Gish Gallop: When People Try to Win Debates by Using Overwhelming Nonsense - Effectiviology - Deepstash

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Gish Gallop: When People Try to Win Debates by Using Overwhelming Nonsense - Effectiviology

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The Gish gallop

It is a rhetorical technique that involves overwhelming your opponent with numerous vague arguments, with no regard for accuracy, validity, or relevance of those arguments.

The Gish gallop is a misleading rhetorical technique, rather than a logical fallac...

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A classic example is when a proponent of some pseudoscience bombards an expert with many weak arguments and start a new argument each time the expert successfully refute one of them.

But Gish gallops also appear in less formal contexts. E.g., someone who ...

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  • In live debates, a person using the Gish gallop will fire off arguments one after another to attempt to overwhelm the opponent.
  • In online discussions, Gish gallopers will list a large number of sources that supposedly support their stance. They w...

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The Gish gallop technique was first known by names such as 'argument by verbosity', 'proof by verbosity', and 'shotgun argumentation.'

Professor Eugenie Scott used the term 'Gish gallop' to describe the deb...

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Arguments in a Gish gallop often contain various logical fallacies, such as the strawman fallacy which attacks a fabricated argument, or appeals to nature, which claims something is good because it is perceived as natural.

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The Gish gallop technique is used for two main reasons:

  1. It is often easier to raise weak arguments than it is to refute them.
  2. People generally prefer simple arguments and not complex refutations. The Gish gallop often contains these ...

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  • Full rebuttal. Go over every point made by your opponent, and refute each of them individually.
  • Sample-based rebuttal. Select a representative sample of your opponent's arguments, either randomly or based on some criteria, then refute only t...

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Regardless of which technique you use, you can generally point out that your opponent is using the Gish gallop, especially if you need to explain why you cannot provide a full, point-by-point rebuttal.

Explain how your opponent is using this technique and why it is proble...

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When responding to specific arguments within a Gish gallop, you can use certain techniques to respond effectively to the flawed arguments.

  • When someone states there is support for their stance, you can ask your opponent to list the specific evidence they claim support their view.

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This technique's strength is that it frames the course of the debate and can create a false appearance of credibility and control.

  • Because it gives an advantage to the Gish galloper, your best course of action is to avoid playing their game.

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