More than Puzzle Solving

I have always believed that the world has had very few true geniuses. My definition of a genius has been one who changes the world in a fundamental way, often against the thinking of the society at the time.

Sir Isaac Newton. For his laws of motion. Albert Einstein, of course.  Wolfgang Mozart, who started composing at age 5, and whose compositions are still enjoyed over 200 years later.

There is a component of perseverance and lots of work to change the world. I read somewhere that Thomas Edison tried 1,000 different ways to make the incandescent light bulb until hitting the right formula.

Genius is one percent inspiration and ninety-nine percent perspiration.

Great accomplishments depend not so much on ingenuity as on hard work. This is a saying of the American inventor Thomas Edison.”

Thomas Edison’s teachers said he was “too stupid to learn anything.” He was fired from his first two jobs for being “non-productive.” As an inventor, Edison made 1,000 unsuccessful attempts at inventing the light bulb. When a reporter asked, “How did it feel to fail 1,000 times?” Edison replied, “I didn’t fail 1,000 times. The light bulb was an invention with 1,000 steps.””

I believe Albert Einstein’s teachers too thought he was too stupid to learn at one point.

I think one thing all classical geniuses have in common is perseverance. Not that everyone on the previous list could be a “genius” but to achieve any kind of success one has to stay with it.

Anyway, I brought all this up because of an article on Mensa.

“At a hotel on the outskirts of Cincinnati, members of a closed society dedicated to the highly intelligent gathered for their yearly meeting. On the agenda was a test for fresh aspirants and a discussion of submarine warfare techniques. There were also hours spent playing the game Exploding Kittens and consuming prodigious amounts of alcohol.

Despite Mensa’s reputation as a club for brainiacs, some are increasingly worried that discussions of highfalutin subjects are giving way to frivolity such as gaming sessions, cheese samplings and craft beers.

““They are wonderful, loving, playful people,” said Chris Harrison, a 38-year-old project manager and opera singer, of the North Texas chapter he joined several years ago. “They also drink more than anyone I’ve ever seen….”

Mensa’s admission test—heavy on logic and deductive reasoning—takes two hours and is administered in person by a volunteer. Mensa says a qualifying score indicates you’ve tested in the top 2% of the general population. The $79 annual fee gets you a membership card, a subscription to the group’s monthly magazine and an email address….

Yet the dichotomy between frivolous fun and high-mindedness keeps popping up. Lancelot Ware, the late British scientist and lawyer who co-founded Mensa in 1946 as a semi-secret “aristocracy of the intellect,” said at the group’s 50th anniversary he was “disappointed that so many members spend so much time solving puzzles,” according to the book “Embracing the Wide Sky: A Tour Across the Horizons of the Mind” by Daniel Tammet…

Just talking about weighty topics isn’t enough for contemporary Mensans like Craig McCue of Des Moines, Iowa… He eventually grew frustrated with his local groups, where members touted their intelligence while “just…sitting on a couch, having philosophical discussions.”

“Being a genius is not taking a standardized test, it’s what you contribute to the world,” he said.”

Amen to that.

I have no doubt there are many intelligent people at Mensa. But I have to wonder if people like Newton, Einstein, Mozart, or Edison could solve their puzzles and be admitted.


Filed under Other Stuff, Outside the Box

3 responses to “More than Puzzle Solving

  1. I don’t know of any member of Mensa that has contributed anything to the world. It is believed that both Newton and Einstein had Asperger’s syndrome. Newton’s work was the foundation of the industrial revolution and Einstein established one of the two branches of modern Physics.

    By the by, Newton’s “Laws of Motion” were not just about motion.

  2. Pingback: It’s Hedy | The Lexicans

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