Gish gallop

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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.[1][2] It is similar to a methodology used in formal debate called spreading.

Technique and countermeasures[edit]

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.[3][4] 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.[5] 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[6] 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.[7] 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.[8]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Scott 2004, p. 23
  2. ^ Scott 1994
  3. ^ Logan 2000, p. 4
  4. ^ Sonleitner 2004
  5. ^ Hayward 2015, p. 67
  6. ^ Grant 2011, p. 74
  7. ^ Johnson 2017, pp. 14–15
  8. ^ Grant 2015, p. 55

Sources[edit]

  • Grant, John (2011). Denying Science: Conspiracy Theories, Media Distortions, and the War Against Reality. Prometheus Books. ISBN 978-1-61614-400-5.
  • Grant, John (2015). Debunk it: How to Stay Sane in a World of Misinformation. San Francisco: Zest Books. ISBN 978-1-936976-68-3.
  • Hayward, C.J.S. (2015). The Seraphinians: '"Blessed Seraphim Rose" and His Axe-Wielding Western Converts. The Collected Works of C.J.S. Hayward. San Francisco: Zest Books.
  • Johnson, Amy (2017). Gasser, Urs (ed.). "The Multiple Harms of Sea Lions" (PDF). Perspectives on Harmful Speech Online. Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society. p. 14.
  • Logan, Paul (25 February 2000). "Scientists Offer Creationist Defense". West Side Journal. Albuquerque Journal. 120 (56). p. 4 – via Newspapers.com.
  • Sonleitner, Frank J. (November–December 2004). "Winning the Creation Debate". Reports. National Center for Science Education. 24 (6): 36–38.
  • Scott, Eugenie (2004). Confronting Creationism. Reports of National Center for Science Education. 24/6. Archived from the original on 2018-06-12. Retrieved 2017-10-06.
  • Scott, Eugenie (1994). "Debates and the Globetrotters". Talk Origins Archive. Retrieved 2017-10-06.