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No. 79: Jan-Feb 1992

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Crop circles: if some are hoaxes, are they all hoaxes?

One could almost hear a sigh of relief among the skeptics of unusual natural phenomena when two Britons admitted to manufacturing scores of crop circles. After all, the crop circles are about as outrageous as UFOs and toads-entombedin-stone. However, the crop circles have not gone away. In fact, plant and soil samples from the circles seem to point to bizarre, highly energetic processes at work. This aspect of the phenomenon has been discussed by R. Noyes, Secretary of the Center for Crop Circle Studies (CCCS). First, though, Noyes has asserted that hoaxes cannot explain the large numbers of circles that have been counted -- about 1000 between 1980 and 1989. He con tinued as follows:

"The events of 1990 and 1991 (totalling about a further 1000 over the two years) certainly present a puzzle. Hoax is beyond doubt in some cases, but it seems very unlikely as a general explanation. Many events have been very large and very elaborate; they have occurred widely about the country (sometimes several on the same night in counties far from each other); there have been very few cases of detection of hoax, despite massive surveillance in the Mariborough/Devizes area, where so many of the events took place; circles (including a dumbbell formation) occurred within visual and radar range of a hi-tech watch mounted by [G.T.] Meaden and supported by anti-hoax equipment without a trace of human action. It is clear that hoax cannot account for all we have been seeing.

"Very recently, laboratories in the US, acting in collaboration with CCCS's Crop Research Panel, have reported interesting physical changes in crops and soil collected from circle formations as compared with control samples. Other 'hard' evidence is accumulating for the action of some short-lived force in the formation of genuine events, and its nature seems to be such that human activity cannot account for it. It may or may not be evidence for the operation of Meaden's 'plasma vortex' (in whatever form he decides to develop it). The only thing to add at this stage is that if the "plasma vortex" is in question, it seems capable of far more elaboration in the creation of crop formations than Meaden has yet allowed. For sheer exuberance and inventiveness, there has been no force in scientific history to match it."

(Noyes, Ralph; Letter to UFO Brigantia, November 23, 1991.)

Comment. We shall be looking forward to documentation of the lab tests mentioned. It is "interesting" that both UFO and crop-circle phenomena have historically begun with relatively simple observations, and now apparently to anomalous physical traces. Will there now be "encounters" and "abductions"?

From Science Frontiers #79, JAN-FEB 1992. 1992-2000 William R. Corliss

Science Frontiers Sourcebook Project Reviewed in:


  • "A sourcebook of unexplained phenomena is therefore a valuable addition to a collection of scientific literature. William R. Corliss has provided this in the past with his source books of scientific anomalies in several subjects, and now he has provided it for astronomy. He has done an excellent job of collecting and editing a large amount of material, taken in part from scientific journals and in part from scientific reporting in the popular or semi-scientific press." -- "The Mysterious Universe: A Handbook of Astronomical Anomalies", reviwed by Thomas Gold, Cornell University, in Icarus, vol.41, 1980

  • "An interesting, systematic presentation of unusual weather [..] This book is recommended for a general audience" --"Corliss, William R., Tornados, Dark Days, Anomalous Precipitation, and Related Weather Phenomena, Sourcebook Project, 1983.", revieweed in Choice, September 1983
  • "..the science is necessarily somewhat speculative, but Corliss's symthesis is based on reputable sources." -- "Corliss, William R. (Compiler). Lightning, Auroras, Nocturnal Lights, and Related Luminous Phenomena" reviwed by Joseph M. Moran, Univ. of Wisconsin in Science Books and Films, Sep/Oct 1983

  • "Before opening the book, I set certain standards that a volume which treads into dangerous grounds grounds like this must meet. The author scrupulously met, or even exceeded those standards. Each phenomenon is exhaustively documented, with references to scientific journals [..] and extensive quotations" -- "Book Review: The moon and planets: a catalog of astronomical anomalies", The Sourcebook Project, 1985., Corliss, W. R., Journal of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada, Vol. 81, no. 1 (1987), p. 24., 02/1987