How to Conduct Insufficient Research

by Cowboy Bob Sorensen 

On my original weblog, Stormbringer's Thunder, I was writing some articles about browsers, privacy, and extensions as relevant to my Windows 10 desktop experiences. I conducted some of what I consider research because it involved considering variables, plus seeing what did and did not work. That became an odd inspiration for this article. It fits with discussions on shoddy research from the secular science industry, which in turn impresses the obedient lapdog fake science news media. 

Inadequate research may be good enough for the evolution industry, but the rest of us should object. Here is my research on voices in browser readers.
Credit: Pixabay / Gerd Altmann
There is an extension that I use on all of my browsers called Reader View by Yokris (yes, they have a version for Opera, Firefox and its forks, as well as Chromium-based browsers). Great for relieving eye strain when reading at the computer, and the user can edit a page to some extent, then save it as an HTML document. Very helpful to me when making reference points.

Read to me, Electronic Friends

Reader View can read aloud to us. Users can select from voices installed on their computers (many of these have come a long way in recent years) and hear text-to-speech. They even have accents, and my favorite is Microsoft's Natasha who sounds Australian. Well, since voices on computers and digital assistants nowadays are drawn from recordings from humans, mayhaps the woman was from down under. The voice has a pitch (sound waves, not sales) that I can hear quite well. Just for fun, notice how the pitch used on electronic devices, phone answering trees, and many newscasters is similar.

However, Natasha only works on the Edge browser. When I'm using one of my other browsers, there's no point trying to find her, because she's not there. Neither is MichaelV3, my other favorite.

Reader View's voice module in action
When using Reader View, I noticed hesitation or dropouts in the reading. Sometimes. That's the difficult part, like taking your vehicle to the mechanic to fix a rattling noise, and the mechanic asks, "What rattling noise?" No point trying to fit it. It's not there. 

The dropouts were not consistent. I wanted to know if I could find a cause, a pattern, a common factor, if it was beyond my ken, or something that could not be changed. The screenshot shows what appears when you select the speech icon in the Reader View extension. As you can see from a glance, it lets the user make several adjustments. It was taken while Reader View was operating. The skip back, pause, skip forward, and stop buttons were black and available for a requested operation.

Not entirely active
Sometimes it would pause in mid-sentence as well as between paragraphs. Then there were occasions that it did not start at all until I reloaded the page or selected a different voice. I would get either smooth reading or those annoying pauses.

In the course of my investigations (saying that makes me appear smarter), I could watch the reader's control "blink", especially between paragraphs. That is, the active (black) parts would turn gray and then black again. Most of the time, the pause was slight and expected, like people do when speaking to take a breath. So, is this situation specific to browsers? Since I had been examining browsers before and found things about several that I like, they were available for this project.

Also worth noting is that Reader View's voice skipped indented/blockquote text.

Immersive Reader in Edge

With Immersive Reader, there are fewer controls and options, but the user can select different voices and change the reading speed. It has shown fewer dropouts, but sometimes it hangs up and needs to be turned off and back on (as is often the case with a lot of electronic equipment). It is interesting that it helps people follow along by graying out most of the text except for the sentence being read, and an additional highlight for each word as the user follows along. No dropouts. This has been very consistent in my experience.

Experimenting Other Browsers with Reader View

Now we come to more interesting research.

Using Edge and Reader View, voices specific to Edge have had the pauses and dropouts. I found that the voice called David works in other browsers as well as Immersive Reader, I tried it in Reader View on the Brave and Avast browsers . It had the pauses and dropouts on those. Natasha was better in both readers in Edge.

The test was done on an article by Creation Ministries International.

The Bad Conclusion First

Natasha is the better voice for a reader.

Why That Conclusion is Ridiculous

  • Based on my limitations, I only used one voice in Reader View and Immersive Reader.
  • Natasha or other Edge voices could not be used for comparison in other browsers.
  • The testing was done only on my Windows 10 computer, so I have no way of knowing what would happen on Windows 7 or any other operating system.
  • Problems could be from my computer. Although rather new, my Windows 10 has some bugs that other people don't have (according to forums and such), and vice versa.
  • Did not check for browser load, such as multiple tabs being open compared to only one tab.
  • Only one article on one site for the test.
  • Longer articles may be more difficult for voices on Reader View than short articles.
  • Some sites are more involved than others, having web activity behind the scenes which may have been a contributing factor.
While my research efforts seemed to be in the right direction, possibly important information was either neglected or unavailable. My sampling was woefully inadequate, and supper was ready. This was not worthy of publishing in tech journals!

Refuting Myself with a bit more Testing

To be consistent, I used David to read an article at Creation-Evolution Headlines to me on both Immersive Reader and Reader View. There were no substantial pauses, and indented text was indeed read to me. I did a cursory view of an article at Answers in Genesis. Reader View skipped indented text.

See how information that was probably relevant was neglected? I've used these quotes before, but they are definitely worth repeating here:
Sherlock Holmes: “It is a capital mistake to theorize before one has data. Insensibly one begins to twist facts to suit theories, instead of theories to suit facts.” —From "A Scandal in Bohemia" by A. Conan Doyle.

Hercule Poirot: "Everything must be taken into account. If the fact will not fit the theory, let the theory go". —From The Mysterious Affair at Styles by Agatha Christie.

Sure, they're fictional characters, but those remarks contain truth.

A More Realistic Conclusion

My research only shows my experiences and what I can expect; other people may have different experiences. I believe the Immersive Reader is more efficient for audio. (Don't be disunderstanding this child, both have limitations, but Reader View is powerful and versatile when used for its primary purpose: making text more readable and stripping away the nonsense. I'll give up my Reader View when you pry it from my cold, dead pixels.) My research may be useful for someone else, and it may be a springboard for someone who has the means and determination to conduct serious research.

Thinking about the Evolution Industry

We have seen many times where pertinent information is omitted (see "Puzzles with Missing Pieces" for example). Then the researchers announce their "discoveries". After that, the secular science media get the bit between their teeth and run for the fences, sometimes making announcements that were not uttered by the scientists. Lots of hubris and sophism, Sebastian, but not enough humility. What is worse is that people who lack (or do not use) critical thinking skills simply receive evolutionary fake news.

It is helpful when scientists and writers admit that more research is needed. Unfortunately, many add weasel words to convince the public about evolution or some other fake news. People want facts, but when they go to find them, they're not there.

Most of the time, there is no neutral ground. Creation scientists and their secular counterparts are not unbiased blank slates, driven only by data. Not happening, old son. Everyone has presuppositions and biases through which they interpret data. Secularists have the additional motivations of making money, gaining prestige, and advancing belief in universal common ancestor evolutionism. Biblical creationists want to glorify the Creator and reach the truth, even though they are not as well-heeled as secularists who are using our tax money to tell us that God does not exist.

Critical thinking is very important. So is asking questions. Oh, and waiting. Waiting helps. (How many times have secularists pontificated on something related to cosmic or biological evolution, only to have it rejected later because additional evidence was considered?) Those of us who know God and believe his written Word realize that the truth is on our side, and philosophies of false science are constantly changing.

By the way, Firefox and Waterfox have a reader view built in. It uses computer voices...

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