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An Interview with Monika Orski (Part Six)


Author(s): Scott Douglas Jacobsen

Publication (Outlet/Website): In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal

Publication Date (yyyy/mm/dd): 2018/10/15


Monika Orski is the Ordförande/Chairman, Mensa Sverige/Mensa Sweden. She discusses: the fun of the super smart; researchers of the gifted and talented; theories of creativity and genius; other demographics of Mensa Sweden; and the old “nature” argument.

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

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

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

1. Scott Douglas Jacobsen: Now, if the super smart are anything like ordinary people, where their higher general intelligence simply implies a bigger hammer or a stronger ox, they must have a friendly competition with some of the other chapters of the super smart groups. You mentioned some within the definition of Western Europe. How do some of the Mensa chapters have some competitive fun? How do smart people compete with one another, simply in a more amplified and varied set of ways?

Monika Orski: Probably in lots of ways I am not aware of, but of course I know of some kinds of competitive fun.

I am not a particular fan of board games myself, although I occasionally enjoy one at some Mensa meeting. There is a quite large group within Mensa who are very much into board games of different kinds, mostly with a preference for the strategic games where you need to think fast. No large Mensa gathering feels entirely complete without a games room, and some participants will spend almost all of their time in it, while others might step in for an hour or two in between other activities.

At EMAGs, the European meetings, there is usually also a football (soccer) tournament, where mensans from different national groups form teams – sometimes mixed nations teams, to get enough players.

Some national gatherings, including the AG of Mensa Sweden, often include a poker tournament. Only small money stakes, of course, as it’s purely intended for friendly competition for the fun of it.

There has also been a logic puzzles competition with national teams from the four Nordic Mensas. It’s been a while since anyone organized one of those, though. If I remember correctly, Sweden lost the finals to Denmark the latest time we had it. It might be time for us to try and organize a re-match.

2. Jacobsen: In the European context, who are some researchers with a great deal of experience and research into the gifted and talented community there?

Orski: This is a question where I need to resort to an excuse: I’m an engineer, not a psychologist. I don’t have the deeper knowledge of psychological research needed to provide a good answer.

From my own reading, I would pick the names Ian Deary and Robert Plomin. In the more local, Swedish context, I know that Roland Persson has done a lot of interesting research regarding gifted children, and there is also some interesting work by Berit Carlstedt on intelligence and intelligence testing. But those happen to be some names I know of, I’m sure there are many others.

3. Jacobsen: In the European context, who are individual, establishment or independent, researchers with interesting or unique take on creativity and, indeed, genius? Any personal theory or theories, from reading and observation, as to what comprises the roots necessary for genius to flourish – with, of course, a definition of genius as a bulwark for the theory or theories?

Orski: As above, I have no particular knowledge of the foremost research into creativity or genius. I think my reading is too amateur too really allow me in good conscience to point to anyone.

I know that there is a continuing debate on whether genius is a useful term at all. But if we are still going to use it, I think the definition used on the English language Wikipedia page for the subject “genius” is a good one: “A genius is a person who displays exceptional intellectual ability, creative productivity, universality in genres or originality, typically to a degree that is associated with the achievement of new advances in a domain of knowledge.”

Thus, I think it important to remember that gifted rarely means genius. There are few geniuses, while gifted is a label used for a fast-thinking part of the population – be it the 2% allowed Mensa membership, or 5% as is often set as an estimate of the number of gifted children, or something in between. This is not a large minority, but it is not truly rare, as genius is.

How can we help genius to flourish? My theory, or maybe rather my guess, would be to follow the same principles as to help anyone gifted to flourish, only the genius would probably need more of it and at a much faster pace. Let people learn things, and keep learning. Leave room for creativity. Don’t be afraid to give a young person space to explore things in solitary occupations. Keep teaching them new things. Let them find their multiple talents, even if they chose to pursue one of them more than others. Allow them to create positions for themselves to keep exploring, and to keep learning also when they are no longer young.

4. Jacobsen: Also, I am curious. What are the religious demographics, if known or even simply surmised, of Mensa Sweden? What are the political demographics? How does this, potentially, reflect the international data on intelligence and political orientation & religious beliefs?

Orski: The simple answer is, I don’t know. We do not keep records of religious, ethnical, or political characteristics of our members. I might add that I would find it quite repugnant if a society like ours did.

Religion is not particularly present in Swedish everyday discourse. Many people would rather define themselves as of no particular religion at all. This makes it a bit hard to define. Also, it’s not a particularly common topic in everyday talk.

Regarding politics, some people tend to talk much more about it than others, especially on social media. Those are usually not the level headed, middle of the road types. But from what I know of the politics of the mensans I meet, I have no reason to believe there is any significant difference to the general political demographic. There might be reason to take into account that the educated part of the population is probably overrepresented in Mensa, but other than that – we have all sorts, just like everywhere else.

Which leads me to another demographic, where I have no statistics but a qualified guess based on who I meet in Mensa. While we have people from all walks of life, there is an overrepresentation of those with university education. Seems quite natural, especially if you take into account that in our part of the world, access to education is not limited by the financial means of your family.

5. Jacobsen: Occasionally, in the early 21st century less than the 20th century but still, we find individuals, internationally speaking, who crop up. They, at times, hold great stations of power and influence, and prestige.

They proclaim science as a male thing, not as a female thing; science only built, statistically speaking, for the male brain, in their some time terminology; even, that women simply are intellectually inferior to men and, therefore, should have a pre-ascribed role within society based on, what they see and argue, innate differences in not only abilities but also preferences based on temperaments.

Ironically, temperaments seen as innate in which they feel the need to encourage through all systems and channels reaching mass audiences in society, especially reflected in the reactions to non-traditional roles for women in representations within films and television, for example.

Even so, or while saying these things, often, these individuals will lose their jobs and be lambasted in public. Others, at the same time, will see them as pariahs of the genetic truth of the human species in sex differences – full stop, end of story, exclamation point.

What seems like the proper interpretation of the situation here? How can one respond to the arguments about innate differences and prescribed roles for women in society? Why do these individual make these arguments?

How do – in your lifetime of as one and in conversations with them – women tend to react to these individuals when speaking with one another, which may not be the same manner in which women speak in public or to men for that matter?

When they bring data forward, or historic examples of more men than women as the listed discoverers or inventors, what seems like a proper retort?

Orski: The old “nature” argument. Of course, if this was in fact a matter of nature, there would be no need to try to force that conviction on anyone, and even less to put it into laws, as those authoritarian sexists often will. No one seems to see it necessary to make laws to prevent that humans photosynthesize, or that we fly by way of flapping our arms. Why? Because there are truly innate traits of human nature that make those acts impossible.

My recipe for a proper retort is usually to simple say that is not true, and go on do something productive, nice, or both. There is usually no way you can reason with people like this. They obviously have a need to cling to some sense of being superior, no matter how unrealistic. Unless you are a psychologist they came to in order to get help with the inferiority complex that is likely to be somewhere at the bottom of this attitude, it is not your job to make them understand how the world works.

For those who are simply unaware of the different expectations men and women still live under, even in relatively equal societies, I recommend a little mind game. Next time you think a man is well qualified for a position, ask yourself if you would also think a woman of exactly the same merits and exactly the same level of professional behaviour qualified. Also ask yourself the corresponding question next time you think a woman might not be quite qualified for a position.

Lastly, for all the decent men with true merits of their own who encourage women to make sure they do not get positions based on gender: Ask yourself whether you would be in your current position if you were a woman with exactly the same qualifications. If your honest answer is yes, assuming you have a realistic assessment of your qualifications, then you can congratulate yourself on being hired on merit, and not on the all to common male quota.


  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: October 15, 2018:; Full Issue Publication Date: January 1, 2019:


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


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