Sandy Halby is a civilian employee of the U.S. Air Force, mother and pet lover who, while living overseas, just wanted to meet new people who weren't in the military. She got hooked up with Mensa -- an international organization comprised of people who've scored in the top 2 percent of a standardized intelligence test. And contrary to popular belief, not all Mensa members are lab-coated rocket scientist snobs. Mensa itself has no opinions, no religious affiliation, and nobody is barred from membership on the basis of sex, race, religion, status or profession. All you have to do to be a card-carrying Mensa member is be able to use your brain.
What do you have to do to join the ranks of the Mensans? There are two ways to get into Mensa. One is to take a Mensa administered test. The second way is what Mensa calls "prior evidence" -- a test that you took in school, for example -- you can send those results to American Mensa and they will evaluate them. The [Mensa] testing itself is probably comparable to an SAT-type thing.
What do you get out of Mensa? Some of the benefits that people enjoy are special interest groups, SIGs. The groups have topics anywhere from a chocoholics group, a quilters group, a Star Trek group... . These groups are usually run on a national level, and sometimes even on an international level. So if you have an interest in a special area, it's pretty certain you can find somebody else out there with that interest too. Another thing I enjoy is interaction with a lot of different people. Since there are no restrictions on membership, you meet people from very different tracts of life.
Like who? As you can imagine, we have quite a few military and retired military. We have doctors, lawyers, business owners; one lady owns a bar here in town, one of our members is a janitor, we have one member who is ... how shall I put this, "chronically unemployed?" We have housewives, business people, everything. Everything.
So are you all geniuses? There's really no scientific definition of genius. There was an IQ level of about 140, established about 75 or 80 years ago, but that figure was basically arbitrary. The thing about standardized intelligence tests, is that if you take, say, a Stanford Benet test and score a 132, you may take a different intelligence test and score a 146 or even a 154. It depends on the test. American Mensa accepts over 200 tests as prior evidence.
What's your IQ? I don't know. I got into Mensa by submitting my GRE test results.
Do people ever expect you to do things because you're "the smart one"? (laughs) No, actually. I, myself, have never had anything personally negative happen because of Mensa. I've even done informal surveys myself about that -- "do you include Mensa on your resume?" -- that type of thing. I, myself, include it, I'm proud of my membership in Mensa. Some people don't; they feel that it's an intimidating factor.
Okay, if you had a drawer full of socks -- half blue and half brown -- without looking, how many socks would you have to pull out to ensure you had a match? (pauses about 10 seconds) At least three to make sure you had a pair.
Plains and Peaks Mensa will hold a membership admission test on March 18. Call Sandy at 528-5483 or email firstname.lastname@example.org for info.