Crackpot index

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The crackpot index is a number that rates scientific claims or the individuals that make them, in conjunction with a method for computing that number. While the indices have been created for their humorous value, their general concepts can be applied in other fields like risk management.[1][2]

Baez's crackpot index[edit]

The method, proposed semi-seriously by mathematical physicist John C. Baez in 1992, computes an index by responses to a list of 36 questions, each positive response contributing a point value ranging from 1 to 50. The computation is initialized with a value of −5.[3] An earlier version only had 17 questions with point values for each ranging from 1 to 40.[4]

Presumably any positive value of the index indicates crankiness.

Though the index was not proposed as a serious method, it nevertheless has become popular in Internet discussions of whether a claim or an individual is cranky, particularly in physics (e.g., at the Usenet newsgroup sci.physics), or in mathematics.

Chris Caldwell's Prime Pages has a version adapted to prime number research[5] which is a field with many famous unsolved problems that are easy to understand for amateur mathematicians.

Gruenberger's measure for crackpots[edit]

An earlier crackpot index is Fred J. Gruenberger's "A Measure for Crackpots"[6] published in December 1962 by the RAND Corporation.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Hubbard, Douglas W. (2009-04-27). The Failure of Risk Management: Why It's Broken and How to Fix It. John Wiley & Sons. ISBN 9780470387955.
  2. ^ Staff, Wired. "Every field of study deserves its own Crackpot Index". WIRED. Retrieved 2018-07-17.
  3. ^ "Crackpot index". Retrieved 2018-07-17.
  4. ^ "Crackpot index". 1996-11-10. Retrieved 2018-07-17.
  5. ^ Chris Caldwell. "The PrimeNumbers' Crackpot index". Retrieved October 23, 2007.
  6. ^ Fred J. Gruenberger. "A Measure for Crackpots" (PDF).

External links[edit]