Proof by verbosity:

Definition Example
When an argument is presented that is too complex, obtuse or verbose to reasonably deal with. Insomuch as it remains within our agency, it behooves us to eschew obfuscation, and espouse elucidation.
Also known as: argumentum verbosium / proof by intimidation
It’s true that, if your argument is not clear, your opponent can not attack your position. But presenting an intentionally unclear, imprecise or cluttered argument is not the modus operandi of those honestly wanting their argument to be vetted. A subset of this fallacy is the vague insulators fallacy. The inability to respond to such an argument often leads to the argument from silence fallacy.

Case Study One

A debator named Duane Gish used to present dozens of small arguments at length in rapid succession, making it nearly impossible for his opponent to fully respond to all of the arguments. This less-than-honorable tactic has come to be known at the “Gish Gallop”.

Case Study Two

Another technique that might fall within this fallacy is to request that a long paper or book be read that is promised to make the case. If someone is unwilling to distill the argument into a coherent summary of the argument that might generate deeper questions, their own understanding of the argument is justifiably suspect.

Keep in mind that a fallacious argument does not entail an erroneous position.

2 Responses to Proof by verbosity:

  1. Pingback: Argument by verbosity  |

  2. Pingback: On Wil Horter’s Gish Gallop about Alberta heavy oil and the Trans Mountain | A Chemist in Langley

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