Richard Carrier - Twelve Axioms of Historical Method

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Re: Richard Carrier - Twelve Axioms of Historical Method

#81  Postby proudfootz » Feb 02, 2012 1:13 am

TheOneTrueZeke wrote:
proudfootz wrote:

Apparently all the peer review in the world hasn't stopped virtually every historian from making the 'glaring error' of arbitrarily saying "X is probable" without being able to define what the hell it's supposed to mean.


It's not defined in quantitative terms. It has been defined in qualitative ones. You can comb back through the HJ thread to see that.

If you have a problem with qualitative assessments of "probable" then you have a problem with history in general.


No problem with history - quite enjoy it.

Which is why when a historian proposes a solution to certain problems in historical methods identified by other historians, I take an interest.

At least if someone says "X is 75% probable" the reader would have a better idea of how likely the writer intends to be than "X is very probable".


Which would be useful if you're a bookie otherwise...not so much.


Well, to you it may not be of interest how strongly the 'probable' is meant to be, and anything between 51% and 99% is all the same to you.
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Re: Richard Carrier - Twelve Axioms of Historical Method

#82  Postby TheOneTrueZeke » Feb 02, 2012 1:45 am

proudfootz wrote:

No problem with history - quite enjoy it.

Which is why when a historian proposes a solution to certain problems in historical methods identified by other historians, I take an interest.



Why take an interest in a "solution" that solves nothing?

Well, to you it may not be of interest how strongly the 'probable' is meant to be, and anything between 51% and 99% is all the same to you.


If you're interested in finding out just how convinced, on a scale of 1 to 100, a particular historian is of fact x being the case then, sure, it might be interesting. Personally, I'd rather read his arguments and analysis in defense of his conviction.

In terms of using it to plug into Bayes Theorem, however, it's completely useless.
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Re: Richard Carrier - Twelve Axioms of Historical Method

#83  Postby proudfootz » Feb 02, 2012 2:27 am

TheOneTrueZeke wrote:
proudfootz wrote:

No problem with history - quite enjoy it.

Which is why when a historian proposes a solution to certain problems in historical methods identified by other historians, I take an interest.


Why take an interest in a "solution" that solves nothing?


All I hear is non-historians saying it solves nothing.

Why would I take an interest in so much hand-wringing by people outside the discipline?

Well, to you it may not be of interest how strongly the 'probable' is meant to be, and anything between 51% and 99% is all the same to you.


If you're interested in finding out just how convinced, on a scale of 1 to 100, a particular historian is of fact x being the case then, sure, it might be interesting. Personally, I'd rather read his arguments and analysis in defense of his conviction.[/quaote]

Naturally, that is where the rubber meets the road - how does an author justify their subjective opinion of something's 'probability'?

One does not preclude the other.

In terms of using it to plug into Bayes Theorem, however, it's completely useless.[/quote]

So some here are claiming. There's always folks on the interwebs around to dispute anything an expert might say.
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Re: Richard Carrier - Twelve Axioms of Historical Method

#84  Postby TheOneTrueZeke » Feb 02, 2012 3:56 am

proudfootz wrote:

All I hear is non-historians saying it solves nothing.

Why would I take an interest in so much hand-wringing by people outside the discipline?



Why would you spend so much time posting in a place that affords you no possibility of interest?

You tell me because evidently you do take an interest.


Naturally, that is where the rubber meets the road - how does an author justify their subjective opinion of something's 'probability'?

One does not preclude the other.


Uh, no, but the one offers real insight to which the other adds nothing.


So some here are claiming. There's always folks on the interwebs around to dispute anything an expert might say.


Carrier has a degree in mathematics?

News to me.
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Re: Richard Carrier - Twelve Axioms of Historical Method

#85  Postby logical bob » Feb 02, 2012 9:16 am

proudfootz wrote:All I hear is non-historians saying it solves nothing.

Why would I take an interest in so much hand-wringing by people outside the discipline?

There's always folks on the interwebs around to dispute anything an expert might say.

:rofl: Man, this is poor. You're being repeatedly presented with points you can't answer and all you've got is naked appeal to authority. Carrier has a PhD. Fucking hooray. There's no certificate known to man that guarantees everything the holder says will always be right without need for justification. Do you think his doctoral thesis hinged on Bayesian equations? You establish yourself as an expert by displaying some expertise.

As for who's inside or outside the field, I don't see how us anonymous posters are going to scan and upload our degree certificates and establish that they're really ours. We'll have to stick to evaluating posts based on their merit. Sorry for any inconvenience this may cause.
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Re: Richard Carrier - Twelve Axioms of Historical Method

#86  Postby proudfootz » Feb 02, 2012 2:51 pm

TheOneTrueZeke wrote:
proudfootz wrote:

All I hear is non-historians saying it solves nothing.

Why would I take an interest in so much hand-wringing by people outside the discipline?


Why would you spend so much time posting in a place that affords you no possibility of interest?

You tell me because evidently you do take an interest.


What do you mean? Plenty of people on this forum aren't threatened by historians discussing historical method.

Naturally, that is where the rubber meets the road - how does an author justify their subjective opinion of something's 'probability'?

One does not preclude the other.


Uh, no, but the one offers real insight to which the other adds nothing.

So some here are trying to claim.

So some here are claiming. There's always folks on the interwebs around to dispute anything an expert might say.


Carrier has a degree in mathematics?

News to me.


No, he's trained as a historian. Which is why I think his take on solving problems involving historical method might be worthwhile.
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Re: Richard Carrier - Twelve Axioms of Historical Method

#87  Postby proudfootz » Feb 02, 2012 3:01 pm

logical bob wrote:
proudfootz wrote:All I hear is non-historians saying it solves nothing.

Why would I take an interest in so much hand-wringing by people outside the discipline?

There's always folks on the interwebs around to dispute anything an expert might say.

:rofl: Man, this is poor. You're being repeatedly presented with points you can't answer and all you've got is naked appeal to authority. Carrier has a PhD. Fucking hooray. There's no certificate known to man that guarantees everything the holder says will always be right without need for justification. Do you think his doctoral thesis hinged on Bayesian equations? You establish yourself as an expert by displaying some expertise.

As for who's inside or outside the field, I don't see how us anonymous posters are going to scan and upload our degree certificates and establish that they're really ours. We'll have to stick to evaluating posts based on their merit. Sorry for any inconvenience this may cause.


:lol: :lol: :lol:

What's rich is for all your carping I've had to create post after post to explain Carrier's paper to you in detail because you apparently couldn't make sense of it.

It's hard for me to take seriously critiques from posters who have a history of being unreasonably hostile to ideas they don't seem to understand.
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Re: Richard Carrier - Twelve Axioms of Historical Method

#88  Postby logical bob » Feb 02, 2012 4:20 pm

With the exception of one post, your "explanations" have been of the form "that's misrepresentation, you didn't read the paper" leading on to "Carrier is an expert so you must be wrong." I'm happy to leave anyone still reading this to decide who understands the paper and who doesn't.
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Re: Richard Carrier - Twelve Axioms of Historical Method

#89  Postby TheOneTrueZeke » Feb 02, 2012 4:28 pm

proudfootz wrote:
TheOneTrueZeke wrote:
proudfootz wrote:

All I hear is non-historians saying it solves nothing.

Why would I take an interest in so much hand-wringing by people outside the discipline?


Why would you spend so much time posting in a place that affords you no possibility of interest?

You tell me because evidently you do take an interest.


What do you mean? Plenty of people on this forum aren't threatened by historians discussing historical method.


That's a non-sequitur. Try reading the post again.




No, he's trained as a historian. Which is why I think his take on solving problems involving historical method might be worthwhile.


Which gives him exactly fuck all insight into the Bayes Theorem which, last I heard, is a theorem of statistics and not history.

Hoist by your own petard!
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Re: Richard Carrier - Twelve Axioms of Historical Method

#90  Postby Byron » Feb 02, 2012 5:28 pm

proudfootz wrote:
TheOneTrueZeke wrote:Carrier has a degree in mathematics?
News to me.

No, he's trained as a historian. Which is why I think his take on solving problems involving historical method might be worthwhile.

As I pointed out in the thread without end, Carrier's trained in a specific discipline. He's currently operating outside that discipline. And as logical bob asks so appositely, does Carrier have any training in the application of Bayes' to historiography?

If he does, that merely indicates the potential for him to set out a defensible hypothesis. Until he actually does so, this continual harping about his certificates is nothing but, what was it? Ah yes, a naked appeal to authority.

Note that there's no need to bang on about their qualifications of the historians Carrier dismisses. Why? 'Cause they've actually put their training to use and produced some research.
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Re: Richard Carrier - Twelve Axioms of Historical Method

#91  Postby proudfootz » Feb 02, 2012 9:27 pm

logical bob wrote:With the exception of one post, your "explanations" have been of the form "that's misrepresentation, you didn't read the paper" leading on to "Carrier is an expert so you must be wrong."


Yes, I did quite extensively show how your assessment of what you imagined Carrier's purposes and arguments to be were based on a misreading of the text.

For example, what you called 'word salad' turned out to be a very straightforward argument in plain English that worked out to be a logical syllogism to which you offered no argument.

BTW - it would be misleading to imagine I'm saying Carrier must be right because of his qualifications in the field.

I'm happy to leave anyone still reading this to decide who understands the paper and who doesn't.


Me, too! :cheers:
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Re: Richard Carrier - Twelve Axioms of Historical Method

#92  Postby proudfootz » Feb 02, 2012 9:34 pm

TheOneTrueZeke wrote:
proudfootz wrote:
TheOneTrueZeke wrote:
proudfootz wrote:All I hear is non-historians saying it solves nothing. Why would I take an interest in so much hand-wringing by people outside the discipline?


Why would you spend so much time posting in a place that affords you no possibility of interest?

You tell me because evidently you do take an interest.


What do you mean? Plenty of people on this forum aren't threatened by historians discussing historical method.


That's a non-sequitur. Try reading the post again.


Really? I thought you were intimating that where I am posting [RationalSkepticism.ORG] 'affords me no possibility of interest'.

So I responded as if that's what you were trying to get across.

If that's not what you meant I guess your post was a little too obscure for me.

No, he's trained as a historian. Which is why I think his take on solving problems involving historical method might be worthwhile.


Which gives him exactly fuck all insight into the Bayes Theorem which, last I heard, is a theorem of statistics and not history.


So you say.

And I should believe your assessment because...?

Hoist by your own petard!


It's not clear you know what this means.
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Re: Richard Carrier - Twelve Axioms of Historical Method

#93  Postby TheOneTrueZeke » Feb 02, 2012 9:39 pm

proudfootz wrote:
Really? I thought you were intimating that where I am posting [RationalSkepticism.ORG] 'affords me no possibility of interest'.


No. More specifically this thread. Which is a thread about history. Wherein we're all amateurs and, consequently


proudfootz wrote:
Why would I take an interest in so much hand-wringing by people outside the discipline?



Of no interest to you.

Please do try to take the time to properly read and comprehend posts to which you respond.



So you say.

And I should believe your assessment because...?



It's every bit as qualified as Carrier's.
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Re: Richard Carrier - Twelve Axioms of Historical Method

#94  Postby proudfootz » Feb 02, 2012 10:43 pm

TheOneTrueZeke wrote:
proudfootz wrote:
Really? I thought you were intimating that where I am posting [RationalSkepticism.ORG] 'affords me no possibility of interest'.


No. More specifically this thread. Which is a thread about history. Wherein we're all amateurs and, consequently

proudfootz wrote:
Why would I take an interest in so much hand-wringing by people outside the discipline?


Of no interest to you.


I took an interest because this thread was about historian Richard Carrier and a proposed a possible solution to problems historians have encountered. So far no contradiction - though it seems you are intent on trying to find one. :cheers:

Please do try to take the time to properly read and comprehend posts to which you respond.


Had your post not been so opaque, it would have been easier.

I post here because it's a topic of interest to me. I tried to help out a few posters whose misunderstanding of the paper was leading them to false assertions.

So you say. And I should believe your assessment because...?


It's every bit as qualified as Carrier's.


...and when will you be presenting your paper on Bayes' Theorem? :crazy:

I've already had a chance to read Carrier's, and I understand he has a book on the topic coming out...
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Re: Richard Carrier - Twelve Axioms of Historical Method

#95  Postby TheOneTrueZeke » Feb 02, 2012 10:56 pm

proudfootz wrote:

I took an interest because this thread was about historian Richard Carrier and a proposed a possible solution to problems historians have encountered. So far no contradiction - though it seems you are intent on trying to find one. :cheers:



It's right here.


proudfootz wrote:
Why would I take an interest in so much hand-wringing by people outside the discipline?



Please do pay attention if you're going to reply.


I post here because it's a topic of interest to me. I tried to help out a few posters whose misunderstanding of the paper was leading them to false assertions.



The only misunderstandings I've noted are yours such as the one above.


...and when will you be presenting your paper on Bayes' Theorem? :crazy:



I just did. Right here on the internet. Just like Carrier. And we both have the same qualifications: none.


I've already had a chance to read Carrier's, and I understand he has a book on the topic coming out...



Ooooh, a real book? Or self-published...

I suppose I could whip up a few dozen pages of crap and make it available on some internet print on demand or ebook site. Ah, published at last!
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Re: Richard Carrier - Twelve Axioms of Historical Method

#96  Postby logical bob » Feb 03, 2012 10:02 am

proudfootz wrote:
I'm happy to leave anyone still reading this to decide who understands the paper and who doesn't.

Me, too! :cheers:

Of course, you could deal with the two outstanding criticisms I have and demonstrate either your understanding by answering them or my lack of understanding by showing why they don't apply.

As another reminder, they are:

(a) The examples in Carrier's paper use "Bayesian epistemology" only to establish statements that are already blindingly obvious. There's nothing to make you think he tell us something we don't already know.

(b) He's as liberal with the underived and subjective probability statements as the people he purports to criticise for using them.
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Re: Richard Carrier - Twelve Axioms of Historical Method

#97  Postby VazScep » Feb 03, 2012 10:59 am

I'll just throw out a concern.

Reasoning with Bayes is, as we all know, garbage-in-garbage-out, but this is only half the story. In order to vet your premises, you have to vet your conclusions. And there can be infinitely many conclusions, and human beings aren't very good at finding them. That's what makes mathematics so fun. It's really really difficult to figure out what follows even from a handful of basic axioms.

This means that simply having premises, such as probability assignments, is barely half the story. My guess is that most people, Carrier included, will screw up when they make probability assignments. The way they will screw up is that there will be some way to churn those probabilities and derive a high probability for something which they are certain is bullshit. At this point, we will tell the person that they have contradicted themselves.

If you go after these contradictions, you'll be attempting proof-by-contradiction. That's your opponent's job. If they think your probability assignments are crap, they'll try to show how those assignments deliver new probabilities, new probabilities which you know to be wrong.

But it's your job too. When you make probability assignments, you should vet them by exploring the probability space that they carve out, making sure that there are no contradictions lurking around. That will require you to make even more probability assignments, and the search won't ever be exhaustive. Getting a sense of security for your probability assignments is a long, sometimes indefinitely long, process.

What you can't do is simply say: here's some probability assignments, and here's what we can conclude. No. First show me that your probability assignments make sense. Explore the probability space around them. Do some work. Show how they recover and systematise a large body of existing subjective knowledge, of which we are already confident. Then, after at least a year of arduous work showing the value of your assignments, you can start applying them to new problems, problems of which we are less confident.

Those philosophers who worship at the alter of formal logic are far more guilty of failing to do this. In both cases, I put it down to a combination of math-envy and, as bob suggested, trying to sound the smart.
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Re: Richard Carrier - Twelve Axioms of Historical Method

#98  Postby proudfootz » Feb 03, 2012 11:52 pm

logical bob wrote:
proudfootz wrote:
I'm happy to leave anyone still reading this to decide who understands the paper and who doesn't.

Me, too! :cheers:

Of course, you could deal with the two outstanding criticisms I have and demonstrate either your understanding by answering them or my lack of understanding by showing why they don't apply.

As another reminder, they are:

(a) The examples in Carrier's paper use "Bayesian epistemology" only to establish statements that are already blindingly obvious. There's nothing to make you think he tell us something we don't already know.

(b) He's as liberal with the underived and subjective probability statements as the people he purports to criticise for using them.


a) Sorry you don't like his examples in this paper. Perhaps you'll be happier when the book come out and we see how Carrier actually applies the method.

b) Perhaps you think so. Perhaps we'll see whether this is true in the forthcoming book.

But as these are quibbles about the examples chosen for this brief introductory paper, I personally don't see where there are fatal to the thesis:

Some difficulties in historical method could be solved by using a logically valid form as a template for their hypothesizing.
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Re: Richard Carrier - Twelve Axioms of Historical Method

#99  Postby Mus Ponticus » Feb 05, 2012 1:36 am

TheOneTrueZeke wrote:
Mus Ponticus wrote:"Objective" advantage? Do you mean that it would be absurd if anybody claimed that using "70%" were more objective than "probably"?


Again, you didn't ask me but...yes, it would be emphatically absurd in the case where one cannot empirically demonstrate how that "70%" figure was derived.
Well, you didn't answer my question.

Let me rephrase my question: Byron, when you wrote that it would be absurd to claim "that those numbers conferred any objective advantage to their subjective assessment", did you mean that it would be absurd for someone, e.g. Carrier, to claim that using "70%" instead of "probable" were more objective?

I ask because Carrier of course doesn't make that absurd claim.

Byron wrote:So how the fuck does Bayes' add anything?
Well, for example if you are making an argument with 3 premises that are "probable", you can't really tell if the conclusion follows if you don't use Bayes'.


Logical Bob wrote:I concur with m'learned friend. That would indeed be absurd. If you want to be taken seriously when you say that something is 90% probable you need to be able to show your working. 90% is roughly the probability that 9 people chosen at random will all have different birthdays. That's a fact. Using the numbers if you can't deliver the goods is just trying to look objective by disguising what you're doing as probability. You might as well try to weigh the evidence in kilograms. Seems that's what Carrier's all about here.
Logical Bob, using the numbers if you can't deliver the goods? What's that supposed to mean?

Ok, so if I write something like: "Based on those reasons, it's my opinion that it's 70% probability of there having been an empty tomb." that's "absurd", and "trying to look objective by disguising what you're doing as probability"? But saying: "Based on those reasons, it's my opinion that it's probable that there was an empty tomb." is just fine?

70% or 80% is just the mathematical expression (the more rigorous!) of saying stuff like "very likely", "extremely probable" and so on. So your comparison with it being in kg is just absurd.
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Re: Richard Carrier - Twelve Axioms of Historical Method

#100  Postby Mus Ponticus » Feb 05, 2012 1:40 am

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"?
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