Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Appearing in St. Louis

I'll be in St. Louis, Missouri the first week of May on a whirlwind tour of four events on three days. I'll be selling and signing my books at all three venues. And all do ask for small donations.

(1) First is a debate in the Responsible Public Debate series held by the Ethical Society of St. Louis (which I hear is the largest ethical society in the nation) on Tuesday, May 3, from 7pm to 9pm. I'll be debating "Is Happiness the Goal of Morality?" arguing in the affirmative against Mike McKay, president of the Skeptical Society of St. Louis. This will take place at the Ethical Society itself on 9001 Clayton Rd. (St. Louis, Missouri).

(2) Second is a reprise of my recent San Francisco talk for Skeptics in the Pub (sponsored again by the Skeptical Society of St. Louis), on Friday, May 6, from 7pm to 9pm, at Jack Patrick's Bar & Grill (downstairs), 1000 Olive St. (St. Louis, Missouri), on the corner of 10th and Olive. Topic: "From Robots to the Moon: Amazing Science and Technology of the Ancient World" (Same as last week: Dr. Richard Carrier, a specialist in ancient science and technology, surveys just a few examples of amazing achievements in scientific and technical knowledge among the Greeks and Romans, including computers, robots, automated factories, the invention of latitude and longitude, controlled medical experiments, and discovering the elliptical orbit of the moon).

(3) Third is an educational all-day event: two seminars, broken by lunch, which I'll be giving at the behest of the Rationalist Society of St. Louis (which also maintains a meetup site for event planning and information), on Saturday, May 7, at a venue still to be determined (possibly Hoops Hall on 1806 Allen Ave., St. Louis, MO, but check the dedicated meetup page the week before, because if they get more than twenty RSVPs they'll need a bigger place--so also be sure to RSVP if you plan to go). You can attend one or the other, or both (and make a day of it). The first will be run from 11am to 1pm, followed by an hour for lunch. The second will then be run from 2pm to 4pm. The two events are:

Mastering Logical Reasoning (11am-1pm): An interactive class covering how formal logic works, and why it's useful even if you only think and argue informally. Different modes of logic will be discussed, with entertaining examples. Learn about such weird, exotic animals as disjunctive syllogisms and Bayes' Theorem. And how to use them to think soundly, spot errors, and argue effectively. Everyone should bring one or more actual arguments (for god or against naturalism--or on any subject at all--from books or online) for us to break down and analyze. Print or jot down as much of the formal structure as you can and bring it on in.

Ancient Christian Hostility to Science (2pm-4pm): Learn with shock and horror what the first Christian intellectuals said about science and scientific values, and see how starkly it contrasted with the religious values expressed by pagans. Excellent companion piece to the previous night's talk for Skeptics in the Pub, which will have covered the achievements of ancient pagan scientists (and nothing else). So some of you might want to catch both, as the Pub talk will discuss the actual scientific knowledge and achievements of the ancients, while Saturday's talk will then discuss the Christian response to those achievements (and what the pagans thought about them, too).


Ben said...

Looking forward to it. :)

The Nerd said...

Oh hey, I know some people who live there! Ben... and Andy, I think hir name is... yeah. Cool peeps, those two.

Pikemann Urge said...

I look forward to seeing or listening to a recording of the talk about ancient science if there is going to be one.

The Nerd said...

The Skeptics in the Pub talk? We never record those, and I'm not sure if the pub owners would allow it, but I can certainly ask if this time it could be arranged.

Kaleena said...

neato bedito! I'll make sure to catch at least one of those!!

Matthew Fuller said...

Hey, I am a member of a skeptics group at a public college in Texas.

Do you have any archived articles talking about christian hostility to ancient science?

psychadelicfuse81 said...

Hi Richard, random question here:

Can you recommend any good books on ancient economics? I know the discipline did not get formally started until Adam Smith, but the exchange of goods and services had been a topic of regard long before him, albeit with a less systematic, defined methodology.

The Nerd said...

Here are the videos for the debate: http://www.youtube.com/view_play_list?p=DC9DEC485F9D2838

James said...

Can you recommend any good books on Bayesian theory? I'm interested in learning more about it and maybe applying that legal arguments.

Ben said...

The Skeptics in the Pub talk on ancient science is uploaded: http://www.youtube.com/user/tkovrtwrld?feature=mhum#g/c/E5AA5C8B42B8CB3D

Ben said...

Carrier's talk at the Rationalist Society on early Christian hostility to science is now uploaded:


Richard Carrier said...

Matthew Fuller said... Do you have any archived articles talking about christian hostility to ancient science?

Including the data in the talk, no. That's supposed to comprise part of a chapter in The Scientist in the Early Roman Empire which keeps getting delayed due to other books taking priority. But many other related points have come up in my blog. See margin index (to the right) for middle ages, ancient science, and ancient technology.

I also give some scholarly citations near the end of the last chapter in The Christian Delusion (e.g. on Christian hostility to curiosity as a virtue), and discuss early Christian attitudes toward philosophy and epistemology in Not the Impossible Faith, which are relevant.

Richard Carrier said...

psychadelicfuse81 said... Can you recommend any good books on ancient economics?

The field is so diverse it would depend on exactly what you wanted to study (finance, manufacturing, social attitudes, etc.; my own specialty is technology). That is, unless you mean ancient writings on economics, but in that area little of interest survives (and all of it is Classical and therefore not only pre-Roman but pre-Hellenistic and thus was already obsolete within a generation after Aristotle; except for some agricultural manuals).

On modern scholarship, the Wikipedia article, though brief, is actually a good introduction, with links to other related entries and a sterling bibliography ("Roman Economy").

I would add to their biblio as must-reads the following:

Peter Temin, "The Economy of the Early Roman Empire," Journal of Economic Perspectives 20.1 (Winter 2006): 133-51. [An excellent survey article that is very up-to-date]

Andrew Wilson, "Machines, Power and the Ancient Economy," Journal of Roman Studies 92 (2002): 1-32. [Required reading]

Peter Temin, "The Labor Supply of the Early Roman Empire," Massachusetts Institute of Technology Department of Economics Working Paper Series Working Paper 01-45 (November 2001) [I think you can find this online somewhere, covers a subject often badly treated even in current sources]

Kevin Greene, "Technological Innovation and Economic Progress in the Ancient World: M. I. Finley Re-Considered," Economic History Review 53.1 (New Series) (February 2000): 29-59. [Essential corrective to obsolete views still heard, especially from contemporary medievalists who don't check the literature in other fields]

Richard Duncan-Jones, Structure and Scale in the Roman Economy (Cambridge University Press, 1990) [Seminal text in the new economics of Rome]

Colin Adams, Land Transport in Roman Egypt: A Study of Economics and Administration in a Roman Province (Oxford University Press, 2007) [Important because Egypt is the one province where we have a vast, albeit still spotty, supply of primary records and documentation]

Alan Bowman and Andrew Wilson, eds., Quantifying the Roman Economy: Methods and Problems (Oxford University Press, 2009) [Good gateway to the whole state of the field and related literature]

E. Lo Cascio and D.W. Rathbone, Production and Public Powers in Classical Antiquity (Cambridge Philological Society, 2000) [Ditto]

Dennis Kehoe, Law and the Rural Economy in the Roman Empire (University of Michigan Press, 2007) [Covers the legal side of economic realities, if that is your interest or if you just want multiple POVs]

These leave things out, though, that are very telling but not gathered up in one place--like the finding of enormous nail hoards, of almost a million nails in one Roman camp in Britain, produced to six standard size types, which entails a vastly successful economic production, standardization, and transport system; or the discovery that wheel pumps (the kind men stand in and run like hamsters to lift water) throughout the empire were manufactured like Ikea assembly kits, with standardized labeled parts and instructions (the wheels would be shipped in a compact box and assembled on site); likewise the similarities in wooden cylinder block pumps across the empire (which demonstrate the widespread existence of instruction manuals for the construction of complex machinery). But those I know about because technology is my thing. There's a lot else to study (e.g. ancient accounting methods; specific industries, e.g. glass manufacture, prostitution, insurance; etc.)

Richard Carrier said...

James said... Can you recommend any good books on Bayesian theory? I'm interested in learning more about it and maybe applying that legal arguments.

Start with my online tutorial (PDF) and the references it lists for further study (Bayes' Theorem for Beginners) and my new Bayesian Calculator page.

Above all you'll want my next book when it comes out (title still to be determined, but it will have "Bayes' Theorem" in it somewhere; it's under contract and in peer review at a publisher now).

And if you are specifically interested in legal applications, then you definitely will want to read:

Richard Lempert, “Modeling Relevance,” Michigan Law Review 75, no. 5/6 (April-May 1977): 1021-57

Daniel Kornstein, “A Bayesian Model of Harmless Error,” The Journal of Legal Studies 5, no. 1 (January 1976): 121-45.