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No. 92: Mar-Apr 1994

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Crop circles not hoaxes: a correction

In SF#89, when presenting T. Meaden's "middle-ground" position on the now-infamous crop circles, we stated that an earlier letter to Weather by J.W. Deardorff represented the "all-hoax" position. This was incorrect and, to be fair, we now reproduce Deardorff's letter:

"Recent letters to Weather indicate little agreement concerning the crop circles mystery, except that the phenomenon is in general no hoax. Lest it be thought that Dave and Doug made them all, including over 1000 in the season of 1990 and as many as 15 in one night, consider the following crop circle streamline configurations: an upper layer, with an inward directed swirl of stems as viewed from above, and underneath a lower layer swirled outwards and orthogonal to the upper layer. This was the situation for the 17 m circle discovered by Busty Taylor at Headbourne Worthy, which appeared overnight on 1 August 1986 (Delgado and Andrews 1989). Its stem "streamlines" were sketched by Meaden and Andrews (Noyes 1990). Somehow the source-mechanism of this circle apparently first swirled every other stem outwards while leaving the remaining stems standing, then swirled the remaining stems inwards and at right angles to the layer below, again without any appreciable breakage of crop stems.

"Not only does this rule out any hoax, since it defies all imagination, but it rules out any natural vortex as the cause. We have no recourse but to consider an intelligent source (Watts 1991). Readers of Weather should be aware that whenever 'plasma vortex' (Meaden 1989) is used to 'explain' the patterns in crops, 'UFO' could as well be subsituted. Paranormal events associated with the 'plasma vortex' and crop circles have been observed before by UFO witnesses since 1947, including the object's ability to undergo huge accelerations, to shroud itself in luminosity, to vanish abruptly even in daylight, and to cause an eerie stillness just before or after making its presence known to an observer close by (Meaden 1990)."


Delgado, P., and Andrews, C.; Circular Evidence, London, 1989.
Meaden, G.T.; "The Formation of Circular-Symmetric Crop-Damage Patterns by Atmospheric Vortices," Weather, 44:2, 1989.
Meaden, G.T.; "An Eyewitness Account of Crop Circle Formation," Weather, 45:273, 1990.
Noyes, R.; The Crop Circle Enigma, Bath, 1990.
Watts, A.; "More Circular Arguments," Weather, 46:181, 1991.
(Deardorff, James W.; "Crop Circles: Someone Had to Say It!" Weather, 47: 142, 1992. Deardorff is with the Department of Atmospheric Sciences, Oregon State University.)

From Science Frontiers #92, MAR-APR 1994. 1994-2000 William R. Corliss