MACLEAN’S REVIEWS

ARE SUMMER BABIES BRIGHTER?

Research by Mensa appears to indicate they are — but why?

ANDY TURNBULL June 4 1966
MACLEAN’S REVIEWS

ARE SUMMER BABIES BRIGHTER?

Research by Mensa appears to indicate they are — but why?

ANDY TURNBULL June 4 1966

ARE SUMMER BABIES BRIGHTER?

Research by Mensa appears to indicate they are — but why?

BABIES BORN during the summer and fall appear to be more intelligent than those born during the winter and spring, according to Mensa, the international club for eggheads. No one quite knows why, but one theory is that babies born during the warmer months spend more of their early life out in the open air. where they’re subjected to a wider variety of strange, new stimuli.

Mensa is a loosely bound club of almost 12,000 exceptionally intelligent people across the world. Applicants for membership must take three intelligence tests and only those with an IQ of 148 or above (the top two percent of society gain admittance). As IQ testing is about the only thing members have in common, they’re prone to display an almost obsessive interest in intelligence and the various forms of testing it.

J. E. Orme, an English psychologist, sparked Mensa’s interest in the relationship between birthdate and intelligence with an article in Mensa’s magazine, Interim. He started with the fact that more sub-normal babies are born during the cold months, and appealed to Mensa for volunteers to conduct further research. Subsequent tests on a group of super-brainy Mensa members tended to support the warm months-brains theory on a statistical basis.

Henry Yee, a 24-year-old actuarial clerk who’s secretary of Toronto’s Mensa branch, raised the subject in his monthly newsletter to members. Armed with the results of Toronto Mensa’s IQ tests for 1965, he again confirmed Orme’s results. He found that 32 of 44 persons invited to join Mensa were born during the summer and fall, as were about 65 percent of those who passed the initial screening.

Peretz Miller, another Mensa member, then asked in an article in Interim whether there could be some link between Mensa’s findings and the origins of astrology. Primitive peoples could have noticed similar characteristics among people born at about the same time of the year. He suggested that early man could have then concluded the stars were responsible for personality differences.

But whatever the basis for the statistical evidence linking intelligence and birthdates, both Orme and Yee agree that heredity and love are still obviously the most important factors in the development of intelligence in babies. And as for Mensa itself, it’ll still continue to rely on intelligence tests to screen potential members.

ANDY TURNBULL