Last week, we noted that right-wing pseudo-historian David Barton had started insisting that he has a Ph.D. and begun referring to himself as “Dr. David Barton” in an effort to bolster his credentials as his shoddy work comes under constant criticism.
Apparently, the questions about his academic qualifications have gotten under Barton’s skin, so he released a video today insisting that he does, in fact, have an “earned doctorate.”
“Something I’ve noticed about progressive and liberals is how careless they are about throwing false claims around,” Barton declared, without a hint of irony. “For instance, I was recently on a national television network where I was introduced as having a doctorate, and progressives instantly ran stories proclaiming that I don’t have a doctorate.”
“That false claim is amusing on so many levels,” Barton smirked, saying that his educational records are “fully protected by privacy laws” as he laughably claimed that he has simply “always chosen not to talk about” his academic credentials.
“Just for the record, I do have an earned doctorate,” Barton stated, gesturing to some framed diplomas sitting on a table behind him. “Not only do I have an earned doctorate, I also have two honorary doctors of letters from other colleges.”
The degrees displayed behind Barton are difficult to read, but the one to which he seemingly points when claiming that he has “an earned doctorate” is clearly from Pensacola Christian College, which, according to his own biography, is one of the places from which he received an honorary degree:
David holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from Oral Roberts University and an Honorary Doctorate of Letters from Pensacola Christian College.
To make things even more confusing, Barton then bizarrely added that “according to West Virginia University, a Doctor of Letters degree is reserved only for individuals who have the highest level of knowledge in their chosen subject matter. Hmmmm. So for all of you critics, sorry to pop your balloon, but I do have an earned doctorate.”
Barton’s reference to West Virginia University came directly from this Reference.com article about honorary degrees! As the WVU website makes clear, a Doctor of Letters degree is purely an honorary designation:
Honorary degrees are conferred honoris causa, a Latin term meaning “for the sake of honor.” Honorary degrees are not Ph.D.s, nor do they entitle the recipient to the same professional privileges as individuals who have earned degrees.
Rather than settling this issue, Barton has just raised more questions, such as when did he supposedly “earn” this doctorate and from where? And why didn’t he provide that information in the video instead of just vaguely pointing to difficult to read documents in the background?
Last year, Barton admitted that he did not have a Ph.D. and earlier this year, he confusingly asserted that he both did and did not have a Ph.D. Now he insists that he does in fact have an “earned doctorate.” So which it it? If Barton is going to take the time to film a video proving us wrong, the least he can do is provide verifiable information that actually does so.
UPDATE: Warren Throckmorton notes that the other documents featured in the background of Barton’s videos appear to have come from two other Christian colleges and neither appears to support his contention that he has earned a doctorate:
The video appears to have three degrees in the background. The first one appears to be his honorary degree from Pensacola Christian College and the third appears to be from Ecclesia College. The mystery “earned degree” appears to the one which is partially hidden in the background … Looking closer at it, I think it is a degree from the unaccredited prosperity gospel fave school Life Christian University.
I can’t find a listing of faculty and the doctorates offered are in theology and ministry, not history and/or education. The requirements have no doubt been slipped for some of those distinguished graduates and may have been in Barton’s case. The requirements say that a student must first get a masters and DMin to go for the PhD. Did Barton do that? He has never said he had anything other than a BA from ORU. The school is not accredited by a regional accrediting body which is perhaps why he didn’t name it in his video.
Barton’s smug rebuke depends entirely on what degree he actually has. It appears his degree comes from the same school which awarded Joyce Meyers and Benny Hinn a PhD in theology. The school does not award degrees in history which Barton should have disclosed.