So I imagine it will come as quite a surprise to the Religious Right to learn that Barton does not consider himself to be a historian, as he explained on an episode of “Face to Face” with Oral Roberts University President Mark Rutland:
Barton: I really kind of do a whole lot of all of it, but I don’t consider myself a historian because I’m not sure there is such a thing … So I really don’t call myself a historian. I probably know more about history than most folks. I’ve probably read more history books than most folks, I’ve read thousands and literally tens of thousands. But I don’t consider myself a historian; I just happen to know some things about it.
I don’t think anybody can ever be an expert, per se, because in the case of history we have millions of documents at the Library of Congress, at the National Archives. If I’ve read a million of them, let’s say, that’s still only one percent of the knowledge that’s out there. How can I be an expert with one percent knowledge? I may know more than some other people in this area, but I can’t really consider myself a historian or an expert because there is too much left too learn, there is too much still to come to and in that sense I don’t look at myself as a historian.
Um, huh? So nobody can be an expert or a historian because they don’t know everything there is to know?
If that is the case, then maybe Barton should stop calling himself both in his official bio:
His exhaustive research has rendered him an expert in historical and constitutional issues and he serves as a consultant to state and federal legislators, has participated in several cases at the Supreme Court, was involved in the development of the History/Social Studies standards for states such as Texas and California, and has helped produce history textbooks now used in schools across the nation.
A national news organization has described him as “America’s historian,” and Time Magazine called him “a hero to millions – including some powerful politicians. In fact, Time Magazine named him as one of America’s 25 most influential evangelicals.
And given this admission, maybe the next time the Texas School Board is looking to overhaul its curriculum, it won’t include Barton on its panel of “experts.”