Mensa: secret joy, secret shame?



We’ve received the following email from A Dad:

My daughter’s school picked some of the students to sit the Mensa IQ test. The first we heard of this was when she received a letter saying she has a score of 159 and in the top 1% and she’s welcome to join. My daughter, who’s thirteen, is privately very pleased with herself but has no desire to tell anyone, likewise the wife and I have told no one apart from you right now in this email.

She enjoys school, is doing very well and has her path to university set in her sights and beyond. Now the three of us think it’s probably best to keep things low key and it’s just one tiny string to the bow, but answer me this: is there any time the Mensa bomb should be dropped eg gaining a place in 6th form or university? We suspect it could be a negative in the job market in future.

None of us have ever been Mensa members, so I defer to you readers:
i. When can you get the most mileage out of Mensa membership? I’m assuming when picking up people on Tinder.
ii. If you are a member, have you experienced negative side-effects? Eg the Sun describing you as a ‘boffin’ in an article about you?
iii. If you are an employer, would you think, “Ooh, a Mensa member? Top drawer!” or would you point and laugh at the boffin?



3 Responses to “Mensa: secret joy, secret shame?”

  1. Thomas E Says:

    Mensa is a social club where you may find people you enjoy hanging out with. There are very few teenagers in my local Mensa club, it may be different in the UK. The 13 year old could join and see if she likes it.

  2. alex Says:

    It sounds like all downside, no upside. I think the problem here is that being a member of Mensa on its own is not much of an achievement. If you say, “I’m in Mensa” but your job working at a call center, no one is going to say, “Oh, my mistake–here’s a promotion and a raise!”

    Unlike other things we associate with being smart–let’s say, having a PhD or being a working scientist of some kind–you worked to get to that level. People just pass a test to join Mensa.

    If you have some level of concrete achievement–degrees, successful companies, inventions, a batcave–those achievements are far more impressive than being in Mensa.

    If you don’t have those achievements–and all you have is Mensa–that’s just sad. Why hasn’t someone so smart done more with their gifts?

  3. It's all make believe Says:

    The problem with telling an employer of normal people is that every time the Mensa employee screws up everyone will say “I am very surprised, *they* are a member of mensa” (they won’t capitalise the M of Mensa either). However, I would have thought places of learning and government think tanks based at black sites would love to hear about the Mensa membership.

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