Little Bits of History

Asking For It

Posted in History by patriciahysell on August 11, 2015
Marilyn vos Savant

Marilyn vos Savant

August 11, 1946: Marilyn Mach is born in St. Louis, Missouri. Her father was German and her mother Italian. She is a descendent of the philosopher Ernst Mach. Her father owned a general store and as a teenager, she was found working there. She also wrote for the local newspapers using pseudonyms. She married the first time at age 16 and divorced after ten years. She remarried and divorced again at age 35. She married a third time in 1987 and remains married to Robert Jarvik, one of the developers of the Jarvik-7 artificial heart.

She went to a local community college and then studied philosophy at Washington University in St. Louis. She did not finish her degree, instead quitting to help with a family investment business. She moved to New York City in the 1980s to take up writing and wrote the Omni I.Q. Quiz Contest for Omni magazine. She seemed eminently qualified to write IQ quizzes and contests because, according to the Guinness Book of World Records, she was the smartest person on earth. She uses her mother’s maiden name and she is known in the publishing world as Marilyn vos Savant. She was listed as possessing the “Highest IQ” from 1986 to 1989. The category was discontinued in 1990.

She was noted for taking two different IQ tests. The first was the Stanford-Binet and the second was the Mega Test. She took the Second Revision edition of the Stanford-Binet when she was ten years old in September 1956. The score measured her mental age as 22 years and 10 months which yielded a score of 228. However, there is some contention over these numbers as numbers over 170 are not part of the test scoring and the number was arrived at by extrapolation using an antiquated formula. Her score using the Mega Test was 186 and again, the machinations used to arrive at the number have been criticized. She does hold membership in Mensa International and the Mega Society, the most elite of the high IQ societies open to only one in a million. Mensa is open to one in 50.

After Savant’s inclusion in the Guinness Book or World Records, she was interviewed and an article appeared in Parade magazine along with her answers to several questions posed to her. After the article ran, more readers sent questions in and so “Ask Marilyn” was created. She continues to write her column and answer questions centered around the use of logic or mathematics and vocabulary. She also runs a daily online column in addition to the print version. She has had some memorable errors in her column which have been critiqued and reassessed by several readers. Her controversial columns have been so rare, they are able to be listed.

The length of your education is less important than its breadth, and the length of your life is less important than its depth.

If your head tells you one thing and your heart tells you another, before you do anything, you should first decide whether you have a better head or a better heart.

What is the essence of America? The essence of America is finding and maintaining that perfect, delicate balance between freedom “to” and freedom “from.”

To acquire knowledge, one must study; but to acquire wisdom, one must observe. – all from Marilyn vos Savant

Also on this day: The Rock – In 1934, Alcatraz opened as a federal prison.
Shop Til You Drop – In 1992, the Mall of America opened.
Watts Riots – In 1965, the Watts Riots began.
Swat – In 1929, Babe Ruth hit a new baseball record.
Sheremetyevo International Airport – In 1959, Moscow’s airport opened.


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