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Norwegians of the High-Range Discussion with Erik Haereid, Eivind Olsen, and Tor Arne Jørgensen: Statistician & Actuarial Scientist; Chair, Mensa Norway; 2019 Genius of the Year – Europe, World Genius Directory (1)


Author(s): Scott Douglas Jacobsen

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

Publication Date (yyyy/mm/dd): 2020/09/15


Erik Haereid is an Actuarial Scientist and Statistician. Eivind Olsen is the Chair of Mensa Norway. Tor Arne Jørgensen is the 2019 Genius of the Year – Europe. They discuss: the high-IQ communities available in Norway; membership in Mensa Norway; the issues perceived in running a high-IQ national group; the qualifications for Mensa Norway; the culture of Norway on mainstream intelligence tests and alternative tests; the considered importance of high-IQ and high-IQ societies; the flavours of the high-IQ societies; some of the unique, or nearly distinct, qualities of Norwegian culture mapped onto the high-IQ communities; and some of the plans and expected developments for Mensa Norway.

Keywords: Erik Haereid, Eivind Olsen, IQ, Mensa, Mensa Norway, Tor Arne Jørgensen.

Norwegians of the High-Range Discussion with Erik Haereid, Eivind Olsen, and Tor Arne Jørgensen: Statistician & Actuarial Scientist; Chair, Mensa Norway; 2019 Genius of the Year – Europe, World Genius Directory (1)

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

Scott Douglas Jacobsen: One of the most respected, for longevity and size, high-IQ organizations in the world is Mensa International. No question about it. Some see Mensa International as nothing more than a gigantic social club. Others see the organization as a means by which to connect and politic with the movers and shakers of some of the high-IQ community globally or within a national context. Nonetheless, its stability belies a particular functionality of aim and purpose, and structure, compared to all other high-IQ societies and, thusly, deserves proper praise and adulation. Another aspect of the global focus of Mensa International is the appropriate functionality in breaking apart the big organization into national sub-organizations with chairs. For example, Mensa Norway is one of the national groups for Mensa International. As it so happens, we have the leader of Mensa Norway here today with Mr. Olsen. Also, we have alternative test very high scorers in the presence of Mr. Haereid and Mr. Jørgensen. All from Norway. With Mensa and with Norway, and based on suggestions from participants, the start with Mensa Norway seems like a functional starting point here. Also, it can provide a basis to get down to brass tax about the fundamentals of Norwegian culture and its high-IQ communities, as such. Let’s begin, as per usual, with some softball questions, what are the high-IQ communities available in Norway, whether formal or informal of which you are aware at this time?

Erik Haereid[1]*: I am only aware of Mensa Norway, and became a member at age 49, in 2013. I have never been involved in that kind of organization earlier.

Tor Arne Jørgensen[2]*: None that I`m aware of today as informal goes, and as formal goes we have only Mensa Norway.

Eivind Olsen[3],[4]: I’ll expose my ignorance even at this first question, and set myself up to receive a proper intellectual beating. I’m not really aware of any other high-IQ society/community in Norway. Sure, there are some international societies that have some Norwegian members, but I don’t have the impression that there’s much activity.

Jacobsen: How much does membership in Mensa Norway cost? Who is a member here? What are some of the demographics of Mensa Norway? How has Mensa Norway been helpful in connecting to the national high-IQ community for each of you?

Haereid: 500 Norwegian kroner a year.

2% of the 2% smartest in Norway are members of Mensa Norway; about 2,000 members out of theoretically 100,000 members. Who are those 2% of the 2%? A fine mixture. Men, women, quite young, quite old, highly educated, no education, a variety of different works, different political views, different moral views, some nice, some not so nice, and so on. From all over the country.

Anyway, I think the 98% other Norwegians that theoretically qualify for Mensa is, on average, other types than those who are members. I know some people, quite a few actually, who would qualify for Mensa but don’t dare to try the test. That’s one difference; the courage, belief in themselves, bigger ego maybe. And I guess Mensans are more occupied with their and other’s IQ, and not especially more intellectual than the other equal intelligent bunch. It’s obviously about making friendship with someone who thinks like yourself, because “no one else does”.

But it’s also about this identification. Some exaggerating being different from the rest, the normal part of the population, because they want to feel better as to intelligence, and then they can claim that they don’t belong among normal people. In other words: I think Mensans feel more odd than equally intelligent people outside Mensa, in average. The focus is IQ and intelligence, or puzzles and brain games, more than using one’s intelligence to something useful in the general society. Maybe. It’s diverse also inside Mensa. I see people there discuss a variety of themes, most daily problems, in ways that people with more normal intelligence wouldn’t. At least not in such an intellectual language. That’s something. I miss more existential discussions, though.

The egos are generally big, but maybe not more among Mensans than others. It’s difficult to say. In Mensa and in general in high IQ communities it’s more specific focus on IQ-measures, intelligence per se and competition between members.

That said, it’s not easy to be different. Many highly intelligent people are treated bad in a universal harsh environment. It’s about normality everywhere.

The national high IQ community is, to me, Mensa. I don’t feel especially welcomed. I think this varies depending on who you ask. To me it’s more about suspicion and subtle attacks. I guess the reason is mixed; I am not very social and inviting as a person. Stubborn. Demanding, I guess. And I score high on unauthorized IQ-tests. That doesn’t sound well in Mensa. It’s also about personal traits, and what you write and how people interpret that. Mensans and people in the high IQ communities are in that respect not different from others.

Jørgensen: I am not a member of Mensa Norway, but within the near future a Mensa membership could be exciting to explore. So by that I leave the follow-up questions to my peers.

Olsen: The membership fee for a full year is 500 NOK (approximately 57 USD or 48 EUR), if you’re 18+. There’s a 50 % discount if you’re under the age of 18, and a 50 % discount if you join from 1st of July until 31st of October. Yes, the discounts stack. Our gender distribution is about 77.5 % male, 22.5 % female, and < 1 % identifying as other/unknown. Approx. 30 % of our members are in the 31-40 age bracket. Our youngest member recently started in their first year at school, and a handful of current members were born before WW2.

Mensa was the first high-IQ society I joined (I was recruited by my fiancée, before we were a couple), and we have several friends here. So far I haven’t really seen the need to pursue more obscure societies. I don’t even know if I would qualify for any of the “higher” societies.

Jacobsen: For the two who aren’t leaders of a national high-IQ group, what seem like some of the issues perceived in running a high-IQ national group? For the one who is a leader of a national group, what are some of the difficulties of bringing together the high-IQ communities under the same umbrella?

Haereid: To unify a lot of un-unifiable single individuals. It’s a lot of different intelligent people with strong individual opinions, and therefore a lot of ME.

To make objective goals with plans that fulfills the original idea of Mensa from the post WW2 when established in 1946; to gather the most intelligent people to create ideas to avoid future wars and holocaust-scenarios. Including racism and social polarization. It seems that this is forgotten or repressed.

Jørgensen: Well it is hard to say as I have no personal experience in leading a high-IQ group, but I would expect from what I have previous seen in the various groups by portraying the role of active leadership, followed by scrutiny with reference to the group-leaders’ personal innovative engagement within the various thematic forums thus creating and securing oversight with reference to group stability.

Olsen: Here in Norway, I guess a big part of the hindrance is that there doesn’t seem to be any other active hiqh-IQ societies here.

Jacobsen: To the qualifications for Mensa Norway, what are the measurement tools demanded for membership? What is the standard deviation? What is available for members of the community? What is the range of scores of the members if this is known and available for public consumption/presentation? Who is the highest scorer on a mainstream intelligence test in Norway?

Haereid: When I got into Mensa, it was the spatial FRT-A test; a timed 20 minutes with 45 items. It’s a generally accepted, proctored test, with the aim of discriminating intelligence between those who are within and outside the top 2% of the population. The scores are treated by a professional psychometrician. The standard deviation used is 15 on that test; IQ>=131.

I think there are many proctored, mainstream tests that can be used, like WAIS. But Eivind knows more about this, I guess.

The scores are not available. The FRT-A and similar tests are built on equality; its purpose is to measure if you have over or under 131 in IQ; if you are among or outside the top 2% of the general population, not to measure your detailed IQ beyond that.

Who is the highest scorer on a mainstream intelligence test in Norway? I would like to hear from Eivind who that is. I don’t know.

Jørgensen: As to the highest scorer on mainstream intelligence tests in Norway I would say Haereid, I would also rank him as the one to beat to reach top spot.

Olsen: We have the same requirements as other Mensa countries. You’ll need to have taken a reputable and recognized test in a supervised / monitored setting. You’ll need a score within the top 2 %, but you’re not required to take the test we provide; several other tests are valid. The test we do provide gives a score in SD 15. When people join based on another test, it’s quite often a WISC or WAIS test administered by a psychologist.

We don’t have any easily available, good statistics of the scores our members have received, except that we are fairly confident they are all within the top 2 %. Most of them join based on the test we provide, and the highest score accessible there is top 1 % (“IQ 135 or higher, at SD 15”). I have taken a non-scientific approach and asked several people I know what their score was, and it seemed to be approximately 50/50 split between 2 % and 1 %.

I don’t know who the highest scorer on any reputable intelligence in Norway is. I believe the usual reputable tests, such as the Wechsler tests, only go up to 160 @ SD15, and I’m sure there must be multiple people attaining that score.

Don’t get me started on inflated IQ scores where one conveniently lists their SD24-score without mentioning the SD and compares it to someone elses SD15-score, or where people get described as “having a higher IQ than Einstein!”…

Jacobsen: The World Genius Directory does seem to demand certification of the tests and the test scores from testees. This can be helpful. As far as I am aware, Mensa International and the Triple Nine Society – and some others – are similarly demanding and, in fact, more stringent with the requirement of mainstream intelligence tests only as opposed to mainstream intelligence tests and alternative tests for admissions. Indeed, if one examines the World Genius Directory, they can see the degrees to which the alternative tests far outnumber the mainstream intelligence test. For example, in terms of the test scores earned and submitted, Erik earned 185 S.D. 15 on the N-VRA80, while Tor earned a 172 S.D. 15 on the Lexiq. How is the culture of Norway on mainstream intelligence tests and alternative tests? How seriously is either taken? How are these incorporated into the international, national, or local organizations having various cutoffs and criteria for membership?

Haereid: Mensa is strict. Not only as to admission, but also respect; there is an anti-alternative IQ-test culture. In Mensa, and I may exaggerate, are these untimed tests, many of them beautiful cognitive challenges with proper or at least quite good norms, seen as severe diseases. But I see some Norwegian mensans on the scoreboards on these alternative tests. That pleases me.

I am among the top scorers on several different alternative tests, in all categories (numerical, verbal and spatial) with high credibility in the high-IQ-environment, through many years (since 2013), and I still get critical questions from some; even though I beat most people with IQ-scores from 160 to 175 (S.D. 15) on mainstream, proctored, accepted tests, like WAIS. Some norms are, obviously, not good. Some are quite good, even though they can’t beat norms on tests like WAIS; it’s not enough data.

It seems that some have fastened in the speed-thing; “intelligence has only to do with speed”. Of course, speed is a factor, and important too. But why not include the kind of tests that has to do with solving complex problems and necessarily take some more time than 20 or 120 minutes? I guess this is debated thoroughly in the psychological environments, but anyway. I am not the only one in the high IQ community that asks this. Of course, there is a significant correlation in IQ, between the mainstream and alternative tests mentioned. To me this is obvious.

Jørgensen: As to the how the general culture of the alternative intelligence tests and its acceptance by reference to its streamline counterpart, the supervised intelligence tests. This by ground of unbalanced relationship for the sake of its professional structure and seriousness rating. Further,o the incorporation of these tests when based on the grounds of validation by relying on one for its confirmation of its counterpart, thus factualized with the following reference to the incorporation of todays standard deviation is set to the basis of the equalization principle.

Olsen: We (Mensa) can only accept scores from reputable tests that are properly normed, and that are taken in a supervised setting. We need to have confidence that you took your own test without getting any help from friends or family. And I’ll admit that I’m somewhat sceptical of the validity and reliability of any test that’s normed based on response from 10-15 people.

Jacobsen: In America, there has been a long-term decline in the considered importance of high-IQ and high-IQ societies; in fact, there’s a continuous decrease over decades of the perceived import of IQ in general. How is this trend, if any, in Norway?

Haereid: That’s interesting. It’s the opposite in Norway. We have a rise in focus, and with the Mozart of Chess Magnus Carlsen in our backyard, its importance is increasing. I don’t know if this is the case within the educational system. Tor Arne could say more about that. In general, it has gained more respect. That’s my impression.

Why is it a decline in America, do you think?

Jørgensen: The obvious response to the question at hand is to only give my support to the notion of decline, based on my personal opinion to have a high intelligence has never been looked upon as a «big deal» in any form or shape, only physical activity is viewed as any proper degree of importance in Norway.  

Olsen: Whether high IQ is of importance depends entirely on who you ask. Of course, having high IQ doesn’t make you a better person, it doesn’t guarantee that you’re don’t have any glaringly negative personality issues, and it doesn’t ensure you’ll have great success in life, but there can’t be any doubt that in general higher IQ gives you access to a somewhat better toolbox. Whether you use the tools for anything worthwile is a completely different matter.

I’d also like to mention a comic strip; it’s an goldie oldie from Savage Chickens:

Regarding the importance of IQ societies: it is what we make of it. Several of our members consider us to be a social environment for them. And we are that too, but not *only* that. Like pretty much every volunteer organisation, we do what we can with what our volunteers can or will provide. For example, we recently spent some time and effort into writing and sending our answer(s) to an open hearing regarding a new “law of education” here in Norway. The proposed changes to the law would have made it more difficult for gifted children to get an individually adjusted education.

Jacobsen: In terms of the flavours of the high-IQ societies, of which there are many, what seem like some of the overlaps of the styles and contents of Norwegian high-IQ individuals and societies?

Haereid: I think there are many equal traits among high IQ people independent of nation; some general ones, like stubbornness, knowing best, strong opinions, fast (and often wrong) conclusions, feeling alone and isolated, victims of bullying, nerdy, ironic. A winner in one’s own view and a loser in the normal population. This is the same in Norway as anywhere else.

Jørgensen: The general search for innovative commitment within various fields of interest such as politics, technology, and space exploration. Futher more, intelligence testing of varying degree of difficulty in the search for what is possible to achieve considering one`s mental qualities.

Olsen: I know there’s some overlap. Some of our members are also members in one or more other high IQ societies, but I don’t have the impression that it’s something many of our members do. Disclaimer: I don’t have hard facts / numbers to back this up. This is just my gut feeling, after having conversations with several members.

Jacobsen: Following from the previous question, what seem like some of the unique, or nearly distinct, qualities of Norwegian culture mapped onto the high-IQ communities, inasmuch as these exist to various types and degrees?

Haereid: At the moment I can’t come up with any specific.

Generally, Norway is a social democracy, with traditionally a rural population. We are not very social, but kind if people (want to and dare to) learn to know us. We hate small talk, I guess, and fumble when we meet any from abroad that are better than us in being nice to strangers. That’s not one of our strengths. We are not very nice to strangers, who we treat like trespassers; people we don’t know, foreigners, can experience Norwegians as ignorant and rejective. But often it’s shyness, based on a history under suppression. Norwegians can be quite rude, and seemingly lack empathy. It’s not our best trait. But we can also be the best friend if we feel comfort and learn to trust the people around us. Norwegians are intelligent. But it’s not always that visible because of the shyness and introvert behavior; you have to read between the lines. I think Norwegians are complicated, and that includes the highly intelligent ones.

Jørgensen: With that notion in mind from previous question, there is a clear link in order to not undermine their qualities in order to «fit in» with their own, and not overestimate these qualities solely based on their sociocultural perspective within its contextual contemporary momentum.

Olsen: I guess modesty might be a Scandinavian thing; it does seem like several members are afraid that others will know they’re a member. Not because they’re ashamed of the organization, but because they think it might be considered bragging.

Some members are asking if they should put their Mensa membership on their resume / CV, also fearing that it might be seen as bragging.

Personally, I don’t see why it should be a problem that someone finds out you’re a member. For me it boils down to if, how and when I inform people. It’s never the first thing I tell people, unless it’s relevant. If I meet someone in a social setting, I *never* introduce myself as “Eivind Olsen, chair of Mensa Norway”, but I will do that if it’s relevant, for example if I’m being interviewed by media. I don’t even try to argue that “you should listen to me because my IQ score is probably higher than yours” – that’s the quickest path to losing any discussion, really. I don’t flash my membership card unless I have a good reason. One good reason would be when I buy hamburgers at the regular meeting place of my local Mensa chapter, since I will then get a discount.

Jacobsen: What are some of the plans and expected developments for Mensa Norway in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, whether in 2020, 2021, even potentially beyond?

Olsen: All our physical activities were put on hold for a while but we’re now opening up more and more again. We have our annual “national test day” in 2 weeks, and all our proctors have been informed about the extra precautions we are taking, such as ensuring people keep their distance, and making sure there’s plenty of disinfectant available (for external use only). We are still growing, but somewhat slower than we would have expected had this been a non-coronavirus year. Some of our bigger plans have had to slow down due to the situation but we’re hoping we can pick up the lost speed.

Appendix I: Footnotes

[1]  Erik Haereid has been a member of Mensa since 2013, and is among the top scorers on several of the most credible IQ-tests in the unstandardized HRT-environment. He is listed in the World Genius Directory. He is also a member of several other high IQ Societies.

Erik, born in 1963, grew up in OsloNorway, in a middle class home at Grefsen nearby the forest, and started early running and cross country skiing. After finishing schools he studied mathematics, statistics and actuarial science at the University of Oslo. One of his first glimpses of math-skills appeared after he got a perfect score as the only student on a five hour math exam in high school.

He did his military duty in His Majesty The King’s Guard (Drilltroppen)).

Impatient as he is, he couldn’t sit still and only studying, so among many things he worked as a freelance journalist in a small news agency. In that period, he did some environmental volunteerism with Norges Naturvernforbund (Norwegian Society for the Conservation of Nature), where he was an activist, freelance journalist and arranged ‘Sykkeldagen i Oslo’ twice (1989 and 1990) as well as environmental issues lectures. He also wrote some crime short stories in A-Magasinet (Aftenposten (one of the main newspapers in Norway), the same paper where he earned his runner up (second place) in a nationwide writing contest in 1985. He also wrote several articles in different newspapers, magazines and so on in the 1980s and early 1990s.

He earned an M.Sc. degree in Statistics and Actuarial Sciences in 1991, and worked as an actuary novice/actuary from 1987 to 1995 in several Norwegian Insurance companies. He was the Academic Director (1998-2000) of insurance at the BI Norwegian Business School (1998-2000), Manager (1997-1998) of business insurance, life insurance, and pensions and formerly Actuary (1996-1997) at Nordea in Oslo Area, Norway, a self-employed Actuary Consultant (1996-1997), an Insurance Broker (1995-1996) at Assurance Centeret, Actuary (1991-1995) at Alfa Livsforsikring, novice Actuary (1987-1990) at UNI Forsikring.

In 1989 he worked in a project in Dallas with a Texas computer company for a month incorporating a Norwegian pension product into a data system. Erik is specialized in life insurance and pensions, both private and business insurances. From 1991 to 1995 he was a main part of developing new life insurance saving products adapted to bank business (Sparebanken NOR), and he developed the mathematics behind the premiums and premium reserves.

He has industry experience in accounting, insurance, and insurance as a broker. He writes in his IQ-blog the online newspaper Nettavisen. He has personal interests among other things in history, philosophy and social psychology.

In 1995, he moved to Aalborg in Denmark because of a Danish girl he met. He worked as an insurance broker for one year, and took advantage of this experience later when he developed his own consultant company.

In Aalborg, he taught himself some programming (Visual Basic), and developed an insurance calculation software program which he sold to a Norwegian Insurance Company. After moving to Oslo with his girlfriend, he was hired as consultant by the same company to a project that lasted one year.

After this, he became the Manager of business insurance in the insurance company Norske Liv. At that time he had developed and nurtured his idea of establishing an actuarial consulting company, and he did this after some years on a full-time basis with his actuarial colleague. In the beginning, the company was small. He had to gain money, and worked for almost two years as an Academic Director of insurance at the BI Norwegian Business School.

Then the consultant company started to grow, and he quitted BI and used his full time in NIA (Nordic Insurance Administration). This was in 1998/99, and he has been there since.

NIA provides actuarial consulting services within the pension and life insurance area, especially towards the business market. They was one of the leading actuarial consulting companies in Norway through many years when Defined Benefit Pension Plans were on its peak and companies needed evaluations and calculations concerning their pension schemes and accountings. With the less complex, and cheaper, Defined Contribution Pension Plans entering Norway the last 10-15 years, the need of actuaries is less concerning business pension schemes.

Erik’s book from 2011, Benektelse og Verdighet, contains some thoughts about our superficial, often discriminating societies, where the virtue seems to be egocentrism without thoughts about the whole. Empathy is lacking, and existential division into “us” and “them” is a mental challenge with major consequences. One of the obstacles is when people with power – mind, scientific, money, political, popularity – defend this kind of mind as “necessary” and “survival of the fittest” without understanding that such thoughts make the democracies much more volatile and threatened. When people do not understand the genesis of extreme violence like school killings, suicide or sociopathy, asking “how can this happen?” repeatedly, one can wonder how smart man really is. The responsibility is not limited to let’s say the parents. The responsibility is everyone’s. The day we can survive, mentally, being honest about our lives and existence, we will take huge leaps into the future of mankind.

[2] Eivind Olsen is the current chair of Mensa Norway. He has scored “135 or higher” (SD15) on the test used by Mensa Norway. He has also previously been tested with WISC-R and Raven’s. He recently took the MOCA test and aced it. When he’s not busy herding cats, he works in IT. He sometimes spends time with family and friends.

Eivind Olsen is a member of Mensa Norway since 2014, having filled various roles since then (chair of Mensa Bergen regional group, national test coordinator, deputy board member, and now chair).

He was born in Bergen, Norway, in 1976, but has lived in a few other places in Norway, including military service in the far north of the country.

Since he got bored at school and didn’t have any real idea what he wanted to do, he took vocational school where he studied electronics repair. He has worked in a different field ever since (IT operations).

He is currently residing in Bergen, Norway, with his significant other, 2+2 offspring, 2 cats and a turtle.

[3] Tor Arne Jørgensen is a member of 50+ high IQ societies, including World Genius Directory, NOUS High IQ Society, 6N High IQ Society just to name a few. He has several IQ scores above 160+ sd15 among high range tests like Gift/Gene Verbal, Gift/Gene Numerical of Iakovos Koukas and Lexiq of Soulios.

Tor Arne was also in 2019, nominated for the World Genius Directory 2019 Genius of the Year – Europe. He is the only Norwegian to ever have achieved this honor. He has also been a contributor to the Genius Journal Logicon, in addition to being the creater of, where he is the designer of now eleven HR-tests of both verbal/numerical varient.

His further interests are related to intelligence, creativity, education developing regarding gifted students. Tor Arne has an bachelor`s degree in history and a degree in Practical education, he works as a teacher within the following subjects: History, Religion, and Social Studies.

[4] Individual Publication Date: September 15, 2020:; Full Issue Publication Date: January 1, 2021:

*High range testing (HRT) should be taken with honest skepticism grounded in the limited empirical development of the field at present, even in spite of honest and sincere efforts. If a higher general intelligence score, then the greater the variability in, and margin of error in, the general intelligence scores because of the greater rarity in the population.


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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