Category Archives: Life & Death

TAKE THE OJ SIMPSON MURDER SCENE TOUR

OJ Simpson is the world’s most famous criminal who got away with murder. On June 12, 1994, NFL Superstar Orenthal James (O.J.) Simpson slashed and stabbed his estranged wife, Nicole Brown-Simpson and her acquaintance Ron Goldman, leaving them to die in pools of blood outside Nicole’s home in the West Los Angeles community of Brentwood. OJ fled. He was eventually taken down after a slow-speed chase in a white Ford Bronco shown live on national TV.

The white Bronco show opened a much larger act when OJ Simpson was tried live on international TV. It was the first of its kind — possibly the catalyst to reality shows. People were mesmerized by plastic theatrics played throughout eleven long months where a host of larger-than-life characters mocked jurisprudence. OJ got off. But the file never closed. Today, the OJ Simpson case stays open in the court of public fascination.

And today, when you’re in Brentwood, California, you can take the OJ Simpson murder scene tour with guide Adam Papagan. Adam is a wealth of knowledge about the OJ case, the characters and the locations from where the trial of the century played out. Adam takes you from Nicole’s condo, where blood soaked the walk, to the Mezzaluna Restaraunt where she ate her last meal. He’ll guide you through moments before OJ’s frenzied attack and many hours till the famous freeway fallout. And Adam will tell you things left lingering behind the scenes that let OJ Simpson get away with murder.

The only thing Adam Papagan doesn’t have is a white Ford Bronco. But he’s working on it. Adam not only has a tour company website, Facebook page, Twitter account and great TripAdvisor stars, he’s currently crowdfunding capital to buy a white Ford Bronco to make your OJ crime scene tour complete.

I invited guide Adam Papagan over to the DyingWords shack for a talk about the OJ Simpson case and what to expect when you take his OJ Simpson murder scene tour. Adam’s fun and he knows his stuff. Here’s how our chat went down.

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Hi Adam! Welcome to DyingWords. I think you’ve got a real cool crime-scene tourist business going and a hell of an idea about using a white Bronco as a tour vehicle and mobile OJ museum. How’d you come up with it?

Hi Garry, thanks. I grew up near Brentwood so I’ve been obsessed with this whole thing since I was a kid. In high school, I was talking to a friend about OJ and she told me in the 90s her father, a guy by the name of Stu Krieger, came up with The OJ Tour. After months of lobbying, Stu agreed to take me on the tour and it was amazing. He gave me his blessing to keep the tour going and I gave it informally for ten years after that. Word started to get out to the point that strangers started hitting me up on Facebook wanting to go on the tour. That’s when I realized it could be a thing.

We don’t have a regular tour vehicle, but a Bronco would be perfect since that’s the vehicle everyone associates with OJ. There’s so much OJ memorabilia from the trial and his football career, so I figure we can turn the extra space in the back of the truck into a museum.

It’s been 23 years since the tragic and brutal Nicole Brown Simpson — Ronald Goldman murders. Why are people still so interested in this case?

There’s still debate over whether he did it is probably the biggest reason. There’s some unresolved business there that’s very intriguing. It also has a lot of glamorous aspects which I think people are fascinated by. A lot of it is nostalgia too. The case was a huge part of the 90’s. It’s so of its time.

There’s been gobs written and reported on the OJ case. Like in so many high-profile murders, I suspect a lot is misinformed or outright BS. Give us a Cliff’s Notes tour of the events leading up to the murders.

I wasn’t there, but what I believe happened is OJ got pissed when Nicole didn’t invite him to have dinner with the family after their daughter’s dance recital. He went home and for the next couple hours got madder and madder. Before his flight to Chicago, he went to Nicole’s house. Maybe just to spy on her, he did that, or maybe with the intention of killing her. Either way, Ron was there and got caught in the middle. I think OJ did it and more than likely he planned it out in advance.

Looking back, how solid was the evidence against OJ?

Not very solid. He had a motive and an opportunity, but there were no witnesses and the police didn’t do a very good job with the investigation. But this case isn’t about evidence. The Not Guilty verdict was inevitable.

What do you think happened to the murder weapon? The knife?

OJ probably ditched it at the airport before his flight. A skycap said he saw it happen but they were never able to prove it. Maybe he threw it out the window of the limo. We’ll never know.

I just re-read the autopsy reports. It shows Nicole was stabbed 5 times and Ron Goldman was knifed 30 times. That’s a lot of overkill. What made OJ snap?

OJ was a jealous guy. It drove him crazy that she was playing him with a young boy toy. OJ probably recognized Ron from the neighborhood. I saw some 20/20 or Dateline or something where a forensics expert said some of Ron’s wounds were extra deep as if the assailant were accenting a point with the knife, like “So, you think you can kiss MY wife?”. That sounds like a movie, though.

What do you make of OJ’s headspace after the murders? What was he trying to do?

I think he compartmentalized it like he did a lot of his personality. His whole life people loved him and he could get away with anything. I think he was genuinely baffled when the hammer came down as hard as it did.

There’ll never be another live action scene like the slow-speed chase. Take us through the white Bronco ride.

The Dream Team negotiated with the LAPD to let OJ turn himself in on the morning of June 17th, five days after the murder. OJ had his lawyers stall so he could make a getaway attempt. The plan was to have his best friend Al Cowlings drive him to Mexico. On the way, they stopped at Nicole’s grave in Orange County. By this time the news had gotten out that the Juice was Loose and they were spotted. At this point, they had to turn around and head back to Brentwood. OJ had thousands of dollars in cash and a disguise with him. No charges were ever filed in connection with the case because they thought it would distract from the murder trial.

What happened to the original white Bronco? Any chance of buying that thing?

OJ’s former agent Mike Gilbert has it in his garage in Central California. He’s been offered hundreds of thousands of dollars over the years but won’t part with it. I don’t think there’s any chance I’ll get it, that’s a lot of $80 tours.

What’s your take on the police investigation? Was it as screwed up as the trial indicated?

Definitely. They mishandled evidence and failed to secure the crime scene. Cases get dismissed for that kind of thing all the time. On the other hand, the LAPD has a long history embellishing evidence to help their case. I think it’s very possible they’ve framed an innocent man. (Not OJ, though. He was totally guilty.)

What are some important pieces of evidence that never came out at trial?

There was a woman who almost got in a car accident with OJ few blocks from the murder scene. She sold her story to the tabloids so she never got to testify. There were also the shoe prints from OJ’s “ugly ass shoes” that didn’t come into play until the civil trial. But like I said, evidence wasn’t a factor in this case.

Okay, let’s talk about the trial of the century and the dream-team defense. How’d that circus get so crazy?

People have misconceptions about the judicial system. It’s not about right or wrong it’s about which side plays the game better. The defense had a better strategy and scored more points so they won. The media play helped the defense plant doubt about OJ’s guilt too. OJ was a veteran entertainer and they were able to use that to their advantage. It’s not unlike the 2016 election.

Give us some gossip about the trial characters.

Let’s see… Marcia Clark took Scientology classes and had a poster of Jim Morrison in her office. Fred Goldman works at a department store in Phoenix. Kato ordered a grilled chicken sandwich at McDonalds minutes before the murder.

Marcia Clark, the main prosecutor. Was she in over her head or did she get a bad shake?

Both. The defense was a lot more polished and used to being on TV, plus they had more resources. But she was also the victim of sexism.

What are your thoughts about how the jury demographics and change of venue affected the verdict?

The defense strategically stacked the jury with people who would be sympathetic to OJ. Apparently, after jury selection, OJ remarked, “If this jury convicts me, then maybe I DID do it”.

Judge Ito? What was that guy all about? I read he did off-the-wall stuff like offering to take the jury up for an entertaining mid-trial Goodyear Blimp ride, took a personal vacation during final summations and even did a bizarre product placement for “Broccoli Wockly” on his desk so the cameras could promote it. Is that shit true?

I think he was a little star struck and got taken for a ride, like a lot of people who have a brush with fame in Hollywood. I’ve never heard the Broccoli Wockly thing but those hour glasses he kept on his desk were pretty weird. The jury went on all sorts of outings so I wouldn’t be surprised about the blimp. Ito was the only one smart enough to not write a book, so it’s hard to say.

Okay, I gotta ask you about the glove fitting in court. WTF happened there?

Which time? When OJ tried on the glove from the crime scene that supposedly didn’t fit it had shrunken some, plus OJ stopped taking his arthritis medication so his hands would swell up, plus it kind of did fit. What most people don’t know is that the next week they had him try on a brand new pair of the same gloves and they fit perfectly.

Was having cameras in the courtroom the fatal flaw?

They certainly helped the defense, and it was definitely good for the people. If it weren’t on TV it wouldn’t have gotten nearly as big.

Vincent Bugliosi’s book “Outrage — 5 Reasons Why OJ Simpson Got Away With Murder”. I’m sure you read it. What’s your thoughts on it?

It’s at the thrift store a lot, I’ve skimmed it. Bugliosi doesn’t really have anything to do with the OJ trial and his Helter Skelter book is kind of boring. Mark Furhman’s book is the best, so I kind of stopped after that one.

I understand OJ is still in jail on an unrelated robbery conviction. What’s eventually going to become of him?

He’s up for parole this year but I don’t think he’ll get it. It’d be in his best interest to stay quiet and continue to fade into legend.

Take us for a ride on your tour.

I use some proprietary tour information so I can’t tell you everything, but we go to the murder scene, obviously, Rockingham, the restaurant, and a few more. I use a lot of my first-hand knowledge of what Brentwood was like at the time of the trial.

When you visit these scenes, how do the neighbors respond?

No one has ever said anything. One time while giving the tour I ran into Pablo Fenejves, Nicole’s neighbor who testified at the trial and later went on to ghostwrite OJ’s book “If I Did It”. He was walking a dog, which is the same thing he was doing at the time of the murders. That was surreal.

What’s the craziest question you’ve been asked?

I had one guy who was a lawyer who wanted to explore the case from the perspective of Jason Simpson being the murderer so he paid me extra to take him to the restaurant where Jason worked and approach it from that perspective. He wrote me some months later to tell me, after careful investigation, he thinks OJ did it.

Tell us about your plans to acquire a white Bronco and how people can help you out with crowdfunding.

Broncos are fairly common but because of their iconic status they are a little pricey. Doing the tour in the Bronco will be pretty conspicuous, so getting it will trigger me having to get a bunch of tourism licenses and insurance. I don’t really make any money on the tour as it is, so I’m asking people to chip in to help cover all the additional overhead.

Where can people get involved and what’s in it for them?

We have an IndieGoGo page. Also the ojtour.com We have prizes like stickers and t-shirts as well as the option to book a tour. We’ll also send out a link so you can do a virtual ride along. The campaign runs until June 17th, the anniversary of the Bronco chase.

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Adam Papagan is an artist, comedian, and talk show host from Los Angeles, California. His past projects include immersive video installations, collaborations with outsider musician David Liebe Hart, and the podcast Juicing the People v. O.J. Simpson. He also hosts There’s a Place: The ASMR Talk Show on Dromebox.com and Inside Outside on KCHUNG Radio. He began his career at age 15 on public access television.

Help support Adam’s crowdfund goal through IndieGoGo and get that white Ford Bronco chasing slow through the crime scenes in Brentwood. Check out Adam’s OJ Tour Website and connect with him on Facebook and Twitter. And please share Adam’s white Bronco campaign — it ends on June 17th — 23 years to the day since OJ fled in his white Bronco after viscously murdering Nicole and Ron.

SUN DANCE — FATAL LAST WORDS FROM FAMOUS FOLKS

Ordinary people have a sun dance fascination with famous folks. They worship bright lights but rarely waltz with military heroes and historical figures. Same with movie stars like Sundance’s Robert Redford. Sports jocks are honored. Some politicians are revered. So are daredevils. Religious and spiritual leaders. Business successes. Inventors. Philanthropists. Chauvenistic cooks and reality TV show hosts. Even the odd crime writer has their day of fame and following. Some people are famous for being famous like the Kardashian Klan but most in the spotlight have earned it. Some are good folks. And some are disastrous. Like those in the fatal sun dance between Sitting Bull and Custer with his men of the United States 7th Cavalry. 

It’s not surprising when celebrities check-out and say goodbyes that the unwashed masses take notice. Some last words from dying demigods are inspirations from the departed. Some deathbed utters are foundations for lasting legacies. And some dying words are just plain stupid or hilariously funny.

In no particular order of importance — except for the last oneread to the end — here are a few fatal words from famous people checking-out.

Diana, Princess of Wales – “My God. What’s happened?”

John Lennon – “I’m shot.”

Bob Marley – “Money can’t buy life.”

Curt Cobain – “It’s better to burn out than to fade away.”

Terry Katch (Rock musician) – “Don’t worry, it’s not loaded.”

Humphrey Bogart – “All you owe the public is a good performance.”

Joe DiMaggio – “I’m finally going to see Marilyn again.”

Elvis Presley – “Just a minute. I have to go to the bathroom.”

Leonard Nimoy (Spock’s last Tweet) –  “A life is like a garden. Perfect moments can be had, but not preserved, except in memory. LLAP.”

Bing Crosby – “That was a great game of golf, fellers.”

Oscar Wilde – “Either that wallpaper goes or I do.”

Hunter S. Thompson – “Relax – This won’t hurt.”

Adolph Hitler –  “I myself and my wife – in order to escape the disgrace of deposition or capitulation – choose death. It is our wish to be burnt immediately on the spot where I have carried out the greatest part of my daily work in the course of a twelve years’ service to my people.”

Robert Alton Harris (California Gas Chamber, 1922) – “You can be a king or a street sweeper, but everyone dances with the Grim Reaper.”

William Somerset Maugham – “Dying is a very dull and dreary affair. My advice to you is to have nothing whatever to do with it.”

Surgeon Joseph Henry Green – “Stopped.” (Checking his own pulse as he lay dying.

Salvador Dali – “I do not believe in my death.”

Queen Elizabeth I – “All my possessions for a moment of time.”

Errol Flynn – “I’ve had a hell of a lot of fun and I’ve enjoyed every minute of it.”

John Quincy Adams – “This, is the last of earth. I am content.”

Buddha – “Work hard to gain your own salvation.”

George Bernard Shaw –  “Sister, you’re trying to keep me alive as an old curiosity, but I’m done, I’m finished, I’m going to die.”

Erskine Childers (Irish Nationalist facing firing squad) – “Take a step forward, lads. It will be easier that way.”

Che Guevara – “I know you have come to kill me. Shoot, Coward. You are only going to kill a man.”

Julius Caesar – “Et tu, Brute?”

Leonardo Da Vinci – “I have offended God and mankind because my work did not reach the quality it should have.”

Thomas Edison – “It is very beautiful over there.”

Karl Marx – “Last words are for fools who haven’t said enough.”

Sir Winston Churchill – “I’m bored with it all.”

Luciana Pavarotti – “I believe that a life lived for music is an existence spent wonderfully, and this is what I have dedicated my life to.”

Crazy Horse – “Hokahey! Today is a good day to die.”

James W. Rodgers – “Bring me a bullet-proof vest.” (Asked for a last request when facing a Utah firing squad in Utah.

Dylan Thomas (Welsh poet) – “I’ve had 18 straight whiskies. I think that’s the record!”

Alfred Hitchcock – “One never knows the ending. One has to die to know exactly what happens after death, although Catholics have their hopes.”

Charles Darwin – “I am not the least afraid to die.”

Thomas J. Grasso –  “I did not get my Spaghetti-O’s. I got spaghetti. I want the press to know this.” (Convicted murderer using his last words to complain about his last meal.)

Amelia Earhart – “Please know that I am quite aware of the hazards. Women must try to do things as men have tried. When they fail, their failure must be but a challenge to others.” (Last radio communiqué before her disappearance.)

George Washington – “It is well, I die hard, but I am not afraid to go.”

Prophet Mohammed – “Oh Allah. Pardon my sins. Yes, I come.”

Jesus Christ – “It is finished. Father, into your hands I commend my spirit.”

Francis ‘Two-Gun’ Crowley (Texas Electric Chair, 1931) – “You sons of bitches. Give my love to mother.”

George Armstrong Custer (Lieutenant Colonel – Brevet General, U.S. 7th Cavalry) – “There aren’t enough Indians in the world to defeat the 7th Cavalry.”

General John Sedgwick – “They couldn’t hit an elephant at this distance.”

Crowfoot (American Blackfoot Indian Orator) – “What is life? It is the flash of a firefly in the night. It is the breath of a buffalo in the winter. It is the little shadow which runs across the grass and loses itself in the sunset.”

General Philip Sheridan – “The only good Indian is a dead Indian.”

General Alfred Terry – “Now Custer, Don’t get greedy.”

Custer – “Holy cow! Look… at all… the fuckin’… Indians.

There’s an untold story about Custer and his death at the last stand. It’s about the American Indian Sun Dance and how the immense psychological impact on native warriors was the root cause of Why Custer Really Lost The Battle of the Little Bighorn.

What started as a blog post about forensic evidence found at archaeological excavations on the Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument in southern Montana turned into a book. For years, I’ve researched a subject that fascinates me. Why did a small, old-west American skirmish become a huge historical happening?

The answer is because the white society of the time simply couldn’t comprehend how a crack cavalry unit led by a fearless, military genius like “Boy-General” Custer being wiped out by a bunch of primitive savages. Well, Custer was no genius and the Sioux and Cheyenne were not primitive. Nor were they savages. That’s a myth. It’s bullshit. It’s part of 140 misleading years of Custermania.

While reading accounts of the Little Bighorn Battle, I came across a quote. “Custer’s troops instantly changed from offense to defense and were immediately overrun by an overwhelmingly aggressive force”. I stopped and said, “What instantly and immediately changed?

The fight changed because of a complex and universal mindset the Sioux and Cheyenne soldiers had. Their Cavalry opponents had no concept of it. That’s the mental clarity and collective consciousness a determined human force has when psychologically prepared and dedicated to a greater purpose. Sitting Bull’s leadership through Sun Dance ceremonies properly prepped his men. They broke their opponent’s will to fight and supercharged their own. That’s Why Custer Really Lost the Battle of the Little Bighorn.

In the late 1800’s, U.S. Government policy of genocide on indigenous citizens was a crime against humanity. Custer’s defeat solidified a Euro-American mentality that demanded revenge on native people. The Little Bighorn was a pivot point. It led to century-long injustice from white on red that’s slowly being repaired. Sun Dance Why Custer Really Lost the Battle of the Little Bighorn is a small step towards helping people understand the insightful and emotionally powerful impact the Sun Dance had on Custer’s foe. The Sun Dance caused Custer’s annihilation. It’s an incredibly powerful force and a universal lesson we need to learn.

If anyone would like an Advanced Reading Copy (ARC) of Sun DanceWhy Custer Really Lost the Battle of the Little Bighorn — I’d be happy to give you one when it’s ready. Just email me at garry.rodgers@shaw.ca.

 

HOW INTELLIGENT ARE YOU?

Have you ever taken an IQ test? If you did, you probably marked around 100. That’s the average where over 80 percent of all people fall in. Maybe you scored higher—say 140. That’d put you in the top 2 percent where Mensa members like Stephen Hawking reside. Or, you could be down in the 80s which some consider slow. But don’t feel bad if you’re sub-100 because Steve Jobs got an 86 and he made out just fine.

IQ stands for Intelligence Quotient. That’s an arbitrary scale where mental cognitive functions are examined and given a numeric value. How valid is it? Well, there are divided opinions on IQ meanings. Some brilliant savants need velcro for shoelaces while Muhammad Ali, who scaled 76, handed out exceptional jabs of wisdom never mind dealing knock-out blows.

If you’ve never taken an IQ test, here’s your chance to do one online. There are lots of sites available. Some are credible. Some are not. One belongs to Mensa and that worldwide organization for the gifted is considered the leading authority for rating and linking people with exceptionally high IQs. Their acceptance mark is 132. It has to be verified under proctored conditions. But, then, Mensa membership has its perks.

Can you make the Mensa club? You just might. But, first, let’s look at what science says about intelligence, where it comes from and where it’s going—especially artificial intelligence or AI. We’ll see how intelligence is classified as well as investigate human traits more important than book smarts. It’s interesting to know some famous people’s IQs and who are the top 5 of all time. We’ll sample a Mensa exam and give you the opportunity to test drive one. Then we’ll check how I made out qualifying for Mensa.

True intelligence is tough to define. It’s subjective and objective at the same time. That makes defining intelligence controversial. Possibly the best analogy comes from Albert Einstein who said, “The true sign of intelligence is not knowledge but imagination.” Einstein never took an IQ test and he’s estimated to have ranked pretty high mentally. Practicality was a different story. He theorized relativity and the space-time continuum but couldn’t balance his checkbook. Socrates also had a go at defining intelligence. “I know that I am intelligent because I know nothing,” the great philosopher said. Then Socrates dismissed the brain as being part of the body’s cooling system and concluded intelligence came from the heart.

The word “intelligence” comes from the Latin verb “intelligere” which means to comprehend or perceive. This developed into the Greek “intellectus” or “understanding” and the phrase “intellectus intelligit” that translates to “understanding understanding”. This play-on-words describes a general mental capacity involving the ability to reason, plan, solve problems, think in abstract, comprehend complex ideas, communicate and learn from experience. It’s more than book learning, academic skill or test-taking smarts. Intelligence is the ability to make sense of things, catch on quick and figure out what to do.

There are many theories of intelligence. They come from scientific disciplines like neurology and psychiatry. They flow from philosophers and learned scholars in education. Even religious groups take a crack at rating intelligence. Regardless of where opinions come from, two main forms of human intelligence are universally recognized.

  1. Crystallized intelligence encompasses factual knowledge gained through education and life experiences.
  2. Fluid intelligence is the ability to process information, make logical decisions and inhibit irrational emotional impulses.

Two main theories around intelligence are attributed to Howard Gardner and Robert Sternberg. Gardner, a Harvard professor, itemized seven specific components of intelligence—musical, bodily-kinesthetic, logical-mathematical, linguistic, spatial, interpersonal and intrapersonal. The idea behind his theory explains why some people are better than others at skills like numbers, words and relationships. Sternberg disagreed. He broke intelligence into three groups—analytical, creative and practical. Those are abilities to solve problems, deal with new situations and adapt to changing environments.

Charles Spearman hypothesized that one factor generally framed intelligence. He called it the “g-factor” and postulated all people are basically the same—only some are better at things than others. I’m not sure I follow that simple reasoning and tend to agree with mainstream theories of intelligence being divided into distinct categories. It seems some people are clearly at ease with particular intellectual domains and there’s no single factor explaining performance across a wide range of intelligent abilities.

Anatomy and neuroscience have taken a good, hard look at what constitutes intelligence. They see it developing as electro-chemical signals being transported through interconnected neuron circuits. Basic brain structure monitored by functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) shows most “intelligent” interactions occur in the frontal or parietal region and are centered in the anterior cingulate cortex. This is called the Parietal-Frontal Integration (PTI) theory and it’s supported by scientific evidence.

There’s one problem with the PTI theory. It can’t account for consciousness. Without consciousness, there’s no intelligent operation in the brain and science doesn’t have the remotest grasp on the nature or origin of consciousness. Consciousness is suspected to be the Grand Unified Theory (GUT) that unites the basic known physical properties of space-time and energy-mass into one single explanation of the universe. At the center of the GUT is the source of intelligent consciousness and God only knows where that came from. But that’s another discussion.

Over centuries, educators recognized various students have various cognitive abilities. At the turn of the nineteenth/twentieth centuries, German psychologist Wilhelm Stern was tasked by a government public school commission to devise a way for detecting children with significantly below-average intelligence and mental retardation. The idea was to economically group these kids into Special-Ed classes rather than lock them inside expensive asylums.

In 1905, Alfred Binet developed a scoring system for the intelligent quotient Stern was looking for. Binet used a ratio of mental ability to chronological age and based it on a point system with 100 being average. Anything below 100 was classified in retarded degrees and anything above was considered advanced. It was like ignition timing on an internal combustion engine. Lewis Terman at Stanford University in the United States realized Binet was on to something so Terman fine-tuned the IQ test into what’s known as the Stanford-Binet Intelligence Scale. It’s still in use today as the industry standard.

The Stanford-Binet 5th Edition IQ Range Classification goes like this:

  • 160+ —      Brilliant
  • 145-159 — Very gifted or highly advanced
  • 130-144 — Gifted or advanced
  • 120-129 — Superior
  • 110-119 —  High average
  • 90-109 —    Average
  • 80-89 —      Low average
  • 70-79 —      Borderline impaired or delayed
  • 55-69 —      Mildly impaired or delayed
  • 40-54 —      Moderately impaired or delayed
  • 39- —          Not classified

When the Stanford-Binet IQ Test was first used, there were official classifications for people who scored low. The terms “moron”, “imbicile” and “idiot” were dropped in recent years out of correctness but we all know buzz words for smart and dumb people. Today, “switched-on” and “switched-off” are part of the Urban Dictionary. So are “privileged”, “backward”, “enlightened”, “dimly-lit”, “high-brow” and “half-wit”. We’re not allowed to say “retard” like I was teased as a kid. It’s now replaced with “mentally-challenged” which I’m not. My mother had me tested.

So the logical question is, “How did human intelligence develop to the point I’m at today?” Anthropologists agree homo sapiens jumped down from the primate tree around 2 million years ago and made a huge mental leap forward when they learned to cook food. That took intelligence in harnessing fire just as it took intelligence to invent simple machines like the wheel and axle, the screw, the pulley and the inclined plane. Despite what creationists say about evolution, the evidence is empirical that our brains progressively evolved over hundreds of thousands of years to expand a field called intelligence. Genetics, diet and social interaction played a big part.

Discoveries and inventions made life easier. They gave humans more time to refine arts, literature and sport. Devices evolved into complex machines like smart cars and computerized guidance. Our evolution has arrived at the point where intelligent machines are in daily use and moving forward fast. We’re at the threshold of implementing Practopoiesis. That’s the conceptual bridge between biology and artificial intelligence. AI is here and it’s a matter of time before computerized brain implants are real.

That might be good and that might be bad for the human species. We’ve always struggled between haves and have-nots. Social advancement intrinsically links to out-thinking a competitor but societies have a way of balancing fairness in weak vs. strong. We’re able to see a line between naturally knowing and not being able to know.

It’s important to know IQ testing is not meant to identify character or personality traits. It’s strictly a ranking of intelligence to form a baseline for comparison. But the Stanford-Binet equation is recognized as a valid and useful measure for psychological and legal purposes. It forms part of a criminal defense strategy to establish mental culpability and the United States Supreme Court established anyone with a score of 70 or less is exempt from the death penalty.

Before we look at how your IQ Test is structured and where you’ll mark, let’s see who’s been tested and how they rated. Many famous and infamous people have their IQs recorded and psychologists have speculated about where historical figures stood. We’ll break the categories down into science/invention, politics/military and arts/entertainment.

Science/Invention

  • Albert Einstein — Swiss physicist — 160
  • Albrecht von Haller — Swiss medical scientist — 190
  • Benjamin Franklin — American inventor — 160
  • Bill Gates — American inventor/businessman — 160
  • Blaise Pascal— French philosopher — 195
  • Charles Darwin — English botanist — 165
  • Edith Stern — American computer engineer — 198
  • Francis Crick — British discoverer of DNA — 134
  • Henry Ford — American automaker — 125
  • Immanuel Kant — German philosopher — 175
  • Isaac Newton — English scientist — 190
  • Leonardo da Vinci — Italian inventor/artist — 190
  • Marie Curie — French chemist — 185
  • Paul Allen — Microsoft co-founder — 168
  • Ruth Lawrence — British Mathematician — 175
  • Stephen Hawking — British theoretical physicist — 160

 Politics/Military

  • Abraham Lincoln — US President — 140
  • Adolf Hitler — Nazi leader — 141
  • Andrew Jackson — US President — 120
  • Angela Merkel — German Chancellor — 136
  • Benjamin Netanyahu — Israeli Prime Minister — 182
  • Bill Clinton — US President — 137
  • Barak Obama — US President — 130
  • Boris Johnson — British politician — 79
  • Donald Trump — US President — 156
  • George Armstrong Custer — US Cavalry leader — 80
  • George W. Bush — US President — 125
  • George S. Patton — American WW2 general — 151
  • Hillary Clinton — American politician — 143
  • John F. Kennedy — US President — 117
  • Margaret Thatcher — British Prime Minister — 176
  • Ronald Raegan — US President — 103
  • Ulysses S. Grant — US Civil War general/US President — 110
  • Vladimir Putin — Russian President — 130

Arts/Entertainment

  • Andy Warhol — American painter — 86
  • Arnold Schwarzenegger — American actor/politician — 135
  • Asia Carrera — International adult film star — 156
  • Bobby Fischer — American chess master — 187
  • Brittany Spears — American singer — 104
  • Charles Dickens — British writer — 180
  • Cindy Crawford — American model — 154
  • Conan O’Brien — American television host — 160
  • Geena Davis — American actor — 140
  • James Woods — American actor — 180
  • Jodie Foster — American actor — 132
  • John Travolta — American actor — 90
  • Lisa Kudrow —American actor — 161
  • Madonna — British entertainer — 141
  • Mayim Bialik — “Amy Farrah-Fowler” on Big Bang Theory — 163
  • Nicole Kidman — Australian actor — 132
  • Paris Hilton — American celebrity — 120
  • Quinton Tarantino — American movie director — 165
  • Robin Williams — American actor/comic — 142
  • Rowan Atkinson (Mr. Bean) — British actor — 178
  • Tina Fey — American entertainer — 143
  • Tom Cruise — American actor — 94
  • Vincent van Gogh — Dutch painter — 150+

That’s a pretty diverse and well-known crowd but they’re not the smartest— at least not as recorded IQ goes. That mark of distinction goes to these five.

  1. Marilyn vos Savant holds the Guinness Book of Records as the smartest woman alive. She’s best known for her high score but is an accomplished author and advice columnist. Ms. vos Savant repeatedly broke the 200 mark in IQ tests.
  1. Kim Ung-Yong is a Korean child prodigy. By the time he was three, Kim was fluent in five languages and could read and write all. He became a NASA engineer but returned home where he quietly teaches university classes. Kim has an IQ of 210.
  1. Christopher Hirata is an astrophysicist at the California Institute of Technology where he began professing at 14. He won the Physics Olympiad gold medal at 13 and scored 225 on his IQ exam.
  1. Terrance Tao is a Chinese genius who teaches advanced mathematics at the University of California. He’s won every math prize there is. It’s probably due to his IQ being 232.
  1. William James Sidis is no longer alive but has the distinction of the highest human IQ score ever recorded. There are discrepancies in test methods but it’s generally accepted he pushed close to 300. Sidis was an oddball and actually quite unstable. He attended Harvard at age 11 as a math student and went on to learn over 40 languages. His political activism got Sidis jailed and he died young. It was a cerebral aneurysm. Literally, his brain exploded.

These smart folks come from diversified backgrounds and have equally diverse personalities. They’re different, yet alike. Psychologists have found six characteristics that high-functioning people have in common, regardless of their IQ level.

  • They’re highly adaptable
  • They know what they don’t know
  • They’re intensely curious
  • They ask good questions
  • They’re sensitive to other people
  • They’re open-minded and critical of their own work

So that’s a wrap of how some scored on their IQ tests and how they operate. Now—how about yours? I’ve lined up a Mensa website where you can try your intelligence but, to practice, here are sample questions for helping you prepare.

Pear is to apple as potato is to?

  • Banana
  • Radish
  • Strawberry
  • Peach
  • Lettuce

There are 1200 elephants in a herd. Some have pink and green stripes. Some are all pink. Some are all blue. One-third are all pure pink. Is it true that 400 elephants are definitely blue?

  • Yes
  • No

If it were two hours later, it would be half as long until midnight as it would be if it were an hour later. What time is it now?

  • 18:30
  • 20:00
  • 21:00
  • 22:00
  • 23:30

What same three-letter word can be placed in front of these words to make a new word?

SIGN, DONE, FOUND, DENSE, FIRM, TRACT, DUCT

“If some Smaugs are Thors and some Thors are Thrains, then some Smaugs are definitely Thrains.” This statement is:

  • True
  • False
  • Neither

The price of an article was cut 20% for a sale. By what percent must the item be increased to again sell it at the original price?

  • 15%
  • 20%
  • 22 ½%
  • 25%
  • 30%

Which one of the five is least like the others?

  • Ham
  • Liver
  • Salmon
  • Pork
  • Beef

If you count from 1 to 100, how many 7s will you pass on the way?

  • 10
  • 11
  • 19
  • 20
  • 21

Sally likes 225 but not 224; she likes 900 but not 800; she likes 144 but not 145. Which does she like?

  • 1600
  • 1700

Jack is taller than Peter and Bill is shorter than Jack. Which of the following statements is the most accurate?

  • Bill is taller than Peter
  • Bill is shorter than Peter
  • Bill is as tall as Peter
  • It is impossible to tell

What is this word when unscrambled?

H C P R A A T E U

Which of the five designs is least like the other four?

  • A
  • Z
  • F
  • N
  • E

Find the missing number:

0,1,1,2,3,5,8,13,—,34,55

John received $.41 in change from a purchase at the drugstore. If he received six coins, three of the coins had to be:

  • Pennies
  • Nickels
  • Dimes
  • Quarters
  • Half-dollars

Only one other word in the English language can be made using all the letters from the word INSATIABLE. Can you find it?

If FP = 10 and HX = 16, what does DS = ?

What letter appears next in this sequence? B-V-C-X

Cattell III B has 158 questions. Cattell IV A has 317 questions. Which one is more difficult?

“A fish has a head 9” long. The tail is equal to the size of the head plus one-half the size of the body. The body is the same size as the head plus the tail.” How long is the fish?

  • 27”
  • 54”
  • 63”
  • 72”
  • 81”

I tried 60 of these Mensa test questions and was allowed 20 minutes. After that, the process timed out. That’s 20 seconds per question. It doesn’t give much room for calculating, googling or phoning a friend. I’ll admit I guessed on some — especially the fish.

It’s not my first go-around on an IQ test but was my first try with Mensa. Back in high school, we were given IQ tests as some sort of socialist experiment. We were never shown scores so I don’t know my outcome. I was never a shining light in grade school but was smart enough to slide through by friending the smart kid.

I sat beside Terry Blaney (we called him Terry Brainey) and I glanced across as Terry whizzed through our IQ test. I checked off what I saw him do then guessed the rest. My bet is Terry’s IQ hits 140 or better. He went on to get an engineering degree and I became a cop. I never kept in touch with Terry but you can’t hide on the internet. So I found him on Linked-In and see he retired as a VP with Shell Oil. Now Terry runs his private petroleum consulting business in Shanghai and I’m a wanna-be crime writer doing blog posts like this.

Which brings to my own intelligence and also to yours. Over the years, I’ve slid a lot further on bullshit than on gravel. And my experience firmly proves that bullshit baffles brains. But I know it’s hard to BS the computerized Mensa format so I gave it an honest go. Here’s the link if you’d like to try it: https://www.mensaiqtest.net/

I did the best I could with 60 questions within 20 minutes. Man, that was a challenge. Some were easy. Some took a pen & paper. Some were pure guess and some were gut feel. But all required an application of intelligence no matter how you approached. Then I hit the calculate button and got this:

The bastards wanted 19.92 Euro to release my score. That’s over 20 bucks US—25 up here in Canada. They accept Visa, Mastercard and other forms of payment but I hit the escape button and left.

I guess that’s the mark of intelligence.