The Journal of the Mega Society

Number 79

March 1993



Rick Rosner

5139 Balboa Blvd #303

Encino CA  91316-3430

(818) 986-9177


As discussed last issue, in recent communications with Chris Cole and me, Chris Langan accuses me of being a sucky editor, and I tend to agree.  A related point of Langan's is that I have a theory about which I make extravagant claims and about which I reveal very little.


Let me retract claims of having a theory.  What I have is a set of behavior centered around hoping that I have a theory.  I have an incompletely-congealed blob of attitudes, biases, hunches about the world.


There are periods of weeks during which I think about the structure of the world, because:

A.  I want to be rich, famous, etc.

B.  I don't want to be the failure that I am.

C.  It's bothersome not to understand how things work.

D.  I mistake my befuddlement for flashes of insight.


There are periods of months where I don't think about the structure of the world, because:

A.  Thinking is hard.

B.  I'm afraid I'm wrong.

C.  I've forgotten what I was thinking.

D.  It feels better to think I have a theory than to think about the theory.


I'm now in one of those non thinking periods.  What I do instead is:

A.  Masturbate, so I can fall asleep.  (Carole says to add, "or have sex with my wife.")

B.  Sleep.  (See above.)

C.  Think about stupid stuff, such as fake ID's or how many consecutive days I've gone to the gym.

D.  Doubt that I have any clue about the nature of things.

E.  Immerse myself in obsessive little projects (taking IQ tests and GRE's, spending 300 hours constructing a jeweled bracelet for my wife). 

F.  Read trash, watch cable.


Such distractions help me forget that I'm supposed to be thinking about the structure of the world.  Eventually, however, anxiety about my worthless behavior forces another wave of desperate theorization.


Even if I had a complete theory, I would not unveil it in Noesis.  I'm too vain and insecure.  Too many of you are too smart, skilled, and mathematically knowledgeable.   Anything I can do, you can do better, and I'm too big a baby to deal with that.


Langan believes that a good editor would understand the material printed in Noesis.  With me as editor, you are not getting that.  I give the material what I presume to be more attention than does the average reader, but I don't study the material as if I'm going to be tested on it.


Because I used to write questions for a satirical game show, and because I used to own every single issue of Mad magazine (and 15 of 24 issues of its precursor, Mad comics), I feel that my role as editor is to make gentle fun of the contents of Noesis and to make embarrassing personal admissions.  As you've noticed, even lame humor is rare in IQ journals.  I haven't felt obligated to become more knowledgeable to be a better editor.


I don't have the background or the focused attention to fairly evaluate Langan's theory.  He raises some peripheral issues I feel comfortable talking about, and I don't feel bad joking about the idea of an all-encompassing cosmology.  Such a theory would have to contain its own punch line, and as Krazy Kat says, "A cat can look at a king."


In Noesis, there's lots of stuff, some good, some not-so-good, which I don't understand.  Part of this is my fault, part of it is the fault of the material.    If you agree with Langan that my lack of understanding is a serious shortcoming, let me know.




Greetings Fellow Intellectuals:


We, the members of Thinkers Consulting, are tired of being equated with others, who can barely read, just because their "credentials" are equal, or even superior, to ours.  We are tired of having credentials considered more valuable than intelligence and knowledge.  We are tired of finding that, whatever we say, there's somebody with a Ph.D. who says the opposite.


We are tired of being told that making a living in this society is a matter of "playing the game," and of going through the motions," and of "telling people what they want to hear," and of "getting paid to show up," and of everything else except having something in your head.


We are tired of watching others get paid $100,000 a year because they do those things, rather than because they know anything, because they "earned" their credentials and their titles, rather than because they know a preposition from a verb, because they're "well-rounded" rather than because they know a cosine from a logarithm, because they have "discipline" rather than any desire to do anything right, because they're experts at making sure they'll have an excuse when the report is wrong, instead of making sure the report is right.


We are tired of being told in effect that you have to be a phony to make money, and that you can't make a living if you're for real.  We are tired of being told "If you want your degree/paycheck/promotion, just do what you have to do in order to get it," and invariably finding that what you "have to do" is behave like a mindless vegetable.


We are tired of going to school to get the knowledge that we will supposedly need to do the job, and then getting the job and being told "Forget what the teacher said--this is the real world."  We are tired of being told by the teacher that two and two are four, and then being told on the job that Mr. Smith is the boss, and if he says two and two are five, they're five.  We are tired of being told that we are "out of touch with reality" and that we need "professional help" because we have the pig-headed obstinacy to go on insisting that two and two are four after we've just been told--twice!--that Mr. Smith has decided that they're five.


Well, now we have decided that, whether anybody likes it or not, we're going to do something about all this.  It's time people realized that an "authority" is one thing and an expert is another.  We are forming an organization whose members are certified by us as experts in specific subjects--absolutely without regard for their education, experience, or "credentials"--solely on the basis of evidence of thorough mastery of the subject, demonstrated before our eyes.


Our standards will be super-high, "perfectionist" standards, and we will not lower them for anybody.  they will also be absolute, as opposed to relative, standards--in other words, no marking on a curve.  If 1000 people take our algebra test and only three of them pass, then we will not certify the other 997 as experts on algebra.  They may get a Ph.D., but they can't get our certificate.  And that's why our certificate will mean more than a Ph.D.--to those who really need an expert on algebra.


Of course, this means that there won't be a lot of people out there who need the services of our members--but that's all right, because we won't have a lot of members either.  We are interested in quality, not quantity.  We believe in high standards, and we will not compromise.


Prospective clients will be guaranteed correctness--in grammar, in math, or in whatever the subject is.  In return, they will have to promise--in a written contract--that they will let us work up to our standards of excellence.  Before the contract is signed, the member and the client will agree upon a fee, part of which will go to the organization.


Those wishing to participate in this project may send us a postcard, indicating their specialty subject and any comments.  They will be notified as soon as a membership testing mechanism is in place.  We would be especially interested in hearing from you if you feel that you would have the time and the competence to be one of the overseers of the organization, and to administer the tests.


Mr. Rosner:


The above is my original draft of the letter I was going to send those who showed interest in my organization.  Also enclosed is stuff about my Pogo book.




Norman F. Hale

110 Bank St. Apt. 2H

New York NY  10014




from Robert Dick


The Kingdom of Heaven is like a computer programmer who searches his code for bugs.  When he finds one he immediately repents of it a rejoices that it did not escape him any longer than it did.


Comments:  God too is capable of repenting and feeling sorry for what He has done.  See Genesis 6:6, for example.  Repentance, whether for a large or a small thing, is joyful.  We should all therefore continually seek out things to repent of, just as a good computer programmer seeks out bugs, knowing there is no such thing as "the last bug."




Peter Pomfrit

20.  Stamp: Philatelist :: Toilet Paper: ?

21.  Radar: Acronym :: Cabal: ?

22  Find the next number in this series:  5  4  6  9  7  5  8  1  9  ?




Chris Cole



Each of us goes through life learning various facts, and the structure of these facts is like a sieve -- full of holes.  Any particular question is more than likely to fall through one of these holes.  But if we take two or more individuals and overlap their sieves, the odds of finding an answer becomes better.  When you get a lot of individuals together and they cannot answer a question, there is probably something wrong with the question.  This is how I view much of philosophy, but that is another story...


In the December Omni magazine, Scot Morris published subscriber Daryl Inman's Quest Test -- which should be familiar to readers of Noesis.  I decided to apply my "sieve theory" to this test, and contacted a number of members to see if they knew the answers.  In order to test my theory, I asked the members I contacted not to spend a lot of time on the test.  I was looking for knowledge that they already possessed -- not something they recently acquired from a directed search of the literature.  The annotated solution set produced below is the result.  My conclusions are given thereafter.

If there is more than one word that fits the analogy, we list the best word first.  Goodness of fit considers many factors, such as parallel spelling, pronunciation or etymology.  In general, a word that occurs in Merriam-Webster's Third New International Dictionary is superior to one that does not.  If we are unsure of the answer, we mark it with a question mark.

Most of these answers can be found in  Herbert M. Baus, The Master Crossword Puzzle Dictionary, Doubleday, New York, 1981.  The notation in parentheses refers to the heading and subheading, if any, in Baus.

1. Mother: Maternal :: Stepmother: Novercal (STEPMOTHER, pert.)
2. Club: Axe :: Claviform: Dolabriform, Securiform (AXE, -shaped)
    "Claviform" is from Latin "clava" for "club"; "securiform" is from
    Latin "secura" for "axe"; "dolabriform" is from Latin "dolabra" for "to
    hit with an axe."  Thus "securiform" has the more parallel etymology.
    However, only "dolabriform" occurs in Merriam-Webster's Third New
    International Dictionary.
3. Cook Food: Pressure Cooker :: Kill Germs: Autoclave (PRESSURE, cooker)
4. Water: Air :: Hydraulic: Pneumatic (AIR, pert.)
5. Prediction: Dirac :: Proof: Anderson (POSITRON, discoverer)
6. Raised: Sunken :: Cameo: Intaglio (GEM, carved)
7. 1: 14 :: Pound: Stone (ENGLAND, weight)
8. Malay: Amok :: Eskimo Women: Piblokto (ESKIMO, hysteria)
9. Sexual Intercourse: A Virgin :: Bearing Children: A Nullipara
10. Jaundice, Vomiting, Hemorrhages: Syndrome :: Jaundice: Symptom (EVIDENCE)
11. Guitar: Cello :: Segovia: Casals (SPAIN, cellist)
12. Bars: Leaves :: Eagle: Stars (INSIGNIA)
13. Roll: Aileron :: Yaw: Rudder (AIRCRAFT, part)
14. 100: Century :: 10,000: Myriad, Banzai? (NUMBER)
     "Century" usually refers to one hundred years, while "myriad" refers
     to 10,000 things, but "century" can also mean 100 things.  "Banzai"
     is Japanese for 10,000 years.
15. Surface: Figure :: Mobius: Klein
16. Logic: Philosophy ::
    To Know Without Conscious Reasoning: Theosophy (MYSTICISM)
     There are many schools of philosophy that tout the possibility of
     knowledge without conscious reasoning (e.g., intuitionism).
     "Theosophy" is closest in form to the word "philosophy."
17. Alive: Parasite :: Dead: Saprophyte (SCAVENGER)
18. Sea: Land :: Strait: Isthmus (CONNECTION)
19. Moses: Fluvial :: Noah: Diluvial (FLOOD, pert.)
20. Remnant: Whole :: Meteorite: Meteoroid? (METEOR)
     A meteorite is the remains of a meteoroid after it has
     partially burned up in the atmosphere.  The original meteoroid
     may have come from an asteroid, comet, dust cloud, dark matter,
     supernova, interstellar collision or other sources as yet unknown.
21. Opossum, Kangaroo, Wombat: Marsupial ::
    Salmon, Sturgeon, Shad: Andromous (SALMON)
22. Twain/Clemens: Allonym :: White House/President: Metonym (FIGURE, of speech)
23. Sculptor: Judoka :: Fine: Martial (SELF, -defense)
24. Dependent: Independent :: Plankton: Nekton (ANIMAL, free-swimming)
25. Matthew, Mark, Luke, John: Gospels ::
    Joshua-Malachi: Nebiim (HEBREW, bible books)
26. Luminous Flux: Lumen :: Sound Absorption: Sabin (SOUND, absorption unit)
27. 2: 3 :: He: Li (ELEMENT)
28. Growth: Temperature :: Pituitary Gland: Hypothalamus (BRAIN, part)
29. Spider: Arachnoidism :: Snake: Ophidism, Ophidiasis, Ophiotoxemia
     None of these words is in Webster's Third.
30. Epigram: Anthology :: Foreign Passages: Chrestomathy, Delectus (COLLECTION)
     These words are equally good answers.
31. Pathogen: Thermometer :: Lethal Wave: Dosimeter? (X-RAY, measurement)
     What does "lethal wave" refer to?  If it is radiation, then
     a dosimeter measures the dose, not the effect, as does a thermometer.
32. Russia: Balalaika :: India: Sitar, Sarod (INDIA, musical instrument)
     Both are guitar-like instruments (lutes) native to India.
33. Involuntary: Sternutatory :: Voluntary: Expectorant, Sialagogue? (SPIT)
     A better word would be an agent that tends to cause snorting or
     exsufflation, which is the voluntary, rapid expulsion of air from
     the lungs.
34. Unusual Hunger: Bulimia ::
    Hunger for the Unusual: Allotriophagy, Pica (HUNGER, unusual)
    These words are synonyms.
35. Blind: Stag :: Tiresias: Actaeon (STAG, changed to)
36. River: Fluvial :: Rain: Pluvial (RAIN, part.)
37. Country: City :: Tariff: Octroi (TAX, kind)
38. $/Dollar: Logogram :: 3, 5, 14, 20/Cent: Cryptogram (CODE)
39. Lung Capacity: Spirometer ::
    Arterial Pressure: Sphygmomanometer (PULSE, measurer)
40. Gold: Ductile :: Ceramic: Fictile (CLAY, made of)
41. 7: 8 :: Uranium: Neptunium (ELEMENT, chemical)
42. Judaism: Messiah :: Islam: Mahdi (MOHAMMEDAN, messiah)
43. Sight: Amaurosis :: Smell: Anosmia, Anosphresia (SMELL, loss)
     These words are synonyms.
44. Oceans: Cousteau :: Close Encounters of the Third Kind: Spielburg, Truffaut
     Steven Spielburg was the person most responsible for the movie;
     Francois Truffaut was a French person appearing in the movie.
45. Diamond/Kimberlite: Perimorph ::
    Fungus/Oak: Endophyte, Endoparasite (PARASITE, plant)
     An endoparasite is parasitic, while an endophyte may not be.  Which
     answer is best depends upon the kind of fungus.
46. Compulsion to Pull One's Hair: Trichotillomania ::
    Imagine Oneself As a Beast: Zoanthropy, Lycanthropy
     Neither word is exactly right: "zoanthropy" means imagining oneself
     to be an animal, while "lycanthropy" means imagining oneself to be
     a wolf.
47. Cross: Neutralism :: Hexagram: Zionism (ISRAEL, doctrine)
48. Wing: Tail :: Fuselage: Empennage, Engines, Waist? (TAIL, kind)
     "Empennage" means the tail assemply of an aircraft, which is more a
     synonym for "tail" than "wing" is for "fuselage."  The four primary
     forces on an airplane are: lift from the wings, negative lift from
     the tail, drag from the fuselage, and thrust from the engines.  The
     narrow part at the end of the fuselage is called the "waist."
49. Bell: Loud :: Speak: Hear?
     The Sanskrit root of "bell" means "he talks" or "he speaks"; the
     Sanskrit root of "loud" means "he hears".
50. Benevolence: Beg :: Philanthropist: Mendicant, Mendicate?
     If the analogy is attribute: attribute :: noun: noun, the answer
     is "mendicant";  if the analogy is noun: verb :: noun: verb the
     answer is "mendicate."
51. 10: Decimal :: 20: Vigesimal (TWENTY, pert.)
52. Five-sided Polyhedron: Pentahedron ::
    Faces of Parallelepiped Bounded by a Square: ?
     Does this mean a parallelepiped all of whose faces are bounded by
     a square (and what does "bounded" mean), or does it mean all six
     parallelograms that form the faces of a parallelepiped drawn in a
     plane inside of a square?
53. Motor: Helicopter :: Airflow: Autogiro (HELICOPTER)
54. Man: Ant :: Barter: Trophallaxis
55. United States: Soviet Union :: Cubism: ? (ART, style)
     If the emphasis is on opposition and collapse, there were several
     movements that opposed Cubism and that died out (e.g., Purism,
     Suprematism, Constructivism).  If the emphasis is on freedom of
     perspective versus constraint, there were several movements that
     emphasized exact conformance with nature (e.g., Naturalism, Realism,
     Photo-Realism).  If the emphasis is on dominating the art
     scene, the only movement that was contemporary with Cubism and
     of the same popularity as Cubism was Surrealism.  A better answer
     would be an art movement named "Turkey-ism", since the Soviet Union
     offered to exchange missiles in Cuba for missiles in Turkey during
     the Cuban Missile Crisis.
56. State: Stipend :: Church: Prebend (STIPEND)
57. Motorcycle: Bicycle :: Motordrome: Velodrome (CYCLE, track)
58. Transparent: Porous :: Obsidian: Pumice (GLASS, volcanic)
59. *r2*h: 1/3**r2*h :: Cylinder: Cone

On the whole, I think the membership's sieve did pretty well.  While I don't have any really numerical theory of all this, I would be surprised if any of the members that I did not contact can answer any of the questions that remain.  So, if you can, please surprise me.


It is interesting to note how well Baus' crossword puzzle dictionary does on this test.  I think this is because many of the test questions involve obscure words.  This is something that cruciverbalists excel in, mostly because it's hard to make all those words fit together!





Chris Cole


Ron Hoeflin has graciously consented to a merger of the Short Form Test and his work-in-progress, the Ultra Test.  This means he has effectively donated the problems from his seven trial tests, which represents over a year of hard work.  I propose that we call the merged test the Ultra Test.


Ron has convinced me to abandon the idea of a short-form test, in the sense of a small number of problems.  There are two reasons for this: first, a small number of problems leads to statistical instability, and will make norming difficult, and second, by necessity a short test would have all hard problems, which may be off-putting.  In addition, a longer test will allow us to include several easy "aha!" problems, which will both entice and instruct the test taker.  In other words, the easy problems indicate what kind of problems the hard ones are.


It is important for the test takers to understand that the problems are not amenable to exhaustive reference work or tedious calculation.  Otherwise, they will abandon the test as too time consuming.  This explains, I think, the sharp drop off in takers between the Mega and Titan Tests.  I think the audience of potential test takers was "burned out" by the Mega Test.  With the Ultra Test, I hope to reinvigorate that audience as well as attract a whole new audience.  There are many people who could qualify for the Mega Society if we could just get them to take the damn test!


In order to get a test published anywhere, it will have to be normed.  This means it will have to be tried by a sample population.  The only sample population readily available is the readership of Ron's journals.  Ron and I would like to publish the Ultra Test in the September issue of Ron's journals.  This will give us adequate time to collect and norm answers by early next year.  Therefore, this is the deadline:  all candidate problems for the Ultra Test must be received by September 1.  So, please start thinking of "aha!" type verbal and math problems and submit them.


Ron picked the 41 most discriminating verbal analogy problems from his trial tests.  Ron calculates the percentage of high scorers who correctly answer a question and subtracts from this the percentage of low scorers who answer correctly.  Thus, easy problems and hard problems have a low discrimination value.  I further culled this list of 41 problems down to the following 12.  The criteria I used are these:



1.  Avoid reference exercises.


If the definition of the word is obvious from the analogy, but the word is obscure, the problem becomes a matter of searching reference material.  This is not a test of intelligence; it is a test of who has the biggest thesaurus.  I encourage all members to obtain a copy of Herbert M. Baus' Master Crossword Puzzle Dictionary.  This book is the standard reference book of the National Puzzlers League and was able to answer 80% of the Quest Test.  Barnes and Noble recently stocked up on these and sells them for $15.  You can also order one from their 800 number.



2.  Avoid idioms.


Idioms are not familiar to people for whom English is a second language.  Native English speakers are a minority of the world's population.  We should strive for a test that has a wider audience.



3.  Avoid mythology and religion.


We should expect Chinese speakers of English to know as much Western mythology as we know Chinese mythology.  I know next to nothing about Chinese mythology.  By the way, lest anyone think this is an overly harsh criterion, did you know that there are more students of English in China than there are speakers of English in the US?



4.  Avoid word play.


A play on words  is biased toward native English speakers.



5.  Avoid quotations, titles, etc..


Again, these are culturally biased.



6.  Avoid "A: synonym of A :: B: ?" or "A: B :: synonym of A: ?."


This is a catch-all criterion, meant to include analogies that do not fall into any of the above categories exactly, but which still are not so much analogies as they are definitions.  The relation of synonymy is not a good basis for an analogy.




So here are the 12 new problems:


23.  Space: Hyperspace :: Vector: ?

24.  Image: Idea :: Hallucination: ?

25.  Wind: Rain :: Typhoon: ?

26.  Inward: Outward :: Infection: ?

27.  Column: Row :: File: ?

28.  Humbug: Bach :: Seek: ?

29.  38: Pyongyang :: 49: ?

30.  Of ten: Factor :: Of magnitude: ?

31.  Say : Hear :: Imply : ?

32.  2.54: Inch :: 3.26 : ?

33.  A, AB, B, BO, O : BO :: A, C, E, G, T: ?

34.  Eggs: Grading :: Wounded: ?


In the next issue, we will present the spatial questions selected from Ron's tests, as well as all the other questions that will no doubt begin pouring in from the members who have been inspired by Ron's generosity.