Love to take tests? Intelligentsia: Mensa, the club for people with very high IQs, is looking for a few good brains.

November 14, 1998|By Rob Hiaasen | Rob Hiaasen,SUN STAFF

OK, smart-tail, what is the number which is 4 more than the number that is double one-fifth of one-tenth of 900? It's so easy, a sleeping child with strep throat and amnesia could figure it out. OK, we'll stall while you compute.

Today is American Mensa National Testing Day. Using deductive reasoning (rather than the underachieving reductive reasoning), National Testing Day can mean only one thing: There will be a test.

In Baltimore, Mensa's two-hour IQ test will be offered at 2 p.m. today at Gilman School. In Frederick, the same test will be offered at 1 p.m. tomorrow at the site that has become synonymous with the Mensa movement -- Best Plumbing Specialty.

The test costs $25; no one under 14 can take it.

Anyone who scores at or above the 98th percentile will be taken to a special room and tickled. No, that was a joke -- or what a Mensan might call an asininity, sally or bromide.

Actually, someone scoring that high qualifies for Mensa membership, which qualifies you to pay $45 in yearly dues.

In Maryland, 497 Mensans quietly live and work among us. But Mensa, with 44,000 members nationwide, is always looking to fatten its ranks.

"We hope that you may take the test at the site nearest you and see if you are Mensa material," says its Web site ( org).

From its home office in Texas, American Mensa sent a mini-quiz as a warm-up:

In our local flower shop, the florist sets his prices according to his own logic. A rose costs $.16, a nasturtium $.42 and a jonquil $.29. By the same logic, how much will a tulip cost?

If your knee-jerk answer is, "Who gives a [bad word]!?," then you're not Mensa material, not in the same league as actress Geena Davis, Alan Rachins (Douglas Brachman on "L.A. Law"), Barry Nolan (co-anchor of TV's "Hard Copy") and Bobby Czyz (former WBA cruiserweight champion). All are Mensans who could nail this question without breaking a sweat:

Walter likes globes but not maps, tennis balls but not rackets, and oranges but not bananas. Following the same logic, will he like tires or sled runners?

More important: If six painters can paint nine rooms in three hours, how many rooms can four painters paint in 12 hours while working at the same speed and in the same size rooms?

Using the space marked "Answers" on the mini-quiz, we find the answers to the four questions in this story are: 40; $.21 (a vowel costs $.03 and a consonant $.05); tires (Walter likes round things); and 24 (each painter can paint half-a-room per hour, six rooms in 12 hours).

If you correctly answered those questions, better switch to a smarter newspaper writer.

Pub Date: 11/14/98

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