Although science regards them as no more than clever manmade designs, many researchers say there is compelling proof that the origins of these mysterious formations is unexplained.
They began as simple circles laid down in fields of wheat, corn and other crops. Then the formations became more complex, some taking the form of pictograms that seemed to be ciphers for messages of unknown meaning. The phenomenon has continued over the years, and each summer season we are treated to ever-more complex and often beautiful crop circle designs.
The ongoing debate among many crop circle investigators and skeptics has been: Are they manmade or not? While many designs are clearly and admittedly made by people (even veteran crop circle researcher Colin Andrew estimates that up to 80 percent of them are probably manmade), some researchers insist that many formations are not – in fact, cannot be – made by humans.
Skeptical explanations for crop formations have ranged from the ludicrous (one early theory was that they were created by hedgehogs running in circles) to the probable (clever college students). The believers’ explanations have been equally as diverse, ranging from the work of extraterrestrials to the idea that the formations are created by the Earth itself as some kind of warning to mankind.
On their side, skeptics have cold rationale and the confessions of such crop circle creators as Doug and Dave in the UK. In 1992, Doug Bower and Dave Chorley, two somewhat elderly retirees, came forward and claimed that they had created hundreds of crop circles over the preceding 15 years using a plank of wood, rope and a baseball cap fitted with a loop of wire to help them walk in a straight line. While their claim is called into serious question by some researchers, it is unquestioned that many crop formations have been “hoaxed” by people using little more than a well-planned design and, yes, planks of wood and rope. Such hoaxers have proved before witnesses and television cameras that they can create large, elaborate designs at night in just a few hours.
But what of the assertion that crop formations are created by some supernatural, extraterrestrial or paranormal force? What is the evidence that compels some researchers to conclude that they almost certainly are not manmade? There are peculiarities to “genuine” crop circles, these researchers say, that cannot be created or hoaxed by humans. Here is some of their “best evidence”:
Number and Complexity, and Placement
Number and complexity. Some researchers contend that crop formations are too numerous and too complex to all have been made by humans. This may be the weakest argument against them being manmade as it naively underestimates the abilities and ingenuity of some people.
Placement. While most crop circles can be found in readily accessible fields, some are not. Some have been found within restricted areas, according to “Peculiarities of Crop Circles” – “numerous accounts of crop circles appearing inside military installations that are fenced off (quite securely!) from the surrounding area. Most notably in Wiltshire along the Salisbury Plain.” This article also points out that several crop circles have been formed away from the farmer’s tram lines, which makes it very difficult for the circle makers to hide evidence of their presence.
Changes to Plants
Weaving. Researchers have long contended that the plants in genuine circles are weaved together in a particular way when they are flattened. Hoaxers have supposedly not been able to duplicate this pattern. “The plants are masterfully overlapping each other, and gently spiking into the standing crop in a spoke effect creating the circle,” says Urn Greene at “Crop Circles: Fingerprints of the Gods?”. “This is an effect that is not achieved by simply stomping on the plants with a board and or a garden roller, two tools commonly used by hoaxers to create fakes.”
Elongated nodes. Joseph E. Mason at “Arguments Against the Hoax Theory of Crop Circles” says that there is a distinct difference between crops that are bent in genuine circles and those bent by hoaxers. With photos to support his claim, Mason says: “The bent node of the plant from inside a [genuine] crop formation is elongated yet undamaged. Plant stems bent by people via mechanical means appear damaged and do not have the elongated nodes.”
Blown nodes. Many plants inside genuine circles also have “blown nodes,” according to Mason.
Dried ground. The soil beneath crop circles often appears inexplicably dehydrated, even after heavy rain.
Increased size. Dr. Eltjo H. Haselhoff, Ph.D., a former employee of Los Alamos National Laboratories, noted these alterations in crop circle plants in his research: “It was discovered that the plant stems inside these formations had increased in diameter, as an effect of intensive heating, with an astonishing circular symmetry. Moreover, this effect perfectly matched the radiation pattern of an electromagnetic point source at a height of four meters and ten centimeters above that field.” This finding, he says, supports the contention that the formations were created by the “balls of light” (see below) that witnesses have claimed to see at crop circles.
Bent unbendable plants. Some plants just should not be able to be bent, say some researchers. “Crop circle formations often appear in canola (oil seed rape) fields,” says Joseph Mason. “This plant has a consistency like celery. If the stalk is bent more than about 45-degrees, it snaps apart. Yet, in a ‘genuine’ crop circle formation, the stalks are often bent flat at 90-degrees. No botanist or other scientist has been able to explain this, nor has it ever been duplicated by a human being.”
Altered seeds. Tests by some researchers have shown that seeds planted from crops that were part of crop circles grow abnormally. “Biophysical Effects found in Crop Formation Plants” by BLT Research says that the seed-heads (barley) from the 1992 formation at Barbury Castle are “stunted and seedless.” Some crop circle plants also produce seeds that are noticeably smaller than normal plants.
Crop yield. At the other end of the spectrum, “Peculiarities of Crop Circles” says that some farmers have experienced increased crop yield in fields in which formations have appeared: “In 1997, Tim Carson who farms East Field (where the ‘DNA’ formation appeared in 1996) reported to researchers that his yield was up 30-40%.”
Cellular changes. There are microscopic changes as well, Joseph Mason says, and provides photos that show the differences. It isn’t explained what the differences mean, however. BLT Research also shows photos that depict an unexplained cell wall enlargement in a crop circle wheat plant.
Electromagnetic and Radioactive Effects
Effects on equipment. Researchers claim that their electronic equipment is often affected when they are examining crop circles. “There have been numerous reports of electronic equipment failing in crop circles and compasses spinning out of control in and over the crop circles (when flying over in aircraft),” according to “Peculiarities of Crop Circles”. “This range of equipment includes watches, mobile phones, batteries, cameras. No explanations for these occurrences, other than the indication of a strong EM field distortions.”
EM measurements. Longtime crop circle investigator Colin Andrews says he has recorded electromagnetic (EM) measurements of 40-50 nano Teslas at the centers of some formations, which he says is 10 times the radiation level of a normal field.
Strange sounds. Researchers say they have sometimes detected an unexplained sound at 5KHz frequency emanating from crop circles for just a few days after they are formed. “This corresponds to reports of eyewitnesses who often claim to hear a ‘trilling’ sound coming from the direction of the formations,” says “Peculiarities of Crop Circles”.
Radioactive isotopes. In 1991, two American nuclear physicists, Michael Chorost and Marshall Dudley, applied their expertise to crop circle research. “After subjecting a number of seed and soil samples to rigorous lab analysis,” according to Freddy Silva’s article, “Analysis of Crop-Circle Affected Crops and Soil,” “their main discovery was that the soil in genuine formations contained no less than four, short-lived radioactive isotopes – vanadium, europium, tellurium and ytterbium. Tests conducted on soil from the Beckhampton July 31 formation yielded alpha emissions 198% above control samples, beta emissions 48% above, both of which seemed ‘strikingly elevated,’ since they were two to three times as radioactive as soil from outside the formation.” Analyzed DNA samples from plants in another circle were found to be considerably more degraded than that of surrounding plants.
Physical Side Effects
Extremes of physical effects on people who enter crop circles have been reported. While some feel elation, others feel ill effects, including “nausea, headaches, dizziness, tingling sensations, pains and giddiness.” Some claim their menstrual cycles have been affected while others say they have literally been knocked off their feet.
People aren’t the only ones affected. According to “Crop Circles: A Deeper Look” from the Foundation for Paranormal Research, “one researcher allowed his dog to enter a newly formed circle. The dog became violently ill and vomited for about an hour afterward. Sheep in the area go into a frenzy.”
Another witness testified: “During a third visit into the main Chiseldon formation in 1996 I encountered a couple who couldn’t understand why their normally placid cat suddenly became agitated the moment he crossed the threshold of the formation. He protested and looked around frantically for a way out. Once outside he was back to his normal self.”
Highly Intricate Mathematical Design
Euclidean geometry. Some researchers contend that certain crop circle formations contain sophisticated geometry that an ordinary hoaxer most likely would not even understand. Gerald S. Hawkins, former Chairman of the astronomy department at Boston University, says that he detected relationships between crop circles and Euclidean geometry. According to an article at “The Crop Circular”, “Hawkins found that he could use the principles of Euclidean geometry to prove four theorems derived from the relationships among the areas depicted in crop circles. He also discovered a fifth, more general theorem, from which he could derive the other four. ‘This theorem involves concentric circles which touch the sides of a triangle, and as the [triangle] changes shape, it generates the special crop-circle geometries,’ he says. Hawkins could find no reference to such a theorem in the works of Euclid or in any other book that he consulted. In July 1995, however, ‘the crop-circle makers… showed knowledge of this fifth theorem.'”
Diatonic ratios. At least one article claims that the circle makers, whoever or whatever they are, have been encoding within crop circles diatonic ratios – how notes in music are related to each other. “Musicians have used the musical notes of the first octave to encode messages in their music,” the article says. “For example, the last fugue of Bach keeps repeating notes B-A-C-H. The Circlemakers, since 1988, have also been encoding messages by including diatonic ratios, and hence sets of notes. When geometries are tested against lists of initials, the code appears to fit one and only one list: the first 25 presidents of the Society for Psychical Research of London.” A reason why the circle makers might identify these people is not offered in the article. “Music and Harmonics” at Crop Circle Research.com offers additional information and some sound samples.
Sacred geometry. “The Sacred Geometry of Crop Circles” says that so-called sacred geometry is evident in crop formations and reflect “the universe, its pure forms and dynamic equilibriums shared a higher purpose: the attainment of spiritual wholeness through self-reflection, thereby giving structural insight into the workings of the inner self. When analyzing crop circle forms through the precise and unalterable practice of sacred geometry one cannot help but appreciate that a mind of scholarly intelligence is involved. That these symbols are occurring primarily in wheat, the very symbol of the Earth Mother, is significant in itself. Perhaps they are here to draw us as a race together by this interaction with our symbol of life?”
Eyewitnesses and Balls of Light
Several eyewitnesses to crop circles testify that they have seen strange balls or clouds of light in and around crop circles as they were being formed, and even some time after they were formed. In an article by Linda Moulton Howe, she quotes a witness who saw a bright light that seemed to come up out of the ground after he and a friend entered a large crop formation known as the Galaxy in 1994: “It was so bright, it lit up the hills in the background. It was bluish-white in color and about as big as the formation, fifty to sixty meters wide. The bright light formed some sort of cloud and it changed shape continuously as it hovered over the formation. After a couple of seconds, it rose at slow speed and disappeared into the darkness. My friend and I were totally flabbergasted!”
One of the most controversial crop circle videos, known as the Oliver’s Castle Crop Circle Video, appears to show several swirling balls of light actually creating a formation in a field of grain. The video has been shown on TV documentaries several times. Although there are still some diehard believers, most experts who have analyzed the video concluded that it was a hoax – a clever computer-generated effect.
Another video shot in August, 1999, seems to show a ball of light at the Barbury Castle “dolphins” crop circle.
Urm Greene says that he had video evidence on a CD-ROM he is offering that shows “a British Army helicopter chasing and finally catching up to an small, glowing, pulsating UFO within a crop circle field.”
Farther Out Ideas
There are some who say the evidence for the supernatural origin of crop circles lies in psychic connections.
Dreams and Psychic Connections. Joseph Mason, in his article “The Pleiades and the Seventh Ray on the Seventh Day,” says that “Dreams and coincidences often seem to be related to crop circle formations.” He then relates a well-known triangular crop circle near Barbury Castle in 1991 to a dream he had, the seven days of creation, the Holy Trinity, and the Pleiades star cluster. And Dee Finney claims that the 1999 Whitehorse crop circle appeared in a field while she was dreaming about it.
At “The Philosopher’s Stone,” Kris Weber Sherwood says that a snowflake-shaped crop formation, known as the Koch Fractal, at the foot of Silbury Hill in 1997, “was supremely layered with vast and interconnected meanings of profound significance; implicit in the timing, placement, design, and physical components. The genuine crop circle phenomenon has demonstrated its ability to be psycho-interactive with those giving their attention to it.”
Psychics, they say, are particularly tuned in to crop circles. “Some area psychics began to pick up messages from some intelligence associated with the circles,” says “Crop Circles: A Deeper Look”, “predicting the very next formation; it’s design and location. Sure enough, their predictions came true. This leads us to some other fascinating occurrences surrounding this phenomenon.”
So What Creates Them?
The theories on what creates crop circles, if they are not manmade, are many and could make for another article. But some of the most common theories include whirlwind vortexes, plasma vortexes (the balls of light?), Earth energies, extraterrestrials, underground archaeology, sound vibrations, heavenly or demonic forces, and military experiments including microwaves.
If the anomalies listed above are real, a thorough, rigorously scientific examination of crop circles and their effects is called for to help unravel this mystery.