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Okay, hear me out…


Tonight we went to a talk on crop circles. I wasn’t all that hot to go — not really my thing — but we promised friends.

Hoo boy, was it interesting. I wasn’t convinced by any particular theory (he wasn’t pushing any particular theory). He showed us dozens of photographs (out of, apparently, ten thousand known circles) and several things are factually indisputable:

■ There are still hundreds of them appearing every year, mostly across Europe.

■ The most complex ones are made stunningly fast, sometimes right by a busy road, without anyone being spotted nearby.

■ And holy shit have they gotten elaborate! Seriously, look at this Google Image search.

Some are definitely man-made, but the ones that people have taken credit for making are, in a word, pretty lame. They take a long time to make, are pretty simple and look kind of wonky. None of the perfect circles and long, straight lines.

Nobody has stepped forward to claim any of the really amazing ones, and nobody who makes them can figure out how the amazing ones were done. They are HUGE and complex and precise and amazing. The one in the picture at the top has a sort of wheaten basket weave, for example.

Now, when you get to the one that show a giant dot-matrix portrait of a typical X-Files gray holding a disk with legible digital message in ASCII English, you feel sure somebody’s pulling your leg. But that’s just it — how the fuck are they doing it?


Comment from Uncle Al
Time: May 12, 2016, 11:41 pm

I suspect a highly intelligent superior techno-prankster has created for himself a programmable swarm of robotic weasels.

Comment from QuasiModo
Time: May 13, 2016, 12:20 am

That’s pretty amazing…maybe they built some kind of mobile CNC machine that ‘prints’ them?…I’ve seen smaller machines print graffiti on sidewalks in chalk, for example.

Comment from Some Vegetable
Time: May 13, 2016, 12:42 am

I thought the answer was obvious

Comment from QuasiModo
Time: May 13, 2016, 1:50 am

Seems like kinda a waste of good crops though…farmers must get pissed off.

Comment from Mitchell
Time: May 13, 2016, 2:22 am

I always figured it was military tech. The stealth and precision fairly screams it to me. As to the purpose I can think of giving spy satellites and their software systems to to look for to automatically scan, categorize and flag stuff for later human analyses. Early heat-seeking missile technology was developed along similar ideas of giving systems really big, obvious things to identify and refining from there. The USAF strapped a bunch of space heaters on tanks for missiles to find for example. The earth is a REALLY big tank and those crop circles are really, REALLY tiny space heaters.

Comment from catnip
Time: May 13, 2016, 6:20 am

You should visit some crop circles, Sweasel, before the mystery wears off and their popularity fades. Next month they’ll begin showing up all over, many of the nicest ones in Wiltshire near Avebury & Silbury Hill. A cottage industry has sprung up in that area, serving tourists’ curiosity. It’s one locale where “researchers” and circle makers tend to hang out in summer. The circles are usually fairly easy to access. Ropes, planks, poles, ladders, GPS and lasers are used to construct patterns plotted on computers. Some are made for commercial purposes, others for the joy of it. Might as well appreciate them as a form of artistic expression, because the intricate ways in which parts of the crops are lain down in well executed circles are not only very beautiful in effect, but downright ingenious. Farmers either love them or hate them. Some plow them up immediately, others charge admission to enter their fields.

Comment from Uncle Al
Time: May 13, 2016, 12:21 pm

@catnip – Do the farmers who love them have crop insurance?

(Lets question hang…)

Comment from Deborah HH
Time: May 13, 2016, 2:47 pm

Hitching a ride on Uncle Al: One of my jobs in the past was pipeline drafting, and a subset of that was to calculate the price of a farmer’s crop growing in the oil company’s right-of-way. The farmer was paid up front against the potential loss of the crop. The calculations involved a lot of formulas and algebra, and while the calculations were tedious, I got to make jokes about using algebra (which I swore in high school that I would never do). Now it would all be done by a computer.

So when I see these fields with artistically ruined crops, I wonder who bears the loss. I also note that all the fields appear to be wheat. I guess tramping down cotton, corn, or potatoes would be infinitely more complicated, and wouldn’t produce nearly so attractive a result.

Comment from S. Weasel
Time: May 13, 2016, 5:11 pm

Do you have any links for the “Ropes, planks, poles, ladders, GPS and lasers are used to construct patterns plotted on computers” bit, catnip? The speaker said none of the really complex ones were admitted to by known crop circle makers, and known crop circle makers make ones that are pretty lame.

I’ve been trying to figure out how some of them could be done. GPS isn’t precise enough to be more than a little help — I drew a giant weasel in a field with my hand-held GPS’s breadcrumb trail once and it was lame. I’m with Mitchell; I think it’s some kind of military tech. Probably involving satellite views.

Comment from BJM
Time: May 13, 2016, 8:38 pm

>The earth is a REALLY big tank and those crop circles are really, REALLY tiny space heaters.

Thread winner!

Comment from Sigivald
Time: May 13, 2016, 10:00 pm

GPS is very precise with the right hardware – a Realtime Kinematic system with local radio from a base station can get you centimeter accuracy – and while not “cheap” is well within the range of enthusiast budgets.

(Also, laser-based surveying equipment might help, and is cheap and widely available now.)

Comment from Uncle Al
Time: May 13, 2016, 10:24 pm

It is actually quite easy to generate extremely intricate designs with simple equipment. Anybody here ever have a Spirograph? I’m not a mechanical engineer, so dreaming up the actual equipment needed to “draw” such designs in a wheat field isn’t something I’d want to tackle, but even this simple retired data wrangler has a few mental images that aren’t too outlandish. With GPS help, place some centering poles, attach previously rigged and precisely cut to length ropes or cables, and start walking, keeping the rope taut. I can visualize ten or a dozen people generating some pretty fancy stuff in a few hours. With a little planning, each pass would erase the footsteps or other signs of earlier passes, and the end result would be “clean.”

Comment from S. Weasel
Time: May 13, 2016, 10:27 pm

Well, nobody’s done it for the cameras is all I’m saying.

Comment from dreadpirateroberta
Time: May 14, 2016, 12:57 am

My sister farms in England and a few years ago they had a crop circle in one of their arable fields. We woke up to hordes of strangers trampling what was left of the crop and a mile of cars blocking their little country lane. We took her babies and went over to see it ourselves. There were Wiccans and faith healers and people in wheelchairs and all kinds of crazy. Nice people too. We didn’t tell anyone who we were and just sat there enjoying the sunshine. All the barley was bent over about 8 or 10 inches from the ground-not broken, just laid flat. I sat in the shallow divot in the middle of the thing and just felt blessed to be there, in a beautiful English field on a sunny day.

Comment from dreadpirateroberta
Time: May 14, 2016, 1:02 am

Catnip is correct about the farmers. My brother in law was not very happy about the whole thing. They live near Avebury and I have visited the Stones several times, pretty awesome and totally accessible unlike Stonehenge. Sweet little village and lovely countryside. Very Hobbit-like.

Comment from Uncle Badger
Time: May 14, 2016, 10:12 am

Sorry, I’m a sceptical old badger, but I’m not buying it. I don’t believe in little green men and I also went to this guy’s talk with my head full of ‘Doug and Dave’ stories (Doug and Dave were two notorious hoaxers).

However… I do not believe that some of the ‘circles’ he showed and some of the things I have seen could possibly have been created by a bunch of enthusiasts in such short periods of time, in such close proximity to busy roads, however much gadgetry they were armed with.

I haven’t a clue what is really behind this phenomenon. Some circles, clearly, are hoaxes, some are advertising but some, I suspect, are being caused by something else and it would make sense to find out what it is.

Comment from J.S.Bridges
Time: May 14, 2016, 10:29 pm

Oh, dear…

It’s good, in a way, that all that is (mostly, apparently) taking place over ‘crost The Pond, in Jolly Olde –

If ’twere jumpin’ and jivin’ mostly/entirely ’round-about Kansas, Ioway, Oklahomey or some-such U.S. localities, no doubt by now both Democraps and Rethuglicans (plus, perhaps, a few sharp “words” from The Big-Time [oh, yes they are – just ask ’em, an’ they’ll tell you alll ’bout it!!] Libratarianists) would be deep into accusations, counter-accusations, presentations of “proof” of perfidious super-fluity an’ perfidy (both or all directions)and other total-electoral-silly-season horse-finortny, ab-so-stutely establishing that each “side” (ackshully jes’ slightly-differed aspects of the self-same rabid Big-Gummint-brandishing BeestThatRefusesToBeNamed)has total responsibility for this “phenomenon”, and the results thereby and therefrom will be “We’re Doomed – Or, At Least, Terminally-Darned”…thenkyewveddymuch, it’s already as collar-button-hole deep aroun’ here as anything/everything human can barely stand in such toxic stew as I’ve seen never-ever in my lifetime (which is substantially-over a half-Century as an alleged-adult and rapidly climbing…

Whatever/whoever/however is doing those “doings” Over There – it’s a) interesting and kinda-fun to observe, and b) far, far superior in amusement/bemusement/out-an’-out entertainment value to TeeVee and moom-pitchurs – both of which are doubtless racing neck-and-neck trying for exploitation of said “doings” – much less “partisan” (to say nothing of “NON-partisan”) politickin’, of which we have presently far too much, and mostly in All The Wrong Places…

Only other thing I have to say is – thishere’s fun…but, more chooks would be appreciated when you get the chance – y’know?

(BTB: Good to notice the re-emergence in these spaces of SomeVeg – where-at you been, Bwah? You seem to have been among-the-missing thru at least the last couple of Dead Pool startups, IIRC…ennyhoo, good you’re apparently up an’ takin’ nourishment…8-))

Comment from catnip
Time: May 15, 2016, 5:23 am

I don’t have a specific source for my prior post, but I was a “Coast to Coast” and “Unknown Country” listener during the 90’s when crop circles were a really hot topic for radio conversation. There was a constant back and forth between “experts” advocating for the “woo” factor in regard to their construction and claiming new age-y spiritual and health benefits to entering them. Others claimed they were of human agency. There were several three- to four-member teams of male guests who said they were responsible, and described methods. There are still crews who construct them for ad agencies to promote products and events, and those I saw online back then were often elaborate and expertly executed. At the time, I found the controversy to be quite compelling, and did considerable personal research by reading and following a handful of online forums connected with research into the phenomena.

I haven’t saved any former relevant bookmarks, but found a fairly recent link that covers, briefly, pretty much what I eventually concluded about crop circles.


If you Google “Crop Circle Connector” you’ll find photos and field reports going back many years. It’s interesting that the controversy has come back full circle (sorry).

To Uncle Al, Deborah HH, et al,

There isn’t usually a tremendous loss of vegetation inside most crop circles. In many instances, much of it can be salvaged. I don’t know if crop insurance comes into play or not, but some farmers whose fields are defiled are furious. Others mitigate their loss by charging admission, and/or approve, in general, the increase in tourist dollars crop circles bring to their communities. It was rumored that a few farmers received money from circle-makers to use portions of their fields. Aside from the usual grain crops, circles have been constructed in rapeseed, corn, and various other crops throughout the western world, the best, in my opinion, being found in Britain, the Netherlands, and Germany. The good ones, I think, would be well worth a visit.

Comment from dreadpirateroberta
Time: May 15, 2016, 5:18 pm

The crop circle in my sister’s field was on the side of a hill so we could see it from far away. However it was impossible to appreciate the design when we were standing in the middle of it. Of course it was immense and interesting even so. I am not trying to take anything away from Catnip’s comment, I am so glad that I went to see it, it certainly added some spice to my visit! I think that the aerial photos are very compelling also.

Comment from Subotai Bahadur
Time: May 16, 2016, 12:51 am

Comment from J.S.Bridges
Time: May 14, 2016, 10:29 pm

If it should cross the pond, there is one problem. In a number of the states the clandestine destruction of the crops would trigger justification of use of deadly force. Which if it is not military, or extraterrestrial, means that the pranksters might find themselves subject to the traditional Western doctrine of the “3-S’s”. 😉

Comment from Uncle Badger
Time: May 16, 2016, 9:28 am

Indeed – and was exactly what I said to the speaker at the talk. If I were looking for one single reason why there seem to be very few CCs in the USA, that would be the most obvious explanation.

Comment from Lazlo
Time: May 17, 2016, 5:20 am

They really are communications from Aliens
The primitive translations seem to fall into only two categories:
“Turn that crap down” and
“Don’t make us come down there”

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