Christopher Langan

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For the actor and writer, see Chris Langham.
Christopher Langan
Born c. 1952
San Francisco, California
Residence Princeton, Missouri
Nationality American
Alma mater Reed College, Montana State University
Home town Bozeman, Montana
Spouse(s) Gina Langan

Christopher Michael Langan (born c. 1952) is an American autodidact with an IQ reported to be between 195 and 210.[1] He has been described as "the smartest man in America" as well as "the smartest man in the world" by the media.[2] Langan has developed a "theory of the relationship between mind and reality" which he calls the "Cognitive-Theoretic Model of the Universe" (CTMU).[3][4][5]

Early life[edit]

Langan was born in San Francisco, California, circa 1952. He spent most of his early life in Montana, with his mother and three siblings. His mother was the highly intelligent[6] daughter of a wealthy shipping executive but was cut off from her family's fortune. Langan didn't grow up with his biological father as he died or disappeared before he was born. This eventually resulted in an economic struggle for the family, causing a food scarcity, reducing the family to a life of poverty.[7]

Chris Langan (left) with a relative in the 1950s

During elementary school, Langan was repeatedly skipped ahead, which resulted in torment by his peers. Although teachers praised Langan for his college-level work, his peers still bullied him, not for his superior intellect, but because of his family's socio-economic status. Langan has disclosed that he was brutally beaten by his stepfather, Jack Langan. Chris Langan recalled that his "stepfather constantly asked [Chris] difficult questions, and when I'd give him correct answers to those questions, he'd bat me in the mouth or something of that nature to let me know he didn't appreciate a guy trying to be smarter than he was."[8] At the age of twelve years old, Langan began weight training, and forcibly ended the abuse, throwing his stepfather out of the house and telling him never to return, when he was fourteen.[9]

Langan says he spent the last years of high school mostly in independent study, teaching himself "advanced math, physics, philosophy, Latin and Greek".[4] He allegedly earned a perfect score on the SAT (pre-1995 scale) despite taking a nap during the test.[8] 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.[4]

Later life[edit]

Langan took a string of labor-intensive jobs for some time, and by his mid-40s had been a construction worker, cowboy, Forest Service Ranger, farmhand, and, for over twenty years, a bouncer on Long Island. Langan was also approached and contracted by Disney Research[6] and he previously worked for a Virtual Logistix, a technology company.[3] According to company records, Langan "produced original research in various fields of mathematics, including graph theory, algebra, advanced logic and model theory, abstract computation theory and the theory of computational intractability, artificial intelligence, physics and cosmology".[10] Langan said 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.[4]

Intellectual Pursuits[edit]

In 1999 Langan and others formed a non-profit corporation called the "Mega Foundation" to "create and implement programs that aid in the development of gifted individuals and their ideas."[3][8]

Langan has allegedly completed Design for a Universe, but is searching for ways to optimize the publicity and sale of the book.[3][11] Langan has also been quoted as saying that "you cannot describe the universe completely with any accuracy unless you're willing to admit that it's both physical and mental in nature"[12] and that the CTMU "explains the connection between mind and reality, therefore the presence of cognition and universe in the same phrase".[13] He calls his proposal "a true 'Theory of Everything', a cross between John Archibald Wheeler's 'Participatory Universe' and Stephen Hawking's 'Imaginary Time' theory of cosmology."[4] In conjunction with his ideas, Langan has claimed that "you can prove the existence of God, the soul and an afterlife, using mathematics.".[8]

The CTMU has gained both praise, and controversy in the scientific community. Robert Seitz, a former NASA Executive and Mega Foundation director stated "every physicist is inundated with amateurs' ‘Theories of Everything,' but Chris' CTMU is very, very different".[14] On the flip side, the CTMU theory has been criticized for its use of convoluted language. Langan's use of terms he has invented (or redefined) has made his exposition obscure, leading some to question his honest intention to make himself clear.[15]

In 2004, Langan moved with his wife Gina (née LoSasso), a clinical neuropsychologist, to northern Missouri, where he owns and operates a horse ranch and undertakes activities for his Foundation.[16]

Chris Langan grooms a horse at his ranch in Missouri.

Asked about creationism, Langan has said:

I believe in the theory of evolution, but I believe as well in the allegorical truth of creation theory. In other words, I believe that evolution, including the principle of natural selection, is one of the tools used by God to create mankind. Mankind is then a participant in the creation of the universe itself, so that we have a closed loop. I believe that there is a level on which science and religious metaphor are mutually compatible.[13]

Langan has said elsewhere that he does not belong to any religious denomination, explaining that he "can't afford to let [his] logical approach to theology be prejudiced by religious dogma."[13] He calls himself "a respecter of all faiths, among peoples everywhere."

In a 2014 radio interview, Langan said that he has worked on the P versus NP problem and thinks he can prove that P does not equal NP.[17]

Chris Langan in Popular Culture[edit]

  • In 1999 20/20 aired an episode featuring Langan. Neuropsychologist Robert Novelly described Langan's IQ as "the highest individual that I have ever measured in 25 years."[8]
  • Langan appeared on ABC News in 2000 [18][19]
  • Christopher Langan's life and career were featured as one of the case studies in the best-seller Outliers.
  • Langan has featured in various magazines, most notably: Popular Science,[25] Muscle & Fitness [26] and NewsDay.[27]


  1. ^ For the claimed 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."
  2. ^ 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."
  3. ^ a b c d Quain, John R. (October 14, 2001). "Wise Guy" (Interview with Christopher Langan and Science Works in Mysterious Ways. Popular Science.
  4. ^ a b c d e Sager, Mike (November 1999). "The Smartest Man in America". Esquire. Archived from the original on 2001-04-21. 
  5. ^ Preston, Ray (November 15, 2006).
  6. ^ a b Muscle & Fitness, May 2001
  7. ^ Sager 1999; Brabham 2001.
  8. ^ a b c d e McFadden, Cynthia. (December 9, 1999). "The Smart Guy" and "An Official Genius". 20/20.
  9. ^ Wigmore, Barry. (February 7, 2000). "Einstein's brain, King Kong's body". The Times.
  10. ^ From Vilox Advisory Board webpage, archived on 2001-05-03
  11. ^ "World's Smartest Man Speaks Out!" BBS Radio, July 15, 2014
  12. ^ O'Connell, Jeff. (May 2001). "Mister Universe". Muscle & Fitness.
  13. ^ a b c " Chat Transcript". ABC News. December 10, 1999. Archived from the original on 2000-08-16. Retrieved 2012-06-09. 
  14. ^
  15. ^  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  16. ^ Preston, Ray (November 15, 2006). "Meet the Smartest Man in America".
  17. ^ "World's Smartest Man Speaks Out!" The People Speak, July 15, 2014. BBS Radio.
  18. ^ Smartest Man In America Lives In Missouri, KMBC-TV 2007
  19. ^[unreliable source?]
  20. ^ Morris, Errol. (August 14, 2001). "The Smartest Man in the World". First Person.
  21. ^ Preston, Ray. (November 15, 2006). "Meet the Smartest Man in America"
  22. ^[unreliable source?]
  23. ^
  24. ^[unreliable source?]
  25. ^
  26. ^
  27. ^

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