Canadian entrepreneur founds fake company to devise hoax that mass media falls flat on their face for

So this week a pretty hilarious “study” made the rounds in media. This alleged research revealed that folks using Internet Explorer leaned toward having below-average IQ scores. Sounds believable, doesn’t it?

Unfortunately, it was a hoax—even the company that issue the press release was fake.

The whole thing was devised by a Canadian entrepeneur, Tarandeep Gill, who founded Apparently, his end goal was simply to pull users away from IE—but never expected mass the publicity he ended up recieving, telling ReadWriteWeb that was “really surprised that most media outlets fell for it.”

Calling IE6 a “pain in the ass,” Tarandeep’s well-justified campaign might get him some bad PR, but I’m wagering most people will laugh it off. Personally, this guy’s a new hero of mine.

His phony company was called AptiQuant, a “psychometric consulting company.” The domain was purchased in mid-July according to WHOIS. The site was slapped with WordPress and the text copied from another business’ website with the staff names switched (but photos in tact). Tarandeep went into as much detail as crafting Twitter and Facebook profiles for the firm (Twitter afterward suspended the account).

This was the official press release:

A Vancouver based Psychometric Consulting company, AptiQuant, has released a report on a trial it conducted to measure the effects of cognitive ability on the choice of web browser. AptiQuant offered free online IQ tests to over a 100,000 people and then plotted the average IQ scores based on the browser on which the test was taken. And the results are really not that surprising. With just a look at the graphs in the report, it comes out pretty clear that Internet Explorer users scored lower than average on the IQ tests. Chrome, Firefox and Safari users had just a teeny bit higher than average IQ scores. And users of Camino, Opera and IE with Chrome Frame had exceptionally higher IQ levels.

Internet Explorer has traditionally been considered a pain in the back for web developers. Any IT company involved in web development will acknowledge the fact that millions of man hours are wasted each year to make otherwise perfectly functional websites work in Internet Explorer, because of its lack of compatibility with web standards. The continuous use of older versions of IE by millions of people around the world has often haunted web developers. This trend not only makes their job tougher, but has also pulled back innovation by at least a decade. But with the results of this study, IT companies worldwide will start to take a new look on the time and money they spend on supporting older browsers.

Microsoft created a conspiracy with Internet Explorer’s shell integration with Windows Explorer, and making its removal complicated, if not impossible. It is usually criticized that this move was made during the last moments of Windows 95 release in a haphazard manner, just to snub the competition from Netscape Navigator. In the following years Microsoft spent millions of dollars on Internet Explorer, with the aim to dominate the browser market. It succeeded to gain a huge share of over 95% for quite a few years. But recently open source browsers like Mozilla Firefox and Google Chrome have taken away a large share out of Microsoft’s pie. These browsers are not only better in performance than IE, but offer better compatibility with W3C standards.

This latest report about the intelligence levels of IE users is expected to create a storm. The company behind the study, AptiQuant is a psychometric consulting company, that offers online tools to other companies to better assess their existing/potential employees based on their mental aptitude, skills, motivation and performance. It also has self-serving tools for individuals looking to identify their skills and reach their potential.

Major media covered the story, including Business Insider, Mashable, and NBC on the very first day (July 28). It took five days and hundreds more news stories on the study before the hoax was revealed.

The fake website then published an article titled “Tell-Tale signs that should have uncovered the hoax in less than 5 minutes!”

  1. The domain was registered on July 14th 2011.
  2. The test that was mentioned in the report, “Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale (IV) test” is a copyrighted test and cannot be administered online.
  3. The phone number listed on the report and the press release is the same listed on the press releases/whois of my other websites. A google search reveals this.
  4. The address listed on the report does not exist.
  5. I copy/pasted most of the material from “Central Test” and got lazy to even change the pictures.
  6. The website is made in WordPress. Come on now!
  7. I am sure, my haphazardly put together report had more than one grammatical mistakes.
  8. There is a link to our website in the footer.

I wonder how many people actually left IE over this?