5 Things Conservatives Lie Shamelessly About

Tell so many lies, so fast, your opponent hasn't the time or attention to address them, much less counter them, that's the Gish Gallopp. This successful technique is widely used against evolution, climate science, gun control, etc.

Conservatives have figured out a neat little rhetorical trick: One lie is easy for your opponents to debunk. Tell one lie after another, however, and your opponent’s debunkings will never catch up. By the time the liberal opposition has debunked one lie, there’s a dozen more to take its place.   Science educator Eugenie Scott deemed the technique the “Gish Gallop,” named for a notoriously sleazy creationist named Duane Gish. The Urban Dictionary defines the Gish Gallop as a technique that “involves spewing so much bullshit in such a short span on that your opponent can’t address let alone counter all of it.” Often users of the Gish Gallop know their arguments are nonsense or made in bad faith, but don’t particularly care because they are so dead set on advancing their agenda. Unfortunately, the strategy is so effective that it’s been expanding rapidly in right-wing circles.

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Thanks! It's worth going to Urban Dictionary and upvoting their definition -- whose example has a torrent of bullshit capped off with a half-truth.

(Coca-Cola was named for coca leaves and kola nuts, but Barbara Mikkelson at snopes.com explains that "When it first became general knowledge that cocaine could be harmful, the backroom chemists who comprised Coca-Cola at the time... did everything they could with the technology they had available at the time to remove every trace of cocaine from the beverage. What was left behind (until the technology improved enough for it all to be removed) wasn't enough to give a fly a buzz.")

In the Alternet article, Amanda Marcotte gives sensible advice for defending against the Gish Gallop:

There are a few tactics that help, including creating websites and pamphlets where all the lies can be aggregated in one place, for swift debunking. (Bingo cards and drinking games are a humorous version of this strategy.) A critical strategy is to avoid lengthy Lincoln-Douglas-style debates that allow conservatives to lie-dump rapidly during their speaking period, leaving you so busy trying to clean up their mess you have no time for positive points of your own. Better is a looser style of debate where you can interrupt and correct the lies as they come. I’ve also found some luck with setting an explicit “no lies” rule that will be strictly enforced. The first lie receives a warning, and the second lie means that the debate is immediately terminated. This helps prevent you from having to debunk and instead makes the price of participation a strict adherence to facts.

Related: "Debunking the Top 10 Most Egregious Republican Lies" (Alternet)

I like the debaters that accuse their opponent of doing this, and refuse to go to any other point until they have debunked the first lie.  Don't know how it goes over with the general population, but I love it.

Idaho, while the debaters are refusing to go to any other point, their lying opponents will tell still more lies. If they have any balls, that is.

Some fast satire will help the debaters save themselves.

... an explicit “no lies” rule that will be strictly enforced.

Obama did something like this in his second debate with Romney.

Romney interpreted one of Obama's actions on welfare in a way that was both untrue and certain to crash. Obama, with both words and gestures, encouraged Romney to continue.

Romney continued and he did crash.

At another point, perhaps in another debate, one of the moderators corrected Romney.

A Texas xian who insists that America was founded on xianity does the Gish Gallop.

Amazon Books might still have the set of four small volumes titled Liars for Jesus: The Religious Right's Alternate Version of American History. I have two volumes on my Kindle.

Here's a thought: when someone tries to pull a Gish Gallup on you, take his first couple of whoppers and point them out, then add the following:

These are lies, sir, in some cases well-known lies, yet you present them as fact.  Given that and the other lies you've asserted as evidence, Why Should Any Of Us Bother To Listen To You?!?

An alternate approach is to stop someone immediately, when they start with the second unsubstantiated claim.  When it becomes obvious that they're trying to piling up a towering edifice of bullshit, ask them for their one best reason for believing what they do.  Inform them that if that one fails, then clearly the rest of what they're saying is complete crap.

I've had a few people shut down completely, realizing that they didn't have a single point that will stand up to any kind of focused examination.  What almost always happens, though, is that they'll continue, just throwing out a random claim, with complete disregard for your request, then continue on, anyway, after the first bullshit claim.

At that point, you need to be forceful, explaining that if that was their best point, they're done, when it was such a steaming pile of shit.  If the person comes back by saying that they have better claims than that one, you need to call them out on being dishonest.

I like it - counterpunching!




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