Why does pseudo-historian and bona fide political activist David Barton have such a poor reputation in the academic community? It’s not because of his religious convictions, his politics, or even his lack of formal training — it’s his disregard for the basic standards of accuracy historians enforce upon themselves, says Joanna Brooks of Religion Dispatches:
…what makes David Barton dangerous is his total disrespect for the process of peer review: the driving force of contemporary scholarship. Forget what you’ve heard about political litmus tests for faculty in colleges and universities. If your data and hypotheses don’t pass muster with your peers, you’re toast. And as a working academic who has published in and conducted peer review for a top-ranked history journal, let me tell you that historians are among the most conservative and rigorous peer-reviewers I’ve encountered.
She issues a challenge to Barton:
If David Barton is serious about history, he needs to demonstrate his respect for the time-tested process of peer review, the same way anyone who seeks to publish medical research would submit their findings to the review of their peers. He needs to listen to and acknowledge the hard-wrought findings of those who have devoted their lives to implementing and promulgating the best practices of historical scholarship. And he needs to open his own research to their rigorous review.
Refusing honest and open dialogue about the facts of our nation’s founding is not only bad medicine for scholarship; it’s bad medicine for democracy.
If Barton is as solid a scholar as he presents himself to be, why would he hide from peer review?
Because he’s already getting positive reviews from the only peers he cares about — Republican politicians like Mike Huckabee, Newt Gingrich and Michele Bachmann.