ATOMISM: Crackpot Theory

Ian Goddard (
Fri, 13 Mar 1998 15:57:11 -0500


The term "crackpot" is often deployed within
"scientific" oriented circles upon various
individuals who have become targets of scorn.
As such, the term "crackpot" falls into the
category of "personal insult" or "ad hominem."

Let's try to introduce some logic into this
inflammatory deployment of terminology by ask-
ing the simple question: "What is a crackpot"?

Random House Webster's College Dictionary defines
"crackpot" (and the following subterms) as such:

CRACKPOT: n. 1. a person who is eccentric,
fanatical, or irrational. --adj. 2. eccen-
tric; fanatical; irrational.

Fanatic: n. 1. a person with an extreme
and uncritical enthusiasm or zeal...

Eccentric: adj. 1. deviating from the acc-
epted or customary character, practice,
ect.; unconventional; peculiar; odd.

Irrational: adj. 1. lacking the facility
of reason; deprived of reason.

Now let's try to extract exactly the definition
of "crackpot" as it is deployed in "scientific"
circles. Albert Einstein was "eccentric," how-
ever the term "crackpot," as it occurs in scien-
tific circles, would not properly be applied to
Einstein. Einstein was also fanatical in his devo-
tion to the formation of his theories, but since
"fanatic" implies "uncritical," this defines a
disjunction between the "fanatical" subterm of
"crackpot" and Albert Einstein. So this leaves
us with the subterm "irrational" to define the
deployment of the term "crackpot" to various
targets in and/or by the scientific community.

The subterm "irrational" defines exactly the
proper application of the term "crackpot" in
scientific circles (which is not to say that
improper applications of the term may not be
deployed), since "irrational" implies being
"deprived of reason," and reason, defined as
"logical thinking," is a cornerstone of any
properly defined "scientific community."


When a member of a "scientific circle" (how-
ever loosely defined) calls person X "a crack-
pot," the term properly proclaims that person
X is "irrational" that they "lack the faculty
of proper reason," and ultimately that their
ideas are "false."

It follows therefore that a false theory could
be properly defined as a "crackpot theory."
But most properly, a "crackpot theory" should
be defined as a false theory that is promoted
even in light of the fact that it can be shown
to be false by an objective set of self-con-
sistent, or logical, standards.


Since the popular definition of identity is
atomist and states "A=A," which is to say
that the identity of A is exclusive to A,
that A is what it is due exclusively to A,
and since nobody has ever been able to show
a single example where this claim is true
-- showing A being A free from any associa-
tion to not-A -- it cannot be said to be a
true identity theory, and logic therefore
dictates that it must be a false theory,
particularly when the identity theory,
"A=A+~A," is never shown to be false.

Even as the set of evidence supporting A=A
is an empty set, people go on promoting it
without so much as a second thought; in fact,
many of its supporters fanatically attack
anyone who dares to questions it. It there-
fore follows that "atomist-identity theory"
is properly defined as a "crackpot theory."

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