Richard Carrier proves mythicists are indeed Young Earth Creationists

Poor little Dick. He actually thinks that he knows what he is talking about. I was going to leave this alone but the sycophants panted loud enough. Dick demeans actual scientists who use actual theories to establish realistic hypotheses. And, he does so while misconstruing what they said.

Scientists prove Beowulf and the Iliad are true stories

Really, Dick? I thought someone interested in literature would know how to read better. But his idea that they are not real scientists is laughable. That’s like Hambone saying that an evolutionary biologist is not a real biologist. Just for fun, check out Dr. Kenna. Compare his bona fides with Dick’s. I’ll wait… Do I need to say any more about who is real and who is not?

I like this statement by Dick:

Facebook is a real network.

Not really, Dick. It is a social network, a neologism meaning a network only available in cyberspace. It is a fake network. Kenna and Carron describe social networks better, more scientific, than we. Stick with them. Thanks.

The tale appears to be a Nordic (and possibly Christian-influenced) adaptation of Virgil’s Aeneid.

Oh? See, this is the problem with thinking that everything is intertextually related to another. By the way, your little “seems to be” way out is noticeable.

There was probably indeed a Trojan War

Oh? “Probably?”

Anyway, if I had the time to go through all of Dick’s impotence, I would. For instance, his “scientists need to learn logic.” Wow. Said the man who does mind-bending flips to get away from logical conclusions. And, really? The result is useless in application? Said the guy who, when experts says Bayes’ Theorem could not be used to discover a historical Jesus, and with no actual background in the area, suggested that it can? Also, it is a shame that he doesn’t understand Game Theory (No, Dick, I’m not talking about Super Mario Brothers) and how this relates. Like a young earth creationist who doesn’t understand evolution, Dick assumes through ignorance that there is not a connection

Instead, I want to discuss the paper, something Dick didn’t do in his initial post. I didn’t read all the comments, and have no need to – that’s right, I don’t do Dick’s blog. So, let’s discuss the paper. First, Kenna and his partner builds upon the previous research (see Kenna’s page) in statistical physics (really, really advanced Math, something Bayes attempts to be). Using universality, complexity (this is where Game Theory actually comes in – the organization of simple to complex groups. Duh.), and qualitative research, the researchers attempt to find “distinguishing quantitative features.”

Beginning with some semblance of literary criticism (monomyth), Kenna and Carron move into exploring the super-structure with the added individual components. This does not mean that the Anglo-Saxon poem made use of Homer, but that corporate memory as well as genographic theory helps to explain why we have a certain myth found in many cultures. (I mean, unless carrier is that fundamentalist and believed in Noah’s Ark.) What the individual components add is the touch of the real. For example, we have a myth of a returning king. We find this myth in England with King Arthur and even in South American with the white god. That is the imaginary, but the individuality provides something tangible. We would then begin to look not at the origin of the myth because we have already recognized that it is a monomyth, but at the origins of an ancient king.

Social networks are defined by the authors of the paper to be highly clustered but small groups (read complex systems). They establish a certain perimeter, that of the comic book universe. This is imaginary, and any social construction is recognized as artificial. This is, in my opinion, what has made Chris Nolan’s Dark Knight Trilogy so powerful, is that it removed the artificiality of the social networks (think of Alfred and Bruce’s evolving relationship).

They examine Beowulf, the Iliad, and the Tain. (By the way, Dick shows his “learning” by suggesting that Beowulf has Christian or Homeric origins). Beowulf has archaeological evidence to support a hidden structure, as does the Iliad. They start with an analysis of the characters and begin to build diagrams of relationships.

Page 3 provides a substantial, um, node. When you begin to remove the mythos, you are left with actual identifiable networks that exist outside the myth. That is important. What is important for Gospel criticism is the use of friendly v. hostile networks. Of the twelve+ disciples, only three really occupy a close network with Jesus, but that is for another time. Anyway, what is discovered is that their is an actual underlying network that exists without the myth attached to it, based on normative methods of describing social networks. How is this possible? Well, using actual science, they give you a few reasons why in their conclusions. First, social networks supply the structure of the story can are identifiable. However, they do not survive challenges if the story is completely fictional. Perhaps the most relevant to our other studies is the use of Tolkien, but again, wait for later. These challenged include known constants. Note, the researchers didn’t say that the myth was real, only that the networked society reflects what we find in society. This is based on the human characters of the stories.

You will have to read the paper to understand it, but that actually requires reading.

Dick proves that regardless of evidences, he will only accept his box, even if his box is judged poorly used by those who daily toy with the box, such as the scientists in the paper.

Poor little Dick.

sorry for the short Dick response, but I am busy editing and writing and the such. The paper is fantastic, but should have been placed better into Game Theory (complexity). Over all, though, it is understandable by lay readers, except for, it seems, Dick. 

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33 Replies to “Richard Carrier proves mythicists are indeed Young Earth Creationists”

  1. How is this blog the most popular bible blog from a Christian? Are incoherent diatribes what people are looking for?

    Just so people don’t leave this post stupider than they came (which is a challenge here), I’ll link to the Wikipedia entry Game Theory. I encourage all to click it.

    If Joel is willing and able, I’d like a more precise idea of what he is talking about when he writes “Game Theory (complexity).” Are you saying they mean the same thing or is it a sub-area of Game Theory you are talking about? Your previous post: “the paper is based on complexity, along the lines of Game Theory” doesn’t make any sense either. But it seems you have a problem with comprehension, too, so I would expect unclear writing as well.

      1. Don’t quote a journalist, Robert Wright, if you worship credentials. I have read the essays this book is based on and many reviews of it, and I do not think complexity has anything to do with it. Certainly not enough to just provide the amazon page as your proof.

        As for the legitimate book on Game Theory, the free preview has nine mentions of “complex” or “complexity”, none of which are used in any other than the standard definitions of “lots of parts” or “really hard”. What I can glean from a scan through the contents, it doesn’t have anything to do with complex systems or complexity theory at all. Feel free to include a quote from your hard copy of the book if you can disabuse me of that notion.

        In any case, it should be within your writing skills to explain what you mean by the two quotes I provided above. Humor me if you think it obvious.

        1. You have seen essays… well now, you must be an expert.

          You are scanning and gleaning.. tell me, if you scanned a book on brain surgery, would you know about it?

          Have you read the paper? Have you read actual books on Game Theory? How can I explain anything to you if you haven’t? The paper says that they deal in complexity. Looking at previous work by Kenna, he has dealt with complexity.


        2. The caveats are honestly explaining where I am coming from. You are free to mock. But I really don’t get where sophisticated HJ scholars or theologians (if there is a difference) get the idea that listing the name of a book qualifies as evidence. If you want to argue a point, it is fine to say X writes in Y about A, B, and C or cites evidence a, b, and c. Then, my own reasoning is x, y, and z, so I think H, I and J. How is that so hard to do for something you’ve devoted your life’s work to?

          But I am not saying that Kenna doesn’t understand or talk about complexity. I am saying that you don’t understand complexity theory or complex systems and how they relate to game theory, which I understand, thank you very much. (Would you like an amazon book page link to prove it?) Again, please clarify your two quotes above for my small mind without a whiff of the proper credentials. I have a BA in economics if it matters to you.

          1. First paragraph – what are you talking about? I can’t really tell, because you are replying to yourself, but one thing – while all theologians should be scholars, not all scholars are theologians.

            No, a BA in economics doesn’t really matter if you are talking about non-economic related stuff.

            Actually, the paper does speak about complexity, as do other works by Kenna.

            So you understand it based on scanning and gleaning… oh come on…

          2. Again, this is about your understanding. It’s my fault for trying to say more than one thing at a time, so here goes:

            “Game Theory (complexity).” Are you saying they mean the same thing or is complexity a sub-topic of Game Theory? Or something else entirely?

            “the paper is based on complexity, along the lines of Game Theory” Please explain the lines that you are talking about.

          3. See, there you go… but why are you still replying to yourself?

            Game Theory makes use of complexity.

            Have you read the paper – it looks at complex systems, etc…? Says so in the first coupla lines

          4. Mechanical wrist watches make use of complexity. So what? Without referring to the paper again, because that’s not what I’m asking about, how do complex systems relate to game theory? Show me you know something about either one.

          5. Wait. I thought you knew all about complexity and game theory… and then you compare it to wrist watches… and your credibility flew out the window

          6. You are densest blogger I’ve ever encountered. That no one who reads you favorably (not all your readers can be reading for laughs, can they?) has stepped forward and said, “um, cut your losses and just answer the question, Joel,” is amazing to me.

            To make it perfectly clear, you have done nothing but say the word “complexity” without even a phrase showing you know what complex systems are or what complexity theory is. Thus, the wristwatch comment, which is ragging on your usage of complexity.

            I could be a crazed lunatic and think I am Jesus and it would have no bearing on whether or not you know what you are talking about. So do me a favor and explain to me how game theory and complexity relate to one another.

          7. Maybe that’s because you are the dense one? Ummm…. So if no one else has a problem, except for you… what is the common denominator?

            Mark – are you admitting that you don’t understand from your scanning of essays game theory and complexity? Because you said you understood it and you have a BA in economics.

          8. No one is backing you up either, I can argue from silence just as well as you can.

            Okay, since you can’t even write a definition of game theory, here’s mine: “a theory of economic and strategic behavior when people interact directly” from an online resource by Roger A. McCain. The site uses frames, so it’s from the penultimate paragraph of the second navigational hyperlink: “What is Game Theory?”

            The paper doesn’t address people directly interacting or even any behavior. It’s about static literature. How in the world does game theory apply?

            Here’s a free online intro to game theory course from Yale:

  2. Okay, let’s make this question easier to understand, although harder to answer: why should this paper have been better placed in game theory? Game theory is never mentioned in the article. And the journal is about physics, which does not include any applications of game theory.

      1. How is the journal Europhysics Letters not about physics? The journal itself thinks it’s about physics. The subject listed on the abstract is “Statistical physics and nonlinear systems”. Seems like physics to me.

          1. I did read it. The first sentence: “Over the past decades many statistical physicists have turned their attention to other disciplines in attempts to understand how properties of complex systems emerge from the interactions between component parts in a non-trivial manner.” Do you have any quotes that show evidence that the paper relates to game theory?

            A main duty of Dr. Kenna: “Research in statistical physics”

  3. Hi Joel and Mark. I hope you don’t mind me butting in, but I can say that the paper has nothing to do with Game Theory because GT has nothing to do with his. GT is about decisions rational actors take given their desires/goals. The name gives the hint: in a game, you want to win, and so does the other player(s), so you have to consider their moves as well as your own to win. This means it is an important subject in political science and economics (so Mark’s area of expertise is in the domain that considers GT).

    What does that have to do with social networks? Not anything really, at least not in the way the paper describes. As Mark noted, the social networks here are static, but in GT the process is iterative; there are multiple moves, just like in a chess game. Most importantly, there are no decisions being made in these social networks as measured.

    Just because “complexity” comes up in social networks and GT doesn’t mean they are the same. Electrons come up in both biology and physics, but that doesn’t mean we use the LHC at CERN to look at mitochondria.

    PS: if you want to pull rank, I am a PhD candidate in physics, and I have BS degrees in physics and math. This isn’t unknown to me.

      1. Joel, the social networks tested in his paper are static. They have to be because they are in literature, which doesn’t change. The network between Achilles and his allies does not become something new with each publication of The Iliad. And again, no strategic decisions here.

        And are you now saying game theory has nothing to do with economics? Guess that means the eight game theorists that won the Nobel Prize (memorial) in Economics have to give back their money. I guess the Nash equilibrium can’t be applied to markets. I’m sorry, but you have no idea what you are talking about.

        Lastly, why does game theory’s use in the humanities have any bearing on what I or Mark have said? I smell a red herring.

        1. I don’t think you are reading, Gil.

          First, networks develop – even in literary texts. This is why they are testable over the course of the text because they do different things.

          Again, go back and read what I wrote. that might actually help.

          I smell fish sticks, but that’s only because someone is cooking them down the hall. So what?

          1. Now you are claiming the paper does this it doesn’t do. At no point do the authors talk about how the network changes throughout the narrative. Their research is static: social relations overall in the text, remove a node and see how the network remains. Nothing about how the network changes over the course of the story.

            So, before you answer again, answer this:
            Was game theory ever applied in this paper?
            Is game theory applicable to situations without strategic decision-making?
            Is game theory applied in economics?

          2. Gil, you aren’t reading the paper, are you?

            Never said game theory was applied to the paper – I said it should have been. See, if you had read…

            Yes, game theory is. Hence the application to humanities, evolution, etc…

            Game theory can be applied to economics, but nonzero cannot. Duh

          3. Joel, game theory can be applied to things like evolution because there is competition for resources. Same thing for other aspects of the humanities where there is competition, decisions, etc. Doesn’t apply to this paper, can’t apply to the subject the paper addresses, and you prove you don’t know what you are talking about. You are simply wrong. And you have been told this by an economist and a physicist and mathematician. Several times.

            And in fact game theory can and is applied to non-zero sum situations as well (ie. the prisoner’s dilemma). And as I mentioned, there is the Nash equilibrium, which is used to describe non-zero sum game solutions, and it is used in economics.

            Now, I was wrong in one point in reading you when I thought you said game theory was used; rather you think it OUGHT to have been used. My mistake.

            However, you said the paper tested how the networked changes through the narrative, and this is false. Will you correct yourself there?

            And for the last time, GT cannot be applied to a static social network gleaned from a static textual reading, and it cannot be applied without there being an iterative decision process. And that is why the authors of the paper didn’t use GT: because they can’t. So I would stop insulting us about things we do know about when you clearly demonstrate that this is not your field. Everything you have said about GT and economics is refuted by reading a Wikipedia page, let alone the literature on the subject, so I would hold off on the insults for a bit.

  4. Everything I’ve written so far is about two short quotes that show Joel doesn’t know what he’s talking about: “The paper is fantastic, but should have been placed better into Game Theory (complexity).” from the end of this post, and “the paper is based on complexity, along the lines of Game Theory.” from the previous one. Shall I move on to “From the summation, I think it points to some known facts about Peter, Andrew, James, and John… and Jesus.” Or any of the howlers in the actual content of this post? Or will you cry “uncle,” Joel? I would desist if you do, although it would be so much fun to get more clueless answers from you.

    1. Wow… Mark, no wonder you like Carrier’s “work”… you two do not understand the use of language.

      First, complexity is a theme shared in the paper and game theory. I would have rather seen the full blown game theory applied to the paper. I’m not sure why that is so difficult to understand… oh wait… you guys don’t understand scholarship or science, so…

  5. Something perhaps I should say to be more productive:
    Joel, you keep suggesting the authors ought to have done something with game theory. Perhaps you could ask them why they didn’t. That could at least confirm or deny what Mark and I have been saying.

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