There is no RationalWiki without you. We are a small non-profit with no staff – we are hundreds of volunteers who document pseudoscience and crankery around the world every day. We will never allow ads because we must remain independent. We cannot rely on big donors with corresponding big agendas. We are not the largest website around, but we believe we play an important role in defending truth and objectivity.
If everyone who saw this today donated $5, we would meet our goal for 2020.
| Fighting pseudoscience isn't free.|
We are 100% user-supported! Help and donate $5, $20 or whatever you can today with !
| We control what|
you think with
|Said and done|
|Jargon, buzzwords, slogans|
|—busa, "Senior Member", David Icke forums|
The term "crank" pejoratively labels someone who holds extremely unorthodox views on a subject and is often very vocal about these opinions. Synonyms include kook, contrarian, nut and crackpot — the "crackpot" variant has led to the coining of the term "psychoceramics" as the name for the study of such people. Cranks who believe a number of different nutty things all at once are said to suffer from crank magnetism.
Cranks will usually maintain their viewpoint despite — or perhaps because of — evidence to the contrary. The typical crank is an amateur in the field they are arguing against, but occasionally, individuals with genuine expertise in the field in question will turn into cranks (which generally leads to pathological science).[note 1] Sometimes, this transformation occurs for reasons of personal gain — which is ironic, as cranks will often accuse non-cranks of being driven by personal gain.[note 2]
Cranks routinely emerge in all fields of study, holding a wide variety of inaccurate or unorthodox views. These range from being able to square the circle with a straightedge and a compass, through Reptoid-watchers, to Biblical literalists in the creationism movement and beyond.
Debating a crank
If you value your time and/or sanity, then under no circumstances should you willingly enter into debate with a crank. A crank's cognitive processes are impregnable to all forms of logic, reason, evidence, and in extreme cases, basic facts.
Crank debaters tend to be much, much more motivated than you are. This enthusiasm is a big part of what makes them cranks. This means that the crank will have heard all of the common objections to their crankiness. The crank has memorized canned responses to each of them.
A common tactic of cranks is to hide behind elaborate rhetoric; if you can't dazzle them with brilliance, baffle them with bullshit. An extravagantly ornate lexicon filled with polysyllabic verbiage will be utilized unnecessarily, inappropriately, and often erroneously with a greater frequency of occurrence than Greenpeace produces outright falsehoods, because if their opposition's comprehension is obfuscated, it's because their opponent is cogitatively inadequate and not because the crank malcommunicates. Never expect a fancy word such as "terse" to grace their tongues. Superfluous rhetoric itself is not proof of crankery, but is a good warning sign.
All of this has the practical upshot of rendering the debate a fantastic waste of calories.
The worst of the cranks
Well known cranks (in alphabetical order) and some of their "ideas" include:
- Aleister Crowley - Magic powers, demon and angel summoning, being the Great Beast 666.
- Alex Chiu - Immortality magnets.
- Alex Jones - Crank grandmaster. New World Order, 9/11 denialism, Federal Reserve hysteria, climate change denialism, (insert conspiracy of the week here), ad nauseam.
- Andrew Schlafly - Creationism, abortion causes breast cancer, liberalism causes all societal ills, revised chronology, AIDS denialism, and many more.
- Andy Kadir-Buxton - slapping people on the head to cure mental illness
- Charles Berlitz - The Bermuda Triangle.
- Charles Coughlin - Roman Catholic Priest and radio preacher noted for anti-Federal Reserve crankery and international bankers conspiricism.
- David Dees - Former Sesame Street artist turned conspiracy theorist, known for his outlandish political cartoons about literally every conspiracy theory.
- David Icke - Another crank grandmaster. Alternate history, alien races, conspiracy theories.
- David J. Stewart - webmaster of Jesus Is Savior website, conspiracy theories, arrogant conservativism, pseudohistory, racism, antisemitism, evolution denialism, climate change denialism, endorsement of other cranks, need more be said?
- David Sereda - Shroud of Turin, zero-point energy, anti-gravity, solfeggio frequencies.
- Dennis Prager - climate change denier, conspiracy theorist, DDT wackiness, homophobia, "Islamophobia".
- Drunvalo Melchizedek - believes that through meditation the human being is able to access sources of information (the Akashik Records) and receive guidance about his/her spiritual advancement. Inspiration behind the viral Spirit Science videos.
- Duane Gish - creationist writer and professional debate-mangler.
- Edgar Cayce - Various prophecies, Atlantis, reincarnation.
- Eric S. Raymond - Gun rights, HIV denialism, global warming denial, libertarianism.
- Erich von Däniken - Chariots of the Gods.
- Ernst Zündel - Holocaust denial, Hollow Earth, secret Nazi bases in Antarctica, Nazi UFOs.
- Eustace Mullins - Anti-New World Order and anti-Semitic writer who, at the (alleged) behest of American fascist poet Ezra Pound, wrote about how the Jews—specifically the Rothschilds -- created the Federal Reserve in order to destroy the American economy and make us all wage slaves, or something like that.
- Fred Phelps - World famous cult leader and crazed anti-gay ideologue. He is not gay.
- Gene Ray - Time Cube
- Glenn Beck - If you don't know, you haven't been paying attention.
- Helen Caldicott - Conspiratorial thinking and misinformation about nuclear radiation.
- Immanuel Velikovsky - Planetary catastrophism, a revised chronology, and more.
- Israel Shamir - Anti-Semitic Holocaust denier affiliated with WikiLeaks.
- Jenny McCarthy - Tireless Anti-vaccinationist.
- John A. Davison - Proscribed evolution.
- John Brandenburg - the "thermonuclear war on Mars" guy.
- Joseph Smith - Alternate history, alien races, magic underwear; founder of Mormonism.
- Judy Wood - Dustification of the WTC
- Kerry Cassidy - Everything is a false flag.
- Kerry Mullis - HIV denialism
- L. Ron Hubbard - Alternate history, alien races; founder of Scientology.
- Lauren Southern - The racist conspiracy theory of white genocide.
- Luke Rudkowski - New World Order conspiracy theories, Federal Reserve conspiracy theories, blind support for Ron Paul, leader and founder of Paulbot Cheersquad group We Are Change, arrogance towards those who show dissent towards his views.
- Mark Dice - Evolution denialism, climate change denialism, creationism, NWO conspiracy theories, Federal Reserve hysteria, arrogant social conservatism, being extremely arrogant and condescending towards dissent, immense hypocrisy, sexism, hatred for just about anyone who is not a Christian.
- Mike Adams - proprietor of the website NaturalNews.
- Olavo de Carvalho - a Brazilian pundit, astrologer and self-styled philosopher who didn't pass the fourth grade, who teaches that a Communist conspiracy is runing through the liberals to dominate the world. He has a cult following in Brazil, but lives in Virginia. Besides teaching conspiracy theories and that Newton's laws are a farce, he alleges that Pepsi uses aborted fetus cells in the beverage.
- Pentti Linkola - Ecofascism. This is one of the few cases in which the term is used literally, as opposed to, say, the Right's hyperbolic whining about the EPA, Kyoto Protocols, etc.
- Paul Nehlen - Wisconsin Republican Party politician, "free speech" advocate of #ShallNotCensor, businessman and Christian who shares anti-Semitic tweets and views.
- Peter Duesberg, Eleni Papadopulos-Eleopulos - AIDS denialism.
- Peter Sweden (aka Peter Immaulsen) - Scandinavian man born in Norway (not Sweden) who is a NWO Conspiracy theorist Islamophobe, Anti-immigration advocate, Antifeminist and former Holocaust denier, Anti-Semite, Homophobe, Vatican hater and Pro-Hitler Nazi symphatizer.
- Ray Kurzweil - Transhumanism, specifically in its manifestation as utopian magical thinking, immortality fantasies, and Rapture analogues. BS artist extraordinaire. Keeps making fantastical predictions of the future that fail to pan out.
- Richard C. Hoagland - "Face" on Mars, aliens, NASA conspiracy theories.
- Richard Shaver - Subterranean cities and their malevolent inhabitants, the Dero.
- Rohan R. D. Zener - Self-loathing profound autistic who denies autism's existence as anything more than the name of an arbitrary subhuman collective, yet claims to know a cure for it; also denounces the Democratic State of Israel as a totalitarian state bent on conquering all Arab states and beyond.
- Sean Manchester - Vampire hunter and self-proclaimed "Catholic Bishop".
- Scottie Spence - founder/proprietor of Smoloko News, a news website like its founder are raving racist crackpots who preach anti-Semitism (which is 99% of this website's content) and a supposed International Jewish Conspiracy with "Jews did it" articles, homophobia, antifeminism, anti-Pope Francis hate, Islamophobia, pseudohistory, occasional Christian fundamentalism, conspiracy theories, Holocaust denialism, Nazi apologism as well as gool ol' nonsensical bullshit (such as ISIS being created by the CIA and Mossad, Khazar Mafia, General George S. Patton was assassinated by the Jews, quote mining certain Jewish figures etc.). Spence happens to have been a criminal as he sprayed anti-Semitic, Neo-Nazi graffiti in Youngstown, Ohio in 2016 that got him arrested for "ethnic intimidation" with a fine and probation.
- Steve Quayle - Global population reduction by means of viruses, chemtrails and contrived famine.
- Texe Marrs - NWO conspiracy theories, fundamentalist Christianity, anti-Semitism, satanic panic.
- Todd Bentley - Christian faith healing through kicking and punching.
- Tom Bethell - Numerous forms of science denial.
- Uri Geller - Probably the best-known popularizer of telekinesis through his spoon-bending trick.
- Wilhelm Reich - orgone energy.
- Zecharia Sitchin - Reinterpreter of Sumerian mythology and perpetuator of the "Zeta Reticuli" alien conspiracy theory.
- Crank Dot Net, a directory of crank (and anti-crank) websites.
- MarkH (May 31, 2007). "Crank HOWTO". Denialism blog. http://web.archive.org/web/20100310171832/http://scienceblogs.com/denialism/2007/05/crank_howto.php.