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Browser IQ story branded a hoax

Internet Explorer 9

By Nicole Kobie

Posted on 1 Aug 2011 at 08:54

Update: A report that claimed Internet Explorer users had a lower IQ than those using other browsers has been branded a hoax.

After the results of a supposedly legitimate survey called IE users' intelligence into question, the news spread like wildfire, with - we're ashamed to admit - PC Pro publishing a story, as well as the BBC, The Telegraph and CNN, among others.

However, the Canadian company that released the research - AptiQuant – appears to have been recently set up and uses the staff images and company blurb from a French company called Central Test, which is a psychometric testing site.

Whereas the French company has been around for several years, a search on the domain name for AptiQuant shows it was registered in July.

AptiQuant released extensive research data along with the report, but PC Pro was unable to reach anyone via the listed phone number or email at the time of publication.

It's unclear who is behind the hoax, or what it hoped to achieve other than tripping up the media. We'd like to offer a tip of the hat to the hoaxers for a job well done and to our readers who pointed out flaws in the story - and apologise for running the story in the first place.

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User comments

“I just want to make it clear that the report released by my company did not suggest that if you use IE that means you have a low IQ, but what it really says is that if you have a low IQ then there are high chances that you use Internet Explorer."

Well that's all right then.

By Lacrobat on 1 Aug 2011


The average IQ is going to be lower for people who are in the majority group.Computer novices will be using IE most times, and not always competent enough to fill in IQ surveys on a PC.
Smart people might also not admit to using IE, if they are applying for a job in computing.

By Alreadytaken on 1 Aug 2011

Everybody's scared of a word

Even if it is true that "Stupid people use Internet Explorer" it does NOT follow that "If you use Internet Explorer you are stupid." Anyone who thinks it does is... following flawed logic.

Personally I try not to get defensive about political correctness, and try to avoid using terms that insult others on grounds of race, disability, orientation etc. But when did it become an offence to talk about having low or average IQ? Nobody's suggesting people of a lower IQ should have fewer rights, are they? Why are people getting in such a flap?

49% of people in this country have an lower than average IQ. Just a fact of maths.

Anyway... why did you think so many people are still using IE6? Religious reasons?

By Noghar on 1 Aug 2011

I reckon the main reason why people may volunteer to use IE is ignorance of the alternatives.

If IE does what they need to do then they probably don't feel the need to switch unless they are tricked (e.g. an automatic update) or specifically shown/forced to.

There may also be the brand, after all MS made the OS so they may trust them more than something they don't know e.g. Mozilla.

By tech3475 on 1 Aug 2011

or maybe those using IE are more intelligent?

As the report shows those with IE and the chrome frame have a higher IQ than Firefox, Chrome and Safari users. It's all a croc of sheep really

By TimoGunt on 1 Aug 2011


Flawed and time-wasting research is the main-stay of paid work for some.
How can you say it serves no purpose? Where would we be without these studies “Swallowing disc batteries can cause severe injury in children.” or “Burger lovers risk Asthma.” or “Polygamy makes for unhappy families.” and “Too much TV, video and computer can make teens fatter.”?
I mean, we couldn't possible know these things without a long and costly study? Could we?

I use FireFox. ;)

By cheysuli on 1 Aug 2011

What a total load of rubbish.

This "research" is so flawed it's laughable.

You could draw so many conclusions from the results it serves no purpose whatsoever.

By JStairmand on 1 Aug 2011

is this really hard to believe?

I mean look, IE is the default browser on nearly all computers sold, so of course more people will use it. The higher computer literate people might switch, and are more likely to, than the average user, im afraid to say mainly women, in my experience, who just use "The internet" and hope it works. I am not saying women have lower IQ, i am not sure what the test was about exactly, but it does seem likely that the people using IE, are because they have no idea there are other browsers, or just use a computer to do internet things and nothing fancy or power user(y)

By jamieostrich on 1 Aug 2011

I fink hes rong

Well I us Innernet Xplora an I fink the geezer int rite. I meen, me tattooze is all right way up and everyfink. I fink hes havvin a laff

By JohnHo1 on 1 Aug 2011

Until last month I used IE6 at work because that was all that was available to us. Now we have (three only faintly ironic cheers) IE7.

But that still puts everyone in my firm in the dumb box. Dammit.

By Phoomeister on 1 Aug 2011

IE and IQ

My experience does show that IE users are quite (very) dim when it comes to computers. The reason they don't switch is it is different and they can't cope metally with the change.

By Manuel on 1 Aug 2011



By Manuel on 1 Aug 2011

Does this work the other way around?

If everyone started using Opera, then does everyone become brighter? :P
Is it the browser, or is it the person...

By jamieostrich on 1 Aug 2011

Does this only apply to Canadians?

With August being the traditional start of the "Silly Season" I can see this story making the headlines in whatever newspapers still exist. Far more important than phone-hacking, famines, debt crises or civil unrest.

By Tiber on 1 Aug 2011

Self-fulfilling prophecy?

If a particular group interprets these survey results as an accusation that they are a bit dim, is that proof that they are?

By halsteadk on 1 Aug 2011


"My experience does show that IE users are quite (very) dim when it comes to computers. The reason they don't switch is it is different and they can't cope metally with the change"

My experience shows that people that make the type of comment you have, are really quite (very) dim.

By chapelgarth on 1 Aug 2011


basically the way I understand it is not all internet explorer users are stupid but more stupid people use internet explorer. So a bit like all thumbs are fingers but not all fingers are thumbs?

By davewpr on 1 Aug 2011

this survey still probably excludes the really low IQ

What about the potentially sizeable population who can't figure out how to fit the plug into a socket to turn on the PC... It could actually turn out that 'even' IE users are pretty smart compared to those who've never taken the survey (or of course it may be the really smart people don't waste their time filling in on-line surveys..)

But what we really want to know is a per country IQ assessment. The survey captured those from USA, Canada, UK, Australia and New Zealand... Now that would make the whole story more fun and a chance to air some good old ill-informed prejudices...

By mrhappy on 1 Aug 2011


dah dah daaahhh, blank, daaaah..................
watt izz dis paje dahhh..
knot poorn sight ahhhh...
dah doo..........

By vikarmo on 1 Aug 2011

So everyone working at Microsoft has a low wait....

By JohnWaller on 1 Aug 2011

Could be read another way...

May be its because the the other browsers need a post graduate degree to use/install/get the "Upgrade you OS now to get a new browser hint"...just kidding. I use linux as only clever people no IE there.

By saiftynet on 1 Aug 2011

Flawed and time-wasting research is the main-stay of paid work for some.

Ain't that the truth.


'mankind is responsible for global warming and it has nothing to do with anything else so lets raise taxes to combat it'.

Counter signed by King "I'll stop the tide" Canute.

By jontym123 on 2 Aug 2011

IQ != Techsavvy

Is this purely IQ, or is this whether the people are tech savvy?

I know a lot of very intelligent people, who don't give a t*** about computers and software, the machines are installed for them and they can just about use them, because they aren't important to the tasks to which they direct their intelligence.

My mother used to work for a very intelligent physicist. He was brilliant in his field, but couldn't drive, couldn't cook for himself and she used to write all of his cheques, because he couldn't get his head around such "wastes of time", which disturbed him from his work.

I bet he now uses IE, because that is what his computer came installed with. Does using IE suddenly make a major physicist dumb?

By big_D on 2 Aug 2011


I'd say you are absolutely spot-on with your evaluation on this.

This research is the type of generalisation that causes divides, perhaps knowing the exact research might open things up a little, rather than a headline grabbing topic...

On another note, if users aren't using IE6 or 7, then all the better. Preferably, they'll all be using IE9 - if they have to stick with IE.

By treadmill on 2 Aug 2011

I am very clever, but I stopped using Firefox because I was worried that Mozilla was involved in animal cruelty.

By Viktor on 2 Aug 2011

It might be true (might be) that people with "lower IQ" tends to use IE, but the fact is that IE comes with Windows, it is just there and those people with said "lower IQ" just don't choose to download something else and has to do the settings blah blah blah, when a browser is already right on their desktop ready for them to use, which does what they want.
I really wonder if these researchers have too much time to come up with these conclusions, where do they get the funding!?
I just don't see this has any sense..

By GN0000 on 2 Aug 2011

Utter bo*****s

Having read the report, it doesn't show user numbers anywhere. They say they've had 101,326 people take the test but they don't state the raw numbers anywhere else.

I'm willing to bet considerably more people that took the test used I.E. than any of the other browsers.

Furthermore they don't state what technology was used to make the test. Was it a basic raw HTML website or was it some kind of rich internet application that would've required a plugin for other browsers?

Other factors that haven't been taken into account are that a large volume of people browse the net at work and so are reliant on the browser their employer chooses. Few companies stray from I.E.

And finally what if (like me) you're a multi-browser user? Did the test automatically retrieve the browser you were using or ask for it?

By Big_Phill on 2 Aug 2011

We've been trolled

Turns out this story is a fake:

By Pantagoon on 3 Aug 2011

Tested on Animals

I asked my dog what he thought of FireFox and he said, "ruff!"

By Dave2207 on 3 Aug 2011

So I'm smarter than you think?

Hey, it would be hard to be dumber! :-)

By JohnHo1 on 3 Aug 2011

I still think we should aim for...

... all people to be of above average IQ.

By JohnGray7581 on 3 Aug 2011


wasn't that government child poverty thing based on an average? Which as you improve things means that you're aiming for a moving target.

Governments, don't you just love 'em? No?

By JohnHo1 on 3 Aug 2011


Hey jamieostrich, you're famous ;).

By Ian_Dyer on 4 Aug 2011

Bugus research and bogus PRs

Tim Harford had a great take on this debacle on his Radio 4 "More or Less" programme. He said that the BBC had consulted two mathematicians about this story before publishing and both had said the research was "highly suspicious". But the BBC went ahead and published anyway although with a sceptical quote from one of the mathematicians. They later apologised when it turned out the PR agency itself was bogus.

Why, Harford asks, is it journalistically ethical to publish bogus research from real PRs, but not to publish bogus research from bogus PRs?

I think he has a very good point!

By JohnAHind on 5 Aug 2011

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