Update for December 2014. Real paranormal crop pictures versus those commissioned by National Geographic or the “QI” TV show: how do they compare? 

(The views expressed in this article are solely those of its author, and may not reflect the views of all other researchers in the crop-circle community.)

“Crop circles” tend to be portrayed in popular magazines, or on mainstream TV, in a subjective and biased fashion. Typically a TV presenter will commission a team of hoaxers to create a fake crop picture, using rope and boards. Then he will say:                                                                                                                                                                                         

“Now we have proof that all crop circles are made using rope and boards. Only a fool would think otherwise!”  

This kind of statement is subjective or even biased, because the TV presenter never shows his audience what real, paranormal crop pictures look like. Sometimes the level and intensity of disinformation on British TV becomes astounding, approaching immoral (see for example www.youtube.com or www.youtube.com). False reporting about “crop circles” is printed regularly in London newspapers (see fringe2013il). National Geographic from the USA has participated similarly in a series of debunking exercises about “crop circles”, where no effort has been made to provide the viewer with a balanced presentation (see www.cropcirclesecrets.org ).  

Thus the intent of the mainstream media has often been to ridicule or manipulate, not to inform. When that happens, the basic character of ordinary, hard-working British people becomes demeaned, and a great deal is lost. They are not being shown any respect.  

Here we will allow the reader to make up his or her own mind about “crop circles”, and their possible origins. First we will show several examples of real, paranormal crop pictures, in order to supplement those images presented in earlier reviews (see fringe 2014 review or fringe2014y).  

Next we will show four crop pictures which were commissioned to be made by local hoaxers, using funds provided by National Geographic or the “QI” TV show, in the years 2004 to 2010. These were the “best available” at the time, since they were commissioned by leading media organizations, who had plenty of money to hire the best human crop artists.  

Finally the reader will be asked to compare one kind of crop picture with the other. Does the quality of crop circle as produced by human artists on the ground, working with rope and boards, match the quality of what most researchers regard as real, paranormal crop circles? Or might there be significant differences? You can study some comparative images below (or elsewhere, please see fringe 2014 review or fringe2014y).  

Two different “alien scripts” were drawn in crops during late June of 2009  

During late June of 2009, two different “alien scripts” were drawn in crops near Milk Hill from June 21 to 30 (in three phases), or in South Field on June 27 (in a single phase):  

Each of these crop pictures showed thousands of independent symbols, all drawn perfectly across hundreds of meters of agricultural landscape. We still do not know what most of those “scripts” mean. How can anyone decipher what appears to be an unknown, alien language?  

Yet based on universal scientific knowledge, we can make a reasonable guess at what the upper and central parts of the Milk Hill 2009 crop picture mean:  

The top part of that crop picture shows an “astronomical sextant”. Its central part then shows a rare, special arrangement of five planets and the Moon on May 30, 2011, which would be two years after the crop picture appeared (see nationalgeographic.com or www.space.com).  

On May 30, 2011, Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Uranus lined up in Earth’s sky close to one another. Their visual order was Mercury (1), Venus (2), Mars (3), Jupiter (4) and Uranus (6). This is also how each planet was “numbered” in the crops as 1-2-3-4-6. Planet Saturn (5) was located elsewhere in Earth’s sky on that day.  

Six rectangular “boxes”, drawn at centre left, tell how high each astronomical object appeared in Earth’s sky, above the horizon on May 30, 2011. Such planetary or lunar altitudes might be measured with a sextant.  

Five long “strings” of symbols in its lower part remain undecipherable. My best guess would be that they tell which constellations those five planets would pass through, from May of 2011 until December of 2012. The latter date is suggested by several number symbols for “Mayan 13”, near the bottom of the crop picture.  

Some of its “string” symbols seem possibly recognizable, for example a “serpent” for the constellation Serpens. Other “string” symbols remain quite obscure, for example “Mayan pyramids” or even a “turkey bird”! When we study such long “strings” of symbols on the ground, their sheer diversity and numbers appear overwhelming:  

Did a team of hoaxers make these two, highly complex crop pictures in the dead of night, using rope and boards?  

The “Templar Cross” or “Star of Life”   

Not all crop pictures are as large and impressive as the two examples shown above. For example, close to the top of a hill near Westwoods on June 21, 2011, we saw drawn in crops the delicate image of a “Templar Cross”:

This field image contained 36 circles of medium size, along with 104 circles of small size. Those were drawn in clusters of two or three, around the 36 circles of medium size. Whoever made this crop picture left almost no damage to standing crop nearby. I walked to the top of that hill with some friends, trying to find this crop picture on the ground, but at first walked right past it, because the damage to nearby crops was so minimal. 

Why was it drawn in that particular field location? When we study this crop picture from above, using Google Earth, we can see that it shows a standard sign of “help” or “rescue”. Just above we can see the landscape image of a “serpent” putting his tongue out, to meet in friendship what might be a small animal or dog:                                                                                                                     

Several days later, a small “serpent” shape was added on one side of the “Templar Cross”, so as to suggest a “Star of Life” which is drawn sometimes on medical ambulances. We cannot be certain that this was a paranormal crop picture, but it was an interesting and delicately-made example. None of its wheat plants were “crushed to the ground”.  

Three crop pictures were commissioned by National Geographic in 2004, 2007 or 2009  

For purposes of comparison, let us now examine what some of the best human-made crop pictures look like! On August 10, 2004 we saw a “square spiral” drawn using rope and boards near Silbury Hill:

One long region at lower right was planked down, perhaps by accident (see its lighter colour), even though no standing crop appears there.  

On July 7, 2007 we saw an “optical illusion” drawn using rope and boards near Juggler’s Lane:

This field image does not look too bad, if we view it from a distance. Yet it shows many irregularities, if we study it close up. All fallen plants within this crop picture were planked down (or crushed) firmly to the ground.  

On July 8, 2009 we saw a geometric construction known as the “circles of Apollonius”, drawn using rope and boards near Yatesbury:   

The process of making this crop picture was recorded on video by National Geographic (see channel.nationalgeographic.com). Again it looks good from a long-range aerial perspective, but when we look more closely, we can see two kinds of detailed imperfections.  

First, we can see a series of closely-spaced, “radial board marks” within its large and medium-sized circles. These are what one would expect for some man walking around a fixed centre, and pressing down crops using a board of one-meter width, which has been attached to a rope of variable length 0, 1, 2, 3 or 4 meters, etc. for concentric circles of different radii.  

Secondly, we can see that most of its small circles (which would appear as “standing nests” in a paranormal crop picture) have been crushed firmly to the ground, by the mechanical weight of “pressing down” crops with a board.  

In addition, because this crop picture was drawn in a muddy field, many of its crushed plant stems were coated with mud (see www.cropcirclearchives.co.uk). That might not be the case if the ground were dry, but it does rain a lot in southern England!  

The last of these three, man-made crop pictures was the most complex. Still we seem to see significant differences of style and quality from a real, paranormal crop picture. What do you think?  

A new video posted by National Geographic on November 24, 2014 suggests that they may be moving toward an acceptance of “paranormal crop circles” (see channel.nationalgeographic.com), even to the point of showing “metallic orbs” or “black helicopters” nearby.  

A crop picture was commissioned by the “QI” TV show in 2010 

On May 27, 2010, we saw a logo for the “QI” TV show, drawn using rope and boards near Yatesbury (see www.youtube.com):  

There we could see several young men pressing crops firmly to the ground, using a long board which was attached to a rope on either side. Such actions have the consequence of “crushing” or “smashing” any thick stems of oilseed rape which lie below.  

This is one of the easiest kinds of human fakery to detect. You go into a field, and look to see whether flattened stems of oilseed rape have been crushed and broken (as for a man-made crop picture), or else smoothly bent (as for a paranormally-made crop picture)?  

The most important rule, for distinguishing a mechanically-made crop picture from one made by paranormal energies, is to look for plants which have been crushed firmly to the ground. This may be due to the heavy weight of people stepping on them, or due to a strong force of boards pressing down on them.  

“Plank, plank, plank, crush, crush, crush”.                                                                                                                    

Two attractive examples of man-made field art 

These first four examples of man-made field art, commissioned by National Geographic or the “QI” TV show, may not appear too attractive. They were the best examples however which could be commissioned for a substantial amount of money in the years 2004 to 2010. 

A more attractive example, which came closer in quality to a real paranormal crop picture, appeared next to Boomtown Fair in southern England on August 9, 2012:  

We can be sure that it was a man-made crop picture, because the organizers of that fair posted a notice on their Facebook page, shortly before, that a new “crop circle” would appear soon for the entertainment of their guests. 

It looks good in the air from a distance. Only when we zoom in close, and study its small circles, can we see irregular sizes or shapes due to planking errors. Some of its small circles are round, some are oval, while some are pointy on both ends! Likewise when we study it closely on the ground, we can see that plant stems of wheat have been pressed firmly to the ground (or crushed), due to heavy mechanical pressure. The widths of standing plants around those small, crushed centres also appears variable, due to planking errors.  

UPDATE. Since this article was written, we have received new information from a first-hand witness to the Cheesefoot Head crop picture that: (1) it was not apparently commissioned by the organizers of Boomtown Fair nearby; (2) none of the security guards for Boomtown Fair saw anyone in the fields that night, or knew of a new crop circle nearby, until researchers told them; (3) there was no notice of this crop picture given on their Facebook or Internet pages, until just after its discovery; (4) the slight varieties of shape which are shown above may not be due to planking errors, but rather due to a subtle mathematical aspect of the Sierpinski curve, which is currently being studied; and (5) ground photographs of the freshly-made crop picture, not yet posted on Crop Circle Connector, show many instances of standing crop in otherwise flattened regions, inconsistent with a pattern of mechanical crushing. Thus it cannot be said with certainly at present, whether this crop picture was made using rope and boards, or else by paranormal energies? Once a satisfactory account is obtained, we will report those data and/or observations in Appendix 2 below.

Perhaps the best example of man-made field art in recent years was made by Julian Richardson, on commission for Meat and Livestock Australia on June 8, 2014: 

There we can see a “rack of beef ribs” in the centre, surrounded by our nine-planet solar system on the summer solstice of June 20, 2014.  

“Beef is the answer! Call 1-800-BEEF-ORACLE.”  

Again all plants have been crushed to the ground, yet its outlines (mostly circular) remain neat and tidy.  

Sometimes human crop artists destroy their work, before it can be inspected on the ground  

When the planking of a commissioned crop circle goes badly, then human artists may sometimes destroy their work, after taking a few aerial photographs. This is to prevent researchers from studying it closely on the ground.  

Fortunately a ground photograph of the “Laura-diamond ring-question mark” crop circle from 2012 found its way into the hands of researchers, after aerial photographs had been taken, and the crop circle had been cut out:

So we know what this man-made crop circle looked like, in terms of a very messy lay within its fallen crop. If most scientists from academia were to become aware of such messy ground features, then relatively few of them would accept the often-unfounded statements of human crop artists, when they claim without proof to have produced a very smooth lay of fallen crop, in some other crop picture elsewhere. Because they do not know the facts, they are willing to accept unfounded verbal claims, without questioning them too closely.                                                                                                                                                           

Time to compare: what do you think?   

Now it is time to compare. We have shown many crop pictures which have been judged to be paranormal in origin, either above or in previous reviews (see fringe 2014 review or fringe2014y). We have also shown the best of all confirmed, man-made crop pictures. Some of these were the “best” which substantial amounts of money from National Geographic or “QI” TV could buy, in the years 2004 to 2010. What do you think? 

Sometimes a team of human crop artists will claim that they made a beautiful crop picture, although everyone else judges it to have been made paranormally: for example Stonehenge 1996, Avebury Trusloe 2000 or Milk Hill 2001. When challenged to make it again, as proof of their abilities, the claimants have never done so.  

In 2004, a team of crop artists who were commissioned by National Geographic actually posed for TV within a pre-existing paranormal crop picture, in order to provide the false implication that they had “made it” (see www.bltresearch.com or www.cropcirclesecrets.org):

“In the final documentary, ‘Team Satan’ appears to work really fast, but the audience is never shown that they are not flattening any crop at all in night-time shots. They are simply moving around in an already-existing formation. They walk over the already-flattened crop, pretending to do their stomper-boarding. It is filmed in such way that one cannot see that the crop is already downed. The audience is never informed about this.”

A new video posted by National Geographic on November 24, 2014 seems more balanced (see channel.nationalgeographic.com). They seem to be moving away from their previous debunking stance, perhaps because it has become untenable.  

A crop picture near Chualar, California on December 28, 2013 remains without definite proof of construction at this time. We only saw a video, where a team of men with tape and boards move around in an already-existing formation, walking over already-flattened crops, and pretend to do stomper-boarding. It was made by the same hoaxing group “Team Satan”, whom National Geographic hired in 2004. Once some physical evidence is presented, to show who really made Chualar (not just verbal claims or video trickery), then we will be glad to discuss it here.  

Summary and conclusions: a need to investigate and determine the true facts  

The fundamental issue, which causes crop-circle debunkers to lose credibility, is their insistence that every crop picture everywhere, at all times in history, has to have been made by local humans using rope and boards (apart from a few simple circles made by wind). No one of moderate sanity, who has examined the facts, could possibly believe this. Of course there may be circumstances under which a human-made crop-circle is judged by some researchers as “authentic”. That is to be expected in a sociological sense.  

By contrast, to prove the case for “paranormal crop pictures”, a researcher only has to show that one crop picture in one place, at one time in history, could not plausibly have been made by local humans using rope and boards. There must be dozens of examples of this kind, since Stonehenge of July 1996. We showed two such examples above, near the start of this article.  

Sometimes we see crop pictures which shape the crop so gently, using delicate energies, that a patterned image may be seen on day one, yet “disappear” three to five days later, as the bent plants slowly straighten themselves out (like for a shape-memory alloy). Please see references in two reviews cited above. A general insistence of debunkers for “rope and boards”, or “microwave ovens”, or any other mechanism which invokes a strong force that presses down on the crop, seems completely at odds with the observed, scientific facts.   

Many remarkable crop pictures appeared all over Europe, or in parts of England far from Wiltshire, during the summer of 2014. Is a mindless debunking stance for “crop circles” still tenable? Is it not the mandate of true science to investigate and collect facts on new phenomena? How can we progress in science, if our minds remain closed like those of religious clerics in the Middle Ages? That is the sad situation today, which may remain in place a little while longer, because most people follow peer-group opinion and refuse to think, or study factual evidence.  

Appendix 1. A large man-made crop picture near a music festival in Belgium 2014  

To be complete, we will show below the aerial and ground images of a large, man-made crop picture from Belgium in July of 2014.  

Whether this large field image was made using rope and boards, garden rollers, or by a small tractor, we do not know (see www.destinationmadness.be or http://live.tomorrowland.com):

While this is all good fun, most humans on Earth have singularly failed to understand how badly most human-made crop pictures compare with real paranormal ones.

Appendix 2. Updated information for Cheesefoot Head of August 9, 2012 (near Boomtown Fair) 

Since writing this article in November of 2014, I received new first-hand accounts of the crop-circle event at Cheesefoot Head in August of 2012 from two reliable witnesses (G. and S.) It was natural at first for everyone to assume this might have been a man-made crop picture. It appeared close to Boomtown Fair, where an “Outer Space” theme was being featured. However other observations, noted above, now seem to suggest something more mysterious. Man-made or paranormally made? You can decide! We will show some relevant facts below.  

This crop picture showed a high level of mathematical sophistication. At first glance we can see that many Sierpinski curves fill a square (see en.wikipedia.org):  

Looking more closely, we can see that it represents a special kind of fractal called the “anklets of Krishna” (see kolams). It was drawn in crops just one day before “Krishna’s birthday” on August 10, 2012 (see www.abc.net.au). 

Each little circle may have either of two shapes, as (i) a small “teardrop” or (ii) a small “round circle”. Those two shapes suggest two different mathematical meanings, which will become more clear after we study the Cheesefoot Head crop picture in other slides below.  

Within each set of four small circles, we can see a consistent series of line crossings (these may be seen more clearly from the original photograph):  

Within any set of three intersecting lines, we can again see a consistent series of line crossings:  

How hard would it be to create a large square of such specific features on the ground?  

The complex math which is required to solve that problem lies beyond my intellectual ability! However Professor Colin Rourke from the University of Warwick studied it carefully, and reached a very clever solution (see cheesefoothead). He found that one would have to start a new lay of fallen crop in 32 separate locations, which are marked by red dots in the slide below (on the right), in order to produce the specific pattern of ground features and line crossings as observed:

Now two different shapes for each small circle take on two different mathematical meanings. The “teardrop shape” (filled red dot at lower right in the slide above) would be where new lays begin. The “circular shape” (open red dot at lower right in the slide above) would be where old lays continue, without stopping or starting. Studying this crop picture as a whole, one can see a fairly good match between Rourke’s predictions and two distinct shapes of small circle as observed, although the correspondence is not precise.  

Why did someone (local human or other) decide to draw this particular crop picture near Boomtown Fair on August 9, 2012? There seem to be two possible reasons. First, the next day of August 10, 2012 was “Krishna’s birthday” which would be celebrated by Hindus worldwide. Likewise the fractal shape of this particular crop picture is called “anklets of Krishna”.  

Secondly, the surrounding landscape shows a “U shape with a dot”, which resembles a “tilak” that is worn on the forehead by Hindu followers of Krishna (see www.sanatansociety.org ):  

A second small crop picture was drawn nearby, close to the bottom of that large “U shape”, in order to represent the “dot” from a Hindu “tilak”.  

The “Aum” symbol which is drawn by some Hindus (see www.sanatansociety.org ) matches another crop picture which appeared in East Field on July 7, 2007 (see www.lucypringle.co.uk). Other symbols for the Jewish, Christian or Buddhist religions have appeared similarly in crops from 1997 to date.  

In summary, we learned from this in-depth analysis that the Cheesefoot Head crop picture of August 9, 2012 was very cleverly designed and laid out in the field, no matter who may have made it. There is no indication at present that it was commissioned for nearby Boomtown Fair. Any suggestion that it may have been made by “pranksters” seems completely ludicrous, just as if kindergarten students might paint the “Mona Lisa”. What do you think?

Some close-up ground videos of Cheesefoot Head on August 9, 2012 are shown here (see www.youtube.com or www.youtube.com or www.youtube.com).

Red Collie (Dr. Horace R. Drew)


Mark Fussell & Stuart Dike

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