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Chrome Firefox Internet Explorer Math News

Chrome Users Are Best With Numbers, IE Users Worst 203

Posted by Soulskill
from the reopening-a-can-of-worms dept.
New submitter dr_blurb writes "After reading about last year's hoax report 'Intelligence Quotient (IQ) and Browser Usage' I realized I was in fact already running a real live experiment measuring number skills: a site were you can solve Calcudoku number puzzles. I analyzed two years' worth of data, consisting of over 1 million solved puzzles. This included puzzles solved 'against the clock,' of three different sizes. For each size, Chrome users were the fastest solvers, Firefox users came second, and IE users were the slowest. The number of abandoned puzzles (started but never finished) was also significantly higher for IE users. Analysis shows that the differences are statistically significant: in other words, they did not happen by chance. I put up more details and some graphs, and also wrote a paper about it (PDF)."
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Chrome Users Are Best With Numbers, IE Users Worst

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  • by lucm (889690) on Saturday March 03, 2012 @05:58PM (#39234109)

    > The number of abandoned puzzles (started but never finished) was also significantly higher for IE users

    As usual, Microsoft products users show more common sense: they are the ones that figure out quickly that the puzzles are a waste of time!

    • by Colin Smith (2679) on Saturday March 03, 2012 @06:19PM (#39234239)

      http://theness.com/neurologicablog/index.php/iq-and-motivation/ [theness.com]

      So what the guy is really saying is that Chrome users are obsessive compulsives and I.E. users are normal.

      • People at work on locked down computers used IE and kept getting "distracted" and going back to work. Sometimes they got busy enough to not finish the puzzle.
        I might play Sudoku at work on a break and get distracted, never coming back (on IE). I play the same game at home on Chrome and quickly finish as my focus is there.

        Statistically, that makes me "stupid" at work and "smart" at home. Don't let my boss find out!
    • by jamesh (87723) on Saturday March 03, 2012 @06:58PM (#39234507)

      > The number of abandoned puzzles (started but never finished) was also significantly higher for IE users

      As usual, Microsoft products users show more common sense: they are the ones that figure out quickly that the puzzles are a waste of time!

      Interesting conclusion. The more likely conclusion is that IE is likely to crash before a puzzle can be completed.

    • by exploder (196936)

      Their browser crashed before they could finish the puzzle.

    • I use FireFox and I just went to the puzzle page.

      You click the highlighted square and the first thing that happens is an immovable pop-up covers most of the puzzle.

      I left it unfinished.
    • Opera users are not shown in the graph because their superior minds instantly analyzed all the puzzles and their solution in their mind so they had no need to "play" them through a browser interface.

      Meanwhile lynx users just outsourced the puzzle solving to their legion of controlled IE user bots.

  • by dwhitaker (1500855) on Saturday March 03, 2012 @06:01PM (#39234125) Homepage
    Statistical significance just means something is unlikely to occur by random chance. Said another way, it means there is evidence that it didn't happen by random chance, but not definitive proof. (This couching of conclusions is a mainstay of statistics.) Moreover, statistical significance doesn't necessarily translate to practical significance, but I didn't RTFA to find out if that was being claimed.
    • by jpate (1356395)
      More precisely, it means that difference is probably non-zero in the population being sampled. And what is the population being sampled? It's people who play sudoku on the internet. Does that generalize to the population at large? Well, maybe. For the purposes of making conclusions about the population at large, this "study" has a potentially huge sampling bias.

      There also seem to be potential problems with multiple testing [xkcd.com], but the paper doesn't go into enough detail to be sure.

      In short, you shoul
  • Inadequacy (Score:5, Insightful)

    by sycodon (149926) on Saturday March 03, 2012 @06:05PM (#39234147)

    What does this seemingly never ending quest by people to formally define and declare who is best or smartest using various proxy measurements say about the people pursuing it?

    Are they afraid they aren't smart enough and are looking for some kind of reassurance?

    Maybe they want to make all the "not smart" people wear some kind of button. More likely, they just want to crow and be admired by other "smart" people.

    Many "smart" people would be end up standing up in their own shit because they don't understand plumbing. Many "dumb" people end up running the company and making gazillions of dollars. "Smart" is what you do with your brains, not your brain itself.

    Some people need to get a life.

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Of all the inappropriate places to post this :)

      FWIW, I agree with the sentiment completely....

      This is basically just a rehash of a good part of what Phil Greenspun blogged on years ago... who oddly would only be respected here based on personality cult factors alone.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by friedmud (512466)

      Competition is a basic human need... the want to compete and come out on top is intrinsic in all of us. We want to come out on top of everything... including being associated with a group that comes out on top of another group.

      This competition is one of the reasons pure communism can never work. Despite what people say they don't really want everything to be "equal"... what they mean by that is that they don't want others to have more than them (ie they want _more_ than others! ;-)

      In the absence of compet

      • Re:Inadequacy (Score:4, Insightful)

        by tompaulco (629533) on Saturday March 03, 2012 @08:04PM (#39234849) Homepage Journal
        Despite what people say they don't really want everything to be "equal"..
        People who are below average or at least who perform below average absolutely want everything to be equal. It's the pesky above average people who want to be rewarded based on their skills and/or performance.
        • It's the pesky above average people who want to be rewarded based on their skills and/or performance.

          Yeah, the only problem is choosing what categories we want to be rewarded for if we're above average in them. For engineers and scientists, it's often advanced problem-solving or technical skills. For business majors, it's often being able to get one over on the next guy. As far as I can tell, the only people who want IQ to be the main category for achievement are deadbeats who seemingly have no real-world skills but can manage to take entrance tests for high-IQ societies.

          Everybody's above average at s

  • 7th post! (Score:4, Interesting)

    by jc42 (318812) on Saturday March 03, 2012 @06:06PM (#39234163) Homepage Journal

    Oh, wait ... Hmmm; this is a Safari window. I wonder how Safari users rank.

    Maybe I should switch to one of my Chrome or Firefox windows, then I might get it right.

    It might be interesting if we could get data on users that run multiple browsers. I have at least 10 browsers on this MacBook Pro, slightly fewer on my Ubuntu and Debian boxes, though I've previously found some that I didn't know I had, so I'm not sure how many more their might be. Lots of us developers collect browsers for testing against.

    Anyway, it could be interesting if people showed different math abilities when using different browsers. It'd imply that the differences are due to interference from the browsers' UIs, and not inherent in the individual users. I wonder how this study handle such possibilities. We already have good evidence that the programming language you use can help or hinder various sorts of reasoning ability, depending on the way they implement various capabilities. It wouldn't be too surprising if different browsers' UIs affected the ability of users to perform some mental operations. So we don't really know whether this study was comparing the users' math abilities, or the browsers' interference with their users' abilities.

    • by wbr1 (2538558)
      This UI of the puzzle is the HTML page, and if coded well has no significant difference in the major browsers, therefore the browsers UI itself should have little impact if any on the results. In addition, only a very small percentage of the population are developers with 20 different browsers on their system. Most users use whatever the default browser it, or install their favorite (or geek nephews recommended) browser and use that.
      • Re:7th post! (Score:4, Interesting)

        by Billly Gates (198444) on Saturday March 03, 2012 @06:58PM (#39234505) Journal

        Rule number one in science is never to form causation from generaliztion of data. Studies show that rap music makes you a better basketball player. Ice cream can give you heart attacks too. Why?

        Statistically most NBA basketball players who are African American listen to rap music, therefore rap music made them great basketball players. The ice cream study was based on very hot days in New York when the temperature soared over 100 degrees. People tend to eat more ice cream on those days and there was also a rise of heart attacks. Therefore ice cream gives you heart attacks.

        In Korea there are warning labels that fans give you heart attacks and there are settings to make sure they turn off at night as Koreans believe you can die if you leave the fan on at night. This is because when it is hot people have heart attacks and you can guess where the media made the conclusion.

        It is silly and dangerous to make assumptions. You need a full hypothesis and use the standard scientific method to reproduce the results.

        For all we know more old people use IE who are mentally further declined, or people went to that site at work when the boss wasn't looking and quickly alt tabbed and let the game time out when work needed them, etc. These are valid reasons and does not equate stupidity for people who use IE. Until we know more we just do not know. The work thing with IE is a very likely reason why a user would stop the puzzle as corporate America loves IE and users tend to hate work.

        • by tompaulco (629533)
          I don't see anybody claiming causation. Nobody says that using Chrome or Firefox instead of IE will MAKE you smarter. It just shows that people who use Firefox or Chrome tend to be smarter. This conclusion is an obvious one if you think about it. The average person, and the below average person, will most likely use the browser that comes with their computer. And of course, the average or below average person is probably going to have a MS based machine. The average or below average person probably is not e
          • It just shows that people who use Firefox or Chrome tend to be smarter.

            No, it doesn't show that at all. It provides no effect size statistics to back up such a claim.

            This conclusion is an obvious one if you think about it.

            No, it's not. The conclusion is only obvious because your a fanboi and nothing more. This is also why you idiots were fooled by the hoax study. The conclusion seemed correct only because it fed into your bias.

            • by tompaulco (629533)
              No, it doesn't show that at all. It provides no effect size statistics to back up such a claim.
              Well, by all means, lets have a larger study, then. However, I would still bet large sums of money that browsers that people have to go out of their way to find and use will tend to have smarter users than browsers that come by default with almost every computer. You don't have to get offended, just because this small sampling tends to back up what just plain makes sense. If you are an IE user, that doesn't make
        • Or, like someone else said maybe the IE users have more common sense and just leave the silly test early. Was a joke but still a good example of a real possibility you'd have to test and control for.

          I know personally if someone says "Go try this test," I have a very short attention span for it. I'll answer some questions but more than about 10 or so and I'm done, don't care that much (I use FF though).

          With something like this all you know is a correlation (presuming the data was statistically significant) a

    • by lucm (889690)

      I have at least 10 browsers on this MacBook Pro, slightly fewer on my Ubuntu and Debian boxes [...] Lots of us developers collect browsers for testing against.

      One OSX and two Debians. It appears to me that you are missing a significant browser market share (and I'm not talking about Lynx).

      This being said, I'd be curious to see the user agent stats for nambla.org - maybe the FBI or NSA could tell us.

      • by jc42 (318812)
        Actually, I do have lynx on all my machines, and it's one of the browsers that I test against fairly often. It's one of the useful tools for verifying that pages are accessible to the visually impaired. I've also found it useful in some discussions to mention that on several projects, I've been explicitly order to not test against lynx, or any other tools for the disabled. A lot of management has open contempt for people with physical disabilities, at least here in the US.
      • by sessamoid (165542)

        I have at least 10 browsers on this MacBook Pro, slightly fewer on my Ubuntu and Debian boxes [...] Lots of us developers collect browsers for testing against.

        One OSX and two Debians. It appears to me that you are missing a significant browser market share (and I'm not talking about Lynx).

        This being said, I'd be curious to see the user agent stats for nambla.org - maybe the FBI or NSA could tell us.

        The MacBook Pro can run Windows natively or in a virtual machine.

        • by lucm (889690)

          I have at least 10 browsers on this MacBook Pro, slightly fewer on my Ubuntu and Debian boxes [...] Lots of us developers collect browsers for testing against.

          One OSX and two Debians. It appears to me that you are missing a significant browser market share (and I'm not talking about Lynx).

          This being said, I'd be curious to see the user agent stats for nambla.org - maybe the FBI or NSA could tell us.

          The MacBook Pro can run Windows natively or in a virtual machine.

          Makes you wonder why someone would pay that much money for a regular Intel CPU, 4GB of RAM and a cheap 5400 RPM hard disk then, especially when the same specs can be found in a Dell Vostro for less than half the price (including Windows).

  • Doesn't anyone else find it suspicious that the chrome solve time for all 3 sizes was 100 seconds while ie and firefox both changed?
    • by Robadob (1800074)
      "Average solving time as a percentage of the Chrome average (so smaller is better)"
    • Actually, the data were normalized against the Chrome speed for each category. That's not 100 seconds you're looking at, that's 100 percent of the Chrome rate. It's a weird way of displaying a graph, but if the author hadn't done it then the bars for the larger puzzle sizes would have (presumably) dwarfed the smaller ones, resulting in a loss of visible precision. I guess the more standard solution, using a logarithmic scale, either didn't occur to the author or was for some reason infeasible.
    • Here we go, found the actual data in the paper:

      browser: 4x4 5x5 6x6
      Internet Explorer: 30.9, 73.4, 262
      Firefox: 29.4, 70.2, 245
      Chrome: 22.0, 61.1, 233

      Of course, this doesn't disprove the leading theory, which is that the analysis is total garbage. The number of potential mitigating factors (e.g. "Hey look, solving a browser-based puzzle game reflects the speed of the browser's javascript interpreter!") and alternative hypotheses (such as "IE users haven't invested time in changing their browsers, therefor

      • by Jmc23 (2353706)
        Wow, you must be a piss poor biologist since you don't seem to understand how science works. No experiment is complete by itself but every piece of data is useful. Your 'hypothesis' is easily testable, and you could probably just ask the guy and he might even have the answer of whether or not the browser has anything to do with it, e.g. puzzle time starts once ui drawn, or time starts when first input, or before the ui is even created.

        As well, unless the guy wrote a very bad program he's not going to st

        • I see you're quite a good conversationalist; you must be quite a blast at parties. No, the claim that Javascript interpreter speed may have a role in browser performance is not easily testable because the author lumped different versions of the browsers together. It's possible that some obscure intermediary version of Firefox, for example, had an exceptionally poor performance, and that this skewed the data. I have in fact determined that Aurora 12.0a2 seems to have no performance difference between IE 8 on

          • by Jmc23 (2353706)
            My tone was exactly the same as yours without the haughty pretentiousness behind it. You were the one to say we should just totally ignore anything about this right?

            You still aren't thinking about latency correctly. Browser users form communities, and those communities have certain characteristics. IE is default on all windows machines, it is the bottom, the start from which communities branch off because there has to be a stimulus to replace IE, even if that means replacing windows with linux where IE i

            • A dial-up modem in Britain takes about half a second, at most, to communicate with a server in Korea. (This is a generous over-estimate calculated from my experience with badly-coded Doom multiplayer servers.) No action on the part of the user in the game can cause a cumulative latency effect; the Javascript communicates with the server at regular intervals asynchronously to preserve the game's play state. Here [calcudoku.org] is the code. Note where and how the XMLHttpRequest objects are used.

              The maximum effect that laten

              • by Jmc23 (2353706)
                That has got to be some of the worst code i've ever seen. I would have inspected it further but it was making my eyes bleed. Then i got distracted by doing the puzzles. :)

                The first time i did a puzzle there was about a 5 - 6 second delay between completion of the puzzle and the pop up saying puzzle was correct. Dial up can actually have a lot better consistency than a cable connection. Whether or not this has an effect on the solve time I can't say because that code is horrible to look at, however, jus

                • Well, certainly there are subsections of said market. :)

                  I'm pretty sure the code has been automatically generated and automatically minified. Hence the illegibility. I'm pretty sure though that when a puzzle is solved, the duration can't be more than a whole HTTP interaction (which, I guess, is a few more packets than just a single ping, so perhaps the combined metric of latency and bandwidth can have a substantial effect.)

            • I do like your theory of IE as a base, from which people must migrate away. There are of course exceptions to user intention: the archetypal benevolent sysadmin "who takes away the dangerous blue 'e' " being one of them.

              That being said, intelligent people don't just automatically migrate away from IE. Informed, interested people with a meaningful investment in the security of their computers do. Inherently that includes an age bias, an interest in computers (which is not the same as an interest in solving m

        • Science doesn't work by pushing conclusions based on correlations from a study that has huge sampling bias and no effect size statistics to prove that the conclusion is even practically significant. If what the submitter was doing is what you consider science then... wow... we are more doomed then I thought.

  • by xaoslaad (590527) on Saturday March 03, 2012 @06:39PM (#39234355)
    If I use my Mac I use Safari. If I use my Fedora laptop I use Firefox. If use my Windows PC I use IE.

    Any one of them works fine for me. If I can look at web pages and Bookmark/Favorite things it does 99.99% of what I want. I keep all my systems up to date, and run active AV of Windows. I'm not in the habit of viewing a wide range of shady web sites either. To top it off I can't think of a site I use that is not compatible with all three. And it is enough of a headache keeping 3 different systems up to date (nevermind the add virtual machines) without downloading extra browsers and making sure they're up to date separately.

    Basically, who cares what browser you use. I doubt it defines you, me, or anyone else.
  • The number of abandoned puzzles (started but never finished) was also significantly higher for IE users.

    Or, perhaps, IE users were more likely to have a life away from their computer. Maybe they abandoned the puzzle because they had to get ready for one of those "dates" - something Chrome users may have read about on Wikipedia.

  • "Chrome users are best with numbers." is a phrasing that indicates causation. This is Slashdot, so no need to remind everyone that correlation does not imply causation, right?
    • by rrohbeck (944847)

      The causation probably is: More educated or intelligent people have learned about Chrome and have switched.
      The default browser on the most widespread system is always the one that will have the least sophisticated users.

  • Need more details (Score:3, Insightful)

    by ceoyoyo (59147) on Saturday March 03, 2012 @07:04PM (#39234541)

    If you're going to write a paper, put the relevant details in. What kind of statistical tests did you do? What correction for multiple comparisons did you do? What are the actual p-values you obtained, for each test? Are the distributions of your data normal? Do they meet the assumptions of your test?

  • Those of us who use all three (IE 'cause I have to at work) are confused.

  • Doesn't this more likely mean that there are just a lot more people using IE than Chrome and so their average is going to be closer to the mean of the greater population?

    On the other hand, I don't use Chrome, so my maths may not be as high good as my Englishin' and grammarin' is.
  • Tired of these "studies" that shows better apples uses a certain orange. Personally, I use Firefox and IE and find no difference between them. Sometimes something don't work on one of them, so I do it on the other. Considering IE comes as default on windows. Studies like this is like saying "Players who play games with default settings are stupid, and players who edit the settings are smart." Just because you have not found a need to change the settings dose not automatically mean your stupid.
  • by Guppy06 (410832) on Saturday March 03, 2012 @08:43PM (#39235031)

    a site were you can solve Calcudoku number puzzles.

    Ahem. [wikipedia.org]

    And publishing your "paper" on your own website doesn't make it peer-reviewed either.

  • by hism (561757)
    So am I expected to move to Chrome now so I can be part of some exclusive club to validate my IQ? Or move away from IE so people don't think I'm stupid? Maybe they should have called this study, "Chrome Users Are Most Insecure?"
  • by ChipMonk (711367) on Saturday March 03, 2012 @09:35PM (#39235315) Journal
    MSIE's download progress bars lie 99% of the time, and just make something up the other 17%.

    Can we trust the reported times for MSIE users to work these calcudoku puzzles?
  • ok, so those who are good with numbers prefer chrome. those who are good in math prefer star wars over women. therefore, prefering star wars over women is better just like prefering chrome over IE is better. wait.

    smart people make fewer mistakes, but those mistakes tend to be longer.

  • Almost half the world is using Chrome. So almost half the world is better at numbers than the other half?
  • https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/bneajlpihgbinpbljjcadddjljghilho [google.com]

    https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/sudoku-helper/?src=search [mozilla.org]

    Could be another answer. I don't see any mention as to whether it tracked what addons/extensions were in use at the time, but this is something that could easily be gamed.

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