Study linking IQ with browser choice a hoax

A recent study that claimed to find a correlation between users’ choice of browser and their IQs is apparently an elaborate hoax.

The study, reported by a variety of news organizations, including GCN, claimed to find that users of older versions of Internet Explorer had significantly lower IQs than users of other browsers, and that users of Opera and Camino had the highest IQs.

However, the BBC reports that the purported company behind the study, AptiQuant of Vancouver, apparently set its website up only about a month ago and pilfered some of the information on its site from that of a French psychometric testing company, Central Test.

The staff lists of Central Test and AptiQuant show the same pictures and many of the same job descriptions; only the names are different. The photos of the respective founders, Patrick Leguide of Central Test and Leonard Howard of AptiQuant, for example, are the same. A Google search on the names indicates that the person pictured is Leguide.

Central Test has issued a release saying it has no “formal link” with AptiQuant and saying it will consider legal action against whoever is responsible.

AptiQuant had issued a report dated July 26, claiming to have given online IQ tests to more than 100,000 people and arranging its results according to the browsers people used to take the tests. It claimed that users of IE 6, IE 7 and IE 8 had the lowest average scores, with users of Firefox, Safari and Chrome in the middle and users of Camino, Opera and IE with Chrome Frame at the top.

The story was widely reported on technology news sites, as well as general news sites such as CNN, the BBC, Forbes, the Telegraph and the Daily Mail.

Computer Business Review reported that Central Test had also released a statement to the publication saying it had nothing to do with AptiQuant. CBR also pointed out that a Google News search for AptiQuant turned up no references to the company until July 28, when stories on its supposed research began to circulate.

There has been no indication of who might be behind the ruse, which was fairly involved.

The AptiQuant report included graphic breakdowns of its results and explanations of its methodology. After stories began circulating, it issued a release on the amount of hate mail it had received from IE users, quoting Howard on his reaction. The company later said it was being sued by a group of “loyal” IE users.

The company has otherwise been silent since reports of the apparent hoax.


About the Author

Kevin McCaney is a former editor of Defense Systems and GCN.


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