Six Reasons to Change Your Mind About Crop Circles by Kevin Link

Of all the phenomena occupying the esoteric realm, crop circles are one of the easiest to dismiss. People like Doug Bower and Dave Chortley, the British duo who took credit for the entire crop circle phenomenon in 1991, as well as more modern circle-making groups such as Team Satan (Rod Dickinson, John Lundberg, and Will Russel) have proven that complex crop circles can be created in the span of a night with lengths of rope, boards, stakes, and a gridded design. These circle-makers have a code of silence when it comes to which formations are theirs (probably more to avoid trespassing and destruction of property charges than their desire to “keep the mystery alive”), so it's easy to just assume they're all man made. However, there are some aspects to the crop circle phenomena which may leave you scratching your head...

1. Crop Stems Are Bent, Not Broken

One of the most puzzling aspects to “genuine” crop circles is that the stems of effected crop are bent at a ninetydegree angle. The bend occurs a few inches up from the roots at the “node,” a fibrous bulge in the stem. These bent plants are still living and typically begin to rise towards their normal posture in two to seven days. Though cereologists (wheat nerds) have shown examples of irregular nodes in developing wheat, to date no one has found a way to replicate this effect over a large area at once.

2. Crop Circles Aren't Just Limited to Wheat

The term “crop circles” rolls off the tongue a little easier than “wheat circles,” but the catch-all term rings true and makes claims of hoaxing a bit more complicated. Irregular geometric formations have been found in canola, barley, rye, linseed, sorghum, grass, rice paddies, young trees, and corn. Crops such as canola snap like celery when tested but still exhibit the mysterious bend. Formations in Canadian corn are similarly perplexing because their stems are a solid inch and a half thick. According to researcher Terry Wilson, even brussels sprouts, potatoes, tobacco, strawberries, and sugar beets have been arranged to mysterious effect, though I've never seen any photo evidence of such produce tampering.

3. Most Crop Circles Appear on Rainy Nights

Circle-makers must have a postman's work ethic, because according to Canadian researcher Chad Deetken, sixty-percent of crop circles appear on rainy nights. One could argue that rain might help a team of hoaxers avoid detection, but it doesn't explain how the formations are often left pristine. In 2001 a 787-foot wide, 409-circle formation appeared during a rainy night in the Wiltshire region of southern England. Andreas Mueller, producer of The International Crop Circle Archive, commented, “ the impressive detail in this formation is that it was placed in a field that was very sloping. There were many ditches... And people who were first in the formation said the lay was nice and clean and with no footprints on it...” Researchers Page and Glen Broughton have found that 87.2% of crop circles in Southern England are created over aquifers, suggesting to some that high levels ground water may be a prerequisite for formations to occur.

4. The First Written Account of a Crop Circle is from 815 CE

Many people are under the impression that the crop circle phenomenon started with the prankster pub-buddies Doug and Dave in the 1980's, but accounts of the phenomena appear throughout history. As popularized in esoteric researcher Jacque Vallee's book, “Passport to the Magonia,” in 815 CE Agobard, the Archbishop of Lyon, wrote that “cloud ships” flattened crops during storms. Later that year Agobard made it illegal for people to take and eat seeds from the flattened wheat for use in Pagan fertility rituals. Another early account comes from a wood cut illustration from 1678 relating to a dispute between two farmers over wheat harvesting. According to the pamphlet, the night after the argument the Devil mowed the wheat “in round circles, and placed every straw with that exactness that it would have taken up above an Age for any Man to perform what he [did] that one night.”

5. Some Crop Circles Designs Contain Rare Ratios, Geometric Theorems, and Fractals

Gerald Hawkins, former chairman of the astronomy department at Boston University, began looking into the mathematical aspects of crop circles after noticing diatonic ratios, the “perfect” intervals in the music scale, in the arrangement and diameters of certain crop circle formations. These ratios are only naturally found in bird calls and whale songs, and the chances of stumbling upon such elegant proportions have been calculated to be 1 to 400,000. While this could be chalked up to an extremely intelligent, stealthy, and bored PhD student, Hawkins later discovered four Euclidean theorems expressed in geometric configurations never before published, again in crop circles. Fractals, complex computer-generated figures which repeat themselves on an ever-diminishing scale, are also seen manifested in crop formations with an error margin of less than a percent.

6. Crops Often Exhibit Signs of Internal Heating

Now we get into the realm of the truly bizarre. Upon examination some of the stems of bent crops show artificial charring and tiny holes created by vaporized water escaping the tissue. In 1994 Dr. W. C. Levengood attempted to recreate this effect and found that thirty seconds in a commercial microwave produced similar holes, but none matched the precise effects in his samples. Adding to the mystery is the observation by researcher Freddy Silva in 2000 that weeds, thistles, and poppies are sometimes found upright in the middle of downed crops. If someone is creating these formations, they’ve not only mastered microwaves enough to carve complex patterns but also direct the energy so it only affects certain species of plants.

Yikes. Interested? Still skeptical? Check out “Secrets in the Field” by Freddy Silva, “Vital Signs” by Andy Thomas, or “The Deepening Complexity of Crop Circles: Scientific Research and Urban Legends” by Eltio Hasselhoff for more information.