Gish galloping

Rossa’s mother sends this Zero Hedge article about Russiagate but this post is not primarily about that, it’s about something contained within the opening blurb.

First, the opening blurb:

Have you ever wondered why mainstream media outlets, despite being so fond of dramatic panel debates on other hot-button issues, never have critics of the Russiagate narrative on to debate those who advance it? Well, in a recent Real News interview we received an extremely clear answer to that question, and it was so epic it deserves its own article.

Real News host and producer Aaron Maté has recently emerged as one of the most articulate critics of the establishment Russia narrative and the Trump-Russia conspiracy theory, and has published in The Nation some of the clearest arguments against both that I’ve yet seen. Luke Harding is a journalist for The Guardian where he has been writing prolifically in promotion of the Russiagate narrative, and is the author of New York Times bestseller Collusion: Secret Meetings, Dirty Money, and How Russia Helped Donald Trump Win.

In theory, it would be hard to find two journalists more qualified to debate each side of this important issue. In practice, it was a one-sided thrashing that The Intercept’s Jeremy Scahill accurately described as “brutal”.

The term Gish gallop, named after a Young Earth creationist who was notoriously fond of employing it, refers to a fallacious debate tactic in which a bunch of individually weak arguments are strung together in rapid-fire succession in order to create the illusion of a solid argument and overwhelm the opposition’s ability to refute them all in the time allotted. Throughout the discussion the Gish gallop appeared to be the only tool that Luke Harding brought to the table, firing out a deluge of feeble and unsubstantiated arguments only to be stopped over and over again by Maté who kept pointing out when Harding was making a false or fallacious claim.

Some notes on that

1. You’ll notice the use of bold lettering to emphasize a point she doesn’t feel the readers have got, as well as using “accurately” and “brutal”. These are ways in which we are led into taking onboard the writer’s own bias without thinking too much about it, because it is also our own bias, plus we just haven’t the time to spend analysing every single word some blogger writes.

If we have concluded that the Russia investigation by Mueller is bollox, then in this quote above, whoever is the one saying it is bollox – Maté – is the one we [who are Deplorables] will naturally incline to believe, unless he talks rubbish and the other one – Harding – who is described as having “been writing prolifically in promotion of the Russiagate narrative” – we will be inclined not to accept.

Even the word “Guardian” is a red flag for most on our side of politics, in much the same way as “CNN”.

Where am I, the writer of this post, on the matter? Like most Deplorables, I’m sceptical about the Russia investigation, clearly politically motivated, but that does not say that elements here and there might be wrong – Kushner is worth looking at for a start.

The problem for me, primarily a scholar, is that debate today is almost always adversarial, where people quickly fall into “camps” over one of the bones of contention and that is then the label which defines their positions across the whole issue.   And there are drivers of the issue who wish this to be so.

Thus one is either “pro-Russiagate or anti-Russiagate”, nothing inbetween. You cannot therefore concede to the other side that the investigation is bollox but that there may actually have been individual bits of naughtiness at the same time on the Trump side.

As I’ve posted before, I vastly prefer the method of real investigators [for whom it’s a living], who brainstorm in a room with a big table where every little snippet which has come through, for or against and sideways, is laid upon that table and some sort of sense is made of the totality of the evidence.

Because if those people in that room have already made their minds up, a priori, then one side is going to “win” and the other is going to “lose”, just as in the Trump election and in the British referendum.

Essentially, it’s an artificial position as bad as party politics. Party politics says that if you’re vaguely conservative, for example, then you gather under a big banner called Tory or GOP and everyone under that banner accepts everything the manifesto says – in Britain, that means anything May says, which is what her advisers have told her to say.

And that is a bollox position.

2. Furthermore, that girl who wrote the quoted article above, though she is presented as “one of us”, nevertheless is suspicious to a scholar because of her technique, that young, “rush like a bull at a gate” way the SJW gets, where the whole point is the fervour and colourful language, rather than dry, cold facts. Use of adjectives and adverbs to colour a view are part of that.

This technique often uses capitals and bold to pile drive home a point and I immediately stop trusting that person there and then.

An example of this was Faith Goldy, supposedly on “our” side at Rebel TV but having to be sacked after she overstepped her boundaries. And as that link is to Wiki and Wiki is mainly anti-right-wing as they see it, then proceed with caution on her bio.

Other examples are Katie Pavlich who exposed Fast and Furious [good] but also signed the anti-Trump NR condemnation before she’d even seen what it was about [bad – GOP establishment], or Michelle Fields [a few times on Trifecta] who turned out to be a personally dishonest person in her technique [covered in posts passim at OoL and N.O.]. What these girls have in common is that the big thing is to grandstand and be the voice of conservatism as the first priority. Facts come afterwards.  Tomi someone is another like that.  On The View?  Red flag.

You’ll notice I’m criticizing females on “our” side there and giving the Schumers etc. a free pass. They’re already excoriated by bloggers everywhere, so no point even bothering with them – the Penny Reds and Jennifer Lawrences will go down due to other people’s efforts.

The Gish gallop

The excerpt at the top did mention this Gish gallop, so let’s look at it.  It’s at Rational Wiki which, by its title, goes in for anti-narrative, anti-establishment exposes of the guff floating around and it’s good for that until it strays into the religious, where it is heavily biased anti-Christian, and therefore useless. I wrote a post called Horses for Courses and that’s the situation here – use a source within its frame, not outside.


The Gish Gallop (also known as proof by verbosity[1]) is the fallacious debate tactic of drowning your opponent in a flood of individually-weak arguments in order to prevent rebuttal of the whole argument collection without great effort. The Gish Gallop is a belt-fed version of the on the spot fallacy, as it’s unreasonable for anyone to have a well-composed answer immediately available to every argument present in the Gallop. The Gish Gallop is named after creationist Duane Gish, who often abused it.

See the word “creationist” there – itself an a priori spot fallacy in that it condemns and entire religion because of the fallacious actions of a set of apologists.  You may like to read that in conjunction with this:

… which goes into Common Purpose and NLP.

While the excerpt at the top might be fine and the Gish gallop is most certainly a fallacious technique, just like faux polls and government stats, truth is that we, on our side of politics, also use something similar and it’s not always a bad thing.

Allow me to explain. One can’t, in each and every post, list every single fact pertaining to every issue and as is the nature of a blog, once that post has gone off the bottom of a page, it is out of mind for most people. So if a blogger has done seven or eight posts on an issue over the years, accumulating maybe ten facts in total relevant to the issue, the only way to retrieve those is to do a keyword search.

Private Eye gets around it by saying “posts passim” and it’s not entirely wrong in doing that. If you go through back issues, you’ll find the info – but who has the time or inclination to do that?

Thus there are always going to be things which are to be assumed in an ongoing post – dozens of them. For example, on the question of the crowd at the Trump inauguration and the MSM trick of filming the crowd as they filed in, rather than when Trump starts, a false impression is caused.

Now, if I have to give the full version of every single point in a post each and every post, the post becomes verbose, as this one has now become, unmanageable. So, there’s a certain assumption that certain points have been established in posts passim.

Fine for our own readers but for a Maté or Harding, neither can allow those assumptions to remain unchallenged. Which is another reason head-to-heads are often stupid, because both are doing this.

The only differences are the fallaciousness of one or the other’s assumptions and who, on a TV ten minute bunfight, is going to be able to properly test all these out? The Democrats obvious tried this on by having their CNN man at the Presidential debate try to “impartially” refer to a “fact checker”, that is – the facts according to the DNC.

Obviously, that is a totally bollox technique and was taken as such by the Deplorable side.

And this is the nature of the war

We, the receivers of info, are bombarded, so that we have no hope of “fact checking” more than one or two points at any time.

An example was a certain twice convicted murderess some years back in which “the other side” sent me a list of 100 questions. I referred those questions to one of those who had the transcripts of the associated cases [and by the way, was at every sitting of the various courts] and sometime later, received a refutation on each one, along with links to what had actually been said.

Imagine the work that took that person … and all because some bozo had sent me 100 spurious questions [as far as the refutation said they were].

None of those questions, nor the answers, established guilt or innocence – that was not the point there. The point was to unnecessarily get me tied up in red herrings and spurious assertions, and not address what I was currently addressing.


Because that particular post had got around 100 comments, when my usual was maybe 5 or 6. and had shown up in aggregators, thus those heavyweights in the US who had been fighting simply transferred operations for a few days to me and thus I got the full treatment. And if you’ve ever been caught up in a US bunfight, there are thousands of them commenting [see Breitbart].

These people require 100% blanket shut down of opposing views if those views have any chance of currency more than a few dozen readers.

Bringing this to a close

There are dozens of these techniques [e.g. Delphi] which are not designed to get to the whole truth on a matter but to get a desired result or a “well-formed outcome” [see the link to Groupthink above].

So many are not interested in “the whole truth” but in a win for their “side”, and the adversarial system, the party political method necessitating a “whip”, is not conducive to finding the whole truth. It also necessitates those who gather under a banner, e.g. Deplorable, to accept the whole of the manifesto, when there may well have been things bundled in there to which one is bitterly opposed.

And that’s before we even start on the issue of paid trolls.

6 comments for “Gish galloping

  1. Voice of Reason
    December 29, 2017 at 6:56 pm


    You should know that Gish referred to himself as a creationist. To AIG, CRS and several other groups, that means Young Earth Creationist, with every word of the KJV of the Bible taken as quite literal, except for those clearly labelled as parable.

    • December 29, 2017 at 10:39 pm

      Whatever, dearest VofR, not being creationist. LOL, it’s a silly thing to get into, as silly as arguing the existence of God with an atheist. As silly as arguing with the left that Trump is doing well.

  2. Hereward Unbowed.
    December 30, 2017 at 12:11 am

    I’m getting to the point way past caring, I will say that, the illiberal claque and the bent bint part II the sequel of the klan klinton knot needed and quite desperately at that to find a scapegoat, Russia, its President Mr. Putin was, is an easy target all else is leftist paranoia.

    • Ted Treen
      December 31, 2017 at 3:14 pm

      …all else is leftist paranoia…

      But the left have every reason to be paranoid: I for one, detest and loathe them, as do nearly all of my friends and acquaintances who are blessed with an IQ higher than that of a breeze-block.

  3. December 31, 2017 at 3:56 pm

    Excellent post, James. You nailed it.

    Happy New Year!

  4. December 31, 2017 at 5:26 pm

    And to you, gentlemen.

Comments are closed.