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Is there a difference between a crank and a crackpot ?. There is an interesting article here which has led to some crackpot discussions. ;-) --CatWatcher 03:03, 29 May 2007 (CDT)

If I had to parse it, I'd say that the crank's ideas "could" be correct (belying many of the examples in the article). EG, many conspiracy theorists could be considered cranks. A crackpot, however (most of those on the list) has no hope of ever possibly being proven right (flat earth or YEC, say). But I'm probably wrong. humanbe in 12:28, 31 May 2007 (CDT)
What about just plain crazy people (like Gene Ray) who do not even make coherent sense. (For example, the guy who says that moon people are using his microwave to share bacon recipes with Castro are one thing; Gene's "I have made time 4-sided" cannot be followed at all.) Researcher 03:39, 30 November 2007 (EST)

What the hell? I am not a vandal! -- Elassint Hi! ^_^ 21:27, 16 May 2008 (EDT)

Just a joke, 'ssint. :) <font=""; face="Comic Sans MS">Jellyfish!Horseshoe-shaped gonads! 21:28, 16 May 2008 (EDT)
No, but the EL was fine the way it was. How about writing a damn/dumb/dim/hilarious article on the fool, then you get to delete the EL! (Sorry for the Ed Poor imitation) humanUser talk:Human 21:29, 16 May 2008 (EDT)

As Karl Marx said and these people forget It is absolutely impossible to transcend the laws of nature.

  • Is Marx really the best-known person to say that? I'm pretty sure that principle underlies, well, pretty much all of science, and probably has since before Marx was born... EVDebs (talk) 19:02, 11 February 2010 (UTC)


Another example of why this wiki is even worse than Conservapedia. (talk) 23:00, 8 July 2010 (UTC)

Pardon? 23:05, 8 July 2010 (UTC) SusanG Toast
This wiki is worse that Conservapedia; what is hard to understand about that? - π 23:08, 8 July 2010 (UTC)
In many respects we are much worse. We're much worse at banning people. We're much worse at bothering professionals with silly letters. We even worse at making up shit about Barack Obama. You know, by some metrics we're terrible and clearly need improvement. Scarlet A.pngpathetic 23:44, 8 July 2010 (UTC)

Alphabetical order[edit]

I was sorted the list of cranks in alphabetical order. Nobody is against?--Bertran (talk) 15:54, 4 January 2011 (UTC)

Alphabetical order is always good. Scarlet A.pngpathetic 21:52, 4 January 2011 (UTC)


I've seen two etymologies for the word floating around the internets, this one encompasses both:

The sense of "an eccentric person," especially one who is irrationally fixated, is first recorded 1833, said to be from the crank of a barrel organ, which makes it play the same tune over and over; but more likely a back formation from cranky, and evolving from earlier senses of crank as "a twist or fanciful turn of speech" (1590s) or "inaccessible hole or crevice" (1560s). Popularized after 1881 when it was applied to Horace Greeley during Guiteau's trial. The verb is attested from 1590s, "to zig-zag;" meaning "to turn a crank" is first attested 1908, with reference to automobile engines.

Any linguistics geeks here? Nebuchadnezzar (talk) 09:46, 20 February 2011 (UTC)

Cult leaders are no cranks[edit]

Cranks with followers cease by definition to be cranks. The list should be purged. Andries (talk) 20:36, 11 May 2011 (UTC)

Don't confuse them with facts or obvious linguistic tautologies or even big words like "definition" or "purged." RationalWiki does not follow the definition given in this article. In certain areas, you can point to what is consensus -- or at least accepted as legitimate scientific inquiry -- in the scientific journals, but if RationalWikians aren't familiar with it, you are a "crank," and if you attempt to explain, you are *by definition* -- the real definition here -- a crank.
"Crank" here means "we think he's crazy, stupid, unscientific, obsessed." As to the last meaning, any expert (professional or amateur) on a field locally considered fringe, attempting to clarify the field for RationalWikians, is obviously a "crank," because a sane expert won't bother. But the RW community is largely hypocritical, attempting to rationalize its own biases as being somehow objectively true. Hence the definition in this article. Anyone care to change it? If I could be arsed, I would. But I can't. I'm not quite that obsessed.
On the other hand, Andries, the population of the planet is large, and it is possible for a collection of people to hold "extremely unorthodox views," though that has not been defined. The definition is still problematic, though. I recently ran into a birther. He held views that were only possible to hold if one had filtered the evidence, heavily. He claimed that anyone who rejected his views, as any neutral person would if looking at the full evidence, was stupid or biased and probably lying. I think that calling him a crank, though, ipso facto, would not accurately describe the situation. His views are not isolated, and within the circles in which he ordinarily moves, they are popular views. He probably gets lots of approval in some places. He's a fanatic, though, and I could justify "crank" because he makes a point of going around to places where his views will be derided and rejected, getting derided and rejected, then proclaiming himself as a martyr or victim of the "enemy," which he variously identifies as stupid Obots, ignorant "evolutionists" or "liberals," or, in my case, Muslims. Even though I simply pointed to actual evidence (like the supposed alterations in certain PDF files that were obviously artifacts of file compression). How he got from that to "You Muslims are all liars" would be a matter for the study of psychopathology.
And, on the third hand, the list of famous cranks is largely a list of opinions, representing, very likely, general RW opinion. Ron Paul? "Extremely unorthodox?" Anyone who thinks that Ron Paul's views are radical has blinders on. They are obviously to the libertarian side, but libertarianism isn't "extremely unorthodox," unless one has a very narrow definition of "orthodox." He's not an extreme libertarian. --Abd (talk) 13:55, 12 August 2012 (UTC)
Yeah, I'm sure the guy who posted that comment in passing fifteen months ago, & hasn't posted anything at RW in the last nine months, will take note of your detailed response. ωεαşεζøίɗWeaselly.jpgMethinks it is a Weasel 14:06, 12 August 2012 (UTC)
Comments on wikis are not only person-to-person conversations. I framed my comment to "Andries," but it's general. Andries might or might not have email notification of changes here, there is no way to know. When I go dormant on wikis, I often pare down my watchlist, but leave some pages on it. Andries has e-mail enabled. Your comment, on the other hand, Weaseloid, was totally useless, but that doesn't seem to inhibit RationalWikians from trying to teach their grandmothers how to suck eggs. --Abd (talk) 22:34, 12 August 2012 (UTC)
Well I guess that puts me in my place. ΨΣΔξΣΓΩΙÐWeaselly.jpgMethinks it is a Weasel 22:54, 12 August 2012 (UTC)
Right. Your place. I could say "our place," but ... that's not clear. I'm tolerated, so far, but only barely. --Abd (talk) 19:33, 3 November 2012 (UTC)


(often medical or psychological changes can be traced to coincide with the point where an expert became a crank, such as strokes, nervous breakdowns, or the onset of schizophrenia).

ANY sources for it ? Or are you "rational" guys and "critical thinkers" making up a pseudoscientific claim ? — Unsigned, by: / talk / contribs 2011-12-14T13:32:29

Impossible. The BON must be a crank. It is impossible for rationalist RatWikians to be cranks. Only cranks can be cranks, and they are cranks because popular RatWikians say so. It's a definitional thing, and only a crank would have any problem with it. Q.E.D. --Abd (talk) 19:35, 3 November 2012 (UTC)

Huey Long[edit]

Huey Long's not a crank? Not according to this 1935 contemporaneous Western Australia newspaper. He was a crank of international stature. nobsSay hello to my leetle friend 19:34, 23 January 2013 (UTC)

I'd guess that all sorts of people have been called cranks by other people. It's a handy label to dismiss people you disagree with. SophieWilder 12:35, 24 January 2013 (UTC)


I added a section on crank characteristics. It's just an outline for now. Some of the line-items could be linked as they have specific pages in the wiki. — Unsigned, by: Olinga71 / talk / contribs 01:04, 2 June 2013‎

I added a long list of characteristics to the Crank article. I would appreciate critiques and additions.— Unsigned, by: Olinga71 / talk / contribs

I have removed it. It smelled badly of sweeping generalizations and "stamp collecting" - it was just a list of alleged characteristics with no attempts at synthesis. What was the purpose of creating it in the first place?
Oh, and discussions about the content of specific articles should be done on the talk pages of those articles. In this case - Talk:Crank. I suggest any further discussion of the list to be confined there.--ZooGuard (talk) 09:59, 4 June 2013 (UTC)

The purpose was to start a general list in a similar vein to John Baez's Crackpot Index (specific to physics) and get the synthesis worked in later. It seemed entirely relevant to the article. Had I known this place was dominated by antisocial psychopaths even worse than Andy Schafly I wouldn't have bothered. I certainly won't be back. Olinga71 (talk) 17:09, 4 June 2013 (UTC)

It's a good practice to put work-in-progress in your userspace (as a subpage of your user page), not leave it in an article, and work on it there until it's ready for inclusion.
Note that your contributions is not lost - it's still in the article history and can be restored or retrieved as easily as it was removed.
And the part about psychopaths is just funny. If you are this prone to hyperbole, not coming back sounds a good idea.
(Why the plural, by the way? The only user you have interacted with so far is me, and I'm hardly dominating the wiki...)--ZooGuard (talk) 17:21, 4 June 2013 (UTC)


I don't see how 'contrarian' is a synonym for 'crank'.

Wiki definition: "A contrarian is a person who takes up a contrary position, especially a position that is opposed to that of the majority, regardless of how unpopular it may be."

Just because you're in the minority with your opinion doesn't mean you're a crank. I understand atheists are a minority in some countries. Nullahnung (talk) 05:39, 11 September 2013 (UTC)

The list of people[edit]

Do we want it? Ikanreed (talk) 15:49, 25 February 2015 (UTC)

Since everyone is worried about legal risks I'd say just keep the dead ones. Trick (talk) 15:52, 25 February 2015 (UTC)
I may simply be displaying my colossal legal ignorance, would listing only the dead ones necessarily provide a guarantee against lawsuits? In other words, can defamation/libel/whatever suits be brought by the family on grounds of "smearing someone's memory" (or something along those lines)? ScepticWombat (talk) 15:58, 25 February 2015 (UTC)
There are no guarantees. Anyone can sue for anything. My understanding of what's going on is an intent of risk mitigation. Dead people, at the very least, don't have business reputations, and don't sue on their own behalf. That's a couple of big risks. Ikanreed (talk) 16:02, 25 February 2015 (UTC)
I get that listing only dead people is less risky than listing living ones. I was merely curious as to whether any of you know if the family (or perhaps the estate?) of a deceased person would have a reasonable chance of a successful lawsuit by claiming "smearing of the deceased's memory" and/or possibly bad reflections on the family or what have you? Or whether such cases are more likely to be dismissed with the argument that they have to be filed directly by the person being defamed/libelled/or whatever? It's an honest question and I'd really like to know, since such issues are important to keep in mind when operating online. ScepticWombat (talk) 18:45, 25 February 2015 (UTC)

Why Dr. Kevorkian?[edit]

Unless we're basing it on some other beliefs of his that I'm not aware of, I don't understand why he's on this list. What part of believing that we have the right to end our own lives rather than having suffer through lengthy terminal diseases with no hope of a cure counts as being a crank? Jwebb13 (talk) 23:21, 8 December 2015 (UTC)