by Freddy Silva 1998



As the 1998 crop circles season begins, the detractors of the phenomenon are at it once again. And this year they come better prepared and better financed than ever before. As with the Doug and Dave episode- which made two elderly pub chums responsible for the entire crop circles phenomenon in 1991 (see 'Men Who Conned The World')- this time it's the turn of Californian television company Tri-Crown Productions to lead events. Whether they are sponsoring, even instigating this deception is not known at present.

The American company flew known hoaxer Rod Dickinson and accomplices aka Team Satan/circlemakers to New Zealand's South Island, to create a large design on farmland, and well away from the objective eyes of seasoned researchers, in what can only be seen as yet another attempt by the media and their backers to discredit crop circles, and further dupe the public into accepting a human hand as responsible for the 10,000 or so worldwide cases of crop circles.

The event will be broadcast during May 1998 by NBC, under the title "Unmasked: The Secrets of Deception". It will then be shown around the world.

According to the hoaxers, "We were asked to design a complex crop formation that could be made at night in under four hours. The formation we designed had over 100 flattened circles and a diameter of 300 ft, putting it on a par with some of the most complex formations to appear in the fields of England over the past few years."


That the formation made by Dickinson and Co. is an excellent, if imperfect, work of art is acknowledged (despite the crude representation of a Mandelbrot Set in the centre). Despite many poor hoaxes each year this one is by far the best man-made effort to date.

But as always the problem for hoaxers is that not one of their attempts has ever passed any tests of authenticity, some of which were standardized by 1989, long before man-made formations were in vogue. In fact, much of the hard, uncontaminated evidence was collected prior to that time when even the media were rarely aware that any kind of phenomenon was taking place.

It has only been in response to a dramatic rise in the complexity of the phenomenon, followed by mass public appeal, that the authorities made concerted efforts to debunk the issue with well-orchestrated hoaxes. Fortunately, researchers have painstakingly discovered that the trail from each televised incident usually ends with the British government, and other authorities. In one cabinet meeting at Westminster, discussion even took place as to how thw phenomenon should be debunked and discouraged. This evidence was published or reported by and credited to George Wingfield, Armen Victorian, Jurgen Kroenig, and others.

What will be interesting to see in the upcoming 'expose' is whether any tests were carried out at the site by neutral parties, post-construction, which indicate any signs of authenticity. In the past this has met with aversion, even a retraction of statements by hoaxers (they have also been known to claim genuine formations as theirs, yet they have consistently failed to provide any evidence to back their claims).

No hoaxed crop circle has ever produced the singlemost characteristic associated with the genuine phenomenon: plants whose stems are bent, not broken. Other anomalies include alteration in the crystalline structure of the plants themselves, also unfakable, and alterations of the local electromagnetic field There is the ability of the plants to grow after being laid, indicating they are alive and have not been trampled; possible alterations in soil chemical composition; distorted and more rapidly germinating seeds; and severe loss of groundwater, just to mention a few.

Some hard evidence that has surfaced comes from an article in The Southland Times which described the episode. Apparently the team and the TV production crew employed the services of two 40-ton cranes just to lift the lighting, to enable them to be filmed at night- and most importantly, allowing the hoaxers to work in perfect lighting conditions. This action alone was reported to have attracted a crowd of fascinated onlookers and the local police; again, an action impossible to get away with in England, where 90% of the world's crop circles appear.



One has to wonder what on earth possessed the small film company to go half way around the globe to find a wheat field. According to The Southland Times, the television company chose New Zealand because of its long-time involvement with the country. This will have to be taken at face value until further investigations are made.

An alternative reason contains more sinister overtones: crop circles have never been reported in New Zealand, and there are no crop circles researchers in New Zealand, certainly no one capable of identifying any physical features pertaining to a genuine crop circle; it is a country conveniently located as far away as possible from all those capable of analyzing the situation, and sparsely populated (sheep outnumber the population 10-to-1. The farmer is so remotely located that it will take some time to find him. In short, New Zealand may have been the perfect location for anyone wishing to construct fake crop circles without hassle.

Had they chosen Kansas, Alberta, or any place in Europe, there would simply have been too many people available on-hand to go on-camera and ask awkward questions, such as that all plants in man-made formations are crushed underfoot, nullifying the very first criteria of authenticity.

Other researchers and I have made preliminary contact with the reporter and editor of The Southland Times but we either get no reply or a brush-off. I strongly urge you to contact the newspaper and politely ask them to come clean.

The Southland Press: http://www.press.co.nz/06/98021285.htm



The hoaxers claim four hours was the time limit imposed for construction, which is the absolute maximum given time of darkness in the English summer, typically when crop circle season is in full swing. To construct 104 circles, the three men would have therefore taken no more than 2.3 minutes to make each circle. Just to make, mind you. No breaks, no measuring, no allowance for the exact placing of the design, or movement of planks, poles and string, not even a toilet break. This in itself should have been a supernatural achievement for three fit men.

In the past, during monitored events, it has taken a team of two people up to an hour to make a not-too-disheveled 70 ft circle. But I'll give the benefit of the doubt and assume that 2 minutes for a circle was achievable, no matter how poor the outcome. This leaves no time to survey the area and place poles on the exact spots where one would lay a circle according to a pre-planned blueprint- the simplest and most accurate means possible for executing a complex design; and in this case it was a fairly complicated design (even though all the elements were naively copied from known genuine crop circles).

For this I will draw from a recent study by Rod Bearcloud Berry in Arizona who took the trouble to ask two engineering firms how long they would take just to plot a survey on the ground for the design of 1997's awesome 264 ft Star of Solomon fractal at Milk Hill (below), which boasted a record 204 circles along its perimeter (which would have allowed just 1.1 minute per circle alone, and in a far more densely populated and monitored location). The estimate came in at 6.5 to 7.5 days IN DAYLIGHT, with an additional 4 days should the work be carried out at night.

In a similar trial in 1994, it took five men two full days, working in bright daylight, to produce the simple, but pretty flower crop circle for Arthur C. Clarke's television programme, Unsolved Mysteries.

You will also note from the aerial photo (above) that the center of the formation has two incriminating marks either side of the tractor lines, presumably where the central poles were attached in order to plot the large circle, if not the entire design. In the highly complex Milk Hill formation from last summer (left), the center lies in the middle of pristine standing crop. But you probably won't hear this in the documentary.

From this evidence alone any intelligent person can deduce that it probably required far longer than "four hours of darkness" claimed by Dickinson to produce this formation from initial surveying to final execution. (It now has been discovered from a local and a confidential source that the team staked the entire design beforehand using string and poles).



It has to be said that from the air the circles of the New Zealand hoax look messy to the trained eye, specifically the central one- not a good start for a fresh formation; especially incriminating are the lack of spiraling vortices normally associated with genuine circles, where the plants are tightly rotated to imitate Golden Mean spirals, the mathematical progression used by nature. Had this masterpiece appeared as a fresh formation in England any seasoned researcher would have had little trouble labeling it a hoax just on sight alone. Of course, the same cannot be said here since there were no researchers in this remote corner of the world. And just in case any were tempted to fly there, the formation was hastily mowed down after it was photographed.


Which brings me to ask, what is motivating the media to plan, year after year, programmes containing unfair, biased accounts, when it would make more intriguing viewing to have both sides tell their stories? There are enough people who have researched this subject first-hand to fill several hours' worth of footage. Yet all their evidence is systematically withheld, manipulated or simply ignored.

Perhaps the most important question we should be asking is, who is behind this colossal manipulation of the public's trust?

People who have successfully infiltrated hoaxer gangs in the past say that they are being paid an enormous amount of money to go about their disruptive techniques. In the case of Doug and Dave, the duo's origin was traced to the British military. Other known disrupters, such as Robert Irving and Jim Schnabel- collaborators with Dickinson in the past- admitted in a secretly taped conversation that the hoaxing and debunking is being carried out with the total support of the American, British and German secret service, ironically the countries which have made the only concerted efforts at debunking the whole phenomenon in their respective countries. Schnabel also went on to reveal how a "supernational organization" is behind the whole scheme. (Ironically, Schnabel later admitted in his book he was certain that despite the hoaxes there was still a real phenomenon behind it all.) The complete transcript was published in Magazin 2000 issue 93, 1993.

It was also revealed by an ex-police Sergeant-turned UFO researcher that farmers in England were paid by the military to cut down any crop circles on their land the moment they were discovered, whether the crop was ripe or not. This story was corroborated by a number of farmers who naturally wish to remain anonymous. In a similar incident in upstate New York, a landowner was approached by a Highway Patrol officer and offered money to cut down a fresh crop circle (although the resilient person told the officer where to stick his money- brave soul).

Have crop circles become such a threat to the establishment? Why?


Certainly this situation is not too late to change. Networks today may be manipulated by all sorts of hidden strings but at least they will listen to mass dissension from their audiences. The only people who will change this situation is you.

If you feel strongly about what you have read here please contact NBC and declare your displeasure at their attempt at portraying a one-sided argument against the crop circle phenomenon, and that unless they are prepared to address both sides of the issue in a balanced and honest approach they should think twice about airing a program full of biased, distorted facts to a public who, for the most part, is not being given a fair chance to know any better.

Like Gandhi, it is always more effective to complain politely.

Mail NBC via The Nightly News (this is the closest e-mail selection on their site with regard to this topic.)

Copy this article, e-mail it to friends, fax it to relatives, pin it up by the vending machine.

My fellow colleagues and I dedicate our time and money to the honest, objective and unbiased research of crop circles for the public good, but we alone cannot convince people that they are being duped by the media. We need your active help so that the true facts may be shared with all good citizens of this planet.

Then, at least, they can decide for themselves.



UNMASKED: The Aftermath.

NBC's 'Unmasked: The Secrets of Deception looks, at first, like an elaborate and very well funded shot at killing crop circles for good in the minds of the American public - a thinly-disguised piece of propaganda. No doubt viewers who are not aware of the intricacies and the evidence supporting the genuine phenomenon will have bought the simple explanations offered; but response from educated viewers has so far produced unanimous anger that NBC should have pulled such a hoax on them. It appears Secrets of Deception was itself deceptive.


An analysis of the programme.

Although the hour-long segment could have been better used to portray both sides of the story, producers decided to opt for a blatantly slanted approach using a 'by-association' ploy, and dedicating just fifteen minutes to one of the most complex phenomenons (for all the costs of producing this in New Zealand, it is simply amazes that such a small amount of footage was used). The idea was to undermine an established belief in crop circles by associating them with other seemingly fraudulent subjects.

The programme begins with hidden camera footage of gambling cheats caught in the act- by far the most compelling evidence of the whole hour. The evidence is real, it's on camera, no actors are needed to re-enact the event. This sets up credibility for the rest of the show. An excellent trick.

But then someone dropped the ball. We get into the scams of seances, a topic both fairly and unfairly targeted over the decades. Many psychics exist that are genuine, and many cases abound where they have even helped police solve crimes, to give one example. But hidden wires that send candelabras flying through the room? Er, I believe the last time that kind of parlour trickery was used was during the Victorian era.

Then comes mind reading. Again, the programme hams it up with some hocus pocus, 'look how a mind reader can read what you wrote on a card by looking at the reflection in a cup of black coffee'. I learned something here, actually- did you know that all mind readers drink black coffee for the purpose of cheating? I didn't. Come to think of it, I don't ever recall as much as a cup of water being present anywhere near a table involving a mind reader. Bizarre (incidentally, coffee is a stimulant, and working with the subconscious requires a relaxed mind).

This is followed by a dubious reenactment of a supposed psychic surgeon at work. Just as they do in all walks of life, some charlatans must surely abound in this practice. But if these people made as much money as doctors in the privatised care system you can be sure they would sue the pants off NBC for this kind of ridicule. My chiropractor had a gall stone removed by one of these 'frauds'- he has the scar to prove it and the gall stone.

By now the audience has been warmed up. The world is not what it seems- you should distrust anything that falls outside the realms of 'normal' behaviour. Especially those nasty crop circles, says presenter Judd Nelson, who was last seen in The Breakfast Club.


The Lies and Half-truths.

The segment starts with some pretty aerial footage of crop circles (mostly genuine ones). Then Judd gets serious:

"Researchers say there's no physical evidence of human construction."

This is half-truth. Researchers will tell you traces of human involvement are not present in the genuine phenomenon. In hoaxes you will find post holes, disturbed soil where there previously had been post holes, and evidence of human construction because the plants are simply crushed to death, the soft soil is compacted in and around the area or footprints abound on top of flattened plants.

"that there's no disturbance of soil , nor footprints."

This is a lie. The soil in England is made of clinging mud which will leave footprints on it or the crop if you try and enter the area. At a conservative estimate, 60% of crop circles are made on rainy nights which makes signs of entry pretty easy to find. Secondly, the soil contains small, fragile chalk balls which disintegrate when lightly crushed between the fingers. These will be powdered in the event of people walking-in with planks.

"Researchers mention the enormous size of the patterns- that it is not possible to create such patterns in so little time."

The circle fakers in New Zealand said the challenge was to create a pattern rivaling the best of British in under four hours, the maximum amount of darkness in the English summer. Here they took over five and a half (and two days to survey and stake out- but you didn't hear this on TV). Their formation consisted of 108 circles. Compare this to the 196 circles of the Triple Julia at Windmill Hill, the 208 at the Star of Solomon, and the 1600 elements in the 'Four Cubes' of 2000. And it's not just the size, it's the features, the anomalies, and the use of natural spirals- just from the air a trained eye could see that the NZ hoax was made with flattening equipment. And despite the number of cirles in hoaxes, their sizes tend to be far smaller than genuine crop circles.

"No one has ever been caught- until now'"

Suggesting that the event was caught by hidden cameras? Utter lie. The team was paid to do this for TV. They stayed for several days at a local hotel, with camera crew. There was a crowd of local people watching them work- even the farmer showed up to watch. And yes, the Wessex Skeptics team were once caught in the middle of a design in England, just as Team Satan would be in 1999 as they made another formation for the BBC (ironically they were caught in total darkness, and by another group of hoaxers).

Then NBC shows us the Olivers Castle video footage of a crop circle being made by balls of light. Here is the ultimate irony- this video WAS a hoax, the perpetrator was caught and criminal charges are being brought against him. NBC claims that this is what researchers say creates crop circles. Not so. The majority of honest and unbiased researchers exposed the video as an attempt at discrediting the community over a year ago. What they do say, which is based on eyewitness accounts and genuine footage, is that incandescent balls of light and structured craft are present at crop circles events.

"Another discovery is made as the sun rises over the crop."

Lie. There was no discovery. A discovery implies you stumbled upon it without prior knowledge. This was set up from the beginning.

"Made by unknown visitors."

Lie. Their names are Rod Dickinson, John Lundberg and Will Russell. It will say so on the production release sheet.

"The NZ newspaper report asked the standard questions."

Half-truth. They asked basic journalistic drivel. Inquiries to the newspaper have met with obstruction or total silence. They simply do not wish to investigate the matter, a contradiction of journalistic raison d'etre. This is a similar attitude to the Today newspaper which brought out Doug and Dave (since proved to have been orchestrated).

"Their car parked at some distance for a clean getaway."

Lie. It was parked by the road where a crowd of onlookers oversaw the whole incident. Not that you saw that on TV.

"with nothing but the moonlight to help them."

Blatant lie. Two very powerful lights had to be hauled using forty ton cranes. You couldn't couldn't get away with this in England, hence another reason why New Zealand was such a convenient location.

"Often the ground is hard."

Half-truth. Often the ground is muddy in English fields. It has been known to rain these. However, the soil in a crop circle is often hard compared to the soil outside, suggesting a heating component is involved. Infrasound and microwave energy is known to do this. But not planks of wood.

"When footprints are found, researchers attribute them to visitors, making it a win-win situation."

Lie. When footprints are found it negates one of the criteria for validation, hence why researchers try to get to sites before anyone else.

"upon arriving at a predetermined location in the crop, our team assembles."

Ah, I thought Judd said earlier that no one had been caught until now! Suddenly they are 'our' team?

"once the center is staked out a tuff of wheat is left standing."

Lie. The center of this formation was in the tram line where there is no circle or wheat to flatten.

"no stake is placed on the ground. A team member holds the tape as the circle is made."

Interesting. If you take a look at the overhead footage shown, there are only three people involved, all working individually on each of the three legs of the design. To have someone hold a tape would therefore require six people. So this footage was shot seperately, a common trick. Besides, we now know each circle had already been staked out.

'communication is a series of silent signals, holding planks of wood in the air."

Ludicrous. Go into a field in the middle of the night, when anything 10 ft in front of you has as much luminescence as a lump of coal, and see if you can create a perfect geometrical alignment with your partner 980 ft on the opposite end (as was the case at the Triple Julia Set). This is laughable. At least, guys, make the planks white; oh, but then there wouldn't be much point in wearing black camouflage, would it?

"batting down by boards is what makes the intricate woven patterns that baffle researchers."

Lie. The only thing that batting down of plants makes is a field that looks like tufts of greasy, uncombed hair. Weaving- which is very much a real part of the real phenomenon- is created when up to five layers of plants are laid in counterflow to each other IN DISTINCT PATTERNS of lay, one below the other. This means that crop has to be selectively flattened in one direction and again in another, and so on. No hoaxer has ever accomplished this, even in monitored trials during a competition in 1992. What is more impressive about the weaving is that since the stems are bent, steamed and rehardened into a new, permanent position, when you try and lift these layers back up, the still-undamaged plants break. One thing that will achieve this is a change in the earth's magnetic field: the plants' roots are geotropic so they grow towards the source of gravity, ie. down. In genuine crop circles the plants roots have shifted sideways, suggesting an alteration to the magnetic grid (and since proved).

"the circle makers aren't interested in sacred geometry. If it works out that the design means something to those who discover it all the better."

This is an admission of ineptitude since sacred geometry is hard to encode in a canvas as imprecise as a wheat field, yet it has been proved that it exists. Sacred geometry, or Euclidian and Pythagorean geometry for that matter, relies on fixed mathematical values- it either exists or it doesn't. One simply cannot arrive at it by chance. By saying that all that geometry is a figment of our imagination they are, in essence, discrediting the whole principle of matter, since sacred geometry is found at very basic levels of nature, even at the sub-atomic level.

"having said that, the key to the crop circle is the tram lines- they are exactly 48 feet wide, which is divisible by 6- an important number in sacred geometry, and the circles in this formation are divisible by six."

Now they DO believe in sacred geometry. Please, someone make up their mind! But they are not talking geometry, they are talking NUMEROLOGY. We have no way of checking if the tram line width was correct, but from personal experience the shortest tram width is 55 ft, with some as wide as 80 ft. The ludicrous thing is they made no attempt at overlaying any principles of geometry over their design, which would have made a more compelling argument- in fact no geometry was shown. From an overhead shot of the formation I can tell you that the basic hexagonal sacred geometry would not fit this design by any stretch of the imagination- the arms of their design were laid at the wrong angles.

"they made the jump from traditional artists to covert artists in 1994, when they first made crop circles."

In other words, they were made unemployed in 1994. By then, over 5000 formations worldwide had been discovered. Since then this group insinuated to have made several impressive formations in England, but none of their 'claims' are ever substantiated. In fact, all that is certain is that they have made only a couple of commissioned formations.

"making sure not to leave any incriminating evidence behind, they make a clean getaway,"

No doubt applauded by the large group of local people who had seen the event, as described by the local paper. We even know the hotel where they escaped to. Very corny indeed.

"the dark world of deception."

One which NBC, its backers, the producers of Unmasked: The Secrets of Deception", and their original source for this blatant piece of disinformation certainly live in.

In the end, no research was shown, no comparative analysis permitted (the formation was immediately cut down), and no counterpoint was allowed by anyone unconnected with these criminals. To be fair, I was asked by John Ludberg to contribute any questions, which I did; not one made it on air.

There has never been a doubt that hoaxed crop circles exist - the figure rises and falls every year. But a hoax is a forgery, and forgeries require an original to copy. So, who is behind the real phenomenon?

One thing this 'documentary' did get right was said right at the beginning: "crop circles are one of the most misunderstood phenomena".

With shows like these, it's no wonder.

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