the best friends you’ll never have

Thanks Ashley for scanning the cover of the Mystery Game for me! Now after, er, three and a half years of blogging, I finally have a banner that has the BSC in it.


Take a gander at this blog post. I have no idea who this guy is; I was just doing a google search for “highest IQ ever” (who gets sucked into 4am wikipedia spirals? This bitch), and this site came up. Look at the list this guy has written. How many people, according to this list, have an IQ higher than Janine Kishi’s 196? One, a physicist. Janine’s IQ is higher than the estimated IQs of Da Vinci, and Wittgenstein, and Newton.

The series is known to have gotten a lot of things wrong–diabetes, autism, etc. But there is perhaps no mistake more egregious than Janine Kishi and the Unbelievably High IQ. Are we supposed to believe that Janine is one of the smartest people who has ever lived, and yet her parents can’t let her take courses more challenging than those found at the local university, and she amuses herself by correcting people’s grammar and not by making earth-shattering discoveries or writing important academic papers? Or, hell, even just becoming a chess grand master would make her IQ more believable. Yes, sometimes geniuses and prodigies don’t live up to their potential. But we were never given the impression that Janine wasn’t. We were supposed to be impressed by her part-time matriculation at Stoneybrook University.

Let’s think back to Claudia’s Portrait, where she was sent to an alternative academy more suited for her learning style. I find it hard to believe that, given the evidence that the Kishis did not have a problem sending one of their children to private school if they were shown that it was necessary to the child’s academic success, that they would not do the same for someone as extraordinarily gifted as Janine. They could’ve sent her to a special school for the gifted, or allowed her to enroll in an Ivy League school early. I have a university in my hometown that seems similar to Stoneybrook University, given what we know about it, and I would say that the courses I took at my prep school were probably more challenging and had higher academic expectations than the ones at said local university. I just can’t see how Stoneybrook University courses would be challenging enough for a sixteen-year-old with a 196 IQ.

I am just not sure why such a number was chosen for Janine. Isn’t it enough to simply say that Janine is a genius, and be done with it? Or perhaps give her an IQ that is genius level, and make her a member of MENSA or something. But by going with 196, Janine’s character stretches the limit of credibility, given that the only “genius” thing she does is like school a lot and take college courses and talk using a lot of words Claudia doesn’t understand. (Nowadays, however, college courses seem to be nothing all that unusual in American public high schools. And it’s not all that hard to use words that Claud wouldn’t know.) It just seems silly to me to give her something so amazing, and then make it unbelievable by making Janine basically just an ordinary gifted student. At least say, “Claudia has a sister who works at the Institute of Advanced Study at Princeton, even though she is only 16″–not, “Claudia has a sister who takes classes at Local Crap State University, even though she is only 16.”

EDIT: I just came across this:

There are, however, close contendors [sic]. An example of an ultra-elite group of intellectuals would be the Giga society, which accepts people only with an IQ of 196 or higher. This would mean a 1 in 1 billion probability. Currently, there are 6 members, which would technically mean these are the 6 smartest people in the world.


15 Responses To This Post

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msjacks said, January 15th, 2011 at 11:48 am

There were a few things about Janine that I felt struck the genius chord pretty accurately. She seemed completely unable to relate to others, and her emotional state rarely varied.

But yeah, the whole thing seemed pretty ridiculous. She’s less than an hour away from Yale, but she’s stuck at Stoneybrook University? In The Fire At Mary Anne’s House, Sharon’s motivation for being behind the possible move to Philly is that in order to be an architect or an INTERIOR DESIGNER, she’ll have to move somewhere with a better school. But Good ol’ Stoneybrook U is good enough for Janine the genius??

greer said, January 15th, 2011 at 3:44 pm

@msjacks, well about the Sharon thing, it could be possible that Stoneybrook U didn’t have much of a design department, and Philadelphia does have several good art schools.

I don’t think Janine as a run-of-the-mill teenage genius was portrayed inaccurately; just the “1 in a billion” kind of genius bit wasn’t.

Eowyn said, January 15th, 2011 at 6:24 pm

Absolutely, Greer! And was it just me but did Claudia digress as the series went on from a somewhat realistically poor student to being “the dumb one?” I’m referring specifically how she was moved back to the seventh grade but there were other examples of how both the Kishi sisters levels of intelligence were too much to accept. Oh, and for years I was convinced their last name was prounced “kitchy.” Apologies to any Japanese speakers here.

winstonegbert said, January 15th, 2011 at 10:45 pm

Hahaha. I never realised that Janine was smarter than Da Vinci, Newton and Voltaire. Pfft, BSC reasearchers – 125 might’ve been a better estimate. And yeah, she might want to put her apparent genius to better use than correcting her sister’s thirteen-year-old friends.
Having said that, I have to disagree about the BSC’s portrayal of diabetes as being inaccurate. Although Stacey babbled on about it to the death [which I love to snark about now], the fact is that when you live with type I diabetes, you have to be that obsessive about carb exchanges and insulin. Neat post

greer said, January 16th, 2011 at 2:02 am

@winstonegbert–I just know that people who have diabetes have said it was inaccurate. I don’t know have diabetes and don’t have anyone in my family who does, either, so I don’t really know all that much about it, just that I know people from the fandom who have said it was inaccurately portrayed.

Myu said, January 16th, 2011 at 4:51 pm

I love how you pick up on stuff like this. I’d honestly never thought about it, but it is completely ridiculous (I suppose on par with the odds of having identical triplets, haha). I’m also surprised as to why Janine wasn’t sent to a school for the gifted.

Melissa said, January 19th, 2011 at 1:47 am

I’m surprised too. Surely someone as gifted as Janine would go to a much more advanced college (like Cambridge or Harvard) Maybe even Princeton. Plus it seems that they never really explained how Janine became a genius.

I really feel sorry for the Kishi sisters seeing that their parents give them a hard time about their grades (most especially Mrs. Kishi), and that because of them, they feel like they have to do better or otherwise, feel like nothing.

in a way, they remind me of olga and helga from hey arnold.

Eowyn said, January 19th, 2011 at 4:06 pm

@Melissa – No offense, but don’t you mean “(like Princeton or Harvard) maybe even Cambridge?”

maculae said, January 23rd, 2011 at 4:58 pm

Was it ever officially tested to be 196? Or was it just a number that Claudia and co would spit out as a “OMG she’s so smart” hypothetical irrational BSC number?

Eowyn said, January 26th, 2011 at 4:26 pm

@maculae I think she and Claudia were both tested for their I.Q.’s because Claudia once mentioned that her I.Q. is also above average.

greer said, January 29th, 2011 at 7:17 am

@maculae: I agree with Eowyn; I think the implication is indeed that Janine and Claudia were both tested anf that 196 is her real IQ, not Claud’s estimate.

» Janine Kishi, World’s Smartest Woman Stoneybrookite: the best friends you’ll never have said, April 26th, 2012 at 12:16 am

[...] I’ve written about it before, but Janine’s impossibly high IQ continues to haunt me. Today, I happened upon an article on the man with the world’s highest IQ–and his is 198, making Janine’s 196 a sure bet in the competition for the world’s smartest woman. [...]

greengeekgirl said, May 26th, 2012 at 5:22 am

“125 might’ve been a better estimate”

Yeah, 125 isn’t even really high; it’s above-average but not even into the super-super-intelligent range, much less the genius range. Probably 145 or 150 would have been a good number–smarter than even the other smartest kids at school, but not so outstanding as to be unbelievable.

Stoneybrook Revisited: BSC Books 6-10 | Lady T: Funny Feminist said, July 23rd, 2012 at 4:32 am

[...] because that IQ level is SO EXCEEDINGLY RARE that Janine apparently is smarter than ISAAC NEWTON (source) – but really smart people are not entirely clueless about functioning in social [...]

Stoneybrook Revisited: BSC Books 6-10 | Theresa Basile said, May 27th, 2013 at 11:15 am

[...] because that IQ level is SO EXCEEDINGLY RARE that Janine apparently is smarter than ISAAC NEWTON (source) – but really smart people are not entirely clueless about functioning in social [...]

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