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Conversation with Kate Jones on Life, Views, and Work: Diplomate, International Society for Philosophical Enquiry (1)


Author(s): Scott Douglas Jacobsen

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

Publication Date (yyyy/mm/dd): 2022/06/01


Kate Jones is a “bemused and kindly traveler of this world” with a Type A personality, high energy, and a philosophical bent. She was born at the dawn of WWII in Budapest Hungary. She is member of the International Society for Philosophical Enquiry and American Mensa, and a Lifetime member of the Imperial Society of Teachers of Dancing and a Member of the Libertarian Party. She discusses: growing up; a sense of an extended self; the family background; the experience with peers and schoolmates; some professional certifications; the purpose of intelligence tests; high intelligence discovered; the extreme reactions to and treatment of geniuses; the greatest geniuses in history; a genius from a profoundly intelligent person; profound intelligence necessary for genius; work experiences and jobs; particular job path; the gifted and geniuses; God; science; the tests taken and scores earned (with standard deviations); the range of the scores; ethical philosophy; social philosophy; economic philosophy; political philosophy; metaphysics; philosophical system; meaning in life; meaning externally derived, or internally generated; an afterlife; the mystery and transience of life; and love.

Keywords: Budapest, Germany, Hungarian, International Society for Philosophical Enquiry, Kate Jones, Mensa, Russians, World War II.

Conversation with Kate Jones on Life, Views, and Work: Diplomate, International Society for Philosophical Enquiry (1)

*Please see the references, footnotes, and citations, after the interview, respectively.*

Scott Douglas Jacobsen: When you were growing up, what were some of the prominent family stories being told over time?

Kate Jones[1],[2]*: My parents were Hungarian and didn’t tell children much. I heard how my mother’s sister was a beautiful and famous ballerina in Hungary and Germany, and my father, divorced at the time and a classical pianist, was interested in her until my mother, 22 years younger than my father, somehow managed to divert his attention to where he ended up marrying her. They used to kid about how she stole her sister’s suitor. My mother was only five years older than my father’s daughter from his first marriage. The only person severely disapproving of his marrying again was his sister, a bit of a religious hardnose who didn’t approve of the divorce. Many years later, when the ex-wife died, my parents got married again, so I was born while they were “in sin”. Since I was born an atheist, none of that bothered me at all.

When I was five years old, World War II happened and we had to flee as the Russians came into Hungary, getting out on the last train to Germany before they closed the borders. In Germany we stayed with my mother’s sister (the ballerina/dance teacher), and no stories were told in my hearing. For a few years our stories were about the war and bunkers and no food except cabbage, and hiding out in farm house attics and waiting for the Americans to win the war. The reason we had to flee was not that we were targets for the Nazis but because my father, in WWI, had been a prisoner-of-war in Russia, and he managed to escape through Siberia and get back to Hungary. He figured the Russians would have his number and if they captured him, that would be the end of him, So he got us into the “American sector” of Germany and offered his services to the Americans as an interpreter, since he spoke 7 languages and there were many foreigners piling in from every side.

One of his stories was how, in WWI, he and his troop were in one small airplane and encountered a Russian group, and someone asked, “Do you have any tennis balls?” And they did, so the two officially enemy groups got out of their planes and got a tennis game going out on the field, then parted cordially and went back to their alleged duties. That was my father’s story. His other story was how he escaped from Russia, because his captors found out that he was a pianist and invited him to come and play in their salons. On a couple of such “concerts”, he met Rachmaninoff, who also played. One evening my father played Beethoven and Rachmaninoff performed his own works. The next concert they switched, with my father playing Rachmaninoff’s music.

It was playing at these concerts that gave the alleged prisoner the chance to make his escape. My father was born in 1894. He died in Connecticut in 1968. We ended up in the US because the Germans were trying to get foreigners out, and although they offered my father emigration to Australia, he held out for a chance to emigrate to America. His original profession was as a mechanical engineer, and they found him a job in Connecticut in a small engineering firm owned by a Hungarian. We arrived in America on Christmas Day 1951. I was 12 years old.

Jacobsen: Have these stories helped provide a sense of an extended self or a sense of the family legacy?

Jones:  No, because they were not MY stories. In Budapest where we lived until we had to flee, my parents were what you’d call upper middle class, with a live-in servant to do the housework and other tasks, like cutting the throat of a live goose to get it ready for cooking (I got to watch). I was not allowed to play with her, though I liked her, because she was a lower-class person. I felt betrayed and deprived, not quite understanding that I was supposed to be upper class and treat others from that vantage point. Actually, I think my mother was just jealous that I liked this other person and wanted to be with her, even though my mother ignored me most of the time.

The only family legacy I learned of was that my father’s father was a famous Latin teacher, one of whose students was a famous Hungarian author and my grandfather’s picture is in a museum as the founder of that schooling system. He died the month I was born. None of these stories made any difference in how I regarded myself. I was never given to feel that I was somehow important or valuable; there was little affection shown to children, only scolding. If family culture had any effect, it was to drive down my self-confidence and sense of self. My mother evidently felt that her job was to come up with all kinds of cruel punishments for me for the slightest transgression.

One of my stories from the Budapest years is the time my half-sister visited us with her suitor, and they taught me how to tell fortunes by reading palms. I seemed to have a talent for that and it was a skill I professed for years, informally and for entertainment. Because of how our lives were torn up by being war refugees, not much family “legacy” prevailed. Refugees who survived is the main story.

Jacobsen: What was the family background, e.g., geography, culture, language, and religion or lack thereof?

Jones:  Hmm. I think I covered most of that above:  Budapest, Hungary; upper middle class; Hungarian and German; Roman Catholic. My father did not profess or show any religious tendencies. My mother tried to make me say prayers when going to bed from about the age of three, telling me my guardian angel was sad when I was bad or didn’t want to say the prayers, but I never believed a word of it, anymore than I believed when she tried to tell me about the Easter Bunny. I just didn’t have the vocabulary with which to argue back at that young age. My father never spoke of such things and left it to my mother. She tried to tell me about churches and God, and I never believed any of it, either, though I had to obey when she made me say prayers, which were just meaningless noise to a young, reality-focused mind. My parents took me to Sunday mass, which always made me feel dizzy. They forced me through the ritual of Confession and Communion, all meaningless activities that were part of life I had to go along with.

Leading up to that, at age 6, I was diagnosed with tuberculosis and had to spend 7 months in a children’s sanatorium in Garmisch, Germany, where the fresh mountain air cured me completely. The schooling I missed was made up for when I returned home and had a private teacher for about two weeks, who caught me up in that time with almost a year’s regular schooling. I seemed to learn everything instantly.

Jacobsen: How was the experience with peers and schoolmates as a child and an adolescent?

Jones:  Because of the war years, I did not have regular schooling. After the Americans won, they still occupied school buildings, which left my first year of school to be held in a tavern, with the huge tables and chairs, and they brought in some blackboards. It was in that first year that I was sent to the sanatorium, so after I returned, I was in second grade in a school to which I had a long walk by myself. Relations with my “peers” were not pleasant, as I was picked on by the other kids for not speaking German as well as they did (I was still learning), and I was a little younger, so got slapped around a lot. The only thing that helped was that I was always the best student in the class.

My parents would not allow me to be friends with anyone, so I was pretty much of a loner. Also by now I had had German measles which left me partially blind and I had to wear glasses, which in those days were always a target to be made fun of. I went to a different school every year, so never was a “joiner”, always the outsider, and no continuity of classmates from year to year. Then when I was 10, my mother wanted another child, and when he was born, I was sent to a boarding school run by Franciscan nuns at a nunnery on an island in the river Rhine. In it. It was close to where my aunt had her ballet school, so she must have suggested it. She visited me once a year and ignored me the rest of the time, though she was supposed to see me more often, as I found out later. To attend that school I had to learn French (instead of the Latin that was used in the school I had attended before). German schools followed one of two systems: Gymnasium and Lyceum. Gymnasium had nothing to do with gym. It was a classical Latin-based system, whereas Lyseum was more a liberal system derived from the French. My aunt sent me to a local private tutor, who, in about three weeks, brought me up to date on the French that the other students had done for a year and a half. My aunt didn’t want to believe it but tested me herself and found that I had, indeed, learned all the vocabulary and grammar. I think I had a good teacher, not giving myself credit for being smart or quick to learn. I accepted that that was just way I was.

My grades were always the highest, which made me somewhat of a teacher’s pet. I was not aware of the other kids being jealous here (at the convent school). I was very good athletically, and that did get some respect. Being away from home and with the same group of kids, there were a couple of friends who were steady buddies.

By now it was expected that I would always get the highest grades. I never paid attention to what others thought of me or whether they liked me, in that environment. After a while they even stopped making fun of my clothes, which were made from discarded stage costumes at my aunt’s school. Those clothes had made me very self-conscious and embarrassed. I should include here that the upscale life of Budapest vanished when we fled, and for many years we were very poor.

Nunnery—yes, deep daily indoctrination, mass every morning, none of which took, though I had to go along with it in a very tightly disciplined setting. We all had some favorite nun among our teachers, also one who was much disliked. I wrote an unflattering poem about her, and when the nuns found out, I was afraid of being expelled. That was the time my father accepted a job in America, and so I was taken home and escaped retribution for the insulting rhymes.

Jacobsen: What have been some professional certifications, qualifications, and trainings earned by you?

Jones: Diploma from the Imperial Society of Teachers of Dancing (England) for passing their professional teacher exam with a Highly Commended grade in both divisions, Latin and Modern Ballroom. Won Rising Star trophy with a professional partner in Modern Ballroom competition in 1973. Won over 30 First Place trophies for amateur partner (my student, later my husband) in dance competitions from 1968-1975. Advanced to Diplomate level over six earlier grades in the International Society for Philosophical Enquiry over 1984-2022 of membership. Over 50 prize ribbons in art shows for my playable art over 40 years. Games Magazine selected my puzzles 52 times for their annual “Games 100” list of the 100 best games from 1981 to 2013, the last year the list was published; obviously, some years more than one game was featured. Member of Mensa since 1982. Oh, and salutatorian at high school graduation, 1957, Bridgeport, CT.

Jacobsen: What is the purpose of intelligence tests to you?

Jones:  At the time I took them, the first one for Mensa, it was at the recommendation of a friend to get in with smart people as possible customers for my new business of puzzles (for the joy of thinking®). I passed the test and joined, but found very few customers, even when I exhibited at their Annual Gatherings. A fellow Mensan invited me to try out for the ISPE, as those were more philosophical and I might enjoy them more, and they were allegedly smarter. I qualified there, too. I have no interest in taking more tests or joining more groups. I am too busy with the business to have time for Mensa social activities. With ISPE I am more involved, since I am their journal’s senior proofreader. The older I get, the stupider I get, and I would not want to have to drop out for flunking a retest.

Jacobsen: When was high intelligence discovered for you?

Jones:  Never. I was just good at taking tests. And my father had instilled something in me about that when he took me to the first school (the tavern) on my first day and said, “Now you must always be the best student.” That’s all he said. I’m not aware of trying for that, only of working at it diligently and always doing my homework.

Jacobsen: When you think of the ways in which the geniuses of the past have either been mocked, vilified, and condemned if not killed, or praised, flattered, platformed, and revered, what seems like the reason for the extreme reactions to and treatment of geniuses? Many alive today seem camera shy – many, not all.

Jones:  There is a bug in the human software that is more active in rejecting anything that is too different from themselves, whether in talent, ability, good looks, ideas, beliefs, interactions with others, even styles of clothes and cultural habits. Envy takes over on the one hand, and that is not just emotional but can take the form of predatory hostility, like animals. Carried to a higher level, it gets groups to connive and collude, to turn into mobs and then to war-making, ending in genocide. Any pretext will do for creating excuses and justifications for killing fellow humans. Geniuses are not an exception to being targeted if their ideas are too different or may make them too rich. The schemers and conquerors grab power, since “might makes right”. Might implies physical control and violence. The top dog may be very smart for ruling strategy, while blocking off any policy of universal peace and non-aggression. So your geniuses who don’t have power don’t want to be too visible, lest they become targets.

Jacobsen: Who seems like the greatest geniuses in history to you?

Jones:  Aristotle, Newton, Galileo, Tesla, Pythagoras, Kepler, Da Vinci, Archimedes, Beethoven, Franz Liszt, Charles Darwin, Shakespeare.

Honorable mentions:  Richard Dawkins, Albert Einstein, M. C. Escher, Richard Feynman, Ayn Rand, Voltaire, George Carlin, Carl Sagan.

There are many others that I can’t think of this minute. I’m listing only the good ones. Evil geniuses don’t belong here.

Jacobsen: What differentiates a genius from a profoundly intelligent person?

Jones: His or her output, effect in the world, originality, the good luck of intersecting a particular point in a culture where a change was needed with the unique combination of mind and vision to open new vistas. A true genius does not go around claiming to be one. A genius may not even be recognized during his or her lifetime. They do what they are inspired to do by the need or opportunity in their field. Their “spark” grows more.

Jacobsen: Is profound intelligence necessary for genius?

Jones:  Not necessarily, just enough to make an original breakthrough in the human software. It’s nature’s crapshoot to find the right combination. A total idiot might not be enough. And then there was Forrest Gump… a fiction, but with billions of people in the world, who knows how many fit that picture.

Jacobsen: What have been some work experiences and jobs held by you?

Jones: Started working 1957, selling scarves in a department store; Girl Friday in advertising dept. of that store; copywriter for ads for that store; graphic artist and ad dept. manager for another store; proofreading and document production for Remington Rand Electric Shaver; librarian; copywriter for shoe store; report editor for engineering company; freelance editor/proofreader; self-employed with own Custom Graphics company with private clients; ballroom dance teacher, 1966-1980; overseas assignment (1975-1978) as secretary for Engineering Manager of Westinghouse expatriates in Shiraz, Iran, plus graphic artist for an Iranian print shop; upon return to US, co-founder (1979) and President of Kadon Enterprises, Inc., to produce wooden puzzles and later lasercut acrylic puzzles. Mostly self-employed since 1969. Continue proofreading for authors and publications. Website manager, producer, and graphic artist for Kadon. Puzzle creator, designer, writer of puzzle manuals for Kadon. Selling puzzles on the road at art shows from Florida to Minnesota, some international.

Jacobsen: Why pursue this particular job path?

Jones: Somewhere around 1998 I realized this was my purpose in life, creating unique objects the world can benefit from and drawing on all the skills I had learned through all those other jobs. Intellectually, emotionally, artistically, even physically, this work is soul-satisfying and fulfilling. And it lets me be different from everyone else in the world with no fuss. I have the freedom to do what I want, when I want, and see that it is beautiful. It’s a strange combination of free-spirited artist and practical business entrepreneur. But nothing I’ve done and want to do would be possible without the help of my devoted husband.

Jacobsen: What are some of the more important aspects of the idea of the gifted and geniuses? Those myths that pervade the cultures of the world. What are those myths? What truths dispel them?

Jones:  Ancient cultures lived on myths because the primitive people did not have enough knowledge to understand reality, so fictitious characters and creatures could easily develop in their imaginations. When the brain evolved enough to develop abstract functions, call it an operating system that came with the DNA, imagination was enabled. Ideas acquired almost an independent existence in the cells of the brain. Gifted and genius are just words we now use to describe how some individuals operate differently, on a “higher” or more advanced level, thus capable of functioning in a way the ordinary members of the tribe could not. So the other members either admired them and accepted them as leaders, or resisted and rejected them. Brute strength was still a plus over brains. Smart strength won out over dumb brute force, and thus evolved all the ruling classes and war heroes of ancient times, like Attila the Hun and Genghis Khan and their ilk.

How did humans get infected with the idea of gods as superior specimens? Which early humans thought up the notion of gods who interacted with humans in various ways? Hallucinations? Visiting aliens? Child-like gullibility and uncontrolled fantasies? And the word spread and mythical ideas dug in to the population’s impressionable minds.

One of the brain’s algorithms is to learn what is imparted, right or wrong, as with children who automatically imitate everything. Those who knew more, or seemed to, became the superiors, the respected senior members of the clans. Clans and tribes stuck together, but at some point “otherness” became suspect and rejected. Every group developed a culture of preference and rejection, through evolution of the fit. Every moment had an effect on the mental development of each member, just as all snowflakes are different.

It’s amazing that the world now has over 200 countries, even more than that many languages, endless and different belief systems, and close to 8 billion individual humans. And at any moment, some individuals will have some aspect of themselves wake up and become active in their minds, and from that their actions will interface with the other members and drive their evolution forward, or result in destruction.

Jacobsen: Any thoughts on the God concept or gods idea and philosophy, theology, and religion?

Jones: I have lots of thoughts, some alluded to above. Once abstract thought became possible, early man realized that some were bigger or stronger, or smarter. That established thinking on scales, in effect Zero to infinity. Anyone or anything more powerful than oneself became revered and feared and personified. It’s fun to imagine, though, that some magical species visited and planted ideas in natives’ heads, just as some more advanced cultures made more primitive cultures think of them as gods. I personally don’t believe in any of those beings nor in magic or miracles. There is only one Reality (ha ha, like only one God), and only real things exist, subject to how they can exist. I pretty much go along with the laws of causality. Human intellects are still in babyhood. I’m OK with that, confident that in time we will learn more and more how and why things are as they are and how they evolve.

Jacobsen: How much does science play into the worldview for you?

Jones: Totally, if by science is meant the study of Reality without contaminating with unfounded beliefs.

Jacobsen: What have been some of the tests taken and scores earned (with standard deviations) for you?

Jones:  SAT, 792 out of 800.  Mensa, 167.  ISPE, 181. I’m not smart enough to know what “standard deviations” means.

Jacobsen: What ethical philosophy makes some sense, even the most workable sense to you?

Jones: Objectivism comes close. I want to see humanity cure that bug in the program that allows mutual destruction, but not by self-sacrifice.

Jacobsen: What social philosophy makes some sense, even the most workable sense to you?

Jones:  Individual rights, equality of rights (not equality of results), freedom of speech (spoken, written, communicated in any form), freedom of assembly and movement, and absolutely no initiation of force or violence by anyone against anyone. The US Constitution comes close but leaves too many openings for government to become tyrannical by elevating some to rule others. The right to property honestly acquired (a libertarian principle) is paramount. Mutual consent in all relationships. Freedom to conduct private enterprise with division of labor, reward for constructive and productive work. Social contract without cheating and exploiting others.

Jacobsen: What political philosophy makes some sense, even the most workable sense to you?

Jones: See previous paragraph. No rulers, no dictators, no subjugating anyone. All interactions for mutual benefit by mutual agreement. No cause for envy that leads to internecine hatreds, envy, and rationalization for enmities and strife. The golden rule: do no harm; treat others as you want to be treated. Galt’s oath will do. Ethical, social, political—they are not separate things. And they are of interest and value only to human beings.

Jacobsen: What metaphysics makes some sense to you, even the most workable sense to you?

Jones: “Existence exists”. Everything has a cause, or combinations of causes; and everything contributes to effects, in whatever combinations. The Universe–meaning all that exists—operates on what mathematicians call combinatorics. As my slogan states, “From the Singularity to Infinity, how forms combine and grow.”

Jacobsen: What worldview-encompassing philosophical system makes some sense, even the most workable sense to you?

Jones: The book I’m going to write. The key word is “system”, even if its structure and process are not yet fully understood. The Libertarians are close to it in their principles. Humans fighting against humans must absolutely stop. It is a disease.

Jacobsen: What provides meaning in life for you?

Jones: Being aware that I can think, and how I think, and how I choose values and act to attain them, and that I can contemplate answering questions like these. By “meaning”, I assume you mean “value”–the positive end of the magnet.

Jacobsen: Is meaning externally derived, internally generated, both, or something else?

Jones: “Meaning” (or “value”) has meaning only for living, thinking beings who recognize in their environment the elements that coincide with their inner and outer needs. Everyone’s values are unique to themselves, a unique combination of factors, though there may be close resemblances with those of others. The search for meaning (value) is internally directed, part of the survival kit. It is fulfilled within the conditions of the external reality, which may well be an infinite combination of factors.

Jacobsen: Do you believe in an afterlife? If so, why, and what form? If not, why not?

Jones: No, not in an individual, conscious form. Physically, you may pass on your DNA, which contains much of the DNA of all your forbears mixed with the branch of your mate. Your intellectual material—every thought you had, every word you spoke, every action you took, has left a mark on the grand scheme of human life and is woven into the future if only in a tiny way. Every value you held and imparted lives on after you, for good or ill. So better make it good. And as for your material remains, they become reabsorbed eventually into the stuff of which the Universe is made, whether as fossils or as food for worms and microbes. What pulled together to be YOU goes back to be recycled in infinite ways forever. If you won’t be conscious of it, enjoy it while you live.

Jacobsen: What do you make of the mystery and transience of life?

Jones: In the hierarchy of existence, it is still evolving as part of the energy in the Universe or of the Universe. There is no divine plan, and no divine planner, and all the stuff that exists will mix and match, push apart and recombine as its energy is able to make it. I’m content to see it as an infinite process. Someday science will have a better definition of what makes existence exist and work. Or do we want to fantasize that the entire Universe is a single atom in the next size up?

Jacobsen: What is love to you?

Jones:  To answer that, let me give you an excerpt from one of my poetic ventures, the last few stanzas of a long piece by the title of “A Periodic Table of Polyform Puzzles” – It wants to say that love is the function of energy that seeks to nurture and preserve a continuity of existence in all its forms, in all its synergy, from physical reproduction to mental persistence. After showing a variety of geometric examples, it concludes:

This enumeration is not the fullest score.
Geometry leaves lots more of every level to explore.
The essence is to find a starting point and grow,
Expanding ever up and outward by algorithmic flow.

Each chain becomes a Universe, a periodic drive,
Ascending and continuous, its energy alive.
Each step combines from previous stages—evolution’s code,
And at each step we can dissect it back to its first node.

Something there is in human minds that cherishes the new,
That sees the beauty of emerging order, that it’s good and true.
That’s how we build a consciousness, no end in sight,
And how we build the future in growing wisdom’s light.

Every singularity longs for an endless goal,
So mathematics models the Universe’s soul.
Now let us trace one further, wider mega-thought above
And call the Universe’s combinatorial joinings—love.


[1] Lifetime member, Imperial Society of Teachers of Dancing; Member, American Mensa; Diplomate, International Society for Philosophical Enquiry; Member, Libertarian Party; Member, Future of Freedom Foundation; Member, The Planetary Society; Member, SETI@Home; Member, The Atlas Society.

[2] Individual Publication Date: June 1, 2022:; Full Issue Publication Date: September 1, 2022:

*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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