A recent online research study indicating that Internet Explorer users have lower IQs than other browser users was likely bollox. In other words, it's no different than any other online research study. Last week, myriad news outlets – including the BBC, CNN, Forbes, The Telegraph, and, yes, The Register – reported on a survey …
Re: It was so probable →
>>It seems to me the reason why so many publications and their readers were taken in by this hoax was that it rang completely true.>>
It rang true for those who wanted - and needed - to believe it. It rings true even now, for those, like a certain El Reg editor, who want and need to believe it.
Dunstain Vavasour, in which dream world do you live? It's the job of journalists to sell the media which in turn sells ad space to generate revenue. The material evaluation, verification, etc. are just means to an end and the degree or thoroughness of such work (aka "quality") depends on the target audience to be satisfied.
So passes the code of ethics...
Despite the rather slathered on sarcasm, you kinda have a bit of a point.
It is the responsibility of the reader to sort out the quality of the material. you shouldn't depend on others to think for you. I'll admit I took the story at face value, but I also recognized that it stunk to high-heaven because of the extreme selection bias in (real) surveys like this.
In short what I saw mostly from the comments section of the last article was case study confirmation bias. This article and many of the comments could be categorized with a river in Egypt.
Sarcasm, where?! (no, really, I couldn't live without...)
At least, you questioned the value of such a study - I just smiled and closed the Opera session. You are quite right with the reader sorting out material. Although, this is usually and legitimately done with the selection of the media. You don't expect the same quality when reading some quality paper (such as The Times used to be) or lesbian on-line mags or tabloid Daily Fail-like crap. As a reader, you should, of course, maintain a healthy scepticism but also be able to rely on the reputation of a specific media without the need to question each and every word.
WHO are the morons?
Cast your mind back to university. Don't you remember that journalism majors were intellectual laughingstocks (second only to the business majors)?
But if you're relying on such people to supply you with accurate news, then exactly who's the idiot here?
Flawed Troll Research
The problem with this fake study is similar to the problem with fake studies about tee totallers.
Tee totallers are with mundane regularity "shockingly" revealed to die earlier than their moderate alcohol-consuming counterparts, while cheerfully ignoring that many tee totallers are ex-binge drinking alcoholics.
This study's fake revelation that less-intelligent people are more likely to accept the browser that comes pre-installed on their computers is about as surprising as discovering bears tendency to snap one off in the bushes.
I've a cunnig plan, M'lord!
We could perform this study on the cheap, just by putting banners with links to "IQ tests" in every page that ... Oh, wait!
Same procedure ...
The special task force at Microsofts has taken advantage of this case, deleting the website, annihilating the people behind the study and declaring all an hoax. We knew this methods from UFOs, Area 51 and the replacement of politicians by aliens.
Who checks facts?
Even when a study isn't flawed, it's often misquoted or misinterpreted by journalists, and then the story grows and gets embellished so over time it takes on a life of it's own.
Far too many news organisations are lazy and don't check their stories. By the time the Beeb got round to reporting the store someone should have noticed, but no one was paying any attention.
Read the MMR section in Ben Goldacre's Bad Science.
It's quite shocking how a medical story took on a life of it's own.
Mensa? Did someone mention Mensa?
According to VS's book on the subject, Mensa was intended to be the Top 1%, but they screwed up the Statistics 101 and accidentally set the admission criteria to Top 2%. Oops.
Paranoia not enough?
According to WHOIS data, Aptiquant is registered to Tarandeep Singh Gill in Canada. Good one, Tarandeep!
According to http://www.aptiquant.com/news/tell-tale-signs-that-should-have-uncovered-the-hoax-in-less-than-5-minutes/, there were a number of dead giveaways that should have alerted "the fourth estate" to something fishy.
But all of this is predicated on the end user actually caring one way or another about it. Mainly the ones who care are the journalists, who are supposed to make a modest effort to fact check before publishing. Which Chinese newspaper printed an article from the Onion?
wtf has whois got to do with it?
anyone who trusts whois data probably does have an iq of 80 or less.
there is no story here. lazy hacks shovel any old shit into their publications without bothering to check. sometimes they just top and tail press releases. this has been going on for deacdes.
if this comes as a surprise to anyone, i have shocking revelations about what bears do in the woods and the religious beliefs of the pope. these haven't been published yet because i don't know how to do a press release and/or photo-op.
paris icon because she features in lots of non-news stories.
As a matter of interest
What are the browser stats for El Reg?
Probably a grain of truth though
Remember the hilarious time when a Reddit (I think) article came out top when you googled "Facebook" & their site was flooded by thousands of irate lusers screaming (in txtspk) "where's my Facebook gone", "I'm dropping Facebook, the new site is crap" etc., because that was how they navigated to Facebook, rather than using a bookmark or typing the URL.
Now I think its obvious that they were all IE users( they probably think its called Google though). As IE is the default on MS machines, the stupidest users on the net are most likely to be IE users, even if there are a few (:-) clever IE users as well. If FF or Opera were the default, then those users would be the stupidest etc. (See icon for picture of typical IE user)
The Angry Ones
I feel the funniest aspect was the angry IE users that were preparing to sue. I wonder if they feel dumb as a bag of spanners.
It wasn't reddit
It was ReadWriteWeb
I have to type something here
I think everyone is being unfair to journos.
After all, it's difficult to verify facts when you are in the pub.
48 hours later...
...El Reg gives the news. Are you guys really awake or you just use IE for web browsing?
I am shocked that the Register think this errrr apology is acceptable? Really if anyone should have spotted it - you guys should have. A recently registered domain, statistics that even to an untrained person that seemed unbelievable?
Nope - as is so typical of journalists nowadays just copy, paste, submit - especially if someone else has broken the story. How about we back the next one up with some Wikipedia evidence for good measure?
I am pretty sure if most of the people who read this site did something similar in their job they would be quickly shown the door - I am sure I would. It's a failure to do your job pure and simple. If I sent this poor excuse of a follow up/apology to the directors I am sure they would laugh in my face and tell me to get the f*** out now. Poor all round....
And it is really not like that at all. . .
The IE user that spends over two minutes on the internet without loading his or her computer down with mal-ware (or setting fire to it) has (obviously) more brainpower than Einstein (who, as we know, never quite learned how to turn on a PC.)
So the image we have of the average IE user chewing on his mouse and drooling on the mouse pad is a slightly insulting one, and just not fair.
Ignorance is the new black? How ignorant do you want to be?
Suggested mottoes for our time. Do you prefer (1) or (2)?
(1) Ignorance is the new black!
(2) How ignorant do you want to be?
Underlying premise is that the Internet now makes it possible to completely saturate your input channel with as much bad evidence as you like. With only a slight effort you can collect any amount of evidence for whatever you want to believe.
Trying to end on a constructive note, so I offer this suggestion (which I hope is descriptive of my own reading strategies): Try to read broadly, including some stuff that is outside of your comfort zone. You should try to treat the authors fairly, and accept their mental models as intended. Afterwards you can consider whether or not they were crazy--but you should be able to articulate substantive reasons, not just "I don't want to believe that."
Who was on top in the browser/IQ ranking. Opera! THEY are behind this outrage!
and so the Opera users fell back down to earth
I say the Reg conducts a study to prove/debunk this bit of folk wisdom.
Then conduct a survey of journalists who use IE.
Thus proving that IE users are as dumb as a bag of hammers, and journalists are as dumb as a bag of IE users.
Additionally, add an inverted intelligence scale of sorts to the official Reg unit system. Stupidity measured in bags of hammers. (Smaller units can be boxes of rocks or IE users.)
1 bag of hammers=6 boxes of rocks=93 IE users (just for the purposes of example.) Or something along these lines. The higher the IQ, the less IE users.
It was all a joke
#me points finger at tthe horde of Opera snobs we found it obligatory to identify themselves as potentially smarter and laugh loudly at them for having been gullible#
While we're into statistics, I also forecast that 97.34% of gutted-and-maybe-not-so-smart-as-they-hoped-to Opera users will vote me down.
IQ around 134...
...and I *like* IE.
The interpretation of this data being...
So presumably there is no connection between IQ and practical intelligence.
A simple apology would have been more honest and attractive.
Marginally educated basement dwelling pseudo-journalist opinion pushing bloggers.
you forgot ...
"Marginally educated basement dwelling pseudo-journalist opinion pushing bloggers" that USE IE
_That_ was a facepalm?
seriously, was this story meant to be a "mea culpa" or a "nyer nyer world you fooled us but we don't care"?
I suspect the Reg's latent fanbois-commentard-journotard-cynicism leapt on this story like a hot frickin' potato. Right up your alley, lads. And good job too, otherwise we wouldn't be able to watch you squirming a bit in the follow-up. Lovely job :-)
I use Firefox. I don't like Internet Explorer very much. Just thought I'd mention that up front.
At the risk of labouring points already made, this is a pretty weak apology. You were caught out. It wasn't just you: if the BBC and these various other wire-reliant news parrots can fall for it, there's no reason you shouldn't. But you, like they, should have the balls to front up and admit it when you're wrong. And I mean admit it properly: don't just make some breezy self-deprecating joke and say that you were actually right all along anyway. You call their retractions 'flagellation': I call them a sign of honesty - even if it's honesty for the sake of profits rather than morality.
You took a story you liked presumably because you thought it plugged into a common prejudice and would make your readers feel good about themselves - which as we saw, it did. So they had a nice day chanting "I told you so". But then, as I understand it, it was the bloody *BBC* - not you or any of these shiningly intelligent commenters - who became suspicious and uncovered the facts. Must smart.
The simple truth is that, as with all prejudices, there may be individual occasions where the prejudice is accurate. There are people who use IE who are less intelligent than the average. There are also people who use IE who are more intelligent than the average. Selection bias will see to it that those seeking to confirm a prejudice will jump on what they see as evidence for and avoid or play down what might be evidence against. Such bias is what would lead someone to a "we're still right" non-apology like this article.
(And besides, this particular prejudice confuses - as people so often do - intelligence and knowledge. You can be as *intelligent* as you like, but unless you *know* about a particular browser's flaws, you might still see no reason to avoid using it.)
That's way to serious for something that wasn't that interesting in the first place. Microsoft is fair game they've been ripping off the planet for years.
Never too serious...
"That's way to serious for something that wasn't that interesting in the first place."
No, I disagree. This *should* be interesting to anyone who pays any attention to the news as it's provided to us by journalists - even if it's only as a reason why you shouldn't. It's not really about browsers and users' intelligence - that's not really the point. This admittedly small story is the tip of a much bigger iceberg.
It's a symptom of the disease of modern journalism: take a story off the wire or from another source, recycle it to give it your own preferred spin, and publish it without doing any basic fact-checking. True, it's not just the Reg doing this, it's most news sources, and it's on stories of every scale, even if browser-centred intelligence tests are down at the bottom. But that's why it should interest us.
On the other hand, on the issue of Microsoft ripping off the planet, my considered view on that would probably be 'meh', so take that for what you will.
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