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Crazification factor

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Crazification factor (alternatively known as the "Keyes constant"[1]) is a neologism coined in 2005 by blogger John Rogers[2] to refer to the portion of the electorate comprising the nuttiest of the wingnuts and the batshit crazy.

In popular usage, it is an application of the Texas sharpshooter fallacy, in which you only call attention to data supporting your proposition: you will find endless examples of people online crying "Crazification factor!" when 20-30% of people do something — anything — the speaker doesn't like, or are even polled as holding an opinion they don't like.[1][3]

Rogers later stressed that the phrase was a joke, not some serious statistical proposition.[4]

Origin of the term[edit]

Rogers was writing of the 2004 Senate election in Illinois:

Obama vs. Alan Keyes. Keyes was from out of state, so you can eliminate any established political base; both candidates were black, so you can factor out racism; and Keyes was plainly, obviously, completely crazy. Batshit crazy. Head-trauma crazy. But 27% of the population of Illinois voted for him.[5] They put party identification, personal prejudice, whatever ahead of rational judgement. Hell, even like 5% of Democrats voted for him. That's crazy behaviour. I think you have to assume a 27% crazification factor in any population.[2]

Another factor in Obama's favor at the time that Rogers didn't mention is that the original Republican candidate, Jack Ryan,[6] had been forced to suspend his candidacy after his divorce and custody records were released to the press, revealing that he had taken his former wife, actress Jeri Ryan,[7] to various sex clubs (including, in at least one case, a bondage club) and tried to have her perform sex acts on him out in the open.[8] Keyes was the GOP's last-minute replacement on the ticket after the sordid details of Ryan's divorce came out. So not only was it a normal candidate running against a clearly crazy opponent, but the crazy guy also had the baggage of the last guy's sex scandal following him, and had been drafted into the campaign with little time to prepare.[9]

Illinois Nazis[edit]

The state of Illinois further proved the viability of the crazification factor during the 2018 congressional elections. In Illinois' 3rd Congressional District, Neo-Nazi and Holocaust Denier Arthur Jones captured the Republican nomination for Congress due to being the only name on the ballot. The Illinois Republican Party denounced Jones and urged Republicans not to vote for him. Even Senator Ted Cruz took the time to suggest voting for the Democratic candidate, Dan Lipinski. Lipinksi, the incumbent congressmen, was among the most conservative Democrats in the country- he opposes abortion and is skeptical about LGBT rights. Lipinski was thus better prepared to attract conservative voters than most Democrats. While Lipinski won the election in a landslide, Arthur Jones, an actual Neo-Nazi, still won over 25% of the vote simply by keeping the votes of thousands of rank and file Republicans. [10]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. 1.0 1.1 The Alan Keyes Constant, Chicago Magazine, 21 April 2011.
  2. 2.0 2.1 Lunch Discussions #145: The Crazification Factor, Kung Fu Monkey, 7 October 2005.
  3. No, Rob Ford’s re-election isn’t certain. It’s not even likely., John Michael McGrath, blog, December 1, 2012
  4. https://twitter.com/jonrog1/status/390299744561410049
  5. And it wasn't fully representative of die-hard Republicans: 40% of conservatives voted for Obama, while Keyes managed to get 24% from Independents.
  6. No relation to the character from several of Tom Clancy's novels.
  7. Best known for playing Seven of Nine on Star Trek: Voyager. Yeah.
  8. Ryan file a bombshell: ex-wife alleges GOP candidate took her to sex clubs, Chicago Tribune, 22 June 2004.
  9. Keyes challenges Obama for Illinois Senate seat, CNN, 9 August 2004.
  10. Holocaust-denier Arthur Jones loses in Illinois 3rd District, but still gets more than 25 percent of the vote, Chicago Tribune, 7 November 2018.