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In Memoriam: Victor Serebriakoff

Kevin Langdon


Victor Serebriakoff, who played a major role in shaping Mensa, the original high-IQ society, died on January 1, 2000, at the age of 87.

I had an opportunity to meet Mr. Serebriakoff once, but things took another turn that evening and I missed him, so, unfortunately, this page will be less personal than those dedicated to the other three prominent figures in the high-IQ societies whose passsing is observed in these pages.

Victor joined Mensa in 1949, four years after its founding. He served Mensa in various capacities, becoming “Secretary, Chief Executive and Principal Officer” in 1953 and Honorary President of International Mensa in 1982. He was very active in Mensa organizational affairs. Although his party did not always win society elections, no one played a larger part in creating the organizational structure of Mensa.

In addition to the leading role he played in Mensa’s organizational affairs, Victor was a major force in shaping the culture of Mensa in the early days, before the growth of American Mensa brought with it a tendency toward vulgarity that has saddled Mensa with an unsavory reputation, and a force for retaining the original direction of Mensa after this development.

Victor invented a very interesting form of meeting that he called a “Think-In.” A prominent speaker would be invited to present ideas that were new and controversial. First the speaker would talk and then there would be lively and free-ranging general discussion. Finally, the members present would vote on two questions: whether what the speaker had said was new and true.

Victor is the author of over a dozen books, including Mensa: The Society for the Highly Intelligent; Future of Intelligence: Biological and Artificial; Brain; and several books of IQ tests and puzzles.