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Feb 15 2012

The Richard Carrier Project

For a couple of years now a colleague of mine (Ben Schuldt, aka War on Error) has been building a site that collects every significant critique of my work online or in print. There is so much of this now that I haven’t had the time even to keep track of it all much less answer any of it. But with all or most of it cataloged in one place, and blogging now a regular pastime across the world, perhaps others who have that time can undertake the task for me. So I sponsored a simple wiki site to help Ben get all this up and running, and he says it’s pretty much ready to go.

As Ben has time he keeps adding to it, but now that it’s “live,” feel free to tell him about things he missed. He’ll get them in there. We are not cataloging forum posts, or comments in threads, or tweets, or Facebook posts, or any random rigmorole like that, however; only full-on blogs and articles (and of course anything in print). Ben also sometimes doesn’t agree with me himself, and he has posted and cataloged his critiques as well, and welcomes responses to those just as much as any of the other stuff. Ideally we’d like it to have good replies (even if those replies amount to me correcting myself, since one of the aims of the project is to catch my errors; because we all make them, and I’m keen on rooting mine out).

The site he has built is called the Richard Carrier Project. You can hop on over there and read the mission statement, and explore further if you like. It has some useful extras. For example, he keeps a running catalog there of all the audio and video of me there is to be found online (and certainly if you know of anything available that’s not there, send him the link). There is also an amusing Roast page that is full of all the awful things people have said about me (some worse than others). :-)

If you are keen to, there are two ways you can contribute to this project…

1. Independent Response

You can answer anything that’s cataloged in it on your own blog or website, submit the link to Ben, and if it’s good enough your answer will get in the catalog as a response. What is “good enough”? Well, there is a Project Directives page that gives you some of the requirements we (mostly Ben) have set. But overall, we would only count as being an appropriate response to catalog at the site something that does one or more of the following:

  1. Treats what I have actually said, compares it with what the critic said (especially the stuff they curiously left out), and sets the reader straight on the issue (e.g., how far are they missing my point or ignoring details of my case).
     
  2. Deals with any claim that I erred as to the facts and assesses who is right on that score.
     
  3. Deals with any claim that a conclusion of mine doesn’t follow from my premises (e.g., a formal or informal fallacy) and assesses who is right on that score.
     
  4. Deals with any argument I don’t address, but that a critic claims refutes my conclusion, analyzing that argument for logical validity, and the truth of its premises.

Also, we will not approve any response that lies or makes obvious errors of fact or logic or obviously misses the critic’s point (and that includes egregious fallacies like ad hominem, since we want well-argued, non-fallacious responses that stand up on fact-checking; but that doesn’t mean you have to be polite, just right). Responses don’t have to be comprehensive. You can focus on only one or a few things in a critique. Ideally we’d love a full response, but we can also construct one by adding several together. We also love responses that improve on my work, for instance explaining a point better, or providing a more rigorous or less ambiguous analysis of something, or supplying supporting facts I missed, or anything else.

2. Joining the Team

If you really impress us, and ask to help, we might invite you to become an editor of the project, which will give you more ability to carry some of the load for Ben, add critiques to the catalog, and build responses of your own within the catalog. What is “really impress us”? Obviously this is an issue of trust (since you would be given passwords to the site), so you would have to be an established presence online, enough that we can confirm you are sane, educated, honest, reasonable, responsible, on the right side of most issues, and not a pill to work with. It can be very hard to verify that for most people, so please don’t get put out if you aren’t recruited. Most won’t be. It doesn’t mean we think you aren’t that sort of person; it just means we have no means of confirming that you are.

Finally, a brief disclaimer: The very reason for the site is that I have no time for this stuff, which is why Ben took it upon himself to do it. Which means I do not necessarily approve of everything on it; because I don’t have time even to peruse most of it. I trust Ben’s judgment and have no qualms about leaving him to it. But as I haven’t carefully vetted it all, who knows what I might take issue with. In other words, don’t assume this site represents my views on anything. It’s more a collaborative fan project than my own work. But we will try our best to keep it at least in the right ballpark. So if you see anything on it representing me that you think is way off base, feel free to make your case to Ben (except when it’s some other critic who is way off base; then, just blog about it and submit that link to Ben as a potential response to catalog).

5 comments

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  1. 1
    The Nerd

    Woot! Go Ben!

  2. 2
    Ben

    It helps to have an unhealthy interest in the epistemic depravity of others. lol On the other hand, you do eventually have to sort out all your own philosophical and epistemic issues as well when canvasing the contentious intellectual career of someone like Carrier. So it’s been fun.

  3. 3
    pastasauceror

    Swinburne uses a kind of Bayesian…um…something to prove 97/100 that Jesus was God Incarnate & rose from the dead.
    What say you Richard Carrier? :D
    http://bit.ly/xQGEbl

    1. 3.1
      Richard Carrier

      pastasauceror: Swinburne uses a kind of Bayesian…um…something to prove 97/100 that Jesus was God Incarnate & rose from the dead. What say you Richard Carrier?

      Chris Hallquist already said it best here at FtB: Bayesian Arguments.

      My refutation of Swinburne is effectively chapter 11 of The Christian Delusion.

      But you really shouldn’t have to ask. When he says things like “even if it is only as probable at not that there is a God (that is, a probability of 1/2), and a probability of 1/2 that such a God would become incarnate…” as if he is conceding something, when in fact these estimates are lunatic howlers (really…50%? Richard? Come on.), you already know this is crank bullshit.

      For a more sane approach to that question, see my Bayesian analysis of the probability a God exists in chapter 12 of The End of Christianity and of the incarnation claim in chapter 2 of same.

      Particularly as he says the evidence favors resurrection over all other explanations by a ratio of 100:1, when in fact it’s the other way around and then some…this is an example of how apologists are using Bayes’ Theorem to scam you: they start with the same bullshit facts and untruths and fallacious inferences from the evidence as in any non-Bayesian argument, and then pick numbers to match; but…garbage in, garbage out. Not even Bayes’ Theorem can rescue Richard Swinburne from being retarded.

  4. 4
    Matthew

    Ben is a good choice! I am a fan of his Xanga blog and I love his independent and very fair commentary. Ben is a very sharp fellow and a freethinker after my own heart!

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