Wednesday’s presidential debate illustrated one of this blog’s unofficial mottos: nothing in movement conservatism makes sense except in the light of creationism (with apologies to Theodosius Dobzhansky). I’ll let my Twitter feed cover my thoughts about the debate:
Didn't see debate–made E. coli phylogenies instead–but it sounded similar 2 poorly prepared biologist debating professional creationist?— MiketheMadBiologist (@mikethemadbiol) October 4, 2012
Re debate, you don't rebut creationists point x point, u turn it around & attack their legitimacy–make it clear they are *liars* not lying— MiketheMadBiologist (@mikethemadbiol) October 4, 2012
Last night's debate is why I write "nothing in movement conservatism makes sense except in the light of creationism" Get it now? #Gishgallop— MiketheMadBiologist (@mikethemadbiol) October 4, 2012
Having seen some footage and read transcripts at this point, this is all too obvious. The challenge for Obama is to figure out how to call out Romney when he lies without looking frustrated or ‘angry.’ But arguing facts with creationists (or global warming denialists, or anti-vaxxers, or chronic lyme disease believers…) is a mug’s game because you can’t refute all the bullshit. In fact, biologists have named Romney’s strategy the Gish Gallop after professional creationist Duane Gish:
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.
To defeat this,you have to find one ludicrous point (not hard to do with 27 lies in 38 minutes), and then use that to assail your opponent’s credibility and character. You don’t claim he is lying, you call him a liar. That’s how you win. Obama and his handlers better figure this out.
Democrats have spent too long accommodating religious and right-wing nuttery to see the big picture, namely the very well-stated “nothing in movement conservatism makes sense except in light of creationism.” To which I would add a corollary: conservative motives only make sense in light of feudalism. Democrats really don’t understand that the wing-nuts across the aisle mean what they say and are quite Machiavellian in their actions.
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