Richard Carrier - Twelve Axioms of Historical Method

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Richard Carrier - Twelve Axioms of Historical Method

#1  Postby mindyourmind » May 04, 2010 2:32 pm

This is a bit long (19 pp) and a bit heavy, but it may serve as some background on some of these discussions we have around historical method.

Richard Carrier, on his blog : http://www.richardcarrier.info/axioms.pdf
So the reason why God created the universe, including millions of years of human and animal suffering, and the extinction of entire species, is so that some humans who have passed his test can be with him forever. I see.
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Re: Richard Carrier - Twelve Axioms of Historical Method

#2  Postby proudfootz » Nov 20, 2011 9:44 pm

For some reason the link isn't working for me...
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Re: Richard Carrier - Twelve Axioms of Historical Method

#3  Postby james1v » Nov 20, 2011 9:54 pm

"page not found" :scratch:
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Re: Richard Carrier - Twelve Axioms of Historical Method

#4  Postby ramseyoptom » Nov 20, 2011 10:13 pm

mindyourmind wrote:This is a bit long (19 pp) and a bit heavy, but it may serve as some background on some of these discussions we have around historical method.

Richard Carrier, on his blog : http://www.richardcarrier.info/axioms.pdf



To get the link to work use: http://www.richardcarrier.info/
this leads to the home page.
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Re: Richard Carrier - Twelve Axioms of Historical Method

#5  Postby z8000783 » Nov 20, 2011 10:14 pm

....and where is the .pdf after that?

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Re: Richard Carrier - Twelve Axioms of Historical Method

#6  Postby ramseyoptom » Nov 20, 2011 10:18 pm

Now there you have me!
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Re: Richard Carrier - Twelve Axioms of Historical Method

#7  Postby z8000783 » Nov 20, 2011 10:19 pm

Well. I'll be back tomorrow so you have a few hours to have a look for it.

Goodnight.

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Re: Richard Carrier - Twelve Axioms of Historical Method

#8  Postby Byron » Nov 20, 2011 10:49 pm

Link to paper here, pdf here.

I'm deeply skeptical that logic, formal or informal, is applicable to determining historicity. Bayes' theorem gives a formula, and judgment calls aren't formulaic. Carrier's right to say that historical assessments of probability are informal, and I don't see a problem with that, as the assessment of probability can stand or fall on its use of the evidence. There's no mystery here: if one argument can be shown to have applied the evidence more accurately than another, then probability is on its side.

And as usual with Carrier, it's all about religion: historiography is a means to an end. There's a potentially fascinating discussion to be had here, but I fear that Carrier is plugging this line merely to wipe out the historical Jesus: just as his opposite number, William Lane Craig, uses Bayes' to prop up Jesus' corpse. Both are looking for formal objectivity where it's unlikely to be found.
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Re: Richard Carrier - Twelve Axioms of Historical Method

#9  Postby RealityRules » Nov 20, 2011 11:05 pm

.
On Carrier's Jesus studies page - http://www.richardcarrier.info/jesus.html - there is this 2002 link -

http://www.infidels.org/library/modern/richard_carrier/jesuspuzzle.html - with the sub-heading (on the Jesus studies pg):

    Critical review of Earl Doherty's 'The Jesus Puzzle'. Finds it is not proven,
    but nor is it inconceivable that Jesus didn't exist.
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Re: Richard Carrier - Twelve Axioms of Historical Method

#10  Postby proudfootz » Nov 22, 2011 3:45 am

Good to see someone making an effort to help make the assumptions of the 'judgement calls' of historians more explicit and more amenable to logical analysis.
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Re: Richard Carrier - Twelve Axioms of Historical Method

#11  Postby paarsurrey » Jan 24, 2012 12:36 am

mindyourmind wrote:This is a bit long (19 pp) and a bit heavy, but it may serve as some background on some of these discussions we have around historical method.

Richard Carrier, on his blog : http://www.richardcarrier.info/axioms.pdf


The number twelve again!

I clicked the above link but it could not be accessed; a dialogue appears:

"Page Not Found
The page you are looking for might have been removed, had its name changed, or is temporarily unavailable. Please try the following:

If you typed the page address in the Address bar, make sure that it is spelled correctly.
Click the Back button in your browser to try another link.
Use a search engine like Google to look for information on the Internet."


Is it again like the 12 tribes or the 12 disciples or 12 Zodiac sighns of ancient Astrology?

I like Richard Carrier; a devout Atheist. One can like anybody; no bar on it.
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Re: Richard Carrier - Twelve Axioms of Historical Method

#12  Postby paarsurrey » Jan 24, 2012 12:48 am

ramseyoptom wrote:
mindyourmind wrote:This is a bit long (19 pp) and a bit heavy, but it may serve as some background on some of these discussions we have around historical method.

Richard Carrier, on his blog : http://www.richardcarrier.info/axioms.pdf



To get the link to work use: http://www.richardcarrier.info/
this leads to the home page.


I found his blog and put the words in search line:<http://www.richardcarrier.info/axioms.pdf>: got the response:

"No posts found. Try a different search?"
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Re: Richard Carrier - Twelve Axioms of Historical Method

#13  Postby proudfootz » Jan 24, 2012 1:17 am

paarsurrey wrote:
ramseyoptom wrote:
mindyourmind wrote:This is a bit long (19 pp) and a bit heavy, but it may serve as some background on some of these discussions we have around historical method.

Richard Carrier, on his blog : http://www.richardcarrier.info/axioms.pdf



To get the link to work use: http://www.richardcarrier.info/
this leads to the home page.


I found his blog and put the words in search line:<http://www.richardcarrier.info/axioms.pdf>: got the response:

"No posts found. Try a different search?"


Try this:

http://www.richardcarrier.info/CarrierDec08.pdf
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Re: Richard Carrier - Twelve Axioms of Historical Method

#14  Postby paarsurrey » Jan 24, 2012 1:03 pm

proudfootz wrote:
paarsurrey wrote:
ramseyoptom wrote:
mindyourmind wrote:This is a bit long (19 pp) and a bit heavy, but it may serve as some background on some of these discussions we have around historical method.

Richard Carrier, on his blog : http://www.richardcarrier.info/axioms.pdf



To get the link to work use: http://www.richardcarrier.info/
this leads to the home page.


I found his blog and put the words in search line:<http://www.richardcarrier.info/axioms.pdf>: got the response:

"No posts found. Try a different search?"


Try this:

http://www.richardcarrier.info/CarrierDec08.pdf


Yes, now I have found it; I will study it.

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Re: Richard Carrier - Twelve Axioms of Historical Method

#15  Postby logical bob » Jan 24, 2012 3:26 pm

Looks like sophistry to me. Setting out the historical techniques he wants to talk he lists the criterion of embarrassment as "if it was embarrassing it must be true". Now I'm no defender of the criterion, but to attack it in such a caricatured strawman of a form is just silly.

Then there's lots and lots of equations. As VazScep said in a recent philosophy thread: "if you write it in symbols it's 50% more true". Obviously this is supposed to look rigourous because this guy like totally gets math and he's speaking to an audience that generally doesn't.

Notice that Carrier works through his equations on the neutral proposition that Jerusalem had a public library and then, when explaining the advantages of Bayes theorem brings in Historical Jesus examples as in

For example, as Porter and Thiessen have both observed, it’s inherently unlikely
that any Christian author would include anything embarrassing in a written account of his
beliefs, since he could choose to include or omit whatever he wanted. In contrast, it’s
inherently likely that anything a Christian author included in his account, he did so for a
deliberate reason, to accomplish something he wanted to accomplish, since that’s how all
authors behave, especially those with a specific aim of persuasion or communication of
approved views. Therefore, already the prior probability that a seemingly embarrassing
detail in a Christian text is in there because it is true is low, whereas the prior probability
that it is in there for a specific reason regardless of its truth is high.

and

For example, Paul refers to James the Pillar as the Brother of the Lord, and to the
Brothers of the Lord as a general category of authority besides the Apostles. It is assumed
this confirms the historicity of Jesus. But which is more likely, that a historical (hence
biological) brother of Jesus would be called the Brother of the Lord, or that he would be
called the Brother of Jesus? In contrast, if we theorize that ‘Brother of the Lord’ is a rank
in the Church, not a biological status, then the probability that we would hear of
authorities being called by that title is just as high, and therefore that Paul mentions this
title is not by itself sufficient evidence to decide between the two competing theories of
how that title came about.

Notice that these don't actually contain any mathematical thinking at all. It's the usual argument presented in the usual format. Presumably now it's rigourous though, because it's an example of the advantages of maths. And anyway,

You can use Bayesian reasoning without attempting any math, but the
math keeps you honest, and it forces you to ask the right questions, to test your
assumptions and intuitions, and to actually give relative weights to hypotheses and
evidence that are not all equally likely.

That's handy isn't it? I was worried we might have to do some work here, so it's a relief to know that mathematical rigour transfers to these standard arguments from the equations on the previous page by a sort of logical osmosis.

Even better

Bayes’ Theorem has been proven formally valid. Any argument that violates a valid
form of argument is itself invalid. Therefore any argument that violates Bayes’ Theorem
is invalid. All valid historical arguments are described by Bayes’ Theorem. Therefore any
historical argument that cannot be described by a correct application of Bayes’ Theorem
is invalid. Therefore Bayes’ Theorem is a good method of testing any historical argument
for validity.

... so nerny-ner-ner-ner-ner.

I say bullshit.
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Re: Richard Carrier - Twelve Axioms of Historical Method

#16  Postby Stein » Jan 24, 2012 4:12 pm

logical bob wrote:Looks like sophistry to me. Setting out the historical techniques he wants to talk he lists the criterion of embarrassment as "if it was embarrassing it must be true". Now I'm no defender of the criterion, but to attack it in such a caricatured strawman of a form is just silly.

Then there's lots and lots of equations. As VazScep said in a recent philosophy thread: "if you write it in symbols it's 50% more true". Obviously this is supposed to look rigourous because this guy like totally gets math and he's speaking to an audience that generally doesn't.

Notice that Carrier works through his equations on the neutral proposition that Jerusalem had a public library and then, when explaining the advantages of Bayes theorem brings in Historical Jesus examples as in

For example, as Porter and Thiessen have both observed, it’s inherently unlikely
that any Christian author would include anything embarrassing in a written account of his
beliefs, since he could choose to include or omit whatever he wanted. In contrast, it’s
inherently likely that anything a Christian author included in his account, he did so for a
deliberate reason, to accomplish something he wanted to accomplish, since that’s how all
authors behave, especially those with a specific aim of persuasion or communication of
approved views. Therefore, already the prior probability that a seemingly embarrassing
detail in a Christian text is in there because it is true is low, whereas the prior probability
that it is in there for a specific reason regardless of its truth is high.

and

For example, Paul refers to James the Pillar as the Brother of the Lord, and to the
Brothers of the Lord as a general category of authority besides the Apostles. It is assumed
this confirms the historicity of Jesus. But which is more likely, that a historical (hence
biological) brother of Jesus would be called the Brother of the Lord, or that he would be
called the Brother of Jesus? In contrast, if we theorize that ‘Brother of the Lord’ is a rank
in the Church, not a biological status, then the probability that we would hear of
authorities being called by that title is just as high, and therefore that Paul mentions this
title is not by itself sufficient evidence to decide between the two competing theories of
how that title came about.

Notice that these don't actually contain any mathematical thinking at all. It's the usual argument presented in the usual format. Presumably now it's rigourous though, because it's an example of the advantages of maths. And anyway,

You can use Bayesian reasoning without attempting any math, but the
math keeps you honest, and it forces you to ask the right questions, to test your
assumptions and intuitions, and to actually give relative weights to hypotheses and
evidence that are not all equally likely.

That's handy isn't it? I was worried we might have to do some work here, so it's a relief to know that mathematical rigour transfers to these standard arguments from the equations on the previous page by a sort of logical osmosis.

Even better

Bayes’ Theorem has been proven formally valid. Any argument that violates a valid
form of argument is itself invalid. Therefore any argument that violates Bayes’ Theorem
is invalid. All valid historical arguments are described by Bayes’ Theorem. Therefore any
historical argument that cannot be described by a correct application of Bayes’ Theorem
is invalid. Therefore Bayes’ Theorem is a good method of testing any historical argument
for validity.

... so nerny-ner-ner-ner-ner.

I say bullshit.


You're right, Bob. It's the same myther woo we've seen before, just dressed up in a cloud of pseudo-math to distract the mathematically -- and historically -- ignorant.

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Re: Richard Carrier - Twelve Axioms of Historical Method

#17  Postby Byron » Jan 24, 2012 11:19 pm

logical bob wrote:
Bayes’ Theorem has been proven formally valid. Any argument that violates a valid
form of argument is itself invalid. Therefore any argument that violates Bayes’ Theorem
is invalid. All valid historical arguments are described by Bayes’ Theorem. Therefore any
historical argument that cannot be described by a correct application of Bayes’ Theorem
is invalid. Therefore Bayes’ Theorem is a good method of testing any historical argument
for validity.

... so nerny-ner-ner-ner-ner.

I say bullshit.

I'll take your bovine leavings and raise you a steaming pile of horseshit. Carrier shovels.

What Carrier fails to do is match his chart to the land. So Bayes' says such and such. That's nice. How the cluster fuck does that translate to the available evidence?

I can't get over the chutzpah of a guy rewriting a discipline he's never practiced. If Carrier ever wants to get away from this amateur pundit shit and land himself gainful employment in the field, delivering a formulaic "screw you" isn't the way to go about it.

And damn, the brother of the Lord riff could have been lifted straight from the Thread Without End. Whoever first thought of it should copyright the brotherfucker and cash in. Oh yes, it was the church catholic and universal. There's irony in perfection, right there.
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Re: Richard Carrier - Twelve Axioms of Historical Method

#18  Postby proudfootz » Jan 24, 2012 11:49 pm

logical bob wrote:Looks like sophistry to me. Setting out the historical techniques he wants to talk he lists the criterion of embarrassment as "if it was embarrassing it must be true". Now I'm no defender of the criterion, but to attack it in such a caricatured strawman of a form is just silly.


Just what is the 'criterion of embarrassment' supposed to show? :think:

Notice that Carrier works through his equations on the neutral proposition that Jerusalem had a public library and then, when explaining the advantages of Bayes theorem brings in Historical Jesus examples as in

For example, as Porter and Thiessen have both observed, it’s inherently unlikely
that any Christian author would include anything embarrassing in a written account of his
beliefs, since he could choose to include or omit whatever he wanted. In contrast, it’s
inherently likely that anything a Christian author included in his account, he did so for a
deliberate reason, to accomplish something he wanted to accomplish, since that’s how all
authors behave, especially those with a specific aim of persuasion or communication of
approved views. Therefore, already the prior probability that a seemingly embarrassing
detail in a Christian text is in there because it is true is low, whereas the prior probability
that it is in there for a specific reason regardless of its truth is high.


You forgot to include the paragraph which explains what this is an example of:

2. Bayes’ Theorem will inspire a closer examination of your background knowledge,
and of the corresponding objectivity of your estimates of prior probability.


Whether you are aware of it or not, all your thinking relies on estimations of prior
probability. Making these estimations explicit will expose them to closer examination and
test.
Whenever you say some claim is implausible or unlikely because ‘that’s not how
things were done then’, or ‘that’s not how people would likely behave’, or ‘other things
happened more often instead’, you are making estimates of the prior probability of what
is being claimed. And when you make this reasoning explicit, unexpected discoveries can
be made.


This goes in front of the paragraph you cited above. Carrier is not 'working' the Bayes Theorem here but giving examples of where its application would be helpful. You're faulting Carrier for failing to do something only you imagined he set out to do.

and

For example, Paul refers to James the Pillar as the Brother of the Lord, and to the
Brothers of the Lord as a general category of authority besides the Apostles. It is assumed
this confirms the historicity of Jesus. But which is more likely, that a historical (hence
biological) brother of Jesus would be called the Brother of the Lord, or that he would be
called the Brother of Jesus? In contrast, if we theorize that ‘Brother of the Lord’ is a rank
in the Church, not a biological status, then the probability that we would hear of
authorities being called by that title is just as high, and therefore that Paul mentions this
title is not by itself sufficient evidence to decide between the two competing theories of
how that title came about.


Notice that these don't actually contain any mathematical thinking at all. It's the usual argument presented in the usual format. Presumably now it's rigourous though, because it's an example of the advantages of maths.


Again, you failed to quote the introductory paragraph:

3. Bayes’ Theorem will force you to examine the likelihood of the evidence on
competing theories, rather than only one
— in other words, forcing you to consider
what the evidence should look like if your theory happens to be false (What evidence can
you then expect there to be? How would the evidence in fact be different?). Many
common logical errors are thus avoided. You may realize the evidence is just as likely on
some alternative theory, or that the likelihood in either case is not sufficiently different to
justify a secure conclusion.


Here Carrier is simply showing how application of Bayes theorem will help would-be historians from making the common mistake of failing to take into account competing theories. Again Carrier is not claiming he is 'working' the Bayes Theorem in this example.

Carrier cannot be faulted for not doing what he didn't claim he was going to do.

And anyway,

You can use Bayesian reasoning without attempting any math, but the
math keeps you honest, and it forces you to ask the right questions, to test your
assumptions and intuitions, and to actually give relative weights to hypotheses and
evidence that are not all equally likely.


That's handy isn't it? I was worried we might have to do some work here, so it's a relief to know that mathematical rigour transfers to these standard arguments from the equations on the previous page by a sort of logical osmosis.


It seems you are misunderstanding what Carrier is saying.

It's like knowing how a logical syllogism works - you don't have to frame every argument you make in such terms, but knowing the form helps you make better arguments and better able to understand the arguments of others.

And you may not have noticed that he says it is better to do the maths. :cheers:


Even better

Bayes’ Theorem has been proven formally valid. Any argument that violates a valid
form of argument is itself invalid. Therefore any argument that violates Bayes’ Theorem
is invalid. All valid historical arguments are described by Bayes’ Theorem. Therefore any
historical argument that cannot be described by a correct application of Bayes’ Theorem
is invalid. Therefore Bayes’ Theorem is a good method of testing any historical argument
for validity.


... so nerny-ner-ner-ner-ner.


A more lucid refutation of an argument was never typed. :lol:

But really - have you got any rational reasons to not like what is written here?

I say bullshit.


You might think differently once you actually grasp what historian Richard Carrier is talking about.
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Re: Richard Carrier - Twelve Axioms of Historical Method

#19  Postby proudfootz » Jan 24, 2012 11:52 pm

Stein wrote:You're right, Bob. It's the same myther woo we've seen before, just dressed up in a cloud of pseudo-math to distract the mathematically -- and historically -- ignorant.

Stein


Actually, this is an attempt to keep all the woo out of history by application of a rigorous and logical method.

If you think Bayes is a 'myther' and his theorem is 'pseudo-math' you'll have to show us, not tell us.
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Re: Richard Carrier - Twelve Axioms of Historical Method

#20  Postby proudfootz » Jan 24, 2012 11:54 pm

Byron wrote:
logical bob wrote:
Bayes’ Theorem has been proven formally valid. Any argument that violates a valid
form of argument is itself invalid. Therefore any argument that violates Bayes’ Theorem
is invalid. All valid historical arguments are described by Bayes’ Theorem. Therefore any
historical argument that cannot be described by a correct application of Bayes’ Theorem
is invalid. Therefore Bayes’ Theorem is a good method of testing any historical argument
for validity.

... so nerny-ner-ner-ner-ner.

I say bullshit.

I'll take your bovine leavings and raise you a steaming pile of horseshit. Carrier shovels.

What Carrier fails to do is match his chart to the land. So Bayes' says such and such. That's nice. How the cluster fuck does that translate to the available evidence?

I can't get over the chutzpah of a guy rewriting a discipline he's never practiced. If Carrier ever wants to get away from this amateur pundit shit and land himself gainful employment in the field, delivering a formulaic "screw you" isn't the way to go about it.

And damn, the brother of the Lord riff could have been lifted straight from the Thread Without End. Whoever first thought of it should copyright the brotherfucker and cash in. Oh yes, it was the church catholic and universal. There's irony in perfection, right there.


I see lots of cuss words, but no rational argument showing why Carrier is mistaken.

Got one?
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