Duane Gish, Creationist, dead at 91

gishDuane Gish, Senior Vice-President Emeritus for the Institute of Creation Research, anti-evolutionist, died on March 5 at the age of 91.

Gish was one of the world’s most infamous Creationist writers and debaters. His ploy was to not use the evidence (which Creationism lacks) in an argument but to use rhetorical devices.

He was best known for his irritating method of debate where he would rapidly fire arguments and “facts” at his opponent and change the topic. Eugenie Scott, executive director of the National Center for Science Education, named this the “Gish Gallop.” In this technique, he could talk and talk and not say anything of meaning but put on a good show making it difficult for the other to answer. He had debated some famous skeptics including Michael Shermer and Massimo Pigliucci. This annoying tactic has since been identified in other debaters who lack good evidence for their claims but wish to appeal to the crowd. You will hear “gish galloping” used as a common pejorative these days.

Born in Kansas, he obtained his Ph.D. from the University of California, Berkeley in 1953 and was the author of several books, including books that promoted Christian Creationism to children.

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  12 comments for “Duane Gish, Creationist, dead at 91

  1. March 6, 2013 at 4:52 PM

    Gish expected to be in heaven right now, but the lucky guy will never know he was wrong.

  2. RDW
    March 6, 2013 at 5:15 PM

    The Gish Gallop. I’ll have to remember that. Has anybody else noticed the vacant minded look emanating from behind the eyes of people that believe as he does ??

  3. March 6, 2013 at 5:24 PM

    Gish Gallops off into the sunset.

  4. March 6, 2013 at 5:32 PM

    I wonder if he was being genuinely deceptive in his methods or if he believed so much in his cause that his subconscious just latched on to the technique?

  5. Russell G.
    March 6, 2013 at 6:31 PM

    The Gish Gallop is also a preferred tactic of Dinesh D’Souza and Alex Jones, among others.

  6. March 7, 2013 at 12:34 AM

    I wonder if coining the phrase “Gish Gallop” helped to promulgate the tactic?

  7. March 7, 2013 at 4:27 AM

    The idea of Creation is one result of cultural Natural Selection. It has also evolved. Mr Gish had no alternative of being other than as he was.

  8. March 7, 2013 at 8:58 AM

    How is it that one can obtain a Ph.D in biochemistry and not understand the subject?

  9. Chris Howard
    March 7, 2013 at 12:14 PM

    @ Peter: He received his Ph. D in 1953, I’m guessing that at that time there was a lot more “wiggle room” with regard to evolutionary theory.

    It’s also more likley that his underlying unreflective cognition (as they say in the cognitive psychology field) overrode the evidence taught to him in his biology coursework.

  10. March 7, 2013 at 12:41 PM

    @Chris. We humans are very good at ignoring evidence that does not agree with our mind set and misinterpreting evidence.

  11. March 7, 2013 at 5:14 PM

    The Gish Gallop is also a favorite of the anti-vax crowd. They like to combine it with moving goal posts.

  12. March 12, 2013 at 7:09 PM

    Here in TN, they have taken steps though new legislation to allow creationism back into the classroom. This law turns the clock back nearly 100 years here in the seemingly unprogressive South and is simply embarrassing. There is no argument against the Theory of Evolution other than that of religious doctrine. The Monkey Law only opens the door for fanatic Christianity to creep its way back into our classrooms. You can see my visual response as a Tennessean to this absurd law on my artist’s blog at http://dregstudiosart.blogspot.com/2012/04/pulpit-in-classroom-biblical-agenda-in.html with some evolutionary art and a little bit of simple logic.

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