Live blog: World’s oldest IQ society opens up about its rich history of fostering intelligence

Mensa communications manager, Ann Clarkson, visited the City of Wolverhampton College to talk to NCTJ students about her organisation’s determination to help people with extraordinary high intelligence.

10:50 Mensa was formed in 1946 in Oxford by two barristers who discovered a mutual interest in high intelligence.
It was expanded in the mid-1970s and is now based in Wolverhampton.

10:52 “The biggest concentration of Mensa members is in and around London.”
This is partly due to the large number of professionals living and working in the city.

10:53 It is a common misconception that you have to be highly educated to join Mensa.
Actually, a lot of Mensa’s members didn’t do well at school.
They also don’t need to be well off.

10:54 Mensa is a global organisation and has approximately 110,000 members over some 40 countries.

10:56 Finland has Menesa’s highest membership per head, whereas the USA has one of the lowest.

10:57 Mensa offer verbal reasoning tests, as well as non-verbal reasoning tests for people with limited English or conditions such as dyslexia.

10:59 For children under 10 ½ a psychological assessment is required to become a member instead of an IQ test.
The youngest member of Mensa is three years old.

11:01 “The key to being a member of Mensa is curiosity.”
“Whatever your little quirks are in life, no one thinks you’re weird.”
“It’s a safe place where you don’t get judged.”

11:02 Roughly 50% of the people who take the Mensa test pass.
However, most people who take the test in the first place know they have a high chance of meeting the IQ requirements.

11:04 Mensa has just set up a mentoring scheme that pairs up adult members with children as young as 13, in order to support children who might be struggling at school.

11:05 A common misconception is that all Mensa meetings are held in pubs.
Mensa is increasing the number of days out it organises for members.

11:08 The number of children in Mensa is increasing.
There are approximately 1,500 members who are under 16.

11:10 A lot of children who end up becoming members of Mensa were originally assessed for other things, such as autism or behavioural difficulties.
“A very bright child can cause a lot more disruption than an unintelligent one.”

11:16 The highest IQ Ann has seen someone achieve in a Mensa entry test is 150.
But she stresses a high IQ does not make a person a genius.
“It’s what you do with your IQ that makes you a genius.”
All members of Mensa are regarded as equals, irrespective of what IQ they scored in the entry test.

11:20 Mensa is a non-political organisation.
“The individual members have a lot of opinions, but the organisation doesn’t. It fosters intelligence.”

11:24 Mensa run courses for parents and teachers to advise them on how to handle extremely intelligent children.

11:29 Approximately 85% of Mensa members do not tell people they belong to the organisation; often because they’re scared of being bullied.
In order to keep their members safe, Mensa guarantees anonymity.

We thank Ann for coming in today and speaking to us about Mensa.
Look out for related stories on Wolf Reporter in the coming days and weeks.

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