I guess I’m being sued, I guess

I’ve only heard about it indirectly, from people who noticed it on legal databases, but I haven’t been served yet…because Richard Carrier is acting as his own lawyer, and he flubbed something in the filing so no papers were delivered to the accused. I’m still waiting. At least we’ve got our lawyer primed and ready to respond.

I got a lot of the detail from this extraordinarily entertaining video. Rebecca Watson recounts some of the documents Carrier submitted himself, in his defense, to show that no, he’s not creepy and obnoxious, no sir. She reads his own “evidence”, which does a very good job of showing that he’s creepy, obnoxious, oblivious to criticism, and completely unaware of boundaries. It’s amazing how his own incel-like emails demonstrate his lack of awareness.

Now I just have to wait for my own copy of the filing. No hurry. It’s all another silly, futile exercise.


  1. Ichthyic says

    I guess if you have ruined your own career, might as well use what little savings you have to waste years in futile court cases?

    maybe he should try judge Judy?

  2. Rob Grigjanis says

    Can someone remind me why this narcissistic waste of space was ever taken seriously?

  3. OverlappingMagisteria says

    Can someone remind me why this narcissistic waste of space was ever taken seriously?

    Cause he was a guy with credentials proclaiming a theory that many atheists really wanted to believe.

  4. Ichthyic says

    …I was laughing my ass off at how clueless Richard was in that long email exchange Rebecca was reading. Then I realized he submitted this HIMSELF, in his own defense!

    then I laughed even harder.

  5. KG says

    My theory is that there is no historical Richard Carrier*. He’s clearly the fictional creation of some Christian group determined to discredit atheism.

    *Well, almost certainly. Specifically, Bayesian reasoning shows that the chance of Richard Carrier being a real person is less than 1 in 2047.

  6. says

    Rob G @2 – Overlapper @3 is slightly right. Carrier was and I guess still is a serious scholar in the debate about whether or not a historical jesus existed. That has obvious relevance to any gathering of atheists, but Overlapper’s derision is inaccurate. Most of us don’t give much of a shit whether or not jesus existed. We’re opposed to xtianity regardless. Even if a divine jesus existed, call me Longinus baby.

    The historicity debate was just an occasionally amusing sidebar to us, but all you have to do to participate around here is step up and participate. He did, whatever his character flaws. I had a terse interaction or two with him back before I blogged here but I think he forgot about it by the time I joined. He had a bad habit of showing his ass, metaphorically at least. I find the situation distasteful enough to not find out particulars on the rest.

  7. wzrd1 says

    I recall Rebecca saying one important thing, an individual who represents him or herself in a court of law, has a creepy fool for a client.
    At least, in this case. Most of the time, it’s simply a fool.
    I am thankful that she eventually sped up the audio to a rate closer to the rate in which I read, it’s late here, the weather’s been bad, which has been making me quite miserable. Blasted superpower! I am Barometerman.
    Right after surviving running out of medication for hypertension and hyperthyroidism, considering other factors that are dire, I call myself lucky for being an idiot and not seeking out a primary care physician for nearly a rather busy year.
    Just call me a poopy-caca-head and wonder what I call that idiot!
    He has yet, for far more years, failed entirely to address his cranio-rectal inversion. If I were to attempt to utilize a tongue depressor, it’s quite likely, his head would pop out, perfecting a human Mobius loop.

    Oh, for the record, we do have an anti-SLAPP law in PA. I also know how to counter-suit his ignorant butt into abject poverty and the excess funding available to fund such litigation.
    I’m also vindictive enough to counter litigate to demand slavery be re-instituted in his singular case, as he couldn’t afford my and my wife’s damages, our grandchildren and children would litigate on their own over loss of consortium.

    I worked around a hell of a lot of attorneys over the years, quite a few owe me billable hours or a favor. I count on the former more than the latter.
    All, save two, could actually build such a case, which eventually would fail, due to that Constitution thing, but he’d be broke, I’d be unable to retire, but plan to continue until incapable of performing my duties in an IT shop.
    Hint, figured out UEFI, after a seven year hiatus, as I tended to familial issues. In well under a week, it’s cryptographic in design, which puts it squarely in my field of expertise.
    Ask me to do the math behind it, I’d simply start to suck my thumb. ;)

    Yeah, total Narcissistic personality, with a double helping of Dunning-Kruger heaped on top. With a fatal dose of masculine idiocy to cause him to utilize the incorrect “head” to think with.

    Alas, that last isn’t all that uncommon, as evolution provided human males enough blood to operate only one “head” at a time, far too many seek the lower energy curve and attempt to think with generic meat.
    Personally, I outgrew that nonsense when I was age 12.

    That said, I’d have preferred text being available, I read far faster than a human can speak and accelerating it beyond what she did goes into my hearing loss region. I have to reprocess what was spoken, at normal rate or accelerated rate, due to tinnitus that’s growing more severe.
    Still, worth the effort.

    Bright kid, I’m quite comfortable leaving the planet in her peers care, once I shuffle off this mortal coil.

  8. KG says

    Great American Satan@8

    Carrier was and I guess still is a serious scholar in the debate about whether or not a historical jesus existed.

    No he wasn’t, and isn’t, because there is no such debate among the relevant experts, any more than there is on climate change or vaccination. Jesus mythicism is solely the preserve of cranks and narcissists.

    That has obvious relevance to any gathering of atheists, but Overlapper’s derision is inaccurate. Most of us don’t give much of a shit whether or not jesus existed.

    No, OverlappingMagesteria’s derision is absolutely accurate. Whenever the subject comes up, a phalanx of atheists without pops up parroting Carrier, or one of the R. Prices, or some other numpty. It’ll happen here too, in all probability. (This is a case where Bayesian reasoning might actually be useful – find all the blog threads mentioning the subject dismissively over the past 10 years, and see how many attracted mythicist responses.)

  9. lotharloo says

    I have never trusted Carrier as a serious authority. In my opinion the “Jesus never existed” theory was always amusing and funny (specially considering how it could trigger the xians) but the fact that it’s a minority opinion has always been a problem. In the hindsight, Carrier seems like a snakeoil-salesman who found a sympathetic audience for his bullshit theories.

  10. Louis says

    1: “I found what you did creepy, and frankly, borderline harassment.”

    2: “Fuck. Sorry. I didn’t mean to do that. I’ll do better.”

    1: “Well okay.”

    And scene.


  11. marinerachel says

    I guess Carrier’s area of expertise is interesting or helpful or important to a non-negligible number of people – goodness knows some of my interests are considered entirely without value by many if not most people so I’m not judging anyone who was into his musings – but who the FUCK thought this guy was a valuable contributor to anything outside history discussions?

    He’s not an interesting person. He’s not charismatic. He’s not funny. He’s not fun to look at. To my knowledge, he’s never been any of those things (though maybe he has and I missed it.) Add to all that that he uses his blog to advertise for hookups, specifying what sex acts he’d be interested in engaging in with his potential date, and why he was ever given any kind of platform by conferences, etc. blows my mind.

    I know it’s easy for me to be critical of Carrier because I never had any kind of affinity for the guy. I don’t care about the one thing people championed him for. That it wasn’t apparent he was problematic before the overtly creepy stuff though still boggles my mind. He’s so transparently creepy.

  12. says

    Wow, Carrier’s e-mails were miserable. The first one would be an excellent example for “how not to write a love letter if you actually want to get laid.” There are so many things wrong with it that I don’t even know where to start. For example, bragging about how many other women you have managed to get into your bed might be a bad strategy. Some women perceive that as immensely off-putting. Hell, even I perceive that as off-putting despite the fact that, in general, I’m perfectly happy to have casual sex. A guy bragging about how many conquests he has had makes him sound like a jerk who’s just exploiting women for the sake of boosting his ego.

    And the worst thing about these e-mails is that in them he sounds exactly like the kind of guy who could be creepy also in person.

  13. says

    Since PZ didn’t link directly to the Skepchick post, I feel I should copy the same comment I left there:

    Back when Carrier made this stuff public, I read his argument in the case with Heina. My understanding is that he submitted that whole e-mail chain as evidence, because in the e-mails Heina says it’s fine. However, Heina has been complaining about him behind his back. He concludes that: a) the stuff that Heina says to him in the e-mail is completely truthful, and therefore b) the stuff that Heina says behind his back are all lies. He does not seem to consider the possibility that he got truth and lie backwards.

    Looking at the e-mail chain, I imagine that Heina insists it’s fine either because they’re still processing Carrier’s bullshit, or because they don’t want another round of “fisking” from Carrier.

    Another creepy thing about the case with Heina, is that it occurred soon after Heina had been added to FreeThoughtBlogs (circa August 2014), and Richard Carrier himself played an important role in choosing who was added. This one particularly pisses me off because Carrier also played a role in adding me to FTB.

  14. gijoel says

    I only got about half way through the video. Even with Rebecca reading his emails, I still found Carrier’s whinging tedious and pathetic. I can’t wait until he bankrupts himself and I never have to listen to him again.

  15. says

    @5: The present absence of an anti-SLAPP statute in Minnesota may not matter, for two reasons:

    (a) It’s not clear where this lawsuit was filed. Anti-SLAPP provisions are usually considered “procedural,” not “substantive” (notwithstanding some Ninth Circuit caselaw in which the answer would have been the same anyway for reasons that only civil procedure geeks like me care about), meaning that the presence of an anti-SLAPP provision in the state in which Carrier filed will be more important.
    Carrier probably filed in Ohio, which doesn’t have a specific anti-SLAPP provision… but does have a judiciary that actually seems to care about frivolous claims, and does treat SLAPP suits that are dismissed as unfounded in fact (not even as extreme as “frivolous”) as proper predicates for malicious prosecution actions.
    Carrier could have filed in any state where any speaker was to be found, so things could get Interesting. Especially if he was foolish enough to sue someone in California in California court, federal or state… in which case Cal. Code Civ. Proc. § 425.16 comes into play, and no I didn’t have to look up that citation; here’s the official text of that provision.

    (b) But an anti-SLAPP provision is just a special case of controls on frivolous lawsuits. In this particular instance, if the facts pleaded in the complaint (or not pleaded at all) demonstrate that as a matter of law Carrier cannot obtain relief on a set of facts consistent with what he pleaded, the suit is frivolous… and independently subject to sanctions, especially in federal court under Rule 11 (and there’s an equivalent in every state).

  16. says

    I’ll admit I could be wrong about the quality of Carrier’s scholarship, because I find the subject boring enough to not feel like putting in the homework to accurately judge it. It looked legit enough when I slogged through an article or two back in the day, but like I said, no expert. You’re welcome to your boring opinions, historicists. They’re more likely to be right than mine for having bothered thinking about the subject, so congrats. Jeezy was for reezy. Let’s hope he returns so we can punish him for making this universe a cosmic joke.

  17. KG says

    Great American Satan@21,

    I’m not an expert either. So, as I do with other subjects on which I’m not an expert, I accept the consensus of relevant experts where there is one, unless there is very obvious reason not to. I also look at the structural features of any challenge to such a consensus. Jesus mythicism bears all the marks of ideologically-driven denialism: failure to provide a coherent alternative explanation of the available evidence; accusations of conspiracies, “heresy-hunting” and suppression of the truth; corresponding lionisation of the “heroic” dissenters by enthusiasts with no relevant expertise and an obvious ideological motive; misrepresentation of the consensus position; misrepresentation of arguments within the consensus as indicating its lack of viability; unrealistic expectations of what research in the area concerned could be expected to deliver.

    Obviously, Jesus mythicism is not inherently dangerous in the way the anti-vaxx movement, climate change denialism or holocaust denialism are. But it discredits atheism. I find it particularly frustrating because many of those who adopt it are on the pro-social-justice side of the “deep rifts”, even though leading mythicist figures such as Carrier, and Robert M. Price are not.

    You’re welcome to your boring opinions, historicists.

    Do you find accepance of the consensus of relevant historical experts “boring” in other contexts, e.g. the consensus rejection of Graham Hancock’s fantasies about alien interventions, or Gavin Menzies’ claims that Chinese fleets sailed just about everywhere in the early 1400s?

    Jeezy was for reezy. Let’s hope he returns so we can punish him for making this universe a cosmic joke.

    This flirts with one of the marks of denialism I listed above: misrepresentation of the consensus view. Jesus mythicists often characterise the consensus as including religious claims about Jesus, such as his reported miracles or future return. It doesn’t; the experts upholding it include atheists, agnostics and observant Jews.

  18. says


    I recognize that I’m not qualified to challenge the consensus, but let’s not overplay what jesus scholars actually agree on. It’s often been noted that every different “Historical Jesus” scholar has a different historical jesus in mind. When you boil it down to elements that are truly common between, say, 80% of all HJ scholars, you don’t end up with much.

    Also interesting is about the “historical” jesus is that the “consensus” (such as it is), appears to me to be misrepresented by historians to the lay public. (Though I think the most reasonable explanation for this is that nobody is trying to mislead the public, but they don’t (sufficiently) change their language from professional writings to writings for a lay audience.)

    I’ve been told by expert historians right here on FtB that given the nature and amount of historical evidence available, historians typically go with the best explanation available. This is different from other fields where a minimum standard of evidence is much higher, and the “best explanation” is still not accepted unless it is not only best, but also probable. There is a consensus that concluding the existence of a real person upon which the gospel jesus was based is a better explanation than concluding that no such real person existed. But there’s no guarantee we wouldn’t change that judgement if we had access to better evidence, say evidence written when Jesus was supposed to be alive. We’re not at a point where we have good evidence that this Jesus guy lived for 30 years and died of execution. We’re at a point where we have crappy evidence, but we might as well go with what we’ve got.

    Okay, fair enough, but if you’re a professional historian and you don’t have enough evidence to say, “Yes, he existed,” and instead you’re saying, “There’s crap for evidence, but the idea he existed seems more plausible given what we know than the idea that he didn’t,” then when you go out to talk to lay people who don’t understand that “historical jesus” is professional shorthand for a much more limited claim, you’re effectively misleading people if you don’t spell out the limited claim … especially if you know that your professional shorthand also has a common meaning that is very different from how it is used in the professional literature.

    And further than that, I’ve heard professional historians that are not mythicists point out that what HJ historians agree on is so limited that they don’t even have a consensus on whether or not the “real person” who inspired the gospel jesus was named “jesus”. (This is due to a number of factors, not least that the name “Jesus” means “savior”:

    The name Jesus is derived from the Hebrew name Yeshua, which is based on the Semitic root y-š-ʕ (Hebrew: ישע‎), meaning “to deliver; to rescue.”

    That combined with a bunch of other stuff means that it’s very possible that even if such a preacher existed, for the purpose of spreading the doctrine of an eschatological savior cult, renaming the central figure “Deliverer; Rescuer” (or “savior”) makes perfect sense.

    All this means that this professional consensus does not include a consensus on “Historical Jesus’s” name.

    Now, maybe there was some historical figure whose real life experiences became mythologized and turned into the gospel stories. But if there’s no historical consensus that this person was even named Jesus, then I think it’s downright disingenuous to claim that there’s any such thing as a “Historical Jesus”.

    It’s more probable than not, based on shitty evidence which isn’t likely to improve, that there was a “Historical Somebody”. That’s the consensus.

  19. says

    @Jaws, #20:

    Carrier probably filed in Ohio,

    Uh, I think you missed some information about the posture of the suit. it was originally filed in Ohio and has since been dismissed there with a ruling that Ohio doesn’t have a sufficient jurisdictional nexus to hear the suit. Carrier is unable to refile in Ohio and must now file elsewhere to get the complaint heard at all. So we actually know for sure it’s not in Ohio.

    At least one complaint would have to be filed in California, because Carrier and one of the accused were both located in California at the relevant time. While suits against other alleged defamers might be filed in the state of the defamers’ then residence, there’s no choice of venue when filing against the California defendant. So, yeah. 425.16 is going to come into play at some point. For persons in Washington & Minnesota I guess Carrier might have a choice between CA, WA, & MN.

    But please, geek out some more. I’m always interested in learning more of this stuff.

  20. says

    Actually I take back this:

    All this means that this professional consensus does not include a consensus on “Historical Jesus’s” name.

    in favor of a more limited claim. I should have said:

    All this means that this professional consensus might very well not include a consensus on “Historical Jesus’s” name.

    I’ve never taken a poll of historians on that point, and even if I had, we’d still have to agree on what percentage is sufficient to call something “consensus”. My 80% figure is merely a suggestion.

  21. says

    Why are we talking about Carrier’s research again?
    Every time Carrier and his lawsuits come up we seem to be having the very same discussions and they turn around his scholarship, which is completely irrelevant to the case.
    That strikes me as pretty disrespectful towards the people he harassed and the people he’s trying to sue into oblivion.

  22. KG says


    Well if you read the thread you can discover for yourself how the issue arose (start @2), but I’ll say no more about it.

  23. says


    I think it’s premature to say that this suit is the same one (or arising from the same set of operative facts) as the Ohio suit that was dismissed, and therefore wasn’t filed in Ohio. For one thing, he could well have filed multiple suits… including specifying a (new?) Ohio party and/or (new?) Ohio acts that would result in a different personal jurisdiction ruling. It’s ordinarily good enough to get personal jurisdiction over every “conspirator” to properly tag one “conspirator”… if the allegations are good and specific enough and the rest of the procedural rules have been followed. And I’m not going to put the law-journal-style article with 150 footnotes in it here; that’s too much geeking out even for me.

    Were I the plaintiff’s attorney in this nonsense, I would have filed an individual suit in each defendant’s home jurisdiction if I were not certain that jurisdiction would be proper in the plaintiff‘s home jurisdiction… or that it somehow related to Larry Flynt. (Really. Hustler and the several-decades-long war between Flynt and Bob Guccione created a lot of choice-of-law, choice-of-jurisdiction, and statutes-of-limitations decisions on defamation and related causes of action, starting with whether accusing a drum majorette of swallowing an entire baton was defamatory under the circumstances and going rapidly downhill from there.) I would also tailor the facts asserted in the complaint to the local jurisdiction’s anti-SLAPP provisions. As should be obvious from the fate of Carrier’s earlier Ohio case, I wasn’t the plaintiff’s attorney then… or now…

  24. says

    I should mention that my comments are about the procedural niceties, not the merits… because on the merits this is a loser on its face (the allegedly defamatory/false-light statements are either opinion or as-a-matter-of-law-reasonable quotations of the plaintiff’s own statements). I’ve won some of these from the plaintiff’s side, so I have some understanding of what it takes.

    And remember one other thing: Truth doesn’t matter at this stage at all. We’re dealing only with what the plaintiff ALLEGES in the complaint, which is accepted arguendo unless self-contradictory or utterly irrational (such as “Presuming the value of pi to be 3″… although if one is in Indiana that might not be utterly irrational, just exceptionally stupid).

  25. says

    (Really. Hustler and the several-decades-long war between Flynt and Bob Guccione created a lot of choice-of-law, choice-of-jurisdiction, and statutes-of-limitations decisions on defamation and related causes of action, starting with whether accusing a drum majorette of swallowing an entire baton was defamatory under the circumstances and going rapidly downhill from there.)

    I have to read more US law.

    I should mention that my comments are about the procedural niceties, not the merits… [blah, blah, how to survive a motion to dismiss, blah, blah]

    Oh, sure. Canadian law doesn’t differ THAT much from US law.

    “Presuming the value of pi to be 3″… although if one is in Indiana that might not be utterly irrational

    I understood that reference. Both of them, actually, the legal and the mathematical.

    To be fair though, giving pi an irrational value in a jurisdiction like Indiana has to be redundant.

  26. lotharloo says

    I skimmed the video and nope, I cannot handle that much cringe. BTW, did he really publish these emails himself? Or did they go public because of connections to court issues?

  27. says

    @KG – What Chinese sailors did or didn’t do is interesting, and I do favor truth even if it’s less entertaining than fiction – when the topic is interesting at all. A religious guy religiousing in a religious place that’s all sand and sandals is as boring as the american protestant cartoons make it out to be. That said, I’ll drop the subject now as well.

  28. jack16 says

    I thought that an important part of Carrier’s research was his use of Bayes theorem. Dr. Novella has remarked that this reduces “p-hacking” and it would seem to be important in determining the accuracy of any historical research. I don’t think that Watson implies that God has been saved or indeed that there is any flaw in his (Carrier’s ) research. I hope he follows her advice.

  29. jack16 says

    Self-representation. The famous remark is that such a person has a fool for a lawyer and an ass for a client. It was remarked by a judge that these were the words of an attorney.

  30. KG says

    When Carrier was on FTB, I went to his blog to see if it was of interest to me, without any preconceptions as I had never read anything by him – or even, IIRC, heard of him. The first post I came across was a bizarre and unpleasant rant against vegetarians. I did not become a regular reader. Then there was his tacky use of his blog to advertise for sexual partners, including TMI about his favoured practices. Even before his move to FTB, there was clear evidence of his narcissistic arrogance, in his belief that he had something to contribute to physics and cosmology despite having zero qualifications in these areas. So while I have previously contributed to the fund-raising for defence against his absurd and obnoxious legal harrassment of FTB and others, and may do so again (there are a lot of worthy causes and my funds are not unlimited), I can’t help feeling that at least some of his targets have a degree of culpability for their poor judgement in entering into and continuing voluntary association with him.

  31. says

    What? No outrage about the awful cognitive dissonance of Indiana making pi a rational number and my comparison to irrationality?

    The key thing that is going to matter at this stage of proceedings is the concept of “judicial notice”: Facts from outside the pleadings that the judge is allowed to take notice of. (N.B. Crip Dyke, the standards for what is a “fact” related to a motion to dismiss is substantially different in the US than its Canadian equivalent — especially in matters that implicate/would implicate the US First Amendment.) The value of pi is a fairly uncontroversial example; so would a dictionary definition of the word “shall” that makes it a mandatory imperative without regard to practicality.

    Let’s take something that has arisen above in this thread as an example of the problem. Assume for the moment that one of the operative allegations in the complaint is that there is no “consensus” regarding the existence of “historical JC” among historians who have studied the area. (I have no idea how this could be relevant to a defamation claim; it’s easy to illustrate here, though.) This would not be a proper subject for judicial notice for two reasons: As the thread above notes, there’s no binding definition of “consensus,” nor even clear identification of the community of persons who were were to form that consensus. Second, it is not the nature of historical fact (such as, say, shoah, or the date of first publication of The Prisoner of Zenda) that is subject to irrefutable proof that does not require weighing of reasonable, admissible, hypothetically available evidence.

    The most-probable ways that judicial notice will come into play are in (a) establishing statute of limitations defenses (if the date of publication can be determined outside the pleadings and is outside the statute of limitations — one of the issues in Keeton v. Hustler I alluded to above — the judge can and will take notice of it… including the notice that the cover date on a monthly magazine is ordinarily a minimum of three weeks after its actual publication); (b) providing the complete context of a quoted extract, especially when that context includes clear markers of opinion like “I think” or “I find incredible that”; and (c) sufficient in-statement context establishing that a negative statement is either opinion or could not possibly harm the reputation of the plaintiff. Needless to say, these are all winning and frequent defense strategies.