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 listrealy 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 so as 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

Somewhere during these debates on social media, the more well-prepared #prodisease cultist will throw at you a long list of articles which they strongly believe support their position on vaccines being bad mmkayyy?

In reality, the list is made up of articles that don’t really support the prodiseaser’s position; the pieces are just that bad; you’d expect that given the lack of relevant expertise among those creating and curating this list. the list looks impressive but, in short, it isn’t. Its contents can be dismissed or debunked. 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. Debunking doesn’t make for a fun read, but these 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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