My Year in Mensa: Terrifying smart people lurking on Facebook
The Premise (from Apple Podcasts):
Jamie Loftus takes you through her year in the high-IQ Mensa society, from taking the test as a joke to spending the Fourth of July with 2000 angry Mensans in Phoenix. Chaos reigns, but at least it tests well.
Series or standalone:
Begin listening to:
Episode 1: IQ and the Average Girl
Comedian Jamie Loftus
Good, but the sound effects can be a little much, especially in the first episode.
Approximate length of episodes:
Similar recommended pods:
For other explorations of cult-ish movements and fringe internet organizations, see Reply All, Endless Thread, and the undercover scientology series from Oh No Ross and Carrie.
Podcast Librarian’s Review:
What began as a joke becomes a four-part journey in which comedian Jamie Loftus discovers the seedy underbelly of Mensa, which is housed within a closed Facebook group (go figure). Jamie is a writer who decided to take the entrance exam for the high-IQ society, and to her surprise, she gets in! Soon after, she learns of a Facebook group for members and joins, all the while, blogging the events online. When her fellow Mensa members find out about the sometimes-derogatory (but accurate) things she reveals about the group, they organize a mass public shaming and blocking of her. (Let me take a minute to remind you that this podcast is an audio diary, and the events are all true. I realize it may sound like a hilarious screenplay out of context). Never one to say no to a Mensa invitation, Jamie attends the annual conference, where she meets the same people who have threatened her life, called her all sorts of names, and generally cyberbullied her for a year. Some of the interactions are surprising, and many are...not.
I enjoyed this series for the most part—the episodes are fairly short, so I managed to binge it in about 2 hours. The style is sparse, really just an audio diary, as Jamie recalls her experiences. The timeline of events is a bit jumpy at times, but fortunately, she seems to be reading from a script—not just speaking off the cuff. The one part of the podcast that I found completely unnecessary was the overuse of sound effects, like air horns. It wasn’t particularly comedic and was grating. However, I still recommend this podcast for anyone who likes to get an inside look at mysterious organizations. It reminds me a bit of the series that Oh No with Ross and Carrie did years ago when they became undercover scientologists. Mensa is not a cult, but those of you who like podcasts about cults and fringe Internet groups will likely enjoy this podcast, too.