Thomas Clarke (
13 Nov 1995 14:35:34 GMT

I saw this reposted over on sci,physics and thought it
might be of interest. The CRACKPOT INDEX is the work of
mathematician John Baez currently working on quantum gravity at
u-cal (I forget which campus). His INDEX has been published in
New Scientist and mentioned in Newsweek.
You just go through the list to derive a crackput index.
[I've looked around and I can't see where Baez gives a threshold
for crackpot/non-crackput. Yes, John is Joan's cousin.]
Some comments after the definition.

A simple method for rating potentially
revolutionary contributions to physics.

1) A -5 point starting credit.
2) 1 point for every statement that is widely agreed on to be false.
3) 2 points for every statement that is clearly vacuous.
4) 3 points for every statement that is logically inconsistent.
5) 5 points for each such statement that is adhered to despite careful
6) 5 points for using a thought experiment that contradicts the results
of a widely accepted real experiment.
7) 5 points for each word in all capital letters (except for those
with defective keyboards).
8) 10 points for each claim that quantum mechanics is fundamentally
misguided (without good evidence).
9) 10 points for each favorable comparison of oneself to Einstein, or
claim that special or general relativity are fundamentally misguided
(without good evidence).
10) 10 points for pointing out that one has gone to school, as if this
were evidence of sanity.
11) 20 points for suggesting that you deserve a Nobel prize.
12) 20 points for each favorable comparison of oneself to Newton or
claim that classical mechanics is fundamentally misguided (without
13) 20 points for every use of science fiction works or myths as if
they were fact.
14) 20 points for defending yourself by bringing up (real or imagined)
ridicule accorded to ones past theories.
15) 30 points for each favorable comparison of oneself to Galileo,
claims that the Inquisition is hard at work on ones case, etc..
16) 30 points for claiming that when ones theory is finally appreciated,
present-day science will be seen as the sham it truly is.
17) 30 points for claiming that the "scientific establishment" is
engaged in a "conspiracy" to prevent ones work from gaining its
well-deserved fame, or suchlike.
18) 40 points for claiming one has a revolutionary theory but
giving no concrete testable predictions.

PAists should substitute their own received theories in 8), 9)
12), 15). Clearly evolution and Darwin and Leakey should be
in there.

The AAT would probably get widely varying scores depending on who
scored it.
2) will certainly net several (5?) points although there
is a lively debate on the veracity of various statements regarding
tears etc.
8) if the "land theory" is equated to quantum mechanics, then
AAT gets 10 points for claiming this
17) some AATers resort to establisment blame, 10 points for this.
Of course many AAT opponents give high score on 18).

So I give AAT a CRACKPOT INDEX of maybe 20.

On the other hand, the AAT opponents get points for
3), 4), and 10) (credential card often played).
Thus the standard position as portrayed on s.a.p has
a non-zero CRACKPOT INDEX as well.

Tom Clarke