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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.


[edit] 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.

[edit] Famous cranks

Well known cranks (in alphabetical order by surname) and their ideas include:

[edit] Footnotes

[edit] See also

[edit] External links

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