Mensa: readers reply
Last week William Hartston took a knife to the brains trust ...
Monday 26 August 1996
So why suggest depriving persons with a certain brand of "cleverness" from meeting their peers?
I bet William Hartston met no more than a handful of the membership he derides as "a band of useless eggheads", so his evaluation of their usefulness is purely subjective - and sounds like sour grapes.
Hebden Bridge, West Yorks
Do we need Mensa? Who can say what we need? But on a personal basis, it was suggested many years ago that my wife and I should apply to join Mensa. Thanks to an early classical education, by instinct we declined it.
I shall be honest - I joined Mensa so that I could put my membership on my CV and to give myself an ego boost. Most Mensa members are not "active" - ie, they do not attend any meetings, they just read the monthly magazine. I attended a few meetings when I first joined, but I didn't really enjoy it - there seemed to be little in common between members and very little "inspired" conversation.
However - why the need to knock it? Mensa harms no one. The problem is that people expect Mensa to be "for" something and to "do" something, when really it is just a social club or even a dating club which meets a need for its members
We need Mensa for the "two per cent top of the IQ people" to discover why they hated school, why they failed in their early chosen careers, why communication with others is so difficult; in fact why there are so many "stupid" people around.
All these things become clear when one discovers that one is different and there are others out there with similar problems arising from unrecognised high intelligence.
One of the best moves in my life was to join Mensa and begin to understand more about myself and relationships with society at large.
East Croydon, Surrey
William Hartston is being just a little hard on Mensa. True, I don't need it, but a) unlike (say) the Advanced Motorists its members are a threat to nobody but themselves, b) world-wide, it keeps off the streets and out of mischief over 100,000 people who are manifestly not safe out, c) it reminds the frivolous once again that life is not all chips and gravy (unless of course you happen to be Bill Gates) and that there is a darker side to it, and d) those aspects of its activities that reach the columns of the national press, though showing few signs of grey matter, do add to the gaiety of nations.
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