WHO OR WHAT makes crop circles? In the month preceding the release of M. Knight Shyamalan's 2002 film Signs, at least, the Disney company was responsible for creating a few of them. A crop pictogram appearing on July 12, 2002 in Wiltshire, England, for example, was identical to the formation on the movie's poster - except for the addition of a pair of "Mickey Mouse ears" on the top.
Okay, so we know that one was man made. But what about the rest of them? Are all crop formations man made? Some of them? In our article, "Crop Circles: Best Evidence", we examined the various anomalies that crop formation researchers say lend proof to the notion that many are not man made. Let's now examine the other main question about them: Where do they come from? There are several theories.
UFOs and extraterrestrials have been associated with crop circles since they first began appearing in the 1970s and 1980s, when most of them were fairly simple circles. What else, some people wondered, could possibly account for these large circles pressed down overnight in wheat, corn and other crops? UFOs and aliens were hot topics at the time, and there seemed to be no reason for people to create the circles. So extraterrestrials must be responsible, they reasoned; the formations were even round - like their saucers!
When the more complicated pictograms began appearing in the 1990s, people really flipped out. Human beings couldn't possibly have created these complex images, the thinking went. These must be messages - messages of alien origin. They are try to communicate something to us - a greeting... or a warning. But it was never satisfactorily explained why technologically advanced beings would send us messages in fields of crops rather than through a more practical and straightforward medium - like television.
Being a science fiction film, director Shyamalan's Signs opts for the extraterrestrial explanation. A Pennsylvania farmer, played by Mel Gibson, awakes one morning to find a large formation in his field of corn. He and his family soon learn that similar formations are being discovered around the world. The extraterrestrial connection is then revealed, and it is theorized that the aliens are creating and using the crop formations as navigation signposts. The film is not really about crop circles, however. Shyamalan, who also wrote and directed the The Sixth Sense, expertly uses science fiction, blending in plenty of chills and humor, to explore the themes of human fear and faith.
In real life, the crop formation-extraterrestrial association persists to this day. Mysterious lights and flying saucers have been reported over fields just prior to or just after some crop formations have been discovered. If aliens are responsible, this method of communication is ineffective: we still don't know what they're trying to tell us or why they're using crop fields. Unless... they really are navigation signposts for some diabolical purpose.
The skeptics who have actually looked at all the evidence regarding crop formations (the strange anomalies) and who suspect that some of them might not be man made, suggest there are little-understood natural phenomena at work. Dramatic whirlwinds and plasma vortexes, they suggest, could be the culprits. It's not unreasonable, I suppose, to envision a strong whirlwind flattening an area of grain into a circular pattern or even a series of circles. And the nature of plasma phenomena, such as ball lightning, is so unfamiliar and mysterious that it's worth considering that it could be responsible for some circles (it could, for example, explain the heat effect noted on some formation plants).
It's conceivable that either could create circular patterns. But to think that any kind of whirlwind or natural plasma energy - which by their nature are random in their behavior - could create pictograms and complex, highly organized patterns and geometric shapes is ludicrous on the face of it. Most crop formations are quite obviously planned and created by an intelligence, not a random act of nature.
Next page: Military experiments and elaborate hoaxes