August 03, 2011, 1:02 PM — The study published last week that purported to show Internet Explorer users had lower IQs that those who use other browsers turns out to have been a complete hoax.
Not only was the study faked, so was the company that pretended to have published it.
The story was put out as a press release July 29 by AptiQuant, which described itself as a Vancouver-based psychographic profiler that would test job candidates to evaluate their fitness for specific jobs.
Most of the press outlets that cover anything related to tech – faced with the usual dearth of real news during mid-summer – picked it up and ran with it as both a reasonably legitimate study and provocative human interest.
Readers of the BBC apparently uncovered the hoax, discovering AptiQuant's site had only been up for a month and everything on it, including the staff photos, bore a striking resemblance to a French company known as Central Test.
CentralTest.com denies any knowledge or affiliation with AptiQuant, and has nothing on its web site that makes it look as if it had anything to do with the hoax other than having its pages copied to give the Potemkin site more credibility.
It's not clear who put up the fake site and publicized the fake report; so far, sites such as T3.com are citing "speculation" that it was the work of a PR company wishing to lower the reputation of Microsoft's web browser.
Since that's not technically possible, we'll have to look for other explanations.
ITworld.com bloggers, of course weren't fooled.
James Gaskin was amused by the outre headlines in British papers ("It's official: IE users are dumb as a bag of hammers.")