Joined: 27 September 2006
|Crop Circles: Best Evidence|
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.
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