Tech media fooled by 'study' claiming IE users have low IQ

In other news, 84% of made-up statistics sound true.

"Research" claiming Internet Explorer users are dumb contained no actual research.

For Microsoft haters, last week's news that Internet Explorer users are dumber than people who surf the Web with Chrome and Firefox should have seemed too good to be true - because it was.

An operation called "AptiQuant Psychometric Consulting Co." claimed it had conducted online IQ tests of more than 100,000 people and found that people who used Internet Explorer scored lower than everyone else.

The report was widely trumpeted by many major tech media outlets as well as the likes of CNN, with one headline saying "It's official: IE users are dumb as a bag of hammers." 

If you're the kind of person who discusses browser choices among friends, you might hear Chrome and Firefox fans argue that the most informed computer users are likely to dump Internet Explorer, the default browser on Windows. The IQ study, which has now been shown to be a hoax, seemed to confirm that view and went unquestioned by most of the IT press for several days. Even iPhone rumors are vetted more closely.

But this morning the BBC, which also fell for the hoax, reported that the website of "AptiQuant" was set up within the past month and that "images of the firm's staff" and other material were lifted from the website of a legitimate research company.

"It's obviously very easy to create a bogus site like this - as all phishers know it's easy to rip-off someone else's webpages and pictures," Sophos security consultant Graham Cluley told the BBC.

It's not clear who is behind the hoax, but whoever set up the AptiQuant website is poking fun at itself with a new press release claiming "AptiQuant threatened with a lawsuit by loyal Internet Explorer users." 

It's not the first time journalists have been fooled by a hoax, and likely won't be the last. In my own exhaustive research, I have found that 84% of fabricated statistics sound true when paired with phrases like "exhaustive research."

Follow Jon Brodkin on Twitter: www.twitter.com/jbrodkin

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