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Missive #100

In the nineteenth century, a small group of American idealists managed to actually build Charles Babbage’s Analytical Engine and use it to develop Cliology, mathematical models that could chart the likely course of the future. Soon they were working to alter history’s course as they thought best. By our own time, the Society has become the secret master of the world.The average customer review for this book was only 3.5 at goodreads.com. The biggest complaint from those giving it a low rating was that it was more of a thriller than science fiction. I liked it for that same reason. I’ll try some more of Flynn’s books and see if he writes more like this one. But no secret can be kept forever, at least not without drastic measures. When her plans for some historic real estate lead developer and ex-reporter Sarah Beaumont to stumble across the Society’s existence, it’s just the first step into a baffling and deadly maze of conspiracies. — Book promo @ goodreads.com

Men, Women, and Intelligence: It’s Not the Same, or
JR Solicits Hate Mail From a National Organization
By John Ross
Copyright 2005 by John Ross. Electronic reproduction of this article freely permitted provided it is reproduced in its entirety with attribution given

 A reader recently posed a question I’ve been asked in various forms quite often:

    “Let’s say a man of above average intelligence (I.Q. tested at 131), wants to find a woman. Because he’s bright, fluent in a few languages, well-read, and up-to-date with current events, he wants a mate with whom he can engage in discourse elevated above the level of discussions concerning Sex and the City, Desperate Housewives, daytime soaps, Brangelina/TomKat/Bennifer, handsomest political candidate, how trashed she got last night, etc.

    “So, he tries to find a smart girl. Well, this has room for potential disaster. Why? Because in my experience, most women endowed with high I.Q.s have more neuroses than I can handle. Is it just me, or do you find very intelligent women are much more messed up psychologically than gifted men? Are there theories on why neuroses accompany intellect in so many females? 

    “Other considerations: 1. Her mountain of student debt, paying off that liberal arts degree from some overpriced private university, instead of choosing a top-tier public university (Chapel Hill, UCLA, UVA, etc.) 2. Intellectual women are often prone to support feminism (the kind of feminism where motherhood is a low priority until they hit 35 and get “baby rabies.”)  3. Many intellectuals can debate Althusserian theory or Lukacsian analysis of a text but can’t match their socks. What do you think? I believe that men are not intimidated by a gifted woman’s intellect, but of the accompanying madness that is so often associated with it. Met many smart and sane young women lately? Me either.”


    “P.S. Worse, I suppose, than enduring her droning on about Desperate Housewives and Sex and the City would be having to actually listen to endless monologues on literary theory.  You can’t win!”

    Ah, the intelligence bell curve, and how it differs for men and women.  Men are more heavily represented at BOTH ends of the distribution curve–men fill the majority of spots in Electrical Engineering, Aerospace, Medical research, etc., and also fill most of the prisons.  Thus, it’s much harder to find your equal if you’re smart.

    As to neuroses, my take is that male or female, the smarter you are, the more unhappy you will be if your life disappoints you.   “I’m smart and I’m still miserable!” is a recipe for neurotic behavior.  Since men seek to solve problems instead of just talk about them, a smart man isn’t apt to be much more neurotic than an average one.  Women, on the other had, can have their intelligence turn them into dysfunctional wrecks.  

    Further, your comments show me that you may not realize that it’s not just the IQ issue. Men and women of similar intelligence have very different interests about what they like to discuss. Most men focus on ideas, political thought, ideologies, problem-solving, building, exploring, etc.  Women focus on their emotions, social issues, relationships, and such. This is true for high-IQ women just as much as average ones.

    True story: I joined MENSA in my late 20s circa 1985 because of my frustration at not finding intellectual women to date here in St. Louis. At that time IIRC the cut-off IQ was 150 or 152 to get in.  They sent me my membership card and I looked forward to my first meeting.


    First of all, EVERY woman there (maybe a dozen) was morbidly obese. 5’2″ tall and 240 pounds was typical.

    Second, these women’s main idea of entertainment was eating cookies and donuts while solving complicated math problems. While I actually enjoy solving math problems, it’s not an activity you need a companion to do. But I put on my best smile and joined in.

    When the fat girls saw I was pretty good at this for a newbie, they all gushed about how they had regular get-togethers and I just HAD to come to their one next Friday. By this time I was gaining a better appreciation for the cute airheads I had thought I was tired of.

    What of the males at the meeting, you ask? They fell into two categories: The regulars, who were stereotypical skinny (or obese) social misfits that were right at home doing math problems and talking about computer coding, and normal-looking first-timers like me who had obviously come in the hopes of meeting a better class of woman, and felt we’d somehow wandered into Purgatory.

    The single exception to this was my friend Leroy Thompson (Google him), the St. Louis area gun writer who is ex-Special Forces and author of many books on executive protection, combat training, military issues, etc.  Leroy (now retired) was a teacher here for many years, and encouraged his brighter students to become MENSA members. He knew everybody at this meeting and they all liked him.

    I wasn’t going to go to another MENSA meeting after this initial disappointment, but Leroy talked me into coming a month or two later. He was going to be the featured speaker for that meeting, giving a talk on Terrorism and what the average person should do if confronted by it. Remember this was 1985 or 1986, and Americans’ exposure to terrorism was limited to those few unfortunate tourists who were on international flights (or ships) that got hijacked.  Leroy’s presentation and his ensuing recommendations would surely be different now, almost 20 years later and post-9/11.

    So I went to my second MENSA meeting, where they had a big turnout and Leroy put on a very informative and interesting presentation.

    But far more fascinating than the presentation itself were the composition of the questions and commentary from his audience.  The questions almost all came from the regular-looking guys there.  They came from the guys like me, the ones with normal physiques and clean, unwrinkled clothes with matching socks and shirts tucked in.  Typical questions:

    What areas are most dangerous, and why? Which are safest?
    What should you do if the plane you’re on gets hijacked?
    Are Americans the most hated travelers, or are we just like all other Western Europeans?
    If I intend to travel in the Middle East, should I get a fake passport from a defunct country like Ceylon (now Sri Lanka) and hide my American one when they ask for our wallets? 
    Should I carry a can of SPAM, just in case I encounter these raghead scum?
    What, in your opinion, should our air carriers be doing that they are not currently? 
    What, as travelers, should we be watchful for? 
    What are some things NOT to do if we encounter terrorists? 
    What weapons will terrorists use–bombs, guns, or just threats?  What’s the best defense against each?
    When does it become obvious we’re not going to get out alive, and we might as well go down fighting?

    The pocket-protector crowd was largely silent.  The roll-’em-in-flour-and-look-for-the-wet-spot contingent listened intently, but I could see from their facial expressions that when somebody asked one of the above questions, it was obvious they had NOT been thinking along those lines.  I got looks of pure disbelief when I asked Leroy the question about getting a bogus passport from Ceylon, and he answered that that was an excellent idea.* 

    The women didn’t ask many questions, but made comments about what such an event would do to them emotionally.  One asked the question, “If I’m on a plane that’s hijacked, and after doing all the things you’ve advised us to do, he lets me go, is there some kind of organization or support group I can join to help recover from the experience?” (I am not making this up.)

    To his credit, Leroy did not say, “Yeah, your local pastry shop, where you probably won’t have to pay them any time in the next year.”

    After this second experience, I didn’t attend another MENSA meeting and let my membership lapse.  It just wasn’t a good place for me to find compatible female companionship, at least not in St. Louis during the mid-’80s.

    To those men that are looking for intelligent conversation with women, think back to the last time you had a discussion with an intelligent woman.  Chances are, if it was about something that interested you, you did most of the talking, and she said things like “I hadn’t thought of it that way before, but you’re right.”  If she guided the conversation, it was focused on things that didn’t much interest you.

     If you want actual intelligent discourse about things that interest you, you’re most likely to get it from other men.

     Afterthought:  During the time period that I was interested in MENSA, Playboy magazine did a pictorial in their November 1985 issue, “The Women of MENSA.”  Given that MENSA is a big organization, and given the fact that almost every young woman I’ve ever met would jump at the chance to be in Playboy if she could, this pictorial is a real revelation.  Dig up a copy of this issue, if you dare. 

    Over the years, I have met a couple dozen women who have posed for Playboy, and they seldom look as good in person as they do in the magazine.  Suffice it to say that if you’re a young woman, and Playboy can’t make you look attractive, it can’t be done. Look up this pictorial, and see what you think. 

    Any current MENSA members reading this and taking offense, it’s 20 years later, call up Playboy and tell them you’ve now got a bunch of brainy hardbodies that can hold their own looks-wise with any of Hef’s stripper-named airheads, and annihilate the bimbos with their rhetoric.

    Do that, and maybe I’ll rejoin.

John Ross 11/22/05

*False passports are a big no-no, but only if they purport to be from an existing country.  Printing up an official-looking passport from “The Government of the Moon,” or a country that no longer exists (like Ceylon) is no different than printing up copies of Confederate currency.  I thought a passport from Ceylon might easily fool a distracted terrorist looking for Western travelers.

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