How I profited from high IQ societies

I took my first intelligence test at the age of eighteen. I was in my first year at medical school back then, and we had subjects such as chemistry and physics, which were more about understanding than just memorizing facts. I was top of my class at these subjects, and my fellow students used to call me “science genius”. That was what sparkled my interest in finding out what my intelligence quotient is. I used to read a German magazine on neuroscience called “Gehirn und Geist” in those days, and one day I found an advertisement of Mensa in this magazine. I had previously read about Mensa in some book and now wanted to try if I could join. So I ordered the pre-test and was told that my score was above the 99th percentile. Confident that I would manage to get in, I took the real test and became a Mensa member. That was in the year 2002.

Upon becoming a Mensa member I often attended the monthly meetings here in Vienna, including the game evenings and the café sessions, and made a lot of new acquaintances. In 2004 an online discussion board for Austrian Mensa members was established, which I frequented very often. In this way I basically learned that there was more to intelligence than just getting good grades at school. I realized I was also good at discovering arguments backing up my points of view in discussions. That was a valuable experience. Moreover, I enjoyed the feeling of being accepted as a person. In Mensa all members are considered equal, and there are no rivalries, nobody trying to show that they are smarter than someone else. There is much tolerance and I am happy to be in such a community.

Sometimes I asked myself whether it would not have been even better if I had joined Mensa, or any other high IQ community, a couple of years earlier. A good student, I was mostly interested in computers in my high school days and sought contact to likeminded people. That was how I sooner or later discovered the demoscene. There are many hobbyist programmers who create games or little applications in their sparetime, but the demoscene was something special. Demosceners were the really talented, cool guys. It was these people who discovered how to break the technical barriers on all sorts of platforms, enabling computers to show graphics in a higher resolution than what they were officially capable of, display faster animations and store data with a better compression ratio. Naturally I felt attracted to the them. Alas, I myself was not much into computer graphics. I am not much of an aesthetic person. My own interests in computing are rather about algorithmics and creating efficient programs to solve computational tasks (like solving Sudoku puzzles). That is why I never actually participated in demo projects. But I showed my strengths once by participating in an Assembler size optimizing competition, in which I got first place, beating more than 20 other participants from all over Europe. Moreover, as writing has always been one of my greatest hobbies, I decided to make a diskmag when I found out that when I got interested in the demoscene, there was no magazine that really covered all of the scene and contained a reasonable number of articles. I have been very successful with my diskmag, these days there is almost no scener who has not heard of it. Each issue gets about 6000 downloads. Considering that there are only a few thousand active demosceners in the world, that’s a lot.

Still, if you talk to some demosceners, they will say that they do not regard me as a scener. The reason is simply that I have never created or contributed to a demo or intro project (although I made an attempt at a little 256b intro a couple of years ago). You see, they do not consider me equal. Moreover, a lot of demosceners are quite impolite and rude. They are not a good role model to imitate when trying to learn how to handle people.

Therefore I wonder if my own personality development would not have taken a healthier course if I had joined a high IQ society when I was 14 years old and had totally ignored the demoscene.

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