Calling All Nerds: Mensa Hawaiʻi Recruiting Fresh Brain Power

Sep 25, 2017

Credit Wikimedia Commons

Mensa, that genius society, is staging a test to recruit new members here in Honolulu. HPR’s Kuʻuwehi Hiraishi reports.

Wondering if you’re a genius? Mensa Hawaiʻi is hoping yes. Mensa is the largest and oldest high-IQ society in the world.

“You know technically membership is the top two percentile of people who take intelligence tests, and a lot of people don’t take intelligence tests,” says Janis Fenton, Mensa Hawaiʻi member, “But you probably know a lot of them in your everyday life. Most people don’t think about, you know? What’s your IQ? I don’t even know what mine is.”

Janis Fenton is a member of Mensa Hawai’i. The 69-year-old paralegal joined Mensa three years ago, and is calling on all closeted nerds and lovers of learning to join her ranks.

“It’s a community of equals who share a love of learning, a curiosity,” says Fenton, “And who appreciate each other’s quirkiness, if you will. Some of us are introverts, which can come off to the public as being stuck-up. Some of us could be considered nerds, and most of us are pretty ordinary people.”

Founded in 1946, Mensa has grown to around 134,000 members in 100 countries. With membership open to people who score in the 98th percentile or higher on IQ tests, the society is often associated with being a genius.

“No, I don’t think of myself as a genius,” says Fenton, “I mean I consider myself of above average intelligence. But I’m not an Einstein or DaVinci, which is what I consider a genius.”

Mensa Hawaiʻi members host game nights, movie outings, and scuba diving trips – just to name a few. The group’s annual Regional Gathering in Honolulu in October is the next event on the agenda – with a line-up of speakers on topics as unique to Hawai’i as they are geeky.

“And among those folks are Keliʻi Makua, the tattoo priest. Another who is a linguist who’s speaking about constructed languages or fake languages such as Klingon or Elvish. We have folks from the University of Hawai’i speaking about climate change and how Hawaiʻi is preparing for coastal management.” says Fenton.

On Sunday, October 8, 2017, Mensa will be offering IQ tests for any potential members. Mensa membership in Hawaiʻi has fluctuated between 150 and 300 in recent years, and Fenton is hoping to recruit fresh brains to sustain the organization into the future.

“Right now, I think the group tends to be a little older. Maybe high 30s and above? Just because the group hasn’t had a lot of visibility,” says Fenton, “We would love to have a lot more younger members, and I would like to see the group be re-energized.”