What the world needs is more geniuses with humility, there are so few of us left.

(Oscar Levant)

I took an IQ test in my early teens, and was found to be one point shy of being a genius. What a let-down to be so close, but no cigar! For many years thereafter I felt that I had to work harder just to keep up with all the geniuses around me (school, work, friends, etc). I never mentioned my shortcoming with anyone although it seemed to be generally acknowledged among my acquaintances that I was in fact a genius, simply based on their own informal observations of my behavior, achievements, etc. And I say this only because I have heard it said about me so many times. Could it be that I courted this praise simply by hanging around intellectual inferiors? There's a good question. Maybe I should test the IQ of my friends!

Occasionally I would see those advertisements to join Mensa, with a teaser IQ test which sucks you in to taking a more complete test, which then gets you to go the full route and take the Mensa entrance exam. I always did well on the first two tests, but never really wanted to join Mensa, so never took the final exam. I'm not a "joiner" and I guess my sub-par genius kept me feeling inferior to all those great minds, and deep down, I figured that they were probably boring anyway. I surely didn't want to be re-affirmed as being a sub-genius. Can you imagine the humiliation of being banished from membership by all those smart people?

A few years ago, there was a show on TV, The National IQ Test, and with nothing better on the tube, I grabbed a pen and paper, and followed along. Amazingly, I did very well! This lead naturally to revisiting this whole topic of just how smart am I? The Internet affords a wonderful way to test ourselves, in the privacy of our own homes, and without anyone ever knowing the horrible truth. It turns out that I am now a genius, according to several different IQ tests. How can this be? Well, in fact, a person's IQ is somewhat fluid, and can change up or down according to many factors.

Truman Capote (probably not an expert on the subject) once said "It's a scientific fact that if you stay in California, you lose one point off your IQ every year." I feel certain that it is not a scientific fact. I have been here for more than 25 years, so I sometimes reflect on that quote and wonder what miracles of intellect I could have achieved if I had stayed in Chicago or Philadelphia.

There are lots of different tests, and in some I perform better than in others, but they all put me clearly in the Genius category. In fact, in no case did I perform at less than that level.

What I have learned from my studies on the topic of IQ testing is that there is no specific number which can be assigned to an individual which he carries throughout life. Intelligence changes over time, sometimes up, sometimes down. Environmental influences (and heredity of course) effect IQ. Simply being tired, or stressed, or hungry can have a major effect on a person's performance. Some people just perform poorly on all tests, some people are much better at taking tests, and that ability has nothing to do with a person's IQ. There are certain tricks which can work in your favor when taking an IQ test. For example, abstain from coffee for several days, and then just before the test have a big fat cup of coffee!

I have also learned that IQ is the result of how much we actually make our minds work. When I was in my teens I certainly did not do very much to exercise my mind. I consistently failed subjects in school, simply because I was completely uninterested in the subject matter, or because I just hated the entire institutional learning experience. It wasn't until I got out of college and started working for IBM that I really started using my dormant brain muscles. And for the next 30 years, I exercised my brain a lot. I'm sure that during this period of time I added many points to my IQ. Hopefully, I'm still adding to it, although I seem to lose my keys (or other acts of stupidity) more frequently than when I had a lower IQ. Go figure!

When polls are taken on the subject, people with high IQs feel that they should not tell others their IQ. And conversely, people with lower IQs (<98th percentile) feel that people with high IQs should tell others their IQ. You could have all kinds of fun trying to make sense of that!

There has been a lot written about the evils of IQ tests, and how they create a privileged class. In 1971 the US Supreme Court banned the use of IQ tests in employment except in very rare cases.

Some links:
Definition of genius
IQ Test Labs
Some really difficult IQ tests
Online Intelligence Quotient (IQ) Test

Thinkers Thoughts on Thinking

The true sign of intelligence is not knowledge but imagination.
Albert Einstein

Sometimes I think the surest sign that intelligent life exists elsewhere in the universe
is that none of it has tried to contact us.
Calvin from "Calvin and Hobbes" (Bill Watterson)

Belief is the death of intelligence.
Robert Anton Wilson

The test of a first-rate intelligence is
the ability to hold two opposed ideas in mind at the same time
and still retain the ability to function.
F. Scott Fitzgerald

Two things are infinite:
the universe and human stupidity;
and I'm not sure about the the universe.
Albert Einstein

My mother used to say to me, ...
"In this world, Elwood, you must be oh, so smart, or oh, so pleasant."
For years I was smart. I recommend pleasant. You may quote me.
Elwood P. Dowd in the play "Harvey" by Mary Chase (1907-1981)

Many highly intelligent people are poor thinkers.
Many people of average intelligence are skilled thinkers.
The power of a car is separate from the way the car is driven.
Edward de Bono

To me, being an intellectual doesn't mean knowing about intellectual issues;
it means taking pleasure in them.
Jacob Bronowski, American scientist, author, philosopher

People who are smart get into Mensa.
People who are really smart look around and leave.
James Randi

It has yet to be proven that intelligence has any survival value.
Arthur C. Clarke

The trouble with the world is that
the stupid are cocksure and the intelligent full of doubt.
Bertrand Russell, 1872-1970, British Philosopher, Mathematician, Essayist

It is not clear that intelligence has any long-term survival value.
Stephen Hawking, British Theoretical Physicist

The intelligent man finds almost everything ridiculous,
the sensible man hardly anything.
Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe

Intellectual brilliance is no guarantee against being dead wrong.
David Fasold

The best intelligence test is what we do with our leisure.
Laurence J. Peter

Man had always assumed that he was more intelligent than dolphins
because he had achieved so much -- the wheel, New York, wars, and so on,
whilst all the dolphins had ever done was muck about in the water having a good time.
But conversely, the dolphins believed themselves to be more intelligent than man for precisely the same reasons.
(from "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy")

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