Bourbon Cowboy

The adventures of an urbane bar-hopping transplant to New York.

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Location: New York, New York, United States

I'm a storyteller in the New York area who is a regular on NPR's "This American Life" and at shows around the city. Moved to New York in 2006 and am working on selling a memoir of my years as a greeting card writer, and (as a personal, noncommercial obsession) a nonfiction book called "How to Love God Without Being a Jerk." My agent is Adam Chromy at Artists and Artisans. If you came here after hearing about my book on "This American Life" and Googling my name, the "How to Love God" book itself isn't in print yet, and may not even see print in its current form (I'm focusing on humorous memoir), but here's a sample I've posted in case you're curious anyway: Sample How To Love God Introduction, Pt. 1 of 3. Or just look through the archives for September 18, 2007.) The book you should be expecting is the greeting card book, about which more information is pending. Keep checking back!

Monday, April 17, 2006

More Scienciness!

Netscape, with its typical gushy-twelve-year-old-girl credulity, has just reprinted an item from at least a year back, which I think I've commented on before, but it's an idiocy that my righteous dander won't let it sit down unpummeled. So here's the article again, in full.

Math Proves Christ's Resurrection?

It is faith, not proof, that makes Christians believe in Jesus Christ's resurrection, the central tenet of the religion. Until now.

Oxford University professor Richard Swinburne, a leading philosopher of religion, has seemingly done the impossible. Using logic and mathematics, he has created a formula that he says shows a 97 percent certainty that Jesus Christ was resurrected by God the Father, report The Age and Catholic News.

This stunning conclusion was made based on a series of complex calculations grounded in the following logic:

1. The probably of God's existence is one in two. That is, God either exists or doesn't.
2. The probability that God became incarnate, that is embodied in human form, is also one in two.
3. The evidence for God's existence is an argument for the resurrection.
4. The chance of Christ's resurrection not being reported by the gospels has a probability of one in 10.
5. Considering all these factors together, there is a one in 1,000 chance that the resurrection is not true.

"New Testament scholars say the only evidences are witnesses in the four gospels. That's only five percent of the evidence," Swinburne said in a lecture he gave at the Australian Catholic University in Melbourne. "We can't judge the question of the resurrection unless we ask first whether there's reason to suppose there is a God. Secondly, if we have reason to suppose he would become incarnate, and thirdly, if he did, whether he would live the sort of life Jesus did." He says that even Jesus' life is not enough proof. However, the resurrection is "God's signature," which shows "his approval of Jesus' teaching."

The calculations that Swinburne says prove the resurrection are detailed in his book, "The Resurrection of God Incarnate."

Clearly, math this stupid is an insult to everyone who cares about the question he raises. And since every single one of the first four premises is hilariously wrong, it almost doesn't matter that the fifth one is probably weakly derived as well. But since I was talking about the difference between science and pseudoscience a few posts back, I thought it was worth reposting this so everyone could see an obvious example up close and stinky.

Rather than waste time rebutting this ass, I figured I'd point out two Monday morning thoughts related to this article. First, this guy has a book out, but I still don't even have an agent. Second, this may be the best argument against tenure I've ever seen.

Oh, what the hell. I've got forty minutes till I need to catch my bus, so let me just play his game.

Math Proves That Werewolves Should Probably Carry Bulletproof Umbrellas

1. There is always a fifty percent chance of rain. That is, it is either raining or it isn't.

2. Either the rain will come in the form of tiny metal bullets, or it won't. Again, 1 in 2.

3. There is also a fifty-fifty chance that werewolves exist.

4. If it's raining bullets, these bullets will have to have a color, and there is a 1 in 11 chance that they will be silver. (Assuming a choice within the spectrum---red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, violet---as well as black, white, gold, and silver. )

5. Silver bullets kill werewolves. Therefore, there is a 1 in 88 chance that, this very second, a rain of silver bullets is falling on one or more werewolves and killing them. Since there are 8,644 seconds in a twenty-four-hour day, there is a 99% chance that the werewolves are dead or dying already.

6. Of course, regular bullets kill everyone, so there's also a 25% chance you're in deadly peril right now.

7. Therefore, everyone should stay indoors if they want to live. Even werewolves.

Bear in mind that this is only a tentative recommendation, since I haven't calculated the precise odds that these pullets might be armor-piercing, heat-seeking smart bullets that come in through windows and kill you in your sleep. (My guess? 1 in 2.) But look on the bright side. The chance that you'll be reincarnated is a solid fifty percent.

P.S. Just as I was writing those words, I got a call from Dell Magazines, and they've had to postpone my interview until Thursday. Damn. What were the odds?



Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hello. I'm a mathematician, and my brain just blew up.

4/21/2006 10:18 PM  

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