Galloping Gish! So many papers, so little relevance

Have you been privileged to interact with that fine, tiny but very loud cabal we call #antivaxxers? Do you know the ones? Those who have minds totally made up. They aren’t hesitating to use vaccines, they are all-in against them in every fantastical way you can imagine.

The hardcore antivaxxer is better described as #proillness, #prodisease or even #proplague. If you’ve engaged with them, you may have been on the receiving end of a particular Gish Gallop that includes a single bolus of dozens (currently over 150) articles. Let’s look at how rubbish that list really is.

But first: what is a Gish Gallop?[1-3] This is a debate technique named after Duane Gish a creationist and first coined by Eugenie Scott. The Gish Gallop confuses an argument by drowning the user’s opponent in a flood of weak half-truths and baseless feelz to prevent the target from immediately replying to each point.

The Gish Gallop is intended to give the impression that the user has lots of evidence and that the opponent doesn’t know about the topic or doesn’t have the answers.

On Twitter, this is used a lot by the #prodisease cabal. Sometimes its use is followed by them walking away saying the opponent – often an expert – doesn’t know what they’re talking about. And if the opponent does address each issue, the audience will probably have walked off through boredom!

The naughty list

During debates on social media, the well-prepared #prodisease cultist will throw in a long list of articles. The cult seems to believe this list supports their position that vaccines are bad mmkayyy.

In reality, the list doesn’t support the prodiseaser’s position because; the pieces are just that bad. That the list is flawed is not unexpected given the lack of relevant expertise among those creating and curating this list. Despite the list looking impressive, it really isn’t and above all, its use aims to mislead and misinform. Its contents can be dismissed or debunked by those with scientific expertise. And they have been. On multiple occasions.

Bring on the debunking

Below are some of the best sources of analysis that take this list apart.

The authors have spent time from their own lives – and probably part of their souls – to do this work and it is greatly appreciated by those of us looking to get a quick understanding of this list and its articles without reinventing the wheel.

124 (now 144) (now 157) papers that DO NOT prove vaccines cause autism

Blog: Stories from the Trauma bay
http://www.docbastard.net/2016/05/124-papers-that-do-not-prove-vaccines.html

Those Lists of Papers Claiming That Vaccines Cause Autism: They Don’t Show What They Claim (Part 1)

Blog: I Speak of Dreams
https://lizditz.typepad.com/i_speak_of_dreams/2013/08/-those-lists-of-papers-that-claim-vaccines-cause-autism-part-1.html

Vaccines and autism: A thorough review of the evidence (2019 update)

Blog: The Logic of Science
https://thelogicofscience.com/2019/03/12/vaccines-and-autism-a-thorough-review-of-the-evidence-2019-update/

These will prove very handy when I head off hunting the wild #prodisease beasts. Although these works of debunking don’t make for a fun read, they are important resources in a time when we need to be organised and have our facts on hand.

References…

  1. Gish Gallop
    https://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Gish_Gallop
  2. Gish Gallop
    https://speakingofresearch.com/2012/09/11/gish-gallop/
  3. GISH GALLOP – LOGICAL FALLACIES
    https://www.skepticalraptor.com/skepticalraptorblog.php/logical-fallacies/gish-gallop-logical-fallacies/

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1 thought on “Galloping Gish! So many papers, so little relevance”

  1. Individual experiences forms, often, the perception of reality. When I was a teen, I was a devouring reader, so I fell in love with many encyclopaedias. One of them was titled ”Encyclopedic Dictionary of Parapsychology and Paranormal”, written by a renowned Italian linguistics scholar. It was an extremely useful exercise: after reading more than 1,000 pages of greek-latin-derived neologisms, I was finally and definitely sure that no such things as mediums, telekynesis, precogs, ghosts and so on exist in nature! So, the best way to understand the non-rational ideas is to full-immerse in them for a while with an open-minded approach. Then the light will be at the sight at the end of the tunnel. The refusal of medications administered by doctors (not the OTCs, the ‘miracle’ pills advertised everywhere and toxic as all other chemicals we encounter in our life) is surely based of many factors, not solely of pure absurdity or illiteracy. The failure of public health officials to form a multidisciplinary approach to cope with this situation might impair the efficacy of the overall citizens’ health, just when a combination of factors are plotting a bleak future: climate change, ecological disasters, emerging diseases, antibiotics failures. Individualism, profit, ill-faithed politicians are driving forces against our health.

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