High IQ Society Networks in Mexico
A piece about Mensa, the high IQ society brings up all sorts of questions. For those interested in networking with folks that like intellectual conversation, this article is especially for you. But other points will get an airing here as well, such as, "Is Mensa elitist?"
North Baja Social Meetings are not Exclusive
First, there are Mensa members that speak English in Ensenada, Rosarito, and Tijuana. They meet socially in Tijuana, along with members that speak little English. And they all bring people along with no requirement that they join, attend some kind of propaganda seminar, or sit under a of spotlight where they have to act smart in order to justify their existence. Some of the non-members that join in get curious, take a test (no, it's not a long test), and join the organization.
Things are just getting started in north Baja. The meetings in Tijuana are informal and social at this point. The guests have a hard time pulling themselves away as the evening goes on, because the conversation is wide-ranging and very engaging. As interest builds, meetings will be put online and people will be able to sign up. The meetings can include activities. For a great example of how this works, visit MeetUp.com. If a member wants to alert everyone to an event of some kind, anyone in the group can RSVP and meet there.
Most of the Mensa Mexico members are in Mexico City and a of other places. They have a FaceBook page. Some of them travel to the U.S. for a national conference. The president brought her laptop and did a virtual meeting in which the Mexicans that attended via their computers all showed up on screen as part of a two-way audio-video hookup.
Is Mensa Elitist?
To address this question, you really have to pause and consider the reasons people get involved. The original founders had the idea that smart people would get together and solve the world's problems. (OK, I'm really over simplifying here.) In these post-modern times, no one expects the world to listen to smart people. Nonetheless, there are Mensans (what they call the members) that conduct important projects for society (see below). I think it's safe to say, though, that these days it's more of an opportunity for people to cut loose and talk (and do other diverse activities) with people that "get" them. So, if playing in a tennis league, a skilled poker tourney, or taking an advanced dance class isn't elite, try thinking of Mensa in those terms. If you like conversations that are (relatively speaking) fast-paced and about deep subjects with people that (usually) have a good fund of knowledge and good thinking tools (like understanding basic logic or how science works), then why not have an outlet for that? Ah, but why restrict membership based on testing? I know, well, it's not the only way to get this kind of socializing, but it's one way.
Something to maybe dampen the elitism a little: In the United States alone, over 6 million people are eligible (because that is how many people are in the top 2% IQ of the U.S. population of about 310 million). That is, 2 out of 100 people qualify for membership based on qualifying documentation related to IQ. (In Spanish, C.I., coefficiente de intelligencia.)
And bear in mind that many bright and gifted children are treated pretty badly in school. Some of them even act badly because they're bored. When they meet people that are more on their wavelength, they start realizing that they aren't just misfits. This can help propel them to really go for their dreams and embrace their vision for their lives. For those bright kids that were surrounded by a culture that supported intellectual development, it's still an opportunity for intellectual social engagement.
What about "Nerds"?
It seems that a lot of bright folks are on the autism spectrum. Those folks can be slow in developing their social skills, and they may have be very sensitive in some ways that can cause social problems. They especially can feel like outcasts. For more on this, have a look at YouTube vids of Temple Grandin, the autistic engineer. She has made a cause of helping people understand how to relate to everyone from developmentally disabled people with autism, to professionals with some autistic traits. She says many are engineers like her. NPR did a wonderful piece on her as well. Excellent, relevant YouTube vids: My Experience with Autism and the Ted presentation: Temple Grandin: The World Needs All Kinds of Minds.
Is Mensa Needed? What's are its Vision and Projects?
If you're still wondering, I guess I should talk about things that, more or less, can take the place of Mensa. If you have a career that connects you with bright people, you might not yearn for another venue for such connections. And then there's the Internet. With all this connectivity, it's easy to communicate with people that are on your wave length.
Here's the vision of the Mensa organization: "To identify and foster intelligence for the benefit of humanity; to encourage research in the nature, characteristics and uses of intelligence; and to provide a stimulating intellectual and social environment for its members."
And, indeed, there are various initiatives that Mensa supports in order to further it's mission to benefit humanity. For example: International Intellectual Benefits Award, Distinguished Teacher Award, a Mensa-published article on Educating Gifted Children.
What about the Testing? Can I Try Something Online Just for Fun?
You can try out some online IQ tests to get an idea of your actual IQ. But keep one thing in mind: some tests have tricks to them that can result in a lower score than you would get in other tests. That actually detracts from their utility as IQ tests. The tests that give the best overall sense of IQ in a short time (that aren't tricky) are the ones that involve picking a pattern of shapes that belongs with other patterns. It's multiple choice. Psychologists tell us that this uses a number of skills, even though it seems like it justs tests one ability. But people that have different gifts may do better on a verbal test.
There are free online tests. The Mensa Workout is a good one from Mensa itself.
How Can I get Involved?
In order to qualify for Mensa membership, you can use one of several kinds of documentation. Your SAT score, an IQ test from a psychologist, or a test by a Mensa proctor (and this can be done in Tijuana and elsewhere), are three examples. And Mensa Mexico will accept your English-language documentation. Their psychologist speaks fluent English and is well-traveled.
In order to visit with Mensa folks and people that are interested (again, these meetings are not intended to stress anybody's self esteem--and there's no expectation to join) contact me (use the contact button), and I'll let you know what's going on.