Chris Langan FAQ

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Why does Chris Langan claim he's the world's smartest man? Isn't that crazy?

He doesn't claim to be the world's smartest man. He doesn't even claim to be America's smartest man. He does claim that he's not intensively interacted with anyone he considers more intelligent than himself, but that leaves out several billion living people. In this regard, he does say that he'd be happy to meet such an individual and verify their superior intelligence with Chris's own battery of questions.

Why does Chris Langan claim to have an IQ around 200?

He claims that tests purporting to measure in that range have reported his IQ to be somewhere in the vicinity of 190 to 210. He recognizes the difficulty of measuring extremely high IQ, but popular mass media broadcasts, from which such quotes are lifted, do not permit exposition on measurement uncertainty.

To quote Langan from the aforelinked interview:

...critical commentary about the IQ of a specific person is often a thinly disguised way of attacking intellectual content.
In my view, ideas and other intellectual productions are more interesting, more indicative of intelligence, and more productively debated than IQ alone.

How was Chris Langan's IQ measured?

There have been two measurements of his IQ:

  1. The admission test for "the Mega Society"
  2. The WAIS-III test for the ABC television series 20/20.

Both are consistent with IQ>160 but only the first purported to measure in the range of 200.

What about rumors that Chris Langan cheated on his IQ test?

There have been actual damages from this slander. Please read what Chris Langan himself said (8/18/2018) about this before compounding the damages.

I've explained this 20 times. Here it is again.

I was working as a bouncer and needed a journal with an intellectual readership in which to publish my ideas.

Omni magazine published an issue ballyhooing "the world's hardest IQ test", promising that anyone who achieved a score of 42/48 would be admitted to "the Mega Society", a one-in-a-million HIQ club run by Ron Hoeflin.

I ascertained that the Mega Society had a journal. Then I worked on the test until I was sure I had 42 correct answers, and sent in an answer sheet. (Bear in mind that I was working multiple jobs plus doing demanding intellectual work, and didn't have a lot of spare time to waste on taking mail-order tests. It never occurred to me that anything other than the promised membership was at stake, so I had no reason to continue after I was sure I'd made the cutoff.)

Sure enough, I got a letter back stating that I'd achieved the cutoff score of 42. However, this letter regretfully informed me that the author of the test, Dr. Hoeflin, had suddenly decided to up the cutoff to 43, hence was reneging on the promised admission to the Mega Society. (It's important that everyone get this straight: there was a bait-and-switch, plain and simple.)

Naturally, I felt rooked, but there was no rule against a repeat performance. As the test was not multiple choice, and as subjects were not provided with corrected answer sheets, there was no valid reason to disallow multiple attempts. I therefore took the test again, this time under a pseudonym. The pseudonym was chosen because my radar detector had been set off by the bait-and-switch; I wasn't sure I'd be allowed to try again under the new cutoff, and I needed access to that journal. I also reasoned that a nom de plume might allow me to publish material on certain controversial topics without being attacked under my real name.

My second score was the highest on the test. Furthermore, it was achieved in the very early days of the test, before any of the answers had yet been passed around. (A later test subject, one "James Tetazoo", would later be found to consist of several MIT students who had pooled their efforts and shared the answers. Even they failed to beat my score.)

Perhaps I should add that the only problem I "missed" on this test was the *easiest* problem on the test (it was later found to be non-discriminatory above a certain unimpressive score, far below the level at which I scored). I missed it only because I lacked access to a decent library and had no statistics dictionary. (The correct answer was "nonile"; to my recollection, I answered "novile", thus missing the correct answer by one letter. Just another feared and hated Langan neologism gone wrong.) So as far as relevance to the scaling is concerned, I achieved a perfect score on the Mega Test despite working three shifts at three different bars, and well before others famous for scoring highly on this test managed to make their marks.

I have no apologies for this chain of events. My score was valid. This story was recounted to Esquire, ABC 20/20, and other media outlets. They verified it. On gathering additional data - ABC even insisted that I be independently tested using the WAIS (full battery) - they decided to make me their HIQ poster boy anyway. If the truth be told, it's a damned good thing for the intellectual future of mankind that they did.

Subsequently, smarting like jealous schoolboys after being outshone, a small handful of notorious HIQ trolls evidently decided to spread the story that my score on the Mega Test was not valid. This was, and remains, a lie. In fact, many of those who took the test repeated it, and no one ever said a word. The trolls specialized in my case alone.

Now enough of this nonsense. I've been listening to this garbage for 30 years, and I'm fed up with it.

Thanks for your attention.