“There is strong evidence to suggest that, for
some individuals, the perpetration
Peter Sørensen replies to
“CIRCLES OF CONFUSION” by Hulse & Cayton
(which they published in The Circular and UFO Magazine)
The blatant character assassination in the H&C article ranks among the lowest blows in crop circle history. The authors make unfounded claims that will adversely affect the careers of my friends and I for some time to come. And they are seeking to publish their theory far and wide, beginning with The Circular and UFO Magazine. (I’m looking forward to seeing the article in Viz and The National Enquirer).
I count eighteen debatable points in the recent UFO version of their text, but in this reply I shall stick to a handful of the most far-fetched and odious errors.
First and foremost, Messrs. Hulse and Cayton say that my colleague Ron Russell and I recently sold out to “an on-going active orchestrated Government backed debunking campaign, principally funded and directed by Agencies based in the United States.” They purport to quote Linda Moulton-Howe (an old friend of mine) as saying that Ron & I, along with Matt Williams and others are “in the payroll of the C.I.A.” (I’ll come back to that incident later.)
It is, of course, impossible to prove that one is NOT with a secret agency -- so an accuser can say that about anybody they don’t like, knowing their target has no defence.
H&C haven’t got an atom of real evidence on their side of course, just X-File fantasies fermenting in their own imaginations over the course of a long winter.
Actually, the conspiracy theory that I’m with the CIA has long been popular in the pubs, but publishing the article in UFO Magazine -- an international publication -- takes it beyond idle conversation.
As “proof,” H&C (and tipsy croppies alike) offer ONLY the fact that Ron and I changed our minds about the source of the circles. When we got involved with the phenomenon in the beginning of the 1990s we both firmly believed the patterns in the crop were a gift from ETs or angels -- but by mid-decade we began to recognize evidence to the contrary.
The authors assert: “In view of Ron Russell's and Peter Sorensen's undoubted knowledge of this subject their apparent about face cannot possibly have anything to do with reason and must therefore be a policy decision.” [Emphasis is theirs.]
So, because H&C are personally convinced beyond any doubt that the crop circles are of unearthly origin, they cannot conceive of anyone else coming to a different conclusion without an ulterior motive. What pathetically narrow minds! How many times has that kind of mistake been made in history -- and at what cost?! The Taliban for instance, are absolutely, totally, 100% certain that their belief is the only truth, and that people who believe otherwise are in cahoots with Satan -- and must be done away with.
If H&C were even halfway decent journalists they would have asked Ron and I if we had a logical explanation for our position. Even expecting us to lie, they might have gleaned some insight. But no. They talked only to folks who would support their thesis. Fact checking is obviously not their strong point.
WHY WE CHANGED OUR MINDS
The truth is that over a period of many years, beginning in the early 1990s, Ron and I began to suspect that a significant number of circles were manmade, and in recent years our studies have convinced us that probably all complex formations are flattened with stomper boards. Our change of heart was SLOW and reluctant, and not a sudden “about face” as H&C have assumed. Ask anyone who has known us personally during the past decade.
Reading their article one gets the impression that Ron and I have been energetically rubbishing the circle phenomenon all over the place.
Well, I fear I haven’t been doing enough to justify MY fat Swiss bank account! In fact, aside from our Hilmartin report, I have published nothing and have given no lectures in over a year and a half. (I have had invitations.) Believe it or not, I’ve got no interest in sabotaging people’s dreams! Once I became sure there were no “genuine” complex formations, I dropped out of the lecture circuit. My swan song was at Cricklade in 2000.
In fact, if it weren’t for public attacks from believers, to whom I feel it is my duty to reply, I would be off the public radar. Ironic -- they have to goad me into it! The “believer” press is my greatest promoter.
DINNER WITH LINDA MOULTON-HOWE
The authors devote several paragraphs to a dinner that Ron & I had with our mutual friend Linda, which they describe as being like a “lion’s den,” with “all present vainly trying to convince her that the majority of the best formations were man-made, mostly by them and to radically shift her stance on the subject.”
It is true that what had been intended as a quiet evening turned into a big discussion between Linda and Matt Williams (and several other circle artists who showed up unexpectedly). I don’t know if Matt had been invited, but the others had not been. And there was certainly no premeditated plot to trap Linda in a star chamber.
In fact Linda had met together with Matt, Ron and myself on a few previous occasions, and she has asked us -- no exaggeration -- hundreds of questions about manmade circles. The dialogue that evening simply continued her investigation of the matter. She asked questions -- we answered. She could have changed the subject at any time. We certainly couldn’t have compelled her to stay against her will.
And although I do recall her saying to Matt during the meal that she thought he sounded like someone with the CIA, I’m sure she did not say we were “all on the payroll of the CIA.” Coming from an old friend, that would have made a memorable dent in my brain!
By the way, no one who knows Linda well would dream of trying to twist her arm into altering her views. She is one of the most knowledgeable and courageous investigators in the entire paranormal field. She could no more be forced into changing her mind than water could be sweet-talked into flowing uphill.
OUR HILLMARTIN FORMATION
CIA torture tactics aside, the main focus of H&C’s article is the formation that Ron & I made with the Midwest Research group at Hilmartin last summer. This apparently was the spark that put the fire under their bottoms.
Before I begin this part, I want to introduce a fact that has not previously been considered worth mentioning: For some months prior to making the formation, we had been debating whether to announce it to the researchers so they could inspect a known manmade formation, or to keep it secret and see if they would detect the circle’s human origin. It has been my experience that when the researchers know in advance they invariably declare the result to be an obvious fabrication. But when they don’t know, they usually praise the formation. I have personally participated in the construction of designs which have appeared in calendars and books, so I am convinced that most researchers find it difficult to keep an open mind.
Anyway, Ron, Dr. Simeon Hein and I decided we did not want to be naughty by entrapping the researchers. So when The Barge opened on the day after we had started our formation, we posted a notice saying what we were doing, and gave map co-ordinates so anyone could go and inspect it -- perhaps even watch us finish the job if they were quick enough. (Some highly spiritual individual later wrote, “ROT IN HELL!” across the note.) Ron also put out his report on the internet, which attracted a real crossfire.
So much for trying to wear a white hat.
THEIR ATTACKS ON HILMARTIN
Meanwhile, back to the article in The Circular and UFO. At the risk of sounding simplistic, not one of the authors significant assertions concerning our Hilmartin experiment is correct.
Unfortunately this is a classic situation of “whom do you trust,” because there is just our word vs theirs, there’s no material evidence to support either side’s assertions -- except for one of the points. Luckily for us, the one provable point is on our side.
The author’s points on Hilmartin are all based on interviews with farm hand Alan Sparrow and his wife Janet, who live at the start of the farm track that leads to the field where we made the formation. How they could be so far off base with their statements I do not care to speculate -- but way off they certainly are. (To show which side the Sparrows are on, the authors devote two paragraphs to the great many UFOs and crop circles they have seen over the years. Well, I have also seen some utterly unexplainable aerial lights and several hundred crop circles -- if that helps my credibility. No?)
THEIR FIRST INACCURACY
H&C declare that we did all our work “during daylight hours, the field being illuminated by a giant star, the sun.” And that we quit when it “got too dark to see what we were doing.”
In fact, we quit near midnight when the formation was not quite complete because some of our six team members were exhausted (four of us being between 60 and 70 years old!). During that afternoon we had made several smaller practice circles. After dinner we returned and began the main formation while it was still daylight. I don’t remember when it got dark, but we certainly were working for at least a couple of hours during the night.
The visibility was excellent because of the lights from Lynham airfield two miles away lit the sky like a 3/4 moon (check this for yourself on any clear night). We were even able to read the tape measure without the use of a flashlight.
SECOND INACCURACY: It took more than two days to finish the formation.
To be fair, the Sparrows are probably counting the day before we started work, when Ron went to inspect the field, but no work whatsoever was done that day.
As I said, we returned the afternoon after the day we started, and finished flattening the design in less than two hours. The total time spent was roughly eight hours. We could have done it a lot faster except we only had two stomper boards -- one of which was quite small.
Bear in mind that our formation was 292 feet in diameter, and in the end we had pushed down about 50,900 square feet of crop. At least you can’t say we were timid in setting our goals.
THIRD INACCURACY: The authors quote farmer Sparrow as saying the lay of the crop in our formation was “pretty poor, on a scale of 10, they would have scored a zero…!”
This is the one point that I CAN counter with hard evidence -- pictures.
If you look at the accompanying ground shot, you may feel Sparrow was a bit harsh. Perhaps a 5, but zero?! Zero should be total chaos. At least the crop is all flowing pretty much together, as my ground and aerial shots show. And notice that it does shine a bit in the aerial -- H&C state that it did not. [I have done no Photoshop tricks to this picture.] Considering that I was the only person there that had ever made a circle before, and that six different people took turns stomping, it’s a fairly clean lay.
As for the author’s absurd assertion that my photography was intentionally bad so as to “conveniently mask the imperfect crop lay flows,” it happens that I shoot only with a video camera, so the resolution isn’t great. A glance at the hundreds of pictures on my website http://cropcircleconnector.com/Sorensen/PeterSorensen99.html will show they are all of similar quality.
H&C are correct in saying I did not take close up shots of the lay, but, frankly I simply wasn’t interested. I was not trying to hide anything by omitting close ups.
What mainly concerned me was the size and accuracy of the overall formation -- of which I am proud. (Forgive me for bragging, but the one thing that H&C do not attack about Hilmartin is the scale, design and precision of the formation -- which was designed by yours truly on the back of a menu just a hour before we began work. I take their silence as a compliment. If nothing else, we have proven that a manmade circle need not be small and misshapen -- those being the only characteristics that some croppies admit as indicators of human involvement.)
As for facts regarding the electrostatic readings that Ron got in the formation, that’s his department. My only involvement with that aspect was occasionally videoing him taking the readings. But I back Ron’s statements in the Hilmartin report. We definitely feel that in addition to odd meter readings, there is a range of anomalous things still associated with crop circles -- just that what flattens the plants is not one of them.
We made the Hilmartin formation because we sincerely believe that the present state of crop circle research is skewed 99% to the ET side, and someone had to take a close look at what humans can do.
For daring to break with orthodoxy, we have been branded the biggest and baddest bogeymen in the believer’s fantasy of Cerealogical Hell -- government agents. Pretty pathetic, really.
Gee, if Hilmartin is the worst that the CIA can come up with in the entire summer, what are all you guys so worried about?!
I’ll conclude my rebuttal with this: ]
I swear on my MOTHER’s grave that I am not, and never was, in any way involved with the CIA or anything even REMOTELY like that. My ideas are my own.
But that’s just the kind of thing a patriotic Agent would say, isn’t it? ;-)
PS: As far as H&C’s boast that my friends and I would be afraid to “carry out a monitored public demonstration of their claimed skills,” I gladly accept the challenge to reproduce the crop circle. Just two easy conditions: H&C pay for the field this time, and there is to be no interference with the work while in progress.
And yes, and we will do it during the night.
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THEIR UNPROFESSIONAL JOURNALISM
Hulse & Cayton’s original article contained some appalling errors. The worst being their statement that the giant Milk Hill formation “consisted of 477 separate circles with a total diameter of around 1000 feet.” Those numbers are bewildering!
As soon as there were aerial photos available anyone who could count knew that there were 409 circles in the formation, while estimates of the diameter ranged between 700 and 800 feet -- every croppie worth his/her salt was well aware of that much. But, when H&C open their article with a trumpet fanfare celebrating Milk Hill, they appear to have invented numbers to make the formation sound even bigger and better than it really was.
Inspired by their inexplicable inattention to detail, I decided to find out exactly how large the formation was. I called the Milk Hill farmer, Brian Reed, and simply asked what the width of his tramlines are -- which turn out to be 24 meters. A glance at an aerial photo shows the formation to be about 9.75 tramlines in diameter. Converting meters to feet we find that the formation was 767 feet in diameter. You’d think H&C would have wanted to use an authoritative figure, and made that simple phone call!
Although H&C have corrected the number of circles in subsequent iterations of their article, they are still gilding the Lilly with their thousand foot estimate. This is not a fiddly little point. These guys are posing as authorities in the UK/US/Europe spotlight. It is neither good research or responsible journalism to guesstimate (and exaggerate by 25% ) a primary statistic concerning what many call the greatest crop formation in history.
For men claiming to be “at the point” of crop circle research, they are lax in doing the most basic bits of their homework.
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