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Conversation with Larae Bakerink on American Mensa and SIGs: (Former) Elected Chair, American Mensa; (Former) Member, International Board of Directors, Mensa International (4)


Author(s): Scott Douglas Jacobsen

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

Publication Date (yyyy/mm/dd): 2021/11/22


LaRae Bakerink was the Elected Chair of American Mensa and a Member of the Executive Committee of the International Board of Directors of Mensa International. She has been a Member of San Diego Mensa since 2001. Bakerink earned a bachelor’s degree in Finance and an M.B.A. in Management. She lives in San Diego with her husband, Steve. She discusses: exciting options from Mensa; democratic involvement; and the structure of Mensa.

Keywords: American Mensa, Executive Committee, intelligence, IQ, Larae Bakerink, Mensa Foundation, Mensa International, San Diego.

Conversation with Larae Bakerink on American Mensa and SIGs: (Former) Elected Chair, American Mensa; (Former) Member, International Board of Directors, Mensa International (4)

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

Scott Douglas Jacobsen: That’s like a class of individuals and their expertise that I would really love to interview to get. Some of these questions that I have answers to while others remain open questions or only partially answered. Ok, so, there’s also another category of things that happened within Mensa in general, which are the special interest groups. So, for those who qualify for a certain intelligence level or cognitive ability within the general population, they also have specialized interests. Some people are lucky. They find interests like physics or math or art or music. They find a community; and they’ve been involved in those their entire lives. They had no need for a special interest group with regards to Mensa. For others, they are part of Mensa. They made a conscious decision to seek this out. What are some of the more exciting options or prominent options of special interest groups for American Mensa members?

Larae Bakerink: They are all over the place. I mean I can list off some of the ones: Star Trek. There are every kind of lifestyle type, special interest group, married couples, singles, looking, people in polyamory lifestyles, the LGBTQ, we have like the Gay SIG.  We have some generational SIGs. Gen Y, Gen X, Boomers. We have Teen SIG for the teenagers. There’s history. I know the history SIG is a big one. Physics, in fact, it’s really funny. Our new diversity committee chair is a black woman, but she is also the first black woman physicist. And she’s like the head of the physics organization for physicists in the United States. And so, of course, she’s big in the physics thing. We have one called Sharp Women. It’s women who like to knit, knitting needles.

Jacobsen: That’s a great title.

Bakerink: There’s one for travelling. But that just happened to come up. Yes, we have ADHD SIG, anthropology, art lovers, astronomy, beer me, bitcoin, blazingly lightly armed Mensans.

Jacobsen: Is it like a cavalry?

Bakerink: No. There are people who are interested in range shooting and firearms.

Jacobsen: Oh, cool, OK.

Bakerink: And then Burning Man, which is one of my favorite SIGS. And they have their own camp at Burning Man every year. So, we have another called Snowflake Village. One called shack of SIT.

So, what they have for barter is, they have ice water chairs and shade. So, that’s why they call it a shack of SIT. Of course, debate room, diabetes, Disneyland, Dungeons and Dragons, Evangelical Christianity, Friends of Bill W. Gardening SIG, geo caching, global risk reduction, grammar police, that’s a funny one, hacker nest. Who would not expect a hacker nest in Mensa, right?

Of course, we’ve got High IQ Whovians, because we have got to have Doctor Who, home schooling Mensans, Isolated Ms. Those are people who are not in the United States. These are Mensans who are U.S. citizens, but are placed outside of the U.S. LinkedIn Ms, Muscle Weight Training, M Atheists, M Available, Harry Potter Common Room, M Escape, which is four escape rooms. Right now, they’re doing online escape rooms.

Jacobsen: That’s pretty interesting.

Bakerink: Investment club, sci-fi writers, Spanish, sports fans, M Winers – that’s for wine, not for whining. Military history, multi-sport, musical theater, naturists, needle and thread.

Jacobsen: A common sentiment, I’ve heard there’s a couple of things that come up from just that list. Actually, there’s another point that comes from the very start of the interview as well, at least start of the conversation. I mean, if people are looking for a solid organization in the high IQ community, then a good couple rule of thumbs is look for ones that have been established for a long time, which was a trust among the membership. Two, look for ones that are democratic, it’s not just one person making decisions top down sort of a deal. Rather, it’s bottom up, and then it’s top down based on the democratic structure of it.

Bakerink: Our national board is fifteen voting members plus four non-voting members, so it’s a nineteen-member board.

Jacobsen: That’s a lot.

Bakerink: It’s a lot. Most of the local groups, their boards are five people.

Jacobsen: That makes a sort of sense if they’re going to be local and smaller. That does make more sense.

Bakerink: But the national board is there are ten RVC’s, regional vice chairs. Since we have ten regions, each of the vice chairs is elected by their region. Then we have five national officers, chair, first vice chair, second vice chair, treasurer and secretary. And then we have four appointed officers, director of science and education, which is our link to the foundation because the foundation designates someone that they’re going to have fill that spot. And then we have a membership communication and marketing officer, which are appointees and approved by the board. And those are the ones where you want them to have experience in those areas, so they bring that expertise to the board.

Jacobsen: This is all, I think, just fantastic because it provides a buffer against certain things that can go wrong, as have gone wrong in some other societies. For those who want, I think there’s one article entitled “A Short (and Bloody) History of the High I.Q. Societies,” by Darryl Miyaguchi. So, you have these special interest groups. You have a lot more social engagement. Also, a unique aspect with more social engagement in person outside of Covid times compared to pretty much every other high IQ society that I’m aware of. So, there’s a lot of unique qualities that Mensa brings. I’ve heard some commentary critiquing Mensa as “only” a social club. Yet, I do not see anything particularly negative about that because a lot of people who are aiming for these societies are looking for people that they do not have to talk about their scores, that they can just talk to naturally with, be themselves as you were saying earlier.

Bakerink: And that’s funny. We never talk about our scores. I mean, if someone tries to bring up their score, we’re all like, ‘Where do you think you are? We all are at the 98th percentile or higher. So, who cares?”

Jacobsen: It’s been settled. It’s not an issue.

Bakerink: And it’s really funny. I’ll have a lot of people contact me and say this person swears they’re in Mensa and I know they’re not. “Can we check?”, and it’s like, “You have access to the member directory. If you’re a member, you can look for yourself.” But it’s funny to see the people who claim that they’re in Mensa that are not, and then claim that they are in Mensa and then try to trash us in the process. It’s like: If you’re in Mensa, you wouldn’t trash Mensa. Unless, you specifically set out to do that.

Appendix I: Footnotes

[1] Former Chair, American Mensa; Former Member, International Board of Directors (Executive Committee), Mensa International; Former Ex-Officio Member, Mensa Foundation; Member, San Diego Mensa.

[2] Individual Publication Date: November 22, 2021:; Full Issue Publication Date: January  1, 2022:


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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