Applied to a person, the term crank refers to someone who (usually) wrongly believes or (sometimes) pretends to have knowledge of some subject and writes or speaks in an authoritative fashion about it. Such a person is a source of amusement and/or annoyance to actual experts.

A number of topics have attracted the interest of large numbers of cranks, including:

Kook is a somewhat similar term that is usually used pejoratively to describe a person whose areas of interest are perceived to be eccentric, fantastic, or insane. A person may be said to be a "kook" if they are seen to hold socially unacceptable beliefs, or perceptions that outrageously conflict with known scientific results, and appear to base their entire world views upon them. The term was coined in 1960 and originates from the word cuckoo, which is also the name of a bird.

The main distinguishing factor between kooks and quacks, frauds and hoaxers is that kooks genuinely believe that their perceptions and experiences constitute a valid model of reality. Predictably, "kooks" tend to draw criticism and generate controversy; it has been speculated that some kooks are motivated by a desire for such attention.

See also

External links

  • Kooks Museum, A humorous collection of kook ideas, by Donna Kossy.
  • Crank Dot Net, A collection of Web sites related to cranks. Created by Erik Max Francis.
  • Time Cube, the website of Gene Ray, whom many consider to be a crank.