The shill gambit is a fallacy where someone dismisses another party’s arguments by proclaiming them to be on the payroll of some conspiracy without having evidence other than the arguments themselves. The shill gambit is a type of ad hominem and poisoning-the-well fallacy. It shifts from addressing the substance of the argument to attacking the person and their credibility instead.
Flat-Earthers would usually commit the shill gambit when they feel cornered. They would accuse anyone outspoken against flat Earth of having been paid by the global conspiracy. We at FlatEarth.ws get these accusations a lot.
The shill gambit works as an attack because of a conflict of interest. It becomes a fallacy when such conflict of interest has not been demonstrated, and the only “evidence” is that someone endorses a particular position —in this case, against flat Earth— and therefore, they must hold that position only because they are being paid.
The shill gambit is fallacious because it abandons the substance of the argument but instead attacks the individuals (ad hominem) and their credibility (poisoning-the-well).
The individuals who commit the shill gambit probably do it because they would have done the same thing if they were in the position of the individuals they are accusing of being shills. In psychology, this is called psychological projection.
We at FlatEarth.ws are not on the payroll of some global conspiracy; we only get many such accusations. Other debunkers of flat Earth and other pseudoscience will undoubtedly get the same accusations at some point. It tells us more about these individuals than about us and other debunkers.