Scientific Methods

Monday, May 15, 2006


The first time I became aware of or saw crop circles was when the movie Signs featuring Mel Gibson was screened. Initially it was very puzzling because my knowledge about these formations were limited, and now after I read and tried to understand, it has become even more enigmatic.

Crop circles are unexplained phenomena that have baffled people all around the world and many theories endeavor to explicate the event, but no conclusive evidence has been found ( ). Crop circles have a worldwide occurrence and have been found in England, all of North America, Australia and even in South Africa ( ). Crop circles are more prevalent in the southern countryside of England and in the year, 1990 about 700 crop circles were discovered in Britain (Krystek, 2000). These circles are located predominantly in cereal plants such as wheat and cornfields, but are also found in oats, barley and canola ( ).

Cereologist, a word derived from the Roman goddess of vegetation, are people who have decided to study the crop circles and tried to find possible reasons for its appearance (Krystek, 2000). Crop circles are shaped in the most beautiful geometric forms as result of the knocking down or flattening of these crops (Krystek, 2000). They range from about ten feet to a hundred feet in diameter and come in the form of simple circles to meticulously created complex works of art (Krystek, 2000).

Numerous explanations exist for these phenomena, yet none of the proposed theories are conclusive. The formation of the crop circles are however under severe scrutiny after hoaxing has been implicated for the falsification of these circles. But are all the crop circles man-made? The question has had observers and so many others baffled over the years, but some have definitely been made by human hands.

The unresolved theories of the formation of crop circles still linger, and although not physically proven, some suggestions have been made. The first of these include weather effects that professor George Tenence Meaden describes as a "plasma vortex phenomena" and explains it to be like "a spinning mass of air which has accumulated a significant fraction of electrically charged matter."(Krystek, 2000). He explains the similarity of this to a ball of lightning, which is huge and lasts for a lengthy period of time (Krystek, 2000).

UFO's have been implicated for the creation of these complex circles, by the spacecraft landing on the crop fields and imprinting the designs of the UFO's on the crops, wheat, etc (Krystek, 2000). It is assumed by some that the patterns left by the aliens are a means of communicating with humans.

The most plausible explanation, according to many is that these crop circles have been perpetrated by hoaxers (Krystek, 2000) and because many of the crop circles are man made it serves as a good explanation for these immaculate designs. But are humans able to create such marvelous works of art in one night? I doubt it. So much would go into the design and the actual labour associated with these formations, and though it is not impossible that humans are able to create it, time constraints would definitely result in it being done over a minimum of three days, according to my estimation. Crop circles have appeared in a minimum time of about 15 minutes as explained by aircrafts surveying the land. It is impossible that hoaxers could have created such a large design in such a short period.

The formations of "authentic" crop circles results in a bend in the stem of the crop underneath the joints and those produced by the hoaxers create a crack at any location on the stem ( ). It is claimed that the bending is determined by the plant itself and not the degree of force applied. In summer months the crops bend easily and it would not be known whether it is man made or not ( ).

Hoaxed and unnaturally formed crop circles are sometimes indistinguishable from one another and sceptics derive their objectivity from this. Personally, I think that there are some crop circles which are created by forces beyond our understanding. I do not know exactly who is responsible for it, but the electro-magnetic ball seen by many is my best bet at the moment.


Anon. Crop Circle Theories [Internet]. Crystalinks. [cited 2006 May 5] Available from: theories.
Krystek L. Crop Circles from outer space?[Internet]. UNMuseum.[cited 2006 May 5]. Available from:
Wikipedia contributors.Crop circles [Internet]. Wikipedia; the free encyclopedia; 2003 Feb 10, 19:48 UTC [cited 2006 May 5]. Available from: .

Monique Rochelle Maseng
Department of Biodiversity and Conservation Biology
University of the Western Cape
Private Bag X17


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