From 1986 to 1989, Marilyn vos Savant appeared in the Guinness Book of Records as the person with the highest IQ in the world (later the entire category was removed from the book). The highest IQ test result she achieved (and was tested many times) was 228.
If you think that she belongs to the group of brilliant scientists, I hasten to inform you that she is an American columnist and writer. And what characterizes it best is the following quote:
„There is a lot of intelligence in the world. But there is no courage to do things differently”
I decided to write about her not so much because of the result of her IQ test, but because of her personality and the fact that - like me - she is crazy about ballroom dancing 😉
She was born in 1946 in St. Louis, Missouri. Her mother was an Italian, Marin vos Savant, and her father was a German son - the son of scientist Ernst Mach, who made important discoveries in the field of optics, acoustics, and thermodynamics.
When Marilyn was a child, she underwent several IQ tests. At the age of seven, she scored 127 points. However, three years later the measurement showed as many as 167 points. And the highest result measured in childhood (!) was 228 points. This is more than double the average adult intelligence level defined as 104 points.
On this occasion, it is worth mentioning that about 50% of the human population has an IQ value in the range of 84 - 116 points, defined as the mean range. Only 13% of the population is between 117 and 147, and 1.5% of the world's population above 147 are geniuses.
In 1986, after it was placed in the Guinness Book of Records, the media began to take an interest in its story. Parade magazine was the first to publish an article with a question and answer section. The popularity of this article inspired the column "Ask Marilyn", where he still answers questions on mathematics, logic, philosophy, politics, as well as other, more "common" topics.
In 1990, Marilyn received a letter from Craig F. Whitaker with the following puzzle:
"Suppose you are in a game show and have three doors to choose from. One door is a car, and another is a goat. You choose door number 1, and a show host who knows what's behind the door opens door number 3 instead, behind which there is a goat. He asks you the question "Do you want to choose door number 2?" Is changing the door selection beneficial for you? "
To which Marilyn replied:
“Yes, you should change your choice. The first door has a 1/3 chance to win, but the second door has a 2/3 chance. "
However, she did not expect what reaction her (correct!) answer would provoke.
After her response was published, Parade began receiving thousands of letters from people outraged by her solution. Including scientists and experts in the field of mathematics.
Despite the mounting pressure, Marlyn refused to change her answer. It was unacceptable for her to do this just to please and soothe others. Moreover, she wrote four dedicated articles explaining the method of calculating probabilities and thus solved the famous Monty Hall paradox.
As a result, even the famous mathematician Paul Erdős had to beg her forgiveness after claiming that she had solved the problem wrong.
Working for Parade inspired her to write three books: Ask Marilyn: Answers to America's Frequently Asked Questions (1992); "More Marilyn: Some Like It Bright" (1994) and "Of Course I'm for Monogamy: I'm Also For Everlasting Peace and an End to Taxes" (1996).
Despite having one of the most brilliant minds in the world, Marilyn is humble. He believes he is not a great mathematician. Instead, she believes her strengths are objective analysis, problem solving, and decision-making.
She also believes that we often confuse someone's intelligence with a high level of knowledge in a specific, narrow field. And it encourages EVERYONE to think critically.
And the best way to get to know her is by watching the following interview conducted in 2016: