The fraudulent invention debunkifier

Debunking crackpot and fraudulent inventions has never been easier than now thanks to the world-shattering invention of the Crackpot Flowchart(TM) from Sciencebase. Based on the 13 unlucky-for-crackpots warning signs published some time ago on, this handy multicoloured flow chart lets you assess that recent email touting the latest ground-breaking breakthrough invention.

The Crackpot Flowchart(TM) will let you know in an instant whether the invention being touted is not only earth-shattering but whether it will rock the very foundations of modern science itself. No more worrying that you missed out on a Pulitzer, kick the frauds and the deluded into a cracked pot and save the real breakthrough for a sneaky call to the newsdesk at Science and Nature.

As a bonus, just swap out invention for theory to test whether that email is from the next Albert Einstein or the next Peewee Herman.

Flowchart originally drawn using

16 thoughts on “The fraudulent invention debunkifier

  1. If I look at the guide to a crackpot and imagine a certain astronomer was being tested by it, I come up with the idea that Copernicus was a crackpot.

    Fortunately, people do not live in fear for their lives now if they have a theory that differs greatly from the mainstream view, so they have no reason other than fear of being disproved of to hide from their peers.

  2. Hi David,

    Please don’t feel afraid about rejecting someone’s loony luddite proposition that we can feed the world without GM crops. Remembering who was it making that suggestion.. the 400 scientists over 3 years IAASTD report (International Assessment of Agricultural Knowledge, Science and Technology for Development ) sponsored by FAO, GEF, UNDP, UNEP, UNESCO, World Bank and WHO .

    And this came out 11 March 2011 from the UN news centre “Eco farming doubles yield”:

    Maybe you’re making the suggestion that GM crops could be part of a solution because you are not familiar with the material sometimes described as ‘science’ from the GM crop developers that supposedly supports the safety on these crops. If you contact our Food Standards body (FSANZ) at you may be able to receive a digital copy of the material for a crop of your interest. I don’t think you should keep yourself in the dark about the nature of ‘product advocacy science’.

    I don’t know if you’re aware of this, but there are very few scientists in the GM crop field who are actually paid to look at the science from precautionary human and environmental safety perspective. I know of two groups, one is GenOK in Norway and the other is The Centre for Integrated Biosafety in New Zealand (geneticists/molecular biologists etc), who are paid to do GM and report on what they find. Terje Traavik has estimated that 95% of scientists in the field are in GM product development, though he says the number could be closer to 100%. There is very little information or discussion of opinions within the GM crop science world because there are so few scientists paid to critically analyse risks and concerns associated with GM products. This should concern any scientists.

    Here in Australia we don’t seem to be paying any scientist to do this job. We have one self-funded scientist Dr Judy Carman who is choosing to investigate in the field. She suffers regular attack from people aligned with GM product development.

    If GM was fully labelled and independently tested as safe in the long term, after the science had been through a couple of more decades to get to know itself, and able to be contained – maybe it could be part of human future for people who want to knowingly take those risks. But at the moment, reading the wikileaks cables, GM crops in their existing socio-political form look more like a grab for control and world power, as long suspected.

    Looking at all the non-GM successes that have been achieved
    I don’t think that GM is going to be that well-promoted useful tool. Good science is never wasted however, and it’s all contributing to good non-GM MAS breeding.


  3. Thanks Madeleine much looks less like libel bait now. As to the actual “facts”. I totally disagree. GM has never been touted as a saviour, we all know that companies exist to make profits, if the use of GM is limiting, then take a look at the way other industries restrict our lives from the tiniest “Mom & Pop” store to the multinationals. The world ain’t perfect. GM is a small but perhaps important part of our development towards sustainable food. As with everything there are side effects. But, you don’t feed 6 billion people with a few acres of certified organic mulch and a packet of alfalfa seeds, I’m afraid.

  4. Second try at presenting facts on this post.

    I ask the readers to consider the behaviour of the GM crop developers and their patented GM seeds.

    GM is constantly touted as saviour of major global problems such as (solving climate change, feeding the hungry world) and GM crop developers create great videos about it (see their website).

    Research on their patented GM seeds is harshly restricted (see Emily Waltz, “Under Wraps”, Nature Biotechnology ).
    There is very little independent research on GM crops.

    Scientists have had to sue in courts to get a GM crop developer to reveal its in-house data (viz Seralini in France)

    GM foods are approved by food regulators without any independent information on the crops (see FSANZ GM crop approvals

    Most GM food on the supermarket shelves simply isn’t labelled (none in the US, almost nothing in Australia). Maybe you need to include an extra question, “Does the inventor want to keep the product secret?”


  5. Dave is overall correct, of course, in detail. The fundamental problem is not only ignorance, it is ineducability. They combine to yield stupidity, and stupidity is forever.

    The Coriolis motor will power an exhaustless hovercraft. Clusters of spinning gyros in a hermetically sealed box (including batteries) will, for the non-hovering demo, translate along a flat track and even up a vertical track! Put the box in a rowboat and it propels through water, needing only steering. The investment prosposal is accompanied by a thick sheaf of dense maths. Get in now… weaponization and Federal $billions!

    Hang it from a string or put it on ice and it spins without translation or loft. Momentum is conserved. The thing needs external purchase to travel – surface friction or a rudder.

    Pro forma reject some nutcase who says Euclid or Newton is wrong? They were both demonstrated to be insufficient. Mathematics rigorously derived of weak postulates lacks empirical traction. General Relativity does not include particle angular momentum. Mass is fermions, folks, the worst kind of spin. Einstein-Cartan teleparallelism is good for spin. Either way, geometric gravitation will not quantize – black hole interiors are untouchable. All quantum gravitations are disasters, SUSY is a disaster, the Higgs is a disaster… A crackpot external orthogonal view is desperately needed, consistent with all prior observations and offering testable new ones, said nutcase later to be redesignated a saint (or burned anyway, and then beatified).

    The proffered flowchart’s or spec sheet’s problem is then obvious: WHICH crackpot is the next can of Shinola? There is no lack of volunteered crapola. Who offers the One True Boojum that is only visible in retrospect, a blue rose growing from Bandini Mountain?

  6. Thanks for that Al. Good point. None of those discoveries or inventions would have got held up on my flowchart though, none of them were scared of peers attempting to reproduce the results. The funny thing about peer review is that’s not meant to be theoretical, the whole idea is meant to be underpinned by independent scientists trying to repeat one’s experiments…the kinds of emails I’m talking about never disclose adequate details to allow anyone to test the data. All they’re after are some kind of fame and glory and/or VC money!

  7. Crackpottery does not have refereed literature citations (a 1905 exception). Crackpottery contradicts reproducible observation. If crackpottery identifies a loophole, footnote, empirical falsification… it becomes canon.

    Albert Einstein, relativity, 1905 and 1916; Otto Stern vs. PAM Dirac on proton magnetic moment, 1933; Yang and Lee, chiral Weak interaction, 1957; Charles Pedersen, crown ethers, 1967; Karry Mullis, PCR, 1983; Barry Marshall, gastric ulcers, 1985. Nylon, Plexiglas, SuperGlue, polycarbonate, sulfa drugs, Valium, valproic acid for epilepsy, cosmic background radiation, white dwarfs, pulsars, black holes, plate tectonics, fractals, CVD diamond… all began as crackpottery. Theory is preferred to experiment because virtual mud packs tighter than real gems. In the end, theory predicts what observation tells it to predict.

    To criticize is to volunteer! We know by observation, bench top and astronomical, that no measurable observable violates the Equivalence Principle: All bodies vacuum free fall identically. Chirality
    cannot be measured. Do opposite shoes violate the Equivalence Principle? If so, General Relativity loses a founding postulate. Anisotropic vacuum plus Noether’s theorems no longer enforce conservation of angular momentum, explaining galactic rotation rates vs. increasing radius. Physics, like plane geometry, would be demonstrated incomplete. Somebody should look.
    Two geometric parity Eotvos experiments
    The fine print, as a polemic

    The worst it can do is succeed. The greatest obstacle to understanding reality is not ignorance but the illusion of knowledge. Reality is not a peer vote.

  8. “It doesn’t matter how beautiful your theory is, it doesn’t matter how smart you are. If it doesn’t agree with experiment, it’s wrong” – Richard Feynman

  9. Yep, all covered Mike ;-) But, I’m worried that the International Patent Office will come down hard on my Debunkifier because it’s just so revolutionary. Given the amount of energy wasted on cracked conjectures across the globe, I reckon this flow chart could actually save the world!

  10. This is great, but you should broaden it to include purveyors of revolutionary theories, not just inventions. Most of the same rules apply.

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