So, what do Mitt Romney and Creationist Debaters have in common? Lactose intolerance, you say? Emetophilia?
No. I mean, maybe. What do I know?
What I’m talking about here is the debating technique that Romney whipped out last night during the debate. As pointed out on this Daily Kos diary, Romney was implementing something called the “Gish Gallop,” named after Creationist debater Duane Gish. Here’s a step-by-step guide for those of you who want to try it at home:
- Lie, lie, lie
- Lie some more
- Say one thing that contains a sliver of truth
- When your opponent tries to respond, shout them down and lie.
- Declare victory and party with your dressage horse (See what I did there? Gallop? See?)
1. Gish Gallop
Named for the debate tactic created by creationist shill Duane Gish, a Gish Gallop involves spewing so much bullshit in such a short span on that your opponent can’t address let alone counter all of it. To make matters worse a Gish Gallop will often have one or more ‘talking points’ that has a tiny core of truth to it, making the person rebutting it spend even more time debunking it in order to explain that, yes, it’s not totally false but the Galloper is distorting/misusing/misstating the actual situation. A true Gish Gallop generally has two traits.
1) The factual and logical content of the Gish Gallop is pure bullshit and anybody knowledgeable and informed on the subject would recognize it as such almost instantly. That is, the Gish Gallop is designed to appeal to and deceive precisely those sorts of people who are most in need of honest factual education.
2) The points are all ones that the Galloper either knows, or damn well should know, are totally bullshit. With the slimier users of the Gish Gallop, like Gish himself, its a near certainty that the points are chosen not just because the Galloper knows that they’re bullshit, but because the Galloper is deliberately trying to shovel as much bullshit into as small a space as possible in order to overwhelm his opponent with sheer volume and bamboozle any audience members with a facade of scholarly acumen and factual knowledge.
In a debate on the morality of America’s Founding Fathers, a Gish Gallop might look like this:
“Sure we think that they were good folks, but did you know that Washington not only had more than 100,000 slaves, but he also staged gladiatorial games and made them fight to the death? He also ran a network of opium dens and used his gladiators as couriers to deliver opium all over the 52 states. In fact Washington’s opium smuggling got so bad that the British had to step in which caused the Opium War that led to the Revolutionary War and John Locke’s famous statement that he had to be given the liberty to smoke opium, or he’d prefer death. That also points out another problem, in that most of the Founding Fathers were part of Washington’s opium cult and Ben Franklin’s most harmful invention was actually a process to purify the active ingredient in opium and inject it. That’s right, Ben Franklin invented heroin! What’s more, by the time Andrew Jackson was president the US government was so full of drug addicts that they created a soft drink that was just a way to get cocaine into their systems. Don’t believe me? It was called Coca Cola because it was a cola with cocaine in it. Go look it up and you’ll find I’m right, coca cola really did contain cocaine!”