Intelligence Quotient (IQ) and Browser Usage
"Intelligence Quotient (IQ) and Browser Usage" was a hoax study allegedly released by a Canadian company called AptiQuant Psychometric Consulting Co. on July 26, 2011, that claimed to have correlated the IQs of 100,000 internet users with which web browsers they used. Its claims that users of Microsoft's Internet Explorer had lower IQs than users of other browsers was widely covered in the media, and its revelation as a hoax was widely cited as an example of the weaknesses of the media. The speed with which the story was reported was also alleged by some to be indicative of anti-Microsoft bias.
The hoax was arranged by Tarandeep Gill, a web developer from Vancouver, British Columbia. He claimed it was to raise awareness of the outdated nature of earlier versions of Internet Explorer that still have significant market share.
It came amid a wave of other negative coverage of earlier versions of Internet Explorer.
The reported results
|Browser||Average IQ, 2006||Average IQ, 2011|
|Internet Explorer 6||103||83|
|Internet Explorer 7||108||88|
|Internet Explorer 8||-||92|
|Internet Explorer 9||-||90|
|Internet Explorer with Google Chrome Frame||-||123|
The study was presented as measuring how IQ affects choices to adopt new technologies.
The report was covered by many news outlets. Initially the discrepancy was explained by that the advanced computer users with high IQs were savvy enough to choose other browsers.
When the report was first covered by the BBC some readers were skeptical of its authenticity and quickly noted that the domain for the company had only been set up a month prior and that pictures of the company's staff were from the French company Central Test. Central Test began investigating the issue and said it was considering legal action against whomever had used the photos. It was initially suspected that the whole thing was a plot to spread malware; however, the PDF was examined and none was found. As the hoax was uncovered additional problems with the report were raised, the results were noted as improbable and the task of collecting 100,000 users very difficult. The address given on the website was looked up using Google Street View and it turned out to be just a parking lot.
While the story was being covered Gill posed as Leonard Howard, the fabricated owner of AptiQuant, to the media. He also wrote a blog on the AptiQuant website about how they were being sued by Internet Explorer users and that it had been receiving hate mail.
Internet Explorer users acted defensively.
Some news outlets criticized the methodology of the study, although without realizing it was a hoax. It was even described as "Junk science at its worst". Some defended the study; for example, The Register wrote, "The methodology of the study appears sound."
The hoax coverage was said by some to be a victory for citizen journalism, as it was readers who first uncovered that it was a hoax. WIRED wrote that "Too often, business analysts and statistics and insider rumors carry a similar currency in journalism. They often add just a thin sheen of detail and a slightly stronger claim to verification. Really, guys, it’s just a color PDF."
List of news sources fooled by hoax
- Dino Grandoni, The Atlantic Wire (July 29).
- Business Standard (August 2).
- Ysolt Usigan, CBS News (August 1).
- Chris Matyszczyk, CNET (July 29).
- Doug Gross, CNN (July 29).
- Mark Huffman, ConsumerAffairs.com (August 1).
- CTV Television Network (July 30).
- Tim Worstall, Forbes (July 29).
- Adrian Chen, Gawker (August 1).
- Jason O. Gilbert, The Huffington Post (August 1).
- The Independent (July 30).
- Indian Express (July 31).
- Robert X. Cringely, InfoWorld (August 1).
- Lawrence Latif, The Inquirer (July 29).
- International Business Times (July 29).
- Kevin Fogarty, IT World (August 1).
- KGO-TV (July 29).
- Caroline Crouch. KNXV-TV (August 2).
- Daniel Bates. The Mail on Sunday (August 1).
- Mashable (July 29).
- Muy Interesante (August 2).
- Dan Amira, New York Magazine (July 29).
- Kevin Spak, Newser (July 29).
- Eyder Peralta. NPR (August 2).
- David Murphy, PC Magazine (July 30).
- Rik Myslewski, The Register (July 29).
- Matt Rosoff, San Francisco Chronicle (July 28).
- Nick Eaton, Seattle Post-Intelligencer (July 29).
- Jonathan Walczak, Seattle Weekly (July 29).
- The Daily Telegraph (August 1).
- Times of India (July 30).
- Douglas Perry, Tom's Hardware (August 2).
- Rachel Metea. "Hey Babe, What's Your Browser?". The DePaulia.
- Janet I. Tu. "Study claiming Internet Explorer users have lower IQs? Bogus." The Seattle Times, 8/3/2011.
- Craig Silverman. "Newsmangled: Fake study of web surfers intelligence proves media not so smart". Toronto Star, 8/5/2011.
- Bishop, Todd (8/4/2011). "This is the guy who convinced everyone that IE users are dumb". Geekwire.com.
- Paul Sawers. "The ‘Internet Explorer IQ’ hoaxer talks to The Next Web". The Next Web, 8/3/2011.
- "Why a web developer orchestrated the "IE users are dumb" study hoax". The Independent, 8/4/2011.
- Jonathan Walczak. "Anatomy of a Hoax: Study Showing Internet Explorer Users Have Low IQs Was Fake". Seattle Weekly, 8/5/2011.
- Jabulani Leffall. "Microsoft: Security is a Two-Way Street". Microsoft Certified Professional Magazine Online, 8/1/2011.
- Eyder Peralta. "Study Suggests Internet Explorer Users Are, Um, Kind Of Slow". NPR, 8/2/2011.
- John Paul Titlow. "Disgruntled Canadian Developer Behind Internet Explorer IQ "Study" Hoax". ReadWriteWeb, 8/3/2011.
- "Internet Explorer users 'have below-average IQ'". The Telegraph, 8/1/2011.
- Doug Gross. "Internet Explorer IQ report was a hoax". CNN, 8/3/2011.
- "Internet Explorer story was bogus". BBC, 8/3/2011.
- Zack Whittaker. "Internet Explorer IQ Story Called a Hoax". PCWorld, 8/3/2011.
- Tom Brewster. "IT Pro believes that a report claiming Internet Explorer users had lower IQs was in fact a big hoax". IT Pro, 8/3/2011.
- Lahmeik Stacey. "Web browser, IQ study discovered to be hoax". Digital Journal, 7/31/2011.
- "IE users are dumb - study". iAfrica, 8/2/2011.
- "IE users sue company over browser IQ test". KGO-TV, 8/2/2011.
- "Internet Explorer 6 users criticized in study". London Free Press, 8/1/2011.
- Robert X. Cringely. "Microsoft and IE: This time it's personal". InfoWorld', 8/3/2011.
- Machlis Musings. "What the 'IE users are dumb' hoax really shows us". Computer World, 8/3/2011.
- Steve Evans. "Internet Explorer 'low IQ' findings a hoax?". Computer Business Review, 3/8/2011.
- Rik Myslewski. "It's official: IE users are dumb as a bag of hammers". The Register, 7/29/2010.
- Johnathan Hartwood. "Canadian ‘psychometric testing’ company AptiQuant turns out to be bogus, after readers smell a rat". The First Post, 8/3/2011.
- Tim Carmody. "'Internet Explorer Users Have Lower IQs' Study Is a Hoax: Here Are Some of the Red Flags". WIRED, 8/3/2011.
- Dino Grandoni. "Chart: What Your Web Browser Says About Your IQ". The Atlantic Wire, 7/29/2011.
- Using an old browser may indicate low IQ: Study "Using an old browser may indicate low IQ: Study". Business Standard, 8/2/2011.
- Ysolt Usigan. "Internet Explorer users "are kind of stupid," says study". CBS News, 8/1/2011.
- Chris Matyszczyk. "Just how stupid are IE users?". CNET, 7/29/2011.
- Doug Gross. "Are Internet Explorer users dumb?". CNN, 7/29/2011.
- Mark Huffman. "Survey: Internet Explorer Users Less Intelligent". ConsumerAffairs.com, 8/1/2011/
- "D'oh! Are Internet Explorer users dumb?". CTV Television Network, 7/30/2011.
- Tim Worstall. "Internet Explorer Users Are Stupid". Forbes, 7/29/2011.
- Adrian Chen. "Internet Explorer Users Are Objectively Stupid". Gawker, 8/1/2011.
- "Internet Explorer Users Have Lower IQs Than Users Of Other Browsers, Survey Finds". The Huffington Post, 8/1/2011.
- "Internet Explorer users have lower IQs: study". The Independent, 7/30/2011.
- "Internet Explorer users are dumb: study". Indian Express, 7/31/2011.
- Robert X. Cringely. "Just how stupid are Internet Explorer users?". InfoWorld, 8/1/2011.
- Lawrence Latif. "Microsoft Internet Explorer users are thick headed". The Inquirer, 7/29/2011.
- "Internet Explorer Users Not as Smart, Survey Says". International Business Times, 7/29/2011
- Kevin Fogarty. "Did that study show IE users are stupid? Or that the pollsters who did it are fools?". IT World, 8/1/2011
- "IE users not the brightest, says survey". KGO-TV, 7/29/2011.
- "New study says the web browser you choose to use could say a lot about your IQ". KNXV-TV, 8/2/2011.
- Daniel Bates. "Internet Explorer users are stupid and have an average IQ of just 80, aptitude study claims". The Mail on Sunday, 8/1/2011.
- Stan Schroeder. "IE Users Have Lower IQ Than Users of Other Web Browsers [STUDY]". Mashable, 7/29/2011.
- Elena Sanz (2 August 2011). "Dime qué navegador usas y te diré cómo de inteligente eres". MuyInteresante.es (in Spanish). Retrieved 26 November 2013.
- Dan Amira. "If You’re Reading This On Internet Explorer, You’re Probably Dumb". New York Magazine, 7/29/2011.
- Kevin Spak. "Study: IE Users Have Lower IQs". Newser, 7/29/2011.
- Murphy, David (2011-07-30). "Study: Dumb People Use Internet Explorer | News & Opinion". PCMag.com. Retrieved 2013-09-10.
- "STUDY: Internet Explorer Users Are Dumber (MSFT, GOOG)". San Francisco Chronicle 7/28/2011.
- "". Seattle Post-Intelligencer, 7/29/2011.
- Jonathan Walczak. "Use Internet Explorer? You're Probably Dumb, Study Says". Seattle Weekly, 7/29/2011.
- "Internet Explorer users 'have below-average IQ'". The Daily Telegraph, 8/1/2011.
- "IE users are dumb: Study". Times of India, 7/30/2011.
- Douglas Perry. "A New Study Suggests Internet Explorer is for Dummies". Tom's Hardware, 8/2/2011.