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Barton Loves PhDs. Except When He Doesn’t.

After his book about Thomas Jefferson was pulled by Thomas Nelson, one of the most prominent Christian publishing companies in the world, David Barton offered a very predictable response. He says he’s got lots of smart people who think he’s right, so all the people who have pointed out his lies don’t matter.

Barton said he met with a different group of scholars recently and they approved of his work.

“I can’t tell you how many Ph.D.’s were in the room,” he said.

But he would not give any names, saying the scholars hadn’t given their permission for him do so.

One of the things that is endlessly ridiculous about wingnuts is that they absolutely love people with PhDs — as long as they agree with them. If they can find anyone with an advanced degree who agrees with them, that’s the only credentialed person who matters. We see this with creationists all the time; if they find one scientist with a genuine degree (or even without one; see Hovind, Kent), that proves that creationism is true — and the thousands and thousands of scientists who confirm the truth of common descent don’t matter at all.

But this is even worse. This is an appeal to anonymous authority. Note that he not only doesn’t say who those alleged endorsers are, he also doesn’t say that they’re historians. This is another thing that fundies love — anyone with a degree in any field will do. If a PhD in engineering says evolution is false, it must be false. It’s all predictably stupid.

Comments

  1. Ben P says

    Reading his words in a very cynical matters, he doesn’t even actually say there were lots of PhD’s in the room. He just says he can’t tell you how many, implying there were a lot.

    Odds are it was two guys with honorary doctorates from bible colleges.

  2. Jeremy Shaffer says

    It even worse than that. Barton’s statement is:

    “I can’t tell you how many Ph.D.’s were in the room,” [Barton]said.

    There may not have even been anyone with a PhD in any field being referred to here. He may not be able to tell you how many were in the room because there weren’t any, thus if he told you that the lie would be exposed. For all we know the “group of scholars” could have been a bunch of undergrads and high school students that got an A+ on their last history test.

  3. upprunitegundanna says

    “But he would not give any names, saying the scholars hadn’t given their permission for him do so” – I’m surprised he didn’t try to imply that the reason they didn’t give their permission to be named was because they feared the “persecution” they would suffer if they did.

  4. Lord Elmo Bringer Of Death says

    Odds are it was two guys with honorary doctorates from bible colleges.

    You’re giving Barton too much credit. I doubt he ever met and consulted with anybody about the accuracy of his book.

  5. Gvlgeologist, FCD says

    Reminds me of a kid caught in a lie trying to convince someone by telling more lies. The only people who will be taken in by this are those who want their preconceptions validated.

  6. raven says

    Barton is just a historical creationist. Creating his own history of the USA.

    We’ve seen that for a long time with the other fundie xian creationists, the ones who make up history, biology, paleontology, physics, geology, and astronomy and call it science.

    From past experience, that this publisher pulled the book won’t make any difference. Creationism is just a lie. In for a penny, in for a pound. If you are going to believe one lie, might as well believe them all.

  7. Crudely Wrott says

    It takes a lie to cover a lie
    It takes another to follow one
    And endless vigilance to recall
    So’s to notice when they swallow ‘em
    .

    Poor fellow, he’s got his work cut out, don’t he?

  8. eric says

    The thing about academic audiences is that silence generally equals boredom, not consent. If nobody says anything about some speech or claim you’ve made, its usually because their desire to get you off the stage is stronger than their desire to dispute you. As most grad students learn, nothing sucks more than getting zero questions.

  9. raven says

    This event does answer an old philosophical question though.

    Can a fundie xian tell a lie so obvious that other fundies won’t believe it.

    It’s been thought that their capacity for lying and ability to believe lies were both infinite.

    Strangely enough, in special cases, that isn’t the case. Some fundie xians actually have a limit as to how much fiction they will believe is true.

    Scientific historians are still working through the amazing implications. This implies that there are a few fundies somewhere that believe Obama isn’t a Kenyan born, Moslem terrorist and that Elvis is, in fact, dead.

    PS The alternate theories hasn’t yet been ruled out.

    1. That Barton’s critic aren’t True Fundie Xians.

    2. That satan and the demons haven’t been hard at work clouding the minds of otherwise good xians. Thomas Nelson’s employees could all be demon possessed. A few hundred exorcisms might be in order here.

    3. Space Reptiles.

  10. Michael Heath says

    Lord Elmo writes:

    You’re giving Barton too much credit. I doubt he ever met and consulted with anybody about the accuracy of his book.

    I’m thinking Michele Bachmann contributed. Mr. Barton needs to keep upping his game in the wingnut and dishonesty aspects of his marketing efforts in order to keep his brand name relevant and growing. That’s an increasingly difficult task.

  11. kantalope says

    He has so many documents he can’t show them all. (flim)

    He has so many cryptodoctorates he can’t count them all. (flam)

    He is very confident that he is right…he is a confidence man.

  12. Doc Bill says

    Oh come on! Barton’s lying! Again. He didn’t meet with anybody; he made up the whole story.

    It’s the old “only works at night” excuse. Black box. Look, oops, you missed it!

    Barton is pathetic. A cheap carnival barker. His entire life is a lie.

    What is totally sweet, though, is that the Disco Tute turned against him. What’s up with that ???

  13. Reginald Selkirk says

    “I can’t tell you how many Ph.D.’s were in the room,” he said.

    How about you let us guess, then? Does it start with a ‘Z’?

  14. Randomfactor says

    “I can’t tell you how many Ph.D.’s were in the room,” he said.

    Meaning he failed at both grade-school history AND arithmetic?

  15. Scott Hanley says

    “I can’t tell you how many” is usually understood to mean “more than I could count.” So at least zero.

  16. kantalope says

    I am not sure how much of an endorsement “I agree with you — but like, don’t tell anyone I said that,” really is.

  17. Michael Heath says

    Doc Bill writes:

    What is totally sweet, though, is that the Disco Tute turned against him [David Barton]. What’s up with that ???

    I equate it to the Republican party removing then-Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott from his leader postion in the U.S. Senate when he made a mere gaffe about the old racist senator, Strom Thurmond. Such sacrificial bulls attempt to create a false veneer of credibility that the group stands for a certain set of principles rather than acting only as a mere tribe whose sole focus is partisan power. Sean Hannity was the most hilarious example of somebody who sold Lott down the river damn-quick, that’s given his relentless loyalty to Republicans who did far worse. E.g., President Bush and VP Cheney’s use of torture, the Bush Administration’s manufacturing of false evidence regarding Iraq’s WMD capabilities to sell the war, Bush’s deficit spending, the Bush tax cuts cutting federal revenue contra the GOP’s predictions it would raise revenues, etc. and ad nauseam.

    I’ve long wondered if Lott was taken down by his own because he was the main though secret conduit between Congressional Republicans and President Clinton, where the GOP was beginning to amp up obstructionist rhetoric during the Gingrich-era while Lott arduously worked behind the scenes with the Democrats to pass bills through Congress. If true Lott’s fall is one juncture in the path from the GOP working with the other party to becoming the near-complete obstructionists they now are.

  18. DaveL says

    I can’t tell you how many PhDs were in the same room every time I dropped a turd in a campus men’s room back in college.

    But I can tell you each one of them was still a turd.

  19. zmidponk says

    Ben P #1:

    Reading his words in a very cynical matters, he doesn’t even actually say there were lots of PhD’s in the room. He just says he can’t tell you how many, implying there were a lot.

    Odds are it was two guys with honorary doctorates from bible colleges.

    Even if the room were jam-packed with folk with multiple PhDs in relevant fields, if they can’t give coherent, cogent reasons as to how or why Barton is correct, and all the evidence thus far presented which seems to show him to be incorrect is wrong, that wouldn’t matter one little bit. The part that counts is whether the evidence and/or arguments presented are valid, not who presents it. After all, Barton himself claims to be an expert historian, but the whole reason he’s laughed at so much is that multiple other people, some of whom don’t actually claim any expertise in history at all, have presented some pretty damn solid evidence that he’s utterly wrong about numerous historical ‘facts’.

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