crackpot_index

Physics Forums Crackpot Index and Bingo

Discussing science online can often be a frustrating experience if no quality controls are in place, which is often the case. As part useful reference and part entertainment PF has put together an adequate list of common attributes associated with dubious scientific discussion. Next time you’re in a discussion, check this list to see if your participants are debating in good faith or not.

Thanks to the dozen or so PF staff and advisors helped compile this list. Enjoy our Physics Forums Crackpot Index!

Style and Formatting

5 points: Obvious copy and paste
5 points: Wall of Text
5 points: Over the top special formatting
20 points: No math shown
20 points: Excessive math without consistency or explanations

Telling Quotes

5 points: “you don’t allow open-minded people to post about the subject”
5 points: “I am thinking out of the box”
5 points: “Science is all about asking questions”
5 points: “you are censoring discussion”
10 points: “Einstein was just a clerk”
10 points: “Einstein was bad at math”
15 points: “I’ve been working on this for 20 years”
15 points: “people didn’t believe Galileo initially”
20 points: “Units here ≠ units here”
20 points: “Scientists/others try to ban/suppress my theory”
30 points: “Because I haven’t had formal training I can see things others might have missed”
30 points: “I’m not a physicist, but…”
30 points: “I don’t know the math”
50 points: “I just discovered the laws of physics are wrong”

Refuting the establishment


5 points: You can’t conclude something you don’t have direct evidence for
15 points: Science is wrong because it doesn’t do logic correctly
20 points: Skeptical of the standard model
25 points: Claiming Einstein was a radical in his day
25 points: Claiming that Relativity is only accepted due to Einstein’s reputation
25 points: Claiming that Einstein plagiarized his work
30 points: Claiming Einstein is wrong
30 points: Claiming Newton is wrong

Desperate Measures

5 points: Putting mentors / science advisors on ignore.
5 points: Post offers a complicated analogy rather than a descriptive model
10 points: Ignoring critiques.
10 points: Profane, insulting, threatening PMs to complain about their Notice/Infraction…
50 points: Creating a sockpuppet to agree with you.

Questionable References

5 points: Uses http://vixra.org or similar reference
5 points: Link URL contains multiple hyphens
5 points: Link URL domain is something other than .com .edu .org or .gov
10 points: Posting under the pretense of asking a question
10 points: References to simplified models designed for TV shows etc
15 points: Digging up 100-year-old papers looking for a secret
15 points: Links to article written by a content writing company
20 points: Links to paper published on personal website
20 points: Personal blog link
30 points: Citing or quoting sources in support of their position which in reality refute their position

Day Dreamers


15 points: Science is wrong because of my philosophical beliefs
15 points: Using words without a proper definition
40 points: Mentions science fiction, UFOs or pseudoscience
40 points: Includes the words like “truths”, “God”, “secret”, “breakthrough”, “revolutionary”, “mystery”
50 points: Includes topics from our banned topic list

Bonus! Turn it into a Crackpot Bingo game!

PF crackpot index bingo

Source: member micromass

Resources:

A Layman’s Guide to: Lies, Damned Lies and Pseudoscience
John Baez’s Original Crackpot Index

112 replies
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  1. Akaisora says:
    Evo

    What we refer to as "crackpots" are people that have little or no basis in actual science and make preposterous proposals, or misunderstand the science so badly that it's as bad as having no basis. The problem is that crackpots do not realize that they don't know what they're talking about.I'd say crackpots are persistent about their "revolutionary theories" and beliefs to the point of not learning due to arrogance or…. crackpot-ness? As long as they learn and find out that their crackpot beliefs are false, I think it is fine.

  2. Enigman says:
    Evo

    What we refer to as "crackpots" are people that have little or no basis in actual science and make preposterous proposals, or misunderstand the science so badly that it's as bad as having no basis. The problem is that crackpots do not realize that they don't know what they're talking about.BAN 'EM EVO!!!
    Kidding; Having no basis is not the best reason to make fun of people, educating them would be much more constructive…though most 'crackpots' here, tend to be quite stone headed…

  3. Evo says:

    What we refer to as "crackpots" are people that have little or no basis in actual science and make preposterous proposals, or misunderstand the science so badly that it's as bad as having no basis. The problem is that crackpots do not realize that they don't know what they're talking about.

  4. Enigman says:
    ZapperZ

    And since when is the word of a man such as Doyle became the law of nature? Do you actually BELIEVE that a charlatan is ALWAYS a pioneer? Hello? I can show you dozens more charlatans who are quacks! And Galileo certainly was never an astrologer!

    These kinds of statements should be challenged and not taken as if it is a word of "god". It certainly shouldn't be perpetuated as if it was.

    Zz.Wow, just wow…talk about overreactions…a small relevant quote on the topic of the previous poster…
    Do you actually BELIEVE that a charlatan is ALWAYS a pioneer?Nope, but if I edited the line I would be guilty of spreading misinformation. Other than that I have no defense for it.
    I can show you dozens more charlatans who are quacksI could show you more. Much more…(hundreds not dozens.)
    Galileo certainly was never an astrologer!Nope, he wasn't but at that time he did his work he was called a charlatan.
    Not to mention that the earliest astronomers evolved from astrologers.[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Astrology_and_astronomy] [Broken]
    There are countless examples of people who were initially thought to be crackpots but turned out to be pioneers, you are probably more well versed about them than me…
    And that was an interesting article but it just proves a just point that you should stay within the system while trying to change/correct it. That just reinforces the view of the poster who posted before me that cases like these occur in recent times too, and that we should not go out of our way to ridicule people with some new strange idea (which I took a small part in regretfully).
    Oh and in searching for the article I found your blog on it incidentally, quite well reasoned, if I may say so…

  5. Pythagorean says:

    Which reminds me of this quote:

    Ludwig Boltzmann, who spent much of his life studying statistical
    mechanics, died in 1906, by his own hand. Paul Ehrenfest, carrying on the
    work, died similarly in 1933. Now it is our turn to study statistical
    mechanics. Perhaps it will be wise to approach the subject cautiously…States of Matter, by David Goodstein

  6. Pythagorean says:

    Crackpot has a spectrum of meanings. It's ok to get a low score on the crackpot index, in my opinion.

    One of the more formal and still simple definitions of crackpot is "one who holds beliefs/interpretations different than his contemporaries". In this case, it's a matter of consensus reality. In other words, it doesn't speak to a refutation of objective evidence, but of interpretations of the evidence (and what they imply about underlying mechanisms/etc). And if it's later testable that the less popular interpretation was correct, then that person ceases to be a crackpot.

    But hopefully, they haven't by this time, already killed themselves (R.I.P Boltzmann).

  7. ZapperZ says:
    jackmell

    I wish to voice my disapproval of making light of crackpots. I know you're all trying to be funny but nevertheless I am disappointed. I am immediately reminded of one of my favorite stories in medicine, that of Ignaz Semmelweis. He too I believe was initially thought a crackpot. I will leave the details of his story to the interested reader for the enjoyment of discovery.And I will point out to you the account of Dan Koshland in his article "Crazy but Correct" (D.E. Koshland, Jr., Nature v.432, p.447 (2004)), and how one should work within the system to try and break the prevailing idea which may be inaccurate or incorrect.

    I will leave the details of his story for your own enjoyment of discovery.

    Zz.

  8. ZapperZ says:
    Enigman

    "The charlatan is always the pioneer. From the astrologer came the astronomer, from the alchemist the chemist, from the mesmerist the experimental psychologist. The quack of yesterday is the professor of tomorrow."
    -A.C.DoyleAnd since when is the word of a man such as Doyle became the law of nature? Do you actually BELIEVE that a charlatan is ALWAYS a pioneer? Hello? I can show you dozens more charlatans who are quacks! And Galileo certainly was never an astrologer!

    These kinds of statements should be challenged and not taken as if it is a word of "god". It certainly shouldn't be perpetuated as if it was.

    Zz.

  9. Pythagorean says:

    Facing adversity of such labels is part of being a revolutionary :)

    If I ever got the physicsforums crackpot award, I'd change my handle to my real name and get my book up to #1.

  10. Enigman says:
    jackmell

    I wish to voice my disapproval of making light of crackpots. I know you're all trying to be funny but nevertheless I am disappointed. I am immediately reminded of one of my favorite stories in medicine, that of Ignaz Semmelweis. He too I believe was initially thought a crackpot. I will leave the details of his story to the interested reader for the enjoyment of discovery."The charlatan is always the pioneer. From the astrologer came the astronomer, from the alchemist the chemist, from the mesmerist the experimental psychologist. The quack of yesterday is the professor of tomorrow."
    -A.C.Doyle

  11. jackmell says:

    I wish to voice my disapproval of making light of crackpots. I know you're all trying to be funny but nevertheless I am disappointed. I am immediately reminded of one of my favorite stories in medicine, that of Ignaz Semmelweis. He too I believe was initially thought a crackpot. I will leave the details of his story to the interested reader for the enjoyment of discovery.

  12. Drakkith says:

    I got everyone beat.
    From a PM with someone recently.

    No it's completely with reality, because even the Big Bang needed energy to create the universe and that came from outside the universe itself-in nothingness/nowhere, whatever you want to call it.
    So that nothing has energy which somehow transformed into work.
    Just because can't measure it doesn't mean it's there, it is always there, but you can't detect it, you can't measure it, calculate it.
    And just because you can't do all that it doesn't mean physical, if it exists, it is 100% physical, the key difference is you can't measure it, you can't detect it, you can't calculate it with math.

    No, it's not against a science, if it is, than science has to change some of its paradigms.
    Darkness is physical 8maybe it's not a an object but it exists, and everything what exists it has energy (it doesn't matter if it's in the form of work or in the form of something else) otherwise it would not exist in the first place and it would not be able to create anything, darkness does have energy, but that energy is not in the form of work, that's all.
    Darkness still has size-which means it is spatial-which means it is not absolute nothingness, it something after all.

  13. Borek says:
    berkeman

    Just came across a new quote today — hadn't seen this exact one before…

    "Please take me seriously, I know proving <insert conjecture/theory here> is not easy but I may have just proved it for a special case"I am not convinced it was a crackpot. 3[SUP]2[/SUP]+4[SUP]2[/SUP]=5[SUP]2[/SUP] – I have just proven Pythagorean theorem works for a special case :wink:

  14. zoobyshoe says:
    ZapperZ

    OK, I'll bite. Where exactly did Einstein proclaimed that Newton was wrong? Incomplete, an approximation, sure. But wrong? Would someone proclaim that and then write a tribute such as this?

    http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/physics/einstein-on-newton.html

    Zz.From your link:

    Einstein

    The whole development of our ideas concerning natural phenomena, which has been described above, may be conceived as an organic development of Newton's thought. But while the construction of the theory of fields was still actively in progress, the facts of heat radiation, spectra, radioactivity, and so on revealed a limit to the employment of the whole system of thought, which, in spite of gigantic successes in detail, seems to us today completely insurmountable. Many physicists maintain, not without weighty arguments, that in face of these facts not only the differential law but the law of causality itself—hitherto the ultimate basic postulate of all natural science—fails.

    The very possibility of a spatio-temporal construction which can be clearly brought into consonance with physical experience is denied. That a mechanical system should permanently admit only discrete values of energy or discrete states—as experience, so to say, directly shows—seems at first hardly deducible from a theory of fields working with differential equations. The method of [Louis] De Broglie and [Erwin] Schrödinger, which has, in a certain sense, the character of a theory of fields, does deduce, on the basis of differential equations, from a sort of consideration of resonance the existence of purely discrete states and their transition into one another in amazing agreement with the facts of experience; but it has to dispense with a localization of the mass-particles and with strictly causal laws. Who would be so venturesome as to decide today the question whether causal law and differential law, these ultimate premises of Newton's treatment of nature, must definitely be abandoned?Einstein is saying Newton's view isn't working anymore. He doesn't like saying it, but he's saying it.

  15. berkeman says:

    Just came across a new quote today — hadn't seen this exact one before…

    "Please take me seriously, I know proving <insert conjecture/theory here> is not easy but I may have just proved it for a special case"

  16. Akaisora says:
    DennisN

    :rofl: :thumbs: Hilarious!

    I started to write some biological description before, but I did not feel inspired and I did not get any further than:

    "
    Crackpot (Fractum scaphium sciphus)

    Habitat: Youtube, Vixra, WordPress
    Distinct calls: "Newton", "Einstein", "Feynman"
    "

    I can't say I know Latin, but it ought to be more or less correct; Fractum scaphium sciphus ought to mean "broken pot". It might be fractus instead of fractum, though, I don't know.Keep it at Homo crackpotus.

  17. DennisN says:
    Bandersnatch

    The Crackpot is nowadays a rare sight […]:rofl: :thumbs: Hilarious!

    I started to write some biological description before, but I did not feel inspired and I did not get any further than:

    "
    Crackpot (Fractum scaphium sciphus)

    Habitat: Youtube, Vixra, WordPress
    Distinct calls: "Newton", "Einstein", "Feynman"
    "

    I can't say I know Latin, but it ought to be more or less correct; Fractum scaphium sciphus ought to mean "broken pot". It might be fractus instead of fractum, though, I don't know.

  18. Enigman says:
    greg

    Claiming Newton is wrongIn that case are you claiming that Sir Newt On was right on the account that light was composed of particles then it would travel faster in a denser medium like water but if it were composed of waves, then a denser medium would slow it down while he maintained that light was particles, not waves…chalk me up 60 points :biggrin:

  19. Bandersnatch says:
    DennisN

    David AttenboroughThe Crackpot is nowadays a rare sight on the Physics Forums. This magnificent creature, once ubiquitous in this part of the web, is facing extinction due to overhunting by the local admins.

    Crackpots are omnivorous scavengers, sustaining themselves on any fringe science readily available in the environment. However, their digestive system tends to specialise with age, forcing them to maintain their chosen dietary composition throughout the latter part of life.

    Characteristic of a Crakpot is the vacuous misinformation it extrudes to attract other members of the species, or when faced with predation. It is a substance resembling common science, if only under the most superificial scrutiny. When viewed under a microscope, however, it shows significant lack of coherence, while the reasoning lattice is ridden with sizeable holes, often arranged in aesthetically-pleasing patterns.
    The exact composition of misinformation varies depending on the particulars of a Crackpot's diet, the prevalence of education in its breeding area, and the size of its ego glands.

    In certain parts of the world, the misinformation is sought after by unscrupulous individuals, who collect and further disseminate it among the general populace. Thought to be a multi-million pound market, misinformation is sold in book and television programme form semi-openly, often under the guise of reputable science. Yet, despite the known adverse effects of its use, especially among the young and impressionable minds, the sale of misinformation remains a gray area both ethically and within the confines of the law.

    While in the wild the Crackpot is nearly bereft of natural predators, only rarely stalked by the members of genus Professoria Academica, it is considered a pest by admins of scientific forums. Often killed on sight, traditionally with the ritual tribal weapon called "the banhammer".
    It is hard to argue against the reasoning behind such a strict behaviour, as the crops cultivated by science forums are, without doubt, adversely affected by the Crackpot's misinformation. An unchecked infestation can easily spoil any valid discussion, subsequently requiring an inordinate amount of work to weed out the impurities.

    As a result, the population of feral Crackpots dwindles in places like Physics Forums. Their future fate either starvation, or capture by the aforementioned misinformation cartels.
    And even though there are other factors behind their seemingly inevitable extinction, including the widespread adoption of educational pesticides, or poaching by debunking websites, the actions of admins are certainly among the most immediate of threats.

    So, should you ever see the wild Crackpot rear its magnificent head from between the neatly trimmed lines of scientific topics, take a picture. Copy and paste. Save the memory of the nature's exuberance for posterity.

    View attachment 163802

  20. Enigman says:
    OmCheeto

    I just got 50 points in my kitchen this morning. But then again, it might be my FBD.

    ps. Can you give that new kid, Emigman, half an infraction point for me. My kitchen is a mess! :grumpy:Who's that? :biggrin:

  21. DennisN says:
    Bandersnatch

    You generally need to be lucky to catch one before it gets deleted. Personally I've found hours around 8AM-1PM GMT the most abundant, as it would appear the mentors and admins are in their temporary unconsciousness/regeneration phase of life cycle around that time.Couldn't help laughing when I read this, Bandersnatch. This sounded like something from David Attenborough's documentaries.

  22. DennisN says:
    Greg Bernhardt

    50 points: Creating a sockpuppet to agree with you.Man, that's sure a sad and desperate measure. But it's an entertaining thought. Sadly I know such things can happen. I've tried using sock puppets elsewhere, but they never agreed with me :confused:.

  23. Greg Bernhardt says:
    Pythagorean

    Can we have a Crackpot Award to go with awards like Community Spirit and Most Humorous?First few years we did have one, but since they don't stick around long, it doesn't make sense. :D

  24. Digitalism says:
    Greg Bernhardt

    5 points: Obvious copy and paste
    5 points: Wall of Text
    20 points: No math shown

    Desperate measures
    5 points: Post offers a complicated analogy rather than a descriptive modelSo 35 points for the OP so far.. ^^

  25. Ibix says:

    "I need some help to express this in maths."

    "Maths isn't the right tool for thinking about this."

    I have seen an example of the latter where he preferred a system of drawing arrows and adding them together. Apparently the arrows were completely unlike vectors (notably, they lacked an underlying system of rigorous thought – or indeed any thought at all).

  26. 256bits says:

    yeah. It would be worthwhile to investigate whether the person suffering from crackpotitis is displaying symptoms of the acute or chronic progression of the disease. Is it of a hereditary nature. Or even contagious in which case how does one go about protecting oneself from becoming contaminated with the pathogen. Is there an incubation periiod during which time an individaul can become a carrier, to the time to a full blown progression. Is there a cure in sight. IMHO there is little understanding of its nature as there are a good many questions with very few answers.
    At the very least we have a list of the symptoms to look for when suspecting someone is a sufferer.

    When in doubt, though it would be best to contact your friendly neigborhood physicist for a proper and qualified diagnosis, and recommended treatment.

  27. SteamKing says:

    They sometimes seem to come in bunches, right around the time of the full moon. For some reason, this weekend has produced at lot of zombies posting, but I guess the moon must be full somewhere.

  28. Crake says:

    I think it would be funny if you locked their account into a specific sub-forum (so that they can use PF, but only on that sub-forum).. A locked sub-forum, only those who get "labeled" as crackpots by mentors are allowed to post there. However, everyone else is allowed to read!

    It would be amazing seeing them argument with one another, haha.

  29. Ryan_m_b says:
    Bandersnatch

    You generally need to be lucky to catch one before it gets deleted. Personally I've found hours around 8AM-1PM GMT the most abundant, as it would appear the mentors and admins are in their temporary unconsciousness/regeneration phase of life cycle around that time.That's true for some of them but for the rest of us those times are closer to our mornings at work :wink: in other words there is a time when the west-Atlanticans are asleep and the east-Atlanticans are at work so mentoring gets a bit patchy.

  30. Crake says:
    Bandersnatch

    You generally need to be lucky to catch one before it gets deleted. Personally I've found hours around 8AM-1PM GMT the most abundant, as it would appear the mentors and admins are in their temporary unconsciousness/regeneration phase of life cycle around that time.

    It would be fun to be able to access the deleted topics, if only to amuse yourself by playing micromass' bingo.In which sub-forums does one catch that? General Discussion?

  31. Bandersnatch says:
    Crake

    I've read a lot about those so called "crackpots". However, I never found one here. I know there used to be a "Own research" or whatever it was called forum here, on PF, and that it was a festival for the "quacks" (?). Is there, perhaps, some lost topic, so I can read it? Link me!You generally need to be lucky to catch one before it gets deleted. Personally I've found hours around 8AM-1PM GMT the most abundant, as it would appear the mentors and admins are in their temporary unconsciousness/regeneration phase of life cycle around that time.

    It would be fun to be able to access the deleted topics, if only to amuse yourself by playing micromass' bingo.

  32. Crake says:

    I've read a lot about those so called "crackpots". However, I never found one here. I know there used to be a "Own research" or whatever it was called forum here, on PF, and that it was a festival for the "quacks" (?). Is there, perhaps, some lost topic, so I can read it? Link me!

  33. OmCheeto says:
    Greg Bernhardt


    50 points: "I just discovered the laws of physics are wrong"
    …I just got 50 points in my kitchen this morning. But then again, it might be my FBD.

    ps. Can you give that new kid, Emigman, half an infraction point for me. My kitchen is a mess! :grumpy:

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