Busy Bee Roundup of Bizarre & Shocking Things

Texas votes Nazi. Sam Harris exposes his sexism. Michael Shermer gets investigated. Richard Dawkins vomits all over the internet. I can’t keep up.

Alas, I have been doing nonstop traveling and events and work-catchup for weeks. I haven’t even been able to get to my comments queue, so I shall soon just be clearing everything to post, probably most without response or very little response, as I have no time. I’m getting caught up on backlogged work in preparation for two events in Canada that I have to travel to later this week. I apologize for the comments delay. I had hoped to find time for it in transit, but alas I couldn’t, and likely won’t (this grueling schedule shall continue for months).

But for those who haven’t been already getting the skinny, all this happened between when I got on an airplane Thursday and landed yesterday… [Read more...]

Want to Read All Our Blogs with NO Ads? Well, Now You Can!

You can now subscribe to FtB, and your subscription fee substitutes for our ad revenue, and the ads go away, and you still get to support our work. It’s just $30 a year (or less if you want smaller increments). You get access not just to my blog without ads, but to all the FtB blogs with no ads.

Right now it only works through PayPal, though in future we will have other pay methods worked in. And you have to have, or create, a user account (and stay logged in, or log in when you want to view FtB without the ads) either with us or WordPress, Yahoo or Google. All four types of user account will be recognized, but if you want the easiest enjoyment, you should subscribe through whichever account you don’t mind staying logged into all or most of the time, and that may just be our local user account, which you can create just for that purpose.

If you are interested in this, then login here. It’s a great way to help reward us for our work that doesn’t require your enduring the aesthetic displeasure of some other shill’s popup or other annoying attempt to get your attention (because basically, right now, like with most of the internets, it’s the shills who are paying for you to read FtB for free).

This is a new feature and you may encounter bugs. If you do, report them directly to Jason Thibeault (Lousy Canuck), the amazing guy who made this happen all on his own time–he will be happy to fix any problem that comes up if he can (just post a bug report in his thread here).

Nixing Offensive Ads

How do you stop an offensive or inappropriate ad at Freethought Blogs? Here’s a brief on how.

Our ad service at FtB is automated. We don’t actually choose who advertises on our site, and in fact what ads you see will differ from what ads others will see (like me, for example, even when I look at exactly the same page on FtB that you are), based on barely logical algorithms and cookies and IP geographic locations and whatnot. But we can choose to block certain ads. And if you want to help us do that, here’s the skinny on how.

Periodically we get offensive ads on here, which you may find inappropriate or just plain wrong, for all manner of reasons (from psychics and bullshit alt med, to sexist crap of various kinds, to fundamentalist seminaries, and so on) and you might want to stop them or just help us out by helping us catch and block them. To do that, what we need is the actual click-through URL for the ad (right-click or control-click the ad and copy the URL/link). It will be a crazy long weird URL code.

We can’t block ads by just being told what the ad was for or what it looked like, because there are millions of ads and the only unique identifiers our service lets us use to set blocking is the click-through URL. So we need that URL.

You can send that to us by pasting it into our tech service form here. (You can report all kinds of technical problems with the site there, too, of course, not just this. That link is also at the top of every page at FtB as Tech Issues.) In addition to pasting that URL in there, also politely explain what was offensive about the ad, or why you think we should block it. We may or may not agree. But a decision has to start with our being made aware of it. Since, odds are, we won’t even know about it otherwise.

Regular offenders can theoretically change their ads and thus keep bypassing our block, so if you see an offensive ad or advertised product again, feel free to report it again, just in case that’s what has happened. Although give our tech staff a week at least to purge an ad you reported once already, before reporting it again.

This will be a constant gardening, of course, since new ads and advertisers crop up daily (literally). But any garden has to be constantly gardened. So you’re welcome to give us a hand with pulling the weeds every so often.

Comments & Moderation Policy

I’ve finally gotten around to getting my comments policy out of my inaugural post and onto a page of its own, with updated policy elements and information. That post is accessible from a tab atop my every blog page (next to the FtB site-wide Privacy Policy). It includes information about moderation delays. See Comments Policy for Dr. Carrier’s Blog.

Comments Crazy!

Happy new year everyone!

Today I’m going to blog a boring administrative thing. But later this week I’ll put up something a little more interesting.

With my move now to Freethought Blogs the number of comments my entries are generating within a week has shot up fivefold or more. Which is great, except that it means I have to revisit the way I handle comments. There are now so many of them coming so quickly, it’s overwhelming me. As I announced in my inaugural post, “I will be experimenting with different methods of handling comments (active moderation, etc.) until I know what works best here,” and I’ve come to a conclusion I don’t like but have to implement. I’ve changed the settings so that all comments go to moderation. On the one hand this means I am committing myself to being much more Johnny-on-the-spot moderating comments so they don’t languish for weeks as many still are (I’ll be spending the rest of this week getting through all those, now that I’ve finished the paid work that has taken me away from blogging these last two weeks). But on the other hand this means everyone will have to wait at least a day or two before their comments appear (and just so you know, I don’t usually work weekends; I reserve those to spend time with my wife, since we don’t have much time together during the week, so “day or two” means business days).

This makes it a lot easier for me to keep up with checking comments, and in their actual order no less, but above all it’s just more fair to new posters, who right now have to wait for their posts to log while established posters blow past them posting comments galore. I don’t like that. So to put everyone on equal footing, now everyone waits, and their comments get posted in the actual order they are submitted.

If your comments aren’t up within a week, then they didn’t get approved. There are two possible reasons for that: you violated the rules I set out in my inaugural post (and many commentators have been doing that, some so consistently it’s really astonishing), or you got flagged as spam by my robot. On my old blog I got so little actual spam I was able to weed through the spam folder and rescue mis-flagged posts, but now I am getting hundreds of spam comments a week (!), which makes it impossible for me to even check that folder anymore (although I did one check recently and it does indeed appear to be all spam, but I still couldn’t check everything so I can’t be 100% sure). Which means if your comment gets ditched by my antispambot I’ll never know it. If you honestly can’t think of any reason why your comment would run afoul of my posting rules, then feel free to email me, explain the sitch, and tell me what email address you used to post your comment with, so I can go in to the spam folder and see if you got in there by accident (or otherwise tell you what happened). I will likely clear the spam folder every thirty days, though, so keep that in mind.

Last but not least, the huge number of approved comments is already so large that I know I won’t be able to respond to them all anymore. I used to reply to everyone. But on some posts I have gotten as many as 160 posts, and even after vetting out violators, in one case there is nearly 100 (many still waiting moderation). I just can’t handle that much traffic. So I will allow comments to post even if I never respond to them. And I might respond only to a few.

So I would be most pleased if informed and passionate people who have the time bulldog for me and respond to everything that warrants a response. That would ensure every comment gets answered, by division of labor. That doesn’t excuse you from still conforming to my rules, though. Even people on my side should follow my lead as much as possible. Basically, stick to facts and logic, cut to the chase, and don’t be pointlessly abusive, but educational and informative, and just call out errors, or acknowledge points worth adding to or qualifying my original post. I may weigh in from time to time. But good commentators can save me a lot of time and make my blog better.

The Carrier Revival!

Greetings all! Alas I have joined the rebel alliance and launched my blog anew here at the totally godless Freethought Blogs, ubi veritas extrahetur! I won’t be bringing over my archives due to the difficulty of getting all the formatting right, so I have frozen my old blog and left its archives up for reference and posterity. To visit all my past bloggings just jump on over to my old Blogger page. Down the right margin there is a chronological hyperlinked archive followed by a keyword index cloud. I will also end this post with a hyperlinked list of my all-time favorite blog posts.

Introduction. For those who don’t know me, I’m Dr. Richard Carrier, historian and philosopher, author of several books, chapters, and articles in print and online. I’m most renowned for my book Sense and Goodness without God: A Defense of Metaphysical Naturalism, describing a complete godless worldview and why we should believe it’s probably true (covering semantics, epistemology, science & metaphysics, ethics & axiology, aesthetics, and politics), and my book Not the Impossible Faith: Why Christianity Didn’t Need a Miracle to Succeed, where I teach fascinating facts about the religion, culture, sociology, anthropology, and history of the old Roman world (I received my doctorate in ancient intellectual history), all while engaging in the entertaining pursuit of making a particular Christian apologist look like an idiot. I’ve done a great deal else, of course. I particularly try to write articles that fellow atheists can use, in their pursuit of philosophy or historical truth (particularly when it comes to the ancient world, or taking on Christian nonsense). I’m also an avid Bayesian. You can learn all about me and the rest of my work at my home site: richardcarrier.info.

What I’m Doing Now. Many already know, but I’m working to complete a two volume set on whether there really was a historical Jesus (I side in the negative, but with less certainty than many proclaim), the first of which is completed, peer reviewed, and due for release by Prometheus Books in April of 2012 (Proving History: Bayes’s Theorem and the Quest for the Historical Jesus). The next may appear near the end of that year (On the Historicity of Jesus Christ). I also have a book in peer review on Science Education in the Early Roman Empire and another waiting for completion on The Scientist in the Early Roman Empire. That plus my work as a national public speaker, blogger, academic writer, and online lecturer for CFI Institute Online, keeps me plenty busy.

What to Expect Here. I’ll be using this blog to announce my upcoming public appearances, and any new publications as soon as they’re available. But I will also be using it to expound on issues in philosophy, ancient history, or Christian apologetics, as the need or mood strikes me.

Rules. Since this is my first post at FTB, I will set the ground rules here, which are the same as they’ve always been. I will be experimenting with different methods of handling comments (active moderation, etc.) until I know what works best here (see Comments Crazy! for my latest decision on that), but whatever method I use, the same rules apply: comments must be on-topic (meaning, relevant to the blog post they are attached to), if they argue against me they must argue against things I actually said (comments that don’t I’ll feel free to delete), and must contain relevant facts (merely naming authors doesn’t count, for example, you have to actually make an argument or state your facts). Obviously threats, gratuitous obscenity, prayers and other blatant violations of ettiquette also warrant deletion. But merely disagreeing with me is not a condition for deletion. Relevance is, however. This isn’t an unmoderated forum. If you want to debate issues unrelated to what I’ve blogged, please use a public forum somewhere else online. I will also block anyone who persistently violates these rules, or ignores what I’ve written even after being directed to it, or who repeatedly ignores my requests for sources, evidence, or specific errors in disputes over the truth. I will also sometimes delete comments that don’t need to be there anymore (e.g. comments that identify a typo or bad link), not because I don’t like them (I actually love them!), but because once I’ve corrected the issue the comment is obsolete.

Grandfather Clause. I will keep one exception to the relevance rule: you may add comments to this inaugural blog post that respond to anything I have blogged at my old location (in the whole archive linked above). That might make this entry’s comments section a strange, free-wheeling bizarro land of disjointed conversation, but I’ll deal. In some cases this might even generate new blogs here that can continue the thread anew.

Favorite Oldies. Here are my favorite old blog posts (except on music, which I’ll blog about later)…

Issues…

  1. Atheists in Foxholes (why you should care)
  2. Are Women Just Stupid? (asked & answered)
  3. Are We Doomed? (we’re harder to kill than you think)
  4. Atheist or Agnostic? (the debate is stupid)

Morality…

  1. Darla the She-Goat (an evil goat can teach us metaethics)
  2. Moral Ontology (the physical substance of moral facts)
  3. Goal Theory Update (moral philosophy’s version of TMI)

Politics…

  1. Does Free Will Matter? (belief in free will’s effect on social policy)
  2. Factual Politics (four-part series against anarcho-libertarianism)

Philosophy…

  1. How to Be a Philosopher (for real)
  2. Defining the Supernatural (just like it sounds)
  3. Our Mathematical Universe (a mathematical universe doesn’t prove god)
  4. Statistics & Biogenesis (the origin of life doesn’t prove god)
  5. Rosenberg on Naturalism (battling the new nihilism)
  6. Epistemological End Game (on getting out of infinite regress)

History…

  1. History Before 1950 (what makes a historian obsolete)
  2. Experimental History (yep, there is such a thing)
  3. Lynn White on Horse Stuff (clearing away the horseshit)
  4. Science & Medieval Christianity (correcting errors on both sides)
  5. Flynn’s Pile of Boners (on ancient vs. medieval science)
  6. Rosenberg on History (battling postmodernism)

Christianity…

  1. The Infidel Delusion (Christians act delusionally…again)
  2. Ignatian Vexation (why New Testament studies is fucked)
  3. Pauline Interpolations (examples of doctored texts in the Bible)

Humor…

  1. Sack Lunch
  2. Silly Questionnaires