A Dialog Between Charles
Petrizzi and Kevin Langdon

When Charles sent me his interesting and relevant letter, I was
moved to reply and he answered me. This piece contains almost
all of our exchange, rearranged in a more logical order.


Charles: I have to say some things that have been on my mind for the past year (yes, a whole year [Note: More like two, now  —KL]):

In December 1998, I sat down at my kitchen/dining room table to a most challenging set of problems, forty-eight in all. Some of the problems I knew right away, others I didn’t. Some I knew I would enjoy dissecting and conquering, others I knew would conquer me. Some made me laugh; others made me cry.

After completing the set of problems to the best of my ability and mailing my answers with the requisite twenty-five-dollar check, I waited patiently for a whole week. On January 16, 1999, I received a thin envelope that, I knew, contained my destiny. I was sitting around that same table at which I originally took the test, having dinner with my beautiful wife (who was eight months pregnant at the time) and our energetic one-and-a-half-year-old son. I carefully opened the envelope and announced the news to both of them. The score sheet confirmed her expectations and I had accomplished my goal: I qualified for the Mega Society. I was in, or was I?

I sent off a copy of my score to the proper authorities and put on my waiting shoes (and socks). After many months of checking my white, flowery mailbox with no reply in sight, my disappointment culminated into dejection. So, I decided to turn proactive. I contacted the right person and—shazaam!—I was on the Megalist. My childhood dream had become hard reality. I was in, or was I?

[Note: Steve Schuessler’s MegaList was quite active last year, though it grew very acrimonious in the course of events. The last message I received was in January, by which time most of the fighting had already moved to Prometheus’ fire list. I have heard that the MegaList has been revived, but I have not been invited to participate. This is a worrisomely divisive development. See the announcement of the new Mega Society e-mail list open to all members of the society at the end of my editorial in this issue.  —KL]

I am in, or am I?

Kevin: You’re in. You applied before the officers suspended admissions via the Mega Test.

Charles: That’s what I’m constantly told, but it helps to see official notification and recognition for such an achievement in my life. I haven’t been in HighIQ-land for that long (well, one could argue that I’ve always been there) so I’m still fairly sensitive about such things. My wife participates in a Mother-to-Mother group that is so fiercely organized that it makes Mega’s organizational structure look like a two-year-old jumping up and down at the World Championship for Ballroom Dancing. I don’t know if you’ve ever witnessed a two-year old dance, but. . . .

The Megalist features many interesting and thought-provoking issues that I would never see in everyday conversation at work or at home. Most of the material stimulates the six senses to synaptic syncopation. Some of the material, though, we can do without. I particularly find the occasional personal attacks and vituperation humorous at times, but not becoming behavior of people with such stratospheric intelligence. I probably wouldn’t find these attacks humorous if they were directed at me, but I would gladly risk this freedom to be a part of your society. I claim there is much to gain from the Mega Society.

I do not want this equation to hold true in the future:


Kevin: Freedom and harmony are opposed to one another, to a certain extent. Squabbling is sometimes the only alternative to tyranny of thought, which is the most deadening thing of all.

Charles: I agree whole-heartedly. But I make that point (to an extent) with my penultimate sentence [in the long paragraph above].

Because, if the above holds true, then the result is that a group of people who possess that rare, coveted “one-in-a-million” intelligence level cannot unite to form a workable society, period.

Kevin: If at first you don’t succeed . . .

Charles: It doesn’t matter what we call this society: Mega, Noetic, Titan, or whatever. The qualifications will still be the same, ergo, the people will still be the same. To effect change and make these societies work, members will have to work a little harder at harmony. Discord is good at times, even a little cacophony, but total anarchy, I hope, isn’t the main objective.

Kevin: Actually, it’s pretty close. It’s sort of like Mensa’s disclaimer that while its members have opinions, Mensa has no opinions. My vision of these societies is that they’re places where people can put forward their views, whether they are in accord with one another or not, with control only over such serious abuses as threats, libel, obscene epithets, ad hominem arguments, etc. Some in the societies would prefer to enforce their personal brand of “civility,” meaning that under their rules pompous, self-promoting naked emperors would be a protected species. That is unacceptable to me. I am also opposed to the societies being used for the benefit of various “worthy causes” not necessarily supported by all of their members, as is often advocated by well-meaning but short-sighted people.

Charles: You and I may have common long-term goals, but I’m not trying to “save Mega” in one fell swoop with this article. Of course, that is a remote possibility, but it’s not my short-term goal. Actually, I don’t even think I have a short-term goal with this piece. It more constitutes a “shot in the dark” on my part.