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Web Browsers for Dummies (Updated)

by Brian Dunning

July 29, 2011

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Donate AptiQuant Psychometric Consulting Company in Vancouver has made some waves this week, by announcing the results of a large trial in which they compared IQ scores to choice of web browser software.

Their published findings indicate a clear tendency for lower-IQ people to stick with their computer's default browser, resisting both changes and updates; while higher-IQ people tend to use a newer version and are more likely to have installed a custom web browser.

AptiQuant offered a popular IQ test (the Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale IV test) to over 100,000 visitors to their web site, most of whom found it by searching the Internet for an online IQ test. All were from English speaking countries. The bottom line was a clear preference for Microsoft Internet Explorer versions 6 through 9 for people of lower IQ, and a clear preference for Safari, Firefox, and Chrome among people of higher IQ. Interestingly, the group scoring the highest was a small number of users of Opera, Camino, and IE with Chrome Frame.

This is an interesting study, particularly to those who engage in platform dependent religious warfare, but not the last word. The participants were self selected, and there is no mention of whether any measures were taken to prevent survey bombing by any particular groups. I doubt this played a terribly large part in the results, but it probably played some part. People who go to the trouble to install custom browsers, especially the more exotic ones, are likely to be those with higher cognitive ability. They are probably also those who use the Internet more often, and probably more likely to search the web for online IQ tests.
Update: A hoax! It turns out that this AptiQuant company doesn't really exist, and the perpetrators successfully fooled many major news outlets. Readers of the BBC website got suspicious and did some digging, and found that the web site had been set up only a month before the press release was issued, photos of the staff had been stolen from a different company web site, and the detailed data files they'd made available for download were bogus. As a non-Internet Explorer user, I take the hoax in good humor, and offer my kudos and congratulations to those who pulled it off.

by Brian Dunning

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