Note: This story has been updated.
Making jokes about the fact that 10.7 percent of the world still uses Internet Explorer is as fun as it is easy. So easy in fact, we shouldn't be surprised to learn that a recent poll postulating that Internet Explorer 6 users have low IQs is a hoax.
"There is no company called AptiQuant, and no such survey was ever done," reads a post on the fake website's blog. "This was all meant to be a lighthearted joke."
The BBC, Forbes, Mashable, ZDnet, the Telegraph, the Daily Mail, the Register, Business Insider, CNN and yes, msnbc.com, are among the news agencies that reported last week that "a study" polled 101,326 people and found IE6 users average an IQ barely above 80.
Following the initial report, BBC had a hard look at AptiQuant, the so-called psychometric consulting company behind the study, and found multiple clues it did not exist at all. For example, it seems that the AptiQuant website — which showed extensive "research data" — is quite possibly only a month old. Further, staff photos match those of French research company Central Test, and no one at the AptiQuant contact number has yet to be available for comment.
The dynamics of such a study are also improbable. "I believe these figures are implausibly low — and an insult to IE users," Professor David Spiegelhalter of Cambridge University's Statistical Laboratory told the BBC.
Indeed, rather than shaming 10.7 percent of the world still on IE6 into upgrading, this quite-possibly-fake study did more to shame the Internet. Many commenters on the msnbc.com story pointed out that they and many others are compelled to use IE6 because they can't afford to upgrade their computer, or say they work at companies that use only IE6.
Those on IE6 should consider upgrading if possible. As we mentioned in our "study" coverage, Microsoft launched a countdown campaign with a website in its effort to get international usage of the 10-year-old Web browser down to 1 percent. (Msnbc.com is a joint venture of Microsoft and NBC Universal.)
Graham Cluley, senior security consultant at Sophos, confirmed to the BBC that bogus sites are very common. On the bright side, Cluley also confirmed that the study PDF downloaded by many did not appear to contain malware.
(Malware, by the way, is the one of the few things on the Internet with which IE6 is still very compatible.)
More on the annoying way we live now:
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- Dating site thinks it knows better than you
- Computer officiates wedding, signals beginning of robot rule