John Baez's sample of crackpot letters he received.
now and then i receive them too, i guess because i've been desperate to sell how smart i am on my websites for almost 2 decades now.
it's kinda strange and interesting that there are these people around. Sometimes you wonder if they are sincere or hoaxing, but apparently at least many of them are, as one can easily read tons of literature about UFOs and occult and conspiracy theories. (you can read Wikipedia for days on it.)
i'm a logical person. So, sometimes i give a hard try to read what they have to say, thinking that i'll have a solid analysis of the situation. But, basically it's just bizarre and doesn't make sense. Try to read what John posted and you'll see.
sometimes, some of these people are my readers or fan. So, that puts me in a awkward situation. If i show any hint of displeasure or disbelief, then perhaps i'd jeopardize a supporter.
some of these involves God, some psychology stuff.
one of the instance is when around 2001, a angle-trisector contacted me, and eventually met me in person, several times, he always treat for lunch, and paid me to help him publish his work. I end up doing some drawing for him. This is the most concrete crank that i actually came to know.
because i mostly write about programing that offends the hacker types of coders, i'm considered a crank by some. Though, think most of them are not serious.
However, there are a few who have become Xah Haters, who would take any opportunity to diss me online, when my name is mentioned. They would say i'm a idiot or dismiss my writings, in general bad mouth me. Usually, i've never ever responded to them. That usually made their behavior worse. (by the way, human nature is sometimes too predicable. As soon as i responded to them in some nice way, they go away. But, i pretty much NEVER.)
but, on the other hand, in the programing community, my maverick style also attracted a few that have crazy ideas. We'd communicate thru email, but then, i start to realize they have some strange ideas they want to tell me about or tries to get me involved. Psychology stuff, or religious, or …. It's really hard to describe. And, often they are secretive as well. I always prefer real name, and meet face to face or voice chat. But, typical hacker types are not even willing to disclose real name. So, it's nearly impossible to actually communicate with these guys for real. For example, some believe deeply in buddism... (no, it's not just that, but as i said it's hard to describe.) Then, there are one who believes in some kinda psycho therapy or something like that…
actually, a lot people in emacs community is pretty out there. I think it's because emacs and rms himself attracts very weird types.
but anyhow, i think in some philosophy aspect this is not too weird. Because, when you think about it, it's quite amazing that any 2 person can communicate at all about complex ideas. For example, let's say 2 animals, let's say 2 cats or a cat and dog. They can communicate anger, fear, submission, etc. How does the cat know what the dog is thinking? Easy, because the dog can't think of much of anything, except anger, happy, aggressive, passive, etc.
But for humans animals, we can communicate complex political ideas, philosophy problems, size of the universe, physics, mathematics, history, future. And in philosophy, at core is the mind body problem, free will problem, consciousness problem. I guess what am saying is that, the concept of thought is elusive, how can one possibly quantify possible human thoughts or beliefs (like a somewhat systematic thought set). Even some accomplished mathematicians, such as Godel, believes in ghosts and stuff.