Inside the high-IQ society Mensa
WHAT'S your IQ?
It's up there with religion, politics, income and sex as enduring taboos.
Even today, as we all struggle to keep our noses above the rising flood of social media over-sharing inundating our lives.
Mensa is an organisation for people with Intelligence Quotients in the top two per cent of the world's population.
Named after the Latin word for "table", it was founded in England in 1946 by Roland Berrill, a barrister, and Dr Lance Ware, a scientist and lawyer. It's a society for bright people, welcoming those from every walk of life.
It aims to: "identify and foster human intelligence for the benefit of humanity, encourage research in the nature, characteristics and uses of intelligence, and to promote stimulating intellectual and social opportunities for its members".
Ainslie Waldron is the Queensland state secretary. She is a businesswoman, author and management consultant who regularly travels the world.
She has an MBA and runs the Australian office of the not-for-profit organisation Just Yell Fire which helps young women fight unwelcome predators.
She joined Mensa in 1980 and counts as a highlight of her membership an international conference in Florida where she was part of a group that took a zero-g flight with NASA astronauts at Cape Canaveral.
Ms Waldron suspects people would be surprised at how fun Mensa meetings are.
"There is laughter; we do have a lot of fun," she said.
"We have monthly lunches in Brisbane, we enter a trivia challenge weekly, we have a monthly philosophy evening on the Gold Coast and we have many ad hoc evenings like attending science lectures and games evenings.
"We also have Mensa-only Facebook pages for our younger members."
There are two ways to become a member of Mensa.
The first is to be independently tested by an approved psychologist, which can be an expensive route. The second and most common is to apply through the organisation's website to sit an entrance test.
The next round of testing is in Brisbane on August 31.
"We have practise tests which people can buy on our website and we will send you your results indicating whether we think you have a good chance of passing," Ms Waldron said.
"These are not essential however and most people just apply to attend.
"We hold testing sessions in Brisbane every three months. We do make special arrangements on occasions for people who cannot travel to Brisbane.
"Many members join for only a year or two, then do not rejoin.
"Many people, I think, just want to see if they can join and then do if they are eligible, but after that their interest wanes."
Among the Mensa services and support is a bi-monthly magazine, gatherings, university student book grants and annual conferences, many of which are open to the general public.
It also offers grants to children gifted in a range of ways, not necessarily intellectually. Some are gifted in ballet, music, art, science, mathematics, technology.
There is also an annual Mensans at Play (MAP) camp which will be at Mt Tamborine November 29 - December 8. (www.mapsig.com)
There is an annual research grant which this year went to Dr Helen Stallman from the University of Qld for her study into gifted university students.
"Some people jump to conclusions that we are all brainy nerdy types which is of course true of a few of our members but by no means all," Ms Waldron said.
"We have many members who have extremely successful careers in all walks of life.
"The majority of our members prefer to remain anonymous and do not generally let it be known that they are members.
"The majority of members worldwide do not attend events. I think most join for very personal reasons.
"Some assume we will be aloof and elitist yet we are a very welcoming group who enjoy stimulating conversation and having fun."
- Members (as of June 2013): 1285 in Australia, 207 in Qld, 13 Sunshine Coast
- New members last year were 234 (Australia) and 49 (Qld); lapsed 161 and 22
- To join, you must sit an entrance test and be aged over 14
- Mensa has a gifted children's coordinator
- Visit www.mensa.org.au