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Christopher Langan : biography

c. 1952 -

Christopher Michael Langan (born c. 1952) is an American autodidact whose IQ was reported by 20/20 and other media sources to have been measured at between 195 and 210.For the figure of 195, see Sager 1999, McFadden 1999, Fowler 2000, Wigmore 2000, O'Connell 2001, Brabham 2001, and Quain 2001. In Morris 2001, Langan relates that he took what was billed as "the world's most difficult IQ test" in Omni magazine, and gives his IQ as "somewhere between 190 and 210." Billed by some media sources as "the smartest man in America",For the phrase "the smartest man in America", see Sager 1999, Fowler 2000, Wigmore 2000, and Brabham 2001. O'Connell 2001 (in the standfirst) uses "the smartest man in the world", and Quain 2001 (on the cover) uses "the Smartest Man Alive". he rose to prominence in 1999 while working as a bouncer on Long Island. Langan has developed his own "theory of the relationship between mind and reality" which he calls the "Cognitive-Theoretic Model of the Universe (CTMU)".Preston, Ray (November 15, 2006).


Langan was born in San Francisco, California, and spent most of his early life in Montana. His mother was the daughter of a wealthy shipping executive but was cut off from her family; his father died or disappeared before he was born.Sager 1999; Brabham 2001. He began talking at six months, taught himself to read before he was four, and was repeatedly skipped ahead in school. Growing up in poverty, he stated that he was beaten by his stepfather from when he was almost six to when he was about fourteen. By then Langan had begun weight training, and forcibly ended the abuse, throwing his stepfather out of the house and telling him never to return.

Langan says he spent the last years of high school mostly in independent study, teaching himself "advanced math, physics, philosophy, Latin and Greek, all that". He earned a perfect score on the SAT despite taking a nap during the test. Langan attended Reed College and later Montana State University, but faced with financial and transportation problems, and believing that he could teach his professors more than they could teach him, he dropped out.

He took a string of labor-intensive jobs, and by his mid-40s had been a construction worker, cowboy, forest service firefighter, farmhand, and, for over twenty years, a bouncer on Long Island. He says he developed a "double-life strategy": on one side a regular guy, doing his job and exchanging pleasantries, and on the other side coming home to perform equations in his head, working in isolation on his Cognitive-Theoretic Model of the Universe.

Wider attention came in 1999, when Esquire magazine published a profile of Langan and other members of the high-IQ community. Billing Langan as "the smartest man in America", Mike Sager's account of the weight-lifting bouncer and his CTMU "Theory of Everything" sparked a flurry of media interest. Board-certified neuropsychologist Dr. Robert Novelly tested Langan's IQ for 20/20, which reported that Langan broke the ceiling of the test. Novelly was said to be astounded, saying: "Chris is the highest individual that I have ever measured in 25 years of doing this."

Articles and interviews highlighting Langan appeared in Popular Science,Quain, John R. (October 14, 2001). "Wise Guy" ( and ). Popular Science. The Times,Wigmore, Barry. (February 7, 2000). "Einstein's brain, King Kong's body". The Times. Newsday,Brabham, Dennis. (August 21, 2001). . Newsday. Muscle & Fitness (which reported that he could bench press 500 pounds),O'Connell, Jeff. (May 2001). . Muscle & Fitness. and elsewhere. Langan was featured on 20/20,McFadden, Cynthia. (December 9, 1999). . 20/20. interviewed on BBC RadioFowler, Damien. (January 2000). . Outlook. BBC Radio. and on Errol Morris's First Person,Morris, Errol. (August 14, 2001). . First Person. and participated in an online chat at He has written question-and-answer columns for New York Newsday,Langan, Christopher M. (September 2001). Chris Langan answers your questions. New York Newsday. Melville, NY. The Improper Hamptonian,Langan, Christopher M. (2000-2001). HiQ. The Improper Hamptonian. Westhampton Beach, NY. and Men's Fitness.O'Connell, Jeff, Ed. (2004). . Men's Fitness.

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