In April, 1986, I hired a plane to tow a banner with a physics equation, h/h' = 1 + GM/[(R + (h/MC)]C^2, over Denver, Colorado. The equation indicates that the scale of space shrinks in the presence of sufficient mass, making the Big Bang and black holes impossible. At the time, I was working as a stripper, bar bouncer, and roller skating waiter (and was a physics major at the university in Boulder, taking mostly dance classes to improve my stripping).
I was a crackpot, a creator of and believer in a ridiculous theory. In the 90s, as the editor of Noesis, a journal for people with IQs above 175 and their fans, I got to know the work of other crackpots, mostly disprovers of special relativity. The loss of absolute space and time makes some retired high school math teachers crazy.
Einstein, of course, is not the scientist you'd want to try to disprove, because the equations of special relativity are transparently simple and have been confirmed endlessly over the past century. But Google "Einstein disproved" to see that his simple equations are like glue traps for certain obsessed minds.
Crackpots drop in on university physics departments to demand the recognition of their brilliance with enough regularity that UC Riverside physicist John Baez created the Crackpot Index, a 36-item questionnaire designed to measure the magnitude of a theorizer's delusions. Of course, being deluded, a rogue theorizer would consider the Crackpot Index to be part of the scientific conspiracy against him.
I'd bet that many scientists were crackpot children as I was, wondering about the world and coming up with some very wrong theories of how it works. (In junior high school, using some fantastically stupid math, I "proved" the four-color theorem.) A scientific education knocks down most theorizing on a grand scale. It's like pro sports - for every thousand kids with scientific curiosity, only one makes it to the big leagues of thinking about the universe.
Occasionally, a mainstream scientist goes crackpot. Tulane University physicist Frank Tipler has come up with Omega Point cosmology, which argues that the universe will collapse to a single point of infinite time and intelligence, resurrecting everyone who's ever lived. Most scientists are highly skeptical, but Tipler seems to be enjoying himself.
The best argument against crackpottery is the scientific method, which has been so successful over the past few centuries at gathering data about how the world works, that unempirical, metaphysical theories of why the world is the way it is have been shoved aside. Two hundred years ago, nearly every scientist was an amateur. It was easier to be an amateur back then as the data and theories were relatively ripe for the plucking. But today, with scientific output doubling every decade and annual R&D spending surpassing a trillion and a half dollars worldwide, the odds aren't good that some un-PhD-ed weekend dreamer will scribble his way to a breakthrough on a steno pad.
But I remain a crackpot (with a tall stack of scribbled-in steno pads). There's a certain freedom in spending decades in strip joints and bars and comedy show writers' rooms just thinking about stuff without a clue about how the Higgs boson imparts mass. Darwin went on a five-year voyage looking at animals and geology, then spent 20 years thinking all the hair off the top of his head. Einstein spent seven years standing at a lectern in the Swiss patent office, thinking about stuff.
Am I claiming to be the next Darwin or Einstein? That would be dumb. For every one of them, there are billions of people who aren't. And I graduated high school at 27, college at 31, and spent 25 years naked or getting punched in the face by drunks and 12 years writing Kardashian jokes for TV. Yet I have a theory of the universe...that it's conscious. What looks like the Big Bang is a single thought in a stream of thoughts. In defiance of generations of firmly-established scientific truth, I believe the universe didn't explode all at once from a single point. I believe galaxies are recycled, and the universe explodes little by little across ultra-deep time. I am a crackpot.
BONUS LIST - AMATEURS WITH SOLID SCIENTIFIC INSIGHTS
Emanuel Swedenborg and Immanuel Kant - 18th century philosophers who, along with astronomer Thomas Wright and William Herschel, the amateur astronomer who discovered Uranus, were among the first to speculate that the Milky Way was one among many clusters of vast numbers of stars
Michael Faraday - self-educated bookbinder who discovered benzene, electromagnetic induction, diamagnetism, and electrolysis and invented the transformer, the electric generator, and an early form of the Bunsen burner
Edgar Allan Poe - famous author and poet who proposed a solution to Olbers? Paradox, (which asks why the night sky isn't filled with an infinity of visible stars) arguing that light from only a finite number of stars has had time to reach our planet
Gregor Mendel - 19th century monk who founded the science of genetics through experiments in breeding pea plants
Henrietta Swan Leavitt - minimum-wage human calculator at the Harvard Observatory who discovered the relationship between the brightness and period of Cepheid variable stars, making it possible to measure distances to other galaxies
Hedy Lamarr - mid-20th century German-born Hollywood actress who co-invented frequency-hopping spread spectrum radio transmission used in cell phone technology
Arthur C. Clarke - science fiction author who originated the idea of using satellites in geosynchronous orbit for relaying television signals