IQ in the top 2% of the population. Its members span practically every conceivable occupation, belief and interest. Perhaps the one constant is that, in all the years I have been a member, I don’t recall meeting anyone who was not articulate.
Alas, a high IQ is no guarantee that its owner will not be an utter fool. The organisational politics can be unbelievably vicious, so much so that it inspired this cross between Ogden Nash and a haiku:
Pity brains don’t guarantee
However, there are plenty of Mensans who are intelligent, rational people interested in ideas, and I have made a number of good friends there. Indeed, my first introduction to the ideas of Ayn Rand, which provide a common thread running through much of my philosophy, was from two fellow Mensans. So live long and prosper, John and Deborah.
Mensa has generated a lot of debate on the Internet. The most common charge levelled against it is that it is “elitist”. Well, that may be, but if so, it is its greatest virtue. Excellence in talent and achievement is something that cannot fail to be valued by anyone whose standard of value is human life. Those whose standard of value is not human life are not worth further consideration. One can of course question the value of Mensa in the context of the promotion of intelligence and human excellence, but to the extent that Mensa supports and encourages gifted children and the idea that intelligence is a thing to be valued and nurtured, is the extent to which I can salute it.
TableAus, in which Philosophical Reflections and other articles by the author have been published, is a monthly (now bimonthly) journal published by Australian Mensa. Mensa as an organisation has no opinions and does not endorse any particular beliefs including those expressed in the MonoRealism web site. Of course, the individual members are as opinionated a bunch as you could ever come across.
© 1996 Robin Craig