Richard Carrier - Twelve Axioms of Historical Method

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Re: Richard Carrier - Twelve Axioms of Historical Method

#101  Postby proudfootz » Feb 05, 2012 3:34 am

Mus Ponticus wrote:
Byron wrote:As you say, Carrier, on the available evidence, doesn't give a rat's ass about history. He's never held a research position, and I've yet to see a single bit of post-doctorate research from him. He's a professional anti-theist (although I'm still baffled by what exactly it is he does for a living) and history is a means to that end.


You sure don't like that guy. He's got a phd in history and you think he "doesn't give a rat's ass about history"?


Byron seems to have a 'conspiracy theory' about those who express doubts about Jesus... :whistle:
"Truth is stranger than fiction, but it is because Fiction is obliged to stick to possibilities; Truth isn't." - Mark Twain
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Re: Richard Carrier - Twelve Axioms of Historical Method

#102  Postby archibald » Feb 07, 2012 1:43 pm

proudfootz wrote:
Mus Ponticus wrote:
Byron wrote:As you say, Carrier, on the available evidence, doesn't give a rat's ass about history. He's never held a research position, and I've yet to see a single bit of post-doctorate research from him. He's a professional anti-theist (although I'm still baffled by what exactly it is he does for a living) and history is a means to that end.


You sure don't like that guy. He's got a phd in history and you think he "doesn't give a rat's ass about history"?


Byron seems to have a 'conspiracy theory' about those who express doubts about Jesus... :whistle:


When I was last here, last year, I didn't have a great impression of Carrier, though this was really only gleaned from reading a few articles here and there and watching a few youtube vids.

In the interim, I've read one of his books ('Not the Impossible Faith'), and as a result I am none the wiser. In some ways I found the book cringeworthy and in others I found more to admire than I thought I would. The problem with Carrier seems to be a classic case of trying to focus on the arguments and not the person, or in this case the better arguments. :)

As for this Bayesian stuff, it is interesting, potentially, as an intellectual tool (and I don't pretend to understand all the math) but I might have reservations about how it contributes significantly. As someone else already said, I think, it seems to throw up suggestions which are fairly self evident. :)
"It seems rather obvious that plants have free will. Don't know why that would be controversial."
(John Platko)
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Re: Richard Carrier - Twelve Axioms of Historical Method

#103  Postby Mus Ponticus » Feb 08, 2012 9:43 am

John Loftus has an interview with Carrier about his new book on his site:
John: What does math have to do with history?

Richard: As I noted just above, all historical argument is already fundamentally mathematical. Any time you say something is “more likely” than something else, that an explanation is “improbable,” or “almost certainly true,” or “implausible,” and so on, you are making mathematical statements. Any time something is “more” than something else, that’s math. Just try to make a historical argument without ever referencing how likely anything is, or how plausible it is, or making any other statements of probability or degree, and you’ll realize: history is math. So we should pop the hood and look inside what’s going on in our brains when we speak and think this way, and figure out how to check the math and do it right. Otherwise we are relying on our untrained intuition, which is not only unreliable, it also can’t be checked or critiqued, since we don’t even know what it’s doing. My book pops the hood, and shows you what it’s doing.

John: How would a Bayesian approach to history help historians come to an agreement and make progress possible?

Richard: By making their intuitions and assumptions explicit and thus subject to examination and criticism—by themselves, too, not just by others (and any honest historian should want that, to make sure they are reasoning correctly).

For example, if a historian rebuts an opponent by saying his theory is “implausible,” what exactly does that mean? How does he arrive at that conclusion? How can we critique or check whether that conclusion is valid, when we don’t even know what premises it was based on, or by what logic the conclusion is being reached from those premises? And indeed, are all implausible explanations false? If not, then calling an explanation “implausible” is not a sufficient rebuttal. Whereas if all implausible explanations are false, then why? And how do we know when something is that implausible?

Bayes’ Theorem forces historians to confess what probabilities they are estimating for what things, and why they are coming to those estimates instead of others. Their assumptions are thus exposed. And once exposed, often they won’t stand up to criticism. Or if they do, then we will have ended up with a much more robust proof of their conclusion. Either way, we end up with better history.
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Re: Richard Carrier - Twelve Axioms of Historical Method

#104  Postby archibald » Feb 08, 2012 1:45 pm

Mus Ponticus wrote:

For example, if a historian rebuts an opponent by saying his theory is “implausible,” what exactly does that mean? How does he arrive at that conclusion? How can we critique or check whether that conclusion is valid, when we don’t even know what premises it was based on, or by what logic the conclusion is being reached from those premises? And indeed, are all implausible explanations false? If not, then calling an explanation “implausible” is not a sufficient rebuttal. Whereas if all implausible explanations are false, then why? And how do we know when something is that implausible?

Bayes’ Theorem forces historians to confess what probabilities they are estimating for what things, and why they are coming to those estimates instead of others. Their assumptions are thus exposed. And once exposed, often they won’t stand up to criticism. Or if they do, then we will have ended up with a much more robust proof of their conclusion. Either way, we end up with better history.


In some ways I can see his point, and I think it could be an interesting exercise. However (and I'm aware I'm about to compare apples ands pears here) I would feel a certain amount of unease similar to using the criterion of embarrassment, in that ultimately I'm not sure how much weight to give the analysis. I haven't (yet) read anything to suggest I should give it a lot, though to be fair, I haven't studied it extensively.
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Re: Richard Carrier - Twelve Axioms of Historical Method

#105  Postby proudfootz » Apr 11, 2012 9:57 pm

Just in case anyone's interested in Carrier's book, there's an ongoing review of Proving History on this blog:


Richard Carrier’s “Proving History: Bayes’s Theorem and the Quest for the Historical Jesus” Chapter 1 (A Review)

— Neil Godfrey


Till now I’ve always been more curious than persuaded about Carrier’s application of Bayes’s Theorem to what he calls historical questions, so curiosity led me to purchase his book in which he discusses it all in depth, Proving History: Bayes’s Theorem and the Quest for the Historical Jesus.

Before I discuss here his preface and opening chapter I should be up front with my reasons for having some reservations about Carrier’s promotion of Bayes’ theorem. (Allow me my preference for Bayes’ over Bayes’s.) I should also say that I’d like to think I am quite prepared to be persuaded that my resistance is a symptom of being too narrow-minded.

My first problem with Carrier’s use of the theorem arises the moment he speaks of it being used to “prove history” or resolve “historical problems”. For me, history is not something to be “proved”. History is a quest for explanations of what we know has happened in the past. Historical problems, to my thinking, are problems having to do with how to interpret and understand what we know has happened in the past. The milestone philosophers of the nature of history — von Ranke, Collingwood, Carr, Elton, White — have certainly spoken about history this way.

I have always understood that where there is insufficient data available then history cannot be done at all. Ancient history, therefore, does not allow for the same sorts of in-depth historical studies as are available to the historian of more recent times. Historical questions are necessarily shaped (or stymied altogether) by the nature and limitations of the available sources.

[full article at the link below:]


http://vridar.wordpress.com/2012/04/10/ ... -a-review/


And there's discussion of Chapetr 2 of Carrier's book here:


Chapter 2: The Basics

Here Carrier pauses before addressing Bayes’ theorem in order to establish fundamentals that ought to be part of the basic mechanics of every historical enquiry.

[full article at the link below:]

http://vridar.wordpress.com/2012/04/11/ ... -2-review/
"Truth is stranger than fiction, but it is because Fiction is obliged to stick to possibilities; Truth isn't." - Mark Twain
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Re: Richard Carrier - Twelve Axioms of Historical Method

#106  Postby sanaImtiaz » Aug 02, 2018 11:06 am

Hey,
can anyone please tell me the example in which Richard C Carrier uses his all 12 axioms from the book "Proving history: Baye's Theorem and the Quest for the Historical Jesus"? Is there any example?
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