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[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.

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