Mega members who give more than a cursory glance to Noesis #66, the ``journal of the Mega Society'' which recently arrived in their mailboxes, will notice that my friend Ron Hoeflin is up to his old tricks again.
A merger between the Mega Society and the Noetic Society is proposed, but the terms proposed do not provide a level playing field. Those who qualified on the basis of Ron Hoeflin's Mega and Titan tests are O.K. but everyone else is subject to retesting.
Ron was among those who squawked the loudest when the ISPE leadership put arbitrary and unfair restrictions violating the society's own charter on newer members who attempted to become full participants in the affairs of hte ISPE (leading to the founding of the Triple Nine Society by Richard Canty, Ron Penner, Ed Van Vleck, Ron and me, and to our expulsion from the ISPE), but he has been involved in attempts to redefine others' membership status without their consent and to elevate himself and his tests above all others on several occasions:
[I've left out two paragraphs on Ron Hoeflin & other high-IQ societies.]
[That's Rick Rosner's note. I've restored the second paragraph (below), because it's about Mega! --KL]
He proposed that all but four of the seventeen people who were then members of the Mega Society be demoted to ``honorary membership''--and was surprised when a majority of the society wouldn't go along with him.
He has claimed special powers, on the basis of his status as ``founder,'' in both the Prometheus Society and the Mega Society and has attempted to make his tests the sole psychometric instrument accepted, or to have them given greater weight than all other tests or a special status not shared by any other test, in both societies, and resigned from the societies when he didn't get his own way.
All of which reminds me very much of a story told about the Middle Eastern folk hero Mullah Nassr Eddin....The Mullah was seen several times in the public storehouse pouring grain from his neighbor's jar into his own. He was arrested and brought before the magistrate. The magistrate read the charges and asked the Mullah to explain himself. ``I am a fool,'' he answered, ``I did not know his grain from mine.'' The magistrate was a shrewd man and asked, ``Then why were you never observed pouring grain from your jar into his?'' ``I'm not that much of a fool,'' answered the Mullah, ``I know my grain from his.''
Ron tried to take the Mega Society's name with him when he left and founded his own club, the Noetic Society (originally the Titan Society and known also, at various times, as the Hoeflin Research Group and the One-in-a-Million Society), which accepted only his tests and in which he made all the decisions.
Many members of the Mega Society objected to a name with which our own names had become associated through our membership being appropriated by a non-democratic group which espoused a psychometric position which our membership had voted to repudiate (the one-in-a-million cutoff claim), even though the Mega Society was dormant at that time. Jeff Ward resumed publication of the Megarian (albeit infrequently and with access to less material than that available to the editor of Noesis) and Ron made use of another name for his group.
The proposals outlined in Noesis #64 are the same thing all over again.
It is true that the Noetic Society publishes a larger and more frequent journal, containing more material from members, than the Mega Society, but I do not believe that ``all animals are equal but some are more equal than others'' and I don't believe in selling out the members of the Mega Society, who are entitled not to have their membership status put into question, and so I recommend to Mega members that they vote against the proposals outlined in Noesis #64 but I am open to the idea of merging the societies if it can be done in a fair and reasonable manner.
My friend Robert Dick has shot himself in the foot in attempting to protect the interests of Mega members in response to my complaint to him in his capacity as Ombudsman of the society.
It is not sufficient that Mega members be protected from the expense of retesting and from public embarrassment. Members of the society have a right to expect to remain members, based on their unqualified acceptance into the society when they joined. It is unethical to violate that right. Therefore, no member may be required to jump through any hoops whatsoever to remain a member and every member has an obligation to resist the imposition of such tyrannical conditions on anyone in the name of the society of which we are members.
I understand that discussions have already proceeded in the direction of providing parity between the Mega and Noetic societies in a possible merger; I regard this as a hopeful sign.
If there is to be a merger between the Mega and Noetic societies there are many difficulties to be resolved and this can best be accomplished through a dialogue including members of both societies. The letters from Mega members included in this issue of Noesis are the opening remarks from the second pole of this dialogue.
There has been a good deal of discussion of the question of whether any other tests are as challenging as Ron Hoeflin's. This discussion rests on a false assumption, in my opinion: that the norming of the tests is reliable (or even properly estimated) at very high levels. My studies of this matter lead me to the conclusion that all the major tests created by Hoeflin and me have 5.0 to 5.3 sigma ceilings.
This leads rather directly to the conclusion that the limit to where we can get good resolution is about .5 sigma below the mean ceiling of the tests we're using: 4.65 sigma, I.Q. 174, the 99.9997th percentile. This corresponds to about 41 on the Mega Test. It is now possible to invite only a limited number of LAIT qualifiers, because there are no 174's and only a few 175's, but the third norming of the LAIT will make possible somewhat higher resolution at the high end.
[I would now estimate the ceilings of my tests and Ron Hoeflin's as closer to 4.5 to 5.0 sigma. And I.Q. 174 is about 45 on the Mega Test. --KL, 2001]
Now I would like to address directly a point which bears on the subject of admission standards which has been included only indirectly up until this point--the relative merits of the LAIT and the Mega Test (both Ron Hoeflin and I have other tests, but these are the best known and most widely taken). At the present time, in my opinion and those of most of the small number of people skilled in high-range psychometrics, there are no tests other than mine and Hoeflin's that can be taken seriously as instruments for discriminating reliably at very high levels, which makes it all the more important to understand this.
Both the LAIT and the Mega Test correlate acceptably, though not extrememly, highly with many standard tests (typically .4 to .6), though not with all the tests in common use, and somewhat more highly (generally above .6) with one another. Both are ``power'' (as opposed to ``speed'') tests. Both have high ceilings (though exactly how high is a subject of controversy).
It is apparent from the less-than-perfect correlation between them that the LAIT and the Mega are measuring somewhat different things. My tests have been intended from the beginning to measure what I call attention in reasoning, the ability to perceive and understand a problem, in all its aspects, to reason through the problem logic, and to arrive at correct conclusions. I have also endeavored to make the experience of working a problem reward the successful solver with a small epiphany as the elegance of the underlying logic is seen. Comments by many LAIT testees have confirmed my success in achieving this latter aim.
Ron's tests, on the other hand, while they certainly have a respectable g loading, rely heavily on familiarity with cultural information and tedious, mechanical computation of solutions to inelegant, computation-intensive combinatorial problems (which can often be solved more directly by those with strong backgrounds in certain areas of mathematics).
I prefer my own approach and so do many other people in the world of the higher-I.Q. societies, though I am not surprised to see a marked preference for the Mega Test among a group of high scorers on Hoeflin's tests.
My preference for my own tests does not extend, however, to attempting to block the use of Ron's tests, which are respectable forays into the field of high-range testing and are clearly measuring something interesting.
There is one other matter I would like to comment on. The question of the merger leads to another question having to do with the name of the society and of its journal. ``Mega Society'' is the best society name of those which have been used for groups at this level (disregarding the questions about qualifying standard for the moment), but ``Megarian'' is a dumb name for the journal. Where did the ``r'' come from? The name is presumably intended to mean ``member of Mega.'' A member of Mensa is a Mensan, not a Mensarian. ``Megan'' doesn't do much for me; it's either a girl's name or some kind of monster. So let's either keep ``Noesis'' as the journal name or think about a new name altogether.
Kevin Langdon, P.O. Box 795, Berkeley, CA 94701 [old phone number omitted]
In regard to Noesis #64, it seems as though someone is considering playing this entire scenario again, i.e., demoting members, retesting to establish "psychometric purity," and maintaining that measurement is precise and meaningful at the highest levels of absurdity!
Richard W. May [address omitted]
If they want to use the Mega Society name, I don't think they should be asking people to requalify. If they want to have people requalify, I think they can use a different name and that's fine.
Don O'Brien [address omitted]
If you want to see someone become ``un-dormant'' in a big hurry, just keep trying to ``limit members of Mega'' to ``those who have qualified through a Hoeflin test.''
The ecumenism of a merger between the Noetic and Mega societies may be commendable. But the idea of making old members ``requalify'' if the one-in-a-million score rises 2 points on Hoeflin's test is something one would expect from a neighborhood club or a high school clique, not a putative ``one-in-a-million society.''
It seems clear that what Ron Hoeflin was not able to accomplish within the Mega Society a few years ago he is now trying to bring about through a benign-sounding political ploy.
I did not apply for membership in the Mega Society. Instead I cooperated in the experimental ``norming'' of many ``high-level'' tests in the late 70's and early 80's and one day received a letter stating that it had been determined from my scores on several tests (presumably the Skyscraper, the W-87, the LAIT, the GRE, etc.) that my I.Q. was ``193+'' and that I was a member of the Mega Society.
Several years ago, I took many versions of Hoeflin's tests, mastering the psychometric theory and practice to make constructive comments, and participating in a very intensive debate within the Mega Society that concluded that no test yet measures or discriminates at the 1-in-106 level; the members accordingly voted not to make that claim.
I chaired the Psychometrics Committee of TNS and was its Regent. As a result of these activities, I received many other participants answers to Hoeflin's test questions in the mail, sans solicitation, and at one point had three complete sets of answers that were being circulated widely. Not only would this distort the ``norming,'' but it finally made it impossible for me to be ``tested'' by these Hoeflin tests.
If I were to ``requalify by taking an abridged, non-time-consuming version of a Hoeflin test'' what would it signify, if anything? It doesn't even mean my cognition matches Hoeflin's, since Hoeflin himself obviously has not qualified on a Hoeflin test, either.
If Dr. Hoeflin wants a new club with his home-brew tests as the only way to get in, he is free to start one. I may or may not choose to join.
To ``renorm'' a Hoeflin test and eject anyone who fails to make the supposed new one-in-a-million cut would be like changing Hoeflin's earned Ph.D. to an honorary one if his university's accreditation were suspended at some future date for some technical reason. It's even worse, because: 1. Hoeflin's test has not been peer-reviewed or even published in the psychometric literature; 2. there is no valid research to determine what the one-in-a-million level is; and 3. there seems to be no way to get Dr. Hoeflin to take the counter-evidence seriously. There may be statistical techniques in the future that could reliably determine who is or is not at the 1-in-106 level, but the Hoeflin tests, as they now stand, demonstrably do not so discriminate.
It's embarrassing and unnecessary to subject the current members of Mega to this kind of arbitrary exercise. The members of Mega have gone through a lengthy democratic process to determine what kind of society they want; the current proposals would disenfranchise us and deprive us of both autonomy and dignity.
Some 25 years ago, I joined the old MM Society, which made claims to be a one-in-a-million society, or at least ``the top 2% of Mensa,'' and later, depending on the whim of the leadership, a one-in-100,000 society. When the founder passed away, the society, which was then quite active, was simply abolished because a clause in the will stated, ``I do not want the Society to exist without me.'' Later I was expelled from the ISPE in a star-chamber proceeding, apparently because the leadership objected to my role in co-founding TNS.
Now I'm retired and feel that it's time to take a stand against this arbitrary nonsense. Let's get some daylight on these home-brew tests!
How's that for getting ``revitalized''?
Ed Van Vleck [address omitted]
[Editor's comments: I didin't want to piss anybody off; I still don't, bit I probablly
still will. I pulled some stuff out of both Hoeflin's and Langdon's letters in the hope of
reducing rancor; let me know if this is acceptable.
Hoeflin had nothing overt to do with our (Cole's, Ward's, and my) stupid decision to require all members to achieve a minimum score on a Hoeflin test. Our only consideration with regard to Hoeflin is that he is a sensitive man, and we want to keep him as a member of this organization (which consists primarilly of sensitive men--what's the point of high-IQ if it doesn't include sensitivity?). We could have used some additional sensitivity ourselves when considering the idea of requalification. Let me apologize again to all members and subscribers. I hope that we can form an organization that has room for all past, present, future members.
Mr. Langdon and Mr. Van Vleck--I changed "106" to "million" in the the two places it appears in Van Vleck's letter because I can't handle exponents from my terminal [I changed it back here --KL]. Only then did I notice that you'd done some formatting to allow the exponent to print out nicely. Sorry. (I have fake ID that says my name is Gilligan, due to my capacity for screwing up.)]