To me, 2003 seems a repeat of events eleven years ago: the sudden burst of complex designs in 1991 precipitated intense media support for the phenomenon; this was followed by the invention of self-claimed hoaxers Doug and Dave by their government sponsors. The furore created by the Doug and Dave fraud led the crop circles phenomenon to withdrew in 1992-3, allowing for two years of widespread forgeries and debunking. Eleven years later, with the release of various films and documentaries in 2002, not to mention several good crop circles books, the phenomenon has once again come to the public's attention. And with it more suppression.
Facts can be a double-edged sword, and while the public is given access to research, the same information provides the criminals with the opportunity to use it against the research community. In several designs this year I recognised attempts at encoding information from my own book, albeit with appalling lack of accuracy. And while it would be too easy and tempting to claim all designs to further the popularity of my work, I refuse to do so, for money or fame. Instead I will continue to be as objective as possible so that others, particularly those who are experiencing the crop circles through my experience, may gain as close to a balanced understanding as possible.
This was also the year when the garden roller was back in vogue. The advantage of making a crop circle using a roller is that it provides a way to flatten stalks with relative neatness. Unfortunately, the process also crimps all the stems very evenly at ground level, giving the game away to the trained eye. The Circlemakers appear to have foreseen this problem by laying the plants in their creations in the unusual manner described earlier.
2003 also saw dozens of hoaxes based on regurgitations of familiar, well-trampled themes, particularly the hexagon and the pentagram. It is reassuring that after a decade, hoaxers have discovered a more accurate way to divide a circumference, by using a pocket laser. 2003 also saw variations of previous hoax designs, and distortions or amalgamations of earlier, genuine designs; another two contrived pentagram-based designs appeared around the Avebury area, and at Windmill Hill came a poor imitation of last year's genuine 'knot' in Alton Priors, complete with measuring errors, trampled floor, and skewed layout. Incredible as it seems, some geometers still managed to present this as genuine by massaging the figures until an idealized version could be presented to an unsuspecting public. Let us not forget that one of the beauties of the phenomenon lies in its ability to present information in such harmonic precision that it requires no fudging from us.
And speaking of Alton Priors, I'd like to end the discussion on hoaxing by presenting these two designs that pretty much typify the stupidity of the criminal element. (This year I am refraining from displaying a fuller range of images so as not to continue the glorification of these frauds, for attention is precisely what they thrive upon. Should you wish to see the full extent of 2003's designs please visit my sister site at www.cropcircleresearch.com)
The amount of hoaxing this year can be attributed to a number of additional factors: one, the noticeable drop in visitors to the area; two, the long, dry summer; and three, the possibility that some hoaxing teams are now working in larger groups, anywhere between 9 and 12 people, something I have suspected for a number of years. More hands facilitate the construction of more complex designs particularly when these people have paid farmers for the privilege of working in a stress- and prosecution-free environment and on occasion the evidence is very clear on the ground. The above example at South Field displayed a number of well-crafted circles, but the rest, supposedly done by the apprentices in the group, were a complete disaster. The aerial image cannot begin to describe the mess on the ground.
One last observation. Watching the hoaxes develop this season, I could not help noticing the way many have been positioned in blatantly photogenic situations. True, the phenomenon relates to the local landscape with the sensitivity of a cosmic artist, but what the man-made designs do not take into account is the subtlety of this relationship, which can only be understood in terms of subtle energies and even tangential geometry. It is the difference between, say, a basket of arranged flowers and sand rings in a tidal pool: one is a study in spatial arrangement to elicit desired beauty, the other the harmonic spacial relationship according to nature's effortless movement. One gets the sense these hoaxes are arranged, as if one was creating a coffee table book of crop circles photographs. At the time of writing, there is an investigation under way to match the location of such hoaxes in relation to the path of helicopter flights taken by certain photographers. It will be interesting to see where this investigation will lead.
And still the mystery remains, the beauty continues, the magic endures...
Text © Freddy Silva 2003.