Linda in Northfield, Mensagenda Editor

About Mensagenda

Minnesota Mensa published Vol. I, No. 1 of our newsletter, then called the Minnesota Mensa, in June of 1965. Approaching six decades later and winning awards along the way, we continue to provide a monthly publication, now called Mensagenda.

As expected in a newsletter, we inform our local membership with organizational updates and provide details about our events. The real benefit is that, just like our events, Mensagenda is for our members, by our members.

The love of learning in Mensa is not just about supporting our scholarship but in enriching your own mind and sharing your knowledge, skills, and interests. Read articles and regular columns ranging from scientific explanations to humor in everyday life. Check out our members’ photography, drawing, painting, knitting and quilting, and crafting skills.

What would you like to share? Do you have expertise in a particular field of study or hobby? Want to express your opinion? Have you traveled recently? Do you write poetry? Can you create word games, numerical puzzles, or trivia questions? What could you say about…well, you get the picture.

Mensagenda is another way that Minnesota Mensa provides “a stimulating intellectual and social environment for its members.” What could you contribute if you joined Mensa?

 

There’s More to Read

Mensa membership provides access to the publications from other chapters, American Mensa, and Mensa International. Click here to learn more.

Featured Cover Art

Eagles. Photo by Marcia in San Antonio.

Featured Article

A Theory of Conspiracies by Cinda in Minneapolis

How many people does it take to make a conspiracy? No, wait. How many people does it take to make a successful conspiracy? This question has been on my mind lately after an acquaintance regaled me with a story I did not believe. In fact, I decided his story was a conspiracy theory rather than a true conspiracy (or even true story). What’s the difference between a conspiracy and a conspiracy theory?

I watch a lot of true crime TV, including Dateline, and conspiracies flourish among criminals on those shows. A common conspiracy, for example, involves a man or woman hiring someone to murder their spouse. Investigators collect hard evidence to prove the conspiracy and guilt of the conspirators. A conspiracy could be about anything: to libel someone, defraud a company, to rob a bank, to spy on a government, or sell weapons to terrorists.

A successful conspiracy depends on secrecy. Each person in the conspiracy must keep their mouths shut about it. As soon as someone says something, anything, the door has been opened for law enforcement to catch the conspirators. The movie Hell or High Water is a good example of a successful conspiracy. Two brothers scheme to rob banks and then launder the stolen money at a casino to help one brother pay off the mortgage on his ranch. The bank is threatening to foreclose on the ranch. Both brothers are angry and really want to stick it to the bank manager. Evidence from the bank robberies implicate the brothers but there’s no hard evidence against them. One of them would have to confess. Two Texas Rangers are on their trail, but neither brother talks. They keep their conspiracy secret. As a result, it’s successful.

A successful conspiracy theory depends on people talking about it. An enduring conspiracy theory involves the terrorist attacks on the United States on 9/11/2001, and the belief that the U.S. government was behind the attacks, not al-Qaeda. The theory is that the two planes that crashed into the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center in New York City were empty and on autopilot, sent by the U.S. government. What was the evidence?

First, the airline could produce sales records for tickets purchased as well as the flight manifest. Second, there were security videos in the airport showing the passengers, including the hijackers, boarding the flight. Too many people. Too many eyewitnesses in the airport. Third, some passengers on the flights used their cell phones to call family and friends, especially after the hijacking, to tell them what was happening, and often, to say good-bye. If the planes were empty, where did all those people go? If they hadn’t been on the two planes that flew into the twin towers, where were they afterward and now? Why haven’t they come forward to confirm that the government had made them disappear for its own nefarious reasons? There’s too much evidence for the passengers being on the planes and the pilots flying them, the hijackers hijacking them.

I find this 9/11 conspiracy theory especially appalling because of the pain it causes the families who lost their loved ones on those planes and in the Twin Towers. Al-Qaeda proudly took credit for the attacks. The hijackers left trails and evidence about their preparations for their mission on 9/11. No evidence exists that the U.S. government or people in the government were behind the 9/11 attacks. Unlike people, like the police, who are interested in evidence of conspiracy and work hard to collect it, conspiracy theorists don’t care about concrete evidence. Quasssim Cassam, a philosophy professor at the University of Warwick in Coventry in the UK, describes them as “bad thinkers.” They can be particularly vulnerable to radicalization whether in the service of a personality cult or terrorists.

A conspiracy, by definition, is a secret agreement made between two or more people or groups to do something bad or illegal to harm someone else. A definition of conspiracy theory is: the belief that an unexplained event or situation occurs as a result of a conspiracy among interested parties, especially that a small powerful group working covertly for political or oppressive purposes is responsible for the unexplained event or situation. A conspiracy has real, hard evidence to prove its existence and outcome. A conspiracy theory is a belief without real, hard evidence. Sometimes, conspiracy theorists will point to a fact about the event to say it is evidence proving the conspiracy theory, but the fact may actually be proof of something else entirely. A conspiracy theory can more often than not be disproved with hard evidence but that rarely results in the end of the conspiracy theory, which is fueled by human imagination and fear.

A true conspiracy demands secrecy. Conspiracy theories thrive on – depend on – people talking about them.