Just because it's a hoax-
dosen'tmean it's not true.
Just this once...
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 …
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.
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
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")...
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.
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.
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 :-)
> 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... :(
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.
... 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.
"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.
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!
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.....
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 ;-)
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).
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).
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
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?
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.
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.
Dunstain Vavasour, in which dream world do you live? It's the job of journalists to sell the media which in turn sells ad space to generate revenue. The material evaluation, verification, etc. are just means to an end and the degree or thoroughness of such work (aka "quality") depends on the target audience to be satisfied.
So passes the code of ethics...
Despite the rather slathered on sarcasm, you kinda have a bit of a point.
It is the responsibility of the reader to sort out the quality of the material. you shouldn't depend on others to think for you. I'll admit I took the story at face value, but I also recognized that it stunk to high-heaven because of the extreme selection bias in (real) surveys like this.
In short what I saw mostly from the comments section of the last article was case study confirmation bias. This article and many of the comments could be categorized with a river in Egypt.
Sarcasm, where?! (no, really, I couldn't live without...)
At least, you questioned the value of such a study - I just smiled and closed the Opera session. You are quite right with the reader sorting out material. Although, this is usually and legitimately done with the selection of the media. You don't expect the same quality when reading some quality paper (such as The Times used to be) or lesbian on-line mags or tabloid Daily Fail-like crap. As a reader, you should, of course, maintain a healthy scepticism but also be able to rely on the reputation of a specific media without the need to question each and every word.
>>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.>>
It rang true for those who wanted - and needed - to believe it. It rings true even now, for those, like a certain El Reg editor, who want and need to believe it.
The problem with this fake study is similar to the problem with fake studies about tee totallers.
Tee totallers are with mundane regularity "shockingly" revealed to die earlier than their moderate alcohol-consuming counterparts, while cheerfully ignoring that many tee totallers are ex-binge drinking alcoholics.
This study's fake revelation that less-intelligent people are more likely to accept the browser that comes pre-installed on their computers is about as surprising as discovering bears tendency to snap one off in the bushes.
Even when a study isn't flawed, it's often misquoted or misinterpreted by journalists, and then the story grows and gets embellished so over time it takes on a life of it's own.
Far too many news organisations are lazy and don't check their stories. By the time the Beeb got round to reporting the store someone should have noticed, but no one was paying any attention.
Read the MMR section in Ben Goldacre's Bad Science.
It's quite shocking how a medical story took on a life of it's own.
According to WHOIS data, Aptiquant is registered to Tarandeep Singh Gill in Canada. Good one, Tarandeep!
According to http://www.aptiquant.com/news/tell-tale-signs-that-should-have-uncovered-the-hoax-in-less-than-5-minutes/, there were a number of dead giveaways that should have alerted "the fourth estate" to something fishy.
But all of this is predicated on the end user actually caring one way or another about it. Mainly the ones who care are the journalists, who are supposed to make a modest effort to fact check before publishing. Which Chinese newspaper printed an article from the Onion?
anyone who trusts whois data probably does have an iq of 80 or less.
there is no story here. lazy hacks shovel any old shit into their publications without bothering to check. sometimes they just top and tail press releases. this has been going on for deacdes.
if this comes as a surprise to anyone, i have shocking revelations about what bears do in the woods and the religious beliefs of the pope. these haven't been published yet because i don't know how to do a press release and/or photo-op.
paris icon because she features in lots of non-news stories.
Remember the hilarious time when a Reddit (I think) article came out top when you googled "Facebook" & their site was flooded by thousands of irate lusers screaming (in txtspk) "where's my Facebook gone", "I'm dropping Facebook, the new site is crap" etc., because that was how they navigated to Facebook, rather than using a bookmark or typing the URL.
Now I think its obvious that they were all IE users( they probably think its called Google though). As IE is the default on MS machines, the stupidest users on the net are most likely to be IE users, even if there are a few (:-) clever IE users as well. If FF or Opera were the default, then those users would be the stupidest etc. (See icon for picture of typical IE user)
I am shocked that the Register think this errrr apology is acceptable? Really if anyone should have spotted it - you guys should have. A recently registered domain, statistics that even to an untrained person that seemed unbelievable?
Nope - as is so typical of journalists nowadays just copy, paste, submit - especially if someone else has broken the story. How about we back the next one up with some Wikipedia evidence for good measure?
I am pretty sure if most of the people who read this site did something similar in their job they would be quickly shown the door - I am sure I would. It's a failure to do your job pure and simple. If I sent this poor excuse of a follow up/apology to the directors I am sure they would laugh in my face and tell me to get the f*** out now. Poor all round....
The IE user that spends over two minutes on the internet without loading his or her computer down with mal-ware (or setting fire to it) has (obviously) more brainpower than Einstein (who, as we know, never quite learned how to turn on a PC.)
So the image we have of the average IE user chewing on his mouse and drooling on the mouse pad is a slightly insulting one, and just not fair.
Suggested mottoes for our time. Do you prefer (1) or (2)?
(1) Ignorance is the new black!
(2) How ignorant do you want to be?
Underlying premise is that the Internet now makes it possible to completely saturate your input channel with as much bad evidence as you like. With only a slight effort you can collect any amount of evidence for whatever you want to believe.
Trying to end on a constructive note, so I offer this suggestion (which I hope is descriptive of my own reading strategies): Try to read broadly, including some stuff that is outside of your comfort zone. You should try to treat the authors fairly, and accept their mental models as intended. Afterwards you can consider whether or not they were crazy--but you should be able to articulate substantive reasons, not just "I don't want to believe that."
I say the Reg conducts a study to prove/debunk this bit of folk wisdom.
Then conduct a survey of journalists who use IE.
Thus proving that IE users are as dumb as a bag of hammers, and journalists are as dumb as a bag of IE users.
Additionally, add an inverted intelligence scale of sorts to the official Reg unit system. Stupidity measured in bags of hammers. (Smaller units can be boxes of rocks or IE users.)
1 bag of hammers=6 boxes of rocks=93 IE users (just for the purposes of example.) Or something along these lines. The higher the IQ, the less IE users.
#me points finger at tthe horde of Opera snobs we found it obligatory to identify themselves as potentially smarter and laugh loudly at them for having been gullible#
While we're into statistics, I also forecast that 97.34% of gutted-and-maybe-not-so-smart-as-they-hoped-to Opera users will vote me down.
seriously, was this story meant to be a "mea culpa" or a "nyer nyer world you fooled us but we don't care"?
I suspect the Reg's latent fanbois-commentard-journotard-cynicism leapt on this story like a hot frickin' potato. Right up your alley, lads. And good job too, otherwise we wouldn't be able to watch you squirming a bit in the follow-up. Lovely job :-)
I use Firefox. I don't like Internet Explorer very much. Just thought I'd mention that up front.
At the risk of labouring points already made, this is a pretty weak apology. You were caught out. It wasn't just you: if the BBC and these various other wire-reliant news parrots can fall for it, there's no reason you shouldn't. But you, like they, should have the balls to front up and admit it when you're wrong. And I mean admit it properly: don't just make some breezy self-deprecating joke and say that you were actually right all along anyway. You call their retractions 'flagellation': I call them a sign of honesty - even if it's honesty for the sake of profits rather than morality.
You took a story you liked presumably because you thought it plugged into a common prejudice and would make your readers feel good about themselves - which as we saw, it did. So they had a nice day chanting "I told you so". But then, as I understand it, it was the bloody *BBC* - not you or any of these shiningly intelligent commenters - who became suspicious and uncovered the facts. Must smart.
The simple truth is that, as with all prejudices, there may be individual occasions where the prejudice is accurate. There are people who use IE who are less intelligent than the average. There are also people who use IE who are more intelligent than the average. Selection bias will see to it that those seeking to confirm a prejudice will jump on what they see as evidence for and avoid or play down what might be evidence against. Such bias is what would lead someone to a "we're still right" non-apology like this article.
(And besides, this particular prejudice confuses - as people so often do - intelligence and knowledge. You can be as *intelligent* as you like, but unless you *know* about a particular browser's flaws, you might still see no reason to avoid using it.)
"That's way to serious for something that wasn't that interesting in the first place."
No, I disagree. This *should* be interesting to anyone who pays any attention to the news as it's provided to us by journalists - even if it's only as a reason why you shouldn't. It's not really about browsers and users' intelligence - that's not really the point. This admittedly small story is the tip of a much bigger iceberg.
It's a symptom of the disease of modern journalism: take a story off the wire or from another source, recycle it to give it your own preferred spin, and publish it without doing any basic fact-checking. True, it's not just the Reg doing this, it's most news sources, and it's on stories of every scale, even if browser-centred intelligence tests are down at the bottom. But that's why it should interest us.
On the other hand, on the issue of Microsoft ripping off the planet, my considered view on that would probably be 'meh', so take that for what you will.
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