Posted: Jan 25, 2012 2:23 pm
by logical bob
proudfootz wrote:Again, you failed to quote the introductory paragraph... 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.

Do you think historians are unaware of the possibility of alternative hypotheses until they see Bayes' Theorem, when they go "God, how could I have been so stupid?" Considering competing theories is just common sense, not an application of Bayes' Theorem.

In the paragraph I didn't quote Carrier begins "Bayes’ Theorem will force you to examine the likelihood of the evidence on
competing theories" and then says "for example..." It seems to me he is very much claiming to be working the Theorem. You're dead right to say that he actually isn't working it. How does he examine the likelihood of the competing theory? He announces that the use of Brother of the Lord as a title is "just as likely." Rigourous, huh?

What he's doing is trying to give a mathematically illiterate audience the impression that the standard arguments he uses elsewhere are the product of a mathematical approach. It's pretty much like an advert for skin cream being fronted by someone with a white coat and glasses.