Mensa, the largest high-intelligence society in the world, is for people who fall within the top two percent of a standardized IQ test. With over 50,000 members nationally, they welcome every walk of life and offer intellectual stimulation and a place to socialize.
Mensa of Western Washington is offering a free test session on the afternoon of November 30 at the Bellingham Public Library. Suzanne Farrington, area coordinator for Mensa of Western Washington, encourages anyone interested to sign up.
“Most don’t even take the test, because they don’t think of themselves that way,” Farrington says. “I think that very often we’re programmed not to think of ourselves sometimes as particularly smart, but so many people would qualify if they just got up the courage and took the test.” At 2% of the population (based on 2018 census estimates), over 1,800 people in Bellingham alone may be eligible!
There are multiple kinds of intelligence and Mensa tries to test and account for all types. Anyone from any walk of life—white-collar, blue-collar, and no-collar—can give Mensa a try. Those interested can take the official Mensa test, or submit their scores from previously taken tests, such as the Graduate Records Exam or a military test. Mensa accepts 200 supervised tests as evidence of prior testing.
Mensa started as a small club in England in 1946. Though its aristocratic founders were “disappointed” that a majority of Mensans came from humble homes, it became an international group of more than 125,000 members. Mensa of Western Washington was founded in 1965 and is the eighth largest group in American Mensa.
Farrington and her husband, John, transferred over to Mensa of Western Washington after moving up from California. Skagit and Whatcom Counties combined is small at roughly 50 members, but Farrington wants to expand the group and their activities.
Mensa offers all kinds of activities for its members to enjoy. Mensa is multi-faceted, Farrington says, and is meant to be a social group where people can feel comfortable.
They have national and regional gatherings all over the map. Farrington and her husband have been to annual gatherings over the years, all over the country. All Mensans are invited to come. The events are both educational and social, and discussion ranges from astronomy, engineering, and even basket weaving. They also have gatherings all over the world. Wherever you go, you can potentially find a Mensa group.
The organization also holds Culture Quest, a once-a-year team trivia night “on steroids,” Farrington says. It’s a three-hour event with a two-hour test that poses 150 questions. Farrington has noticed all kinds of trivia night-type events throughout Whatcom, and likes to go to them.
“I’m looking around and seeing all these young people who do so brilliantly on trivia nights,” she says.
Another event is Mind Games, a board game testing event that puts Mensa’s seal of approval on five board games a year. The event is held all over the U.S., and manufacturers bring in around 300 games to promote. Mensa members go through them from beginning to end, give input and advice, and rank them. The top five get Mensa’s seal of approval.
Mensa of Western Washington also has programs for gifted children and youth support, mostly based in Seattle, through Mensa For Kids.
Farrington joined Mensa through her mother, and it became her main social group in Monterey County.
“My mother joined first after my father died,” she says. “She invited me to her game groups, and then she said, ‘You know what? You really need to try and join.’ And so I did.”
John took the Mensa test a month after and qualified too. In Monterey, they had a large social group. Farrington loves meeting people through Mensa, especially people she would never meet otherwise. There are many members with so many interesting backgrounds and professions, she says. “It’s a wonderful organization, it’s a way to meet people you might not normally run into. It expands your social life.”
Though Mensa in Whatcom is much smaller than her old group in Monterey, Mensa has a different meaning for her now. She wants to build it up, and get more people involved.
The free test will take place at the Bellingham Public Library on the afternoon of November 30. For more information about the test, contact Farrington at firstname.lastname@example.org or 831-206-5646.