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Press Release - 4th Sep 2000

The Mail on Sunday fails basic journalism test! - 4th Sep 2000

No less than five factual and grammatical errors in crop circle article!

Is the skill of accurate and informative reporting dead? It certainly seems so by reading The Mail on Sunday, September 3rd 2000 edition.

Many people regard crop circles, including the Mail on Sunday, as mere human art-forms created by human pranksters. However there remain a number of witnessed anomalies including measurable electronic malfunctions involving cameras, portable computers and recording equipment being influenced within the proximity of crop circle patterns.

However, not only does The Mail on Sunday fail to recognise the serious scientific research projects underway, simply quoting a non researcher as calling one of the hoaxers "a demon", but it makes no less than five grammatical errors, proof that either the reporter, Peter Hillmore, had never even been to the locations reported from or that the Mail on Sunday lacks a proof reader. The latter is confirmed when a person's name is spelt correctly in one paragraph and then incorrectly in a following paragraph.

For reference, Woodborough Hill is not spelt "Woodrow Hill", Honeystreet is not spelt "Honeysweet", Avebury Trusloe is not spelt "Truslove" as The Mail on Sunday seem to think. Indeed, several are spelt incorrectly throughout the article, thus eliminating simple typos - bad enough in what is supposedly an exposť of the subject. However, The Mail on Sunday are also guilty of bad background research; Veteran circle hoaxers Doug Bower and Dave Chorley came from Hampshire (not Dorset) and made their initial revelation in 1991 (not 1992) - there, that's six factual errors so far!

Indeed, The Mail on Sunday even published a diagram to show how one of the more elaborate crop circles could be constructed. Not only has this diagram been available on the internet at www.cropcircleresearch.com for the past five weeks, but The Mail on Sunday make a basic mathematical mistake in its construction. The centre point of the radial lines is the midpoint between the centre and the outer circumference, not off-centre as The Mail on Sunday have drawn in their diagram.

After so many errors and obvious lack of research it makes me seriously wonder who is really being duped; the scientists who are discovering verifiable anomalies in the crop fields (neatly ignored by Peter Hillman) or The Mail on Sunday itself who has reproduced the claims of some self-confessed criminal (The National Farmers Union has offered a £1000 reward for the arrest of hoaxers caught damaging cereal crops).

When so much evidence is available, not only on the internet (a simple search for "crop circle research" will reveal a few hundred links, or www.cropcircleresearch.com or www.lovely.clara.net are a more direct routes), but in the last year Lucy Pringle's book "Crop Circles: The Greatest Mystery of Modern Times" (pub. Thorsons, ISBN 0-7225-3855-3) reveals the real extent of the hoaxing, as well as providing more pointers to scientific testing being undertaken by various laboratories around the world.

Sadly it seems that objective reporting in The Mail on Sunday is as rare as the space aliens that they write about.

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