It didn’t get any more Establishment lame(main)stream mass media than this 1991 ‘TIME Magazine’ dismissal of the crop circle phenomenon. The following article is the 'official' mass media exemplar and archetype for all the sniveling detractions, high-handed dismissals, and network debunkings of crop circles that would follow. 20 years on, it seems to have provided the template for all subsequent GOP conspiracy explanations for Climate Change, Evolution, The Englightenment and whatever else they cannot understand or accept:
It Happens in the Best Circles
By Anne Constable/London;LEON JAROFF
"This is without doubt the most wonderful moment of my research," marveled retired engineer Pat Delgado last week, as he stood in a wheat field near Sevenoaks, in the British county of Kent. "No human could have done this."
Delgado was gazing at a large area where the crops had been mysteriously flattened in a remarkable pattern. A large, nearly perfect circle of plants had been bent down in a clockwise direction. Extending from the circle were other shapes: antennae, a ladder-like strip and a semicircle.
The Sevenoaks phenomenon is the latest of hundreds of circular patterns that have appeared in the grainfields of southern England and, in lesser numbers, in the fields of 20 other countries during the past 13 years. And it seemed perfect fodder for Delgado, who now makes a career of investigating and writing about the circles. He has suggested that the circular patterns are created by a "superior intelligence" -- most likely extraterrestrial -- and has co-authored a book called Circular Evidence with another believer, Colin Andrews. It has sold more than 50,000 copies.
Delgado's exultation was soon cut short. Graham Brough, a reporter from the London tabloid Today who had alerted Delgado to the latest apparition, introduced him to two landscape painters, David Chorley, 62, and Douglas Bower, 67.
They had created the Sevenoaks circle while Brough looked on. Moreover, the duo revealed that for the past 13 years they have been sneaking around southern England at night, fashioning as many as 25 to 30 new circles each growing season. Their efforts apparently inspired copycats, who in the past decade have used a variety of techniques to shape hundreds of crop circles both in Britain and abroad. Said Bower to Delgado: "I'm afraid we've been having you on."
Delgado was crestfallen. "We have all been conned," he admitted. "If everything you say is true, I'll look the fool." Indeed.
The admission brought an end to one of the most popular mysteries Britain -- and the world -- has witnessed in years. Flying saucers, out of vogue for some time, were given new life by the whorls. Saucer enthusiasts argued that the cropland patterns marked the landing spots of UFOs bearing visitors from space. Believers in the paranormal claimed the circles radiated mysterious energy forces. The patterns spawned a kind of intellectual cottage industry: no fewer than 35 Britons claim to be experts on the phenomenon.
A new scientific discipline, cereology, emerged. It is practiced by members of the Circles Effect Research Unit, a privately funded group headed by Wiltshire-based physicist Terence Meaden. The group argued that a still unverified weather phenomenon is often responsible for the weird damage. It occurs, Meaden says, when whirling columns of air pick up electrically charged matter, flatten the crops below and produce the bright lights observers say they have seen above the circles.
Not to be outdone, a team of Japanese scientists, led by physicist Yoshi- Hiko Ohtsuki, had joined the hunt for an explanation. Ohtsuki believes a form of ball lightning generated by microwaves in the atmosphere flattened the crops; he created croplike circular patterns both in the laboratory and on a computer programmed to simulate ball lightning. Impressed by Ohtsuki's work, the authoritative British journal Nature published his report, leading the usually judicious Economist to suggest that the mystery might have been solved.
The hoaxers' technique required no meteorological effects and only rudimentary physics. After making a scale drawing of the intended pattern, Chorley and Bower proceeded to the wheatfield with their equipment: a 4-ft.- long wooden plank, a ball of string and a baseball cap with wire threaded through the visor as a sighting device. At the center of the intended site, Bower held one end of the string. The other end was attached to the plank, held horizontally at knee level by Chorley as he circled around Bower, pushing the grain gently forward. "The heavy heads of the wheat tend to keep it down," he explained.
Chorley and Bower say they conceived their hoax in 1978, while sitting in a pub near Cheesefoot Head "wondering what we could do for a bit of a laugh." Inspired by reports of flying-saucer sightings, and recalling crop circles created with tractors by Australian farmers several years earlier, they decided to flatten some corn to make it appear that a UFO had landed. To their chagrin, this and other forays during the next three years went unnoticed. But one of their circles was spotted in 1981, reported in the press and promptly attributed to extraterrestrials. "We laughed so much that time," recalls Chorley, "we had to stop the car because Doug was in stitches so much he couldn't drive." It was only after circle enthusiasts began seeking government funding that the two jovial con men decided to admit to the hoax.
Recovering from their initial shock, Delgado and other circle specialists are hastily regrouping. "These two gents may have hoaxed some of the circles," Delgado now says, "but the phenomenon is still there, and we will carry on research." In his quest, Delgado will have the moral support of untold millions. UFOlogist Joan Creighton of Flying Saucer Review explains why: "We all have an inner sense that there is a mystery behind the universe. We like mysteries. It's great fun."
Ya, no doubt. It's worth noting that “Discover”, a popular science magazine was founded in 1980 by Time, Inc. at the suggestion of journalist and official debunker of the paranormal Leon Jaroff, who became its first managing editor.
The was the first but not last time TIME magazine opined on this subject in order to ‘explain’ it away. Henceforth, the crop circle was beneath notice, off the radar, solved. Two hoaxers and their imitators - no mystery, end of story.
However, the original Dave and Doug crop circle hoax was back in 1978, 13 years before ‘TIME’ took notice in order to put out the fire and render this perennial happening a non story.
20 years later (8/3/11)‘TIME' revisited the crop circle and reported on
High-Powered Research: The Device Behind Those Mysterious Crop Circles
By Tim Newcomb August 3, 2011
Turns out, to quote the author, that “…radiation waves from a magnetron works perfectly to create intricate designs in grain fields." A magnetron. A device that emits dangerous radiation.
“While not quite as cool as aliens, people can create these devices by piecing together parts from a microwave and a battery. Then, the high-powered waves shoot out and topple the grass…”
Wow!! A kitchen microwave and a battery can be rigged to blow over cereal crops into intricate geometric patters hundreds of feet in diameter. And one can do this safely.
And, apparently, for at least the past decade or so, a not insignificant number of home hobbyists in England have been reconfiguring and re-engineering their microwave ovens into magnetrons, hooking the new directed microwave energy beam device up to some batteries and viola! a ‘high-powered’ energy ray that flattens crops without killing them and explodes their nodes. And the whole while managing to keep this secret technology out of the hands of University scientists. Until now, that is.
If this article is to be believed, the implication is that circle makers concocted this radiation emitting engineering marvel back in the early 1990’s (at the latest) and finally, at last, an intrepid Physics professor with a research grant has figured this out.
Amazing. Even more amazing: imagine writing this grant application for a team of graduate research assistants in a Physics lab to study crop circles at a publicly funded University. If any one of the 2012 GOP presidential candidates had gotten wind of this as President, it would have been curtains.
As is par for the course, however, and as interesting as this lab experiment is, the article’s real intent is to present, in the author’s best, straight, non ironic style, “the best far-fetched theory out there…” in order, that is, to reinforce the media driven belief that crop circles are a bunch of malarkey.
Significantly, the author doesn’t care to ask why microwaves might be the starting point for this device. If he had, he’d have learned that labratory research conducted in the 1990’s demonstrated that the nodes of the plants are exploded from the inside out, that is, that as the water encased in the node vaporizes and expands it explodes the node outward. Microwave radiation was able to replicate this phenomenon. That’s why Professor Taylor conducted his research into microwave radiation. The article doesn't bother to mention this, of course.
So the experiment at the U. of Oregon was an attempt to replicate this phenomenon and flatten the crops in a controlled experiment that a group of do-it-yourselfers managed in a home workshop somewhere in England some 20 or so years ago. A device that a University physicist and his team of grad students has just now figured out how to reproduce a known result. That’s pretty behind the eight ball, don’t ya think? Why wasn’t this figured out 15 or more years ago when the studies of the plant nodes were conducted? Why has it taken until 2011 to build that a device could be used to flatten crop and explode nodes in the manner they were back in the 1990’s? And how do an amateur home hobbiests, geometricians and crop circle makers use microwaves to radiate crops in the fields safely in the dead of night?
The wonderful thing about crop circles is that they are so far ahead of those who try to study them from inside the academic or mass media paradigms. As if to answer the flattening magnetron ray or ‘wave’, this year a number of crop circles have been not only flattened, but woven. Beautiful cross weaving and lays. Very time consuming, especially in the dead of night.
And how do you do it with a magnetron?