Proving History in San Francisco

I will be giving a talk summarizing and taking questions on my new book Proving History: Bayes’s Theorem and the Quest for the Historical Jesus in San Francisco on Saturday this 28th of July (2012), from roughly 4:30 to 7pm, in the banquet room at Schroeder’s, a popular German dining establishment downtown (240 Front St.). I will be selling and signing copies of Proving History, and possibly a few other titles. I will briefly explain what Bayes’ Theorem is (in terms anyone can understand), why it’s important to doing history, how it already underlies all sound historical methods (even when we don’t know it), and how I use it to fix the broken methods still used to study the historical Jesus. Then I’ll field questions. (This event is sponsored by the San Francisco Atheists. You can RSVP, if you want, through their meetup page.)


  1. 'Tis Himself says

    It’s been years since I’ve eaten there but I remember Schroeder’s had excellent sauerbraten.

  2. Jason Goertzen says

    Is there any chance this will make it to Youtube for those of us unable to get to San Fransisco? :)

  3. Ysidro says

    I’m tired and forced to be at work. While horrible it did lead me to misread the subject as “Proving the historicity of San Francisco.” I think that’s almost amusing enough to be worth it.

  4. kdan59 says

    I just looked up Baye’s theorem on Wikipedia, and my eyes were soon glazing over. Could you maybe give a laymen’s explanation on your blog for those of us who aren’t near San Francisco?

    • says

      If all you want is to understand Bayes’ Theorem, in a way that isn’t absurdly advanced and unintelligible (like the wikipedia entry tends to be), then what you want is to watch my talk at Skepticon last year: Bayes’ Theorem: Lust for Glory (see also my accompanying blog post). That just doesn’t discuss the other half of my book (on applying this principle to the study of Jesus).

  5. jono4174 says

    As I understand Proving History: Bayes’s Theorem and the Quest for the Historical Jesus ends on a cliffhanger and we need to buy the sequel to find out if Lord Saviour and his mate Rocky actually existed.

    • says

      Yes. Proving History sets the stage by proving that the consensus for historicity is not logically founded, because it rests on invalid methods, and then articulating what the valid methods are that we need, when we go back and look at all the evidence again.

      Because of that, my next book won’t repeat that blanket negative case. It will just present the positive case for the most plausible Jesus myth theory (which will nevertheless include examining the best evidence for historicity).

  6. says

    I just got back from your talk! I wanted to let you know that I really enjoyed it. I thought your examples were great (especially the baptism by John example…I don’t know why, but while you were going through the equation, it all finally *clicked*), and very helpful in bringing the math from a purely theoretical number exercise to something practical. I’m a history major so this sort of talk is absolutely fascinating, and I have a lot to think about, beyond the questions of the historicity of Jesus (not that it isn’t interesting; I’m reading quite a bit on the subject, maybe a little too obsessed), but my mind is churning over how to apply this to my own studies when I start back in fall.

    I can’t wait to get your book…I was debating whether I really need to eat this week, or if I could just sustain on intellectual food. Practicality (and fear of my mother) won, I’m afraid, but your book is first on the list when I eventually get some disposable cash. I’m hoping it will be on Kindle eventually.

    I had really wanted to stop by your table and say “hi” after, but my mom was running out of change for the parking meter (I don’t drive, but I flipped when I saw you were going to be local, so my mom graciously drove me into the city and waited for me). So I’ll write to you what I was planning to say (if my brain didn’t shut down after being face to face with you, which is kinda what happened when I met David Fitzgerald): Your books meant so much to me when I was leaving a very conservative, deeply committed Christian life and moving towards atheism and humanism. “Sense and Goodness…” helped me both formulate my own philosophy of life and helped me commmunicate my new beliefs to my family and friends (who are all still very religious). “Not the Impossible Faith” and your chapters in “The Christian Delusion,” on top of just being fascinating reading, really solidified my desire to be a historian.

    Anyway, I’ll stop babbling like a fangirl. Thank you very much for your talk this evening, and the work you do.

    • says

      Thanks for the kind words. I’m always glad to hear my work has helped people. And good luck on your future education!

      As to e-versions: keep your eye on my blog–when Proving History does make it to kindle I will definitely blog it (I am deeply annoyed that that hasn’t happened yet; this is really much too long a delay, but the subcontractor is just taking their time, I guess).