On Monday September 23rd BBC Southampton ran a piece on crop circles and wanted people to participate in an interactive question and answer session, entitled "Ask the Expert". They had originally scheduled Circlemaker John Lundberg to be 'the expert' - a choice many people, including myself, took offence to, feeling that a self-confessed circle maker shouldn't be called upon to answer serious questions about an unknown phenomenon. I emailed the BBC and complained at their choice of expert and received a reply back from Tim Burke stating that he agreed with the points I made and they would refer to Lundberg as an "expert faker".
He then asked me if I would like to be the expert, and answer questions sent in by the viewers and posted on their web site at http://www.bbc.co.uk/southampton/features/cropcircles/expert1.shtml. I agreed and the process was intended to be that people could email the BBC with questions about crop circles and current research. I would check the site every so often and email my replies to the BBC, who would then add them to their site, giving a rapid, interactive experience to viewers of the BBC web site.
On Tuesday 24th September the first questions started coming through, which I answered immediately, posting my replies back to Tim at the BBC. However, I find that today (7th October), two weeks later, my answers still haven't been posted to the page, despite Lundbergs having been added. Is this the BBC being slow, or are they censoring serious research? I've today emailed Tim to ask why. In the meantime, my answers are posted below so that people can see my replies.
Jim Burkley of Wayland MA, USA asked
My answer was:-
You make some interesting points, and you might find answers in my International Crop Circle database at http://ccdb.cropcircleresearch.com/ Crop Circles have appeared all around the world, and in all types of crop, including Maize or 'Corn' such as that portrayed in the "Signs" movie. There have been numerous reports of circles found in prairie grass in remote places in Canada and the USA - where there can often be 100s of miles around formations, unlike in the UK where we're never far from civilisation.
It's always difficult to gain useful statistical results from locations though, simply because if a formation appears in a populated area it will be reported a lot quicker than one that appears in a remote place where it may go unnoticed for weeks.
There is quite a bit of serious scientific study into crop circles, but understandably a lot of scientists fear ridicule or peer pressure not to become involved in 'fringe science' so a lot goes on in closed laboratories. However, I'm sure as more scientific discoveries are made, more announcements will be forthcoming, which may intrigue other scientists enough to see there is a genuine mystery which warrants further investigation and research.
One team looking into the biological and cellular mutations which take place inside genuine crop circle events is the BLT Research Team Inc. who are based in Massachusetts, USA. Their web site is at www.bltresearch.com
Paul, from Brighton asked
My answer was:-
It's interesting to see different people's reactions to things they don't necessarily understand or haven't witnessed first hand. Of course, like you say, Occams Razor principle would tend to imply that the origin of crop circles is the simplest explanation, ie. human pranksters. However, other then formations specifically commissioned for advertising purposes or TV programs, not a single hoaxer has ever been caught, in over 20 years of crop circles appearing. Plus, when attempting to reproduce elaborate crop circle designs, no hoaxer has successfully reproduced the accuracy, geometry and mathematical perfection of the original design. This is not even taking into account the many documented reports of scientifically measurable anomalies which have occurred inside crop formations - such as cameras failing, new or fully charged batteries going flat within seconds, high electromagnetic fluctuations, in the order of 200-300% increase from the background frequency.
The thing you mention about crop stalks growing back up towards the light is called phototropism and is indeed correct. However, this is not the effect we are referring to when we have measured cellular and biological changed in crop formations. Again, I refer you to the work of the BLT Research Team Inc., which I mentioned in my first reply (above). I fully agree with your final paragraph though. Sadly the media seem all too eager to interview the first 'New Age weirdo' who proclaims themself a crop circle 'researcher'. The quicker we can shed this biased image, the better for serious research and continued scientific investigation.
I will keep an eye on the original BBC page and, if they fail to put up any more answers, I will add them to this page.
Update - 22nd Oct 2002
I've today received an apology from the BBC, stating that there must have been a mistake somewhere and that my answers have now been added to their page, so all would appear to be ok now. :-)