#1
Old 10-24-2014, 11:23 AM
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Is joining mensa worth it?

I know there were some threads about this a while back, and most of them said mensa members skewed heavily to the 40+ side age wise. Is this still true? I've known a few people who were in mensa and dropped out because they didn't want to pay the dues, has anyone had any really positive experiences with mensa? FTR I do not know if i would get in, or if I would even be close to being able to get in. I have other friends who just laugh at the idea and think that a club based on an IQ test is pure idiocy(these are the friends who should already be eligible based upon GRE scores).
#2
Old 10-24-2014, 11:47 AM
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The only person who can decide if it's worth it to you ... is you.

Unless you live out in the boonies most of the value of Mensa is the local group & their activities. All Mensa groups have some attributes in common, but each group is individual as well. So what will matter for you is how well you and your local group mesh together.

There's no need to join first; just show up at a few local group events. If you find something worthwhile, keep going & join. If not, not.

Mensa's official entrance criteria is an IQ test in the top 2%. But of qualifying Americans, fewer than 1 in 100 are members. So smarts is not the real screening criteria. The real screening criteria is whether you find something worthwhile in the other people & the activities.

Last edited by LSLGuy; 10-24-2014 at 11:49 AM.
#3
Old 10-24-2014, 04:12 PM
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I have looked into this a couple of times. My "local" chapter doesn't have any events within an hour's drive. Over the a span of 10 years or so, I contacted two different local chapter members, asking some questions by email, and didn't get a response either time.

So, no.
#4
Old 10-24-2014, 04:18 PM
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I joined Mensa around 1979 and have been a member ever since. I use to be very active, but not in the last couple of decades. During what little free time that I have, I'd rather ride my bicycle as I get enough 'brain work' at my job.

Will it be worth it for you? Only you can know that. If you qualify, join for a year or two. Added some meetings and maybe an RG (Regional Gathering) or two. Then you will know.
#5
Old 10-24-2014, 04:19 PM
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I joined in 2012. It is not really worth it.
#6
Old 10-24-2014, 04:27 PM
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Originally Posted by LSLGuy View Post
The only person who can decide if it's worth it to you ... is you.

Unless you live out in the boonies most of the value of Mensa is the local group & their activities. All Mensa groups have some attributes in common, but each group is individual as well. So what will matter for you is how well you and your local group mesh together.

There's no need to join first; just show up at a few local group events. If you find something worthwhile, keep going & join.
I had no idea this was an option. I think what I would want out of it is to find people to have interesting, challenging conversations with. I get that with people I know and work with, sometimes from the dope too. So I guess the culture of the local chapter is what would be important to me. Why do you think there is such widespread lack of participation?

Last edited by Mr. Nylock; 10-24-2014 at 04:29 PM.
#7
Old 10-24-2014, 05:08 PM
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I joined for a couple of years (in the UK) but let my subscription lapse recently - got nothing out of it because my local chapter was dead, nowt happening (big city as well). The couple of events I went to were a good laugh, some interesting people, but it was like one per year.
So I think it's only worth it if your local area has an active chapter. Mensa stuff beyond that is worthless IME - the general UK magazine was shite and the special interest group stuff was likewise pointless in the internet age.

What is worth doing is seeing if you can pass the test No one sits IQ tests in school here in the UK, and we don't have a GRE equivalent, so mensa membership will almost always be through a supervised test. Seriously difficult - I thought I would swan through it, on account of the massive brain and all, but it was v stretching (mainly on account of the time pressure, which was severe).
#8
Old 10-24-2014, 05:26 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mr. Nylock View Post
I had no idea this was an option. I think what I would want out of it is to find people to have interesting, challenging conversations with. I get that with people I know and work with, sometimes from the dope too. So I guess the culture of the local chapter is what would be important to me. Why do you think there is such widespread lack of participation?
As to the last ... One member said "Mensa is a support group for people who score on the fringes of one particular psych test." She was right.

The point being that Mensans generally join, participate, and stay joined because they feel like they fit the local group. If the people & activities seem fun to you (any "you") you get social value & stay. If they're all weirdos to you (any "you"), you leave and never come back.

A lot of Mensans are people who may have been book smart, but are socially awkward or never had the educational attainment to really use their head. They're stuck in dead-end jobs working with oafs. And wondering why they just don't fit in anywhere else. Yes, there are successful, well actualized Mensans too. But they are the relative minority. It's also common to have members who are retired from brain-heavy jobs but don't get enough stimulation from the local bridge / golf groups.

Some local groups are highly active, with multiple events of every description every week with 10-20 people at each. Other local groups have the same 5 tiresome Aspberger's-to-the-Max bores swilling Bud Lite on happy hour special at the same cheap dive every 3rd Thursday and that's it.


Bottom line, it's a matter of taste whether any given smart person would enjoy it. Just like smart folks don't all play chess, they don't all do anything else. Including join high IQ clubs. Mensa the organization has some high-falutin' goals (read delusions of grandeur) of attaining social relevance and think-tank-ness. The reality is it's a gaggle of slightly odd people sharing a beer & snacks & conversation at a local watering hole, restaurant, or somebody's house. Plus some fraction of "educational" field trips. That appeals to some, but far from all, smart folks.

Last edited by LSLGuy; 10-24-2014 at 05:30 PM.
#9
Old 10-24-2014, 07:01 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LSLGuy View Post
...
A lot of Mensans are people who may have been book smart, but are socially awkward or never had the educational attainment to really use their head. They're stuck in dead-end jobs working with oafs. And wondering why they just don't fit in anywhere else. Yes, there are successful, well actualized Mensans too. But they are the relative minority....
Can't speak for Mensa specifically, but I have met quite a few of these kinds of people out in life. There are a lot of quite smart people who have autistic-y or ADD-y ish traits that keep them from making a real go at life. They can run circles around 90% of the population with math and language puzzles but it's hard for them to slog through a whole degree or a job where they have to report to a manager who doesn't understand or really care about some of the odder ramifications of String Theory.

This was basically what Lewis Carroll was - a guy who was obsessed with logic, language, math, fantasy stories, and finding loopholes to rules and really didn't care for or maybe even understand what was proper behavior. He managed to get a scholarship intended for divinity students that expected him to make progress toward ordination. So he dawdled around and did the minimum amount of work possible, and eventually accepted ordination as a deacon, which satisfied the letter of the scholarship since Deacons are technically considered ordained ministers in the Church of England. He either didn't respect or didn't recognize that the entire point of the scholarship was to help train more priests, and that the Deaconship was a paid audition of sorts.
#10
Old 10-24-2014, 07:45 PM
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If you want to hang around a group of folks who are uber smart, or at least think they are, I'd recommend LessWrong over mensa. Mensa's purpose in life is to group together people that do well on an artificial test and brag about it. LessWrong likes to discuss methods to build working artificial intelligence, causing the singularity, and ending human death via various technical means including cryonics. Whether or not their efforts come to anything, at least they have a worthwhile goal and they like to discuss very advanced mathematical methods.
#11
Old 10-24-2014, 09:54 PM
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When I joined Mensa, I found my clan.

I had spent years dealing with a miserable, high-maintenance family situation, and when it ended, I had no family. My closer friends were married and had kids, most other people I knew either wanted to go to bars or were idiots. I needed smart, funny people to hang out with, and I found them. The magazine isn't great; we could have more and better programs; we need younger members. But I don't have to explain my jokes or cultural references or every damn thing I say. It is an oasis from dumbshitness.
#12
Old 10-24-2014, 11:30 PM
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Originally Posted by LSLGuy View Post
As to the last ... One member said "Mensa is a support group for people who score on the fringes of one particular psych test." She was right.

The reality is it's a gaggle of slightly odd people sharing a beer & snacks & conversation at a local watering hole, restaurant, or somebody's house. Plus some fraction of "educational" field trips. That appeals to some, but far from all, smart folks.
I think the person person you qouted is along the lines of the type of folk I like to hang out with.

Also, I'd like like to find a group of smart people I can have dumb conversations with - if that makes any sense.
#13
Old 10-24-2014, 11:44 PM
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Originally Posted by Mr. Nylock View Post
I think the person person you qouted is along the lines of the type of folk I like to hang out with.

Also, I'd like like to find a group of smart people I can have dumb conversations with - if that makes any sense.
I thought that was here.
#14
Old 10-24-2014, 11:52 PM
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I found the best friends I have ever had in Mensa, and some of the absolutely greatest times.

Smart people I can have dumb conversations with? Check. Some are really, really odd. Some are really, really amazingly witty. In any conversation, someone will get any obscure reference, bad puns, and worse jokes of all kinds. If there's a reference you don't understand, though, you don't have to hesitate to ask for an explanation. In my experience, there is no bragging about being smart; nobody has to impress anyone.

When I first joined, in the mid-1980s, I was sure I was going to feel intimidated, or not be good enough. I was wrong. It was as if I found another family I'd been looking for all my life.
#15
Old 10-25-2014, 07:48 AM
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Exactly.
#16
Old 10-25-2014, 08:04 AM
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I never could understand that Mensa thing.
#17
Old 10-25-2014, 10:28 AM
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My local chapter is in San Francisco: sfmensa.org.

They have pictures of recent regional gatherings. The gatherings don't seem very vibrant.

ETA: Pics from previous gatherings. Still don't seem very vibrant.

Last edited by Bullitt; 10-25-2014 at 10:30 AM. Reason: iPad typo.
#18
Old 10-25-2014, 04:35 PM
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Looks like you've got a NASA speaker, another speaker, a tour of Lawrence Livermore, a winery tour, and some food and drink. The people in the hot tub probably didn't care to be photographed.
#19
Old 10-25-2014, 05:27 PM
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Originally Posted by Bullitt View Post
My local chapter is in San Francisco: sfmensa.org.

They have pictures of recent regional gatherings. The gatherings don't seem very vibrant.

ETA: Pics from previous gatherings. Still don't seem very vibrant.
This is kind of appealing, at 38 the idea of being the "young one" in any group of people is an exciting proposition.
#20
Old 10-26-2014, 05:49 AM
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I've never understood how smartness alone is a category one would aspire to be to. Now take some other activity like say mountain biking, tennis, kayaking, woodcarving, or knitting - that might be fun to join a club for.

I've only known a couple of people in mensa and I honestly think they are in it for the ego boost - basically to say "hey look at me I'm in Mensa".

I'd have to look but once in the "Dilbert" comic Dilbert was asked to join but he didnt see a reason.

Last edited by Urbanredneck; 10-26-2014 at 05:51 AM.
#21
Old 10-26-2014, 08:21 AM
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Originally Posted by Urbanredneck View Post

I've only known a couple of people in mensa and I honestly think they are in it for the ego boost - basically to say "hey look at me I'm in Mensa".
.
I've honestly never met anyone like that; mostly I only meet people who don't join because they find the premise silly or they join and then decide it's not worth paying the dues.
#22
Old 10-26-2014, 11:45 AM
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Originally Posted by Sigmagirl View Post
The magazine isn't great; we could have more and better programs; we need younger members. But I don't have to explain my jokes or cultural references or every damn thing I say. It is an oasis from dumbshitness.
I like the Bulletin. Heck they even published something by me a few years ago. Whoops. I probably just made your point about the magazine not being that great.

As for some of the other posters saying Mensans can be book smart but socially awkward, well there is some of that. However I've met many well adjusted, successful people in Mensa. While I'm an introvert, I'm certainly on the practical side. I worked as an aircraft mechanic for a couple of decades plus did stints as a car and bicycle mechanic. I've taught classes as a community college. Now I'm a database administrator. Joining Mensa gave me a measure of confidence that allowed me to change careers a few times.
#23
Old 10-26-2014, 11:47 AM
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Originally Posted by JerrySTL View Post
bicycle mechanic. I've taught classes as a community college. Now I'm a database administrator. Joining Mensa gave me a measure of confidence that allowed me to change careers a few times.
I'm a bicycle mechanic too!!! And I tutor for community college. Actually one of my coworkers got me thinking about Mensa, he used to be in it a long time ago.

Last edited by Mr. Nylock; 10-26-2014 at 11:49 AM.
#24
Old 10-26-2014, 02:42 PM
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Originally Posted by Urbanredneck View Post
I've never understood how smartness alone is a category one would aspire to be to. Now take some other activity like say mountain biking, tennis, kayaking, woodcarving, or knitting - that might be fun to join a club for.

I've only known a couple of people in mensa and I honestly think they are in it for the ego boost - basically to say "hey look at me I'm in Mensa".

I'd have to look but once in the "Dilbert" comic Dilbert was asked to join but he didnt see a reason.
I've been in Mensa for over 20 years. I have NEVER observed any member who bragged about his/her IQ. Never. In fact, most tend to not even mention their membership to others. It can lead to unfortunate consequences.

I found it to be invigorating to have a chance to meet people who participated in activities that I don't currently share. I've met folks from artist to zoologist. It was a Mensa member that I'd never have met otherwise who convinced me that I certainly could become a programmer, which I did, and which was a life-changing event. Ditto private pilot certification.
#25
Old 10-26-2014, 07:02 PM
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Originally Posted by JerrySTL View Post
I like the Bulletin. Heck they even published something by me a few years ago. Whoops. I probably just made your point about the magazine not being that great.
It has some good content, but it looks pretty amateurish. Which shouldn't be a big deal, really, as it's an all-volunteer staff, right?

No one in Mensa has EVER asked me my IQ or told me his except for my husband; we both took two tests: on one, he scored one point higher than I did, and on the other, I outscored him by one point.

Last edited by Sigmagirl; 10-26-2014 at 07:05 PM.
#26
Old 10-27-2014, 06:09 PM
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I joined in 2002 or 2003, but I must admit it's more of a vanity thing. I'm not active, though; back in my law school years, I'd occasionally go to events at the local chapter, but that was more of the let's-go-to-a-bar-and-have-a-drink type of thing which I could have done in any other sprt of environment just as well. When I finished my degree and moved away, I did not bother finding a chapter elsewhere, and my membership has been confined to occasionally browsing the members' magazine. That is in Germany, however, where Mensa is not as big as it is in the US or the UK.

Is it worth it? Well, I'm not getting much out of it, but the membership dues are not overly onerous, so there's not much to gain by quitting either. I fully agree with the idea that it's ultimately up to the individual member to decide whether it's worth it or not; there's no objective standard to judge this.
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#27
Old 10-27-2014, 09:15 PM
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I joined in '80; Des Moines had an active group, and I had a lot of fun. I kept up my membership after I joined the Navy - even got a membership in British Mensa while I was stationed in Scotland - but after I made E6 I had to start paying full dues. At that point I hadn't attended a meeting in several years, and I decided the increased rate was too much to pay just to read the monthly magazine, so I dropped my membership in '92.
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