Subject: A beautiful, dirty mind. Dr Katsioulis is reported to be the smartest man in the world with a recorded IQ 198.
Newspaper: The Daily
Journalist: Madeleine Scinto
Location: New York, USA
Reference type: Interview / Reportage
External link: A beautiful, dirty mind , TheDaily.com
A BEAUTIFUL, DIRTY MIND
World’s smartest man – almost – is a TV joke writer and admitted pornoholic.
If you believe his IQ scores, the smartest person in the world just might be a 51-year-old former male stripper from Southern California who writes jokes for a famous late-night TV host and speaks openly of his addiction to online porn.
Rick Rosner describes himself as a cognitive freak of nature and has a raft of astronomically high IQ test results to buttress his case, including certified results in the 190s — the rarified territory of historic geniuses like Isaac Newton and Leonardo da Vinci. The Giga Society, a club for the handful of individuals who have posted one-in-a-billion scores on IQ tests, counts him as a member.
“I’ve probably outscored anyone who’s ever taken these types of tests on at least 10 of them,” Rosner told The Daily. “And right now I have a score that places me in the one-out-of-2 billion people range.”
But sometimes being one in 2 billion isn’t quite special enough — especially for a guy who is prone to strange obsessions and who welcomes media attention. After stepping away from intelligence tests for more than a decade, Rosner has come back to them as part of a middle-aged mission to establish himself as cleverest of the clever.
“I’ll challenge anyone to a face-off,” said Rosner.
The only things that stand between him and being able to brag about having the highest IQ on planet Earth is the latest series of mind-bending intelligence exams — which he sometimes stays up 20 hours a day to complete — and a reclusive Greek academic and physician named Evangelos Katsioulis, whose well-publicized IQ score of 198 he is trying to top.
The two men currently stand first and second on an unassuming website called the World Genius Directory, run by Australian IQ-test designer Jason Betts, who ranks “geniuses” according to certified test results. Since Guinness World Records retired its IQ category more than two decades ago — too controversial, too murky — the task of ranking the world’s best IQ-test takers has become something of a niche activity that has fallen to small societies for the highly intelligent and self-appointed referees like Betts.
Rosner acknowledges he’s playing catch-up to his Greek rival, but he’s pretty sure that with renewed focus, he can post a higher score. In the past four months, he’s completed four time-grueling exams in a push to break 200.
“The most brutal of these tests take more than 100 hours to do a good job,” he said. “In my life, I’ve probably spent more than one working year messing around with them.”
Will he be able to best Katsioulis or perhaps even achieve a breakthrough score that would statistically make him one in 100 billion — giving him a claim to being the smartest person to ever live?
“If anybody could do it, I’m one of them,” said Rosner.
Of course, the whole game of measuring intelligence is a fraught and contentious business, and Rosner and others who post extremely high IQ scores, but lack the sort of professional accomplishments that might buttress their claims to genius, face plenty of detractors.
And Rosner’s life has hardly been a textbook study of high achievement: He changed his identity in order to remain in high school well into his 20s, and since then has supported himself with gigs as a nude model, a stripper and a bouncer, among other endeavors.
While Katsioulis has both an M.D. and Ph.D., his main focus seems to have been on his own success as a taker of IQ tests. To date, he has joined 84 societies for the highly intelligent. Each of them are essentially snootier cousins of Mensa, a decades-old club that accepts anyone who scores in the top 2 percent of IQ rankings.
“It’s an important way to meet people that think the same way that I think,” said Katsioulis, 36. There are roughly 1,200 people who participate in these groups for the super-smart, and those at the very top all know each other.
By far the most exclusive society he has tested into is the Giga Society, which only takes applicants who outscore the theoretical performance of 99.9999999 percent — one in a billion — of the world’s adult population on a qualifying test.
Nine people have been accepted into the club, including Rosner, since its founding almost 20 years ago by Paul Cooijmans, a Dutchman who has made his living designing high-level IQ tests.
“I’m a competitive guy and I find the tests entertaining,” said Dany Provost of Quebec, who has a 190 IQ and was the seventh person to join Giga. The club has no communal activities apart from a newsletter and a group email system. But all members enjoy the challenges of intelligence tests — though they have to take specialized ones designed for people with IQs above 150, as the tests for the other 99 percent of humanity top out at that level. (An average adult IQ is 100; the “genius” threshold is typically put at 140.)
The high-level exams bring out his compulsive side, said Rosner.
“Remember the game Tetris? After an hour or so of playing you see blocks because your brain reprograms. That’s what it’s like for me, except it’s test questions.”
Rosner got hooked early, completing booklets like “Check Your Own IQ” as a 14-year-old while working on his tan outside his childhood home in Boulder, Colo. He was something of a social outcast in high school and kept re-enrolling in different schools under false identities to try to figure out what he was doing wrong.
So have intelligence tests thrown his life off track? Not as much as online porn, says Rosner. “I’ve had 42 years of sexual activity — most of it was myself,” he said. Rosner has kept a rough lifelong count of how many orgasms he’s had. The tally stands at just over 16,000 at the moment, he said. He reports spending up to three hours a day looking at smut on the Internet.
This is all in spite of being married to the same woman for two decades, with whom he has a 16-year-old daughter. His wife, Carole, has a background in marketing but these days is a stay-at-home mom. His daughter is preparing for college — with her eye on Yale.
Rosner has long been flitting around the edge of the media spotlight. Filmmaker Errol Morris made a short documentary about him a decade ago called “One in a Million Trillion,” focusing on, among other things, his astronomical IQ and his strange and hostile relationship with the quiz show “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire.” After losing on the show in 2000, Rosner completed two years of exhaustive statistical analysis looking for flaws in every question ever asked on the program. He sent the producers almost a dozen letters and later sued for $1 million — and lost again.
He has also performed as a giant penis on “The Man Show” and appeared naked with a light bulb in his backside on the Comedy Central gag show “Crank Yankers.” Scout Productions, the same company that made “Queer Eye for the Straight Guy,” came to him with a half-scripted reality TV show called “Smarty Pants,” in which he would get a new stand-in wife every week. (The program never found a buyer.)
After serving a stint as a writer at “The World’s Funniest!” he started working as a joke writer for a late-night show on a major network. (At Rosner’s request, The Daily is not naming his apparently press-shy employer — though that information is not hard to find.)
Rosner writes about 60 jokes a day for the monologue and reports about a 2 percent success rate in getting his lines on the air. “For me jokes are like math. The setup is the equation and the punch line is the solution,” said Rosner.
In 2009, he was also the subject of an intervention by the A&E series “Obsessed,” which focused on his tendency to work out 50 times or more a week. Since then, he has successfully reduced the number to about 30 times a week.
Along with that extreme regimen, he also ingests 70 pills a day — carb blockers, cholesterol blockers, brain supplements — in an effort to restrict his caloric absorption and, he believes, extend his life. Over the past six years, he has dropped from 177 to 150 pounds.
“I want to be around for all the cool s*** to happen,” he said.