Good news, IE users: Media flunked IQ test, not you

[Update, 10:50 a.m.: The people behind "AptiQuant" now admit the study was a hoax, saying it "was all meant to be a lighthearted joke." They say their real business is a comparison shopping website.]

Remember all those news reports last week about a study showing users of Microsoft’s Internet Explorer browser scoring significantly lower on IQ tests than users of other browsers? And users of the Opera browser registering average IQ scores off the charts?

Yeah, well, um … nevermind.

As reported by Computer Business Review this morning, the “psychometric consulting company” that issued the reports, AptiQuant of Vancouver, B.C., appears to have concocted its website in part by copying material from an actual company, Paris-based Central Test, which is disclaiming any involvement with AptiQuant or the study.

Compare the AptiQuant about page to the Central Test about page.

More evidence: AptiQuant’s site was registered on July 14, less than a month ago, despite the company’s statement that it was founded in 2006. This morning I called the phone number associated with AptiQuant’s domain registration, but the man who answered started speaking another language after I identified myself as a reporter, and he ultimately hung up after we weren’t able to communicate.

News outlets that reported on the study — including the BBC, Business Insider, CNN and many others — are now reporting it was a hoax.

For what it’s worth, I saw the reports about the study last week, but the data seemed a little odd to me. I was working on other stories and didn’t have time to get a reality check on the results, so I didn’t post. As I noted in this post over the weekend, AptiQuant’s surprise over the attention that the study received was obviously disingenuous, and I kept getting error messages when I tried to use AptiQuant’s online contact form, no matter which browser I was in.

That said, ultimately I wasn’t skeptical enough about the study, either, even though I didn’t bite quite as blindly as others did.

Here’s the real question: Who is behind this, and what were they trying to accomplish? AptiQuant lists an address of 498 Richards St. in Vancouver, B.C. Looking at online maps, it’s not clear to me what’s there. Any of our friends in Vancouver want to drop by and let us know?

Update: In their post acknowledging the hoax, the people behind AptiQuant say they run a shopping comparison website, and the address listed in the study results is also fake.

  • Guest

    I strongly doubt that any of Microsoft’s competitors is directly or indirectly involved. More likely it’s a few college kids having a laugh at everyone’s expense. The interesting bit is how gleefully the technology blogosphere and mainstream press seemed to report this. (Is technology reporting more prone to pandering to the biases of an elitist audience?)

    Of course, Microsoft dug its own hole with IE, but seems to be digging itself out again. I’m using IE9 as my daily browser, which I find to be nearly as fast and fluid as Chrome, but I prefer IE due to Microsoft’s Smartscreen technology. Maybe I’m a trendsetter… ;-)

  • http://blog.calbucci.com/ Marcelo Calbucci

    Every once in a while (weekly? monthly?) there is story that seems shady or untrue, yet, most blogs happily report them (citing sources so they don’t take the blame for it). Sadly, they don’t give the kind of headline or coverage to debunk the story once they find they were duped. 

  • Guest

    Thank you, Todd, for reporting that this ridiculous “IQ test” was a hoax. I did an informal poll, though, and found that many compusers are willing to believe anything that reinforces their decision to use and boast about their computing platform of choice.

    To paraphrase the film “Fight Club,” you are not your f’ing web browser.

  • Guest

    Not going near there today. But looking at the map, there either isn’t a 498 Richards or it’s the bookstore on the corner.That part of Vancouver has numbered blocks (400, 500, 600) with odd numbered addresses one side and even on the other. There’s a 440 to the left of the bookstore, which is a walk up to a second floor. Then the bookstore. Then you’re into the 500 block.

    If this hoax had been about Chrome or Safari my guess is it would have received about 1/100th the airplay or been revealed as a hoax within hours. The anti-MS echo chamber has grown pretty strong. A lot of it is deserved from past mistakes. But it’s really gone overboard.

  • Guest

    Not going near there today. But looking at the map, there either isn’t a 498 Richards or it’s the bookstore on the corner.That part of Vancouver has numbered blocks (400, 500, 600) with odd numbered addresses one side and even on the other. There’s a 440 to the left of the bookstore, which is a walk up to a second floor. Then the bookstore. Then you’re into the 500 block.

    If this hoax had been about Chrome or Safari my guess is it would have received about 1/100th the airplay or been revealed as a hoax within hours. The anti-MS echo chamber has grown pretty strong. A lot of it is deserved from past mistakes. But it’s really gone overboard.