December 10, 2012 by Julia
I laughed so hard when I read this article by Charlie Martin. Apparently, Yahoo published a press release purportedly by some fellow called P. Nichols claiming to represent The Intelligence Institute in Birmingham, Alabama. The press release describes a study allegedly conducted by this organization. The result?
The results of a 4 year study show that Americans who obtain their news from Fox News channel have an average IQ of 80, which represents a 20 point deficit when compared to the U.S. national average of 100. IQ, or intelligence quotient, is the international standard of assessing intelligence.
We’ve been through this before, but something about this “press release” doesn’t pass the smell test . . .
One test involved showing subjects a series of images and measuring their vitals, namely pulse rate and blood pressure. The self-identified conservatives’ vitals increased over 35% when shown complex or shocking images. The image that caused the most stress was a poorly edited picture of President Obama standing next to a “ghostly” image of a child holding a tarantula.
Oh, right, it sounds like something out of the Onion! Now, you may wonder why I had that HuffPo link just laying around, but the answer is easy: at the end of the press release is a link labeled, “More info to [sic] this study can be seen here.” That link goes . . . to the HuffPo story from May.
Since the press release is suspicious on its face (a guy says he represents an organization that does not exist and links to someone else’s study for “more info to” the study?), Martin called up the number and discovered a host of additional inconsistencies and bits of information that make this “study” an obvious, poorly-conceived hoax. It’s worth reading, because he has a whole conversation with Nichols. Here is the summary:
So there you have it. A four-year study sparked by the outcome of the recent election, from an institution that’s admittedly a fake, from a company that won’t identify itself, supposedly funded by a Republican PAC trying to “cut off” the Tea Party like a cancer, using a sample that was chosen with a particular result in mind, with a contact number that’s an anonymous free Google Voice number.
I mean, REALLY? Who would take that seriously?
In the comments at PJ Media, someone purporting to be Nichols has this to say in response:
I enjoyed our phone call today and wanted to thank you for reporting our conversation accurately.
It surprises me that many people on the internet are writing our study’s results off as a hoax. The study and its results are real. As I told you when we talked, we used scientific methodology to collect and report all data.
We didn’t realize that we would be required to put an * next to findings in order to prove legitimacy. We assumed that Fox News viewers in the South were still Fox News viewers.
The cannibalism demonstrated by non-southern Fox News viewers attacking their “red-state” counterparts illustrates the Republican party’s state of disarray.
Sometimes facts aren’t pretty. That doesn’t mean that they don’t exist. We sane Republicans need to work together to rebuild our brand so that we may compete in 2016. We will never win another general election so long as we allow our cancerous hand to alienate women, Hispanics, Blacks, gays, the youth, the educated, and any other non-white protestant.
I understand a lot of people hate me right now, but if they would just take a moment to think and look at factual demographic trends.
Let’s pretend this is from the real “P. Nichols,” shall we? “We didn’t realize that we would be required to put an * next to findings in order to prove legitimacy?” Did you also not realize that you need to accurately identify yourselves, your organization, and your funding in order to prove legitimacy? Dumbest. Scientist. EVER. Well, if he’s a real scientist, of course. More likely, he’s some leftist activist taking advantage of his protective MSM shield to make up random crap.
Martin posited in the comments that this was a “hoax” not so much against the right, but against the media–i.e. how stupid do a study’s results have to be before the media will question it? I’m not sure I agree, because the topic was so specifically negative about a group of people. I think a hoax on the media would be less insulting–I mean really, consider the end of the press release:
The study did not conclude if Fox News contributed to lowering IQ or if it attracts less intelligent humans.
Several previous studies show that self-identified conservatives are less intelligent than self-identified moderates. We have never seen such a homogeneous group teetering so close to special needs levels.
The’s not how real scientists describe their study results–it’s a bald-faced ad hominum attack.
Sorry Mr. Nichols, I’m not buying it. Maybe your MSM-educated leftist fellow travelers think you are brilliant, but we here on the right are too smart for your hoax. Do try again, though, because it’s pretty amusing.
EDIT: Here is a timely article on how PRWeb is basically disseminates hoaxes and spam. And for another laugh, check out the Democratic Underground comment thread on this “press release.” There’s a lot of crowing with glee, then some Actual Scientists show up to explain that the “facts” surrounding this study are shady, and by the way, 20 points below the average doesn’t make mathematical sense. The response? Fake but accurate, natch.
ANOTHER EDIT: It occurred that there is a third possibility for the type and target of the hoax. In theory, this COULD be a hoax by conservatives trying to trick the left into getting all excited about it, only to turn around and mock them mercilessly for not adhering to scientific principles. My vote is still for leftist hoax, but I just wanted to throw the idea out there.
EDIT THE THIRD: Even HuffPo admits it’s a hoax and took the time to interview Nichols, concluding that Nichols’ story amounts to a hoax about a real study, but that we shouldn’t trust any of it. The comments are priceless, though–even when HuffPo is all like, “Hey guys, watch out for confirmation bias!” the people who comment on the article still immediately fall into the same old “fake but accurate” responses.