MISLEADING: Iranian child’s IQ ‘beats both Hawking and Einstein’


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MISLEADING: Iranian child’s IQ ‘beats both Hawking and Einstein’
There is no evidence that Einstein took an IQ test, and if Hawking did, he did not publicize his results

Claim: An 11-year-old Iranian girl named Tara Sharifi “beat” theoretical physicists Stephen Hawking and Albert Eintein’s results in an IQ test.

The claim was posted on the Facebook page Integrated Development Studies Institute (IDSI) on Saturday, June 22.

In the post, Sharifi’s photo was placed beside Einstein’s. The text above their images read: “Iranian child genius IQ results beat both Hawking and Einstein.” Between their photos is the logo of Mensa, an international organization made up of people whose IQ is in the top 2% of the population.

The post cited the website trendszilla.net as the source of their information on Sharifi, and trendzilla.net cited ifpnews.com (better known as Iran Front Page).

Aside from the claim about Sharifi, the photo’s caption also claims that the US has killed more than 20 million civilians in 37 wars, coups, and invasions “in the past decades,” and spent $14 trillion on these wars. The United Nations (UN), the post said, estimates that ending world hunger annually would cost $30 billion.

It also listed Iran’s “contributions to the world:” wine, the modern brick, banking, the postal system, taxation, ice cream, cold storage, the game Polo, the lute, the first human rights charter, hospitals, medicinal alcohol, windmills, and tulips.

IDSI’s claim has accumulated 2,100 reactions, 228 comments, and 355 shares as of writing.


The facts: Mensa confirmed to Rappler that Sharifi indeed scored a 162 in her Cattell III B test administered as part of a Mensa-supervised test. They also clarified that there is no evidence that Einstein took an IQ test, and if Hawking did, he never publicized his results. It is, therefore, impossible to compare Sharifi’s score with that of Einstein’s or Hawking’s.

Cattell III B is one of two industry-standard IQ tests that British Mensa offers to those who want to join the organization.

Mensa accepts individuals who score in the top 2% of the population, which is 148 for the Cattell III B, according to their website. “The score of 162 is the highest a child can achieve on this test, and means Tara is in the top 1% of the population,” Mensa said.

They further explained that the alleged IQs of Einstein and Hawking were estimated long ago by an unknown person based on their achievements. These estimates are inaccurate because it isn’t known which test they were estimated against and different tests have different measurement scales.

For example, Mensa UK also offers the test Cattell Culture Fair III A, which has a top 2% score of 132 – this represents the same cognitive ability as a score of 148 on the Cattell III B.

Moreover, the claim about the money spent on the Iraq War ending world hunger was previously fact-checked by Politifact in June 2014 with a rating of “half true.”

The exact claim Politifact checked was: “For the cost of the Iraq War we could’ve ended world hunger for 30 years.”

According to Politifact, the claim appears true on the surface but lacks substance: “We found no advocacy group or expert who expressed confidence in the estimates of the total number of people who suffer from hunger or in any estimate of what it would cost to end it.” – Vernise L Tantuco/Rappler.com

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