Saturday, May 15, 2010

My recent letter to Mensa, regarding an issue I had with their test

My recent letter to Mensa, regarding an issue I had with their test.


I took the Mensa test a couple of years ago. Apparently I didn't pass the test, but I've never received the results of it.

I do, however, have an important point to make regarding the test. I knew right from the beginning of the test that I was in trouble, because the very first "practice" question on the test was wrong, as was the supposedly correct answer.

This is a problem on the part of whoever wrote the test and not with my intelligence (or the lack thereof).

The Mensa representative who was leading the test walked us through this practice question, so that we would understand the test, but, as I said, the question itself--as well as the (supposedly correct) answer--was wrong.

As I recall, the practice question consisted of four drawings, which represented four different kinds of hats: a cowboy hat, a top hat, a derby hat, and a paper hat (as best I can recall). The question was: "which hat is not the real hat"

As I said, I knew--immediately--that I was in trouble, because, although the answer was obviously the paper hat, all four hats are real hats. The test makers, by using the term "real", are invoking concepts of metaphysics and ontology. The reality of the hats consists in their being hats, that’s why we (and the test makers) call them: "hats". It doesn't matter what material the hats are made of, what matters is that we wear them on our heads as hats. And, in that sense, regarding this practice question, all four hats were--in reality--real hats.

I may not have been smart enough to pass your test, but I'm apparently smarter than whoever wrote that practice question.


Alexander J. MacDonald, Jr.

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