Oct 04 2013

Now You Can Wear Even More Bayes’ Theorem!

Picture of the Odds Form Bayesian mug (white mug with artsy black text) offered at Richard Carrier's Marvelous Amusements shop at Cafe Press.Did you say Odds Form? Shirt? Car Flag? Panties? Hell yeah.

I just finished loading my old Cafe Press store with tons of different shirts and other odds and ends featuring my Bayesian graphic, which uses imaginative rather than standard mathematical notation (as I reported last week, you can get jewelry with it from SurlyRamics).

I also duplicated most items with a cool graphic design of the Odds Form of Bayes’ Theorem (in standard mathematical notation, but artful font). Because a lot of people are fans of the Odds Form. No joke…it has actual vocal fans. It’s also the form I use to run the math in my upcoming book On the Historicity of Jesus. If you want to know what the difference is and what the Odds Form equation means and how to use it, see Proving History (index, “Bayes’ Theorem, Odds Form”). Like with the other graphic (as I explained last week), you have to assume b (background knowledge) is in the givens of every term (a common assumption mathematicians allow).

Picture of women's cap-T shirt with Odds Form Bayesian graphic across the chest. White shirt with black shoulders and neckline.Above right is a pic of the Odds Form mug I’m selling. It actually looks pretty awesome. Likewise the women’s Cap-T (below right).

To check out the full range of products, and help support my work by buying some, visit Richard Carrier’s Marvelous Amusements. Note that many items actually have color options at the purchasing page (so it’s not just all black or white). If you have ideas for other products I could develop and offer there, feel free to recommend them in comments here. Just note that I’m limited by the stock and capabilities of Cafe Press.

I have also included some Solon’s Commandments materials, as some fans requested I do many months ago, after I wrote about them in That Christian Nation Nonsense (Gods Bless Our Pagan Nation). Cafe Press doesn’t offer the option of an inscribed plastic plate, so you would have to get the mini-poster and put it in a hard plastic casement or sheath from a local office supply store–or else buy the expensive framed print option (although that does look quite nice). Junior high and high school students who feel like living dangerously can even bring a Solon’s Commandments lunch bag to school.


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  1. 1

    I’m thinking tattoo. Does Cafe Press provide that?

    1. 1.1
      Richard Carrier

      Not yet. But that’s the next step in 3D printing technology I’m sure. ;-)

  2. 2
    Phillip Hallam-Baker

    I still think that Bayes is a limited tool due to the difficulty of ascribing prior probabilities when dealing with falsified evidence.

    The reason I am interested in the problem is that dealing with the possibility of falsified evidence is my business. Public Key Infrastructure is the basis for online commerce which means that today it is the basis for virtually all commerce.

    There is a construct called the PGP Web of Trust in which every member goes round signing keys of every other. Unfortunately, it is almost impossible to arrive at useful trust measures for any part of the trust graph unless the relying party has personally verified some of the keys. So it isn’t very useful beyond your immediate circle of acquaintances.

    Recasting the problem in terms of the cost of establishing a fraud at a given point in time is much more powerful. We can’t give the probability of a lot of events but we can provide a good measure of the difficulty of forging them. The cost of the purported climate change fraud is clearly prohibitive, it would require a vast amount of time and money to silence 95% of expert opinion in the field. But the cost of the climate change deniers fraud is much easier to quantify.

    Applied to historicity of Jesus, I don’t think that there are many pieces of evidence that actually require costing. The only near contemporaneous ‘evidence’ is Josephus and even if the comments are not forged, they are second hand reports from after the myth started.

    Where I think people go wrong is that the look at all the current day ‘evidence’ of a historical Jesus and they assume that the cost of forging it all is prohibitive, therefore Jesus must have been a historical person. But the cost of the forgery would be negligible in 70AD.

    I was just reading about the 30 odd nails from the true cross scattered across Europe. They obviously can’t all be genuine. But they may not have started as fakes. They might have started as replicas that were presented as such. Over time the fake origin is forgotten and they are venerated as the real thing.

    We see this quite often in the replica prop community. I tell everyone I meet that my dalek prop is a replica, I built it myself, that is the point. But whenever I show it there are rumors that it is a genuine screen used prop. This despite the fact that the screen used props are all still in use by the BBC and are not even used for exhibitions (every exhibition prop is a replica except for a couple of Boss props that were intended for one off use).

    1. 2.1
      Richard Carrier

      I still think that Bayes is a limited tool due to the difficulty of ascribing prior probabilities when dealing with falsified evidence.

      I address both points in Proving History.

      Your mistake is thinking you can avoid those problems by avoiding Bayes’ Theorem. To the contrary, avoiding Bayes’ Theorem leaves you no tools with which to overcome those problems. It will even subject you to the folly of thinking you aren’t relying on assumed priors and presumed evidence reliability all the time…like you just now did.

      Where I think people go wrong is that the look at all the current day ‘evidence’ of a historical Jesus and they assume that the cost of forging it all is prohibitive, therefore Jesus must have been a historical person. But the cost of the forgery would be negligible in 70AD.

      Not negligible, IMO, but certainly far lower than too many people assume. You are spot on about that.

    2. 2.2
      Phillip Hallam-Baker

      We can certainly use cost functions to estimate probability. My point is that estimating the cost functions does not involve the same degree of infinite recursion.

      I think the cost of forging Mark is negligible because I am not even sure it would be a forgery in the sense of intentional deceit.

      Mark might well have been the classical version of the Left Behind series which plenty of folk like Michelle Bachman now confuse with Christian theology today. We can only guess at what cults will spring up round those in 50 years time.

      Nobody calls Jesus of Montreal a forgery. It is understood as a work of fiction.

      If you want to go for probabilities, what is the probability that an author writing about a real historical person who was executed for treason goes round adding in the miracles and all the elements that are obviously not true? Much easier to mythologize fictional characters than real ones.

      If the miracles are true then the lack of contemporaneous reports of his miracles become a bigger problem.

  3. 3

    Apparently my comment was deleted? Bad internet connection I suppose.

    At any rate, as an artist, I’m always picturing weird ass scenarios that amuse me (in the hopes that I can render them concrete, to amuse others as well). One of the scenarios that amuses me is Carrier arriving at skepticon with Solon’s commandments inscribed on stone tablets, only to find we have descended (even further) into debaucherous revelry and idol worship. He then throws the tablets at us. Earthquakes follow. Apocolyptic shit. It’s awesome.

    I’m not sure which is funnier. That, or this:

    1. 3.1
      Richard Carrier

      (I didn’t nix any earlier comment here, so if one you sent got lost, it was something else interfering. Sorry about that.)

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