I try to avoid advocating one technology or vendor over another on this blog whenever possible. Perpetual battlegrounds such as Mac vs. PC and Google vs. Bing are unproductive distractions from the general techniques we can use in our work. But there are exceptions, cases where one technology has a clear advantage.
These things manifest themselves as toolbars, right-click menu options and so on, to enhance your use of the browser. Recently they’ve become incredibly common as adjuncts to online services of various kinds. That includes, of course, services that I’ve been recommending here as tools for skeptics to use in their work.
I decided to compile a list of which browsers are currently supported by the various online services that I’ve recommended here, in my talks and on Virtual Skeptics. Once you see the list, you’ll see why I recommend Google Chrome for skeptics.
Charting the Options
Not much more to say, here’s the chart I compiled:
|Tool||What’s it for?||Internet Explorer||Firefox||Chrome||Safari||Opera|
|Churnalism US||Discover poor journalism practice and plagiarism in news articles online||X||X|
|EasyBib||Create standard citations for sources, learn how to evaluate websites for credibility||X||X|
|Feedback Loop||Give Google feedback on the value/quality of the current website||X|
|Fishbarrel||Assist the process of filing government complaints against quacks||X|
|Google Image search||Reverse image search – discover repurposed hoax photos and more||X||X|
|Image Search Options||Reverse image search – discover repurposed hoax photos on multiple search engines with a single plugin||X||X|
|Lazy Truth||Automatically find debunkings of urban legends and such that are passed around in email (for Gmail only)||X|
|RBUTR||Find and submit rebuttals to the current web page||Future||X||X||X|
|TinEye||Reverse image search – discover repurposed hoax photos and more||X||X||X||X||X|
|Unsourced||Find the sources used to write a news article, flag churnalism and other poor journalism techniques||X||X|
|Web of Trust||Rate websites for trustworthiness or child safety & leave comments||X||X||X||X||X|
|Wikitrust||Graphically analyze the editing history of Wikipedia articles||X|
As you can see, Google Chrome currently gives you the widest set of options in terms of skeptic-friendly web tools. Firefox is a good second choice. But there is only one tool (WikiTrust) that is not currently available for Chrome as I write this, and several are only available for Chrome.
So I recommend that all skeptics install Chrome so they have the option of using these tools. There’s no reason why you can’t have other browsers intalled too – you don’t have to make Chrome your default browser. But whenever you are doing skeptical work online, you can do better things if you use it.
Update: Added Firefox plugin for Churnalism US to table, per comments below.
Update March 2014: Added Firefox and Opera support for RBUTR to table, both recently released.