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Subject: New issue of THE CROP WATCHER (large file)
Date: 16 Jan 1995 16:28:36 GMT
Summary: ASCII version of The Crop Watcher #23
Keywords: crop,circles,ufo,skeptic


The Crop Watcher
Number 23  Autumn 1994

Editorial

First let me begin by apologising yet again for the unacceptable
lateness of this issue. The reason for this delay is quite
simple. Regular readers will know that in August I visited the
National Monument Record in Swindon to see if I could find any
evidence of historical crop circles in the aerial photographic
archive. To my pleasant surprise I did find something important,
but unfortunately I have faced a succession of frustrating
problems in evaluating this important evidence. To begin with, it
took three attempts and six weeks for my local photographic shop
to enlarge the wrong parts of the photograph. Then I had to
contact some aerial archaeologists to gain their professional
opinion on what I had found. One archaeologist promised he would
respond by mid November but unfortunately his workload prevented
him from doing so. I have therefore decided to hold this article
back to my next issue, something I should have done in October. I
am very sorry for this and can assure readers that it won't
happen again. Hopefully issue 24 will be ready for printing by
late January.  

At this stage I must emphasise that the value of the photographic
evidence I have discovered hangs very much in the balance. One
aerial archaeologist who has inspected the print is convinced
that the circular traces are all archaeological in origin.
However, two other archeologists disagree. You'll have to wait
and see before deciding for yourselves ! 

Now onto more important things. 

Wiltshire Crop Rings
in the 1920s

The following article appeared in the Reading-Evening Post on
August 4th 1994 :- 

"Corn Fairies played tricks in the 1920s

Crop circles have been around for at least 100 years, according
to a Reading woman. The claim comes after circles were discovered
recently on a farmer's field at Ipsden near Reading. Constance
Wheeler, 78, of [address deleted], remembers the mysterious
patterns being discovered in the 1920s when she lived in
Wiltshire. This contradicts the belief repeated in the media that
they started appearing about a decade ago. But Mrs Wheeler said
they were known as fairy circles at the time because no one knew
who made them. 

She said 'I was eight years old when I first heard of fairy
circles. My uncle, Teddy Lawes, came into tea laughing. It was a
Thursday market day and he had been with his farmer friends at
the Bear Hotel in Devizes market place. There they had met a
farmer who had been swearing like a trooper because he had found
four big circles and some small ones in his corn'. The farmer was
shouting what he would do with the person who had made them. But
Mr Lawes told him jokingly he would never catch them because the
fairies had made them. He explained that he had seen a spate of
them 20 years previously and his family had tried to make the
corn stand up again but could not. Mrs Wheeler said 'I do not
know what causes corn circles. I do not believe in fairies myself
but I believe the circles existed 70, even 100, years ago'." 
(courtesy, Reading Evening Post). 

This superb account immediately suggests parallels with the
numerous other claims of historical crop circles which have been
published in the literature. To take just one example compare
this account with the claim published by Andy Collins in The
Circlemakers (pages 104-5). As a child of six Gwen Horrigan
recalls seeing "fairy rings" at Whitequarry Hill near Kingham on
the Oxfordshire/Gloucest-ershire border during the early years of
the Second World War (page 104-5). The circles were up to 50 feet
in diameter and exhibited swirl patterns and sharp cut-off edges.
The Kingham circles were associated by local people with fairy
lights seen in a local wood, which was said to be frequented by a
witches coven. In 1960, less than 3 kms from this location, two
concentric rings were found on Bill Edward's farm at nearby
Evenlode.  

It seems significant that both these cases involved circles which
were described as "fairy rings" but which did NOT involve fungal
growths. In both cases the witnesses were emphatic that they were
describing flattened corn laid down in circles or rings. In both
cases the witnesses describe the fact that the crop was pressed
down very firmly - something which other witnesses to historical
crop circles have mentioned in their accounts. Bob Rickard and
Andy Collins have both wondered whether circular fungal growths
and crop circles have both been lumped together into one common
folklore motif - the fairy ring. Doug Bower's admission on
Cropcircle Communique II that natural lodging can frequently look
very much like the crop circles he and Dave Chorley began making
in the mid 1970s again lends credence to the idea that we have a
masking effect, one which might be capable of obscuring the
existence of the rare crop circles which have been reported by
numerous  people who have come forward to report historical
cases. For the official Skeptics the existence of this most
unwelcome evidence continues to be brushed aside as irrelevant. 

This is one of the primary reasons why The Crop Watcher exists -
to continue researching and publishing evidence which other
researchers seem so uncomfortable with. 

On November 26th 1994 I visited Constance Wheeler to find out
more about this important historical case. Constance was born in
1916 and lived until she was 11 with her two uncles, Edward and
William Lawes, and her two aunts, Kathleen and Margaret Lawes, at
Craven House in Devizes. Her mother had secret aspirations to
become a teacher and, with the help of a local clergyman, she
secretly took a correspondence course at Reading University.
Eventually she passed her exams and went to live and teach at the
Pigott School at Wargrave near Reading. In those days it was
almost unheard of for young women from rural farming communities
to leave home and work elsewhere. In 1918 Constance was sent to
live with her uncles and aunts when her brother was born.
Originally it was intended that she should only stay for three
weeks but her uncles and aunts had no children of their own and
doted on her. They pleaded with Constance's mother to allow her
to stay a little longer, and as this seemed to suit everyone
concerned, the arrangement continued.  

Constance's uncle "Teddy" Lawes was an important figure in the
Devizes area in the 1920s and 1930s. He was an auctioneer at
Devizes market place as well as an estate agent and a property
valuer. He was in partnership with Harry Ferris and must have
been an imposing figure, weighing in at 17 stone. During the
depression years Teddy Lawes valued many farms which went
bankrupt in the Devizes area.  

Constance was probably eight years old when the corn circles
appeared. This dates the event to August  1924 (during the school
holidays). Unfortunately although Constance was fascinated when
she learnt of the appearance of the circles, her intention to
visit them was thwarted by a great storm which lashed down the
crop and destroyed most of the evidence. For this reason
Constance never saw the corn circles herself, but it is clear
from her story that her two aunts and uncles did. Unfortunately
they are no longer alive to question, but Constance recalled with
great clarity the events of that summer as this was the first
time she had ever heard of "fairy" circles. She particularly
remembers asking her Aunt Kathleen about the circles. Apparently
Aunty Kathleen replied that "We haven't heard of these (circles)
for years".  

The circles appeared at Great Cheverell - within a couple of
miles of Melvyn Bell's 1983 observation of a whirlwind creating a
corn circle - and the precise location was probably on a farm
owned by a Mr Shepherd. Unfortunately the Reading Evening Post
article confuses Constance's description of the 1924 event with
an earlier event recalled by her Aunty Kathleen (see below) but
Constance recalls quite clearly that her uncles and aunts
examined two quite large rings in an unknown crop (probably
wheat). Like many modern circles the heads of the crop were
undamaged and there was no indication that the rings were
man-made. Unfortunately Constance does not recall any mention of
how sharply defined the rings were but she was adamant that
according to her aunts all the crop pointed in one direction.  

I questioned Constance very carefully about how her relatives
tried to rationalise the "fairy circles". According to her uncles
and aunts, no one knew how the rings were made and it was a
complete mystery to everyone in the local community. By contrast
the farmer, Mr Shepherd, was convinced that the rings were made
by vandals and - as the Reading Evening Post article suggests -
he was very angry and knew exactly what he would do if he caught
them ! Apparently no one ever came under suspicion for having
made the circles and no prosecutions were ever bought. According
to Constance Wheeler Teddy Lawes did consider it possible that
the rings were made by a whirlwind but this was no more than a
guess. 

Unfortunately the Reading Evening Post article mistakenly
attributes the "fairy ring" explanation to Constance's uncle,
Teddy Lawes. However, the claim had actually been made by an
Irish tinker who had briefly worked in the district. His
suggestion that Shepherd would never catch the fairies who made
the circles on his land was treated as a joke by everyone
concerned.  

I questioned Constance carefully about some of the claims that
have been made about rural superstitions which have been linked
by some writers with the crop circle phenomenon. She recalls
nothing to support the claim that crop circles were believed to
be dangerous to enter or were associated with the Devil. In her
opinion they were just viewed as an unusual local mystery. 

The Earlier Crop Circles

As a child of eight Constance was naturally very curious about
the crop rings and she eagerly pressed her aunts and uncles for
more information about the fairy circles they recalled from
earlier years. This earlier event took place some twenty years
previously - around the turn of the century - and is also
referred to in the Reading Evening Post article. This event
occurred on Constance's grandfather's farm - known to the family
as Lawes' Farm, but which was was also called Cornbury Farm. This
farm is still located near Tilshead in the middle of Salisbury
Plain and retains its name to this date (OSGR SU 005499). The
earlier event involved six rings in wheat which almost touched
eachother. Constance recalled her aunt's description of the crop
being laid down "in perfect rings" which looked as though they
had been "made by a compass" - exactly the same description used
by John Llewellyn to describe the double rings he saw at
Evenlode, Gloucestershire, in June 1960. The rings were laid out
in a line and the four larger rings were adjacent to eachother at
one end of the formation.  

Cornbury Farm is only four miles south of Great Cheverell and is
surrounded by the rolling downland of Salisbury Plain. The
Cornbury Farm rings were not as big as those which featured in
the 1924 event but were as big as a room - perhaps 15 feet or
more in diameter. Constance's aunt recalls that they tried to
lift the fallen wheat with walking sticks and umbrellas but it
had been flattened so hard that whenever the crop was lifted it
flopped down again.  
Constance moved to Reading during the 1930s and for many years
was employed as a civil servant in the Ministry of Works at
Whiteknights Park, Reading. 
Assessment

Constance Wheeler told her story to the Reading Evening Post
because although she didn't know what caused the circles recalled
from her childhood she wanted to contradict media claims that
corn circles first appeared about a decade ago. It seems quite
astonishing in the light of numerous repeated consistent claims
like this that the official Skeptics continue to claim that crop
circles are "new" and have no reliable historical precedents. It
seems even more astonishing that the same motifs - the
association of the circles with the fairy folk - should arise in
both the Gwen Horrigan case and the Constance Wheeler case. With
coincidences like this we are surely dealing with consistent
accounts of a rare natural phenomenon. In the 1920s life in rural
England was hard and it would have been unlikely that locals
would have made crop circles for a game. It is important to
remember that both these events occurred many years before the
invention of the flying saucer mythology in 1947 so if, for sake
of argument, these events were both the product of hoaxers, the
only supernatural mythology available to them would have been the
Irish tinker's "fairy" rings.  

Looking through the UFO Research Manitoba database there are
several historical accounts of multiple ring formations dating
back to the 1960s which are comparable to the earlier account by
Constance Wheeler. In 1967 seven flattened rings appeared in a
grass field at Duhamel, Alberta (Canada) . The rings were 10
metres in diameter and 15 cms wide. That same year six concentric
rings were discovered in a wheat field at Willen, Manitoba
(Canada). The rings were 3.9 metres in diameter and nearly 2
metres wide. In 1974 seven flattened rings were discovered at
Langenburg, Saskatchewan, in a field of grass. The rings varied
between 3 and 4 metres in diameter and were 46 cms wide. Readers
will recall that this was the controversial UFO case discussed in
CW15 and IUR volume 17 no 2.  

Both the earlier case and the 1924 case discussed above formed on
or near rolling downland - one of the prerequisites for Meaden's
atmospheric vortex theory. The 1924 event took place 36 years
before an eye witness claims that he saw a crop circle being
created by a whirlwind on a hot summers afternoon only a few
miles away. It is known that under stable atmospheric conditions
natural ring-shaped vortices can form which would be perfectly
capable of creating the phenomena described by Constance
Wheeler's relatives, particularly if they were located close to
hillslopes. It seems clear that these are excellent candidates
for an atmospheric explanation, although it has to be accepted
that the involvement of six almost-touching rings in the earlier
case begs important questions about how multiple ring vortices
can be generated at the same time. Our thanks go to Constance for
her courage in coming forward with this important account. 


Dr W.C. Levengood, John A. Burke, Lab Report No 18, the FE3
Project and the H-Glaze Report 

Yet another major controversy has hit the troubled world of
"cereology" with the publication of the H-Glaze Report by Dr W.C.
Levengood and his co-worker John A. Burke, in the United States.
Readers will already know from lengthy articles in The
Cerealogist and The Circular about the controversial work being
conducted by Dr W.C. Levengood and John A. Burke at Pinelandia
Biophysical Laboratories (an impressive sounding name, but in
fact merely a laboratory attached to Dr Levengood's private
address). Over the past few years a number of "Lab Reports" have
been issued proclaiming the latest discoveries by these
researchers. As someone with postgraduate training in
experimental design methods I was naturally interested in what
Levengood and Burke have been up to ! 

Lab Report No 18

In "Lab Report No 18" Levengood and Burke describe what they call
a "Technique for Examining Crop Circle Energetics". Readers will
recall that one of the major criticisms made against the crop
circle researchers by sociologists in the "Equinox" documentary
was this vague use of that term "energy". So far my attempts to
find out what kinds of "energetics" are being analysed by
Levengood and Burke have met with failure. In the meantime it is
perhaps safe to say that as a professional statistician I found
their description of their methodology confusing and disquieting. 

Levengood and Burke claim that they have developed two
verification methods that are capable of distinguishing "genuine"
crop circles from fakes. These two tests are the amplitude
coefficient (also referred to as the "alpha test") and the use of
seedling development rates (ie growth rates). These tests have
apparently indicated that "something is altering the rate at
which ions flow through the affected crop". Levengood and Burke
state that they have established that trampling cannot produce
the statistical results they are discovering in "genuine" circles
because they have compared their test results with results
produced by provably man-made circles. Strangely, this finding
didn't stop them from promoting crop taken from Jim Schnabel's
Dharmic Wheel as genuine products of the rapid heat-inducing
circle-making mechanism.  

In this reviewer's opinion, there are many problems with the
claims made in Lab Report No 18. To begin with, Levengood and
Burke appear to confuse the terms "sample" and "population". 
Also, they appear to have exaggerated the importance of the
results they have obtained. Quoting chances of "less than one in
a million" for their test results Levengood and Burke do not
appear to appreciate that it is inappropriate to calculate
binomial probabilities when ratio data is available.  

Reading through Lab Report No 18 I must admit that I have found
it difficult to understand how these two researchers have
analysed their data. They claim that  

"Each sample run involves five alpha values per trace. The
current procedure involves six replicate tests on individual
bracts (each selected from a different plant if available).
Controls and crop circle samples are ran [sic] in alternate
tests. The 30 data points (alphas) are entered into a computer
program ("Statview") which provides a convenient means of
statistically analysing many aspects of the data population. The
most reliable, consistent information from the thirty alpha
values is based on a statistical analysis of the paired, thirty
data point alpha populations".  

Again Burke and Levengood use the term "population" when they
mean "sample". I have read this statement over and over again,
and I still don't understand how one can apply a "paired"
analysis of "six replicate tests" on each plant. A "paired"
analysis involves comparing two values, not six ! 

The correct method of analysing the kind of data discussed in Lab
Report No 18 is to conduct a two-way analysis of variance. In
this way one can test whether or not there are statistically
significant differences between samples of crop taken inside the
formation and samples of crop taken from outside fformations,
taking into account the natural variations in the alpha values of
samples in both groups. Such an analysis would only be
representative of crop circles in general if the samples taken
were truly independent of eachother within each formation and if
these tests were repeated in numerous formations chosen at random
across the world. Unfortunately Lab Report No 18 examines samples
taken from just one formation, the 1993 ringed circle in oats at
Albertsville in Canada.  

Unfortunately, by taking "six replicate tests" on the same plants
it is debatable whether or not these researchers have collected a
truly random sample. For this reason not only have Levengood and
Burke conducted the wrong statistical test but they may well have
invalidated any results they obtain because they failed to
satisfy one of the primary assumptions underlying almost every
statistical test ever conducted ! 

However, the greatest problem with Lab Report No 18 is Levengood
and Burkes' curious decision to alter PROX-10 from a control
reading into a circle reading in their Figure 4 (approximately
reproduced in Figure 1 on page 6). This decision cannot possibly
be justified because it completely alters the outcome of the
results of the alpha test !  

In the top half of Figure 1 we have reproduced Levengood and
Burkes' results by drawing the average alpha value for each
sample. Levengood and Burke have drawn a line through the highest
control average (Cont-7) to emphasise how all the average alpha
values taken inside the circle and ring are higher. However, this
decision ignores the fact that PROX-10 - a sample taken in
unaffected crop close to the formation - produces an average
alpha value which is higher than four of the six circle and ring
samples ! 

If we redraw Figure 1 by correctly treating PROX-10 as a control
sample (rather than a sample taken from inside the formation),
then the true test result becomes clear. There is little evidence
that the average alpha values are significantly higher inside the
circles and rings than in surrounding, untouched crop. In other
words, the alpha test provides no evidence of unusual effects.  
This decision to alter PROX-10 from a control sample to a
"circle" sample is scientifically dishonest, for it alters the
whole outcome of the experiment. It is true that two of the alpha
values are higher than the PROX-10 average (CIR-1 and RING-6),
but in this reviewer's opinion it must surely be expected that a
two-way analysis of variance will demonstrate that there is no
statistically significant difference between the average alpha
values found inside the formation and those found in the
surrounding crop. I say this because it is clear that there are
wide variations between the average alpha values in both groups
(e.g. the average alpha readings in the control samples vary from
approx. 0.022 and 0.075, whilst the average alpha values of
samples taken within the circle vary from 0.038 to 0.090). 

Unfortunately Levengood and Burke have failed to publish the data
they used in Lab Report No 18 so I cannot test this conclusion
properly.  

The True Extent of Hoaxing 

One of the problems with this research is that it is apparent
from their own published work that Levengood and Burke seem
blithely unaware of the true extent of hoaxing in Britain.
Levengood's recent promotion of Jim Schnabel's Dharmic Wheel
formation seems an excellent example of the way in which the crop
circle myth continues to flourish because of the mass suppression
of pro-hoax evidence by leading cerealogists. Of course Levengood
and Burke claim to be searching for an infallible method of
distinguishing real from fake - something we would all love to
see - but this is no excuse for not having done their homework on
recent events.  

The H-GLAZE REPORT

In July 1994 an even bigger controversy broke with the
publication of what has been called the H-Glaze Report. The
author, John A. Burke, begins by claiming that he and Levengood
have made an "extraordinary discovery" following their analysis
of some reddish-brown glazed chalk found by Peter Sorensen in two
formations that lay close to the 1993 Cherhill pictogram. 

Sorensen would have preferred to examine these circles
immediately but -  unfortunately - Busty Taylor had to return
home that evening for an appointment. Sorensen returned to the
site two days later, accompanied by a neighbour.  According to an
amicable farmer the circles had arrived a week or so earlier and
that originally parts of the circles had been covered by "a dark
grey mist" which had been largely washed away by heavy rain.  
When Sorensen arrived both formations had been harvested. The
first formation was shaped like a tear-drop (in fact like a
"Nautilus") and exhibited multiple swirls and complex layering
effects. Sorensen noted that the dust was concentrated inside the
swirls and resembled soot. As he videoed the formation Sorensen
largely dismissed the possibility of a prank because the dust
appeared "almost accidental". However, as he looked more closely
Sorensen discovered a "reddish-brown, dull glaze" on lumps of
chalk and pebbles. A smaller concentration of dust and coated
chalk was discovered in the second formation, a circle with an
arc, which lay close by. 

Levengood's Analysis 

According to the H-Glaze Report, Levengood subjected the glaze to
a spectroscopic analysis. He discovered that the particles were
composed of iron and oxygen (FE). According to Levengood's
reasoning this didn't make any sense, because had these
originated from the soil there should have been traces of calcium
and silicon as well, but strangely there was none. Microscopic
study revealed that the glaze was composed of "thousands of
partially-fused tiny spheres" which contained both magnetite (Fe
O) and hermatite (Fe O). As the particles were magnetized, the
"glaze" acquired an "H" - the chemical symbol for magnetism.  
Finding no evidence of a "terrestrial system" that could account
for such unusual particles Levengood and Burke mounted an
"extensive" literature search to discover if such material had
been discovered before. Astonishingly they concluded that the
only way particles containing both iron and oxygen could have
appeared in a crop formation was if it had been deposited during
a meteor shower ! In their preliminary report Levengood and Burke
go into great detail about how the surface of a meteorite would
become molten as it enters the earth's atmosphere. During this
state the outer surface of the meteorite is blown off and
solidifies into tiny spheres that oxidise (rust) and fall to
earth. Somewhat conveniently this process is said to take days or
even weeks.  

Levengood and Burke hypothesize that this dust was released
during an unusually intense Perseid meteor shower, which
apparently peaked nearly two weeks earlier. During their
microscopic examination of the particles they noticed "mud-crack"
patterns and bubbles where the molten meteoritic droplets had
partially refused. Attempting to explain why the molten droplets
had failed to burn the wheat Levengood and Burke propose that the
moisture inside the stems evaporated and produced water droplets
on the stems, thus insulating them from the effect of the heat. 

This "Leidenfrost effect" insulated the stems from burning.  
Levengood and Burke were so excited by their discovery that they
quickly circulated the H-Glaze Report to numerous sources, urging
cereologists to "make magnets a standard part of their field
equipment" to locate more meteoric dust. Furthermore, the authors
claim that "This incident provides rare, direct evidence for a
theoretical model of crop formation - the plasma vortex - that
had previously been indicated only in an indirect way." They go
on to cite confirmation of their results by stating that the
affected wheat stems exhibited "dramatic differences" to control
samples in terms of the alpha test and measured growth rates. 
In their conclusions Levengood and Burke grandly claim to
represent "the scientific community of the world" and they
challenge hoaxers to explain how they managed to "scavenge the
atmosphere for meteoric dust, re-heat it and lay it down just
right with no contamination". They predict that crop formations
will appear more frequently following meteor showers than at any
other time.  

The Sting ?

Well, if all the claims made by Levengood and Burke were really
supportable we would have a major breakthrough which would make
one giant conceptual leap in our understanding of the crop circle
phenomenon. However, as we have come to expect in this business,
the circlemakers were not about to let Levengood and Burke get
away with such an astonishing claim without some kind of
fightback - oh no ! 

On July 25th 1994 Robert Irving wrote to John Burke. Irving's
letter stated :- 

"It is not our primary interest to contradict your findings ...
It is instead our intention to use your report as textual source 
material for an upcoming exhibition to be held on behalf of The
Agency Gallery, in London. The piece in question (entitled 'Fe3')
will comprise a museum style glass cabinet with text displayed on
the glass. Inside the cabinet, beyond the text, will be a
standard Oxford University chemistry laboratory bottle containing
fine-grade iron filings. This bottle was originally addressed,
labelled, and postmarked to correspond with the crop formation
which constitutes the subject of your report ... and will be
displayed in it's original state. Remaining samples of the 'grey
dust' will also be shown. All text will be fully credited to you,
citing the tests and conclusions of Dr W.C. Levengood. The
context of the piece can be loosely summarised by the following
theoretical equation: If science is incongruous to mysticism, and
the mystical is represented through art, should 'bogus' science
be elevated to an art form ? Certainly the gallery concerned
seems to think so, and our fingers feeling the pulse of a growing
trend towards millenialist awareness would seem to confirm this."

We have reproduced Irving's own photograph of the laboratory
bottle on page 8. This bottle was exhibited at a London Art
Gallery on the South Bank during September and the accompanying
text is reproduced on page. BBC2's "The Late Show" took an
interest in the iron fillings exhibit and they filmed an
interview with Irving during September [for proof, ring Matthew
Collings at the Beeb]. Meanwhile, a furious argument has
developed between Levengood and Burke, on the one hand, and
Irving and Montague Keen, on the other.  

Irving has sent samples of the original batch of iron filings to
Montague Keen and offered them to Levengood and Burke, who so far
have failed to accept this offer. Irving's intention is to allow
all three to compare these samples with the glaze discovered in
the Cherhill formations. Keen has very sensibly suggested that
these samples, and those found in the Cherhill formations, be
subjected to an independent test by a reputable laboratory to
establish whether or not they are one and the same thing. 

Tellingly, at the time of writing, Burke and Levengood have yet
to respond to this offer. Furthermore, both Burke and Levengood
have failed to supply full answers to a series of detailed
statistical questions I sent to them during late September
(letters available as usual).  

It is perhaps not surprising that these researchers have refused
to be drawn into this affair any further considering their
promotion of "dramatic differences" between Irving's iron
filing-coated seeds and controls. Were they to do so, and if
Irving's claims are true, then the fallacy of the much vaunted
alpha tests would be exposed for all to see. 

Conclusions

The H-Glaze Report is yet another amusing story in the
long-running crop circle hoax, another testament to the failure
of researchers to attain true objectivity in their work, and
another telling lesson to the power of the anomaly myth. No one
can doubt the sincerity of Levengood and Burke, and their
dedication to their work deserves praise. But this work is
fatally flawed for two primary reasons - the desperate desire to
find an anomalous explanation on the part of Levengood and Burke,
and their seeming naivety when it comes to understanding the true
extent of the hoax evidence and the mass cover-up of that
evidence by the believer groups these past few years. Oh well,
all's fair in love and war ! 

Stop Press

Dr Levengood has had an article published in Physiologia
Plantarum 92 - a properly refereed scientific journal of the kind
that even the Wessex Skeptics presumably take seriously. This
article again promotes the alpha test and enhanced growth rates
as measures of how to verify "genuine" crop circles. A full
article will appear in our next issue discussing this astonishing
development.  

The Wiltshire Crop Circle Farce

Regular readers will already be aware of the numerous claims and
counter claims about hoaxing in deepest Wiltshire over the past
few years. It doesn't take a PhD or two to work out that Southern
Britain is now completely saturated with mischievous yet benign
"circlemakers" keeping the UFO myth alive and kicking as they run
rings around the True Believers. These circlemakers have
infiltrated all the believer groups and - as with Doug and Daves'
deft tactics - they learn how to satisfy the needs of the True
Believers by simply listening to them at believer conferences and
in smokey public houses. 

This year your Editor has learnt that there are many new groups
of circlemakers operating from the Beck-hampton area of
Wiltshire. These new circlemakers meet at The Barge public house
in Honey Street (half a mile to the south of Alton Barnes).
Despite the fact that the general public lost interest with the
crop circle subject several years ago an entertaining battle
continues to rage between two directly opposed belief systems - a
religious war between the growing numbers of circle makers and
the True Believers desperate to deny the reality of the Great
Crop Circle Hoax. Where this war will take us, nobody knows. 
On the humorous side The Crop Watcher has learnt that one group
of  True Believers are driving around the darkened lanes of
Wiltshire in a vehicle marked as the "Hoax Buster" (it has a
distinctive flashing light and is based on the "Ghostbusters"
film). In another celebrated incident a well known farmer's wife
stuffed a potato up the exhaust pipe of a car belonging to Adrian
Dexter. We have also learnt that during one night of bitter
recriminations at The Barge plans were well developed to push
Adrian Dexter's car into the Kennet and Avon canal as a
punishment for his alleged nocturnal activities.  

During interviews with several sources your  Editor has been
informed of numerous names of people allegedly engaged in making
crop circles. These names include Andy Batey, Rod Dickinson,
Robert Irving, Vince Palmer, Simon Shedlar, Paul Pilson (??) and
Lee Winterson.  Some of these names appear as bona fide witnesses
in Andy Collins' controversial new book Alien Energy (to be
reviewed in full in our next issue).  

In a lengthy interview with a "deep throat" source The Crop
Watcher has learnt that Andy Batey has admitted to making the
seven legged formation in East Field this summer. From what I can
tell it is common knowledge that  

- Andy Batey claimed that he was intending to make a circle with
keys at Lurkeley Hill which subsequently appeared; 
- "Paul Pilson" has admitted to overlaying a circle on top of a
pre-existing "nautilus" at Cherhill in 1994;  
- Lee Winterson has boasted that he made several formations in
the Alton Barnes area; and 
- Andy Batey has admitted that Vince Palmer has made circles in
Wiltshire.  

Readers may also be interested to learn that Paul Vigay, a CCCS
Council member and field officer who runs something called the
Independent Research Centre for Unexplained Phenomena (IRCUP)
from an address in Portsmouth, mixes with these circle makers at
The Barge but makes not the slightest mention of this fact in
Enigma, the magazine Vigay edits and publishes on behalf of his
"world-wide" research organisation (the letter heading features
an artist's impression of the alleged "Grey" alien of UFO
folklore). In a recent letter to your Editor Paul Vigay admits
that he has seen hoaxers placing "artifacts" inside crop circles
in Wiltshire. For some reason Vigay refuses to name these circle
makers or how he seems to know who these hoaxers are. It is
suspected that Vigay has film of these circlemakers in the
process of making circles, a claim which Vigay has not denied.  

In several extensive interviews with a second "deep throat"
source your Editor has learnt that a group of around one dozen
circlemakers are claiming responsibility for having made every
single formation which has appeared in Southern Britain this
summer. This claim is supported by the fact that many of the 1994
formations were based on a common theme - the so-called Scorpion
- and that some of these designs appear in a booklet titled "A
Beginners Guide to Crop Circle Making", which has been produced
by the Wiltshire Circlemakers "with assistance from Fe3" (see
review on page 19). 

Speaking to our second "deep throat" source at length one is left
in not the slightest doubt about his extensive knowledge of  the
circumstances surrounding the appearance of this summer's most
entertaining formations - eg the ever decreasing circles at
Ipsden, north of Reading, a similar formation at East Dean near
Goodwood in Sussex, and the Galaxy formation near Avebury in
Wiltshire - to name but three examples. With each formation there
is a story to tell and an amusing anecdote to recall. With each
formation there is abundant mirth at the foolishness of those who
continue to cling to the crop circle faith and who continue to
deny evidence which the result of the world accepted long, long
ago. 

It appears that this loose group of circlemakers are fascinated
by the "false science" of the belief-centred cerealogists. It is
this "false science" which provides the main motivation for the
Circlemakers' activities. Whilst most people respond to the
cerealogists' incredible claims with outright derision it is
clear that the Wiltshire Circlemakers have decided that a more
appropriate response is to "set up" the cerealogists by faking
evidence for the alien intelligence believed to be responsible
for the "genuine" phenomenon. A good example of the circlemakers'
campaign is the furore surrounding the notorious H-Glaze report
(see page 8), but it seems clear that other projects have been
executed and that other, more outrageous projects, are planned. 

In an interview with a farmer located right in the heart of the
Beckhampton area your Editor has learnt that the activities of
the Wiltshire Circlemakers do not meet with the approval of local
farmers. Some have spent hundreds of pounds installing new
fencing in an attempt to keep the circlemakers and cerealogists
at bay. Many farmers seem surprisingly unaware that the names of
many leading circle makers are known, that some have confessed to
having made specific circles and that allegations of complicity
with local farmers have been made. The farmer I spoke to
described circlemaking as "mindless destruction". He also felt
that it was extremely unlikely that genuine farmers would damage
their own fields.  

Unfortunately, because of the terms of his tenancy agreement,
this particular farmer felt that it would be unwise to speak out
publicly against the circlemakers and their activities. However, 
he was adamant that once the names of the circlemakers are known
and once these names can be tied to specific formations then
actions for trespass and criminal damage would undoubtedly
follow. The effect of the new Criminal Justice Act, which became
law in November, will be an interesting additional component to
this battle of the belief systems in darkest Wiltshire. Until
this Act came into force circlemakers ran the risk of a civil
action in the courts. Now, however, circlemakers can expect to be
prosecuted under the criminal law, with much tougher sentences. 

The real question is this - who deserves to be prosecuted more
keenly - the circlemakers or the cereologists ? The Crop Watcher
will continue to report on the Great Crop Circle Hoax as it runs
and runs ... 

UFO Hoaxers Confess in Pub

As regular readers already know, the believer groups in
"cereology" hold many dark secrets. Sometimes your Editor is
lucky enough to be let in on these secrets. Sometimes these
secrets come out more by luck than by chance. This story is an
example of the latter. 

In March 1994 Terence Meaden received a 3 page letter from
someone who has requested anonymity (name and address on file).
The revelations in this letter again knocks big holes in the case
that has been made by Colin Andrews, George Wingfield and others
that crop circles and associated UFO reports are caused by an
alien intelligence. many sensible people have long suspected that
some technically minded official Skeptics may have been
responsible for some of the UFO footage that has been shot in
Wiltshire. Now "CM" from Wiltshire has handed us evidence which
seems to support that contention. This is what she has to say : 
"Dr Dr Meaden, Just before Christmas [1993], some friends and I
were having a bite to eat in The Bear at Devizes and somehow we
got on to the subject of corn circles. There was a bit of an
argument going on and we were getting a bit heated ! 

There was a group of men near us and two came over. They said
they had seen most of the crop circles and that they provided the
lights [UFO sightings]. For a moment we were flummoxed, but they
showed us photos of them in the corn circles with a remote
controlled model plane disguised as a disc [spaceship]. It
certainly looked convincing. They said they used torches at
night, but had used the plane in daylight and at least two videos
had been made by people thinking the disc was a genuine part of
the circle mystery. They knew some of the circle makers. They
thought they were talking to old ladies who would think no more
of it, but what they didn't know was that I was deeply involved
with research into the Warminster research of UFOs in the 1970s. 

I happen to think hoaxers mar any research and are a bloody
nuisance at the least ! 

So I enclose information of the hoaxers at Warminster [a second
letter], I certainly learnt a lot about trickery on that theme. I
don't know if it will be of any use to you. I expect the torches
of today are a bit different to [those of] the seventies. Yours
etc" 

Well ! Unless this is MBF Services-style dis-information it seems
that we have a potential answer to several celebrated UFO films.
Readers will recall - for example - that in the Alexander film
there was a stiff breeze blowing across Alexander's vantage
point. Could this breeze have masked the sound of a small
remotely-piloted model aircraft disguised as a tiny disk-shaped
UFO ?  

Circlevision have informed The Crop Watcher that in their opinion
the Steven Alexander film shows nothing more than a small bird.
This somewhat surprising opinion has apparently been supported by
the Ministry of Defence and the Natural History Museum, who have
both viewed the film.  

Further evidence to support "CM" 's claim appeared in the
Hertfordshire Advertiser last April when one Colin Rogers also
claimed to have made a small disk-shaped flying saucer which was
electrically powered. According to the article Rogers claims that
his device was developed by a private company and was
photographed by chance witnesses on June 25th 1977 at nearby
Wheathampstead. Four photographs of the object were taken and
these are reproduced in "UFOs, A British Viewpoint" by Jenny
Randles and Peter Warrington.  

Now could it be that this is the same disk-shaped flying saucer
as the one in the photographs which were presented by the men in
"The Bear" at Devizes? If either of these stories are true then
many celebrated UFO incidents in Britain involving disk-shaped
"craft" may, potentially, be explicable. Unfortunately our
attempts to contact Mr Rogers for a demonstration of his device
have failed, but following further correspondence "CM" has
described the claimed hoaxers with the following :- 

"The lighting [in the pub] was not very good but one/ of them was
local by his accent. They spoke of others who helped them with
the hoaxes. I also gathered that there were people local to Alton
Barnes who were 'in the plot'. I would be suspicious of the ones
who were making money out of it.  The pilot who  would 'be in'
with everyone was doing very well out of it. There's [also] some
connection with the 'Waggon and Horses'. They said it was easy to
make a circle while the field was being watched, by putting the
'tools' in the place selected in daylight and creeping in at
night. I suspect the hoaxers probably have at least one
accomplice among the watchers...." (letter dated August 23 1994).

So, who can these hoaxers be ? Who is 'the pilot' (Busty Taylor
?) ? And who in the Alton Barnes area is making money out of the
hoaxes ? If anyone else knows anything at all about this group of
hoaxers or Mr Colin Rogers we will be happy to publish further
information. Our thanks go to "CM" for sending us this invaluable
information.  

Confession Time

As promised in a previous issue your Editor hereby offers himself
for public flogging for all his Crimes Against Cereology. For too
long I have highlighted the crimes of others, their lies, the
deceptions and the belief-centred nonsense. Well, now its my
turn. Here it goes ! 

Looking back over my eight years of involvement with the crop
circle phenomenon I have to admit that I have very mixed feelings
about my achievements and failures. I don't think I can hide my
disappointment that so many crop circles turned out to be
man-made. Of course it would have been so so easy for me to adopt
that favourite position of  the armchair Skeptics by saying "I
don't like the look of these circles, therefore they must all be
hoaxes", but don't believe what you may have read elsewhere, that
is not how science is conducted.  

When I first became involved in circles research in late 1985 I
quickly learnt from Jenny Randles that some circles were
definitely man-made. This fact always underlined my attitude
towards the subject and I took great care to ensure that I left
plenty of evidence to demonstrate this fact. I always knew that
some circles were hoaxes and I always considered it possible that
a great many circles might turn out to be hoaxes. Despite this it
is instructive to see that some observers (eg Robin Allen in The
Skeptic, and Jim Schnabel in Round in Circles) have totally
rewritten crop circle history to omit this fact, for reasons best
known to themselves. It was blindingly obvious to anyone with the
slightest grain of intelligence that peculiar circular markings
in fields could easily turn out to be man-made. I said as much in
my outrageous 1985 letter to the Editor at TVS News in
Southampton, when I dismissed all the Cheesefoot Head circles as
night-time hoaxes perpetrated by low flying helicopter pilots !! 

Despite my initial pro-hoax views I quickly became open to
alternative explanations when I was introduced to eye witness
testimony, historical crop circle cases and Ian Mrzyglod's work.
As so many of the early crop circles were relatively simple, and
as there were some precedents for what was happening, I soon
accepted that many circles might turn out to be meteorological in
origin. It was certainly my scientific duty to see just how far
this hypothesis could account for the evidence, and I am proud of
the fact that Jenny Randles and myself are the two primary
researchers who examined this theory and promoted it in the
public arena. Despite claims made by some observers, we always
disagreed with Meaden over the extent of hoaxing whilst giving
Meaden the benefit of the doubt. In the absence of strong pro
hoax evidence prior to circa 1990 I think we did the right thing. 

In those early years I produced several published articles
promoting both hoaxing and meteorological explanations. As
speculation goes these articles were reasonable attempts at
trying to understand some complex issues. However, on reading
these articles now, seven years later, it is blindingly clear
that my biggest error in the 1986-89 period was my failure to
exhaustively test possible circle-making methods and to test
these methods on the established researchers (a la Wessex
Skeptics). By failing to do this I allowed myself to be swayed by
Meaden's atmospheric vortex theory to the point where I accepted
that many of the relatively simple formations I was seeing were
"genuine". Of course,  evidence remains which suggests that
Meaden's theory is still valid for some cases, but it is still
disappointing to realise that I was as guilty of promoting key
falsehoods as everyone else. Of course, its easy with hindsight,
but I do have some excuses.  

To begin with, I was the only active circle researcher living in
the Hampshire / Wiltshire area who was open to the idea that
perhaps many circles were hoaxes. To make experimental circles
would have been a difficult and risky business given the mystery
mongering of other well known pundits. The last thing Jenny and I
wanted to do was to help fan the flames of a silly season story,
something the New Scientist had already accused BUFORA of doing
in 1984. Of course, nothing could have been further from the
truth. BUFORA was the only serious research organisation that had
even bothered to investigate the phenomenon, and we had already
spoken out publicly about both hoaxing and meteorology (something
the official Skeptics have now totally written out of crop circle
history in their attempts to debunk all crop circle researchers
and all crop circle evidence). As I was soon to discover, once
that term UFO is associated with an anomaly a very peculiar
social reaction occurs whereby anyone associated with that
anomaly is deemed by the Skeptics to be in league with the Devil
! If you don't believe this try reading Robin Allen's vicious and
inaccurate article in The Skeptic ! 

During the mid 1980s Jenny Randles and myself demonstrated our
concern that many circles might be hoaxes by proposing several
methods of  making crop circles. It was in response to our
discussion of these possible methods (in "Mystery of the
Circles", BUFORA 1986) that the BBC twice hired heli-copters and
would-be circle makers to see what could be created under test
conditions. Again we have never received the slightest degree of
credit from the Skeptics for our suggestion that researchers
should attempt to replicate "genuine" characteristics - something
we were simply not resourced to do ourselves.  

Looking back on those crucial early years I believe now that we
were both severely misled by the poor quality of the 1983
Westbury hoax, where hoaxers left damaged crop despite making
their circles in broad daylight. This event substantially reduced
our expectations of what hoaxers could do at night, particularly
given the extensive experimentation into methods of making crop
circles which Pat Delgado discussed at the "Open Meeting" held in
Alresford. The failings of this evidence mislead us all for
years. Despite this, we discussed hoaxing in virtually all our
written work and in almost all our media interviews. It is sad to
see that our concern with hoaxing at this early stage in the
development of the mythology has subsequently been totally
written out of the history of the subject.  

Looking back I can see all too clearly what went wrong. One of
the characteristics of anomaly research is that the moment an
anomaly is labelled and identified an incredibly emotive debate
is generated where both proponents and Skeptics adopt extreme
polarised positions. I saw this happening from a very early stage
and was quite powerless to stop it. On the one hand we had the
Flying Saucer Review team insisting that crop circles could not
be hoaxes and just had to be the result of an alien controlled
force, whilst on the other hand the official Skeptics were
insisting that crop circles were not the result of an alien
intelligence and just had to be hoaxes ! There was no middle
ground, no reasoned argument about the facts, no understanding
that in science several anomalies can often be lumped together
under one explanatory heading.  

During this very early stage I was thrown into a vipers nest,
forced to decide whether the public debate over the cause of the
circles was more important than the actual investigation of the
circles. Deciding which of these two options to take was probably
the most difficult choice Jenny Randles and I faced, but
ultimately I suppose we tried to do both, with the inevitable
result that we failed to fulfil both aims. We allowed the crop
circle mythology to develop into a world-wide hoax whilst at the
same time we failed to fully test all hoaxing methods. Of course
its one thing to discuss numerous possible circle making methods
in print but quite another to actually try those methods in the
classic scientific manner.  

By failing to construct circles I was not only guilty of
misunderstanding what experienced hoaxers could create at night
but I was also guilty of promoting the myth that "bent but not
broken" was synonymous with the "genuine" phenomenon, something
which has now been proven to be untrue on numerous
well-documented occasions. I regard these two errors as my
primary mistakes. However, the fact that I was all on my own,
both physically and philosophically, meant that the opportunity
to test these methods and assumptions about what hoaxers could
and could not do was always restricted, particularly given my
lack of time and resources.  

Being asthmatic I imagine that I might be capable of making say a
10 foot diameter circle on my own, but even this would have left
me totally exhausted and feeling pretty awful for some time
afterwards. Making several circles to "test" the leading
researchers would have been a physically challenging task. Of
course, there were no official Skeptics or Magonians around to
assist me or to suggest further avenues for research - they were
too busy sitting at home watching TV ! 

In the early years I did visit crop circles, but as many appeared
in the Cheesefoot Head punchbowl and as this area was allegedly
out-of-bounds to researchers, I never went inside the Cheesefoot
punchbowl circles - I merely trusted the abilities of my fellow
researchers (something our oh-so-clever Skeptics have never
realised !). Had I actually visited these early circles I would
have discovered Matthew Lawrence's observation that many of these
"pristine" circles exhibited damaged crop, muddy footprints and
suspicious underlying tracks (something other researchers
cleverly managed to miss or cover-up). I did notice a lot of
damage in the 1987 South Wonston circle but I wrongly concluded
that because it was so close to the road and housing that it had
been damaged by subsequent visitors. Would be researchers note -
you can't do your research from a car parked at the edge of the
field and you can't assume that the evidence you examine is
uncontaminated - it normally is ! 

Looking back on this period I realise now that as Andrews and
Delgado became increasingly outspoken about the circles they were
finding, I drew back realising (with utter horror) what they were
going to do. My caution and concern about their activities
actually led to me distance myself from the research and
investigation that I should have been doing. This is not to say
that I didn't visit circles at all - I certainly did - but the
fear that I would find myself in the middle of a field with two
people I deeply mistrusted had a strong negative effect on what I
should have been doing.  

During these early years, as Doug and Dave began making circles
across a progressively wider area, I was severely restricted in
terms of time and money. It wasn't until late 1985 that I had my
first car and I well recall trampling up from the Percy Hobbs bus
stop in July 1985 searching for my first circles (a quintuplet on
Gander Down). It was a frustrating experience. However, even when
I joined forces with Terence Meaden in 1986, it wasn't long
before the Wiltshire hoaxers began hoaxing and many of their
circles were a good hour or two away from my home. Unlike many
other circle researchers, I was unwilling to allow my spare time
hobby to interfere with my career with frequent nocturnal trips
and circle-watching activities. I think this attitude was
perfectly reasonable as there were others who were doing the
basic investigation and I had high hopes that the phenomenon
would soon be satisfactorily explained to the public at large. 

Little did I know how those pretty little circles I was visiting
would turn into a Great Filthy Hoax which would spread out around
the world bringing wealth to a few but disaster to others.  
Looking back on it all now I wonder what would have happened had
I done the correct thing - given up my job and camped out with a
pair of infra-red binoculars in the copse half way down
Cheesefoot Head. What would have happened had I seen Doug and
Dave coming down the hillside to make a formation ? Would I have
been brave enough to tackle two complete strangers in the middle
of the night a mile from the nearest habitation ? Would I have
been able to persuade these two men to stop their circle-making
on the basis that they were helping others to discredit "serious"
UFO research (no, don't laugh) ? Who would have believed me if I
had obtained this "proof" that their precious circles were
actually man-made ? Would Andrews and Delgado have stopped their
reckless promotion of the subject if I had proven to them that
one of their "genuine" circles was really man made ? Would other
hoaxers have stopped what they were doing ? Somehow I doubt it,
and we can just imagine the official Skeptics recompensing me for
the loss to my career such actions would have entailed. 

Those early years were deeply frustrating. I remember having an
almost permanent headache in the summer of 1987 as I saw what was
happening. How could I stop what Andrews and Delgado were doing ?
I was desperate to convince them to think again about their
extraordinary interpretation of the evidence, but they simply
ignored the evidence I sent to them and in the end they forced me
into a position where I was left with no choice but to publicly
slate them for what they were saying and doing, something I had
hoped to avoid with my letters to them.  

It shocked me to see the way Andrews and Delgado were promoting
an extraterrestrial solution to the evidence without the
slightest regard for more mundane explanations or the credibility
of UFOlogy. I tried on several occasions to convince them to
think again, but in the end this just made for more trouble in a
very big way. It was during this period that I would have valued
some help from the more rational elements of the UFO community -
perhaps from those clever know-alls at Magonia or even the
official Skeptics - but instead I was left to do everything
myself. Of course in real life the cavalry never come just in the
nick of time, yet now these very same people are the ones who are
criticising and jeering ! What cowards they were ! 

So, now it is all over. I witnessed the birth of a social myth, a
new religion, another extension to the overpowering UFO
mythology. It was as if I had been there in the late 1940s when
Ray Palmer and his associates invented the UFO myth with their
fraudulent promotion of Schirmer's fictional story about aliens
kidnapping humans into their underground bases. I saw the way in
which the public were lied to, repeatedly, and how the British
media, with its exceptional arrogance and stupidity, gave a
handful of extra-terrestrialists everything they needed to
promote themselves as world famous researchers. I can never
forgive these people for what they did. They put UFO research
back by fifty years with their actions.  

Looking back on it all I don't think there is much more I could
have done. Having made my two main errors I don't think I had the
resources to work out what was really happening. I don't think I
could have stopped the world-wide hoaxing that has developed. I
don't feel that UFOlogy deserves much credit for the way in which
believer groups like FSR and Quest International leapt to support
Andrews and Delgado in what they were saying. These people were
all UFO Traitors who cared for nothing except their own bloated
egos and their money-making activities. History will recall them
as such. I know because I was there. 

Successes ?

So, what about my successes ? Well I suppose Jenny Randles and
myself were in there investigating crop circles, analysing the
evidence and publishing our research before the Skeptics had even
got out of bed ! We were always alert to the idea that many
circles might be hoaxes and we were always prepared to accept a
dual solution of hoaxing and meteorology. In this respect we
differed from almost all the other crop circle researchers who
had already nailed their loyalties to single masts. Of course
science often requires dual theories and we were right to adopt
such an approach. I suppose we had five main achievements :- 

(1) We challenged the popular myth that crop circles were the
result of a spaceships' landing marks. We countered FSR's
falsehoods in the public domain in the belief that the public
were being led down the garden path (something the official
Skeptics kept well clear of). Our aim was to give the public the
facts that others chose not to. In doing this perhaps we opened
some eyes in the scientific community that not all UFO
researchers are maniacs, that UFOs are neither spaceships or
nonsense, that in some cases obscure but objectively real
phenomena may lie behind those reports.  

(2) We suggested experiments to test hoaxing methods and we
published evidence about hoaxing (eg in "Mystery of the Circles",
BUFORA 1986). We were the only researchers who even considered
that hoaxing might account for crop circles - a stance which soon
bought us ridicule and despicable tactics  from some of the other
self proclaimed researchers who had attached themselves to the
subject.  

(3) We tried to rescue some credit for UFOlogy, as we very
quickly saw the potential for the crop circles to totally
discredit the serious side of UFO research (as well as the
historical evidence, which we always felt was possibly more
representative of the true phenomenon than the more outrageous
hoaxes which others were eagerly promoting). This was one of the
reasons behind our aggressive public stance against those who
accepted without question that crop circles were caused by
spaceships. In my opinion our best media achievements were  

- the 9 July 1989 article in The Times, which challenged the FSR
team for its unprofessional dismissal of eye witness testimony
and the extent of hoaxing (another crucially important media
quote which the Skeptics totally ignore with their rewritten crop
circle history);  

- the item on the ITV network news in 1989 when ITN science
Editor Lawrence McGinty promoted Meaden's meteorological theory
and hoaxing as the solution (ditto) - I remember dancing around
my flat with joy after that one !;  

- our part in the 1986 and 1989 BUFORA debates, which were an
attempt to stimulate a proper scientific debate which (tellingly)
the Flying Saucer Review team and the official Skeptics never
reciprocated, but which bought us credit from scientists like Dr
Paul Mason at the Met. Office in Bracknell, - and 

- my first solo "live" TV interview, where I discussed eye
witness testimony and hoaxing before Doug and Dave came forward
(TVS News, 19th July 1990). 

(4) We also did things that no other crop circle researchers did,
eg we conducted surveys, examined historical cases and we
published all the pro-hoax evidence (years before Doug and Dave
came forward). In effect we evaluated ALL the data, proposed
quantifiable hypotheses and continually emphasised our belief
that there was a rational explanation for the phenomenon. We took
a particular interest in the sociology of what was taking place.
In short we witnessed the birth of a new supernatural mythology -
a subject of study in its own right. Despite Robin Allen's
ludicrous comments in The Skeptic we spent many hundreds of
unpaid hours of our spare time circulating crop circle evidence
to researchers all over the world. Science would have expected
nothing less of us.  

(5) We took Meaden's controversial meteorological theory and used
it to try and explain numerous high strangeness UFO reports. This
approach is something that proper scientists should still be
doing, although the Skeptics have treated this work with utter
contempt whilst failing to explain why these explanations are
(apparently) so wrong. In my view this is work that deserves to
be continued, regardless of the jeers of the Skeptics, whose
failure to properly falsify scientific evidence is legion. 
Note that none of these things were ever done by the official
Skeptics, who avoided the crop circle debate for ten long years.
Presumably the Skeptics' failure to contribute to circles
research was largely due to a fear that they might be wrong ! Yet
now opinionated know-alls like Robin Allen are actually trying to
claim the credit for having exposed mass crop circle hoaxing ! 
To summarise I think any future historian of the subject who
works through my 30 box files of crop circle material, my media
interviews and my published work is going to have a tough old
time trying to evaluate my "contribution" to the subject. I think
the real problem is that I could never really made up my mind
whether what I was seeing was hoaxed or genuine. I never had the
time and money to do everything I wanted. I know I got a lot of
things quite wrong, but I also got some things right. To be
dismissed by Robin Allen as just another True Believer in the
mysterious circles is perhaps the final insult in the long and
troubled history of our subject. 

Video Review

Cropcircle Communique II
'Revelations'
Circlevision, 60 minutes,
Available from P.O. Box 36, Ludlow, Shropshire, SY8  3ZZ Price 
15 incl p&p (UK),  20 or $ 35 elsewhere (NTSC/PAL please
specify).  Please allow 28 days for delivery.

This reviewer predicts that few who watch John MacNish's superb
new video (subtitled as "The answer to the mystery of the
cropcircles") will realise that there is still evidence of a non
hoaxed phenomenon that predates Doug and Dave. Despite this one
cannot praise highly enough the quality of this video and its
treatment of the negative evidence. Communique II is a detailed
and highly absorbing investigation into crop circle hoaxing and
the claims of Doug Bower and Dave Chorley. MacNish presents ample
evidence to support his acceptance of their claim with many new
revelations about hoaxing and the gullibility of the crop circle
"experts". One of the great strengths of this video are the
nocturnal sequences showing Doug Bower and Dave Chorley making
huge pictograms which continued to fool the "so-called experts".
If you want to see Colin Andrews, Richard Andrews and Pat Delgado
making complete fools of themselves this is definitely the video
you need to buy ! 

Revelations begins by asking who the circlemakers are and what
are they trying to say. Andrews and Delgado are then introduced
as two researchers who interpreted the circles as the result of a
phenomenon which lies "outside science". Colin Andrews is shown
arrogantly claiming that it is "impossible" to hoax the swirl
pattern or the dowsing energy, the two characteristic which he
and others associated with "genuine" crop circles. 

I was a bit surprised to see the Operation Blackbird hoax without
being told that Andrews and Delgado had even promoted this
shoddy-looking pattern, but this is probably because (unlike
Meaden or Wingfield, who never appear on film) Revelations takes
a special interest in the claims and beliefs of Andrews and
Delgado and there are many other occasions during this video when
their credulous belief systems are shown to be in error. 

In the early part of Revelations the treatment of the Sevenoaks
pictogram and the West Wycombe hoax competition are important
subjects that are well treated. Pat Delgado is shown in a rather
shocked and confused state of mind trying to justify his failure
to identify Doug and Daves' demonstration circle at Sevenoaks. 

This is what he has to say :- 

"I classed it as I would lean towards saying it was genuine and I
feel that its ... its on the cards that it IS genuine, but that
doesn't mean to say that every other one is a hoax - I'm only
talking about that one [the Sevenoaks pictogram]. I consider that
all the others are genuine that we've said are genuine". 

Commenting on Doug and Daves' Chilgrove demonstration Jurgen
Kronig observes that : 

"The circle doesn't look too bad, I mean I've seen better circles
- the corn [is laid] flat, the stems flowing around the stones,
the bigger stones lying in the field, which wouldn't be used by
this method they've used here, but nevertheless you have to admit
that they know what they do and [that] they are able to do
something amazing [like the] pictograms, for instance." 

Next viewers are treated to some close-up views of the West
Wycombe competition and some of the animated exchanges between
the Believers and the Hoaxers. This sequence is blessed by John
Michell's outrageous claim that the crop circles are still a
complete mystery. This is marginally bettered by Richard Andrews'
admission when asked how easy it would have been to tell that the
competition circles were hoaxes had he not been told. Andrews
replied : 

"We would have had to be careful, very careful I think. The thing
that was missing from them all was that lovely flow that you get
which makes it look as though its gone down like water - that's
the only thing really that was missing. If that had been there
with the winner I think we'd have been hard put really, and if it
had dowsed it would have been worse." 

Again Jurgen Kronig's judgement was that the hoaxers had not
managed to reproduce the "genuine" characteristics he had been
seeing in crop circles. Kronig declared that "nothing was bent,
everything was broken" whilst also noting the lack of flow.  
As the narrator points out, the astonishing thing about the West
Wycombe competition was that the winning teams were such
inexperienced hoaxers, yet their pictograms attracted
considerable praise from Dr Rupert Sheldrake, who had helped to
organise the competition. Sheldrake himself makes a long and
carefully measured statement about the value of the competition
and the unexpectedly high quality of the competitors' circles. He
concludes that : 

"We know for example that forgers can produce  20 notes that
look very like the real thing, but that doesn't prove that all 
20 notes are forgeries". 

This same argument was used, if you recall, by ITN's Science
Editor, Lawrence McGinty, on the day TODAY newspaper first
revealed Doug and Daves' astonishing story to the world.  
The very best aerial sequences in Revelations come later. The
viewer is introduced to Doug and Dave's unusual nocturnal
activities and their total scorn towards those people who
promoted their circles as genuine. Thanks to the sophisticated
technology used by Circlevision viewers see Doug and Dave making
huge complicated circles at night through MacNish's image
intensifier. Then viewers are treated to spectacular aerial views
of their creations in broad daylight the following day. The
accompanying music throughout Revelations deserves a special
mention.  

Throughout 1993 Doug and Dave led Circlevision a merry dance
through the fields and by-ways of Southern England. In one of the
most impressive sequences Doug Bower's water colour drawings of
formations are shown juxtaposed on top of the real thing. This
sequence proves beyond doubt that Doug and Dave made many huge
pictograms in 1992 which continued to be promoted as genuine by
the True Believers. My one real regret is that we never see Doug
and Dave pole-vaulting through the crop at night - now that would
be something more impressive than any genuine circle ! 

Perhaps the highlight of Revelations is the full story of the
East Meon hoax. Richard Andrews is shown accepting Doug and
Daves' hoax as a genuine formation that displays the same floor
patterns he has seen during the previous three summers. Andrews
demands the replication of these allegedly genuine features by
hoaxers, clearly unaware that Doug and Dave had made the
formation and been captured on film. Disastrously Andrews accepts
that if the features he has just seen CAN be shown to be man-made
then "it is reasonable [to conclude] that all [crop circles] are
man-made".   

Ramming home this victory Macnish then presents Colin Andrews
insisting that it is "impossible" to manufacture swirl patterns
and "interwoven layers". Throughout the remainder of this video
Doug and Dave repeatedly show exactly how such swirls can be
produced with their stomping method. They also demonstrate how
accurately they can produce an almost dead straight spur over 50
feet in length using the famous ringed cap method. This is where
Revelations lives up to its title. Every time an "expert" makes a
claim Doug and Dave turn up and knock them down ! 

One of the major topics addressed by Macnish in Revelations is
the motivation behind the hoaxing, a subject which clearly
fascinates him. Jim Schnabel admits on film that his hoaxing
started as an experiment but grew into something more personal
and artistic as the believers worshipped the circles he made.
Schnabel took particular thrill at seeing the effect of his
circles on the wide eyed crop circle believers he was
interviewing by day but hoaxing by night. Robert Irving and Pam
Price are also interviewed as all three send up lighted balloons
in an attempt to trigger UFO sightings at Woodborough Hill (the
scene of a major close encounter with a structured spaceship, if
you recall - see CW22). Pam Price ("Spiderwoman") explains how
the need to believe in a fantastic solution totally overwhelms
observers. Of course this is proof of the power of the exotic
alien mythology generated by Doug and Dave and their many
copiers. 

One more contentious sequence concerns Doug Bower's own
photographs of all the early circles he and Dave Chorley made.
The statistics presented are used to demonstrate that these two
men could have easily provided "the foundation for the whole crop
circle mystery". Again no mention is made of the documented
historical cases or the eye witness accounts that have been
published in the literature. Neither are these cases included in
the statistics.  

Doug Bower insists that there were no sharp-edged swirled circles
predating "1978", although he accepts that some storm damage
looks remarkably like crop circles (a somewhat flawed argument). 
This is where a token gesture could have been made towards
contrary evidence, by including an eye witness or one of the
better historical cases. As Jim Schnabel is shown admitting his
belief in an extremely rare but genuine phenomenon despite his
hoaxing activities this is perhaps the one criticism that can be
levelled at Revelations. However, as a record of the key events
of the past few years and of how easy it is to make circles and
fool the "experts" there really isn't anything on the market
better than this superb video. Now go out and buy it !  

Book Review

A Beginners Guide To
 Crop Circle Making
With assistance from Fe3

As an example of just how farcical the crop circle subject has
become, this small illustrated booklet has been produced and
circulated by a group of leading circlemakers. It seems from my
reading that the intention of this booklet is to assist amateur
circlemakers and generally poke fun at the True Believers who
infest cereology. Whether the farmers who object to circle making
will quite see it in this way is perhaps another matter.  

The Beginners Guide was officially launched at "The Fete Worse
Than Death", an annual art fair held in London on July 30th. More
than 40 copies were sold. That same evening it was circulated at
a meeting of many of Britain's major circle makers which took
place at the "Who'd a Thought it" public house in Lockeridge
(near Avebury and Alton Barnes for overseas readers). Readers
will be amused to learn that Doug Bower and his wife Ilene were
the Guests of Honour at this unique social gathering. Alert
readers of The Cerealogist will recall that the original meeting
place was advertised in issue 12 as the tack room at The Waggon
and Horses at Beckhampton, but your Editor has been reliably
informed that this had to be changed at the last minute due to
growing aggravation between rival groups of circlemakers.  

According to the front cover, the Beginners Guide was compiled
"with assistance from Fe3" (hint, hint). It contains advice on
topics as varied as the equipment required, ensuring that you are
not followed on leaving the pub (aptly titled "The Drop Off") and
on how to create impressive flow and multiple layering effects
that will convince gullible cereologists of the authenticity of
the circle. The authors assert that their formations will be
accepted as genuine by cereologists as long as "(a) you are not
caught making it, and (b) the pattern represents a shape which
leading cereologists regard as of symbolic importance, and,
therefore, useful on the proselyting lecture circuit - e.g.
mandalas,  Atlantean script, etc." 

The Beginners Guide contains only 12 pages of text and
illustrations but this is more than made up for by the good
humour of its authors. I was particularly amused to read that
during preparation would-be circle makers should "Dowse potential
location to establish earth energies. If a formation is located
on a powerful ley-line this will satisfy later tests for
genuineness, and aid in curative effects, healings, orgone
accumulation, angelic visions, benign alien abduction
experiences, and feelings of general well-being." This seems to
be based (in part) on the furore which developed after the
promotion of Doug and Daves' East Meon demonstration pictogram
(read George Wingfield's account of this cereological contretemps
in "Alien Liaison").  

The authors go on to state that "If the formation is situated
contra-directionally to the flow of energy, this may result in
the opposite effects; headaches, nausea, temporary
limb-paralysis, aching joints, mental illness, deadly orgone
radiation (DOR) exposure, demonic visions, negative abduction
scenarios (memory loss, implant scarring, sore or bleeding anii
[presumably the plural term for anus, PF], navels, and genitals,
etc), and general disillusionment." Subsequent hints about
satanism only gives away who lies behind this audacious work. 

The authors claim that "In this guide we will give you all the
information you will need to work with these plants, and
eventually, with a little practice, produce genuine, dowsable,
scientifically proven un-hoaxable circle patterns". There are
drawings of known formations (mainly the more complicated
patterns) as well as ones which have yet to appear. This reviewer
was pleased to read that the authors make it quite clear that
circlemaking is a criminal activity and that (somewhat
paradoxically) circlemakers should "not move through a field
without using a tram-line"). The authors seem a little guilty
about this aspect of their booklet as on page 9 they launch into
a lengthy justification for their activities, something which
some farmers may not find particularly amusing. In another
paragraph it is suggested that circlemakers leave "nasty things"
inside their creations, eg "hospital waste, dangerous
radio-isotopes, blood" etc. With sentiments like this it seems
that the crop circle mythology is far from dead and that this
battle royale between the True Believers and the circle makers
will continue unabated for years to come. PF. 

A Letter from Shuttleworth

In CW22 we featured the first response to a circular letter to
Meaden's peer group - those scientists who were publicly
associated with the 1990 Circles Effect Conferences held in
Oxford. In our previous issue Dr Tokio Kikuchi of Kochi
University, Japan, made clear that despite his concern at the
extent of hoaxing he was still prepared to consider an
atmospheric solution to some crop circles. Having circulated Dr
Kikuchi's response Dr John Graham, the Director of Studies at
Shuttleworth College, Cranfield University, also responded
(letter dated 30th August 1994). This is what he has to say :- 

"Dear Paul, Many thanks for your letter of 19 August. In response
to your request perhaps I can make a few (personal) points : 

(1) The majority of circles/formations are probably man-made. A
few, simple, circles are very possibly not. However, until
hoaxers stop hoaxing or we catch a real one "in the act" as it is
being formed, we cannot be fully certain. I am wary of the
Skeptics (as I am of many other groups) because, like so many,
they are trying to get the facts to fit their theory. 

(2) Terence Meaden is one of the few to be doing it properly,
i.e. vice versa. Accordingly, as time goes by and we accumulate
more evidence, so he will revise his hypothesis until it is
thoroughly tested. Normal, proper scientific procedure. Hence we
should expect what he is saying in 1996 for example to have moved
on from what he was saying in 1993.  

(3) I have read Tokio Kikuchi's letter in the Crop Watcher with
interest. I too am uneasy about the word 'plasma'. Perhaps this
is just because I have a biological background where plasma is
found in blood, and I don't know so very much about physicists'
plasma ! However, the key factor is that some sort of vortex is
involved - from my own observations of crop damage, both in
circles and in non-geometric configurations, I feel certain that
this is the most likely culprit. 

I hope these few remarks are of help to you. If you wish me to
comment further on any specific points do please let me know.
Best Wishes, Yours Sincerely, Dr John Graham." 

The Crop Watcher has circulated copies of this letter and Dr
Tokio Kikuchi's letter in CW22 to all six members of Terence
Meaden's peer group as detailed in CW22 page 16 and we await
further replies with interest.  

Letters to the Editor

Writing tosh 

Dear Crop Watcher, Let no one - bar the odd author, perhaps -
again accuse Andrew Collins of plagiary. He's just too good at
making up the stories himself. 'Alien Energy' is the latest
example. 

For the record: On page 44 Andy talks of me being, 'suddenly
stunned by a burst of light that emanated from a position
directly beside (me)'. Actually it came from above, and I didn't
feel particularly stunned - a little surprised maybe. On the same
page he writes that my partner saw nothing. This is untrue; if
he'd asked her, she would have told him that she witnessed the
same thing I did. On the following page, Andy reports that I told
him that I, along with three others, 'witnessed a ball of light
at close quarters'. This is untrue, and the first I've heard of
such a story. There was a report, relayed to him by a third
party, concerning an event I'd supposedly witnessed. I promised
to give him details, but he never got back to me. Instead, he
simply made the story up. 

On page 148 there is an account of a visit to the edge of the
East Field, Alton Barnes, in which Andy, his partner Debbie, Pam
Price & I, 'all clearly heard a peculiar noise emanate from a
position just metres away from where we stood'. Andy goes on to
describe the noise as, alternately, 'a fishing reel being cast
... over the crop ... appearing to curve around in an arc ... and
heard one final time in the field on the opposite side of the
deserted Pewsey Road'. 'No-one could offer any simple explanation
for this unusual event', he says. Well, I could, and I remember
doing so. I also remember full agreement from Pam & Andy at the
time. It was clearly road noise from an approaching, then
arriving, and then departing vehicle. I even remember waiting for
another vehicle to pass so we could verify the effect. I do not
recall, however, seeing any 'huge aerial flash' above Knapp Hill,
apart from the usual head-light play. To anyone familiar with the
area, this is quite usual. 

In the reference section to Chapter 8 (pages 235-236) he takes
issue with the conclusions Jim Schnabel & I reached in our 1992
'Rolling Their Own' piece for The Independent Magazine. Without
going into depth, it is obvious that Andy has not recently
re-read the article, did not appreciate the points raised, nor
has he responded to the numerous offers made to him (at the
proof-reading stage of his book) to listen to tapes which clearly
illustrate that UBI possessed a greater, 'flair and enthusiasm'
for crop circles than Andy describes. Neither has he recently 
spoken to Jim or myself at any length on the subject. It
shouldn't be necessary to mention that firm evidence would be a
pre-requisite of acceptance by The Independent. In the real
world, it's not quite so easy to get away with writing tosh.  

A curious aside; researchers not suffering from a short-term
memory disfunction will remember it was Andy who informed us that
John Martineau had claimed authorship to Jim's 'Dharmic Wheel'
formation of 1992, suggesting that it might have been,
"automatically rolled". Does he still believe this ? I am
confused. However, should Andy agree to a detailed debate on this
topic - in any sensible forum - I would be more than happy to
oblige.  

On the subject of our infamous balloon 'experiments' in the
Pewsey Vale in 1992 (ref Chapter 10 p237); Andy awards great
significance to their dates - he even suggests, ridiculously,
that they may have been as late as November that year. Again, he
made no effort to check. If he had, he would have found the real
facts entirely inconsistent to the ones he portrays. 

There is much true mystery in the world, possibly encompassing
Alton Barnes - it's formulation is unnecessary. That aside, I'm
sure Andy's book is highly entertaining. Robert Irving. London. 
PF notes:- Andy Collins will be responding to Irving's letter in
our next issue, when a full review of "Alien Energy" will appear.
I can confirm that in late September - two years after The
Independent Magazine article appeared - I was contacted by Paul
Randall, one of the members of the UBI, following Andy Collins'
intervention. Randall alleged that the UBI had never made more
than two circles and were not Kronig's mythical "A team". I
readily agreed to attend an open meeting to discuss this claim
but I have yet to hear from the UBI as to details of this
meeting. In the meantime I have received a tape recording from
Irving of various interviews and telephone conversations he held
with members of UBI during 1991 and 1992. These tapes will form
the basis of several articles which will appear in future issues. 

Other Crop Circle News

IRISH CROP CIRCLES

The Irish UFO and Paranormal Research Association (IUFOPRA) have
informed us that two grass circles appeared on a freshly mowed
lawn at a house in the Mourne area of County Down, Northern
Ireland, on June 25th. The circles appeared within 48 hours of
cutting and changed shape over the following 72 hours. The
smallest was 14 feet in diameter whilst the largest, which
appeared to have a spur attached, was 16 feet in diameter. We
await further news with interest.  
CALENDAR CATASTROPHE

Colin Andrews' colour poster of the "best" 1993 formations has
caused one or two people to sit up and take notice ! Colin has
promoted the two "Bohemian" formations made by the Wessex
Skeptics (recently admitted to in Volume 8, No 1 of The Skeptic)
as well as Erik Beckjord's wheelchair symbol ! 

FRENCH UGMs

Robert Fischer of Saint Max, France, has sent me a copy of issue
36 of Lumieres dans la Nuit. This issue features photographs of
three unexplained ground markings, at Col de Vence, (1985 and
1993), Saint-Geniez (Sept 1993) and at d'Aumont (Sept 1993). The
first traces involved a sunken circle and a grass circle, both of
which may be unusual fungal growths (??). The middle case looks
like a classic crop circle. The last case is composed of three
sets of dark rings on a light sandy soil. The rings almost touch
eachother and allegedly nothing grows inside them. Joel Mesnard
undertook an investigation and concluded that they were probably
hoaxes as the rings were made up of what might be ground tree
bark which was largely superficial to the soil.  

APBO Hoaxers Evade Detection

Readers will recall the appearance two years running of the
"APBO" hoax near Cherry Burton on Humberside. It occurred to me
that if these letters were not created by any of the known
circlemakers (eg Jonathon Richardson, or the Cambridge-based
Mandelbrot-makers) then perhaps these were the initials of the
hoaxers responsible. Whilst doing an interview with BBC Radio
Humberside on August 30th I learnt from the presenter Russell
Merryman that this hoax appeared on land owned or leased by
Bishop Burton agricultural college. On September 8th I wrote to
the college enquiring whether or not this hoax did indeed appear
on their land and whether or not their students (or perhaps, as
with the Southwell hoax discussed in CW6 page 28, rival students
from another college) were responsible. On October 19th Howard
Petch, the college Principal, kindly responded with the following
:- 

 "I have little information to assist your enquiries. However,
there has been evidence of one small, poorly constructed and
obviously man-made (with footprints etc) corn circle at Mill Hill
in 1994. Quite a number of other incidents have occurred over the
previous few years but we have no idea whether students (our or
others) were responsible."  

Strange but True? ditch Crop Circles

Also, having assisted the "Strange But True?" team at London
Weekend Television in their research into crop circles, I
contacted David Alpin, the producer (who I met at the Fortean
Times Unconvention in June). In a letter dated 25 October David
states "I decided not to include crop circles in this series of
STRANGE BUT TRUE? because we did not have an appropriate story. A
great many subjects have been investigated and rejected in the
making of our programmes, so that we could present viewers with
the very best and most fascinating of mysteries to watch and
decide on". A book, based on the series and written by Peter
Hough and Jenny Randles, is currently on sale, price not yet
known ! 

PLASMA VORTEX ??

Did anyone see the alleged photographs of the Virgin Mary in the
Sunday Express magazine on November 13th ? "Its a Miracle"
featured photographs of several locations said to have produced
miraculous events. According to the text "The Virgin Mary
supposedly appeared here [at Conyers, Atlanta, USA] in the sky,
right, to a young woman in 1988. Since then, many other claims
have perpetuated these sensational scenes of pilgrimage and
evangelism. Preachers address the vast congregations by
loudspeaker, and the crowds scan the sky with cameras, hoping to
capture a divine image, below. A foundation called Our Loving
Mother's Network has been set up here, partly to keep believers
updated on the latest sightings". The attached photographs appear
to show a huge glowing cloud formation with spiralling arms. Does
this indicate rotation ? If so, is this some kind of plasma
vortex phenomenon ?  
r.p.v. ??

Also, did anyone see the article in New Scientist, 20 August
1994, describing advanced military technology ? The diagram
included an "unmanned aerial vehicle" (a kind of remotely-piloted
vehicle) which seems strikingly similar to the drawing of the
"daylight dumbbell" case reported from Novato, California, on
April 15th, 1989 (see IUR, Vol 14, No 5, pages 12-13). 

Also ...

Did anyone tape Pat Delgado's appearance on TV's "What's My Line"
in November ? If so I would like a copy please ! 

One of our "deep throat" sources has informed us that he has
submitted four sealed envelopes to ITN's "Schofield's Quest"
which contains predictions of crop formations to appear in 1995.
It is expected that Schofield - if he can find the time - will
open these envelopes "live" on TV late next summer.  

The Amersham group's hoaxed giant penis near Chequers (which
featured in many national newspapers this summer) finally made it
to BBC TV's "Have I Got News For You" on November 18th, when crop
circle guru David Icke was one of the guests. Curiously Reg
Pressley was promoted by presenter Angus Dayton as the leading
member of the Circles Phenomenon Research Group. No doubt Colin
Andrews will have something to say about this!  

Paul Vigay and the Portsmouth News 

Paul Vigay of Portsmouth is currently under threat of legal
action from Circlevision following comments attributed to him by
the Portsmouth News on July 30th. In a highly contentious
interview Vigay alleged that he had recently attended a public
lecture in London when he had a "run in with a pair of  hoaxers,
or 'circle debunkers'" who "showed a sequence of time lapse
pictures that appeared to show a crop circle being hoaxed".
According to the Portsmouth News "Paul stood up and said he could
produce the same sort of pictures with computer manipulation in a
few minutes". The article continues by alleging that these
un-named "hoaxers" "backed down" once they had seen Paul Vigay's
computer-produced images.  

According to correspondence in my possession on January 12th 1994
Paul Vigay wrote to Circlevision to clarify similar claims he
made at the December 4th BUFORA lecture. Vigay states that "under
no circumstances have I, either at the BUFORA lecture or
subsequently, accused you, your husband or his company of lying.
Also, under no circumstances would I make any statement to damage
your reputation or inhibit your business. However, it remains a
matter of fact that photographic and video evidence is less
effective in today's technological environment, with the latest
developments in computer technology, both hardware and software
allowing one to manipulate images in any way one desires. This
does not imply or suggest that you or Circlevision have used such
methods, but it should be pointed out to researchers that such
techniques exist." Of course this is not what Vigay claimed at
the BUFORA lecture, when he appeared to imply that Circlevision
was presenting computer-enhanced images of circle-makers at work
at night rather than real-world images.  

With this letter Vigay supplied Circlevision with laser copies of
a computer-generated image of the Barbury Castle formation as
viewed from high above the formation. Apparently this image is
not the same as that shown by Circlevision at the BUFORA lecture. 
 
In correspondence with me Paul Vigay maintains that the comments
in the Portsmouth News article did not refer to Circlevision or
the BUFORA lecture. However, he has refused to name the people
discussed in the Portsmouth News article or the location of the
lecture discussed. Readers may find it difficult to believe that
the MacNishes are not the only video makers who recently
presented a public lecture in London about crop circles. It seems
even more unbelievable that whilst Vigay accepts that
Circlevision did not fabricate their nocturnal photographs of
circlemakers at work this other un-named company did ! 

Following these developments Circlevision have placed this
disturbing matter in the hands of their solicitor and asked the
Portsmouth News and Paul Vigay for an apology. In the meantime
Vigay has accused Doug Bower of lying about the number of crop
circles he and Dave Chorley made, and now your Editor has also
been accused of being a liar (on the public area of the E-mail
system) following the lawsuit threat bought against me in 1989 by
Colin Andrews, Pat Delgado and Gordon Creighton ! All this
material will form the basis of a full article which will appear
in our next issue.  

Rumours & Rumours of Rumours

Colin Andrews has been collared by the CIA in Alresford High
Street, a secret message was passed on ... perhaps it will appear
in his third book "The Signs of Change" ... Reg Pressley is
planning a new crop circle video ...  A well known questing
UFOlogist appeared in court on November 23rd in the East Midlands
charged with obtaining services by deception.... Rupert and
Ishtar are on good terms ... John Alexander's wife Victoria is
trying to obtain a copy of The Informer as Erik Beckjord alleged
to her that Jim Schnabel is the Editor ... Robert Irving's
admiralty office is located near Bath ... George Vernon tried to
appear on Schofield's quest, but Doug Bower and Reg Pressley had
already beaten him to it ...Chad Deetken refused to accept a
drink from Adrian Dexter ...  

Book Reviews

Time Travel, Fact, Fiction & Possibility
Jenny Randles
Blandford, 176 pages, 33 b&w photos,  14.99 hb, 
 8.99 pb. Read and reviewed on Weymouth beach.

Time travel is a subject that has always caught the imagination
of the public - well at least since H.G. Wells' classic The Time
Machine was published in 1895 - and now Jenny Randles has
compiled a very thorough examination of the subject with this
well illustrated, thought-provoking book. There is an excellent
review of the fictional literature on the subject plus a close
examination of cases where time travel has been claimed as a
possible explanation for anomaly events. Some of the scientific
experiments that have been conducted are a bit mind boggling but
otherwise this is fair speculation backed up by good solid
research. Buy it ! 

UFO Quest
In Search of Mystery Machines
Alan Watts
Blandford, 192 pages, 12 b/w photos, 65 line drawings, price 
7.99 

This really is the most thoroughly dishonest UFO book that I've
seen for a long, long time. Touted as a "detailed and
scientifically based survey" this must be the only book in UFO
history which promotes Alex Birches' faked UFO photographs (page
92), David Langford's hoaxed "An Account of a Meeting with
Denizens of Another World" (page 126), Dave Harris' faked account
of how a UFO created a crop circle at Butleigh Wootten in 1991
(page 150) and which also promotes Billy Meier's highly dubious
claims to have met visitors from the Pleiadies (his photographs
of the spaceships were shown to be fakes years ago). Add to this
the promotion of George Adamski's ridiculous claims of meeting
with Venusians in the Californian desert and the promotion of
Stephen Pratt's dubious UFO photographs and we get a book which
this reviewer is quite sure that the Skeptics will use to
discredit UFOlogy for many years to come ! 

In my opinion Alan Watts deserves some kind of UFOlogical award
for having been stuck in a time warp for the past thirty years
and for doing not one single piece of proper research before
producing this wicked book.  It is bad enough to see UFOlogists
still promoting the likes of Billy Meier and George Adamski, but
this book goes so much further that it makes me wonder whether
there's any point at all in continuing with research into anomaly
events, given the level of distortion and cover-up perpetrated in
this book. To give an example of Alan Watts' "scientific"
approach to UFO investigation, this is what he has to say about
the famous Mandelbrot formation :-  

"The chances of this being a hoax are absolutely nil and it is,
in my opinion, a waste of time to dwell upon the matter " (page
142).  

With bigoted, ill-informed sentiments like this it is not
surprising to see that Jo-Anne Wilder's eye witness account of
hoaxers making the Firs Farm formation (promoted on page 174) on
1 August 1991 is also missing. Like Pat Delgado Watts is also
under the misapprehension that the Cheesefoot Head circles in
1981 were the first circles to appear. I suppose the continued
perpetuation of this ridiculous error neatly does away with any
need at all to discuss the Doug and Dave claim. Why bother
challenging your assumptions when your belief that alien visitors
are making the formations is elevated to the platform of an
unquestionable faith. 

Like many a True Believer it is revealing to see the way in which
Watts misrepresents case after case to support his religion, eg
for some inexplicable reason he omits to discuss the widely
accepted Skyhook Balloon solution for Captain Thomas Mantell's
tragic death in 1947 (page 125). In another example the Wildman
car stop case (page 50) is promoted as an encounter with a
spaceship rather than an encounter with a light. The Eric Payne
case (page 103) is presented as an encounter with an invisible
UFO without the slightest consideration that sensations of heat
and air pressure are entirely consistent with a natural
atmospheric interpretation. I could go on and on but what point
is there ? 

Now if you've been foolish enough to buy this disgraceful book I
recommend that you demand your money back because you've been had
! BUFORA should hold its collective corporate head in shame at
allowing a member of the Association to produce such a dishonest,
fraudulent book to represent "scientific" UFOlogy. PF. 

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Alien Encounters
An Interpretive Approach to the UFO Phenomenon and Crop Circle 
Mysteries by Gordon Millington 

A former army officer and college lecturer, Gordon is an
accredited investigator for the British UFO Research Association
and a consultant for Flying Saucer Review. He has contributed to
many publications concerned with the paranormal and has an
eclectic concern with the possible meanings of such phenomena. A
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A magazine with an upfront, no nonsense approach to ancient
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folklore, ufology and parascience. Latest issue  2.50 from
G.E.M., PO Box 258, Cheltenham, GL53  0HR. A GEM Publication.
You'll never hear surf music again ! 

The NEW UFOlogist

Issue 2 of The New UFOlogist is now out ! See your Editor make a
complete burke of himself discussing the "GAO" Roswell Report in
glossy print !  

Magazine Round-Up

International UFO Reporter, November/December 1993 issue (Vol 19,
No 3) contains a fascinating UFO case study from Alberta, Canada.
From the description offered by David Thacker it is difficult to
tell what was really seen, and for once even a clever dick like
me has to reserve his opinion ! The UFO resembled the triangles
seen over Belgium, the Hudson Valley, New York, and, more
recently, in northern England. Multiple independent witnesses
reported seeing a dark triangular-shaped object with red circles
at each apex. Christopher Allan takes the Roswell UFO crash to
task, Randle and Schmitt of CUFOS respond.  

The Journal of UFO Studies, New Series, Vol 5 (1994) contains two
articles of interest to crop circle researchers. In "An
Assessment of the Crop Circle Phenomenon" Joachim P. Kuettner of
the U.S. National Center for Atmospheric Research dismisses a
meteorological explanation for all but the simplest of crop
circles, because (allegedly) all known vortices create inwardly
flowing spiral traces rather than the divergent traces found in
crop circles (so what about expanding ring vortices then ?).
Amazingly Kuettner claims that nocturnal descending vortices have
"not yet been observed in the atmospheric sciences". Despite this
he is happy to leave the door open slightly for a previously
unrecognised vortex, largely because of Arnt Eliassen's 1991
letter to Weather. Kuettner suggests that the plasma vortex is
"scientifically improbable" whilst asserting that historical crop
rings have a much closer association with UFOs than the
modern-day crop circles. Jenny Randles and myself hope to submit
a response to JUFOS challenging some of these statements. It is
astonishing that Kuettner's article should contain an excellent
photograph of a crop circle with slanting edges discovered near
Dellroy, Ohio, on June 28, 1965. There is also a photograph of a
smouldering circular patch of grass found near Killaly,
Saskatchewan, discovered on November 14, 1979 after a white light
had been seen the previous night (not the most persuasive UFO
association I've ever read). In both photos there is evidence of
a ring vortex effect - at Dellroy the crop radiates outwards in
all directions whilst at Killaly the central zone is untouched.
If these are hoaxes, how did the hoaxers know how to mimic ring
vortex effects ! There is also an amusing review of the crop
circle literature by UFO historian Michael Swords. Available from
the same address as IUR, CUFOS, 2457 West Peterson Avenue,
Chicago, Illinois 60659. 

Annals of the Enquiring, Vol 4 No 3 (July/Sept 1993) contains
numerous Fortean events and some valuable case material. I was
particularly impressed to learn that the March 31st 1993
sightings over Britain, Ireland and the continent had positively
been identified by the a Dr T S Kelso of the USAF as a rocket
fragment of COSMOS 2238. Other articles include UFOs and star
maps, Weeping Madonas, BVMs, psychometry. Issue 19 contains
photos of the two crop circles at Seaforde, Northern Ireland,
which were found last August. This issue contains a statistical
analysis of UFO waves, case studies of frogs falling from the sky
(complete with whirlwind association) and news of the video of
the Exmoor Beast.   6 for 4 issues. Write to 8 St John Street,
Wells, Somerset, BA5  1SW.  

MUFON UFO Journal, Feb 1994 issue contains a statistical analysis
of the content of abduction reports by Dan Wright. Psycho-social
UFOlogists will take great comfort from the finding that 95 % of
abductions occur in the witnesses' own home (often the bedroom),
as this seems to support the theory that abductions are altered
states of consciousness akin to lucid dreams rather than
objectively real events. A second article examines an important
radar visual case involving a reddish light that paced two
aircraft in successive incidents over Paraguay. No, I can't make
out what it was ! Glenn Campbell perceptively reviews Bob
Lazaar's claim to have seen captured alien technology on a top
secret US base. March issue continues with Dan Wright's
statistical analysis of abduction cases. Wright's conclusion -
that "numerous entity types have been visiting our planet with
some regularity" - must be the most ridiculous statistical
inference made throughout recorded history ! Kevin Randle and
Donald Schmitt present a chapter by chapter precis of their
latest update on the controversial Roswell case. Fred Whiting
describes his part in the current US Government Accounting
Office's investigation into the Roswell affair. The April issue
again concentrates on the pro Roswell debate, with Kent Jeffrey
appealing for UFOlogists world-wide to sign the "Roswell
Declaration" (no, your Editor didn't). Write to 103 Oldtowne
Road, Seguin, Texas 78155-4099. 

Enigmas, the Journal of Strange Phenomena Investigations, issue
24 Vol 4 contains many fascinating in-depth research articles on
subjects as diverse as poltergeists, man-beasts in Australia,
alien abductions and another Nessie sighting. The highlight of
this issue, for me, is an update on the Bonnybridge UFO wave,
detailing Malcolm Robinson's concerted attempts to solve an
intriguing UFO video case.  Issue 37 Vol 5 Keith Basterfield
summarises the state of abduction research in Australia, the UFO
conference at Falkirk, hauntings and stigmata, UFO cases. 44
pages A5.  10 for 5 issues per year. Write to 41 The Braes,
Tullibody, Clackmannanshire, FK10  2TT, Scotland.  

Phenomena, published by SOS OVNI, the leading French group.
Available from SOS OVNI, Boite postale 324, 13611 Aix-en-Provence
Cedex 1, France. A small English supplement is provided if, like
me, you can't read French. Jan/Feb 1994 issue contains important
revelations about the origin of the famous UMMO hoax and the
controversy surrounding Jose Pena's confession. There is a
summary of the proposal to set up a UFO reporting centre for the
EEC. Details are supplied of a classic CE3 at
Tronville-en-Barrois in the east of France. A family of five
witnessed a luminous dome-shaped object, two bright lights,
ground traces and even entities. A sixth independent witness to
the scene claims to have seen a car with its headlights on and
the driver walking around with a powerful torch. It transpired
that the driver was on the run from the gendarmerie and had
stopped at the precise spot where the alien craft was reported.
The full case report will be published in a later issue of
Phenomena but it is clear that this case illustrates how complex
social processes within the family contributed to the group
misperception involved. Issue 20 (March/April) contains a dubious
ground trace case involving a bright light and a circular ground
trace. There are also reprints of articles on the Williamette
Pass photo (from IUR) and a mass outbreak of mystery helicopters,
unidentified helicopters, UFOs and animal mutilations in the San
Luis Valley, Colorado. Issue 22 contains a major article on the
Face on Mars and a photographic case from Normandie.  

The Ley Hunter, 121,  1.75 per issue. This excellent issue
contains many constructive articles examining earth mysteries,
ley-alignments and sacred sites as well as links with natural
light phenomena and other anomalous phenomena. This excellent
issue contains two well researched articles on ghost routes and 
corpse roads as well as an annotated map showing the location of
11 fairy mounds in County Sligo. Coincidentally the fairy mounds
are all located within 6 kms of a steep escarpment. Is this
because the ancients witnessed illuminated plasma vortices
forming in the lee of these hills and rationalised them in terms
of the prevailing fairylore motif ? Ray Cox has a letter pleading
for clemency over the crop circle phenomenon. There is an
important summary of Devereux's latest work with the
International Consciousness Research Laboratories following his
field trips to Hessdalen and Marfa (where Devereux and Ohtsuki
agree that "at least 90 per cent" of the Marfa Lights were
believed to be mirage-type refraction effects of car headlights).
Devereux makes some important comments on his latest thinking
about the postulated plasma vortex. At Hessdalen Devereux met
four Russian scientists who described their laboratory-produced
plasmas. A paper was presented on behalf of an absent Chinese
delegate describing observed vortex behaviour in
experimentally-produced plasmas and in photos of the Hessdalen
lights. Devereux met with our own Prof. Ohtsuki and had some
enlightening discussions with him. Devereux concludes "Out of all
these conversations, ..., a number of subtle factors relating to
light phenomena came more clearly in focus for me. One of these
was the possibility of light phenomena leaving ground traces on
suitable surfaces. I have held (albeit with increasing doubts) to
such a possibility all through the crop circle hoo-ha, and had
all but relinquished it. But enough data came together for me
during the conference, ..., to convince me that there may well be
something in the matter, and will be proceeding to explore it
further." Available from PO Box 92, Penzance, Cornwall, TR18 
2BX. Three issues per year for  5.25.  

Erik Beckjord

Regular readers will already know of John Erik Beckjord, the
intrepid Bigfoot hunter and "Director" of the "UFO, Bigfoot and
Nessie Museum" of Marina del Rey, California. Beckjord first shot
to crop circle fame with his ancient "TIFFINAG" interpretation of
crop circles appearing in Wiltshire in 1991. Beckjord responded
to what he believed were messages from alien beings by creating
the "TALK TO US" message in a field near Avebury. According to
MUFON UFO JOURNAL, issue 301, Beckjord claims to have received "8
responses" to this message. In the Washington Post (3rd July
1991) Beckjord has even tried to flog photographs of Senator
Edward Kennedy's Face on Mars in an attempt to attract publicity.
Some animated letters from Beckjord have appeared in MUFON UFO
JOURNAL,  numbers 279 and 281.  

At 10:30 pm on August 19th Beckjord rang me from the Barge public
house to allege that I am the Editor of The Informer and that I
have libelled him by accusing him of fabricating his photographs
of the Loch Ness Monster ! Beckjord claimed that he had exposed
me at a public meeting attended by 50 people !! He subsequently
repeated these false claims in writing where he states "Now what
is this crap you write [in The Informer] ... Total nonsense and
irrational. You write garbage, in an attempt to insult, yet avoid
libel, at same time. You can't do this and be clear you dumb yob.
Your writing is convoluted, turgid and idiotic. Not university
level. State your insults clearly. Eschew obfuscation. P.S.
Informer #7 Not up to level of #6 (Schnabel). J.S. edits better
than you do. This issue was weak. Your Vigay & Macnish article is
bullshit clouded in mindless drivel. Not clear as is C.W.".  
So, if I read these allegations correctly, in between having a
full time job, editing The Crop Watcher and co-editing The New
UFOlogist, it seems that I am producing The Informer in my sleep
! 
In another scribbled messages Beckjord writes "Too bad you piss
off so many people - you could otherwise socialise at The Barge
and at conventions - but instead you must sit at the fringe -
outside, outcast - pity." A third note states "Everyone now knows
about you-know-what, and that you refuse to reveal where you got
your B.A. degree (if at all) - pity." So, as you can see,
Beckjord appears to be alleging that I have lied about having a
university degree. If you want a copy of my degree certificate
(Sheffield 1982) or my postgraduate diploma (Kent 1983) please
let me know and I'll send you copies ! 

I have since discovered that Beckjord made a similar drunken
phone call to Jayne Macnish at Circlevision on the same night as
he made his threatening phone call to me. According to Jenny
Randles Beckjord pestered her repeatedly in an attempt to obtain
my telephone number, even though it is freely available in the
telephone directory.  

In a press release dated August 15th Erik Beckjord alleged that
all the crop circle researchers are "major rat(s)" who are
victims of an alien experiment to evaluate our psychology and
social systems. Apparently we humans are "experimental animals"
who are "destroying our cages" . With sentiments like these it is
not surprising that Mr Beckjord currently has extensive legal
problems.  

The Crop Watcher has learnt that Associated Press have paid Peter
Hough damages for breach of copyright following their widespread
publication of the Ilkley Moor entity photograph, which was given
to them by Erik Beckjord following one of last year's crop circle
conferences. Presumably Associated Press will attempt to recover
their damages from Beckjord when he returns to Britain this
summer. In the meantime Beckjord is alleging that a team of
lawyers are working flat out on his behalf, without pay, to deny
that Hough owns the copyright to the Ilkley Moor entity
photograph.  

Finally I have learnt from one of my subscribers that when
Beckjord rang me from the Barge he boasted that I had accused him
of being a liar ! If anyone has a tape recording of Beckjord's
allegations against me I would be very grateful for a copy. In
the meantime I am still awaiting a written apology from Beckjord.

NEXT ISSUE

CW24 will be out by February 1st. Highlights will include the
historical crop circle photographs discussed on page 2, a review
of Alien Energy, a reply from Andy Collins to Robert Irving's
letter in this issue, the result of my investigations into the
astonishing event involving Colin Andrews and two army
helicopters at Alton Barnes on July 21st, plus a possible
literary reference to more historical crop circles. Oh yes, we
will also be examining Levengood's article in Physiologia
Plantarum 92 ! 

THE CROP WATCHER

The Crop Watcher is an independent non-profit-making magazine
devoted to the scientific study of crop circles and the social
mythology that accompanies them. Articles appearing in The Crop
Watcher are copyright to the named author and should not be
reproduced with first obtaining written permission. Articles
appearing in The Crop Watcher do not necessarily reflect the
views of the Editor or other contributors. Readers are welcome to
submit articles for publication. Offers of exchange magazines are
always welcome. 

SUBSCRIPTIONS

The Crop Watcher is published four times a year. Each issue costs
 1.50 (UK subscribers) or  2.50 (overseas subscribers). A full
year's subscription costs  6 (UK subscribers) or  10 (overseas
subscribers). Please make cheques payable to "Paul Fuller", NOT
"The Crop Watcher". Overseas subscribers should send cash in
pounds sterling. All correspondence should be sent to Paul
Fuller, 3 Selborne Court, Tavistock Close, ROMSEY, Hampshire,
SO51  7TY. Articles appearing in The Crop Watcher are copyright
to the named author and should not be reproduced without first
obtaining written permission.  


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