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Internet Explorer IQ story unmasked as bizarre hoax

Journalists are gullible, discuss

Users of Internet Explorer (IE) do not after all have lower IQs after all. A widely-reported study from earlier this week that claimed that browser choice corresponded to intelligence has turned out to be bogus.

The study, which claimed to be from a company called 'ApTiquant Psychometric Consulting', described how the users of "outdated versions of antique web browsers", by which it meant all versions of IE including 9.0, appeared to acore lower IQ scores in tests.

Users of rival browsers, Firefox, Chrome, Safari and Opera scored higher on the same fictitious tests.

"These data support the hypothesis that the IQ score and the choice of web browser are Related," said the introduction.

"Our data have important implications and identify reasons behind the continuous use of outdated browsers, that has been bugging the web developers and IT companies since the last decade."

After detective work by members of the public (note, not journalists) the study has been revealed as a hoax and in truth the journalists who covered its glib conclusions should have smelled a rat, starting a number of odd elements to the so-called survey.

The survey size was suspiciously large - 100,000 - and the possibility of measuring the IQs accurately over the Internet dubious. The survey struck some as biased and incredibly vague about its methodology. It was also never clear about what sample sizes were used to come up with its sweeping conclusions about IQ and browser use.

Techworld did not cover the story because it was dismissed immediately as sensational and silly piece of 'research' designed at best to promote the company that carried it out, but magazines always say that after the fact. And why the odd fixation on drawing value judgements about the intelligence of a hundred million users of Internet Explorer?

The BBC reports that suspicious users researched the company's credentials, finding that the web domain was only registered a fortnight ago. Images used on its website turned out to have been scraped from elsewhere on the Internet.The company does not reply to questions.

So, not a good story from the point of view of journalistic standards, but not, after all, a bad week for users of IE after all.


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