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Microsoft

MSN Sponsors Mensa 492

Posted by Zonk
from the get-smarter dept.
crankyspice writes "Fresh on the heels of Google courting members via GLAT advertisements in the Bulletin, Microsoft's MSN is now sponsoring American Mensa events, featuring Mensa questions on the MSN homepage, and Mensa will put MSN's search on their new homepage."
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MSN Sponsors Mensa

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  • Go right ahead (Score:3, Interesting)

    by bonch (38532) on Saturday March 19, 2005 @02:40AM (#11982875)
    This will have what...zero effect?

    People love Google. I actually saw Jay Leno mention Google as part of a related joke, and some in the audience began cheering and applauding.

    Makes one think Mensa is rather...retarded.
  • Re:So what ? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by metlin (258108) on Saturday March 19, 2005 @02:41AM (#11982887) Journal
    I couldn't agree more.

    What irritates me about Mensa is the fact that they consider intelligence to be purely a function of a few odd tests.

    Hmm, how weird.

    I've known some incredibly intelligent people who'd probably flunk these tests - folks that can play music so amazingly well and reproduce exact notes after hearing them just once.

    The point is, intelligence is not a function of how well you can do in a few puzzles. And more importantly, it is not all that hard to ace the Mensa test if you prepare well enough for it - just spend a while solving puzzles and patterns, and it'll be a cakewalk.

    It's almost like a self-righteous organization of sorts - hey, lookie! We can solve all these cool puzzles, therefore we'll pretend that we are smarter more than you all are.
  • by dcclark (846336) on Saturday March 19, 2005 @02:48AM (#11982913) Homepage
    Call me cynical, but how many people will this affect in any way? I see Google or MSN search boxes on all sorts of pages, but I never use them. They seem like a strange relic, more of a "Look what I can add to my site!" element. If I want to search for something, I'll go to Google itself or the handy-dandy search box in my browser's toolbar.

    On the other side of things, I can't ever find ANYTHING on the horribly busy and disorganized MSN homepage anyhow, so I'm not sure MENSA questions on there will even be noticed.

    Given all of that... if MENSA has someone new to feed them money for events, more power to them. I don't think there's anything to really care about here.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday March 19, 2005 @02:50AM (#11982919)
    From their eligiblity page: http://www.us.mensa.org/join_mensa/testscores.php3

    Among many options, one only needs 1300 (out of 1600) on SAT. These days, MANY people easily get 1300. How many is many? 1300 ranks about 90%tile; which means, about 10% have 1300 or better...and that's only EACH test session. Even you can easily qualify for this so-called high IQ society, go to their parties to feed on your self-centered ego

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday March 19, 2005 @03:04AM (#11982959)
    This is a direct response to the Google Aptitude Test. [google.com]

    Microsoft has been trying to coopt academia for years. Now I guess they're trying to coopt "smart people" before Google does.
  • Re:So what ? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Reene (808293) on Saturday March 19, 2005 @03:13AM (#11982987) Journal
    Not that I don't agree with the rest of your post, this just stood out to me:

    I've known some incredibly intelligent people who'd probably flunk these tests - folks that can play music so amazingly well and reproduce exact notes after hearing them just once.

    Depending on what part of the world they hail from, this ability is not at all unusual. Identifying a note like that is called perfect pitch [wikipedia.org] and it's extremely prominent among people that were raised learning tonal languages like Chinese and has a stronger presence among people who grew up playing musical instruments. Reproducing a note when you have perfect pitch is cake if you have rudimentary knowledge of the instrument.

    Alright, I've digressed enough for one thread...
  • Mensa, eh (Score:3, Interesting)

    by truesaer (135079) on Saturday March 19, 2005 @03:19AM (#11983003) Homepage
    I think my GRE scores qualify me for Mensa...but I'm not inclined to join. To pay money to be part of a smart persons club that provides no real benefits other than status seems pretty dumb to me. Not quite as bad as sending money to a Nigerian prince, but not good either.


    Think about this for a minute...a good score on the GRE which consists of basic reading comprehension and 9th grade algebra gets you into a special smart persons club?


  • I have no personal experience with Mensa members. I remember being referred to the "practice exam" by a friend in high school, that's where I picked up some preliminary information on the group itself.

    That said, my main problem with Mensa is not their stated goal of creating an environment in which intelligent discourse can flourish.

    My problem is also not with the fact that, in order to accomplish such goals, they must exclude a certain (sizable) portion of the population from their "enlightened organization."

    The issue that I personally have with Mensa is that their standards are established not to accept people with some acceptable level of genius and potential, but rather to accept people who are "better than 99% of the rest of humanity."

    Thus, they are elitist in the purest sense of what I understand the term to mean. If their standards of admission were designed with the intent to merely keep the general body to a basic level of intelligence and competency, why index them against the average IQ of contemporary human beings? Bear in mind that, according to their admission testing, at no time can more than 2% of the population be members of Mensa (assuming universal application). The implicit assumption is that the vast majority of humanity is incapable of civil discourse and intelligent discussion (at least on the level that they would like), but I see no reason why this should be the case.

    I see the sub-par intellectuality of humankind as a practical failure, the burden of which is borne by the entire race. To me there appear no deep reasons to believe that the population must be divided into the two subgroups of which we are so fond: the brains and the brawn. It is true that some people will always be smarter, wiser, and more capable than others. However, I see such considerations to be largely irrelevant except when one considers the scholarly pursuits of the natural and social sciences. And in such a case, I would argue that chance and circumstance (by the latter I mean the state of society and associated research at the time of advancement) play a role so important that they may overshadow small differences in individual ingenuity.
  • by Man in Spandex (775950) <prsn.kev@nOSPAm.gmail.com> on Saturday March 19, 2005 @03:32AM (#11983038)
    Get some b00bs like Asia Carrera.
    Asia Carrera has to be one of the most intriguing women of the adult movie industry. A member of the high-IQ organization MENSA, Asia ranks with the most intelligent and accomplished ladies to have ever appeared in X-rated films.
    from a Google search result [google.ca]
  • What're they worth? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by hyperion454 (766214) on Saturday March 19, 2005 @03:34AM (#11983040)
    Has MENSA even contributed anything to society? Ever? What's the last scientific breakthrough these fucking "geniuses" have had? I'm a college CSE student at __THE__ Ohio State Unviersity who's just had 17 Bud lights, yet I'm typing with perfect grammar. Let me in, MENSTtruation. I'm smarter than all those fuckers. Cocksuckers.
  • Re:So what ? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday March 19, 2005 @04:22AM (#11983171)
    From The Center for an Informed America [cnchost.com].

    ...
    For those who don't know, Mensa is, in its own words, "an international society in which the sole requirement for qualification for membership is a score at or above the 98th percentile on any of a number of standardized intelligence tests." It is, in other words, an organization that fancies itself to be a collection of the brightest minds from around the world -- who amuse themselves primarily by indulging in such intellectual pursuits as eating to grotesque excess.

    Now I happen to have a, uhmm, 'friend' who is currently a member of this organization. He first joined the group several years ago, "out of curiosity," or so he claims. He was decidedly unimpressed with his limited exposure to the Mensa organization, and so he did not renew his membership beyond the first couple of years.

    But early this year he decided to rejoin, primarily to see how the group's publications were dealing with the September 11 attacks and everything that has come in their wake: the steep rise in U.S. militarism; the vast erosion of civil liberties; the pursuit of reactionary social policies; and the exposure of the rampant corruption of corporate America.

    And what my friend found was that the allegedly best and brightest minds in the country were operating comfortably within the parameters established by academia and the American media: the official story of what happened last September 11 is unquestioned, as is the fact that any real investigation into the events of that day has been officially blocked; unprovoked U.S. military actions are given the same superficial level of debate that can be heard on any cable news broadcast; the frontal assaults on civil liberties are either not discussed at all or are justified as a legitimate response to what supposedly happened last September, with, you know, maybe a few instances where the government has, with all good intentions, of course, maybe overstepped just a bit; the social agenda of Team Bush receives barely a mention; and the corporate scandals, and the direct connections of various members of the Bush cabal to those scandals, are apparently old news.

    After reading such drivel for several months now (my 'friend' passes them on to me after he's read them, you see), I still wasn't prepared for what I was to find in the September 2002 issue of the Mensa Bulletin, the slick monthly publication of American Mensa. Featured in a new survey column therein were the results of the first query posed to members: "Who are your heroes?"

    And who do you suppose ended up in the #1 position on that list? Who do the 'intellectually gifted' among us look up to as a hero? Who, above everyone else, does the Mensa community place on a pedestal? None other than George W. Bush, of course.
    ...
  • Re:Go right ahead (Score:2, Interesting)

    by phrasebook (740834) on Saturday March 19, 2005 @04:32AM (#11983192)
    and some in the audience began cheering and applauding.

    Americans always cheer and applaud over everything! I've often wondered why this is. Americans: why do you feel the need to clap or shout 'yee-eah!' or 'woooo!' when you agree with something someone is saying?

    Two examples: Most recently I was listening to an address made by a respected journalist, can't remember the name. It was a serious kind of speech but people kept clapping whenever he made a point. It was lame. I felt like the audience was desparate to tell the guy they could understand him and that they weren't dumb and were keeping up. You could tell he wasn't ready for this applause and the stopping/starting it caused.

    Second example was an inquiry, something to do with 11/9 where senators were questioning someone from the CIA or somesuch. One of the senators was making a point about accountability, just a regular point made in a confident manner. And people in the background starting saying 'yeah!' and applauding. The senator quickly cut them off though and said "no, don't clap, don't clap" and looked annoyed, and tried to keep talking.

    I just find this behaviour strange, and it seems to be unique to the USA. Is this just people being enthusiastic, and are all Americans so enthusiastic?
  • by Jetson (176002) on Saturday March 19, 2005 @04:39AM (#11983204) Homepage
    Though some people suggest defining intelligence as what IQ measures...

    The tests for IQ have been changing a lot over the last few decades. Groups like Mensa pretend there's only one score and admit based on that value. If you were to get a proper psychological work-up the doctors would actually conduct several different IQ tests (to measure verbal, performance and average IQ) and then list specific IQ values for each portion of each test. They can then compare, say, your "math IQ" to your "logic IQ" to make determinations about your personality and actual skills. In particular, they look at the variances to determine where a person is gifted and where they are developmentally delayed. You could have a verbal IQ of 140 and a performance IQ of 60 and a traditional test would say you were "normal" (your IQ was 100) when you're actually autistic....

    The other thing that has changed about the IQ tests is the method and rating scale. Older IQ tests (even from the 80's) were biased in favour of a bell-curve result so that two people of similar near-average intelligence would be significantly contrasted while the difference between the "bright" and the "super genius" was compacted. Anyone who scores more than about 140 on a general IQ test should get re-tested using a more modern (more linear and usually open-ended scale) test designed to measure accurately at higher levels.

  • by Matarick (566397) on Saturday March 19, 2005 @04:46AM (#11983212)
    Anne: Jill, are you a member of any clubs?
    Jill: Yes (laughing).
    Anne: What's funny about that?
    Jill: I'm a former member of Mensa.
    Anne: Former member of Mensa.... did they throw you out?

    Got the quote from here [marnin.com].

  • Re:So what ? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Turn-X Alphonse (789240) on Saturday March 19, 2005 @04:52AM (#11983226) Journal
    Most computer geeks are also very logical and will use their brains to work stuff out they don't know.. this is a true sign of being smart. Anyone can read a book and know what to do, or watch someone else do it and copy, but to be truely smart you need to be able to apply basic knowledge and function to complex things and work it out from there. Computers in general are very logical and so most geeks are logical.. so we work things out and can adapt to most things.. where as the people you've mentioned and things don't work the same.

    Cooking well makes you enjoy living a bit more, but you can live with poor food just as well as you can great food... where as you need a good computer geek to make a PC run well.. a poor one.. well hello Windows..
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday March 19, 2005 @05:27AM (#11983287)
    As someone who qualifies for Mensa (tested as a child), but doesn't want to join, I have two things to say.

    1) It is a little odd that exclusive clubs exist for many things, and nobody cares, but as soon as an exclusive club for "intelligent" people is set up, people bitch incessantly. The problem is that Mensa doesn't acknowledge the shortcomings in their own tests. I have heard Mensa representatives (including the head of the NZ chapter) state, time and again, that the tests "can't be studied for", and that a person can't change their test result by doing IQ test questions over and over.

    This is crap. It is obviously incorrect to anyone who has ever taken a test of anything, and betrays the weak point of the entire Mensa qualification - it is based on knowledge as much as it is on native intelligence. It makes assumptions about the average amount of knowledge in certain areas that people of certain age groups have, and extrapolates from that. It is easily affected by study, repetitive testing, or reading up in associated areas.
    That could be why there is a lot of contempt for them from people who are of equal intelligence.

    2) I don't want to join a group who's primary goal is to exclude others. I would rather be a part of a group that had open membership, but just showed a strong interest in promoting intellectual pursuits, critical thinking, and the fun of using one's abilities (no matter what they were) to their fullest. It would be more inclusive, do much more good, and would quickly sort itself out in terms of the level and quality of members.

    Mensa could have been a good idea - it is just poorly executed, and based on flawed premises.
  • by carling_ZA (551429) on Saturday March 19, 2005 @06:05AM (#11983377) Homepage
    No, they will continue to be smart losers and nothing more, which is why you will rarely find Nobel Prize winners, CEOs, or generally succesful people skulking in their midst.
    Yes, losers like Scott Adams, Isaac Asimov and (my favourite) pr0n star Asia Carrera. Like always on Slashdot, you got modded up for not knowing anything at all about the subject under discussion... [retch] MSN [/retch] link to famous members:
    http://encarta.msn.com/list_famousmensamembers/Fam ous_Mensa_Members.html [msn.com]
  • Re:So what ? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Golias (176380) on Saturday March 19, 2005 @06:30AM (#11983450)
    Speaking as a person who has scored well enough on a few tests to get into MENSA, and as somebody who likes to think of himself as a pretty good musician, I think you are somewhat correct in saying that IQ does not reflect the full range of human potential, but it's not supposed to.

    Intelligence tests are written as a best effort to quantify a person's logical problem-solving ability. They are not perfect metrics, but they do give a pretty good indication.

    Artistic expression and similar crafts, such as cooking, do not really utilize these sorts of skills very much, with the possible exception (to a limited extent) of composition or improvisation, where creativity demands use of applied knowledge.

    The thing to remember is that IQ has nothing at all to do with your value as a human being. (Unless you are one of those tiresome fucks who read a few too many Ayn Rand novels in college.) MENSA people just want to have a social club which includes people like themselves. The fact that they have created a somewhat arbitrary obstacle to joining is not so unusual, a lot of clubs to that sort of thing. You have to win at The Masters if you want one of those ugly yellow jackets.

    All that said, I have no interest in joining MENSA. I have enough friends without joining crap like that, thank you.
  • Mensa? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Alan Partridge (516639) on Saturday March 19, 2005 @06:45AM (#11983488) Journal
    That's "the low self-esteem society' isn't it?
  • Re:So what ? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by jacksonj04 (800021) <nick@nickjackson.me> on Saturday March 19, 2005 @07:14AM (#11983552) Homepage
    I disagree. Yes most geeks are logical, but logic alone cannot help you cook spaghetti. How much salt do you add to the water? I know, but I don't know how I know.

    Likewise when flavouring things I know where to stop adding the pepper, but there's no magic formula to work out how much pepper you need.

    Some things just have to come from instinct.

    You can live with poor food just as well as you can live with bad food. You can live with a good PC, a poor PC, or no PC.

    Personally, I'd learn to cook.
  • by wootest (694923) on Saturday March 19, 2005 @09:22AM (#11983791)
    I guess some people just can't win or even draw with some other people. The guy's explaining that he doesn't give a shit about what he listed for clarity - if he hadn't listed it, someone else would have questioned him and called him a fraud instead. He didn't go on and on about it in several sentences, he put it aside in a parenthesis *because it wasn't the point* and because he had a real point to make.

    Stop being so goddamned cynical, nit-picking and condemning and try to nail people for the smallest thing. I'm ashamed that people reckon this is Insightful.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday March 19, 2005 @09:52AM (#11983923)
    Here in Germany, the Mensa [leo.org] is the place at a university where you can get cheap food. I've never heard of this l33t-club here, I think the idea is just wierd.
  • Re:So what ? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by ltbarcly (398259) on Saturday March 19, 2005 @09:03PM (#11987870)
    Clearly you are basing this on internet IQ tests.

    What you should know is that IQ is a measure of statistical deviation from the norm. All IQ tests are just given out to a bunch of people, and the average is taken to be 100. So you could design a test with no 'trivia' at all.

    Memorizing the answers simply wouldn't help you on a well designed test. Practising "obscure puzzles" probably would, as it would improve your ability to solve various puzzles. In the end, the only way you can gauge intelligence with a test is to ask questions, and this limits the type of intelligence you are testing for.

    Now, someone who scores a 120 is probably not noticably smarter than someone who scores a 119, or even (possibly) a 110. However, given 50 people with a measured IQ of 110, or 50 people with a measured IQ of 140, you had better believe that the group with the 140's is going to kick the crap out of the other group in any task requiring rapid learning or tasks which require thinking, even if you exhaustively and equally train each group.

    Saying you "resent" the dominant culture is a tell, although it isn't at all clear what you are talking about. A well designed IQ test could be given to a person from China just as well as a person from America, and if you think the cultures are simmilar then you have some kind of weird definition of culture.

    Of course, all IQ tests devised by a technological society are going to be biased toward thinking which is useful in such a society. When you give, say, a plant identification test to a member of a non-technological society they will completely drop kick anyone from the industrialized world. However, if you took these two people, and gave them simmilar upbringing and education, then gave them both an IQ test, one might greatly outscore the others. All else being equal and random, you could never guess which person would score better ahead of time, as intelligence doesn't vary much between genetic groups, most measured differences being a result of education and, even more so in the case of raw intelligence, of nutrition.

    Now, it is obvious that people enjoy what they are good at, and thus practice it, and become better. Is there any persuit that doesn't have this trait? (maybe kareokee) This doesn't make someone a lapdog. In fact, refusing to cooperate merely out of some sense of self pity or anger, and not a weighing of potential benifits and costs, is a sign of a truely low IQ.

Federal grants are offered for... research into the recreation potential of interplanetary space travel for the culturally disadvantaged.

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