Victor Stenger: 1935-2014

Studio photo of Victor Stenger in his later years.Some called him the Fifth Horseman of New Atheism. He wrote openly and prolifically in defense of atheism, and in promotion of sensible physics against Christian and woo abuses of it. And only a few days ago he died. I had the honor of hanging out with Victor Stenger several times in my life, and served as a consultant for him a few times (on philosophy and history of science). My wife liked him. She remembers him as a sweet old man. I also remember him as a forceful but soft spoken debater, and the number one physicist in the ranks of New Atheism bigwigs. Hemant Mehta has a nice memorial piece about him at Patheos. And there’s a brief but informative obit in Doubtful News. He’ll be missed.

OHJ: The Covington Review (Parts 6-11)

Cover of Richard Carrier's book On the Historicity of Jesus. Medieval icon image of Jesus holding a codex, on a plain brown background, title above in white text, author below in white text.Here continues my series on reviews of my book On the Historicity of Jesus. If you know of reviews I haven’t covered, post them in comments (though please also remark on your own estimation of their merits).

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This series has covered another series begun by Nicholas Covington. I have already commented on earlier entries (see parts 4 & 5). Today I shall comment on 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, and 11.

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OHJ: The Covington Review (Parts 4 & 5)

Cover of Richard Carrier's book On the Historicity of Jesus. Medieval icon image of Jesus holding a codex, on a plain brown background, title above in white text, author below in white text.Here continues my series on reviews of my book On the Historicity of Jesus. If you know of reviews I haven’t covered, post them in comments (though please also remark on your own estimation of their merits).

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This series has covered another series begun by Nicholas Covington. I have already commented on earlier entries (see part 3). Today I shall comment on parts 4 and 5.

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A Bayesian Brief on Comments at TAM

I was asked about remarks made by Chris Guest (President of the Australian Skeptics, Victorian Branch) at this year’s TAM. He gave a quick twenty minute talk on Bayesian reasoning and its abuses, with which I entirely concur. (This talk begins with Guest’s introduction at timestamp 48:30.) He criticizes my work briefly at the end, but understanding his remarks there require understanding his remarks throughout the talk. His only mistake is that when he gets to my work, he makes one crucial mathematical error that invalidates his entire critique…
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Take My Course on Boghossian’s Making Atheists!

Photo of Peter Boghossian in casual professorial suit attire, gesturing and speaking on philosophy.

I will be co-teaching a class with Peter Boghossian on his book A Manual for Creating Atheists. It starts in a week (September 1), lasts a month, and uses his book as a course text. So if you want to take that class and use the print edition, buy it now! The kindle edition you can buy anytime. Details and registration here. Anyone interested in philosophy, or arguing one-on-one with believers, or creating more atheists or rational people in the world, will benefit from this course.

Indeed, the value of this course is threefold…

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OHJ: The Covington Review (Part 3)

Cover of Richard Carrier's book On the Historicity of Jesus. Medieval icon image of Jesus holding a codex, on a plain brown background, title above in white text, author below in white text.Here continues my series on reviews of my book On the Historicity of Jesus. If you know of reviews I haven’t covered, post them in comments (though please also remark on your own estimation of their merits).

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This series has included another series begun by Nicholas Covington. I have commented on part 1 and on part 2. Today I shall comment on part 3.

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Help Get Justice for Michael Brown

smalldervishmemeYou can help see justice have its day. You can make a real difference standing up against state corruption and tyranny. You can make a difference toward ending, by exposing and shaming, the wanton and deadly racism so common among the men with guns we ask to police our streets (and it is indeed usually the men). This is how.

Unless you’ve been living in a cave (!), you should know by now the story of Michael Brown, an unarmed college student gunned down by Ferguson police, in circumstances so incredibly suspicious and tinted with racism and shocking abuses of police authority, as to horrify anyone paying attention. This isn’t new (we’ve heard this story sadly too many times: see some examples of this being pointed out here and here and here). But this is becoming the last straw. And now his family wants to fight. And they are incurring expenses pursuing legal recourse (they have already had to pay for their own autopsy, because the city’s has suspicious omissions and appears to be covering up the facts…you know, as for example). And fighting for their fair day in court will only get more expensive here on out, as the corrupt city authorities appear to be circling their wagons and will do everything in their power to stonewall them and mount their expenses in the hope they will give up for lack of money.

Indeed, Anonymous has just exposed the fact that, apparently, the chief of police [now heading the investigation] in Ferguson, or else his son, hangs a confederate flag on his living room wall!! Brown’s family is not likely to get honest justice from the authorities.

The police have even resorted to physically attacking and arresting the press, gassing and assaulting people in their own backyards, and charging into the streets to shoot and beat down peaceful protesters, even camera crews from major news organizations (so much for the first amendment “right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances”). They are even dragging pregnant women out of their cars and smashing them to the ground for no good reason. The timeline shows some protest rioting and looting has occurred. But the police then use that as an excuse to assault completely peaceful protests, and deny people access to public areas, even their own homes (Ferguson now looks like the streets of any tyrannical nation). The police are literally shooting people with rubber bullets, gassing them, bombing them, and beating them. And using the mini-riots in other locations as an excuse. But think about this. The cops are now the Redcoats. And this is a real tea party. Or, rather, more like the 1766 New York riots over the quartering act…when the people were answering the unjust use of force against them by yet another haughty and unanswerable imperial power. The quartering act riot of 1766 (assault on the state police). The tea party riot of 1773 (destruction of property). The Ferguson riot. What, really, is the difference?

But no matter. This is about starting to put an end to all oppressive and tyrannical abuse of power, by supporting a peaceful family that is being denied justice.

Help the Brown family bring the truth to light and have a fair trial of the facts. They have raised so little so far, barely three grand. For a case like this they will need fifty to a hundred grand. I want to see an outpouring of support. Send what you can to the Michael Brown Memorial Fund. Please do this. If not for Brown and his grieving family, do it to show you believe in opposing corruption, abuse and oppression in your own country. Do it to show you are fed up with police getting away with the murder of black men every month. Do it to show this must stop. And the people are now paying attention.