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An Interview with Claus Volko, M.D. on Growing Up Gifted (Part One)


Author(s): Scott Douglas Jacobsen

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

Publication Date (yyyy/mm/dd): 2020/05/01


Claus Volko is an Austrian computer and medical scientist who has conducted research on the treatment of cancer and severe mental disorders by conversion of stress hormones into immunity hormones. This research gave birth to a new scientific paradigm which he called “symbiont conversion theory”: methods to convert cells exhibiting parasitic behaviour to cells that act as symbionts. In 2013 Volko, obtained an IQ score of 172 on the Equally Normed Numerical Derivation Test. He is also the founder and president of Prudentia High IQ Society, a society for people with an IQ of 140 or higher, preferably academics. He discusses: family history; ethnic and cultural background; proxies of high intelligence and test scores; respect and nurturance of high intelligence; socialization; on the idea of genius, being called one; intelligence and genius; influence of ideals on society; high IQ communities as niche communities; and professional qualifications. 

Keywords: Claus Volko, computer scientist, intelligence, IQ, medical scientist.

An Interview with An Interview with Claus Volko, M.D. on Growing Up Gifted: Austrian Computer and Medical Scientist (Part One)[1],[2]

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

1. Scott Douglas Jacobsen: We’ve done a series before looking at some of the more intellectual topics of mutual interest between Rick Rosner and you. Rosner and I are long-time friends and colleagues publishing hundreds of thousands of words together. That was fun. So, I appreciate taking the time to take part in one of the small series with Rosner and one of the larger thematic interests of human cognitive excellence, latent or actualized, for me, which, in and of itself, becomes part and parcel of another series of larger integrated thematically integrative interests. No need to delve into that subject matter or orientation at this time; however, our work together with Rosner was on the nature of intelligence in several extensive parts. When we looked at the nature of intelligence, we examined some of the ideas in direct relation and in peripheral relation to it. Now, let’s get to know the Doctor in a more intimate manner starting from the beginning, aptly, you have an interesting set of academic qualifications and intellectual interests around computer science and medical science. All of this can be contextualized within a personal narrative or story. How about some family heritage first for you? What was its character and depth of history? How far back does it go, for you, based on the known historical record, even some speculation? Some know their own histories centuries and centuries back into the timeline. Others only know theirs some partial manner because of some unfortunate erasure of deep family time or departure of the family from one another without an appropriate record of said incidents.

Claus Volko, M.D.: I know my family history until the generation of my great-grandparents. My parents were the first in their families to complete the equivalents of a Bachelor’s degree: my mother qualified for elementary school teaching, and my father completed a first degree in electrical engineering. They also studied pedagogics and psychology together. The father of my mother came from a family of artisans, his own father was a painter; he himself ran a store selling printers. My mother’s mother came from a wealthy family, her father having been a military officer and her mother having been married to a banker in her first marriage, so they enjoyed a pretty high living standard till the Second World War broke out. My father’s ancestors were simple beings, working at farms and doing menial jobs.

2. Jacobsen: How is this ethnic and cultural background fed into the family life for you? Those qualities and values important for the family that had you, raised you, fed you, and provided an environment for some modicum of intellectual flourishing.

Volko: I read Grimm’s fairytales as a child, which are considered the classics of German children’s literature. But I also watched TV and followed the series “Masters of the Universe” and “The Transformers”. So I also got influenced by foreign youth culture. When I entered primary school computers became my main interest. I read a lot of magazines related to computer gaming. In addition, I enjoyed Thomas Brezina’s “Knickerbockerbande”. In my days at high school I liked reading fantasy novels written by Wolfgang Hohlbein very much. Since my father was born in Slovakia I also have some cultural links to that country; I spent most of my school vacation there and learned a couple of phrases in the language.

3. Jacobsen: When you reflect on some of the earlier moments in life, what were some proxies of higher-level cognitive function beyond peers? Were there any formal tests taken at that time? If so, what some of the tests and the scores?

Volko: My interests did not differ much from the other children’s interests, but they were more intense. At primary school I made the observation that most of the other children just stared at the drawings in the comic books we read during the breaks, while I also read the texts and tried to grasp the story. While it was common that young boys enjoyed playing computer games, I was the only one who also sketched drafts of his own games using pencil and paper. Eventually, this resulted in me learning computer programming at age eight, teaching it to myself using magazines and books. I was the only child I knew who was already a proficient computer programmer at age eight. Most others started at age twelve. So this might be an indicator of an IQ of about 150 or higher. However, I did not take a formal IQ test as a child. I was an excellent student both at primary school and at high school, and I was satisfied with this situation; besides, there were no gifted education programmes at that time for which I would have had to qualify with an IQ score. When I took part in a mathematics competition at age 13 and placed second out of 149 contestants, this was clear evidence for some of my teachers that I was gifted, but it had no further consequences.

4. Jacobsen: Was high intelligence a respected and nurtured part of the national and cultural environs of the time growing up?

Volko: At the schools I attended, intelligent students were respected and treated well by others. However, I often read that this was not always the case in other schools and that highly intelligent students were labelled “freaks.” I do not know what the situation is like today.

5. Jacobsen: Indeed, if we take some of the earlier moments of life, how were these gifts and talents exhibited in elementary and high school? Were there limitations or benefits for emotional and social, and romantic life, for high school and early adulthood with intellectual interests and the general abilities? It can be hit-or-miss depending on the person. It depends.

Volko: Not at all. I was an ordinary teenager who mainly stood out from the mass because of my performance at school and my computer skills. I am sure that if I had been less intelligent, I would have had a harder time to acquire programming skills.

6. Jacobsen: Did you happen to find a community of similarly cognitively able youth in high school or young adulthood? If so, what were its manifestations? If not, why not?

Volko: Yes. I started writing for a German computer magazine when I was eleven years old, and subsequently I got into contact with some of the other authors of this magazine. We exchanged letters and programs (including programs written by ourselves) via snailmail. One of my penpals introduced me to a community known as the demoscene which was composed of very good programmers, musicians and graphic artists. So I was embedded in a community of highly talented people, although I mostly communicated with them not face to face but via snailmail and later via e-mail and Internet Relay Chat.

7. Jacobsen: In American society in the past, one of the more appreciated and encouraged facets of (mostly) manly identity was the pursuit of earning the title of a genius. It was everywhere and infused into the pursuit of men with the capacity who wanted such an exalted status, even, strangely, claiming this for themselves with or without warrant. In Western Europe, was this part of the culture growing up for you, too? Or was this more something quintessentially seen as another one of the many extremes in a free society as seen in American society with the extremes of excellence and mediocrity at the same time?

Volko: Some fellow teenagers called me a “genius.” But I did not notice that they strived for becoming geniuses, too. In this aspect there might be a difference between Europe and America. Maybe it is because Europe is influenced by Marxist philosophy more than America and many people in Europe value equality more than excellence.

8. Jacobsen: What makes for earlier fascination in the 20th century with high intelligence as approximated by metrics including I.Q. and genius as a qualitative evaluation of the highest excellence in a discovery or creation delivered for appreciation by specialists and laypersons alike?

Volko: I am not sure if it is primarily high IQ that characterizes inventors such as Thomas Alva Edison or scientists such as Albert Einstein. I have met many people in high IQ societies who are not known for having invented anything. My opinion is that IQ is a measure of cognitive abilities but to become an inventor or a scientist you also need a particular personality structure and interests.

9. Jacobsen: In terms of the utility of intelligence testing and the continued reduction in the prominence of ideas of intelligence and genius in many societies, why is there a reduction in an emphasis on explicit considerations of intelligence and the pursuit of the highest excellence as found in cases of genius at various levels of high intelligence and creative output quality and quantity?

Volko: If that is happening in America now, then maybe America is becoming influenced by Marxist ideals too. I recall Bernie Sanders and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez calling themselves Democratic Socialists. I read that these two politicians have gained a lot of support especially from the younger generation within the electorate.

10. Jacobsen: As this appears to be the trendline, does this mean communities constructed around high intelligence and the like will become more niche topics and individualized matters rather than en masse features of societies?

Volko: At least here in Austria high IQ communities are definitely niche societies. Mensa Austria has less than a thousand members, while more than 160 times as many would qualify for membership.

11. Jacobsen: What were some of the professional qualifications earned? Why pursue those? How are these important for the development of a sense of formal awareness of the range and depth of particular human pursuits of knowledge?

Volko: I completed university degrees in computer science and medicine, including a Bachelor of Science degree in medical informatics, a Master of Science degree in computational intelligence and a Doctor of Medicine degree. I think that for an intelligent being qualifications are mainly formal requirements to get a job in the field, while intelligent beings constantly learn and acquire education informally in various areas of human knowledge.

Appendix I: Footnotes

[1] Austrian Computer and Medical Scientist.

[2] Individual Publication Date: May 1, 2020:; Full Issue Publication Date: September 1, 2020:


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


© Scott Douglas Jacobsen and In-Sight Publishing 2012-Present. 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 with appropriate and specific direction to the original content. All interviewees and authors co-copyright their material and may disseminate for their independent purposes.

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