My Funny Internet Life, Part 9,744

What’s the moral to this story? Two morals: One, the Internet is awesome because, sometimes, if you ask, you will get pictures of squirrels playing polo on the backs of Pomeranians. And two:

But mostly: Squirrels on Pomeranians, playing polo.

Update: 1:48pm: The opposing team has now taken the field:

What a glorious day for Squirrel Polo.

Update, 5pm:

And now we have a league!

93 thoughts on “My Funny Internet Life, Part 9,744

  1. Grad school was about learning that lesson for me. Folks who go to grad school in the sciences are generally pretty smart. If you define your identity by being the smart one, you need to create a new self-image.

    Or I guess you could deny that you are surrounded by people doing things with their brains by insisting that your test scores are better.

  2. So um … why so they think that their IQ is higher than yours? Did I miss a posting?
    And given years of reading your postings, your IQ is clearly well above average, and if nothing else, you use all that you have to great effect.

  3. Yep; I’m really, really good at doing IQ tests. My mother taught me how to do them, and in turn I taught my daughter how to do them.

    It’s useful in that it can open the gate to a decent education and a decent career, which is why my mother and I did the teaching, but that’s all it does. What matters is what you do when you walk through that gate.

    I don’t think that VD and his chums have grasped that fact…

  4. Based on every dearly-loved Pomeranian I’ve ever met, I cannot see this ending in anything but tragedy, but hey, it’s not like squirrel polo needs actual rules or goals, does it? As a totally-serious proposal for an All New Sports League, someone should get right on that.

    On the other note, I’ve always believed that intelligence can be measured by the fruits it bears. Squirrel polo is a pretty awesome fruit.

  5. Peter Cibulskis: Who knows? Who cares? I get that it’s really important for some people to think they are smarter than I am. My position on that is: Sure, okay, if it’s that important to you, go ahead and think you are smarter than I am. Hope it makes you feel better.

  6. It had to be Pomeranians just so we could discuss polo Pom Poms as one would discuss polo ponies.

    BTW: Online IQ tests are often only a means of proving your stupidity by paying to get a detailed set of results.

  7. Anyone who is smart knows that the cool squirrels play Quidditch. Polo is for Yuppie squirrels.

  8. I know someone who does mensa, and has a coherent argument for it: It’s a quick filter that lets you move to a new city and immediately meet a reasonable number of people who are at least reasonably capable of thinking, and some of them will be interesting, but that initial filter isn’t bad for finding interesting people. That said, yeah, people who are smug about online IQ tests are funny.

    I have no idea whether I’m “smarter than” any given person. Turns out to rarely matter.

  9. In my experience, fuzznose, “enthusiastic Pomeranian” is redundant… :)

    Also, autocorrect wishes to inform you that your name is clearly a misspelling of “fuzziness”. Just FYI.

  10. This is also why I don’t “Get” Mensa. Okay, you’re a genius by their tests.

    And…what?

    Being proud of one’s IQ is much like being proud of one’s height. It may be a nice attribute to have, but don’t imagine that you came by it through virtue.

    Most of the useful benefit of Mensa comes from attending Mensa events. It can be a fun crowd to be with. It is true that Mensans vary widely in actual achievement. It is not true that Mensans wave around their IQs at gatherings, but it is a group that self-selected for thinking that this is a good reason to hang out together.

    It’s quite a bit like being in SF fandom. Fans also tend to be a pretty smart bunch and have a more logical reason for wanting to hang out together.

    It’s important to keep in mind that IQ doesn’t really measure anything but rarity. It tells you where you are on a bell curve, but doesn’t actually quantify anything. You can’t say that someone with an IQ of 130 thinks 30% smarter thoughts than someone with an IQ of 100.

    I also think there is a wall on the right side of the curve. You can give 10,000 people IQ tests and sort the scores in order, but I doubt that a 1 in 10,000 IQ means much more than a 1 in 1,000. Stephen J. Gould described this wall for professional athletes. The difference between the fastest Olympic sprinter and the middle of the pack is pretty small compared with the difference between an average Olympic sprinter and the median human.

  11. According to online IQ tests my IQ varies wildly between ‘pretty smart’ and ‘re-incarnation of Einstein’. I don’t think I’ve ever seen someone take one seriously and get under 100, which is odd given that IQ is defined as having a mean of 100 and standard deviation of 10. It’s almost as though those tests are just a way to separate people from their money by saying ‘you’re very smart, now pay us to tell you just how smart you are!’

  12. Um I think I missed a thing. What happened for you to draw the ire of the internet’s colon?

  13. The squirrels in my back yard just informed me that they are engaging in a players’ strike until I put out more birdseed. Professional sports, man, it’s cut-throat.

  14. One of the puppies was on Facebook a couple of weeks ago admiring his MENSA card.

    Others chimed in, reassuring each other that – despite their behavior, despite their misunderstanding of how the world works – MENSA says THEY AM TOO SMART.

    It was adorable.

  15. I’ve encountered one person in real life who made a point of telling people he belonged to Mensa. The guy was a flaming asshole. Jeebus.

    I’ve encounted a couple other people online who’ve made a point of listing their IQ and they too, turn out to be flaming assholes.

    And then there’s VD. Holy shit.

    Also, my money is on the corgi team.

  16. Actually, Alfred Binet was afraid his test would be used for things it wasn’t really designed for — like categorizing people according to a numerical standard. The IQ test, as designed by Binet, was originally intended to identify mental shortfalls, so that people who demonstrated those could be helped to overcome them. And it was originally intended mostly to be administered to children and not adults.

    Binet was afraid the elitists would get hold of his concept and misuse it. As it turns out, he was right to worry — they did, and they did.

    (This is the kind of pointless trivia you haul around in your gourd when you’ve got a good memory.)

  17. No, I’m sorry, but I’m not going to promote squirrel polo while rabbit agility competitions are a real thing but are unaccountably not shown on prime time on ESPN. One battle at a time, people.

  18. 1) I want to see the beagle team for squirrel polo. I just like beagles. 2) When I was in Jr. High my dad mentioned that he had attended a couple of MENSA meetings 1940’s and all he heard them talk about was how smart they were and try to show it; that just didn’t seem interesting to him. When a couple people at my college found out that I was a National Merit scholar they tried to get me to go, but they seemed like the same people dad met. I’d rather watch cute furry rats play polo.

  19. Ah. IQ. A way to organize children into class tracks. Go Puppies! Glad they realize they are pretty much just like children (although most children show better sense).

  20. If they’re so smart, how come they insist on using corgis when they know their squirrels always lose?

  21. I’ve met exactly one person who bragged about his IQ score.

    He was harassing a couple of women at a con who were cosplaying as Ty Lee and Mai. Racist remarks and everything. Fortunately, that con had good security.

    Lemme put it this way: I’ve got an IQ of over 160 (ceiling scores on several tests, don’t know or care the actual number because at that range it’s as accurate as an arquebus anyway), and I’m smart enough to know that I’m a f***ing moron.

    Seriously, I’m 18 years old and was homeschooled since I was 6. My experience comes almost entirely from books and movies. (which means that college, and the mandatory sex ed seminars, were…educational. I seriously didn’t know you could DO some of those things!) Sure, I’ve got grad-student-level knowledge in paleontology and am capable of having an intelligent conversation on international politics, history, and environmental science, but my knowledge of literature is limited to “I like Shakespeare and Aristophanes”, and I confuse Brahms and Berlioz daily, much to my musician brother’s amusement.

    I’m also a straight white male who’s never so much as kissed a girl, so I have no knowledge at all about relationships. Which makes my roommate alternately laugh and cry. He’ll make a man out of me sooner or later, though. He promises.

    Point is, whenever I see someone bragging about their IQ score? I give them a 90% chance of lying, 10% chance of getting a fluke bad result, and a 100% chance of being an asshole.

  22. RE: IQ Tests and Context – I’m used to thinking of myself as a pretty smart person. About twelve years ago, Tammy and I had this discussion board for her fans and fans of female heroes, Sheroes Central – and a group of Gifted Homeschooling Students and Adults sort of ended up here, largely because Tammy’s CIRCLE books are often used by these people as a metaphor for teaching the gifted.

    So – I went from being one of the smartest people I know…to one of the stupidest. It’s very – educational….

  23. Robert

    On this side of the pond we still have a few red squirrels left but it’s a losing battle. However, the toy spaniels are putting in a valiant effort to cover their retreat…

  24. Although Poms are cute as get-all, my money’s on Team Corgi. Those guys come from herding lineage, they can corner on a dime, and those stubby little legs can go from 0 to 60 in a flash.

    In other news, the chipmunks and groundhogs are picketing the matches. Equal rights for all rodents.

  25. I am LOVING the squirrel on the Pom. That’s a fine piece of Intarweb artwork.

    But they will lose to the Corgi team, despite their cuteness. Also, we do need to see more of that bunny jumping competition. The only time I’ve seen that on TV is when it was a task on “The Amazing Race”, and watching an ex-NFL player cheer on his bunny was adorbs.

    Every person I’ve ever met who’s bragged about how high their IQ is has, with NO exceptions, been a complete and utter asshole, dickwad, jerkface, etc. Sure, you’re good at taking multiple choice tests. Good for you. So sorry you failed the “being a decent human being” test. Continue your circle-jerk with the other boys (and they usually are male).

    I’ve met some delightful, generous, hard-working people with Down syndrome and would much rather hang out with them than IQ Boy and his pals. Even when they’re in a bad mood, they’re less of an asshole.

  26. I wear a golf hat that says “I golf my IQ” The people I golf with say I’m not that smart!

  27. I recently criticized a Sad Puppy author for saying something cloddish, because it was. His response was that he was a MENSA member. Apparently you don’t have to know what a non sequitur is to be part of that club.

  28. We called it “Densa” in college, back in the last century.

    (I have since heard that there is a real Densa chapter at MIT.)

  29. Thomas M. Wagner: I’m not a member of MENSA, nor do I know or even care what the requirements for admission are. And I think that you and I both are more intelligent than that guy.

  30. ‘As You Know’ Bob: *dropped jaw* *peals of laughter* That is indeed adorable.

    I didn’t know my IQ score until I was in my late 20s, looking over a high school transcript to send to yet another of the colleges I attended but never graduated from; was slightly floored, in an “oh *that’s* why they had me skip a grade” way.

    (Mensa also uses other test results besides their own test, and that got me in. In San Diego, the group was fun, enough different events you could find something to interest you and people you might have interesting conversations with. (This was pre-Internet. Have I ever said how much I love the Internet?) When I moved up here, well, not so much.)

    (I have good friends in every category from has-a-Piled-Higher-and-Deeper to dropped-out-of-high-school. Makes no difference.)

    –glinda, two-time Mensa dropout, babbling incoherently on meds for the dropped-to-level-8 migraine

  31. When is the John Scalzi Pro Squirrel Polo 2015 video game scheduled to be released and does it include Team Corgi or is that DLC? Still disappointed that the league banned capybaras.

  32. In further news, Team Dachshund was disqualified from the opening chukkar after one of the riders lost his mallet while trying to control his dachshund; the mallet flew into the stands and hit a spectator. A scandal is brewing on Team Corgi who tried to slip in a Saluki ringer. Bad form, Team Corgi!

  33. I once considered joining Mensa and asked some people about it. A friend told me he maintained his membership because his mother liked to solve the puzzle in the monthly bulletin. Sounds about right.

  34. Ell

    I said much the same thing to a neighbour who was a member; her advice was that I’d hate every moment of it, which is why she had given up any active involvement decades before…

  35. There’s a guy in the local SF/tabletop RPG community who should just go down to the courthouse and legally change his middle name to “I’m a member of Mensa”. I suspect the only thing holding him back is the fact that the courthouse actually expects people to _pay_ for name-change filings.

    He also bragged on Facebook about how he was going to get a security guard fired for doing his job, and that’s only the most recent example of what he’s like as a person.

    I know I took an IQ test in school, but it doesn’t mean enough to me to try and find my results. Given that I date back to when teachers could tell female students in math class “girls are too dumb to understand math” instead of answering the question, and I know there was a math component to the test I took, it’s probably inaccurate anyway.

    Oh, and the Siamese Cheerleading Squad has requested catnip-scented pompoms, but I’d advise against granting that request.

  36. Hm, I retract my Corgi endorsement and hereby endorse the squirrels riding hover-dachshunds. And yes, on further review, I think the corgi team might have a bit of trouble reaching the ball with those short clubs.

  37. Leah

    Yes. IQ tests are extremely expensive, and make lots of money for the people who develop them.

    They also make a lot of money by convincing people that their tests are accurate, notwithstanding vast amounts of research which somewhat undermine the accuracy claims.

    Also, if my squirrels are faced with Pom Poms I shall appeal to the highest authority…

  38. Thumbs up for the lesson! Great point!

    When I was in 4th grade I was given an IQ test because my teacher thought I needed to be put in RSP (the program for struggling kids). I was an active kid and he wanted me out of his class. Unfortunately, I scored at 100 (average).

    Years later, in high school I was tested again, this time for MGM (now called GATE) for the supposedly smart kids. Again with an IQ test. This time I scored higher.

    The conversation afterwards went something like this…

    Testing Lady: You scored much higher than you did in 4th grade. How did you cheat?
    Me: I thought you were supposed to get smarter as you go through school? Isn’t that normal?
    Testing Lady: I’m going to give you another test and you won’t pass this one, because it will be in your worst subject. That ought to fix you.

    After I took the other test, they still wouldn’t tell me my score, but let me into GATE. It was a HUGE disappointment. My “friends” that were in GATE were disappointed that yet another person had joined their exclusive club. Our teachers were afraid of us. The curriculum was crap. What a waste of time….

    Since then I have taken many online IQ tests. I score somewhere between 95 (my low) and 172 (my high). They are kind of fun and amusing, but not worth shite as to real intelligence in my opinion. Like your lesson says, it is what you do with what you have, not just the having of it, or like they said in Star Trek, it is about living up to your potential. I’m much more impressed with someone who really tries with what she/he has than someone how is an elitist snob and sits on his ass not doing shit.

  39. I took lots of IQ tests as a kid (it got me into classes for the academically gifted and talented, which led to my one year where I wasn’t bored out of my gourd in school – full time extension classes, woohoo! – so I’m not overly resentful of the fact). I could probably still pass them with flying colours even now. But most of that is because at least one of the skills being tested in IQ tests (although nobody will actually stop and point this out) is your ability to remember previous IQ tests, and apply skills learned in other situations to the puzzles therein.

    Given I’ve been interested in puzzles and brain teasers since I was a kid, and I have a particularly retentive and reasonably well-indexed memory (retrieval times are getting a bit longer as I age, mainly due to congestion), I figure I have a bit of an advantage there.

    As one of my psychology lecturers pointed out, we don’t know what intelligence actually is, beyond the circular definition of “intelligence is the thing which is measured by IQ tests”. (What do IQ tests measure? They measure intelligence. What is intelligence? It’s the thing measured by the IQ test.) The measurement instrument is circularly defined with the quality being measured, which means in the long term, we’re learning approximately nothing from any of this. Best guess is “intelligence” is a bit of a grab-bag of cognitive skills, including reading comprehension, spatial reasoning, problem solving, memory storage and retrieval, and a certain amount of interpersonal interaction skill, since in order to get an accurate one, you need the test administered by a person rather than a computer. Or in other words, what your IQ reveals about you is approximately as accurate as what your horoscope can reveal (if you brag about it, you’re the type of person who enjoys bragging about something you had as much control over as your date of birth, and should be noted as such).

  40. After being hit by a truck I’ve been told playing with the tests are good for my brain but not to spend money on the results. Part of the “rebuilding” of brain/memory/synapses/language/etc.

    Looking at the kinds of things they ask I’m pretty sure they are biased – gender, race, class due to education, upbringing, and where you live (regions/inner city versus suburbs versus country), your test taking skills, your ability with the form of the test (paper/electronic/verbal), and finally your actual intelligence.

    My mom says I tested “really” high as a kid. I have different memories as too where I tested in relationship to my brothers. For most of my life I thought they tested higher (genius) but a few years ago mom told me I tested higher. Who knows I’ve not found scores from back then but I have lots of paper to go through. Scores for any testing since the accident go up and down depending on the kind of day I’m having.

    But as others have said its what you do with your brain/life that matters. You can be below average and do amazing things. You can be a genius and accomplish nothing. You can be anywhere in between. It’s best to make sure you can respect yourself in the mirror each morning IMHO. Don’t forget to tell people you love them – it’s way more important than bragging about your IQ.

  41. To expand a bit: here’s puppy nominee
    Lou Antonelli admiring his MENSA card
    ; the thread that follows is priceless.

    (e.g., “I can’t do algebra, but MENSA tells me I’m a genius!!11!!”)

    CLEARLY these people are unfamiliar with Carlo Cipolla’s Basic Laws of Human Stupidity;
    the second of which is

    “The probability that a certain person be stupid is independent of any other characteristic of that person.”

    (That is, MENSA members/Nobel laureates/etc. can be just as stupid as anybody else.)

  42. @megpie71: I think the circle is even smaller: “What do IQ tests measure? They measure the ability to score well on IQ tests.”

  43. There’s a great online IQ test for internet trolls. It has one question: Are you a troll? If you say yes, it takes you to a page that says, “Your IQ is 150. Congratulations, that’s genius level!”

  44. I’m afraid I’m not as mature as John–I was still proud of my IQ when I was 14.

    (Which was a long time ago, but still…) :)

  45. When I was 14, I bought a Measure Your Own IQ book, written or at least signed by by a celebrity scientist, and took the test. I was doing great in school, skipped a year, top of my class, was being fast-tracked for a prestigious college, so I figured I was smart. I assumed I would ace the exam as usual and then drop the news casually around. I forget the number, but the results section of the book strongly suggested abandoning academia in favor of a more — ah — physical line of work, such as bricklaying or, at a pinch, plumbing. Undaunted, I have despised IQ tests ever since, but perhaps that’s just pique.

  46. As in other sports, I tend to root for the underdog: Team Tortoise for the win good effort!

  47. My definition of intelligence as it relates to Mensa is to be intelligent enough to join – and intelligent enough to leave…

  48. Part of growing up is (or should be) recognizing that innate abilities, like raw intelligence*, are not things to be proud of. The Height analogy is spot on. I was a (fairly, but hardly amazingly) smart kid and unfortunately was proud of it, and I think this did me more harm than good. I understand why I was proud of it (I was small/weak/nerdy and thus being smart was basically the one thing I had, and damnit I needed something!). But I think it also hampered me once I finally reached a level at which I had to exert effort (some parts of college & real life).

    * big caveats here: 1) what is “raw intelligence” anyway?; and 2) does IQ actually measure this? After all, IQ scores fluctuate for people (people get better at taking the tests, people learn more things which helps even though IQ is supposed to just test aptitude) and for groups (Flynn Effect!).

  49. ARE NOT things to be proud of. Sorry, would edit if I could. Damnit.

    [Fixed it – JS]

  50. First: anyone interested in IQ tests, what they might get mean (if anything), their problems, and the historical abuses of intelligence testing (which has included forced sterilization right here in the U.S., blessed even by the Supreme Court) should read Stephen J. Gould’s “The Mismeasure of Man”. (Besides Binet-style IQ tests, it looks at other attempts/failures to quantify and measure intelligence.)

    Second: MENSA requirement is testing ONCE in the top 2% on an accepted IQ test. A) Since people’s scores normally vary a bit over time and test repetitions, and because there’s more error in the tests the further from median the subject is, and because the different accepted tests are, well, different, MENSA actually would accept somewhat more than 2% of the population. But figuring a good estimate of the actual number is tricky, tricky, tricky. Personally, I’d WAG (wild-ass guess) that 1 in 40 people can get into MENSA. Not exactly exclusive.

    Third: when MENSA was founded, they intended to be a top 1% society, but oops, an error was made in setting the cutoff. Being originally a British society, they were too polite to kick out half their new-found friends after the error was discovered.

    Fourth: Stephen Hawking is alleged to have said that anyone who brags about their IQ is a loser.

    Fifth: I test very, very, very well but I don’t confuse that with actual intelligence. Nonetheless, I qualified for MENSA and was an active member for a few years. The chapter I joined was a group of folk who had mostly felt themselves to be “odd ducks” until they found MENSA and each other; they had fun parties, played a lot of games, and actively discouraged IQ-bragging asshats, who clustered at the other chapter in town. I then went to a relatively elite college, where all the active MENSA folk turned out to be asshats trying to prove they were exceptional in a student body where at least a quarter met the MENSA qualification level. (It’s truly tough emotionally for some people to go from being exceptional to being average.) I quickly found better ways to find new friends, and let my membership lapse. I do miss the puzzles in the magazine though.

  51. I.Q.? *shrug* The only substantial Test I’ve had was when I was in HighSchool, and I was a bit proud aboutt getting a score of 130 — well higher than average, although no where near genius. Then I thought about my compatriots during the past few years and realized that, in physical aspects, most of them had been a year or two or three behind or ahead of the pack, and there was no reason to think that they were any different in whatsoever IQ tests measure. And I discovered that (IIRC) one year could mean a difference of something like 20 points. So meh.

    I’ve spent most of my life associating with people who seem to me to be smarter than I am, but… yeah, all (or near enough to make no nevermind) of them have shown themselves to be capable of doing ridiculously stupid things.

  52. On Mt. Graham (near Safford, AZ) exists a colony of rare Red Squirrels. Finding themselves isolated and somewhat bored, they hatched a plan to expand their horizons without leaving the mountain. (Unknown to most, Red squirrels can mentally sync-up and use their combined IQ to achieve monumental projects. That’s how the Large Binocular Telescope Observatory came to be.) Now they’re plotting to dominate professional Squirrel Polo. Expect a clone army of Trans-Pomeranians soon.

  53. For some reason my brain keeps swapping out IQ test for Turing test. This gives me an amusing image of someone bragging about how this test shows they’re a sentient being rather than mindless noise.

  54. Personally I was picturing water polo…….

    I never watch water polo… it’s much too cruel to the horses!

    This Power of Yours to Make Squirrels Ride Pomeranians, Scalzi – It Must Be Used Only For Good, Not For Evil….

    What would be the fun in that?

  55. Rob in CT writes:

    Part of growing up is (or should be) recognizing that innate abilities, like raw intelligence*, are not things to be proud of. The Height analogy is spot on.

    I don’t see anything wrong with having pride in intelligence, beauty, height, strength, raw talent for sports, music, etc., provided that it’s tempered with awareness that you didn’t do anything to deserve these things and that people who don’t possess these attributes are no less worthy as human beings.

    Basil Forthrightly offers several comments:

    Personally, I’d WAG (wild-ass guess) that 1 in 40 people can get into MENSA. Not exactly exclusive.

    It’s probably a reasonable estimate. MENSA accepts scores from a whole bunch of different tests, including the one that it itself administers. These tests can’t possibly all generate the same top 2%. They accept SAT and ACT if they were administered some years ago. In the great scheme of things is 1 in 40 much less exclusive than 1 in 50?

    Third: when MENSA was founded, they intended to be a top 1% society, but oops, an error was made in setting the cutoff.

    I haven’t heard the story, but it sounds like Mensa.

    Fourth: Stephen Hawking is alleged to have said that anyone who brags about their IQ is a loser.

    I’ve found that Mensa gatherings have very little IQ bragging. Even if one is inclined to do so, it’s probably better not to in a room that is almost guaranteed to contain someone with a higher IQ.

    (It’s truly tough emotionally for some people to go from being exceptional to being average.)

    The flip-side of that is that some people consider it a place where they can belong. The members who speak most enthusiastically about Mensa are those who didn’t get to go to a university where they weren’t unusual, and who don’t work in places where they aren’t unusual, people like Dilbert’s garbageman.

    Fifth: I test very, very, very well but I don’t confuse that with actual intelligence.

    All humans have their strengths and weaknesses, but I think there is some actual intelligence being measured.

  56. In high school, I got to take the WSTS test, and scored decently on it. Many years before, my Uncle Bob had taken it, and done less than decently.

    Does this mean I’m smarter than Uncle Bob was? Ha! Ha! Ha! No.

    He was a self-made multi-millionaire, and would have received the Nobel Prize in Physics if he’d lived another ten-and-a-half-years.

    Testing is nothing.

  57. I was given a battery of tests in elementary school, resulting in a few years in the Educationally Handicapped class. I was studying the teacher’s college history textbook while trying to master the times table. I think the experience taught me a certain degree of humility, which was helpful – as long as the subject wasn’t math, I conformed beautifully to social stereotypes of The Schmott Guy. I was more proud of my SAT scores than my IQ results, and nobody after college cares what your SAT scores were. My dream of a career in the sciences was torpedoed by the no-math thing, but I learned as much as I could about as many things as I could. A good friend once told me – as a compliment – that I was the most intelligent person she knew who wasn’t a massive jerk about it.
    Also, squirrels riding Poms. Bless you, Mr.Scalzi – you are definitely one of the good guys.

  58. Pfusand writes:

    Does this mean I’m smarter than Uncle Bob was? Ha! Ha! Ha! No.

    He was a self-made multi-millionaire, and would have received the Nobel Prize in Physics if he’d lived another ten-and-a-half-years.

    Testing is nothing.

    Is self-made multimillionaire an attribute that relies primarily on intelligence? I doubt it, though I suppose that depends greatly on just how one makes the money. I suspect that determination, dedication, and risk aversity play a greater role.

    Suppose I were to randomly select two groups of people, one with IQs of 95-105 and another with IQs of 130-140 and presented them with a previously unpublished strategy game, gave them some time to learn the game, and then had them play the game several times using a roster such that people from the first group always competed against the second.

    If testing is nothing then presumably there would be no appreciable difference in the mean win loss ratio of the two groups. I don’t think that is actually very likely. Of course, some of the people from the first group will have a knack for games, and perhaps some experience with similar games, and some of those in the 2nd will lack those things, but if the sample size is large, I think the smart money is on the 2nd group.

    Of course testing doesn’t mean everything, or anything close to it, but I think it means considerably more than nothing.

  59. Mensan: Is self-made multimillionaire an attribute that relies primarily on intelligence?

    “It’s not who we are underneath, but what we do that defines us.”

    I think it means considerably more than nothing.

    If mensa as an organization disappeared tomorrow, would it mean anything to anyone outside mensa?

    If it’s just a bunch of guys at a bar shooting the shit, then that’s fine. People need to shoot the shit sometimes. Just don’t talk it up more than it is. When the bar closes, it don’t mean anything to anyone but the barflies. And maybe the poor random pedestrian whose shoes gets vomited on by the barfly who had a bit too much to drink.

  60. I have that mug. It’s my favorite Far Side cartoon ever.

    I had the proud of my IQ phase, as part of my self-identification as specially highly intelligent. The earliest I was aware of that classification was probably when I was about six and started being shunted into advanced classes*. And yes, it was hard being less exceptional at the college level and the adult world in general; I work for a lab on a university campus and am surrounded by academics. However, it’s never convinced me that I’m less intelligent than any of them either, so generally I’ve been comfortable with it.

    I did take the first-pass Mensa test when I was about 14 but never got around to the proctored one. My SAT scores qualified me too but getting them notarized was too much bother and after that I stopped caring.

    * Apparently I didn’t originally test into the highly gifted program I attended for 4th-6th grade because of not passing the eye-hand coordination part of the test. I still boggle that that was considered relevant. (The principal liked me and took me anyway and when I was retested I did fine.)

    Okay, I do remember one incident of slapping someone around with my IQ score. It was because we were having our first IM conversation and he apparently worried I might be intimidated by his brilliance, so he said something to the effect of, “I do have an IQ of N, but that doesn’t make me a better or worse person, it’s just a thing.” To which I was able to reply, don’t worry, I’ve been tested at N+21, so I don’t think you’ll be making me feel bad for it. A mutual friend who was in separate conversations with us at the same time said he was quite chagrined, so perhaps it did him some good.

  61. I think it means considerably more than nothing.

    If mensa as an organization disappeared tomorrow, would it mean anything to anyone outside mensa?

    You are mostly right about Mensa. Thare are a few exceptions:
    It funds a few scholarships
    It donates to libraries in need.
    It awards Mensa Select status to a few games every year. You see the icons on game boxes every now and then, frequently next to the one that says Spiel des Jahres.

    There may be a few others, but for the most part; it’s a social organization. It was founded by people who thought it should think deep thoughts and offer its advice to the world. Every now and then, someone resurrects this notion, but it never gets very far. I think this is fortunate. There is more than a little truth to the Simpsons episode where Lisa joins Mensa and they end up ruling Springfield, quite poorly.

    When I wrote “it means considerably more than nothing”, I was not referring to Mensa. I was referring to IQ and whether IQ is a measure of real intelligence or just identifies people who are good at taking tests.

  62. If I recall Steven Jay Gould’s “The Mismeasure of Man” correctly, what an IQ test measures is g. What is g? It’s a mathematical abstract. Can you boil down a person’s brain power to a number? *shrugs*

    The IQ test does a reasonably good job of sorting out students that score in the lower ranges and need more attention in school. But scores in the higher ranges? Malcolm Gladwell discusses studies done on IQ scores and acheivement in “Outliers”: at around a score of 115, you cross a threshold past which there is no quantitative relationship between your IQ and your potential to do great things. A scientist with an IQ of 120 is just as likely to win a Nobel prize as a scientist with an IQ of 160.

  63. Squirrel Polo!! Squeeeeeee!!!

    Don’t care about the IQ stuff except in so far as it got us squirrel polo!

  64. Bunwat

    You have overlooked the fact that squirrel polo has been invented by an evil genius in order to distract intelligent bystanders from noticing his Machiavellian plan to become Emperor of the Galaxy.

    So far it’s working…

  65. I attended last year’s Mensa annual gathering. There was very little bragging or IQ comparison among the attendees with whom I interacted. It was more about the panels (one I remember particularly well walked through The Big Bang Theory intro identifying and briefly discussing the topic of each picture; we also saw the original pilot, which was quite different from the pilot that aired) and the game room (which was large, well populated with both people and games most of the time, and close to the rest of the action.)

    Now, for something completely different but still IMO relevant, the role playing game Dungeons and Dragons has three separate mental stats: Intelligence, Wisdom, and Charisma. The choice to separate the three by the designers makes a lot of sense when you look at people in real life.

  66. I took an online IQ test once. It said I had the same IQ as George W. Bush. That struck me as a bad thing on many levels. Have never done one since.

    Squirrel Polo is a bit too elitist for me. On my side of the tracks the squirrels play football (what you call soccer). I hear that Barcalona’s first 11 squirrel team is pretty good.

  67. They’ve all got bumper stickers on their tails saying ‘My Other Dog’s A Doberman.’

  68. If this isn’t going to be the subject of at least one of your YA books then what is Tor even doing with their money?

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