I’d like to start the year with a big thank you to all of the volunteers who keep SFRM an active and interesting Mensa chapter.  Thanks to our Editor, Calendar Editor, Circulation Manager, and all of the people who help put out the Intelligencer, like clockwork, each and every month.  Thanks to the Area Coordinators and the many hosts who organize activities in SFRM.  Our ExComm, Membership Officer, and Proctors keep SFRM running smoothly, organizing activities, welcoming new members, and testing candidates for membership.  Thanks to the committee and volunteers who helped organize and present November’s Brilliance By The Bay Regional Gathering.  

We would be very interested in expanding the newsletter to include more articles and photographs.  Do you have an opinion?  Surely you do.  Is there something you are knowledgeable and passionate about?    Would you like to share it with your fellow Mensans?  I knew you would!  Contact Michelle at gro.a1544590069snemf1544590069s@rot1544590069ide1544590069.  

Every so often, the question is raised about what Mensa is and what it should be.  This happened again at the RG where State Senator Jerry Hill gave the keynote presentation to a full room of RG attendees.  Hill talked about state government, national politics, California’s strained relationship with the Federal government, and he answered questions, including one from high school students in FIRST Robotics, who asked about the future of STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) education in California.  Hill didn’t just pull out a canned talk and dust it off for us; he quoted from Mensa Constitution’s list of goals:  identify and foster human intelligence, encourage research in intelligence, and promote simulating intellectual and social opportunities for its members.  The first two goals seem to be in the purview of the Mensa Education and Research Foundation.  SFRM’s role is in pursuing the third goal.  I think that we do a good job at this and we are always looking at ways to expand intellectual and social activities.  

One of the topics which Hill touched on is the alternate realities around the country, where a significant number of people believe that Sharia Law is being followed in certain cities, that Muslims celebrated in the streets after 9/11, there were satanic rituals in the (non-existant) basement of a Washington pizza parlor, that there is massive unemployment and illegal Mexican immigration, and more of what he described as “fake news”.  These are not errors in news reporting, which can be corrected, but deeply held beliefs which are unaffected by either the lack of credible evidence or contradictory reports.  Lack of reporting of these “facts” is proof that the main stream media are hiding the truth from Americans.  (Incidentally, former State Senator Joe Simitian has given talks about “Listening to Trump’s America,” on similar topics.)

Hill’s suggestion was that since Mensa is a resource of intelligence, that it should serve as the arbiter of objective reality (my description, not Hill’s).  Mensa could decide whether something was Fake News, like the Columbian Chemicals explosion, or Real News, like Flynn’s many contacts with the Russians.   Mensans, by dint of their intellectual ability, would be able to discern the true from the misrepresented and the verifiable falsehood.  My first thought is that this is not something that Mensa can do, quite independent of whether it should.    I’ve known a number of Mensans who believe in “facts” which are based more on conjecture, supposition, misrepresentation, or downright propaganda, than a basis in observation or credible reports.  Who would be part of this “truth squad” and how would they be selected?  How would they make true vs. fake pronouncements which were not tainted by the claim that this was making a political statement, especially when the current climate is to politicize every statement of fact?  I might guess that the Mensans who would be most interested in being part of a group deciding the truth or falsity of some fact would be the one’s most passionate about proving some thinly held personal belief.

I think that Hill’s suggestion says more about a non-Mensan’s view of Mensa, or perhaps a view of intelligence as an attribute.  Intelligence does not necessarily give one either perspicacity or perceptiveness.  Common sense does not seem all that common.  Smart people are taken in by charlatans and scammers as often as the not-so-smart.  

Would you want to see Mensa (or a group of Mensans) voicing their studied opinion about the veracity of various news reports?   Please let us know your thoughts.   

Here’s wishing everyone a happy and healthy New Year!