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Mubarak Bala and Trial of Islam in Nigeria

Author: Dr. Leo Igwe

Numbering: Issue 1.B, Idea: African Freethinking

Place of Publication: Langley, British Columbia, Canada

Title: African Freethinker

Web Domain: http://www.in-sightjournal.com

Individual Publication Date: September 21, 2020

Issue Publication Date: TBD

Name of Publisher: In-Sight Publishing

Frequency: Three Times Per Year

Words: 995

Keywords: Humanism, Humanist Association of Nigeria, Leo Igwe, Mubarak Bala.

Mubarak Bala and Trial of Islam in Nigeria[1],[2]

Dr. Leo Igwe is the Founder of the Humanist Association of Nigeria, the Founder & CEO of Advocacy for Alleged Witches, and the Convener of the Decade of Activism Against Witch Persecution in Africa: 2020-2030. He is a friend, and boss at AfAW.

Today marks a hundred days since the police in Nigeria disappeared Mubarak Bala, president of the Humanist Association of Nigeria. The police apprehended Bala following a petition that his comments on Facebook insulted the prophet of Islam. Before his ‘abduction’, Bala’s exercise of his freedoms had not gone down well with many Muslims in Northern Nigeria. A free Mubarak Bala elicited anger; hatred and hostility especially from Muslims socialized to value their faith more than a free human being.

Bala came out as an ex Muslim in a dramatic way in 2014. His renunciation of Islam attracted international attention because Bala’s family consigned him to a mental hospital. The family members thought that he must be out of his senses to renounce Islam and to openly and publicly do so. Bala was born into a Muslim family and was expected to remain a Muslim for the rest of his life. But he chose to exercise his freedom. He left Islam. To many Muslims in the region, his renunciation of Islam was Haram, a forbidden act. It was a dishonor to the family, and a crime punishable by death under sharia law. Bala’s leaving Islam has been seen as a betrayal or a disappointment to the family of a prominent Islamic scholar.

By sheer luck and coincidence, the information reached humanists within the country that Bala was in a psychiatric hospital in Kano. Humanists rallied support for him, and eventually, Bala became a free man. But his travails never ended. His freedom was short-lived because a free apostate has no place in a sharia implementing or Muslim dominated society. Mainstream Islam in Northern Nigeria is hard-wired against tolerance, and freedom for apostates.

Muslims in the region are socialized to detest those who leave Islam and to deny them the freedoms that Muslims enjoy- freedom of life, association, expression, religion, or belief. Overt hostility towards apostates apply in areas where Muslims are in the majority or in places where they control politics such as Kano, Katsina, Jigawa, Yobe, and Gombe.

Now in parts of the country where Muslims are in the minority, they use human rights mechanisms to argue for their rights to practice and preach their religion. Meanwhile, in places where they are in the majority, they impose sharia and use Islamic law to justify oppression, persecution, and discrimination against minorities. They use the blasphemy law to restrict and deny others their freedom of expression and to justify judicial as well as extrajudicial murder of non-Muslims.

Bala continued to receive death threats from Muslims for making posts on Facebook and promoting atheism. So his arrest in April was the culmination of several threats from Islamic clerics and antagonism from ordinary Muslims who have been wanting to disappear, neutralize and gag him. To give this mischief some semblance of legality, some lawyers representing the Islamist base in Kano petitioned the police. Now, a hundred days after he was arrested, Bala has not been formally charged to court. He has not been given access to a lawyer. There is no independent proof of life. The Islamic establishment has kept mute; no Islamic cleric or leader has spoken out against the illegal detention and disappearance of Mubarak Bala. Shortly after his arrest, a Muslim cleric spoke threatening Amnesty International and all those calling for the release of Mr. Bala.

The Islamist government in Kano has been complicit in the continued detention without trial of Mubarak Bala. The governor of Kano, who readily responds and reacts to any real or imagined threat or discrimination against Muslims in other parts of the country, has been apathetic. He has been looking the other way while Mubarak Bala languishes in jail. But look, the disappearance of Mr. Bala has put Islam in Nigeria to an unprecedented test. It is not this Nigerian humanist that is on trial. It is not humanism that is being tested because humanists have always stood for the rights of minorities and the humanity of blasphemers even when they are Muslims. Humanists have strived to be true their ideals including the realization of a society where individuals are not discriminated against based on religious or non-religious beliefs. It is Islam that is on trial. It is the claim by Muslims that Islam is a peaceful religion that is undergoing a critical test in Kano. It is the Muslim narrative that there is no compulsion in religion that is being put to scrutiny in the arrest and disappearance of Mubarak Bala. Simply put, the disappearance of Mr. Bala has forced a trial. The trial of Islam.

Appendix I: Footnotes

[1] Founder, Humanist Association of Nigeria; Founder & CEO, Advocacy for Alleged Witches; Convener, Decade of Activism Against Witch Persecution in Africa: 2020-2030.

[2] Individual Publication Date: September 21, 2020: http://www.in-sightjournal.com/mubarak-bala-and-trial-of-islam-in-nigeriamubarak-bala-and-trial-of-islam-in-nigeria.

License and Copyright

License

In-Sight Publishing and African Freethinker by Scott Douglas Jacobsen is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.
Based on a work at www.in-sightjournal.com.

Copyright

© Scott Douglas Jacobsen, and In-Sight Publishing and African Freethinker 2012-2020. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Scott Douglas Jacobsen, and In-Sight Publishing and African Freethinker with appropriate and specific direction to the original content. All interviewees and authors co-copyright their material and may disseminate for their independent purposes.

Ask Takudzwa 9 – A Bridge for All Automobiles, A Boat for Every Passenger: Racism Between Africans and Managing Frayed Ties

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Author: Scott Douglas Jacobsen

Numbering: Issue 1.B, Idea: African Freethinking

Place of Publication: Langley, British Columbia, Canada

Title: African Freethinker

Web Domain: http://www.in-sightjournal.com

Individual Publication Date: September 16, 2020

Issue Publication Date: TBD

Name of Publisher: In-Sight Publishing

Frequency: Three Times Per Year

Words: 804

Keywords: Humanist Society of Zimbabwe, Takudzwa Mazwienduna, Zimbabwe, Zimbabwean Secular Alliance.

Ask Takudzwa 9 – A Bridge for All Automobiles, A Boat for Every Passenger: Racism Between Africans and Managing Frayed Ties[1],[2]

Takudzwa Mazwienduna is the informal leader of Zimbabwean Secular Alliance and a Member of the Humanist Society of Zimbabwe. This educational series will explore secularism in Zimbabwe from an organizational perspectiveand more. He is a friend and former boss at the now-defunct Cornelius Press in South Africa.

Scott Douglas Jacobsen: When we’re looking into the racism experienced in the history of South Africa into the present moment, as you noted, even though the ongoing progressive advancements of secularism continue, this seems like one of the more obvious examples with the whites or Afrikaaners, the mixed race or the Coloreds, the non-indigenous blacks or Blacks, and the indigenous blacks or the Khoe-San. What about less blatant forms of racism between different sociological categories, different ethnic groupings in Zimbabwe, for example?

Takudzwa Mazwienduna: I never really thought about racism until I moved to South Africa. Prior to that, racism was something I only heard about in the movies or when I read history books. South Africa on the other hand is the most racist country in the world and Apartheid was invented there, so it was very shocking when I first moved here 2 years ago. There is no racism in Zimbabwe. There is no animosity between black and white Zimbabweans and they share the same culture; something the former president Robert Mugabe is credited for through his reconciliation movement in the 1980s. There is one episode however that that looked a lot like racial tensions to the outside world because of how the media reported it: the Land reform program where farms were forcibly taken from mostly white farmers by the government. In reality, it was not a race thing as the media portrayed it, the Commercial Farmers Union had helped sponsor an opposition party and it was the Totalitarian regime’s way of getting back at them. Black owned farms were seized in the process too showing that it was not a race issue. Zimbabwe has a lot of political problems because of the totalitarianism of the ruling party, race is not one of them however.

Jacobsen: What does a humanistic and freethought worldview provide as an antidote to these tensions if they exist?

Mazwienduna: The Zimbabwean traditional culture is very humanistic in nature. Zimbabwean manners are called “unhu” which translates to “being human” which is basically the same as Humanism. Zimbabweans are famous for being polite, friendly and welcoming. It is one of the reasons why racism does not exist and even the government’s authoritarianism doesn’t inspire any significant violent backslash from the peace loving people. Notable social problems in post colonial Zimbabwe however all come from Christianity; religious bigotry, especially homophobia and misogyny being at the top of the list. Traditionalist societies without much Christian influence rarely have problems with bigotry.

Jacobsen: How can the humanist community, though scattered, provide a different narrative than those seen in the past for the Zimbabweans?

Mazwienduna: The Humanist movement can restore the essence of our peaceful culture and remind Zimbabweans that “unhu” (also called Ubuntu in East Africa) is our greatest strength and the most significant attribute of our society.

Jacobsen: How can Humanists International and other organizations, or interested individuals, provide some financial or other support to these current efforts to bring the community under a common humanist banner – without regard, but with reasonable sensitivity, to ethnic differences and probable tensions in Zimbabwe?

Mazwienduna: Humanist International and other organizations can help us with awareness campaigns. We need a louder voice to remind people that our law is secular and our culture is Humanist. Misgovernance and Christian religious bigotry make people forget that.

Jacobsen: Thank you for the opportunity and your time, Takudzwa.

Mazwienduna: It’s always a pleasure Scott!

Appendix I: Footnotes

[1] Founder, In-Sight Publishing.

[2] Individual Publication Date: September 16, 2020: http://www.in-sightjournal.com/ask-takudzwa-9-a-bridge-for-all-automobiles-a-boat-for-every-passenger-racism-between-africans-and-managing-frayed-ties.

License and Copyright

License

In-Sight Publishing and African Freethinker by Scott Douglas Jacobsen is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.
Based on a work at www.in-sightjournal.com.

Copyright

© Scott Douglas Jacobsen, and In-Sight Publishing and African Freethinker 2012-2020. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Scott Douglas Jacobsen, and In-Sight Publishing and African Freethinker with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.  All interviewees co-copyright their material and may disseminate for their independent purposes.

Women of the High-Range Discussion with Anja Jaenicke, Beatrice Rescazzi, Monika Orski, and Dr. Sandra Schlick: Actress & Poet, Germany; President, AtlantIQ Society; Board Member, Mensa International; Thesis Supervisor, University of Applied Sciences and Arts Northwestern Switzerland (1)

Interviewer: Scott Douglas Jacobsen

Numbering: Issue 24.A, Idea: Outliers & Outsiders (Part Twenty)

Place of Publication: Langley, British Columbia, Canada

Title: In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal

Web Domain: http://www.in-sightjournal.com

Individual Publication Date: September 15, 2020

Issue Publication Date: January 1, 2021

Name of Publisher: In-Sight Publishing

Frequency: Three Times Per Year

Words: 4,349

ISSN 2369-6885

Abstract

Anja Jaenicke is a German Poet and Actor. Beatrice Rescazzi is the President of the AtlantIQ Society. Monika Orski is the former Ordförande/Chairman, Mensa Sverige/Mensa Sweden (2015-2019) and a current Board Member (International) of Mensa International. Sandra Schlick has the expertise and interest in Managing Mathematics, Statistics, and Research Methodology with a focus on online teaching, training and thesis supervision. They discuss: true humanities; a real humanities education; a declining emphasis on humanities educations in academe; reduced import of the humanities; high-IQ societies incorporate achievements in the humanities into their admission criteria; high-IQ societies include a humanities sub-community or community into its operations for the benefit of those so inclined; some personal and professional involvements in the humanities inside of and outside of the high-IQ communities; historical geniuses; writers or poets understood more fully and portrayed more realistically girls, adult women, and elder women; striking or clear examples of the written works or poetry exemplifying this assessment; women, in general, dominate the humanities; how the particular factors play out in different areas of professional and personal life; high-IQ groups harbour more men than women; women dominate in the humanities; and a more well-rounded human being, a cultured person.

Keywords: Anja Jaenicke, Beatrice Rescazzi, education, geniuses, high-IQ, high-IQ societies, history, humanities, Mensa Sweden, Monika Orski, poets, Sandra Schlick, writers.

Women of the High-Range Discussion with Anja Jaenicke, Beatrice Rescazzi, Monika Orski, and Dr. Sandra Schlick: Actress & Poet, Germany; President, AtlantIQ Society; Board Member, Mensa International; Thesis Supervisor, University of Applied Sciences and Arts Northwestern Switzerland (1)

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

Scott Douglas Jacobsen: With some preliminary introductions to one another and proposals of subject matter, we will cover, in this group discussion: the humanities in general, the arts in general, large scale issues, climate change, democratic protections, the furtherance of democracy and human rights, how to work with the gifted and to be a leader, future scenarios for the economy and business regarding the coronavirus pandemic, and then proceed with some open discussion. To the subject of humanities, if we take a look at the vast array of high-IQ societies on offer, only a few truly focus on the humanities as a secondary, even a co-primary, admission criteria to their particularized community. Defining terms, what is true humanities to you?

Anja Jaenicke[1]*: A holistic knowledge of the human capacity.

One of the most frequently asked questions is the general inclusion of theological studies into the humanities. In German the humanities are called “Geisteswissenschaft” meaning spiritual science. As long as theological studies are focused on historical, cultural and archeological evidence there is nothing to say against it. But as soon as it leaves too much room for speculations and superstition it becomes dogmatic and no longer belongs in the academic realm. But that of course can be said for every branch of scientific studies too.

Beatrice Rescazzi[2]*: If I wanted to upset the vocabulary and give my personal definition of human sciences, I imagine that someone would have to complain. Especially those who, unlike me, are experienced graduates in this subject. The human sciences are those disciplines that study the human being and society, by definition. Maybe, as a non-expert on the subject I can criticize here and there how the information is reported in the books, given that there are cultural biases on the origin and development of human societies, institutions, social relationships and the foundations of social life. In general there is a western-centric view, with biases regarding culture, race, sex, religion and language being considered predominant.

Monika Orski[3]*: I would use the rather common definition that humanities are the branches of learning that have a cultural character. Thus humanities include academic topics as diverse as literature, archeology and philosophy, to name only a few, and can be contrasted with natural sciences and social sciences.

Dr. Sandra Schlick[4],[5]*: Thinking apart literature and definitions, in times of Corona, humanity means to help each other, respect the rules from the governments – yes, in terms of taking distance, using masks, not gathering. Also, to help each other in coping with the crisis, to make kind of human information chains by reporting to each other potential risky situations and to discuss these. Thinking in a broader context, being human means to not focus just on oneself but to understand the other the context, being other humans, be it nature and animals. Humanity is driven by respect, despite role models do not suggest it always.

Jacobsen: What would be a real humanities education to you?

Jaenicke: Much of our past history and culture has been documented only by chronicle writers with a theological background. If you think about the Constitutions of Clarendon made by Henry II. Plantagenet and Thomas Becket, they were one of the first official attempts at reforming and separating the clerical and royal authorities and jurisdictions. And that was in the year 1164. Please think about how many religious conflicts and wars we had since that time. Only if we understand the history and the psyche of our ancestors can we gain knowledge about ourselves and the needs to form peaceful and free future societies.

Rescazzi: In my opinion, true social science education should give due weight to all the cultures and people who have contributed to human development, without placing ethnic groups, women or peoples in the background in order to glorify a specific model of person and culture.

Orski: Not being an expert in education, and with only graduate-level education in a small segment of the broad field of humanities myself, I don’t consider myself qualified to really suggest a curriculum. In general terms, I would suggest that it’s always good to set a broad overview to start with, then to let those interested dive into more specialized education on specifics topics.

Schlick: In education to have a view on communities and teams, to motivate exchange and to critically evaluate existing role models.

Jacobsen: Why is there is a declining emphasis on humanities educations in academe?

Jaenicke: The more knowledge is available to us the more complex it becomes. The trend in education is to higher specialization. But of course, economical reasons play a role too.

Rescazzi: I can’t pretend I know what the statistical trends are on the humanities today at the academy compared to other disciplines, and explain to you the reason why there is a decline or not.

Orski: I wish I knew… I think that in general, academia in many countries has become more of professional training institutes, which in part takes over the more general teaching of knowledge to form a base for further research. Also, a strong emphasis on industry and profits accentuates this tendency.

Schlick: Good question, academia has become more and more business alike and driven by profit. When we speak of humanity it does not exclude economics but it evaluates how far we do not damage others by thinking economically. In this context, academia is at risk to drive economics with too few perspectives on humanities.

Jacobsen: Is this reduced import of the humanities a positive, a negative, or both in different parts depending on the disciplines, in general?

Jaenicke: “Science arose from poetry, when time changes the two can meet again on a higher level as friends.” J.W. Goethe

Rescazzi: If there is a decline in humanitarian discipline students, I can assume that some other disciplines have taken over. Is the decline due to a greater participation of female students in scientific disciplines, is it due to a choice towards studies that guarantee a better salary, or to a growing lack of interest in this subject or to something else? I don’t have enough data to judge. 

Orski: In general, I would say it’s a negative. But there are always limits to how much we can learn – or how much we can teach – in a set amount of time. There are sure to be cases where this general negative is less of a negative than the alternatives would be.

Schlick: As said above, a sole focus on economics might provide quick wins, but is at risk to oversee longer-term consequences.

Jacobsen: What high-IQ societies incorporate achievements in the humanities into their admission criteria?

Jaenicke: There are quite a lot of IQ societies. If you take a look, you will be surprised.

Rescazzi: AtlantIQ, ISI-S, Chorium and some other societies about writing and poetry, for example, include humanities communities. Thus, the humanities include: literature, philosophy, history, religion, languages, art history, philology, semiotics, visual arts and performing arts. I am interested in all these topics, as I always like reading to learn about everything. Specifically, I am fascinated by Stoic philosophy, by history: especially by deepening the everyday life of people and what is not found in school books (history of food, living conditions, detailed biographies, history of chemistry, history of biology, discoveries, etc.). I have also read a lot about philosophy and religions, in search of what unites and distinguishes them, but also as doors open to the mentality of different peoples. Regarding languages, in addition to English, I speak Italian, the dialect of my area, and Esperanto. Instead, I know very little German and Japanese (Hiragana only), because at times I abandon their study. I paint with various techniques, but more frequently I create computer drawings. 3D drawing is both fun and a means of creating objects which I then 3D print. As for the performing arts, I don’t think anyone wants to see me dance. Anyway, I love to sing. When I was younger, I sang in a local rock band for a little while. Once, talking to friends, I was criticizing disco music. A funny challenge arose that I would have to compose an entire CD in one day and sell at least one copy, proving that I too could write something better than those slavish sounds. That CD is called “Athmosfera” and I sold it to a fan who listened to the demos of each song before buying. Take this, bad music! 

Orski: The high-IQ societies I know of only use IQ as their admission criteria, which means that no kind of achievement has any impact on the admission decisions.

Schlick: I recall some are explicitly mentioned aspects thereof, but frankly, there are a lot of high-IQ societies out there and I wonder, which ones might set the bar alongside the WIN network.

Jacobsen: What high-IQ societies include a humanities sub-community or community into its operations for the benefit of those so inclined?

Jaenicke: When I have been looking for IQ societies, I found many very appealing approaches.

Rescazzi: See my previous answer.

Orski: Well, I wouldn’t really know about the internal organization of all high-IQ societies, but Mensa, being by far the largest one, lets members create meetings and interest groups for whatever topics they are interested in, and helps promote those within the society. I know of several book clubs, philosophy discussion groups and other groups for different humanities interests. Those are open groups, and any member of Mensa can join them at any time.

Schlick: As above this question is quite specific and asks for detailed knowledge on certain communities.

Jacobsen: What have been some personal and professional involvements in the humanities inside of and outside of the high-IQ communities?

Jaenicke: Please take a look at my resume of life achievements.

Rescazzi: In the professional field, having designed some websites and graphics for a period, I could say that I have been involved in the professional field of the visual arts. In the world of high IQ, I am the editor and designer of a magazine, in which I also write articles on the most disparate topics. I am an honorary / distinguished member of some societies that include artistic and musical talents in the admission, such as Chorium and ISI-S.

Orski: I have a BA in literature, but the degree I actually use professionally is an M.Sc. in computer science and engineering, so I wouldn’t really say I have professional involvement in the humanities. However, as a published writer, including works of fiction, I guess I can claim some kind of relation to the humanities. And within Mensa, I write book reviews for the Swedish Mensa magazine and organize book club meetings with my local group in Stockholm.

Schlick: For me this is definitively in adult education where I train students. Training can only be a success when looking at the person as a whole alongside the role of the student. Talking about problems with the curriculum or topic or aims in live (private and professional) can boost motivation and is to the benefit of both, student and docent.

Jacobsen: When I ask about historical geniuses, most reference Goethe, Sidis, da Vinci, Einstein, and a handful of others, in fact, the list is a shortlist. What geniuses in history and at present stand out regarding productivity and works coming out of the humanities?

Jaenicke: Even though the humanities stand in the shadow of our modern education system, the list of great minded people in the humanities would be too long to publish in this context.

Rescazzi: In the field of music, I would certainly say Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and Johann Sebastian Bach. Also: Ludwig van Beethoven, Igor Stravinsky, Claudio Monteverdi, Richard Wagner, Amy Beach, Luzzasco Luzzaschi, György Ligeti, Arvo Pärt, Krzysztof Penderecki, Barbara Strozzi. In the philosophical field there are many: Socrates, Marcus Aurelius, Jiddu Krishnamurti, Baruch SpinozaFriedrich Nietzsche, Bertrand Russell, Confucius, Hypatia of Alexandria, Immanuel Kant, Sun Tzu, Laura Bassi, Homer, Pascal. In literature, I would mention: William Shakespeare, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Mark Twain, Imru ‘al-Qais Junduh bin Hujr al-Kindi, Sei Shonagon, Virginia Woolf, Dante Alighieri, Agatha Christie, Qu Yuan, Murasaki Shikibu. There are so many painters, I will mention just a few: Rembrandt van Rijn, William Turner, Paul Cézanne, Mary Cassatt, Tamara de Lempicka, Katsushika Hokusai, Pablo Picasso, Leonardo da Vinci, Wang Wei, Vincent Van Gogh, Lucian Freud.

Orski: The list might be a shortlist, but as genius is truly rare such a list is bound to be short. Also, I’m rather reluctant to try and make lists of the sort. However, da Vinci will qualify for a humanities focus, and I would say that so will Murasaki, and maybe Austen.

Schlick: Despite probably few like my answer, I like the humanitarian activity of Bill Gates and his wife. Just wonder, how far this question can give us an indication of role models?

Jacobsen: Since this is a discussion of women in the high-range with a male as a moderator or butler of sorts, what writers or poets understood more fully and portrayed more realistically girls, adult women, and elder women than others? Why them?

Jaenicke: Oh, there are quite a few.

Rescazzi: It depends on the historical period. Of course, Jane Austin and Louisa May Alcott painted their female characters with accuracy, although we should keep in mind that they were all women from another era. Jane Eyre, by Charlotte Brontë painted a female character who becomes an independent and spirited survivor after having grown up an orphan in a cruel environment. Unfortunately, courage is a virtue that is rarely recognized in women, but which the author shows us with mastery in the resilience of the protagonist. Another good portrait of a female character is given by Elizabeth Strout, with her Olive Kitteridge. Olive is brought to a deeper understanding of herself and her life, and she also offers profound insights into the human condition: its conflicts, its tragedies and joys, and the endurance it requires, through her own eyes.

Orski: A good literary portrait lets us see the general through the highly specific. Thus, I would be reluctant to point to portraits of women in general, but rather to specific portraits of specific women, that give the opportunity to see the world as they might see it and the limitations of those women’s lives. To mention a few writers: Selma Lagerlöf (of course I start with a Swedish classic), Charlotte Brontë, Doris Lessing, Ludmila Ulitskaya, Amelie Nothomb, Olga Tokarczuk. I could go on and on making lists.

Schlick: I confess that I did not read or write poems since my teenage times.

Jacobsen: Following from the previous two questions, any particular striking or clear examples of the written works or poetry exemplifying this assessment?

Jaenicke: One of the oldest examples is a poem in Occitan from the 11th century called “Tomida femina.”

Rescazzi: In my opinion, most of all, Emily Dickinson is the writer who, through the themes of nature, love and death, reflects and captures not only the small moments of everyday life, but also the most important themes and battles that involved the rest of the company: it is she herself who, through her great sensitivity, the emphatic digressions and elaborate metaphors of his poems, describes how a woman thinks and perceives the world. Turning to my favourite literary genre, I find that the brilliant Isaac Asimov had thoroughly understood the female soul. His female characters are delicate and profound, they are free from stereotypes and their presence in his novels is balanced, not hidden. The classic schemes in which the male protagonist is the obvious companion of a subordinate female figure, often highly sexualized and lacking in personal aspirations, do not exist in Asimov’s far-sighted novels. Asimov’s female characters are girls and women who, like men in their own way, think, dream, ask questions and seek answers. It is therefore incredible that a science fiction writer is the one who best described reality.

Orski: I think that is highly individual, depending on personal taste but also the experiences you will understand for the first time from a literary work because they are far from your own life. To reach for a nearby contemporary example, the Neapolitan novel series by Elena Ferrante, starting with the novel that got the English title My Brilliant Friend, provided me with a view into lives I could not really imagine before this reading.

Schlick: As a teenager I did like Rimbaud, Baudelaire, and of course the existentialists such as Sartre and Camus. Nowadays I do like e.g. the dark tower from Steven King.

Jacobsen: Women earn far more degrees in the humanities than men, at the baccalaureate, masters, and doctoral levels. In short, women, in general, dominate the humanities and earn their relevant credentials more often than men. What factors explain this phenomenon?

Jaenicke: I personally know many men who are interested in the humanities.

Rescazzi: I think that women dominate the humanist topics because it is in their nature to give more attention to feelings, social dynamics and communication, in all its forms.

Orski: Aren’t there statistics on this, from many countries? Thus no need to speculate. Low pay in relation to the work expected, cultural standards and norms, etc.

Schlick: It’s the phenomenon that a) no blue-collar, and b) best friends (also girls) who go into certain areas. In fact, my first degree was machine construct engineer, I guess I am the wrong person to ask that. Still, I teach the maths and statistics, I like steel and becoming dirty at work, but also like managing and conceptualizing, that’s why I earned my Ph.D. in the field of strategic management and deal with around 10 DBA and MSc projects in my area of expertise. So, I do not have a much better explanation. I was the sole woman engineer student in my class, there was another one in my year, we became number 3 and 4 in 20 years being engineers.

Jacobsen: How do these particular factors play out in different areas of professional and personal life – either as a set or as individuate factors?

Jaenicke: Even those who come from the studies of mathematics and natural science, I do not think it is a gender problem.

Rescazzi: There is a great growth of female doctors, who already occupied the more traditional nursing and child care jobs. Even in politics, which is part of the humanities, there is a growth of female elements and so also in the arts. Without the restrictions imposed by inequality, women are generally more likely to communicate, care for others and for society. Hence the growth in their presence in those careers that are aimed at people.

Orski: We are all part of the societies we live in, and the surrounding society is always part of us. You have probably heard the joke that “men tend to choose high paying professions – like a doctor, engineer, CEO, etc, while women naturally go towards lower-paying jobs like female doctor, female engineer, and female CEO.” So those factors will be there, and while we all have to navigate them, we can also work to gradually change them.

Schlick: I have definitively to fight much more and gaining recognition costs me a lot of time. To advance in a career is extremely hard. On the one hand, it might be that I am female, on the other being talented also can be a curse, it’s not easy to think quick and to be forced to talk slow and explain things several times.

Jacobsen: High-IQ groups harbour more men than women, probably at all levels, whether societies, interest groups, or ‘listings’/rankings. Why?

Jaenicke: I think that any kind of creative person be it female or male has a tendency to stand apart from society. Good art, philosophy and even law have seldom come from beneficial and friendly spaces. But I think that in our time artists and other people in the humanities are often underestimated because our measurement for value has changed over time. That is nothing to worry about, it is part of history. Every time has its own achievements and greatness.

Rescazzi: There are two main reasons for the low number of women joining high-IQ societies. The first is cultural. Statistically, gifted girls are less recognized than boys. A character factor also intervenes: females tend to doubt their potential more, with a more widespread Impostor Syndrome, while males are generally more inclined to overestimate themselves and flaunt their skills. Furthermore, the traditional division of duties prevents women from having free time to devote to themselves, due to occupations at home: it is worrying to note that there are no adhesions by women from the more traditionalist countries at all. The other reason is that there is indeed a difference in the brains of men and women: the distribution of IQ in the male and female populations is different, with a greater variation in the male than in the female with the latter more concentrated in the average values. It means that among males there are both more subnormal and gifted individuals, while in females both the subnormal and the gifted are rarer (some links grouped in this article: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Variability_hypothesis#Modern_studies).

Orski: That is another “I wish I knew”. However, I can say that for the high-IQ group I really know, Mensa Sweden, the gender distribution among members simply reflects the gender distribution among candidates. However, the success rate of candidates who take the admission test administered by Mensa Sweden is slightly higher for women than for men. Not a large difference, but visible. If we could only persuade as many women as men to take the admission test, the gender balance for this particular society might even out with time.

Schlick: Women have to work very hard, it’s time-consuming to go for “clubs”, also high-IQ ones.

Jacobsen: If women dominate in the humanities, and if a society wishes to include more women into their membership, how would incorporation of more humanities orientations and foci make these, potentially, more individually beneficial and friendly spaces for women based on statistical tendencies of interest and talent?

Rescazzi: In my opinion, it would be enough for women to choose their preferred careers without obstacles. Politics, medicine, music and others are still often considered the prerogative of men while women have shown that they can equal and in some cases surpass men in these fields, who are sometimes attracted simply by the position of power rather than by the discipline itself. 

Orski: Depends on the society, of course. Some might achieve this through more diversified activities. Others might look more to a broader benefit to the surrounding community or to human society as a whole.

Schlick: I feel very comfortable that you – Scott – bring us together and manage the discussion round. This could bring new motivation to high IQ societies. Moderated thematic discussion clusters might be a potential way.

Jacobsen: How do the humanities make a more well-rounded human being, a cultured person, and give insight into human nature inasmuch as we understand it?

Jaenicke: I want to answer the left out question of how the humanities make a more rounded and cultivated human being, here at the end because it is quintessential. Humans have produced art from the beginning of time. Art was the engine of self-awareness and science but also a channel to other realities that we can not explain until today. Who are we? Why are we here? Where did we come from and where do we go?

Science which evolved from the greater arts could only give little explanation about the phenomena of altered consciousness and after death. But art can! Often without the direct communication of man-made words. Listen to Bach for half an hour and you will understand much more of your questions than we all together can give to you. Look at the wonderful pyramids, cathedrals and castles men have built and understand the holism of art, mathematics, astrology, physics and music. Look at paintings of renaissance artists and Cromagnon cave man and understand the human soul. Do not wait for our stuttering and overly intellectual tries to explain something that is not explainable in words alone.

Go and find out yourself.

Rescazzi: Kant said: “Two things fill the mind with ever new and increasing admiration and awe, the more often and steadily we reflect upon them: the starry heavens above me and the moral law within me.” These two elements of our existence – what is outside of us, that is the universe and all that it contains; and what is within ourselves, with our mind and thoughts – are the observed and the observer, and the one influences the other. If we limit ourselves to looking at what is outside of us, without looking within ourselves, we do not have a yardstick to understand the universe. We must first understand how we think and reason, what we are influenced and limited by. On the other hand, it is by observing what is outside of us that we obtain information about our existence, that we understand our place and size compared to everything else around us. So to increase our knowledge, we cannot exclude the humanistic side, we cannot overlook the observer, that is the imperfect instrument that attempts to measure the universe. It is therefore not possible to open the door of knowledge without the key of the human element.

Orski: Well, yes. To mention only a few things: A basic knowledge of history and that societies and cultures change over time is essential to understanding the world around us. To learn about other people’s thoughts is essential to be able to expand your own thinking. And while no one can really get to know and talk to hundreds of people in-depth, we can all read novels that let us understand how others might function and react to different situations.

Schlick: Very shortly, we are humans and we do live in networks, otherwise, we would not survive. The “homo economicus” is proven not to be as efficient as humans caring for each other.

Appendix I: Footnotes

[1] Anja Jaenicke is a German actor, director, screenwriter, poet, artist and Thinker cum Arte. She has contributed to over one hundred TV and film productions and won several film awards. Anja has published nine poetry volumes in the English language and is a regular author for city connect magazine, Cambridge. She loves drawing and painting and recently published a book with drawings about an insane penguin named Werner.

[2] Beatrice Rescazzi is the President of the AtlantIQ Society.  She has been an optician, orthoptist, eye surgery assistant for years, and teaches computer science in adult courses. She is an autodidact regarding 3D printing construction, 3D printing, electronics, robotics, and more. She has an abiding interest in inventions to help vulnerable people and the environment, astronomy, general science, informatics, space missions, 2D and 3D drawing and design, as well as languages and arts. She has taken part in competitions for design, inventions, and space projects. She is an Esperantist.

[3] Monika Orski is the former Ordförande/Chairman, Mensa Sverige/Mensa Sweden (2015-2019) and a current Board Member (International) of Mensa International. She earned an M.Sc. in Computer Science and Engineering, and a B.A. in Literature. She has been volunteering for Mensa at different organizational levels. She is a Jill of all trades with a core line of professional work devoted to IT emphasizing solutions architecture for large systems. She is a public speaker, lecturer, and published author. Two, recently, published books are a collection of short stories and a non-fiction book on leading intelligent people. The texts have been published in Swedish.

[4]Dr. Sandra Schlick has the expertise and interest in Managing Mathematics, Statistics, and Methodology for Business Engineers while having a focus on online training. She supervises M.Sc. theses in Business Information and D.B.A. theses in Business Management. Managing Mathematics, Statistics, Methodology for Business Engineers with a focus on online training. Her areas of competence can be seen in the “Competency Map.” That is to say, her areas of expertise and experience mapped in a visualization presentation. Schlick’s affiliations are the Fernfachhochschule Schweiz: University of Applied Sciences, the University of Applied Sciences and Arts Northwestern Switzerland, the Kalaidos University of Applied Sciences, and AKAD.

[5] Individual Publication Date: September 15, 2020: http://www.in-sightjournal.com/womenhrt-1; Full Issue Publication Date: January 1, 2021: https://in-sightjournal.com/insight-issues/.

*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.

Appendix II: Citation Style Listing

American Medical Association (AMA): Jacobsen S. Women of the High-Range Discussion with Anja Jaenicke, Beatrice Rescazzi, Monika Orski, and Dr. Sandra Schlick: Actress & Poet, Germany; President, AtlantIQ Society; Board Member, Mensa International; Thesis Supervisor, University of Applied Sciences and Arts Northwestern Switzerland (1) [Online].September 2020; 24(A). Available from: http://www.in-sightjournal.com/womenhrt-1.

American Psychological Association (APA, 6th Edition, 2010): Jacobsen, S.D. (2020, September 15). Women of the High-Range Discussion with Anja Jaenicke, Beatrice Rescazzi, Monika Orski, and Dr. Sandra Schlick: Actress & Poet, Germany; President, AtlantIQ Society; Board Member, Mensa International; Thesis Supervisor, University of Applied Sciences and Arts Northwestern Switzerland (1). Retrieved from http://www.in-sightjournal.com/womenhrt-1.

Brazilian National Standards (ABNT): JACOBSEN, S. Women of the High-Range Discussion with Anja Jaenicke, Beatrice Rescazzi, Monika Orski, and Dr. Sandra Schlick: Actress & Poet, Germany; President, AtlantIQ Society; Board Member, Mensa International; Thesis Supervisor, University of Applied Sciences and Arts Northwestern Switzerland (1). In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal. 24.A, September. 2020. <http://www.in-sightjournal.com/womenhrt-1>.

Chicago/Turabian, Author-Date (16th Edition): Jacobsen, Scott. 2020. “Women of the High-Range Discussion with Anja Jaenicke, Beatrice Rescazzi, Monika Orski, and Dr. Sandra Schlick: Actress & Poet, Germany; President, AtlantIQ Society; Board Member, Mensa International; Thesis Supervisor, University of Applied Sciences and Arts Northwestern Switzerland (1).” In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal. 24.A. http://www.in-sightjournal.com/womenhrt-1.

Chicago/Turabian, Humanities (16th Edition): Jacobsen, Scott “Women of the High-Range Discussion with Anja Jaenicke, Beatrice Rescazzi, Monika Orski, and Dr. Sandra Schlick: Actress & Poet, Germany; President, AtlantIQ Society; Board Member, Mensa International; Thesis Supervisor, University of Applied Sciences and Arts Northwestern Switzerland (1).” In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal. 24.A (September 2020). http://www.in-sightjournal.com/womenhrt-1.

Harvard: Jacobsen, S. 2020, ‘Women of the High-Range Discussion with Anja Jaenicke, Beatrice Rescazzi, Monika Orski, and Dr. Sandra Schlick: Actress & Poet, Germany; President, AtlantIQ Society; Board Member, Mensa International; Thesis Supervisor, University of Applied Sciences and Arts Northwestern Switzerland (1)’In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal, vol. 24.A. Available from: <http://www.in-sightjournal.com/womenhrt-1>.

Harvard, Australian: Jacobsen, S. 2020, ‘Women of the High-Range Discussion with Anja Jaenicke, Beatrice Rescazzi, Monika Orski, and Dr. Sandra Schlick: Actress & Poet, Germany; President, AtlantIQ Society; Board Member, Mensa International; Thesis Supervisor, University of Applied Sciences and Arts Northwestern Switzerland (1)’In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal, vol. 24.A., http://www.in-sightjournal.com/womenhrt-1.

Modern Language Association (MLA, 7th Edition, 2009): Scott D. Jacobsen. “Women of the High-Range Discussion with Anja Jaenicke, Beatrice Rescazzi, Monika Orski, and Dr. Sandra Schlick: Actress & Poet, Germany; President, AtlantIQ Society; Board Member, Mensa International; Thesis Supervisor, University of Applied Sciences and Arts Northwestern Switzerland (1).” In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal 24.A (2020):September. 2020. Web. <http://www.in-sightjournal.com/womenhrt-1>.

Vancouver/ICMJE: Jacobsen S. Women of the High-Range Discussion with Anja Jaenicke, Beatrice Rescazzi, Monika Orski, and Dr. Sandra Schlick: Actress & Poet, Germany; President, AtlantIQ Society; Board Member, Mensa International; Thesis Supervisor, University of Applied Sciences and Arts Northwestern Switzerland (1) [Internet]. (2020, September 24(A). Available from: http://www.in-sightjournal.com/womenhrt-1.

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Conversation with Dr. Heinrich Siemens on 195 IQ (S.D. 15), CIT5, Cooijmans, Conscientiousness, Mennonites, Plautdietsch, God, the Three Sonnets Test, and Tweeback Verlag: Linguist (2)

 

 

 

 

 

Interviewer: Scott Douglas Jacobsen

Numbering: Issue 24.A, Idea: Outliers & Outsiders (Part Twenty)

Place of Publication: Langley, British Columbia, Canada

Title: In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal

Web Domain: http://www.in-sightjournal.com

Individual Publication Date: September 15, 2020

Issue Publication Date: January 1, 2021

Name of Publisher: In-Sight Publishing

Frequency: Three Times Per Year

Words: 4,055

ISSN 2369-6885

Abstract

Heinrich Siemens was born as a member of a Low German community in Latvia, or the former Soviet Union. His family spoke Plautdietsch and read the Luther Bible in High German. He has performed very well on HRIQ tests of Ronald K. Hoeflin, Paul Cooijmans, Jonathan Wai, Theodosis Prousalis, and others. Some results have been above 5 sigma or 5 standard deviations. He developed the Three Sonnets Test (www.tweeback.com/hriq/Three-Sonnets.pdf). A lot of his life resolves around Plautdietsch language. He is the president of the international association of speakers of the language. He founded a publishing house devoted to this language: www.tweeback.com. Siemens enjoys the philosophy of Wittgenstein in particular and the philosophy of language in general. He has a film interest in directors including Bergman, Kubrick, Melville, Tarkovsky, Tarr, von Trier. If in Plautdietsch, he enjoys films by Alexandra Kulak & Ruslan Fedotov, Carlos Reygadas, Nora Fingscheidt, and others. He discusses: 195 S.D. 15 on the Cooijmans Intelligence Test 5 or the CIT5; the feeling when the score came back from Cooijmans; thoughts on the directories, rankings, and listings available; the length of time one should take on an alternative test; pre-Soviet and post-Soviet experience of the “Low German community”; life until age 11; life as an adolescent; knowing one’s “limits” a sign of both intelligence and conscientiousness; Mennonites baptize only adults; the main contribution to Germanic life and work via the Plautdietsch speaking people and the Mennonites; the Soviet Union; pacifism as crucial for the Mennonites; religion; individual autonomy in the selection of religion; being against baptism; belonging to the “cultural community of Mennonites, but not to a congregation”; life “without God”; the trajectory of the “careful consideration” about God; the ‘final nails’; the Bible “misused”; freedom of religion; the things lost in non-intergenerational homes; the reason for this becoming a hobby at age 45; the Three Sonnets test; the demographics of the test-takers; finding out about giftedness later in life in the international high-range community; the leap from the previous “highest score” on “the verbal section of the Marathon Test with IQ 180 S.D. 15” to the “195 S.D. 15 on the Cooijmans Intelligence Test 5 or the CIT5”; marathon test-takers; individuals taking 5, 10, 20, 50, or more high-range tests; and Tweeback Verlag.

Keywords: 195, CIT5, Cooijmans, conscientiousness, God, Heinrich Siemens, Mennonites, Plautdietsch, Tweeback Verlag.

Conversation with Dr. Heinrich Siemens on 195 IQ (S.D. 15), CIT5, Cooijmans, Conscientiousness, Mennonites, Plautdietsch, God, the Three Sonnets Test, and Tweeback Verlag: Linguist (2)

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

Scott Douglas Jacobsen: Some news since the previous coverage. As noted in the prior interview, on the legendary Titan Test, you scored 45/48. Furthermore, you have “performed very well on HRIQ tests of Ronald K. Hoeflin, Paul Cooijmans, Jonathan Wai, Theodosis Prousalis, and others” with “some results… above 5 sigma or 5 standard deviations.” With the recent news, as stated on the World Genius Directory [Ed. Ranking], you scored 195 S.D. 15 on the Cooijmans Intelligence Test 5 or the CIT5, which corresponds to a score of 28 out of 40. A cognitive rarity of 1 in 8,299,126,114 based on the preliminary (September 2020) norms statistics on the CIT5. Any early feelings on the achievement?

Dr. Heinrich Siemens[1],[2]*: It feels great. To be honest, I do not believe in statistics in these high ranges. What does it mean that I have outscored 8,299,126,113 of the adult population, when there are only 7,800,000,000 people living on earth, including many non-adults? The problem is not the lack of data, but the fact that a priori there is not enough data to make significant statements. But even if Paul should change the norm, the raw score of 28/40 on an extremely hard test and the membership in the Giga society will remain and I am proud of that.

Jacobsen: What was the feeling when the score came back from Cooijmans, the “psychometitor,” to you?

Siemens: It was just like when Ron Hoeflin told me that I was accepted into the Mega society. Sometimes, you have a wish and you do not really believe that it could come true. And then it does happen, and you are happy.

Jacobsen: Any thoughts on the directories, rankings, and listings available when they require some form of rigorousness in validation of the scores on good tests from reliable and trustworthy alternative test constructors? All “directories, rankings, and listings,” as a side note, in presentation and tacit intent appear far more as rankings and, thus, the titles of directory, listing, or ranking, should collapse into “ranking,” in personal opinion. Unless, some other explicit differentiation of intent tied to alternative presentation structure.

Siemens: Do we need such rankings? Why do we have world championships in chess or in sports? Why Olympic Games? It is in the nature of mankind to compete with others. But animals can also jump and run. If cognitive abilities are the outstanding feature of human beings, then this competition is much more important than it is in sports. But then it should also be fair. One of the biggest problems of the HRIQ community is that the norms of the tests are so different. Every test maker works with his own currency for the determination of the IQ value and in the end (in all of these rankings and listings) we behave as if 150 euros = 150 dollars = 150 rubles. There should be a procedure to determine the norms of tests in a uniform way. There are now huge amounts of data from Paul Cooijmans, Theodosis Prousalis, Jason Betts, Domagoj Kuttle, and, perhaps, a few others. One could compare all tests of different test makers with more than (let us say) 20 or 30 submissions. I am sure many test takers have taken tests by different test makers. Based on this, it should be possible to adjust the norms, so that in the end it is equally difficult or easy to get a certain IQ certified for each test. If someone creates a new test, a norm should only be published as soon as a minimum number of test takers, whose IQ is already confirmed by other tests, have submitted their answers. Then rankings and listings would be much more significant than they are at present.

Jacobsen: How long should one take on an alternative test to score as well as innate intelligence provides them rather than underestimating intelligence for them?

Siemens: I am sometimes asked how much time I needed for a specific test. This is a difficult question. I started dealing with CIT5 years ago when it was published. Then other things came up and I forgot about it. Now I have dusted off my old pages because I remembered that this year the contest ends. I changed some answers, added some others. I usually try to think of a difficult question in the evening before I go to sleep. Then I can use the night because the brain continues to think about it while I sleep. Sometimes I wake up in the morning and see the solution light up like a revelation. Probably everyone has their own way of solving IQ tests, but if someone is still looking for a personal approach, you can try my method.

Jacobsen: What encapsulates this pre-Soviet and post-Soviet experience of the “Low German community” experience?

Siemens: In the Soviet Union, the Plautdietsch people lived in more or less isolated settlements, so that life in the family, but also on the street and sometimes even at work, largely took place in Plautdietsch. The Luther Bible was read in High German. Russian, the lingua franca of the Soviet Union, was spoken with other nationalities. In some republics, the national language was also spoken, in my case Latvian. People lived multilingually. Every language had its domain. We still have this situation in the isolated Latin American Plautdietsch settlements, where the number of speakers is increasing rapidly. But in Germany, where most of the Plautdietsch people emigrated after the collapse of the Soviet Union, the language is highly endangered, similar to Canada and the US after World War II.

Jacobsen: What was life like until age 11 as a child?

Siemens: We lived in a small town in Latvia, almost rural. (Of course, there was no free Latvia at that time, but my birthplace Sigulda is in Latvia nowadays). We had a big garden, chickens and every year a pig. As children we played outside a lot. We had books, but no mass media. We lived in a multigenerational household with my grandmothers. The grandfathers had starved to death in Stalin’s Gulag. My parents both grew up without a father.

Jacobsen: At and after age 11, what was life as an adolescent for you?

Siemens: I lived a rather lonely life. I never had close friends. I lived in a world of books and imagination. In Germany we have a special school system, which is not often found in the world. At the age of 10, the children are divided into different types of schools. The main problem is that this division depends much more on the social background of the parents than on the cognitive abilities of the child. For example, there is the so-called Gymnasium for the children of academics (the word has a completely different meaning in German than the word “gym” in English, and both no longer have anything to do with the original meaning in Greek because you don’t walk around naked in either one); at the other end of the spectrum, there is the so-called Hauptschule for the children of socially disadvantaged parents and children with a migration background. This is the official term in a country where there is officially no discrimination, but children born in Germany are not simply German if they have a grandmother born in Anatolia or Siberia. Well, in my case, it was even migration foreground; and so, I attended the Hauptschule. But fortunately, the system is not completely impermeable, so I went to the Gymnasium later. I then became a Diploma Mathematician (a degree which is no longer in use, comparable to a Master of Arts) and to complete the Septem Artes and complement the quadrivium in the trivial direction, I changed the faculty and wrote my Ph.D. thesis in linguistics.

Jacobsen: Is knowing one’s “limits” a sign of both intelligence and conscientiousness?

Siemens: The concept of limit involves the idea that there are two sides to it. An intelligent person is characterized by the fact that s*he finds the other side of the limits more interesting and challenging than her*his own side. Limits are there to be crossed. And consciousness is created by not only crossing borders, but by making this process itself the object of reflection. Noblesse oblige, especially cognitive noblesse. Therefore, intelligence is worthless if it is not accompanied by conscientiousness.

Jacobsen: Why do Mennonites baptize only adults – not to individuals considering from the outside, but the rationale from individual believers who practice & believe in a proper way? As the Dutch were German, and thus amount to a branch of more ancient German peoples, as a German ethnic group, where I live, Dutch Christian farmers came to Canada and settled the land there. I live in British Columbia, Canada. In addition, a large contingent of this “Bible Belt” of Canada or Langley consider themselves Mennonites, interesting coincidence for the conversation today, as they exist in every aspect of life for me. Through various town and Township of Langley positions, I remain in contact with the culture and the peoples, aware, as I harbour significant Dutch, Germanic in other words, heritage too.

Siemens: Yeah, that’s what can happen, you look for someone for an interview on the other side of the world and end up with a Mennonite just like at home in your local supermarket or pub.

I consider it one of the greatest achievements of the Baptizers movement of the 16th century that it was left to each person to decide whether to participate in a rite of initiation into a religion, so I reject the baptism (as well as circumcision, sorry to my Muslim and Jewish friends) of children. There is an age of consent in every country in the world. It should also protect the victims from religious attacks by adults. By the way, I also reject the term Anabaptist used in English. It was invented by the Catholic Church and was used as an excuse to burn or drown the Baptizers. They only baptize once, and that is when they are adults, so there is definitely no re-baptism or ana-baptism. Even with the Westphalian Peace, 120 years after the Baptizers movement, the principle of Cuius regio eius religio still applied. It was not until the Age of Enlightenment that the right to an individual confession of faith (or non-faith) was generally recognized. The Baptizers had already advocated for this principle centuries earlier.

Jacobsen: What seems like the main contribution to Germanic life and work via the Plautdietsch speaking people and the Mennonites too?

Siemens: The most important contributions of Mennonites to world cultural heritage are 1. the individual confession of faith in the 16th century, 2. the invention of the cable car by the Gdansk Mennonite Adam Wiebe in the 17th century, 3. the first civilian alternative service for conscientious objectors in 19th century Russia, and 4. the most famous Plautdietsch family was invented in the 20th century by the Mennonite Matt Groening: the Simpsons.

Jacobsen: How did the Soviet Union change the nature of the culture of the peoples for you?

Siemens: The early Christians lived in communist communities. Part of the Baptizers movement, the Hutterites, have lived in communist communities for 500 years. In the principle “Everybody gives what he can, everybody gets what he needs” and with a classless society in which Mammon does not rule, the ideal of the Soviet Union is in essence hardly different from Christian utopias. It is a pity that such ideas have been corrupted as a form of government for a long time by the Soviet rulers, especially by Stalin’s terror.

Jacobsen: What makes “pacifism… crucial for Mennonites” too?

Siemens: The early Baptizers and thus also the Mennonites saw the Sermon on the Mount, and pacifism as its central component, as the basic law of human coexistence. To uphold this principle, they emigrated again and again to new countries and continents, often to areas that had been considered uninhabitable until then, such as the Paraguayan Chaco.

Jacobsen: Also, theological-definitional question, what is religion? Then, what is religion, to you?

Siemens: Individual religion probably arose from the need to explain the cause of effects when no natural causes could be found and therefore supernatural ones were considered. Organized religion arose as some people claimed to have preferential access to the Deity. They demanded submission from the believers and in return offered answers to difficult questions and, above all, a meaning to life. I personally refuse submission to authority and to difficult questions I prefer to seek the answers myself. In most cases, the questions about the meaning of life are much more exciting than the proposed answers, and philosophical books can be much more helpful than religious dogmas. Since atheism is also a belief, I would probably consider myself an agnostic, but such a label is not important for me.

Jacobsen: Why is individual autonomy in the selection of religion important to you?

Siemens: When it comes to the most important questions in life, everyone should have the right to seek their own answers. That is my view of humanity.

Jacobsen: Why choose “against being baptized”?

Siemens: In the Soviet Union, the practice of religion was persecuted. If the Soviet Union still existed in its former form, and if I still lived there, I would probably have been baptized and, maybe, even become a Mennonite preacher, as my parents always wanted me to be and, perhaps, still do. Anything else would have been a sign of cowardice and betrayal. But I am glad that it has come to this. I am free to choose. By refusing baptism, I can show that I have become alienated from the faith in a supernatural being.

Jacobsen: Why “belong to the cultural community of Mennonites, but not to a congregation”?

Siemens: Many Mennonites have lost their faith, often out of disappointment with the way the congregation dealt with them when they were unwilling to submit to religious authorities with regard to life-style, sexuality, etc. They still think of themselves as Mennonites, even if some believers see it differently. In order to save them for the cultural community, we have founded an international association (Plautdietsch-Freunde e. V.), in which all who feel that they belong to the cultural community of Mennonites (defined by the common language) can meet. Perhaps half of our members are in Mennonite (or other) congregations, the other half are not. But since we do not ask anybody about it, I do not know the exact percentage.

Jacobsen: Why live life “without God”? What defines God in this sense of “without” or “a-,” in reference to “-theism” as in “a-theism” for you – in a pragmatic sense of life without God rather than a formal implied ontological stance of the concept “God”?

Siemens: Some people need someone to take their hand and show them how to align their lives with respect to a higher being. I don’t.

Jacobsen: What constituted the trajectory of the “careful consideration”?

Siemens: When I still attended church, I often felt obliged to give witness to my faith, for example at school. However, I noticed more and more how insincere this was, when scientific explanations contradicted those of the believers. I believed one, gave witness to the other, and did not feel good about it. So, I stopped witnessing the other. Let us suppose that our universe, space and time, arose from an initial singularity. Did God exist before because he is eternal? The idea that anything, even God, existed before the origin of time seems contradictory to me. If God came into existence later, when the laws of nature already applied, he must have had a cause, as nothing comes from nothing (Parmenides). But this contradicts the concept of God as taught by Christianity. So, God himself must be the prima causa, an unmoved mover (Aristotle). Okay, if someone is happy with this, he should call the initial singularity God. But this is a wheel that does not move anything.

Jacobsen: What were the ‘final nails’ – proverbial, so-called – to this careful consideration? Why “maybe because of Ockham’s razor”? How big was the beard to begin with for you?

Siemens: The final nail was even literally a beard. The Baptizers have different ideas about what the lower half of a man’s face should look like. The Amish, for example, let the beard grow (because God lets it grow), but they shave the moustache. Well, actually God lets it grow too, but for some obscure reason that is something completely different. I grew up in a congregation where men had to shave. The theological argument was derived from the fact that it is written: “Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.” Little children do not wear beards, quod erat demonstrandum. When I stopped shaving, I got in big trouble with the church leadership. So, I grabbed Ockham’s Razor. However, instead of shaving my beard, I shaved my faith.

Jacobsen: How is the Bible “misused”?

Siemens: I just gave you an example.

Jacobsen: Why is freedom of religion important to you, as either a concept or as a human right?

Siemens: There were always times when religion gave important impulses for the coexistence of people, for example in the Sermon on the Mount. But for some centuries now, secular initiatives have taken this place. For us, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights is the standard that determines our actions. In comparison, many church’s standards seem outdated and contradict not only human rights, but often also constitutions, for example with regard to the role of women or sexual self-determination.

Jacobsen: What is lost in non-intergenerational homes – more than parent-child, e.g., grandparents or great grandparents?

Siemens: In situations of language transition, for example in connection with migration, the three-generation rule often applies. The elderly speak one language, their children are bilingual, and their grandchildren are monolingual again. This is how languages die. Multi-generational households help to prevent or at least delay this process. By talking to their grandparents, the grandchildren learn their language. This is how Plautdietsch was able to survive in the diaspora over the centuries.

Jacobsen: As identified in the first session, you have taken tests from some of the most respected alternative test constructors for the higher scores in the tests taken by you: “My most successful test results include the Titan test by Ronald K. Hoeflin (raw score 45/48), the Test of the Beheaded Man (33/40), the Marathon Test (108/111), both by Paul Cooijmans, many different tests and some won contests by Theodosis Prousalis, SLSE 48 (30/48) by Jonathan Wai, etc. Usually, the results were beyond 5 standard deviations.” Why did this take until 45 to become a hobby?

Siemens: I simply did not know these people or HRIQ tests before. It was a coincidence that I stumbled upon an interview with a member of the Giga society and so Paul came to my attention. With further research, I found Ron, Theodosis, and the others.

Jacobsen: As prospective test-takers look into tests to spend some time for themselves, what are some of the benefits of taking the Three Sonnets test? Why the title, “Three Sonnets”?

Siemens: The Shakespeare Sonnet has the ideal form to express a thought. One develops an idea from three perspectives and summarizes the result in a couplet. (The Russian poet Pushkin proved that you can write an entire novel in Shakespeare’s sonnets. You should read Eugene Onegin, if you haven’t done it yet). My test tries to be not just a sequence of questions, but a real composition, like a poem or a piece of music. It consists of three sonnets: an overture in which the central idea is developed and the later motives are already intoned, a numerical section and a verbal one. In each sonnet, the central idea is illuminated from three angles and summarized in the couplet, just like Shakespeare did. By the way, I would like to draw your attention to verses 29-32 of my test, which represent the quintessence of the test. When you have answered these questions, you have solved one of the central problems that literary studies have been arguing about for decades without being able to solve it. (And I am not referring to the question of who wrote Shakespeare’s works, for the answer is trivial: it was not Shakespeare himself, but a completely unknown author whose real name was Shakespeare.) Like any scientific thesis, my test ends with two footnotes.

Jacobsen: How many people have taken the Three Sonnets test? What are the demographics of the test-takers?

Siemens: Unfortunately, far too few have taken the test so far, so I cannot say anything about demographics or preliminary norms. But I would like to use my 15 minutes of fame to draw attention to this test once again. Perhaps the first step is the hardest. You have to discover the entry. Once you have crossed the threshold, it is no longer time-consuming. Do not let the first impression discourage you. I would be happy if as many of you as possible submit solutions. (The only hint: it was published on Towel Day.)

Jacobsen: Side note, how common is finding out about giftedness later in life in the international high-range community, as you found out at age 45? I like the alignment of the 45 on the legendary Titan Test with it.

Siemens: I have not even noticed this coincidence before. Maybe I should have waited another three years, then I would have had 48/48 correct answers 😉 I do not have the slightest idea at what age other people start to deal with HRIQ tests. You should ask those who have been making many tests for years and therefore have a lot of data.

Jacobsen: What seems like the context in which to interpret the leap from the previous “highest score” on “the verbal section of the Marathon Test with IQ 180 S.D. 15” to the aforementioned “195 S.D. 15 on the Cooijmans Intelligence Test 5 or the CIT5”?

Siemens: The difference is exactly one standard deviation, such leaps are very rare because the intelligence of adults is assumed to be relatively constant, at least until it decreases with age. One explanation is probably that Paul usually publishes preliminary norms at a very early stage, which in my opinion is very problematic, especially in areas where one can hardly expect to get much empirical data. On the other hand, this is not Paul’s first test that I have taken, and from one test to the next, one increasingly understands the test maker’s way of thinking.

Jacobsen: When marathon test-takers of the high-range world exhibit ranges of 30 points (S.D. 15) – plus or minus a few – on the alternative tests, what seems like a reasonable manner in which to interpret the scores?

Siemens: As I already said, such leaps are very rare and could be an indication that something went wrong with the norming process.

Jacobsen: What seems to explain individuals taking 5, 10, 20, 50, or more high-range tests? It helps with the furtherance of the data collection efforts. All the power to them. It seems like a huge time sink, though, at the same time.

Siemens: Of course, every test maker is happy to receive as many submissions as possible, because they are the basis for a profound norming process. Everyone spends as much time with his hobby as he can spare. A hard test is often time consuming. But “time sink” sounds too derogatory. There are certainly worse things to spend time on than passing cognitive challenges.

Jacobsen: Have other publishers arisen alongside Tweeback Verlag working in this niche? If not, why not? If so, why so? What were the books needing publishing (plug, plug)?

Siemens: Most Mennonites still use a different written language and Plautdietsch is only spoken. Therefore, the market for Plautdietsch books is very small. I don’t know of any other publisher that specializes in this niche. Plautdietsch developed late as a literary language. The first major works were written about 100 years ago and the most important Plautdietsch author, Arnold Dyck, died exactly 50 years ago. That is why we are presenting an Arnold Dyck Award for the first time this year to encourage more people to write in Plautdietsch.

Appendix I: Footnotes

[1] Linguist; Founder, Tweeback Verlag; Member, Mega Society; Member, Giga Society.

[2] Individual Publication Date: September 15, 2020: http://www.in-sightjournal.com/siemens-2; Full Issue Publication Date: January 1, 2021: https://in-sightjournal.com/insight-issues/.

Appendix II: Citation Style Listing

American Medical Association (AMA): Jacobsen S. Conversation with Dr. Heinrich Siemens on 195 IQ (S.D. 15), CIT5, Cooijmans, Conscientiousness, Mennonites, Plautdietsch, God, the Three Sonnets Test, and Tweeback Verlag: Linguist (2) [Online].September 2020; 24(A). Available from: http://www.in-sightjournal.com/siemens-2.

American Psychological Association (APA, 6th Edition, 2010): Jacobsen, S.D. (2020, September 15). Conversation with Dr. Heinrich Siemens on 195 IQ (S.D. 15), CIT5, Cooijmans, Conscientiousness, Mennonites, Plautdietsch, God, the Three Sonnets Test, and Tweeback Verlag: Linguist (2). Retrieved from http://www.in-sightjournal.com/siemens-2.

Brazilian National Standards (ABNT): JACOBSEN, S. Conversation with Dr. Heinrich Siemens on 195 IQ (S.D. 15), CIT5, Cooijmans, Conscientiousness, Mennonites, Plautdietsch, God, the Three Sonnets Test, and Tweeback Verlag: Linguist (2). In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal. 24.A, September. 2020. <http://www.in-sightjournal.com/siemens-2>.

Chicago/Turabian, Author-Date (16th Edition): Jacobsen, Scott. 2020. “Conversation with Dr. Heinrich Siemens on 195 IQ (S.D. 15), CIT5, Cooijmans, Conscientiousness, Mennonites, Plautdietsch, God, the Three Sonnets Test, and Tweeback Verlag: Linguist (2).” In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal. 24.A. http://www.in-sightjournal.com/siemens-2.

Chicago/Turabian, Humanities (16th Edition): Jacobsen, Scott “Conversation with Dr. Heinrich Siemens on 195 IQ (S.D. 15), CIT5, Cooijmans, Conscientiousness, Mennonites, Plautdietsch, God, the Three Sonnets Test, and Tweeback Verlag: Linguist (2).” In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal. 24.A (September 2020). http://www.in-sightjournal.com/siemens-2.

Harvard: Jacobsen, S. 2020, ‘Conversation with Dr. Heinrich Siemens on 195 IQ (S.D. 15), CIT5, Cooijmans, Conscientiousness, Mennonites, Plautdietsch, God, the Three Sonnets Test, and Tweeback Verlag: Linguist (2)’In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal, vol. 24.A. Available from: <http://www.in-sightjournal.com/siemens-2>.

Harvard, Australian: Jacobsen, S. 2020, ‘Conversation with Dr. Heinrich Siemens on 195 IQ (S.D. 15), CIT5, Cooijmans, Conscientiousness, Mennonites, Plautdietsch, God, the Three Sonnets Test, and Tweeback Verlag: Linguist (2)’In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal, vol. 24.A., http://www.in-sightjournal.com/siemens-2.

Modern Language Association (MLA, 7th Edition, 2009): Scott D. Jacobsen. “Conversation with Dr. Heinrich Siemens on 195 IQ (S.D. 15), CIT5, Cooijmans, Conscientiousness, Mennonites, Plautdietsch, God, the Three Sonnets Test, and Tweeback Verlag: Linguist (2).” In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal 24.A (2020):September. 2020. Web. <http://www.in-sightjournal.com/free-of-charge-3>.

Vancouver/ICMJE: Jacobsen S. Conversation with Dr. Heinrich Siemens on 195 IQ (S.D. 15), CIT5, Cooijmans, Conscientiousness, Mennonites, Plautdietsch, God, the Three Sonnets Test, and Tweeback Verlag: Linguist (2) [Internet]. (2020, September 24(A). Available from: http://www.in-sightjournal.com/siemens-2.

License and Copyright

License

In-Sight Publishing and In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal by Scott Douglas Jacobsen is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.
Based on a work at www.in-sightjournal.com.

Copyright

© Scott Douglas Jacobsen, and In-Sight Publishing and In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal 2012-2020. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Scott Douglas Jacobsen, and In-Sight Publishing and In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal with appropriate and specific direction to the original content. All interviewees co-copyright their interview material and may disseminate for their independent purposes.

Free of Charge 4 – “Humanist Manifesto II,” Kurtz and Wilson, Moral Devotion, Creative Imagination, and Free Speech

Interviewer: Scott Douglas Jacobsen

Numbering: Issue 24.A, Idea: Outliers & Outsiders (Part Twenty)

Place of Publication: Langley, British Columbia, Canada

Title: In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal

Web Domain: http://www.in-sightjournal.com

Individual Publication Date: September 15, 2020

Issue Publication Date: January 1, 2021

Name of Publisher: In-Sight Publishing

Frequency: Three Times Per Year

Words: 1,821

ISSN 2369-6885

Abstract

Dr. Herb Silverman is the Founder of the Secular Coalition for America, the Founder of the Secular Humanists of the Lowcountry, and the Founder of the Atheist/Humanist Alliance student group at the College of Charleston. He authored Complex variables (1975), Candidate Without a Prayer: An Autobiography of a Jewish Atheist in the Bible Belt (2012) and An Atheist Stranger in a Strange Religious Land: Selected Writings from the Bible Belt (2017). He co-authored The Fundamentals of Extremism: The Christian Right in America (2003) with Kimberley Blaker and Edward S. Buckner, Complex Variables with Applications (2007) with Saminathan Ponnusamy, and Short Reflections on Secularism (2019), Short Reflections on American Secularism’s History and Philosophy (2020), and Short Reflections on Age and Youth (2020). He discusses: the course of a Jewish life, of a secular humanist life; Kurtz and Wilson in the opening; the varieties of referenced humanisms; “moral devotion and creative imagination”; freedom of speech and freedom of the press connected in a humanistic framework; opposition to governmental policies; and “freedom of association, and artistic, scientific, and cultural freedom.”

Keywords: freedom of expression, freedom of speech, Herb Silverman, Humanism, Humanist Manifesto II.

Free of Charge 4 – “Humanist Manifesto II,” Kurtz and Wilson, Moral Devotion, Creative Imagination, and Free Speech

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

Scott Douglas Jacobsen: Humanist Manifesto II (1973) provided a much bleaker reflection, at its outset, on human nature than Humanist Manifesto I (1933). Humanist Manifesto II started with a joint statement by Paul Kurtz and Edwin H. Wilson:

It is forty years since Humanist Manifesto I (1933) appeared. Events since then make that earlier statement seem far too optimistic. Nazism has shown the depths of brutality of which humanity is capable. Other totalitarian regimes have suppressed human rights without ending poverty. Science has sometimes brought evil as well as good. Recent decades have shown that inhuman wars can be made in the name of peace. The beginnings of police states, even in democratic societies, widespread government espionage, and other abuses of power by military, political, and industrial elites, and the continuance of unyielding racism, all present a different and difficult social outlook. In various societies, the demands of women and minority groups for equal rights effectively challenge our generation.

As we approach the twenty-first century, however, an affirmative and hopeful vision is needed. Faith, commensurate with advancing knowledge, is also necessary. In the choice between despair and hope, humanists respond in this Humanist Manifesto II with a positive declaration for times of uncertainty.

As in 1933, humanists still believe that traditional theism, especially faith in the prayer-hearing God, assumed to live and care for persons, to hear and understand their prayers, and to be able to do something about them, is an unproved and outmoded faith. Salvationism, based on mere affirmation, still appears as harmful, diverting people with false hopes of heaven hereafter. Reasonable minds look to other means for survival.

Those who sign Humanist Manifesto II disclaim that they are setting forth a binding credo; their individual views would be stated in widely varying ways. This statement is, however, reaching for vision in a time that needs direction. It is social analysis in an effort at consensus. New statements should be developed to supersede this, but for today it is our conviction that humanism offers an alternative that can serve present-day needs and guide humankind toward the future. (American Humanist Association, 1973)

Smart men, Kurtz and Wilson, however, as with personal sensibilities for me, I take early enthusiasm with some salting and other flavouring to the stew of Humanism as an evolving ethical philosophy in which the prior “earlier statement” or early enthusiasm seemed “far too optimistic.” 

In their case, “Nazism has shown the depths of brutality of which humanity is capable,” as well as “other totalitarian regimes.” In fact, even the perennial issue fought for now, “In various societies, the demands of women and minority groups for equal rights effectively challenge our generation” with the ever-present issue of “traditional theism” or the “outmoded faith” seen in “Salvationism.” Humanism as part – ahem – salvation from these “false hopes” or “false ‘theologies of hope’ and messianic theologies.” Freedom of expression is tapped here some more with some emphasis on “creativity.” It comes in many forms throughout the world as a tendency in human thought, “Many kinds of humanism exist in the contemporary world. The varieties and emphases of naturalistic humanism include ‘scientific,’ ‘ethical,’ ‘democratic,’ ‘religious,’ and ‘Marxist’ humanism. Free thought, atheism, agnosticism, skepticism, deism, rationalism, ethical culture, and liberal religion all claim to be heir to the humanist tradition.” They spoke astutely to “cultivation of moral devotion and creative imagination” as “an expression of genuine ‘spiritual’ experience and aspiration” in which the spirit of freedom of expression is, well, expressed or well expressed. More directly, they speak to “freedom of speech and the press… the legal right of opposition to governmental policies… freedom of association, and artistic, scientific, and cultural freedom…” as well as the need to “safeguard, extend, and implement the principles of human freedom evolved from the Magna Carta to the Bill of Rights, the Rights of Man, and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.” To humanists, in regards to freedom of expression, in spite of the tempered Humanism in Humanist Manifesto II – in the opinions of Kurtz and Wilson (and myself, and likely many others) – compared to Humanist Manifesto I, these represent ‘sacred’ values of a kind. Over the course of a Jewish life, of a secular humanist life in particular, how has the individualized Humanism changed for you?

Dr. Herb Silverman[1],[2]: You asked how my Jewish life and secular humanist life have changed. I grew up in an Orthodox community and had an Orthodox Bar Mitzvah in 1955 when I was 13. My family mainly instilled in me that I shouldn’t trust goyim (gentiles) because of what they did to us in the Holocaust, and that I should marry a nice Jewish girl. (My wife, Sharon Fratepietro, is not Jewish.)

In Hebrew school, my rabbi refused to answer my question, “Who created God?” He told me the question was inappropriate, but I assumed he just had no answer. One of my best teachers in Hebrew school asked, “Why does the Torah (Hebrew Bible) say ‘God of Abraham, God of Isaac, and God of Jacob,’ instead of the more concise ‘God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob’?” His explanation was that each had a different god, and we must search for and find our own god. I took his statement seriously and my search, beginning at age 12, led me to a god who did not exist. I decided to follow all the things in the Torah that made sense to me, like performing mitzvahs (good deeds), but I stopped doing things like fasting on Yom Kippur, the day that God allegedly determines who shall live and who shall die in the coming year. Perhaps that is when I became a humanist without having even heard the term.

As an adult, I first learned about Humanism from the American Humanist Association, and later became a board member of that organization. I still considered myself a Jew because there is no requirement for a Jew to believe in God. I eventually found a proper home for myself in Judaism when I learned about and joined the Society for Humanistic Judaism (https://shj.org), with its atheist rabbis. SHJ is a member organization of the Secular Coalition for America and has an active social justice program known as Jews for a Secular Democracy.

Jacobsen: Do you agree with Kurtz and Wilson in the opening, as an aside?

Silverman: I agree with them that Humanist Manifesto I was too optimistic about what the state of the world would be like after 1933, and that we need a more realistic vision. One sentence I was uncomfortable with was “Faith, commensurate with advancing knowledge, is also necessary.” I prefer to leave the word “faith” to theists. The authors correctly add that traditional theism, especially faith in a prayer-hearing God, makes no sense. It was wise of them to say, “New statements should be developed to supersede this,” one of which is known as Humanist Manifesto III. We should note that these manifestos are written on paper by humans, not written on stone tablets by an alleged deity, and no humanist is obliged to follow all of their assertions.

Jacobsen: How are the varieties of referenced humanisms connected via the idea of freedom of expression?

Silverman: I think all these referenced humanisms include freedom of expression, whether stated explicitly or implicitly. The humanists I know all think everybody has the right to express ideas and opinions freely, though we should try to avoid making false or misleading statements.  Some people consider themselves theistic humanists, and might wish to silence those in their flock who have problems believing in the type of god they espouse. My idea of humanism precludes supernaturalism.

Jacobsen: What is this “moral devotion and creative imagination” inherent in the idea of freedom of expression as played out in the lives of freer human beings?

Silverman: I think we have a moral obligation to speak out against injustices, and it helps to imagine what kinds of injustices are suffered by people who are viewed as different from us in artificial ways.  Unfortunately, some people use their imagination to develop “fake news” and consider this to be an appropriate form of freedom of expression. The moral problem with such freedom of expression is that fake news can unfairly hurt innocent people. One example is known as “Pizzagate.” This was a baseless rumor circulated in 2016 that Hillary Clinton and other Democrats were heading up a child sex-trafficking ring out of a specific Washington pizzeria. Based on such rumors and hate speech, a gunman with an assault rifle opened fire at the pizzeria, hoping to save the alleged abused children.

Jacobsen: How are freedom of speech and freedom of the press connected in a humanistic framework? How are they being attacked in the United States today?

Silverman: Freedom of speech and freedom of the press are guaranteed by the First Amendment of the United States Constitution. Humanists support this right to speak out verbally, in writing, and by action. Some Americans want to take away the right to burn the American flag, which thankfully the US Supreme Court ruled was constitutionally protected speech. There are also attempts to censor works of art that touch on sensitive issues like religion or sexuality. I think it is fine for people to attack verbally or in writing what someone else says. The problem occurs when someone thinks he has the right to use intimidation, threats, or violence. The way to attack bad speech is with good speech. I still believe the saying I learned as a child: “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.”

Jacobsen: How is opposition to governmental policies being prevented in America today?

Silverman: Opposition to government policies is not being prevented. Many individuals and media have spoken against President Trump’s policies (or lack thereof) on the pandemic, healthcare, climate change, international alliances, and countless social justice issues. Unfortunately, from my perspective, the Republican-controlled US Senate gives Trump whatever he wants. So, opposition to government policies can best be achieved by Americans voting in the upcoming election.

Jacobsen: Regarding “freedom of association, and artistic, scientific, and cultural freedom,” what brings these together in one bundle so as to unite them under a banner of common expansion of freedom for more humanistic societies?

Silverman: Humanistic societies recognize that humanism is a progressive philosophy of life that, without supernaturalism, affirms our ability and responsibility to lead ethical lives of personal fulfillment for the greater good of humanity. Humanism promotes democracy, civil liberties, human freedoms, separation of religion and government, and elimination of discrimination based on race, religion, sex, age, or national origin. Humanists respect the scientific method and recognize that we are an integral part of nature, the result of unguided evolutionary change, and that ethical values are derived from human need and interest as tested by experience.

Jacobsen: Thank you for the opportunity and your time, Dr. Silverman.

Silverman: You’re most welcome.

References

American Humanist Association. (1973). Humanist Manifesto II. Retrieved from https://americanhumanist.org/what-is-humanism/manifesto2/.

Appendix I: Footnotes

[1] Founder, Secular Coalition for America; Founder, Secular Humanists of the Low Country; Founder, Atheist/Humanist Alliance, College of Charleston.

[2] Individual Publication Date: September 15, 2020: http://www.in-sightjournal.com/free-of-charge-4; Full Issue Publication Date: January 1, 2021: https://in-sightjournal.com/insight-issues/.

Appendix II: Citation Style Listing

American Medical Association (AMA): Jacobsen S. Free of Charge 4 – “Humanist Manifesto II,” Kurtz and Wilson, Moral Devotion, Creative Imagination, and Free Speech [Online].September 2020; 24(A). Available from: http://www.in-sightjournal.com/free-of-charge-4.

American Psychological Association (APA, 6th Edition, 2010): Jacobsen, S.D. (2020, September 15). Free of Charge 4 – “Humanist Manifesto II,” Kurtz and Wilson, Moral Devotion, Creative Imagination, and Free Speech. Retrieved from http://www.in-sightjournal.com/free-of-charge-4.

Brazilian National Standards (ABNT): JACOBSEN, S. Free of Charge 4 – “Humanist Manifesto II,” Kurtz and Wilson, Moral Devotion, Creative Imagination, and Free Speech. In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal. 24.A, September. 2020. <http://www.in-sightjournal.com/free-of-charge-4>.

Chicago/Turabian, Author-Date (16th Edition): Jacobsen, Scott. 2020. “Free of Charge 4 – “Humanist Manifesto II,” Kurtz and Wilson, Moral Devotion, Creative Imagination, and Free Speech.” In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal. 24.A. http://www.in-sightjournal.com/free-of-charge-4.

Chicago/Turabian, Humanities (16th Edition): Jacobsen, Scott “Free of Charge 4 – “Humanist Manifesto II,” Kurtz and Wilson, Moral Devotion, Creative Imagination, and Free Speech.” In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal. 24.A (September 2020). http://www.in-sightjournal.com/free-of-charge-4.

Harvard: Jacobsen, S. 2020, ‘Free of Charge 4 – “Humanist Manifesto II,” Kurtz and Wilson, Moral Devotion, Creative Imagination, and Free Speech‘In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal, vol. 24.A. Available from: <http://www.in-sightjournal.com/free-of-charge-4>.

Harvard, Australian: Jacobsen, S. 2020, ‘Free of Charge 4 – “Humanist Manifesto II,” Kurtz and Wilson, Moral Devotion, Creative Imagination, and Free Speech‘In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal, vol. 24.A., http://www.in-sightjournal.com/free-of-charge-4.

Modern Language Association (MLA, 7th Edition, 2009): Scott D. Jacobsen. “Free of Charge 4 – “Humanist Manifesto II,” Kurtz and Wilson, Moral Devotion, Creative Imagination, and Free Speech.” In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal 24.A (2020):September. 2020. Web. <http://www.in-sightjournal.com/free-of-charge-3>.

Vancouver/ICMJE: Jacobsen S. Free of Charge 4 – “Humanist Manifesto II,” Kurtz and Wilson, Moral Devotion, Creative Imagination, and Free Speech [Internet]. (2020, September 24(A). Available from: http://www.in-sightjournal.com/free-of-charge-4.

License and Copyright

License

In-Sight Publishing and In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal by Scott Douglas Jacobsen is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.
Based on a work at www.in-sightjournal.com.

Copyright

© Scott Douglas Jacobsen, and In-Sight Publishing and In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal 2012-2020. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Scott Douglas Jacobsen, and In-Sight Publishing and In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal with appropriate and specific direction to the original content. All interviewees co-copyright their interview material and may disseminate for their independent purposes.

Conversation with Professor Helga Ögmundardóttir on Laxness, Pivotal Early Moments, Iceland Then and Now, and Hydropower in Iceland Highland: Assistant Professor, Social and Human Sciences, University of Iceland (1)

Interviewer: Scott Douglas Jacobsen

Numbering: Issue 25.A, Idea: Land of Fire and Ice: Islandia, Snelandia, and Insula Gardari (1)

Place of Publication: Langley, British Columbia, Canada

Title: In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal

Web Domain: http://www.in-sightjournal.com

Individual Publication Date: September 15, 2020

Issue Publication Date: January 1, 2021

Name of Publisher: In-Sight Publishing

Frequency: Three Times Per Year

Words: 3,254

ISSN 2369-6885

Abstract

Professor Helga Ögmundardóttir is an Assistant Professor in Social and Human Sciences at the University of Iceland. She discusses: family background; some pivotal moments of early life; some early indications of interest in anthropology; the culture of childhood with the culture of Iceland now; Uppsala for the Ph.D. in Anthropology; Ph.D. dissertation was entitled “The Shepherds of Þjórsárver.: Traditional Use and Hydropower Development in the Commons of the Icelandic Highland” (2011); the central thesis and question about the traditional use and development of hydropower in the Iceland Highland; the main findings of the thesis; and some of the teaching content.

Keywords: Helga Ögmundardóttir, human sciences, hydropower, social sciences, University of Iceland.

Conversation with Professor Helga Ögmundardóttir on Laxness, Pivotal Early Moments, Iceland Then and Now, and Hydropower in Iceland Highland: Assistant Professor, Social and Human Sciences, University of Iceland (1)

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

Scott Douglas Jacobsen: For this first round of questions, naturally, I would like to start from the beginning. I should note. These interviews take place within a context of simply falling in love with Iceland. It has its issues, as with any country. But it is so lovely and functional, and democratic, and gender equal, and intelligently run, etc., compared to so many other places on Earth. Francis Fukuyama once said, “How do we get to Denmark?” I completely disagree. Well, I agree. Denmark is great. It’s a tough road to progress to there. However! I will give a modern riff on it, “How do we get to Iceland?” Part of the answer sits with the people. Another lies within the context of the development from earlier lives into the present to produce political structure, economic diversity, gender-equal policies, and the formation of a sociocultural structure dynamic to suit the needs of men and women for individual Icelandic citizens to pursue their best selves, their best lives. What was family background for you? I am aware of the culture described by Laxness and the idea of ‘Independent People.’

Helga Ögmundardóttir: I am born in 1965, my parents in 1944, my grandfathers both in 1912, my maternal grandmother in 1918 and the other one 1921, so my great-grandparents were 19th century people, and of them I remember all of them very well, except my paternal grandfather who died just before I was born. He is my namesake, I’m his oldest grandchild and he never even knew I would be born. But my grandmother, his wife, my “amma”, married again and her husband became my “afi” and I loved him much. And I remember my great-great grandfather on my father’s side, my “langafi” well, and my “langamma” – my mother’s grandmother. We always were very close as an extended family, on both my parents’ side, so the strings in my upbringing cover a very broad time-spectrum, stretching far back in Icelandic history, but I’m also a product of 20th century modernistic aspirations, nationalistic ideas of recent independence (Iceland got full independence from Denmark in 1944) and then we have post-everything being the context of my personal and professional life today. Now that my parents are both deceased and I am now a member of the “oldest” generation in my family, I see the ties of blood disappear, alas, and the feeling of belonging to a clan belongs to the past for me. But as for the Laxness-related ideas, I resent all attempts at dividing people, whether on nationalistic notes, in terms of the modernistic idea of the “developed” vs. the “underdeveloped/developing”, which is probably both the cause and effect of my anthropological identity today. I appreciate him as a writer who had enormous influence on Icelandic society in the 20th century; his respect for gone generations, as well as the way he depicts them in a funny and often sarcastic way. He – Halldór Laxness – and my grandfather were cousins, so he was also a part of the idea I was raised with, of the extended family contributing to what I am and where I come from, both genetically and socio-culturally. But what mostly formed my identity from early on is this contradictory mix of “old” and “new”, probably more than anything else because my father was a historian, philologist and folklorist and we were very close. Her was “in the past”, so to speak, telling me about our past all the time, my mother “in the present” as a political activist, both a socialist and a feminist, and even if we were somehow not very close, I always looked up to her as a role model and a brave woman who stood by her ideas about a better world.

Jacobsen: What were some pivotal moments of early life for you?

Ögmundardóttir: I cannot name any specific events or moments; I recall my early life rather badly as I don’t really recall the specificities of events, but more the atmosphere, smells and sounds, feelings, perceptions in general, that I now connect with moments and events, in my mind. But being sent to a farm in northern Iceland as a 10 years old for two summers, to help with the farm-work, that was a great thing for me as I was and am fascinated by animals, and as a 12 years old starting to work in a fish-factory, for many summers to come, that was a big disappointment since my farm-life was thereby over and instead of being outside, free, in the short Icelandic summer, I was confined inside a wet and noisy fish-factory from June to August. Well, we got well paid, I guess, but the money went to my parents’ account as a contribution to our common economy. This was the tradition then and I could do little to object – well, I had my little “rebellions” but they never changed anything. The deaths of dear ones, close relatives, of my pets as well, had profound impact on me as well as a child and teenager. The first time I went abroad, as a 9 years old, to Denmark with my parents, was revolutionary! I saw frogs for the first time, tall trees, huge palaces, trains, could be outside in shorts into the night as it was warm enough… and the list goes on! I was lucky to have marvelous teachers in primary and secondary school, and I read books like there was no tomorrow – I finished all the children’s books in the city library quite early and went on to the grown-ups’ department and many books had profound influence on me, whether books for children or not. We didn’t have a TV until I was several years old and watching telly in my friends’ homes or – even more importantly – the American army-base’s TV-station; now that was a life-changing thing! I could see it in my cousin’s home in Hafnarfjörður, which was close enough to the Keflavik-base to get the signal. And there are countless good and bad “things” I could name as influential, some had impact that left their mark on me early and have since lost some influence – fortunately for the negative ones – others have increasingly popped up in my memory as something that has been there all the time but are now gaining meaning and my understanding of them growing. This is how we – at least I – have been throughout life, and I see us as fairly fluid beings with a complex, changing identity, not at all clearly bound but reaching out to the world all the time; and the world “coming to” or merging with us, not least.

Jacobsen: Were there some early indications of interest in anthropology? Or was this something happening more in early university education?

Ögmundardóttir: I talked about my wonderful teachers when in primary school; I would trace my interest in the world, other people, other cultures to their methods and the material we used to learn from. I will not go into details as that would require a whole essay, but in short, we learned all the classical subjects through learning about different nations and human groups all over the world. As an example, we learned mathematics by following the news on the radio about what cargo-ships were coming and going to and from Iceland – being an island in the middle of the Atlantic, shipping was vital for us – and we made schemes about all the ships and what type they were – size, route, days at sea, types and amount of cargo, etc. and calculated all kinds of information out of that. Another project was to pretend to be farmers in Scandinavia and the northwestern British Isles in the 10th century, heading for a new land somewhere in the northwestern Atlantic Ocean, and decide what to take with us on our ships, how much, how long it would take, how much each member could eat per day and so on and so forth. We basically relived the settlement of Iceland but not on nationalistic terms but practical and creative ones – and of course we learned about any other subject you have to learn in school with these and other such projects and exercises. To make a long story short; when I discovered anthropology, its interdisciplinary character and local-global focus fascinated me and I found myself totally at home in its bosom. But I really didn’t know that something like anthropology existed as an academic subject until I sat in my first class of Introduction to anthropology, really. But there was no turning back, I was stuck and even if the way through university studies, all the way through a PhD was windy and bumpy, it was somehow meant to be because for me, anthropology is a way of life, not just “my job”.

Jacobsen: If you compared the culture of childhood with the culture of Iceland now, what are the major differences? I like to make a comparison, even with Canada. We closed the last Residential School in 1996 or the same year the Hon. Vigdis resigned after 16 years of leadership in Iceland. People love Trudeau, in general. Yet, our history is two decades behind Iceland. It is in the fine details of gender equality that Iceland excels in what I love and term “pragmatic gender egalitarianism.”

Ögmundardóttir:  The major differences – what we have now full-force, but weren’t back then or were just somehow in the background and/or emerging: The internet, globalization of everything, more or less, tourism (although we have a little breathing-hole now because of covid), and last but not least: an environmental crisis affecting all and everything. Concerning gender issues here; we are in many ways moving forward but in some other terms we’re just as much struggling as everyone else. And what’s more, steps forward are NOT here to stay – they so easily are erased by bad laws, changes in our values and thus society – how we interact and see and evaluate each other – so it’s like anything we fight for, believing it’s for improvement, it’s precarious and its existence is only real if we practice what we preach, so to speak. We have domestic violence that is more often than not directed towards women and children, we have rapes and other sexual violence that also affects women more than men, we still have a salary-gap between men and women that cannot be explained with anything but their gender, and so on. Although I want to shake the boat more and stop this duality-view of humans as either male of female – we are so much more complex and it’s very old-fashioned to focus so much on male-female equality. But I know what you mean, in many ways we are ahead and when I talk to my friends abroad, in countries where it’s basically life-threatening to be a woman, I am rather pleased with the situation here.

Jacobsen: Now, why go to Uppsala for the Ph.D. in Anthropology?

Ögmundardóttir:  I had taken my undergraduate in Gothenburg and Stockholm, my MA in Iceland, and there was no doubt in my mind I wanted to go abroad for my PhD. And I simply searched for a programme and a supervisor who fit my topic of interest and found that in the Department of cultural anthropology at Uppsala University. I couldn’t afford a university that cost much, so Scandinavia was a good choice. I took my two little girls with me to Sweden and the school-system there for young children was appealing to me. I had friends in the country already and by going there I would be closer to them. I knew the language and the system, had a social security number already and slipped into the system easily.

Jacobsen: You Ph.D. dissertation was entitled “The Shepherds of Þjórsárver.: Traditional Use and Hydropower Development in the Commons of the Icelandic Highland” (2011). What is the feeling in getting the Ph.D.?

Ögmundardóttir:  It was nice, of course, but also a little sad because it meant I would have no reason to stay there longer, really; Uppsala is close to my heart and my best friends since decades live there or close by, and I miss them every day. But it meant I had a certificate to wave, so to speak, and my words had increased weight in discussions – and we can argue if that is right and fair or not – and last but not least, I had more freedom to be mobile as an academic which is the best thing of all for a restless soul like me who needs freedom more than most other things to thrive.

Jacobsen: What was the central thesis and question about the traditional use and development of hydropower in the Iceland Highland? Also, for those who do not recognize the terminology from Anglo ancient law, what is the commons?

Ögmundardóttir:  The commons is this space – in terms of geographical space, but also social and cultural space – where we in a way become equal, in terms of access and ability to be present and heard/seen. I cannot pretend to give the one and only definition of “the commons” but for me, these traits are important. To define a certain area, resource, phenomenon of various kind, that everyone (either all humans or a certain group of humans) has equal access to, is an old way of relating to each other and to our surroundings/environment, and it has lasted and endured in most areas of the world since – most likely – the beginning of human time, in spite of all kinds of political and economic attempts at eliminating them, the commons, by those who believe in private property and want to take them as theirs to use and thereby prevent others from enjoying their treasures, of whatever kind they are. Our atmosphere is a commons, space is (still) a commons, big parts of the earth’s oceans, much of our freshwater, etc. (although the privatization of water is increasing and posing problems to many, especially the poor). My thesis was about the social, cultural and political means people have to protect a piece of land – in this case the commons of a specific rural municipality in Iceland – against state and corporate encroachment. The theme is the familiar one of a hydropower dam-building plan that would destroy a wetland ecosystem, Þjórsárver, and reduce its cultural value and thus hurt the common identity of the community that has used it for centuries, both in terms of access to grazing for their sheep, and as a mental and social refuge from the repetition of daily life. It also has a scientific and conservation value and is one of the last untouched patches of vegetation and birdlife in the highland of Iceland. It is both a strength and a weakness that the area the farmers want to keep intact is a commons; the strength is that they have a common responsibility for it, it being an area of ancient common use, and it is a part of their common identity, but also their weakness because not everyone agrees on its worth and value, as some farmers don’t have sheep and have not emotional nor social ties to the area. But the picture is more complex than that because even people in the community who don’t have sheep and even never have still would never allow its destruction, and the issue of families, family ties, party politics, economic interests within the are and so on, cross-cut the mobilization against the dam scheme.

Jacobsen: What were the main findings of the thesis?

Ögmundardóttir:  Well, some of it I talked about in the former answer, but basically these several dozens of farming families have managed to prevent the National power company, owned by the Icelandic state, from building the reservoir Norðlingaölduveita, for decades now (the original plan even dates back to the beginning of the 20th century). Against all odds, against nationalistic ideas of progress of a newly free nation, against the dominant party politics ideology, against very strong industrial and corporate economic interests, they have succeeded with an amazing “toolkit” to stop the plan, sometimes so close to defeat that I sweat when I think about it! Their knowledge and resourcefulness has enabled them to play the multiple strings of resistance, and it has not least been their ties to foreign aid from natural scientists and activists that has made the difference between defeat and victory. Iceland is not an island in all meanings of the term – we are a part of the world and what we do here with “our” nature is not our private business, and when the eyes of the world are on us doing “the wrong thing”, our vain politicians (well, some of them!) often understand that it matters how you talk and behave; it’s not just your fellow country-people who hear you! And “my” farmers have also played their political party-cards well, pulling strings that have strategically helped them bringing forward their cause. And the fact that all Icelanders belong to families and clans (I sometimes call them tribes – Iceland is really an industrialized tribal society, you know!) has enabled my farmers to pull the strings of family- and blood ties which are of great importance here if you want to get anywhere with your ideas and life in general.

Jacobsen: To some of the teaching content for you, what is the state of globalization now? What is the state of ethnography?

Ögmundardóttir:  Ethnography has become a fashionable way to do anything between interviewing people about their driving behavior, through cities and institutions being inclusive in planning and constructing, to saving the world from the ills of climate change. Now, my engineering colleagues are incorporating ethnographic methods into their university programs, wanting to learn about qualitative methods, participant observation, action research and I don’t know what! As an example. I remember being a part of groups of interdisciplinary researchers dealing with, let’s say emissions or sustainable fisheries, 20 years ago as the only qualitative, female researcher (two boxes ticked by hiring me!) to now being one of several social and humanities researchers and the qualitative methods being an integrative part of the premise of the project (in order to get funding – again; boxes ticked!) and not just an add-on towards the end, when the modelers and oceanographers and biologists and engineers had done their part – the bulk of the project, in terms of manpower, time and money. Well, I might be a bit unfair here, but overall the scientific landscape has changed and I find myself in the situation of being THE ethnographer, wanted (alive, not dead!) in research because environmental issues cannot be dealt with but by many disciplines in cooperation and communication. Alas, less and less time is allocated to do the research, which is against anything ethnographic – and my task is to somehow fix that. For me, ethnography is a way of life, again, it is how I cope with reality, both for good and bad – I find it hard to put my ethnographic self aside when I’m not at work, sometimes I succeed, sometimes it just happens automatically, but above all it has become my coping method to deal with the globalized world with all its horrors and heavens. And to teach this approach to the human condition is such a privilege – I would have given up and turned to something else if I didn’t have to opportunity to explore ethnography with my students. That is the essence of anthropology to me.

Appendix I: Footnotes

[1] Assistant Professor, Social and Human Sciences, University of Iceland.

[2]Individual Publication Date: September 15, 2020: http://www.in-sightjournal.com/Ögmundardóttir-1; Full Issue Publication Date: January 1, 2021: https://in-sightjournal.com/insight-issues/.

Appendix II: Citation Style Listing

American Medical Association (AMA): Jacobsen S. Conversation with Professor Helga Ögmundardóttir on Laxness, Pivotal Early Moments, Iceland Then and Now, and Hydropower in Iceland Highland: Assistant Professor, Social and Human Sciences, University of Iceland (1)[Online].September 2020; 25(A). Available from: http://www.in-sightjournal.com/Ögmundardóttir-1.

American Psychological Association (APA, 6th Edition, 2010): Jacobsen, S.D. (2020, September 8). Conversation with Professor Helga Ögmundardóttir on Laxness, Pivotal Early Moments, Iceland Then and Now, and Hydropower in Iceland Highland: Assistant Professor, Social and Human Sciences, University of Iceland (1). Retrieved from http://www.in-sightjournal.com/Ögmundardóttir-1.

Brazilian National Standards (ABNT): JACOBSEN, S. Conversation with Professor Helga Ögmundardóttir on Laxness, Pivotal Early Moments, Iceland Then and Now, and Hydropower in Iceland Highland: Assistant Professor, Social and Human Sciences, University of Iceland (1). In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal. 25.A, September. 2020. <http://www.in-sightjournal.com/Ögmundardóttir-1>.

Chicago/Turabian, Author-Date (16th Edition): Jacobsen, Scott. 2020. “Conversation with Professor Helga Ögmundardóttir on Laxness, Pivotal Early Moments, Iceland Then and Now, and Hydropower in Iceland Highland: Assistant Professor, Social and Human Sciences, University of Iceland (1).” In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal. 25.A. http://www.in-sightjournal.com/Ögmundardóttir-1.

Chicago/Turabian, Humanities (16th Edition): Jacobsen, Scott “Conversation with Professor Helga Ögmundardóttir on Laxness, Pivotal Early Moments, Iceland Then and Now, and Hydropower in Iceland Highland: Assistant Professor, Social and Human Sciences, University of Iceland (1).” In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal. 25.A (September 2020). http://www.in-sightjournal.com/Ögmundardóttir-1.

Harvard: Jacobsen, S. 2020, ‘Conversation with Professor Helga Ögmundardóttir on Laxness, Pivotal Early Moments, Iceland Then and Now, and Hydropower in Iceland Highland: Assistant Professor, Social and Human Sciences, University of Iceland (1)‘In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal, vol. 24.A. Available from: <http://www.in-sightjournal.com/Ögmundardóttir-1>.

Harvard, Australian: Jacobsen, S. 2020, ‘Conversation with Professor Helga Ögmundardóttir on Laxness, Pivotal Early Moments, Iceland Then and Now, and Hydropower in Iceland Highland: Assistant Professor, Social and Human Sciences, University of Iceland (1)‘In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal, vol. 25.A., http://www.in-sightjournal.com/Ögmundardóttir-1.

Modern Language Association (MLA, 7th Edition, 2009): Scott D. Jacobsen. “Conversation with Professor Helga Ögmundardóttir on Laxness, Pivotal Early Moments, Iceland Then and Now, and Hydropower in Iceland Highland: Assistant Professor, Social and Human Sciences, University of Iceland (1).” In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal 25.A (2020):September. 2020. Web. <http://www.in-sightjournal.com/cooijmans-1>.

Vancouver/ICMJE: Jacobsen S. Conversation with Professor Helga Ögmundardóttir on Laxness, Pivotal Early Moments, Iceland Then and Now, and Hydropower in Iceland Highland: Assistant Professor, Social and Human Sciences, University of Iceland (1)[Internet]. (2020, September 25(A). Available from: http://www.in-sightjournal.com/Ögmundardóttir-1.

License and Copyright

License

In-Sight Publishing and In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal by Scott Douglas Jacobsen is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.
Based on a work at www.in-sightjournal.com.

Copyright © Scott Douglas Jacobsen, and In-Sight Publishing and In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal 2012-2020. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Scott Douglas Jacobsen, and In-Sight Publishing and In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal with appropriate and specific direction to the original content. All interviewees co-copyright their interview material and may disseminate for their independent purposes.

Conversation with Dr. Giuseppe Corrente on the Mafia and the Vatican: Computer Science Teacher, Torino University (8)

Interviewer: Scott Douglas Jacobsen

Numbering: Issue 24.A, Idea: Outliers & Outsiders (Part Twenty)

Place of Publication: Langley, British Columbia, Canada

Title: In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal

Web Domain: http://www.in-sightjournal.com

Individual Publication Date: September 15, 2020

Issue Publication Date: January 1, 2021

Name of Publisher: In-Sight Publishing

Frequency: Three Times Per Year

Words: 444

ISSN 2369-6885

Abstract

Dr. Giuseppe Corrente is a Computer Science teacher at Torino University. He earned a Ph.D. in Science and High Technology – Computer Science in 2013 at Torino University. He has contributed to the World Intelligence Network’s publication Phenomenon. He discusses: the Mafia and the Vatican; the origin of the mafia in Italy; mobbing-bossing; the Mafia offshoots; the great companies; the Mafia attractive to some Italians; the benefits of joining of the Mafia; southern Italy; and conclusion.

Keywords: Giuseppe Corrente, Italy, Mafia, Vatican.

Conversation with Dr. Giuseppe Corrente on the Mafia and the Vatican: Computer Science Teacher, Torino University (8)

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

Scott Douglas Jacobsen: Sir, shall we finish? Italy is known for two big organizations: the Mafia and the Vatican. Although, the Vatican appears to have its own autonomous region as recognized by the United Nations with the Holy See. What is the origin of the Roman Catholic Church and the Vatican in Italy?

Dr. Giuseppe Corrente[1],[2]*: The Vatican is a state inside a state, a small state in Rome. The fact that is in Italy exercises enormous power in education, politics, government, moral in the course of past decades and in the present. The Roman Catholic Church history is fused with that of the whole Occident since the origin.

Jacobsen: What is the origin of the mafia in Italy?

Corrente: The origin of the mafia is determined by Sicilian way to dominate poor agricultural masses since 1800. Now it is diffused in all the world, but has its roots in southern Italy. It is also a way of thinking diffused in the population and not only a criminal organization.

Jacobsen: What in the heck is mobbing-bossing?

Corrente: If a hierarchical superior wants take over you, not only as an employee but in your whole life, this is bossing. It is also known as vertical mobbing.

Jacobsen: What are the Mafia offshoots in institutions?

Corrente: In many ways, but the one that mostly I have noticed is an indirect one: in the way of thinking, in the style of managing. The reflection of the Mafia in companies and institutions in this sense is above all the bossing as the main style of personnel management.

Jacobsen: What are the great companies in Italy?

Corrente: Multinationals, or their local branch, sited mainly in Northern Italy.

Jacobsen: What makes the Mafia attractive to some Italians?

Corrente: Unemployment. If Southern Italy is seen only as a way to take funding by companies and is not seen or cured by the Institutions, then the Mafia is a consequence.

Jacobsen: What are some of the benefits of joining the Mafia? What are the obvious downsides of joining the Mafia?

Corrente: Mirage of many, many money. The risk of life and to become a Mafia slave.

Jacobsen: What makes southern Italy a huge for great companies?

Corrente: In the past for the possibility of funding and the lack of control of their use. I hope this is not true for the present, but I am not sure.

Jacobsen: Any final feelings or thoughts in conclusion based on the series of interviews?

Corrente: I am very grateful for the opportunity to tell some parts of my life and of my ideas.

Jacobsen: Thank you for the opportunity and your time, Giuseppe.

Appendix I: Footnotes

[1] Ph.D. (2013), Science and High Technology – Computer Science, Torino University.

[2] Individual Publication Date: September 15, 2020: http://www.in-sightjournal.com/corrente-8; Full Issue Publication Date: January 1, 2021: https://in-sightjournal.com/insight-issues/.

*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.

Appendix II: Citation Style Listing

American Medical Association (AMA): Jacobsen S. Conversation with Dr. Giuseppe Corrente on the Mafia and the Vatican: Computer Science Teacher, Torino University (8) [Online].September 2020; 24(A). Available from: http://www.in-sightjournal.com/corrente-8.

American Psychological Association (APA, 6th Edition, 2010): Jacobsen, S.D. (2020, September 15). Conversation with Dr. Giuseppe Corrente on the Mafia and the Vatican: Computer Science Teacher, Torino University (8). Retrieved from http://www.in-sightjournal.com/corrente-8.

Brazilian National Standards (ABNT): JACOBSEN, S. Conversation with Dr. Giuseppe Corrente on the Mafia and the Vatican: Computer Science Teacher, Torino University (8). In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal. 24.A, September. 2020. <http://www.in-sightjournal.com/corrente-8>.

Chicago/Turabian, Author-Date (16th Edition): Jacobsen, Scott. 2020. “Conversation with Dr. Giuseppe Corrente on the Mafia and the Vatican: Computer Science Teacher, Torino University (8).” In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal. 24.A. http://www.in-sightjournal.com/corrente-8.

Chicago/Turabian, Humanities (16th Edition): Jacobsen, Scott “Conversation with Dr. Giuseppe Corrente on the Mafia and the Vatican: Computer Science Teacher, Torino University (8).” In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal. 24.A (September 2020). http://www.in-sightjournal.com/corrente-8.

Harvard: Jacobsen, S. 2020, ‘Conversation with Dr. Giuseppe Corrente on the Mafia and the Vatican: Computer Science Teacher, Torino University (8)’In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal, vol. 24.A. Available from: <http://www.in-sightjournal.com/corrente-8>.

Harvard, Australian: Jacobsen, S. 2020, ‘Conversation with Dr. Giuseppe Corrente on the Mafia and the Vatican: Computer Science Teacher, Torino University (8)’In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal, vol. 24.A., http://www.in-sightjournal.com/corrente-8.

Modern Language Association (MLA, 7th Edition, 2009): Scott D. Jacobsen. “Conversation with Dr. Giuseppe Corrente on the Mafia and the Vatican: Computer Science Teacher, Torino University (8).” In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal 24.A (2020):September. 2020. Web. <http://www.in-sightjournal.com/corrente-8>.

Vancouver/ICMJE: Jacobsen S. Conversation with Dr. Giuseppe Corrente on the Mafia and the Vatican: Computer Science Teacher, Torino University (8) [Internet]. (2020, September 24(A). Available from: http://www.in-sightjournal.com/corrente-8.

License and Copyright

License

In-Sight Publishing and In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal by Scott Douglas Jacobsen is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.
Based on a work at www.in-sightjournal.com.

Copyright

© Scott Douglas Jacobsen, and In-Sight Publishing and In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal 2012-2020. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Scott Douglas Jacobsen, and In-Sight Publishing and In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal with appropriate and specific direction to the original content. All interviewees co-copyright their interview material and may disseminate for their independent purposes.

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)

Interviewer: Scott Douglas Jacobsen

Numbering: Issue 24.A, Idea: Outliers & Outsiders (Part Twenty)

Place of Publication: Langley, British Columbia, Canada

Title: In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal

Web Domain: http://www.in-sightjournal.com

Individual Publication Date: September 15, 2020

Issue Publication Date: January 1, 2021

Name of Publisher: In-Sight Publishing

Frequency: Three Times Per Year

Words: 3,427

ISSN 2369-6885

Abstract

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: https://www.savagechickens.com/2008/12/iq-test.html

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 toriqtests.com, 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: http://www.in-sightjournal.com/norway-1; Full Issue Publication Date: January 1, 2021: https://in-sightjournal.com/insight-issues/.

*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.

Appendix II: Citation Style Listing

American Medical Association (AMA): Jacobsen S. 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) [Online].September 2020; 24(A). Available from: http://www.in-sightjournal.com/norway-1.

American Psychological Association (APA, 6th Edition, 2010): Jacobsen, S.D. (2020, September 15). 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). Retrieved from http://www.in-sightjournal.com/norway-1.

Brazilian National Standards (ABNT): JACOBSEN, S. 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). In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal. 24.A, September. 2020. <http://www.in-sightjournal.com/norway-1>.

Chicago/Turabian, Author-Date (16th Edition): Jacobsen, Scott. 2020. “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).” In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal. 24.A. http://www.in-sightjournal.com/norway-1.

Chicago/Turabian, Humanities (16th Edition): Jacobsen, Scott “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).” In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal. 24.A (September 2020). http://www.in-sightjournal.com/norway-1.

Harvard: Jacobsen, S. 2020, ‘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)’In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal, vol. 24.A. Available from: <http://www.in-sightjournal.com/norway-1>.

Harvard, Australian: Jacobsen, S. 2020, ‘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)’In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal, vol. 24.A., http://www.in-sightjournal.com/norway-1.

Modern Language Association (MLA, 7th Edition, 2009): Scott D. Jacobsen. “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).” In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal 24.A (2020):September. 2020. Web. <http://www.in-sightjournal.com/norway-1>.

Vancouver/ICMJE: Jacobsen S. 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) [Internet]. (2020, September 24(A). Available from: http://www.in-sightjournal.com/norway-1.

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Conversation with Benjamin Li on High-IQ, the Sciences, Vancouver, and The University of British Columbia: Member, International Society for Philosophical Enquiry (ISPE) (2)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Interviewer: Scott Douglas Jacobsen

Numbering: Issue 24.A, Idea: Outliers & Outsiders (Part Twenty)

Place of Publication: Langley, British Columbia, Canada

Title: In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal

Web Domain: http://www.in-sightjournal.com

Individual Publication Date: September 15, 2020

Issue Publication Date: January 1, 2021

Name of Publisher: In-Sight Publishing

Frequency: Three Times Per Year

Words: 2,237

ISSN 2369-6885

Abstract

Benjamin Li is a student of mathematics and statistics at the University of British Columbia in Canada. He is a member of multiple high I.Q. societies requiring I.Q. scores above three or four standard deviations above the mean such as the International Society for Philosophical Enquiry (ISPE), Torr, Profundus High I.Q. Society and Global Genius Generation Group. He is interested in mathematics, statistics, theology, evolutionary biology, theoretical physics, and high-range mental testing. A dogged devotee of Darwin and Galileo with a fascination for theories of scientific eminence, he is dedicated to promoting scientific truth and a real understanding of how the world works. Benjamin has been a participant in tennis, chess, piano, gaming, science, and mathematics competitions – winning various awards since childhood. He is currently a top-level eSports athlete, occasionally competing in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate events, while being ranked among the very best players in Canada. Since joining the high I.Q. community, Benjamin has become one of the top scorers on tests attempting to measure exceptional intelligence accurately. He discusses: the mathematics and statistics education at The University of British Columbia; some of the benefits of the higher IQ in personal life; some of the benefits of the higher IQ in professional life; statistics and mathematics; local Vancouver culture; the campus culture at The University of British Columbia; the degree in mathematics and statistics; the family background in high-level academics; career in the sciences; and research question.

Keywords: Benjamin Li, campus culture, high-IQ, IQ, The University of British Columbia, Vancouver.

Conversation with Benjamin Li on High-IQ, the Sciences, Vancouver, and The University of British Columbia: Member, International Society for Philosophical Enquiry (ISPE) (2)

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

Scott Douglas Jacobsen: So, you’re studying at The University of British Columbia. You’re scoring high on alternative tests. You’re new to the community. What are some of the insights garnered through some of the mathematics and statistics education at The University of British Columbia for you?

Benjamin Li[1],[2]*: I learn most things on my own time, rather than relying on my education. Through my general education, I was quite pleased with my philosophy professor, and I even had a 3-hour conversation with him through office hours one time. He was knowledgeable on many subjects and had even let me borrow a few scholarly books and articles. I usually find it challenging to approach professors, which was the first time, but I found it quite a fantastic experience. I think some insights gained through my education thus far are how to encourage in-depth conversations about thought-provoking topics, listen carefully, consider other viewpoints, and learn voraciously. Even to hear all types of voices, such as those from peer-reviewed journal articles (holds most weight), professors, books, blogs, the internet, the general public, etc. Thanks to my current insights garnered, I think academia is a viable option for me to pursue in the future.

Jacobsen: What do you feel has been some of the benefits of the higher IQ in personal life?

Li: One benefit is self-confidence. Of course, one should not go around bragging about one’s intelligence, as that will not yield any benefits socially. Even if you knew your I.Q. was much higher than someone else’s, it is not polite to show any signs of a superiority complex. Confidence and arrogance, while similar, are not the same. I think when being confident, you don’t view others as a threat, and instead, you can focus on using one’s higher I.Q. to try to benefit others. Arrogance points to low self-esteem because you feel threatened by other people and believe you must defend yourself. Confident people don’t have to repeatedly rub their achievements in people’s faces because they know their value. For me, knowing I have a high I.Q. made me recognize that I can probably succeed in a lot of things, but I should also be making positive contributions to other people’s lives at the same time.

I.Q. as a concept may not make many people happy, and I understand that. However, I feel the need to give an honest answer reflecting both science and my anecdotes/experiences. Note that I am only talking about the benefits of a higher I.Q. from my experience, rather than negatives. I think my comments below have relevance to your question.

Higher I.Q. is correlated with longevity as smart people will tend to make decisions that influence long term health, such as eating healthier and exercising. Higher I.Q. also influences one’s interests, so with a higher I.Q., one will tend to self-select environments that suit their genetic propensities for higher cognitive demand. In childhood, the heritability of I.Q. is much lower, but when we become adults, I.Q. differences between individuals is around .85 heritable. The point is, in children, we are more influenced by our parents and can not select our environments that suit our inclination. Hence, the heritability of traits among children is a lot lower than among adults, though sometimes people want to believe that the environment plays more of a role as we age, science proves this wrong. Higher I.Q. individuals will be more likely to surround themselves with intellectually enriching things such as books and have an insatiable appetite for learning and curiosity as we grow up. You rarely see those with below-average cognitive ability in activities that require high mental power or have deep intellectual interests. Most people avoid activities that are too difficult or complex for them. It is natural to be more likely to be interested in things you excel in. It just so happens that those with higher general ability will be more likely to be competitive in more advanced settings and have complex interests that reflect one’s high intelligence. These can be called “benefits” only for some people, and there are many disadvantages of a higher I.Q. I could have listed if I wanted to. I’m sure most people are perfectly happy in accepting that they aren’t interested in cognitively demanding/competitive activities or have interests that require high thinking ability – it is perfectly normal and healthy to be average.

Jacobsen: What do you feel has been some of the benefits of the higher IQ in professional life?

Li: Having a higher IQ will allow you to perform more complex actions and learn difficult skills necessary for demanding tasks. Having an IQ within the normal range is perfectly fine as most individuals working as engineers, doctors, or lawyers do not have IQs above the 98th percentile. However, exceptional IQs or exceptionally high specific cognitive abilities such as working memory capacity are likely to provide a considerable boost in helping individuals reach the absolute highest levels in cognitively demanding professions. Cognitively demanding activities include STEM jobs, chess grandmasters, professional eSports, music composing, and the like. The correlation between IQ and occupational success is lower in occupations that are less demanding and more repetitive. Though, sometimes many high IQ individuals will do exceptionally poorly in tasks that correlate poorly with general intelligence.

Jacobsen: Why did you decide to pursue statistics and mathematics?

Li: Going into university, I wasn’t sure what to pursue, but I believe aptitudes, interests, and career prospects played critical roles. My mathematics talent is somewhat higher than my language abilities, and STEM fields are more lucrative and more comfortable to find secure jobs than non-STEM subjects, which made me lean towards these subjects more. Statistics are interesting enough because I do enjoy visualizing statistical distribution curves, along with their data. Mathematics is excellent as well because my ability to reason with numbers and visualize objects in 3D seem like my most notable abilities – which are necessary abilities for solving complex mathematical problems.

Jacobsen: Do you find the local Vancouver culture conducive to the flourishing of high-IQ types?

Li: Vancouver is a cosmopolitan and ethnically-diverse city full not only of West Coast Canadian culture and history, including that of the local First Nations but also the culture of its many ethnically diverse populations. I think multiculturalism gives an excellent opportunity to explore other aspects of life rather than to conform to only one style. The outliers and outsiders may have ample opportunities to fit in and expand their intelligence and perhaps even creativity.

Jacobsen: How is the campus culture at The University of British Columbia?

Li: I do believe Chinese culture undoubtedly influences UBC’s campus. UBC is primarily a Canadian school with strong international linkages/representations, where Chinese influences are the strongest. Demographics, style, food, and language from the Chinese influence may positively affect the campus culture, but the language barrier and the separation of student bodies cause some discrepancies. To paint the most precise picture possible, I would say that UBC’s student population can be classified into three principal groups; 1) Domestic students; 2) Non-Chinese International students; 3) International Chinese students. I only fit in slightly with the first two groups. I do not fit in with the international Chinese students as I don’t speak perfect mandarin, nor do I socialize with them anywhere. I don’t participate in any Chinese clubs, but I do eat Chinese food quite often and always see multiple groups of international Chinese students around. Perhaps the other domestic students feel the same way as I do.

Jacobsen: When you graduate with the degree in mathematics and statistics, what do you hope to pursue – more education or work relevant to the qualifications of mathematics and statistics?

Li:  More education because I’m not too excited about getting into the workforce. I am reasonably proficient with R, Python, and other programming languages to potentially work as a statistician, data scientist or the like. Still, in reality, I only find academic research interesting and cognitively stimulating for me, but I probably could force myself to work a regular job. It is still a little bit early into my degree, so perhaps my aspirations will change in a few years. For now, I just hope to reach the highest levels in anything I decide to pursue professionally.

Jacobsen: Do you find the family background in high-level academics an inspiration to pursue formal education more?

Li: No. Having a background in high-level academics and culture where education is the most essential thing makes me nervous and gives me tremendous pressure to perform well. However, there is little motivation to succeed in my family background in high-level academics, only fear of failure. My inspiration to pursue formal education always comes from my desire to acquire more knowledge and wisdom about the world and fulfill my need for intellectual stimulation. I can do that without a university degree, but achieving highly can also help me build a stable career and help me gain certain, necessary skills.

Jacobsen: If you pursue this career in the sciences, what sciences will most interest you? Why those?

Li: I enjoy learning about so many subjects, so this is hard to answer. I often think about specific topics for a while and talk with anyone I can, but I eventually move on when there is nothing more to learn. Subjects in which I can specialize in, rather than learn the general information, are sciences that I should probably pursue. Topics that utilize statistical and mathematical models would also be relevant to my current education, and issues related to intelligence-testing are what I currently have plenty of knowledge in. By definition, statistics is the method of collecting, analyzing, interpreting, presenting, and organizing data. At the same time, intelligence plays a unifying role in all sciences.

Artificial intelligence is a highly exciting idea that would utilize an understanding of machine learning and cognition. Let me list two other fields that I have interests in but more in-depth.

Statistical genetics is all about developing statistical methods for drawing inferences from genetic data. Statistical geneticists develop statistical methods for understanding the genetic basis of human diseases and traits. These methods involve large-scale data sets from candidate-gene, genome-wide, and resequencing studies using unrelated and related individuals. I am interested in this field because of my interest in behavioral genetics, the heritability of traits, and the environmental, social, and genetic influences that shape individual differences. I am interested in finding direct evidence of intelligence differences between people through DNA, but this is a longshot. Robert Plomin – a behavioral geneticist, has been trying to do so, but it’s been a difficult task to accomplish since we don’t know how many genes we are looking for and because people don’t want this project to succeed. Someday, everything will be known, but I doubt I am living at the right time.

Psychometrics and I.Q. related research is interesting to me because it has shaped my life meaningfully. It could be interesting to study the nature of those who have the motivation and capability to solve challenging puzzles or I.Q. test questions. I would like to know if the g-factor (general intelligence) is still operative above four standard deviations above the mean (160), using standard deviation 15. High-range mental testing requires the use of statistical and probabilistic models, so perhaps there are serious research prospects in this area. In part one of our interview, I discussed quite a bit about high-range mental testing. Still, I forgot to mention that I have learned virtually everything from Paul Cooijmans – a pioneer in high-range mental testing and the Giga Society’s creator. Paul Cooijmans states in his blog under (https://paulcooijmans.com/intelligence/iq_ranges.html) that after the 130-139 range of I.Q., “Regular psychology’s I.Q. tests should not be trusted beyond this range as their validity breaks down here, if such scores are given at all.” If this is true, then everyone in psychometrics should care about measuring intelligence as accurately as possible throughout the full range of variation, instead of just attending about those in the middle of the bell curve. I can’t rely on mainstream scientific journals for information here because mainstream psychometrics hasn’t taken high range untimed and unsupervised tests very seriously yet. If you want to learn more about this field, please read Paul Cooijman’s blog at “https://paulcooijmans.com/” and try his extremely difficult untimed I.Q. tests. Thanks to Paul Cooijmans, Dr. Ronald Hoeflin, Dr. Ivan Ivec, and other test authors, there is a chance this area can go into mainstream psychometrics and change the way we understand extremely high problem-solving abilities.

As an aside, I have gained a lot of interest in physics, philosophy, theology, and astronomy because of the complex nature of some problems in these fields.

Jacobsen: What research question would most interest you?

Li: I am interested in almost any question from any field because I have this tremendous curiosity to understand everything about the world, unlike any other. Too many questions, but I’ll narrow it down to just one. Something I like to think about a lot is the question of what possibilities are there for super-intelligent AI. I am aware of a machine beating the human world chess champion, driving vehicles, and winning in Jeopardy. Robots playing video games would have inhuman reaction times, working memory, processing speed, and adapt to any situation very quickly. Seeing robots cognitively tower over the most extraordinary human beings in various fields is undoubtedly fascinating.

Appendix I: Footnotes

[1] Member, International Society for Philosophical Enquiry (ISPE); Member, Torr; Member, Profundus High I.Q. Society; Member, Global Genius Generation Group.

[2] Individual Publication Date: September 15, 2020: http://www.in-sightjournal.com/li-2; Full Issue Publication Date: January 1, 2021: https://in-sightjournal.com/insight-issues/.

Appendix II: Citation Style Listing

American Medical Association (AMA): Jacobsen S. Conversation with Benjamin Li on High-IQ, the Sciences, and The University of British Columbia: Member, International Society for Philosophical Enquiry (ISPE) (2) [Online].September 2020; 24(A). Available from: http://www.in-sightjournal.com/li-2.

American Psychological Association (APA, 6th Edition, 2010): Jacobsen, S.D. (2020, September 15). Conversation with Benjamin Li on High-IQ, the Sciences, and The University of British Columbia: Member, International Society for Philosophical Enquiry (ISPE) (2). Retrieved from http://www.in-sightjournal.com/li-2.

Brazilian National Standards (ABNT): JACOBSEN, S. Conversation with Benjamin Li on High-IQ, the Sciences, and The University of British Columbia: Member, International Society for Philosophical Enquiry (ISPE) (2). In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal. 24.A, September. 2020. <http://www.in-sightjournal.com/li-2>.

Chicago/Turabian, Author-Date (16th Edition): Jacobsen, Scott. 2020. “Conversation with Benjamin Li on High-IQ, the Sciences, and The University of British Columbia: Member, International Society for Philosophical Enquiry (ISPE) (2).” In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal. 24.A. http://www.in-sightjournal.com/li-2.

Chicago/Turabian, Humanities (16th Edition): Jacobsen, Scott “Conversation with Benjamin Li on High-IQ, the Sciences, and The University of British Columbia: Member, International Society for Philosophical Enquiry (ISPE) (2).” In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal. 24.A (September 2020). http://www.in-sightjournal.com/li-2.

Harvard: Jacobsen, S. 2020, ‘Conversation with Benjamin Li on High-IQ, the Sciences, and The University of British Columbia: Member, International Society for Philosophical Enquiry (ISPE) (2)‘In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal, vol. 24.A. Available from: <http://www.in-sightjournal.com/li-2>.

Harvard, Australian: Jacobsen, S. 2020, ‘Conversation with Benjamin Li on High-IQ, the Sciences, and The University of British Columbia: Member, International Society for Philosophical Enquiry (ISPE) (2)‘In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal, vol. 24.A., http://www.in-sightjournal.com/li-2.

Modern Language Association (MLA, 7th Edition, 2009): Scott D. Jacobsen. “Conversation with Benjamin Li on High-IQ, the Sciences, and The University of British Columbia: Member, International Society for Philosophical Enquiry (ISPE) (2).” In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal 24.A (2020):September. 2020. Web. <http://www.in-sightjournal.com/li-2>.

Vancouver/ICMJE: Jacobsen S. Conversation with Benjamin Li on High-IQ, the Sciences, and The University of British Columbia: Member, International Society for Philosophical Enquiry (ISPE) (2) [Internet]. (2020, September 24(A). Available from: http://www.in-sightjournal.com/li-2.

License and Copyright

License

In-Sight Publishing and In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal by Scott Douglas Jacobsen is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.
Based on a work at www.in-sightjournal.com.

Copyright

© Scott Douglas Jacobsen, and In-Sight Publishing and In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal 2012-2020. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Scott Douglas Jacobsen, and In-Sight Publishing and In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal with appropriate and specific direction to the original content. All interviewees co-copyright their interview material and may disseminate for their independent purposes.

Muhammad Hassan Patigi: Witchcraft Allegations, ‘Healing’ and Human Degradation in Mokwa, Central Nigeria

Author: Dr. Leo Igwe

Numbering: Issue 1.B, Idea: African Freethinking

Place of Publication: Langley, British Columbia, Canada

Title: African Freethinker

Web Domain: http://www.in-sightjournal.com

Individual Publication Date: September 11, 2020

Issue Publication Date: TBD

Name of Publisher: In-Sight Publishing

Frequency: Three Times Per Year

Words: 2,534

Keywords: Advocacy for Alleged Witches, Decade of Activism Against Witch Persecution in Africa: 2020-2030, Humanism, Humanist Association of Nigeria, Leo Igwe.

Muhammad Hassan Patigi: Witchcraft Allegations, ‘Healing’ and Human Degradation in Mokwa, Central Nigeria[1],[2]

Dr. Leo Igwe is the Founder of the Humanist Association of Nigeria, the Founder & CEO of Advocacy for Alleged Witches, and the Convener of the Decade of Activism Against Witch Persecution in Africa: 2020-2030. He is a friend, and boss at AfAW.

Some days ago, a Facebook contact drew my attention to a case of witch-hunting in Mokwa, in Central Nigeria. Mokwa is one of the 25 local governments in Niger state. Video clips of this disgusting incident have been circulating on social media. After reading one of the posts, I asked for details of the incident. But I did not get any reply. I searched for some information online but only saw an academic article, On the Articulation of Witchcraft and Modes of Production among the Nupe, Northern Nigeria by Dirk Kohnert. Kohnert argues that accusations of witchcraft are linked to the dynamics of production among the Nupe. Rich peasants and traders are suspected of witchcraft because they accumulate their wealth without fulfilling their traditional obligations to the poor. This piece only provided some academic insight into Nupe witchcraft. However, the tension and strain that underly witchcraft allegations find ventilating channels in the activities of self-acclaimed exorcists and healers as in this case.

On August 1, 2020, I searched online for any report on the witchcraft exorcism in Mokwa. Lo and Behold, a link to a post on Naijaworld, The Despicable Acts Happening In Mokwa, Niger State, popped up. The post summarizes the shameful theatrics and atrocities. I shuddered at images of humiliation, torture, and abuse including a revulsive scene where a person, an alleged witch, was forced to urinate into the mouth of another human being. This piece on Naijaworld does not have full details of the author. The page only has a twitter handle-@cynthia.

The post reads like a lamentation from a helpless fellow from Mokwa: “I have about four horrible videos that were sent to me. Of women whose clothes were removed and made to fight each other. Some men were completely stripped naked too and made to throw sands in each other’s eye, one of them was forced to urinate in another man’s mouth and made to gulp the urine. All these people are accused of witchcraft by a guy that I suspect is mentally deranged. His name is Hassan, allegedly from Patigi, Kwara state. Another one is a naked man that was paraded and violated to confess and mention the people he has killed with witchcraft. There is another old woman who should be about 80 years old that was beaten and a stun gun was used to deliver electric shock on her to confess that she is a witch. These are some of the despicable things happening in my home town right now. I have taken screenshots from the videos and attached here.”

The text further explains the dubious faith healing claims that Hassan had made:

“The guy claims he cures people miraculously. If you are hypertensive, paralyzed, blind, or suffer from other eye-related diseases, have diabetes, or any kind of disease, he would cure it. The paralyzed ones would walk. The deaf and dumb would be made to hear and talk. Couples who have been unable to conceive would conceive even without having sex, and my people have fallen deeply for this scam. I have been personally involved in sending people to interview those he claimed were healed, and none is true. He even instructs some people to stop taking their medications if they want his miracles to work.”

The author of the post noted that thousands of persons gathered for Hassan’s healing and witch-hunting exercise at a time that the government was trying to contain the spread of the coronavirus pandemic.

At the end of the post, there was an appeal for help: “I call on all human right organizations and activists to intervene for my people who have fallen victim to this inhuman and deplorable act of violence against innocent people by Hassan and his enablers. I call on Niger State Government to intervene and arrest the ugly situation and ensure that Hassan and his enablers face the full wrath of the law.”

I rang up the police public relations officer in Niger state. He told me that he saw the video of the witch-hunting exercise, the way that I did. He asked me to call back the following week for more details. But I could not wait because from what I read on social media, the situation was urgent. I called the Commissioner of Police several times but he did not pick the call. I searched online for the contact of any institution, school, or NGO in Mokwa. After several attempts, I came across the contact of a study center in Mokwa. I called the number, and the person kindly directed me to the chairperson of the Mokwa Forum, Muhammad Kudu. The chairman of Mokwa Forum confirmed the authenticity of the video circulating on social media. He noted that some well-meaning person from Mokwa posted the video to draw the attention of the world to the abominable activities going on in Mokwa. He noted that attempts have been made to stop these abuses but the traditional ruler has frustrated the efforts. According to Mr. Kudu, over a month ago, one Hassan Patigi emerged claiming to be a healer and to have the power to make infertile women pregnant. He also claimed to have the power to expose witches and exorcise witchcraft. Thousands of people used to convene at a public square at the Etisheshi area in Mokwa as Hassan Patigi engaged in his ‘healing’ and witchcraft exorcism. He had some quack medical officers who conducted tests for women who claim to have become pregnant as a result of his ministration. Some people in the community reported the case to the director of primary health care who tried stopping the quack medical officers without success. The traditional ruler took Patigi and quacks to his premises where they continued to conduct pregnancy tests. The chair of Mokwa Forum further recounted that someone sent the video to the Divisional Police Officer(DPO) in Mokwa, the Chief Press Secretary to the governor of Niger state, the Human Rights Commission in Abuja, the Police Headquarters, the state security service and the Chairman of Mokwa Local Government Area. A meeting was convened and the DPO asked Hassan Patigi if he had official permission from Abuja to do what he was doing during the COVID19 period. And he replied in the negative. However, the traditional ruler stood up and defended him, noting that Hassan Patigi was his guest; that he was in Mokwa to heal sick people. Mr. Kudu made it clear that the support from the Ndalile of Mokwa, as the traditional ruler of the area is called, made it difficult for those at the meeting to sanction Hassan Patigi. So Hassan continued his healing and witch finding activities at the compound of the traditional ruler. I asked the chairman of the Mokwa Forum to send me the videoclips, and he did.

In the first video, Hassan Patigi was speaking from a podium before a crowd of people. The alleged witches were standing half-naked or completely naked. Patigi was speaking Nupe language and urging the people to come and see the disgraced witches; that the accused persons have been disgraced because they were witches. He further declared that Prophet Muhammad was guiding him to expose and disgrace the witches in the community. That all the accused persons were a shame to their families. In the second video, Hassan Patigi ordered the alleged witches to go and fight each other. Members of the local vigilante group were at the scene. A local source said that some military and police officers were there. Patigi’s thugs could be seen beating the alleged witches with whips and sticks and urging them to fight each other. Any of them who refused to fight was beaten and pushed to the front of the crowd. Hassan is up at the podium wearing a jersey and throwing sachets of pure water at the alleged witches. At a point, Hassan ordered two of the alleged witches to urinate on each other:

His thugs were beating the accused urging them to urinate on each other. And the two men took turns to urinate on each other.

In another video, Hassan Patigi orders two of the alleged witches to remove their trousers, and he ordered his thugs to beat them so that they could confess to witchcraft. He urged them to confess to killing their relatives. And when they refused to confess, his thugs would beat them. Patigi asked one of them if he was not the one who killed his brother, and he denied. And he insisted that he must confess to doing so. The alleged witch was quiet, and his thugs started slapping and urging him to confess. Hassan was up on the podium singing, and he asked the alleged witches to be dancing around naked, and he was throwing sachets of pure water on them so that they could confess. At a point, the two accused males tried to use their hands to cover their private parts, and his thugs were beating and ordering them not to cover their private organs. According to my informant, Patigi claimed that the sachet water that he was throwing at the alleged witches had healing powers. At the beginning of each day, he prays over sachets of pure, and his assistants would give the healing water to all sick persons including the blind, lame, and deaf. Two other videos captured scenes of witchcraft exorcism at the palace of the traditional ruler of Mokwa, Hassan Patigi accused a woman of witchcraft and the accused, sitting on the ground, could be heard shouting that she was not a witch. At some point, Patigi’s thugs started beating and coercing her to confess to witchcraft.”

I have never heard about Hassan Patigi. I searched online for information about this faith healer. I saw a link to a youtube video showing him being ushered into an arena. Journalists from Tswangi Television went to interview him. In the video, Hassan said that anytime he pointed to any sick person, the blind, deaf and dumb and the lame, the person would recover. A man came forward and testified that his son had been sick for the past 8 years but as soon as Hassan Patigi prayed for him, he regained his health. A woman said that she could not stand for years, but did so after Hassan prayed for her. The Facebook page of Tswangi Television contains posts and videos on the ‘healing’ activities of Patigi. One of them reveals that Muhammad Hassan Patigi has two wives and a son, and used to have mental issues. At some point, he disappeared from his village and then emerged in Mokwa, where he is “performing miracles in God’s name by healing the cripple, deaf, dumb, blind, etc., and it’s also said that he helps those with infertility to conceive.” The post further notes that there is divided opinion on the validity and credibility of his healing claims, “Some people believe he is not doing real healing but deceiving people, some say he associates with djinns while some say he is doing real healing and that all he does is to pray.” Others have offered suggestions on why people are convening in huge numbers for Patigi’s miracle performances. One of the users said:..the best way to address this issue, if you want people to stop going to this guy is to fix the hospitals and make them accessible to the masses. Nothing is working in this country and that’s why people indulge in anything that comes their way. You can’t stop people when the government has refused to do their path. If our hospitals were equipped today and people with different illnesses go there and get treated at affordable costs, tell me who will patronize all these people again.” Using the telephone number on its Facebook page, I contacted the director of Tswangi Television to find out his thoughts about Hassan Patigi’s activities. He made it clear that some people in Mokwa believed that he was a healer while others thought he was a fraud. He further stated: “We are in Africa, in Nigeria, and in Nupeland, people are very superstitious. Many have problems that defy solutions, and so they go to anybody who promises to help or heal them.”

As I was compiling this report, a local source sent me a Facebook post where people commented on photos where Hassan Patigi was kissing some women. Somebody commented describing Muhammad Hassan Patigi as a fraudster, an MMM, and ‘419’.

The Advocacy for Alleged Witches calls for an immediate end to Muhammad Hassan Patigi’s witchcraft exorcism and fake healing sessions in Mokwa. What has been going on in Niger state is a national disgrace and a demonstration social and moral decay. It is disappointing to know that there were some state security officers at the scenes of such disgusting, barbaric, and obscene activities. Hassan Patigi is a charlatan parading himself as a healer. He is said to have a history of mental illness. And from all indications, Patigi needs to see a psychiatric doctor or be compelled to undergo some medical examination. AFAW calls for the arrest and prosecution of Muhammad Hassan Patigi, his quack medical/miracle accomplices, and all those involved in the beating and maltreating alleged witches in Mokwa. The police should ensure that Patigi and his thugs do not conduct any more witch finding and healing exercise anywhere in the region. The government of Niger state should sanction the traditional ruler of Mokwa, Ndalile Mokwa, who has been the enabler of these shameful and deplorable activities. There are unconfirmed reports that the mob killed some of the accused women. AFAW is working with its local contacts to authenticate the report, and help rehabilitate victims.

Appendix I: Footnotes

[1] Founder, Humanist Association of Nigeria; Founder & CEO, Advocacy for Alleged Witches; Convener, Decade of Activism Against Witch Persecution in Africa: 2020-2030.

[2] Individual Publication Date: September 11, 2020: http://www.in-sightjournal.com/muhammad-hassan-patigi-witchcraft-allegations-healing-and-human-degradation-in-mokwa-central-nigeria.

License and Copyright

License

In-Sight Publishing and African Freethinker by Scott Douglas Jacobsen is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.
Based on a work at www.in-sightjournal.com.

Copyright

© Scott Douglas Jacobsen, and In-Sight Publishing and African Freethinker 2012-2020. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Scott Douglas Jacobsen, and In-Sight Publishing and African Freethinker with appropriate and specific direction to the original content. All interviewees and authors co-copyright their material and may disseminate for their independent purposes.

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