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There was no definition here, and the definition and explanation that I found was taken in the main from : http://scienceweek.com/swbb/messages/bb236.htm. This was an on-line bulletin board and I thought the posting gave a pretty good all round account of a crackpot. I tidied it up a little.--AvengingAngel 14:50, 28 May 2007 (EDT)
I agree with point 4 removal, as it was probably redundant, but I do think we ought to re-insert some of point 3 back, in particular the bits in bold I think are important:
... when usually there is no "paradigm" in any Kuhnian sense, but merely a consensus view about a small scientific question. One basic philosophical failure of the crackpot is the failure to understand that "paradigms" and "paradigm shifts" are usually recognized after the fact by historians and almost never during the time of the shift, and secondly that paradigm shifts are almost always the work of younger scientists and not of older scientists.
I will not revert the edit, but can we discuss this point? --AvengingAngel 15:52, 28 May 2007 (EDT)
- The crackpot don't fail to understand that; they tout that reason as further evidence of how their revolutionary ideas could be ignored by the establishment. I also don't think it helps to say that the crackpot can be presumed to be wrong because he is too old. RSchlafly 16:21, 28 May 2007 (EDT)
- (1) Yes but crackpots are generally older, embittered people who for years have been ignored. I was trying to make the difference between young turks with wild new ideas, who have not yet been accepted, and old stagers who have had their day, and had their ideas rejected.
- (2) I think the issue about paradigm shifts is well made. They are almost never in the time of the person making the claim, it's always after
- The kinds of crackpot I have in mind are well described in a Book called "Do you speak Venusian" by Patrick Moore, or David Icke (an ex-TV Presenter who claims the British Royal family are lizards( you couldn't make this up!). I do think age is an issue here, and the paragigm shift, as they often quote that as the reason for not being listened to. If I rewrite that bit, can I re-insert?
--AvengingAngel 16:29, 28 May 2007 (EDT)
- This is an absorbing discussion but it's past my bed-time. One point AA I think the R stands for Roger. NatWest 18:05, 28 May 2007 (EDT)
Let me get this straight. You think that crackpots are all old, and that there were rational beings when younger. You think that scientists don't recognize new idea, and that only historians recognize them years later. You think that a basic philosophical failure of crackpots is that they don't realize that don't realize that mainstream scientists are going to reject their ideas no matter what they say. I think that this article now has some crackpot stuff in it. RSchlafly 19:29, 28 May 2007 (EDT)
- I think this article is at the moment mostly an unsupported personal essay, not an encyclopedia article. Dpbsmith 19:56, 28 May 2007 (EDT)
- Not making any arguments, just gathering some data points. Thinking of random people whom I consider to be or have been crackpots. Apologies in advance if any readers here do not agree with that characterization. Dates mostly from Wikipedia (sorry...)
- George Adamski, b. 1891, published flying saucer photographs in 1947, age about 56
- Charles Fort, b. 1874, published The Book of the Damned in 1919, age about 45
- John Cleves Symmes, Jr., b. 1779, developed hollow earth theory in 1818, age about 39
- Ah, some years ago I turned up a book in a big research library entitled "Behold! The Grand Problem No Longer Unsolved. The Circle Squared Beyond All Refutation." My recollection is that it amounted to saying the ratio between the area of a square and the inscribed circle was exactly 9:8, i.e. π = 3.556 or something like that. It trailed off into theories on how to solve the world currency problem. Let's see what I can find online... It seems to have been published in 1931 by one C. T. Heisel. I.e. the publisher and author are both C. T. Heisel, of Cleveland. No luck on finding C. T. Heisel's dates, though.
- Wilhelm Reich, b. 1897, in "the 1940s" moved to Maine and developed theory of orgone energy, age: in his forties
Dpbsmith 20:01, 28 May 2007 (EDT)
Martin Gardner's book
Don't have it at hand and the Google Books partial preview lacks some of the key pieces, but in this book he uses the word phrase frequently and has a section in which he details what he says are the typical characteristics of "crackpot science." I think it's likely that he popularized the term. From the Google Books preview, points 3, 4, and 5 are:
3) "the crackpot believes himself unjustly persecuted and discriminated against;"
4) "He has strong compulsions to focus his attacks on the greatest scientists and the best-established theories. When Newton was the outstanding name in physics, eccentric works in that science were violently anti-Newton. Today, with Einstein the father-symbol of authority, a crank theory of physics is likely to attack Einstein in the name of Newton."
5) "He often has a tendency to write in a complex jargon, making use of terms and phrases he himself has coined."
Probably worth digging out and using in writing the article. Dpbsmith 18:39, 28 May 2007 (EDT)
This piece has attracted a lot of attention. Hm.--AvengingAngel 18:41, 28 May 2007 (EDT)
It appears that the phrase "crackpot sound" has or had a technical use in medicine. See this Google Books search. Three are late-1880s references to diagnosing tuberculosis, "a crackpot sound on percussion," but, interestingly, the last one is a 2001 pediatrics text that refers to a "crackpot sound" on percussing the head. Dpbsmith 18:43, 28 May 2007 (EDT)
It's used in diagnosing hydrocephaly. Neurology glossary, available only in Google's cache: "Crackpot Sound on Head Percussion - This is elicited by percussing the skull with one finger and hearing a resonant sound similar to that derived from tapping a cracked porcelain pot. If the sign is elicited when the anterior fontanel is closed, it indicates increased intracranial pressure or a dilated ventricle. It is of no significance if the fontanel is open." This page refers to "Hydrocephalus due to aqueductal stenosis usually becomes manifest in-utero or by the first three months of infancy with typical signs of elevated intracranial pressure, bulging anterior fontanelle, splitting of the sutures, Macewan's crackpot sound to head percussion and "setting-sun sign" due to tectal compression." Dpbsmith 18:46, 28 May 2007 (EDT)