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AptiQuant Browser/IQ Study Was Likely a Hoax 185

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the or-maybe-it-just-fooled-the-dumb-people dept.
A steady stream of people have submitted notes this morning saying that the story we (and the entire internet, and even NPR's Marketplace) mentioned recently talking about browser platform correlating with IQ looks like a hoax. Of course, if you read the Slashdot discussion, you probably would have known this already, but now everyone knows. The company responsible for the survey, AptiQuant, looks to not be real.
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AptiQuant Browser/IQ Study Was Likely a Hoax

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  • by airconswitch (2038108) on Wednesday August 03, 2011 @10:32AM (#36972424)
    After all, I use Opera.
  • It's still very funny. This whole business of calling it a "study" though is bad to begin with. A study requires some work. What this was at best was metrics, or "analysis."

    • Modern journalists really do have a sub-100 IQ, because their widespread publishing without question of this story proved it.

      • So, I guess they all use IE 6.
      • by Gerzel (240421)

        You are confusing "News Reporters" with "Journalist."

        The latter profession is to inform and investigate.

        The former is to entertain and engage.

        Journalism has nearly always been a losing proposition for actually bringing in profits without some form of government subsidy (such as using private presses to print public documents, or requiring some journalism to be done by private concerns in order to rent parts of the e/m spectrum).

        We happily are a capitalist society in a way our founders wanted (as long as you

      • by Darinbob (1142669)

        Actually the BBC did quote a statistician who felt some numbers were "implausibly low". Though the implication here was that the IQ test they were using was seriously flawed. But they didn't take the next step of trying to figure out what was going on.

        But that's journalism now days, reporting what other people say instead of trying to find the truth.

        • by Xest (935314)

          Well I think it was Cluley at Sophos, who simply said the numbers are an insult to IE users, but as you say the BBC then left it at that and didn't seem to wonder if maybe because they were an insult, they were actually made up and wrong.

  • So... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward

    I swear, Homer Simpson is right, you can find a study to prove anything. He conducted a study to prove that.

  • So what. (Score:2, Insightful)

    by kurt555gs (309278)

    They results still look true to me, even if it was a hoax. Think about it. Many of you know IE users.

    • The study said that the average IQ for IE users was 80. If they'd said 95, then it might have been plausible, but 80 means functionally illiterate and basically unable to function in society. Same at the other end. Opera users with an average of 120? Opera's market share is pretty small, but it's still larger than the bit of the bell curve with an average of 120.
      • but 80 means functionally illiterate and basically unable to function in society.

        You just described most of my coworkers. We use IE at work....

      • by rwa2 (4391) *

        Yeah, I caught the NPR bit, and knew something was amiss when they quoted "Firefox" as the browser with the highest-IQ users instead of Opera.

        Yay for reporting what people want to hear.

      • by foobsr (693224)

        Opera's market share is pretty small, but it's still larger than the bit of the bell curve with an average of 120.

        {Citation needed}

        CC.

      • by RMingin (985478)

        I think you misuse or misunderstand averages. You don't need the majority of people to be at the stated level to make an average, a few outliers can drag the average way up for you.

        For 120 average, you can have 5 120s, yes, or you can have 4 100s and a 200. Practicality and the Bell curve lean more towards the former, but the latter is possible (though unlikely).

      • by multisync (218450)

        The study said that the average IQ for IE users was 80. If they'd said 95, then it might have been plausible, but 80 means functionally illiterate and basically unable to function in society.

        According to the Wikipedia page on Intelligence quotient, modern IQ tests define the median result of a standard sample as 100 points, with a standard deviation of 15 points. 95 percent of the population have scores that fall within two standard deviations of the mean, meaning they fall between 70 and 130 points.

        The bel

      • by yuhong (1378501)

        Well, studies that are not perfect can still show a general trend even if the values are not exactly correct, and in this case I think it was common knowledge for a while now.

    • by rubycodez (864176)
      Surely only IE users were fooled by this story, they're always getting tricked into downloading malware after all. And maybe old Opera users, they can't think outside the frame.
    • They results still look true to me, even if it was a hoax. Think about it. Many of you know IE users.

      This is how you do a hoax... you provide results that "everybody already knows", such that it will confirm what people want to believe.

      Though in this case it might well be true.

    • by bonch (38532) *

      "The conclusion of the hoax coincides with my ideology, so I choose to believe it anyway."

    • The funny part is, IE was once the best browser, for the Mac. IE 3.x was faster and far more stable than Netscape 4.x on the Mac. I don't think it was ever the best on Windows.

      The major issues with IE are: security, javascript speed (excluding IE 9), non-compliant rendering, and that everything wants to install a new IE toolbar and/or activeX control. Therefore, I reserve IE for use exclusively with Windows Update. Even though MS has some IE only features on their web site, I refuse to use IE when visiting

    • by N0Man74 (1620447)

      Be careful, you are invoking Truthiness [wikipedia.org]!

      Browser choice has a lot more to do with a combination of personal preference, tech savvy.

      As much as some here might like to believe it, tech savviness (or lack thereof) is not a reliable indicator of intelligence level.

      • As much as some here might like to believe it, tech savviness (or lack thereof) is not a reliable indicator of intelligence level.

        No, it isn't. And when I am dealing with end users who prefix questions with "this is going to sound stupid", my standard response is "no it won't, and I'd lay odds there's at least one subject you know a lot more about than I do." A lot of techie types do fall under the delusion that you're automatically an idiot if you don't know about computers, but as you say it's mainly a question of experience.

        There is, however, a line to be drawn. I think my uncle is an idiot, based mainly on his lack of tech savvy,

        • Some people, you can help. Some don't want to be helped.

          That's the crux of the matter. A lot of people just want an audience for their hatred/fear of technology, and really don't want you to solve their problems.

    • by Darinbob (1142669)

      Average IQ of 80? I doubt that. That implies a lot of those people wouldn't be able to use a computer and yet were able to browse the web and voluntarily offer to take an online IQ test. Even if the study had been legitimate it would have been an extremely badly done study, bad IQ test, bad statistics, bad analysis, etc.

  • AptiQuant CEO: "Shit we've offended all the IE users and there's uncountable legions of those bottom feeders. You, minion! Spin something!".

    • He must be an internet explorer user then. An opera user would have merely put up a website where those offended could complain, but then make the site incompatible with IE, and suggest they download opera or firefox. THEN when they do, they'll become smart enough to realize the study was right, and won't complain.
  • by TaoPhoenix (980487) <TaoPhoenix@yahoo.com> on Wednesday August 03, 2011 @10:40AM (#36972572) Journal

    No one has yet mentioned the "post the hoax and earn revenue then post the retraction and earn more revenue" angle.

    • by Baloroth (2370816)
      Speaking of which, here is the "retraction's" print page [ibtimes.com]. Looks pretty sad and pitiful as a "story" when viewed that way. Oh, and here [bbc.co.uk] is the actual original story. The BBC is pretty cool, no need for its print page IMO.
  • by Dan East (318230) on Wednesday August 03, 2011 @10:40AM (#36972578) Homepage Journal

    Well that sucks. I swear my intelligence increased the instant I switched to IE with Chrome Frame and Camino. Damn placebo effect.

  • by boristdog (133725) on Wednesday August 03, 2011 @10:40AM (#36972584)

    So someone could have been a real journalist last week with a small amount of Google skills. Got it.

    • by Mashiki (184564)

      Journalism is dead. Long live infotainment, and being a partisan hack.

    • Or, they could also have contacted anyone with real intelligence testing experience to see what he or she thought of the report/results. But yeah, that would mean someone would have to do real journalism work.
  • by sandytaru (1158959) on Wednesday August 03, 2011 @10:41AM (#36972602) Journal
    The "results" seemed to fit all our pre-established notions of IE users in general - they don't know any better, because they are stupider than the rest of us. Now I would like to see someone do a legit study using this methodology and see what the actual results are. My confirmation bias says they'll actually be pretty close to the fake results.
    • by artor3 (1344997)

      It does indeed speak volumes that you believed it. It also speaks volumes that you still seem to. But it doesn't say what you think (that IE users must be stupid). What it says is that people always tend to think that they're smarter than average. It also says that people will accept without question any evidence that makes them feel superior. And it says people will continue to insist on their superiority even after that "evidence" has been debunked.

    • by adisakp (705706)
      People are much more likely to believe in something that they WANT to be true, even if it seems unlikely or the source is dubious.
  • It seems like a lot of work to be a fake. To give peoples browser preferences and their average intelligence doesn't really prove anything useful. As the only thing I could think of would be to poke fun at Microsoft and say Yes you have the higher market share but you got the market share of idiots. It is not like if you switch browsers you will become smarter.

    • You could potentially design your website to different tiers of intelligence then. Internet explorer detected? Load up the "whack a mole" flash ads and celebrity gossip references. Opera or firefox detected? Hide the the "LIKE THIS ON FACEBOOK!!!" buttons.
      • I am actually planning on doing this, though at the user's choice rather than automatic. We've seen the "I didn't read the article" / Teal Deer effect for so long, that no one page fits anymore, if it ever really did.

        Instead, depending on the type of method I decide upon, there would be "easy" "medium" and "advanced" levels of the same pages, so the folks who want the sound bites can get those, and the gang who wants to discuss the limitations of null bits in C can get the other level of detail.

        My basic ins

  • by neokushan (932374) on Wednesday August 03, 2011 @10:46AM (#36972672)

    Well played, whoever did this. Sure, a lot of /.ers are no doubt going to play the "I suspected it was fraudulent from the second I heard of it!" card, but they essentially trolled the entire internet and caught out enough big news agencies (from slashdot to the BBC) to make their efforts worthwhile.
    I just wonder why, though? Was it as simple as trolling the internet, or was there some other purpose to it? Can anyone think of a legitimate reason for this, other than a cheap laugh?

    • by Baloroth (2370816)

      Whoever it was, they put a lot of work into it. If you visit there webpage [aptiquant.com], you can see "articles", contact info (all generic email addresses. Telling, but not proof in any way) and bios for the personal working there (all faked, apparently). It would be difficult on first blush to tell that it was a fake. Even the name is well chosen (Aptitude Quantification). Maybe it was some kind of college psychology project? A masters thesis, even. Enough work went into it that I suspect there was something beyond "fo

      • by neokushan (932374)

        Exactly, a lot of work for what people are dismissing as a cheap laugh. Maybe they were just being thorough, but I suspect that they put the effort in for a reason.

    • by v4gr4nt (788897)

      "I just wonder why, though?"
      .
      Maybe all the inbound links from news websites would increase the page rank for the [2 week old] aptiquant.com page, then the link to the [5 week old] atcheap.com site at the bottom of the page would transfer some of that PR over.

      • by neokushan (932374)

        I suspect you might be on to something there, that certainly does seem to be a very out of place link (to the point where it took me a while to find it, knowing that it was there).

        • by v4gr4nt (788897)
          Also both domains are registered with dynadot and are hosted on adjacent IP addresses
    • by m_ilya (311437)
      I just wonder why, though?

      Hoax creator explains why here [aptiquant.com].

  • Ssssh! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Zocalo (252965) on Wednesday August 03, 2011 @10:48AM (#36972704) Homepage
    Don't spoil it now! I'm fully expecting a significant drop in IE6 users in the next round of the various stats put out each month because of this. Anything that gets users off that nightmare and onto something newer, even just a more recent version of IE, is a good thing in my book!
  • Not real?!! (Score:4, Funny)

    by PPH (736903) on Wednesday August 03, 2011 @10:49AM (#36972718)

    Say it ain't so Ms. Zuckerburg. They have a web page [aptiquant.com] with a Facebook link. They've got to be real [slashdot.org]. Right?

  • I wondered about that study when I saw it the first time. But then it started to make sense. My former workplace still uses XP/IE6. I knew I felt dumber every time I walked into that building. My new job lets me run Firefox and I certainly feel a lot smarter here than I did at my old job.

  • ... it probably is. The study sounded reminiscent of the study of IQ vs 2000 presidential voting [chrisevans3d.com], which requires some states to have average IQs almost in the drool-cup range.
  • by Registered Coward v2 (447531) on Wednesday August 03, 2011 @11:03AM (#36972936)
    ...Internet Explorer users, on average, fell for the hoax the most, with IE6 users most likely to believe it was real and IE8 users being somewhat less gullible. Firefox, Chrome and Safari users fared somewhat better as they tended to not believe it as much as the IE users. IE with Chrome Frame and Camino users almost never believed the hoax, while Opera users immediately new it not to be true.
  • Horizontally, information is getting better and better. We can find information and news in many countries and languages within a few keystrokes. Vertically, the inflationary impact of "free news" is decimating the editors. /. is free, but the model of submitting stories which are weakly edited and commenting on them is going to be correction-based after publication.
  • as individuals feel the need to find identity in all that we do, our browsers in the digital age have become that next natural extension to our endless search for the perfect definition.

    people are smart,
    people are stupid,
    browsers are software.
  • Great, another thread where we can pass off computer experience as general intelligence.

  • I use IE, FireFox, Chrome, Safari, and Opera... which, by my calculations would have put me at the top of the IQ heap (they are additive, right?). Now I guess I'll have to look for some other metric to prove how intellectually superior I am.
    • Research done in post-war Sweden actually showed that those with the highest IQ could all touch their elbows with their toungue. Another strange factoid for you....
  • ...even if the study itself didn't, or was faked.

    According to the BBC article [bbc.co.uk], "IE supporters, who have threatened AptiQuant with legal action."

    Right. Threatening the authors of a study with legal action, rather than pointing out flaws in the study, or doing a better study, or doing research into the possible reasons why the link might have existed, really makes it clear that those IE supporters are complete morons, who have no clue what research actually is, or how it works.

    People showing off their stupidi

  • Let's say I invented a browser today. Where would I put it? Github. Who's on Github? Geeks. They're smarter.

    If the browser were good, it would expand out through the social network with geeks at the root. The early adopters would continue to be smart people, until the circle started to expand to their dumb friends.

    Who uses IE? A very broad spectrum of people.

    I wager that regardless of the quality of the browser, the less popular it is the smarter the users are.

  • I personally think this and the previous story are a complete waste of time. A browser is a browser. Beyond back, foward, stop, refresh, and bookmarks/favorites I don't really give a shit what it does. Tabs are a nice touch, as are security features like popup blockers, smartscreen, etc. I mostly want it to provide me with the most screen real estate it can without making access to those features unnecessarilly inaccessible. On my Windows PC I use IE9, on my 4 year old Mac laptop Safari, and on my RHEL wor
  • I personally think this and the previous story are a complete waste of time. A browser is a browser. Beyond back, foward, stop, refresh, and bookmarks/favorites I don't really give a shit what it does. Tabs are a nice touch, as are security features like popup blockers, smartscreen, etc. I mostly want it to provide me with the most screen real estate it can without making access to those features unnecessarilly inaccessible. On my Windows PC I use IE9, on my 4 year old Mac laptop Safari, and on my RHEL work
  • As I posted to the previous Slashdot story about this (http://slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=2357650&cid=36941282), "Given the fact that they are saying [a particular test] is what they gave (when they don't mistakenly say they gave the WISC), the test results are not to be trusted."

    Basically, what was written up in the methods of the report was impossible to do IQ test-wise. A hoax is much better than such gross incompetence.
  • The point of online IQ tests, it seems to me, is to determine if you're smart enough not to waste your time on a stupid online IQ test.

    "You gotta not play to win!"

  • They dismissed the whole thing as a waste of time, and went on to do other things, while the stupid people filled space on the Slashdot article page discussing the "study".

APL is a write-only language. I can write programs in APL, but I can't read any of them. -- Roy Keir

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