Day 171: Picking The World’s Brains

originally published June 19, 2012

It may come as a surprise to some of you – particularly if you read this site on a regular basis – that I am, in fact, a member of Mensa. Well, I was. I allowed my membership to lapse once it became clear to me that the organization was not going to contribute to my evil plans of world domination. Better to strike at the heart of the world through thousand-word essays, often written while I’m half-asleep.

Mensa was founded by Roland Berrill and Dr. Lancelot Ware, partly as a means to gather together with other high-IQ people and discuss high-IQ stuff (like boobs), and partly because when you have the name Lancelot, you’d damn well better accomplish something. To get in, you take an IQ test and score in the top two percent. It’s just that simple.

I took the Mensa exam when I was twelve years old, long before I’d flambéed my brain with a kaleidoscopic array of alcoholic fluids and chemical recalibrators. There were two tests, as I recall. One featured a number of words and events that I didn’t know – certainly not geared toward a kid who spent his days listening to Huey Lewis & The News and re-watching Star Wars to make sure he had all the necessary action figures. The other was more along the lines of the traditional Stanford-Binet test – which shape doesn’t belong, which polygon follows the pattern, and so on.

I’d wanted to join for two reasons – my best friend was a member, and so was a girl who routinely steamed up my glasses. And I didn’t even wear glasses back then.

It wasn’t a waste of time; I got in, got to spend my Tuesday nights hanging with my friend, and wound up having sex with that girl numerous times (in my mind). But there weren’t a lot of young members back then, and I found there was no motivation to warrant the annual membership dues. Mensa isn’t a political organization with an agenda, they’re just a bunch of people who get together.

Of course they have newsletters, annual gatherings, ritual ocelot sacrifices, just like any other international organization. All I remember are pizza parties, a Halloween party, and a few other parties (which probably also included pizza). Now that I think of it, maybe I should consider renewing my membership.

I would be in interesting company, to be sure. Wikipedia features a list of Mensans, ranging from the famous to the borderline-obscure. Some are astoundingly unsurprising: Isaac Asimov, founder of the Three Laws of Robotics and inspiration for many great films, was a member.

So is Dilbert creator Scott Adams. I don’t think anyone would bat an eye at the fact that Martin Cooper, inventor of the cell phone, or John McAfee, the guy who invented anti-virus software, belong to the organization. But a number of sports figures defied the ‘dumb jock’ stereotype and joined up. Apart from a bunch of auto racers whom I’ve never heard of, there are boxers, swimmers, and baseball player Leon Feingold, who is not only a smart athlete, but a Jewish athlete and a successful competitive eater. Leon’s a born trend-bucker.

If you’re looking to join Mensa for the chicks (as I did, and it netted me about as much coitus as if I had joined the seminary), there are some to be found. Katariina Souri, who was Playboy’s Playmate of the Month in December, 1988, and Julie Peterson (Miss February, 1987) are both members. Those are two Playmates from when I was in junior high, and regularly actively ‘exercising’ with that magazine. Somehow that makes me feel… smarter?

Of course the world of entertainment is well-represented:

Alan Rachins, the guy who played the hippie dad in Dharma & Greg is a member.

So is Ellen Muth, who portrayed a toilet-slain girl named George on Dead Like Me for two seasons and a movie.

Also, this guy. It’s Michael Muhney, and unless you watch The Young & The Restless, you probably have no idea who he is. That’s okay, neither do I.

This is Raven. He wrestles professionally. He looks frightening, so let’s just say he’s smart and move on.

Sure, I could have used any photo of Geena Davis, but I chose to use this one. Why not?

On the other hand, this was one of the only photos of Asia Carrera that I could use on this site. She was a porn actress. A Mensan porn actress. I can see ‘Mensan Porn’ as a legitimate sub-genre that could attract a number of interested customers.

Nolan Gould, one of the most brilliant young comedic actors I’ve seen in years, plays Luke Dunphy on Modern Family in between his own local pizza gatherings.

Also there’s this ugly fucker. That’s all I’ll say about him.

Mensans cover every demographic and all points in the vocational sphere, from doctors and lawyers, to lowly government print shop workers who pour their artistic souls into bacon and boob jokes on a free website, earning no money whatsoever. In fact, it’s entirely possible that Mensa is simply too inclusive. If the Groucho Marx adage of avoiding any club that would be willing to stoop to have me as a member is true, then perhaps I should focus my admiration and attention on the Triple Nine Society.

Scoring above 98% of the population in an IQ test is so last year. The Triple-Niners have to score in the 99.9th percentile, meaning their members’ IQs must be 149 or greater. Whereas Mensa’s membership is over 100,000, there are fewer than a thousand Triple-Niners. I bet they don’t even talk at their meetings; they probably just sit around a table and use telepathy to explore alternate dimensions or something.

Even their list of notable members boasts a paltry five names: Ronald K. Hoeflin, a philosopher who invented IQ tests; Kirk Kirkpatrick, a telecommunications magnate whose parents clearly had a sense of humor; Mike Keefe, a former marine who won a Pulitzer for his editorial cartoons; Jack Schaeffer, saxophonist and founder of one of the first Christian Rock bands; and this guy:

You might remember Robert Forster from Tarantino’s Jackie Brown, or as the punch-happy father-in-law in last year’s The Descendants. He also played the patriarch of the Petrelli family on Heroes, which actually makes that telepathy thing seem viable.

Having dined on the pizza and chat of Mensa, I think my next goal should be to infiltrate the Triple Nine Society. If the secrets of the world are stashed anywhere, these guys might have the map.

Also, they might have better pizza.

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