A joint Fermilab/SLAC publication

Time to play crackpot bingo!

05/13/08

So you thought all those strange missives offering revolutionary and completely unfounded new theories of physics were useless? Wrong! Over at Swans on Tea, Tom Swanson mines them for gold, creating a new game called Crackpot Bingo. In place of the traditional numbers--B22, G3--his cards feature terms from the crackpot lexicon:

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

Not to mention:

Mum — won’t divulge details for fear of idea being stolen
Polly — simple repetition of claims, unchanged, after being debunked

Swanson freely admits to having cribbed much of his material from The Crackpot Index, a gem put together by mathematician John Baez of UC-Riverside that's been circulating for at least a decade:

10 points for pointing out that you have gone to school, as if this were evidence of sanity.

10 points for mailing your theory to someone you don't know personally and asking them not to tell anyone else about it, for fear that your ideas will be stolen.

10 points for each statement along the lines of "I'm not good at math, but my theory is conceptually right, so all I need is for someone to express it in terms of equations".

Swanson has invited readers to suggest new terms for Crackpot Bingo; he'll add the ones he deems worthy. Looks like one has already arrived:

Indignation — at being asked for evidence or other corroboration (added 5/11)

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