Sometimes, one of UD’s frequent objectors makes an inadvertently telling objection that deserves highlighting in order to publicly document what we are up against. In this case, AK has provided us with TWO, as headlined. Accordingly, over the past several days, I responded in the Skeptical Review thread. This morning, on seeing doubling down, I have further responded and I now highlight for all to see:
KF, 125: >> . . . let us go back to your context from 64 above: “the ID technique [–> that’s already a Big Lie agit prop tactic and slander] that you excel at called the Gish Gallop [–> diagnostic, terrible sign], made famous by Duane Gish and others [–> root-slander]” and again at 100 above: “evil is a concept fabricated by religion.”
Before anything else, I note this is an attempt to relativise and dismiss the reality of evil and to side-step two significant developments. First, that while up to the 50’s – 70’s the appeal to the problem of evils was a favourite tactic of atheists to try to dismiss the reality of God. But after Plantinga’s highly successful free will defense [–> cf. PS below] was put on the table the deductive form collapsed and the inductive one was broken in its impact. But of course, some of us are old enough to remember and to bear witness.
In short, deep inside the dismissal is resentment that a favourite rhetorical appeal of atheism has collapsed decisively, and that at the hands of a Christian theist and leading philosopher.
The second matter turns on recognising what evil is, as a secondary phenomenon:
EVIL: the frustration, twisting, perversion or privation of what is good in itself that prevents or hampers it from attaining its proper end. A proper end that is often naturally evident. Such as, that our minds are properly aimed at and governed by truth and linked correct, cogent reasoning and duties to the just, the good, the prudent, the wise, etc.
As WmAD famously highlighted from Boethius’ Consolation of Philosophy, that issue is the problem of good:
In his Consolation of Philosophy, Boethius states the following paradox: “If God exists, whence evil? But whence good, if God does not exist?” . . .
I doubt that you would as cavalierly assert through the confident manner fallacy: evil [–> GOOD] is a concept fabricated by religion . . .
But the two are inextricably intertwined, indeed evil parasites off the good and much of its repugnance when its destructive effects are manifest for all to see comes from its patent violation and frustration of what is a manifest proper end.
And so, we can hardly but observe that you are forced to appeal to our sense of duty to truth, justice and more, even as you work as a saw-tooth cutting away at our connexion to the root of such things.
Now, Rational Wiki (and no I will not link the source, do your own search):
The Gish Gallop, named after creationist Duane Gish, is the debating technique of drowning the opponent in such a torrent of half-truths, lies, and straw-man arguments that the opponent cannot possibly answer every falsehood in real time. The term was coined by Eugenie Scott of the National Center for Science Education. Sam Harris describes the technique as “starting 10 fires in 10 minutes.” [U/D May 16: Subsequently RW updated their definition to speak of “weak arguments.” This is itself problematic (as, in inductive contexts arguments may mutually reinforce as a cumulative case and “weakness” is often a matter of opinion, especially when tendentious charges of “half truth” and out of context or distorted quotes or the notion that you cannot use an expert’s admission against interest are in play) and it turns out that Ms Scott suggested misleading citation and used “half truth” — a half truth being a whole lie — right from the beginning. As at May 15, 2018, Wikipedia used: “During a Gish gallop, a debater confronts an opponent with a rapid series of many specious arguments, half-truths, and misrepresentations in a short space of time, which makes it impossible for the opponent to refute all of them within the format of a formal debate.” The term is clearly tainted with invidious insinuations and attacks to the man. It should not be used, especially as it is already a case of attacking a man, by its very name.]
Now, too, before I speak more specifically, remember my metaphor just above on the cumulative impact of corrosive polarising slander and cutting off the roots of our civilisation — noting, the dismissive genetic fallacy on evil also made by you, AK: one tooth of a zipping saw does not do much, it seems, from how tiny a sawdust shaving is. But once we see many teeth in action, the cumulative effect is huge as the sawdust pile grows and grows and grows zip-zip-zip, especially if the branch we are sitting on is under strain and has to bear all of us.
Then, beyond a certain unpredictable point, a critical threshold is hit and CRAACK, SNAP, COLLAPSE.
Too late, bitterly too late.
Where, we are dealing with a civilisation that — having nukes — is far too dangerous to fail safely.
In that light, AK’s strawman tactic of twisting my words into:
Civilization is going to come crashing down because I used the term “Gish gallop” . . .
. . . only manages to show the sort of destructive blindness caused by evil and in accumulation, the zipping saw at suicidal work in our civilisation may well precipitate the unthinkable.
FYI, AK, you sheared off one little curlicue of sawdust from the branch on which we are all sitting. You did this by a doubly slanderous reference. Which, I called you on, and which you show no signs of due responsiveness and responsibility over. And indeed, making that particular reference is a serious sign of how far the rot has progressed in a particular case.
I don’t know if we can wake up from the stupor of a Plato’s Cave suicidal horror show already in progress, but that will take a miracle of mass repentance.
This I do know, our civilisation is in self-induced mortal peril, and the saws are busily zipping away with destructive agit prop cutting us off from the root and support that are vital for our civilisation to thrive.
Not that the blinded, benumbed and polarised will be particularly inclined to wake up to, face and do something about our common peril.
Now, here is my longstanding response to the Gish-smear slander, here at UD (and no it is not a threat to ban, in answer to yet another twister of facts and issues out there):
In short, this term [= Gish gallop] is an accusation of lying, distorting and the like on a wholesale basis, further allegedly in order to overwhelm an opponent and thus prevent answering the flood of falsehoods.
Something is very wrong here, however, even after taking the questionable list of sources cited at face value for the moment, for the sake of discussion.
For, it is well known that to select several examples of actual falsehood or gross error and to expose them normally suffices to ground the conclusion that the party who has actually indulged such a flood of false assertions, is not responsible or credible and should be dismissed.
One slice of such a spoiled cake has in it all the ingredients, and all that.
In short, if the accusation were TRUE, it would be quite easy to overturn such an argument.
It would fail so spectacularly, that it would be rhetorically suicidal.
Provided, the other side of the debate or discussion were in command of the actual facts, not mere ideological talking points and disputable opinions.
So, it is quite plain that there is no real need for such a named fallacy.
And, in the case of Mr Gish, it is well known that he consistently won debates on origins science by focussing on the problem that the fossil record is full of gaps that lead to a want of on-the-ground evidence for body-plan level macroevolution. [Kindly, see the linked discussion of the real facts, — let me now use the unlimited number of links capacity of an OP: “here is Ken Ham’s summary of the relevant history, and here and here we may see John Morris of ICR on debates. It is to be noted that Creationist spokesmen, for forty years, have actively sought debates, and have had such a long-running pattern of success, that it is the advocates of body-plan level Macro-Evolution by blind chance and necessity who have counselled their colleagues not to participate in debates. As a result, while Gish seems to have taken part in some 300 – 400 debates and Henry Morris some 100, such are reportedly rare today.”]
Nobody wins 300+:0 public debates, inducing opponents to find excuses to dodge further debates and to smear the debater unless he stands on solid facts and cogent reasoning. In this case, were [neo-] darwinist evolutionary theory even roughly true, 250+k fossil species in museums and the billions of further readily seen fossils in the field [e.g. Barbados, where I have lived, is literally built out of layers of fossil limestone, often in the form of corals] would overwhelm us with gradualism of body form transformation as a dominant, obvious pattern. Instead, as Gould et al inadvertently highlighted by championing Punctuated Equilibria, the actual pattern is one of systematic gaps and persistent absence of the roots of the tree of life icon — OoL by blind watchmaker mechanisms. That’s why we see so many evolutionary just so stories in the textbooks, the museums, the documentaries and the literature.
By utter contrast, we may answer the slanders against ID simply and directly.
On a trillion directly observed cases [including your objecting comments above, which are meaningful text strings], functionally specific, complex organisation and associated information — FSCO/I for handy short — is a highly reliable sign of intelligently directed configuration [= design] as relevant cause. This is backed up by the search challenge posed by blind chance and mechanical necessity driven needle in haystack search for configuration spaces that start at the 500 to 1,000 bit threshold of complexity. That is, such a search challenge overwhelms sol system or observed cosmos scale resources, given 3.27*10-150 to 1.07*10^301 and sharply up possibilities, overwhemingly non-functional gibberish.
The only empirically warranted, analytically plausible cause of FSCO/I is design.
The issue is not evidence and analysis, but that design is repugnant to a culturally dominant ideology, evolutionary materialistic scientism. Which, on closer inspection, is readily seen to be self-referentially incoherent and thus irretrievably self-falsifying.>>
Food for thought. END
PS: Let me excerpt here a short summary [scroll down here] of Plantinga’s reply to the problem of evil:
>>Leading design theorist and philosopher-theologian William Dembski helps us put the intellectual forms of the problem of evil in context, by citing the sixth century Christian philosopher, Boethius:
In his Consolation of Philosophy, Boethius states the following paradox: “If God exists, whence evil? But whence good, if God does not exist?” Boethius contrasts the problem that evil poses for theism with the problem that good poses for atheism. The problem of good does not receive nearly as much attention as the problem evil, but it is the more basic problem. That’s because evil always presupposes a good that has been subverted. All our words for evil make this plain: the New Testament word for sin (Greek hamartia) presupposes a target that’s been missed; deviation presupposes a way (Latin via) from which we’ve departed; injustice presupposes justice; etc. So let’s ask, who’s got the worse problem, the theist or the atheist? Start with the theist. God is the source of all being and purpose. Given God’s existence, what sense does it make to deny God’s goodness? None . . . . The problem of evil still confronts theists, though not as a logical or philosophical problem, but instead as a psychological and existential one [as was addressed above] . . . .
The problem of good as it faces the atheist is this: nature, which is nuts-and-bolts reality for the atheist, has no values and thus can offer no grounding for good and evil. As nineteenth century freethinker Robert Green Ingersoll used to say, “In nature there are neither rewards nor punishments. There are consequences.” More recently, Richard Dawkins made the same point: “The universe we observe has precisely the properties we should expect if there is, at bottom, no design, no purpose, no evil and no good, nothing but blind pitiless indifference.” [“Prepared Remarks for the Dembski-Hitchens Debate,” Uncommon Descent Blog, Nov 22, 2010]
In short, when we come to core worldview problems, we should address the comparative difficulties of the main alternatives, and make our choice on which difficulties it is better to live with.
Plantinga’s free-will defense, in a skeletal form, allows us to effectively address the problem. For, it is claimed that the following set of theistic beliefs embed an unresolvable contradiction:
1. God exists
2. God is omnipotent – all powerful
3. God is omniscient – all-knowing
4. God is omni-benevolent – all-good
5. God created the world
6. The world contains evilTo do so, there is an implicit claim that, (2a) if he exists, God is omnipotent and so capable of — but obviously does not eliminate — evil. So, at least one of 2 – 5 should be surrendered. But all of these claims are central to the notion of God, so it is held that the problem is actually 1.Therefore, NOT-1: God does not exist.
However, it has been pointed out by Plantinga and others that:
- 2a is not consistent with what theists actually believe: if the elimination of some evil would lead to a worse evil, or prevent the emergence of a greater good, then God might have a good reason to permit some evil in the cosmos.
- Specifically, what if “many evils result from human free will or from the fact that our universe operates under natural laws or from the fact that humans exist in a setting that fosters soul-making . . . [and that such a world] contains more good than a world that does not” ?
- In this case, Theists propose that 2a should be revised: 2b: “A good, omnipotent God will eliminate evil as far as he can without either losing a greater good or bringing about a greater evil.” But, once this is done, the alleged contradiction collapses.
- Further, Alvin Plantinga – through his free will defense — was able to show that the theistic set is actually consistent. He did this by augmenting the set with a further proposition that is logically possible (as opposed to seeming plausible to one who may be committed to another worldview) and which makes the consistency clear. That proposition, skeletally, is 5a: “God created a world (potentially) containing evil; and has a good reason for doing so.” Propositions 1, 2b, 3, 4, and 5a are plainly consistent, and entail 6.
- The essence of that defense is:
“A world containing creatures who are significantly free (and freely perform more good than evil actions) is more valuable, all else being equal, than a world containing no free creatures . . . God can create free creatures, but he can’t cause or determine them to do only what is right. For . . . then they aren’t significantly free after all . . . He could only have forestalled the occurrence of moral evil only by removing the possibility of moral good.” [NB: This assumes that moral good reflects the power of choice: if we are merely robots carrying out programs, then we cannot actually love, be truthful, etc.] [From: Clark, Kelley James. Return to Reason. (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1994), pp. 69 – 70, citing Plantinga, God, Freedom and Evil, (Eerdmans, 1974), p. 30.]
- Nor is the possible world known as heaven a good counter-example. For, heaven would exist as a world in which the results of choices made to live by the truth in love across a lifetime have culminated in their eternal reward. This we may see from an argument made by the apostle Paul:
Rom 2:6 God “will repay each person according to what they have done.” 78 But for those who are self-seeking and who reject the truth and follow evil, there will be wrath and anger. To those who by persistence in doing good seek glory, honor and immortality, he will give eternal life. [NIV]
- Anticipating the onward response that in at least some possible worlds, there are free creatures, all of whom freely do what is right, Plantinga asserts a further possibility: trans-world depravity. That is, in all worlds God could create in which a certain person, say Gordon, exists; then that person would have freely gone wrong at least once. And, what if it is further possible that this holds for every class of created, morally capable being? (Then, there would be no possible worlds in which moral good is possible but in which moral evil would not in fact occur. So the benefit of moral good would entail that the world would contain transworld depraved creatures.)
- Moreover, Plantinga proposes that there is a possible state of affairs in which God and natural evil can exist. For instance, if all natural evils are the result of the actions of significantly free creatures such as Satan and his minions, then since it is logically possible that God could not have created a world with a greater balance of good over evil if it did not contain such creatures, God and natural evil are compatible.
- At this point, albeit grudgingly, leading atheologians (Such as Mackie and Williams) concede that the deductive form of the problem of evil stands overturned. Thus, a new question is put on the table.
- It is: But what if the world seems to contain too much evil, and evil that is apparently pointless, i.e. gratuitous? First, the greater good “absorbs” at least some of the evils. To this, the Christian Theist further responds that there are goods in the world that are left out of the account so far; especially, that the fall of mankind led to the greatest good of all: that God loved the world and gave his Son, setting in motion the programme of redemption as a supreme good that absorbs all evils. That is, it is rational for a Christian to believe there are no un-absorbed evils, even though the a-theologian may beg to differ with the Christian’s beliefs.
- However, it should be noted that there is an existential or pastoral form of the problem of evil (as we saw above): where the overwhelming force of evil and pain brings us to doubt God. To that, no mere rational argument will suffice; for it is a life-challenge we face, as did Job. And, as a perusal of Job 23:1 – 7, 38:1 – 7, 40:1 – 8, 42:1 – 6, God may be more interested in exposing our underlying motives and calling for willingness to trust him even where we cannot trace him, than in satisfying our queries and rebutting our pained accusations. That is, it is at least possible that God is primarily in the business of soul-making.Where then does the problem of evil stand today?On balance, it is rational to believe that God exists, but obviously there are many deep, even painful questions to which we have no answers. And, those who choose to believe in God will have a radically different evaluation of evil than those who reject him. >>
KF, 151:>>I took time out to track down the essay where the ideas are introduced by Ms Scott. The taint [of slander] I pointed out is there from the outset. Ms Scott complains on citing Gould on the trade secret of paleontology, then says:
Creationist debaters (at least the nationally-prominent ones) are masters at presenting these half-truth non-sequiturs that the audience misunderstands as relevant points. These can be very difficult to counter in a debate situation, unless you have a lot of time.
[–> she later contradicts herself on this point, arguing for a tight time debate format that locks out substantiating the big picture problem that is at stake; surely, 45 minutes and what a 20 – 30 minute rebuttal is a lot of time, especially after hundreds of debates have been done and books have been published so the substance is no surprise. BTW, Creation Scientists Answer their critics is a key part of that literature, as well as Gish’s Fossils say no series]
And you never have enough time to deal with even a fraction of the half-truths or plain erroneous statements that creationists can come out with. Even if you deal with a handful of the unscientific nonsense spewed out by your opponent, your audience is left with the , “Yeah, but…” syndrome: well, maybe there are intermediate forms and the creationist was wrong about radiometric dating, YEAH, BUT why didn’t that evolutionist answer the question about polonium halos?” (or some other argument.)
[–> Thin gruel. If one has solidly broken several key cases AND has laid out the positive evidence that actually shows by clear observed case the pattern of body-plan level macroevo that surely is there all across the fossil record, the other side should be shattered. Oh, maybe, the point is, that from molecular machines in the cell to major body plans, there is a systematic pattern of gaps and islands of function isolated by gaps without functional forms . . . in which case Gish and co clearly have a point, one the public has a RIGHT to hear.]
The evolutionist debater is never going to be able to counter all of the misinformation that a creationist can put out in a lengthy debate format. And the way these things work is that suspicion is sowed in the minds of the audience no matter what . . . .
[–> suspicion that a case has not been made on the empirical merits, substantiating the arguments by icon?]
Now, there are ways to have a formal debate that actually teaches the audience something about science, or evolution, and that has the potential to expose creation science for the junk it is. This is to have a narrowly-focused exchange in which the debaters deal with a limited number of topics. Instead of the “Gish Gallop” format of most debates where the creationist is allowed to run on for 45 minutes or an hour, spewing forth torrents of error
[–> see the contradiction? What about the cross-complaint that YEARS of schooling, hundreds of hours of TV time, acres of museum space and more are used to indoctrinate and it is complained that there should never be a forum where both sides can make the case they have in summary at feature article length or book chapter length?]
that the evolutionist hasn’t a prayer of refuting in the format of a debate, the debaters have limited topics and limited time.
There is much that is utterly wrong with this essay, for reasons already highlighted and in part noted in-quote.
In particular, a torrent of half-truths is a thinly veiled way of saying reams of lies. For, a half-truth is a whole lie. Including twisted quotation — as I was accused of above. I here substantiate that my concern was there from the beginning, though Ms Scott is a bit more genteel than the raw statement in Rational Wiki which I found years ago on first encountering this pseudo-fallacy.
Where spewing reams of half-truths, lies, distorted dishonest quotes etc is an actual problem, any half-decent lawyer knows that if you pick out several points of error, and properly expose falsity and deceit or even just incompetence, the credibility of the other side is shattered.
So, the rhetorical premise Scott offers is fundamentally false.
Her claims about Creationists dodging narrow formats is also misleading, as in fact the claimed gradualism is a matter of a wide array of evidence relative to 150 years of fossils, with a broad pattern that should be there but is not. That’s Gould’s famous trade secret. And no it’s not just rates, the rates issue [as is suggested in Punctuated Equilibria] was put up to explain the gaps. The systematic gaps.
So, the core point is there, right from the beginning. The term is tainted, it insinuates deceitful insincerity and manipulation of the public. Even, going so far as to suggest that a format that gives time to make the case is calculated to get away with in effect public education fraud.
I am reminded of the what, six year old offer here at UD that we would publish an up to 6,000 word or so (the limit is generous and flexible, where at 120 WPM that is 50 minutes of speech, about the times in question) essay that would outline and substantiate the core blind watchmaker thesis case for ooL and tree of life. Links can go elsewhere but the case as a summary must be made in the essay. After a year of pursuing it, no satisfactory submission was received from the penumbra of objector sites.
That is relevant to the credibility of the argument Ms Scott made. No, I do not buy the claim, for cause.
Coming back to the core point, it is clear that “Gish gallop” is loaded to the point of slander and should not be used. it boils down to saying that if one puts up a sustained, lecture length or magazine feature article length argument with many sources, using expert testimony against interest one is a liar and misquoter, pretty automatically.
That is patently false and unjustifiably accusatory.
It is time this was set aside.
And, web searches show the term is now being migrated into making even more loaded political points in what is in effect a policy opinion verbal war that is deeply poisoning the atmosphere for discussion.
Something is wrong here, seriously wrong.
Something connected to the obvious ongoing suicide of our civilisation.
It is time to turn back before the crumbling cliff’s edge collapses underfoot.>>