Blast from the past: Complete text from 1988 Times Union article about Raniere – and his take-home IQ test

The face of a stone cold liar.


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Below is the complete text of an article that appeared in the Albany Times Union (TU) on June 26, 1988. I will have more to say later on how Keith Raniere performed on his IQ test – and whether he won a judo championship or tied for the New York State championship in the 100-yard dash.

Please note that the TU article reports and quotes Mr. Raniere admitting that he took his IQ test home. This is the same IQ test that is the basis for his claim to be “the smartest man in the world.”

His score was based on the honor system.  Did he have help with it?  Did he do his own scoring?  Are his claims about his athleticism truthful?

Keith Raniere has a propensity to say things which are not factually accurate (That’s a nice way of saying that he lies a lot about his accomplishments).  In the next few weeks, I will attempt to look at some of the claims he made to the TU in the days before the internet – and then examine whether those claims are likely to be “True” or “False” and whether there exists any evidence to support either of those answers.

Here is the TU story from 1988:


Irene Gardner Keeney Staff writer

Section: LIVING TODAY,  Page: G1

Date: Sunday, June 26, 1988

You might say that Keith Raniere is one in a million.

He’s a member of Mega, a high-IQ society with a minimum requirement at the one-in-a-million level. Actually, the 27-year-old Troy resident is in an even more exclusive category. By answering correctly all but two questions on a 48-question, self- administered test, Raniere moved up to the rarified one-in-10-million level. To qualify for membership in the Mega Society, aspirants must answer correctly at least 45 questions. According to the society, that corresponds to an IQ of 176 or more. People of average intelligence, by contrast, have IQs that cluster around a score of 100.

A number of IQ societies go beyond Mensa, the well- known organization limited to the top 2 percent of the population, or those who score higher than 132 on a standard Stanford-Binet intelligence test. Each of these little- publicized societies is more selective than the next.

The mastermind behind many of them is Ronald K. Hoeflin, philosopher and librarian, who has made an avocation of forming increasingly more elite clubs for geniuses such as himself (he has an IQ of 150).

Hoeflin says curiosity about his own IQ led him in 1969 to join the Mensa Society. Six years ago the New York City resident founded Mega. After it grew to include 26 members – and lost some of its exclusivity – he restructured it to include only two persons, Eric Hart of Long Island and Marilyn vos Savant of Missouri. Raniere is the most recent member. All three will be listed in the next issue of the Guinness Book of World Records.

(vos Savant, who writes the “Ask Marilyn” column for Parade Magazine, is listed in the record book as the woman with the highest IQ. Last August, Savant, whose surname means “learned person,” married Dr. Robert Jarvik, inventor of the Jarvik 7 artificial heart.)

Geniuses, apparently, are born, not made. Raniere says he was identified early as a bright child. By age 2 he could spell the word “homogenized” from seeing it on the millk carton. He was precocious in math development and says he had an understanding of subjects such as quantum physics and computers by age 4.

By the time he was 16, the Brooklyn-born genius says he had exhausted the curriculum at his high school. He dropped out of school and entered RPI where he simultaneously earned undergraduate degrees in math, physics and biology. To do that he had to take 60 credits in addition to the 124 credits required for a single major. RPI spokesman Matt McGuire termed Raniere’s three degrees “an extremely rare accomplishment.”

At present, Raniere works for the state and is an independent educational consultant.

He’s not your stereotypical genius. Watchful blue eyes look out from behind aviator glasses. His brown hair is parted stylishly in the middle. He has the physique of an athlete, which he is. He was East Coast Judo champion at age 12, tied with the state record for the 100 yard-dash, is an avid skier, swimmer and wind surfer. He says he plays seven musical instruments and also sings “high tenor” in local musical productions.

He also rides a unicycle and likes to juggle – not necessarily at the same time – but one gets the impression that this amazing young man, who requires only two to four hours of sleep, could do both – if he put his mind to it.

The questions aspiring members of the Mega Society have to answer are real brain busters. Raniere says they took him two weeks.

“There’s no enforceable time limit. Some people take up to a year to answer the questions. It’s suggested you limit yourself to no more than one month,” he explains.

Unlike with some tests, applicants are encouraged to use such reference aids as dictionaries, thesauri and pocket calculators, he says. Guessing is permitted. There is no penalty for wrong answers or guesses so guessing is advantageous.

Assistance from others, however, is prohibited. “But,” says the young genius, “who could give you assistance?”

Who, indeed.


About the author

Frank Parlato


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About the Author

Frank Parlato is an investigative journalist.

His work has been cited in hundreds of news outlets, like The New York Times, The Daily Mail, VICE News, CBS News, Fox News, New York Post, New York Daily News, Oxygen, Rolling Stone, People Magazine, The Sun, The Times of London, CBS Inside Edition, among many others in all five continents.

His work to expose and take down NXIVM is featured in books like “Captive” by Catherine Oxenberg, “Scarred” by Sarah Edmonson, “The Program” by Toni Natalie, and “NXIVM. La Secta Que Sedujo al Poder en México” by Juan Alberto Vasquez.

Parlato has been prominently featured on HBO’s docuseries “The Vow” and was the lead investigator and coordinating producer for Investigation Discovery’s “The Lost Women of NXIVM.” Parlato was also credited in the Starz docuseries "Seduced" for saving 'slave' women from being branded and escaping the sex-slave cult known as DOS.

Additionally, Parlato’s coverage of the group OneTaste, starting in 2018, helped spark an FBI investigation, which led to indictments of two of its leaders in 2023.

Parlato appeared on the Nancy Grace Show, Beyond the Headlines with Gretchen Carlson, Dr. Oz, American Greed, Dateline NBC, and NBC Nightly News with Lester Holt, where Parlato conducted the first-ever interview with Keith Raniere after his arrest. This was ironic, as many credit Parlato as one of the primary architects of his arrest and the cratering of the cult he founded.

Parlato is a consulting producer and appears in TNT's The Heiress and the Sex Cult, which premiered on May 22, 2022. Most recently, he consulted and appeared on Tubi's "Branded and Brainwashed: Inside NXIVM," which aired January, 2023.

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