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Conversation with Larae Bakerink on Intelligence Culture: (Former) Elected Chair, American Mensa; (Former) Member, International Board of Directors, Mensa International (6)


Author(s): Scott Douglas Jacobsen

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

Publication Date (yyyy/mm/dd): 2021/12/15


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: Covid time and organization maintenance; SIGs; intellectual ability; a higher general awareness than others; a gender skew; and where you learn more about her.

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

Conversation with Larae Bakerink on Intelligence Culture: (Former) Elected Chair, American Mensa; (Former) Member, International Board of Directors, Mensa International (6)

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

Scott Douglas Jacobsen: So, what are your newest experimental projects or initiatives coming out Mensa now, or is it more in Covid times that you want to keep things at maintenance level?

Larae Bakerink[1],[2]: Yes, Covid times has made things very tough. We have a world gathering coming up this year since it is the seventy fifth anniversary of Mensa International. And world gathering is going to be in Houston. So, American Mensa gets to host the world gathering this year. So, not only do we have the international board of directors coming for their meeting then we’re going to have our board of directors there for the meeting plus the big convention for the whole thing. So, it’s going to be a 9-day event in Houston. So, our biggest thing is trying to figure out, “Can we still make it happen? What are the things we need to put in place?” So, we’re really working on trying to get that, but since it’s late August we think we’re going to be in pretty good shape, but more of it on American Mensa’s level. We’re really trying to focus on focused marketing, how we can give our members more satisfaction because there are so many venues out there for them to find social venues for high IQ.

Like I said, there’s Meetup and a bunch of other groups and Facebook, where I can just get my interaction over here instead of having to pay membership to Mensa for it. So, those are the key things, how to keep and satisfy our current members and how to attract new members because since one out of 50 people can qualify; we should have a lot more members if we could get them to join or even know about Mensa. I was so excited when I qualified. I knew that I would qualify, but when I finally submitted everything and joined. I told a cousin of mine. I was so excited. I was in Mensa. And she looks at me, says, “What is that?” You know what that does to your ego, and you do not even know what it is.

Jacobsen: It’s a rarefied thing. It’s not necessarily something everyone will know about or if they do know about it, whether or not they will have a high degree of concern for it.

Bakerink: Yes, or they’ll have a positive response to it.

Jacobsen: Sure.

Bakerink: Because it’s been made fun of for so long. I mean being a high IQ, smart, geek, nerd, whatever you want to call it, for so many years was looked down upon. And now, it’s like that’s the cool thing. I was so excited. I know people have different ideas about this when Big Bang Theory came out, the television show. And every one of those guys is someone I grew up with. Yes, those are the people that I hung out with. Although, I was the girl in the comic book shop with all the guys because I was hanging out with my cousin, my friends, but that coming out. That becoming more mainstream while, yes, they did poke fun at certain things because anything to the extreme is going to be laughable.

But they brought out a lot of the angst and the concerns that can happen during this, being around those kind of people, and what it entails and how hard it can be. So, I think that was like the turning point for us. I really think it was that it was okay. It’s okay to be smart. Yes, you’re going to be a little different. We’re all a little different, but I think that that really kind of made it more acceptable. Even though, there are still going to be people who make fun and all that. Differences are going to cause that. It’s human nature.

Jacobsen: Do you think the Underachiever Special Interest Group is something reflective of a category of those kinds of individuals based on their experience, more or less, licking their wounds and commiserating with one another?

Bakerink: It’s a big joke. It’s like, “I could have done this, and I didn’t.” Some parts of it are serious. I think some of them do commiserate like, “I probably should have gone on and got my Ph.D.” But why? Because my younger sister has her Ph.D. She’s always gone, “Ha, ha! I’m a doctor.” So, I just think the underachievers is: I think we all feel that way, like the Imposter Syndrome. ‘Why are we here? I do not feel like I deserve it.” So, I think that happens a lot.

Jacobsen: There is also a certain egalitarian mild denial social culture that people differ on a lot of traits including intellectual ability, cognitive ability. Do you think that’s a common thing in North America?

Bakerink: I do not think everyone is really aware. I find that people with a higher IQ are more aware of that and tend to feel like they do not meet their own expectations, but I do not feel like it’s something that’s a common awareness. I think people more in general – trying not to be too general, but, in general, they just view things, “Oh, she’s much better at math than I am,” or, “He’s a great handyman. He can figure anything out kind of thing.” I think that’s more how they look at it rather than as intelligence or a form of intelligence, just in general feeling. Those of us in the High IQ societies. We’re the ones who focus more on whether it’s intelligence or not, but the general population they do not look at it that way. They just think, “Well, that person.” They do not even think that person is smarter than I am.

They think that person is better at this particular thing than I am. So, they’re better at working on their car, or they’re better at building a computer, or they’re better at doing math. That kind of thing. I do not even think, just my conversations with friends, because I have a lot of friends who are not in Mensa; they do not even think about it that way. Their conversations are more, “Steve just is really great at that,” if he can fix any car.

Jacobsen: So, based on that, it seems more surface level direct observation rather than “What’s the root variable for those individuals potentially being better in those domains?”

Bakerink: I do not think that. That’s just not in their realm. I do not mean it to be degrading. I do not mean it in a way that they’re not smart enough to think that. I just think that in general; their perception doesn’t go that way. Their perception is more as I see this, “Hey, that was pretty smart. That was cool. I would not have figured that out. Ok, cool. That was nice,” and kind of move on.

Jacobsen: So, maybe, it’s something like having a higher cognitive ability or rare cognitive ability. You have a certain expanded awareness in general about ideas, social surroundings, and culture. And at the same time, there’s also been an amplification of that within the culture of the High IQ societies. So, it’s just that much more.

Bakerink: It’s that much more for us because it’s something we are aware of, because it’s something that we focused on to get into a society. And it’s something we talk about in the society because we’re constantly discussing the testing and how to qualify, and how are you going to do this and then making sure that presentations are exciting and interesting enough. So, they focus on that more. I think it’s just your general awareness of your surroundings and the IQ part’s just not the focus. “How do I accomplish this?” And I do not even think that sometimes people are smarter than others. It’s just that I got to this place in three seconds. It took you ten, but we got to the same place. I just got there faster.

Does that make me smarter, or does it just make me a little quicker? So, I try really hard to look at it from that point of view. I’m not necessarily smarter. I just got to that place a little faster. And to me, that makes me faster on test. That makes me able to do things or to come up with a solution a little faster, but doesn’t make me necessarily smarter. Someone asked me one time, “Well, do you consider yourself a genius?” I’m like, “No.”

Jacobsen: That’s a very rare title.

Bakerink: That was a reporter that had asked me that. “Do you consider yourself a genius?” I’m like, “No.” And he goes, “But you’re in this high IQ society, yes?” What do I consider genius? Someone who actually takes their ability and does something with it. To me, that’s genius. Just having the smarts doesn’t.

Jacobsen: I mean for every person that’s really good in school. There’s a lot of other people who have the same ability level that aren’t motivated at all or they might have a comorbidity that could prevent learning sufficiently at a particular time. Dyslexia, it’s undiagnosed. English is a core course to graduate high school. It could even be a social thing that impacts like a young male on the autism spectrum. If social life is not too well, they do not understand what’s going on. That’s a lack of self-insight. They’re isolated. They drop out sort of thing. These things happen all the time.

Bakerink: Now, I spent three months training a young Mensan who kept losing his job. He would fight with his bosses all the time and say, “No, this is the right answer. I know better than you.” So, I worked with him for three months. He was a friend. I was really trying to help him and just explain to him, “No, you do not tell your boss you’re smarter than he is.” I go, “Number one, do not ever say that.” I go, “You stop and listen, figure out what they’re trying to tell you. And then say, ‘Well, this is how I see it,’ and give them the work and show them where you may be right and do not insist that you’re right.” He’s been in the same job now for five years, so I’m really happy.

Jacobsen: Congratulations, you’re z.

Bakerink: So, like I said it’s all the EQ with the IQ, can make a big difference.

Jacobsen: Now, in some of the demographics, you’re mentioning there were thirty plus thousand men, fifteen plus thousand women. So, it’s about a two to one ratio. So, obvious question, why?

Bakerink: I have my personal opinion that I think women, often, do not think they’re as smart as they are. It could be the way they were raised just general. Like I said, I’ve had women tell me the only reason they joined Mensa was because their husband told them they were stupid and they had to prove otherwise. And they really didn’t think they would qualify. And the other thing too is women are the ones who have the children and stay home. Not so much anymore that is changing quite a bit. So, they’re social. What they’re seeking for social interaction is not the same. So, many times the men are out there looking for a smart woman.

Jacobsen: So, they join Mensa.

Bakerink: M Available, that’s one of the SIGs. That’s the dating one. That’s the one. They’re looking for a significant other.

Jacobsen: So, what areas have we not covered? That’s a wide range.

Bakerink: It always is when you’re talking about Mensa. That’s one of the beauties and the absolute horrors of Mensa. We are the two percent of everything. How do you run an organization and get people excited when they have nothing in common, but their IQ? That’s why we have SIGs. If we didn’t have SIG,s Mensa wouldn’t really be what it is because you’d have fifty thousand people with absolutely nothing in common and nothing to talk about because they do not know who to talk to, but the SIGs provide that for them. And how do you figure out how do you lead? How do you figure out the path for the organization? Like I said, I’ve been in a bunch of different organizations. They have a specific purpose or a goal to get to. Like DARs, Daughters of American Revolution that’s all based on your history. Or, in trade organizations, you’re focusing on whatever your industry is.

Mensa is not that. We’re supposed to seek out and foster intelligence in humanity and that sort of thing, and part of what the foundation does helps us with that goal, but to provide a stimulating atmosphere is another one of our missions. So, that’s kind of what we focus on is the events, and then the SIGs because those are all different things that can provide a stimulating atmosphere to people in varied interests. There are people who take such joy in Mensa. We’ve had people that have been members for fifty years. I’m a life member, and I didn’t join until I was forty. So, I’m over twenty years now, but, yes, it’s crazy. It’s weird, but it brings great joy. There are people who absolutely do not know what they would do with their lives without Mensa. Because we have second generation members in leadership now. Now, our national treasurer, she’s a second generation member. She attended her first event in the womb. So, for some people, it’s what they need in their life. And for others, it’s just a little badge of honor.

Jacobsen: Now, the proper website is, to close,

Bakerink: Yes. If you want to see my full go to my website, has my CV on it.

Jacobsen: Thank you so much. And have a lovely Pfizer field trip.

Bakerink: Yes, thank you very much. Me too. All right. Well, it was very nice to meet you. Thank you for the opportunity.

Jacobsen: Thank you too.

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: December 15, 2021:; Full Issue Publication Date: January 1, 2022:


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