The Gish gallop is a term for an eristic technique in which a debater attempts to overwhelm an opponent by excessive number of arguments, without regard for the accuracy or strength of those arguments. The term was coined by Eugenie Scott; it is named after the creationist Duane Gish, who used the technique frequently against proponents of evolution. It is similar to a methodology used in formal debate called spreading.
Technique and countermeasures
During a Gish gallop, a debater confronts an opponent with a rapid series of many specious arguments, half-truths, and misrepresentations in a short space of time, which makes it impossible for the opponent to refute all of them within the format of a formal debate. In practice, each point raised by the "Gish galloper" takes considerably more time to refute or fact-check than it did to state in the first place. The technique wastes an opponent's time and may cast doubt on the opponent's debating ability for an audience unfamiliar with the technique, especially if no independent fact-checking is involved or if the audience has limited knowledge of the topics.
Generally, it is more difficult to use the Gish gallop in a structured debate than in a free-form one. If a debater is familiar with an opponent who is known to use the Gish gallop, the technique may be countered by pre-empting and refuting the opponent's commonly used arguments first, before the opponent has an opportunity to launch into a Gish gallop.
- Brandolini's law
- Chewbacca defense – Nonsensical legal defense strategy
- Filibuster – Legislative procedure
- Firehose of falsehood
- Proof by intimidation – A method of convincing someone by using jargon or claiming it as clear
- Sealioning – Type of trolling or harassment
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