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Subject: Mensa - FAQ: What is Mensa? [BiWeekly]
This article was archived around: 15 Feb 2001 15:13:30 GMT
Last-Updated: Jul 17, 1993
These are the answers to some of the frequently asked questions (FAQ) in
rec.org.mensa. Before posting a message asking a question, read this
article. Chances are the answer is in here, or one of the other Mensa
This article includes answers to:
1) What is Mensa?
2) Who is Mensa For?
3) Why Should I Join Mensa?
4) What are Members of Mensa Like?
5) What does "Mensa" mean?
Other articles include the answers to:
Question Archive-Name Posted
-------- ------------ ------
6) What are the Qualifications for Mensa? mensa/join BiWeekly
7) How do I apply for Membership in Mensa? " "
8) How do I Re-Join Mensa? " "
9) Where do I get more Information? " "
10) What other High-IQ Societies are there? mensa/high-iq Monthly
11) What famous people are in Mensa? mensa/famous Monthly
12) What is the Mensa test like? mensa/test Monthly
You may retreive copies of this article and the other answers to Mensa
FAQs by anonymous FTP from rtfm.mit.edu. Those without FTP
access should send e-mail to email@example.com with:
in the body to find out how to do FTP by e-mail.
Comments? Suggestions? Corrections? Send e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org
1) Who is Mensa For?
Mensa is for those who rejoice in the exercise of the mind. If you
enjoy mental challenges and revel in the interplay of ideas, Mensa is an
organization that will stretch your mind and expand your horizons.
Mensa is an international society that has one - and only one - unique
qualification for membership: you must score in the top 2% of the
population on a standardized IQ test.
2) Why Should I Join Mensa?
There are many intelligent reasons to join Mensa. Whether you actively
attend Mensa meetings, or simply relish the intellectual stimulation
that membership promotes, you'll find the benefits of Mensa membership
to be numerous indeed.
* JOIN FOR THE INTELLECTUAL STIMULATION.
Think-two-three, think-two-three! Mensa provides intriguing ways to
flex your mental muscles. You'll find intellectual resources in the
Mensa Bulletin, in local newsletters, in Special Interest Group (SIG)
newsletters, and at our annual and regional conventions.
* JOIN FOR THE SOCIAL INTERACTION.
Mensa meetings are anything but dull! Local groups meet at least
monthly... for dinner and drinks on a Friday night, get-togethers
featuring a speaker, or a lively, free-wheeling discussion. All with
fellow members who share your intellectual interests.
Some groups have special get-togethers or activities throughout the
month. Others, especially the larger groups, have events on
practically every day. Of course, participation in local group
activities is always entirely at your option.
There's also a widely attended annual convention offering workshops,
seminars, and parties. Plus, some 50 regional gatherings are held
around the country each year, offering social and intellectual
* JOIN FOR YOUR SPECIAL INTERESTS.
Whatever your passion, there's almost certain to be a Special Interest
Group (SIG) filled with other Mensans who share it! Mensa offers
approximately 200 SIGs, in mind-boggling profusion from African
Violets to zoology. Along the way you'll find microbiology, and
systems analysis, but you'll also find Sherlock Holmes, chocolate and
Star Trek. There's the expected: biochemistry, space science,
economics -- and the unexpected: poker, roller skating scuba diving,
UFOs and witchcraft. There are SIGs for breadmaking, winemaking,
cartooning, silversmithing, and clowning. Heraldry, semantics and
Egyptology co-exist with beekeeping, motorcycling and tap dancing.
Sports SIGs cover the classics (baseball, basketball, football) and
the not-so-classic (skeetshooting, hangliding, skydiving). And any
Mensan who can't find a SIG to join can easily start one.
* JOIN FOR THE PUBLICATIONS YOU'LL GET.
Ten times a year, you'll receive our interesting and thought-
provoking magazine, the Mensa Bulletin. It incorporates the
"International Journal," and both publications contain views and
information about Mensa, as well as contributions by Mensans on a wide
variety of subjects.
Also, you'll get lively local newsletters informing members of local
activities and events, and other items of interest and announcements
of special interest.
"Interloc" (also published ten times yearly) is free to officers--and
for other active members on request. It contains news an information
about various society administrative and internal matters.
The "Mensa Research Journal," published quarterly by MERF, reports on
Mensa-supported research. It also publishes original articles in
diverse fields of interest, and is available for a small subscription
"Isolated M" is a popular and informative newsletter sent to those
members who are geographically or otherwise isolated from a local
group. It, too, is available at nominal cost to any other member.
The Mensa "Register," published every other year, lists all the
members and includes such information as geographic location, areas of
expertise and/or interest and other professional and personal data.
In addition, Mensa books, gifts and other materials are available to
* JOIN FOR THE EXCLUSIVE BENEFITS.
Mensa sponsors a members-only credit card and insurance program.
There's also a program that aids traveling Mensans.
* JOIN FOR THE GOOD OF YOUR COMMUNITY.
Mensa members also find opportunities to contribute to the betterment
of society through programs such as:
* The American Mensa Education and Research Foundation (MERF)
MERF is a philanthropic, nonprofit, tax-exempt organization funded
primarily by gifts from Mensa members and others. MERF awards
scholarships, sponsors colloquia, grants research awards, and
publishes articles. Of particular interest to MERF is the study of
the intellectually gifted. Research projects in the social and
psychological sciences supported by MERF have included: measurement
of the upper levels of intelligence, psycho-social adjustment,
identification of cultural differences, educational strategies and
neurophysiological attributes of giftedness, and intelligence and
Scholarships are awarded to approximately 60 students nationwide
each year. More than 5,000 students apply for these awards, which
range from $200 to $1,000. Awards are made to applicants enrolled
in degree-granting programs at accredited American colleges and
universities based on a competitive essay. There are also awards
made from several endowed funds, including awards to women who
re-enter academic study after a period of employment or family
management, and awards for the study of engineering, mathematics,
medicine, the physical sciences, and history.
MERF also sponsors weekend-long meetings on serious issues.
Authorities are invited to speak and discussion follows. Themes for
past meetings (Colloquia) have included "Science and Society: Our
Critical Challenges," "The Impact of the Arts on Civilization," "The
Gifted in Society," and "Forecasting a Valid Tomorrow."
* The Gifted Children Resource Program.
Which compiles and provides information for gifted children at the
national and local levels.
* Mensa groups also get involved in many volunteer activities within
3) What kind of people are Members of Mensa?
Mensa: We Think, Therefore We Are. Mensans are the kind of people you
meet every day ... except that they enjoy using their minds more than
most. And they have IQ scores that would impress their neighbors!
Today there are some 100,000 Mensans in 100 countries throughout the
world. There are active Mensa organizations in 18 countries in Europe,
North America and around the Pacific Rim. American Mensa, Ltd. has
some 150 local chapters with more than 50,000 members. Founded at
Oxford University in 1946, 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
There is simply no one prevailing characteristic of Mensa members other
than high IQ. There are Mensans for who Mensa provides a sense of
family and others for who it is casual. There have been many marriages
made in Mensa but for many people, it is simply a stimulating
opportunity for the mind. Almost certainty most Mensans have a good
sense of humor and they like to talk. And, usually, they have a lot to
Mensans range in age from 4 to 94, but most are between 20 and 49. In
education they range from preschoolers to high school dropouts to people
with multiple doctorates. There are Mensans on welfare and Mensans who
are millionaires. As far as occupations, the range is staggering.
Mensa has professors and truck drivers, scientists and firefighters,
computer programmers and farmers, artists, military people, musicians,
laborers, police officers, glassblowers - you name it. There are famous
Mensans and prize-winning Mensans, but there are many, many whose names
you wouldn't know.
* MENSA DEMOGRAPHICS (USA)
64.4% male, 35.4% female (0.2% won't say)
54% between 30-49 years of age, 14% under 29, 0.32% over 80
31.2% in first marriage, 29.82% never married, 13.32% divorced once,
9.53% in second marriage after a divorce
Just over half have no children, 12.4% have one child, 18.66% have 2,
9.95% have 3, 4.37% have 4, 1.29% have 9+
about 30% earn $20-40,000, 10% earn $50-75,000, 9% earn $40-50,000
and about 0.5% earn more than $250,000.
17.93% Master's degree or equivalent, 17.56% four year graduates,
one in 11 are Ph.D.s.
41% work in private industry, 13% in government, 13% self employed.
88% European ancestry.
49% Christian, 3% Unitarian, 9% Jewish, 7% agnostic, 3.6% atheist,
9% no religion
14% only children, 19+% older of two, 12.5% younger of two,
11.5% oldest of three, 6.8% middle of three, 5.8% youngest of three,
9.7% oldest of more than three, 10.8% middle of four or more,
4.4% youngest of four or more
Computer related occupations 10%, 3.75% own their own business,
Electrical Engineers are 2.6%, 7.5% are in education, 3% lawyers,
0.11% judges, 0.02% are in astronomy.
* WORLDWIDE NUMBER OF MEMBERS
USA 50483 New Zealand 327
UK+Ireland 35608 Denmark 295
Canada 2546 Austria 287
Malaysia 2181 Channel Islands 257
Germany 1204 Spain 251
Finland 1107 Singapore 245
Yugoslavia 1100 India 200
Australia 961 Sweden 146
Netherlands 922 Belgium 117
Czechoslovakia 715 Japan 101
France 708 Switzerland 101
Poland 700 Hong Kong 100
Italy 400 OTHER 320
South Africa 395
Total Worldwide Membership 101813
4) What are Mensa's dues?
Current dues are only $45 a year. There are special student, family and
lifetime memberships dues when membership is offered. This includes a
subscription to the national newsletter (The Bulletin) and a
subscription to the newsletter for the your local group.
5) What does "Mensa" mean?
The word "Mensa" means "table" in Latin. The name stands for a
round-table society, where race, color, creed, national origin, age,
politics, educational or social background are irrelevant.
Officially, Mensa's stated purposes are "to identify and foster human
intelligence for the benefit of humanity; to encourage research in the
nature, characteristics and uses of intelligence; and to provide a
stimulating intellectual and social environment for its members".
Mensa takes no stand on politics, religion or social issues. Mensa
encompasses members from so many different countries and cultures, and
with many different points of view. For Mensa to espouse a particular
point of view would go against its role as a forum for all points of
The answers in this posting apply mostly to American Mensa. It is the
only organization I have experience with. If you can answer these
questions for any other national Mensa, please send me your responses.
Corrections, suggestions, and additions to email@example.com