Crackpot Bingo

It happens in science blog comments, and more so in discussion boards where you get some crank with their pet theory of some science subdiscipline, and how it’s the new paradigm ready to emerge and topple the orthodoxy. And it’s almost formulaic like a Hardy Boys mystery (or even a Robert Ludlum novel) with the same arguments cropping up in different combinations. Read several in a row and the commonalities jump out at you.

Hmmm. A finite set of arguments, appearing seemingly at random. Sounds like bingo to me!
Here are the major points, many of which are shamelessly cribbed from the crackpot index

Strawman – use of the strawman fallacy
Unbelievable — use of the argument from incredulity fallacy (I don’t understand, therefore it’s wrong)
Gedanken — use of a thought experiment to debunk a theory or actual experiment
ALLCAPS — extensive use of ALLCAPS or large font
Galileo — as in, comparing themself favorably (i.e. persecuted)
Einstein — as in, comparing themself favorably (i.e. I am the next one)
Nobel — claiming they will win one
School — listing degrees and/or schools attended
Dropout — usually a proud declaration
Many years — how long they’ve worked on their theory
Prize — offer a prize to anyone debunking their work
Terminology — new terms or acronyms
Particles — new particles proposed (Tachyons don’t count)
Interaction — a new interaction is proposed
Eponym — naming something of their work after themselves
Math — admitting to be unable to do it or doing it horribly
Theory — as in, “it’s only a theory” argument to dismiss accepted science
Metaphysics — the work explains “why” or what some phenomenon “really is”
Censorship — complaints about work being censored
Rue — “you’ll rue the day you ignored me” or similar warning
Religion — claiming science is a religion
Priest/Bible — scientists are high priests, or some work is the science bible
Gifs — animated, very pretty, meaningless
Graphs — must have unlabeled axes or be otherwise incomprehensible
See? — claiming the model explains/predicts many phenomena, but without actually presenting evidence
Huh? — befuddlement over lack of instant acceptance of new paradigm
We — the royal we; “we don’t understand X” applied to a well-understood issue
You — “You don’t understand X” directed toward an individual with significant experience in the field
Predicts — model predicts phenomena that have never been observed, but should have been
Turtles — all the way down: all of physics is due to one fundamental particle
Quotes — supports position by selective quoting
Like — argument by analogy
Topology — use of mobius strip or klein bottle in argument
Mum — won’t divulge details for fear of idea being stolen
Polly — simple repetition of claims, unchanged, after being debunked
Indignation — at being asked for evidence or other corroboration (added 5/11)

I’ll add more if worthy ones are suggested.

Card generator available here

9 thoughts on “Crackpot Bingo

  1. Empirical validation separates crackpots from visionaries. If it is testable and would not contradict prior observation, you look. The greatest obstacle to discovery is not ignorance but the illusion of knowledge. Reality is not a peer vote. “Autoritätsdusel ist der größte Feind der Wahrheit,” Albert Einstein, 1901; then quantum mechanics in the 1920s.

    General Relativity is trivially falsifiable without contradiction. SR becomes GR by postulating the Equivalence Principle. Present two lumps that locally vacuum free fall along non-parallel trajectories and GR is reduced to a heuristic. The lab bench EP gold standard is the Eötvös experiment with 5×10^(-14) difference/average sensitivity. All compositions of matter (including massive relativistic and quantum mechanical distortions of PSR J0737-3039A/B) obey GR and validate the EP. So what? Gravitation is mass configuration. Are chemically identical left and right shoes an EP parity violation?

    (Parity violating massed sectors are neither required nor forbidden in metric-affine, Einstein-Cartan, teleparallel, and Riemannian geometry gravitations. Ashtekar has a parity violating term with the Immirzi coefficient. Theory sypporting EP parity violation is already in place.)

    230 periodic 3-D crystallographic space groups. 65 Sohncke space groups can contain chiral contents. 11 pairs of Sohncke space groups are enantiomorphs (opposite shoes) – the space groups themselves are chiral independent of the contents. Enantiomorphic space groups P3(1)21 and P3(2)21 (quartz group) calculate as maximally parity divergent. Do the opposite parity atomic mass distributions of enantiomorphic single crystal alpha-quartz test masses measurably violate the Equivalence Principle in a parity Eötvös experiment? Somebody should look. It’s slick crackpottery… unless it works. Validation promotes it to discovery.

    (There is no parity Nordtvedt effect re lunar laser ranging. Chiral L-amino acids in protein, chiral D-sugars naturally, then meat and wood cancel. All non-life chiral materials are spontaneous racemic mixtures.)

  2. I am so very very happy that we’ve got these cards…. I’m going to start playing asap!

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  4. I suggest “Blinders” for having a bibliography that contains only references to their own papers, and those of Einstein.

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