Cranking up a Controversy

Posted by: Nick Redfern on September 3rd, 2012

In a new post at his Forteana Blog, Andrew May offers comments and insights on a variety of subjects, including Cryptozoology, and those in the field.

He begins:

“The biggest problem with being interested in anomalous phenomena is that people assume you’re a crank. There’s good reason for this, since many of the most vocal proponents of the subject really are cranks. But just what is a crank, and how do you tell the difference between a crank and a serious researcher? For a long time I thought this was one of those grey, subjective questions that it’s impossible to answer, but it’s just occurred to me that there might be an objective, black-and-white criterion after all.”

Here’s the complete article.

Nick Redfern About Nick Redfern
Punk music fan, Tennents Super and Carlsberg Special Brew beer fan, horror film fan, chocolate fan, like to wear black clothes, like to stay up late. Work as a writer.

8 Responses to “Cranking up a Controversy”

  1. Desertdweller responds:

    I think the definitive feature of a crank is close-mindedness. Cryptozoologists can indeed be cranks if there is no openess in their conclusions. Bigfoots not only exist, but they are well known to behave in certain ways and not in others, while the existence of the very creature is still unproven. Also, any evidence of Bigfoots can only have been produced by said Bigfoots and not by anything else.

    On the other hand, dedicated debunkers can also be cranks. Blind refusal to consider any evidence, or even to acknowledge the possibility of Bigfoots seems to me to be the hallmark of a crank.

    True scientific researchers approach evidence and possibilities with an open mind. Imagine the creatures that would never have been otherwise accepted by science.

  2. CDC responds:

    Why does anyone including Andrew May care what other people think?

    I have always believed that professional sports are simply entertainment. Nothing changes in the world if the Dodgers win the World Series…the Heat won the NBA title and it didn’t change the price of oil in the Middle East

    The point being, I have seen Vikings fans wearing cheese on their heads, I have been at a bar where a LA Kings fan and a Ducks fan fist fought over a game, and I even painted my face silver and black when the Raiders were in LA way back in the day. For anyone who does not have a passion for pro sports…we all seem like “Cranks”.

    Therein is the point Andrew May is missing…a person with a passion for something, could care less what other people think of their passion

    It has nothing to do with UFO’s, Bigfoot, or the LA Lakers…it has to do with the level of passion a person has for his “interest”. Andrew May and many like him can’t indentiy with “Cranks” maybe because as human beings they do not possess the “Passion” necessary to “NOT CARE WHAT OTHER PEOPLE THINK”

    That tells us more about Andrew May than it does about the “Cranks” in the world.

    Jesus, Colombus, Orville and Wilbur Wright, Loren Coleman, Roger Patterson…Crank, Crank, Crank, Crank, Crank, Crank, until they are proven right.

    The only thing these men have in common is the didnt care what others thought of them, “Crank” or Genius

    If you have a passion, who cares what others think of you. You do not live your life or choose your passions based on what “others” want or expect.

    Poor Andrew, to not get that simple idea of being who and what you want to be…maybe being a skeptic may be the least of his problems

  3. Loren Coleman responds:

    This certainly is a shallow essay by someone who gives as their only example of someone who is not a crank (other than himself) is an individual whom he knows deeply and personally. Actually that applies to most people. If you get to know people a bit, personally, privately and beyond how they are characterized by the media, on Wikipedia, or in some quickie Facebook bio, you might just discover they are a real person with many facets to their personality and life.

    There is something truly mean-spirited in stereotyping people, whether it be about their overt looks, lifestyle, or likes. Calling people names is never a good way to start a conversation.

  4. Goodfoot responds:

    Superb point, Desertdweller! Time to throw their taunts back at ’em, especially as it’s the truth.

  5. Fhqwhgads responds:


    On the other hand, I would say that there is at least a little bit of the crank in everybody: scientist or layman, believer or skeptic. That’s one reason why physical evidence is so important; some of it would be difficult for a person even of dubious character to fake, and some of it would be impossible to fake.

  6. DWA responds:

    OK, I went in with guns drawn…but put ’em back in the holsters.

    Guy has a point, I mean.

    I don’t think he’s stereotyping, actually. I think that he’s just pointing out one of the definitions of “fanatic”: Someone who can’t change his mind and won’t change the subject.

    No harm done. I think were he to hang out with the TBRC, he would come away thinking, nope, definitely not cranks. One of the activities we engaged in at Texas Bigfoot 2009: a bird walk. Another: A visit to the Tyler Zoo. Go if you’re down that way. Although Bob Gimlin recounting – we’d asked him – the events of That Film at the zoo was a real distraction. Cut it out, Bob. 😉


    NO crank, Bob Gimlin. Bet the ranch on that. He couldn’t hang out – much less hunt Bigfoot – with one either.

    And oh.

    No details different on that story – in 45 years.

    I don’t know for sure. But I know how to bet, when the guy’s not a crank.

    (Loren: wouldn’t get too miffed. I doubt he’d come away with that impression of you either.)

  7. Craig Woolheater responds:

    No harm done. I think were he to hang out with the TBRC, he would come away thinking, nope, definitely not cranks. One of the activities we engaged in at Texas Bigfoot 2009: a bird walk. Another: A visit to the Tyler Zoo. Go if you’re down that way. Although Bob Gimlin recounting – we’d asked him – the events of That Film at the zoo was a real distraction. Cut it out, Bob. 😉DWA

    DWA, just to clear things up a bit, the two extracurricular activities you mention from the 2009 Texas Bigfoot Conference are ones that I specifically organized. Having resigned from the organization in July 2010 and having no input in the planning of the 2010 (other than inviting the speakers that year and attending the event) or 2011 (did not attend) conferences, these types of activities did not occur in conjunction with those events.

    There is no 2012 Conference planned as far as I know.

    When I host a conference, I make sure to plan interesting extracurricular activities for the speakers, such as the the bird hike, led by Peter Barnes of the Tyler Audubon Society, and attended by Peter Matthiessen, Victor Emanuel , John Mionczynski, Esteban Sarmiento and John Bindernagel.

    The trip to the Caldwell Zoo was also a special one that I had arranged with Hayes Caldwell, the executive director. The tour was a guided one led by a zoo employee who was also a wildlife biologist.

  8. springheeledjack responds:

    Being a “Crank” is a proverbial catch-22 around here. I think cryptozoology (in some circles) is indeed perceived as nuts…or just plain goofy, and all those that know what it is, back it or prescribe to it are labeled as cranks and fanatics.

    On the other hand, it’s people who are drawn to cryptozoology and the like that “think outside the box” and look for more than what’s in the school text books. So I think you have to be a little different to get into this stuff in the first place, leading the general populace (and the debunkers and mainstream theorists) to look at cryptos as…cranks.

    Cryptozoology always gets lumped in with Forteana, UFO’s and all of that other supernatural stuff–it’s because people don’t know what to do with it, and in the end it doesn’t help the crypto reputation, but it is what it is.

    Personally, you can call me whatever you want–I’m still out there looking and cataloguing and collecting, trying to make sense of these non “normal” phenomena and looking for answers. Let people look at me funny and call me a crank–a label is just an easy way to avoid having to deal or think about these issues and ideas—that there may indeed be unknown animals living all around us that we don’t have catalogued and classified yet. Some people don’t want that in their lives.

    I don’t have a problem with it.

    To get back on topic–crank is in the eye of the proverbial beholder. I think certain people in this field ARE cranks, and I think there’s also plenty of cranks who disparage this field, but it’s subjective.

    In the meantime, I’m off to W.V. to camp, fish and keep my eyes and ears peeled for the big feller–wish me luck and I’ll check in when I get back…

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