Media May Have Failed IQ Test

A widely reported “study” showing Internet Explorer users had lower IQs than users of other browsers is looking suspiciously like a hoax.

The story originated with a press release from what apparently is “a Vancouver based Psychometric Consulting company” named AptiQuant. The story received widespread coverage as fact, with accompanying comment from writers. (For the record, GeeksAreSexy linked to the original press release but didn’t add any additional editorial text.)

According to the press release and accompanying data, the company conducts psychometric testing and, as an experiment, put up an IQ test which more than 100,000 people took. It then cross-referenced the results with the browsers used by each participant. In theory at least, 100 should be the median (not mean) average across the general adult population, with 95 percent of people scoring between 70 and 130.

It supposedly turned out (as illustrated above) that Firefox, Chrome and Safari users scored roughly in the same region, with Opera users averaging a score of over 120, but Internet Explorer users averaging below 100, with IE6 users barely topping 80 on average. The “report” concluded that people with lower IQs were less likely to change or update their browsers from the original.

The BBC, which covered the story, has now reported that not only does it seem the AptiQuant site has only recently gone online, but that many of its images are lifted directly from a French research company. Other reports say that AptiQuant also looks to have cut and paste text from the French firm.

The BBC also pointed out that in its original story, which appears to have been taken offline, it quoted a statistics professor who said the IE user test scores appeared “implausibly low.”

The AptiQuant site now claims the company has been threatened with a lawsuit by a group of Internet Explorer users. That certainly smacks of a bogus publicity-seeking story: not only would such a lawsuit have zero chance of success (you can’t libel a group made up of tens of millions of people), but it’s difficult to believe anyone would make such a threat.

Exactly what is real is hard to establish at this point. It’s possible the entire company is an elaborate hoax, perhaps testing media gullibility. Alternatively it’s possible AptiQuant is a genuine attempt to start a business, albeit one made by people with little regard for copyright laws.

Either way, the serious questions about the credibility of the company itself certainly cast doubt on the validity of figures that — as many GaS readers pointed out — were already looking very shaky.


9 Responses to Media May Have Failed IQ Test

  1. If IE6 users have IQs around 80, then they would be considered mentally deficient or even Retarded – which is why I call shenanigans.
    Anyways, part of a true IQ test is measuring how quickly you work out the solution to problem, along with whether it is the correct solution. You can get every problem right, but if you take all day to do one problem, that will significantly lower your score.
    In the time I've been working on computer, I've found older version of IE tend to be on computer owned and maintained by the elderly. So *if* this study was even real, that *might* explain the lower score of those using older versions of IE, as the brain slows down as you get older. Your ability to solve problems is generally not greatly impacted by age, but the speed at which you solve them is. But I still doubt you would see a score of 80, maybe 90-95 (five points is a lot in terms of IQ).

  2. If you just went to the website, you would see that they themselves admit it was a hoax. This article is essentially pointless.

  3. I said in the last post that this study being legitimate was a joke. I think I'll toot my own horn. ::toot:
    Please take this opportunity IE users, to pay back whomever might have belittled your intelligence with this 'study', by reminding them that they are in fact stupid for believing it to begin with. And after that, go get Firefox.

  4. We only believed this hoax study because it actually seemed legitimate based on what we know of IE users (especially older versions of IE).

    Stereotypes become that way for a reason. JUST SAYING!

  5. the some what sketchy study – Hoax – Narcissism and other good stuff aside.

    Is it a surprise that the ppl with the lowest IQ will stick to what they know, and the people with High IQ will adopt new technologies early ?

    Not really ;)