Talk:Stopped clock

From RationalWiki
Jump to: navigation, search
This page is automatically archived by Archiver


Even a stopped clock tells the right time twice a day, and for once I'm inclined to believe Withnail is right.

Where is the quote from?--PalMD-If it looks like a donut, eat it 09:55, 25 November 2007 (EST)
Withnail & I, presumably. --Kels 09:59, 25 November 2007 (EST)
Yes it is. Sorry, I was feeling silly. Totnesmartin 15:46, 25 November 2007 (EST)

Not only does the clock tell the right time twice a day, it even clearly tells you when those two points are! — Unsigned, by: / talk / contribs 19:22, 24 January 2009

No, it doesn't, that's the point of the joke... ħumanUser talk:Human 21:39, 24 January 2009 (EST)
It does too tell you when it is right, it just doesn't tell you when that actually happens. --Eira omtg! The Goat be praised. 10:07, 22 June 2010 (UTC)

Of course, if the clock is running really fast, the clock will be right far more often. This also applies if the clock is so slow as to be stopped running in reverse.Imarcuson (talk) 06:06, 15 December 2010 (UTC)

Strikethrough and end of sentence added at this time: Imarcuson (talk) 07:16, 15 December 2010 (UTC)

My clock is right twice every nanosecond. Trouble is, of course, when? A Whiter Shade of Pale (talk) 06:14, 15 December 2010 (UTC)

Actually a stopped clock can tell the right time up to 40 times a day - just not necessarily for the current timezone! (talk) 23:07, 3 March 2011 (UTC)

I was never a big fan of this analogy mainly because, without something a frame of reference, there is no way of knowing when the stopped clock is right or not, so 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. Plus, plus, the concept of the 'right time' is subject to uncertainty. 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.

I think I need to get out more and find something more productive to write about really.... Natman (talk) 09:34, 17 June 2011 (UTC)

In which Abd needs to get a life[edit]

  • Above header added by Rennie McGreet, altering the original header below.[1] --Abd (talk) 22:29, 12 August 2012 (UTC)
aww, isn't abd cute! bless his pedantic little braincell. Rennie McGreet (talk) 22:32, 12 August 2012 (UTC)
I have at least two. I know 'cause they talk to each other. --Abd (talk) 22:39, 12 August 2012 (UTC)

Get a life[edit]

Analog clock displays are still so common that it's unlikely anyone needs this explanation. As to addressing it literally, it's pedantic and useless. Most clocks are *never* right, unless they are accurately set and we allow roundoff error.

The analogy is used colloquially whenever one wishes to admit that someone is correct about something, while not implying more than that. I've seen it used on RW, however, to justify unconsidered reversion of edits, on the basis that occasional correct edits are so rare that they are only a result of the "stopped clock" syndrome. Of course, if one never actually looks at the edits, but only at the supposed or assumed "crank" status of the editor, it's pure ad-hominem argument and circular.

The core of "stopped clock" as an editorial accusation is that the work of an editor is so ignorant or so totally motivated by bias that correctness is purely coincidental. If that's actually true of an editor, the editor should be fully promoted, one might think.

However, this is the flaw in that thinking: suppose an editor actually is a random edit generator. Life is the result of a random edit generator. Take a lesson from life: filter the random edits for value. Eliminating them would eliminate the possibility of growth and change. What turns random edits into evolution is the filtering. Turning off the filtering, the examination for value, is pseudoskeptical. --Abd (talk) 14:14, 12 August 2012 (UTC)

So, that's "I'm butthurt over something" in 4 paragraphs. A new record in brevity. Scarlet A.pngpostate 15:42, 12 August 2012 (UTC)
If you filter a message for what you expect, of course it's too long. You just lost 90% of the content. Typical RW snarkbot, referring everything to the anus. I'm surprised when I see anything else here. -Abd (talk) 22:07, 12 August 2012 (UTC)
I bet you're fun at parties. Rennie McGreet (talk) 22:14, 12 August 2012 (UTC)
Depends. Go to any good parties lately, Rennie? I was at one today, nice affair in a park, bright people, people actually up to something, kids, sunshine, BBQ. Do RationalWikians go to such? Or does "party" mean some booze in a basement and sitting around agreeing about how stupid those people are? That seems to be the standard idea of "fun" here. --Abd (talk) 22:24, 12 August 2012 (UTC)
Basement? Did somebody say...basement? Rennie McGreet (talk) 22:29, 12 August 2012 (UTC)
(ec. w/below) Someone did, but not as an argument. RationalWikians love to stuff any comment into a canned response. Not even a stopped clock. Come to think of it, I need to write some templates. --Abd (talk) 22:48, 12 August 2012 (UTC)
We don't even have basements where I live. ТyNot updated with a witty slogan this week 22:41, 12 August 2012 (UTC)
I'm so sorry to hear that. Bedroom? --Abd (talk) 22:48, 12 August 2012 (UTC)
? ТyNot updated with a witty slogan this week 22:54, 12 August 2012 (UTC)
That looked like an invitation. ЩєазєюіδWeaselly.jpgMethinks it is a Weasel 23:09, 12 August 2012 (UTC)
Does Tyrannis access the internet from his bedroom? Or from a public library? Some nerds brave the outdoors to go to a library.
Look, I have no clue about Tyrannis. This is pure waste-of-time banter, with no substance. I.e., standard RW "discussion." What's on the article pages isn't much better. This started with "butt-hurt" from a moderator. It's what I love about RW. Where else? Meanwhile, I have kids to take care of. --Abd (talk) 00:41, 13 August 2012 (UTC)
Well, I have it on the outside bench but it is too dark and I am sick so I am in my kitchen cooking. ТyNot updated with a witty slogan this week 03:55, 13 August 2012 (UTC)


"A stopped clock is right twice a day."

That is the proverb. Not sure how famous but I am guessing that it did came before this "stopped clock argument." I also find the writing under "Objections to the Analogy" complete rhetoric, as it babbles about the usefulness of a broken clock, not the analogy. — Unsigned, by: / talk / contribs

A reverse?[edit]

Is there a version of this phrase for the opposite effect?; i.e. people who are often right occassionally get things wrong due to probability. If not, somebody should think of one.TheSocktor (talk) 08:41, 29 June 2013 (UTC)

Necro answer, but... Yes, it's Inverse stopped clock. Reverend Black Percy (talk) 18:07, 11 August 2015 (UTC)

William Lane Craig[edit]

WLC, a man who says gays should go back in the closet and are disease ridden freaks, who thinks genocide is A.OK providing God does it, considers YEC to be "an embarrassment" Classic stopped-clock example, IMHO. Scarlet A.pngtheist 13:42, 27 November 2013 (UTC)

Probably, but it's not out of left field. A lot of the academic, tweed-jacket set of theologians reject YEC, even if they endorse theistic evolution. Nebuchadnezzar (talk) 18:01, 27 November 2013 (UTC)


Came across in a book:

  • Is he always wrong?
  • No, he is not that consistent.

Is this another version of stopped clock syndrome? (talk) 17:28, 24 June 2015 (UTC)

Stopped clock being when a crank says something normal, Inverse stopped clock is when a normal person says something cranky. What you quoted there sounds like the regular stopped clock. They're not consistent enough to always be wrong (since they have stopped clock moments). Reverend Black Percy (talk) 18:07, 11 August 2015 (UTC)

Mission creep[edit]

This page's list of examples could stand to be cleaned up a bit, no? I'm thinking of entries that describe people who incidentally take agreeable positions for motives that are corrupt, disingenuous, bigoted, or stupid. For example, if David Duke supports Occupy because he thinks a Jewish cabal runs global finance, then he isn't right at all: He's not arguing that unregulated banking destabilizes the economy or that excessive inequality subverts the rule of law, he's just a bigoted, opportunistic prick looking for allies of convenience. There are plenty of other useless examples here (especially of the "Asshole A opposes Asshole B in struggle over the Asshole Throne" variety). The stopped clock occurs when a notorious crank is genuinely correct about something, and this page should do a better job of reflecting that.— Unsigned, by: Termagant / talk / contribs

A call for sources[edit]

We seriously need to source this page a lot better. And that should probably occur before we reach that inevitable point where everything that lacks a source is cleared from the page. Could save a lot of time to just dig up sources for existing statements. Anyhow, I'm all for "trivia" sections such as these, but they need to depend on sources, since they're taken wildly from all manner of subjects and people covered by RW. And for the record, I've raised the same issue for the Inverse stopped clock article. Reverend Black Percy (talk) 17:12, 12 September 2015 (UTC)

But could whoever added the gazillion fact templates please not reinstate those that I and ClothCoat have now deleted? It's effin' retarded to add several calls for citations to claims already in RW articles on the subject. If these are poorly reffed, add the fact templates there, not here. Oh, and try reading to the end of the entry before adding a fact template, please. I've now seen several cases where fact templates where added to statements clearly covered by a source cited either in a subsequent sentence or even at the end of a sentence that had a fact template shunted into the middle of it. ScepticWombat (talk) 08:19, 8 December 2015 (UTC)
Okay, I think I've now completed the rather tedious and unpleasant task of removing most of the completely unnecessary fact templates from the article. So, before you add a new one, please check the links already there (ref.s, RW or WP) first and see if they don't already cover the claim you think needs sourcing. ScepticWombat (talk) 08:16, 20 December 2015 (UTC)

Alphabetical order?[edit]

Adolf Hitler is under A and Margaret Thatcher under M. Is there a reason the list isn't alphabetically ordered by surnames like normal people do it? Admittedly in true stopped-clock fashion, Michael Medved is correctly placed. Annquin (talk) 11:56, 16 February 2016 (UTC)

Oh geez. You can probably hear my OCD alarm going off in half the country right now. - Immigrant laborer (talk) 15:03, 7 September 2017 (UTC)

Communist Party USA and gay rights[edit]

The page lists the CPUSA's support for gay rights. In days of yore it was quite unpleasant to openly gay union organizer Harry Hay, though recently it has come out in favour of LGBT equality - but I don't think doing so in the 21st century is anything terribly impressive. Annquin (talk) 13:12, 24 August 2016 (UTC)

It's not a particularly impressive position and is positively mainstream in the developed world, but could be considered pretty radical in the United States. Scarlet A.pngDon't click here 13:40, 24 August 2016 (UTC)


While I know of no concrete stopped clock moment of theirs, they are certainly somewhere in the infield dirt of this article. After all, it's a bunch of cranks and the favorite TV station of Alternative fur Deutschland voters. I am not the Ombud's man 21:05, 23 September 2016 (UTC)

They'd make the inverse stopped clock article, if only they said anything sane to begin with. Please keep them off this list unless you got very specific sources, kthx. Reverend Black Percy (talk) 13:31, 24 September 2016 (UTC)
I'm not gonna wade through their bullshit to find that one rare gold nugget... I am not the Ombud's man 18:05, 24 September 2016 (UTC)

Order by surname?[edit]

Is there any particular reason why this page is not ordered by surname? another +++Swedish+++ conspiracy by +++Laurogeita Hamabost+++ 22:46, 13 October 2016 (UTC)

Is it better[edit]

... to 'change the cogwheels' of the stopped clock or to put a spanner in the works? And what are the more amusing ways of doing so? (talk) 16:59, 31 October 2016 (UTC)

Since your metaphor is unclear, I will pick it apart with a fine-toothed comb (a better one): To "put a spanner in the works" is similar to the expression "throw a wrench into _____". The "works" of a stopped clock, however, are presumably immobile, and throwing a wrench into them will do little but dent them. "Change the cogwheels" is difficult to interpret as well; if you mean to say, "change their way of thinking", a better choice may be "re-align the cogwheels", as replacing the cogwheels themselves smacks of lobotomy. You're cryptic, or perhaps confused.
Of course I'm just fucking with you and I apologize, but what actually is it that you're asking? B) talk 03:48, 2 November 2016 (UTC)
Wheels here no? Ways of trying to make the clock work (in a different way). (talk) 17:26, 27 September 2017 (UTC)

Why are my attempts to include an entry on Robert Mugabe constantly removed in spite of provision of sources?[edit]

I have included an entry on Robert Mugabe's success in improving the country's literacy rates as perhaps the sole major success of his regime, and I have cited the Wikipedia pages on 'Education in Zimbabwe' as a proof to back the claim up. Please can anyone tell me why this is not a valid addition? I'm no fan of Mugabe in almost every other sphere of his policies, but this is definitely too obvious an item to be missed out in such a page, and is certainly a far more worthwhile example of a 'stopped clock being right' than quite many others mentioned.— Unsigned, by: / talk / contribs

On talk pages, please sign your comments using four tildes (~~~~) or by clicking on the sign button: SigButt.png on the toolbar above the edit panel. (You can indent successive talk page comments using one more colon (:) for each line.) Thank you. Christopher (talk) 15:43, 18 July 2017 (UTC)
While I cannot speak for DiamondDisc1, my only objection would be that the citation is Wikipedia. However, I found the link that Wikipedia cited:
Have a good day,RoninMacbeth (talk) 16:33, 18 July 2017 (UTC)

The next stage[edit]

Would probably be 'melting clock': what would be so categorised? Anna Livia (talk) 22:04, 7 September 2017 (UTC)

Hugh Hefner[edit]

He seems very progressive with regards to race, choice, and LGBTQ+ rights, but definitely a bit sexist. So is he a sexist with a tendency towards progressivism, or a progressive with a sexist streak? Both? Neither? RoninMacbeth (talk) 03:13, 2 October 2017 (UTC)

That's a hard choice. I don't think he's bad enough to be considered a general stopped clock but not good enough for the inverse. Probably keep it in stopped clock just because of less effort.Vorarchivist (talk) 17:15, 3 October 2017 (UTC)

An intervention[edit]

is there something wrong, Rationalwiki? you can talk to me. you dont need to be afraid or suffer in silence. i'm here for you. but you have to stop. this pointless obsession with the most mundane of observations, that sometimes loons will say something you might agree with. the time and effort on this sisyphean task. your hurting your family rationalwiki. let go of your pain and move on. big hug. AMassiveGay (talk) 15:58, 17 April 2018 (UTC)

@AMassiveGay Agreed. Bonus points for the phrase "Sisyphean task". Nerd (talk) 01:48, 18 January 2019 (UTC)

Should Maximilien de Robespierre be on the list[edit]

I get that a lot of brutality was done in his name, but at the same time it feels unjust to say that he was the cause of all that brutality. For one, he hated the death penalty and wished to abolish it. Something that he never quite achieved. A lot of his infamy comes more from sporadic popular rallies he had no control over. It feels somewhat unfair to put him on that list. Hex4 (talk) 16:11 12 May 2018 (UTC)

Right for the wrong Reasons[edit]

Could we remove any examples of people who are clearly have ulterior motives? Half the time the page admits they're only doing it for whatever reason. For example; "Adolf Hitler's promotion of anti-smoking research and strong support for animal rights, though the latter was mostly a vehicle for his virulent anti-Semitism." If anyone has a reason for these beliefs other than genuine benevolence then it doesn't count as being "right". (talk) 22:07, 2 November 2018 (UTC)

Perhaps they could be moved to a separate page for this category.2600:8801:1C00:DDD0:1905:FCF:8F7E:1DF6 (talk) 08:08, 7 April 2019 (UTC)


What sort of clock is being referred to? One with 'clockwork innards', a digital one which will not display anything without power) or this? Anna Livia (talk) 10:35, 23 January 2019 (UTC)

Aren't these almost all examples of something else?[edit]

Correct me if I'm wrong, but I thought the "stopped clock" metaphor referred to situations in which the person/organization always says takes the same, usually-wrong position for fallacious reasons, and that conclusion happens to be correct (albeit for different reasons) in some cases. E.g. Anti-vaxxers always say vaccines are dangerous, and in rare cases, a batch of vaccines gets recalled for genuine safety concerns. Similarly, lots of pundits always predict that the economy will crash, and eventually, it does, and they take credit for "predicting" the crash, even though they'd been wrongly predicting it for years beforehand.

It seems almost all the examples here are just of people/organizations that are wrong about many things and right about some other things without any clear relationship between the things they're wrong or right about. Without any common rationalization underpinning 4chan's fight against animal cruelty along with their other, unsavory positions, it seems less like a "stopped clock" and more like a complex instrument panel that consistently gives inaccurate readings for temperature, time, date, and humidity, but happens to have an accurate barometer for atmospheric pressure. Perhaps a better "stopped clock" metaphor relating to opposing animal cruelty could be found in the belief in reincarnation?2600:8801:1C00:DDD0:1905:FCF:8F7E:1DF6 (talk) 07:59, 7 April 2019 (UTC)

Would a pie chart be a more appropriate image for some of these examples than a stopped clock? The 'one or several sections right (or wrong for Reversed Stopped Clock)' and 'my pet offbeat theory' can be accommodated - and people so inclined can extract or extrapolate various other information and/or (il)logical conclusions from the whole. Anna Livia (talk) 11:10, 7 April 2019 (UTC)

Bloated article[edit]

We can't or shouldn't expect everyone to be wrong on everything. People beliefs tend to be complicated and they have also degree of beliefs, some of these beliefs having no relationships with each other. It's unreasonable to assume all their beliefs are going to disagree with RationalWikis. To have someone who thinks the Jews run the world or scientists lie about global warming but think the moon landing hoaxers are nuts isn't a "stopped clock moment." And I've seen examples of stopped clock moments from bigots, but closer examination shows that those moments are actually motivated from the bigot framework. For example, racists who hate animal cruelty but often cite animal cruelty stemming from Halal practices or the Chinese and Korean people eating dogs; this is not a "stopped clock" moment. Someone apologizing for a past action is not a "stopped clock moment". The discussion above has an interesting take on stopped clock moment, such as predictions that end up correct for the wrong reason. We need to narrow stopped clock down to more egregious cases like citing actual science among the literally hundreds of other crap it says (the example of in the article isn't what I had in mind). --It's-a me, Lgm sigpic.png LeftyGreenMario!(Mod) 19:15, 19 June 2019 (UTC)

@LeftyGreenMario I agree; this article has become completely ridiculous. In general a stopped clock moment could apply to anyone and anything. This article should be stripped down to the opening text, a paragraph or two about the most interesting examples, and an analysis that starts with your first sentence above. The giant bullet list is out of control, does nothing for the article, and is a magnet for every BoN on the internet to add their own insignificant example. Cosmikdebris (talk) 19:20, 19 June 2019 (UTC)
Good suggestions. I plan on enacting major changes. We also should try updating links to stopped clock or searching articles with stopped clock sections and just don't call them "stopped clock" unless subject matter is blatantly wrong in so many things and they actually reached to the right conclusions with their surprisingly appropriate reasoning. Are there any examples in the article that would be considered illustrative of stopped clock that should be kept? --It's-a me, Lgm sigpic.png LeftyGreenMario!(Mod) 03:22, 20 June 2019 (UTC)