I recently noticed a pattern of interaction with someone. This person will start talking about something, give overly elaborate explanations that wander wildly between disconnected ideas, often using pseudo-logic. I believe the goal is to obfuscate a message that is hidden within nonsense. The person is trying to seem as if they are being detail-oriented and very logical and smart, but really they are trying to slip in some message or question that they know will not be received well if asked outright. If you do your best to try to follow, which can be difficult, you really don't have time to think clearly about what is being said. Between topic transitions, the hidden message is inserted, and then in a contrived way they sandwich that message with more BS on the end, and then say... "What do you think about that?".

The believe the intent is to broach a topic/plant a seed while discouraging you from questioning the hidden message. the disturbing part is that the hidden message is usually insulting, demeaning or usually disempowering. At first this technique was something I didn't want to believe was happening, but over time and repeat performances (pre- and post- stroke), it is now painfully obvious this is their MO.

Again, the basic question is... has anyone read or heard of a term to describe this pattern of communication/interaction. It doesn't have to be a logical fallacy. In fact it sounds more like a propaganda technique.

  • 1
    Gish gallop? Jan 12, 2012 at 13:50
  • 2
    It's not clear to me how this is a philosophy question. Your question indicates a technique of "filibuster-rudeness" which is of content, not logical form. I think the general term for this is jerk?
    – stoicfury
    Jan 12, 2012 at 17:10
  • when I look at the FAQ I see it fitting in with "applied philosophy — specifically logic and argumentation". One might argue against that, but it's the closest match I can find anywhere on StackExchange. I feel this technique is jerkish, but we all have to deal with jerks of some kind. I am not looking for advice on how to handle it, but just the name of what this kind of strategy is called.
    – Dallas
    Jan 12, 2012 at 18:24
  • I would be tempted to accept gish gallop as an answer. As I read the beginning of your link @Raskolnikov it sounds almost identical.
    – Dallas
    Jan 12, 2012 at 18:27
  • I really like the term filibuster-rudeness... that's a good descriptor.
    – Dallas
    Jan 12, 2012 at 18:28

3 Answers 3


To make my comment an answer, I suggest that the technique described by the OP is in fact what is sometimes referred to as the Gish gallop:

The Gish Gallop is an informal name for a debating technique that involves drowning the opponent in such a torrent of half-truths, lies, and straw-man arguments that the opponent cannot possibly answer every falsehood that has been raised. Usually this results in many involuntary twitches in frustration as the opponent struggles just to decide where to start. It is named after creationism activist and professional debater Duane Gish.

Everything is in there, except for the introduction of a hidden message. That last part could be considered obscurantism, but this is a very broad term. Maybe closer when it comes to the hidden message would be JAQing off.

I must add that both terms are very informal and not standard accepted terms in philosophy, but rather in internet debates.


A term I've heard to describe such techniques (if they are implemented with full knowledge as to their messy, illogical, deceptive nature) is Obscurantism.

I have also heard people call it Post-modernism.

That was a joke.


Sounds similar to straw man fallacy, except your person is misleading your while asking for your approval instead of attacking your position.

  • "Presenting someone who defends a position poorly as the defender, then refuting that person's arguments — thus giving the appearance that every upholder of that position (and thus the position itself) has been defeated" sounds oddly familiar. Interesting.
    – Dallas
    Jan 16, 2012 at 13:31

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