The other day I was reading through the CNN site when I came across an article entitled "Are Internet Explorer users dumb?" It references a Vancouver, B.C.-based psychometric consulting company -- which was revealed today to be a hoax -- that claims to have given an IQ test to 100,000 people, and the results indicated that IE users scored less than average compared to users of other browsers, who tested as slightly above average.
I mulled this over for a day or two and wanted to respond in my column but decided to drop it. I thought, "This is exactly the kind of tabloid tech journalism that I've spoken out against for years. Why bother with a trip to the gutter?" -- until my InfoWorld colleague Robert X. Cringely decided to jump on the "IE users are stupid" bandwagon. It must have been a slow week for technology that he would champion this prejudicial and utterly idiotic study. It's offensive. And the fact that so many tech journalism sites played up this story without verifying the alleged consulting company's existence shows who's really stupid.
[ Stay abreast of key Microsoft technologies with InfoWorld's Technology: Microsoft newsletter. | For a humorous take on the tech industry's shenanigans, subscribe to Robert X. Cringely's Notes from the Underground newsletter and follow Cringely on Twitter. ]
Cringely, I'm an IE user, and so are many people in this world. At the office, my company dictates we use the browser because in a corporate world it is much easier to control than the competitors in an Active Directory environment through group policies. But at home, I use it by choice.
Throughout the years, I've tested and worked with every browser. For several years I used Firefox extensively, and my wife still prefers that browser. But after it crashed for the billionth time on my system, I decided that it was time to return to Internet Explorer. Gone were the woes of IE6 and IE7, and I was happy with the many new features of first IE8 and now IE9. Granted, Firefox has an incredible set of add-ons that I loved to test and play with, but I never used them on a day-to-day basis.
Additionally, Chrome is small, sleek, and fast -- if you need to recoup nanoseconds, which is really the inconsequential difference in speed between the browsers these days. For the record, there are plenty of reasons that IE is a smarter choice than Chrome and Firefox.
I imagine the more important aspect of intelligence comes from what you are reading through your browser, not the browser itself. "Studies" such as the Canadian one are no more than old-fashioned bigotry.
I'm all for numbers. I enjoyed the book "Freakonomics" by Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner, which uses statistics to present theoretical reasons for those numbers. "Outliers" by Malcolm Gladwell is another example of statistical reasoning to present conclusions that may seem outlandish or uncommon.