Internet Explorer IQ bashing was a hoax

News 3 Aug, 2011

IT Pro believes that a report claiming Internet Explorer users had lower IQs was in fact a big hoax.

A report claiming Internet Explorer users had lower IQ levels than those running other browsers was a hoax, IT Pro understands.

Our suspicions were aroused when a reader found AptiQuant – the company responsible for the purported research – had information on its website copied from another company called Central Test.

The clearest case of data scraping was in the bios section, where the same images and information was used but the names were changed. See below for the comparison (Central Test above, AptiQuant below).

We checked up on Central Test’s chief executive Patrick Leguide, who does appear to exist. There is no record of a Leonard Howard, the supposed AptiQuant CEO.

Other areas of the Central Test site were scraped, including testimonials for company services and clients.

Yesterday, IT Pro contacted one of those clients - Warwick Business School – to see if it had heard of AptiQuant. It hadn’t.

“[We have] no records of any connection with this company (the word AptiQuant was not found anywhere on databases), and no record of AptiQuant staff having studied here either,” a spokesperson said.

After tracking down a phone number, the contact at the end of the line had not heard of either Aptiquant or its supposed chief executive.

There was no response from any of AptiQuant’s email addresses listed on its website, despite a number of attempts to contact it. The last email gave them eight hours to say whether it was a real company or not. There was no reply, even after 14 hours of waiting.

After tracking down a phone number, the contact at the end of the line was confused and had not heard of either Aptiquant or its supposed chief executive.

We then chose to look at what date the Aptiquant website was registered – 14 July. The company claimed to have been established in 2006. The Central Test site was registered in 2001 (see below for registration details - Central Test above, AptiQuant below).

Using Google Street View, as our reader gullrock noted, the company address appears to lead to a car park in Canada.

All of this hinted at a hoax, but the final nail in the coffin came after a call to Central Test, who said it had been made aware of the situation this morning. The company is now planning to take action against those responsible for scraping the information and setting up the AptiQuant site.

So it appears the whole browser IQ test was a hoax. This leaves us with the question of why such an elaborate rouse was carried out, fooling hundreds of writers from trade journalists to nationals like the BBC? Was it just a big joke? Or was it a PR smear campaign against IE?

IT Pro is just thankful it has erudite readers who keep us in check.

We have now taken down the original story.