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Late last week several news outlets ran a story claiming that Internet Explorer users had a lower IQ than other browser users. The study was supposedly carried out online by Canadian AptiQuant Psychometirc Consulting Co. and the “results” indicated that users of Internet Explorer scored significantly lower than those using competing web browsers such as Firefox, Chrome and Safari.
AptiQuant even followed the story up by claiming they were threatened with a lawsuit by “loyal Internet Explorer users”.
The BBC was one of the original reporting outlets but they soon became suspicious after their readers discovered the website had only recently been launched.
It has since been announced that everything surrounding the story was a complete hoax. In retrospect, there were many signs questioning the legitimacy of the study and website but media didn’t put the pieces together quickly enough.
Since the hoax was revealed, much of the content on the AptiQuant website has been removed. Furthermore, those responsible for the hoax have posted a list of signs that “should have uncovered the hoax in less than 5 minutes”.
At the top of this list is the fact that the domain was registered on July 14, 2011. This could have been revealed by a quick WhoIs domain registration search. Other warning signs include the fact that the given address for the business does not exist and the Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale (IV) test is copyrighted and cannot be administered online.
“Again, this was all meant to be a lighthearted joke. We did not mean to insult anyone, but if we have hurt anybody’s feelings, we apologize for that. But what’s really funny is that everybody took the report so seriously, with comments like “Oh did we need such a study, we already knew that.”
In the end, we are once again sorry if I this report hurt your feelings. The main purpose behind this hoax was to create awareness about the incompatibilities of IE6 and how it is pulling back innovation. So, if you are still using IE6, please update to a newer browser.“
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