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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 (4)


Author(s): Scott Douglas Jacobsen

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

Publication Date (yyyy/mm/dd): 2022/02/08


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: Norwegians view themselves; foreigners; Norway ranks highly on world health, on world peace, and on gender equality; Norway implementing advanced medicine for all citizens; education provided for all in Norway; the NATO alliance; national history of Norway and national pride; national disgrace; excellence versus equity; and science advancement.

Keywords: Erik Haereid, Eivind Olsen, IQ, Mensa, Mensa Norway, 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 (4)

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

Scott Douglas Jacobsen: How do Norwegians view themselves within the various high-IQ communities?

Erik Haereid: I haven’t asked any, and not thought about how I see myself within these communities. I don’t have any immediate answer to that, but I’ll think about it. 🙂

Tor Arne Jørgensen: Well here one can only speak for oneself, that to the extent that one can be considered as members within the various high range community should again be considered best by others. What one then sees from one’s own point of view of the roles of others, is experienced as a careful search for confirmations of some kind in the degree of strengthening the self.

Eivind Olsen: I don’t have any scientific details on this. We’re over 2000 members in Mensa Norway, and we have all sorts of people so I’d guess their view of themselves is also quite diverse.

Jacobsen: How do foreigners seem to view Norway?

Haereid: I haven’t asked any of them either. In general, my unqualified guess is that some see Norway as a remote, rich and beautiful country, with deep fjords and steep mountains, cold weather and people they really don’t know. Once, I met a French couple in Paris, or maybe I read about it in a paper, I don’t remember, and they asked me, or the journalist, if there were polar bears in the streets of Oslo. Paris is not at equator or in Antarctic; it is in the heart of Europe at the 49th parallel north, and Oslo is at 60th. Shouldn’t they know better? Or maybe I, or the journalist, just didn’t catch their joke. Maybe some see Norwegians as mildly provocative? I hope not. Bad humor, maybe. We are quite kind, really.

Jørgensen: What one experiences even from what is being said even from those who visit our elongated country, is that we seem shy but generous. Furthermore, we emerge as a bit naive and complacent, but not striking in such a sense, where a nourishing glimpse of national romance can be viewed. The scandinavian origin seems exciting, given their scenic surroundings and long fjords.

Olsen: That of course depends on the foreigners. I believe we’re often seen as a country with a fairly good gender equality, a social profile with public health care, a mix of urban and rural societies, and with some amazing mountains and fjords. And often with a decent-to-good English vocabulary and a decent-to-bad pronunciation of the same. 🙂

Jacobsen: Norway ranks highly on world health, on world peace, and on gender equality. These amount to internationalist values tied to modernist views, scientific rationalism employed in medicine and engineering, and cosmopolitan attitudes towards social and professional relations. Why is Norway setting such a mark on the world as a visionary nation?

Haereid: The main factor is the Scandinavian and Nordic way of thinking about egalitarian and social balance; to succeed, i.e., live good lives alone and among others, you can’t be too selfish or too empathic. If “success” is defined as being the best, richest and prettiest, you will lose in the end. Prosperity is not only about individual success. Some Norwegians move abroad, primarily to USA, because they want to succeed in the meaning of not sharing; “my effort is my property”. Maybe that gives you some kind of satisfaction in the short run, but as bricks in a cathedral it doesn’t last. If you suppress women, men, children, poor, sick or any ethnic minority you will, at some point, be stabbed and regret. It’s always some kind of payback in Nature.

It’s about gaining an equilibrium; matching opposites; prosperity and hunger, safety and danger, sense and sensibility, warm and cold, and create a cultural web over time that fulfills the variety in the human color chart. I think the Norwegian landscape, changes in weather and variation in seasons, our brutal and also nice history, our historical economic struggle and our recently prosperity, our trust to each other, and our mental surplus that make us believe in the good in people, are all elements in this. We feel quite safe as to healthcare; if we get sick or wounded, we trust that someone will take care of us whether we are rich or poor. We feel in some ways like a big family. Even though there are some double standards, we are decent concerning human rights.

Free education, as an important example, lower the threshold for everyone to gain knowledge and wisdom, and makes the society wiser and more prosper in probably almost every way.

I think the combination of being a young, small and hungry nation (we were completely or partly controlled by Denmark (from about 1400) and Sweden (from 1814) until 1905) and having internalized the importance of a social balance, is the recipe. It’s about taking and sharing responsibility. Competition has to be games to evolve, and has gone too far when it becomes too important, existential, and violent.

Jørgensen: It is conceivable that the community’s innovation, creative joy and future-oriented camaraderie in a positive sense are geared towards strengthening common value creation in a transferable and beyond-friendly sense, according to its cosmopolitan understanding.

Olsen: I’m not sure there’s one single reason for those high rankings. Regarding world peace and being able to sometimes act as a mediator, I guess it helps that we have such a small population that we can’t ever be seen as an aggressor. Norway is a fairly secular atheist society, whereas conservative religions have often been used to strip women of the same rights as men had: “Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord.” (Ephesians 5:22), for example. All the Nordic countries were among the earlier countries that gave women the right to vote in national elections.

Jacobsen: I note Iceland and Finland in these categories too. How do they seem to do it, too?

Haereid: We are almost the same people with the same background. It’s about believing in ones’ abilities and seize what is possible. Doing that is easier when you have to, and no one stops you. I think Island and Finland also has this dawning zeal and hunger, like the Norwegians. We are newly born, sort of, and we discover, limited by the respect of being suppressed. After suppression you can choose to learn from it and at the same time exploit your new-found freedom. It’s not only about being suppressed by other nations or people, but nature, hunger, catastrophes, fear, shame, guilt…

Jørgensen: Based on my rather limited knowledge in accordance with the countries you are hereby referring to, one can only assume that they can be justified on the basis of the same principles as we in Norway can be justified on.

Olsen: I would assume they’re doing it in similar ways, seeing as they are also Nordic countries. Sure, there are some national traits, such as the famous Finnish “sisu”.

Jacobsen: How is Norway implementing advanced medicine for all citizens? How does this improve the society as a whole?

Haereid: It’s controlled by the authorities. Most necessary healthcare is free in Norway, as part of the welfare system. That includes medicines; you don’t have to pay for it. There have been discussions about very expensive medicine, that can improve or prolong lives for instance as to cancer treatment. I assume there is a limit; some medicines are too expensive and are not approved inside the Norwegian healthcare system. Some medicines are not approved of other, more scientific reasons. Some Norwegians travel abroad to buy treatment and medicines that is not provided in Norway.

Obviously, to get the best healthcare and medicine for free is part of making everyone feel more secure, and release people’s energy and make everyone use their abilities.

Jørgensen: As far as Norway and the implementation of advanced medicine for its inhabitants are concerned, we are at the average of the rest of the Nordic region and the western world. Comes a bit to short here within the mentioned topic, to be able to give a more accurate picture, but based on what can be sought and what is covered by the media, general health development in Norway has much to thanks those who are outside our own national borders. Yes, we have set ourselves high goals for an improved national health service, but in the end we only follow natural western attitude-based medical development with all the consequences that this entails.

Olsen: All the Nordic countries have universal health care, funded by the state (i.e. by the people paying taxes). It ensures that you get access to some level of health care. As long as most people are bearing the burden of paying taxes, it all works out quite well. Could it be working even better? Of course. But it could also be working a lot worse.

Jacobsen: How is education provided for all in Norway? How does this improve the society as a whole?

Haereid: In Norway, most education, also higher education institutions, are run by the state or municipality, and are gratis. This is a major part of our welfare-system; to provide everyone the education they want, for free. As to higher education, Norway follows the European standard of three years for Bachelor, two years for Master and three years for PhD degrees.

It’s nine years of compulsory education. This is approximately the same in the rest of Europe. Many go to high school (videregående skole), which lasts three years (15 to 18 years). You also have a lot of vocational schools and folk high schools, if you want some other inputs than pure, traditional education. In general, Norwegian education institutions are of top class.

When you lower the obstacles for taking an education, and make it inviting for everyone that wants it, you get a general higher degree of educated and wise people. In societies where money or anything else is an obstacle, you sort people based on something that is not correlated with abilities, and you get people that in sum is less knowledgeable than in societies where everyone gets more opportunities. Societies with high obstacles as to education are into a larger degree divided into social hierarchies and polarization than the others, and this leads to a stupider society; the bigger the difference between high and low educated, between rich and poor, the more conservative and less knowledgeable is the society.

What is problematic with let’s say egalitarian societies like the Norwegian is that one tends to equalize everyone; if you have a talent, some inner drives that you want to enhance and develop, you also have to get some more education and opportunities than people who don’t have those abilities (like high intelligence). This is not about constructing elites, but letting people have the best ground to build their lives on. We have to differ between environments where people get the opportunity to exploit their abilities, and the glorification of such environments. When the glorification becomes the ambition, we lose wisdom. In general, it’s about giving as many as possible, everyone, the optimal opportunities to develop personally in addition to contribute to optimizing the lives for everyone in the society; creating av win-win situation for each one and everyone. It’s about nurturing each one’s abilities and skills and not nurturing the protection procedures of one’s abilities and skills; everyone has the choice between becoming wiser or protecting their wisdom towards the others.

One problem with elitist societies in general, is that they suppress a majority (or minorities) and through that reduce the total production and development, and at the same time slow down their own development because they are too satisfied with status quo and too occupied by protecting their elitist position.

Elitism is a product of overcompensation, which in this context is a product of not being seen and respected. Human haven’t found, still, any major way to fulfill humans need for respect within the social realm. Letting everyone evolve with their abilities and talents, their wishes and needs, in respect from everyone else, is the key to evolve optimally as society and individuals. And to manage to see one has to be seen. I believe in some sort of egalitarian way of constructing the society, to make this happen.

Jørgensen: As for the paradigmatic constitutional regarding the straight forward change-based education, grounded within its foundations as to the distribution-sought parallels with the intention of leveling out its primary mandate. Does it then serve its ordinary and intentional parameter from their institutional parables? No, not in any way, by grounds of their manufacturing excitations of indelible intellects fueled on by their already associated philanthropic established parables. Now we find ourselves at an political/educational crossroad, where we must decide to enter a new political charter of ithin forward altruistic inaccuracies for both branches of opportunistic incentives at the intersection of conservative jurisprudence.

Olsen: Everyone here have an obligation to get some basic education (currently that’s 1st to 10th grade), and they have a right to use the public education system. They can choose to go to private schools or get homeschooled instead but most follow the public system. The public education is free (or, funded in the same way as universal health care: taxes). Higher education at the university level is also for all intents and purposes free (you guessed it: funded by taxes). Sure, you’ll have to pay a semester fee of perhaps 600 NOK (approx. 65 USD) and buy some study material, books etc, but it’s not a large sum. There are also state-funded grants and loans for students, allowing also those without a wealthy background to get an education and increasing the chance of accomplishing social mobility. The top 5 countries on the World Economic Forum’s “social mobility index rankings, 2020” are Denmark, Norway, Finland, Sweden and Iceland.

Jacobsen: What is the state of the NATO alliance now?

Haereid: With an American and general will to pay and contribute to the alliance, it is a necessary support beam and protector of the member states. It’s important to manifest NATO as a friendly alliance, intended to preserve peace and not to make wars. It’s about how NATO is promoted. I think Jens Stoltenberg is a Secretary General that contributes to such an organization. Communication with the world outside NATO is of high importance to maintain and preserve the peaceful project NATO is and should be.

Jørgensen: Simply put, Allied insecurity, due to their shaky interpolitical support, confusing global involvements and lavish plodding approaches on a grand scale…

Olsen: My impression is that it’s “somewhat flimsy, but holding up”. There has been talk about expelling Turkey from the alliance, and Donald Trump has also expressed interest in withdrawing the USA from NATO. I guess time we’ll have to wait and see what happens.

Jacobsen: What are some important points of reflection for national history of Norway and national pride?

Haereid: We are a young nation. We have fought for our freedom until after WW2, and then we started to climb, like the whole world did, but maybe we did it more than others, because we lacked history and tried hard to establish some kind of national feeling of affiliation. We celebrate our Constitution Day 17. May each year, like no one else do. Some nations ignore their national day, others spice it with military parades. We arrange family gatherings and children’s parades all over the nation; it’s a beautiful gesture and celebration. It reminds us of that we have to construct a strong feeling of national connection, because we lack history.

We are proud of our diverse nature and distinct seasons, actually, and that we have managed to exploit some of our natural resources, like fish, oil and gas, and made it easier for us concerning the welfare-system. At the same time, we want to contribute making the world free from fossil fuel, and as an example, Norway is one of the leading nations as to driving electrical cars.

We trust each other; other nations might see us as naïve in that regard. I think we are proud of our athletes, too proud if you ask me. 🙂

Jørgensen: In short, one can first highlight national pride, then the pride in being a weather-beaten people with lots of courage. We keep to traditions, search externally for new knowledge, an are regarded as bridge builders between nations in addition to be revired for holding the humic value as a base fundation.

Olsen: I think it’s important to know that Norway was part of a union for over 600 years, under both Danish and Swedish rule, and only gained full independence from Sweden as recent as in 1905.

Regarding pride, that depends on who you ask. Some will reminisce about the Olympics at Lillehammer in 1994 and how “we” won some medals. Personally, I don’t understand how it’s possible to take personal pride in what someone else have accomplished. I’ve never been playing when the local football team won a match, and I’ve never participated in the Olympics, so why should I take any pride in that?

Jacobsen: What about points of national disgrace in history or into the present?

Haereid: Even though we are a young nation, we were part of the Vikings and the Viking Age. That’s nothing to be proud of.

On our trip to feel national, we now and then exaggerate, trying things too hard, and listen too much to and copy other nations. Like the USA. I like many of the features of the USA, but it’s still also an imperialistic and white culture, unfortunately. I hope Norway can continue to develop the egalitarian way of thinking; we are not completely there yet, and there are double standards along the road, but I think we have something going on.

I think Norwegians claim to be better, in the meaning of good and altruistic, than they are. But I also think there is some true wishes behind this empathic drive. Norwegians want to be good, empathic, but have some distance left to go. It’s annoying with this flamboyant self-righteousness. It comes with the combination of power and insecurity.

Jørgensen: Will point out 3-4 elements of what is facilitated and thus can only be described by what concerns the stain on one’s national pride. First and foremost is our own present day “Law of Jante”, which is solely to suppress one’s self-esteem completely. Next is the widespread triangle trade by involvement to secure us norwegians sugar and other desirable goods about 300+ years back in time, third is fifty to a hundred years further back in time during the witch-burning, all the hundreds of women and men who were accused of collaborating with evil forces. Finally, the most obvious misconception of them all, our Viking background, where the theft, killing and conquest of another’s property and land is to this day honored as heroic, when everything else is the truth, a true stain on national, Scandinavian and Nordic scale.

Olsen: The Norwegian assimilation policy was for a long time not very nice to the Sámi people. In more recent times we have the bombing of Libya in 2011 which I find somewhat dubious.

Jacobsen: Some discussions in the past have oriented around excellence versus equity division in terms of the innovation and science development in the midst of the welfare system versus the free market system. One values, so it’s assumed, health of all citizens while the other values advancement of the wealth via the valuation of science and technology innovation with utility towards the market. Is this a fair characterization? Is excellence versus equity truly a division?

Haereid: This is basically about motivation and access/distribution. If you have a system that demotivates each and every one, the total amount of advancement is obviously less compared to a more motivating system. It has been discussed since dawn if advancement is good per se. But if you have some kind of decent moral and adjusting compass, some rules that controls innovation into some but not too severe degree, you will still have the motivational element intact. People like to invent, to discover and reveal; that’s our nature. We can’t stop that, nor by making the distribution of the results more equal.

We need different motivational elements, i.e., capital in the general meaning of it, that both preserve the general motivation in as many as possible (because this maximizes the positive outcome) and distributes the outcome fairly; gives as many as possible access to the result, without losing motivation in the invention- and production process. It’s about “what’s in it for me”.

Elitists live on an illusion that they are better than other people. This is one of human’s biggest issues. People often misunderstand by mixing worth and abilities; we are all different with different abilities, needs and talents. It’s like saying that a nurse is less worth than a doctor; that’s an illusion. But people tend to believe in it. Would equalizing nurses and doctors make the MD-education less attractive? Or would it channelize more empathic (and perhaps intelligent) people into the MD-education (I guess there are quite an amount of MD’s today that lack empathy, that are MD’s because they want the glory and money and not because they want to live by Hippocrates’ intentions about helping sick people)?

I think elitists are driven by the same factors as drug abusers; you don’t need it, but it feels like you do. A lot think seriously that they will lose motivation if they have to share the values of the outcome of their inventions, productions and results. We have to rethink the concept of power. It’s a cliché, but it’s about a necessary balance between ego and community, between yourself and the others. When we invent a system, which assure us that sharing is not losing but on the contrary, we have reached a milestone in human evolution.

I think life is not about living forever, but living good; including having a as good health as possible within reason. It’s not about living on behalf of each other, but share into some degree and find the most suitable social and personal fit. Living good lives includes some sort of basic income, health care and prosperity relative to what humans have invented at that time in history. Today almost everyone owns some sort of a smart communication device. If there are enough supplies, no system should prevent anyone from getting what they need.

There are thousand reasons why a person can’t provide what he, she or they need in life; reasons that should not be only that person’s responsibility. When the system nurtures this kind of capitalistic exchange, it produces greed and irresponsibility. These are human features that can be controlled, like alcohol can be controlled before one move into abuse. To claim that greed is uncontrollable, is like giving your children alcohol and encourage them to drink because it feels so good. But parents usually don’t do this to their children. So why do they motivate them to be greedy?

Egalitarianism is not about stopping producing things, but changing the factors which motivates us to produce. When pure egocentric needs are the motivation, and the system motivates us to be mean narcissistic human creatures that deviates from what we could be, warm human beings, we become that evil creature as a culture and individually. We are not born with empathy towards people that we don’t know or care for. We know that. To feel empathy, we have to connect those others to something we relate to and care for. This is one of our limitations, and therefore something we have to take into account.

Jørgensen: Will probably see me a little agree with the value base spun from the basis around alturistic metafunctional creation that is both viewed with orders for scalable investments, as well as an experience of flip-floppers overwintering. It should thus be pointed out the importance of not thinking about the control function experience of aberration for the maintenance of the scholastic obvious. No, let us avoid the obvious misconceptual impression of the espressiveness of impartiality, but rather grasp the idea of a double jeopardy in the hope of liberating justice from the intentional intuition of dissent.

Olsen: As is often the case, some sort of balance seems to prove the good tradeoff. Assuming there are limited resources (personell, funding, time) available, there will always be some competition for those resources. If you give all those resources to “one side only” the other side will suffer. Put all the best and brightest minds to a single task and you might eventually end up solving one problem while creating several other problems due to neglect.

Jacobsen: If this division exists between excellence and equity, what science advancement is lost? What systems could better integrate the two, seriously?

Haereid: No science advancement is lost; it’s not achieved yet. We are a young species, that are going to change the most common human perception of the nature and evolution process. We are not there yet. Human mainstream science believes in absolute brutality, still, and as long as it does, human have no reason to be nice and kind; it doesn’t pay off. We are not born empathic, but with an empathic potential. We have to evolve towards practical empathy, and not ignore it because some people mean that it’s absolute true that human are egocentric megalomaniacs with no real compassion for others. That’s a big lie; we have a great potential to be nice and respectful.

Pure communism and capitalism have failed. You can’t build a system without the right motivation. You can’t force people, only direct them; people behave like water. Compassion, sharing, is not contradictory to egoism; we have to evolve a system that combine person and persons. You don’t have to brake production, i.e., human activities, to be compassionate. On the contrary. We have to build a system that understands that there are enough of everything we need. Science and technology will provide us all we need e.g., food. We are still in the archetypical “lack of supplies” mentality; in the mentality of fighting for one’s goods. That’s history in the future. It’s more of a paramount mental change than a system change; the practical solutions follow the mentality. It’s about giving without the experience of losing.

Jørgensen: With a mix of economic directions that we in Norway have today among other nations also within the Nordic platform, a mixed economy is preferable. This means that there may be better solutions to promote, as well as safeguard its resolutions. Final conclutives are defined on the basis of what is in the line of prohibition with the implicative factors that are drawn up in the approving statutes, this is what one is then left with and which must then be loosely re-evaluated in order for an improved state to emerge from the freemarket economy and its opposite counterpart in the state-controlled planned economy forum where it is kept in the idea of anti-establishmentarianism.

Olsen: It’s not really possible to say which advancements are lost. And it might be just as well to also ask “what science advancement is gained”.

Appendix I: Footnotes

[1] Member, World Genius Directory.

[2] Individual Publication Date: February 8, 2022:; Full Issue Publication Date: May 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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