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Crank is a pejorative term applied to someone who holds extremely unorthodox views on a subject and is often very vocal about these opinions. A crank will usually maintain their viewpoint despite, or perhaps because of, evidence to the contrary. The crank is usually an amateur in the field they are arguing against, but sometimes individuals with expertise in that field will become a 'crank' (which can lead directly to pathological science); sometimes for personal gain, which is ironic because cranks often accuse rational people of being driven by personal gain.
Cranks emerge in all fields of study and hold a wide variety of inaccurate or unorthodox views, from being able to square the circle with a straightedge and a compass, to Biblical literalists in the creationism movement.
Synonyms include kook, contrarian, and crackpot (the latter of which has led to the creation of the term "psychoceramics" as the name for the study of such people). Cranks who believe a lot of nutty things at once are sometimes said to suffer from crank magnetism.
 Debating a crank
If you value your time and/or sanity, then under no circumstances should you willingly enter into debate with a crank. A crank's cognitive processes are completely impregnable to all forms of logic, reason, evidence, and in extreme cases, basic facts.
Crank debaters tend to be much more motivated than you are. This enthusiasm is a big part of what makes them cranks. This means that the crank will have heard all of the common objections to their crankiness. The crank has memorized a canned response to each of them.
All of this has the practical upshot of rendering the debate a fantastic waste of calories.
 Famous cranks
Well known cranks (in alphabetical order by surname) and their ideas include:
- Mike Adams - proprietor of the website NaturalNews
- Neal Adams - Expanding earth
- Glenn Beck - If you don't know, you haven't been paying attention.
- Nick Begich, Jr - HAARP
- Todd Bentley - Christian faith healing through kicking and punching.
- Charles Berlitz - The Bermuda Triangle
- Steven Best - animal rights extremism and collaboration with ecoterrorists.
- Tom Bethell - Numerous forms of science denial.
- Sylvia Browne - Psychic powers, spirit channeling/medium
- Helen Caldicott - Conspiratorial thinking and misinformation about nuclear radiation.
- Kerry Cassidy - Everything is a false flag
- Edgar Cayce - Various prophecies, Atlantis, reincarnation
- Alex Chiu - Immortality magnets
- Charles Coughlin, Roman Catholic Priest and radio preacher noted for anti-Federal Reserve crankery and international bankers conspiricism.
- Judy Cross - Global warming denialist, AIDS denialist, and 9/11 denialist, allegedly from Canada.
- Aleister Crowley - Magic powers, demon and angel summoning, being the Great Beast 666
- Erich von Däniken - Chariots of the Gods
- John A. Davison - Proscribed evolution
- Mark Dice - Evolution denialism, climate change denialism, creationism, NWO conspiracy theories, Federal Reserve hysteria, arrogant social conservatism, being extremely arrogant and condescending towards dissent, immense hypocrisy, sexism, hatred for just about anyone who is not a Christian.
- Maxine Dietrich - Founder of Joy of Satan, a neo-Nazi Satanic UFO cult. Possibly also associated with Exposing Christianity, because the same multi-account trolls spam both sites on Yahoo! Answers.
- Peter Duesberg, Eleni Papadopulos-Eleopulos - AIDS denialism
- Roger Elvick - Sovereign citizen movement, tax protest
- Steve Fielding - Global warming Denialist
- Anatoly Fomenko - Russian mathematician and pseudohistorian
- Uri Geller - Telekinesis
- Duane Gish - creationist writer and professional debate-mangler
- Madison Grant - Eugenics
- Richard C. Hoagland - "Face" on Mars, aliens, NASA conspiracy theories.
- L. Ron Hubbard - Alternate history, alien races; founder of Scientology.
- David Icke - Alternate history, alien races, conspiracy theories
- Jim Humble - founder of the Genesis II Church and the "Miracle Mineral Solution" (read: bleach).
- Derrick Jensen - Hard green philosopher, transphobe and ecoterrorism apologist.
- Alex Jones - New World Order, 9/11 denialism, Federal Reserve hysteria, climate change denialism, (insert conspiracy of the week here), ad nauseam
- Supreme Master Ching Hai - Messianic cult leader
- Andy Kadir-Buxton - slapping people on the head to cure mental illness
- James Keegstra - Canadian antisemitic conspiracy theorist.
- Jack Kevorkian - Suicide doctor
- James Howard Kunstler - Self-proclaimed peak oil expert, known for his excessive doomsday scenarios.
- Ray Kurzweil - Transhumanism, specifically in its manifestation as utopian magical thinking, immortality fantasies, and Rapture analogues. BS artist extraordinaire. Keeps making fantastical predictions of the future that fail to pan out.
- Pentti Linkola - Ecofascism. This is one of the few cases in which the term is used literally, as opposed to, say, the Right's hyperbolic whining about the EPA, Kyoto Protocols, etc.
- Sean Manchester - Vampire hunter and self-proclaimed "Catholic Bishop"
- Maratrean, founder of an eponymous religion.
- Texe Marrs - NWO conspiracy theories, fundamentalist Christianity, anti-Semitism
- Bruce McBurney - Owner of Precious Metals Nano Water, sells homeopathic colloidal silver-laced distilled water and markets it as a universal cure-all for all known viruses, bacteria, cancers and any other conceivable ailment. Also owns himacresearch.com where, in a poorly-worded sales pitch, he touts the ability of a supposed "supercarburetor" that he developed, to end global warming.
- Guy McPherson - Environmental writer who exaggerates data to assume that humanity will soon go extinct from climate change
- Drunvalo Melchizedek - believes that through meditation the human being is able to access sources of information (the Akashik Records) and receive guidance about his/her spiritual advancement.
- Eustace Mullins - Anti-New World Order and anti-Semitic writer who, at the (alleged) behest of American fascist poet Ezra Pound, wrote about how the Jews -- specifically the Rothschilds -- created the Federal Reserve in order to destroy the American economy and make us all wage slaves, or something like that.
- Ron Paul - Bigoted libertarian presidential candidate with a massive following among basement-dwelling conspiracy cranks and white supremacists.
- Lawrence Pazder, Michelle Smith - Satanic ritual abuse
- Sam Petry - Pyramid and Egyptian language
- Fred Phelps - World famous cult leader and crazed anti-gay ideologue.
- Dennis Prager - climate change denier, conspiracy theorist, DDT wackiness, homophobia, "Islamophobia".
- Sayyid Qutb - Islamic literalism
- Gene Ray - Time Cube
- Eric S. Raymond - Gun rights, HIV denialism, global warming denial, libertarianism
- Wilhelm Reich - orgone energy
- Luke Rudkowski - New World Order conspiracy theories, Federal Reserve conspiracy theories, blind support for Ron Paul, leader and founder of Paulbot Cheersquad group We Are Change, arrogance towards those who show dissent towards his views. Surprisingly, neither Rudkowski nor his group have Wikipedia pages
- Viera Scheibner, Jenny McCarthy - Anti-vaccinationist
- Andrew Schlafly - Creationism, abortion causes breast cancer, liberalism causes all societal ills, revised chronology, AIDS denialism, and many more. (But he's not really "famous", even in quotes.)
- David Sereda - Shroud of Turin, zero-point energy, anti-gravity, solfeggio frequencies.
- Israel Shamir - Anti-Semitic Holocaust denier affiliated with WikiLeaks.
- Richard Shaver - Subterranean cities and their malevolent inhabitants, the Dero.
- David Shayler - Ex-Mi5 officer, whistleblower, journalist, 9/11 truther, anti-Semite, Jewish NWO believer, self-declared Messiah.
- Sherry Shriner - Alien races, New World Order, the power of ORGONE
- Bart Sibrel - Moon landing hoax (famous for being punched by Buzz Aldrin)
- Zecharia Sitchin - Reinterpreter of Sumerian mythology and perpetuator of the "Zeta Reticuli" alien conspiracy theory
- Joseph Smith - Alternate history, alien races, magic underwear; founder of Mormonism
- Ben Stewart - New Age, pseudohistory, New World Order conspiracy theories, pseudoscience, global warming denialism, appeal to tradition, religious apologetics, psychological projection, appeal to nature, emotional appeal, persecution complex; vocalist of mediocre rock band Hierosonic, filmmaker of Esoterica Agenda (2008), Kymatica (2009) and UNGRIP (2011)
- David J Stewart - webmaster of Jesus Is Savior website, conspiracy theories, arrogant conservativism, pseudohistory, racism, antisemetism, evolution denialism, climate change denialism, endorsement of other cranks, need more be said?
- Whitley Strieber - Alien abduction crank
- Frederick Trexler - Petrified Human Brain
- Immanuel Velikovsky - Planetary catastrophism, a revised chronology, and more
- Thomas Woods - Catholic Golden Age
- Judy Wood - Dustification of the WTC
- Eliezer Yudkowsky - Singularitarianism, cryonics
- Ernst Zündel, David Irving - Holocaust denial
- Olavo de Carvalho - So many things
- Norman Stone - Armenian Genocide denier