Is Mensa a High IQ Society

Toward the end of my junior year in high school a page from our office files was distributed in home room. Almost immediately one of us discovered that among the data on the sheet were the scores of any IQ tests we had taken. My scores were 119, 155, and 135, in chronological order. One of them, I don't remember which, was Stanford-Binet. I only remember taking one of them; it was done orally in elementary school with a woman who asked easy questions that I failed to answer.

I remember that I calculated from the dates of the 2nd and 3rd test that if my score continued to drop at the same rate, my IQ would be down to 100 by the time I was 19.

When I was 17 and a freshman at Cal Poly I took an aptitude test and was told by the test-giver that she had never seen a score as high as mine. So I probably hadn't lost too much yet. I apparently did fairly well on tests when I was in Air Force basic training at age 18, part of the reason I ended up in Security Service.

No more tests of that sort until I continued my college freshman studies at Oakland Junior College in 1957 at the age of 22. Some test I took there resulted in my being asked to be in some kind of special group that I don't quite remember. I don't recall any tests of the kind at UCB after transferring there as a junior, but I did enter a competition for a part-time job at a public library. A big room crowded with written test takers. I got first choice of library to work at because I had managed the top score.

Years later, how many I no longer remember, but probably about 1980 give or take while I was teaching at the University of Hawaii at Manoa, I happened to hear that a Mensa test was scheduled for a time and place I could manage, so just for the fun of it I took it. Next thing I knew I was being admitted to the society at the "99%" level. Fluke? Who knows.

I don't even remember how many years I kept paying annual dues, life membership sounding awfully expensive for the magazine I was getting out of it. Gradually I noticed that many of the members' letters to the journal were starting to sound kind of dumb, especially a lot a theories about crop circles. Well, those letters were written by very intelligent people; if I couldn't see how smart they were, I must be losing it. So I dropped out.

About 20 years ago I noticed two further signs that I was cognitively impaired. One was at some kind of meeting for a linguistics project that involved competition in some sort of oral-aural word game. I was stunned to find that one or two young women were coming up with the answers ahead of me. The other event was when I was taking some fellow members of the UHM retirees association to tour the new medical building and I couldn't remember whether to turn left or right when I got to a certain road and an elderly woman in the back seat had to tell me.

Things have continued steadily downhill. I keep forgetting people's names, computer terminology, etc. Recently I took an on-line IQ test, scored "110," supposedly at about the 65% level.

Are Mensa life members immune from cognitive decline? If not, then I can't help but suspect that a fair number of them no longer have high IQ's and thus Mensa is not actually a high-IQ society.

Out of here