Associative instead of rule-based thinking: is that what modern crop pictures are trying to tell us? 

Today in summer of 2013, it seems to many people as if our political, corporate and/or scientific leaders cannot think. Yet clearly they are “successful” people. One does not easily become a President, Prime Minister, CEO or Professor without being clever. Still we can see them again and again, making decisions which are not in the best interests of their country, company, or even in their own self-interest. This comes at a time when the whole planet is facing a near-future environmental crisis, through the excess burning or oil, gas or coal, along with the under-development of clean energy technologies.  

Our planet (in its modern era) began to make contact with advanced intelligences from other worlds around the end of World War II, when thousands of ordinary people, policemen or military men began to see UFOs. Some of those UFOs apparently just flew around, others followed our aircraft during World War II, while others turned off nuclear missiles in their silos. Please see videos from the recent Citizens for Disclosure meeting in Washington DC to learn more (see I saw one of those “flying saucers” myself in broad daylight in 1965. They are quite metallic, fast and real.  

Then in the 1990’s, “crop circles” began to appear in 23 countries worldwide. Strenuous efforts were made by Western governments to debunk this new phenomenon, but those efforts were not based on any evidence whatsoever (see for example time2012a). Such field pictures continue to this day, all across Europe and England each summer.  

Why have the UFO-flying or crop-circle-making extra-terrestrials not tried to make open contact, with seven billion humans currently living on Earth? They may have contacted a few individuals, yet all of our major governments still deny the reality of life from other worlds. If our governments have made contact in secret, they are not telling their citizens. Those space visitors could force the issue, and appear visibly over several major cities of the world to end the cover-up? Yet they have not chosen to do so as of July 2013.  

Perhaps we are not as advanced intellectually, as a typical space-faring extra-terrestrial?  

Another possibility could be that the extra-terrestrials wish to “upgrade” us mentally, before trying to make open contact. In that context, “crop circles” could be part of a “Human Communication Project” (see time2011s). They might show us lots of clever puzzles in crops to help our thinking (see time2012b).  

Also their general ways of thought seem to be different from ours. After 10 years of studying crop pictures, I have learned that real, paranormal crop pictures tend to be “multi-layered” conceptually. First you have to understand one “layer” of meaning. Then you have to understand a second “layer”, or even a third “layer”. Finally you have to put all of those “layers” together, to understand the crop picture as a whole.  

A few human-made “sand circles”, for example those made by Julian Richardson, Stuart Dike and colleagues (see sandcircles 2013 or BreanBeach07072013), have begun to show multi-layered complexity, although most remain single-layered decorations and nothing more.  

This profound difference of intellect, between space-faring races and local humans, encouraged me to study theories of human psychology here on Earth. The academics in our schools, such as Steven Sloman (Psychological Bulletin 119, 3-22,1996), speak of an “Empirical Case for Two Systems of Reasoning” (see or These two systems are called “associative” versus “rule based”:  

Right away, by looking at the slide above, we can see that the paranormal crop artists use “associative thinking”! The crop picture shown above appeared at Hackpen Hill on July 15, 2013. Further down on the same slide, we can see how physicists from our schools use “rule based thinking”. The two sets of equations shown there come from Maxwell (1865) or Schroedinger (1928), and have to do with abstract descriptions of electricity and magnetism, or of quantum theory.  

General characteristics of associative versus rule-based thinking 

Can we find some general characteristics for associative versus rule-based thinking? Quite obviously, a spiritual New Age person might be called “associative”, whereas a fundamentalist Jew, Christian or Muslim might be called “rule based”. Still we need to look for other characteristics which do not relate to religion per se:  

The associative thinker keeps lots of different concepts in his or her head all at once, and processes them in parallel in an unrestricted fashion, to search for qualitative similarities or differences. Does some new crop picture from 2013 look like another crop picture from previous years? Does it show similar shapes and/or codes? That is “associative thinking”. 

By contrast, the rule-based thinker tries to retain as few concepts in his or her head as possible. This is considered a virtue in the physical sciences, to minimize the number of hypotheses. Next he or she will extend some single, starting hypothesis by applying a series of “rules”. For example, Newton postulated an inverse-square law for gravity, then used that law to calculate many astronomical phenomena. The main advantage of rule-based thinking is that it can lead to very precise results. No one would want to “estimate” a spacecraft’s orbit for some flight to Mars! We must follow a definite “rule”. The main disadvantage of rule-based thinking is that it does not encourage creativity or progress. It may even lead to gross, first-order errors due to “belief bias”.  

All UFOs must be birds or the planet Venus. All crop circles are made by local people at night using rope and boards.” Those are two examples of “belief bias”, sometimes uttered by leading academics from our schools. The learned Professors are not stupid, but they can’t think in any other way! Imagine asking a right-handed golfer to play left-handed, or vice-versa?  

It should be emphasized that some or our greatest inventors, for example Faraday, Edison or Tesla, were “associative thinkers”. There is clearly no merit to following “rule based logic” alone in science, although it is certainly useful in many cases.  

Let us now examine the specific mental processes used in “rule based” versus “associative” thinking. Two simple diagrams are shown below: 

Rule-based thinking proceeds linearly in series. You start from assumption 1, then add rule 2, to get result 3. John Locke once commented that it was like “looking down a long hall or mirrors”.  

Associative thinking proceeds circularly in parallel. There is no single “starting assumption 1”. The associative thinker may hold three or more “starting assumptions” in his or her head at once. Then he or she looks for all of the possible similarities or differences to find a result 2, essentially by gestalt. Almost all crop-based puzzles are based on this principle (see time2012b).  

Below we can see three more cases of “triangular thinking in crops” from the 2013 summer season:  

Four examples of rule-based versus associative thinking  

Now I will present four examples of rule-based versus associative thinking from current events, or from Earth’s recent history. In each example, there is a definite logical conclusion 3 for “rule based thinking”. Yet any logical conclusion 2 from “associative thinking” has been left blank with a “question mark”, in order to stress that there is no “single right answer”.  

Let us start with a controversial subject, namely how governments should treat people who expose secret information, which reflects badly on the perceived status of some nation-state? By rule-based thinking, a single answer seems clear. What about by associative thinking?  

Now let us go back in history, to when Spanish priests first confronted a barbaric Aztec civilization. Should they have burned almost all of ancient Mayan manuscripts, which might potentially have been “works of the devil”?  

Next let us go forward in time to England of several centuries ago. Should the local people have taken large standing stones out of Avebury Ring, simply to gain cheap construction materials, or to plant more crops?  

In the 14th century, local Christian authorities, in an effort to eradicate pagan religious practices, broke up or buried many stones at Avebury Ring. Later in the 17th or 18th centuries, more of the remaining stones were removed from their foundations. Crops could then be planted in these areas, while those massive stones could be broken into small pieces for the construction of homes” (see  

Finally let us close with another controversial subject. Should farmers in Wiltshire (or elsewhere) cut out all crop pictures, just because some of them are known to be human-made with rope and boards, although others are not? It would be in their economic benefit to do so, just as for the builders who took stones from Avebury Ring many centuries ago to build houses, or the farmers who removed those stones to plant more crops: 

By “rule based logic”, the answer seems rather simple. Every problem seems simple. There is no need to examine your motives, or hardly to think. Now we are being asked by the extra-terrestrial crop artists to attempt “associative thinking”, so that our mental skills will be upgraded to theirs. Every person living on Earth today, from the President or Prime Minister to a local farmer, must choose his or her own intellectual path. One cannot learn to think like an interstellar race, capable of space travel, just by following “rules”. 

Red Collie (Dr. Horace R. Drew, Caltech 1976-81, MRC LMB Cambridge 1982-86, CSIRO Australia 1987-2010)  

P.S. The opinions or ideas expressed here are my own, and may not represent the beliefs of Crop Circle Connector.


Mark Fussell & Stuart Dike

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