Re: How to Tell if You Are a Crank
Date: 20 Jun 2006 10:36:46 -0700
> So it's not sufficient to say "I don't think I'm a crank, therefore
> I'm not a crank" because *everyone* thinks that. One has to
> test against external markers.
> One test would be to go in to a newsgroup on a topic one was
> familiar with. If one is quite shy and doesn't say much, one is
> probably not a crank. But perhaps one posts a lot. Are one's
> ideas greeted with a mix of agreement and disagreement?
> That would be normal. Are one's ideas greeted with universal
> derision? Does one then hypothesize that all the posters there
> are in cahoots against you? That would be a sign that one was
> a crank.
Another sign that I've noticed, perhaps unique to paranoid cranks (assuming that's not redundant), is the fractal nature of their content vacuum. If you skim quickly over a series of their threads (of which their posts consume 50+%), you gain X "quantity" of insight. If you dive deeper into their posts, reading in detail, you find that you have still only gained X... and so on. There's something Godelian, or perhaps even Heisenbergian, in it all.
(And the "X" insight gained initially appears to be nothing more than glimpsing the overall pattern of a shallow attack on point A, followed by tangential deflection onto unrelated points, followed by vague references to the "success" of their attack on A).
Whereas with most people skimming their posts and then diving deeper into details reveals sinew and cartilage behind the skeletal structure, with fractal cranks you find more bone - or perhaps more space - but nothing of any further use.