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Gish Gallop

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"Gish Gallop" is a derogatory term coined by anti-creationist Eugenie Scott[1] to distract from the fact that creationists such as Duane Gish, after whom the term is named, were winning debates against evolutionists.

The term is said to refer to a debate "tactic" of presenting many arguments in a short period of time, such that the opposing debater hasn't a chance of countering them all. Yet this is typical of any discussion, where it typically takes longer to refute a point than to make it.

Another claimed problem with the "Gish Gallop" is that it comprises arguments that are fallacious in some way, including being half-truths or outright lies, yet this is just asserted, not shown, which, ironically, is one of the criticisms of the supposed "Gish Gallop".

The term is also applied to printed lists of brief arguments, despite the criticism of not having time to reply to each point not being applicable in such cases.

People using the term to denigrate their opponents arguments typically also use other fallacious arguments, such as vilification, bald assertions, and selective arguments.

Vilification
  • "…the creationist gallops along, spewing out nonsense with every paragraph."[1]
  • "…creationist shill Duane Gish…"[2] (further invective is not suitable to repeat here).
Bald assertions

Bald assertions include that the arguments used by "Gish Gallopers" are fallacious, lies, half-truths, etc., and that the "Gish Gallop" is a deliberate debate tactic.

Selective and hypocritical arguments

Scott, in the article in which she coined the term, claimed that one of the problems with creation/evoution debates is that "…the evolutionist debater has an upstream battle from the start. Evolution is a complex set of ideas that is not easily explained in the sound-bite razzle-dazzle of the debate format."[1] This ignores that it is the evolutionists who mostly have the ear of the mainstream media and the education systems, and that it is therefore the creationist who has the uphill battles to simply get a hearing, and then to explain the nature of the debate (as a clash of worldview) before even getting to discussing scientific evidence.

A web-site defending global warming uses the term to refer to a list of arguments against the global warming alarmism, and attempts to rebut the list.[3] However, one of the arguments it rebuts is the claim that a record cold day suggests that the environment is not warming, correctly pointing out that it is overall trends, not individual records that matter.[4] However, it ignores that warming alarmists use individual events as evidence of a trend to push their case.

One web site describing the "Gish Gallop"[5] describes list versions as having the problem that "each point requires in-depth deconstruction, refutation and evidence, whereas the initial assertion needs to be just that, an assertion". Yet a list that it describes as "perhaps the most stunning case" is a list that have links to further articles explaining each point, and those further articles each have their own lists of references.

References

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Scott, Eugenie, Debates and the Globetrotters, The TalkOrigins Archive, Thu. 7th July, 1994Thu. July 7th, 1994.
  2. FinnAgain, Gish Gallop, Urban Dictionary, Sat. 7th January, 2012Sat. January 7th, 2012.(Content warning: This link contains mildly offensive language.)
  3. John Cook, A climate 'Gish Gallop' of epic proportions, Skeptical Science, Fri. 25th March, 2011Fri. March 25th, 2011.
  4. Jim Meador, Does cold weather disprove global warming?, Skeptical Science, Sun. 22nd August, 2010Sun. August 22nd, 2010.
  5. RationalWiki, on it's Gish Gallop page.
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