You know you are a crank when...
Revision as of 07:22, 24 February 2011 by SteveBaker
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...
- You claim not only to have zero scientific training - but also that this is a good thing.
- 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!)
- Either: "This is only a demo. I can't show you the much better one I have behind the curtain over there"...or...
- "I haven't quite perfected it yet - so it doesn't quite do what I claim"...yeah...great.
- Over-specific claims. You could make yourself 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. Generally, it's not even enough to claim that the car can do (let's say) 10 miles on a gallon of water - for some reason these people feel the need to claim somewhere up over 1000 mpg...on water!
- 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.
- 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).
- Your machine involves magnets as a source of energy or in some other poorly-explained manner. (Although zero point energy and/or cold fusion is also allowed here if the nut-job is young enough).
- Your web page has a black background and consists largely of single sentence paragraphs that are centered on the page and presented in a wild profusion of colors, fonts, boldface, italics and underlining.
- You claim support from leading scientists who turn out to be either (a) undergrads or (b) over 80 years old and senile.