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

The Gish gallop

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 fallacy because it doesn't represent a pattern of flawed reasoning.

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Circumlocution: Too Many Words

People often say something using more words than required, usually to be vague or misleading. This phenomenon, known as circumlocution, is often intentional and a ploy used by politicians ...

Why Circumlocution Happens

The act of saying a lot but in essence saying nothing at all is also described as ‘beating around the bush’ by many.

People use too many words intentionally in order to:

  1. Hiding their stance.
  2. Shifting attention away from the current topic.
  3. Avoiding answering personal questions.
  4. Avoid sharing the truth.
Non-Malice Circumlocution

Many of us use circumlocution unintentionally or in situations that are harmless, using way too many words when we:

  1. Don’t know the exact phrase or word.
  2. Are speaking and thinking at the same time.
  3. Are avoiding using technical jargon.
  4. Are feeling awkward discussing something.
  5. Are being polite to the other person by using familiar phrases.
  6. Are creating a rhyme or a literary effect.
  7. Are learning to communicate in a foreign language.
Straw man arguments

A straw man argument is a misrepresentation of an opinion or viewpoint, designed to be as easy as possible to contradict.

The only purpose is for it to be easy to expose. I...

Hollow man arguments

This is a weak case (similar to the Straw man arguments) attributed to a non-existent group: Someone will fabricate a viewpoint that is easy to contradict, then claim it was made by a group they disagree with. Arguing against an opponent which doesn’t exist is a pretty easy way to win any debate.

People who use hollow man arguments will often use vague, non-specific language without explicitly giving any sources or stating who their opponent is.

Iron man argument

It is designed to be resistant to attacks by a defier.There arguments are difficult to avoid because they have a lot of overlap with legitimate debate techniques.

A person using an iron man argument will most likely make their own viewpoint so vague that nothing anyone says about it can weaken it. They’ll use jargon and imprecise terms. This means they can claim anyone who disagrees didn’t understand them, or they’ll rephrase their argument multiple times.

Win Debates Without Being Unfriendly

Normally, any debate has the potential to turn into an ugly match, due to the fact that both the sides are trying to win. The problem is that one person will win the debate, and tw...

The Common But Wrong Strategy Of Debating: Logic

Logic is not the best strategy for winning a debate. Any logic has plenty of counter logic waiting to pounce on it.

A simple NO can wash over:

  1. Any overwhelming facts and proof explaining why one is right.
  2. Any valid counterpoints to the other person’s arguments.

We falsely assume that our explanation is bulletproof, and forget that the other person has a choice to not agree with us. We could say the sun exists, and the earth is round, but the other person can simply say ‘No’.

How To Win An Argument: Changing Premises

Instead of trying to persuade someone that they are wrong, try to create a different premise. You can debate to learn something, or to see the other person’s viewpoint, understanding why they disagree. You can also politely put on the table what you think about the topic, not waiting for them to change their mind.

The fun part is when you are not trying to win an argument, you usually do.