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An Interview with Dr. Ronald K. Hoeflin on High-IQ Societies’ Titles, Rarities, and Purposes, and Personal Judgment and Evaluations of Them (Part Two)


Author(s): Scott Douglas Jacobsen

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

Publication Date (yyyy/mm/dd): 2019/08/22


Dr. Ronald K. Hoeflin founded the Prometheus Society and the Mega Society, and created the Mega Test and the Titan Test. He discusses: inspiration for the Mega Society – its title, rarity, and purpose; inspiration for the Prometheus Society – its title, rarity, and purpose; inspiration for the Top One Percent Society – its title, rarity, and purpose; inspiration for the One-in-a-Thousand Society – its title, rarity, and purpose; inspiration for the Epimetheus Society – its title, rarity, and purpose; inspiration for the Omega Society – its title, rarity, and purpose; the developments of each society over time; communications of high-IQ societies, and harshest critiques of high-IQ societies; overall results of the intellectual community facilitated for the gifted; Prometheus Society and the Mega Society kept separate from the Lewis Terman Society, and Top One Percent Society, One-in-a-Thousand Society, Epimetheus Society, and Omega Society placed under the aegis of the “The Terman Society” or “The Hoeflin Society”; disillusionment with high-IQ societies; notable failures of the high-IQ societies; changing norms of the Mega Test and the Titan Test; the hypothetical Holy Grail of psychometric measurements; other test creators seem reliable in their production of high-IQ tests and societies with serious and legitimate intent respected by Dr. Hoeflin: Kevin Langdon and Christopher Harding; societies societies helpful as sounding boards for the Encyclopedia of Categories; librarian work helpful in the development of a skill set necessary for independent psychometric work and general intelligence test creation; demerits of the societies in personal opinion and others’ opinions; virtues and personalities as mostly innate or inborn, and dating and mating; and publications from the societies attempted to be published at a periodic rate.

Keywords: Christopher Harding, Giftedness, intelligence, IQ, Kevin Langdon, Mega Society, Mega Test, Prometheus Society, Ronald K. Hoeflin, The Encyclopedia of Categories, Titan Test.

An Interview with Dr. Ronald K. Hoeflin on High-IQ Societies’ Titles, Rarities, and Purposes, and Personal Judgment and Evaluations of Them: Founder, Prometheus Society; Founder, Mega Society (Part Two)[1],[2],[3]

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

*Caption provided to the photo from Dr. Hoeflin in the third footnote.*

1. Scott Douglas Jacobsen: Perhaps, we can run down the timeline of the six societies in this part with some subsequent questions: Prometheus Society (1982), Mega Society (1982), Top One Percent Society (1989), One-in-a-Thousand Society (1992), Epimetheus Society (2006), and Omega Society (2006). What was the inspiration for the Mega Society – its title, rarity, and purpose?

Dr. Ronald K. Hoeflin: Kevin Langdon had a list of 600 or so people who had qualified for his Four Sigma Society from the 25,000 Omni readers who tried his LAIT (Langdon Adult Intelligence Test) that appeared in Omni in 1979. Four Sigma was given a cut-off of four standard deviations above the mean, which on a normal curve would be about one-in-30,000 in rarity or the 99.997 percentile. So approximately one-thirtieth of them should have been qualified for a one-in-a-million society. I suggested to him that he might ask the top 20 scorers if they’d like to form the nucleus of a one-in-a-million society, but he evidently thought this cut-off was too high to be practical. So when he let his Four Sigma Society languish, I decided to start Prometheus as a replacement for it, with the Mega Society as a follow-through on my suggestion to him about starting a one-in-a-million society, where “mega” means, of course, “million,” indicating how many people each member would be expected to exceed in intelligence. With slightly over 7 billion people, there would be a pool of about 7,000 potential Mega Society members, or slightly less if we exclude young children. I knew of a statistical method by which several very high scores from several tests could be combined to equal a one-in-a-million standard, as if the several tests constituted a single gigantic test. So I accepted members using this statistical method until my Mega Test appeared in Omni in April 1985. I put the cut-off at a raw score of 42 out of 48 initially, but then increased this to 43 after getting a larger sample. The test was eventually withdrawn from official use for admission to the Mega Society because some psychiatrist maliciously published a lot of answers online that others could search out and copy. At this time my other test, the Titan Test, is the only one that the Mega Society will accept, again at a raw score of 43 out of 48.

2. Jacobsen: What was the inspiration for the Prometheus Society – its title, rarity, and purpose?

Hoeflin: The Prometheus Society, as mentioned above, was intended as a replacement for the Four Sigma Society, which Langdon had allowed to languish. Prometheus was a figure in Greek mythology who was punished by the gods for giving fire to humans. I told Kevin, half in jest, that I was stealing his idea for the Four Sigma Society from him like Prometheus stealing fire from the gods! On my Mega and Titan Test, the qualifying score for Prometheus is a raw score of 36 out of 48, roughly equivalent to a rarity of one-in-30,000 or the 99.997 percentile, the same as Four Sigma’s cut-off, i.e., a minimum qualifying score.

3. Jacobsen: What was the inspiration for the Top One Percent Society – its title, rarity, and purpose?

Hoeflin: I wanted to make a living publishing journals for high-IQ societies. I initially was able to do so as the editor for the Triple Nine Society, for which I was paid just $1 per month per member for each monthly journal I put out. When I started as editor in late 1979, there were only about 50 members, but once Kevin’s test appeared in Omni the number of members swelled to about 750. With $750 per month, I could put out a journal and still have enough left over to live on, since my monthly rent was just $75 thanks to New York City’s rent laws. When Kevin heard that I was able to do this, he was not amused, since he thought the editorship should be an unpaid position. So I started the Top One Percent Society from people who had taken my Mega Test in Omni in April 1985 and my Titan Test in April 1990, thus removing myself from any disputes with Kevin or other members of the Triple Nine Society. I liked being self-employed rather than work as a librarian, which had been my profession from 1969 to 1985, because difficulties with higher-ups in the library field could crop up if there were personality conflicts.

4. Jacobsen: What was the inspiration for the One-in-a-Thousand Society – its title, rarity, and purpose?

Hoeflin: I started the One-in-a-Thousand Society when income from my Top One Percent Society started to seem insufficient, even when I put out two journals per month rather than one for the Top One Percent Society. The third journal per month was a bit more hectic, but within my capacity.

5. Jacobsen: What was the inspiration for the Epimetheus Society – its title, rarity, and purpose?

Hoeflin: In Greek mythology, Epimetheus was a brother to Prometheus. I’d let the Prometheus and Mega societies fall into the control of other people, so I decided to create new societies at their same cut-offs but with different names and under my control. I don’t recall the motivation for founding Epimetheus, since starting in 1997 I qualified for Social Security Disability payments due to my poor vision and low income, and that completely solved all my financial worries, even when my rent gradually crept up from $75 to $150 from 1997 to around 2003. It is now permanently frozen at $150 a month due to an agreement with an earlier landlord, who wanted the City to give him permission to install luxury apartments where I live, for which he could charge $2,000 to $4,000 a month due to the proximity to Times Square, which is just ten minutes’ walk away. I think that the Prometheus Society was restricting the tests it accepted to just a very small number of traditional supervised IQ tests, excluding unsupervised amateur-designed tests like mine. I wanted my tests to still serve a practical purpose at the Prometheus and Mega cut-offs.

6. Jacobsen: What was the inspiration for the Omega Society – its title, rarity, and purpose?

Hoeflin: Chris Harding of Australia was forever founding new high-IQ societies with new names but whose existence was largely known only to him and the people he awarded memberships to. He founded an Omega Society at the one-in-3,000,000 cut-off, but I assumed after several years of hearing nothing about it that it must be defunct, so I decided to call my new one-in-a-million society the Omega Society, since “Omega” seemed a nice twin word for “Mega” just as “Epimetheus” served as a twin word for “Prometheus.” Chris wrote to me about this appropriation of his society’s name and I explained my reason for adopting it. He offered no further complaint about it.

7. Jacobsen: What were the developments of each society over time?

Hoeflin: I decided to devote my full-time attention to a massive multi-volume opus titled “The Encyclopedia of Categories,” of which I’d published a couple of one-volume versions in 2004 and 2005. When I noticed that Samuel Johnson’s great unabridged dictionary of 1755 could now be bought for just $9.99 from Kindle, the computer-readable format that avoids paper printing, I decided I could make an affordable multi-volume treatment of my “Encyclopedia of Categories.” I’d also discovered that quotations from collections of quotations could be analyzed in terms of my theory of categories, giving me a virtually inexhaustible source of examples considering how many quotation books there are out there. So I sold the four societies that were still under my control to Hernan Chang, an M.D. physician living in Jacksonville, Florida, as well as all of my IQ tests. Although, he lets me score the latter for him and collect the fee, since he is too busy to handle that. I began my multi-volume opus in late 2013 and believe I can complete a 10-volume version by the end of this year, 2019. I was initially aiming at a 13-volume version, in harmony with the number of basic categial niches I employ, but it would take until early 2021 to complete the extra 3 volumes, so I’ll publish a 10-volume version in January of 2020. The year 2020 as a publication date appealed to me because of its irony, given that my visual acuity falls far short of 20/20, and the year 2020 rolls around only once in eternity, if we stick to the same calendar. I could still put out more volumes in later editions if I felt so inclined, but I let readers voice an opinion on the optimum number of volumes.

8. Jacobsen: What was the intellectual productivity and community of the societies based on self-reports of members? What have been the harshest critiques of high IQ societies from non-members, whether qualifying or not?

Hoeflin: I think the focus of the higher-IQ societies has been on communication with other members through the societies’ journals. I never tried to keep track of the members’ “intellectual productivity.” As for harsh critiques of the high-IQ societies, the only thing that comes to mind is Esquire magazine’s November 1999 so-called “Genius” issue. It focused on four high-IQ-society members, including myself. I never read the issue except for the page about myself, and it took me two weeks to get up enough nerve to read even that page. I was told by others that the entire issue was basically a put-down of high-IQ societies and their members, although people said the treatment of me was the mildest of the four. I did notice that they wanted a photo of me that looked unattractive, me using a magnifying glass to read. I suggested a more heroic picture, such as me with one of my cats, but they kept taking pictures of me peering through that magnifying glass in a rather unflattering pose, with zero interest in alternative poses. Kevin Langdon was sarcastic about our willingness to expose ourselves to such unflattering treatment. (He was not among the four that they covered in that issue.)

9. Jacobsen: What have been the overall results of the intended goals of the provision of an intellectual community of like-gifted people who, in theory, may associate more easily with one another? I remain aware of skepticism around this idea, which may exist in the realm of the naive.

Hoeflin: I had found that I could not interact with members of Mensa, who generally treated me as a nonentity. I was also very shy and unable to put myself forward socially in Mensa groups. At the higher-IQ levels, however, I had the prominent role of editor and even founder, which made it possible for others to approach me and break through that shyness of mine. So I did manage to meet and interact with quite a few people by virtue of my participation in the high-IQ societies, although the ultimate outcome seems to be that I will probably end my life in total isolation from personal friends except a few people who reach out to me by phone or email, as in the present question-and-answer email format. As for other people, they will have to tell you their own stories, since people are quite diverse, even at very high IQ levels.

10. Jacobsen: Why were the Prometheus Society and the Mega Society kept separate from the Lewis Terman Society? Why were the Top One Percent Society, One-in-a-Thousand Society, Epimetheus Society, and Omega Society placed under the aegis of the Lewis Terman Society? Also, what is the Lewis Terman Society?

Hoeflin: I think Hernan Chang adopted the name “The Hoeflin Society” in preference to “The Terman Society” as an umbrella term for the four societies he purchased from me.

11. Jacobsen: What have been the merits of the societies in personal opinion and others’ opinions?

Hoeflin: Speaking personally, I have lost almost all interest in the high-IQ societies these days, although I am still a nominal, non-participatory member of several of them. One group I joined recently as a passive member named the “Hall of Sophia” unexpectedly offered to publish my multi-volume book in any format I like for free. The founder had taken my Mega or Titan test earlier this year (February 2019) and did quite well on it, and was sufficiently impressed to classify me as one of the 3 most distinguished members of his (so far) 28-member society. I was going to send out my book for free as email attachments fo people listed in the Directory of American Philosophers as well as to any high-IQ-society members who might be interested. So for me, the one remaining merit of the high-IQ societies would be to have a potential audience for my philosophical opus.

12. Jacobsen: When did you begin to lose interest or become disillusioned, in part, in high-IQ societies? My assumption: not simply an instantaneous decision in 2019.

Hoeflin: Editing high-IQ-society journals from 1979 onwards for many years, at first as a hobby and then as a livelihood, kept me interested in the high-IQ societies. I gave up the editing completely around 2009. Thirty years is plenty of time to become jaded. Getting Social Security Disability payments in 1997 removed any financial incentive for publishing journals. Over the years I’d travelled to such destinations as California and Texas and Illinois for high-IQ-society meetings, not to mention meetings here in New York City, when I had sufficient surplus income, but all things peter out eventually.

13. Jacobsen: What have been the notable failures of the high-IQ societies?

Hoeflin: There was actually talk of a commune-like community for high-IQ people, but after I saw how imperious some high-IQ leaders like Kevin Langdon were, this would be like joining Jim Jones for a trip to Guyana–insane! That’s hyperbole, of course. Langdon actually ridiculed the followers of Jim Jones for their stupidity in following such a homicidal and suicidal leader, not to mention his idiotic ideas. Langdon advocates a libertarian philosophy, but in person he is very controlling. I guess we just have to muddle through on our own, especially if we have some unique gift that we have to cultivate privately, not communally. Langdon often ridiculed my early attempts to develop a theory of categories, but I’m very confident in the theory now that I have worked at it for so long. Human beings tend to organize their thoughts along the same systematic lines, just like birds instinctively know how to build nests, spiders to build webs, and bees to build honeycombs. My analyses are so new and startling that I’m sure they will eventually attract attention. If I’d been an epigone of Langdon, I’d never have managed to develop my theory to its present marvellous stage.

14. Jacobsen: With the Flynn Effect, does this change the norms of the Mega Test and the Titan Test used for admissions purposes in some societies at the highest ranges? 

Hoeflin: A lot of people suddenly started qualifying for the Mega Society, perhaps from copying online sources or perhaps from the test suddenly coming to the attention of a lot of very smart people. So initially higher scores on that test were required and then the test was abandoned entirely as an admission test for the Mega Society. Terman found that his subjects achieved gradually higher IQ scores on his verbal tests the older they got. One theory is that as people gradually accumulate a larger vocabulary and general knowledge (crystallized intelligence) their fluid intelligence, especially on math-type tests, gradually declines, so that if one relies on both types of intelligence, then your intelligence would remain relatively stable until extreme old age. There has been no spurt in extremely high scores on the Titan Test, however.

15. Jacobsen: What would be the Holy Grail of psychometric measurements, e.g., a non-verbal/culture fair 5-sigma or 6-sigma test?

Hoeflin: The main problem with extremely difficult tests is that few people would be willing to attempt them, so norming them would be impossible. I was astonished that the people who manage the SAT have actually made the math portion of that test so easy that even a perfect score is something like the 91st percentile. Why they would do such an idiotic thing I have no idea. Terman did the same thing with his second Concept Mastery Test, so that a Mensa-level performance on that test would be a raw score of 125 out of 190, whereas a Mensa-level performance on the first CMT was 78 out of 190. Twenty members of his gifted group had raw scores of 180 to 190 on the second CMT whereas no member of his group had a raw score higher than 172 out of 190 on the first CMT. His reason was to be able to compare his gifted group with more average groups such as Air Force captains, who scored only 60 out of 190 on the second test, less than half as high as Mensa members. A lot of amateur-designed intelligence tests have such obscure and difficult problems that I am totally unable to say if those tests have any sense to them or not. Perhaps games like Go and Chess are the only ways to actually compare the brightest people at world-record levels. But such tests yield to ever-more-careful analysis by the competitors, so that one is competing in the realm of crystallized intelligence (such as knowledge of chess openings) rather than just fluid intelligence. Even the brightest people have specialized mental talents that help them with some tests but not with others, like people who compete in the Olympic Decathlon, where some competitors will do better in some events and others in other events, the winner being the one with the best aggregate score. General intelligence means that even diverse tests like verbal, spatial, and numerical ones do have some positive intercorrelation with each other–they are not entirely independent of each other. The best tests select problems that correlate best with overall scores. But few if any of the amateur-designed tests have been subjected to careful statistical analysis. Some people did subject my Titan Test to such statistical analysis and found that it had surprisingly good correlations with standard intelligence tests, despite its lack of supervision or time limit.

16. Jacobsen: Other than some of the work mentioned. What other test creators seem reliable in their production of high-IQ tests and societies with serious and legitimate intent? Those who you respect. You have the historical view here – in-depth in information and in time. I don’t.

Hoeflin: I think Kevin Langdon’s tests are very well made and intelligent, but he tends to focus on math-type problems. Christopher Harding, by contrast, focuses on verbal problems and does poorly in math-type problems. For international comparisons across languages, I guess one would have to use only math-type problems, as I did in my Hoeflin Power Test, which collected the best math-type problems from the three previous tests (Mega, Titan, and Ultra). But English is virtually a universal language these days, so perhaps verbal tests that focus on English or perhaps on Indo-European roots could be used for international tests, except that Indo-European languages constitute only 46% of all languages, by population. I think Chinese will have difficulty becoming culturally dominant internationally because the Chinese language is too difficult and obscure for non-Chinese to mess with.

17. Jacobsen: Were the societies helpful as sounding boards for the Encyclopedia of Categories?

Hoeflin: I used high-IQ-society members as guinea pigs to develop my intelligence tests, but my work on categories I have pursued entirely independently, except for the precursors I rely on, notably the philosopher Stephen C. Pepper (1891-1972), who taught at the University of California at Berkeley from 1919 to 1958. Oddly enough, in his final book titled Concept and Quality (1967) he used as a central organizing principle for his metaphysics what he called “the purposive act,” of which he said on page 17: “It is the act associated with intelligence”!!! I simply elaborated this concept from 1982 when I first read Concept and Quality onward, elaborating it into a set of thirteen categories by means of which virtually any complete human thought or action, as in a quotation, can be organized. In my introductory chapter, which currently traces the development of my theory from William James last book, A Pluralistic Universe, to the present, I now plan to trace the thirteen categories not just to the Greeks and Hebrews but back to animal life and ultimately back to the Big Bang, breaking the stages of its development into 25 discrete ones including my own contributions toward the end. I may begin with Steven Weinberg’s book The First Three Minutes and end with Paul Davies kindred book, The Last Three Minutes, if I can manage to extract convincing 13-category examples from each of these books.

18. Jacobsen: How was librarian work helpful in the development of a skill set necessary for independent psychometric work and general intelligence test creation?

Hoeflin: It was mostly helpful to me because I could work part-time during the last ten years of my 15 or 16 years as a librarian, which gave me the leisure for independent hobbies, thought, and research.

19. Jacobsen: What have been the demerits of the societies in personal opinion and others’ opinions?

Hoeflin: There tends to be a lot of arrogance to be found among members of the high-IQ societies, so charm is typically not one of their leading virtues. They generally assume that virtually everyone they speak to is stupider than they are.

20. Jacobsen: How can members be more humble, show more humility? Also, what are their leading virtues?

Hoeflin: I think personalities are largely inborn and can’t be changed much. Perhaps there should be sister societies, analogous to college sororities, for women who have an interest in socializing with high-IQ guys for purposes of dating and mating. In the ultra-high-IQ societies, women constitute only about 6% of the total membership. (Parenthetically, if you look at the Wikipedia list of 100 oldest living people, one usually finds about 6 men and 94 women.) In Mensa, the percentage of women typically ranges from 31% to 38%.

21. Jacobsen: How many publications come from these societies? What are the names of the publications and the editors in their history? What ones have been the most voluminous in their output – the specific journal? Why that journal?

Hoeflin: Each society generally has a journal that it tries to publish on a regular basis. Kevin Langdon puts out Noesis, the journal for the Mega Society, about twice per year. I also get journals from Prometheus and Triple Nine and Mensa. The four societies Hernan Chang operates all function entirely online, and I have never seen any of their communications. Even the journals I get I only glance at, never read all the way through. Due to my very slow reading speed, I tend to focus my reading on books that seem worthwhile from which to collect examples for my “Encyclopedia of Categories.”

Appendix I: Footnotes

[1] Founder, Mega Society (1982); Founder, Prometheus Society (1982); Founder, Top One Percent Society (1989); Founder, One-in-a-Thousand Society (1992); Founder, Epimetheus Society (2006); Founder, Omega Society (2006); Creator, Mega Test (April, 1985); Creator, Titan Test (April, 1990); Creator, Hoeflin Power Test; Author, The Encyclopedia of Categories; Ph.D., Philosophy, The New School for Social Research.

[2] Individual Publication Date: August 22, 2019:; Full Issue Publication Date: September 1, 2019:

[3] Image Credit: Ronald K. Hoeflin. Caption: “Kitty porn? No, just the author and his pals.”


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