A recent study linking a person's use of a Web browser and IQ level has been found to be an elaborate hoax created by a disgruntled Web developer.
According to the fake study--Intelligence Quotient (IQ) and Browser Usage--performed by AptiQuant Psychometric Consulting Co., people's intelligence is best reflected, not by the books that they read or the activities that they partake in, but by the Web browser that they use.
The study, which said it compiled the results of 100,000 people--from Australia, Canada, The United Kingdom, The United States and New Zealand--found that users with a lower IQ were more likely to use Internet Explorer 6.0 to 9.0 as their browser of choice, while users with a higher IQ tended to browse the Internet using either Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox or Safari. Furthermore, Opera, Camino and Chrome Frame add-on users proved to have an IQ slightly higher than that of the previous group mentioned.
Tarandeep Singh Gill--founder of AtCheap.com--posed as Leonard Howard, the imaginary founder of AptiQuant, and fooled various news outlets into accepting the study as valid.
The Seattle Weekly emailed AptiQuant questioning how the study came into effect.
"We were just trying to add some features to our website, and found [Internet Explorer] 6.0 and 7.0 to be extremely difficult to work with, so we thought of doing this study," Gill told Seattle Weekly in an email, posing as Leonard Howard.
Gill admitted that his own frustration with Internet Explorer was what prompted him to publish the bogus study.
"While working on my latest website, [Internet Explorer 6] compatibility was being a pain in the a--," he told ReadWriteWeb.com. "So I thought of doing this, with a hope that this would knock off a few people from [Internet Explorer 6]."
The AptiQuant website was set up only a month ago and is merely a copy of the French research website, Central Test.
Central Test denied any connection with Gill's fraudulent site and is considering taking legal action.
"Central Test is investigating the issue and we reserve any rights to pursue legal action against AptiQuant, or whoever is behind this," the company announced in a press release.
The results of Aptiquant's fake study were compared to another--also likely fake--study conducted in 2006. According to the two comparisons, "the average IQ score of the individuals using the then current version of [Internet Explorer] was significantly higher than the individuals using the current version of [Internet Explorer] now, implying that a lot of people with higher IQ are moving away from [Internet Explorer] to other browsers," as displayed in the graph below.
AptiQuant Psychometric Consulting Co.
Bar graph comparing the results of a 2006 and 2011 survey demonstrating the relation between web browser and IQ level.
Although Gill's research lacks credibility, his sentiments regarding Internet Explorer are shared by other people.
Daniel Barros, a Frisco, TX, resident, believes that the data shown in Gill's study--although fake--still have validity.
"Hoax or not, it is still highly applicable," Barros said. "Some people were even refusing to update Internet Explorer; that's just ignorance."
While AptiQuant's fake survey provides sufficient false evidence for the claims it makes, it does give rise to the question: "What reasons do users say they have for using the web browsers that they do?"
"Firefox or Chrome are better experiences and safer to boot," Barros said. "I personally love Chrome, but anything is better than Internet Explorer.
Taylor Duke--a resident of Denton, TX, and undergraduate student at the University of North Texas--used Internet Explorer before Mozilla Firefox was introduced, but cannot imagine ever using the web browser again.
"Firefox's software is more reliable and gives more options to a tech-savvy person to customize their browsing," said Duke.
Lestor Andrade, a resident of Elmont, NY, is a loyal Internet Explorer user, on the other hand.
"I have become accustomed to clicking on the Internet Explorer icon all of this time, so it is what I have stuck with," Andrade said.
Andrade admits that, although he also has Mozilla Firefox installed on his computer, he still prefers to use Internet Explorer.
"I was curious to see how Mozilla Firefox worked when it was released, so I downloaded it," he said. "After using it, though, I found that it was not all that different from Internet Explorer; it didn't pique my interest for very long."
Andrade, however, is not so close-minded. Under the impression that Safari could only function on Mac computers, he was pleased to be told otherwise.
"I have used Safari on my friend's Macbook before and really liked it," he said. "Now that I know it can run on my PC, I will most definitely install it."
For now, there is no known connection between the Web browser people use and how intelligent they are. What is known, however is that Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox and Safari users rubbed Gill's false study in the noses of Internet Explorer users, but Internet Explorer users--knowing that their peers fell for a practical joke--laugh last.