back to article Mensa data spillage was due to 'unauthorised internal download'

Eggheads at high IQ society Mensa have ruled out claims that their website was hacked earlier this year, according to an email seen by The Register. The society instead suggested that the personal data leakage – which is still under investigation by police – may be an inside job. A number of cyberattacks in January and …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Wow

    I'm amazed Mensa is still a thing. It always struck me as the Resume / CV version of a personalized number plate - W4NKR

    1. Disgusted Of Tunbridge Wells

      Re: Wow

      Mensa members are so smart that they can't figure out a better way to spend their free time.

      1. bombastic bob Silver badge
        Trollface

        Re: Wow

        more like their definition of "smart" does not include "savvy"

        (and as a result, one of the 'smartest' organizations in the world gets 'ransomwared')

        It's like the 'ivory tower' mentality in its most irritating form. From my observations, I think their I.Q. tests may be oriented towards making themselves look smart at the expense of everyone else [especially older people, and "non-college-students" in general].

        Perhaps with practice any reasonably smart person could 'ace' their IQ tests, but anyone NOT accustomed to "what they expect for an answer" will be at a serious disadvantage [making their IQ results _and_ membership requirements completely out of touch with reality].

        A friend of mine (back in the 80's) who had at one time been a member warned me about them. He was pretty smart, but had not been able to complete one of the most difficult military schools [one that I had done pretty well with, the U.S. Navy nuclear power program] where half the students typically drop out. But he was smart enough to have joined Mensa. I have to wonder how many OTHER Mensa members could pass that school...

        (If I saw a resume/CV with Mensa membership on it, I'd accidentally round-file it)

        1. idiot taxpayer here again

          Re: Wow

          @bombastic bob

          Where does the article mention ransomware?

          1. bombastic bob Silver badge
            Meh

            Re: Wow

            I put 'ransomware' in quotes (followed by a 'd') because it's a similar concept, to threaten something based on a data leak and to potentially want money to NOT release it [unautorized data encryption/decryption being another variant].

            But it was released, nonetheless, and the details about whether money exchanged hands (or did not) wasn't in the article... and if "police are investigating" it implies something a bit worse than your average data theft intrusion.

            I suppose I could have said "data-leaked" or "cyber-burglared" or similar and been more accurate

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Wow

          If I saw a resume/CV with Mensa membership on it, I'd accidentally round-file it

          Ah, you only employ people who can't pass some simple logic tests? My condoleances.

        3. JohannesJ

          Re: Wow

          Interesting bombastic bob - are you that insecure?

          More seriously - when I am reviewing a CV, or interviewing people, I look for what people have done. If I see 'Mensa member' on a CV it tells me that person probably has a high IQ. By itself it doesn't tell me much - doesn't cause me to 'round-file' it or to immediately short-list it.

          What it does do is trigger me to check 'OK, you are in Mensa, you have a high IQ, how have you used it?'

          In Mensa, have they been editing a regional newsletter; organising major events; running a special interest group? Have they been helping bright kids in schools, running summer camps or, during Covid, setting up and giving well prepared talks via Zoom ? Have they set up their own successful businesses from scratch?

          Answer to that question will cause me to either 'round-file', 'short-list', or immediately hire the candidate.

          You mentioned a friend dropping out of a US military school. I don't know about US military schools, but I do know I had a good friend in London, a Mensa member who retired after long, and successful, service as an engineer on a UK nuclear submarine. Used to tell some fun stories :-)

    2. msknight Silver badge

      Re: Wow

      Like many things, it should be taken as nothing more than an indicator of someone's abilities and focus, just like a degree in any discipline. You have to look at the individual.

      1. mhoneywell

        Re: Wow

        No. It really shouldn't.

        1. msknight Silver badge

          Re: Wow

          You're free to have your opinion. I don't agree with it, but that's life.

      2. Pascal Monett Silver badge

        Re: You have to look at the individual

        I can't, there's a gigantic ego in the way.

        1. msknight Silver badge
          Trollface

          Re: You have to look at the individual

          It's a shame that you let your gigantic ego get in the way of potentially hiring someone. But that's life I guess. ;-)

      3. GrumpenKraut Silver badge
        Meh

        Re: Wow

        > You have to look at the individual.

        While I in general agree with this, I have yet to meet a single person announcing being in MENSA (or one of the other "God, we are SO clever!" associations) and not being a giant pain in the ass.

        1. msknight Silver badge

          Re: Wow

          That's possibly because those who aren't a giant pain in the ass likely wouldn't tell you in the first place, unless the subject came up ;-)

          1. GrumpenKraut Silver badge
            Pint

            Re: Wow

            Indeed.

          2. Anonymous Coward Silver badge
            Linux

            Re: Wow

            Much like vegans, or any other cult really.

            1. John Doe 12

              Re: Wow

              How do you know if someone is vegan? Don't worry, you will know after 10 minutes :-D

              1. GrumpenKraut Silver badge
                Meh

                Re: Wow

                > Don't worry, you will know after 10 minutes

                I know quite a few vegan people, none would tell you unless the conversation was specifically about vegetarians/vegans. None would start a conversation about it either.

                1. Anonymous Coward
                  Anonymous Coward

                  Re: Wow

                  I've ran into both types - once at a buffet, where there were two slices of pizzas left, he mentioned that he was a vegetarian, so he was limited to only one slice. I'm a nice chap, I ate the pepperoni one.

                  The other time was a colleague - claimed to be vegetarian, even though he ate chicken and fish. He used to lecture people about healthy eating while smoking a roll up

                  1. Anonymous Coward
                    Anonymous Coward

                    Re: Wow

                    Why the down vote?

                    Unless you are my smoking "vegetarian" colleague?

                  2. John Doe 12

                    Re: Wow

                    It's important to note that vegetarians usually don't preach and just get on with their choices - whereas vegans tend to be much more fanatical and in your face.

                    P.S. The downvote was my mistake - I meant to upvote you which I have now corrected!

                    1. Anonymous Coward
                      Anonymous Coward

                      Re: Wow

                      @John Doe

                      Thanks and forgiven!

                2. Anonymous Coward
                  Anonymous Coward

                  Re: Wow

                  I'm still not sure they actually do without meat.

                  If pork sausages are filled with portk, then what are vegan sausages made of? Soylent Green?

                  :)

                  1. Anonymous Coward
                    Anonymous Coward

                    Re: Wow

                    Ignorance is nothing to be proud of.

          3. HildyJ Silver badge
            Facepalm

            Re: Wow

            As a former American member, I lasted two or three meetings. The people there seemed to fall into two groups - the socially incompetent (including me) and the a-holes. Staff meetings were never as boring.

            I suspect that long-term members fall into the latter category. Avoid them.

    3. Len
      Headmaster

      Re: Wow

      Unless they're a total knob, membership of Mensa is not something that people wear on their sleeves. A friend of mine is a member and it helped a lot with sorting out personal issues that are partially down to high intelligence.

      This is someone who may know nothing about monetary policy/HTML development/derivatives trading/drilling for oil/etc. when you mention it in an off the cuff remark. The following day, after having pulled an all-nighter, they have read the three standard works on the subject and are lecturing me about it.

      A useful skill, you might think. Alas she's 44 now and hasn't been able to hold down any job (or a partner for that matter) for more than a year. Despite her law degree. It's the working with other people that she struggles with, and they struggle with her.

      Her high IQ diagnosis came after she tested negative for ADHD and Autism and came as a massive eye-opener (just like later-life autism diagnoses can). It seems she has now finally found peace in being an artist with a frightfully good eye for composition, seeing beautiful things in everyday structures that I don't see until she points them out.

      Anyway, having an IQ far above the average is not necessarily the gift that it's sometimes made out to be.

      1. msknight Silver badge

        Re: Wow

        I'm glad to hear your friend has found peace. As you say, IQ can be a curse as much as a gift.

        1. bombastic bob Silver badge
          Unhappy

          Re: Wow

          IQ can be a curse as much as a gift.

          "Flowers for Algernon" - that was one of my takes on it.

          Charlie was just as out of touch with everyone else around him on BOTH ends of the I.Q. spectrum. But when his I.Q. was high, he was AWARE of it...

          1. JohannesJ

            Re: Wow

            "Flowers for Algernon" - yes, an excellent story - and well worth reading.

      2. NXM

        Re: Wow

        No chance of me suffering from that, I'd probably spell my own name wrong on the exam paper. Glad she's found a way of dealing with life though.

        1. Red Ted Silver badge

          Re: Wow

          I've known people to spell their own name wrong on their PhD thesis!

      3. Ian Johnston Silver badge

        Re: Wow

        Her main problem would appear to be that she thinks reading three standard books in a subject is enough to qualify her to lecture about it. No wonder she can't hold down a job.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Wow

          >Her main problem would appear to be that she thinks reading three standard books in a subject is enough to qualify her to lecture about it.

          Clearly never had real dealings with anyone with high functioning Aspergers - I can assure you they are not aware they are lecturing as they tend to have near zero social awareness and sensitivity, to them they are merely repeating what they've read.

          My elder brother did hold a job down, however, that was because people steered him into a branch that used his encyclopedic memory and required little social interaction - he became a pathologist - the patients are either dead or elsewhere as he is being required to examine tissue samples etc.

      4. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Wow

        Unless they're a total knob, membership of Mensa is not something that people wear on their sleeves

        Indeed - and I don't (hence posting anon). I've found mentioning it is the quickest way to end a conversation in most circles. Incidentally, the entry criteria is to score above the 98th percentile in an accepted IQ test, I scored in the 99th. As someone has already mentioned, high IQ is often as much (if not more) a curse than a benefit.

        And as mentioned, high IQ doesn't correlate with - for want of a better term - "nouseness".

        Get hold of a chart showing the IQ distribution of the population, and it's generally bell shaped. The top 2% are that small tail off the the right, the bottom 2% are the small tail off to the left. People in that bottom end get all sorts of assistance (I believe it's called "special needs" these days, it used to be called something totally different and inappropriate by today's norms), those at the top generally don't get any help and are expected to fend for themselves.

        I don't think my own experience is anything out of the ordinary, in fact I know for a fact that others share a similar story. As a schoolchild, you get lumped into a class of 30 or so other people of all abilities - and the teacher as a matter of necessity has to teach down (more or less) to the lowest ability. People think that as a "bright" person, you can look after yourself - but we have the same needs as most. So there you are, finding classes (mostly) mind numbingly boring. As a result you can't help looking for distractions - so it's generally not long before you are getting up to "unauthorised activities" and getting labelled as a troublemaker.

        And so you mostly cruise through school, not needing to put much effort in. And as a result, you fail to learn possibly one of the most important (but never mentioned) subjects that schools teach - how to learn. And then you get out of the comprehensive system and bang - you're in trouble. Because you didn't learn how to learn (because infant, junior, and secondary schools failed to properly educate you in the most important skill of all), you get to 6th Form (or whatever they call it these days) to do A-levels (or whatever they're called these days) and then you are struggling. You're no longer in such a mixed group - the rest of the classes are now of a similar ability to you (or at least, not all that far behind you), but they learned how to learn. And so you struggle and people can't understand why your results are so poor "for a clearly very bright kid".

        But it gets worse. You get yourself a place at university, Oxbridge - another conversation stopper ! And then it gets really hard because you are now in a selected group where everyone is "quite clever". And you struggle even more - lets just say, when I chose which version of degree certificate to have, I chose one without the grade on it ! The main saving grace I recall from those university days was that there were plenty of other "socially awkward" people about so I didn't stand out as much.

        And working life isn't much better - especially if you have poor social skills and so don't fit the pattern of career progression into manglement.

        Eventually, after seeing a couple of things that piqued my interest - I went to my GP to ask for an assessment for autism. It was no great surprise for the diagnosis to be that yes, I was strongly autistic (in the Aspergers part of the spectrum). There's actually a fairly strong correlation between high IQ and autism, which probably accounts for a lot of the image of intelligent people being boring people with the social skills of a coconut. The diagnosis doesn't really change much, but it does explain the problems - and show that it was a mental difference (not illness, difference) rather than "naughtiness" than made me like I was at school.

        1. tiggity Silver badge

          Re: Wow

          I just kept on breezing through stuff... until a few years ago when age dulled my mental skills. Now massively suffering from the never having had to get to grips with "learning skills" as nothing to fall back on when the answers don't just come easily.

          If I had the choice, would have been happy to not be "really clever" & instead to have better social skills and the ability to lie as far more useful in "getting on" in life & work.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Wow

          IQ > 155 here. Failed out of college. I knew how to learn just fine. What I didn't know was how to study. Or ask for help.

          1. Terry 6 Silver badge

            Re: Wow

            Good point. yes, how to study, not how to learn. Stuff that motivated me I learnt easily. Which is why I learnt to code. And to fix computers. And gain the skills to teach kids with various kinds of learning problems. It's why I failed languages at school miserably ( it was all rote learning) but later found that I could pick up languages really easily. And how I struggled to get a decent grade in O level maths at 15 but at 22 was able to master the New Maths that was coming into schools over a couple of weeks, so that I could teach it.

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Wow

            Seconded.

            Luckily, I did get some assistance due to utterly unrelated circumstances. I made a point of learning social skills and I am considered "gregarious" these days (shcools labelled me 'solitary', 'uncommunicative except with close friends', and 'awkward in social situations'). I also learnt study habits, research and so on. It was much harder work as an adult, but it has paid off and I am much happier these days. My parents remain disappointed that I "never realized my potential", based on their knowledge of my (clinically documented) intelligence, but the truth is that high academic achievement beyond basic schooling is more than being clever - it takes application and acquisition of knowledge as much as raw reasoning skils (which I had in spades).

            People who imagine that those with advanced degrees were "just born lucky" have no idea what it really takes to earn them. No, I did not earn one.

        3. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Wow

          Ah, another one percenter, and Aspie at the same time.

          The irony is that you're never aware there's a 2% and a 1% divide unless you pass and hit that 1% :).

          The plus side of being an Aspie is that it's very easy to get in tune with other people on the spectrum, the people that others call "difficult" or "uncooperative" and can get to work with them immediately.

          That said, my Aspergers has an ADHD element to it and that was massively unhelpful.

        4. Terry 6 Silver badge

          Re: Wow

          A great chunk of that applied to me too. Not the on the ASD spectrum bit. But the learning how to learn bit. I could do just about well enough at comprehensive school to stay in the top groups just by working out what the answers had to be, without bothering to learn anything much. But primary school was horrific. I had ( have) lousy handwriting* due it was later found out to having terrible hand eye coordination, am late Summer born and come from a working class background with parents who had limited formal education or qualifications.. I arrived in school with no real concept of what learning or educational progress was meant to look like, surrounded by a lot of middle class kids who were up to a year older than me, incapable of mastering handwriting or shoe laces and with no wish or need to work at learning. The fact that I could read like a dream just annoyed them more. At 5 I was "failed shoe laces" So I was categorised as too thick to teach. And ignored until I left. Which is why no one investigated why my handwriting was so poor until high school.

          *I can teach it brilliantly. For anything else I need a computer.

        5. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Wow

          With you there mate. I was an academic failure, troublemaker at school, kicked out after 5th form straight into work, struggled through an HNC, passed the Mensa test, joined Mensa but left after a year or so never having attended an event or meeting, reasonably successful at work although always struggled with social interactions, then got a high functioning Asperger's diagnosis.

          I am what I am, the Mensa pass was a huge confidence boost after school and proof I'm not stupid. I don't brag about it but i'm not ashamed about it either, and I certainly don't give a flying fuck what anyone else thinks about it.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Wow

            One of my youngsters was doing 'OK' at school, not struggling but not in the top groupings. Took a Mensa entry test and passed with a very high score.

            We wondered why, given that, he wasn't doing better at school. Cutting a long story short we got a private educational assessment carried out.

            Turned out he had a form of dyslexia. Because he was so bright that had been masked - growing up he had, unconsciously, developed his own coping strategies, but was doing nowhere near as well educationally as he was capable of.

            Because he wasn't a 'problem child', and because he was doing 'OK', the school had never bothered checking if he was achieving his full potential (or even anything near it). Ironically, if he had been less bright, the school would almost certainly have picked up on the problem early on.

            We were fortunate in that the issue was identified shortly before he went to University and there he found plenty of support and advice, and helpful learning techniques, going on to get a good degree and a good career that he is very much enjoying and doing well in.

            Youngsters at both extremes of the IQ spectrum can have their own particular challenges and merit help achieving their individual potentials.

      5. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Wow

        A friend of mine is a member and it helped a lot with sorting out personal issues that are partially down to high intelligence.

        Ditto here - I work with neurofeedback to help kids with ADD/ADHD issues, mainly because I want to save as many as possible from a totally unneccesary life on Ritalin (basicllay prescribed amphetamines).

      6. manchesterj

        Re: Wow

        Does rather beg the question as to what IQ tests are actually measuring.

        1. SImon Hobson Silver badge

          Re: Wow

          ... what IQ tests are actually measuring

          They measure your ability to do IQ tests !

          There are different tests, but the ones I know of generally have a selection of different areas they test - some language, some numerical, some spacial, some logical. So basically a cross section of stuff people might need to comprehend or "do" in life - but clearly different vocations lean towards different skills requirements.

          You might find https://www.assessmentday.co.uk useful as an indicator of the different types of tests that exist. An IQ test is basically a weighted sum of a load of different aptitude tests.

    4. Flocke Kroes Silver badge

      Re: Wow

      Intelligence tests measure the ability to do intelligence tests which improves with practice. I am sure most of the members are well aware of that and treat it as a bit of fun rather than as some kind of proof of superiority. That said their are a few bad eggs everywhere. I am sure you will find just as many among those who proudly proclaim their own stupidity and ignorance.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Wow

        I did apply for Mensa quite a few years ago, and narrowly missed getting in. Never done an IQ test before, and agree with you that if I had more practise I probably would have succeeded. Whether it was worth it not I don't know.

        At the time of the test, I was rather distracted by indigestion though

        1. CommanderGalaxian

          Re: Wow

          IIRC, Mensa recommend doing 2 or 3 practice tests to familiarise yourself with the format. Further practice beyond that doesn't tend to yield improved IQ scores in the tests.

    5. steelpillow Silver badge
      Mushroom

      Re: Wow

      See https://forums.theregister.com/forum/all/2021/06/15/corvid_tricks_study/ for a more or less simultaneous remark that "if corvids could communicate with humans they would be better conversationalists than most reality TV show stars." I am sure you find that amusing.

      People in your life are not allowed to be smarter or dumber than you, or to have problems and needs of their own. Glad I am not in your life. (FWIW I am not in Mensa either).

    6. Mike Lewis

      Re: Wow

      I got into Mensa years ago with a surprising amount of room to spare and I didn't last long. I was disappointed to find that they were no more intelligent and a little more crazy than my fellow team members writing safety-critical software.

      Their attitude towards intelligence was odd, like that of a teenage boy who thinks he knows how to drive fast just because he has a car with a big engine. Skill and effort are required, not just raw mental horsepower.

    7. Sam Therapy

      Re: Wow

      Yeah, no. Mensa advise members to leave their Mensa-ship off their CVs.

    8. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Wow

      I found it's actually extremely helpful to put some people quickly in their place. You may be able to buy your degree, but it's still impossible (caveat, as far as I know) to buy your way into Mensa. Pass the test, you're in, if not, best of luck next time.

      When MBA types try to start their usual p*ssing match I can curb that before they've even finished the first sentence, so for me the membership pays itself back in saved time. Worth it, especially given that I originally mainly jioned to annoy someone who just failed that test. Normally I take the Groucho Marx approach to memberships: if they accept people like me its probably worth avoiding :).

      I must admit I'm not very active, which is a direct function of presently being way too busy to even pay attention to what goes on there, so this problem sort of came and went without me paying much heed.

  2. Mike 137 Silver badge

    “I can reassure members that our systems are secure..."

    But "an unauthorised internal download of the database had taken place". So systems secure but staff untrustworthy? IMHO worse than an externally perpetrated data breach, so not that "reassuring"" really.

    1. macjules Silver badge

      Re: “I can reassure members that our systems are secure..."

      And the "I would also like to reiterate that we do not keep credit card or payment details on the database" comment always tends to mean the opposite (©2018 British Airways)

    2. Martin Silver badge
      FAIL

      Re: “I can reassure members that our systems are secure..."

      And if someone can download something to an external environment, I'd argue that the systems are NOT secure.

  3. msknight Silver badge
    Mushroom

    A bit bonkers

    I had an e-mail from them in late February asking to reset my password. Being an ex-member, I didn't bother.

    It made no reference to being hacked or anything. I've had no communication from them that my details have been exposed or at risk... nothing of that nature whatsoever.

    This doesn't surprise me. While the majority of the people I've corresponded and dealt with have been good folks with a heart of gold, there has been the occasional individual who have egos that are so over inflated, it makes me wonder what their skin is made of, that it is able to put up with the internal pressures. So that someone would do this isn't a total surprise.

    1. Disgusted Of Tunbridge Wells

      Re: A bit bonkers

      As an ex-member perhaps you could tell me: what's the point of being a member?

      1. msknight Silver badge

        Re: A bit bonkers

        Differs in many cases. In my case, I was going through a bad patch in life, with little self worth. Passing the test gave me a light at the end of the tunnel that I could achieve things.

        As for beyond the test, the organisation has a number of Special Interest Groups that cover all sorts of subjects and there are also small meet ups that happen and those can be a great way of meeting people, especially when you've just moved to a new area and don't know people.

        There are larger gatherings which are more, "organisation," orientated and I steered clear of those. That's where a chunk of the politics could be found.

        1. Terry 6 Silver badge

          Re: A bit bonkers

          In my youth I was a member ( as in almost 50 years ago). I was, though not in a bad place generally, suffering from some very poor educational experiences (particularly at primary school) that had left me doubting my own abilities. I tried the first test, just to see if I could, potentially, get the score. And I did - so I did the proper test, passed and joined. It did help me to sort out my education a bit. It helped me to remain buoyant, get just about adequate 'O' levels to progress to 6th form and get just about adequate 'A' levels to get to uni...

          It also helped me make my first visit to London, out of Manchester, age all of 16 and meet some very interesting ( interpret that how you will) people. I stayed at the home of a young couple in Hampstead, who had books everywhere, but which had never been opened ( some pages needed a bit of cutting through still). I'm not sure what it tells us about those Mensa members - or Mensa in general circa 1974. You can draw your own conclusions. I left a year or two later because, well, the conversation never lived up to the expectation.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: A bit bonkers

            Well done mate. I was one of 3 people in my year of 150 pupils to get kicked out of school for not getting 5 O levels which you needed to attend the 6th form. I thought I was stupid but like you did the test out of curiosity and passed which was a confidence boost. I was a member of Mensa for a couple of years, never attended a meeting and left because as Oscar Wilde put it I would never be a member of a club that would have me as a member and would never put it on a CV or brag about it. It's a personal achievement and that's how it will stay, personal.

            1. Negative Charlie

              Re: A bit bonkers

              > as Oscar Wilde put it I would never be a member of a club that would have me as a member

              That's Groucho Marx, actually. No wonder you didn't last long.

              1. Peter Gathercole Silver badge

                Re: A bit bonkers @So negative

                And there you go incorrectly associating knowledge with intelligence, like so many people.

                Typical knee jerk response from someone not understanding what Mensa tests are about.

                1. Anonymous Coward
                  Anonymous Coward

                  Re: A bit bonkers @So negative

                  That's a bit harsh, I think it was just a bit of gentle (and deserved) ribbing :).

                  Entertaining, actually.

                  1. msknight Silver badge
                    Joke

                    Re: A bit bonkers @So negative

                    You could have made the joke a bit more obvious and attributed the quote to Julius Caesar :-) ... or to be more up-to-date ... Nigel Farage. :-D

                    1. msknight Silver badge

                      Re: A bit bonkers @So negative

                      Only in Farage's case it would be, "I would never join a club that would have me as a leader."

            2. Terry 6 Silver badge

              Re: A bit bonkers

              The upside of this story is that I volunteered to help younger kids in school with their reading. (I'd always been a really good reader myself). From which I discovered that I had an aptitude for working with kids with literacy learning issues, particularly emotional ones- including loss of self-esteem and low expectations due to poor learning experiences.

              It was the foundation of my career for the next 30 odd years. (rather than going full time into computers which had been my original aim).

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: A bit bonkers

            Sounds familiar. I joined "to prove I could".

            The fundamental problem with a society like Mensa is that there's no common theme/interest to discuss at get togethers. Join a - for example - a motorcycle group and you automatically have a shared interest you can talk about, because presumably if you weren't interested in motorbikes then you'd not have joined the group. But "being intelligent" isn't really a subject to casually chat about - so inevitably (excepting some of the more highbrow events), the events are either around a particular interest which isn't "being bright", or just social gatherings which can sometimes be a bit awkward due to the general correlation between high IQ and poor social skills.

  4. Pascal Monett Silver badge

    It's Mensa

    They'll figure it out.

    1. msknight Silver badge

      Re: It's Mensa

      Good one! Have an upvote!

  5. chivo243 Silver badge
    Coat

    Just another exclusive society with a secret handshake

    See title...

    yes, my coat to protect me from the deluge of downvotes!

    1. msknight Silver badge

      Re: Just another exclusive society with a secret handshake

      I honestly can't see why people would downvote you. You've just demonstrated that you don't know what Mensa is, how it works, what it stands for ... and that you judge people based on that ignorance... just like many other things in life. That's all.

    2. Oh Matron!

      Re: Just another exclusive society with a secret handshake

      Using your argument, the following groups are also "exclusive societies"

      The girl guides

      Parents

      People with brown hair

      slugs

      People who like marmite

      Ridiculous? Yep, as was your "comment"

      1. 2+2=5 Silver badge
        Joke

        Re: Just another exclusive society with a secret handshake

        > slugs

        As a molluscophile I feel obliged to point out that slugs keep their secret handshake so secret that most people don't even realise they have hands!

        1. Korev Silver badge
          Coat

          Re: Just another exclusive society with a secret handshake

          Surely as a true molluscophile, you'd shell out a bit more and move onto snails?

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Just another exclusive society with a secret handshake

          It should also be pointed out that snails are great if you want to regularly pass audits as they always leave a trail.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Mensa aims...

    ... to be a drinking club with a thinking problem, and seems to succeed.

    NB: When I was a member, that seemed to all happen at the Eel Pie Pub in Twickenham. My (now lapsed) membership was not something I'd ever put on a CV.

  7. hammarbtyp

    The new Mensa test

    Complete this sequence

    MD5,SHA1,SHA256,....

    1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge
      Coat

      Re: The new Mensa test

      MI6?

      1. Kane Silver badge
        Joke

        Re: The new Mensa test

        "MI6?"

        MFI?

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: The new Mensa test

      It's the square with 2 stars in the upper left, 3 wiggly lines through the bottom rotated 45 degress.

  8. nautica
    Holmes

    Don't look now, but vour 'Facebook mentality' is showing.

    Quite a few of the comments here seem to smack of envy. Here's a suggestion--from a non-member:

    SIMPLY DON'T JOIN MENSA when the invitation is extended to you.

    Oh, wait...

  9. a_yank_lurker Silver badge

    Meaning of "I"

    <snark> Does the "I" stand Ignorance, Idiocy, or Incompetence? </snark>

  10. J. Cook Silver badge

    Just a friendly reminder that intelligence does NOT equal wisdom, which is why they are separate attributes on the D&D sheet...

    1. John Robson Silver badge
      Boffin

      Often a negative correlation

    2. This post has been deleted by its author

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      *checks membership list printed in the back copies of SIGIL - Newsletter of the AD&D Special Interest Group of British Mensa*

  11. Ken Moorhouse Silver badge

    I used to be a member...

    ...not of MENSA, but a supposedly elite social club. Elitist more like. I went to one of their Bridge evenings... once. Duplicate Bridge it was. I was paired with a chap who was also new to the clique -er- sub group. The memorable point of the evening was when between the two of us we somehow managed to get into a 3 No Trumps bid where he and I had all but one of the spades. Not good! Our opponents miraculously led with a spade however, and we won every trick. Throughout the game it was obvious our opponents were getting really uppity about our not knowing (or at least using) any of the usual conventions, implying we "cheated". At the end of the evening we looked at what our counterparts did when they were dealt the same hand. They bid 4 Spades and failed to get it. They were gobsmacked at our luck.

    1. Terry 6 Silver badge

      Re: I used to be a member...

      I was in my youth, see above, in Mensa. I also failed to be a Bridge player at around the same time. I understood the rules. I failed to be capable of understanding why the "bidding" had to be a not-so-secret code to tell your partner what you had. And more to the point found it far too frustrating wasting precious bids by using them a a code.

      1. TRT Silver badge

        Re: I used to be a member...

        MENSA was full of strange but amusing characters. Like the person who had the Dutch posting mini cucumbers through his door.

  12. nautica

    It's worth repeating--

    "Never confuse education with intelligence; you can have a PhD and still be an idiot.”

    ― Richard P. Feynman

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: It's worth repeating--

      As my grandfather used to say - actually I not sure what he used to say it was so long ago - but he used to say that one of his daughters "had all the brains, and the other had all the common sense"

  13. Iain
    Coat

    Nominative determinism?

    "Keeping its members up-to-date about events, Chris Leek, Chairman of British Mensa, said in an email posted last Friday and seen by us:"

  14. spireite Bronze badge
    Coat

    Leek reports a leak.....

    Is he also Welsh? or born in Staffordshire?

  15. Unbelievable!
    Meh

    Mensa can't really have that much to offer in terms of data..

    don't the members remind us mortals of their membership often anyway ??

    Now, the Magic Circle.. that would be interesting.

    1. Allan George Dyer Silver badge
      Joke

      Re: Mensa can't really have that much to offer in terms of data..

      Rumour is, the last person that they found the last person who tried to steal their database by mind-reading, and sawed them in half!

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Mensa can't really have that much to offer in terms of data..

      Now, the Magic Circle.. that would be interesting.

      Less so since Tommy Cooper passed away, but yes, I hope at least card magicians can resume their informal London get togethers soon. I always enjoyed being there (no, too old myself, you really need to have that "in your hands" before you're 25) because even up close it's bloody brilliant to watch.

      And no, I have never asked for any trick to be explained - I am of the opinion that you should keep the wonder in place if you cannot figure it out, that's part of the fun.

  16. Curious44

    People in glass houses

    As a member for 30+ years I'm amazed at the level of prejudice here. It confirms far more about the kind of petite I've found in the IT works than anything. You know the sort, System Admin God complex. I've not mixed with many other members and very few people know I am a member. I do however see the same issue everywhere. No-one would question being a member of the "I can run fast" club but as soon as any cognitive ability is mentioned hugely defensive behaviour ensues. I avoid all those kinds of people for obvious reasons.

    1. GrumpenKraut Silver badge
      Pint

      Re: People in glass houses

      > No-one would question being a member of the "I can run fast" club but as soon as any cognitive ability is mentioned hugely defensive behaviour ensues.

      I feel being addressed. My unpleasant experiences were/are with people rubbing the MENSA thing in my face, unquestioned. Imagine reading a CV for some IT job containing half a page with each and every achievement in some running fast hobby.

      My experiences along those lines are actually not job related but with a project I volunteer for.

      Anyway, have an up-vote and a virtual pint.

  17. macjules Silver badge

    'unauthorised internal download'

    Sounds rather like something one has to clean up off the lawn on a daily basis.

  18. Cynical Pie

    This is further proof of one of the things I mention when running any data protection training courses.

    You can have all the tech, systems and processes in the world but once you add a person to the mix there is the potential for things to go pear shaped despite your best efforts.

    People have a penchant for trying to make their own lives easier and this is often the biggest security risk an organisation faces. I've got a couple of doozies I could share were it not for the fact my organisation is currently self reporting them to the ICO and the employee in one is under HR investigation!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      I heard it as "to err is human, to really f*** it up - get a computer!"

  19. Esme

    My two penn'orth

    There's snobbery and ignorance both pro and anti most things, including intelligence, IQ tests and MENSA., in my experience.

    IQ tests - so far as I can see they are a bit like tests for benchmarking CPU performance - if well-designed they can be indicative of ones processing power. But just as a CPU might be put to work looking for ways to defeat viruses or alternatively, allowing one to play Bubble Bobble to kill some time, so people use their wetware CPUs for a wide range of things, some mundane, some seriously useful. But just as with hardware CPUs, wetware CPUs quite often don't get much choice about what tasks they are set to tackle. But we don't critciise hardware CPUs for the uses to which they are put

    Also, whilst there is a known slight improvement on test scores over time if one takes a number of IQ tests, last I knew, it's a law of diminishing returns, and after about the third one, you're unlikely to see much change in score. So it is NOT the case that anyone can get a high score if they keep on taking IQ tests.

    There can be many reasons for taking IQ tests and many reasons for joining MENSA. In my case, I was in the care of a later-found-to-be-rogue psychiatrist, who bristled at my innocent misuse of a single term to describe my symptoms ("manic-depressive", in case you're wondering. Turns out I'm not, but it seemed closest fit to me out of my vocabulary at the time). This, apparently was a challenge to his self-importance and he went into a tirade about the framed document on the wall showing he'd taken a relevant degree course, and I, a mere lowly-educated oik, dared self-diagnose? From then on, he deliberately messed me about including outright lying about whether I;d kept appointments or not. But I shan't bore you all with the rest of THAT tale.

    The point is, it led me to read up on psychology, and in the process come across a decent IQ test; whose results astounded me. I hadn't merely gone over MENSA' entry level, I was, apparently, nearly off the scale. Stunned, I took the MENSA test and duly passed, and was given the highest score the MENSA test is good for - essentially, if you get that score, it means "we're not sure what your IQ is, as it's higher than our tests can reliably measure".

    This gave me confidence to try to tackle the situation I was in with the psychiatrist, and hopefuly get transfered (didnt succeed, sadly).. I also decided to join MENSA as it occurred to me that my intelligence might be connected with my poor social skills.. Perhaps joining MENSA might hep me.

    Shortly after joining I had a startling experience. A very smartly dressed older chap started talking to me (a impoverished and somewhat scruffy Goth) and was very proud of the fact that his IQ was 2 or 3 points above the minimum required for entry into MENSA. Seemed an odd thing to be proud of - I'm not proud of my eye colour or anything else I was born with, but (shrug) if it makes him happy, and all that. He ten asked me my IQ and was thunderstruck when I told him. This brought home to me that people of high IQ are still, well, just people with all the frailties everyone else has. I knew that my high IQ hadn't done me any favours, so I was a bit puzzled by his attitude.

    Over time I discovered that some members of MENSA have all sorts of odd beliefs and passions, including conspiracy theories and von-Danikenesque nonsense.

    It wasnt doing anything noticeably beneficial for my social life, and the SIGs weren't full of the high-level stuff I'd expected they'd contain., most of it being at about the same level as one might expect from a magazine aimed at the general public on the topic of your choice. So I left, after a few years.

    Now yes, I;d come across a few who were downright peculiar in MENSA, but there were also a lot of perfectly "normal" and pleasant people in it too. They're far from all being socially inept weirdos with too high an opinion of themselves,. I've no idea what benefit such ones feel they get from membership though. But the main benefit I got was that for the first time I gained confidence in my cognitive abilities rather than thinking I was stupid because I didnt see things the same as many around me.

    In short, it's not the IQ tests that are at fault, for the most part - it's peoples interpretation about what the results mean that causes problems.(shrugs) YMMV

    1. Ken Moorhouse Silver badge

      Re: Shortly after joining I had a startling experience.

      Sheesh. This is like going to the pub and discussing the size of your willy to every Tom and Harry*, with the added benefit that those without willy's can join in.

      *Best not to get Dick involved, if poss.

      1. Andre Carneiro

        Re: Shortly after joining I had a startling experience.

        *willies

        God, I hate myself so much right now…

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: My two penn'orth

      There's also this vector called age, which in my case due to some cognitive issues and damage has had a kind of Algernon effect on me. There's no way I'd come close to even passing now.

  20. rg287 Silver badge

    A spokesperson for Mensa retorted at the time that passwords "were encrypted; were never sent out or stored as plain text; [and] that additional work on hashing passwords was 'being completed'."

    So what they're saying is the passwords weren't hashed, and therefore weren't following the established best practice of checks notes, the last two decades? And that someone competent has just pointed this out to them.

    1. TRT Silver badge

      encrypted ≠ hashed, but it's possibly a subtle distinction.

      Additional "hashing work" may be adding some salt, perhaps?

      Question 73:

      Encryption is to hashing as sleep is to ?

      Question 74:

      Circle the odd word out.

      Battery Horse Staple Secret Password

  21. knarf

    As Forest says “Stupid is as stupid does”

    I suspect they are trying to be too clever.

  22. Blackjack Silver badge

    [such as forcing all users to reset passwords and urging people to make them trickier to break.]

    Hope it was more than that, the breach was recent not in 2001.

  23. tiggity Silver badge

    Surprised nobody mentioned the appropriate name

    "Chris Leek, Chairman of British Mensa"

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Surprised nobody mentioned the appropriate name

      That's because that's just too obvious. No challenge whatsoever..

  24. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Cybersecurity Red Tape must be insane at Mensa.

    Imagine the CAPTCHA puzzles they have to solve.

    1. Select all the Taxis.

    2. Logically, which of the following comes next?

    3. Pick the one that doesn't belong from the following.

  25. FlamingDeath Silver badge

    Numbers

    https://youtu.be/FEa6QocYl1A

  26. Roland6 Silver badge

    Are we shooting the wrong party?

    Whilst the website that got compromised was owned by Mensa, I wonder if we should in fact be pointing a finger at the website development businesses, in this case GWS Media.

    I anticipate Mensa have zero knowledge about the details of their website, leaving the implementation details to the experts. So it will have been the experts who decided to write or re-use off-the-shelf packages and or components that implemented user account credential management. So if user account passwords were stored in the clear on Mensa's website, there is a good chance they will also be in the clear in almost any other website developed by this specific website development business and if they are using COTS packages and libraries then websites developed by others using these packages and components will similarly be open to exploitation...

    1. msknight Silver badge

      Re: Are we shooting the wrong party?

      Nah, some people are shooting Mensa and those associated with it, because of their ignorance, maybe a bit of jealousy... bit of this... bit of that... whatever their reasons. The fact that someone commented that they shit-can any CV with Mensa on it just confirms that I'm glad I'll never have the misfortune to work for them. In fact, the majority of accounts and even the ratio of thumbs up instead of down, is reassuring to read.

      The web site stood up to attack, the password storage is definitely embarrassing for the designers/maintainers though. The attack that, "worked," was the unauthorised insider download. To a degree that's on Mensa for trusting the wrong person, but the same can be said for any organisation.

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