The Curious Case of Rick Rosner

Is there such a thing as "too smart" or perhaps too smart for your own good?  Bruce G. Charlton states a common observation that "high IQ types are lacking in ‘common sense’ – and especially when it comes to dealing with other human beings."

This is a statement that could easily be exemplified by Rick Rosner.  Despite a high IQ and a firm grasp on a litany of subjects, including writing, Rick's life has had some strange twists and turns that are the combined result of his skewed sensibilities, and his desire to be famous.

Rick's exploits, and the fact that he got a 44/48 on the Hoeflin Test are legendary.  He's also been said to have an IQ that rises each time he takes the test.  Here's his story.

Genius Prefers High School
Rosner liked high school a lot.  After graduating with a (then) IQ score of 170 in 1978, he later successfully fooled school officials by repeating the twelfth grade four times.  From 1979 to 1987, he returned as a valid senior four times using false IDs, prosthetics and makeup.  On why he did this, he says:

High school's attractive to me, not necessarily because you have a good time, but because it's clear why you are miserable. As opposed to real life - post-high-school life- you can be miserable and not have a clear idea what makes you miserable. Dissatisfactions are more vague, more amorphous. (High school's) an abridged version of real life, and its abridgment adds clarity, and that clarity is comforting.

It's also interesting to note that he got away with one of his fake IDs using the alias Gilligan Rich Rosner.  Gilligan.

Who Wants To Be A Genius?

The event that catapulted Rick's life into the spotlight happened on a show that was simultaneously spotlight and knowledge heavy.  This show asked viewers if anyone in the crowd would perchance want to have a lot of money.

After numerous tries to get on the show, Rick was finally in the hot seat.  He was sailing along on the questions and felt really good until a relatively easy-level question messed him up.  He guessed according to his logic, and lost.  He then sued the producers after sending three detailed letters to them explaining his case.

The question was: "What capital city is located at the highest altitude above sea level?"  and the choices were:

A. Mexico City    B. Quito
C. Bogotá       D. Kathmandu

The reasons Rosner lays out in those letters are spot-on critiques of the semantics of the question and its relative difficulty compared to all other questions asked at that level, but he never got anywhere with his suit.  A sample of his correspondence: "I’m sorry to keep sending you letters. I’m not a grievance-oriented person, but a little research led me to a surprising amount of information indicating that it is an unacceptably-flawed question."

15 Minutes Late?

I do think Mr. Rosner has a strong love affair going with the celebrity dance.  Aside from his appearances (often in the nude) on cable TV shows like The Man Show, Jimmy Kimmel and Crank Yankers, he's also appeared on a show called Obsessed, and took jobs guaranteed to draw attention to himself.  Clearly this is someone eager for the 15 minutes of fame he thinks he deserves, but I also see a real human being, one who is acting naturally to the stimuli.  He also got steamed at Domino's when they featured him in this commercial, somehow managing to spell his last name wrong in the graphics (Rossner).

Errol Morris' First Person

Errol Morris (The Thin Blue Line, The Fog of War) created a show where he interviewed subjects through an "interrotron", a "self-designed camera that allows the interview subject to see" Morris' face transposed into the cameraface focused on them.  First Person is one of the best interview shows I've ever seen, as it tends to elicit more truth than can be seen in other shows.  Errol Morris on Rick Rosner:
I imagine he is a pretty complicated character who doesn't understand himself that well.  He's in the grip of all this stuff that he cannot control.

The journey he has taken, along with all the Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? and other stories of Mr. Rosner can be seen in six parts on You Tube, starting here.  Notice how Morris strings the facts into a collection, much like a weaver manipulates the strings.

YouTube Link

For a good time, watch and link to all 6 parts of the interview.  Wikipedia on Rick Rosner More on Errol Morris' interrotron.  Photos: Errol Morris, Rick Rosner

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"Sore loser"? I would be pissed too if I got asked that crappy question and didn't win a million dollars. Please tell me you people understand why that is a bad question. Also, why is he obligated to use his talent when he has a super high IQ? He is doing what he wants and there's nothing wrong with that.

Jealous much?
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That he is socially inept and/or an attention-seeking desperate loser should not unduly be attributed to his high intelligence. Mitch is right. Smells like sour grapes all around.
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well, when a kid gets tested around the same age i was, you don't tell them their score. This leads them to think they are super awesome. This guy is obviously brilliant - i mean, just for what he is into and what he attempts. I think from this interview we can see that he has flaws. So brave of him to appear on "Obsessed". I recognized him from there when I saw him here, and a nice contrast in how they portay people on that show. Here is a man crippled by obsessions, yet he is one of the highest IQ in the world. Or here is a man who is the smartest man in the world, but is obsessed with his own mortatlity to the point he is not producing anything with his intellect. Makes you think. Glad I found this. Hair plugs look just as awesome on obsessed. Would have thought cheesy if I didn't know they were part of his disability where he can't accept his own aging. interesting.
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