The logic lessons for today are two I have covered more extensively in YouTube videos. But they can never be said enough, and I’ve not talked about them much here, and there are always new folks, so here goes. I couple these two together because they are closely related. These are argumentation tactics or sophistical tricks and not so much fallacies per se, though they are included in my course on logic fallacies because they are made up of a dozen fallacies or more. Here we go…
1. The GISH GALLOP. The Gish Gallop is a style of debate or argumentation that involves “throwing the kitchen sink” at the opponent. It is a rapid vomiting of a large number of fallacious arguments all at one time, so numerous that the one trying to refute it is buried under so much nonsense it becomes nearly impossible to sort through it all. It may look something like this:
“The reason you hate proven and trustworthy medical advice is because you want women and old people to die. Your worship of freedom over obedience to legitimate authorities who know more than you comes from your hatred of people who are smarter than you and who know what is best for you. So you are willing to kill off everyone else to prove that an actual medical DOCTOR doesn’t know more than your Aunt Betsy who watches Fox News and Googles what is the best essential oil to use against Ebola.”
As you can see, the Gish Galloper has just thrown a dozen fallacies at you at once. The problem with trying to deal with this person is that you would need a format that allowed you to just frickin’ press pause on this idiot so you can take each fallacy on individually one at a time. The Gish Gallop is a way of using the octopus method of escaping any responsibility for fair and honest discourse. The octopus, when it feels threatened, spews ink in hope of blinding or disorienting his enemy so he can escape. For this reason formal debate requires rules, an agreed upon initial position in which each side agrees to use the rules to honestly argue the particular position. The GISH GALLOP differs from BRIN BUNDLING (our next example) in that – although the Gish Gallop is usually an ad hominem attack (an attack on the person or group rather than an honest discussion of the issues) it usually groups together charges that are then attached to a group or person. I will offer advice on dealing with the GISH GALLOP at the end since it is almost identical with dealing with BRIN BUNDLING.
2. BRIN BUNDLING is similar to the GISH GALLOP, but instead of focusing on specific issues all lumped together to throw at an opponent, the BRIN BUNDLE is, similar to the STRAWMAN FALLACY in that the one doing the Brin Bundling creates a cardboard cutout enemy out of whole cloth and then launches fallacious fire at the pretend enemy instead of the actual person he or she is debating. Brin Bundling is named after author David Brin who is famous for using the tactic. In this ploy, the Brin Bundler creates a pretend foe who has all of the attributes of every one he hates and projects them on to the person he is debating even if none of those attributes or opinions apply. So, even if the accusations he lobs are not true of the particular person he’s debating, he doesn’t care. It may look like this:
“You tell people to drink bleach and inject horse poisons and then you wonder why nobody takes you seriously. You hate women for the same reason you hate other races, because you long for the 1950s when you could walk down the street and everyone had to bow to you and go make you a sammich or get strung up. That’s why your ilk whacked Malcolm X. You think that if the government tells you to wash your hands after you go to the bathroom or wear a seatbelt that suddenly you are a blue-face Braveheart on horseback facing down Trotsky-Stalin-Longshanks, so welcome to the Taliban and Gilead and get our women wearing robes and helmets and let’s all lick the infected to prove we are really masculine!”
We’ve all seen some version of this, probably nearly every day. Brin Bundling is a sorry and stupid mix of red herring, strawmen, missing middles, false choices, misattribution, appeal to authority, poisoning the well, and a dozen other fallacies. The trick they use is that they don’t care if any of the accusations at all are true of YOU. It doesn’t matter. Their hatred has amalgamated every lie, myth, fiction, and hoax into a pretend enemy. That cardboard enemy is everyone they meet who doesn’t automatically agree with them. And it doesn’t matter if you can handily refute any one or all of the accusations. You’ll never be given that opportunity, and the Brin Bundler doesn’t care what the truth is at all. Hate doesn’t discern or care. Sometimes these things can be thrown out in a “joking” manner when the person realizes they are in over their head and are unable to refute real logic and reason. Their hope is that they have thrown enough mud fast enough that if even one person agrees with them they can declare victory.
The method of dealing with both of these tactics is to call them out on it, by name, early and often. You don’t follow them down the rabbit trail, because they are just spewing ink. You say, “Ahhh, the Old Gish Gallop! Let me define the Gish Gallop (or the Brin Bundle) for those of you who are not aware of this tactic…” Then you describe it and point out that this is what your opponent is doing. Knowing the tactics is half of the battle, the rest is not falling for it or allowing the tactic to mire you in the shit they are spreading.
Logic and reason are not your enemy. They are the enemy of those who have no trouble lying in order to sow more hatred, division, and strife.