Ever been in the middle of such a battling argument with that stereotypical dude who kept on claiming baseless facts but you couldn’t just get ‘em to shut up. That awkward moment when you just can’t win an argument just because your interlocutor is the dumbhead. However, there’s a loophole that could help you out in your next philosophical argument. Ever heard of the Gish Gallop?
Related media: Gish Gallop
Is It A Chicken? No That’s An Egg
The debate: The chicken and the egg, which one came first. You’re against the egg, I’m for.
Here we go: You spend about five minutes laying out all your evolutionary biology thoughts as your main tactics, good course, debunking the fact that the egg can’t even hatch on it’s own. Then its my turn: I spend the next five minutes spewing non-facts about your claim to the evolution theory, the shotgun style. I claim the egg in itself is a complete cell on its own, capable of basic life processes. Then I point it to you to disprove my thoughts. You now get a two-minute rebuttal, what do you do?
That confused panic you feel is a result of the Gish Gallop — a sly debate tactic that, in today’s political climate, is more relevant than ever.
Galloping To Win An Argument
The Gish Gallop was originally devised by Eugenie Scott of the United States National Center for Science Education. Duane Gish, who’s name is now getting the credits, was a prominent creationist back in the late 20th century who made it a habit of challenging evolutionary theorists to such public debates and stretched their thoughts by having them disprove his false statements.
Or, as Scott puts it, “spewing forth torrents of error that the evolutionist hasn’t a prayer of refuting in the format of a debate.”
This debating tactic is really sneaky, but it works. That’s because it’s easier and faster to tell a lie than to disprove one. If you don’t really have enough facts to be accurate about, you can choose to say anything instead — telling the truth requires careful explanation and detailed philosophical reasoning, not to fall victim to fallacy. Once you’ve successfully fabricated a tapestry of lies, you leave it up to your interlocutor with the painstaking task of disproving whatever you said — and if they fail to do so, you can claim victory.
Jonathan Swift once wrote, “Falsehood flies, and the truth comes limping after it.”
The Fact-Checking Scrutiny
Of course, we’ve all been there, that awkward moment we talked about earlier, the Gish Gallop is often used as a tactic in formal debate, too. It could be a tough hurdle to overcome trying to counteract all the falsification of your interlocutors. But there’s a loophole as well. According to Carl Alviani of Quartz, it could help you restructure the argument by focusing on the most bizarre and hard-to-debunk falsehoods in the argument. You can also change the ground rules.
“Just as in a debate, where we have the option of limiting the number of points a speaker can make, we can create online formats designed to discourage Galloping,” he says. “For example, the rising prevalence of real-time fact-checking is an encouraging step in this direction.”
If your defense is fact-checking, then you’re going to need the keen attention of the audience. That’s where you come in: whenever you read or hear something doubtful, look it up. Research for multiple sources that attribute their information. If it’s false information, inform your friends about it. Lies are easily carried over by rumors, and the same thing could be done with the truth.
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Written by: Nana Kwadwo, Wed, Apr 17, 2019.