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Browser choice and IQ
July 29, 2011 11:17 PM   Subscribe

Aptiquant (PDF) has correlated browser choices with IQ scores for online IQ tests and found that IE users in 2011 score well under average. IE6 users had an average IQ of 82. Opera users rated 124.
posted by Chocolate Pickle (79 comments total) 7 users marked this as a favorite

 
Great another shallow metric for judging people; exactly what the world needs.
posted by smoke at 11:20 PM on July 29, 2011 [5 favorites]


The IQ test is an antiquated, biased, and obsolete measure of intelligence.

Except for when its bias is in my favour.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 11:24 PM on July 29, 2011 [16 favorites]


"What browsers do you have on your computer?"

"Oh, all of them."
posted by maudlin at 11:25 PM on July 29, 2011 [15 favorites]


I.. just... what...? I think my brain just seized-up a little.


Now that we have a statistical pattern on the continuous usage of incompatible browsers, better steps can be taken to eradicate this nuisance.

I am truly getting a strong "arrogant prick" vibe from this whole thing.
posted by edgeways at 11:31 PM on July 29, 2011 [5 favorites]


MetaFilter: I am truly getting a strong "arrogant prick" vibe from this whole thing.
posted by Hargrimm at 11:32 PM on July 29, 2011 [24 favorites]


The majority of the IE6 test results were actually from zombie botnets, not human users.
posted by Horselover Phattie at 11:33 PM on July 29, 2011 [4 favorites]


If you are still using IE 6, you probably aren't too smart.
posted by borges at 11:34 PM on July 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


Hm. Maybe that's why I've always found Opera's various iterations to be weird and unnecessarily complicated. I'm not smart enough for it.
posted by schmod at 11:37 PM on July 29, 2011 [4 favorites]


Great another shallow metric for judging people

I dunno... I've always used browser choice as a shallow metric for judging people.
posted by GeckoDundee at 11:38 PM on July 29, 2011 [13 favorites]


*Downloads Opera*
posted by troll at 11:39 PM on July 29, 2011 [4 favorites]


Wow just what I need, an excuse to demean IE users. Thanks! God knows the internet doesn't have enough of that.
posted by catwash at 11:46 PM on July 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


Hey, lay off. I have to download other browsers with something.
posted by louche mustachio at 11:50 PM on July 29, 2011 [2 favorites]


"What browsers do you have on your computer?"

"Oh, all of them."


144 browsers on the floor, 6 left in the box, 6 left in the box, 144 browsers on the floor....
posted by mannequito at 11:52 PM on July 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


What exactly is the point of this? To make some people feel better that their arbitrarily assigned number is higher than someone else's?
posted by spiderskull at 11:57 PM on July 29, 2011


What exactly is the point of this? To make some people feel better that their arbitrarily assigned number is higher than someone else's?

So you are running IE6 then?

I kid...I Kid.....you set yourself up man.
posted by dibblda at 12:16 AM on July 30, 2011


And, as we all know, correlation implies superiority.
posted by Malor at 12:30 AM on July 30, 2011 [3 favorites]


I bet if they kept track of the OS as well the results would be even more skewed.

Going back to my game of 6-dimensional chess now.
posted by Dr Dracator at 12:35 AM on July 30, 2011 [2 favorites]


What is a b-r-o-w-s-e-r?
posted by clavdivs at 12:50 AM on July 30, 2011


Well, if I didn't want to use IE before, I do now.
posted by seanyboy at 12:54 AM on July 30, 2011


This data from Digg is a couple of years old but still interesting. It indicates that IE6 users are much more likely to be at work (and not able to choose their own browser) than users of other browsers. It wouldn't be surprising if needing to maintain the appearance of working were to have an effect on the test scores.
posted by tomcooke at 12:57 AM on July 30, 2011 [6 favorites]


That's how you prove your superior intelligence - not by taking tests, but by shooting holes in them!
posted by hat_eater at 1:09 AM on July 30, 2011


I wonder just how many of the online IQ test score takers would score as low as 80 if you were to sit them down in a proper test centre? My guess: not many. If you have been through any sort of school you will probably have a pretty strong gut feeling about whether you are likely to be good at such a test. I suggest that the audience of online test takers is predominantly composed of those who wish to validate their suspicions that they score pretty high.

But what might happen is that some users are getting interrupted in their testing and just deciding to press "submit" without having answered all the questions - or they are getting distracted during the tests. These people are much more likely to be at work and hence using IE6 - browser of choice for the cash starved or badly run IT department.
posted by rongorongo at 2:11 AM on July 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


If I switch to Opera, I might one day be a genius like Scott Adams.
posted by Joey Michaels at 2:30 AM on July 30, 2011 [3 favorites]


But what might happen is that some users are getting interrupted in their testing and just deciding to press "submit" without having answered all the questions - or they are getting distracted during the tests.

That was my first thought.

Let's see here... Which shape on the diagram completes the-
*pop* What? No! I DON'T wish to order any Viagra at this time! -close window-
Now let's see, the shape that comes next in the series after the-
*pop* What? Uh, no I don't need car insurance right now -close window-
Okay, the shape that should come next after the square here would be-
*pop* Ugh, not again. No, I don't want to win an iPod. -close window-
Right! Circle, triangle, square, blank. That should be a-
*pop* What? I have a virus??
posted by Avelwood at 2:31 AM on July 30, 2011 [18 favorites]


Well, where I work the IT steering committee has just decided that they will not be upgrading to IE7 - or 8, or 9 and that IE 6 is just fine.

Also they have decided that the organisation's social networking policy will be that social networking it a tool for other organisations.

Great. Business as usual then.
posted by the noob at 2:40 AM on July 30, 2011 [4 favorites]


If you use neither browser does that make you a radical genius?
posted by bwg at 2:42 AM on July 30, 2011


What is a b-r-o-w-s-e-r?

What is a Browser?
posted by twoleftfeet at 2:45 AM on July 30, 2011


When I was a kid, people would talk about "high-brow" stuff (like philosophy and poetry and science) in contradistinction to "low-brow" stuff (like dog racing and fish sticks and porn).

There should be "high-browsers", optimized for arts and sciences, and "low-browsers", optimized for gambling and porn.

I will use them both.
posted by twoleftfeet at 2:50 AM on July 30, 2011 [11 favorites]


Well, where I work the IT steering committee has just decided that they will not be upgrading to IE7 - or 8, or 9 and that IE 6 is just fine.

Hm. Which of the following is it?

1) You have (an undoubtedly crappy) legacy intranet app while relies on activex, and no one wants to find a replacement, or there is no money to replace it;

2) Your "IT steering committee" consists of volunteers from a retirement home who are like my mother--any new software or any upgrade is reason to hide in the closet;

3) Your IT department head is a guy named Bob who still regrets giving up the VAX and, when he's not trying to peer down the shirts of any female co-workers, spends the day alternately telling you what hot shit he was in 1983 or reading the latest issue of "Barely-Competent-But-Older-Guy-Who-Makes-the-Ancient-Lead-Partner-Feel-Better-About-Those-New-Fangled-Computers IT Director Quarterly". (I used to work for Bob.)

4) Said lead partner has a genealogy application which only works in IE6, and he's going to be danged if the family tree he's entered just goes poof just for silly business, security and compatibility issues.
posted by maxwelton at 3:11 AM on July 30, 2011 [11 favorites]


I know very little about IQ stats, browsers etc but offhand, if you use IE then you are not using a Mac, right? so that computer platform would have some input into this sort of study, no?
posted by Postroad at 3:13 AM on July 30, 2011


twoleftfeet: There should be "high-browsers", optimized for arts and sciences, and "low-browsers", optimized for gambling and porn.

So in a high-browser my pr0n renders as prawns? I could get into that.
posted by troll at 3:23 AM on July 30, 2011


Clearly we need favorite/comment ratios broken down by browser.
posted by srboisvert at 3:29 AM on July 30, 2011


It's a web browser, bro.
posted by Evernix at 3:40 AM on July 30, 2011


So in a high-browser my pr0n renders as prawns?

The great problem with the web is that it originated with theoretical physicists in Switzerland and now is used by teenagers jerking off in Peoria. If anybody had thought about the way the thing would play out, they would have gone directly to the end user (which is just reasonable interface design.)

If proper principles of end-user design had been followed, the FART tag would be an HTML 3 standard. Google.com wouldn't have become a major site. Instead, Ogle.com - a site devoted to searching for naked ladies - would be the major player online. Twitter would be more twat oriented.

It's sad that Swiss theoretical physicists had so much to do with the development of the web, but fortunately ordinary people are correcting that daily.
posted by twoleftfeet at 3:40 AM on July 30, 2011 [2 favorites]


If proper principles of end-user design had been followed, the FART tag would be an HTML 3 standard.
It's already a best-selling app for iPhones.
So, tech does catch up to end-users eventually.
posted by CCBC at 3:56 AM on July 30, 2011


I've got Opera, Safari, Chrome, Firefox, and IE installed on my other machine. The one that isn't a chrome OS net book. I don't know why any of those choices would make me more or less smart. Frankly I wonder if I'm smart for getting on the Internet at all.

There should be "high-browsers", optimized for arts and sciences, and "low-browsers", optimized for gambling and porn.

That would be Chrome, and Chrome in incognito mode respectively.
posted by BrotherCaine at 4:09 AM on July 30, 2011


*Downloads Opera*
posted by troll at 8:39 on July 30


Hey! we don't want you here, lowering our score.

I don't know why any of those choices would make me more or less smart.

Correlation causation something something.
posted by palbo at 4:17 AM on July 30, 2011


I only use IE6 to post comments here.

So that explains that.
posted by Benny Andajetz at 4:20 AM on July 30, 2011


Well, where I work the IT steering committee has just decided that they will not be upgrading to IE7 - or 8, or 9 and that IE 6 is just fine.

Do you work where I do? Not only is IE6 the default browser but despite the fact that Microsoft is our standard software for everything, Bing is inexplicately blocked by the filtering software they use. Which brings up another question: which search engine correlates with the highest IQ?
posted by TedW at 4:35 AM on July 30, 2011


So what does your email client say about your IQ? Who fears the g-mail man?
posted by Obscure Reference at 4:41 AM on July 30, 2011


Where's the graph showing IQ vs surprise that the search engine with the most users has the mean IQ that's most average?
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 4:43 AM on July 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


Looking at it another way, IE6 must be the easiest browser to use and Opera the hardest. A win for IE6!
posted by dickasso at 4:45 AM on July 30, 2011


Yeah, sure. Correlation doesn't mean causation, and online tests don't accurately convey intelligence- but (anecdotes not being data aside) every single person I've seen running IE by choice hasn't exactly been the sharpest crayon in the box. I remember helping my landlady with her slow computer, on boot it was showing about 25 windows with stuff like "You have one new free quiz!". She insisted that it wasn't malware, just an important message from "The Windows people".

If anything, those corporate IE6 users are dragging the score up. Don't get me started on Farmville users.
posted by dunkadunc at 4:50 AM on July 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


Well, where I work the IT steering committee has just decided that they will not be upgrading to IE7 - or 8, or 9 and that IE 6 is just fine.

FWIW, if your choice is between IE6 and IE7, stick with 6. IE7 is the most broken version, IMO.
posted by Benny Andajetz at 4:53 AM on July 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


I know how to solve IE6 still being in use. Google just needs to shut off all access to any of its websites including search to anyone using it. You just get a page that says "Neener Neener, get a better browser and we'll talk about using our fine website again". Hell, that would work for Metafilter as well.

As far as the article goes, I consider myself to be fairly smart, but I'm not smart enough to operate Opera. I've tried before a couple of years ago, and it was just so different that I couldn't handle it. Also, interesting that IE9 users have lower IQ than IE8, guess that's because the install base for 8 includes XP, Vista, and 7, while 9 only is on Vista and 7 and still not a forced upgrade.
posted by deezil at 5:06 AM on July 30, 2011


Hurfs browse like this, and Durfs browse like this! I had assumed we were all writing our own browsers by now. (J/K: I use Firefox like all the other dumbkoffs.)
posted by trip and a half at 5:13 AM on July 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


In the caption of Figure 2 they make the interpretation that users with high IQ scores use certain browsers. That is a wrong conclusion. All the graph tells me is that IT workers tend to use esoteric tools as part of their line of work. Google Chrome Frame? Come on. It's as if after you made the observation that surgeons use scalpels and that home cooks use knives, and then saying the trollish statement that people high IQ use scalpels. It misses the big picture.
posted by polymodus at 5:26 AM on July 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


This study is useless if it doesn't measure penis size.
posted by rocket88 at 5:46 AM on July 30, 2011 [2 favorites]


Although observational findings linking resistance to change/upgrade software to scores on cognitive tests maybe distorted by a lot of factors, it has been suggested that individuals on the lower end of the IQ scale tend to keep using outdated versions of antique web browsers.

Did anyone else notice the typo in the first sentence of the introduction to this study?
posted by BlueJae at 6:17 AM on July 30, 2011


I enjoyed watching the youtube twoleftfeet posted above but the meaning of that and the front page posted study are both small scoped. You don't have anything like a random sample. You have a sample of people who chose to participate, which is a completely different animal.

There have been ten, maybe a dozen times I have been approached by reporters-with-cameras on the street and I have ignored them all but one time. The one time I did not ignore them was when I went to see Fight Club. The movie was great right up to the point when they were chanting over Paulson's corpse and then went straight down the drain. I left the second I could tell the credits were going to begin rolling any second now and when I got out the front door of the theater there was nobody in sight except me and some chick who said she was from USA Today and she had a camera guy and she asked me what I thought of the movie. My default behavior is to ignore these people, but this one time I looked her straight in the eye and said:

"it was fucking ridiculous".

She started to say something else but I walked on by at full walking speed, ignoring her.

I do not believe only 8% of the people in Times Square that day know the difference between a browser and a search engine. It is easy for me to believe 8% of the people who had nothing better to do than talk to the reporter/survey-guy/whatever know the difference between a browser and a search engine.

Many companies have IE6 for the default browser and a policy that you do not install any software on their system without approval under penalty of getting fired.
posted by bukvich at 6:56 AM on July 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


So do you become smarter by the mere act of uninstalling IE.
posted by Fizz at 7:06 AM on July 30, 2011


Darn, I was hoping to find some data on lynx users.

/not lynx user
posted by benito.strauss at 7:21 AM on July 30, 2011


The comparison clearly suggests that more people on the higher side of IQ scale have moved away from Internet Explorer in the last 5 years.

What an absurd interpretation! In fact, the comparison clearly suggests that long-term usage of Internet Exporer destroys your brain.
posted by escabeche at 7:36 AM on July 30, 2011 [3 favorites]


So what does your email client say about your IQ?

I judge people really hard for aol email addresses unless they are over 70.
posted by elizardbits at 7:38 AM on July 30, 2011 [2 favorites]


Surprisingly, despite being arrogant pricks, they resisted the temptation to make the vertical axis on the bar chart in figure 1 start at something like 70. They've been indoctrinated into the "axes must always start at zero" cult.

Which is a shame, because it's not exactly like zero IQ means anything. I suppose if you have to use a bar chart for IQs, your horizontal axis should be at y = 100, and you should have bars going up for people with higher-than-100 IQs and down for people with lower-than-100 IQs.

Or, you know, don't use bar charts. Better steps can be taken to eradicate that nuisance.
posted by madcaptenor at 7:49 AM on July 30, 2011 [2 favorites]


There's a potential banner ad for Opera here. First draft: "Download Opera. It's cheaper than joining Mensa."
posted by tykky at 8:00 AM on July 30, 2011


...every single person I've seen running IE by choice hasn't exactly been the sharpest crayon in the box.

I suspect that most people who use IE do so because it's the default browser on Windows, and the issue just isn't all that important to them. Both my brother (a successful architect and university administrator) and my mother (a published poet and the author of a book on education reform, who charmingly refers to IE as "the internet") have politely declined my offers to hook them up with another browser; IE meets their limited needs, and they're used to it, so why should they switch?
Lack of intelligence is certainly one reason for not changing what's on your desktop; but so is lack of interest.
posted by steambadger at 8:00 AM on July 30, 2011 [4 favorites]


I thought Microsoft pretty aggressively pushed out updates to IE 7 and 8; To stay on IE 6 don't you have to either ignore software update for years or manually control the updates (as they do in some corporations)?
posted by device55 at 8:13 AM on July 30, 2011


Opera should rebrand itself with a word square.
posted by madcaptenor at 8:18 AM on July 30, 2011


The one time I did not ignore them was when I went to see Fight Club. The movie was great right up to the point when they were chanting over Paulson's corpse and then went straight down the drain.

You're too fucking...BLONDE!
posted by adamdschneider at 8:41 AM on July 30, 2011


What is a b-r-o-w-s-e-r?

duh! it's that guy with all the horns who stomps on super mario.
posted by sexyrobot at 9:13 AM on July 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


To me this correlation is most likely because Opera is a less common browser than many of the others on the list, so some level of interest in computers is probably necessary if you're running the browser.

Plus, I mean, even the name's pretentious.
posted by redspraypaint at 10:15 AM on July 30, 2011


An opt-in sample is not a random sample.
There are too few attributes (age, gender, browser, OS, IP location.)
Correlation does not equal causation.

I wouldn't use these folks for study purposes.
posted by FormlessOne at 10:18 AM on July 30, 2011


"Honey, does this browser make me look dumb?"
posted by kmz at 10:37 AM on July 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


.... Safari?

I use Opera too.
posted by jokeefe at 11:19 AM on July 30, 2011


Perhaps someone could now tell us what the IQ is of people who release studies of browser use as pdf files rather than html?
posted by PeterMcDermott at 11:54 AM on July 30, 2011


What? Where's NCSA Mosaic and Gopher?
posted by drhydro at 12:36 PM on July 30, 2011


MetaFilter: a strong "arrogant prick" vibe
posted by Splunge at 12:46 PM on July 30, 2011


It's as if after you made the observation that surgeons use scalpels and that home cooks use knives, and then saying the trollish statement that people high IQ use scalpels.

Surgeons actually use scalpels infrequently, preferring to use scissors, blunt dissection, and the Bovie. Besides, everyone knows the smartest people in the OR are the ones with laryngoscopes.
posted by TedW at 2:34 PM on July 30, 2011


After giving us a lot of statistics, AptiQuant falls back on "common knowledge" in this highly questionable 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.
This raises a few questions for me: Who would hire these turkeys? And for what? This project seems to me an attempt at headline-grabbing to promote AptiQuant services. So, are you or your company contemplating gathering similar data? Would you hire these guys?
posted by CCBC at 3:49 PM on July 30, 2011


I just visited AptiQuant's site. They claim that they are being threatened with a lawsuit by IE users. Their main business seems to be testing of job applicants. I once did a paper on the history of personnel management in the US. A hundred years ago companies were urged by experts to use phrenology. AtiQuant is the contemporary equivalent.
posted by CCBC at 3:55 PM on July 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


maxwelton, that's a good summary.

We are a government funded body, with many many long term employees, and much of the management has come from the shop floor.

We have an old Intranet, but it works well in IE9 - and there is no reason to upgrade to 7,8, or 9

The Steering committee are the more senior members of the organisation, and are paralysed by any IT decision. It works well now, so there is no reason to make anything better.

We spend a considerable amount of time creating business cases for new applications (sales force, sharepoint etc) only to see these disappear down a time tube to pop up in an office of the 1950s.

Case in point - marketing organised a workshop with outside consultants to determine the best placement of out service information with our clients. The consultants began (as they do) by handing out large butcher paper sheets and felt markers, dividing the group into threes and fours.

Old head of marketing stood and objected - Direct quote to be read in think Yorkshire accent:

"Noo noo noo, this is bloody stupid, I'm not paying for this, I've got work to do" then he walked out.
posted by the noob at 4:16 PM on July 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


I feel like there are two groups of people who take online IQ tests: people who actually think online IQ tests are accurate, and brighter people who know better, but can't resist reminding themselves about how smart they are. That is to say, IE6 users and Opera users.
posted by abcde at 6:40 PM on July 30, 2011 [2 favorites]


What this made me think was: "what cool things about Opera have I been missing?"

Then I saw that Camino was about equal, and realized that I'm probably not missing anything, cuz I know Camino pretty well, and it's a lovely little browser that is stuck in a dead end, as it's based on embedding a codebase which is no longer going to be designed to be embeddable.

So apparently being popular among smart people doesn't necessarily make a particularly good browser.

I will be sticking cheerfully with my old friend Firefox.
posted by edheil at 7:35 PM on July 30, 2011


I use IE6 ironically.
posted by LordSludge at 9:50 PM on July 30, 2011


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.

I like how, reading between the lines, the conclusion here is that if you want your web project to get done on time and under budget you basically have to exterminate all the idiots.
posted by Dr Dracator at 4:00 AM on July 31, 2011



I wonder if anyone answered, "someone who shops with little intention of buying."
posted by notreally at 5:53 PM on July 31, 2011


It's a hoax.

Used to catch gullible Safari users.
posted by MuffinMan at 4:37 AM on August 3, 2011 [3 favorites]


Figured as much. As I mentioned earlier, the so-called "survey" wouldn't have been useful to anyone because of the way it was supposedly performed.
posted by FormlessOne at 6:51 AM on August 3, 2011


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