LivingMarilyn vos Savant:

Marilyn vos Savant:

Not long ago, Marilyn vos Savant had to suffer the not always pleasant consequences of being a famous woman. Although he has been sporadically responding to the demands of the media for many years now, he has not yet finished getting used to the outbursts of some of his fans. One of them asked him in a televised debate in the United States: “When is the world going to end?” Marilyn hesitated for a few seconds before admitting that she had no idea. The irate questioner then expressed, microphone in hand, his doubts that Marilyn was really the most intelligent person on Earth. “Anyone who has been to school,” he said, “knows that the world will end when Jesus Christ returns.”

Despite what that former Vos Savant follower may think, having the highest IQ ever recorded in history does not mean being able to divine the future. Quite the contrary: Marilyn is not very gifted with intuition. She lives with her husband, Robert Jarvik, the creator of the Jarvik 7 artificial heart, in their New York apartment, where there are no children, pets, pesky neighbors or unexpected visitors. They hardly watch television, never listen to the radio and only read the scientific journalScientific American. From time to time, Vos Savant flips through the first pages of theNew York Times, but gets bored soon. He has not read a novel for years. Such a woman, isolated from the messy outside world, is not only unable to predict the future, but barely knows what day it is today.

Of course, until not long ago, Vos Savant was even more jealous of herself. For twenty years the young prodigy lived hiding her superior intelligence from the world. In the mornings she ran her parents’ grocery store in Saint Louis, and in the evenings she read and wrote. His privileged brain was yet to be discovered. “From time to time,” he says, “I dared to write an article for the local newspapers, but I always signed them with a pseudonym. I did not want to waste my name on a job that seemed imperfect. The time had not yet come to make myself known. “

During her childhood and youth, Marilyn always dreamed of being a writer. The first time he was given an intelligence test, he was seven years old. “I didn’t show anything special,” he says. “I only got a quotient of 127, just like some classmates.” Three years later he measured his intellect again and exceeded the value 167. At the age of ten he was already a genius, as if his surname – which means wise in French – had marked her forever.

Marilyn, however, did not have it easy. As a child, she must have learned by herself. He lived in a small apartment above his parents’ shop where there were no books or magazines. He grew up in an environment of absolute independence. “My father was ashamed of his intellectual shortcomings and let me learn on my own.”

Thus, the young Vos Savant learned more from life than from books. At 16 she married a young university student. At 19 she already had two children and a couple of ex-husbands. She had to work hard to provide for her little ones until she was able to send them off to college. Even so, he had time to study some philosophy courses, “although my parents – he remembers – wanted me to learn something more useful.”

Marilyn’s life changed radically when her IQ was publicly announced for the first time: 228, that is, 88 points above the estimated level for geniuses: “From then on I began to be the most intelligent person on the planet.” It was his passport to the brain industry. He began to give lectures, write some articles in the American press and attend television programs. “Suddenly,” he says, “people began to be interested in my tastes, my ideas and my private life.”

In reality, Marilyn still looks like a modest college girl. According to her, her brain is not a perfect machine: it lacks photographic memory, it is not skilled with statistics, nor does it know how to do gigantic mathematical operations. “My best weapons are objective analysis, decision making and problem solving.”

In 1987, Marilyn married Robert Jarvik, another passionate about the intellect. Since then, the couple have lived away from the madding crowd, delighting in their visits to New York museums and listening to opera while having a custom meal for dinner. “Neither of us cook – confesses Vos Savant -. And we do it for the good of humanity: we don’t want to kill anyone with our menus.”

Her marriage to Jarvik has made Marilyn even more popular. Now, she is aware that intelligence is a powerful weapon, but also that it is not enough to stay at home thinking or writing. “To be successful,” he summarizes, “it is more important to know how to relate than to be intelligent.” For this reason, for a few years now, the couple is often seen at some parties, at social events and at conferences in tandem. Most of them are about solving life’s problems.

In any case, his favorite hobby is simply thinking. Many times they spend their idle hours arguing about reality and knowledge. “Objectivity – Vos Savant concludes – is nothing more than the process of understanding reality.”
Art also occupies an important place in his life. He knows the corridors of New York museums like those of his own home and confesses that he does not like Picasso.

When asked about herself, Marilyn continues to blush like that young lady from Saint Louis. He says he looks more like a conductor than a violinist. “I know a little about everything, but I am not a specialist in anything.” He even goes so far as to assure that his brain has not helped him in life “although it has not done me any harm either!”

In any case, his intelligence has helped him make a pretty good living lately. Every morning he is dedicated to writing his articles and answering the readers of his office in the magazineParadewith phrases like this:

– Should a woman ever hide her intelligence?
– Both women and men must hide their intelligence only from enemies.

A. Sardón

This interview was published in November 1995, in issue 174 of VERY Interesting


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