Are You Smart? Then You Probably Do Not Use IE!

Note: The article at “AptiQuant” referred to for this story is probably a hoax. See this article at BBC News. Then compare the AptiQuant “team” with the team at Central Test based in France. A look at the domain record for the AptiQuant site shows an address that does not appear to exist. In my opinion, this was a pretty good hoax. But it does mean my conclusions below are now just based on my own observations and suspicions since we have to toss out the hoax. One comment to my article here did point out a different site with IQ results: Thanks for that!

This is priceless. A recent article at Fox News (Internet Explorer Users Are Dumber, Study Shows) points out that a study by AptiQuant shows users of the web browsers Camino, Chrome, Chrome Frame, Firefox, Opera and Safari scored higher on IQ testing than most users of versions of Microsoft’s Internet Explorer. A follow-up article at AptiQuant states that some Microsoft Internet Explorer users are threatening to sue AptiQuant. That latter fact just proved AptiQuant’s point I think.

I read the PDF from the AptiQuant site, you can get your own copy here, and noticed that the respondents to their study were self-selecting. People found the AptiQuant test while searching for IQ tests on the WWW and chose to take the test themselves. This of course leaves out the millions of people who were not looking for web sites to test their IQ. It is possible that those looking for an IQ test are on average more intellegent than those who are not. But that is just my personal suspicion. I have nothing I can use to back that suspicion. In any case a sample of 100,000+ people is a decent sample.

Part of the conclusion of this study states:

The study showed a substantial relationship between an individual’s cognitive ability and their choice of web browser. From the test results, it is a clear indication that individuals on the lower side of the IQ scale tend to resist a change/upgrade of their browsers. This hypothesis can be extended to any software in general, however more research is needed for that, which is a potential future work as an extension to this report.

This suggests to me that Microsoft users who refuse to move from a Microsoft operating system to something else may be in the less intelligent group. I think that is more than likely. My anecdotal evidence for this is I know several people who moved away from Microsoft to Linux in the past few years. As I know these people personally I can state with confidence that all of them are rather intelligent people. I did not test their IQ, but I have had extended conversations with these people on substantial subjects. Without exception each of these people I know personally have sharp minds and can “hold their own” in discussions on a number of subjects. Many of the people I know who refuse to leave Microsoft for something better tend to be those who also keep getting malware infections that my company is called upon to clean up. Does this scientifically prove that Microsoft users are statistically “dumber” than Linux users? Nope. But it does show to me that those people I know personally who have moved away from Microsoft to Linux are smarter in some respects than those I know who insist on using Microsoft systems and software.

That said, I do show three examples below where the users moved from Linux back to Microsoft. None of these people are “dumb”. Everyone else I know who switched to Linux as a user has been relatively content and, based on my anecdotal evidence, quite smart.

One of the people who moved from Linux back to Microsoft is a smart fellow who worked for NASA during the 1960’s and helped plan the first moon landing. He is not a “computer guy” and had long been a user of Microsoft based systems starting with IBM PC-DOS in the 1980’s. But he can do calculus in his head, which I cannot do, so he is not dumb by any stretch of the imagination. He just did not enjoy having to find and learn new software to do what he wanted on Linux. He does have a Linux VM running on top of his Microsoft OS so he still dabbles with Linux. But he is generally a Microsoft user again.

Another fellow that switched from Linux back to Microsoft has failing health and is on medication that impairs his ability to think and communicate. The change from Microsoft to Linux was therefore quite frustrating for him with the differences he encountered. He really needed familiarity to be able to do what he wanted with his PC, so he reverted back to Microsoft which was the right move for him.

The other people I know who moved from Linux to Microsoft did so because they run a small business that does much of its selling through eBay. We all know eBay is in the back pocket of Microsoft for some reason and has made it difficult to easily use some features of eBay with anything other than a Microsoft based system. Being on Linux made using these eBay features they needed either very difficult or impossible. So they moved back to Microsoft. However, these folk disliked having to use Microsoft so much they recently switched again and are now using Apple based systems for their business. I hope they are not similarly frustrated by eBay in their move to Apple. Time will tell.

In conclusion, I will be very interested to see a similar study done that takes into account the operating systems used. The quote above from the PDF document by AptiQuant states this may be done in the future. If that is done and released to the public, I suspect that we will find a similar pattern of IQ results based on the operating system used as well.

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Gene A.

Gene is a "Unix Guy", network technologist, system trouble-shooter and IT generalist with over 20 years experience in the SOHO and SMB markets. He is familiar with and conversant in eComStation (a.k.a. OS/2), DOS (PC, MS and Free), Unix, Linux and those GUI based systems from Microsoft. Gene is also a follower of Jesus (forgiven, not perfect), and this does inform his world view.

23 thoughts on “Are You Smart? Then You Probably Do Not Use IE!”

  1. Before you Microsoft folks start bellowing at me, I know anecdotal evidence is not scientific. Let’s wait and see if I am correct in my conclusions when an IQ study based on operating system choice is released. Or you can just yell at me if that is what you really desire. 🙂

    Added later: Or you can look at the URL provided in this comment below.

  2. I think the need to clarify a Web Browser is not an Operating System needs to happen here. Web Browsers all ultimately do the same thing whereas in this day and age an Operating System is a completely different way of working!
    Let’s take an example. I have Windows 7 SP1 on my main machine. It runs Cakewalk’s Sonar X1 (a nice piece of recording software, gets the job done) which is also host to some powerful plugins (BFD2 drums, Ivory pianos) in order to make a very clean produced piece of music. Something OSX can also do well (and Linux with the right emulation). I detest the DRM, but sadly stuck with it.
    My (headless) media server runs Linux, with Twonky installed. It’s RAID5’d to supply 3TB of storage. It’s on 24/7 and handles my music backups and media streaming extremely well.
    I use Linux desktops too but only really for the basics, web browsing etc.
    In essence – anyone could have a Linux desktop and be dumb – in theory the easier to use (say Ubuntu desktop) the more of a fool to end up breaking it…?

    1. TGM, no a web browser is not an operating system. But I know of no one using Microsoft Internet Explorer (IE) on any operating system other than a Microsoft operating system. Do you?

      Reading the IQ test results and conclusions from AptiQuant I am extrapolating for an operating system tie-in to IQ levels. It is highly likely most of the people taking that IQ test were running different browsers on top of Microsoft. It appears the resistance to, or ignorance about, upgrading one’s browser shows up in the IQ test results as lower IQ, based on AptiQuant’s conclusions. My extrapolation to operating system choice is just that, an extrapolation. There are exceptions to my own extrapolated conclusion, as I state in the article. The idea that people who resist change are lower in IQ is just part of my hypothesis above. Only another test, or several other tests, checking IQ results against operating system used will prove or disprove my overall theory.

      I also hypothesize that those who get angry about having to learn new methods and software to run Linux fall in the lower IQ group. These are also the people who lament that Linux does not work like a Microsoft system. The answer to that latter angst is, “Well, DUH!” 🙂

      Finally, your idea that “dumbing down” the OS (Ubuntu’s latest release for example!) results in “ignorant” users is on the mark. If we make Linux for “dumb” people, then we will get “dumb” people using Linux. I think that is obvious. Just look at Microsoft and its tendency to code for the lowest common denominator user. The Microsoft systems are designed for and sold to ignorant people, so they already have access to computing systems tailored for them. Let’s keep most Linux distributions geared toward the “smart” users.

        1. WINE is an interesting response. For the record, I occasionally use Internet Explorer 8 under XP Professional in a virtual machine. I use it to check web site development results. But IE is not used as my regular browser for answering questionnaires on the WWW. 😉

  3. This is the best article ever! I actually was cracking up in my office out loud.
    I love it when research moves toward proving some of my theories…… 

    1. Unfortunately, Jon, we still only have theories if we base any conclusions on this “study”. However, there is a site that does have some IQ results based on browser and OS. See the new paragraph added at the top of this article.

  4. Okay, I read a news article about this study last week and didn’t really pay much attention to it. But, I have to respectively disagree with some of the conclusions your trying to extrapolate from it. First, what the study actually shows is that people with lower IQ’s will tend to stick with what they already know. Anybody in marketing already knows this, that’s why “first to market” and “branding” are so important in successfully capturing and holding market share for any particular good or service. Considering that the overwhelming majority of the general population first experience Internet browsing using MSIE, the results of this study are completely predictable and any other result would have actually been “news”. The study DOES NOT show that somebody who chooses to use MSIE is “dumb” (disclaimer: No, I haven’t personally used any version of MSIE for many years now, so this is not a defensive statement). It does show that people with higher IQ’s will seek to experience different goods and services and that the non-MS browsers on the market are, for various reasons, more attractive than MSIE for most of these people. Second, as for, “…those looking for an IQ test are on average more intellegent than those who are not.”, I would not agree. I would agree that, “…those looking for an IQ test are on the average more in need of affirmation that they are more intelligent than those who are not.”, is probably true. And finally, this study says absolutely nothing about the IQ of persons using different operating systems currently on the market. I do believe that people who are currently using Linux and other UNIX-like operating systems would be mostly higher than average IQ. But, that is completely predictable when you consider that probably about 98% of the people using these operating systems have successfully completed college level courses in computer science or information technology. It usually requires a little higher than average IQ to successfully complete such courses. Kind of a “no brainer” there, a big “so what?”.

  5. Maybe this proofs that IE and windows are easier to handle. You just have to be so smart to use linux and FF or chrome!
    disclaimer: I am very smart, since I use linux for about 15 years now, and about 10 years exclusively (except for a virtualbox for testing purposes)

    1. Actually, to use Linux with Firefox one does not need to be especially brilliant. A basic Linux install that is preloaded on a PC would be no more difficult to use than Microsoft’s systems on PCs bought from Dell or Wal-Mart. It does take effort and desire to go find a preloaded Linux PC though.

  6. Of course we’re smarter.  Was there ever any doubt?  I mean, we didn’t just take what was given to us, we went out and found what we wanted to use.  That right there shows higher brain function.  Great article, it only proves what I’ve known all along.  😉
    BTW, if you don’t know that a web browser and an operating system are two different things and you need that point clarified, then you’re definitely not scoring very high on the IQ test.  But that’s OK because I’m sure you’re content using Windows and Internet Explorer, you just need to know what icon to click to get online, you don’t need to know the technical terms. 😛

  7. LOL..  love the article… being a sys admin for going on 15yrs..   id say the IQ results are pretty close…    i would love to send a link to the article around here at work,…  but im SURE id offend more than a few people….  (and can you guess who those would be…? )   LOL…..

    1. Petem, don’t send this article around. I was hoaxed, along with many major news organizations. But you might want to look at the link provided by John Schaaf in the comment above yours. 😉

  8. Cognitive reasoning without bashing … although those with lower IQ’s are now actively identifying themselves and doing so in “Open Court” 🙂

  9. I mainly use Linux Mint 9.04.  Not the latest version, mind you. I use Windows, sometimes standalone and sometimes in a virtual machine.  My phone is an older Motorola W385.  It is not a smartphone.  Its browser is OLD.  Does is still make me a smart person?  The phone can interface with Linux through USB and bluetooth.  It receives and makes phone calls.  It takes photos and gives reminders.  That’s good enough for me. The fact that Linux is free (or almost free) makes it a lot easier to change. When one has to pay for something, one wants one’s investment to pay for itself.

    1. Remco, I am grinning. That AptiQuant site is a great hoax! It was a big “gotcha” for almost every major news organization I looked at when I first saw the story. I give two thumbs up to whoever came up with that. I am pretty sure he or she is brilliant. 😉

  10. As a fomer statistician and despite being a Linux activist I can only disagree.
    The population of web browser users can be divided into computer illiterates and literates. There is a higher proportion of engineers and scientists with high IQs between the later and a higher of blue collars between the former. Since IE is the default on Windows and, we like it or not Windows is the default on PC, it has a higher proportion of computer illiterates between its users than Firefox and that will pull downwards the average IQ between its users.
    But that does not mean Firefox is better or that using it is a sign that you are smart.  In order to extract valid conclusions you have to compare homogeneous populations like computer literates who prefer IE vs computer literates who prefer Firefox. It is entirely possible we would find that most of those smart computer literates prefer IE and that on average they are smarter than us (yes I am one), literates who prefer Firefox all while the global average, ie without eliminating the structuree effect is  lower on IE.

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