Some years ago, I became aware of a limited sphere of intelligent people from all over the world on the Internet; a “high IQ-world”, containing very difficult IQ-tests (so called High Range IQ Tests) and many high IQ societies for people with IQ’s from low Mensa-level and up (> 130). I was fascinated by this environment, and took some of the tests. I signed up for some of the IQ societies, in addition to Mensa where I am a member, and among those societies some that the Greek Evangelos Katsioulis has established. I have been lucky to have a chat with him.
Hi, Evangelos Katsioulis! You are from Greece, and thus originate from a country that is considered the origin of our Western culture. But you are keen to urge people to show humility, as I understand you. We’ll get back to that.
You have an IQ of around 200, and that’s one of the reasons I’m curious about you. You are also a psychiatrist and therapist, and that did also awaken my interest. Apropos, you have established WIN, World Intelligence Network, with the goal to connect people in a network, and not just those with the highest IQs. You can tell us more about WIN later.
I have been interested in the relationship between people, - paradoxically, I’m not connected to social media yet, other than Linkedin - social psychology and related areas, almost my entire adult life, but without taking any formal education in for instance psychology. Therefore, it is of great interest for me talking with you about people, self-image and the modern technological world we have developed and live in.
You are considered by many as one of the world’s most intelligent people; if we consider it based on your scores on IQ tests. And yet we do not have other proper tools measuring intelligence.
But first, since the fewest here know who you are, can you introduce yourself?
Hi! I am Evangelos and I am a psychiatrist and psychotherapist of Greek origin. I guess that I am invited to present myself to you over here due to the fact that I am an enthusiast of human communication and interaction. This is the reason that I am supporting everyday the choice to be professionally active as a therapist and I am trying every way to disclose thoughts and ideas both in writing and speaking. I have been involved in the foundation and development of numerous societies most of them focused on facilitating people to find each other and act together on the grounds of common interests, skills and goals. Among these societies, allow me to name World Intelligence Network (WIN) founded in 2001, 7 high IQ societies (OLYMPIQ, HELLIQ, CIVIQ, GRIQ, QIQ, IQID and GREEK IQ) and AAAA.GR, a giftedness organization mainly active in Greece.
Since I have the strong feeling that our knowledge can be our power, I have so far sponsored studies in Medicine (MD), Psychiatry, Psychotherapy, Psychopharmacology (PhD), Information Technology (Msc) and Philosophy (MA). A major part of my specialization in Psychiatry took place in London and I completed my specialty training in Greece. Being challenged to fight against cancer, I had also been tempted to have specialized in Oncology for a few years. My current private practice is in Thessaloniki, Greece, when I am especially active offering telepsychotherapy sessions over the internet in English.
The Australian Christopher Harding, the man listed in The Guinness Book of Records (Guinness World Records) as the world’s smartest man in 1974 , has apparently stated that if this book still had this title (it was removed in 1990), you would be listed as the smartest person now.
How has your intelligence affected your life?
I was keen to take some IQ tests back in winter 2000, when I was working as a GP in Corfu. You may understand that living on an island in winter time could be exhaustively boring and it appeared to me that taking some tests might entertain me and keep me distracted from the generalized winter introversion of both people and nature.
Here in Norway there are many who know how to live on an island in the wintertime! Some of them also meet polar bears; there are few polar bears in Corfu, but maybe some in Kos, I don’t know. I don’t think most people solve IQ-tests when they get bored though, even on the mainland.
You did score unusually high on some of the tests you took, didn’t you?
My first scores were high enough to challenge me to take more tests and test after test, I made it to score quite very high, such as an IQ 205 (standard deviation 16), i.e. 6,56 standard deviations above the mean. This is statistically interpreted into a performance, which is expected to be achieved by only 1 person out of 38 billion of the general population.
That’s amazing. It goes without saying that we have to wait for a long time between each person who does something like that.
Having scored high on an IQ test didn't change anything in my life. To be honest with you, it troubled me for a while to try to manage not to lift up excessively my life standards both in life quality and people surrounding me. It is rather easy to reason that if you happen to get a nice picture of you, either an external or internal one, this glorious picture can easily interfere with your current identity perception or even cause alterations in your self-understanding and related life expectations.
I identify with that, even though I am not close to your achievements. In Norway, there is no one who lets you be bumptious for a long time. Janteloven and the Nordic mentality take care of that. And that can be very good in some cases, and not so good in others.
When I was young middle aged I started to solve high range IQ-tests, with good results, I probably boasted a little, yes. Ugh. The scores served as a confirmation of something I had thought about, but did not really believe. Basically, I was just a little bit different. There were some people that didn’t like that. Conformity is important to most people; it provides safety and predictability. Mirrors and ideals. To feel strong affiliation with a group is like intoxication; one feels invincible.
I was not particularly concerned with intelligence until I was almost 50; I became a Mensa member at the age of 49, but noticed early that I understood certain problems quite quickly. I was pretty lazy at school, but did alright. I was interested in almost everything; I did a lot of other stuff during my studies. I was enthusiastic; an impatient guy.
But tell me how you used and took advantage of the good results.
In my case, I tried to use this shiny picture of mine to gather people around me and offer them a reference to interact with each other, think and work for the benefits of humanity. That was the time that I decided to form WIN, an international organization of giftedness and a few distinct intelligence societies, to create an umbrella foundation and the platforms to support all these activities.
Furthermore, I am thankful to have met great people around the globe also due to the fact that I have been involved and active in these societies. My professional choice to become a psychiatrist and act as a therapist is also highly related to my interest in human mind and its attributes, abilities and capacities. In other words, I tried to use my mental abilities to build a bridge with people and not a wall between them and myself.
That was well said! We certainly need bridges and not walls. We are fully aware of all our historical walls, not just the one in Berlin, but it seems difficult to avoid building new ones. At the same time we create a society where most people seem to want a better relationship with each other, with a simpler communication, which the social media should contribute to. But humans are not that simple. We are attracted to all these barriers and hierarchies. The Norwegian philosopher Arne Naess, a very intelligent man, once said that he thought humans were too intelligent to continue to make wars and kill each other. I think so too. Although some believe that people who think like that are naive.
Do you feel different from others, I mean since you after all have an unusually high intelligence?
Yes and no.
I believe that each one of us has the feeling of being somehow similar and at the same time different with anyone else. We are all unique and we need to respect that. Actually, there is no one else identical to us in the whole world and this is a fact based on the extensive variety of cognitions, experiences, occurrences and personality features we had and have in our lives. Therefore, we reason life with our own eyes and mind on our own way. On the other side, we all have similar, but not the exact same, needs since we are all alive and we all look for claiming the satisfaction of our needs. So, yes and no. I, like everybody else, am both unique and a human being.
You say that there is so much that separate us; that’s something to think about. We are so keen to focus on some common ideal, and we lose ourselves on that road. Ideals are important and good, but not if they interfere with what we are and who we can become. I read “Slaughterhouse-Five” by Kurt Vonnegut now on vacation, and there he writes “God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and wisdom always to tell the difference.” We must learn to respect the differences between us, instead of believing that combating it solves our problems. The foundation of such a respect is contained in the self-image, which provides us a floor of cement, soil or quicksand to walk on through life.
Can you say something about IQ-tests as such, and also about your top score?
In my understanding IQ scores are only representations of a cognitive performance, similar to a photo one can take of himself under any given circumstances. A photo might be excellent, extraordinary, impressive, representative or not of what this person looks like at any other time in his life. So, I have taken an excellent photo of my cognitive performance some years ago and that is all I feel about that score.
Furthermore, I need to mention that my performance is considered as the current highest adult intelligence performance only among the people who have taken a credible IQ test. You understand of course that not everybody is challenged to take such a test. And last but not least, intelligence becomes an important feature, only when it is applied and not if it is only photographed. I am myself trying my best to apply any abilities I may have in my life and make my life more satisfactory and fulfilling mainly for myself and my people of choice.
What are your thoughts about the Internet explosion since 2000?
When technology met communication. It was expected, if not predicted, one day to have established an online, virtual in total or partially, world entirely based on exchanged and stored data. As with any other innovation, we face the challenge to develop proper management over its functionality, purposes and use. It appears to me that humans have not yet established a concise and in-depth understanding of what internet is, means and can do, of its features, powers and implications of its use.
I can recall that when I was very young, it was even rare one to even have a personal computer. In a few years, internet appeared, speed was increased, websites were built, social networks were created, online profiling was established and here we are now. And all this progress happened within a few years time. Can anyone imagine a world today without internet? Can anyone understand its current impact in our everyday life? Can anyone convince a young person today not to use internet, not to be online, not to have a social network profile? Can we live today without internet? Can we?
When I was young, a few years before you, in the 1960’s and 70’s, we barely knew what a computer was. I was a young man when the personal computer was born, and I got my first PC at work in 1987. I bought a private one a couple of years later. I remember when we first heard about the internet, and there were many who did not believe in this new phenomenon at all. They did not know what content the internet could accommodate, because at the outset it was almost empty.
You are a psychiatrist. From a psychiatric perspective, what do you think about social media?
Everyday, we face two worlds, the real and the internet one, which sometimes may be the same, similar, separate or even totally different from each other. We develop profiles and roles for each one of these worlds and we support our presence and activities playing these roles, acting out these profiles. It is indeed a great challenge of our times one to maintain a coherent personality, a unique and the same presence both in real and internet world and to effectively manage his time, life, choices, needs, self-awareness and satisfaction dealing with the real and internet world.
I am thinking of the transparency of social media, of that everyone can read everyone’s thoughts in a way, because more people write what they think and feel as if it is not available. Many mean that social media makes larger gap between each other, making us strangers, and therefore losing respect and empathy; because we cannot see the other person in the eyes. On the other hand, social media open up for many more to reach each other, and just the ones they want to reach, and develop friendship, love, and other relationships that they could not possibly easy get. The problem, as I see it, is that you do not meet the people in the virtual room, but photos, videos and text. There is something missing when you cannot smell and notice the physical presence of those you speak or communicate with. Video calls can make it more closely, but it is not like sitting next to each other in the same room.
One last topic: If you were almighty for one day, that is had a divine power, what would you do?
If I was God for one day, I would choose that day to die. I suppose that a God could never die, so that could potentially face my mortality issues. Seriously now, if I was a God for one day, I would try to make humans understand and appreciate that they are humans and not Gods. People would benefit to understand that humans cannot be perfect nor immortal creatures. Life is a gift, a gift given to us as an opportunity to meet and accept ourselves, to claim experiences, to make our own steps on our own way towards our satisfaction and happiness. Actually, I define happiness as the state of satisfied needs, so much, so in depth and so intensive that the happy person can only feel complete. I have the feeling that if humans had the feeling that they are only tourists in this world, they wouldn’t bother with arguing with each other, with conflicts, wars, meaningless competitions with others or even with themselves. That could help them appreciate their life and time, their opportunity to feel happy and alive.
Thank you for the chat, Evangelos!