The Gish Explosion
The rhetorical technique known as the Gish gallop is widely recognized and appreciated, especially among rationalists trying to debunk pseudoscientific claims to popular audiences. It’s one of the reasons why scientists are advised not to publicly debate creationists even if given assurances of ‘equal time’.
The technique relies upon the availability of only finite time to present arguments. I’ve noticed, however, that the basic mechanics of the trick work even better if there’s no such limitation. I call the resulting strategy the Gish Explosion.
The concept is simple: when arguing, present a twisted version of the opponent’s arguments as well as invalid attacks against the artificial target. When they respond, repeat the procedure with their statements about your earlier misrepresentations. Every defense they put up becomes a resource for further misrepresentation, and correcting your errors takes far more time, effort, and space than it does to make them.
Essentially, take the Strawman technique and make it recursive.
Based on the number of idiots I’ve seen using this strategy, it seems to be highly effective, especially since the only real defense I’m aware of is to cease discussion. With an insufficiently observant audience, this will be viewed as surrender on your part, and it’s never a good idea to rely on the intelligence and perception of the people you’re trying to convince. By and large, if they were smart enough to see through the technique, you wouldn’t need to convince them of your point in the first place.