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
OccupationIndependent researcher, bouncer, horse rancher
Known forClaims of the highest IQ as shown by having the top performance on High-IQ society tests.
Home townBozeman, Montana, U.S.
Spouse(s)Gina Lynne LoSasso

Christopher Michael Langan (born March 25, 1952) is an American horse rancher known for his claim of a very high IQ, frequently reported to be 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.[2]

Langan has developed what he calls 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]

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.[6][7]

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."[8][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.[9]

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.[8]

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[10] 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][8]

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"[11] and that the CTMU "explains the connection between mind and reality, therefore the presence of cognition and universe in the same phrase".[12] 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.[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: "You can prove the existence of God, the soul and an afterlife, using mathematics."[8]

The CTMU is formally unpublished and essentially unnoticed by academic critics.[14] One online critique from a mathematician attacks Langan's use of neologisms (or redefined terms) and obscure exposition.[15]

Chris Langan grooms a horse at his ranch in Missouri.

Asked about creationism, Langan has said:[12]

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]

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.[17]

Although he believes in God and the afterlife,[18] 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".[12]

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


  • 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).[19]
  • In December 2012, Langan was a guest in the Coast to Coast AM radio show Mind & Reality/ Open Lines.[20]
  • 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.[21][22]
  • Langan was featured in Errol Morris' First Person.[23]
  • On January 25, 2008, Langan was a contestant on NBC's 1 vs. 100, where he won $250,000.[24]
  • Langan appeared on BBC's Make Me Smart, with Michael Mosley in 2012.[25][26]
  • Langan has featured in various magazines, most notably: Popular Science,[27] Muscle & Fitness [28] and Newsday.[29]
  • 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.
  • 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)
  • 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.


  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. ^ Sager 1999; Brabham 2001.
  7. ^, Obituaries (July 9, 2014).
  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. ^ Muscle & Fitness, May 2001
  11. ^ O'Connell, Jeff. (May 2001). "Mister Universe". Muscle & Fitness.
  12. ^ a b c " Chat Transcript". ABC News. December 10, 1999. Archived from the original on 2000-08-16. Retrieved 2012-06-09.
  13. ^ "Teleologic Evolution". Retrieved 2017-12-20.
  14. ^ Goertzel, Ben (19-10-2015). "Langan's "Cognitive-Theoretic Model of the Universe"". The Multiverse According to Ben. Check date values in: |date= (help)
  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. ^ Preston, Ray (November 15, 2006). "Meet the Smartest Man in America". Archived June 7, 2007, at the Wayback Machine
  18. ^
  19. ^ (July 20, 2017). Spike Jonze & Christopher Langan MING Studios, New York.
  20. ^ Simone, Rob. (December 28, 2012). Mind & Reality/ Open Lines.
  21. ^ Smartest Man In America Lives In Missouri, KMBC-TV 2007.
  22. ^[unreliable source?]
  23. ^ Morris, Errol. (August 14, 2001). "The Smartest Man in the World". First Person.
  24. ^ "Episode 204". 1 vs. 100. Season 2. Episode 4. January 25, 2008. NBC.
  25. ^ "BBC One - Make Me..., Make Me Smart". Retrieved 2015-09-02.
  26. ^[unreliable source?]
  27. ^ "Popular Science | Wise Guy". Archived from the original on October 16, 2001. Retrieved 2015-09-02.
  28. ^ "Image: MUTitle.jpg, (584 × 382 px)". Retrieved 2015-09-02.
  29. ^ Dennis Brabham (21 August 2001). "The Smart Guy – Chris Langan is not your average genius" (PDF). Retrieved 2015-09-02.

External links[edit]