The Decline of Collective Intelligence in Germany: Frankfurt Airport

I am currently reading the book Cognitive Capitalism: Human Capital and the Wellbeing of Nations by Heiner Rindermann, which is a tour de force through the topic of differences in intelligence, as measured by IQ, in a global context. One of the more interesting points he raised is that there are countries where a supposedly high IQ, as measured in standardized tests, is seemingly at odds with everyday experiences. Partly, this can be explained by meddling with test results, which he hints at in the case of a few high-scoring countries that are not quite in the first world yet. He also goes on to explain how it is often the case that a low country-IQ is perfectly well mirrored in the real world. In other words, a population with a garbage-tier average IQ is, in the immortal words of Donald “Orange Man” Trump, is highly likely to be found in a “shithole country. Rindermann does not specifically focus on Germany. Yet, I can’t help but think that a qualitative study on the cognitive decline in that country would be very timely because Germany is most certainly heading in that direction.

Some weeks ago I travelled via Frankfurt, Germany, again. As I was on a short flight between countries in Europe, a bus brought us passengers from the terminal to the plane, which was a small one by Bombardier. On the bus, I could hardly believe my eyes and ears. First, a recoded female voice advised us to board the plane from the front if we have a “low seat number”, and from the back, in case we had a “high seat number”. I chuckled because this is of course idiotic. No, of course it is not idiotic to board the plane that way. However, if you do not know how many rows the plane you are about to board has, it is quite unclear if your seat number is indeed high. With low seat numbers, a reasonable assumption could be made that the first ten rows are low numbers. On the other hand, with high seat numbers, this is far from obvious. I had a ticket for a row in the low 20s. Is this a high or a low number? Well, that depends on the plane you are about to board.

At first, I thought that this was simply a low-IQ woman making that announcement. Then I turned around and saw that an infographic was shown on the big-screen TV on the bus. It showed a plane with two doors and two incoming arrows. The first arrow had a note telling us that — yes, you guessed it right — “low seat numbers” should board from the front, and “high seat numbers” should board from the back. At moments like these you really lose faith in Germany. It’s not as if the signs have not been obvious for a long time. However, we are now seemingly at a point where there are no longer enough smart people around to keep the morons in check.

Just consider how much has to go wrong to make all of this happen. The Frankfurt Airport is run by a large organization. We are talking about multiple layers of management, people having their work signed off etc. Yet, nobody of the parties involved thought it prudent to point out that a key bit of information is missing and that their work is not particularly useful. Instead, none of them did. There were probably at least five people involved, the guy having the idea, some PR people, the person recording the voice track, some empty suits in meetings who discuss this project repeatedly. Yet, all of them thought that they are about to produce a fine piece of work.

You may now say that this is just one pointless infographic. Yet, it is a symptom of a much bigger problem. Imagine what happens if too many of the people in charge are simply not intelligent enough for their job? A smart manager may be able to keep the less-than-intelligent of his reports from doing something stupid. In my example, it would only have taken a quick look and, depending on how smart your underling is, either hint that there is something off in their work or tell them outright if they are a bit stupid. If you do not have reasonably smart people overlooking the work of people who are not overly smart to begin with, you are getting one step closer to Idiocracy.

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One thought on “The Decline of Collective Intelligence in Germany: Frankfurt Airport

  1. „. Yet, nobody of the parties involved thought it prudent to point out that a key bit of information is missing“

    Moments like that I feel for a second I’m not smart enough to get it, but then seeing these people push past each other at the alley on the plane I see the statement „high seat number“/„low seat number“ was idiocy.

    Sad about the movie ideocracy: even though the main actor explains logically his points, no one gets it. All they come up with is “he talks like a fag”.
    If you point out to a person (mostly women) in charge at the gate, that the high/low seat information is worthless without further information, you would be viewed as Mr. Smartass and hear something like “the management of this airport developed this process over yrs…they know their job better than you”

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