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A crank is a bent portion of an axle, or shaft, or an arm keyed at right angles to the end of a shaft, by which motion is imparted to or received from it; also used to change circular into reciprocating motion[?], or reciprocating into circular motion[?].

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 almost exclusively used pejoratively to describe a person who's 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 are at hold with reality. People publicly adhering such ideas are prone to receive more criticism and sentiments from others, some think that this attention is one of a their underlying motives.

See also: delusion, quackery, conspiracy theory

External links

  • Kooks Museum (http://home.pacifier.com/~dkossy/kooksmus), A humorous collection of kook ideas, by Donna Kossy.
  • Crank Dot Net: Usenet kooks (http://www.crank.net/usenet), A collection of various kooks posting on usenet, and related websites. Created by Erik Max Francis.

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