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The Crackpot Index for Media Outlets

A simple method for rating News and Opinion

Bob Seay
September 3, 2014

In 1992, mathematician and physicist John Baez created The Crackpot Index, "a simple method for rating potentially revolutionary contributions to physics." Baez used his Crackpot Index to determine whether new ideas were indeed bold, brilliant, and innovative, or if they were the work of ambitious but crazy people, otherwise known as "crackpots".

Baez's work has obvious implications for fields other than physics. With some minor adjustments, this same index may be applied to media outlets, pundits, or individual news stories. While other indices may focus on media bias or other problems, the Media Outlet Crackpot Index measures the potential credibility – or the lack thereof – of a given media source. The higher the score, the more likely it is that the story or media outlet is the work of one or more crackpots.

With apologies to Baez, NewsPrism presents The Crackpot Index for Media Outlets: A simple method for rating media content.

  1. A -5 point starting credit.

  2. 1 point for every statement that opposes verifiable facts (i.e., a birth certificate, census report, or other statistical data)

  3. 2 points for every statement that contradicts peer-reviewed science, Supreme Court rulings, or other accepted work.

  4. 2 points for every statement that refers to settled law as being "a proposal", "allegedly legal", or "Juris-Imprudence".

  5. 3 points for every statement that is logically inconsistent.

  6. 5 points for each statement that is adhered to despite being easily refuted by a Google search.

  7. 5 points for presenting opinion as fact.

  8. 5 points for each word in all capital letters (except for those with defective keyboards).

  9. 5 points for each use of the terms "mainstream media", "corporate media", or any variation thereof.

  10. 5 points for each use of "Some people say…." or any variation thereof without defining "some people."

  11. 10 points for each claim of a "global conspiracy" or any variation thereof.

  12. 10 points for pointing out that you have written many blog posts or Letters To The Editor about this topic, as if this were evidence of sanity.

  13. 10 points for beginning your story by saying how long you have been working on it. (10 more for emphasizing that you worked on your own.)

  14. 10 points for claiming that your story is "exclusive", e.g., "No one else is covering this!" or "In a story that you will only hear about on [insert name of media outlet]!

  15. 10 points for using an exclamation point! (print media) or crying (video or audio media).

  16. 10 points for each Mindmap, Venn diagram, or 8×10 color glossy pictures with circles and arrows and a paragraph on the back of each one explaining how each one is to be used as evidence.

  17. 10 points for the ultimate connection of multiple and what had appeared until now to be unrelated Mindmaps or Venn diagrams.

  18. 10 points for each statement along the lines of "I am not a scientist."

  19. 10 points for arguing that a current well-established theory is "only a theory", as if this were somehow a point against it.

  20. 10 points for arguing that while accepted facts may be true, the facts do not tell the whole story.

  21. 10 points for each favorable comparison of yourself to Upton Sinclair.

  22. 10 points for comparing a public figure to Hitler, Joseph Goebbels, or Baghdad Bob.

  23. 10 points for claiming that your work is on the cutting edge of exposing the truth about everything.

  24. 20 points for stating that you will hold a rally to share your special truth. 20 more points if the aforementioned rally is to be held in Washington, D.C.

  25. 20 points for every reference to satire sites or urban legends as if they were fact.

  26. 20 points for defending yourself by bringing up (real or imagined) ridicule accorded to any previous work by you.

  27. 20 points for talking about "who is behind all of this" without ever actually explaining who is behind all of this.

  28. 20 points for each use of the phrase "nefarious forces of evil."

  29. 20 points for misquoting or incorrectly attributing quotes to one of the Founding Fathers; Martin Luther King, Jr.; or a dead President.

  30. 20 points for each reference to The Illuminati, the New World Order, or the Trilateral Commission

  31. 30 points for suggesting that a famous figure secretly acknowledged you were right but refused to go "on the record" for fear of reprisals.

  32. 30 points for claiming that your story was revealed to you by an extraterrestrial civilization (without good evidence).

  33. 30 points for allusions to a delay in your work while you spent time in an asylum, or references to the psychiatrist who tried to talk you out of your theory.

  34. 40 points for comparing those who argue against your ideas to Nazis, stormtroopers, or brownshirts.

  35. 40 points for claiming that the government is engaged in a "conspiracy" to silence you. 40 additional points for claiming that this information has resulted in death threats being made against you.

  36. 40 points for claiming that when your ideas are finally appreciated, currently accepted ideas about this topic will be seen for the vacuous lies they truly are.

  37. 50 points for predicting worldwide social upheaval, the end of the world, or other dire consequences if your story is ignored.

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Constructive comments, ideas, or random thoughts are always welcome.


©2014 by Bob Seay