Follow TV Tropes

Following

Chewbacca Defense

Go To

https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/screen_shot_2020_07_19_at_95218_pm.png
"Ladies and gentlemen of this supposed jury, it does not make sense! If Chewbacca lives on Endor, you must acquit! The defense rests."

Isaac: I don't really understand what's going on, but he just broke down crying. What do you suppose it means, Miria?
Miria: I think it means we won!
Advertisement:

A Chewbacca Defense is a way of "winning" a debate through methods other than logic and reasoned argument. The essence of it is that if you get your opponent to give up, then you "win". Even if you just spout patent nonsense — in fact, especially if you spout patent nonsense, because there's just no way to argue against it.

The sad part is that it works. Even in Real Life. Most politicians are quite adept at it. Indeed, they need to be, given how often they have to defend the indefensible. As such, the Chewbacca Defense commonly relies on Logical Fallacies and insane rhetorical techniques, like:

  • The False Dichotomy: If the other side is wrong about anything, no matter how irrelevant, they're wrong about everything — and you're right about everything.
  • The Ad Hominem: If you can do anything to make the other side look bad, you win. This is usually accomplished by misrepresenting their side entirely. Extra effective if you can compare them to Hitler.
  • Advertisement:
  • The Red Herring: If you can get your opponent to talk about something other than the key points, you win. It can be easily combined with the Ad Hominem attack by accusing your opponent of supporting or opposing something totally irrelevant to the argument, in such a way that they have to address it.
  • Quality by Popular Vote: If you can show that your side is the more popular argument, you win, regardless of whether your side is the correct argument.
  • The Shouting Free-for-All: If you win it, you win the argument. If you don't win it, you still win the argument, because you've forced your opponent into a screaming match rather than a real debate. Easily combined with Quality by Popular Vote, because people often side with the more charismatic debater, and they often equate that with the loudest debater.
  • Advertisement:
  • The Broken Record: If you repeat the same point over and over again, you win — because obviously, the other side didn't address it if you won't shut up about it. Extra effective if you keep repeating a catchy soundbite or buzzword.
  • The "Gish Gallop" (as it's known on RationalWiki, named after Duane Gish): Hit your opponent with as many arguments as you can in as short a timespan as you can. If they don't address every single one to your satisfaction, you win. And it's practically impossible for them to do that because they have no time to prepare and are not going to pay attention to everything you're vomiting out there.
  • Holding the Floor: If your opponent can't talk at all, you win. It's usually employed as the filibuster, which can be done even in formal debates in certain legislative chambers (most famously the U.S. Senate) — you don't have to actually advance an argument, just delay the proceedings.
  • And the tried-and-tested Insane Troll Logic: If it's impossible for the other side to even address your "argument", you win. Even if that's because your argument makes no sense and is impossible to respond to. This includes cases where you exhaust your opponent and they just give up on trying to convince you.

Even accusing your opponent of using a Chewbacca Defense is itself a form of Chewbacca Defense. This means it's bad form to make such an accusation, which in turn leads to what's known as "Chewbacca's Dilemma" — first, you can't defend yourself from an actual Chewbacca Defense, and second, no matter how intelligently and clearly you make your point, certain opponents will always perceive your argument as a Chewbacca Defense.

The trope is named after the "Chef Aid" episode of South Park, in which Johnnie Cochran — famous for his Courtroom Antic in defending O. J. Simpson in his famous murder trialnote  — defends his client by arguing that Chewbacca does not live on Endor, when not only did no one claim he did, it has nothing to do with the case. He then yells that the very fact that he's talking about Chewbacca shows the absurdity of the proceedings and the weakness of the case against his client. And it works! Indeed, many Real Life lawyers and politicians have spoken of the "Chewbacca Defense", even though in the context of the South Park episode itself, there were a lot of inaccuracies, as more than one lawyer has pointed out.note 

A common Courtroom Antic (even though Real Life courts are wise to this and will nip it in the bud pretty quickly); if it works too easily, you might be looking at a Kangaroo Court. Also a possibility for a Simple Country Lawyer using his Obfuscating Stupidity. Compare Confusion Fu, Passive-Aggressive Kombat, Refuge in Audacity, and Abomination Accusation Attack.


Examples:

    open/close all folders 
    Advertising 
  • One GEICO ad from 2016 involves a man on trial who bragged about his crimes online. His defense is that switching to GEICO can save you 15% or more on car insurance. The judge declares him not guilty as a result.
    Anime and Manga 
  • Isaac and Miria from Baccano!. The argument referenced in the quote? It wasn't even an argument at all, but rather a Shrinking Violet trying to introduce himself to them.
  • An utterly horrifying example in Durarara!!. After inviting two women to kill themselves with him, Izaya asks them if they think there is anything after death. After saying they do, Izaya proceeds to mock them, and tells them that killing themselves yet still believing in the afterlife is stupid since they're just trying to escape their problems. It's stated that his arguments are flawed and that there are many loopholes to exploit. The reason the women do not challenge him is that they believe Izaya is too twisted to reason with and nothing they said would get through to him.
  • In Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex, the Amoral Attorney tries to get his cyborg client off for murdering his girlfriend by trying to have the trial focus on the supposed (read: completely fabricated) technophobic beliefs of the officer who shot him.
  • Used in Horizon in the Middle of Nowhere by Pope Innocentius when he's debating against Masazumi. Masazumi has just accused the Testament Union of abusing the system of History Recreation to benefit themselves at the cost of an innocent person's life. She then proposes an alternative course of action that requires no deaths and benefits not just the far east but ultimately the whole world. The Pope's response? He reveals to everyone listening that Masazumi (who presents herself as male) is actually a girl and then accuses her of just using the situation to take power for herself. It was totally irrelevant, did nothing to counter her arguments, and it almost worked.
  • In Kill la Kill, Mako Mankanshoku is a master of using this. A side effect of being the local Cloudcuckoolander is that she often makes completely nonsensical speeches that reduce most villains to stunned silence. For instance:
    • When Ryuko is about to be disqualified from a tennis match she didn't know she was in, Mako steps in and argues that Ryuko won because she entered the match by rescuing her:
      Mako: She may have lost the match, but she won with friendship! Winning with friendship means winning at life!
    • One of the first episodes has Ryuko losing a fight horribly because of her modesty interfering with Senketsu's ability to bond with her. Mako's response? GET NAKED! Mako then goes into a long-winded speech about how Ryuko has the best bust she and her family have ever seen, and she should have no problem showing it off to her opponent. Weirder still, it actually works! Ryuko gets over her modesty and proceeds to win the fight.
    Comic Books 
  • Parodied in Asterix and the Laurel Wreath, where both opposing lawyers on a case attempt to use the same Chewbacca Defence (specifically quoting Cato the Elder's catchphrase "Carthago delenda est", see below).
  • In Youngblood: Judgment Day, defense attorney Skipper calls several witnesses to testify about a seemingly irrelevant detail of Riptide's murder (a book missing from her shelf), completely derailing the trial. Subverted when the alternate sequence of events he proposes, that the theft of the book was the real motive for the murder and the perpetrator was Youngblood teammate Sentinel, actually turns out to be true.
  • A rare heroic example is featured in the Paperinik New Adventures story "Fragments of Autumn", a Courtroom Episode. While Lyla's lawyer Photomas can't win the case just yet, he ends up rambling a list of legal citations and references so long that the judge gives a 24 hour extension on the case, giving PK the time to find new evidence.
    Fan Works 
  • In Equestria: A History Revealed, this was done in Chapter 4, in which the narrator purposely attempts to confuse you with confusingly similar terms and insane logic, and practically tells the reader that they just have the accept the confusion and move on, despite it not making a lick of sense.
  • In Farce of the Three Kingdoms, this is Zhuge Liang's preferred debate tactic.
  • The One Piece Fan Fic series Gorgon Zolo makes reference to the South Park episode with Gaimon, the midget-afro-treasure chest-pirate taking the place of Chewbacca — as part of a disclaimer, no less.
  • The Vinyl Scratch Tapes:
    Octavia: What does solving mysteries have to do with music anyway?
    Vinyl: What don't they have to do with it?
    Octavia: ...That's so stupid I don't know how to respond.
    Vinyl: Hurray, that means I win by default!
    Films — Animated 
  • Kronk's shoulder devil in The Emperor's New Groove tried this: his argument for why Kronk should let Kuzco die was that (1) his angel counterpart was a pansy; and (2) he, the devil, could do a one-handed handstand. The latter actually convinced the angel more than it did Kronk, who was just confused and told them both to leave. This is particularly amusing because this is one of the few times Kronk actually poses an intelligent question as opposed to his usual demeanor as Dumb Muscle:
    Shoulder Devil: Reason number two: Look what I can do! [does a one-handed handstand]
    Kronk: But... what does that have to do with—
    Shoulder Angel: No, no... he's got a point.
    Films — Live-Action 
  • In Animal House, Otter somehow turns the charges against the Deltas for having sex with their drunk party guests into an attack on the fraternity system, which is an attack on college, which is an attack on America. Then all the Deltas march out humming "The Star-Spangled Banner". This does not help in the least. But the Deltas don't really care.
  • The short film The Flying Car from The View Askewniverse features Randal asking Dante what he would do to get a flying car. He mentions cutting his foot off without anesthesia and having a German man fondle him, which Dante eventually agrees to. Randal then calls him out for agreeing with that.
  • Liar Liar: In a deleted scene, Fletcher defends an incredibly guilty mugger, somehow spinning his robbing an old man at the ATM and beating up a cop who tried to arrest him into his trying to help the man pick up dropped coins, being mistaken for a mugger, then attacked by the police. It's truly epic to watch. And it works.
  • In Listen to Me, the protagonists win a debate on abortion through use of the appeal to consequences fallacy. Not only that, but their debating coach explicitly instructs them to use stories that sway people in using these. This is treated as completely fine, however underhanded they are as tactics (that wouldn't be allowed in most real formal debates).
  • In The Coen Brothers' The Man Who Wasn't There, ace lawyer Freddy Riedenschnieder seems to base his career on this. His defense of the protagonist's wife involves a truly baffling spiel about the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle, while his defense of the protagonist himself involves some weird, vaguely existentialist drivel about him being a "New Man" in a modern, morally ambiguous world and thus, presumably, he isn't responsible for the crime charged. Unfortunately, it gets interrupted.
  • Surprisingly enough, it actually happened to Star Wars with Chewbacca himself. In the special features of the DVD set, when George Lucas proved too difficult for the executives to meddle with, thanks to Alan Ladd, Jr., they turned to a different approach: "But the Wookiee has no pants!" knowing that changing that would require re-shooting a lot of scenes, which would put Lucas severely over budget. Thankfully, that didn't work either.
  • Thank You for Smoking:
    • The protagonist uses this in the opening scene of the film, arguing that anti-smoking activists are the ones who want The Littlest Cancer Patient to die, since they would benefit from it, while Big Tobacco would be losing a valued customer.
    • The protagonist does it again when he demonstrates this to his son:
      Joey: ...so what happens when you're wrong?
      Nick: Well Joey, I'm never wrong.
      Joey: But you can't always be right...
      Nick: Well, if it's your job to be right, then you're never wrong.
      Joey: But what if you are wrong?
      Nick: Okay, let's say that you're defending chocolate, and I'm defending vanilla. Now if I were to say to you: 'Vanilla is the best flavor of ice cream', you'd say:
      Joey: [playing along] No, chocolate is.
      Nick: Exactly, but you can't win that argument... so, I'll ask you: so you think chocolate is the be all and end all of ice cream, do you?
      Joey: It's the best ice cream, I wouldn't order any other.
      Nick: Oh! So it's all chocolate for you, is it?
      Joey: Yes, chocolate is all I need.
      Nick: Well, I need more than chocolate, and for that matter I need more than vanilla. I believe that we need freedom. And choice when it comes to our ice cream, and that, Joey Naylor, that is the definition of liberty.
      Joey: But that's not what we're talking about.
      Nick: Ah, but that's what I'm talking about.
      Joey: ...But you didn't prove that vanilla was the best...
      Nick: I didn't have to. I proved that you're wrong, and if you're wrong, I'm right.
      Joey: But you still didn't convince me.
      Nick: [pointing to the passers-by] Yeah, but I'm not after you. I'm after them.
    Literature 
  • America (The Book) lampshades this process with one of the most interesting moments in Senate history:
    Senator Strom Thurmond (R-SC) set the record for longest filibuster with his 24-hour, 18-minute speech railing against a civil rights bill. Thurmond's oration obliterated the previous filibuster record, a 13-hour description by Daniel Webster of the massive dump he just took.
  • The Tom Clancy novel Executive Orders has politically-inexperienced President Jack Ryan questioned about abortion. He states that he's pro-life, but the decision should be left in the hands of the Senate. After he gets offstage, his Chief of Staff angrily points out that he just alienated the conservatives and the liberals; the former probably thinks he's using the Senate as an excuse, and the latter think the Senate is the only thing keeping him from rampaging all over a woman's right to choose. This is a rare example of an unintentional Chewie Defense (the CoS, incidentally, mentions that he himself is pro-choice).
  • In Gormenghast, Steerpike uses this method to manipulate two mentally retarded sisters into doing his bidding and keeping quiet about it—after all, he must know what he's talking about if he uses so many long words. There are also hints that the reason the entire population, including its ruler, go along with the pointless rituals enacted by Sourdust, Barquentine and then Steerpike is that they are so portentous and complex that it is assumed they must be really important and necessary.
  • In Gery Greer and Bob Ruddick's Max and Me and the Time Machine the title characters' consciousnesses are sent back through time, ending up in the bodies of Middle Ages people. When the Earl of Hampshire tries to talk one of them into joining the Crusades he takes his Great-Uncle Dexter's advice ("If you can't convince 'em, confuse 'em") and comes up with a rather interesting oration:
    M'lord, thou hast asked me a question fair and true, and I shall answer thee forthrightly and forthwith. Hark ye! Mark ye! The House of Representatives! I speak, m'lord, of first base, second base, third base, and—forsooth—home plate! Zounds! For a farthing, I would leave my heart in San Francisco. Nay, nay, a thousand times, nay. Dracula and his band of ruthless ruffians shall not bob for apples! Ho! Therefore, wherefore, I do say it so!
  • The entire purpose of Newspeak grammar B in 1984 was to make a Chewbacca Defense easier - that is, to throw so many arguments at the opponent that he won't be able to answer, and leave people with no words to use anyway.
  • In Albert Camus's The Stranger, Mersault is convicted not so much for shooting an Arab as for not loving his mother enough and being an atheist.
    Live-Action TV 
  • Discussed in the All in the Family episode "Gloria the Victim." After Gloria is nearly raped while out for a walk, she's torn between either pressing charges or trying to put the whole incident out of her mind. A police inspector comes over and warns her, along with Mike and Archie, that if she does go to court, the suspect's lawyer will use this defense on her by dragging up unrelated subjects, such as the fact that she wears miniskirts or once posed nude for a portrait. Gloria protests that those incidents have nothing to do with the case at hand, and the detective explains that he's aware of that—the whole point is to distract the jury and convince them that Gloria somehow brought the assault on herself. After Edith shares her own story about nearly being assaulted as a young woman, Gloria decides to try to put the criminal away only for Mike and Archie to shout her down and insist on not pressing charges, leading to a Downer Ending.
  • In the Batman episode "Dizzoner the Penguin", which is part two of a two parter where Batman and the Penguin are running for mayor of Gotham City, the Penguin points out that Batman is often seen in the company of criminals, while he himself is often surrounded by police. He argues from these (technically true) facts that Batman is probably a criminal, while he himself is an associate of the law. This is after he pointedly declares that he won't engage in mudslinging.
  • A Bit of Fry and Laurie has a deliberately ridiculous example in the sketch "Judge Not". It starts:
    Lawyer: So, Miss Talliot, you are seriously asking the court to believe that on the 14th of November last year, the very night, I would remind the court, on which the crime that my client is accused of committing took place, you just happened to be walking in the park?
    Miss Talliot: That is correct.
    Lawyer: That is what?
    Miss Talliot: Correct.
    Lawyer: Oh, it's correct, is it? I see. I wonder, Miss Talliot, whether you were aware that the American novelist Gertrude Stein was a self-confessed lesbian?
  • Inverted in the Black Adder episode "Witchsmeller Pursivent". The evidence that Edmund is a witch includes that he was heard speaking to his cat (a witch's familiar), and that he feeds his horse carrots (the Devil's favorite "fruit"). It Makes Just As Much Sense In Context.
  • In the Coach episode "Van Damn (sic) vs. Fox", Luther burns his tongue at a barbecue at Hayden's after he takes a still hot sausage off the grill and bites into it, and decides to sue him for $12.5 million. Both men represent themselves and Luther's whole defense is trying paint Hayden's barbecue as being unsafe (noting that he served alcoholic beverages, for example), while Hayden's hinges on Luther being Too Dumb to Live. Ultimately, the judge sides with Luther, but, when Hayden explains that he doesn't actually own his house, Doris, (his team's owner and Luther's girlfriend) does, the judge orders her to pay the damages, causing Luther to immediately drop the lawsuit.
  • Community:
    • This is Amoral Attorney Jeff Winger's go to strategy as a lawyer. He particularly seems to like invoking 9/11. Subverted when he uses it in debate: his team loses, 50-8 (and the 8 were to Annie).
    • In the Darkest Timeline, Evil!Jeff uses this to get Evil!Annie out of the sanatorium. He claims that while she robbed multiple pharmacies and killed everyone who tried to stop her, clearly the real crime is someone so beautiful being locked up. Somehow this works.
  • Claire Huxtable uses this in an episode of A Different World where she takes Vanessa to visit Hillman and is "caught" having dinner with an old boyfriend. Vanessa questions Claire about her behavior; Claire simply responds that Vanessa can ask questions when she's "had five children and can still fit into a size six dress." This shuts Vanessa up pretty well. It helps that Vanessa was already in trouble for sneaking out to go on a date with Dwayne which is how they ran into each other.
  • Referred to as a "unicorn defense" in an episode of The Good Wife, in the context that the proprietor of a Wikileaks-like website has been accused of murdering his business partner and is instead trying to finger the NSA. The judge ropes in Alicia as his backup after he decides to represent himself, and it very nearly works with her assistance: the murder weapon is found, but Alicia rests her case to keep it from being introduced into evidence and negotiates a plea deal for five years.
  • An episode of L.A. Law saw attorney Michael Kuzak in a civil suit, contending with an opposing lawyer who kept interrupting testimony by stopping to do magic tricks, a tap dance and other antics. Since the judge was doing nothing to stop it, Kuzak had to fight fire with fire: he delivered his closing argument wearing a gorilla mask, and point-blank told the jury that the other side was doing this to keep them from noticing that they had no case. He won.
  • This happens a couple of times on Law & Order. In one episode, a Jewish man is charged with murdering another man who happens to be Muslim over a gambling debt. The Jewish man is represented by a Jewish lawyer who claims his client killed him in self-defense and uses the attacks on the Jews in Israel by Muslim countries as proof that the Muslim victim was the aggressor. Jack McCoy is able to win his case by reminding the jury that the case isn't about Muslims vs. Jews, but about money, one of the oldest motivations for murder. Afterwards, the Jewish lawyer admits he was using this type of defense, just to see if it would work and doesn't feel bad from losing the case.
  • Law & Order: Special Victims Unit: In one episode, Detective Benson investigates the role of an Army-administered medication in triggering assaults committed by veterans. During the trial, the military officer defending the Army accuses the detective of hating American soldiers, rather than challenging her on the evidence.
  • In LazyTown, on the rare occasion Robbie Rotten's disguises are doubted he often resorts to saying things like "Have you ever been to [x] school" and other badgering questions that the characters can't refute.
  • Played for Laughs in the Leverage episode "The Juror #6 Job". Hardison, who has no formal law training, needs to pose as a lawyer to help the plaintiff win her lawsuit. He stalls as long as possible, and discredits the defendant's scientific expert by getting him to admit that he (the expert) is on the no-fly list because of a history of lewd conduct on airplanes.
  • Used within Monk in the episode "Mr. Monk Takes the Stand" by attorney Harrison Powell. The defendant, Evan Gildea, was accused of murdering his wife, and his alibi is based on the existence of a large slab of marble that Gildea smashed apart and scattered across his driveway. Powell brings in the pieces and declares that, if Monk is right about the marble being a single piece which Gildea broke apart, then he should be able to put it back together, like a puzzle. So, Powell picks up a few random pieces and tries to fit them together. Of course, the odds of a few randomly selected pieces of a puzzle just happening to fit are very small, and so they don't. Powell asserts that this is proof of his argument. Powell ends up winning the case, though to be fair it's assumed that this is more because of Monk's severe mental condition shedding doubts on his testimony than Powell's performance.
  • During a sketch of Monty Python's Flying Circus, the lawyer calls in several unrelated "witnesses", including a "dead" man in a coffin who knocks once for "yes" and twice for "no":
    Judge: It's only a parking offence!
    Lawyer: Parking offence? Schmarking offence, m'lud!
  • Michael of The Office does this in the episode "China" at the end of his debate with Oscar on China's role in global politics. Oscar knows much more about the situation than Michael does, so Michael launches into a completely irrelevant speech about freedom and the American way. Everyone applauds, while Oscar vainly tries to remind them that it had nothing to do with the original argument.
  • Keyrock the Unfrozen Caveman Lawyer from Saturday Night Live abused this constantly. Every sketch would have him beginning his statements with lengthy monologues about how he's "just a caveman", frightened and confused in a modern world he doesn't comprehend, to establish himself as a complete outsider to humankind — and then rattling off his argument and desired verdict as if it's a universal truth even he can understand. Despite being an obvious slimeball attorney who's adapted extremely well to the 20th century, he always wins his case.
  • Stephen Colbert:
    • Parodied in The Colbert Report, who uses several variations of this when arguing with his guests, asking them foolish and emotionally provocative questions like "Why do you hate America?" and (back when George W. Bush was still president of the United States) "Bush: great president, or the greatest president?" He's even done this when arguing with himself, creating circular arguments along the lines of the following: If you were sent to Gitmo unfairly, you'd be angry enough at the government to want to overthrow it, and hence you'd deserve to be sent to Gitmo.
    • While still on The Daily Show, the Even Stevens bits which he performed along with Steve Carell were excellent parodies of this. The bits would begin with one of the Stevens saying the question under debate, followed by both alternating YES! or NO! as loudly as possible.
  • Played for Drama in one Suits episode. Donna is on mock-trial in the firm for perjury after covering up for Harvey. Louis is playing the prosecutor. His Armor-Piercing Question: "Do you love Harvey Specter?", which he repeats over and over again until Donna breaks down and runs out. Louis wasn't doing it out of spite, however, and explains in his "The Reason You Suck" Speech to Harvey that in a real court case the prosecuting lawyer would use the same dirty tactics.
    Radio 
  • From the original radio show The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy:
    Zaphod: What are they? Clinically thick?
    Ford: I think they're very clever; they're trying to confuse us to death.
  • Used often, sometimes by both sides at once, on The Debaters.
    Stand Up Comedy 
  • Comedian Ron White joked about this once:
    Ron White: I got kicked off the high school debate team for saying "Yeah?! Well, fuck you!" I thought I had won. The other kid was speechless. I thought that was what we were tryin' to do.
    Theater 
  • The musical Chicago has a song titled "Razzle Dazzle" that explains the trope quite thoroughly. It includes the line, "How can they see [the truth] with sequins in their eyes?"
  • Hello, Dolly! climaxes with an argument that winds up getting almost the entire cast arrested for disturbing the peace. Dolly appoints herself their defense attorney and gives a rousing speech for the defense which consists mostly of flattering the judge with a few words of gratuitous Latin thrown in.
  • In the court scene of Oklahoma!, this happens:
    Man: I feel funny about this! I feel funny!
    Aunt Eller: You'll feel funny when I tell your wife you're carrying on with another woman.
    Man: I ain't carrying on with no one!
    Aunt Eller: Maybe not, but you'll sure feel funny when I tell your wife you are.
  • "He Is An Englishman" from H.M.S. Pinafore is used as a defense of the leading couple's actions (of which the captain disapproves because their ranks differ). The captain is so confused by how this does or does not relate to the situation — especially because everyone on the Pinafore is English — that he ends up swearing, for which he is confined to his cabin.
  • Erasmus Montanus features a very early example of the Insane Troll Logic-type, albeit unintentionally on the part of the character. When the titular character returns to his backwater hometown after studying in Denmark, he tries to demonstrate his newfound skill in debate by challenging deacon Peer, the only other person in town with an education. Peer either lied about his education, or has forgotten most of it, so his "arguments" are just a rambling stream of nonsense, leaving Erasmus completely baffled and unable to respond. To the uneducated townsfolk, however, it looks like Peer is running circles around Erasmus.
    Video Games 
  • In Escape from Monkey Island, amoral real-estate developer Ozzie Mandrill nearly succeeds in taking over the Caribbean with this method. All pirate disputes are settled with Insult Swordfighting and other insult-based games, but no one can understand Ozzie's Australian slang. Since no one who fights Ozzie can come up with the counter to his insults, he wins by default.
  • Mass Effect 2:
    • Earning a discount, Renegade style:
      Shepard: HEY, EVERYONE! THIS STORE DISCRIMINATES AGAINST THE POOR!
    • During Tali's trial, if you don't bother speaking to the admirals but still have a high enough score to persuade them, you can convince them to let her off by pointing out that she did good some other time and you're shouting loud enough to get her out of trouble, dammit!
  • In the Mermaidman and Barnacle Boy cartoon within SpongeBob SquarePants: Lights, Camera, Pants!, Mermaidman is convinced that the choir performance they're watching is a football game. When Barnacle Boy tries to set him straight, Mermaidman responds, "Oh, you're only saying that because your team's losing!". Barnacle Boy tries to argue further but is completely unable to respond to this and just gives up.
    Visual Novels 
  • Ace Attorney:
    • Phoenix Wright is accused of doing this in the second game's final case by his long lost rival, Edgeworth. It's arguable that Phoenix did so in that case to stall for time, as well as in the second case of the third game in order to make the guilty party point out a detail of a piece of incriminating evidence introduced for the first time a few minutes ago, when he was out of the room - something he couldn't have known unless he was the killer.
    • Edgeworth himself does this if he presents wrong evidences when under player control, only to be called out on it by Franziska Von Karma.
    • This is the perennial strategy of his protégé, Apollo Justice. In the third case of his game, it turns out to be impossible to do because Apollo doesn't have the necessary evidence (he only wins the case because he threatens to call a decisive witness). The true killer had to be a Borginian cocoon smuggler as was previously proven. So, Apollo says that if the witness admits he's a smuggler, thus proving that Daryan is his accomplice, it in turn decisively proves that the only one who could be the killer is Daryan himself, as he is the only smuggler with no alibi for the murder. On top of this, considering that Borginian cocoon smuggling is punished with the death sentence in Borginia, if he admits he smuggled the cocoons during the current trial, the duty of punishment would fall on the American (Japanese in original version) courts instead of those of Borginia, meaning he would not be killed. So in other words, the killer must testify about his crimes, otherwise he will die, which means that there is no escape for the true killer.
    • A witness actually pulls this off in Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney – Dual Destinies. Hugh O'Conner's testimony about his body double in the mock trial is so unbelievable, so illogical, and so transparent that the prosecutor, Simon Blackquill, ragequits the questioning to "go for a stroll." It's actually pretty effective, since the defense eventually does get the truth out of Hugh, and Blackquill isn't there to hinder the proceedings.
  • Danganronpa turns this into a gameplay mechanic in the way of Bullet Time Battle and its variants, where the opposing side (usually in a last ditch effort to defend themselves) tries to throw a combination of random insults and nonsensical arguments at the Player Character with a loud noise at rapid succession. To counter this, the player has to destroy the opponent's assertions and eventually counter their final statement with the truth. True to this trope, losing these debates leads into an instant Game Over.
    • One of the most blatant cases of this is in the 4th trial in Danganronpa 2: Goodbye Despair, where Gundham Tanaka rapidly fires off an insane argument devoid of any logic or real connection to the subject at hand.
      Gundham: Even if the turbid box does not exist...you could travel through multiple planes...provided you use a spacious wormhole...however how frail, frail, I say! Your decayed illusion...shall I feed you to the progeny of vile deities!?
  • The protagonist of Melody, when he’s distracting Steve so Melody can slip out of his dorm room window, makes up a story that his daughter must be in Steve’s room, and when Steve says he must have the wrong room, he yells for his “daughter.” This one gets bonus points for the protagonist describing his “daughter” as a particularly crass college boy would describe a girl.
  • Used offensively in Umineko: When They Cry during the third arc. Battler has to prove that magic wasn't used to do something and rather than preparing actual logical arguments he just rushes on ahead and declares his victory before his opponent has any idea how the logic game even works. She turns out to be really good at it when she's given a chance to think, however.
    Webcomics 
  • Referenced and Inverted in Darths & Droids, when Han is facing treason charges. Chewbacca acts as his defense lawyer, which is noted by the players to be a wise decision given how intelligent and well-spoken Chewie is.
  • In the webcomic Elf Only Inn, April uses the "silence means consent/defeat" strategy in this discussion with Percy the sarcastic paladin:
    April: I can tell by your silence that you know I am right.
    Percy: [frowning] I bet you find that people "know you are right" an awful lot.
    April: [happily] I don't like to brag but no one even tries to argue with me anymore.
  • This strip from the webcomic Medium Large.
  • In strip #280 of The Order of the Stick, one of the lawyers planned a Chewbacca Defense using a comically oversized boot, despite the fact that he was a part of the prosecution.
  • This Shortpacked! strip. Based on an actual troll on his blog:
    You are working at a toy store, yes? Does that not make you a hypocrite?
    "What? How does that even—?"
    Money equals power. Power equals camel. Camel equals five celery sticks. Five. Quid pro quo.
  • In this Something*Positive crossover, Aubrey uses it proactively.
  • Not even used for any real purpose, but effective nonetheless in this Vexxarr comic.
  • Hobbits And Hole Dwellers: #21 and #22 Ted desperately tries to rein in Bailey during their cammpaign. Bailey, being a young child, responds with this without even trying.
    Ted: You're too young to roleplay Gandalf, Balin, and Dwalin at the same time-
    Bailey: Not now, Dwalin needs to show [Balin] where the animal crackers are. (as Dwalin) Hi, Balin! You're just in time! I found some more of Bilbo's animal crackers!
    Ted: Hey, how did you find that box?
    Bailey: (without skipping a beat) Dwalin's a detective.
    Ted: Well, uh, how did Balin find Dwalin?
    [Beat]
    Ted: Uh, Bailey-
    Bailey: (as Dwalin) These might be the best animal crackers ever! Call Gandalf too, Balin!
    Ted: (Giving up) Ummm, I think I just remembered, Gandalf is anti-tech-
    Web Original 
  • The Nostalgia Critic review of Suburban Commando suggests using the line "I was FROZEN today!" randomly in an argument to "watch what happens". He demonstrates it by acting out an argument with himself, in which the person who is yelled at with the line stares with a confused and slightly horrified look before slowly backing out of the room.
  • Most of the examples here are spoofs of the Chewbacca Defense. The list could itself be perceived as a straight example when someone tries to use it as proof that God does not exist (and that, itself, is actually on the list). Includes the "Argument From Argumentation," where one arguer just says God exists over and over until the opponent leaves, is practically a template for all the others. The opponent's arguments, since they're ignored anyway, are all written as "[Atheist's counterargument]." Counterattacked here using many of the exact same arguments.
  • Pretty much any forum out there on the Internet (politics, religion, video games, etc.) will see this happen at some point. Or at many points. If someone believes they are right, they will fight to the death to make other forum members know that their opponent is dead wrong. This has advanced to the point where there are specific Chewbacca Defenses that can be pointed out and some have even taken on a new life as memes.
  • Godwin's Law states that as any internet debate rages on, the probability of one side comparing the other side to Hitler gets closer and closer to one. The "Hitler rule", a universal Internet rule established based on Godwin's Law, dictates that once the Godwin Point has been reached, the person who referenced Hitler or the Nazis has automatically lost the debate and there is to be no further discussion on the subject. A corollary to the rule holds that invoking Godwin's Law intentionally because you're sick of debating ("You're Hitler. Debate over.") doesn't work. It should be noted that the Hitler Rule itself can also be considered a Chewbacca Defense. "This person mentioned Hitler, therefore their argument is false." doesn't really fly.
  • The comedy stylings of IMAO (In My Arrogant Opinion) are almost all based around this (such as nuking the moon for world peace).
  • This is how to win an edit war on any wiki, where the content is often controlled not by those with the more accurate information but by those with the strongest opinions.
  • Pick any online argument. 9 times out of 10, one side will spend more time tap dancing around an issue or the nature thereof with technicalities and hairsplitting than actually directly debating their stance on it.
  • This was discussed in a video of Andrew Klavan's On the Culture where the opposing argument can supposedly be defeated simply by telling them to shut up, as if preventing them from speaking their point of view immediately invalidates it.
  • Linkara, of Atop the Fourth Wall uses this in the form of 'because the kool-aid man is red' as an excuse for poor writing.
  • Cracked:
    • Cracked's take on how Mt. Rushmore got approval had the proponent of carving three Presidents' heads (Lincoln was added to seal the deal) using this to leverage his position.
    • Discussed in this article. Most of the argument techniques mentioned fall into this territory.
  • Stardestroyer Dot Net refers to this as "the O.J. Simpson defense", claiming it to be a three-part arrangement: make a ton of unsupported claims, treat all your claims as true until proven otherwise, and challenge your opponent to disprove every single one or lose completely. It alludes to this being used in Who Would Win debates - namely, a Star Trek fan rattling off the names of dozens of technologies, and demanding the other side demonstrate a counter for each one.
  • LegalEagle discusses the South Park episode and the defense as it appears in the court sequences within the episode in this video.
    Western Animation 
  • The Boondocks:
    • "The Trial of R. Kelly" features R. Kelly on trial for urinating on a minor. Despite the overwhelming evidence against him, he wins the case because of his popularity and his lawyer used manipulative Logical Fallacies such as comparing R. Kelly's perversions to the Founding Fathers', in an inversion of Hitler Ate Sugar, and accuses the staggering evidence of being "really" based on racism. The defense lawyer also makes an issue out of the fact that the DA in the case, Tom Dubois, has a white wife (Sarah). Huey Freeman calls the entire court out on their stupidity afterwards:
      [Huey turns off music]
      Huey: What the hell is wrong with you people? Every famous nigga that gets arrested is not Nelson Mandela! Yes, the government conspires to put a lot of innocent black men in jail on fallacious charges. But R. Kelly is not one of those men! We all know the nigga can sing! But, what happened to standards? What happen to bare minimums! You a fan of R. Kelly? You want to help R. Kelly? Then get some counseling for R. Kelly, introduce him to some older women, hide his camcorder! But, don't pretend like the man is a hero!
      [Huey attempts to return to his seat, only to come back]
      Huey: And stop the damn dancing, act like you got some goddamn sense people! Damn! Through playin' round here!
    • In "Return of the King", Huey and Martin Luther King, Jr. are on a Fox News-type show, and the host responds to King by saying "Do you love America?", implying that King is simply anti-American. What's worse is that the way he asked it seemed to imply that it's a standard question that he asks everybody in the hopes of sparking conflict. And what's even worse is that a political pundit (Sean Hannity) has said these very words verbatim multiple times. It also didn't help that the height of this line's popularity was during the lead-up to the Iraq War. Though he doesn't really get anywhere with this dialogue, because he promptly gets assaulted with a projectile folding chair and beaten up by a child.
  • Though this doesn't really happen in the "Apprentice Games" episode of Chowder, unless you count the awkward singing that drives everyone the hell out of the stadium, it is outright explained by Mung Dal in these words: "Winning isn't about being the best. It's about being so incredibly bad that the world can't possibly ignore you!"
  • The Dick Tracy Show: Mumbles and Stooge Viller are on trial for forgery, but Stooge has taken it on the lam. Go-Go Gomez is tasked with bringing him in as without him to translate Mumbles' mumbling, the case may be thrown out.
  • In the Duckman episode "Inherit the Judgment: The Dope's Trial", Duckman insists on using this despite having just been proven not guilty by virtue of the fact that he's in the one town in America where ignorance of the law is an excuse...because he wants to infuriate King Chicken so much that the latter confesses to setting him up in the first place. And it works:
    King Chicken: What are you talking about?!?
    Duckman: I DON'T KNOW! But I do know that even though there isn't a thought in my head, it is my right as an American to talk, and talk, and talk, and talk, and talk, and talk, and talk, and...
  • In the Family Guy episode "It Takes a Village Idiot, and I Married One", Mayor West uses this when Lois is running against him. Lois then wins the election by taking Brian's advice to do the same thing:note 
    Lois: Nine...
    [audience inhales]
    Lois: Eleven!
    [audience cheers]
  • Justice League:
    • In the episode "In Blackest Night: Part II", The Flash becomes the Green Lantern's attorney during his trial. The former doesn't have a clue what to use to turn the case around, so he uses a Chewbacca defense. He ends his speech with "If the ring wasn't lit, you must acquit!" Both of them end up getting sentenced to death. The use of the defense is justified in this case, since Flash wasn't really trying to win, just slow the trial down so that Superman and Martian Manhunter would have enough time to find proof that GL was innocent, which they did.
    • In "Eclipsed: Part I", talk show host Glorious Godfrey accuses the League of causing more crimes than they solve. Proof? White collar crime, which the League doesn't cover, went up 3%. The real kicker is when he claims that thanks to the League, half of marriages end in divorce, while the other half in death.
  • Kaeloo: In one episode where Kaeloo and Mr. Cat are having a debate where Quack Quack must decide the winner, Mr. Cat's only "argument" is to repeatedly Kaeloo a liar, which convinces Quack Quack to choose Mr. Cat. Kaeloo even lampshades the fact that his victory made absolutely no sense and he never said anything in defense of the subject he was arguing about.
  • An episode of Martha Speaks has the titular talking dog taking part in a trial. To sum up the story so far, the cranky old lady next door had her lawn furniture wrecked by a guy who was clearly talking on his phone while driving and running a red light, almost running other Martha and the lady. Martha, being a talking dog and all, is brought in as a witness. Then the driver tries to discredit Martha's testimony by bringing in a dog expert who says that Martha can talk because she doesn't know that she shouldn't be able to speak, and thus is a poorly trained dog (she isn't). True, the reason why she speaks only seems to work on her (and the letters from alphabet soup ending up in the brain is a little...impossible) but still. Around that point, the plot starts to get a little confusing, with the old lady, for no really explained reason, siding with the guy who almost ran her over.
  • The Simpsons:
    • When Marge is being prosecuted for shoplifting in "Marge in Chains":
      Blue-Haired Lawyer: Ladies and gentlemen of the jury. Who do you find more attractive. Tom Cruise or Mel Gibson?
      Judge Snyder: What is the point of all this?
      Blue-Haired Lawyer: Your Honor, I'm so confident of Marge Simpson's guilt, that I can waste the court's time rating the superhunks.
      Lionel Hutz: Ooohh. He's gonna win.
    • During Homer's dispute with the phone company in "A Tale of Two Springfields":
      Homer: I accuse the phone company of making that video on purpose.
      Lindsay Naegle: Well of course we did...
      Audience: [shocked gasps]
    • In "To Surveil With Love", Lisa joins the school's debate team. In her first debate, her opponent, a brunette girl, immediately circumvents the subject in favor of breaking down Lisa's argument on the grounds that Lisa is a Dumb Blonde. Much to the chagrin of anyone with half a brain, it works.
  • The Trope Namer comes from the South Park episode "Chef Aid". The defense is employed by Johnnie Cochran. An oft-overlooked aspect of the defense is that Cochran himself points out that the argument that he's making is utter nonsense, and is just using this as yet more evidence that the whole trial is a joke and the jury should acquit.
    Cochran: Ladies and gentlemen of this supposed jury, Chef's attorney would certainly want you to believe that his client wrote "Stinky Britches" 10 years ago. And they make a good case. Hell, I almost felt pity myself! But, ladies and gentlemen of this supposed jury, I have one final thing I want you to consider: Ladies and gentlemen, this... [reveals picture of Chewbacca] ...is Chewbacca. Chewbacca is a Wookiee from the planet Kashyyyk. But Chewbacca lives on the planet Endor. Now think about that. That does not. Make. Sense. Why would a Wookiee, an 8-foot-tall Wookiee, want to live on Endor with a bunch of 2-foot-tall Ewoks? That does not. Make. Sense. But more importantly, you have to ask yourself, "What does this have to do with this case?" Nothing. Ladies and gentlemen, it has nothing to do with this case! It does not! Make! Sense! Look at me, I'm a lawyer defending a major record company, and I'm talkin' about Chewbacca. Does that make sense? Ladies and gentlemen, I am not making any sense! None of this makes sense! And so, you have to remember, when you're in that jury room deliberatin' and conjugatin' the Emancipation Proclamation... does it make sense? No. Ladies and gentlemen of this supposed jury, it does not! Make! Sense! If Chewbacca lives on Endor, you must acquit! The defense rests.
For the record, Chewbacca doesn't live on Endor, he lives on Kashyyyk. In fact, nobody lives on Endor, because it's a gas giant. Ewoks live on one of Endor's moons. Therefore, Cochran's entire argument, in addition to being nonsense, is also completely wrong. Which may or may not have been the whole point since Chef was clearly the victim of a Frivolous Lawsuit and deserved to win. If Chewbacca lives on Endor, you must acquit, and he doesn't, so the jury shouldn't have acquitted and should have sided with Chef instead.
  • In The Spectacular Spider-Man episode "Identity Crisis", Venom leaks Peter Parker's Secret Identity to the press. When Spider-Man denies being Peter, Venom tells the press that former has to be Peter, since Spider-Man would have to unmask himself to prove he wasn't Peter. Spider-Man stops mid-battle to tell Venom how little sense it would make for him to reveal his secret identity to the world just to prove who that identity isn't.
  • The WordGirl villain Ms. Question was able to get out of a jail sentence the first time this way. It helps that confusing people is her gimmick and she causes people to suffer short-term amnesia.

    Real Life 
  • Although South Park named the trope, it's Older Than Feudalism:
    • The Ancient Greeks called this "sophistry". And they weren't particularly put off by it; they felt that logic and wisdom were just tools to get what you want and had no inherent value beyond that. Indeed, "sophistry" comes from "sophist", which was essentially a neutral term for a wise man. However, over time the word "sophistry" drifted to refer to underhanded or fallacious debate tactics (evident in other languages; for instance, the French term for a logical fallacy is sophisme). Perhaps this was the case even back then; after all, all we know about the Greek opinion of debating comes from their political rivals, who might have had a bone to pick.
    • Cato the Elder is famous, among other things, for ending his senate speeches with "Carthago delenda est," which translates to "Carthage must be destroyed." He did this in every single speech he gave, regardless of whether it had anything to do with Carthage. He believed that strongly that it had to go. But he also invoked Carthage as an Appeal to Worse Problems; whatever the senate was debating was likely not as critical to the existence of the Roman state than the Punic Wars. Cato continued the practice until the day he died, shortly before Carthage was razed to the ground, as he had wanted for years.
    • Cicero was quite adept at this tactic:
      • His "Pro Caelio" saw him get his client Caelius, who was most probably guilty, off on all charges by doing pretty much every trick in the book — from Sesquipedalian Loquaciousness to pretending to channel a certain woman's dead father for the purpose of calling her a slut. This threw the judges off so badly that they could never actually analyze the case at hand. Said woman was the sister of Cicero's Arch-Enemy Publius Clodius Pulcher, who similarly didn't have very much to do with the case.
      • He was so good at it that he was able to pull off the most glorious subversion of it in Roman history in his successful prosecution of Gaius Verres, the super-corrupt governor of Sicily. Verres hired Quintus Hortensius, widely regarded as the finest Roman lawyer and a master of the florid rhetoric that often swung trials. Hortensius deployed not just a Chewbacca defense, but a battery of procedural tricks to delay the trial (including giving Cicero only nine days to present his case, in an era when opening speeches usually lasted five), which would allow him to install his own Hanging Judge and make Cicero's job impossible. Cicero, however, had spent the previous year shuttling between Rome and Sicily gathering evidencenote , and chose to simply outline all of the defense's tricks, forgo making any speeches, and call the witnesses one by one. It took less than three days before Verres fled in exile (Disguised in Drag, no less) to Masillia, where he stayed until his death.
  • In formal debating, the Chewbacca Defense is seen as pretty much an American tactic. Parliamentary-style debates, which are the norm in English-language debate outside the United States, pretty much disallow the Chewbacca Defense; you have to use logic and reason to make your case. In America, winning a debate is all about defending your case. If you fail to offer a defense because your opponent tripped you up, then you're considered to have lost. This means that it's legitimate — and indeed, in many cases, necessary — to debate in such a way that you don't allow your opponent to address your arguments. Although you might get dinged for patent nonsense, it's quite common to see the Abomination Accusation Attack, because your opponent has to address it. Another common tactic is "spreading", in which you throw out as many arguments as you can — if your opponent cannot address all of them in the limited time they have, then they haven't mounted a sufficient defense. All of this is not, strictly speaking, a Chewbacca defense — after all, it's employed by the side speaking first — but it shares most of the same tactics. Some particularly famous American Chewbacca Defenses:
    • The Trope Namer was based on Johnnie Cochran's defense of O. J. Simpson. Although Cochran didn't do anything quite as ridiculous as South Park shows him doing, he was instrumental in convincing the jury that O.J. was the victim of a setup — without any hard evidence to prove it. He highlighted the convoluted nature of the forensic evidence, brought out a raft of horror stories of past misconduct by the LAPD (including racist behavior by officer Mark Fuhrman, who investigated the crime scene), insinuated that the blood samples had been contaminated just by the presence of a preservative, and emphasized how the lead forensic expert, Dr. Henry Lee, kept making guarded allusions that something "didn't look right". Cochran's strategy came to a head in his closing argument, in which he went on a long spiel comparing Fuhrman to Hitler and blaming the murders on unidentified drug dealers.
    • The "Twinkie defense" was advanced by Dan White, accused of murdering San Francisco mayor George Moscone and supervisor Harvey Milk in 1978. White avoided a murder conviction and only got seven years for manslaughter (he got paroled after serving only five). Technically speaking, White's defense team argued that White's capacity to commit murder was severely diminished by depression, and as evidence of this, they showed that he used to be a health nut but got so depressed that he started binging on Twinkies. The media being what it was, though, they thought the defense had successfully argued that Twinkies caused his depression, or even induced a deadly sugar high. In any event, San Franciscans were furious regardless of whether they understood the truth; White pretty much admitted later that the murders were premeditated, and the state of California eliminated the defense soon afterward.
    • Jared Fogle, longtime spokesperson for the Subway sandwich chain for his claims that he lost hundreds of pounds just eating Subway sandwiches, was suddenly dropped after being accused of several charges of child pornography. He tried a variant of the "Twinkie defense" that pundits called the "Subway Diet defense". It didn't work.
    • Defense counsel Irving Kanarek was infamous for this sort of thing. He gained notoriety for his defense of James "Jimmy Youngblood" Smith, on trial for the murder of Ian Campbell; Kanarek frequently ended debates by asking the same question over and over until the judge got exasperated and gave up. His antics drove at least one prosecutor from his profession in disgust. He was impressive enough that Charles Manson asked for him to represent him at his own trial.
    • Senator Mike Lee (R-UT) did this in his attack on the "Green New Deal", saying he would treat it with "the seriousness it deserves". This led to a speech which included pictures of Aquaman riding a seahorse, Ronald Reagan riding a velociraptor shooting a gun, and Luke Skywalker riding a tauntaun. It's perhaps the purest form of Chewbacca defense, in that it emphasizes a belief that the entire debate is nonsensical.
  • Brandolini's Law states: "The amount of energy needed to refute bullshit is an order of magnitude bigger than to produce it." Basically, it takes a lot less effort to make a nonsense argument than it does to refute it. When taken in context with the American debating style that emphasizes the defense more than the logically reasoned argument, you start to realize why so many American debates employ the Chewbacca defense. It also opens up a whole host of more nuanced tactics you can employ in a Chewbacca defense:
    • The Quality by Popular Vote tactic is a favorite of television and talk radio pundits. After all, television is about entertainment; the more entertaining your program, the more people watch it; and the more people watch it, the more correct you are. Indeed, political pundits find that the only way to get an audience is with tactics like this; Viewers Are Morons, and they aren't after reasoned argument. One way to achieve this is to make everything factional; people want to be a part of a team, and they'll follow whoever is most clearly loyal to their political "team". This tendency toward extremism is something that means a parody of these guys is indistinguishable from the real thing.
    • Derailing for Dummies suggests invoking the "Chewbacca Dilemma", employing a Chewbacca Defense and then accusing your opponent of derailing the argument. Arthur C. Clarke proposed a variant in debating people like this; when faced with a Chewbacca Defense employed by a crazy person, you make your own arguments in such a way that your opponent thinks you're even crazier.
    • Misuse of scientific, legal, and medical terms is a favorite tactic. All you have to do is throw out the appropriate buzzword, regardless of whether it has anything to do with the debate, and you look like you know what you're talking about. Since the audience doesn't understand the technical nuances of the words, they can't call you on it. And any attempt to refute the term makes the other side look like an idiot, because he's spending way more time explaining why you're wrong than you did throwing out buzzwords. Indeed, using the definition incorrectly is more effective because your opponent has to spend more time correcting you. Depending on the exact field, words like "quantum", "antioxidant", "privilege", or "blockchain" are gold mines for this sort of thing.
    • Alternatively, quibbling over the definitions of common words is a similarly useful tactic. Jargon is usually used to faciliate communication in a specialized context; if you use an obscure term, it can only mean one thing. If you're trying to avoid the above problem by using words people can understand, your opponent can employ a Chewbacca Defense and start debating over the exact definition of the term you're using. If you spend the entire debate defining "racism", you never get the opportunity to call a racist policy by the term it merits.
    • The "Gish Gallop" is commonly encountered in the atheist and agnostic community, after debates with creationist, biochemist, and professional debater Duane Gish. Gish employed a technique similar to "spreading" — introduce as many arguments as you can, and if your opponent can't address every single one of them fast enough, you win. Except Gish didn't even bother making valid arguments; he just used the same canards over and over again, easy to deploy but difficult to clean up quickly. The best defense against the Gish Gallop was employed by Michael Shermer, who knew what he was getting into and was able to accurately predict all of Gish's arguments before he even made them and explain why they were wrong — he even predicted (and stole) all of Gish's jokes. (Gish just gave the same speech he always gave and declared himself the winner.)
    • The Many Questions Fallacy — loaded questions like "When did you stop beating your wife?" are easy to ask but take a long time to deconstruct and refute, because the question itself is invalid. (America hasn't gotten into the habit of using the traditional Buddhist response of mu.)
    • "Sealioning" is a tactic named after this Wondermark strip. It's a sort of reverse Gish Gallop; instead of making positive but untrue claims, you force your opponent to back up every argument they make. No matter what evidence they put up, it's not enough. All the while, you behave as aggressively politely as you can, pretending that you're just asking your opponent to verify something they said without technically passing judgment on whether they're right or wrong. As your opponent gets more frustrated, you accuse them of being uncivil, and when your opponent gives up, you claim victory. It's pervasive enough that it can lead to a "Chewbacca Dilemma", where a genuine request for evidence and clarification is dismissed as sealioning.
    • The "kaftatrap" is named, of course, after Franz Kafka. It states that all affirmation of something means it's true, and all denial of it also means it's true, because obviously if you're denying something that means you're lying about it. Imagine the Armored Closet Gay; if you say you're gay, people will naturally think you're gay, but if you deny you're gay, people will still think you're gay because everyone who's gay is in denial about it.

My hair is a bird. Your article is invalid.

Alternative Title(s): Chewbacca Defence

Top