It’s crop circle season again in the northern hemisphere and the battle between pessimists and optimists regarding the origins of these strange phenomenon is flaring up once more as it does every year when the cereal crops are near ready for harvesting.
In the 1970s indentations in the fields around the Avebury stone circles began appearing and were referred to as saucer nests, meaning that flying objects had landed in the fields, leaving indentations but it wasn’t until the late 1970s that a fellow named Colin Andrews coined the phrase ‘crop circles’.
Accounts of depictions in fields of barley and wheat go back as far as the 1600s, mostly in the Hertfordshire area of England. The English countryside is where the phenomenon became widely seen in the late 1980s, after the media started to report crop circles in Hampshire and Wiltshire.
Crop circles are not just an English phenomenon though, to date approximately 10,000 crop circles have been reported internationally, from locations such as the former Soviet Union, the United Kingdom, Japan, the U.S., and Canada.
In recent years, crop formations have increased in size and complexity, with some featuring as many as 2,000 different shapes and some incorporating complex mathematical and scientific characteristics. As these artforms usually appear overnight, the difficulty of constructing such creations in the dark with limited tools has drawn wide criticism while more fantastical explanations have been explored.
Plankers take the credit
In 1991, two self-professed pranksters, Doug Bower and Dave Chorley, made headlines by claiming that it was they who started the phenomenon in 1978 with the use of simple tools consisting of a plank of wood, rope, and a baseball cap fitted with a loop of wire to help them walk in straight lines and since then others have tried to discredit any mystery surrounding the circles by attempting constructions of their own, much to the displeasure of farmers. When examined crop circle enthusiasts say that such knockoffs appear amateurish when compared to the preciseness of the real thing.
Since becoming the focus of widespread media attention in the 1980s, crop circles have become the subject of speculation by various paranormal, ufological, and anomalistic investigators ranging from proposals that they were created by meteorological phenomena to messages from extraterrestrial beings. There has also been speculation that crop circles have a relation to ley lines while many New Age groups incorporate crop circles into their belief systems, citing visitors from other areas of Space or Dimensions as being responsible for their existence.
Science weighs in
A number of scientists including (physicist Eltjo Haselhoff, the late biophysicist William Levengood) have found differences between the crops inside the circles and outside them, citing this as evidence they were not man-made. In his 1994 one scientific paper found that ‘certain deformities in the grain inside the circles were correlated to the position of the grain inside the circle’, meaning that the grain inside crop circles has been altered genetically in some way. Many ‘established’ scientists refuted these claims saying they were conducted unscientifically.
Lights over the fields
People have described lights over the fields where crop circles appear. Also people camping out on hills over fields to watch for the phenomena have resulted in the constructs ‘just being there’ in the morning with no discernible movement in the area at all, while people who use EMF readers have discovered very noticeable differences in readings inside and outside of crop circles.
Belief in UFOs
Two thirds of people in America think that UFOs and aliens exist while the numbers in Europe and England in particular are a little more conservative, however the idea of such phenomena is definitely present in the consciousness of all humans in some form as is evidenced by the child’s drawing above which depicts aliens creating crop circles by using a spherical ship.