Upgrade your browser - the more intelligent option
Written by Janet Swift   
Sunday, 31 July 2011

Results from an online IQ test taken by over 100,000 people have been reported as indicating the users of Internet Explorer have low IQ and have provoked some IE users to threaten legal action.
Now this has been exposed as most likely an elaborate hoax.

Update August 3rd

Like many other reputable sites I Programmer reported the story below  that suggested that users of outdated versions of Internet Explorer has below average score on a web-administered IQ test. We checked out the details on the AptiQuant site, read the full report and commented on it. Now IT Pro has reported that the site which was only set up withion the past month is based on that of another psychometric testing company, Central Test and the report it produced seems to be a complete fiction.

The question has to be why would anyone go to this amount of effort to smear Internet Explorer?

The original news item can be read below:

A Canadian company that designs, validates and publishes psychometric tests for recruitment, career guidance and staff development, released its report Intelligence Quotient (IQ) and Browser Usage and found itself at the centre of a storm.

The survey findings were reported by Jared Newman on PC World with the headline "Internet Explorer Users Are Kinda Stupid" and as his story spread AptiQuant  started to receive hate mail from IE users.

In an attempt to defuse the situation Leonard Howard, AptiQuant's founder and CEO said,

"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."

And if a quick look at the chart below shows that this is indeed the case. There are three clusters - a below average one comprising all the versions of IE,  one that is slightly above average comprising Firefox, Chrome and Safari, and a final one that is again significantly better with three minority browser choices, IE with Chrome Frame, Camino and Opera.


(click to expand)

So what is the basis of this survey?

The test used was the Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale (IV) and it was taken by visitors from USA, Canada, UK, Australia and New Zealand (all English-speaking countries) who had arrived at the AptiQuant website via a web search or advertisement. Under 16s were redirected to another site and their results not included. Only browsers used by more than 500 subjects were included in the report which is based on the scores of 101,326 individuals.

It has been assumed that the subjects took the test in the browsers they routinely used for browsing the Internet and there is no reason to think the results could be biased in this respect.

The blue bars in the graph relate to a similar but unreported previous study taken when AptiQuant launched in 2006 when fewer browsers were available. At that time there wasn't as much difference in IQ according to browser used apart from the fact that Opera users with average IQ just over 100 were outperformed by all other browser users whereas in 2011 Opera users had the top scores on average.

The results would look very different if one labelled the browsers not by name but by date. IE6 which has the worst IQ performance is now a very outdated browser and IE7 is also out of date. Chrome, is well up to date and users of IE who also use Chrome Frame are in the top group which tends to confirm the idea that users who take the trouble to upgrade their browsing experience are brighter than those who put up with a below par browsing experience.

Although this wasn't a rigorously conducted scientific survey the size of the sample means that its findings should be taken seriously - but they should also be interpreted in context. The motivation for collecting this data was that AptiQuant was attempting to add new features to its website and discovered the difficulties associated with trying to cater for users with outdated browsers. To quote from the report's conclusion:

It is common knowledge, that Internet Explorer Versions to 6.0 to 8.0 are highly incompatible with modern web standards. In order to make websites work properly on these browsers, web developers have to spend a lot of unnecessary effort. This results in an extra financial strain on web projects, and has over the last decade cost millions of man-hours to IT companies. Now that we have a statistical pattern on the continuous usage of incompatible browsers, better steps can be taken to eradicate this nuisance.

Microsoft has been trying to persuade users to switch from IE6 with a fair degree of success - perhaps the mis-reporting of AptiQuant's results will give its campaign a boost.

Related article:

Microsoft's steps up campaign to rid world of IE6


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Last Updated ( Wednesday, 03 August 2011 )