Are you stupid? If you’re reading this in Internet Explorer, you must be. I know, because somebody I think might have been a scientist, or something, says so.
Wait … what?
Previously in Technocracy, I felt it necessary to point out that, no, liberals aren’t smarter than conservatives. I called the attempt to use junk science and intentionally distorted or misinterpreted statistics a cultural libel that propagates myths, lies, and misinformation intended to marginalize those whom liberals hate and fear:
Simple lies, distortions and urban legends propagated about conservatives and libertarians all pale in comparison to what is the most coveted of all libelous popular-culture mechanisms. I refer, of course, to the study. A “study,” no matter how it is produced and, more importantly, no matter how ineptly it is analyzed, is repeated without question in the popular media if that study furthers a left-wing political perspective. Such studies are presented with pious credulity as liberal holy writ, from which absurd, illogical and irrational pronouncements are foisted on the public.
… The fundamental lesson here is that correlation is not causation. Further, a failure to consider the demographics of the study will inevitably taint the conclusions drawn from the results.
Now an “IQ test” given to Web surfers purports to show that users of Internet Explorer are all stupider than users of other browsers, many of which are presented as more hip, more modern, or functionally superior:
Researchers gave over 100,000 Web surfers a free online IQ test. Scores were stored in a database along with each person’s Web browser data.
The results suggested that Internet Explorer surfers had an average IQ in the low 80s. Chrome, Firefox and Safari rated over 100, while minority browsers Opera and Camino had an “exceptionally higher” score of over 120.
[The consulting firm that conducted the study] stressed that using IE doesn’t mean you have low intelligence. “What it really says is that if you have a low IQ then there are high chances that you use Internet Explorer,” said AptiQuant CEO Leonard Howard.
The study is, on its face, rife with potential errors, not the least of which is that there is no way to verify the nature of the sample (which I have a hard time believing is random enough). More disturbing is that this “study” claims the Explorer users averaged an IQ in the 80s – a number so low that one wonders how those tested were able to switch on the computer and navigate to such a test without drooling into spit-cups nestled in their open and obsolete CD drives. I mean, honestly: 80? If you have an IQ that low, there’s a good chance you live in a group home and aren’t allowed to use a computer unsupervised.
There is no indication that any conclusions about the political leanings of the participants has been offered by AptiQuant, the consulting firm posing here as scientific or psychological research firm. It’s probably only a matter of time before some lib somewhere tries to draw that conclusion, as the shortest increment of time yet measured by humanity is the interval between some undesirable fact or act and the assertion by leftists that right-wing tea-bagging hobbit terrorist radical extremist ideologues are responsible.
Every implausible but externally motivated “study” of this type furthers the narrative of those attempting to marginalize their opponents. There is now no argument over Internet Explorer or its users; there is only a piece of mythology that will be repeated ad nauseam and uncritically until it is accepted as true. If you use Internet Explorer, you are a dummy. That is now a popular culture “fact” over a largely inconsequential matter. It illustrates, however, the danger of agenda politics applied to pseudoscience, which props up an industry whose only goal is to produce an incessant and often contradictory flow of “studies” and “research” that yield inflammatory sound bites and produce overwhelmingly negative cultural stereotypes.
What else do these “studies” prove? Why, they prove that “dieting is a waste of time” – even though anyone who sticks to a consistent diet can, will and does lose weight. They prove that “men need cuddling more than their girlfriends” – even though this idea belies every direct experience of every heterosexual male since the beginning of time and certainly in the context of contemporary culture. They prove that creative people are arrogant jerks – even though a relatively small survey that relies largely on self-reporting cannot possibly be accurate enough for us to draw such conclusions with any confidence. They also prove that Democrats lack patriotism and seeing the American flag motivates people to vote Republican – even though … well, OK, not all of these “studies” can be wrong.
Search for terms like “study proves that” or “study indicates” or even “study shows” and you’ll be inundated with more of the same. Countless specious, unreliable or unjustifiable “studies” are foisted on the public every month, asserting all manner of ridiculous and poorly reasoned conclusions that, coincidentally, seem always to support mythology favored by some group or other. That mythology generally says, “If you don’t like the group described, it’s OK to dismiss that group, because there’s something wrong with them. We know, because SCIENCE proves it!”
The result is a widespread societal and cultural intimidation, a theater-wide tyranny of pop attempting to cow those who don’t wish to be stereotyped, categorized and accordingly marginalized by a junk-science industry more concerned with witty comebacks than truth or journalism. Attempting to fight back against this cultural tyranny is self-defeating, because engaging these absurd mischaracterizations is perceived as lending credibility to the accusations leveled.
If you are among those targeted for cultural marginalization, you have little recourse but to tolerate it quietly or denounce it vehemently. Either choice might make you feel better. If we work at it, we might just be able to produce a “study” that supports both – or neither.