back to article It's official: Journos are dumb as a bag of IE users

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 …


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  1. hplasm Silver badge

    Just because it's a hoax-

    dosen'tmean it's not true.

    Just this once...

    1. Anonymous Coward


      It may or may not be a hoax, but what's it's suggesting is legitimate, that stupid people don't bother looking any further than the web browser than comes with their OS, despite far superior alternatives (Opera, Chrome) being available for free.

      1. Anonymous Coward

        Did anyone think of the flip side of the (fake) story?

        A link for free shiny stuff appears and ALL firefox, Crome and Opera users blindly follow the link like sheeple. Only the real dumb ass i.e. users follow it, the smarter ones don't.

        Therefore my study concludes that only stupid i.e. users follow untrusted links, all other browser users and Journos are dumb sheeple.

        See, stats, you can make them show what you want to them to show.

        PS I use Opera, FF and i.e. so not sure where I fall.

      2. andybird123

        if chrome is so great...

        why doesn't it support touchscreen properly (finger to drag highlights text instead of scrolling, "back" flick goes back 2 pages instead of one, making chrome un-usable on touchscreens)

        previously i left mozilla because it had become a resource hog, however with the latest version and these issues with chrome I've had to switch back

  2. Paul Crawford Silver badge
    IT Angle

    We want a survey!

    So it was a hoax.

    Will someone now do a real survey of something interesting [*] and correlate it to browser & OS usage?

    [*] Thinking here of the IQ test variants, and the most excellent stats unearthed and published by by OKcupid blogs.

    1. SteveBalmer

      The difference of course...

      is that Opera did not feel the need to release PR statements and promotional campaigns off the back of it.. Had the survey shown that IE users were the smartest, Microsoft would be doing exactly that.. (Although in all liklihood, Microsoft would have just paid for the report in the first place, like the NSS Labs browser security "report")...

      1. Anonymous Coward


        Opera already knew it was a hoax, they don't have that many users.

        I'm just glad it did turn out to be a hoax, can you imagine how much more insufferably smug those two guys would be if it had turned out to be true?

        <Runs and hides>

    2. Ken 16 Silver badge
      Paris Hilton

      Which browser attracts the opposite sex?

      Now that'll result in downloads for the winner

  3. Boyd Crow

    Is THIS story a hoax?

    I mean, I've already been taken in once. Seriously, am I to believe a story about a hoax might not be itself a hoax? OK, now I've got a recursive headache AND an overwhelming desire to use Internet Explorer. This is not good. Thanks a lot, Register.

    1. Andus McCoatover

      "Recursive Headache"

      Beautiful. Thanks for that. 10/10

  4. jr424242


    Go to the pub, have a pint, and reflect on your professionalism.

  5. CADmonkey

    This item has proved one thing beyond a shadow of a doubt:

    The majority of non-IE users are fucking snobs

    1. Graham Dawson

      Sometimes snobbery has justification.

      See title.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: The majority of non-IE users are fucking snobs

      Who'd have thought that snobs would go for such people?

      1. Mr Grumblefish

        One day

        I'll tell you about my time with Imogen Smythe-Fortescue.

  6. Sam Liddicott

    but did more IE users believe it?

    I want the meta-study that shows which users believed the hoax survey.

    Are IE users more gullible than Opera users, for instance?

    1. Version 1.0 Silver badge


      El Reg could simply determine browser type whenever a user clicked on a story to read it ... assuming that they're not doing this already. It would be an interesting (and marketable) snippet of information to know "which" users read which stories ...

      Go ahead El Reg ... make my day ...

      1. Cowardly Animosity


        just clicking on a story doesn't mean you believe it...

        1. Goat Jam


          Version 1.0 is obviously an IE user to suggest that

        2. Version 1.0 Silver badge


          Agreed - I'm not saying that ... but clicking on a story does indicate "interest" ... and that's what this episode shows us - that we like to read and propagate stories that tend to confirm our own beliefs and preconceptions.

          If I'm trying to sell you something then I'm not interested in what you "believe" - I want to know what you're likely to open and read because that's where my advert needs to go.

  7. nyelvmark

    Nice try, Cade

    ...but when you're in a hole, it's probably wisest to stop digging.

    1. Stoneshop Silver badge


      You might strike oil, or ore, or some pirate's long-hidden treasure.

    2. Olafthemighty

      Aah, give the man some credit...

      That was some quality digging!

  8. Andus McCoatover

    Well, as a Firefox user...

    I keep my Mensa membership card in my pocket, in case I need to log on with new credentials..

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Duped again...

    When will they learn?

  10. Anonymous Coward

    Not surprising.

    The problem with most "studies" is, of course, that they're not even remotely scientific. Especially most compter-y, internet-y, IT security-y type "research". It really doesn't matter if it's big corp funded astroturfing or --the IT security fave*-- FUDmongering.

    It's all shoddy and no journo knows enough about scientific method or basic statistics (averages without standard deviations come to mind) to know the difference from the real thing, unless it bit them in the arse somehow. So it does. Then again, recently some medico got published a paper apparently reinventing basic calculus, naming it after himself. And so it goes.

    Question remains, who set up this outfit, and why?

    * Cue Zorg.

    1. kissingthecarpet

      All journos & most people

      believe that "Statistics == Data" with zero analysis except using "commonsense" interpretation which is nearly always wrong for data of any complexity. The furthest they ever go, as you say, is the arithmetic mean, definitely with no mention of Std.Dev. regardless of how suitable the data is. Probably the wrong average anyway, I would think modal or median values would be nearer to what Mr Average expects, as they don't realise how freak values can throw the mean off. Significance is what people really want to know - "does this mattter or not? Is it true?" are the questions they're asking, and you can't judge that by just "looking" at the fucking data.

      Christ, I didn't realise how angry I am about this topic :-)

      1. Displacement Activity


        > Significance is what people really want to know - "does this mattter or not? Is it true?" are

        > the questions they're asking, and you can't judge that by just "looking" at the fucking data.

        In this case, looking at the data was just fine. Look at the second graph - of the 10 traces, maybe 5 of them are absolutely monotonic. The chances of that happening in a real study have got to be very close to zero. Any the guy the BBC got to comment on the story pointed out, more or less, that people with an IQ of 80 probably couldn't use a browser anyway. And the authors admitted their bias in the last paragraph of the Reg story.

        Anyway, who cares? It was a great story. Almost all the users of my stats website are on IE7. I sent them the story, but they didn't bite... :(

  11. Dibbles

    So I guess

    ...the closest we'll get to "we reported a hoax story without doing our homework" is this "well actually it's not a hoax because the statements claimed may in fact be real. Or not".

    Good work all round.

  12. IE User
    Paris Hilton

    There, couldn't resist, had to change my handle

    Now all snobs can feel smarter when downvoting.

    Paris, cause she's dumb too.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      That's like

      'The next thing I say will be true, the last thing I said was twattery' ?

  13. Anonymous Coward

    Not impressed

    by this unconvincing display of professional remorse.

    It's as though the author thinks IE users deserve the criticism, rather than the punk'd El Reg. Which is so fucking out of order I'm not even going to bother stating the obvious reasons why.

    Were I he, I would reflect a lot harder on what this means in terms of the depth to which sources now need to be checked when verifying a story.

    1. Graham Dawson

      It does raise the issue...

      ... how much of the news we get is actually true, and how much is regurgitated bullshit? Given how must news is just re-titled and slightly edited copypasta from press releases - especially government and NGO press releases - it's hard not to believe that there's very little actually done by journalists these days, *except* swallowing and regurgitating bullshit.

      1. Dunstan Vavasour


        "News stories" come primarily from two sources: news wire services (PA, AP, Reuters) and PR. Very few organisations can afford to do original reporting, or even bother to check the stuff they are fed. They are either rushing to be the first to carry the story, or saying "it's been put out by X so that's my independent verification".

        It's simpler to always assume that a research organisation you haven't heard of before is a PR outfit, and their "studies" are worthless. Makes reading newspapers much quicker too, as you read a couple of lines of each article and think "newswire, newswire, PR, newswire, PR...".

        The days of true investigative reporting are, alas, over.

        1. The Brave Sir Robin

          We never get accurate news

          TV, newspapers, radio, the Internet ; they're all just channels for miss-information to distract us from what's really going on. Namely the slow and inexorable take-over of the world by the Lizard People!

          Mark my words. We'll all soon be speaking in hisses and eating rodents and insects. Ignore the warnings of David Icke at your peril!

          1. Alien8n Silver badge

            @ The Brave Sir Robin

            No need to fear. I ate the lizard men.

            Now for pudding...

        2. TeeCee Gold badge

          Re: Churnalism

          That's so quaint and old skool.

          These days it's spot something said on Tw@tter and pad it with background fluff from the Wobblypedia. Or get a PR and pad it with background fluff from the Wobblypedia.

          Or, if you're really desperate for copy and El Vino's is calling, trawl the news wires, find something and pad it with background fluff from the Wobblypedia. Trouble here is that trawling the news wires is too much like hard work these days.....

  14. Anonymous Coward

    Its official: reporters are lazy nits....

    Nothing new here.. Normally reporters or news agencies do background checks of stories, but due to time / money / energy 'restraints' these checks are usually skipped. Not even a quick check as to how long a certain "research institute" actually exists (which would take what.... 5 - 10 minutes?).

    This is why it has become /very/ important to always remain skeptical of news when it arrives, no matter which agency has published it. Just because the agency may look creditable doesn't mean the story (or its origin) is. And unfortunately it also doesn't imply that the legitimacy of said story is also real.

    As said; nothing new. 2 years ago in Belgium, just before / during the elections a group of television producers ('Neveneffecten') started a virtual "research agency" and started sending off totally bogus "researches". One of those ("Women take 3 seconds longer to decide on their vote than man") even made the first page on several national newspapers.

    Even though the story itself was totally fictional and made up. All it took was a nice company name, an honest looking website and a big dose of fantasy.

    As said this is no different. Several agencies picked up this story without any background checks. Shame on you.

    And I dare write all this up because I've been cynical of said article right from the start. Which, ironically enough, even got me some down votes ;-)

  15. Majid

    No hoax

    It was an IQ test. Just not an IQ test for browser users, but for news sites failing to check the source of their material, and actually reading the news itself first: I mean come on, if you just start reading at the conclusion (which I always do), and you read some opinionated piece which is completely irrelevant to the fact that they are trying to prove you already know that you don't have to read the article.. (would have saved you time, and also face).

  16. ArmanX

    I wonder...

    Are El Reg hacks are secretly glad it was fake, because it lets them write two articles rather than one on an otherwise mundane study?

    And, similarly, are El Reg readers are secretly glad it was fake, because it gives them two articles to debunk, rather than just the one?

  17. Tony Green

    And better still...

    ...according to Eddie Mair on Radio Four, this was "a story about an Internet

    search engine".

    Reckon he's a Mosaic user.

    1. John 62

      re: Eddie Mair

      I'll have nothing said against the host of Time Commanders!

      (OK, that was a bit of a crap show, but he's far better than Jonathan Dimbleby and he's my favourite drivetime radio presenter)

  18. Anonymous Coward

    The BBC

    Funny how they were slow to publish the original story (publishing almost a week after everyone else) but one of the first - if not the first - to publish the hoax/retraction and immediately pulling the original story... methinks their friends at Microsoft might have tipped them off (ie. told them to do it).

    1. fridaynightsmoke

      Conspiracy, man

      Why is EVERYTHING a f*cking conspiracy to some people? Jesus H Christ.

      /this comment was written by a Microsoft/Monsanto/CIA shill to spread doubt about the shadowy world where everything that ever happens is decided by meetings between people who own/run the world as part of a grand masterplan to take over the world

      1. Anonymous Coward

        C'mon Steve...

        You're just pissed that you can't throw chairs at these people who discovered your plot ;-)

  19. David Webb


    If you had looked properly at the results giving IE users an AVERAGE IQ of roughly 80 you would have seen something was amiss. As the fella on the BBC article stated, anyone with an IQ of 80 would not be using a computer and as the AVERAGE (note the caps) was 80 and the AVERAGE IQ is 100 (country dependant that) then you must have a ton of people of around 60 IQ to even out the average 100 IQ.

    That's the simple way, you of course have people who are way above average IQ who use IE so really, how on Earth could you fall for such a hoax unless you wanted it to be true in the first place and so really you've just called every single reader of your website who uses IE an idiot, not only that, you compound calling them an idiot by calling them an idiot again over your usage of the hoax in your article, was it 30% of your readers who use IE?

    1. Mephistro Silver badge

      I beg to differ...

      "anyone with an IQ of 80 would not be using a computer "

      You don't come here a lot, do you? ^_^

    2. TeeCee Gold badge

      Re: BBC

      I noted the caps, very funny the way you kept emphasising the FAIL.

      "Average IQ" is most usually defined as being within one standard deviation of the mean (i.e. it's a range). The mean is 100.

  20. Anonymous Coward

    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. So yes, all the media outlets who fell for this should be ashamed at their fact checking abilities, but let's not beat up on them for believing that the study probably was real.

    1. Dunstan Vavasour

      Beating up on them

      Yes we absolutely *should* beat up on them for believing it was real. It's not the job of journalists to tell us what might fit with our pre-conceptions, it's their job to evaluate material, check and verify on it, and then create a story from it. ANY study from a non-mainstream research organisation should be scrutinised before publication, not just slapped into an article and pushed out willy nilly.


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