Christopher Langan

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Christopher Langan
Christopher Michael Langan portrait.jpg
Christopher Michael Langan

(1952-03-25) March 25, 1952 (age 67)
ResidencePrinceton, Missouri, U.S.
Alma materReed College, Montana State University
OccupationIntellectual, independent researcher, scholar, bouncer
Known forCreator of the Cognitive-Theoretic Model of the Universe (CTMU)
Home townBozeman, Montana, U.S.
Spouse(s)Dr. Gina Lynne LoSasso

Christopher Michael Langan (born March 25, 1952) is an American independent scholar known for his claim of a very high IQ, supposedly measured at "around 195".[1][unreliable source?] As a result of his score, he has been described as "the smartest man in America" as well as "the smartest man in the world" by some journalists, although these claims are heavily contested by members[who?] of the academic community.[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] Influenced by the works of John Archibald Wheeler and Stephen Hawking among others, the work's central thesis is that reality is a self-processing, self-referential language, embodying a dual aspect monism and consisting of "infocognition", or information that resides in "syntactic operators" within reality.[6]

Early life[edit]

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

Christopher Michael Langan was born in 1952 in San Francisco, California but spent most of his childhood in Montana. His mother, Mary Langan-Hansen (née Chappelle, 1932 – 2014), was the daughter of a wealthy shipping executive but was cut off from her family. His biological father, Melvin Letman, died or disappeared before he was born. Owing to a combination of severed family ties and an absent father figure for her children, Mary was often pressured to adopt an economically itinerant lifestyle on behalf of her four children. This meant frequently living on violent Indian reservations in conditions of extreme poverty.[7][8]

During elementary school, Langan was repeatedly skipped ahead and was tormented by his peers. Langan claims he was brutally beaten by his stepfather, Jack Langan, who denies this claim. Langan recalls that "my stepfather constantly asked me 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."[9][failed verification] At the age of twelve years, Langan began weight training, and forcibly ended the abuse by throwing his stepfather out of the house when he was fourteen, and telling him never to return.[10]

Langan attended high school but claimed that he found himself spending his last years engaged mostly in independent study, due to relative indifference of his teachers in accommodating his pleas concerning his increasing need and capacity to absorb more advanced material. While left to his own studies, he started teaching himself "advanced math, physics, philosophy, Latin, and Greek".[4] He has claimed that he earned a perfect score on the SAT (pre-1995 scale) despite taking a nap during the test.[9]

Langan attended Reed College and later on Montana State University, however, faced with severe 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[11] and he previously worked for Virtual Logistix, a technology company.[3] Langan said he developed a "double-life strategy": doing his job and exchanging pleasantries during the day, then coming home to develop his Cognitive-Theoretic Model of the Universe (CTMU).[4]

Intellectual pursuits[edit]

Langan in 2014

In 1999, Langan and others formed a non-profit corporation named the Mega Foundation to "create and implement programs that aid in the development of severely gifted individuals and their ideas" (the organization's designation for those with IQs of 164 or above).[3][9]

Langan told Muscle & Fitness magazine 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] Langan contends that anything sufficiently real to influence reality must be within reality, and that mind and reality are ultimately inseparable to the extent that they share common rules of structure and processing.[14] 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: "You can prove the existence of God, the soul and an afterlife, using mathematics."[9]

The CTMU has been criticized for what some perceive as convoluted language. Critics argue that Langan's use of neologisms (or redefined terms) has made his exposition obscure and that his use of previously undefined verbose language serves only to confuse readers. Some suggest this is deliberate. The theory does define its terms, however, although there is no glossary. Additional criticism has been levied over the theory's relatively small amount of references to other academic sources and its lack of significant mathematical backing beyond arbitrary formal logic, as well as its lack of support in the scientific community. The CTMU, being a perpetual work in progress, has been characterized as a so-called supertautology by Mr. Langan.[15]

Chris Langan grooms a horse at his ranch in Missouri.

Asked about creationism, Langan has said:[13]

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.

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. However, he states that he think his work might not be reviewed by the community, and so does not wish to spend the time and effort. [16]

In March 2017, Langan's article "An Introduction to Mathematical Metaphysics" was published in Cosmos and History: The Journal of Natural and Social Philosophy, Vol 13, No 2 (2017).[17]

In January 2018, Langan's article "Metareligion as the Human Singularity" was published in Cosmos and History: The Journal of Natural and Social Philosophy, Vol 14, No 1 (2018).[18]

In August 2018, Langan's article "The Metaformal System: Completing the Theory of Language" was published in Cosmos and History: The Journal of Natural and Social Philosophy, Vol 14, No 2 (2018).[19]

According to ResearchGate, that journal has an impact factor of 0.09 (none) [20]. As per Google Scholar, 6 May 2019, only the first article received a single citation [21] , not counting citations by Langan himself.

Personal life[edit]

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.[22]

Although he believes in God and the afterlife,[23] Langan 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]

Langan's personal history was included in the 2008 nonfiction book Outliers: The Story of Success by Malcolm Gladwell.

In popular culture[edit]

  • In July 2017 Langan was interviewed by Spike Jonze in Spike Jonze & Christopher Langan Conversation at Multiplex Conversations. (Note: Password for the video is: ming).[24]
  • In July 2017, Langan appeared in KTVO article Heartland theorist finding God.[25]
  • In October 2016, Langan was featured in The Kansas City Star article Trump towers in Missouri’s Mercer County, which favors The Donald.[26]
  • In July 2014 Langan was a guest in the BBS Radio show Christopher Langan On The Universe.[27]
  • In December 2012, Langan was a guest in the Coast to Coast AM radio show Mind & Reality/ Open Lines.[28]
  • 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."[9]
  • Langan appeared on ABC News in 2000.[29][30]
  • Langan was featured in Errol Morris' First Person.[31]
  • Langan was featured on KMOV in 2006.[32][33]
  • On January 25, 2008, Langan was a contestant on NBC's 1 vs. 100, where he won $250,000.[34]
  • Langan appeared on BBC's Make Me Smart, with Michael Mosley in 2012.[35][36]
  • Langan has featured in various magazines, most notably: Popular Science,[37] Muscle & Fitness [38] and Newsday.[39]
  • Sager, Mike (November 1999). "The Smartest Man in America". Esquire. Archived from the original on 2001-04-21.
  • Quain, John R. (October 14, 2001). "Wise Guy" (Interview with Christopher Langan and Science Works in Mysterious Ways; a scan is available at Google Books). Popular Science.
  • Wigmore, Barry. (February 7, 2000). "Einstein's brain, King Kong's body". The Times.
  • Langan, Christopher M. (September 2001). Chris Langan answers your questions. New York Newsday. Melville, NY.
  • Langan, Christopher M. (2000–2001). HiQ. The Improper Hamptonian. Westhampton Beach, NY.
  • Brabham, Dennis (August 20, 2001). "The Smart Guy". Newsday.
  • O'Connell, Jeff, Ed. (2004). World of knowledge: we harness the expertise of the brawny, the brainy, and the bearded to solve your most pressing dilemmas. Men's Fitness.
  • Larsson, Mats (January 12, 2000) "Smartest i verden" Dagbladet (Norway)
  • "Book Review". 2008-11-18. Retrieved 2012-06-09.
  • Life and career featured as case study in Gladwell, Malcolm (2008). Outliers: The Story of Success. Little, Brown and Company. ISBN 978-0-316-01792-3.
  • SuperScholar Interview with Christopher Langan
  • Groth-Marnat, Gary (2009). Handbook of Psychological Assessment (Fifth ed.). Hoboken (NJ): Wiley. ISBN 978-0-470-08358-1. Lay summary (11 September 2010).
  • Roy Batty (2018) World’s Smartest Man


  1. ^ 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 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 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. ^ Langan, Christopher Michael (2002). "The Cognitive-Theoretic Model of the Universe: A New Kind of Reality Theory" (PDF). Retrieved December 20, 2017.
  7. ^ Sager 1999; Brabham 2001.
  8. ^, Obituaries (July 9, 2014).
  9. ^ a b c d e McFadden, Cynthia. (December 9, 1999). "The Smart Guy" and "An Official Genius". 20/20.
  10. ^ Wigmore, Barry. (February 7, 2000). "Einstein's brain, King Kong's body". The Times.
  11. ^ Muscle & Fitness, May 2001
  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. ^ "Teleologic Evolution". Retrieved 2017-12-20.
  15. ^ "Another Crank comes to visit: The Cognitive Theoretic Model of the Universe".
  16. ^ "World's Smartest Man Speaks Out!" Archived 2014-07-26 at The People Speak, July 15, 2014. BBS Radio.
  17. ^ Langan, Christopher (2017-03-26). "An Introduction to Mathematical Metaphysics". Cosmos and History: The Journal of Natural and Social Philosophy. 13 (2): 313–330. ISSN 1832-9101.
  18. ^ Langan, Christopher (January 2018). "Metareligion as the Human Singularity". Cosmos and History: The Journal of Natural and Social Philosophy. 14: 321–332.
  19. ^ Langan, Christopher (August 2018). "The Metaformal System: Completing the Theory of Language". Cosmos and History: The Journal of Natural and Social Philosophy. 14: 207–227.
  20. ^ url=
  21. ^ url=
  22. ^ Preston, Ray (November 15, 2006). "Meet the Smartest Man in America". Archived June 7, 2007, at the Wayback Machine
  23. ^
  24. ^ (July 20, 2017). Spike Jonze & Christopher Langan MING Studios, New York.
  25. ^ Finley, Louis. (July 26, 2017). Heartland theorist finding God.
  26. ^ Montgomery, Rick. (October 12, 2016). Trump towers in Missouri’s Mercer County, which favors The Donald.
  27. ^ (July 15, 2014). The People Speak.
  28. ^ Simone, Rob. (December 28, 2012). Mind & Reality/ Open Lines.
  29. ^ Smartest Man In America Lives In Missouri, KMBC-TV 2007.
  30. ^[unreliable source?]
  31. ^ Morris, Errol. (August 14, 2001). "The Smartest Man in the World". First Person.
  32. ^ Preston, Ray. (November 15, 2006). "Meet the Smartest Man in America"
  33. ^[unreliable source?]
  34. ^ "Episode 204". 1 vs. 100. Season 2. Episode 4. January 25, 2008. NBC.
  35. ^ "BBC One - Make Me..., Make Me Smart". Retrieved 2015-09-02.
  36. ^[unreliable source?]
  37. ^ "Popular Science | Wise Guy". Archived from the original on October 16, 2001. Retrieved 2015-09-02.
  38. ^ "Image: MUTitle.jpg, (584 × 382 px)". Retrieved 2015-09-02.
  39. ^ Dennis Brabham (21 August 2001). "The Smart Guy – Chris Langan is not your average genius" (PDF). Retrieved 2015-09-02.

External links[edit]