THE GISH GALLOP - getting in the way of the food


FALLACY FRIDAY- Many times we debate with people, not to change THEIR minds, but to hopefully plant a seed of rationalism in the minds of the other people listening in on the conversation. We hope that some day that seed of rationalism will grow into a tall logic tree, which will, in turn, lead to a mighty forest of critical thinking. To that end, today we are going to talk about The GISH GALLOP. The term comes from a tactic frequently used by Duane Gish, a creationist who, during debates, would rattles off a laundry list of assertions, most of which were half truths and lies. He knew it was impossible to address all of his lies in the time allotted, so many of his claims would go unchallenged in the minds of the audience.   I fall for this debate trick at parties all the time. Faced with a long list of assertions I’ll take time meticulously deconstruct the first couple of claims. Meanwhile my opponent and everyone else listening, have moved on to the buffet table, leaving me talking to myself, and missing the swedish meatballs. If you notice someone pulling this trick on you, try calling them out on it. Maybe ask them to kindly pick their best point and take about only that.  If you are able to debunk their best point then by their own admission any additional claims by them are the weaker arguments and are just getting in the way of everyone enjoying the dessert (did you get any of that that chocolate cheesecake?) Remember it’s not the quantity of the evidence that is important, it is the quality. 

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