Warren Throckmorton’s Naivete About Barton’s Immunity to Reality

Warren Throckmorton, who has done some great work exposing the torrent of lies told by David Barton, wonders in a recent post why Barton continues to be booked to speak and revered by so many Christian groups. He also wonders why those groups ignore the criticisms of so many Christian academics who have proven those lies. I fear he is being a bit naive in his analysis of the situation.

Here is what I don’t understand. In the face of evidence that you are may be responsible for disseminating error, shouldn’t you check into it? This almost never happens. There is clear evidence that a problem exists and the person in charge does nothing but defend the decision.

Shouldn’t Dr. Yeats have a conversation with Hankins and Frazer?

I can supply him and his board with names of over 50 Christian academics who can provide relevant evidence regarding the matter at hand.

I wrote and asked the MBC why Christian academic historians don’t matter. No answer.

Southern Baptists send their children to Christian colleges to get an education from academics who have dedicated their lives to getting things right. Of course, we don’t always get it right but the values of the academy push us to correct where we are wrong and own up to it. However, when it comes to church work, respect for Christian colleges often goes out the window, at least in the area of historical scholarship. Wallbuilders has the right slogan so it doesn’t matter what the organization’s founder teaches or how many key facts he gets wrong…

Shouldn’t the people responsible for these meetings check into these things?

I realize that the MBC may be at odds with the parent convention over religion and politics. Recently, the SBC pulled an invitation for Ben Carson to speak at an event due to concerns about those entanglements. Perhaps the MBC leadership disagrees with that approach and wants a more political approach to religion. However, if so, that is no reason to mislead the people you are responsible for.

Think about that for a minute. The SBC pulled Ben Carson’s invitation but the MBC is rock solid on sponsoring David Barton.

Well yes, of course the people responsible for continuing to book David Barton to lie to people should check into things. But the reason why they don’t seems quite obvious to me and I’m frankly surprised that Throckmorton, who is a psychologist, doesn’t recognize what is going on here. It’s the same tribalism, confirmation bias and motivated reasoning that we all suffer from (some far less than others, of course).

Why don’t they believe that Barton tells all the lies that he does? Confirmation bias and motivated reasoning. What he says fits perfectly with what they believe and hope is true and they simply filter out all contrary information, even if it comes from their fellow Christians. The Christian academics he mentions simply have a greater intellectual integrity than these leaders he is criticizing.

And don’t forget tribalism. These people believe that they are locked in an eternal struggle between good and evil and Barton gives them ammunition against the evil other tribe. That’s why they don’t really care whether he’s lying or not, because it’s all about that battle. He may be lying, but he’s lying for Jesus. He’s part of their tribe, so they will defend him to the death. They don’t care about truth when they’re fighting for the Truth.

I don’t think this is particularly difficult to recognize or understand. It’s a feature of pretty much any sizable group, if on a lesser scale.

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  • StevoR

    I fear you are right Ed Brayton and gotta agree here.

  • alanb

    I’m with Throckmorton on this. I too am prey to tribalism and confirmation bias. And cognitive dissonance often leads me to the land of denial. But, ultimately, a desire to know the truth leads me away from those tendencies. I don’t understand people who choose to live a life of self-delusion.

  • StevoR

    Yet don’t these fools know the Jesus they claim to believe in hated liars and hypocrites by their own “holy” accounts?

    Also that shit ’bout not judging lest ye be judged and loving thy neighbour who is everyone else especially those you most hate and despise which at the time had those heretic Samaritans high on that list etc .. ???

  • Michael Heath

    Warren Throckmorton writes:

    Southern Baptists send their children to Christian colleges to get an education from academics who have dedicated their lives to getting things right.

    That’s a David Barton size whopper.

  • Michael Heath

    Ed writes:

    And don’t forget tribalism. These people believe that they are locked in an eternal struggle between good and evil and Barton gives them ammunition against the evil other tribe.

    I think there’s an even bigger motivation then tribalism. I’ve yet to meet even one conservative Christian that will demonstrably consider inconvenient facts that challenge or falsify their worldview. David Barton provides them with a rationale on why it’s OK to not search for objective truth and then consider those facts. Mr. Barton spoon feeds the flock lies that allows them to be smug in their certain beliefs about history. That’s just like creationist organizations keep creationists determinedly ignorant regarding scientific findings.

  • http://drx.typepad.com Dr X

    alanb:

    Not that we’d get volunteers to particpate in such a study, but it would be interesting to look at certain traits in Barton’s self-selected fan club. You can slice traits many different ways, but just beginning with five-factor analysis, I imagine that fans of Barton are especially low in openness to experience, much higher in cognitive rigidity. Couple those qualities with tribalism and you likely get a person who has absolutely no interest in modifying the existing package of beliefs. Still, I’d like to see that tested with his group, to see if they’re even more tribal and immune to modification of opinion than the typical tribalist.

    Just thinking about it, I’d also look at parnanoia/gullibility–which are sometimes two sides of the same coin.

  • raven

    These people believe that they are locked in an eternal struggle between good and evil and Barton gives them ammunition against the evil other tribe.

    That may be true metaphorically.

    What they don’t realize is that they are…the Dark Siders. The fundie xians own the dark side of xianity and our society.

    If their religion was true, they wouldn’t have to lie all the time.

  • brucegee1962

    I think there’s a missing end of block quote here, but I’m not quite sure where.

  • Doc Bill

    Obviously, Throckmorton has not dealt with creationists!

    Warren Throckmorton writes:

    Southern Baptists send their children to Christian colleges to get an education from academics who have dedicated their lives to getting things right.

    To which I say, “Bullshit!” SB’s send their homeschool brainwashed, Christian academy indoctrinated spawn to Christian colleges for at least two reasons: 1, most of the little inbreds can’t get in to a real college and, 2, they have to preserve their “worldview” at all costs for as long as possible, after which they return to jobs like “music minister” or “knocked-up single mother.” It’s not just tribal, it’s an industry, or as former Gov. “Good Hair” Perry put it, “Job creation!”

  • scott

    It works because even if he’s proved wrong, and the audience acknowledges that it’s wrong, three, four, five years down the road they’ll hear something like it again and all they’ll remember is “oh yeah I remember hearing that before, makes sense to me now too”.

  • D. C. Sessions

    I think I see his error:

    Southern Baptists send their children to Christian colleges to get an education from academics who have dedicated their lives to getting things right.

    That last word should be capitalized.

  • http://artk.typepad.com ArtK

    I’m disappointed in Throckmorton in that he doesn’t understand what’s going on. It means he isn’t able to put himself into the mindset of Barton’s listeners and that’s never a good thing when you’re dealing with other people.

    There are two domains, Reality and God’s Truth. Barton’s listeners value God’s Truth above anything else and he tells them things, with great assurance, that reinforce God’s Truth. God’s Truth is certain, absolute and unambiguous. In God’s Truth, America is perfect by way of being Christian and they are special people by being American Christians.

    Reality is uncertain and ambiguous. America isn’t perfect and they aren’t nearly as special as they want to feel. These things make them uncomfortable to the point of being afraid. Their entire identity is tied up in God’s Truth and nobody wants to have their identity destroyed. It’s not that they are simply ignorant and uninformed; their entire well-being depends on being ignorant and uninformed. Facts that contradict God’s Truth are terrifying. Those contradictory facts are an attack on God’s Truth and therefore must be wrong.

    Like most of us here, Throckmorton values Reality over God’s Truth.

  • Hercules Grytpype-Thynne

    @brucegee1962:

    The last paragraph quoted from Throckmorton is this one:

    Think about that for a minute. The SBC pulled Ben Carson’s invitation but the MBC is rock solid on sponsoring David Barton.

    The rest is Ed’s commentary.

  • http://www.facebook.com/eo.raptor.3 eoraptor

    Michael Heath @5

    … search for objective truth then consider those facts…

    Those really aren’t the same things. Is truth ever objective? The xians know they have the TRUTH even though all their facts are wrong. To me, truth is just an opinion based on the observer’s perspective. Fact, on the other hand, fact is objective: It doesn’t matter who looks, or if nobody looks, 2 + 2 = 4, no matter what. The Larsen B ice shelf is going, or gone, no matter what the truth is about AGCC.

    So, what Barton gives them is their truth, and consistent with your statement, assures them it is OK to ignore the objective facts.

    $0.02

  • Artor

    Fortunately, I and all of my friends are immune to tribalism and motivated thinking. That’s why we’re better than everyone else. This is demonstrated by the fact that people get bent out of shape when I explain it to them; they’re just jealous of my obvious superiority.