New Study Finds that IE Users are Stupid... Apparently!

Mike Halsey MVP
Jul 30, 2011
Updated • Jan 1, 2013

Yup, it's the summer, that time traditionally called the "silly season" here in the UK so far as the news is concerned.  Now tech blogger Paul Thurrott has found a lovely little gem of a report from a company called AptiQuant Psychometric Consulting into the "Intelligence Quotient (IQ) and Browser Usage" of the public.

The report is "measuring the effects of cognitive ability on the choice of web browser", yup you read that right it's a test of how intelligent you are compared to what web browser you use.

They found that users of Microsoft's Internet Explorer browser have lower IQs than people who use other browsers.  To be honest I'm an IE user myself and I did take all the entrance exams for MENSA (but decided not to join).  Also as the author of "Troubleshooting Windows 7 Inside Out" I prefer not at install dupliware on my own computers, I'll leave you to figure yout why.  However on this occasion I'm actually prepared to believe this study is true... to an extent!

Internet Explorer, being bundled with Windows and coming directly through Windows Update is a browser you don't need to think about getting, if you have updates switched on then eventually it will just happen.  I'm also fully prepared to believe that people who are still using IE6 are dumb, though not necessarily that they have low IQs.

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.

It's also quite easy to believe that people with higher IQs might be more likely to shop around for a different browser, know where to look and how to download and install it.  What strikes me as completely stunning here is that the highest recorded IQs in the 'study' are people who use Opera.  This particular browser has been slammed in recent years for being full of security holes.  Thus the thought that the people with the highest IQs wouldn't be bothered by this is just ludicrous.

The study was conducted from a sample of just over 100,000 people from the USA, UK, Canada, Australia and New Zealand who went looking for an IQ test.  Apparently these people were not aware they were part of this browser study.

People commonly use different browsers at work than they do at home, and different browsers again on smartphones and tablet devices.  What the study also completely fails to take into account is that many people use the Internet at work where they have no choice whatsoever on the browser they use.  Because this study didn't ask people whether they were at home or at work the results are therefore meaningless.

AptiQuant say "Our data have important implications" which, apart from being terrible English [it's "has"] simply isn't true given what we know about the study.

It's not all good news for IE bashers though.  The study also found that the most intelligent people were more likely to switch away from Firefox, Safari and Chrome in favour of Opera and a browser called Camino that most people have never even heard of.

I think it can safely be said that this study is "unscientific".  If I were to offer a personal view, I would say that, yes, people with higher IQs are more likely to look for a browser alternative, but that alternative would much more likely be Chrome or IE9.  In short, they'd look for a modern, fast, HTML5 compatible and very secure browser.

So there we have it people, the 65% of computer users, still using Internet Explorer are dumb, and if you really are one of the most intelligent people around you'll switch to either the world's least secure web browser or one that nobody's ever heard of.

In all though, this is a bit of fun for us and something that enables us to point and laugh at some of our friends.  Job's a good'un.


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  1. MnevisBlackster said on August 9, 2011 at 12:36 am

    Check on line, it’s just a joke from a guy who had enough of the microsoft datacenter =D

  2. ilev said on July 31, 2011 at 10:16 am

    New Study Finds that IE Users are Stupid. No, they are retarded .

    Internet Explorer users are retarded

    …Before any of you start writing explicit missives to Blorge complaining of my use of the word ‘retarded’, it’s a legitimate medical term. And if your IQ is anything below 70 then technically you’re retarded. I’m sorry, but that’s just a fact. …

    p.s IE doesn’t have 65% market share. That was long ago. IE has been surpassed by Firefox+Chrome and has now a global 44% market share. In 2 years it will almost disappear.

    1. ilev said on July 31, 2011 at 5:40 pm

      p.s According to the study, IE9 (Windows 7 users) are more stupid than IE8 (Windows XP users).

  3. Berttie said on July 30, 2011 at 11:47 pm

    IMHO, the study is among the most robust I’ve come across. Indeed it may become the new gold standard by which the rigor of all future research is measured. But, as a long time Opera user, I could be a little biased. Though only a little! ;)

  4. Brian said on July 30, 2011 at 7:10 pm

    Given my own personal experiences (not to mention what’s been happening here in the U.S. the last few years), if this report concludes that only 65% of the people around me are “dumb”, I would find that to be a shockingly low statistic.

  5. Swordfish said on July 30, 2011 at 6:01 pm

    Of course IE people are not “Dumb”. Most of them have got vocal chords and can make linguistical noises without technological assistance.

  6. Swordfish said on July 30, 2011 at 5:53 pm

    I am 56 years old and have tried many browsers. The Mighty Firefox in my opinion leaves all the others absolutely for dead, and truly, what can compare with the magnificent Firefox?

  7. jasray said on July 30, 2011 at 4:52 pm

    Yes, yes–“data” = plural form of “datum.” I honestly wish some of these bloggers would take my English 10 class.

  8. Jakim said on July 30, 2011 at 1:37 pm

    This is a stupid study.
    Intelligent people can choose to use IE or use another browser. Dumb people do not know that there are other browsers.

    1. peguyjaures said on July 30, 2011 at 3:05 pm

      Even characterizing IE6 users as “dumb” would be a gross generalization. For sure, those people (maybe your parents or grandparents) don’t know/care much about computers, they have an old one sitting in a corner of their home and it’s sufficient for their needs. Well, of course, someone SHOULD tell them about security issues regarding IE6 and help them upgading, but “computer illiterate/indifferent” doesn’t equate “dumb”, the same people could well excell in other domain, and I know PhD graduates whose computing habits are quite inadequate…
      I wonder whether the siad studies takes age/generation into account – probably a much more relevant factor in browser choice.

  9. SuilAmhain said on July 30, 2011 at 1:36 pm

    Spell checking the article was a start I suppose.

  10. SuilAmhain said on July 30, 2011 at 1:27 pm


    Given your apparently superior IQ, despite using IE, is it possible you could run your article through a spell checker and a fact checker.

    The story/survey was clearly supposed to be amusing but you dropped it to the level of trolling because your own browsing habits conflicted with the “study”.

    Can you please have the courtesy to rectify your misinformation?

    If Ghacks is going to be providing misinformation when an author/poster doesn’t like something, I can see you going the way of lifehacker.


    1. Mike Halsey (MVP) said on July 30, 2011 at 1:32 pm

      @suilAmhain Don’t misunderstand me, this study was (so far any anyone can tell) NOT meant to be amusing. It was actually very serious. This, of course, is what makes it all so amusing :)

  11. Rarst said on July 30, 2011 at 12:41 pm

    > What strikes me as completely stunning here is that the highest recorded IQs in the ‘study’ are people who use Opera. This particular browser has been slammed in recent years for being full of security holes.

    Really? Secunia factsheets for Q2/2011:

    Internet Explorer vulnerabilities 44 in last 12 month, 49 in preceding 12 months (some of them rated extreme).

    Opera vulnerabilities 31 in last 12 months, 21 in preceding 12 months (none of them rated extreme).

    Care to cite something for that “slamming” and “full of security holes”?

    1. Coppos said on July 30, 2011 at 2:43 pm

      Your right. Opera is the most secure browser according to this earlier article

  12. md said on July 30, 2011 at 12:37 pm

    The research obviously is unscientific. It clearly does not really tell us much about browsers or their users. I would take it more like a joke to tell you the truth. BUT, what you are writing shows mainly that you took that piece way too seriously. That MENSA thing I guess is a joke also, since I wouldn’t want to believe that there are people that take iq tests seriously. Finally, I use opera for many many years and I know it is by far the best browser in terms of security in the years that i’ve been using it.

    1. Mike Halsey (MVP) said on July 30, 2011 at 1:26 pm

      @md You make a very good point, an IQ test is not a good way to measure intelligence and most people don’t take them seriously. Regards my own MENSA exams, I was young and we don’t really see the big picture back then do we :/

  13. asdf said on July 30, 2011 at 12:23 pm

    >AptiQuant say “Our data have important implications” which, apart from being terrible English [it’s “has”] simply isn’t true given what we know about the study.

    Isn’t ‘data’ plural? I think in that way it makes sense.

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