Jacques Vallee: Of Crop Circles, meme wars and web-based flypaper

Based on the three earlier posts I have made on this subject, an objective reader might be justified to conclude either that crop circles are the product of hoaxes or the result of experimental military developments. In both cases he or she would also have to admit that they represent a masterful project in social engineering.

If they are hoaxes, the authors have succeeded in capturing the attention of the world in a way that few works of art even achieve. Their productions are surrounded with mystery and the breathless suggestion of Alien contact or ancient druidic magic. The designs even hint at a cosmic signal about the future of our species.

If they are military experiments hidden in plain sight, then the social manipulation of information that serves as camouflage is a remarkable achievement. It shows that the most open form of public communication in the world, namely the web, can be used as a device to hide the reality of a massive technological effort and to distort the debate about the tools it uses and the goals it pursues. Those of us interested in the evolution and future of the Internet should take notice.

Most of the discussion about the circles in books, magazines and websites has been devoted to the physical methods that may be used to generate them: from wooden boards, rakes and brooms to beams from hovering platforms (my personal choice) or even orbiting satellites. Sadly, the social engineering aspect, which represents an equally great achievement, has rarely been mentioned. For me that aspect is the most fascinating part of the crop circle phenomenon, and I submit that the dialogue we have seen on Boing Boing illustrates it well. What we have here is a remarkable example of misdirection around a stunning experiment that remains in full view of a wide public that consistently fails to ask the right questions and keeps re-asserting bogus answers.

Pentagrammmm2 The unveiling of the "Doug and Dave" hoax itself was a notable example of media promotion. The two British retirees enjoyed front-page articles in the international press and special placement on prime time on world TV programs, a treatment usually reserved for major world events or announcements supported by heavy, professionally-managed advertising budgets. Their "revelation" had an immediate, irreversible effect of locking the concept of crop circles as a hoax in the mind of a very large public, most notably the academic and 'intellectual' community.

As we saw in the responses to my previous posts it is extraordinarily difficult to dislodge such a certainty and re-open the minds of people to alternate views once they have satisfactorily locked onto such an easy, convenient explanation. The presentation of new facts (such as the node explosion that lies beyond the technical capability of our friends Doug and Dave, or the recent announcement that the military had, in fact, deployed beam weapons fired from above) makes no difference in the debate because people just ignore it As we saw, most of the responses to my earlier posts simply re-asserted an existing position (sometimes with considerable aggression) rather than debating the relevance of new data.

This goes well beyond crop circles. For those of us who have followed the development of networks for many years the lessons are sobering. The web is becoming the medium of choice for disinformation and misinformation, including official efforts to inject new "memes" into the culture. Although I remain an optimist about the web as a medium for free exchanges of data and faster communication of high value, it is also a potential tool for propaganda, false rumors intentionally planted and for a range of techniques designed to alter or filter social reality.

Pentagrammmmmm3 This intentional distortion has certainly become a fact of life among ufologists. It seems that every month or so some website claims to have received data from a hidden source, often a "highly-placed" defense or intelligence person, about UFO crashes, live Aliens, secret missions to Mars or contact with hush-hush cosmic locations such as Ummo, Serpo and other wonderful places. The curious thing is that, in cases when it has been possible to reverse-engineer these links, they were often found to originate within the intelligence community or people close to it. The purpose may be to divert attention from real projects, to confuse an adversary or even to release new ideas to test society's reactions. In such situations the community of UFO believers is used only as a convenient resonating chamber: Since the content can never be checked or the origin verified, there is absolutely nothing a researcher can do with the alleged information: photos of bizarre drones that could be digital fakes (or simply the spines of an umbrella thrown up into the air), blurry glows flying over Mexico, official-looking minutes of U.N. meetings that never happened, actual Presidential papers where a few words have been substituted to suggest official contact with Aliens, or pictures of monsters in the woods. These websites attract plenty of attention and a lot of users who in turn amplify the signal with their own fantasies. The process is reminiscent of flypaper: you deploy a device that will make would-be researchers stick to your concept and spend a lot of time discussing and amplifying it instead of going after real data.

The main result is to disturb, drown or negate genuine research into paranormal phenomena, but the intent may well go beyond this effect. Web social patterns have become a strategic global tool. Like the crop circles themselves, they can now be used to alter the public's perception of the present and the future. Mastering such a tool is well worth a few bent stalks of corn.

Art from "Pentagram Papers: Crop Circles" (1993)


  1. Dr. Vallee, I doubt that your thoughtful writings on this subject will generate anything even vaguely more constructive than your last couple of posts on this site. As you’ve pointed out, folks have been well conditioned to have relatively polar responses to this topic, something we’re seeing more and more of in just about any area of online discussion – polarized extremes. Look at the political situation in the US – people are driven to feel that they must choose between “This” or “That” party, one view or the other, but the idea that there are gray areas that defy easy categorization, makes most people somewhat uncomfortable, IMO.

    I sometimes wonder if this is all because most find themselves so overwhelmed by the everyday content of life, that they must simplify all that which does not have a direct impact upon their immediate existence and material needs. If they want spiritual nourishment, they’re directed to the branded, sanctioned forms of dogmatic belief systems, and pray to their faceless maker. It’s easy, all the work is done, the rituals are long-established and none of this requires any actual intellectual effort, it’s a rote process and sanctioned by some majority of the culture.

    To explore the fringes of our understanding, and to try and unravel the legitimate mysteries that surround us, well, that’s hard work, and most people don’t see any direct or immediate “win” from such activities, especially if they’re not directly coupled to financial gain. Our world seems to have largely devolved into a place where instant gratification is the goal, maximum yield with minimal work is the ideal, and to pose honest questions about esoteric, or unusual phenomenal, well, you can only get away with it if you wrap it up in the foam peanut mess of entertainment.

    Just know that some of us understand what you’re trying to convey, even if we don’t often speak up. Attempting to engage in rational, productive conversations about the unknown has never been easy, even in the era of advanced communications we’re currently living in – technology hasn’t made anyone more insightful, as far as I can tell. Thank you for all your insights and hard work over the years, Jacques. It’s made a real difference to many of us trying to ask the tough questions.

  2. Considering that few of the people reading this, or any other article about crop circles, has actually seen one of these in person, it would appears that most of our sources are suspect.

    While this situation is similar for most things we know as “true” in this world — we can’t expect to have first-hand knowledge about information gleaned from space travel or certain kinds of science — for some subjects this is actually quite a problem.

    As pointed out here, the deliberate misinformation and biased reporting means that we just can’t trust any source for something as contentious as the real nature of crop circles.

    As far as I’m concerned, every piece of “evidence” presented is immediately suspect, and can rarely be verified independently.

    Most people in situations like this do the only sane thing: dismiss most information as suspect and retain the simplest reason for the phenomena.

    This is actually quite a reasonable situation, and is not immediately a symptom of close-mindedness. It is a sane reaction to a series of irrational and confusing notions presented as fact. Some dudes showed they could make a reasonable facsimile of crop circles which explain most of what we see on TV. Reports about energy weapon testing and other explanations are nearly impossible to verify and are presented in a particularly disingenuous manner.

    When confronted with a situation like this, I submit that it is perfected reasonably to dismiss most of the noise around the concept. It isn’t very interested or useful to most people, and it is very hard to actually find anything substantial to say about it. Changing a position in this case would be similar to having yet another uniformed opinion, which is of no help at all.

  3. Links to your former articles on BB (and others that would be relevant) at the end of this one would be nice, for those who may want to find out more: you never know.

    You are doing an excellent job here Mr. Vallée, which worth would remain even if the crop circles were the doings of outer space aliens.

    It is interesting to point out that whomever is behind this feat of social engineering is most likely following your work with the utmost interest.

    1. Thanks for the thoughtful comments! Several of Jacques’s previous posts are linked to under this post (“Previously”).

  4. I’m more interested in discussing American, Israeli, and Iranian manipulation of the Iranian opposition movement through mediums like Facebook and Twitter.

    The skeptical audience here on BoingBoing probably won’t have a fruitful discussion of the misinformation campaign surrounding crop circles. This is because we are ardently doubtful about the initial proposition.

    To summarize that position: the shadowy military industrial complex has been testing a crop-damaging (but not destroying) beam weapon for decades by etching whimsical designs in farmers’ fields.

    We would all have to be on board with this concept in order to then believe and discuss the misinformation aspect.

    I suppose you’ll probably dismiss as a beam weapon apparatchik, now.

  5. Do we really need government conspiracy theories to explain crop circles? I thought everybody but the UFO nuts understood that circles are a form of ironic art, but like graffiti, an art form of questionable legality, so the artists do it in secret.

  6. I’ve often wondered what people who use the word mean by “paranormal”. Do you mean “can’t be explained by physics”, “hasn’t yet been explained by physics”, or something else? Is a gecko’s ability to stick to a celling paranormal? Was it paranormal before the molecular explanation was found?

    1. That’s a good question, actually! Maybe “the unexplained” is a better word! Although that sounds like a bad 80s show about, er, the paranormal. ; )

  7. Crop circles were a phenomenon way before the interaction-driven media (internet) emerged. They, and their explainers, thrived in a multitude of articles, books and pamphlets.
    Communication is always riddled with the problem of signal to noise ratio, and since the dawn of communication, misdirection and lies were injected for various purposes.
    What makes the internet special, is that we all now have a much better view of the confused contents of other people’s minds – in the olden days, we would have read a newspaper article hailing the aliens for flattening a field, one blasting the military for the same, and another presenting the hobbyist perpetrators. Then we all would have made up our minds. Later we would have read von Däniken, and would have either laughed or marvelled, or cried. But now we all can pariticpate in the ‘quest for truth’, which remains equally fruitless as it once did, as for everyone who goes into a random field and finds natural ‘exploded nodes’, there will be one who doesn’t find them, and both will inject their citizen-scientist noise into the signal of thought that is purported to exist on the internet.

    I once witnessed a discussion on a physics forum, on the following subject: Will a plane be able to lift off, if the runway moved underneath it? To me, the question was inane. To others, it was only lacking in rigor, others jumped onto the opportunity of talking about the air-movement induced by a moving runway, without realizing the questioner was not after such eclectic effects but was simply totally confused about what made an airplane fly. The thread was rife with inaccuracies, BS, and misunderstandings, and it made me realize how widespread both physical illiteracy and membership in a physics board are. The former (not knowing something) has been widespread throughout human history – the latter (masses, not just individuals, talking about it) is a relatively new phenomenon, as far as i can see.

    To take a recent, and nearer, example, Cory lately reported on IR photos. The short intro was factually wrong, some comments cleared that up, some muddied the issue, and some spread further BS. Just a normal day on the webs, one might think, and i would concur. My Biology textbook had factual errors in it, and only the next edition would fix it – is that better or worse than Wikipedia producing and fixing a thousand errors a day? It’s different.

    About the article: Mr. Vallee – would you be so kind as to provide some additional information, most preferrably links, to the UFO,Ummo(?),etc misdirection “often found to originate within the intelligence community”? – I could conceive of the viability of such schemes, but as i do not belive in the existence of secret Mars missions, secret dealings with Aliens, or schamans, i would be curious to find what intelligence agency tries to noise-mask what signal.

    The Glomar Explorer, after all, was quite simply and effectively kept secret (for a time), as were Iran Contra, MK Ultra, Gladio, and the Russian Moon Program. Crop circles would be the first state secret that fomented observable facts (crop circles) and was hushed by making more observable facts (crop circles) plus misinformation, or can somebody point to another (preferrably already uncovered)?

    1. Dr. Vallee has already well-documented evidence of the intelligence community misdirecting UFO research. Instead of asking for it to be handed to you on a silver platter, do a little research yourself. Here’s a clue: Messengers of Deception.

    2. Regarding the US government, tales of UFOs, and disinformation, Mark Pilkington’s brand new book Mirage Men is probably the definitive source on the subject. Mark interviewed Jacques for this book. According to the book description, “As he crossed the US meeting intelligence agents, disinformation specialists and UFO hunters Pilkington was confronted with a dizzying array of ever more outrageous claims and counter claims. As a result he began to suspect that, instead of covering up stories of crashed flying saucers, alien contacts and secret underground bases, the US intelligence agencies had actually been promoting them all along.

      1. I don’t think Pilkington’s book can be described as the definitive source if it won’t even be available until September. No one has read it, no one has tested the story it puts forth. No one is using it as a “source” for anything at the moment.

      2. You’ll probably know that Mark Pilkington commented on this series of BB posts here, and said:

        “But, as a former crop-circle maker, I don’t think it’s necessary to resort to advanced technologies to account for any crop formation.”

    3. In the past, I’ve mainly been interested in crop circles as art; I like some of the designs.

      Dr. Vallee’s posts on the subject have drawn my attention to the interesting social phenomena surrounding fringe interest communities that have become well known to the public – thank you, sir!

      Before the Internet, if I was looking at crop circles and someone looked over my shoulder, nearly everyone had his or her own opinion (or lack thereof) on the subject. Now, people are split into factions to which they declare their allegiance. There seem to be fewer independent explanations, perhaps because a larger discussion quickly winnows out illogical and internally inconsistent theories.

      The down side is that in a thread like this one, some people will be so ineluctably drawn to the explicit declaration of their faction’s stance that they will disregard the actual subject matter (which isn’t anything to do with how crop circles are formed, or even who is doing it). In some (most?) forums, this will effectively derail the entire conversation.

      I’m starting to believe that communication forms (such as the Internet) can channel comprehension and not just discussion. NLP of crowds, as it were.

  8. –>As we saw in the responses to my previous posts it is extraordinarily difficult to dislodge such a certainty and re-open the minds of people to alternate views once they have satisfactorily locked onto such an easy, convenient explanation.<-- This is true of the theory of evolution as well. Is an explanation wrong just because it fits the data?

  9. The thing that always interested me about crop circles is the question of WHY they lead intelligent people to develop elaborate alien/time traveller/government conspiracy theories to explain them when perfectly rational explanations (complete with documentation!) already exist. I just don’t get Dr. Valee’s fixation on the government beam weapon explanation since

    1. There is currently no evidence that a beam device capable of creating crop circles exists, much less that one has been used for this purpose, and
    2. I have yet to hear any MOTIVE for the military to use such a device in this way.

    Keeping an open mind is great, but don’t open it so wide that your brain falls out.

  10. “The presentation of new facts (such as the node explosion that lies beyond the technical capability of our friends Doug and Dave…”

    As I pointed out on your previous posts, node explosions do in fact occur as the result of board flattening. In addition, if some form of beam weapon were being used, there would be significant evidence of heating/burning, particularly at the top of the plants (beams work on line-of-sight), which there isn’t.

    In the last century, secretly developed government weapons have been developed and tested in secret. Why would you think that, just this one time, a government would decide to test their new high tech weapon by making strange designs in privately owned crops? They didn’t fly SR-71s over cities to create mystery and speculation, they kept it in unpopulated areas. The truth of the matter is that the “sceptics” and “intellectuals” (your quotes) aren’t the ones predisposed to a simple explanation, it is in fact you who are grasping at straws because you want to believe in a radical and somewhat ridiculous explanation. Sorry Mulder, it isn’t aliens or an international multi-government anti-corn conspiracy this time, as much as you want to believe it is.

  11. The story so far:
    A: “Here’s a new take on an old idea.”
    B: “I’m skeptical.”
    A: “Let me tell you about it….”
    B: “I’ve fact checked your idea and found no evidence to support it.”
    A: “No, your sources are wrong.”
    B: “I rechecked my sources and I’m pretty confident you’re full of it unless you can add something new.”
    A: “No, you shut up!”
    B: “Well this was great. We now each think the other is an asshole. What a waste of time. Lets never be in the same room again.”

  12. To the skeptical readers on this thread I would only direct you to google info on the Milk Hill circle of 2001. Prepare to have your mind blown.

  13. A conspiracy theory can never be proven false.

    When a weakness in a conspiracy theory is exposed, the size of the conspiracy must be enlarged to encompass the weakness.

    So, if the evidence that secret government weapons tests cause crop circles SEEMS weak, it’s not because the evidence actually IS weak. It’s because the well has been poisoned by a secret government disinformation campaign designed to spread memes that will make objective analysis of that evidence impossible by the sheep on the internet. Any weakness in the theory is not evidence against the conspiracy. It’s evidence for an EVEN BIGGER conspiracy. The less proof there is, the more ominous the situation becomes.

    And, of course, it’s all very interesting, and suggestive, and meta. And it says so much about the narrow-mindedness and gullibility of people who aren’t me … .

    1. People have been labeling CCs as woo for thirty years. In all that time, dismissing the problem hasn’t made it go away.

      Disclosure: I am on the payroll of the NSA. My fulltime job is to seek out posts by folks who have a lick of sense and distract them with crazy woo theories to throw them off the real conspiracy: aglets.

  14. Oil be! Even Hitler couldn’t hold a flame to MKULTRA. It’s unlucky to live in a time when criminals never conspire.
    How about Plasma-Holgram projectors as possibly being a good candidate?
    Would laser = exploded node?

  15. I think the “aggression” that you decry in your post might have something to do with your maddening inability to link us to your evidence.

    You say, “The curious thing is that, in cases when it has been possible to reverse-engineer these links, they were often found to originate within the intelligence community or people close to it.” Seriously? I would love to see evidence of that. Of course, I could look through the google search results, but I think the guidance of an expert might be useful in a field that, at best, includes many crazy people, and at worst, is being specifically manipulated by the government.

    Of course, what if it is true? Why would the government go to all the trouble of covering this up, while we are treated daily to footage of oil spewing forth from the seabed, the awful indignities of wars, and all the other humdrum evidence of terrible human suffering? Frankly, I’d be much comforted by the evidence of a good well-executed conspiracy; at least then I’d feel like the people in charge were at least intelligent people lining their pockets, rather than idiots.

  16. Oh FFS, here we go again.

    I’m totally with The Hamster King. Vallee’s theory got holes poked through it to the point that it’s threadbare, so Vallee creates a new and wider conspiracy theory. Now with even less evidence! W00t!!1!

  17. I’ve been hearing of a more profound sort of contact starting to develop in certain places near Guanajuato.
    Keep it up Jaques!

  18. The web is becoming the medium of choice for disinformation and misinformation, including official efforts to inject new “memes” into the culture.

    In the US, this phenomena started with the takeover of AM radio by “right wing talk shows”, did it not? As I understand it, the greater fidelity of FM caused the entertainment and music programs to gravitate into the FM band or perish, leaving AM broadcast equipment cheaply available to Reaganista propagandists. Rush Limbaugh, disgusting waste of skin that he may be, is a master of “injecting new memes into the culture”.

    This had interesting social repercussions because FM is unavailable to specific demographics: people with ancient vehicles, people living in extremely mountainous terrain, etc. It used to be true that you’d be more likely to hear “death tax” memes from poor countryfolk than from people who actually might have to pay and inheritance tax.

    The Internet, by contrast, has numerous self-aggregating, emergent communities and is more available to the “haves” than the “have-nots”. It will be interesting to see if our backwoods cousins’ views change now that they can get Internet as well as AM radio.

  19. Jacques,
    I agree with all of your points, however they all describe the sociology ( as well as your own place in it) rather than the phenomenon itself. Your critique of the paranormal is interesting inasmuch as a great deal of your earlier work folded into metaphysics, yes? This is the axis of a familiar territory. Misrepresentation is based on a lack of empirical evidence that allows an editorial slant to move the topic to and fro. The proliferation of theories and circumstantial evidence that could be applied to hoaxing, military or other sources remains as long as uncertainty does. While you have lauded the internet in the past while largely remaining aloof from the abstractions you abhor that arise from it. Has Bigelow’s craft ascertained any evidence that you are privy to that confirms your hypothesis? Otherwise the circumstantial wheel remains a circular set of postulates Your own included. Best Wishes.

  20. If Jacques linked to his sources he would no longer be able to deny that his conspiracies are powered by pure woo.

    I do love the fact that he specifies that he believes in “hovering platforms.” Because obviously if the military wants to test out its neat crop circle printer it wouldn’t use anything as mundane as a helicopter.

    FOIA Disclosure: I am a CIA agent assigned to the Crop Circle Floating Platform Obfuscation Task Force.

  21. It seems that any sufficiently advanced troll is indistinguishable from “social engineering.”

  22. People are not, as a whole, the sharpest tools in the shed. Most do prefer the easiest avenue in any approach and enjoy the opportunity to aggressively assert themselves.

    We do after all, have that Mommy & Daddy gene in us that desires to correct and spank, such you see in little girls with dolls.

    With crop circles, the easiest approach is to dismiss and then to ridicule those who disagree. (Bad little baby! Mommy and Daddy spank you now!)

  23. could we just look at this as an art? It is stunning in its intricate detail, it has become ever more complicated, it seems to be now forming messages, it is world wide, it is seasonal and perspective-wise, it is formed with aerial discipline. Plus, it has made the human population think and speculate. Art is a form of revelation is it not?

  24. I agree very much with this article. Belief in nonmainstreem topics can be manipulated just like a belief in anything else like religion, world view, ect. There is no sacred topic that cannot be touched so it is important to keep an open mind but at the same time, stay down to earth.

  25. I think these aliens or creatures are in a panicking mode now and they are scrambling to try and set up their scrolls to correct their wrongs.
    Just like their advancements are no use some how and they are I guess trying o deflect their issues on what is taking place on this planet.Like they ask themselves this “WHERE DID WE GO WRONG HERE?”
    I think they[aliens]are going to do with you as you have done to the Native Americans here on this earth.Now they show up and fancy around with their artistic skills to manipulate their excuses.

  26. I think Mr. Valle is on track, without a doubt. But this view is not the end all and be all, there are opportunities for an individual to make independent assesments about the structure and nature of a wider “reality” unmanipulated by control systems. The concept of having one’s personal experience rectified as a “wider reality” when their personal experience is multiplied several hundred times by others, such as an object hovering over a city, cannot be denied. “Media” may color an event. But it cannot be denied that an event occured. In this light, it behooves the individual to observe and record, and build a wider view of things by dovetailing personal experience with others, without “authority” of ANY kind to intervene between the Individual and the Experience. Now that the world is burned, by misapplied technology, everyone can see for themselves the “benefits” of associating with and trusting in “authority”. Some trust may be appropriate, but it must be dovetailed with Personal Experience, shared by Others. This lesson is what Humanity is learning now, perhaps we are finally waking up from the Herd mentality, finally taking the Next Step in Evolution.

  27. One thing that stuck out that happened fairly recently were these guys in white jump suits a police officer witnesses in a newly formed circle. Linda Moulton Howe reported on this if you want to reference. When they realized they were being observed they walked away at “fantastic speed” I think he said. Doesn’t exactly sound like people from Earth does it? I’ve read witnesses mention in UFO cases of aliens moving at unbelievable speeds, on foot. Maybe they were here to see what our military is doing!

  28. It is always a treat to read Dr. Vallee’s thoughts. To expand a bit of his thread: Every event belongs to a system. Events can be understood if they are correctly placed in their proper matrix. Since the system in which the crop circle phenomena is manifested includes the human communication model, and in light of the increased granularity that the internet has added to that already complex model, an examination of communications as part of an overall system seems prudent. The model of Sender, Message, Medium, and Feedback is difficult to crack when the Sender is unknown. Here is where people disagree: To some the Sender is God/ET. For others the Sender is a merry prankster, an intelligence agency, a journalist, a traveling troop of magicians..or all the above. The ancient world was ruled by certainties, but the modern world is governed by probability. It seems most probable that there are multiple agencies of causation for this phenomena, and what we’re seeking is evidence of correlation. The discovery process should not be oversimplified. We cannot know everything, but we can certainly, with effort, discover something.

  29. Bonjour,

    With all due respect, I cannot agree with the social engineering thesis that you have proposed (for quite a while now), because the facts are actually pointing in a different direction.
    UFOs, ufology, and crop circles are now facing their “worst enemy”, not the debunkers, not the “secret government”, but indifference. The “exposé” on British crop circle hoaxers had just that effect of removing the attetion from the phenomenon, because “all of this is just a big hoax”. If no one pays attention, then how could a social experiment be conducted? There are so many other things to pay attention to. Of course, there are still a few people who still pay attention. Could such experiments be only focussing on a very small segment of the already declining UFO buff population? This does not make sense to me. The internal social dynamics of ufological circle does not need external help to produce what it produces. The founder of sociology Émile Durkheim wrote about anomie and its perverse effects in the early 1900s, and his analysis still stands today.
    Similarly, the ufology on the web situation is a simple matter of economics. The entry costs to distribute information became almost nil thanks to the Internet, hence the explosion of information channels. Yet, the costs to produce information, and even more important to produce knowledge, did not go down. The obvious net result is a steep degradation of the average quality in the web-based ufology. The same type of comments about knowledge in general could be observed in the 19th century when smaller presses were invented, multipling the publishing venues across Europe and North America. It was used by some for propaganda purposes, but not all were government agents (there was anarchists, socialists revolutionaries, religious extremists, etc.). The web has created a context where almost anyone can contribute to “disinformation” and not only state’s agents. This situation combined with the very low quality of information circulating on the net (something widely acknowledged, even in UFO buff circles), actively participate in creating this growing climate of indifference. If governments are engaging in social engineering experiments with crop circles and UFOs, then it is failing miserably.

    J’espère que vous continuerez à participer à ce blog. Vos propos sont toujours stimulants.

    Bien à vous,

  30. Thank you, Anon #10, for your helpful hint. I asked Mr.Vallee for links on the subject, while i could have just as well looked up a 31 year old book – that is just 3 years prior to the implementation of TCP/IP, and thus well within the reach of the HighTechno-cabal he envisioned therein.

  31. Both Vallee and the commenters who support his view that crop circles are somehow mysterious have the same weird inability to supply exact references. Yes, Vallee did supply one or two links, but his posts are full of things like:

    “In Sept. 1991, I published in a New Age magazine my own hypothesis about the Crop Circles phenomenon” (which one?)

    “Labs in the U.S. (Department of Agriculture, M.I.T. etc.) repeated the tests with the same results.” (citation needed)

    “in cases when it has been possible to reverse-engineer these links, they were often found to originate within the intelligence community or people close to it” (interesting if true!)

    and his commenters say things like

    “To the skeptical readers on this thread I would only direct you to google info on the Milk Hill circle of 2001. Prepare to have your mind blown.”

    “One thing that stuck out that happened fairly recently were these guys in white jump suits a police officer witnesses in a newly formed circle. Linda Moulton Howe reported on this if you want to reference” (a name isn’t a reference! where did she report this?)

    One explanation might be that these people are too dumb or lazy to be able to add a URL to their comments. But of course, anyone enlightened enough to see through the layers of government disinformation about crop circles would understand how valuable and easy it is to provide specific references, especially when trying to convince doubters.

    Another possibility is that providing a vague reference stops people pointing out deficiencies in your sources; a single account of the mindblowing Milk Hill incident could be criticised, but it’s harder to debunk every single reference to it on Google. But that would assume that the hovering-antiwheat-beam proponents know on some level that their arguments are shaky, and want to avoid defending them in detail, which obviously couldn’t be the case, especially not for someone as distinguished as Vallee who has a computer science degree AND is involved in venture capitalism.

    I’m forced to conclude that these vague semi-references are deliberately designed to make the reader to waste their time rooting through lists of search results, without ever being able to come to a solid conclusion. In other words, this is exactly the “flypaper” technique JV is warning us about! There *is* a conspiracy, and *he* is part of it! Notice how, after a comprehensive debunking of his crop circle “evidence”, he changes the subject to the terrible “social engineering” that prevents people accepting the reality of anti-wheat beams. It’s almost as if he’s trying to discredit the whole topic of crop circles by making a deliberately weak argument.

    So I think what I’m arguing is that the government wants to distract us from the crop circle mystery by drawing attention to the social engineering techniques it uses to lower the quality of discussion of the crop circle mystery.

  32. Dr Vallee, I watched the 30th anniversary of Close Encounters recently. I saw the interview with Spielberg, and he said he doesn’t “believe” in “UFOs” anymore. He said its because of all the video cameras around now-a-days. Where are all the legit videos, he asks.

    I was confused, because I thought he understood the true nature of the UFO phenomenon. But such a question shows that he doesn’t.

    But I though the did, because didn’t you tell him that the nature of the UFO phenomenon was not how he depicted it in Close Encounters? Didn’t you set him straight, and his reply was that he knows but the public expects the nature of the UFO phenomenon to be a certain way?

  33. I think that the best approach is to release to the public a book on UFO photography methods, where the public is self-empowered to capture their own evidence with respect to UFOs and alien visitations.

    To be specific, such a book shows the public how to gather their own evidence. This avoids the Gordian knot of the intelligence community in essence spreading lies and disinformation, removes several layers of photographic and video fakes which confuses the general public, and produces a grass-roots response to manipulation of perception of the public by vested interests. As to what these interests are vested in, well, who knows.

    I have the singular honor of being the first to purchase a singular and rare book which outlines methods to capture UFOs as photographs and video. Presently, I am reading this book (which was released, it would appear, four days ago on Amazon.com), titled “Photographic Methods for the UFO Hunter”.

    The book takes a purely scientific approach to capturing UFOs and aliens, and is by an unknown author, J. Chisholm, who appears to be from Canada. But what a book, as it is a “how-to” book that shows steps to build simple equipment, such as near infrared web-cam, tied to high speed video motion capture software, to capture what appears to be relatively common UFO overflight events. This book is filled with an astounding collection of photographs taken from video clips captured of UFOs and aliens by the author, rather than some obscure intelligence community member planting “false leads”. Here is where I went to purchase the book:


    Anyways, just my two cents worth with respect to aliens, and gathering of evidence.


  34. David Hambling is the author of the short “New Scientist” article
    Jacques Vallée refers to in support of the thesis that crop circles
    could be made by military people using beams:


    Here is something else by David Hambling, a more complete
    article about the same weapon projects he wrote later:


    You can read this:

    “(In a way, the Multimode system is a new twist on the devices
    developed by Applied Energetics, formerly Ionatron. But that firm,
    which promised “laser-guided man-made lightning,” has been notably
    unsuccessful in actually fielding anything that works so far. Plus
    they’ve been accused of what might politely be termed controversial
    business practices. And unlike Ionatron’s “Joint IED Neutralizer”
    — a vehicle-mounted device with an apparent range of just three
    feet, backers of the the new Multimode system promise it’ll
    be portable, with a much greater effective range.)”

    And he makes reference to another article he wrote
    earlier on the Ionatron affair:


    “Let’s review. In 2005, despite allegations of shady stock deals
    and stolen intellectual property, a Tuscon, Arizona company called
    Ionatron convinced then-deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz and
    other military officials that it had a real-life lightning gun.
    This “Joint IED Neutralizer,” or JIN, the company claimed, could
    use short-pulse lasers to carve conductive channels in the air.
    Electricity could then be sent down those channels, zapping roadside
    bombs from a safe distance. Ordinarily-skeptical generals were
    impressed; tens of millions of dollars in Pentagon money were
    doled out to the firm. NBC hailed Ionatron and the JIN on its Nightly News.”

    “But when JIEDDO actually started testing the alleged bomb-zappers,
    they discovered that the things didn’t work at all. “Not yet mature
    enough,” was how the Organization’s deputy director gently put it
    to the L.A. Times in February, 2006. “Bullshit,” other JIEDDO
    officers called the JIN, in private. The bomb-zappers were
    rejected. And Ionatron quickly started sliding out of the
    explosives-fighting business.”

    “None of which stopped the Bush administration and the Pentagon
    from basically calling reporters a bunch of traitors for
    writing about the JIN.”

    So: the alleged “crop circle making weapon” is just a failure and
    a scandal so far.

    And this is said by the very source cited in favor of the “military doing
    crop circles with beams” thesis.

    As of as “exploded nodes” that “can’t be hoaxed” and stuff of this kind, the interested people may want to read about it here:


    Let me add that I told all of the above and more to Dr. Vallée, but apparently he did not care about it.

    Patrick Gross

  35. I find this 4-part series of posts by Vallee really rather strange, for a variety of reasons.

    First, despite some very objective questions from some readers in prior comment threads, including this one, the issue was raised by several people that, if one takes Vallee’s speculations about some form of secret military or intelligence platform hovering over differing kinds of crop fields equipped with some kind of electromagnetic (EM) or other irradiating source of an assumed computer controlled nature emitting either microwaves or amplified microwaves (as in a maser), to create the various complex designs shown in some crop circles, why doesn’t such a conjectured EM or microwave source affect the entire crop structure, or display such EM effects from the top of the crop stems or stalks on down, as such an EM source would be line of sight, whether from directly overhead or from an angle.

    It’s obvious from some of Vallee’s prior comments in a couple of his subsequent blog posts here that he read all of the comments in the previous threads, yet did not respond to this quite pertinent and relevant question in either follow-up comments or in his latter blog posts for boingboing.

    This begs the question of just _why_ not? If he cannot explain the physics of such a mechanism of crop bending only from or near the bottom of the stems, where the crop is bent over, which is normally due to the “traditional” use of boards with attached ropes being used to stomp down the crops in a predetermined, planned design by hoaxers or “crop artists,” shouldn’t he at least say so, and acknowledge that despite his repeated speculations about such an aerial platform or military/intelligence “psyop” employing such mystifying technology, for which there is virtually no evidence I’ve seen or that Vallee can cite, he should have at least responded to such comments and questions, or simply said “I don’t know the mechanism of just how this would work, or why the entire stalk of said affected crops might only be bent from the bottom”?

    In addition, leaving this obvious question unanswered and not responded to also severely undermines and weakens the credibility of his supposed EM source for some “suspect” crop circles, does it not?

    In other words, crop circles of the kind seen most commonly in England have been made for over thirty years now, and the vast majority have fairly obvious clues and physical artifacts that indicate their being man-made, and without the alleged use of such exotic, aerial technology.

    The very few cites Vallee notes, such as to BLT Research, are also really rather suspect, given the lack of real objective, unbiased, and empirical evidence shown by such groups in the past in their work. Vallee makes a number of unsupported statements, as noted by other commenters previously, and again makes no coherent reply in either his last two blog posts or in the comment threads. In fact, I don’t think Vallee has made even a single comment in the various related threads to any of the commenters questions in this regard. Again, why not?

    It almost seems as if, for Vallee, throwing this speculation out there via Boing Boing, is itself a kind of sociological experiment of his, since he is generating and spreading a meme of his own, about the source and mechanism of how he alleges some crop circles may have been made, but without supporting evidence of real evidential or credible basis.

    So, just what is going on here, and what might Vallee’s intentions behind this mismatch between supposition and evidence for his contentions be?

    I don’t know, but it would seem incumbent on Vallee to respond in some manner to these obvious questions about the discrepancy between his allegations and suppositions and any real historic, scientific, or sociological basis for them.

    The contradiction is more than just implicit. Perhaps some other purpose is being served, perhaps to gauge the reaction of the Boing Boing demographic, or to study how people react to such an example of cognitive dissonance in a real world example as presented by Vallee, but of course, that too is just speculation.

    In any event, I am frankly rather disappointed in this series of posts, as I also was with Vallee’s prior speculations about the significance and supposed meaning of water-boarding, for example, as being an indication that the US government resorted to torture of terrorist subjects as the basis for his speculation that that meant the military/intelligence community, despite the decades of MK Ultra and other drug experimentation projects (and other techniques) being employed for “mind control” of subjects for, primarily, interrogation and resistance purposes, did not have an effective “truth serum” drug or other productive techniques to effectively interrogate prisoners to determine their secrets, or the truth of what they were being interrogated about, which is _not_ a given or having a genuine basis at all (see various comments in the thread that followed that separate, earlier post by Vallee for the many reasons why).

    So, WTF is going on here, and what might be Vallee’s purpose and intent in presenting cases of such extraordinary speculation without sufficient or adequate supporting cites, evidence, or relevant data? The old chestnut of “extraordinary claims requiring extraordinary evidence” would seem to apply here.

    These various posts seem to be a genuine example of some kind of cognitive dissonance, or less than empirical or scientific speculations based on beliefs or possibly undisclosed data. Only Vallee knows, and I think he owes Boing Boing readers some open, explanatory answers of some depth and evidential basis, but I’m guessing he will not respond to the degree required to clear up these contradictions.

    He seems to suggest or imply he has information and knowledge about the source of his crop circle speculations being somehow (and why? what is achieved?) being connected to the military/intelligence community, employing stealthy aerial platforms employing some bizarre, exotic technology, but personally, I just don’t see that being either likely or for any reasonable or justifiable purpose, let alone the alleged nature and usage of any such technology as Vallee seemingly contends.

    And so, in conclusion, uhmm…Jacques, what gives? What is your answer or reply to the above comment and the prior objections and critiques of your posts on crop circles? I think we deserve some better response than has been provided (i.e., none) so far.

    You mention meme wars, but aren’t you also engaging in such a practice, given the nature of your comments? Hmmmmmm….?

  36. Communication.
    This is it’s potential.
    Some have toyed with the concept of mind reading, but who needs mind reading when you have a gift of mental white noise called The Internet? A place where it all comes out, as unrestrained and unfiltered as it can be, alongside the filtered and the restrained.
    One may bemoan the days when great care went in to the selective transmission of thoughts, a time when eloquence, study and research, and even some higher standard of verification was present and expected, when a relatively select few professionals were allowed their moments to pitch. At this time, a long list of social media, perhaps even all established social media have fallen to The Internet. The Internet has become the gateway for the world, and everyone has an opportunity to read each others minds. That’s a pretty big mess to mess with.
    Everyone has a pitch, but the more successful and crafty entertainers have a hook.
    Rather than just feeling comfortable sharing opinions, continually throwing those words out that serve little more than their own need for comfort when they get a nibble so they know they’re not alone, there are others who cultivate their needs by putting a lot of effort in to drawing people in, instead. Usually it’s bait for a trap of some kind. Haven’t we learned by now, that any attraction zone, nourished and cultivated, can comfortably lure whole groups over a cliff, laughing and singing proudly in lock step the entire way? It has happened more than once. It happens every day. It will happen to you, time and again. Any one who is lead, can be mislead. You can’t escape it.
    If you ever want to get away from your island, you have to learn to swim, at a personal cost. To advance you also have to be a judge of tides, and learn to negotiate the currents, and the further you go, the less likely you’ll really have a predictable comfort zone, or the assurance of keeping your head above water. You may even have to dive deeper in uncomfortable pressures to discover the slightest clue of where you really are or where you’re going, the further out you get. You can’t even stick your toe in the water without getting a taste of this ocean.
    Some of your best friends will stay behind, only to imagine what is out there, wholly dependent on hearsay for what the rest of the world is like, and they will never leave that island, until perhaps the moment comes when a ship of like minded people happen to come along to pick them up, so they can all go off together, at the whim of conditions that may prove greater than their ability to stay their course.
    It’s the way of the world.
    For the people of Earth, awareness comes in steps that are clearly defined, and in the spectrum of time, each step must be taken to advance, for the enlightenment, security and longevity of all.
    An individual is fine, until they feel the influence of another, and then they are opened to changes and other viewpoints, and form groups. A group is fine, until they feel the influence of the world, and are forced to think beyond themselves and their needs. A world may be fine, should it survive us, until it is influenced by circumstances beyond imagination.
    Shall we protect ourselves, our friends, our homes, and our world? And shall we continue?
    There is an endless, limitless experience open to us if we do, but nothing changes along the way, and nothing changes in what we find. The only thing that changes is what comes naturally for us, and the scope of what comes to us, if we are aware enough to even see it coming.
    In this world, at this stage, it’s not a question of “If”, but “When”.
    It’s almost entirely pointless, then, to argue one point, when virtually all points made are true, and are the points one makes to fill in the empty circle that forms another point. Every observation, every argument, every theory and every thought is true, if it works for you. If not it is equally untrue. The only question is whether or not you can illustrate your point well enough for anyone else to appreciate the punch line, and that may indeed depend on what your motivation is, along with it’s potential influence, along with the attendant roots, real and imagined. A creative process cannot exclude a single point.
    How far are you willing to go, to see how much of everything is involved in anything?
    How far can people advance who are a secret to themselves?
    A narrow place only looks big to the narrow minded.
    The Internet is The World.
    Welcome to The World.
    Observe, and know that only you can allow Influence.
    Believe, and you’ll probably wake up next to a whore.
    Doubt, and she’s a Virgin every morning.
    And Belief?
    It doesn’t matter where you take it from… it’s where you take it to that counts.

  37. Is BoingBoing going the way of Omni Magazine? All this woowoo and “your science can’t explain THIS!” is seriously going to kill it’s credibility.

    Next thing you know Jenny McCarthy is going to show up telling that Uri Geller has solve autism with vitamin supplements and dowsing!

  38. A couple of years ago I was regularly visiting an established crop circle forum and I noticed a post from someone who seemed to be saying they were making some of the circles. I searched online and eventually found a webpage with an email address and I sent a mail saying simply that I would like to see another view of “the Bee” . A few weeks later low and behold what I had asked for appeared in a field. I think that modern crop circles are works of art and should be recognized as such but I now think that the ones made by the other beings are very few.
    It’s a shame that we as a species always seem to “muddy the waters” by imitation because it makes it so much more difficult for anything that is from outside to have credibility, but its how we learn I suppose.

  39. Dear Dr. Vallee:

    One of the primary questions at the heart of this debate relates to those formations that do not show this pattern of circular or other patterned “pathways” of the 3 to 5 foot variety, and although I don’t personally know of any particular crop formations that do not show these essential artifacts of ground-level, man-made “rope-and-board-stomp” technique, but apparently show other creation patterns (btw, I don’t know of any–do you know of any particular crop formations that display non-standard or anomalous creation artifacts that are distinctly different? If so, could you name a few of them for our benefit to look into?), there must be some other process involved, theoretically.

    The only thing or process of the type you have alluded to, that is of some military or intelligence agency related aerial floating platforms of a stealthy nature using computer-controlled EMR emitters to rapidly “carve” or fabricate such unusual and relatively rare patterns in crops, raises the obvious question of just how such sources and patterns could be created by that alleged process without damaging or leaving physical artifacts of heating or damage to the entire crop stalk involved, since the patterns are normally created by crops bending over in swept (in one basic direction, usually) patterns to create the picture or pattern involved.

    The objections or question raised by your speculation in comments by several readers of the Boing Boing post series by you is that if such a process was being employed on occasion over the past 30 years, what physical process could possibly be involved that allows the bending over to occur (or “exploded nodes” as those such as the BLT group analysis would have it) only at or near ground level?

    My “thought experiment” or speculation is that such aerial sources of rare crop formations could be possibly created by use of an oblique angle of radiation, whether microwaves, masers, or other EMR sources and techniques, by applying a radiation source carefully calibrated as to the kind of crops and ground conditions that allows enough radiation to penetrate the crops themselves without stalk-length damage evidence, but that, most specifically, allows enough radiation to penetrate throughout the stalks to the ground level where, due to radiation _reflection_ off the ground-plane soil or other substrate, the effect of bending only occurs at or very near the ground level to cause the patterned bending by careful application of the EMR source involved, and that the damage or bending only occurs near the ground plane due to concentrated or accumulated radiation effects that not only set the radiation “heating” throughout the crops, but that as the EMR is saturating the soil level and the very lower part of the crop stalks involved, the resulting effect is only evident at or near ground level, leaving no distinct evidence of damage at higher levels within the crop stalks, as the effect is more diffuse and scattered at anything more than ground level penetration, low reflection, or saturation, due to soil heating or irradiation, which may only thus affect the ground level and just above the surface of the crops in these more anomalous formations you mentioned.

    This, of course, would be a very neat “trick” indeed, and would have the added benefit of emulating the same patterns found within more obvious man-made formations by the standard board-stomp technique and related processes as noted by the book “The Field Guide: The Art, History and Philosophy of Crop Circle Making,” noted for sale at:


    Anyway, that is a long-winded extrapolation and speculation of mine about the possible physics, roughly, and way that such crop formations as you discussed in your series of Boing Boing posts just might have been made. I don’t know if this speculation interests you or not, or if you have already considered this alternative and either accepted or rejected its’ merits based on your own research and data, but I just thought it might be of some minor value to note my own particular speculation in this regard, and would ask that at some point you please respond to this “thought experiment” here, if you would be so kind.

    Of course, the related questions of _why_ any such covert program employing stealthy aerial platforms from the military and/or intelligence agencies in Britain (or elsewhere) would have been used to confuse the issues, or possibly promulgate some kind of unknown psyop or memetic influence on the civilian (and governmental) population and agencies, which would have domestic subversive and disturbing implications, is unknown to me, and I really wonder how effective and purposeful such a covert operation would be, or whether its possible intended effects would or has truly affected those it may be directed at in any meaningful or significant way.

    It would be quite interesting for you to note what and why might be the intention behind such an operation, assuming you have some ideas and know something more than you have specifically indicated here in the prior 4 posts of yours on this subject, and your speculations upon this more esoteric and strange potential effort or process, and whether you think it has been effective or not. I myself am baffled as to why this would be done, although I can think of some reasons I will not go into here, as that would simply be further, extended hypothesizing of the kind that would just amount to guesswork.

    Please let us know here what you think of the above thoughts, questions, and speculations, if you would be so kind to do so at some point, as I think it is incumbent on you and of real interest to Boing Boing readers, and for our edification, to learn more and to be able to better evaluate your own theories on this subject, and its meme-like possible reasons, technology, and covert intent at such information influence projects and processes. Thanks in advance for anything you may wish to note here, or in some possible future posting upon this subject of much contention and debate.

    —“Dr. X”

  40. One thing i can say having read many of the replies is this. Many of you quite obviously haven;t read a single work by the original author Mr Vallee.

    As for the Doug and Dave explanation for Crop Circles. Sorry, it’s utter baloney. How do i know this? Well, for a start several circles they laid claim to were actually made by personal friends of mine. friends who would very much describe themselves as Discordians, then again… they might lying about that ;-).

    That said they have told me of one night’s operations that did leave them flummoxed. They had marked a field for a circle and had assembled on a ridge above the field they intended to place the circle in. Using a night scope they were scanning the land to make sure all was quiet to allow them to commence.

    Sadly for them, there was actually quite a lot of police activity on the road below the field, the police were later joined by guys in military uniforms and they seemed to be searching for something. This was close to mid summer’s day so the hours of darkness are pretty short. They waited the whole night watching fascinated as the guys in uniform went about their job , whatever it was. Imagine then their surprise when morning came and lo and behold there was a huge Crop Circle in the field. They didn’t make it, the Police and Soldiers didn’t make it and to this day my mate would love to know who did. They were watching the field the whole time and saw no-one.

    Now anyone who has actually read any of Mr Vallee’s works would understand this is a classic example of the *game* that seems to go on. To those who deny just what does it take? The FOIA has quite clearly shown the US government and other governments quite clearly lied and lied serially, about, having an interest in UFOs, collecting reports on UFOs and setting up bureaus to study them.

    To claim UFO buffs are a shrinking church is absolute tosh, the majority of people worldwide now believe we have been visited by other intelligences. it is the nay sayers whose church is contacting and it would seem they are now slipping into the very same habitual persecution and paranoia complexes they sue to accuse the UFO buffs of when they were the minority.

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