An inspiring story of a five-year-old boy from the suburbs in Illinois caught the Internet's attention this week after the St. Louis Post Dispatch published a profile. It's an impressive story that feels one-of-a-kind. Young Gus Dorman has an IQ of 147 and apparently knows every element on the periodic table. He hates school because it's too easy, and he gets bored, since he already knows everything they're teaching. "He started reading when he was 18-months-old" his dad Rob Dorman told the Dispatch. "He was sitting on the porta-potty reading a newspaper. I noticed that he liked to look at maps so I put one up. In about a week's time, he had memorized everything on it. He's just always been very clever."
What a crazy story! This kid learned to read on a porta-potty when he wasn't even two and aced his IQ test? That must be unique — and it is. It's just not as unique as you might think.
In fact, Mensa is an organization that's arguably friendlier to the youngs than the olds. Part of the reason for that might have to do with how our brains work, but it also helps the organization to induct these headline-grabbing kids whenever it can. It's no cake walk, though. There are hard requirements for membership. You must score in the top 2 percent on an approved standardized test. Little Gus took the Stanford-Binet Intelligence Scale and scored in the 99th-percentile.
Gus's story is impressive, but he's upstaged by three-year-old Sherwyn Sarabi, the world's youngest Mensa member who popped up in the press earlier this year. This young British boy doesn't quite have the numbers that Gus, the American kindergartener, does — his IQ is only 136 — but he did knock the socks off his pediatrician when he started naming the countries on a map in the doctor's office. Who knows, maybe in a couple years when he goes to kindergarten, Sherwyn might bump his IQ score into the upper 140s. Or he might just remain one of 100 kids under 10 who've become Mensa members in the UK.
Sherwyn isn't even the youngest ever Mensa member, though. There are a couple who joined the organization before their third birthday, and there will be more. It all leaves you wondering, what happens to these kids when they get older and have to function in a world full of dumb-dumbs? As the case of Priya Purewal, who joined back in 2000 at age four, they turn into normal teenages with Tumblrs full of pretty pictures.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.