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The Galileo Gambit is a rhetorical technique sometimes used by proponents of denialist[1][2][3] or pseudo-scientific positions, such as the Intelligent Design/Creationist movement.[4]

The technique consists of pointing out that important scientific theories were often dismissed out of hand when they were first proposed. A commonly used example is the Heliocentric Theory. The writer or speaker then compares their own theory with that of Galileo and implies that they are similarly advancing a valid theory which is being rejected without having been fully considered. They also seek to imply that those rejecting their theory are close-minded and lacking vision.[5 ][6][7] The technique is a form of Straw man.

The term seems to originate from the blog Respectful Insolence:

Alties[8] frequently invoke Galileo and other scientists like Ignaz Semmelweis, who were at first rejected by the scientific orthodoxy of the time and had to fight to get their ideas accepted. The implication, of course, is that their ideas, whatever they may be (alternative medicine, intelligent design, Holocaust denial, psychic abilities, etc.), are on the same plane as those of Galileo or Semmelweiss. Frequently, they will add a list of famous scientists or experts who made predictions about the impossibility of something or other and were later found wrong, so much so that the statements sound ridiculous today.[5 ]

In specialist fields, other terms such as the "Semmelweis Gambit" have been used to describe similar techniques.[9]

See also


  1. ^ Milloy, Steven (2003-08-29). "Mars and the Eco-Inquisition". Fox News Channel.,2933,95960,00.html. Retrieved 2009-09-16.  
  2. ^ Milloy, Steven J (1997-06-30). "Science Made Easy: The Madeleine Jacobs Principle". Chemical & Engineering News. Archived from the original on 1998-12-03. Retrieved 2009-09-16.  
  3. ^ Lambert, Tim (2005-06-08). "Brignell's Law of Scientific Consensus". Deltoid. Retrieved 2009-06-16.  
  4. ^ Jason (2006-02-03). "Dizikes on Galileo Groupies". Evolutionblog. Retrieved 2009-09-16.  
  5. ^ a b Orac (2005-03-28). "The Galileo Gambit". Respectful Insolence. Retrieved 2009-09-16.  
  6. ^ Norton, Jim. "The Galileo Gambit". Info-pollution. Retrieved 2009-09-16.  
  7. ^ "Doggerel #28: "They Laughed at [Real Scientist], Too!"". The Bronze Blog. 2006-07-19. Retrieved 2009-09-16.  
  8. ^ Orac (2005-01-04). "What is an "altie"?". Respectful Insolence. Retrieved 2009-09-16.  
  9. ^ "Doing the Job for Ourselves: Logical Fallacies in Autism". Interverbal: Reviews of Autism Statements and Research. 2006-05-24. Retrieved 2009-09-16.  


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