A notorious old fraud has kicked the bucket: Duane T. Gish is dead. He was a true pioneer in the art of lying: he was infamous for his “Gish gallop” style in which he’d simply rattle off distortion after lie after BS at a rapid-fire rate, trusting that any intellectually honest opponent would never catch up with him. He mastered the Chewbacca Defense before it was even named.
The NCSE has a beautiful quote from Karl Fezer that summarizes the Gish style:
Gish will say, with rhetorical flourish and dramatic emphasis, whatever he thinks will serve to maintain, in the minds of his uncritical followers, his image as a knowledgeable ‘creation scientist.’ An essential component is to lard his remarks with technical detail; whether that detail is accurate or relevant or based on unambiguous evidence is of no concern. When confronted with evidence of his own error, he resorts to diversionary tactics and outright denial.
Yeah, that’s Gish through and through.
Brett McCoy says
Wow, I thought he’d died a while back.
Brett, no that was LILLIAN Gish, a much more interesting person
I wonder if he has now managed to work out where went wrong?
Rev. BigDumbChimp says
“I did not attend his funeral, but I sent a nice letter saying I approved of it.”
Katherine Lorraine, Tortue du Désert avec un Coupe-Boulon says
My condolences to his family and loved ones.
In a hundred years from now the Creationists will still be printing his books and selling his DVDs. He’s a liar for Jesus; a hero to the cause; they’ll never let his memory die; not while they can make money from him.
I saw Gish at Cuttlefish U. quite some years back; it was astonishing. I went armed with a book, many years old at the time, which addressed Gish’s claims from an earlier book/lecture/interpretive-dance/whatever, and which took the time and space that a book can to address his gallop thoroughly. It even specifically mentioned some of his rhetorical flourishes, like the slide of a monkey’s face where he says “oh, sorry, that’s my uncle!” (or close–this is from memory, quite some time later).
His talk had not changed. It hadn’t needed to; in that whole hall, I got the feeling I was the only one who was seeing the big picture. The gallop worked; a biologist would stand up and say “well, I know you’re wrong on X, but I have a question about Y”; a physicist would say “I know you’re wrong about Z, but you mentioned this about W and I’d like to ask…” The overall impression was of a very successful and convincing talk, when the whole thing was utter bullshit.
I wanted to arm people with buzzers and flashing lights, so that, say, a green light would go off when a biologist heard something that was untrue, a blue light when a chemist heard something untrue, a yellow light when a physicist, a red light when a philosopher heard an error in logic… I’d run out of colors before I could adequately address all the demonstrably wrong statements, but at least the audience would have some notion of how egregiously, willfully false he was.
Rev. BigDumbChimp says
I like that light idea, a lot. Pass out a legend for the lights ahead of time so everyone understands.
Like it a lot.
I heard Gish speak a few times. He liked to call evolution the “Fish to Gish” theory. He had a real flair for making fun of the opposition. But the funny part was that he was VERY simian looking – sloping forehead, jutting jaw, snub nose, etc.
Cuttlefish’s description of Gish’s talk could be used word for word for a Gish presentation I attended at UC Davis, where the pious old fraud smoothly repeated oft-refuted claims and arguments with nary a hesitation or shadow of a doubt. Of course he had known for a long time that his comments about — for example — the second law of thermodynamics were bogus, but he ignored that, secure in the knowledge that most of his audience would not know that. The university’s Christian student groups were writhing in delight while the outnumbered biology, physics, and anthropology students (and at least one math student) were horrified. Gish smiled through the whole damned thing (and included that “uncle monkey” quip, too). The old propagandist is gone now, but at least he’s spared the knowledge that his god was as fake as he was. Believers don’t get an afterlife any more than we do, so they never discover how wrong they are.
Akira MacKenzie says
If I may borrow the opening line of H.L. Mencken’s obituary of William Jennings Bryan:
“Has it been marked by historians that the late Duane Gish’s last secular act on this earth was to catch flies?”
throwaway, promised freezed peach, all we got was the pit says
He will be missed by those who cared about him. ‘Tis about the nicest thing I could say about him. And more than I could say about Jerry Falwell upon his demise.
My condolences to his friends and family. They can be comforted by the fact that he will live on. As long as there are professional liars for Jesus, Gish will be remembered. As long as people refuse to accept reality, Gish will be remembered. As long as liars gallop, Gish will be remembered. As long as ‘throwing everything up against the wall and hoping it will stick’ works, Gish will be remembered.
I never saw him speak but I have heard some of his minions echo his ‘style’ of nonargumentation. Though they may never have heard of him, though their subject matter may be completely unrelated, their refusal to allow reality to intrude into their world will continue to echo through the ages as the Gish Gallop.
“He was a very humble man. And he had much to be humble about.”
— W. Churchill
Gregory in Seattle says
One should only speak good of the dead.
He’s dead: good.
As the saying goes I would never have wished harm upon him in life but I am quite pleased now to be reading his obituary.
Akira MacKenzie says
I’m no Cuttlefish, but…
Ding Dong! The Gish is dead. What’s a Gish? It’s Duane Gish!
Ding Dong! The Slimey Gish is dead.
Wake up – he’s bit the dust. Of biologists, he did disgust.
Wake up, the Lying Gish is dead. He’s gone the way that all flesh goes,
A hole – a hole – a hole- a hole, let’s bury him now before he stinks and decompose.
Ding Dong’ the merry-oh, blog it high, blog it low.
Let all know
The Wicked Gish is dead!
(I cast PZ in the role of the Corernor.)
Akira MacKenzie says
Akira MacKenzie says
Ogvorbis @ 13
Personally, I liked Leo G Carroll’s line from “We’re no Angels:”
“He had a number of good points, I’m sure. I just can’t think of any.”
And 208 millions years from now, an evolved octopuss creationist will answer to the tentacled scientists showing Dish’s fossilized remain as proof that a somewhat intelligent life existed before them that of course, these paceful bipedals creature was certainly not capable of making tools and lived in the trees with Glouxib’Lakbrock -may the name of the Hallowed Ancestor remain praised for all eternity- probably as a pet.
Akira MacKenzie says
grumpyoldfart @ 6
Actually, thanks to the twin cancers of capitalism and religion, a century from now civilization will have long since collapsed. The few dying remnants of humanity, living in a toxic greenhouse hell, will be too busy trying to collect shiny bits from the rubble of our once great cities to trade for what passes for food and praying for the sweet release of extinction to care about the late Mr. Gish.
Perhaps he will live on in the phrase “Gish Gallop” because it succinctly captures a particular rhetorical technique.
Akira MacKenzie says
Ugh, it’s too early in the morning (for me at least) to proofread. Need sugar and caffeine.
I once read something written by an evolutionary biologist who had done the unthinkable: he followed along with the Gish entourage throughout one of his speaking tours. He eventually befriended the people in the group — and even spoke and dined regularly with Gish himself. They knew he was an ‘evolutionist’ but apparently accepted his honest claim that he was only interested in observing.
What he observed was something rather remarkable — and it took him a while to recognize it. Duane Gish apparently wasn’t aware that he was lying. He appeared to have an astonishing ability to compartmentalize which seemed to fool even himself — along with a memory hole which had no bottom. He would say something in one debate, be corrected, thank the person who corrected him and say he’d change his talk … and then not change his talk. Obvious lie. And yet personal discussions offstage — direct or overheard — slowly revealed that Gish didn’t remember any of it. He’d say things to people he must have known he could not fool and yet he’d say them anyway, blithe and comfortable and serene that he’d done nothing untoward.
The Observer from the Realm of Science reluctantly concluded that the bullshitter had bullshitted himself. He wasn’t “lying for God.” You say what? No. He never said that, never heard that, never did that. Nope, didn’t happen.
Following this guy around must have been like living in “Groundhog Day.”
Glen Davidson says
Designed to die, I see. How clever of God.
No, the excuses don’t work, except for fooling yourself.
Pierce R. Butler says
Hats off, flags to half-staff!
Given that lies are the chosen medium of our era, it must be acknowledged that we have lost a Grand Master of the art.
Duane Gish has given his name to a technique, a genre, in which he had many imitators but no peers. Neither Richard Nixon nor Ronald Reagan achieved such recognition!
Almost perfect, but I keep seeing an extra syllable in there, so I cut the last “a hole” =P maybe it’s because I can only hear this song in Klaus Nomi’s voice?
Akira MacKenzie says
vaiyt @ 26
Yeah ,I had a little trouble with the middle. The original lyrics go:
She’s gone where the goblins go,
Below – below – below.
Yo-ho, let’s open up and sing and ring the bells out.
They essentially throw out the rhyme scheme with that last line and I was deuced to think of anything that would work well. That, and I hadn’t had my morning stimulants so I wasn’t at 100%.
I have had talks with people who can compartmentalize their minds maybe not to that degree but I always find in utterly amazing and astonished when I discover it. It is like they can think but have an idea and then just stop and never connect with the rest of their thoughts even when they are in conflict.
If we survive the next 100 years with a civilization let us hope that creationism will no longer bother us. The Gish Gallop though will still be with us how ever it may have a different name.
“Gish Gallop finally comes to a halt”
Don’t bet on it. I’ve seen Hovind Sr. do the Gish Gallop, and there’ll be more.
if you really cared, you would have said that BEFORE the destructive idiot kicked it.
I’ve mentioned the psychology of Gish that was evidenced by that “tour”, to absolutely no avail to anyone, frankly.
nobody in academia who criticized the man, nobody who takes the battle against creationism seriously, while they might mention in passing, or even jest, the common projection and denial exhibited by creationists, ever seems to acknowledge what this really means….
…likewise this mention of it will get interested nods, but in the end, nobody will acknowledge that this means there is a treatable personality disorder involved. In the end, Gish “wins”, and it all becomes about the content of what he said, instead of why he was saying it.
I should give condolences that someone is alive? What the hell is wrong with my writing today? I wasn’t trying to be funny or sarcastic or shitty. No matter how much of an ass he was, his family will still grieve and I offer my condolences.
David Marjanović says
TRIGGER WARNING FOR DEPRESSION
Treatable? Are you sure it’s treatable?
Technically, you wrote “friends and family” in comment 13; Katherine Lorraine wrote “family and loved ones” in comment 5, and that’s what Ichthyic quoted.
The condolences would have been for the fact that he had turned… unreasonable.
I like the personality disorder hypothesis, but personality disorders, almost by definition, are highly resistant to treatment.
Does anyone anywhere know of any writings, videos, etc that show Gish repeating the same stuff as fact, even after he’d been refuted?
Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says
You’re making the naive presupposition that he would acknowledge he was wrong….Godbot’s doing testament for their imaginary deity are never, ever wrong, no matter what evidence you present.
Chucking feces all over the place…
Donald Prothero said in Evolution: What the Fossils Say and Why It Matters that he’d once debated Gish and, after receiving a tip from someone else had asked for and received the first and third quarters of the debate, then proceeded to refute all of Gish’s points before Gish had the chance to make any of them. He even preempted a few of Gish’s jokes. Gish apparently didn’t even notice.
I’ve tried without success to find a video of the debate.
Spread the rumor that Gish recanted on his deathbed and died a happy and intellectually honest man. (Thanks to harold at Panda’s Thumb.)
treatable in the sense that once acknowledged, there are ways of working with it that don’t empower it instead.
Azuma Hazuki says
I am ashamed to say my first thought was “Yes! Finally!” It was followed literally milliseconds later (100-300) by “Of course, not to take pleasure in anyone’s death, it’s just good, if sad, that this particular loudmouth isn’t peeing in the meme pool any longer.”
But as other posters have commented, the man’s ideas and technique live on :/
I heard he converted to evolutionism on his death bed. Praise Darwin!
Markita Lynda—threadrupt says
What disorder would that be? It sounds more like brain damage–inability to form new memories. But perhaps I’m being too harsh. Narcissism?
His mind did, many years ago. His body just finally caught up.
Damn, I was going to say literally word for word what Brett McCoy said in #1. Oh well, I’ll just say that liars and jerks lost a role model today.
Scanning the headlines without my glasses. I thought the quote was from Karl Rove, an appreciation of deceit from a master.
“Gish will say, with rhetorical flourish and dramatic emphasis, whatever he thinks will serve to maintain, in the minds of his uncritical followers…” Uh, sorta like Limbo the Walrus, Malkin the flippin Filipino, Hannity the vacuum head, and O’reilly the myth maker? Looks like we have lots of Gishes around serving lots of credulous folks.
Gish was a meat robot. Just following his programming.
Another example of fundie xian induced cognitive impairment. Michele Bachmann, internet trolls, WL Craig, Duane Gish, and many other data points.
Cuttlefish, the idea of the light signals for errors in Gish’s speech is a good one, except…
The beginning of the speech would have to include a seizure warning due to flashing lights.
Racism is not OK.
Paul Coddington says
Unfortunately, there are still plenty more con men out there pushing the same old crap. I used to have Gish’s books on my shelf for reference purposes, but when it came time to pack up and return to NZ (and needed to cut down on non-essentials to save on removal costs), I felt relieved to be able to throw them away.
At least now he knows how wrong he was. Then again… he doesn’t.
Fat shaming isn’t OK either.
Well, I found some examples of Gish caught not correcting his “errors”:
The bullfrog story is a good one. More complete details here: http://www.skeptictank.org/files/evolut/bfrog2.htm
I’ve always been fond of this passage from Philip Kitcher (_The Advancement of Science_, 1993, Oxford Univ. Press, pp. 195-196), which I believe Gish inspired:
The behavior of creation scientists indicates a kind of inflexibility,
deafness, or blindness. They make an objection to some facet of
evolutionary biology. Darwin’s defenders respond by suggesting that
the objection is misformulated, that it does not attack what
Darwinists claim, that it rests on false assumptions, or that it
is logically fallacious. How do the creation scientists reply?
Typically, _by reiterating the argument_. Anyone who has followed
exchanges in this controversy or has read the transcripts of a series
of debates sees that there is no adaptation to any of the principal
criticisms. One important example among many is the creationist
use of the second law of thermodynamics. For nearly twenty years,
the major exponents of creation science have been declaring that
the second law of thermodynamics is incompatible with the evolution
of life. Creationists have been in the presence of people who have
given lengthy critiques of their objection and there is substantial
evidence that their eyes have wandered over some of the pages on
which such critiques have been printed. How has their thinking
adapted to these critiques? Apparently not at all, for they make
no replies to them and continue to present their ideas in exactly
the same way.