Crop Circles, Part Deux: Alien Glyphs, Human Myths, Blogging Bliss

Discuss

167 Responses to “Crop Circles, Part Deux: Alien Glyphs, Human Myths, Blogging Bliss”

  1. Anonymous says:

    very interesting topic, I hope the military does display this unique piece of technology which we can then use to cook our popcorn without a microwave, how sweet would that be, no need to have another box in the kitchen taking up space, all you need is some type of gun which just needs to be pointed at the food you want cooked without the critical issue of microwave waves getting into humans at the same time.

  2. ritzjon says:

    The first Crop Circles were discovered long-long ago….and first depicted on a wood-cut dated 1647!!

    1647!

    Were there microwaves back then? What technology existed in England at that time that could explain this?

    Maybe the “technology” needs only to be something graceful and simple, and not require transistors or semiconductors.

    • Beanolini says:

      The first Crop Circles were discovered long-long ago….and first depicted on a wood-cut dated 1647!!

      Do you mean the ‘Mowing-Devil‘?

      I made a number of crop-circles myself in my youth, in SE England (nothing complicated, just circles & rings). We didn’t even use a board, just a rope and our shuffling feet. A member of the local Young Farmers Club suggested to me that other members had been circle-makers at various times.

      I didn’t notice whether our nodes were exploded, but I do know that wheat bends & breaks in very different ways according to its age/ripeness.

  3. Anonymous says:

    My reaction upon reading this post, I must say, is the same I had upon reading the last. The things you say make sense, if the facts, as you present them, hold up then yours is the logical conclusion.

    Without doing any of my own research, I can’t state with any kind of certainty whether or not I am willing to accept your hypothesis, but it is certainly an interesting one.

  4. Jake Boone says:

    Mr. Vallee,

    What evidence would convince you that crop circles are indeed made by ordinary humans with ordinary materials? After all, falsifiability is an important aspect of science. If it’s not falsifiable, it’s not science… wouldn’t you agree?

    • wgmleslie says:

      Remember, Karl Popper’s philosophy is not the be all and end all of science: not every valid scientific theory can be falsified (see his statements on Darwinism for example).

      On the other hand, the notion of “Forbidden Science” is a crock. If you don’t adhere to the commonly used tools of science, you’ve placed yourself outside of the system.

      “Soon there were multiple circles in various geometric combinations, and in following years the designs became increasingly complex, leading to the idea that we were witnessing a classic, step-by-step program of technology development–not an atmospheric anomaly but not some sort of paranormal effect either.”

      So in the same paragraph, atmospheric effects and the paranormal are given equal credence.

      Hmph.

  5. timetraveler says:

    And now, spirals in the sky?

    Your thoughts, Mr. Vallee, on the most recent discoveries of radar pattern intereferences unlike anything yet witnessed, if you will.

    Hard for scientists and public alike to ignore anything this blatant, isn’t it?

    Reference : http://www.colinandrews.net/Melbourne-DroughtToSuperstorm-HAARP.html

  6. Yamara says:

    Well, science does require things like evidence, testability, falsifiability and such that conjectures about unrevealed technologies don’t allow for.

    I for one suspect that we are not the highest form of consciousness around. This is based on the trend of Kepler and Darwin knocking away man’s assumptions of being in the center of space and time, respectively. The assumption that man is at the pinnacle of sentience is just that, an assumption: A higher consciousness would only involve itself with us at its leisure.

    But, by definition, its existence would be nigh impossible to prove without its cooperation. Secret elite programs like to work in the same vein.

  7. Anonymous says:

    Suggesting that some of these ornate and artistic patterns are not completely explained, or that the military is secretly testing microwave weapons, might be worth a pause.

    Suggesting that the military is secretly testing microwave weapons by making ornate and artistic patterns, though? That’s almost less plausible than aliens – at least it makes sense they would be creative about it.

  8. dragonfrog says:

    (1) Your hypothesis of classic step-by-step improvement in crop-circle making technology is accepted.

    Many early circles are known to have been done by pranksters with boards and rope. So, the simplest, most Occam’s Razor-friendly explanation of this stepwise technology improvement is that groups of pranksters have gradually improved their prankstering technology.

    (2) How do you draw the distinction between “genuine” and “bogus” patterns? They’re all crop circles, some of them just have cracked stalks and others don’t. You’re suggesting they’re all man-made, so they must either all be “genuine”, or all “bogus”. This supports the hypothesis that there is a difference in the technology used to make them, sure. But nowhere does it rule out that there are simply groups of pranksters with different levels of technical advancement in their pranksterish arts. It be as simple as knowing how to choose the right time of day or year to do make the circle, a time when the stalks won’t be brittle, or a method of folding stalks over that is gentler than a plank and rope – perhaps a device for slowly lowering and turning a circular blanket.

    (3) It’s England, where everything is close to everything else. Where are these military electronic labs? If they’re typical of government research facilities, they’ll be in research parks near universities, in towns with bars frequented by engineering undergrads. I suspect you are underestimating the drive to technological one-upmanship of cider-filled engineering undergrads.

    One very basic question remains unanswered by your hypothesis, which is central to the cider+undergrad model: why would a top-secret government program go about making spectacular, fanciful show of its capabilities on private land whose owners are sure to go the press and call attention to your activities? The budget of a research lab that’s building a directed-energy beam weapon would easily cover the cost of buying or even renting a couple of hay fields. They could put circles in their own fields, then mow them before anyone got a chance to go to the press.

    Make what hypotheses you will about the technology behind crop circles – they are not the product of anyone who wishes to remain hidden. This is done by someone who likes to read about themselves in the weekend supplement of the paper and have a good chuckle – that’s not typical of the directors of top-secret military-industrial research programs.

    Also: what John Callender said.

  9. Dr. Brahms says:

    It is paranoid to think the government or military is responsible – they can’t even do their stated jobs right, let alone perpetrate such an exquisite hoax as crop circles. Far too subtle for big clumsy bureaucracies.
    If it’s a hoax, what’s the point? Just to show off? Like the two old frauds who got people to believe they were responsible for the phenomenon? Or, something whimsical for us to pretend to believe in, for a jolly, like Santa Claus?
    Assuming the circles are designed by a superior consciousness, we should be spending more time decoding and less authenticating. Is it just alchemy and astrology, or is there a message we need to learn? Or, are alchemy and astrology more valid than we tend to believe? Do you think these higher intelligences are just having fun with us, or do they have a higher purpose? Obviously, nobody has figured it out yet – though there are many who keep us entertained with their speculations. In any case, I think those who are convinced they are real messages from someone or something in the know should get cracking!

  10. Kimmo says:

    I too would love to see a reference for that node thing.

  11. zlezeplez says:

    So we seem to have 3 possibilities regarding origins of CCs:
    1)man-made hoaxes using planks etc

    2)Mysterious crafts, and entities

    3)A secret advanced man-made technology

    From here I would go about this asking the question: what anomalies contradict any of these explanations? Ie., if say –as some have–they claim to have actually seen strange craft, and beams of light come from sky, and then a CC appears swiftly. And some say–as a pilot is supposed to have, as heard on audio, state that they can appear very quickly. Well what are we to make of this? Would this fit in with say number 1, and 3?

    If, as Jacques seems to state that some kind of secret electronic technology is being used, what about the symbolism being used in the patterns where this idea could be entertained? Is there a propaganda excercise to do with this?

    If so, could we speculate that IF there are other entities in craft with such capabilities that they would try and undermine such propaganda, both from men on the ground with planks, and using other forms of technology.

    ARE there THREE types of CCs that could be detected which show they could belong to these threee hypothetical categories?
    Ie., are there ‘crude’ microwaved ones, and others that surpass them in design, and message?

  12. lasttide says:

    OK, the “exploded nodes” are the singular piece of evidence that point to a device other than a 2×4 being used to flatten the stalks. It would have been nice if you had linked to photos, papers, discussions, etc of the topic. Since you failed to do so, I will do it myself:

    http://www.ufologie.net/htm/croppgexpnodes.htm

    This site explains that “exploded nodes” can very certainly be created by mechanical means. Anyway, have you ever just put a plant in the microwave? An aerial microwave beam would heat water within the plant starting near the top (line of sight with tall, closely packed plants). The skin of the plants would soften as the water heats, it wouldn’t explode from within in such a tidy way in only a single spot toward the bottom of the plant.

  13. discoche says:

    Thanks for the post, Jaques. To me, the crop circle phenomena is, at the very least, the most outstanding temporal artworks being done today. (take that, Goldsworthy!) It is entirely a different matter of who the author(s) are. There are obviously really good hoaxers out there. You only have to see all the commissioned advertisement crop art to appreciate that. I do not see, however, any government funding microwave beam technology to make pretty patterns in wheat fields. At the risk of sounding crazy, I do see governments funding dis-information campaigns to obfuscate any truth that there is out there. One of my favorite theories is that crop circles are basically visual date-stamps for time travel. Ah, I am going back to the time cube…….

  14. Anonymous says:

    If the supposed “beam” is projected from a hovering device, why would the tests be constrained to areas near weapon labs? They could make the device in the lab and take it somewhere else to be tested. And even a distance constraint doesn’t explain why they would reveal this supposedly top secret weapon in such a spectacular way. They could easily test the weapon within their own land using some other marker than wheat – like tall grass (which would presumably collapse in the same way) or some powder that changes colour when heated.

    Where can we read this evidence about the supposedly heated stalks? Where can we see the evidence that the circles are near military labs? (Presumably that doesn’t apply to every circle, so how strong is the association? Is there some cherry-picking of data happening inadvertently?) And is it possible that the association is because the staff at a military lab are the type of people who would make elaborate hoax circles?

    Finally, the existence of the US Active Denial System isn’t good evidence for the beam weapon theory of crop circles. If the West already has a non-secret pain ray, why are they testing another, secret pain ray? Why wouldn’t this second beam weapon be publicised like the ADS was? Does the ADS collapse wheat?

    If you want a discussion on the facts, you should definitely provide links to the evidence you cite. Otherwise it might look as if you are really more interested in enjoying a spooky mystery.

  15. Anonymous says:

    or perhaps this article is just actually testing the the initial hypothisis of how people will respond on the web and really has nothing to do with crop circles ;)

  16. DJBudSonic says:

    now, just four more symbols and I’m off this stinkin’ rock bwahahahahahaha

  17. Elece says:

    I think the comments on this topic (and above all the previous post) deserve analysis. Monsieur Vallée exposed here a viable hypothesis and the discussion, even polite, showed disdain without going to the root of this issue.

    Crop circles, as UFOs, may have multiple explanations. If you are developing a secret weapon (or whatever) it’s a good idea to cover it with a layer of folk tales to create a state of disbelief. Also you can have copycats and buffoons around soon. The result is a complex cloud of events difficult to analyze; maybe the phenomenon is even more complex than Vallée’s concept.
    I agree that this topic needs further investigation but we cannot discard any viable possibility. The microwave blaster sounds more edible to me than Gea’s messages or an army of retired people drawing figures with ropes and a (heated) plank.

    Oh, and sorry for my horrendous English but I’m from Spain and never seriously learned it :)

  18. anansi133 says:

    These crop circle images are disquieting. It bothers me to see destruction take such an intricate pattern. I’m as hungry as anyone else is, to put a label on these pictures so I can file it away as having been explained.

    Finding attention to look at this stuff head on, is irritating. I’d rather not. And if other people out there seem in a hurry to blame walking pranksters or airborne aliens or deep-pocketed government spooks, then I can see why they might feel rushed into those conclusions.

    One problem I have with the walking prankster hypothesis, is the sheer volume of crop circles they have supposedly made. Has anyone worked out the man-hours it would have taken, to walk out all those patterns over the years? How big an army of pranksters would be required to accomplish all that crop art? Is the goal of messing with our heads really so satisfying that they would keep doing this for so long? They’d have to keep recruiting new members to replace the ones who get tired of it all and found more fulfilling work to do.

    If you give these pranksters an airborne platform from which to play their game, it sure does cut down on the work load, and it cuts down on the number of humans required. The images certainly remind me of what laser art looked like back in the 80′s. Spiral patterns were much easier to create than rasterized square patterns.

    What I like about the crowd control hypothesis, is that if true, it wouldn’t be just the urban deployment that our pranksters would be concerned with. If the targets of these weapons believed in aliens, then such weapons would be much more effective than if the targets knew that their tax dollars were being directly used against them.

    The even rows of crop planting patterns would make a nice stable targeting grid to calibrate on, perhaps mimicking street grid patterns. If you wanted to show the boss/client/buyer that you could control the beam to a high precision, then intricate patterns would show off that capability without making it too obvious what the weapon would be used for. I can imagine that when such a device were used on human targets, the patterns would become much less arbitrary. Anyone with a cell phone might find themselves at the center of their own little spiral.

    On second thought, it couldn’t possibly be the government, because that kind of behavior simply isn’t in their repertoire. Whereas unnamed random pranksters are known to be able to do anything you want them to have done.

    • Moriarty says:

      “Is the goal of messing with our heads really so satisfying that they would keep doing this for so long?”

      Yes, it is. Though as with most pranking traditions, I expect the real satisfaction is with showing off ingenuity, and oneupsmanship between rivals. Making it hard to figure out how it was done is certainly a big part of the fun.

  19. Anonymous says:

    The assumption that man is at the pinnacle of sentience is just that, an assumption: A higher consciousness would only involve itself with us at its leisure.

    It stands to reason, then, that we would only involve ourselves with lower consciousness at our leisure. As such, I have found the pinnacle of sentience: the mosquito, who chooses whether it will associate with us, leaving us fairly little say in the matter.

  20. David Pescovitz says:

    I’ll say again, I have absolutely no problem with direct, even pointed, challenges to Jacques’ hypothesis, or criticisms of his logic. In fact, neither does he. But I do have a problem with insults, personal attacks, and comments calling the post a “disgrace” and insisting that this topic has no place on Boing Boing. I don’t know whether a military weapon was used to create *some* of the crop circles or not. But, when presented with this or other theories that may be considered by some, or many, to be unpopular, “forbidden,” unusual, controversial, fringe, or far out, I often enjoy taking a moment to think “what if.”

    Also, one last time, Jacques is *not* suggesting that ETs made crop circles or that they have supernatural origins.

    • loonquawl says:


      Also, one last time, Jacques is *not* suggesting that ETs made crop circles or that they have supernatural origins.

      - that is very good of him. He instead posits that corn circles, while often made by hand, are sometimes the product of testing of some kind of energy weapon.
      The supporting evidence:
      # Corn circles occur near military installations
      # corn stalks show ‘exploded’ nodes
      # Designs get better, showing the maturing of some technology
      The problem with this:
      # We do not get to see any evidence for the ‘distance to military’ argument – As J.Vallee states there are ‘bogus’ and ‘true’ circles, a map showing the true ones and their location should not be aproblem? Possibly even a Google Earth overlay?
      # The ‘exploded’ nodes are readily identifiable BS. Go into a field and look at the nodes, especially in a place where hogs trampled some stalks, and you will find oogles of disfigured nodes, burst ones, skinned ones, twisted ones, elongated, bent, everything. they can to some extent surcive damage, and as they are used as a kind of servo by the plant, disturbance to the uprightness of the plant will disfigure the node.
      # Designs getting better can be attributed to techniques getting better, thereby serving J.V.s hypothesis as well as the hoax hypothesis. Neutralizes itself.

      To sum up:
      Argument by proximity : Show some data.
      Argument by node disfigurement: Go out an have as many strange nodes as you might want. Get 100 disfigured ones from a circle, 100 disfigured ones from a trampled spot, and 100 disfigured ones from intact wheat (yes, there’s some there too) – make a scatterplot of the measurements someone takes without knowing which is which, and publish the conclusive data in a peer reviewed journal. Voila.

      Again. Read the papers. (http://www.bltresearch.com/published.php) Come to your own conclusions (Btw. _those_ guys say it’s atmospherics, but, hey, whatever.)

  21. octopod says:

    surprised banksy hasn’t cashed in on this.

  22. Anonymous says:

    if you believe these youtube videos, the crop circles are blueprints for an interstellar spaceship.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MbvdG8cqhOE

  23. Mark Gritter says:

    Let’s suppose somebody posted on a random message board and:

    1. Berated others for not taking “controversial” theory seriously (in a forum where most posts are not taken seriously, to judge from comments).

    2. Provided vague claims in support of controversial theory, but not actually cite (or link!) any of the sources.

    3. Raise a list of “unanswered issues” which assumes that his theory is true, and needs elaboration, rather than the list which would occur to somebody assuming the theory is not true.

    Would you be more likely to judge this hypothetical theory to be worthy of serious consideration? Or would the manner of presentation suggest that it was not well thought out, and that the author was not interested in either serious feedback nor intelligent debate?

    Let’s try for some real unanswered issues:

    What about crop circles outside of the UK? http://www.x-cosmos.it/cropcircles/ lists two in Germany, two in Canada, and one in Brazil on its front page. Do all “real” crop circles reside only in the UK? If not, why would the hypothesized technology be widely shared?

    What motivation would researchers have for experimentation outside of controlled environments? Why would these technologies be calibrated on wheat in the UK rather than custom targets in a remote desert? (That is, why is the technology built where it can only be tested openly, rather than built where is can be tested in secret?) Can you think of other top-secret technologies that were so obviously flaunted rather than hidden?

    Anyone who has read James Randi should not be impressed when scientists fail to detect fraud, or obsess over detailed minutia while failing to ask the correct question… Randi maintains that natural scientists are easier to mislead because they are used to dealing with honest measurements and objective nature, rather than active deceptions. Many of the admitted crop-circle hoaxers have refuted “scientific” explanations that that their circles could not have been man-made.

  24. dragonfrog says:

    Sorry for the triple-post, but one point can be added.

    Let’s not rule out the idea of a directed energy beam, wielded by pranksters.

    One easily-made directed energy beam is made by taking the guts of a microwave oven, and putting it at the back of a tube or parabolic dish built of the same materials as the microwave’s lining. Connect that to a suitably-powerful portable UPS to supply the AC power (are there DC-powered microwaves available?), and you have a portable directed-energy beam weapon, capable of steaming the stalks of field crops at a distance of perhaps a hundred feet, for a couple hundred bucks at today’s prices.

  25. zyodei says:

    In my previous musings on this topic, I have only found three reasonable hypothesis (this does not come from much research, only looking at the images):

    1) Aliens did it, trying to communicate in some manner.
    2) A skilled prankster built a small transponder guided robot, set up three beacons around the fields in question, and let it silently chomp away during the night.
    3) Some sort of exotic military technology, such as microwaves.

    To state that they were all done by pranksters with wooden planks is an indication that either A) one is lacking in critical thinking skills or B) one simply hasn’t seen so many photos of them. I have seen dozens and dozens that I simply refuse to believe could have been made at night by teams of people with ropes and wooden planks.

    My primary reason for believing this (other than the extreme complexity of some designs) is that I have simply never seen a crop circle with a single error or flaw in symmetry.

    They MUST be either ET or in some way created by computer.

    It’s worth searching youtube for some videos, there’s some mind bending stuff there.

  26. timetraveler says:

    Wonderful.
    The elegant science of deduction.
    I followed that line some years ago and speculated the same thought.
    The irony is that I don’t freely associate the idea of large scale, exact, highly detailed Art Forms (as new or unconventional as they may appear to be,) with the military industrial complex or advanced weaponry R&D.
    An unconventional approach to say the least, along with the notion of making a public display out of it.
    I return to the classic supposition; Why?
    There is something elegant in it, perhaps even in the heart of it, Mr. Vallee. I have a suggested line of approach, if I may, to another angle that may appeal to your pure science approach, and in a more realistic framework than that offered by the borderland groups. Consider this, if you will.
    If symbols are a language with a practical real world application, they should stand for something that can be recognized and used as easily as the forms we adapt for language and mathematics.
    As an exercise, I’ve entertained that notion in respect to the variety of forms offered, with special attention to the larger more complex forms, looking for underlying themes and meaningful coincidences.
    From an artistic viewpoint, I see that there is often an expression of 12, for instance, at least enough for me to look for that being expressed somehow in the complex forms.
    On the other hand, some of the forms are so simple. A ball surrounded by various orbital circles for instance. It was natural to extrapolate that some circles could be variants of what any school child might express if they were to draw a planet with a circle for each of the predominant moons surrounding it. Perhaps moving on a few years in schooling, you might even draw a meaningful coincidence or two by relating the general arrangement of our Solar System to some of the more complex large formations, particularly those presented suddenly over 10 years ago when the phenomena really went public in the press around the world. I’ve seen many that loosely followed the general arrangement of size differences and variations of the Solar Order in their visual presentation, from Mercury to the giant twins beyond the broken bracelet of the asteroid belt, not in exact ratios, but as they might be expressed in artistic terms.
    I studied up on Astronomy as a result, and brushed up on the variations in our unusual local system enough to make note of which planets presented unique anomalies, and I thought about how those characteristics could be expressed in artistic terms, and then I found deeper coincidences. A theme emerged.
    This is not the forum to discuss all the details, but I will say this…
    If humanity ever gets to the point of being able to explore space freely, it will one day be necessary to express the nuances of system constructions in a freely translatable visual language. Let’s call it a Solar Construct shorthand. I suppose that could be used even now in Astronomy for various reasons. If for instance you were in a holodeck looking for particular patterns in star groups you’d want to see more than numerical graphics describing the characteristics and eccentricities of systems on display. The visual medium works very quickly to order patterns by their visual cues, and if those cues match real data, then a useful symbolic analog emerges.
    So I posit the also as yet unspoken and highly controversial theory that much if not all of the symbols expressed in the fields around the world, whether by hidden design, experiments by board stompers, or Dr. Starngelove himself, all of them could in fact form the basis of a useful and someday necessary form of Astro Symbology, even if we have to invent it for ourselves.
    At the least, it’s a theory that sits a lot easier with me than the idea of Dick Cheney finally finding a way to make a bug zapper that targets only the Democrats at a Who concert.
    Respectfully submitted.

  27. d913 says:

    To me it’s a huge red flag when an explanation for something is introduced in the context that its author is some kind of victim: how they’re repeatedly ignored, people don’t argue against their theory on the facts, etc. etc. Good explanations can stand on their own merits and people can judge them accordingly, without a preface about the opinions or fairness of the crowd.

    Regardless, as someone who knows nothing about crop circles, Ima say it doesn’t seem like such a terrible hypothesis on its face. But since all the things needed to replicate the phenomena may or may not exist (energy beams and hover-platforms), I just don’t see any experiment one can conduct that supports the idea beyond the evidence that’s been presented, which isn’t very much evidence at all.

    Good hypotheses suggest work people can do to test them.

  28. Dr. Brahms says:

    Aside from the possible explanations, isn’t it amazing that we humans love the paranormal? UFOs, crop circles, ghosts, Big Foot, etc., are fun subjects! They can’t ever be fully explained away no matter the existing evidence. I like to think that we inhabit a multi-dimensional world, and these phenomena represent our limited connection. Notice I said I “like” to believe. That’s not scientific language. I majored in the natural sciences, and, like many others, know the distinction. Yet scientists tend to talk down to us on these topics. Besides, these things make more sense than some of the paranoid dribble that gets way too much air time. Politics? Blah! Give me the Paranormal! (And don’t rule out the existence of God, either.)

  29. Anonymous says:

    does anyone have any information on a melted sand crop circle, i read it in Freddy Sylvas book, but wanted to see if i could find out where it was, when etc.

  30. zandar says:

    timetraveler’s wonderful discourse makes me wonder if crop circles are a sort of card deck of the collective cosmic unconscious. Cosmic as in the part of us that identifies as inhabitants of this planet, in this solar system, in this galaxy. Symbols of the cosmic terrain spontaneously arise as artforms in this most decidedly solar/lunar/womblike circular format. The soil is so rich in this thread, the most interesting thing I’ve read on the Internet…. ever?

    • timetraveler says:

      Real Science is perhaps the purest form of Entertainment.
      Certainly can be the most heated.
      Does anything beat Real Life? Has anyone really figured it out yet? Where is the Grand Unifying Theory? Chaos? Order? Somewhere between those personal worlds of Heaven and Hell lies the world of Heck, where the saner among us wish we could sort through the wrong questions long enough to test the right answers without being beaten to death by the frothier variety ape descendant. Science is another word for trouble, being the most Predictable thing about it, pun intended.
      One other thing I’ve learned is that Opinion, while popular, is worthless outside the creative process. Ridicule is an unfortunate knee-jerk reaction popular among those who will not reason or move to consider, and I will not disgrace my valued Boingers by offering more of the one thing available anywhere in this world.
      I wonder.
      Among the scientists drawn to this thread, is there no one else who understands the principles and applications of guided wave weaponry since it’s dawn with Tesla? Capacitive Discharge? Resonance? The need to unload stored energy in mobile space platforms energized by a constant state spent fuel system?
      I chose not to argue Vallee’s point, because it is good conjecture supported by evidence, although it may only be meaningful coincidence. Dream. Let the man breathe. We don’t all have to suck up the air. Can’t anyone “run with this”?
      Art and Science. Is there a difference? Surely only on the level of argumentation and application of criticism. But I can’t remember the arguments or the criticisms now, funny thing.
      I learned Art to appreciate Science, and then vice versa, and what I learned from that is if you can fully explore the variations and associated terminology of one, you can actually find their equivalent in the other, and then so may other things. In a more vulgar and direct approach, you could arrange the terms of Art, such as Pointillism, Cubism, Surrealism, Hyperrealism and so on, and actually find the corresponding Guitar Pedal Stomp Box, or area of Physics. So what’s my point? Science and Art fulfill their promise only when they provide the clearest eloquent view from the angle they espouse, if you accept learning as a goal, and not knowing as the steady state.
      Connections. Explore.
      How boring the world would be without an enigma, and how sad if there were no relationships to explore.
      Boing above it and keep your eyes open if you want to see what’s coming!
      And if you can’t find it here? Find it’s equivalent elsewhere, and then the connection. Maybe I’ll see you later for a last laugh.
      Mr. Vallee has dedicated his life to exploring connections that run considerably deeper than the cover list at Amazon, and I always look forward to the unusual depth present in these postings, even if they are nothing more than the purest form of entertainment.

  31. madeofmeat says:

    A while back, there was a Discovery Channel bit involving a group of MIT students studying crop circles and attempting to mimic their qualities. The odd evidence of strangely applied heat in the nodes, coupled with a presence of iron particles of a somewhat regular size and not found outside of the affected area, were strange, and not consistent with the guy-and-a-board scenario[1]. The students were able to roughly mimic these qualities using a handheld (but corded and generator-powered) microwave gun[2] and a particle broadcaster[3]. The second can be had in the form of a seed broadcaster from any home store. The first? Not so much, and generators are noisy anyway.

    Even the most complex patterns could be done by hand. Eight or ten enthusiastic and smart people could pull it off in a night. It’s the other qualities, not found in all circles, that leave me open to other explanations. The MIT folks proved that these qualities could be duplicated–and wow, what a good red herring if they _were_ human made–but I think there’s still room for some doubt. The show I described didn’t address the breakage location oddity mentioned in the post.

    What would convince me of manmade origins for all crop circles is if people could reproduce all aspects of one of the weird, iron-particled, apparently microwaved sites AND have the heat-deformation and iron particles match the density/dispersion in the source circle. Are the particles eerily evenly dispersed in an original crop circle? Not likely hand-broadcasted then. Dense spots and bare spots? Okay, I’ll buy the all-hoax explanation. And I’ll want to meet the people who thought it’d be a grand idea to microwave and iron-sand their circles. They probably drink good beer.

    ____________________
    [1] which is obviously the cause of some other circles.
    [2] standard magnetron + some ducting (again, corded)
    [3] compressed air and a hopper

  32. Anonymous says:

    I believe the crop-circle mystery is explained in the book “Round in Circles,” by Jim Schnabel (Hamish Hamilton, 1993). I was directed to this book by Terrence McKenna.

  33. Anonymous says:

    The problem with the hoaxer idea….is apparently the circles are formed over night, in say what 10 hrs. of darkness? The original hoaxers claimed to have created very, very, very rudimentary circles while half drunk. I believe if my memory serves me that a Crop Circle Enthusiast group sponsers several different artist groups to replicate the more complex designs showing up today, and with gear, and goggles at night…they could bearly make a complete concentrical semetrical circle in the hours of darkness afforded them…and gave up exaspherated believing some other source must have created the circles.

  34. David Pescovitz says:

    There are a slew of links about the blown nodes, weaving, cellular changes, etc. at the (ahem) About.com page “Crop Circles: Best Evidence.” Again, your credibility meter may be calibrated differently than mine.

  35. Anonymous says:

    An interesting theory that covers many important points. However, this would seem to suggest that the military has been conducting these basic tests since at least the 1950s (first reports of crop circles as well as the first known British military study of the circles)and for some odd reason don’t mind conducting secret tests in plain view (rather than using any number of tightly controlled test sites). I suspect this theory is heading in some of the right directions but there are still many questions.

  36. brillow says:

    Its not “forbidden science” (actually, as many crop circlers love to point out, they actually have published a paper in an actual peer-reviewed journal).

    The problem is they cannot propose a plausible mechanism which is more compelling than pranksters. They talk about “microwave vorticies” or “ley lines” but these aren’t explanations, they are just arm-waving. If you think a maicrowave weapon could cause this effect, you are going to need to explain HOW such a weapon should work. Scientists do not find microwaves to be mysterious like crop-circlers seem to. If you want to convince anyone your explanation is better, you are going to have to explain EXACTLY how it is supposed to work. How could a microwave-based device cause this? Can you reproduce this effect with your own microwave devices?

    Its the fundamental problem with most “conspiracy theories” is that they invoke strange-sounding science as a cause for some phenomenon, but don’t explain how such a device could cause it.

    For instance, the HAARP array. They use this antennae to study the ionosphere, and how modifying it could be used to enhance short-wave communications. A lot of conspiracy theorists say its an earthquake machine. Seemingly because its a machine they don’t understand. How would such a device cause an earthquake? How would ANY device cause an earthquake? These are the questions we want you to address.

    Propose a plausible mechanism, not just make up impressive sounding words. As odd as this may seem, scientists are not impressed by science words. We don’t make up new words to impress people, we make them up to concisely explain phenomena we observe. When scientists take up artistic license with them, it often just annoys other scientists.

  37. timetraveler says:

    Suggested Reading:

    On Anomalies In Crop Formation Plants, search Dr. William C. Levengood.

    reference of interest; http://www.21stcenturyradio.com/12-talbott.html

    On related Euclidean Theorem Discovery, see Dr. Gerald Hawkins.

    reference of interest; http://www.swimoutsidethepool.com/sitebuildercontent/sitebuilderfiles/cropconcatnarrative.pdf

  38. KeithIrwin says:

    As the first poster to ask if it was a joke (an honest question), I should point out that the response to the original post shouldn’t be at all unexpected in light of its character. It’s not that it was advancing a theory of which many of us were skeptical: it’s that the reasoning as to why the theory was correct was so vague and unscientific as to seem out of character with most science-related postings on this blog.

    A commenter named craiig posted this comment in which he summarized the post thusly:

    Hypothesis: Crop circles are caused by microwave weapon tests.
    Data: Microwave weapons exist.
    Conclusion: Crop circles are definitely caused by microwave weapons.

    And, frankly, that’s a pretty good summary. The post referenced a new theory, offered “evidence” in favor of it which only failed to contradict the hypothesis rather than in any way supporting it and then wondered why everyone else in the paranormal research community hadn’t noticed this.

    It was that last bit which made me suspect it of being some sort of parody. The paranormal research community is notorious for containing a large number of researchers who are obsessed with their own pet theories and uninterested in anyone else’s. So I really was honestly wondering if your statement about how it was odd that none of them had noticed your pet theory was serious, because it sounds more like parody.

    But regardless, if your social science experiment is to test whether or not people in this community, when presented with a startling hypothesis supported by the scantest of evidence and fallacious reasoning will respond by scoffing, then the answer is: yes, they will. This, however, isn’t exactly surprising. Most of us could’ve answered that one from existing evidence without needing new experiments.

    By contrast, this post here on which I am commenting at least makes an attempt to offer some general evidence which might support the claim. Whether or not someone accepts what you say in this post as correct is a question largely of whether or not they believe what you say: do they find your truthful, do they find you credible? (Note, the answers to these questions will now probably be changed by your previous post.)

    But the previous post, even accepting all of your evidence on face value, it failed to have any vague bearing on your conclusion. It was as if you had offered up the following logical syllogism: “All sharks are fish. All fish can swim. Therefore all lawyers can swim.” Not believing your conclusion doesn’t have anything to do with rejecting your premises, it just had to do with the fact that your conclusion didn’t follow from your premises. Whether or not the idea that “extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence” is a scientific fact, it is a societal fact. When you make surprising claims, you should have evidence to back them up or else expect them to be rejected out of hand. Otherwise, yes, you are going to get put in the same pile with the homeopaths and astrologers.

    Also, please don’t confuse the norms of this community with the norms of cyberspace. This is one place frequented by one group of people. Although there are observations which could be made about how the medium affects the communication, posting on one web site and seeing what sort of comments you get is not a reliable way of judging this. You should also note that there is overlap between BoingBoing and academia. It would be as silly to assume that people with PhDs don’t read here as it would be to assume that they don’t post here.

  39. gladeye says:

    I call bullshit. Like Carl Sagan said, big claims require big evidence. UFOs to some, angels to others.

    1. Whichever super force made these circles, it was awful considerate of them appeal to the human aesthetic, and our attraction to patterns and symmetry. Such pretty designs for any alien language.

    2. And why would they become increasingly complex? Aliens adding details to their messages or pranksters trying to one-up each other?

    3. If you want to suspect the bogeyman government/military, how many times over do they have to confirm they can microwave plants?

    4. Is the military “testing” to see if they can destroy plant life or destroy in the form of psychedelic designs? Which is more discrete?

    The simplest explanation, in this case, pranksters, is usually the correct one. It’s also the only one that has actually been proven in any way.

  40. funkadelic73 says:

    Glenn Beck is somewhere smiling down upon your mad d3bat0r ski77z.

  41. DJBudSonic says:

    In all the reading and viewing on this topic I have seen on the Internet and elsewhere, I am surprised to find there is one possible answer (that I have felt from the start of all this) and yet no one has put forward as far as I have seen (talk about pre-existing beliefs)..

    IT’S THE PLANTS!

    You see, the plants are trying to communicate with their neighbors – and this is how they are doing it. They are using a type of plant-community collaboration to send these messages. Other articles on this site have pointed to research done into how plants communicate and work together, for instance; to grow only to a certain beneficial height for gathering sunlight when others of their kind are growing in close proximity to them. Is it so far-fetched to believe that they are capable of falling over en-mass to form patterns that they hope will mean something to another species?

    Why do they take the form of geometric shapes, often circles, often with serrated edges, spokes, multiple concentric circles, etc? Perhaps they are sending to us a mimic of patterns that they perceive to be from another sentient being. Since these are almost entirely “crop circles”, or “circles” formed in a cultivated field, I believe the patterns the plants perceive are those from their close encounters with the tools of agriculture; that is, the wheel of the tractor and harrow as it passes overhead, the cultivator and the thresher screw, the belts and pulleys of the machines that give them life, then ruthlessly take it away. They are sending these mimic patterns in hope of finding a common language with their “others”.

    Maybe we as humans and researchers need to shed our egos and take a serious look into the language of plants. Remember, we are not alone…

    • loonquawl says:

      If ‘The Happening’ had not been so awful, i would subscribe to this, too…

      • DJBudSonic says:

        I haven’t seen it, or the other one with/by Mel Gibson I think? I remain in a somewhat blissful state of pop-culture ignorance…

    • misterfricative says:

      Nice one! In addition to being entirely consistent with all of the data, the sentient plants in your explanation also have a plausible motive that completely accounts for their observed behavior.

      Whereas the govt defense scientists working on a SecretBeamRayWeapon (TM)… not so much.

      • DJBudSonic says:

        Thanks-I have really felt this way for some time – ever since happening upon a ton of Crop Circle stuff on the mighty rense.com…

  42. Mistico says:

    Great stuff! I’ve seen so much from both sides of this argument (from true believers and professional debunkers), and this is one of the simplest, clearest explanations I’ve seen. Doesn’t mean it’s right, but at least it doesn’t have an obvious agenda.

    And then to work in a critique of the “open, free, and conscious enhancing web”… this is great.

    Also: Occam’s razor= the new Hitler. It’s become a reflexive position to any argument on the internet that you’re not winning.

  43. mmrpdx says:

    Two Things.

    1) There are many reports and testimonies that the crop circle phenomenon interacts with our consciousness in some way. (I have first hand experience of this).

    2) The design of some of these formations simply don’t correlate with the kind of design that I would expect any military or scientific personnel to come up with.

    It’s all in our personal belief I guess. Let’s just say I go on intuition and instinct. How very unscientific.

    • David Pescovitz says:

      @Rationalist, I certainly wouldn’t mind if you were to respectfully challenge the material presented. Or even my decision to invite Jacques to post here. But I won’t have you insult me, Jacques, or any other contributor or commenter on this site.

  44. Anonymous says:

    The crop circle photo in this post was made by crop-circle making promotional company circlemakers.org in 2001. This company has a website where they demonstrate (with video!) the making of complex circles. They even accepted a challenge wherein a mathematician gives them a ‘too complex/too accurate to be made by humans’ design that they make in four hours. On video tape!

    ‘Refusing to believe’ that someone could do it with planks and rope when there is photographic evidence and testimony is just that – refusing to believe.

    • Jesse Weinstein says:

      Anon, I think you mis-read the circlemakers website. Assuming you meant this page: http://circlemakers.org/totc2001.html (scroll down), it does not state that the folks running that site created that design, but merely that they were reporting on it.

      Nevertheless, the lack of specificity in the citations in Vallee’s post is quite severe, and a serious weakness in his argument. I’ll attempt to pull out all the citation-like items, and explain why they arn’t sufficient to enable even a motivated reader to recover the actual items purportedly referred to.

      1) The “French lab”:

      Vallee introduces this item as follows: “Early in the history of English crop circles, a French lab”, followed by a paraphrase (not a quote, which could be googled) of something they published. The next citation-like element is “the results were presented at various conferences”, then Vallee lists two, but without enough detail to locate an actual paper.

      For the first conference, he describes it as “a meeting of the Society for Scientific Exploration in Denver (photo below)”, and “Atmospheric physicist Dr. Joachim Kuettner of University Corporation for Atmospheric Research discussing the Crop circle problem with Dr. Jacques Vallee and Jean-Jacques Velasco of Centre National d’Etudes Spatiales at a meeting of the Society for Scientific Exploration in 1989 in Denver.” This appears to enable one to identify the meeting, although the SSE’s website only lists as far back as their 15th Annual meeting in 1996, and the fragmentary references I’ve been able to find about the 1989 meeting seem to suggest it happened in Boulder, not Denver — but these are minor issues. The real problem is that Vallee fails to include either the title or the authors of the paper presented at the meeting — so being able to find the meeting still leaves one with the difficult task of guessing which of the many papers presented Vallee was referring to.

      Vallee also states that the results of the “French lab” were presented “the following year at Stanford University (on August 8, 1990) where I introduced a presentation by Jean-Jacques Velasco, a researcher with CNES.” On first sight, this appears to be useful — it has an exact date! However, when one tries to search, one finds that Stanford University is a rather big place, and that there were many presentations on that day, and that, as that was two decades ago, the records of exactly who presented what on a particular day have not been digitialized, or at least not made public. The only mention of “Jean-Jacques Velasco” in Google (and Yahoo) archives of stanford.edu is two press releases from 1998 (8 years later) which mention him as having given evidence to a panel about UFOs. So the apparent help provided by the exact date fails to pan out. After two citation-like references to “results”, no actual, specific, paper is visible.

      That is all that Vallee says about the “French lab”. We still don’t know the name of the lab, or the names of any of the people who did the work, or the titles, authors, publishers, or publishing dates for any of the papers where the “French lab” published their results. This sort of vagueness is not conducive to “discussing the facts or arguing for or against the idea itself”.

      2) “several groups”

      Next, Vallee introduces another set of entities: “several groups”. He describes them as being “involved in the same research as the French lab” and having published “many years ago” and having their papers include: “microscope photographs of the plants with exploded nodes”

      Unfortunately, this is the complete extent of Vallee’s details about these “several groups”. Neither the names of the groups, the names of any of the members, the names of the institutions where they worked, the titles, authors, publishers, publishing dates or even any actual quotes from any of their papers are provided. There is basically nothing to even begin a search with.

      3) “Labs in the U.S.”

      Finally, Vallee has a single sentence about “labs in the U.S.”: “Labs in the U.S. (Department of Agriculture, M.I.T. etc.) repeated the tests with the same results.” That’s it. We could try to search for the tests, if we had been able to find the papers where they were originally described, but Vallee neglected to make that possible. He does mention two institutions — we could try searching their websites; but for what, exactly?

      4) New Scientist article

      There is one citation in Vallee’s article that is quite specific and even includes a link. He states: “yet another intriguing article from New Scientist (issue of 23 July 2009, article by David Hambling): / Microwave weapon will rain pain from the sky / The Pentagon’s enthusiasm for non-lethal …” This citation contains all that one could wish: the title, author, journal, issue date, quotation, and link to the full text. Clearly, Vallee is quite able to provide complete, useful citations when he chooses. The only problem is that the cited article has nothing whatsoever to do with crop circles, and provides no evidence for Vallee’s argument. It is particularly ironic that he introduces it with the words: “yet another”, since, as I hope I exhaustively showed above, this is the one and only specific reference in his post.

  45. Anonymous says:

    Ce qui m’interesse Jacques c’est de savoir ce que ressent un négationniste qui se fait moucher par plus brilliant que soit ? Par ailleurs vous avez emprunté vos idées auprès de http://www.zetetique.ldh.org/agrogrammes.html

    These sterile weapons ideas don’t even belong to Jacques Vallée, he has just “copy and pasted” an article from a negationist french site here : http://www.zetetique.ldh.org/agrogrammes.html you have been very long Mr Vallee to translate this 2002 article in English… In my third eye this article and both authors have only one merit : Cult of the Fear – Cult of Man above everything and a very low ethic regarding is lineage with the french “Services Secrets”

    And I agree with someone here: The Military guy or Scientific Military guy is NOT clever enough to draw a proper sacred geometry design, an honest circle, even on a blank piece of paper with rulers and compass… just forget it and be in awe in front of the infinite beauty of our universe…

  46. ForbiddenKittens2 says:

    Let us start with another question: is the sun is made out of grape jelly?

    It is made out of grape jelly because it is a sphere – and jelly tends to clump out with the least amount of surface area possible. Grapes are also round, as is the sun, therefor grape jelly must be the same. And so the sun has to be made of grape jelly.

    Now, there are two categories of people who will respond to this. One side will say: well, there is evidence, so therefor the sun must be made out of grape jelly.

    The second group says “your science is bad. This conversation is retarded.”

    We have videos of people making crop circles. There are companies who pay to make crop circles for publicity. Google Hello Kitty Crop Circle. Particle beam weapons? Really? Really? Seriously? You found logic, mugged it in the alleyway, stole it’s hat, and then ran shirtless down the street screaming “Woop woop woop!”

    Your science is bad, and this conversation is retarded. And the sun is not grape jelly.

  47. loonquawl says:

    This is a disgrace. BB should be about discussing the clever designs, it could host a tournament for the best photshopped crop circle, but it should not feed the real-life trolls that are the para-science crowd.

    About perfection: if you care to google “crop circle tattoo” you will find a very advanced crop circle with a flaw in the design (third drop-shape on the right)

    About human imperfection hindering us in creating crop circles : google firefox crop circle, and ponder on whether humans or aliens cared to form it; further have a look at youtube ‘how to make a crop circle’

    About humans unable to create ‘thousands’ of crop circles for fun: consider Burning Man;

    About microwaved stems: take a long walk in the most unalienvisited of corn fields, and look for “exploded” nodes… they are there.

    About the ‘scientific papers’: The second cited the first (and was the only to do so) – the journal they appeared in did not even want to publish a paper denouncing them, because they deemed the whole issue too silly… I read both, and would i not know the sloppy way papers are often peer-reviewed, i would wonder how it could happen. They are abysmal. The first was published in April ’94(Physiologia Plantarum 92:356-363), which gave me hope for it being a clever hoax, but the second was published in October ’99( Physiologia Plantarum 105:615-624)…

    • David Pescovitz says:

      @loonquawl, Thank you for telling me what my site should be about.

    • zyodei says:

      Sorry for discussing a topic outside your comfort zone.

      Everyone knows the answer, so it’s taboo to discuss it, right? That’s scientific rationality?

      The Firefox circle took like 50 people 16 hours to do, in broad daylight, without fear of detection. And frankly, compare this:

      http://farm1.static.flickr.com/88/216245759_ce60ec594e.jpg

      http://stobblehouse.com/photo/cropcircles/silburyhill2005.jpg

      The firefox one is really quite good, but it quite rough around the edges. It doesn’t really compare to many of the more complex ones that have been made.

      Your point is good about the flaw in the crop circle..I assume you are talking about the circle at the head of this post? I hadn’t noticed that before, it does seem like a flaw. I take that back then.

      Whatever the truth is, it bugs me when people say it is a “disgrace” to discuss anything. An open mind permits discussion of even the most absurd topics. If it seems proved beyond a reasonable doubt, fine, lay it to rest unless some new evidence comes up.

      But, as it stands, there is NO positive proof of who exactly is making these. So why is it a disgrace to discuss them?

      • Haakon IV says:

        Discuss whatever you want. The “disgrace” (I think that’s a strong word to apply so so eclectic a website as BoingBoing, I would prefer “disappointment”) is that a way-out-there unsupported hypothesis is getting full billing on a popular website that is about “amazing things”. Now, is it worse that amusing posts about cryptozoology and whatnot? I wouldn’t say so.

        What bugs me is the earnestness with which a crazy conspiracy theory is presented here. Your Silbury Hill photo is a cool image of a wild crop circle. Does anyone really believe that the leading hypothesis to explain it is the testing of a supersecret military weapon? Yes, it’s better than the firefox circle. Seems to me that the simplest hypothesis is that the guys with boards are getting better at it, not that the covert military weapons testers are getting more and more into frilly design.

        I’m not questioning BoingBoing’s right to have guest bloggers say off-the-wall things, or your right to agree with him. I just think the majority of the posters here are right to call it bonkers.

  48. Delwyn says:

    Another well documented book about crop circles with the difference that it’s a novel is “Circle’s End”.
    It explores all these possibilities and goes on to imagine what happens when mankind is too slow to understand what the phenomenon is all about.

    I highly recommend it but I’m not very impartial – I wrote it!

    http://www.circles-end.net

  49. Anonymous says:

    A very good article and quite plausible. It’s a fact that the USAF has been investigating the sites of crop circles for sometime. They’re interested in the energy source and we’re identified by a civilian credentialed investigator.

    A military source is possible and plausible as well as an extraterrestrial source using the same energy. However, it’s highly unlikely MOD would admit to testing around the UK even if the weapon becomes known.

    Posters pose several good questions and all we really know as fact is that the nodes are being exploded by heat from some source presumed to be microwaves.

    • Jesse Weinstein says:

      I see Mr. Conservative has not (yet) responded. Sigh. And here’s another un-cited claim: “It’s a fact that the USAF has been investigating the sites of crop circles for sometime.”

      Let’s see what the mighty Google can dig up on this…

      Ah — this looks like it might be it: http://www.burlingtonnews.net/wisconsincropcircle.html

      This page describes itself as a copy of a report put together by 4 people, Roger Sugden, Gary Kahlimer, Charles Lietzau, and Jeffrey Wilson in 2003. The original report appears to be here: http://www.iccra.org/reports/wisconsin_mayville_kekoskee_7_4_2003.htm (the ICCRA appears to be partly run by Jeffrey Wilson) In the report they state that they spoke to a USAF solider who identified himself as “part of a Special Crop Circle Investigative Unit”. That seems like an example of the claim made above. How reliable this is, less clear. But at least the citation-like information seems to be pretty available. That’s better than we’ve been able to do otherwise…

      The report also stated that FOIA requests would be filed. I have not been able to find any further details regarding them.

  50. Anonymous says:

    Quote from Jacques Vallee: “The specific hypothesis offered–that crop circles are the result of a U.K. defense electronics development project”

    Crop circles have appeared in other countries other than UK.

    Quote from Jacques Vallee: “Under the microscope the results were clear: if you push a board across a wheat field to flatten it, you will break the stalks between nodes because the nodes are thicker and stronger. But in the unexplained, complex patterns the nodes themselves were exploded, often keeping the fibers intact.”

    Videos from the crop circle makers clearly show that the boards they use don’t break stems. Instead the stems are just bent.

    Quote from Jacques Vallee: “But in the unexplained, complex patterns the nodes themselves were exploded, often keeping the fibers intact. Conclusion: something was coupling energy into the plants in the form of heat (as one of the respondents to my first post actually stated).”

    The “exploded” stems are simply revealed to be bent stems combined with some growth and twisting as shown here: http://www.ufologie.net/htm/croppgexpnodes.htm

    Quote from Jacques Vallee: “…the designs became increasingly complex, leading to the idea that we were witnessing a classic, step-by-step program of technology development…”

    National Geographic:
    http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2002/08/0801_020801_cropcircles_2.html

    “To combat a widely promulgated theory that the circles were the result of wind vortices—essentially mini-whirlwinds—crop artists felt compelled to produce ever more elaborate designs, some with straight lines to show that the circles were not a natural phenomenon, said Lundberg. The other impetus is true of all art forms: Artists influence one another, and designs evolve in response to what has been done before.”

    Quote from Jacques Vallee: “…While the tests could presumably be conducted in remote areas, there must be some distance constraint that dictates that initial experiments have to be close to the emitting labs.”

    Indeed, how does a miliary lab get to other countries to test this “weapon” on private farms in other countries?

    Why do farmers not sue the military?
    From: http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2002/08/0801_020801_cropcircles_2.html

    “In 1996 a circle appeared near Stonehenge and the farmer set up a booth and charged a fee,” said Lundberg. “He collected 30,000 pounds (U.S. $47,000) in four weeks. The value of the crop had it been harvested was probably about 150 pounds ($235). So, yeah, they’re happy.”

    Quote from Jacques Vallee: “This does leave several issues unanswered: Who are the hoaxers and what is their exact role in the charade?”

    See: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Lundberg

    Quote from Jacques Vallee: “How does the technology work to actually make the designs?

    See: http://www.circlemakers.org/

    Quote from Jacques Vallee: “Could it be directed from space or simply from an aerial platform? And why would anyone develop such a beam in the first place?”

    Cropcircles are made by human artists on the ground with designs on paper and computer, rope and markers, stomping boards and garden rollers. No evidence is presented by Jacques for space or aerial platforms. No evidence by Jacques is presented for a “beam weapon”.

    In conclusion, all of the “evidence” of Jacques Vallee is shown to be false or simply not present. He has nothing to support his conclusions.

  51. loonquawl says:

    btw, if anyone wants to get in on the fun: circlemakers.org

  52. MaryC says:

    I once read an account – I think it was in Jim Keith’s conspiro-book, “Casebook on Alternative Three” (1999?)- from a pilot who claimed he had a daytime sighting of what he thought must be a crop-circle-making device. He saw it while he was flying in England and from his description, it was a little platform with what could have been mirrors around it. I took it to mean it was a small, hovering thing, hidden from view on the ground by its own “magician’s cabinet”.

    I thought to myself, “that could be it, then … hovering weapons platforms are within the state of the art now…psy ops folks can make crop circles very quickly with small weapons on little hovering platforms. They can see how people react to the circles, see what the cults and the media do with it all, test their “lasers” or whatever they have and maybe help increase tourism in Britain”.

    I posted about it in a few discussion forums, alien believers disagreed, rationalists said I was off base because it’s all done by rope-and-plywood hoaxers.

    As for the node-bursting, the long-time U.S. PBS science show, NOVA, mentioned that several years ago when they did a crop circle episode. I wish they’d mentioned the studies Dr. Vallee wrote about here.

    Beam weapons are real and I think people with the resources to use them often live in government departments where the thinking says it’s important to put us regular citizens in a puzzled state by staging phony events.

  53. Anonymous says:

    M. Vallee,
    It’s exciting to see you writing on this topic. I recently read Invisible College and Confrontations, and I’m in the middle of Passport to Magonia. I feel that these books contain the most insight into UFO phenomena that I have come across.

    I’d like to quote some material from Magonia, where you make note of some UFO phenomena that seem to be closely related to crop circles.

    From Chapter 2, The Good People:

    “…we can state the following: (1) public rumour associates the sightings of flying saucers with the discovery of circular depressions on the ground; (2) when vegetation is present at the site, it exhibits the action of a flattening force which produces either a stationary pattern (“spokes of a wheel”) or a rotating pattern (clockwise or counterclockwise)…

    “Do I need remind the reader of that celebrated habit of the fairies, to leave behind them strange rings in the fields and prairies?”

    I feel that in this case you may need to take a page from your own book. Something as complex and imaginative as crop circles is not likely to have been created by a government technology intended to inflict pain. It makes no sense to me whatsoever that they would spend decades creating breathtaking geometric designs in fields, while avoiding detection, before getting around to the intended purpose of the technology.

    In your analysis of UFOs, you looked through history for precedents and parallels to get a deeper understanding.

    With their dream-like symbols and obvious associations with fairy rings and UFO nests, crop circles are much more likely to be associated with UFOs, which, as you have proposed, are not controlled by space travellers, but are only the latest manifestation of an as-yet-unidentified level of consciousness that has been interacting with humankind throughout all of recorded history.

    With great respect,
    John Topp

  54. Moriarty says:

    So it’s a hypothetical technology without any hypothesized mechanism (beyond the extremely vague “microwave beam”) or hypothesized motive for employing it (beyond “testing,” which certainly doesn’t explain patterns or why they would do it on private property). So there’s not really much to go on.

    By contrast, the only stated problem with the “prankster hypothesis” is the presence of “exploded nodes,” which is a great deal less to explain. One gets the impression that every time somebody does it slightly differently in a way that hasn’t been publicly demonstrated, a new God of the Gaps is born, and the obvious option is for some reason discarded in favor of more fantastic ones.

  55. Rob Beschizza says:

    Acceptable: arguing against Vallee. Unacceptable: calling us frauds and liars because we dig the story he’s telling.

    • seanpatgallagher says:

      Well, on the Bright side, the discussion lasted 50 comments before someone referenced Hitler.

      -S

      • Mistico says:

        I know, I lose at the internet. Just got tired of Occam’s razor and Hitler being applied to any situation with equal abandon.

        See, I mentioned it again. Hitler Hitler Hitler. But the discussion is interesting!

  56. Anonymous says:

    Interesting reading these comments. The responses certainly span the typical sets of beliefs. Its a Hoax, a joke. Its aliens, its military, its a marketing plan. Etc. Thing is there really only is one correct answer. Its not all of the above.

    One common problem with this type of forum is that the respondents will all have greatly varying degrees of understanding of the phenomenon (topic). Certainly the case here! So how do you sort through it all??

    Really study what has been going on. Don’t just shoot from the hip with some comment and then go away feeling that you are smart. Don’t expect science and “scientific method” to be the final say in what the truth is. Scientific method can only be aptly applied in some fields, and rarely does it stand alone in determination. Observations and circumstantial evidence are important as well. Pure “empirical” scientists tend to forget their field was founded on the tenets of observation and deduction.

    Secrets in the Fields, Freddy Silva, is a good place to start if you want a fairly complete history of what has been going on with crop circles. Without at least this amount of knowledge into the phenomenon one might consider refraining form comment.

  57. barracuda says:

    The possible connections of any “alien manifestations” whether UFOs, crop circles, abduction accounts, etc., to the interests of the military or other aspects of the security apparatus warrant examination and supposition – even if they seem incredible. The history of government use of the mythos surrounding these phenomena is well known and available to interested readers, and so to preemtively rule out a military source in this instance seems mundane and incurious. For this and other reasons, I appreciate Vallee’s appearances on BoingX2 and his apparent ability to rile the readership with his theories. You go, Jacques!

    That being said, I’d love to see a single example of a crop circle in which the tractor paths did not allow for easy foot access. And were I to attempt the construction of such an ephemeral spiroagricultural landmark, the first thing I’d do is make sure the farmer got a hundred bucks for his crop and his trouble and his silence regarding my activities.

  58. RhodeIslandJim says:

    Hi Jacques – Jim Magee here originally from Charlestown, Rhode Island and now on the “Big Island” – Pahoa, Hawaii.
    I just wanted to make a couple of statements for your observations/comments – after I publicly state to all you so-called “non-believers” and “debunkers”. I’m sure most of you believe in a supreme being – call it what you will – PRIME CREATOR, GOD, Buddha, Allah, Great Spirit – what have you, but to you all, I will say this – “If we – the “warring” human race, here on planet Earth, are as good as any creator can do, they better find another job, because they’re not doing so well in the GOD department.”

    Now, that being said, as far as the many, many crop circles throughout the world, forgetting about the two guys “Doug & Dave” and their crop-stomping boards – if any of you have ever worked around a machine shop and had the pleasure of watching computer-operated milling machines, and as an industrial electrician for many years, I have wired numerous computer-programmed lathes and milling machines (and if you haven’t, a milling machine, cuts out a pre-designed pattern out of steel, aluminum, some ferrous, or non-ferrous metal) that is what I say is happening with the many varied crop circle formations. Some advanced intelligence, is designing the “next” formation and then programming it into their on-board computer and with lasers, or beams of a similar nature, then makes the crop circle pattern. Just using the one at the beginning of this post should be enough to convince most sane people. If – “Doug & Dave” could duplicate it, which in itself is preposterous, it would take them a month, 24 hours a day – not an hour.

    Secondly Jacques, I salute you for at least having the intestinal fortitude (guts) to stand up to the world as a whole and state your case with intelligence, candor, and understanding of those people, who will sadly “never get it!” All you can do, is provide information, but you can’t make people believe, if they’re not ready to. “You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink.”

  59. kaffeen says:

    What I am certain of is that there is a logical explanation to all of this. I do not believe this is supernatural or extraterrestrial. I would really hope that aliens have better things to do than create circles in a field. I suppose they could be conducting a sociological study on the behavior of humans (in which case, I feel sorry for their profound sadness). I have two hypothesis. One, I suspect this started out as a hoax, but that the defense department got involved at a later time since this would provide cover for their testing (i.e. we all know these pranksters are creating the circles, why would anyone investigate further et al). The other alternative is that the people involved with this are pranksters but *work* at the defense department facilities and perhaps live nearby (and this is unrelated to defense). Perhaps those employee’s are just creating some technology of their own (based on what they see at work) and then having a bit of fun with the world after hours. Sounds like something I would do. :)

  60. Anonymous says:

    Wow, what a lot of churn. Good luck keeping your cool moderating this one. I don’t have much personal interest in looking at the untimely slaughter of so many innocent stalks, but i am curious…Has anyone started adding MW or EM detectors to the hundreds of weather stations located around England (or for that matter anywhere else). Weather stations are ubiquitous environmental data loggers. It would seem >10K euro worth of trouble to outfit a few dozen with a few different ranges of detector and wait for data. Science belongs to all of us, not just fussy people. Observe, correlate, discuss…

  61. Saint Fnordius says:

    Normally, I would not comment on this, as I have nothing really to add other than “interesting”, but this time I feel I must. Jacques does not claim that all circles are made this way, only offers a hypothesis that some of the circles were made by “skunk works” testing in the UK, where there is no room for an Area 51 style secluded test site. So, let’s see…

    The “authentic” circles have to be within range of a testing facility. England may be small, but if these were tests then they would have to have not only the testers but also a separate observation team move out, conduct the test, and leave.

    There has to be incredible security surrounding the project, so that not even the vehicles transporting the device or the observation equipment isn’t noticed, and no one may talk about it, ever. This sort of secrecy is not impossible, though incredibly difficult. I personally think this is the weakest link, since rumours of this nature would have existed…

    …but wait! It seems that these rumours did exist, but were soon lost in between the extremes of all being a hoax, and aliens! If we compare them to the Area 51 rumours, where UFO’s were often seen (and in reality “merely” secret test planes), then it is plausible that stories of aliens and hoaxes would be seeded so that the test stories get lost in the crowd.

    I cannot test his claim that the “real” circles were made close to these secret facilities, but I will take his claim as valid until proven otherwise. I might even go further and hypothesise that some of the first hoaxes were deliberate red herrings, to make it seem like all circles were hoaxes. I won’t say artificial, as even the “authentic” circles are according to this hypothesis man-made.

    So I accept this theory as possible, but inconclusive. My gut tells me that it is “mundane” enough to be close to the truth, but that we’re still missing some pieces.

    • Anonymous says:

      Actually, there is a top secret US base up in Scotland that has (along with Area 51) an extremely long run away for whatever odd purpose etc.

  62. Bill Beaty says:

    In law or politics it doesn’t matter whose side of the debate is in the right. After all, your only goal is to win. (‘Win’ means “sway the audience.” Convince them to join you in heaping ridicule on your opponent.)

    Winning is often easy: simply describe your opponents’ case in derogatory terms, then describe your own side in glowing terms. That way you won’t need to confuse onlookers by examining any actual evidence, or take a chance in revealing that your side is wrong and your opponent is right. If emotional language doesn’t work, well, there are thousands of other dishonest maneuvers you can fall back on.

    Of course it goes without saying that if the people involved in such debates should claim to be “rational” or “scientific,” they’ve become very definition of pseudoscientists.

    On the other hand, if you notice some wimpy losers who drop their guard and start criticizing their own side, or act like tentative fence-sitters who refuse to take a side and fight the obvious enemy, or who behave as if winning wasn’t even important …then perhaps you’ve found a group who actually values rationality, rather than just paying it lip service during their attempts to ‘win.’

  63. Anonymous says:

    Sadly, not much sharpness here. Many people posting are skeptical of everything but their own opinions. Who here knows the truth? Many of you are just using the pre-made systems of objectivism or rationalism as convenient stand-ins for thought, invesigation, and analysis. Posters asking for Valee to site things–look them up yourself!
    When I have experienced everything that a human being can experience, I’ll weigh in with the “truth.” Until then, it seems best to keep an open mind and attempt to VERIFY. Old Crowley himself admonished us to VERIFY our beliefs. Then beliefs may well disappear.

  64. Anonymous says:

    Mr. Vallee,

    I agree with you! I reached the same conclusion based on the observation that the complexity of the patterns seems to have increased at the same rate as the computing power of home computers. I doubt that this is the work of high level officials, I think perhaps higher-ups don’t even realize that their secret technology is being used this way. I think these are a few “rogue” engineers, doing this from their garages, for reasons unknown. The best evidence for this might be the August 15, 2002 Crabwood formation with the “alien” holding an ASCII coded disc, in a pretty standard advertising pose, (he might as well be holding a Coke!) and telling us they “oppose DECEPTION.” It almost sounds like a bad joke.

    Thank you for your continued research, it is much appreciated.

  65. IronEdithKidd says:

    Here’s a nice, simple explanation that doesn’t require any supernatural hokum or the mean ole’ gub’mint: Students from local university draft up a complex design similar to the one in the photo above in AutoCAD. Next they use whatever stakeout program they have on hand and load up the department’s robotic total station unit. They take the unit to their target field, set up and stake out the centers of each circle. From there, all that has to be done is bring in about a dozen students armed with variously sized 2x4s and set them to work making the correct sized circles at each stake.

    Voila! One evening, and the “complex” crop circle is complete. All by using equipment that is readily available at any university with a civil engineering department.

    Yes, Occam gets too much play around here, but simple, easily reproducable explanations shouldn’t be ignored in favor of complex, somewhat implausible conspiracy theories and paranormal activities.

  66. BPT says:

    Sadly, not much sharpness here. Many people posting are skeptical of everything but their own opinions. Who here knows the truth? Many of you are just using the pre-made systems of objectivism or rationalism as convenient stand-ins for thought, invesigation, and analysis. Posters asking for Valee to site things–look them up yourself!
    When I have experienced everything that a human being can experience, I’ll weigh in with the “truth.” Until then, it seems best to keep an open mind and attempt to VERIFY. Old Crowley himself admonished us to VERIFY our beliefs. Then beliefs may well disappear.

    • dw_funk says:

      “Many of you are just using the pre-made systems of objectivism or rationalism as convenient stand-ins for thought, invesigation, and analysis.”

      Being objective and rational is more or less necessary for thought, investigation, and analysis, at least if you’re looking to make any kind of scientific argument about the natural world. I don’t think “skeptics” have any kind of monopoly on close-minded opinions about crop circles or any “fringe” topics; both sides exhibit some pretty dismissive debating tactics. However, it must be said that the burden of proof is with the conspiracy theorists, and I’m inclined to agree with many here that there doesn’t seem to be any evidence for the OP’s crop circle hypothesis.

      That being said, there are many examples in science of the truth being righteously ignored in favor of established knowledge. One need only look into medical history to see many examples of good science, like washing one’s hands between patients, taking years to catch on. This isn’t to say that the crop circle hypotheses are ignored truths, but that it’s entirely possible that belief in scientific knowledge often tends to become as dogmatic as the fringe it shuts out. There’s nothing wrong with seeing the world as the scientific establishment sees it, but it might be better if people were a little friendlier with those who disagree.

      Also: Boing Boing is full of exactly the type of people who want to live in a world where crop circles aren’t easily explained as elaborate hoaxes. Perhaps the next time this topic is revisited, we could see the cited references used to support the hypothesis.

  67. MaryC says:

    Apologies for the double comment, but I would like to add, I know the book I mentioned above is a popular book, not at all a scholarly book and the pilot’s account I described may not be true. I am not at all accusing pilot or author of lying, though, simply saying I know we cannot believe everything we read. I mentioned it because I think it’s interesting someone said, at least ten years ago, they thought they spotted a crop-circle making device and the account of it got put into a book. It’s important to know when peoples’ thinking about mythic things comes into the media, even into the humble, non-science media.

  68. nixiebunny says:

    Nice hypothesis, but it lacks a common-sense physics and replaces it with tinfoil hat thinking.

    The most basic problem with any idea of a beam from the sky bending a plant at the base is that the beam can’t get to the bottom of the stalk without affecting the rest of the stalk, which is in the way.

    I could go on for hours if asked. I won’t.

  69. Anonymous says:

    This article begins with a meta-examination of how we approach this topic and here is where I think our discussion is hung: The exploding stalk nodes are a precise piece of evidence which, if true, IMHO, all but seals the case in favor of microwave experiments. However, while “microwave experiments” have been a notion batted around Popular Science for however many years, and explored in sci-fi for longer, normal people DON’T GET IT as a possible real thing that could make pretty patterns on grass. There’s a real understanding gap here and I’ll tell you one thing about the science: No arial beam is needed, no spooky sattelite or plane or crane… you just need a high-powered, high-resolution array of RF emitters somewhere in the vicinity. If you know the science at all, I think OCCAMS RAZOR SAYS RF LAZER

    • loonquawl says:

      “The exploding stalk nodes are a precise piece of evidence which, if true, IMHO, all but seals the case in favor of microwave experiments.”
      Go into the next corn field. Look for exploded nodes in bent stalks. Have precise pieces of evidence for microwave tampering of your local field….
      They are everywhere.

  70. Anonymous says:

    “So we seem to have 3 possibilities regarding origins of CCs:
    1)man-made hoaxes using planks etc

    2)Mysterious crafts, and entities

    3)A secret advanced man-made technology

    From here I would go about this asking the question: what anomalies contradict any of these explanations? Ie., if say –as some have–they claim to have actually seen strange craft, and beams of light come from sky, and then a CC appears swiftly. And some say–as a pilot is supposed to have, as heard on audio, state that they can appear very quickly. Well what are we to make of this? Would this fit in with say number 1, and 3?

    If, as Jacques seems to state that some kind of secret electronic technology is being used, what about the symbolism being used in the patterns where this idea could be entertained? Is there a propaganda excercise to do with this?

    If so, could we speculate that IF there are other entities in craft with such capabilities that they would try and undermine such propaganda, both from men on the ground with planks, and using other forms of technology.

    ARE there THREE types of CCs that could be detected which show they could belong to these threee hypothetical categories?
    Ie., are there ‘crude’ microwaved ones, and others that surpass them in design, and message?”

    I thought I would past this from a readers post above. I love the way you think and would like to talk with you :)
    I feel vallee tends towards paranoia. Either the ‘entities’ are ‘messengers of deception’ OR we are under secret attack by the freakin psychopaths intent on destroying the web of life and chipping us like the do in their vile evil animal testing labs.
    MAYbe there ARE some cool entities near the Goddess sites who ARE artful and playful and communicative, and care deeply for earth and us…..Let us hope this is so!

  71. Anonymous says:

    With regards to whether it is likely that military/Governments would have incentive to go through the trouble of creating crop circles then the answer must be a yes. The testing of technology is an obvious incentive but behind that is the much more sinister motive that we see in so many different areas today, the motive of keeping the human race in dualism, keeping us busy with anything from football to keeping our house and job in the financial crises, anything to keep us from focusing on the one important problem for all of humanity – the control system, the matrix, the Governments who are gradually taking away our freedom and liberties and keeping us in constant fear, war, hope, change and anything else that keeps us from doing something about it NOW.

    Having said that, I have no doubt that we are also visited by other living beings that do not come from earth.

  72. Anonymous says:

    Making crop circles is easy. First you figure out how to do it by not touching the ground, then do the same to the same guide stakes, then just do it. Done. If you leave any evidence on the ground or arrive by car, you are busted.

  73. vertimus says:

    I think the reason readers familiar with Vallee’s work and repuation are perplexed is because Vallee is bringing this out so late in the crop circle game.

    I think most people, of all stripes, feel the answer to the riddle has been found in the human circle makers, who have proven, at least to my satisfaction, that even the most intricate patterns can be made by enthusuiasts, after careful planning, in a matter of hours. Is it easy? Probably not.

    Had Vallee put forth this secret weapon theory in 1990, I’m sure the general broad response would have been quite different.

    Also, Vallee’s reputation has been tarnished by his having the likes of Whitley Strieber write an introduction to an edition of his book Dimensions. For every person who finds Strieber credible, there’s probably 100 or more who find his books transparently bogus, even many forteans and so-called ufologists. Which, of course, doesn’t neceassarily mean Strieber’s books have been faked in the interest of making money, or aren’t based on fact of some kind.

    Though I believe that all crop circles are made by human beings, it does seem odd that we haven’t hear about, or seen evidence of, half-finished ones, after the makers became bored halfway through or caught in a heavy downpour, or some so badly created as to be laughable.

    • Anonymous says:

      If the crop circlists make a crappy circle, they probably don’t alert the press, so no one sees it.

      • vertimus says:

        Well, it hardly seems likely that the press finds out about most via the makers. With all those that have been made by man over the decades, there have to have been some very poor ones, and, it would seem to me, half-finished, or less than half-finished ones. Where are the photos of those? A lot of arguments could be disspelled if such photos were published.

  74. zlezeplez says:

    So we seem to have 3 possibilities regarding origins of CCs:
    1)man-made hoaxes using planks etc

    2)Mysterious crafts, and entities

    3)A secret advanced man-made technology

    From here I would go about this asking the question: what anomalies contradict any of these explanations? Ie., if say –as some have–they claim to have actually seen strange craft, and beams of light come from sky, and then a CC appears swiftly. And some say–as a pilot is supposed to have, as heard on audio, state that they can appear very quickly. Well what are we to make of this? Would this fit in with say number 1, and 3?

    If, as Jacques seems to state that some kind of secret electronic technology is being used, what about the symbolism being used in the patterns where this idea could be entertained? Is there a propaganda excercise to do with this?

    If so, could we speculate that IF there are other entities in craft with such capabilities that they would try and undermine such propaganda, both from men on the ground with planks, and using other forms of technology.

    ARE there THREE types of CCs that could be detected which show they could belong to these threee hypothetical categories?
    Ie., are there ‘crude’ microwaved ones, and others that surpass them in design, and message?

  75. Anonymous says:

    The term, “Crop Circles,” also works as a mind-narrowing meme. Although the majority of these formations occur in cereal crops, Colin Andrews claims that examples exist on both ultra-thin ice and on forest trees.

    Perhaps, much like this blog, there are those who wish to conduct a social experiment with the formations in order to see the extent to which modern culture has anesthetized the masses beyond caring, thinking and analyzing, and/or mobilizing any response.

    Clearly military dictators have always sought in vain to compensate for their extremely average intellectual powers by creating fanfare with their newest gadgets. They invariably fire off test-missiles, have airshows, or roll tanks down the streets in order to make their frontal-lobes feel bigger. This might be the latest example of the equivalent behavior.

  76. Terry says:

    Considering the gross inefficiencies of governments in pretty much every known area, why do we continue to think they’re so damn good at cover-ups?

  77. Zadaz says:

    I was under the impression that everyone knew angles made crop circles. The existence of angles are incredibly well documented in a number of sources that are well-respected throughout the world and time. (ie: The old and new testament among others.) Angels live in heaven, which is well documented to be in the sky, a perfect vantage point for which to view crop circles. And they like beautiful things, which crop circles undoubtedly are. And they have a habit of showing up to make things inconvenient for mortals, which crop circles do a good job of.

    So angels.

    Prove me wrong.

    (The point, for those who are really thick, is that if you base your argument on wacky enough arguments you can never be ‘proven wrong’. You can however be proven to be a giant inflamed idiot.)

  78. DAMc says:

    If 19 out of 59 of the replies to your previous post discussed the facts, I’d say you did pretty good. Getting nearly 1/3 of commentators in any group to engage the topic is a pretty good sign of the intelligence of the audience.

    It seems like a weird jump to start from the observation that heat could cause nodes to explode and end up convinced that it’s probably a beam weapon. The rest of the evidence hardly connects those dots.

  79. dculberson says:

    Exploded and elongated nodes are purely mechanical in origin. Lassitude’s link is very informative:

    http://www.ufologie.net/htm/croppgexpnodes.htm

    This is why very few people post a ton of pictures of the smoking gun exploded nodes. Because anyone familiar with the crops would know they exist in fields without crop circles.

  80. Doug Sharp says:

    It always makes me sad to see fullbore woo on BoingBoing, especially when it tries to wear a figleaf like: “It seems that what was “forbidden science” in academia is also forbidden in cyberspace.”

  81. misterfricative says:

    There’s so much wrong here that I hardly know where to begin, but with logic like this –

    in the unexplained, complex patterns the nodes themselves were exploded, often keeping the fibers intact. Conclusion: something was coupling energy into the plants in the form of heat

    – you can’t possibly expect to be taken seriously.

    Your ‘hypothesis’ is not without its charm though. For instance, it would mean that in top secret govt research labs all around the globe, there would have been some wonderful conversations:

    SCIENTIST: So where do you want to test our new, top secret energy weapon? Somewhere remote and secure, right?

    PROJECT LEADER: Nah, screw that. Let’s go out and shoot it at a field.

    SCIENTIST: Yeah, that would be completely scientifically valid and definitely more fun. Can we use the top secret antigravity saucer to get there?

    PROJECT LEADER: The one with the FTL drive and flashing lights? You betcha. And you know the best part?

    SCIENTIST: What?

    PROJECT LEADER: This is so crazy that no-one will ever believe it really happened!

    SCIENTIST: Sounds like a win-win to me. Let’s roll.

  82. Gloster says:

    Ok, one thing I have not yet seen mentioned here – If you are developing secret military microwave blasters, it’s not really the public you want to fool.
    You main concern is the enemy intelligence. What purpose does it serve to show the Russians or the Chinese (who must be aware of this type of military technology, if it actually exists) how advanced, accurate and powerful has your top secret microwave blaster lately become, by repeatedly displaying the results of its up-to-date testing and leaving them out in the open for anyone to measure and tinker with?
    Seriously.

    • timetraveler says:

      Here’s a possible serious answer to a well posed question… one that, unfortunately, may tie up a few frayed ends from the many honest points and speculations entertained in the many responses posited here. An answer that hopefully appeals to the more logically set observer, and one that I offer guardedly, because it’s a scary one, and even offering such an idea has it’s consequences.
      This could involve a relatively recent bit of nastyness such as this;

      Reference, U.S. Patent 6,377,436
      Microwave Transmission Using a Laser-Generated Plasma Beam Waveguide
      Issued April 23, 2002 to Jed Margolin
      ..an indication of where things are going.

      Here’s the premise. Let’s just take for granted for a moment that there is an airborne or spaceborne device being tested and trained on crops, capable of these effects.

      On the outset, it does make increasingly less sense to assume that English and/or American scientists would tip their hand by engaging in such displays openly and in proximity to public lands surrounding secret test facilities, for general viewing and the participation of onlookers over extended periods that, for some fraction of which, have shown some predictable microwave signatures that could differentiate some of these formations as being discernibly unique and relatively unexplainable, as opposed to copies by fans.

      However, and here’s my point, it all makes increasingly more sense if you consider what world governments with real differences have been doing to each other in the name of conventional and cold wars for millennia.

      Different kinds of essential crops are the target, after all.

      A bit of nastiness related to warfare is something called Scorched Earth, where land, crops, resources, and anything else that might suit an advancing enemy is destroyed to slow them down. If, from some unknown distance, you could destroy the material resources of an enemy in advance of actual warfare, you could seed revolt and cripple people’s resources well in advance of any planned long term involvement.
      Since the first atomic bomb tests, any number of military scientists have been committed to the task of finding ways they consider “cleaner” methods of bringing people to their knees without even necessarily doing the kind of structural damage to roads and buildings that the so called “conventional” forms of wars have wrought.
      So perhaps, in regard to militaristic interests, do you suppose it would be of interest to have a weapon handy that could by design effectively incapacitate a people’s ability to grow and produce crops, so precisely, that you could affect an area as easily as drawing on a map?
      And if you were to advance the concept to the test phase, do you suppose it would be in their interest to test such effects in such a way that it would only stimulate public curiosity, while scaring the living crap out of their governments, even over extended periods of time, just to see the reactions?
      Stranger things have happened, using drugs, viruses, microwave transmissions and more, publicly, by “friendly” governments and not, on others, and even their own citizens. It’s all part and parcel of what military strategists consider fair play in love and war. While this may appear counterproductive, to try things on your own citizens, I have to wonder how easily such decisions are made to affect foreigners, particularly if the program could remain relatively benign and well shrouded by the speculative beliefs of the recipients. Maybe it is the public they want to fool, and maintain their distance while planning the unimaginable, with nothing more than some nicely crafted enigmas. It’s a disturbing possibility that begins to make too much sense, considering the resources available in an era fueled by military involvements, and entire national budgets devoted to the applications of destruction large and small, without even a cursory nod to economics.

      Those Crop Circles sure are beautiful though, and a few serious people have learned more than a thing or two about them over the last 20 years. Colin Andrews raised some ire on both sides of the arguments when, after over 20 years of study, he concluded that perhaps as little as 6% of the formations are truly unique and set apart by unconventional findings, and that’s what the evidence supports, for now… not unlike Project Blue Book findings. Whether that can be whittled down by new facts and context is equally unknown, so there is always room for speculation. Our interests, no matter how opposed, tend to converge. We have UFOs. We have Ray Guns. We become Extraterrestrials. If we survive ourselves.

  83. sniggs says:

    I remember reading a couple of years ago about a gentleman who was taking pictures from his telescope on earth of secret government “equipment” (for lack of a better word) that was orbiting earth. People started following him, strange men with dark glasses, he actually posted pictures of these men on the site he had made up. I can’t remember his name or anything like that, I even did a search for him and came up with nothing.

    Anyways, that’s beside the point. I think that some of these machines are top secret star wars weapons and somehow he found out how to photograph them.

    These same weapons may be able to be programmed to burn images into the earth, kinda like an inside joke with the people who have control over these machines orbiting the earth. I’m sure there is some sort of laser that is doing it and the crop circles themselves look like they’re generated from algorithms. Maybe these top secret scientists do it to get a laugh, as sick as it sounds.

    If any of you followed History Channel’s UFO Hunters this past season, some of the men they were talking to who used to be police were sneaking around on a military base with cameras and whatnot, well, they came upon a secret base and during the night they caught on tape a really bright red laser light being shot up into space from earth or shot down from space to earth. They didn’t know which, but there it was, right there on tape.

    But at this point, anything is plausible. If it’s not man made, then I strongly feel it’s some other species creating these that are not of this earth.

    • sniggs says:

      The Gentleman I was talking about who was taking pics of large “machines” in orbit is named John Lenard Walson.

  84. deckard68 says:

    Here’s a theory on why the stalks of some circles seem to be exploded from heat: Because the boards got hot from the friction of being used to make the circles.

    I believe in aliens, I believe aliens have examined tens of thousands of people here on Earth. But I have no idea why crop circles got associated with aliens. Or why crop circles are being associated with scary government tests for that matter. It sometimes seems as if whenever someone needs to grasp at an unknown force, the top choices are “aliens” or “the government”. They’re the top spooks, the go-to guys when one needs to come up with a suspect for something intelligent and secretive. Even schizophrenics choose those two (along with Jesus). Doesn’t make them good choices. They’re just common choices.

    Also, why are people guessing “microwaves” when one could as easily guess that it could be the impression from a giant waffle iron?

  85. Jeff Conservative says:

    It is amazing the number of posts from people who have a one-sided or uneducated opinion about this subject. If a person is well read on this topic there are a limited number of conclusions that can be drawn:
    1. Crop circles are a form of communication;
    2. Crop circles come in two types, hoaxed and unknown origin;
    3. Crop circles of unknown origin have appeared in many cases in almost minutes, thereby being generated by some type of unknown force.
    Government/military, UFO, or paranormal activity for their creation can not be confirmed or denied because of the sensitivity of the subject.
    To dismiss any of the possibilities until proven otherwise is simply flawed thinking.

    • Jesse Weinstein says:

      Although I sort of doubt I’ll get a response…

      Would you provide a citation for your statement that “crop circles … have appeared in many cases in almost minutes”? Where has this been documented, what was the context, what are the names of the people doing the observing, etc.

      Searching on Google brings up: http://www.v-j-enterprises.com/sthcropc.html which claims that, in 1996, a crop circle was reported (by an un-named “RAF pilot”) as having been created in 15 minutes. Is this what you were basing your claim on, or is there something else?

      Jesse Weinstein

  86. BPT says:

    You need this info handed to you, because that’s “not how it works”? That sounds lazy, I have to admit. It’s easy to verify, just open your eyes (if you have any.)

    • Chrs says:

      It’s easy to find information about crop circles. It just might not be stuff that Vallee is referencing, and who knows what sort of inaccuracies those sources would have? I’d hate to judge accuracy based on horribly biased information that no one really in the crop circle field supports.

      Referring to your sources in a field with a vast array of wild and conflicting information is extremely important. Even if I’m not personally inclined to take it seriously.

    • Terry says:

      ‘You need this info handed to you, because that’s “not how it works”?’

      Yes. That’s exactly why. Because when you go around spouting theories without backing them up, we quite rightly jump to the logical conclusion that you have arrived at your beliefs through means other than research and/or rational thought.

      Holding Crowley up as some sort of role model doesn’t help, either.

  87. paulatz says:

    You mention a “French lab” that did some analyses, but you don’t state its name, which sounds very suspicious to me. You know: France exists, people live there (me included), even if they never published anything you can go to the lab and ask.

    Point 1: you replace the word “technology” with the word “skill”, the analysis makes much more sense.

    Point 2 does not make any sense: the fact that you cannot understand something does not mean that it is a SecretBeamRayWeapon (TM).

    Finally, your point 3 refers to a subset of circles that you have hand-picked as “genuine”. Hence, the entire point 3 does not hold because in a large-enough set you can always pick a subset that have some peculiar characteristic.

    To conclude, even if your point 2 and 3 would hold, people that work in secret weapons research centres are actually people. They’re not mad scientist and de-humanized corpses. They can be pranksters too, just smarter.

  88. Anonymous says:

    If the military or a research institute are testing this weapon and making the crop circles, why are they damaging the crops of private farms? The military tests weapons on it’s own property or out to sea or in space.

    Crop circles are made by people, usually as a prank, by the owner, or hired/paid for, as seen in these sites:

    http://www.circlemakers.org/

    http://www.strangeattractor.co.uk/fieldguide/

    The “exploded” stems are simply revealed to be bent stems combined with some growth and twisting as shown here:

    http://www.ufologie.net/htm/croppgexpnodes.htm

  89. Anonymous says:

    I followed the link to BLT research (http://www.bltresearch.com/plantab.php). The elongation and bending of the pulvini (nodes) near the top of the plant is the normal response to being bent over. The phenomenon is known as gravitropism, and it’s not uncommonn for grain stems to tip over, something called lodging.

    Thus if immature wheat or other small grain is tipped over by a hoaxer, the predicted structure of the node is precisely the one seen in the images of parts 2 and 3.

    ~Phytism

  90. jcolvin says:

    This reads like God of the Gaps. “People created the crop circles..except for a few that are unexplained.” Never mind that crop circle “experts” have in the past pronounced circles to be “authentic”, only to have the hoaxers come along the next day and demonstrate exactly how they made then. The new “gap” apparently is “exploded nodes”. Does *every* piece of bent crop have an exploded node, or did they just find a couple? Sounds like seeing the Virgin Mary in a piece of burnt toast to me.

  91. John Callender says:

    @David Pescovitz, that’s what commenters do: They tell you what “your” site should be about. In doing so, they make it, to some degree, “their” site. There’s a big distinction between the investment you’ve made in Boing Boing, and that of the commenters finding fault with your decision to invite Vallee to post his crop-circle conspiracy theory here, but your (presumably sarcastic) reply misses the valid role that commenters on a comment-friendly blog play.

    Speaking for myself, as a longtime reader of Boing Boing, it doesn’t really bother me that you’ve facilitated this kind of posting. Boing Boing gets to be about what you think it should be about. But I do find it a little surprising, given your history as a science journalist, that you would be credulous enough to defend Vallee from the kind of snarky responses he’s been getting here. Your readers include a lot of sharp people, and they spotted some weak elements in Vallee’s argument and called him on it. In doing that, they were doing you, and Vallee, a favor. I realize from your defensive tone that you don’t see it that way, but I think you (and Vallee) should consider the possibility that that has more to do with your own emotional desires not to have been wrong than with anything else.

    Nobody likes being wrong, and with the Internet it’s trivial to dredge up confirming information for the unlikeliest propositions. If you’re willing to focus solely on confirmation, it is possible to live in an amazing, wonderful, magical world. But other people aren’t obligated to live there with you, and if your blog has an open comments policy they’re going to tell you about it.

  92. Anonymous says:

    The one photo in the second link was interesting indeed. However, I’d like to see such photos featured in ‘major’ stories in both the print and electronic media, such as Yahoo.

    I have no idea what your opinion is of Fortean Times magazine, but they routinely feature glorious aerial photos of beautifully made crop circles.

    I don’t think the magazine has a particularly strong agenda where crop circles are concerned, but I would like to see that magazine occasionally print photos of half-finished ‘fancy’ crop circles like the one in the second link. It’s important that the general public sees these to bolster the fact that many, if not most or all, crop circles are created by human beings.

    The general web media–Yahoo, for example–feature short ‘articles’ (if they can be called that), several times a year (if not more often) about new crop circles, but never feature stories about these half-finished or abandoned ones. At least not that I’ve seen.

  93. Bruce D says:

    I am immediately reminded of the ongoing research of the late Gerald Hawkins in regard to developing an “intellectual profile ” of the unknown actor(s)potentially responsible for the geometry used in the coherent patterning found in the “more accurate” cartography of some glyphs. What we are talking about with uncertainty in mind are seasonal, parabolic waves of superimposed patterns on cellular material, not naturally occurring. So, in probability, microwaves are a very likely candidate, however, while this may be so, you also add the post event military surveillance of these sites, which seems rather ham fisted, if this is a subtle misdirection of attention. The purpose of this phenomenon may be you and I, being compelled to discern it’s origin, as prosaic as that may be. On this perhaps we can agree. At the same time this phenomenon is entangled in a consistency of other manifestation within the broad brush of UAVs, in that it “hides in plain sight”. This to me suggests a reorientation of the observer to the observed which is much more subtle than any military application that has this game as a ploy. I am still on the fence.
    I appreciate as always. your insight.

    • loonquawl says:

      The guy you cite saw an awful lot of geometry going on in the circles (that was a time where very peculiar gusts of wind were still suspects to the case) – and yes, that firmly points to humans. what it does not point to is microwaves, or at least, it points to them just as much as to any wave phenomenon in the 10um-10cm spectrum…. . The corn ‘circles’ that are not at all circle-based (like the Arecibo-message-reply-thingy do not even point to the waves.

      • Bruce D says:

        The issue is dispersion as far as other sources in this range as the intensity of long wave radiation in this band is (if I remember correctly) is lessened by a factor of ten when squared. Another issue that is inferred, is having a very stable platform to operate from, and then since this isn’t a black body and is naturally reflective..does this account for the seasonal nature of the phenomenon? Your guess is as good as mine. Any thoughts?

  94. GrumpySteen says:

    I have two simple questions:

    1) Why would anyone repeatedly test a beam weapon on wheat for over 30 years (crop circles have been around for a long time) without getting any discernible change in results other than “the patterns look cooler”?

    2) Why the cool-looking patterns? I’m not aware of any instances where rioters, armies, insurgents, terrorists or anyone else you’d use a area-effect weapon on have organized themselves into fractal formation. I can’t think of any valid reason for developing this capability in a weapon beyond making crop circles.

  95. Anonymous says:

    Funny to see how many people commenting here doesn´t know who Mr Valle is, and even call him a “crop-circler” and “conspiracy theorist”.

    Even makes me laugh when they´re trying to hide their ignorance and stupidity behind behind phrases like “Occams razor” etc, trying to shine a little academic light on their faulty arguments…

    Please, read the article again, before you make more fool of yourselves.
    /JP

  96. Jacques Vallee says:

    Many thanks for the thoughtful consideration of the beam hypothesis,
    and the legitimate questions about more precise references. Several labs
    have published their observations of the state of the fibers found in the
    most reliable (i.e., complex) crop circles. Although I don’t necessarily
    agree with all his conclusions, Dr. Levengood in particular has
    contributed an extensive series of observations that can be found
    here, with photographs of the damage to the stalks. I believe
    several experimenters came to the conclusion that the radiation must
    involve a combination of various techniques: the effect will not be
    properly documented simply by exposing plants to microwaves.

    • Anonymous says:

      I went to the site you recommended. It seemed more like a cherry-picking crop circle fan site than anything.

      The Levengood article you mention was published in “The Journal of Scientific Exploration”.
      That journal’s founder described it as a publication that would “provide a forum where research on paranormal phenomena can be presented to other scientists without obstruction or derision.”
      In other words it’s a journal of last resort with extra low scientific standards so paranormal papers have a place to get published without credible peer review.
      Also, how do the researchers know whether they’re testing a “real” or a “fake” circle?
      Also also here’s a clip from National Geo interviewing some circle makers:
      http://video.nationalgeographic.com/video/player/places/regions-places/europe-western/uk_cropcircles.html

    • loonquawl says:

      Thank you for linking this information(the same site, other page also contains the abysmal papers i linked to in the course of this thread).
      A true gem of circology was revealed to me, at the end of the page: Levengood says all of the weird effects also occur in the one place i would have proposed as a valid control to ‘cirlces’, namely the shapeless smallish-to-largeish areas in many fields that i had heretofore thought to be absolute paragons of being downtrodden by nature herself. But no. That the weird effects are present there too, only goes to show the beams also are used to make shapeless blobs (or are they??) in random fields.
      Beautiful.
      Thank you, that was quite enough.

    • Jesse Weinstein says:

      As one of the people who raised the “legitimate questions about more precise references” that you mentioned, you are welcome. I appreciate you taking the time to respond.

      However, I am saddened that you neglected to answer any of the “legitimate questions” that I and others brought up.

      Specifically, you failed to provide any further information about the “French lab”, the “several groups” or the “Labs in the U.S.”. While I do appreciate your link to the BLT Research site, it does not do anything to clarify the vague citation-like elements in your original post.

      I am particularly puzzled by your lack of additional comment regarding the Stanford presentation, since you stated that you, personally, introduced the speaker.

      Let me be very specific. Here are three questions that should be easily available in your notes and records of the presentation.

      1 What was the title of the presentation?

      2) What is the name of the department at Stanford that sponsored the presentation?

      3) What is the name of the “French lab” whose results were presented?

      I look forward to your prompt responses to these “legitimate questions”.

  97. Ethan says:

    Hmm…. If I were in charge of testing super-secret ray guns, I don’t think I would test them by creating mysterious circles in someone else’s field in the immediate vicinity of my super-secret electronics lab.

    Just saying…

  98. B-Trom says:

    My main frustration with the last crop circles post had less to do with the content and more to do with the fact that BB shut down the commenting without any explanation (that I saw). I’m glad to see that that hasn’t happened here (yet). Debate on, debaters.

  99. dougrogers says:

    Show me a video of pranksters with boards on their feet making something as complex as the pic illustrating this article. They claim to be able to do that in the middle of the night. So make one during the daylight with videos and lawyers to verify it. Is there such evidence anywhere? Show me that falsifiability.

    • dragonfrog says:

      Doug, assume for the moment that there are some groups of crop circle pranksters able to make these more complex crop circles. It would presumably have taken them years of effort, and considerable amounts of their own money to develop their hobby to such a degree of sophistication, all for the purpose of messing with the heads of credulous people.

      Assuming all that, why on earth would they ruin not only their ability to have this kind of fun in future, but also all the subversive artistic strength of their entire decades-spanning oeuvre, by bringing along TV cameras and lawyers on a crop-circle expedition?

      • dougrogers says:

        You know, I don’t say that I buy Vallee’s explanation, or Aliens either. There’s no proof. Neither is there proof of pranksters.

      • Haakon IV says:

        “It would presumably have taken them years of effort, and considerable amounts of their own money to develop their hobby to such a degree of sophistication, all for the purpose of messing with the heads of credulous people.”

        It did.

        Seems like there are also others carrying on the glorious tradition. Believe if you like that *some* of the circles are “real” ones, created by mysterious forces that are alien or paranormal or military conspiracy. Let me know when you have decent evidence for one of these.

        • dragonfrog says:

          “It would presumably have taken them years of effort, and considerable amounts of their own money to develop their hobby to such a degree of sophistication, all for the purpose of messing with the heads of credulous people.”

          It did.

          That is what I also believe. And a wonderful hobby it is.

          Believe if you like that *some* of the circles are “real” ones, created by mysterious forces that are alien or paranormal or military conspiracy.

          I don’t believe that. I was replying to a commenter who seemed to be demanding that crop circle makers provide nice tidy proof of their methods, and countering as to why that expectation is highly unrealistic.

    • Haakon IV says:

      See, the thing about science is that it will *never* explain every instance of every phenomenon that anyone can observe. A successful theory of gravitation that explains apples being accelerated towards the Earth might reasonably be extended to also explain why pears behave similarly when they fall from trees. After that has been experimentally verified, you might cry, “But wait! The theory has never been tested on so large an object as a watermelon, or as complex an object as a watch! Might those objects be pulled to earth by a force produced by secret underground machines, which have never been seen, operated by a shadowy cabal according to completely different, unexplained principles?” Could be. But go out and test your hypothesis, and show me the data, before you expect me to take it seriously. Discussing the idea that watermelons fall to earth by a different mechanism than apples isn’t so much a “taboo” as a waste of time.

      The fact is that we know some of the crop circles are man-made. We don’t “know” that they all are. But neither have we ever seen a shred of evidence that anything other than humans dragging things around in a field around has ever created one.

    • loonquawl says:

      You might want to watch: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=puDF0hJpzWo
      There are also videos of the same at nighttime.
      Most circlemakers do not publicise their authorship, so your demanding of a video of something on the order of the titular circle is a bit hard seeing as that is the biggest circle ever to grace the english hills.
      but you might want to get in on the action yourself- Buy the circlemakers’ book, (extract: http://www.strangeattractor.co.uk/fieldguide/184.pdf) or read the introductory course (http://www.circlemakers.org/guide.html)

  100. MnDoc says:

    I can’t imagine, given that I am #125, that anyones left listening. I just want to offer some observations.

    First: thanks to Dr Vallee for presenting interesting information. I confess to having little interest in crop circles, in the sense that I haven’t made a regular effort to stay up on the topic. Given that, I know that there has been some effort to investigate the condition of the plants, comparing plants both within and without the circle. Node changes have clearly been observed in plants on the inside of the circle and there is a strong suggestion of heat energy as a cause of this (microwaves have been mentioned as a possible source). Connecting this information (known for years now) to advanced weaponry, which makes use of microwaves, seems a reasonable idea. Further, the information appears offered for it’s heuristic merit and not as some kind of absolute conclusion.

    Second observation is more about the response to Dr Vallee’s comments. That a blog post about an obscure anomalous phenomenon can generate over a hundred comments is itself intriguing. The signal to noise ratio is somewhat unfavorable making it difficult to extract data that is useful (assuming one only wants to argue and/or comment on the relative merits of the ideas proposed by the original posting.). No judgement should be implied, just an observation. This S/N ratio is why I avoid blogs for anything more than finding out what my kids are doing.

    An interesting personal synchronicity: I was in the process of deleting nearly all of the bookmarks listed in a folder under “Fortean” when I came upon this link. One would think that, with all the Web has to offer it would be a great place to research any area of interest. But in truth, if I want to buy something, find a motel or understand quantum mechanics, I will be offered reasonably cogent and precise information. If I am interested in anomalous ‘stuff’ I will be offered reams of opinion, nearly always unsubstantiated by little more than belief, and very few data points. Which is why I was deleting all that stuff from the folder………..

  101. Joe says:

    Given that pranksters in the UK have confessed to making the original crop circles and demonstrated their techniques, I don’t see any reason to resort to supernatural explanations for the phenomenon.

    One possible reason for the designs becoming increasingly complex is that the makers are trying to one-up each other.

    To admit that pranksters made some of the best-known circles but then trying to say that others require unknown physics to explain would seem to run into trouble with Occam’s Razor.

    Which reminds me of a great xkcd cartoon: http://xkcd.com/690/

    • David Pescovitz says:

      Joe, I haven’t seen demonstrations of how the most intricate and complex crop circles were created overnight by individuals using, say, boards and string, without anyone noticing. If that’s how they were made, the process would make a great time-lapse video.

      And to be fair, Jacques specifically said that he doesn’t claim to have all the answers. And he’s absolutely *not* suggesting that any crop circles have supernatural origins. In fact, he’s arguing against that entirely!

      • Chrs says:

        “We stole fields with the cunning use of strings.”

        Seriously though, once you can get the area done, the complexity is negligible. I’m not kidding. The things you can do very simply just from measuring diameter are remarkable, and not intuitively clear. Complexity of the shape is not a good argument at all.

        In the crop circle image posted, for example: The final small connecting circles between the “arms” are unequal sizes. They connect things neatly, sure! That part’s easy to do. Getting the orientation of the neatly-sized circles just so, such that the ends line up evenly, is not. It’s also this warping that off-vertical shots of the crop circles conceal most effectively until you’re looking for it.

        Try going through a large set of photos of crop circles and counting geometrical inconsistencies in the pattern. It’s a fun brain-teaser, and you get better at it very quickly.

    • zyodei says:

      It’s become something of a pet peeve of mine when people cite “Occam’s Razor” as if it were some sort of immutable law of the universe.

      It’s not. It’s nothing more than a guideline.

      Just because some are made by pranksters, does not imply that they all must be.

      Giving the benefit of the doubt, perhaps you just haven’t seen some of the more recent circles?

      This video has some fine ones, if you skip over the text:

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c8oe2eksBj0&feature=related

      • endstar says:

        Occam’s razor is perhaps the most useful guildeline that one can use as a scientist, or even as an idle skeptic. I am not sure how Occam originally stated it. However, as it is commonly used now, it implies a couple key things.

        First, it demands that an exciting, new idea be compared to a dull, well-trod one (a null hypothesis). The new idea should only be accepted if it provides explanations or predictions that could not be admitted by the boring idea without a high degree of confidence. Confidence is best established statistically, although it can be established through consensus.

        Second, it demands that one should search for causes that are consistent with accepted principles. For instance, Newton calculated the orbits of the planets from his theory for gravity, but could not prove the planets would be stable. For years, natural philosophers speculated that God would need to intervene to make sure the system would not become unstable. Why don’t many scientists believe this now? Because subsequent mathematical physicists held on firmly to the idea that gravity was the only force of interest, and were able to show that, despite the interactions between the planets, our Solar System should remain stable almost indefinitely (http://www.scholarpedia.org/article/Stability_of_the_solar_system).

        Occam’s razor helps one find how things are connected. It demands extraordinary evidence for new ideas. However, at the same time, following it provides a framework for adopting important, revolutionary ideas (such as quantum mechanics).

        If, by invoking Occam’s razor, I force someone researching crop circles to either abandon or improve their arguments, progress has been made, and everybody wins.

        • Mistico says:

          Well, if you don’t know the full wording…

          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Occam%27s_razor

          Ah, wikipedia…

          “Occam’s razor is used to adjudicate between theories that have already passed ‘theoretical scrutiny’ tests, and which are equally well-supported by the evidence.[34] Furthermore, it may be used to prioritize empirical testing between two equally plausible but unequally testable hypotheses; thereby minimizing costs and wastes while increasing chances of falsification of the simpler-to-test hypothesis.”

          Here, not so much.

          I like Kant’s “anti-razor” – “The variety of beings should not rashly be diminished.”

    • sniggs says:

      Jeesh, did you even read the article?

  102. Bugs says:

    Jacques – I have pretty good access to scientific journal archives and, from previous conversations, I know that plenty of other readers/commenters have good access through their institutions too.

    I’d love to see any of the research articles that you’ve mentioned. Who were the French group, what conference did they present at and are the conference proceedings (pr, better yet, the group’s paper(s)) published anywhere?

    In the meantime, I agree with jcolvin and others that this all seems a bit “god of the gaps”. Most telling is your separation between “faked” and “genuine” circles: the only criteria you have for sorting the circles into those categories is that, if their mechanism hasn’t been solved (yet) then they must be “geniune”. This is directly equivalent to people not being able to explain a something they’ve seen and taking it as a “genuine” miracle, psychic reading, precognition, etc. Being unable to explain a counjoring trick is in no way evidence that it was performed by real magic. It’s just a sign that the performer is using techniques with which you’re not familiar.

    I don’t know about you, but I know plenty of very smart, technically able and ingenious people who’ll go to extraordinary lengths for a good prank. In the hypothesis that circles are made by human pranksters, there has been a small community of technically minded geeks developing and refining their techniques in their hobby time for well over a decade. That a handful of students couldn’t perfectly replicate the effect in a single weekend doesn’t really tell us anything, but is a nice demonstration of how obsessively a bunch of intelligent people will work on a fun problem. See how close they got after two days, and imagine what they’d achieve if left to tinker with it for several years.

  103. hep cat says:

    “But in the unexplained, complex patterns the nodes themselves were exploded, often keeping the fibers intact. ”

    That’s the first I’ve heard of that. Got a credible reference?

    • David Pescovitz says:

      I found this intriguing too. I located several references, including this one, but I don’t know if this is the same work Jacques was referring to or not. Or if you would consider it credible. What’s more interesting to me though are the meta-issues raised by crop circles. Many people seem to be convinced that:

      1. They’re *all* hoaxes, because the people behind *some* of the simplest ones have come forward and shown how they made them.
      2. Extraterrestrials made them
      3. Mother Earth is sending us a message heralding the dawn of the New Age

      Personally, I find it much more fun to consider for a moment that there are other intriguing and strange explanations, or combinations of explanations, most of which don’t require any “belief” in the supernatural, UFOs, New Age woowoo, etc.

      • endstar says:

        I find a different bit of sociology interesting in the crop circle “debate”: how people construct arguments resembling genuinely scientific ones that aren’t actually scientific. Take the reference David found:

        http://www.bltresearch.com/plantab.php

        That page has two things that I, as someone who has reviewed scientific papers for journals, would have cited as cause for rejecting the paper.

        First, the “control group” (sounds scientific, right?) are stalks that had not been bent, and the comparison group are stalks that have been bent. That is not an interesting comparison — the comparison group is obviously different. Their control group should be plants adjacent to crop patterns that they attempted to bend by hand, or with a board and string. That way, they could test whether some other mechanism, other than the obvious prankster null hypothesis, is true.

        Second, addressing Mr. Vallee’s ray gun idea, we understand light rays very, very well. Why not just take a device to generate radio waves, microwaves, or infrared, and try to bend wheat stalks in a lab with them? A low power device held close to the stalk will have the same effect as a high-power one on a top-secret, low-observable craft. There is no need to idly speculate. Experiment!

        The debate about alternate hypotheses for crop circles may look scientific, but it is not. We know, for a fact, that humans are capable of making arbitrarily complex designs in crops, from the ground, by trampling it. The mystery to me is, Why do humans have such a strong desire to find exceptions among the crop designs, and to invent elaborate hypotheses to support them?

  104. Anonymous says:

    The problem with questions like “Why?” is that it is not scientific. When we ask “Why” we are always limited by our own belief systems. My belief systems are the following:

    1) There are other life forms in the universe that are much more evolved than us.
    2) The military does a lot of things that we are never told about and which most people would consider to be horrible if they knew about it.
    3) There are people who will do anything as a joke (pranksters).

    As everybody else I see plenty of evidence for each of these belief systems, however that is not really important because our belief systems make us see what we already believe – not the other way around.

    So my hypothesis would be:

    1) Some of them are made by pranksters
    2) Some of them are made by the military/Government
    3) Some of them may be made by aliens

  105. mdh says:

    What does that say for the ability of new web-based media to support intelligent debate on controversial scientific issues, censored or strongly discouraged in the scientific environment?

    That it’s slightly less insulting than Usenet, back in the day?

  106. Jeremy Vaeni says:

    Dr. Vallee, Jeff Ritzmann and I would love to discuss this with you (or perhaps as a round table chat with you and Colin Andrews) on Paratopia.net. What say you?

  107. arkizzle / Moderator says:

    Oops! I didn’t see your qualifier “..the most intricate and complex..“. The link I gave is for the plain round ones..

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