Friday July 16, 2004

Are Mac Users Smarter?

Well, yeah...Isn't it obvious? I mean, we use Macs!


Paul Murphy decided to do a little "scientific research" into the subject for his recent article in MacNewsWorld.

I doubt it's possible to get a definitive answer, but as long as you don't take any of it too seriously you can have a lot of fun playing with proxies such as the average user's ability to read and write his or her native language. This isn't necessarily a reasonable measure of intelligence (mainly because intelligence has yet to be defined) but almost everyone agrees that a native English speaker's ability to write correct English correlates closely with that person's ability to think clearly.

In other words, if we knew that Mac users, as a group, were significantly better users of written English than PC users, then we'd have a presumptive basis for ranking the probable "smartness" of two people about whom we only know that one uses a Mac and the other a PC.

For his analysis, Murphy decided to compare the readability of texts written by members of the Mac, PC, and Slashdot communities. Readability statistics assess quantifiable attributes of text, such as the average number of words per sentence, average length of sentences, number of syllables per word, and so on, to derive a formulaic estimate of the ``readability'' of the text. To get the statistics, Murphy used style, a useful but little known Unix command from the long-ago days when Unix was a trademark of AT&T. Style produces a variety of readability scores and statistics based on common readability formulas.

Not only were [reader comments from Macintouch] ratings significantly higher than those given Slashdot's contributors, and thus better than those given text from the PC sites, but the vocabulary was larger too. Without collapsing words to their root forms, but after removing punctuation (including capitalization) and numbers, the Macintouch stuff had 870 unique words to only 517 for the combined PC sites.

Overall, the results are pretty clear: Mac users might not actually be smarter than PC users, but they certainly use better English and a larger vocabulary to express more complex thinking.


Are Mac Users Smarter? ( in category Random Thoughts , SciTech ) - posted at Fri, 16 Jul, 23:49 Pacific | «e»