Introduction to Fisking


Because I’m planning some fisking in future archive elements, I thought I’d break down the mechanics of a fisking, especially for those who may not have heard of fisking. The idea is fairly straight-forward. It’s a method of reducing long, wordy documents into bite-sized bits that can be proven or disproven on their own.

The method of fisking is sometimes considered to be a way to show how every point of a written piece is wrong, but even that is wrong. A fisking can show agreeable points as well as illogical points. Some people focus on the negative. That’s not necessarily the reason for a fisking, at least not when I do it.

The method is named after a man, Robert Fisk, who was a journalist from England. He deserves his name on the method, and in my personal opinion, his name fits the method very well. His name sounds a little like the word fix. Those things that need fixing, may also need fisking. No written piece of seriousness should be considered beyond fisking. If you’re making statements (like this one), then you need to be able to back them up with facts.

Scientific discovery, for instance, is founded on curiosity and questioning. How many facts are needed to make a statement true? How many scientists make a scientific community? How many lies make a person a liar? How long does one have to spend in a university until the mind is sufficiently wiped? How many spies have been brainwashed in less than an hour? How far will I take this tangent?

That’s far enough.

It’s time to look at the process. Let’s say someone made a statement like this instead of the question above: “Spending time in a university will wipe your mind.” Then they back that statement up with two following facts: 1. “I’ve personally witnessed the downward spiral of my friend who went to Eyemafraida U.” 2. “Going to university is expensive.”

Then the fisking goes like this, with the original statement in regular text and the rebuttal in italics:

Spending time in a university will wipe your mind.

Presented as fact, this statement is more of an opinion. The statement is a broad generalization, including everyone, because it excludes no one. How did the person come to this conclusion? Read on…

I’ve personally witnessed the downward spiral of my friend who went to Eyemafraida U.

This is one person, not everyone. Assuming the witnessing wasn’t biased, this “fact” still only includes one instance. It’s difficult to base a generalized rule on a single outcome.

Going to university is expensive.

This may be true on its own, but it’s irrelevant to the mind-wiping topic. When talking about minds, you can’t rationally tangent to bank accounts and make an accurate conclusion.


So that’s how fisking works. You can see how it presents each sentence and each point clearly, and then subsequently proves or disproves each on its own merits. Can fisking be done poorly? Of course. Can it be done incorrectly? Absolutely. Can it be done to create a bias where none may have existed before? That’s for sure. It may be even more true that fisking can be ignored. Do people read any more? If fisking helps encourage people to read, then I’ll participate in it. I hope people learn the thrill of reading, even if it’s through an extensive rebuttal process. I also hope that people can see the value of debunking. To paraphrase a great scientist: Finding the truth behind science will require us to let go of what we “know” and to debunk the “facts” as they’re fed to us. On to fisking!

Published by Kurt Gailey

This is where I'm supposed to brag about how I've written seven novels, twelve screenplays, thousands of short stories, four self-help books, and one children's early-reader, but I'd rather stay humble. You can find out about things I've written or follow my barchive (web archive, aka 'blog) at or follow me on twitter @kurt_gailey. I love sports and music and books, so if you're an athlete or in a band or you're a writer, give me a follow and I'll most likely follow you back. I've even been known to promote other people's projects.

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