I use the Brave browser, both on mac and pc.  I haven’t tried it on linux, but I know they have a version.  I love it!  Why?  Because it blocks trackers and ads.  It’s not bloated like Firefox has become.  And, it’s fast!

So why am I promoting Brave in a post about the insidious google?  Well, lately (in the last 2 weeks), with google as my default search engine, google began returning a ‘site not found’ error message.  Hmmmm, I said.  I tried the same search in Chrome, then Safari.  Both worked just fine.  What do Safari and Chrome do that Brave doesn’t?  Track you and serve you incessant ads!!!  So now the ‘great google’ is refusing to give you search results unless you ‘consent’ to being tracked and get search results that really have become nothing other than endless pages of ‘sponsored search results’ (ads).  Needless to say, this really annoyed me!  So I opened up my preferences in Brave to change my preferred search engine.  There were a few choices that I found really interesting.

First, there is semanticscholar.org.  This beauty has NO ads, NO trackers and its search results only return peer-reviewed research.  What a great tool for scholars and dissertation writers like me….too bad I didn’t find it before I finished my literature review!  If you want to learn about the latest in any academic subject or find a researcher’s oeuvre, this one is for you.

Wolfram Alpha bills itself as a ‘computational knowledge engine.’  It’s interesting in that you can do computations or learn about different topics.  For instance, you can type in Mean{5, 6, 8, 2, 4} and it will calculate the mean for you.  Kind of like R on a webpage.  It can also explicate the knowledge graph of animals or stocks in a nicely summarized form.

In the end I chose startpage.com for a general purpose search engine.  Why?  First of all, they don’t store your search results or use an algorithm to choose what you see, unlike the increasingly evil google.  This means you don’t get results slanted based off of what the great google determines is in your best interests.   Tired of searching a book on google scholar and conveniently having the page of the phrase you are searching for blanked out?  Or the phrase is shown in context only available in a ‘preview’ that blanks out the page number?  That’s because google knows you searched for that phrase before and is now trying to force you into buying a book.  Tired of not being able to find a youtube video because it doesn’t match google’s political bias? Well, no more!  Find out how evil google’s search engine has become with startpage’s short slide show.

This little search for a new search engine found a lot of alternatives out there.  In particular, I was struck with how many speciality, ad and tracker free options are out there now.  If you, like me, yearn for the early days of the internet when it wasn’t dominated by ads and skewed search results first get Brave and then pick a default search engine.  Finally, check out some of the speciality search engines and bookmark them for future use.  Google, there are lots of other choices and I have chosen.  Hint, it’s not you!

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