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