Gish gallop

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The Gish gallop (/ˈɡɪʃ ˈɡæləp/) is a rhetorical technique in which a person in a debate attempts to overwhelm their opponent by providing an excessive number of arguments with no regard for the accuracy or strength of those arguments. Gish galloping prioritizes the quantity of the galloper's arguments at the expense of their quality. The term was coined in 1994 by anthropologist Eugenie Scott, who named it after American creationist Duane Gish and argued that Gish used the technique frequently when challenging the scientific fact of evolution.[1]


During a Gish gallop, a debater confronts an opponent with a rapid series of specious arguments, half-truths, misrepresentations, and outright lies 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.[2] 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, which is known online as Brandolini's law.[3] 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.[4]

Countering the Gish gallop[edit]

Generally, it is more difficult to use the Gish gallop in a structured debate than a free-form one.[5] 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 before the opponent has an opportunity to launch into a Gish gallop.[6]

British journalist Mehdi Hasan suggests using these three steps to beat the Gish gallop:[7]

  1. Because there are too many falsehoods to address, it is wise to choose one as an example. Choose the weakest, dumbest, most ludicrous argument that your opponent has presented and tear this argument to shreds (also known as the weak point rebuttal).
  2. Do not budge from the issue. Don't move on until you have decisively destroyed the nonsense and clearly made your point.
  3. Call it out: name the strategy. "This is a strategy called the 'Gish Gallop'. Do not be fooled by the flood of nonsense you have just heard."

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Scott 2004, p. 23; Scott 1994.
  2. ^ Logan 2000, p. 4; Sonleitner 2004.
  3. ^ Hayward 2015, p. 67.
  4. ^ Grant 2011, p. 74.
  5. ^ Johnson 2017, pp. 14–15.
  6. ^ Grant 2015, p. 55.
  7. ^ Hasan, Mehdi (16 March 2023). "Stay Tuned with Preet, Debating 101" (Podcast).

General and cited sources[edit]