Mensa is an organization for people with high IQs. Its sole requirement for entry is that potential members must score within the top 2% in any approved standardized intelligence test.
Roland Berrill, an Australian barrister, and Dr. Lancelot Ware, an English scientist and lawyer, founded Mensa in England in 1946. They had the idea of forming a society for bright people, the only qualification for membership of which was a high IQ. The original aims were, as they are today, to create a non-political society free from all racial or religious distinctions. The society welcomes all people, regardless of background, whose IQs meet the criteria, with the objective of members enjoying each other's company and participating in a wide range of social and cultural activities. Mensa accepts individuals who score in the 98th percentile on standardized IQ tests such as the Stanford-Binet. New scores on certain common tests, such as the SAT and the GRE, are no longer accepted, either because they no longer are considered intelligence tests or because they no longer measure scores up to the 98th percentile, although older scores on these tests are accepted. On the SAT, for example, scores from 1994 and earlier are accepted. Mensa administers its own tests for those who do not already have qualifying scores from other tests.
Mensa International has over 100,000 members, with over 50,000 in the United States alone. In addition to encouraging social interaction among its members, the organization is also involved with programs for gifted children, literacy, and scholarships. The name comes from mensa, the Latin word for "table," and indicates that it is a round-table society of equals.
Mensa has three stated purposes: to identify and foster human intelligence for the benefit of humanity; to encourage research in the nature, characteristics, and uses of intelligence; and to promote stimulating intellectual and social opportunities for its members.
Mensa has published a number of books, including Poetry Mensa (in 1966), an anthology of poems by Mensans all over the world, and not all of them in English. Mensa also edits and publishes its own Mensa Research Journal, in which both Mensans and Non-Mensans are published on various topics surrounding the concept and measure of intelligence.
Mensa International consists of 50 National Groups. Individuals who live in countries with a National Group join that National Group, while others join Mensa International directly. The two largest National Groups are American Mensa, with about 50,000 members, and British Mensa, with about 25,000 members. The larger National Groups are further subdivided into local groups. For example, American Mensa has over 135 local groups, with the largest having over 2,000 members and the smallest fewer than 100. Additionally, members may form Special Interest Groups (SIGs) at both the national and local levels; these SIGs represent a wide variety of interests, both commonplace and obscure.
- Mensa's name was once planned to be Mens, Latin for "mind," but this was potentially confusing. Mensa's name may also seem ironic in parts of Latin America, where menso (feminine: mensa) means "stupid". Mensa is however also very close to the Spanish word for "table", mesa, and most Spanish speakers do not see anything wrong with the name. Mensa is also the Italian word for canteen, as well as the German word for cafeteria.
- On February 14 2005 Mensa confirmed that a three-year-old boy had become the youngest current member of Mensa. Toddler Mikhail Ali of Bramley, Leeds, UK, has an IQ of 137, a level of intelligence which puts him in the top 2% of the population for his age. A Mensa spokeswoman confirmed Mikhail was its current youngest member and said the organisation only has 30 members under the age of 10. Mikhail was three years and six weeks old when he joined Mensa. The organisation's youngest ever member, Ben Woods , was two years and 10 months when he joined in the mid-1990s.
- In October 1999 a law suit was filed against Mensa. It was entitled Truelove v. Mensa. "Plaintiffs assert that they are members of the Mensa organizations and that they have been denied certain benefits of membership, including access to chat rooms on the Internet reserved for members of Mensa. They also say that they have been defamed by the Mensa organizations, particularly on Mensa message boards on the Internet." The case was ultimately dismissed, and the plaintiff (Alan Truelove) was subsequently expelled from Mensa after an internal hearing on the grounds of violating a rule against members bringing legal action against Mensa without first exhausting all internal redress for their grievance.
- The Densa organization is a humorous antithesis of Mensa.
Last updated: 05-13-2005 07:56:04