Who doesn’t enjoy a good crank theory? Jesus married Mary Magdalene? I’m in! The earth is hollow and/or flat? Yowza! A perpetual motion machine? Bring it!
Can you distinguish a real crank theory from a fake? Here is the Crank Theory Challenge. Three crank theories follow. Two are real crank theories, put forward by genuine cranks. The other I just made up. While I may be a crank, it isn’t a real crank theory because I lack the necessary ingredient of sincerity in presenting the theory. Can you spot the fake?
Two ground rules:
(1) No googling, obviously. Really, do I need to even tell you that?
(2) If you already know one or both of the real crank theories, treat this as a spoiler, with appropriate warnings in comments.
(3) In the spirit of the thing, I have not googled my invention. If it turns out also to be a real crank theory, I claim the prize.
So here we go:
Crank Theory One: Modern English has existed since ancient times. It later split into German and French. French in turn split into Provençal, Catalan, Spanish, Italian, etc. Latin was an invented pidgin language used for commerce in the Mediterranean. Anglo-Saxon split from German, making it an indirect descendant of Modern English.
Crank Theory Two: The Dark Ages did not happen. The calendar was fudged by adding 297 years, from A.D. 614 to 911. All events purported to have occurred in this period are fictional creations. This was done by the Holy Roman Emperor Otto III and Pope Sylvester II, and possibly the Byzantine Emperor Constantine VII, because this would put them at A.D. 1000, which clearly is cooler than some random year, what with all those zeros.
Crank Theory Three: Queen Elizabeth I was actually a man named Edmund. Edmund was effeminate from an early age and insisted on wearing women’s clothing. His father, Henry VIII, relented following the birth of the future Edward VI. He allowed Edmund to be raised as a girl, taking the name “Elizabeth,” but rewrote the line of succession, moving Mary up in the line. Elizabeth maintained the fiction the rest of her life, never marrying but surrounding herself with comely young male courtiers.