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An Interview with Mhedi Banafshei on High-IQ Societies and Values (Part Two)


Author(s): Scott Douglas Jacobsen

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

Publication Date (yyyy/mm/dd): 2020/08/01


Mhedi Banafshei is a Member of the World Genius Directory. He discusses: community; values of the high-IQ communities; the gifted and community; positives and negatives of the high-IQ societies; purposes of the high-IQ societies; greater insights from the high-IQ; egos getting in the way; alternative ways for the gifted and talented to socialize; individualism as a blessing and a curse; intelligence tests; nations’ foundational crimes; things missing in the high-IQ societies; higher intelligence, liberalism and atheism; talented people; pieces of advice; improving sense of scale and social skills; and meritocracy in North America.

Keywords: high-IQ, individualism, meritocracy, Mhedi Banafshei, North America, social skills.

An Interview with Mhedi Banafshei on High-IQ Societies and Values (Part Two)[1],[2]*

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

1. Scott Douglas Jacobsen: Let’s talk about community. What defines a community?

Mhedi Banafshei: Any social factor which indicates something about human values or something meaningful in terms of experiences of life is a foundation of community. Prevailing human motivations have determined the formalization of some communities while inhibiting the expression of others. Social progression is in part achieved by challenging societal expectations of how the members of various groups should function in terms of the groups to which they belong. It’s important that there’s greater emphasis of some positive communities (such as those related to areas of learning) as well as a questioning of those which certainly aren’t failing as a result of not being recognized well enough.

2. Jacobsen: Do the high-IQ communities seem more heterogeneous or homogeneous in various identity backgrounds and in ideological/philosophical commitments? Why?

Banafshei: While some values do seem to be shared by most participants of these communities, such as those relating to egalitarianism, there’s still lots of variation in terms of the subject of the question. The reasons for this are likely to be very similar to those which explain variation in society as a whole.

3. Jacobsen: How can the gifted find community in high-IQ societies?

Banafshei: By first understanding the importance of IQ but also the boundaries of it. Two people could have intelligence in common but still have very different worldviews and values. In such a case, they would not necessarily be able to develop any productive association of their combination. Just like in regular society, a high-IQ society member has to find ways to identify people with whom they have more than one thing in common.

4. Jacobsen: What are the positives and the negatives of a high-IQ society?

Banafshei: Given that having a high IQ does generally relate to a somewhat higher likelihood of forming certain intellectual interests, such societies are giving many opportunities to not only find those with similar interests but also those who happen to be equally cognitively equipped in relation to exploration of the subjects of mutual investment. In terms of the negatives, I think it’s worthwhile to first consider how factors external to high IQ societies may impact them. Of course, the status of high IQ societies within general societies will influence their functioning. There would be a positive acceleration of the evolution of high societies if work is done to make the public more familiar with them as a means of both group expansion and normalization. Many people question the legitimacy of high IQ societies, and even the existence of differences of intelligence altogether. I think these are still issues of enough significance to justify their prioritization of addressing the aforementioned.

5. Jacobsen: What seem like the purposes of high-IQ societies in the early 21st century?

Banafshei: There’s a vast range of reasons people join such societies. And I believe there need not be any purpose that all members can agree on. Among some of my own primary reasons is my desire to gain greater depths of insight of the minds of extraordinary thinkers.

6. Jacobsen: What are some of those “greater depths of insights of the minds”? How can some of the “extraordinary thinkers” of the high-IQ societies be drowned out by the non-extraordinary, while non-ordinary, thinkers in the high-IQ societies? What differentiates the extraordinary thinker from the greater than ordinary thinker?

Banafshei: It relates to the fact that some very smart people have reasonably come to the conclusion that a life of emphasised learning is likely to be the one of most personal productivity. The difference between geniuses and those who are not is often only clear after conclusion of their activities. The idea that’s brilliant isn’t always clearly so from the outset. In terms of people being ‘drowned out’, so to speak, I think it’s primarily a matter of some people freely deciding to disengage, rather than one of them being undermined in some way. People have the responsibility of asserting what they have to put forth, and others need not be accommodating of anything which has not been introduced with confidence. I believe this is applicable in relation to life in general.

7. Jacobsen: What do you make the egos largely getting in the way of some societies proclaiming noble aims and utterly failing?

Banafshei: I think it’s only natural to envision things beyond what can be easily achieved within a short period of time. Having a high IQ is no guarantee of being successful if one is not also wise in terms of their objectives. Failure is a part of life no matter what your IQ is.

8. Jacobsen: Are there other ways in which the gifted and talented can socialize and find others with similar gifts and interests other than high-IQ societies?

Banafshei: I guess if one can find those with similar interests, finding those with similar gifts in addition to that wouldn’t be much harder in most cases. Especially for those who live in cities, there are usually many options of social events/clubs in connection to a wide variety of subjects. I think exploring what the internet has to offer in the form of forums is very often not a waste of time either. However, I do think the best way of meeting likeminded people, regardless of giftedness, is for one to simply be open about the things in relation to which they are inclined. When someone’s objective of exemplifying their individuality is more apparent than their willingness of conformity, the processes of their socializing is almost always more efficient.

9. Jacobsen: Why is individualism the blessing and the curse of the high-IQ world?

Banafshei: I guess it depends on how you define that. It’s not my belief that the high-IQ world has any marked ‘curses’ or ‘blessings’ relative to any society that’s been formed for purposes of people of some commonality.

10. Jacobsen: What do intelligence tests, commonly construed, seem to miss in testing intelligence?

Banafshei: The inclusion of items which would have answers that are weighted differently rather than just considered as either correct or incorrect. It’s likely that a well-developed system of such a thing could function not only to ascertain IQ well but also reveal the nature and significance of different cognitive profiles that may not be explainable only by differentiation of IQ.

11. Jacobsen: Do you think nations’ foundational crimes should be answered (for)? If so, how? If not, why not?

Banafshei: The best way of addressing problems of this nature would be to develop societies which would counteract the imbalances of past injustices by means of ensuring the institutional legacies that reinforce the realities which were foundational to past oppression are curbed.  If greater fairness of society is achieved in some places, social divisions relating to disagreements of controversial subjects of restoration would be reduced without there being any need of introducing polices of them.

12. Jacobsen: What do you think is missing in some of the high-IQ societies?

Banafshei: Some of the ones I’m a member of have lots of members who’ve simply become inactive. In most situations when people are not compelled to do any work, such as is the case in terms of non-professional organisations, it’s not unusual for many to hope others will form something of value that they could then simply participate in relation to while expending little. High IQ societies are no exception to this rule. As it is in terms of most things in life, a little willingness of effort and optimism could have a great impact.

13. Jacobsen: Why does higher intelligence tend to correlate positively with liberal leanings and atheism in some preliminary studies in psychology?

Banafshei: It’s difficult to say. Of course, correlations are most meaningful when complicating factors are controlled for, and as many of us who are not even statisticians know, it can be a very complex matter. Besides, even if it is the case that most smart people are in agreement about some broad ideas, the implications of the possible disagreements of the variations of them should be considered.

14. Jacobsen: Who are some of the most talented people know to you? Why them?

Banafshei: I guess I’m lucky enough to know a good number of talented people of various kinds. I hesitate to form any opinion about whether any should be considered as more talented than others, and whether some types of talents should be thought of as more significant. In light of it not being easy to determine the ultimate importance of any individual type of talent, I believe it’s infinitely more important to focus on the perfection of our aptitudes than to waste any time making subjectively motivated comparisons of perceived levels of talent and, worse, comparisons of different types of ability.  

15. Jacobsen: To the young, what are some important pieces of advice about a) humility and b) building character & discipline?

Banafshei: While humility is valuable for some purposes, it shouldn’t be cherished to the extent that would be to the detriment of confidence. Even if notions of personal superiority should be dismissed, it should be done so with the acceptance that we would all be better off if more people had greater confidence in themselves and their visions. The world would obviously be a better place if more people realize their potential. The first step of this, of course, would be the emergence of greater efficiency of identifying capabilities. In terms of character building and discipline, I think it’s worthwhile to invest in what is often generally referred to as the broadening of horizons. As we learn, experience and explore new things, we gain broader perspectives which are of value in terms of life navigation and self-identification. It’s not difficult to attain development of character and discipline when there’s expansion of learning.

16. Jacobsen: What are non-tangible skills needing building more among the gifted and talented young than others because of the ease of some facets of life for them?

Banafshei: The skill of adapting to the forms of communication of those who function and think very differently to the cognitively advanced. It’s understandable that many gifted people sometimes experience frustration as a result of interaction with those who are close to the opposite of intellectually gifted, but if one has an IQ at the 99.99th percentile, they would be better off trying to understand and connect with people at the 50th percentile than on intending to limit themselves to 1/10000th of the population.

17. Jacobsen: How does this improve their sense of scale and social skills? Does this differentiate individuals who succeed and fail in many professional domains in spite of the vast gifts handed to them largely by genetic lottery?

Banafshei: It is commonly thought that being smart generally results in people getting ahead. There’s actually some evidence that those with IQs above 150 or so may actually be somewhat less likely to have careers of prestigious positions. Although it’s not entirely clear what explains findings of this nature, it’s logical that positive efforts of communication are important in relation to this.

18. Jacobsen: Do you think meritocracy in North America is more myth than truth or more fact than fable?

Banafshei: The challenging political circumstances of the USA clearly show the need for progress, which is also evidenced by many statistics of public interest. And while indicating that things need to change, they also indicate that meaningful progress is likely in the process of being made. When problems are subjects of inaction, that’s when there should be real concern. Anyway, I live in the UK, so my perspective is factually limited. Not everything can be known on the basis of crude indicators, and people’s notions and beliefs of idealized systems are almost always critical factors of the trajectories things take.

Appendix I: Footnotes

[1] Member, World Genius Directory.

[2] Individual Publication Date: August 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


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