Super-recognizers? Why bother?

The world must be amazed and horrified by the recent disappearance of a jet plane full of passengers in Asia, with no trace of evidence to confirm what has happened to the flight. At least two things are remarkable about the disappearance of MH370; the lack of evidence of the whereabouts of the plane or wreckage, and the revelation of the lack of care commonly practiced in many countries in checking passports.

I don’t travel much, but it is my understanding that passports have photos in them that border-control staff are supposed to check against the appearance of the person presenting the passport as theirs, to see if the person in the photo is the same person claiming to own the passport. Clearly, it would be a good idea to hire super-recognizers to work in this role. But this idea seems almost comical when one considers that there is such a lax degree of border control practiced at many airports that it is reportedly a common thing for people to travel on passports that have been reported as stolen and are entered on an international database of suspect passports. The fact that two of the people on the missing place were travelling on stolen passports is therefore now seen as not such a big deal, and is not considered to be solid evidence of terrorist activity. While border control and security is such a low priority and so poorly done, we can hardly expect that organizations responsible for these functions will show much interest in recruiting super-recognizers.

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