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The phrase "stopped clock" or "broken clock" comes from the proverb "even a stopped clock gives the right time twice a day." Someone, even a crank, denialist, or a conspiracy theorist can be correct once in a while, often by chance alone. This may be because predictions just happen to come true but also it can be the one exception to the rule of crank magnetism i.e., a crank may find some crankery that is so crazy that they can't help but denounce it as crank quite vocally.
This analogy is one counterpoint to the fallacy fallacy, which is the mistake of assuming that any conclusion derived from fallacious reasoning must be false. To extend the analogy a bit further, a clock stopped at 3:48 will always conclude that the current time is 3:48. Thanks to its faulty premises, though, this conclusion happens to be correct only for a total of two minutes out of any given day, or roughly 0.14% of the time.
 Source of the analogy
The term refers to an analogue clock with the standard twelve-hour dial face. "Flip digital" clocks (where the numbers are affixed to small plastic cards that "flip" into position when driven by an electric clock mechanism) can also be considered to be "right" twice a day. Such a clock set up for 24-hour time would still be right once a day. Clocks with LED or LCD displays that are stopped normally go blank, falsely implying that, for some bizarre reason, time no longer exists (hence the lack of time to keep track of) - or they flash repeatedly, implying that time has gone wibbly-wobbly-timey-wimey again.
 Some examples
- Petr Beckmann was a believer in crank ideas about physics and engineering. However, despite this, he held no tolerance for those who tried to square the circle, and wrote a whole book about the foolishness of the idea.
- Arizona Governor Jan Brewer vetoed a homophobic "religious freedom" bill.
- The Constitution Party opposing the War on Drugs and the Iraq War.
- Todd Friel claiming that the New Apostolic Reformation was faking miracles by putting glitter and feathers into the ventilation system.
- Newt Gingrich strongly condemning American conservatives for failing to support Nelson Mandela during apartheid.
- Glenn Beck now agreeing with liberals about Iraq war and defending a boy who got bullied for being a brony.
- Sean Hannity calling the Westboro Baptist Church "religious nut(s)" and encouraging the Catholic Church to tone down their opposition to birth control.
- Wingnut pundit Laura Ingraham denouncing Louis Farrakhan's extreme homophobia.
- House Republicans have voted very often against war when a Democrat is in office (Yugoslavia with Bill Clinton; Libya and Syria with Barack Obama), although this may also be an instance of garbage in garbage out, given that it's ultimately derived from partisan hackery.
- JAH III of AssataShakur.org opposes the Castro dictatorship of Cuba, but only because the Castros are white.
- Even the Ku Klux Klan considers the Westboro Baptist Church to be too extreme for its liking. However, their main objection is the WBC's anti-America message.
- Michael Medved vocally denouncing both Birtherism and the GOP for the fiscal cliff crisis.
- Grigori Rasputin's magical cure for hemophilia? He instructed the emperor and empress to discontinue all medical treatment being received by the Tsarevich. This included aspirin, a drug which definitely does not help hemophilia (it can cause minor stomach bleeding, and in cases of hemophilia, there's no such thing as "minor bleeding"). It's unlikely that Rasputin knew that asprin was worsening the condition, yet his advice probably prolonged Alexei's life.
- Pat Robertson has been very critical of Ken Ham and Young Earth Creationism in general, and believes marijuana should be legal.
- John Stossel debunking both New Age nuttery and "supernatural" claims.
- Margaret Thatcher voting to decriminalize homosexuality and acknowledging the threat of climate change.
- Marsha West is most well known as the Jesus freak RenewAmerica columnist who denounced yoga as "mystical" and "evil." However West has also been quite vocal in her criticism of Christian Dominionism, seeing it as too extreme for even her.
- Prominent members of the conspiracy community including Alex Jones and Mark Dice have repeatedly denounced America's war efforts and foreign policies, and have taken strong stands on civil liberties.
 Objections to the analogy
Without a frame of reference, there is no way of knowing when a stopped clock is right... or not. So to determine the time that a stopped clock is correct you'd need another clock, and if you have another clock why bother with the stopped one? Plus, if you cannot tell when the stopped clock is right then it is worse than a clock displaying the wrong time which, so long as the timing mechanisms work, can at least inform you of the passage of time.
Also, the concept of the 'right time' is subject to quite a bit of uncertainty - not least because of relativity. A stopped clock with a second hand is right twice a day to an uncertainty of one second, but technically is it only right for one Planck time, a measurement so small as to be pointless. But this is why analogies are just that, analogies.
 See also
- Inverse stopped clock
- Garbage in garbage out, in which even a correct answer is useless because of incorrect premises
- Not even wrong
- ↑ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5PvlW49FYBk
- ↑ Ta-Nehisi Coates "Gingrich vs. the Right on Apartheid: 'What Would You Have Done?'", The Atlantic, 8 December 2013.
- ↑ Please note that Ingraham isn't exactly the image of humanity when it comes to homosexuals.
- ↑ http://www.fstdt.com/QuoteComment.aspx?QID=96947
- ↑ Focus: Aspirin - The secret history of a wonder drug
- ↑ http://www.salon.com/2014/02/05/pat_robertson_begs_ken_ham_to_shut_up/
- ↑ http://www.newswithviews.com/West/marsha220.htm