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An Interview with Monika Orski (Part Two)














Interviewer: Scott Douglas Jacobsen

Numbering: Issue 18.A, Idea: Outliers & Outsiders (Part Fourteen)

Place of Publication: Langley, British Columbia, Canada

Title: In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal

Web Domain:

Individual Publication Date: September 1, 2018

Issue Publication Date: January 1, 2019

Name of Publisher: In-Sight Publishing

Frequency: Three Times Per Year

Words: 2,391

ISSN 2369-6885


Monika Orski is the Ordförande/Chairman, Mensa Sverige/Mensa Sweden. She discusses: books by Orski and their contents; the reason for the topics in the texts; membership of Mensa Sweden; demographics; Mensa groups associated with Mensa Sweden; provisions of Mensa Sweden for its members; average standard deviation IQ score of the membership; the relationship between Mensa at 2-sigma and other high-IQ groups at 3-sigma and 4-sigma; the identification, education, and utilization of the young gifted and talented population; programs in the advanced industrial economies; some informal education and practical life skills the gifted and talent should acquire if they wish to pursue a life in writing; and some prominent cases of when a known highly gifted person went wrong, e.g. antisocial, violent, and so on.

Keywords: chairman, Mensa Sverige, Mensa Sweden, Monika Orski, Ordförande.

An Interview with Monika Orski: Ordförande/Chairman, Mensa Sverige/Mensa Sweden (Part Two)[1],[2]

*Please see the footnotes, bibliography, and citation style listing after the interview.*

1. Scott Douglas Jacobsen: What have been the books written by you? What topics tend to be the focus for you?

Monika Orski: In this area, I am a typical mensan, in that my activity is diverse. This far I have published three books, each of them very different from the others.

My first book, in 2007, is an introduction to open source software. There was no such book in Swedish, and I saw a need for it, as part of my computer systems related consulting work.

The second book, in 2011, is a young adults novel. It tells a story of friendship, incipient romantic interests, and mental illness. When it was published, I often got the question whether it’s autobiographic. It is not.

The third and most recent book is a collection of short stories, published in 2017 but written over many years. The short stories are partially intertwined, with most of the main characters part of a Jewish family in Stockholm, Warsaw and Jerusalem. Again, I often get the question if it’s autobiographic. It is not, but of course I have used settings I am familiar with, and in part processed stories I have heard.

If things turn out according to plan, there will be a fourth book published next year, 2019. This time around I go back to nonfiction, for a book on leadership of the highly gifted, largely based on my Mensa experience.

2. Jacobsen: Also, why those topics for the texts?

Orski: Well, they are all topics that interest me. I always write something or other. Some texts reach publication, others do not. Writing is a hobby I find rewarding in itself, even when it does not produce tangible results.

I also look to what is currently topical in Swedish literature, as for the young adults book, and of course to what I know about, as in the nonfiction. All in all, there are many factors shaping the choice of topics, and I am aware that I am probably unaware of half of them. Like most writers, I would presume.

3. Jacobsen: Let us talk about the different functions and facets of Mensa Sweden: how many members? 

Orski: Around 7,000 members, and the number increases every year. With Sweden’s circa 10 million population, we are the national Mensa with the highest number of members per million inhabitants, which we are very proud of.

I also find it noteworthy that the only other national Mensa at a similar level of members per million is Mensa Finland. Since many years, we have a friendly competition with our neighbours for this first place. There are larger national groups, of course, but no other is even near the same numbers per million.

4. Jacobsen: What demographics remain a part of Mensa Sweden? 

Orski: Well, we do not really keep statistics of demographics regarding anything but age and gender. The average age of Swedish mensans is 36. We have around 25 % women, 74% men, 1% others / unknown gender.

As a side note, the success rate of candidates who take the admission test is slightly higher for women than for men. Not a large difference, but visible. Thus, if we could only persuade as many women as men to take the admission test, the gender balance would even out with time.

5. Jacobsen: What other Mensa groups frequently associated with Mensa Sweden?

Orski: All the national Mensa groups, currently around 50 of them, are associated under the realm of Mensa International. But there are also regional cooperations, and we are very happy about the close cooperation we have between the Nordics, i.e. the national Mensas of Denmark, Finland, Norway and Sweden.

6. Jacobsen: What does Mensa Sweden provide for its members?

Orski: Mensa is member-driven, and almost all work within the organization is done by volunteers. This means the most important service we provide are ways to meet other members, and decide what to do together. There are local meetings spread around Sweden, organized by members who simply announce a pub meeting, or book a lecturer and a room for the lecture, etc.

There are, of course, larger meetings organized by groups of volunteers and supervised by elected Mensa officers on the board. There is also a magazine published 8 times a year, by volunteer editors and with contributions from members.

Then there is the opportunity to help out as a volunteer in the Gifted Children Program I mentioned before, and many members see this as a key function. It is a very tangible way to contribute to one of the three stated purposes of Mensa: to identify and foster human intelligence for the benefit of humanity, to encourage research in the nature, characteristics and uses of intelligence, and to promote stimulating intellectual and social opportunities for its members.

8. Jacobsen: What is the average standard deviation IQ score of the members?

Orski: The criteria to join Mensa is the same all over the world, to score among the highest 2% on a supervised intelligence test.

We prefer the use of percentile to IQ scores. To still answer the question about scores: Intelligence is normally distributed. Assuming a mean of 100 and a standard deviation of 15, a passing Mensa score is 131 or above.

9. Jacobsen: What is the relationship between Mensa at 2-sigma and other high-IQ groups at 3-sigma and 4-sigma?

Orski: In short, none. Mensa is by far the most well-established high-IQ group, and has no direct relationship to any other group.

Of course, there are members who also join other groups, like Intertel (1%) or Triple Nine (0.1%) or ISPE (0.1%). In my experience, those who do usually stay in Mensa too, and are more likely to continue their Mensa membership than members of any of the others.

10. Jacobsen: There seems to be a widespread loss of the gifted and talent for the benefit of society and the fulfillment and meaning, in their own lives. How would you recommend Sweden move forward in the identification, education, and utilization of the young gifted and talented population?

Orski: I’m not at all sure there is such a widespread loss. Of course, most of the gifted people I come across are members of Mensa, which means they are in the relatively small group that wants to join a high-IQ society. Among them, far from everyone has any sort of visibly intellectual career, but that doesn’t imply they cannot be happy with their life and benefit society.

That said, I still think that much can be gained if gifted children are identified and given an education proper to their needs. If schools learn to identify them early, they can be taught in slightly different ways, to cater to their intellectual conditions and needs. Most important, they should not be held back. It can make a significant difference just to allow a child to sit quietly and read about something s/he is interested in, instead of having to explicitly wait for their classmates to accomplish a task they themselves were able to do in a few minutes. Not only does it let them do something meaningful, it also gives them a feeling of being rewarded for having done the standard tasks, instead of being punished for completing them faster than others.

11. Jacobsen: What programs exist in advanced industrial economies for the gifted and talented that could easily be implemented in Sweden? 

Orski: There are probably many good programs I am not aware of. Then, every educational system has its problems. However, I think the schooling systems of France and Finland would probably be interesting to look to for hints, as both tend to produce good results.

12. Jacobsen: What gifted and talented programs would take the longest to establish in Sweden but would have the greatest long-term impact on the intellectual flourishing of the country?

Orski: In my view, the greatest long-term positive impact would be produced by a shift of focus in university education. Today, it is mostly about training students for specific professions. We have university education for teachers, psychologists, engineers etc – but to gain a broad education that spans over several subjects is hard, not in terms of the actual learning process but in terms of being able to put such an education together. The system is designed to streamline student throughput, not to let them explore several possible talents.

Gifted young people should be able to combine subjects more easily. If they are allowed to find new combinations, and follow their usual multiple talents, some of them will be eminent in fields that do not even exist yet. But that takes a shift in education as a whole, and especially a shift that would allow university students to still pursue a specific field, but also let them create new combinations for learning.

Also, there remains the basic imperative never to punish gifted youth for being gifted. It is not as easy as it sounds, as every educational system has to be mostly adapted for the average, for practical reasons. However, I think much can be accomplished by the general approach that no one should be held back.

13. Jacobsen: What are some informal education and practical life skills the gifted and talent should acquire if they wish to pursue a life in writing?

I will start with the things everyone who wants to pursue a life in writing should do: Read, read, write, read, write and then read some more. You need to be truly rooted in your language, you need to know about other literature in your field, and you also need to read classics to be able to relate to current writing, including your own. If you do not enjoy reading, writing is not the path for you. Also, writing is a craft. It takes practice.

The next thing is, remember that very few writers can actually live off their writing. This is especially true for all of us who work in small linguistic regions. Here, the gifted usually have an advantage. Most highly gifted people have multiple talents, and thus it is easier to pursue a “daytime job”, or another parallel career, as well as being a writer.

Another important practical thing is to find peers to exchange text analysis. Find other writers at about your own level, and form a group that will share text and help each other by criticism. It is important that you should not be in the habit of praise each other’s texts, but actually criticize. That is the way to learn, and also learn to pay more attention to the strengths and weaknesses of the text before you. This group should, ideally, contain writers from different walks of life and with different intellectual skills.

14. Jacobsen: What are some prominent cases of when a known highly gifted person went wrong, e.g. antisocial, violent, and so on?

Orski: My Internet search is no better than that of anybody else… It has been widely published that the “Unabomber” Ted Kaczynski is probably highly gifted. The same things are said about another terrorist, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed. Of course, I have no way to corroborate these claims.

High intelligence is no guarantee against mental illness. Neither is it a guarantee for high morals. Unfortunately, there is no sign that the highly intelligent don’t go wrong about as often – or as seldom – as those of average intelligence.


  1. Mensa International. (2018). Mensa Sweden. Retrieved from
  2. Mensa Sverige. (2018). Mensa Sverige. Retrieved from

Appendix I: Footnotes

[1] Ordförande/Chairman, Mensa Sverige/Mensa Sweden.

[2] Individual Publication Date: September 1, 2018:; Full Issue Publication Date: January 1, 2019:

Appendix II: Citation Style Listing

American Medical Association (AMA): Jacobsen S. An Interview with Monika Orski (Part Two) [Online].September 2018; 18(A). Available from:

American Psychological Association (APA, 6th Edition, 2010): Jacobsen, S.D. (2018, September 1). An Interview with Monika Orski (Part Two)Retrieved from

Brazilian National Standards (ABNT): JACOBSEN, S. An Interview with Monika Orski (Part Two). In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal. 18.A, September. 2018. <>.

Chicago/Turabian, Author-Date (16th Edition): Jacobsen, Scott. 2018. “An Interview with Monika Orski (Part Two).” In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal. 18.A.

Chicago/Turabian, Humanities (16th Edition): Jacobsen, Scott “An Interview with Monika Orski (Part Two).” In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal. 18.A (September 2018).

Harvard: Jacobsen, S. 2018, ‘An Interview with Monika Orski (Part Two)In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal, vol. 18.A. Available from: <>.

Harvard, Australian: Jacobsen, S. 2018, ‘An Interview with Monika Orski (Part Two)In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal, vol. 18.A.,

Modern Language Association (MLA, 7th Edition, 2009): Scott D. Jacobsen. “An Interview with Monika Orski (Part Two).” In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal 18.A (2018):September. 2018. Web. <>.

Vancouver/ICMJE: Jacobsen S. An Interview with Monika Orski (Part Two) [Internet]. (2018, September; 18(A). Available from:

License and Copyright


In-Sight Publishing and In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal by Scott Douglas Jacobsen is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.
Based on a work at


© Scott Douglas Jacobsen, and In-Sight Publishing and In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal 2012-2018. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Scott Douglas Jacobsen, and In-Sight Publishing and In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.  All interviewees co-copyright their interview material and may disseminate for their independent purposes.

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