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Enigma Issue 3: Crop Circle Hoaxing: The Final Chapter!

An analysis of the hoax hypothesis by Paul Vigay | Summer 1994

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Over the winter I did some thinking about the hoax hypothesis and rapidly came to the decision that it's pretty meaningless to the genuine plot of things. Rather than become disillusioned with the subject and withdraw myself to my own thoughts I thought I'd vent some of my anger towards them in the form of this article. As I now believe hoaxers to be rather meaningless (and I doubt if they'll go away), I shall duly ignore them from now on.

Introduction

One thing has become increasingly apparent over the past year. There seems to be an increasing friction between crop circle researchers and crop circle hoaxers1. Indeed, from a personal view, it seems that researchers and hoaxers are even squabbling amongst themselves - an observation that I'm sure other members of the public have also noticed. Why is this? Why have some people done U-turns from being enthusiastic circle followers to avid and, almost paranoid, crop circle rubbishers?

I have been actively researching the subject since 1989. Since then I have seen the number of hoaxed formations increase each year, seemingly coupled with an aggressive attitude and more desperate attempt by the hoaxers to dissuade the general public in believing that there is any sort of genuine phenomenon.

Genuine formations - An inherent problem for hoaxers

Hoaxers have posed themselves an impossible problem to overcome. That of when to stop the hoaxing. If, as they claim, all crop circles are hoaxing, there is a simple way to stop the crop circle phenomenon for once and all - for the hoaxers to stop hoaxing. If, as they claim2, Doug and Dave did invent the subject back in the late 1970's, all hoaxers have to do is to stop hoaxing. That way there would be no more circles.

The biggest problem for the hoaxers is that of the genuine phenomenon. As they have no control over the 'real' circles, they cannot force the phenomenon to stop merely because they stop. Therefore each year, as genuine formations start to appear, the hoaxers have to come forward and say "yes, we did them". They cannot simply give up hoaxing as this will reveal the genuine formations, which will continue to appear. Hoaxers have effectively given themselves no option but to continue hoaxing for as long as the genuine phenomenon persists.

This task becomes increasingly more difficult every year, as more and more 'crop watchers' monitor fields during the season. The hoaxers will therefore have to travel further and further to find a field not being watched. Eventually the hoaxers will either have to give an enormous amount of effort for nothing (or personal satisfaction?), or simply give up.

In 1991 Doug and Dave stated that "they would make no more circles". This vow has since been broken an unknown number of times. Certainly at least once, as John Macnish claims3 that he filmed them making the East Meon pictogram of 1992. I even asked Doug at his talk in Marlborough2 if he would confirm that he would NOT be making any more circles. He told me point blank that he wouldn't.

Genuine versus Hoax?

Amateur Crop circle researchers such as myself have very little to gain or lose

4 from the subject, whether hoaxed or genuine. If ALL circles are hoaxed, that still leaves me plenty to research. Such as: Why should there be mechanical and electrical failures inside certain formations? What causes different physical or emotional effects within people visiting certain formations? What causes the anomalous aerial phenomenon associated with the circles?

In addition to my extensive database of strange effects associated with circles, I have met many people who have become very good friends, had many enjoyable visits to the countryside and expanded my creative mind. What have the hoaxers achieved? ABSOLUTELY NOTHING. They cannot prove that EVERY formation is a hoax - and we already know that SOME are hoaxes.

A question often thrown at researchers by circle debunkers (such as Ken Brown5) is that all circles are hoaxed unless researchers can prove otherwise. As the genuine phenomenon is an unknown entity, debunkers think they are onto a winning streak as researchers cannot prove objectively that any specific formation is genuine. This question is RUBBISH and totally invalid. I for one, am simply investigating the phenomenon. I don't think any serious researcher has stated categorically that ALL formations are genuine. I merely study, to quote Dave Bower, "flattened corn"6. What benefit or satisfaction I gain from this is my business.

I mind my own business and study flattened corn. If I subsequently discover any anomalous effects I present my findings to others and let them decide for themselves whether or not they believe in the phenomenon.

Hoaxers on the other hand MUST be able to prove that ALL formations are hoaxes, for it is they that claim the subject is a hoax. Doug and Dave even admit that they haven't made EVERY formation. They say that the ones they didn't make, someone else obviously made by copying their idea. Again, THIS IS RUBBISH - Come on Doug and Dave, you are making the claim. PROVE that someone hoaxed EVERY circle that you didn't. If you can't, then shut up. Trying to pretend others have copied you is a bit of a weak excuse. I could claim that all ten pound notes are hoaxes - all the ones I didn't make, the Royal Mint must have made. Even the Royal Mail can only say that they made them. They can't prove it - unless they can physically take you back in time to watch your specific ten pound note being pressed.

Who are the hoaxers trying to fool?

I have already stated that we know that some, possibly even a lot of crop circles are hoaxes. However, you only need a single genuine formation for there to be a genuine phenomenon. I certainly won't give up and go home just because some hoaxer tells me the subject is one big con.

I've studied enough circles and collected sufficient evidence to convince myself that there is a genuine phenomenon. The people being conned by the hoaxers are the public, who perhaps haven't visited formations themselves or had first hand experience of anomalous effects. What gives hoaxers the incentive to hoodwink the public in this way?

Physical Evidence

Whether formations are man-made or otherwise it can't be denied that a number of strange effects have been witnessed in the immediate vicinity of certain formations.

I myself experienced total failure of a mobile phone inside one particular formation in 1991, yet as soon as I held the phone at arms length outside the formation it worked fine on full signal strength. I wandered around the circle repeating this again and again. Anywhere inside the formation there was no signal. At arms length held outside the circle, full signal strength.

In other formations I have detected strange radio interference, localised to the formation and not detected elsewhere in the field.

The CCCS hold a human effects database containing over 100 individual accounts of people who have experienced some sort of physical or emotional change whilst inside or near a formation.

You may be able to hoax crop circles but you can't hoax physical evidence.

The 1978 deadline

Many hoaxers and debunkers have said that no evidence exists to show that crop circles existed before the early seventies - when Doug and Dave claim to have started the phenomenon. Here are just a few reports, so check your facts, boys!!

  1. 1967, North-Eastern USA, 30' diameter, clockwise spiral lay. There is an eye-witness report of a large glowing light the night before.
  2. 1972, Orebro, Sweden, 45' ringed circle, clockwise lay in circle, anti-clockwise swirl in ring. Again a red light was seen to descend before discovery of the formation.
  3. 1975, Munzur range, Turkey, series of 35' swirled circles. Found and photographed by geologist Dr Alan Wells. In 1968 he had also found similar swirled, circular markings in snow in the Elburz Mountains near Tehran, Iran.

Where's the evidence?

Some hoaxers have even taken photos of their handiwork. How clever of Doug and Dave to take photos AFTER completion. And, judging by the photos shown at Dougs Marlborough talk, they don't seem to have aged a day in over ten years.....

It's perfectly possible to take photographs while creating a hoax, even at night - so why haven't we seen any?

John Macnish has film of Doug and Dave creating the East Meon pictogram of 1992. He showed some footage at his Kensington lecture3. However, my personal view was that;

  1. the quality was bad,
  2. the photos were taken from a long distance away, so that you could hardly make out the shapes of people, let alone Doug and Dave,
  3. there were no landmarks on the horizon, despite a farm, a copse, HMS Mercury naval establishment and East Meon church being visible from the field.

Considering that they, allegedly, had permission from the farmer, why can't good quality photographic evidence be provided. If some does exist and wasn't shown at the Kensington lecture3, when will it be shown? Also, on questioning John7, he categorically refused to let researchers such as myself analyse his film. Why?

Available techniques

I raised a point at the Macnish lecture3 concerning the ability to alter photographic evidence by the use of computer graphics techniques. This point was made, not to imply that Macnish had used such techniques or that his evidence was in anyway not as he claimed, but merely highlighting a valid technique that circle researchers should be made aware of. However, this did not stop Jayne Macnish later threatening me with (in my view, aggressive) letters accusing me of slandering them by calling them liars. As I had tape recorded the entire evening, I could prove that at no point did I actually accuse them of lying or falsifying their evidence. She has since accepted, in writing, that I did not intend anyone at the meeting to understand my comments on computer graphics to imply that they had used such techniques to create their footage.

For those not present at the lecture, I accepted a challenge from Jayne Macnish that I could create images via the use of computer graphics, of equal quality to photos shown of Doug and Dave allegedly creating the East Meon pictogram. I have demonstrated this technique below by applying it to the Barbury Castle formation of 1991. I have used the Barbury Castle formation because;

  1. it is very well known,
  2. no hoaxer has yet claimed it,
  3. I believe it to be totally genuine and
  4. it was acceptable to Jayne Macnish.

Using computer graphics manipulation I first removed the three outer circles and then created a time lapse sequence of one of the outer three circles being formed by two 'hoaxers'.

[image e003a1.jpg]Fig.1 This is the original shot that I used to create the following sequence of images.
[image e003a2.jpg]Fig.2 In the first of my 'modified' images I have removed the outer three circles
and superimposed two 'little people' about to start hoaxing the top right circle.

[image e003a3.jpg]Fig.3 By carefully 'grabbing' corn from elsewhere in the photo I 'sprayed' it over the circles, effectively rubbing them out. The whole sequence was actually created in reverse order so that all I needed to do was rub out a bit more circle and paste the little 'hoaxer' in his new position. By drawing a very faint line between the two 'hoaxers', the illusion of a rope being held across the top of the corn stalks is given.

Hoaxing - a virus?

It is my opinion that there is obviously some sort of malicious intend to deceive on the part of the hoaxer, either to fool the public or to hinder researchers carrying out scientific investigation. Personally I compare crop circle hoaxers with computer virus writers, both wanting to corrupt and hinder other peoples work and data. Some computer virus writers seem to get some sort of twisted humour from destroying the innocent publics' data files. Computer experts aren't really affected by viruses as they can detect and eliminate them before any serious harm is done. Some virus writers also seem to get kicks from 'beating the system' or 'outsmarting' virus killers.

Hoaxers seem to get kicks from interfering in the publics' enjoyment of the phenomenon, in addition to gaining some sort of delight in fooling the 'experts'. Computer virus writers cause harm and wilful damage to peoples' computer systems. Crop circle hoaxers cause harm and wilful damage to farmers crops.

Conclusion

It's difficult to come to an objective conclusion as I'm not sure what the hoaxers motives are. My feeling is that many of the hoaxers are aware of a genuine phenomenon, but want to rubbish it and fool the public into thinking it's all one big hoax. Why they should want to do this is anybody's guess.

Some obviously get fun from trying to fool the experts whilst others seem to be poor sad people with no friends who seem jealous of the friendships and enjoyment made by the crop formations.

The best way to deal with the hoaxers is not to simply ignore them. By studying hoaxed formations and by understanding the minds of hoaxers we can begin to determine the subtle differences between hoaxed and genuine formations. My advice would be to not ignore the hoaxers totally, yet not to take notice of what they say. Simply to carry on researching and enjoying the phenomenon as normal. Hoaxers are irrelevant to the message from the circlemakers and the circlemakers know it.

[image e003a4.jpg]Fig.4 Every so often I changed the orientation of the dots forming each 'hoaxer'
to give the illusion of movement.

[image e003a5.jpg]Fig.5 To create this sequence of six frames took approximately ten minutes.
Obviously, by spending longer I could create more intermediate frames which could be joined together in an animated sequence to give the effect of a video clip.

[image e003a6.jpg]Fig.6 The formation slowly takes shape.
[image e003a7.jpg]Fig.7 By now the circle is almost complete.
[image e003a8.jpg]Fig.8 The completed circle. This is actually the first frame I drew. All I needed to do was to 'draw in' the two 'people' and join them by a bit of 'rope'.
The previous frames, simply being created by removing part of the circle.

Notes:

  1. Crop circle hoaxer: A person who maliciously and wilfully damages farmers crops to form man-made crop formations with the intent to de-fraud and hinder scientific investigation.
  2. Doug Bower specifically stated this at his talk in Marlborough on Wednesday 28th July 1993.
  3. Reference: John Macnish's lecture given on Saturday 4th December 1993 at Kings College Campus, Kensington, London. A full transcript of this talk is available from IRCUP.
  4. Some hoaxers claim that researchers gain money from writing books and making TV appearances. I have not, along with most other circle researchers.
  5. Ken Brown specifically made this point at Doug's Marlborough talk (see note 2).
  6. Stated on the video 'Crop Circle Communique' made by John Macnish.
  7. I asked John Macnish twice at his Kensington lecture is he would make photos available for analysis. Both times he answered "No".

Enigma issue 2 also featured a humourous article, based on this research

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