Looking for a Date Middle of May

Close up photo of Richard Carrier in a suit and tie, wearing his characteristic glasses, speaking at an event before a screen showing text, gesturing as he makes a point, in front of a podium microphone almost out of view to the left..So, this is experimental. I’d like to go on a date in May. And for the first time, I’m going to try a bat signal: putting a call out on my blog. I don’t know anyone else who has tried doing that, so I have no precedent to work from as to etiquette or even arguments for or against doing it. So I’m just going to do it and see what happens and document and assess. If you know anyone who might have an interest in dating me, let them know. If you might have an interest, read on. [Read more…]

Katherine Cross on Tone Policing

Katherine Cross has written an excellent piece on distinguishing legitimate from illegitimate tone policing: Words for Cutting: Why We Need to Stop Abusing The Tone Argument. The article is a valuable read all through. Do not regard my summary here as its replacement. My aim is only to expand on it.

-:-

Cross makes two overarching points. One is that though intention is not magic, it does matter (as she says, it’s still data). And we should acknowledge that. I shall have nothing to say about that; it’s obviously correct (see Dan Fincke). The other is that while it is legitimate to denounce tone policing in many cases (and not only because it’s a fallacy), this should not become a non-circumstantial rule that applies to every instance, as if all tone policing were bad. It’s not.

Within that overarching point she makes the following supporting points:

  • Tone policing someone who is defending the oppressed or victimized is often illegitimate. Because when someone does that, “while they claim to be attacking tone, they are actually attacking the message, and often as not the very identity of the messenger.” This is thoroughly explained at GeekFeminismWiki. In these cases, tone isn’t really the issue. It’s just being used to silence someone or avoid addressing the point they are making. And that’s wrong. If you try to do that, you deserve to get called out on your shit. Own it. Then stop it. And do better in future. (I think this can also be done in ignorance—not just as a deliberate tactic, but out of not appreciating the context that evokes a particular tone, as I noted in the case of JT Eberhard’s attempt to tone-police Bria Crutchfield two years ago.)
  • Anger and other so-called negative emotions are important and have tremendous personal and social utility (without which, see Miranda). Anger is not irrational. Anger is data and motivation. You can be angry for irrational reasons. But not all reasons to be angry are irrational. Nevertheless, as Cross says, “like any emotion or tool, there are right and wrong ways to deploy it.” Thus, calling someone out for (let’s say) calling for sexists to be killed (even in jest) is not an illegitimate tone argument. That is a fully legitimate tone argument. If you are doing that, your tone is fucked. Sort that shit out.
  • Genuinely censurable tone can include threats, ill-wishing, calls for violence, ad hominems, or just plain abuse (see my article The Art of the Insult & The Sin of the Slur for more on that last point).

In short, in Cross’s words:

To put it simply: sometimes someone is being too angry. Sometimes an activist’s rage is doing more harm than good. Sometimes there is no good being done by it whatsoever. Not every emotion we have is a great strike against oppressive forces. Sometimes you are just being too loud, abusing people verbally, triggering them, and so forth. Sometimes you are just being a jerk and your tone is a fairly reliable indicator of this.

Quite. There are some things I think that could be added, though… [Read more…]

Following Me on Facebook Might Be a Thing

I’ve realized that I often post things to my Facebook wall that I don’t mention on my blog. And then I realized some readers of my blog, might want to also read those things (always brief comments or announcements of places I’m hanging out—where you might even be able to join me—and things like that). If you are one of those people, you might want to follow me on Facebook. In fact my Facebook wall is basically my twitter feed. So if you wanted a Richard Carrier twitter feed, that’s the closest there is. (No, I have no plans to get on twitter, too much work to manage.)

But again that’s follow, not friend.

I am nearly out of slots for Facebook friends. They allow you only 5000, and I’m over 4000. And I receive several hundred requests a month. So, simple math entails I must decline nearly all. So don’t friend me, unless (a) we actually are friends (or colleagues), or (b) we’ve hung out before in substantial fashion, or (c) you have a professional reason (like if you are a board member or officer of an organization, even a small one, e.g. a campus group or community group; or you are a producer of media content, like podcasts or secular swag or blogs or books or movies or what have you; or you are a professor or professional thinktanker interested in my work; things like that), or (d) you are considering dating me. Or any combination of the above. I will accept requests for a variety of other reasons that I can’t articulate into words, usually something I love about a person’s profile or their aesthetic or their art. But there’s no easy way for you to know that in advance.

If you do want to friend me specifically, and not just follow me, and you meet one or more of the above criteria, also message me to tell me that. I might not be able to tell from your profile who you are or if we’ve met or anything. Most people don’t have their settings set to public enough for me to even vet their profile, or don’t put that information on it, and profile pics are often inadequate for me to recognize faces, and so on. So just tell me. Then I’ll know. All my Facebook settings are set to public, so anyone can message me.

That saves me a lot of time. Because, yes, I actually respond individually, and manually, to every Facebook friend request I get, explaining all this. That’s generally over a hundred a week. And I do try to figure out if each requester meets any of the criteria beforehand. So, that’s time. Indeed, not only is there is no automated capability on Facebook, in fact they stymie it by forcing you to pass a Find Waldo test for every message you send, when you message to non-friends as often as I have to do for this purpose. So, hundreds and hundreds of Find Waldo tests every month, just to send this quasi-automated message:

Greetings! Thank you for your friend request. I probably have to decline (as my friend count is approaching the Facebook maximum), but please read my note:

https://www.facebook.com/notes/richard-carrier/note-to-all-have-you-asked-to-be-my-fb-friend-and-not-heard-back/512364158839147

(You can “follow” me instead of friend me, or remind me of whether we’ve hung out before, or any other reason I should have you more than just follow my FB page. I won’t necessarily be able to tell who you are from your FB page or profile pic. I might also not recognize your name, even if we’ve worked together or communicated before, as I have to process a hundred of these requests a week. So do feel free to message me with a reminder if I’ve overlooked our connection. Thanks!)

The linked note then explains further.

Conversely, if we are already Facebook friends, feel free to unfriend me and then just follow me instead (if still interested). For example, if you want to clean up and pare down your own friends list. Since if you are following me, you don’t need to be my Facebook friend (unless our lives are more entangled in some way), since all my settings are on public anyway, so you don’t gain many features.

Either way, if it sounds like something you are interested in, follow me.

Defining the Supernatural vs. Logical Positivism

In working slowly through a gigantic backlog of blog comments, I met with one that goes back to an old school question, about my project to demarcate the natural and the supernatural. The comment by Enlightenment Liberal is here. He is asking questions about the conclusion I argued here and in print here (with a followup here). The first, Defining the Supernatural, supports the others, Defining Naturalism I and II. His perspective can be summarized as “If we grant your definitions of ‘natural’ and ‘supernatural’, I think that all hypotheses of the form ‘X is supernatural’ entail absolutely zero observable predictions about the world,” in particular because “I think that I have absolutely no basis to conclude that there is any relation or correlation at all between the fundamental nature of things and the observable nature of things,” in accordance with Logical Positivism.

So, is he right? Let’s explore… [Read more…]

Back in Manteca Next Month!

Logo for Stockton Area Atheists and Freethinkers, with a picture of Richard Carrier, and the word Colloquium, all against a blue-purple graphical background.Last year in I spoke on Proving History. Now I’m back to cover the second half of the story: On the Historicity of Jesus. I’ll survey some key details of ancient history and outline the theory defended in the book. There will also be a preshow dinner, and I’ll be attending, for those interested.

All the details here. In brief… [Read more…]

Did No One Know Blue in Ancient Rome?

So, apparently “No One Could See the Color Blue Until Modern Times.” I have it on the high authority of the Princeton Archae…er, I mean, the science section of the Business Insider. So its totes true.

Hm. This is the weirdest thing I’ve seen yet. Someone asked me (understandably, me being a guy with a Ph.D. in this stuff), “Is this true!?” Right away I thought…Iiiiiiiii doubt it.

Picture of the Ishtar Gate, an enornous ancient monument literally covered blue with lapis lazuli. Erected in the 6th century BC in Babylon, it survives intact to this day, in the Berlin Museum. [Read more…]

Join Our New Course This May: Debate 101: How to Be a Better Debater Live and Online!

Logo for Partners for Secular Activism. The letters PSA in blue, in an art decco font, over a light grey watermark of a compass pointing near to north, all on a white backround.This month I am teaming up with a colleague to impart to you our decades of experience in debate. That includes debating online and at live events. Learn basic skills, the usual tactics and how to disarm them, how to be more effective, and more. Register now!

As the course description says…

Photo of Jeff Lowder.We are both skilled and experienced debaters (Richard Carrier, Ph.D., and Jeff Lowder, a founder of the Internet Infidels, both of us have been active debaters in both venues since at least 1997). We are co-leading this special workshop to teach fundamental principles for more effective debating, particularly with faith-based opponents. Learn how to argue effectively at the podium under the clock. Photo of Richard Carrier.Learn the tricks and tactics that will be used against you so you can overcome them. Learn the most common mistakes to avoid and how. And learn the best methods of forming a persuasive argument. You can also improve your ability to be efficient and effective in online debates, and in any open ended argument. Join this unique opportunity during the month of May!

[Read more…]

Blog Comments Now Close after Six Days

It’s come time. I’m so cumulatively busy with all my work and life things, I can no longer find time to moderate comments on my blog beyond a fraction. I have struggled to keep up with the most recent and important ones, but I still have a backlog of nearly four hundred uncleared comments on various blog posts from last year. I hope to get to those eventually, since I consider them grandfathered in, although I might not answer them, for want of time.

Years ago I switched to full moderation. No comments ever post until I’ve seen and approved them. That has been extraordinarily effective at cutting down trolls to a tiny fraction, and even forcing them to start acting more like real people, in order to ensure their comments will ever post. Most importantly, it has driven away almost everyone who only wanted to graffiti my wall and became outraged that their Very Important Words will not be seen by anyone for days and days (and will only ever appear with my reply instantly attached, a fact for which I was accused of censorship, to the laughter of many).

I also don’t want to call upon unpaid labor to “hire” comment moderators to take over the task. I’m not a strong believer in unpaid labor. And I don’t earn enough to pay someone else what this job would deserve.

So, my only remaining option is to close down comments threads after a short time. I have thus revised my standing Comments Policy to say the following:

Comments Now Close after Six Days. Because I no longer have time to keep up with endless discussions in comments, I have had to set a fixed end-date on accepting comments at all. For now I am siding with Fake God on this one: after the sixth day, we rest. If you have something terribly important to send me after that, email me. Do not expect a reply. I receive a huge volume of email. I can only respond to a fraction of it. But I will at least see it. If it’s a valuable correction or piece of information, I will thank you. If it’s insulting, I will share it with my girlfriends, and we will laugh at you.

I have accordingly removed the grandfather clause of past yore (as now being rendered obsolete by this new rule) and renumerated the remaining blog rules. All else remains unchanged.

Everyone Is a Bayesian

Greg Mayer posted at Jerry Coyne’s blog on “Why I am not a Bayesian.” In his explanation, he goes wrong at three key points. And they are illustrative of common mistakes people make in trying to understand or apply Bayesian reasoning. In reality, Mayer is a Bayesian. He just doesn’t understand why. Here is the breakdown. [Read more…]

Avoiding Drama = Avoiding the Truth: On Michael Nugent’s Use of His Atheist Ireland Fiefdom to Attack PZ Myers

This is a quick source document for anyone who “hates drama” and doesn’t want to do much work to investigate what all the hubub is about. Why did Atheist Ireland write a dishonest disassociation letter against PZ Myers, and why did gullible nice guy Hemant Mehta fall for it? Details below. [Read more…]