What would happen if someone were to take the smartest people in the planet and put them all in one place? What would they do? What would they talk about? Who would be in it?
In 1946 two people – an Australian lawyer and an English lawyer/scientist – decided to find out. The came together at Lincoln College in Oxford to form a non-religious, egalitarian social group for geniuses.
They named their group Mensa, after the latin word for table, to portray the fact that they are meant to be a round-table group, where people of all races, creeds, ideologies, and ages are welcome. As a result, there are over 130,000 members from over 100 countries who are a part of this organization.
So what do they do?
The goal of Mensa is to provide a place for intellectual stimulation for these geniuses. It is a place for them to listen to lectures and socialize with other like minded brilliant people. There are stated aims for the organization, such as fostering intelligence for the betterment of humanity and researching how intelligence can best be nurtured and grown. They do this in the form of scholarships and outreach events. But overall, Mensa is a place where really smart people can just go and hang out around other smart people.
Who can join?
While Mensa people may be portrayed as an ego-centric, nerdy, cliquey, sweater wearing eggheads, this simply isn’t the case. Anyone – no matter who they are – can become a member of this brilliant, prestigious world. Mensa includes members who are from ages two years old all the way to people who are 100 years old. There are auto mechanics and scientists, doctors and glassblowers, military people and supermodels. Anyone can get in. Anyone who can pass their stringent test that is.
So what does it take to pass the test?
Being a club for geniuses means that you need to be a genius in order to get accepted. To this end, Mensa terms people geniuses and worthy of acceptance into their organization only those who are able to score in the upper second percentile or above in any number of Mensa approved aptitude tests, such as the Stanford-Binet intelligence test. The applicant’s IQ should be no less than 130. This means that they are the upper 2% of smartest people in the world. Keep in mind that the IQ for average intelligence is considered to be 100.
What membership entails
However, for all Mensa does, Mensa does come with a price. Yet the $70 a year membership fee is a small price to pay to be surrounded by the smartest people on the planet. It is this money which gets the university professors to come give lectures, enables promising students to receive scholarships to grow their minds, and enables members to meet, discuss, have fun, and let loose. Mensa also provides insurance to people in certain countries, along with community outreach and volunteer programs. There is even a research journal put out by members on various subjects, helping Mensa members to continue to learn at a very high level.
Additionally, there are annual meet-ups all over the world, ranging from a giant Halloween costume party in Chicago to giant countrywide meet-ups on US and Canadian independence day, amongst others.