And Paul Fidalgo!

Somehow in last week’s post on our new bloggers I blanked on our fourth great addition! So I am remedying that right now. We have a quarto, not a trio, of new bloggers at FtB.

So please also welcome Paul Fidalgo at Near Earth Object, communications director for the Center for Inquiry with diverse skills and interests and skeptic cred. My favorite sample…

I don’t imagine that Bob-Fucking-Dole would feel that he had to wheel his ailing carcass to the floor of the Senate to plead with his own freaking party to back the treaty if he thought the obstacle to ratification was just how spooked Jim Inhofe might be about U.N. boogeymen. I bet you Dole knew that his real adversary was going to be the giant sacks of cash strewn about the halls of the Senate office buildings.

(from My Own Conspiracy Theory about the Disability Treaty)

He kinda might be right. Meanwhile, I’m so rocking the last chapter of my book that I’ve decided to put off further blogging again until next week. I so want to complete by end of week and I’m really close to doing that. In the meantime, go read some Paul Fidalgo!

The Latest New Bloggers at FtB!

We’ve recently recruited to our network some infamous folk of web renown. If you are curious, check them out! (Yes, I’m behind on current events…still haven’t caught up on things since my return from England and my birthday and sundry unexpected chores like replacing my streetside sewer lateral cleanout cap, which someone stole…who steals a three dollar sewer pipe cap? Anyway…)

The trio (no, quarto!) of the new includes the notorious Non Stamp Collector, of You Tube prominence, an Australian in Japan. Welcome to the 21st century global economy. My favorite sample…

What Christians bringing up this issue and this example [of the holocaust and moral relativism] fail to realise is that with a Christian view of objective morality, you are forced to do exactly the thing that you’re suggesting would make someone appear to be a brainwashed sicko at complete odds with civilised society. You can’t imagine living in a world in which genocide could be considered moral, and you make up an analogy pointing out how misguided excusing such a massive slaughter would be, yet in the next breath, you will excuse genocide carried out by an Old Testament hero (probably Joshua) who was simply Hitler with a different ideology and less effective weaponry!

(from What if Hitler Had Won?)

Did I mention the 21st century global economy? Because next up is Avicenna, a british ex-hindu atheist and medical student studying in India, whose blog A Million Gods is now hosted in our golden cradle. My favorite sample…

Just because something ends doesn’t mean that it has no meaning. Why do you have pets? Unless you are an avid tortoise hobbyist (I like to call them Cheloniaks) most of your pets will die before you. You may as well shoot them right now.

(from Doubts About Atheism? Fifteen Questions for Atheists Answered)

And almost last but not least is Miriam Mogilevsky, author of the activist blog Brute Reason. My favorite sample is actually in effect her description…

I’m a psychology student, a Russian Israeli immigrant, an ethnically Jewish atheist, a queer sex-positive feminist, a bleeding-heart but skeptical progressive, and a proud and unashamed survivor of a few mental illnesses. In other words, I’m pretty much everything your mom warned you about.

(from Hellooooo FtB!)

And actual last but not least (I somehow left him out of my original post!) is Paul Fidalgo, at Near Earth Object, communications director for the Center for Inquiry with diverse skills and interests and skeptic cred. My favorite sample…

I don’t imagine that Bob-Fucking-Dole would feel that he had to wheel his ailing carcass to the floor of the Senate to plead with his own freaking party to back the treaty if he thought the obstacle to ratification was just how spooked Jim Inhofe might be about U.N. boogeymen. I bet you Dole knew that his real adversary was going to be the giant sacks of cash strewn about the halls of the Senate office buildings.

(from My Own Conspiracy Theory about the Disability Treaty)

So there you go. More are to come, but these four are the latest!

Hopefully I’ll get back to blogging more serious deep thought stuff myself next week.

Blogging Slowdown

Just FYI to everyone, tomorrow I fly out for the Skepticon conference in Missouri which I am certain will consume me the whole weekend (it always does!), and then immediately after that I’m flying to the UK and spending ten days all over the south of England, so I am also unlikely to find time for much else but all the things I want to do when I’m there (since I normally don’t get to travel abroad much at all). And then immediately upon getting back it’s my birthday.

In consequence, you shouldn’t be surprised if my attendance to comment moderation and blog posting slows down beyond normal until December. Please be patient until I’m back.

P.S. Thank you Ohioans! You went for Obama and saved us all. Now I don’t have to worry about the Supreme Court becoming evil.

Help a Fellow Warrior Weather a Storm

Greta Christina with her lovely wife Ingrid.Greta Christina only a few months ago quit her day job to work for herself as a writer and speaker (both of which she’s really good at), and things were looking great, then bam, her dad gets badly ill and dies, causing her to lose work for about a month…and then she gets cancer. Not a terrible cancer, but still. Curable–but at a cost (thanks to our being the only first world country without national health care). It’s a double-hit for the self-employed, because you lose income while also paying the new medical bills (she has already had to cancel her Skepticon gig and might not be able to get back to work for several months, depending on how things go).

She really needs gap funding to keep her in biscuits until she can get back to work and get her medical bills behind her. In Bad News, Good News, Greta explains her situation and what you can do to help. So hop on over there, read her piece, and see what you can do. It really doesn’t require much–the cost of a nice birthday gift, say, only it’s cash rather than trinkets. A little will go a long way if lots of us help (so spread the news if you’re inclined). If you aren’t familiar with Greta’s work, she’s a superb writer, and an asset in communicating real life issues from an atheist perspective. I’ll soon be posting a review of her great new book (I’ve read it; it rocks) as soon as it finally hits Amazon (to help get her a boost in sales ranking there)–but you can already buy it elsewhere; see her blog for details. But if you want to test the waters first, you can explore her blog (see her “categories” index down the right margin and pick the one that intrigues you the most).

Historicity News: Thallus et Alius

I have a slew of things to report. I was thinking of doing some book reviews, for example, but I am not going to have the time. With my England trip coming up and my push to hunker down and finish On the Historicity of Jesus Christ, I will have much less time for blogging over the next two months. So I’m just going to summarize some things of late, including a new publication of mine, new books by others, and major events in the field, over the course of three posts.

First, my peer reviewed paper on Thallus has just been published (my paper on Josephus is soon to follow). The full citation is Richard Carrier, “Thallus and the Darkness at Christ’s Death,” Journal of Greco-Roman Christianity and Judaism 8 (2011-2012): 185-91. [It was available online, as part of Volume 8, as a downloadable PDF, but only until it appeared in print]. The conclusion is that Thallus never mentioned Jesus in any capacity, and must therefore be removed from all lists of authors attesting to Jesus. In fact, we have what is certainly a direct quotation of what Thallus said in Eusebius: that in the year 32 “the sun was eclipsed, Bithynia was struck by an earthquake, and in the city of Nicaea many buildings fell.”

If anyone wants to update Wikipedia’s article on Thallus to quote and/or cite this peer reviewed article, please feel free. It currently quotes my very old online essay on the matter; whereas the new paper is not only peer reviewed, but contains additional arguments confirming the conclusion, improves various points, and skips over unnecessary digressions.

Second, in yesterday’s post “Understanding Bayesian History” I responded to a scientist’s critique of my book Proving History, and he posted a well written reply in comments there, which I much appreciated and to which I have responded in kind, and that exchange makes a lot of things clearer, especially as to my objectives in writing PH and how to improve upon it, and regarding what his concerns actually were. I consider this a model of constructive dialogue, so it’s worth looking at.

Next I’ll report on two new books I’ve read that relate to the question of historicity.

The Art of the Insult & The Sin of the Slur

Throughout my blogging career I have occasionally been taken to task for using insults and ridicule on select occasions, and have in turn often discussed the ethics of insults and ridicule. And in The New Atheism+ I articulated some of those principles again, and then I went overboard in using the tactic in comments.

People rightly brought up issues with that, so I reexamined my actions there and what people had to say on the subject, and retracted and apologized for some of my actions there. In discussing the matter further I found I was wrong about a few other things, and realized this is an important issue that deserves an article of its own. Getting things like this right is what Atheism+ is all about, and debating and educating each other on these issues is valuable and ought to be welcome.

Because this article necessitates using offensive (in some cases extremely offensive) words in illustrative examples, a trigger warning is in order for anyone who might have a bad reaction to that. This is a clinical, philosophical post about proper and improper use of words, and should be approached as such. But if that is not possible, you should avoid it. [Read more…]

The New Atheism +

There is a new atheism brewing, and it’s the rift we need, to cut free the dead weight so we can kick the C.H.U.D.’s back into the sewers and finally disown them, once and for all (I mean people like these and these). I was already mulling a way to do this back in June when discussion in the comments on my post On Sexual Harassment generated an idea (inspired by Anne C. Hanna) to start a blog series building a system of shared values that separates the light side of the force from the dark side within the atheism movement, so we could start marginalizing the evil in our midst, and grooming the next generation more consistently and clearly into a system of more enlightened humanist values. Then I just got overwhelmed with work and kept putting it off on my calendar for when I had a good half a day or so to get started on that project.

Since then I blogged On Sexual Harassment Policies and Why I Am a Feminist (which smoked out a few of the dregs who attempted to defend their anti-humanist atheism), but closer to my growing thoughts on what separates us, and ought to separate us, within the movement was my post on (Not) Our Kind of People, which wasn’t really about any moral divide (since lots of people who aren’t my kind of people are nevertheless my people as far as basic values go, and I know they would agree; we just enjoy different company), but it paralleled my more private thinking about the evil among us. Then I read Lousy Canuck’s account of the whole abuse of Surly Amy at TAM and elsewhere, which enraged me (I had previously only known parts of that story). It shows the dregs will now publicly mock humanist values, and abusively disregard the happiness of their own people. Well, that starts drawing the battle lines pretty clearly then.

So I was chomping at the bit to find time to write something on this, but still not sure what to say or how to say it. It especially bugged me because I couldn’t get to it for lack of available time (which reminds me to mention, be warned, I am AFK most of this week and so comment moderation here will be unusually slow).

Then Jen McCreight said it for me, more eloquently and clearly than I could have. This weekend she wrote How I Unwittingly Infiltrated the Boy’s Club & Why It’s Time for a New Wave of Atheism, which was so well received (and quite rightly) that she wrote a brief follow-up: Atheism +. And Greta Christina and others have taken up the banner: Atheism Plus: The New Wave of Atheism. I am fully on board. I will provide any intellectual artillery they need to expand this cause and make it successful.

Its basic values (and the reason for its moniker) Jen stated thus: [Read more…]

Recording Audio Books

Pitchstone has contracted to produce and publish audio versions of my books, and that means I will be in a professional studio recording them for the next two weeks. We’re doing about five hour days, and with prep and commuting and my usual domestic duties, it’s pretty much taking up my day. I mention this because it is making it difficult to keep up with comments moderation, email, and other business, so I want everyone to be aware that operations here will be slower than normal for a couple of weeks.

Why I Am Not a Christian is already in the can, but we’re working on Sense and Goodness without God now and you can imagine that is a much bigger challenge. At some time in the future we’ll also do Not the Impossible Faith. And if Pitchstone can get an affordable audio-edition license from Prometheus (may luck be with us), we’ll eventually do a version of Proving History, too (but that’s a big if, so don’t bank on it yet).

These titles will probably be available in various audio formats by the end of the year or early next year. Of course I will announce them on my blog as they become available.

And Then All Hell Breaks Loose…

So, I go off to the Atheist Film Festival for the weekend and come back to find out the Thunderf00t scandal broke, David Barton was publicly exposed and disgraced, and Romney deliberately tanks his campaign by picking a social conservative as veep. Christo santo! I couldn’t do anything about any of it until I got back. So here I am.


I was going to do a roundup of the Thunderf00t thing anyway (I was on the backchannel so I knew this was coming, I just didn’t know it was going to drop this weekend), but Dana Hunter already did such an excellent job of it I’ll just point you there: Thunderf00t’s Potentially Illegal, Positively Immoral Crusade.

For those who have been debating the point, yes, what Phil Mason (aka Thunderf00t) did is called “hacking” (legally and culturally) and besides being grossly immoral [Read more…]

Why I Am a Feminist

Our fellow blogger Taslima Nasreen has been running a series of posts asking other bloggers their answer to the question “Why I Am a Feminist.” I contributed, and you can now read my post: “Why I Am a Feminist — Richard Carrier.”

Others who have contributed answers before now include Bina Shah (the journalist and novelist), Aron Ra (fellow FtB blogger and renowned vlogger and podcaster), Rita Banerji (author and activist photographer), and Skeptifem (anti-sexwork activist), with more contributions from Marcella and Eva and Physioprof.

But in timely fashion, Cristina Rad just recently posted a superb vlog on the issue of why and in what ways sexism still exists even in the supposedly most enlightened countries and societies, which supplements my point quite well, that it isn’t just extreme sexism that’s a problem, and that reverse sexism makes no difference to this fact (see Gender Roles, Trolls, & Sexual Harassment Policies). Once again proving Rad is probably the greatest vlogger on the internet. Her ability to edit video and compose arguments, articulate points, and make an entertaining and unassailable case is truly a thing of awe. (The most relevant part to the present point begins at minute 5:33.)

Feminism is an extension of humanism, which itself is a natural product of any well-thought-out naturalism. Which is really the only intellectually credible worldview for an atheist. And I made this point a while ago as a guest on Crommunist’s blog, where he ran a similar series “Because I Am an Atheist,” asking other people not why they are an atheist (like PZ’s series Why I Am an Atheist), but how being an atheist has changed the way they think or act or see the world. To check out my reply see Because I Am an Atheist — Richard Carrier. I don’t mention feminism there specifically, but you can see from it how my feminism would follow from the same process, and what atheism has to do with that.

Also related to this is my perspective on philosophy and what it should be and how we should all aim at doing philosophy, and doing it well, which was a subject of an interview with me by Daniel Fincke, which you might also benefit from reading. In it I discuss the role of philosophy in making us better, distinguishing rational philosophy from irrational philosophy, and the basis of sound moral values, all of which leads into feminism (though again I don’t specifically connect those dots there, you can). See The Full Richard Carrier Interview.

Because I think philosophy done well always leads to feminism. So if philosophy hasn’t done that for you, you’re doing it wrong.