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Gish Gallop: Interesting Post I read. Thoughts.

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Diamond Member
Apr 6, 2012
A friend reposted this.

What Romney did to Obama last week is a dirty debate strategy called the "Gish Gallop" (see link to wiki, below), in which one debater piles into a two minutes statement as many lies, half-truths and straw men, leaving the opponent overwhelmed and knowing not to which one to respond. A second facet of the Gallop is to interrupt a competitor with a false statement, to throw the opponent off base, give the illusion that the speaker knows what he's talking about, and toss still another lie into the mix.
Obama dealt with this the way most debaters do the first time that they encounter this move; he retreated and merely repeated his points. Joe, on the other hand, was prepped to do what you need to do to counter the Gallop: interrupt the misstatements with facts (in Joe's case, also gestures), to signal to the audience that the statements are untrue. This means that the lies are not allowed to pile up -- pile on -- before the opponent has a chance to respond. You've already signaled the audience that the speaker is lying, and trying to fool the audience, when your turn begins. Then you can pick out one or two of the big lies and zing them.
Ryan was thrown totally off base by Joe's responses. The Gish Gallop faltered. Joe wasn't rude; he was executing a strategy. And it worked.


Diamond Member
Feb 8, 2001
A friend reposted this.
Interesting, but a completely inaccurate reference to the technique.

Romney would have lost his debate technique unfamiliar audience in about ten seconds if he had actually employed that approach. Also, despite the lefties' claims otherwise, Romney did not lie.

Romney actually slowed down his normal rate of speech to be sure that he was reaching the audience. That, too, is an effective technique in that it captures attention and implies authority.

Biden's approach was actually a whole panoply of debate techniques and his statements can be more easily described as lying in that he actually did not tell the truth.

However, he came across as more knowledgeable and authoritative because he used a variety of misdirection techniques, all of which can help him and his partisan supporters to reject claims that he is lying, even as he is.

Check out this reference and see how many of these techniques of lying were used by Biden in the course of an hour and a half:


In contrast, both Romney and Ryan used very little technique. When faced by a barrage of the kinds of lying technique that Biden used, a reversion to simplicity is a good counter, because it does provide a stark contrast.

Many claim Biden won the the debate because they either consciously or unconsciously value the application of lying or misdirecting technique, as occurs in debating contests where you may be awarded points for it.

But where debating competitions are just that and you get points for it, the over application of technique that Biden used produces a very strongly negative secondary reaction, akin to buyer's remorse. And that is where you see the negatives outweigh the positives of that style.

I believe Ryan won the debate because he did not respond in kind. If he did, then he would sink to the level Biden set for the discourse. By keeping above the fray, he won the psychological war for those those voters that do not consider such techniques to be either fair or polite.

Biden only won the relatively small group that values intimidation - characterized in post debate commentary as those who typically are abusers in relationships. You don't have to take my word for this, it was a very common comment by women after the debate and especially the morning after, as the connection sunk in for many.

And yes, I did four years of debate competition in school. :cool:
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