Difference between revisions of "You know you are a crank when..."

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Cranks, scam artists and fringe theorists share a set of common traits in their writing.  Free-energy nuts are the worst.  Look out for the following signs:
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Cranks, scam artists and fringe theorists share a set of common traits in their writing.  Free-energy nuts are the worst.  Look out for the following signs.  You know you're a crank when...
  
# Claiming not only to having zero scientific training - but also claiming that this is a good thing.
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# You claim not only to have zero scientific training - but also that this is a good thing.
# "They are out to get me/suppress my technology."  Murder threats - claims of being offered a gazillion dollars by "big oil companies" - typically to suppress technology that's already been patented. (When you patent something, you describe fully how it works and put that description up where anyone with an Internet connection can read it...it's kinda hard to suppress it after that!)
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# You claim that: "They are out to get me/suppress my technology."  Murder threats - claims of being offered a gazillion dollars by "big oil companies" - typically to suppress technology that's already been patented. (When you patent something, you describe fully how it works and put that description up where anyone with an Internet connection can read it...it's kinda hard to suppress it after that!)
# "This is only a demo. I can't show you the much better one I have behind the curtain over here"...yeah...great.
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# Either: "This is only a demo. I can't show you the much better one I have behind the curtain over there"...or...
# Over-specific claims. He could make himself rich and famous, fix global warming, solve world hunger and get at least one Nobel prize just by demonstrating an actual working over-unity power source. But instead they '''ALWAYS''' have to make it drive a car.
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# "I haven't quite perfected it yet - so it doesn't quite do what I claim"...yeah...great.
# Claims that being awarded a US patent is actually some kind of proof that the machine works as advertised are always a mainstay of this kind of nut-job. In truth, patents are very easy to get.  Yet somehow they add a lot of respectibility to ridiculous devices. The average patent claim gets something like 10 minutes of a patent officer's time - including the time to read the claim and fill out the paperwork...and that's an average - so most get a lot less.
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# Over-specific claims. You could make himself rich and famous, fix global warming, solve world hunger and get at least one Nobel prize just by demonstrating an actual working over-unity power source. But instead they '''ALWAYS''' have to make it drive a car.
# Excessive precision in any numerical claims. (eg it's not enough to produce 20 times more energy than you use - it's more likely to be 21.415 times more).
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# You claim that being awarded a US patent is actually some kind of proof that the machine works as advertised.  These claims are always a mainstay of this kind of nut-job. In truth, patents are very easy to get.  Yet somehow they add a lot of respectibility to ridiculous devices. The average patent claim gets something like 10 minutes of a patent officer's time - including the time to read the claim and fill out the paperwork...and that's an average - so most get a lot less.
# Your machine involves magnets as a source of energy. (Although zero point energy is also allowed here).
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# You provide excessive precision in any numerical claims. (eg it's not enough to produce 20 times more energy than you use - it's more likely to be 21.415 times more).
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# Your machine involves magnets as a source of energy or in some other poorly-explained manner. (Although zero point energy is also allowed here if the nut-job in question reads too much trashy sci-fi).

Revision as of 14:40, 2 June 2009

Cranks, scam artists and fringe theorists share a set of common traits in their writing. Free-energy nuts are the worst. Look out for the following signs. You know you're a crank when...

  1. You claim not only to have zero scientific training - but also that this is a good thing.
  2. You claim that: "They are out to get me/suppress my technology." Murder threats - claims of being offered a gazillion dollars by "big oil companies" - typically to suppress technology that's already been patented. (When you patent something, you describe fully how it works and put that description up where anyone with an Internet connection can read it...it's kinda hard to suppress it after that!)
  3. Either: "This is only a demo. I can't show you the much better one I have behind the curtain over there"...or...
  4. "I haven't quite perfected it yet - so it doesn't quite do what I claim"...yeah...great.
  5. Over-specific claims. You could make himself rich and famous, fix global warming, solve world hunger and get at least one Nobel prize just by demonstrating an actual working over-unity power source. But instead they ALWAYS have to make it drive a car.
  6. You claim that being awarded a US patent is actually some kind of proof that the machine works as advertised. These claims are always a mainstay of this kind of nut-job. In truth, patents are very easy to get. Yet somehow they add a lot of respectibility to ridiculous devices. The average patent claim gets something like 10 minutes of a patent officer's time - including the time to read the claim and fill out the paperwork...and that's an average - so most get a lot less.
  7. You provide excessive precision in any numerical claims. (eg it's not enough to produce 20 times more energy than you use - it's more likely to be 21.415 times more).
  8. Your machine involves magnets as a source of energy or in some other poorly-explained manner. (Although zero point energy is also allowed here if the nut-job in question reads too much trashy sci-fi).