• Strange Notions Strange Notions Strange Notions
Dr. William M. Briggs

About

Dr. William M. Briggs is an Adjunct Professor of Statistics at Cornell University, where he acquired both an M.S. in Atmospheric Science and a Ph.D. in Statistics. In addition to teaching, William works as a consultant with specialties in medicine, the environment, and the philosophy of, and over-certainty in, science. He blogs at wmbriggs.com.

   
 

Are Religious Kids Really Less Altruistic?

Altruism

Heard about that scientific study which scientifically shows non-religious kids are scientifically more altruistic than unscientific religious kids? The Guardian summarized it thusly: “Religious children are meaner than their secular counterparts, study finds: Religious belief appears to have negative influence on children’s altruism and judgments of others’ actions even as parents see them as ‘more empathetic’.” Scientifically speaking, this is crap. Here’s why. The scientific science... Read More

Orwellian Analytics: Christians, Atheists, and Bad Statistics

Angry God

A recent Live Science press release, titled “Believers Leave Punishment to Powerful God,” opened with the memorable words: "Believing in an involved, morally active God makes people less likely to punish others for rule-breaking, new research finds." Which is equivalent to saying that non-believers are less forgiving, less compassionate, less merciful, and—oh, let’s just say it: they are worse people. Don’t get mad at me. This is research! But then maybe this summary is too telegraphic.... Read More

Richard Carrier’s Deeply Flawed Argument To Show God Is Unlikely

Richard Carrier

In the comment section to an earlier piece of mine on Strange Notions, Richard Carrier invited me to “interact” with him through his article “Neither Life nor the Universe Appears Intelligently Designed”, found in The End of Christianity, edited by John W. Loftus. This article is the “interaction” Carrier requested. I apologize for its delay. Introduction   Richard Carrier’s argument to show that God probably didn’t create the universe, and therefore He probably doesn’t... Read More

Bayes Theorem Proves Jesus Existed (And That He Didn’t)

Bayes Theorem

  In his shockingly neglected Treatise on Probability, John Maynard Keynes put his finger on the difficulty people have with probability, particularly Bayes’s Theorem: "No other formula in the alchemy of logic has exerted more astonishing powers. For it has established the existence of God from the premiss of total ignorance; and it has measured with numerical precision the probability the sun will rise tomorrow." Probability carries with it “a smack of astrology, of alchemy.” Comte,... Read More

Atheists More Motivated By Compassion Than The Faithful?

Compassion

The title for this article was swiped, word-for-word, from a Live Science press release. This is important because the point I wish to make has to do with how the press and publicity treat papers. HotAir.com featured another headline concerning the same paper: "Confirmed: Atheists more motivated by compassion in charitable giving than believers are". Now pause and consider just these two headlines, the only words of a story likely to be read by most folks. What would your conclusion be? Why, that... Read More

Do Atheists Really Have Higher IQs than Believers?

Smart

Some atheists maintain their non-belief comes through superior intelligence. In particular, many online atheists like to quote, “A fool says in his heart there is a God.” He reads only those sources which confirm and conform to his view and eschews those which do not. And he isn’t shy about telling you how dumb it is not to believe as he does. But consider: nearly all the greatest, best, highest, most beautiful minds that ever existed were theists. Aristotle? Augustine? Confucius? Aquinas?... Read More