Apr 02 2012

Starting to Debunk David Barton’s New Book “The Jefferson Lies”

Hey everybody … you may have noticed that I’ve been AWOL again for the past week (except, of course, for my part in FTB’s little April Fool’s prank). The reason I haven’t been around is that David Barton’s new book, The Jefferson Lies: Exposing the Myths You’ve Always Believed About Thomas Jefferson, came out a little over a week ago. It wasn’t supposed to be released until April 10, but came out early. So, naturally, I had to start debunking it. Between Barton’s book and my job at MRFF, I’ve been a very busy fundy fighter.

The chapters of Barton’s new masterpiece of historical revisionism are titled “Lie #1, “Lie #2,” Lie #3, etc, with each chapter being a “debunking” by Barton of some alleged lie that he claims the secularists have made up about Jefferson. This has long been one of Barton’s tactics in his presentations and videos — to present himself as the debunker, claiming that secularists and modern historians are the ones who have revised history and that he’s the one setting the record straight. And it’s a tactic that works very well on his audience.

To begin my debunking of Barton’s new book, I picked the chapter titled “Lie #2: Thomas Jefferson Founded a Secular University,” and there are so may lies in just this one chapter that my video on it ended up being nearly two hours long. There was just no way to adequately debunk all these lies any quicker. When I make shorter videos, the Barton defenders say I didn’t provide enough information; when I make longer videos that go into all the details, they say they’re too long and boring. So, I really can’t win with a lot of those people. But, for those who want a thorough debunking, that’s what I’m doing here. My video even contains footnotes, which appear on a blackboard behind me every time I’m quoting something. This is to preempt the comments I usually get saying, “Barton has lots of footnotes so he must be telling the truth.”

I know that most people don’t have time to watch a two hour video in one shot, and I will be breaking this into shorter segments, which I’ll post here as soon as I get them done, but for now, here is the entire video.



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  1. 1
    Kevin, 友好火猫 (Friendly Fire Cat)

    I will watch when I get home! 2 hours would bring me riiiight over my workday, plus it probably wouldn’t load properly anyway.

  2. 2

    I’m going to have to wait ’till after work to watch this. Looking forward to it.

    I see that you wore a black shirt for this video. Barton’s supporters will complain that you did not wear a white shirt. Had you worn a white shirt they would have complained that you did not wear a black one.

  3. 3
    Stephanie Zvan

    I love the way “David Barton is a LIAR” comes back into view each time a footnote disappears.

  4. 4

    Ouch, this is going to leave a mark.

    To be charitable though, I think that Barton was writing historical fiction here and is just using historical characters to carry his story. Any resemblance to actual people was purely accidental.

  5. 5

    You should ease up on the coffee. I hear it’s bad for people in high stress jobs, and you don’t want to damage your ceiling with that stress rocket. =D

  6. 6

    Chris that was exceptional. You do such a good job of ferreting out the nuances of his little lies and exposing the audacity of his large ones. You should subtitle your second volume of Liars For Jesus (Where the hell is my Stress Rocket?). I suspect however you are giving Barton way too much credit phallically with a stress rocket…maybe a stress vienna sausage….maybe.

  7. 7
    Chris Rodda

    @ Stephanie … yes, that’s my “subtle” subliminal message to brainwash people. ;-)

  8. 8

    Every once in a while I wish that Barton’s god existed and that I could be there and see the look on Barton’s face when god pointed to that silly commandment that said “thou shalt not bear false witness” and cast him into hell.

    Then I remember that the only chance we will actually get to destroy liars like him is in the real world.

    Keep fighting the good fight Chris.

  9. 9

    Very impressive. We had fine specimens of deceptive ellipses, creative insertion of words, a footnote that does not back up the claim, some double standards, and a general lack of context for the Jefferson quotes given, all in a single chapter.

    Just out of curiosity: The shortened version of this video is still almost two hours. How long did it take to record it?

    Will you do more for other chapters? I’m learning quite a bit about Jefferson from your debunking (and I begin to admire Jefferson’s style, for example re Brafferton).

  10. 10
    Chris Rodda

    @ Yoritomo … I filled my two hour flip camera twice, so I started with four hours of video. Most of what I edited out was just “dead” space where I was finding a page in my book or looking up something on the computer, and I cut out a bunch of minor details (which is why the video is choppy in places). But I also cut out several other whole stories because of how long it would have been if I’d left them in. Like Barton also totally lies about the story of Rev. Samuel Knox, who tried to get a job at the university. I didn’t want to cut out stuff like the Knox story, because it shows that there are even more lies in Barton’s chapter, but I thought two hours was already way too long.

  11. 11

    As a Cavalier, I find Barton’s lies to be particularly nauseating. Thank you for your work debunking him, and in the process defending both my University’s founder, and the integrity of my University from this charlatan.

  12. 12

    It is appropriately named if you exclude the subtitle – The Jefferson Lies, all of Barton’s lies about Jefferson all in one text.

  13. 13

    Just watched the whole clip, & no, it wasn’t too long. I literally LOL’d everytime you launched that rocket into outer space! But overall, an excellent evisceration of Barton’s revisionist bullshit through an actual scholarly methodological approach. Can’t wait for LFJ Vol. 2!

  14. 14

    Great video! Very enlightening. Seeing this makes me want to read your book. Guess I’ll head on over to the book store this weekend. Thanks doing all this.

  15. 15

    I really would like to listen, but my computer hates Vimeo and gives up after about 10 minutes. I guess I’ll just have to wait until you break it up in smaller segments.

  16. 16
    Mike Morrison

    Smoking is bad for you. Please quit smoking. We need people like you around longer….

    On a side note, I saw that perfect smoke ring you blew around 6:30! :D

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