Are professors really that smart?

Mathematicians smart, sociologists stupid

The show master G√ľnther Jauch usually knows how to find the right mix of stimulation and calming for his quiz candidates. But on Saturday in the election of Mister and Miss IQ there was no more mix. Instead, Jauch only handed out comfort, encouragement and encouragement. As with a maneuver, he had supplied himself with bandages and sedative pills and poured out the cornucopia of his palliative care over the guests.

From this it could be seen that Jauch rated the IQ test's potential offense very high: after all, a lot of people would look stupid. The masterful dramaturgy of the show was also geared towards "alleviating the affront". With the participation of the audience, the usual separation into voyeurs and guinea pigs was lifted: everyone was in the same boat. In addition, a group of celebrities took it upon themselves to articulate their own insufficiency in the IQ test and yet to illustrate with their own success that a high intelligence qoutient is not that important.

The average viewers were represented by an ingenious division of the tested into competing groups and thus, as it were, involved in a competition in which officials competed against blondes and housewives against strength athletes. And the agony of those who still suffered from the threat of self-esteem, Jauch so skillfully alleviated as if he were Mother Teresa. So far so good.

But is Jauch clear that he has reached beyond the TV studio of society in the intimate area? After all, he made it clear to the nation that talent differences really exist. In doing so, he discredited all educators and appointed representatives of the education system, who for years saw their task in the proof that the intelligence is an invention of fascist dark men who are preparing the discipline of an elite.

Surely that was not Jauch's intention. After all, he just wanted to revive the quiz fever. But its origins should have reminded him that his success as a quiz master connects him more with the education system than he might like. Although people are constantly being preached that the road to the fleshpots of society is knowledge, education officials refuse to tell them what they should know. Eventually the people broke their chops and checked quiz shows to see what the others knew. In this way, Jauch was given the opportunity to show that a quiz is as sexy as strip poker: with every wrong answer, the candidate reveals another part of his nakedness.

After seeing crowds of exhibitionists, nudists and striptease virtuosos, Jauch felt a certain fatigue in the audience. So he resorted to the collective IQ test in order to revive the matter by surpassing it. But this is more than just an increase in the dose, it is an encroachment on the intimate areas of society. Why?

Well, knowledge is external to the person, but intelligence is almost the person himself. It is entirely related to the person's self-esteem. That you are unsportsmanlike, unpopular, even overweight, you can accept that - but stupid - no, that's where the fun ends and the pride begins.

Because of this sensitivity, scientific wars have been waged over the IQ. And after we have painstakingly forgotten the debates about Eysenck and the inheritance of intelligence, we can still hear the war cry that had risen over the book "Die Glockenkurve" by Murray and Herrnstein. The bell curve describes the symmetrical distribution of intelligence around the value 100 with a belly of statistical accumulation in the middle and tapering flats at both ends. The symmetry works according to the principle of divine justice: for every leg that the Lord God made too short, he makes the other too long. In the same way, the bell curve tells us: Every gifted person is faced with an extraordinary idiot on the other side. Therefore, any collective IQ test will come out half of society as stupid; and each one sends the urgent question to heaven "Where, Lord, am I?"

This is what gives attitudes to IQ the real flavor, as an experiment in Oxford has shown. When an IQ test of all professors revealed that the mathematicians were the smartest and the sociologists the dumbest, they questioned the validity of the results because the test favored the mathematicians. Accordingly, the rule of thumb is: Anyone who feels weak is against the IQ test.

In the run-up to Jauch's broadcast there were a number of articles in the German press of the caliber of the leading article in the "Woche", which equated the intelligence measurement directly with the racist skull measurement. Others console themselves with Goleman's "emotional intelligence" or fall back on the traditional notion that geniuses are a bit insane, so that those who are stupid at least feel healthy.

But will that be enough to defend one's self-esteem once IQ measurement has become established? When the IQ decides about jobs, careers and partner relationships? (In the USA the semen of an average idiot costs about $ 200, but that of a Nobel Prize winner over $ 3,000.) What if the IQ is on the ID card and you get an official certificate of your own stupidity? Or does a new chapter in history begin last Saturday in which the vision that the English socialist Michael Young describes in his book "Meritocracy" comes true? After equal opportunities had been established in the education system, different intelligence classes had formed until the stupid, embittered by the continued insult of their self-esteem, massacred the others in a wild stupid revolt?

Did Jauch consider all of this when he moved into Germany's IQ taboo zone? Will the envious society accept it when it is discovered that Schleswig-Holsteiners and teachers are smarter than Bavarians and housewives? Did Jauch know that he gave the nation a shock of disillusionment that will cause them to take notice of the Tims Study and the Pisa Study, which attests that Germans have rather poor results in an international comparison of schools? Or has he negligently opened Pandora's box and unleashed a virus with his IQ on a society that is already suffering from damaged self-esteem?

If one assumes the constant stream of his words of comfort, he must have suspected that he could fall into the role of the sorcerer's apprentice.

The show was seen by 9.4 million viewers.

Dietrich Schwanitz is professor of English and author of the bestseller "Education. Everything you need to know".