... cranks around the world have been able to form their own “alternative” community, publish their own journals, and have their own meetings. There is just one requirement in this alternative community – acceptance. All ideas are accepted (there is no chaff, all is wheat), that is except for one. Whatever is accepted by mainstream science is wrong [my emphasis]. That is “the one ring” of crank mythology, that brings all crank theories together and in the darkness of their community binds them together. Otherwise they are largely mutually incompatible. Each crank’s “theory of everything” is a notion unto itself, and is mutually exclusive to every other crank’s own theory of everything (unless there is some incidental overlap). So they get together, present their theories without criticism, and all agree that the evil conspiracy of mainstream science must be taken down. Of course, if any of them got their way and their ideas became accepted, they would instantly become rejected by the rest of the crank community as mainstream physics.
Correct. My enemy's enemy is my friend, whatever my enemy believes. I have seen this effect in Wikipedia a number of times. Cranks unite to defeat the mainstream, orthodox view. Orthodox editors get blocked or banned. Cranks then war with each other, and get banned themselves. The orthodox editors mount appeals to the powers that be - the arbitration committee, none of whom have any expert credentials as far as I can see, and get unbanned. Or they just open 'sockpuppet' accounts and start editing again under a different name. So do the cranks, and the whole nightmare begins again. Another difficulty that Novella omits is 'mainstream' crankery. That is, bad science or quackery that unites its practitioners by financial interest. Homeopathy and 'Neurolinguistic programming' are good examples of this.
This would not matter at all, if Wikipedia were not increasingly used as a 'reliable source' by students, and even some medical researchers, as I noted in an earlier post.