Volume 6, Number 1 (last issue was Volume 5, Number 3)
January, 1992                                    ISSN 0707-7106

                        The Continuing Circle Saga

     By now, it is likely that everyone knows about the
Bower/Chorley hoax admission.  When the story first broke, it was
carried extensively by the media, and it seemed that cerealogy
was doomed.  TV and newspapers here in Canada boldly proclaimed
that "all" the circles in England were explained as the work of
BC.  Suddenly, all media interest in any fortean phenomena was
extinguished; for the most part, this condition still persists
     Of course, things are not as cut-and-dry as they might seem. 
As an objectivist, I was immediately suspicious of the BC
claims.  "Skeptics" such as CSICOP members were delighted at the
admissions and didn't bother to consider any problems with the
explanation.  But it should have been intuitive that there was
something wrong with the claims.  A "complete" explanation is
usually never encountered in science, and there are always
loopholes or flaws in the design of "immutable" laws.
     The first problem with the BC story is that the two men
could not have made all of the British circles and agriglyphs. 
In addition, there would be no way for them to have made the
circles in other parts of the world.  This problem with the claim
is easily circumvented by noting that BC are only two of the army
of hoaxers who might have been at work.  This might also
explain why characteristics of circles vary somewhat between
     The next question to be addressed is whether or not BC
really made the circles at all.  This problem is not trivial, and
it seems that it has not been fully resolved.  When the media
first covered the story, BC had been filmed before, during and
after the creation of an agriglyph.  Terence Meaden, Colin
Andrews and Pat Delgado were each shown to make pronouncements of
authenticity at some circle sites, though later explained that
they had been pressured for a quick response by the media at the
time.  But nearly everyone who viewed the single agriglyph made
by BC in front of the cameras agreed that the site was sloppy
and "suspicious".
     Although the numbers of circles claimed made by BC started
out at 1000 or more, the figure has been pared down to a more
reasonable 100 or 200.  Even this figure seems a bit high, but
might be possible, if we allow BC to have a lot of energy and
several years to work on their technique.  On (the National
Geographic's) Explorer TV show in November, other hoaxers were
shown to take considerable planning in order to produce a complex
in complete darkness before the cameras (not done by BC). Even
so, they were seen by a chance witness, and when a cerealogist
was called in for his opinion, it was dubbed a hoax without much
     The source of the story is a bit of a problem as well.  The
tabloid which initially broke the hoax story had earlier ran
a story that suggested ancient Sumerians were communicating with
humans through the circles.  Investigation by cerealogists
found that the story had been generated through a "public
relations" firm called Maiden Bridge Farm.  MBF was operated by a
husband and wife who had an unlisted telephone number (a bit odd
for a PR firm) and which was disconnected shortly after they
were located by the cerealogists.  It seems that MBF paid some
money to BC to come forward with their claims, contacted the
tabloid to get a reporter's interest, then backed out of the
picture.  This immediately aroused the interest of conspiracy
theorists, who suggested that the MoD or a subversive group had
deliberately set cerealogists up for a fall.  Although a
plausible scenario, there is of course no hard evidence for the
     The most frustrating thing about the whole affair is that it
should be very easy to settle the arguments about BC's
involvement.  It would appear to be a simple task: get BC to give
accurate descriptions of all the sites for which they were
responsible, including dates, locations, type of crop, etc.  As
far as I have been able to determine through reading the latest
cerealogy journals and letters from my British colleagues, this
has not been done.  The closest that has been accomplished is a
series of verbal, heated debates between BC and agitated
cerealogists in the media.
     However, the damage has been done.  Cerealogists have been
"burned" by some hoaxers, and the media have been warned away
from the phenomenon.  But what will the future bring?

                          The Canadian Connection

     In mid-summer of 1991, Gordon Kijek and the Alberta UFO
Study Group (AUFOSG) were prepared for an upcoming season of UFO
investigations.  Earlier in the year, Gord had asked me to assist
in the formation of the group, and I had sent him some
information about ufology groups and their operation.  In August,
Gord called me to tell me that a circle formation had been
discovered near Lethbridge.  He was unsure of how to investigate
the site, but I gave a few of my ideas and wished him luck. 
Gord has seemed to be an able researcher, and I was confident
that he would have the matter under control.  Soon, he called me
about his findings and the news that other sites had been found. 
The deluge had started.
     Less than ten sites were reported in Alberta.  One was a
remarkable agriglyph (the first of such in North America) which
received considerable media attention.  Others were single
circles, quadruplets, and triplets.  One site near Okotoks was
judged immediately suspicious by AUFOSG because it appeared that
the centers of the circles had been disturbed; a speculated
method of producing fake circles involves using a stake at the
center of an inscribed circle using a chain to mark the
     It is interesting to note that in 1990, there were circles
reported throughout Western Canada, except in Alberta.  But
in 1991, the only province with circles was Alberta.  None of the
Canadian circles during the previous years had any associated
effects, though in 1991, the Alberta circles were said to cause
headaches, equipment malfunctions and give rise too "eerie"
sensations and noises.  These effects parallel those reported in
England by some cerealogists, and it was curious that they
would be found one year and not the next.  More curious was the
fact that Gord Kijek is prone to migraines, and he experienced
no problems when inside the circles.  He also called me on his
cellular phone from inside a circle, with no malfunctioning!
     Do such effects really occur?  Michael Strainic, reporting
on the investigations of Chad Deetken on his trip to Alberta,
wrote an excellent article for the MUFON Journal which detailed
Deetken's findings.  Deetken has a different research
perspective than that of AUFOSG, including his investigation
style.  For example, in 1990, Deetken visited some circle sites
in Saskatchewan; during his time there, he decided to camp
overnight in a circle.  In the middle of the night, Deetken
reported a "feeling of terror" which overcame him, and he bolted
from the site.  He had earlier documented how the area was
permeated with some sort of "energy".  Not surprisingly, when he
decided to sleep overnight in one of the 1991 Alberta circles, he
experienced "tension" and "dizziness" during the night, as did
his companions.
     Although suggesting that "paranormal effects" were
associated with the Alberta circles, Strainic also noted that
such effects were not often found.  Indeed, compass needles were
said to operate normally, as did recording equipment and cameras
taken to sites.  Strainic noted that anecdotal reports of animal
effects at circles were common, according to Deetken.  But this
was not the case in Manitoba, and such reports were not made to
AUFOSG in the Alberta cases.  
     One interesting series of effects involved microwave ovens
which were said to have malfunctioned, including one which
was said to have turned itself on.  AUFOSG members as well as
Deetken all checked into these reports, though there was
admittedly no confirming evidence of these events.
     So, what happened in Alberta?  There exist two disparate
investigation records of the circle sites.  AUFOSG found
virtually no evidence of "paranormal effects", physiological
effects or equipment malfunctions at sites, but Deetken did. It
is likely that each investigator's inherent biases played
significant roles in the interpretation of data.  Michael
Strainic's fascinating report is of great use to other
researchers in the analyses of crop circle data, because it
parallels the British experience.  In this way, we can better
understand the British situation, and how cerealogy may be
operating in that country.


     Recently, it has been claimed that several crop circles are
radioactive.  Specifically, it has been reported that soil
samples taken from two British circles and some from recent
American sites have significantly-higher levels of radioactivity
than control samples from the same areas.  Further, this
radioactivity has been traced to higher-than-normal levels of
activity caused by certain rare, radioactive elements such as
Europium, Ytterbium and Rhodium.  If true, than this certainly
speaks for the creation of crop circles by aliens and utterly
invalidates any other theory, including hoaxing.
     The claims are made by Michael Chorost and Marshall Dudley
in a MUFON paper.  Advance notice of their claims is already
in circulation, and many people are very excited about their
findings.  Mike sent me a copy of a draft and called me to
discuss the writeup, in case I had some comments.  As I read the
paper, I had some of my own reservations, but I decided to take
the paper to show two friends who are physicists at the
University of Manitoba.  They were less than impressed, to say
the least. However, I persisted (read: I annoyed them) until they
described exactly what they were doubtful about.
     My own reservations concerned the sampling techniques and
the small amount of data upon which to base a claim.  Also, I
was worried that there had not been any testable theory posed in
advance of finding the data.  The Manitoba physicists found
more problems in the physical attributes.  Very rare radioactive
elements had been discovered through a comparison of peaks on a
readout of an energy spectrum produced by an analysis of the soil
samples.  Such peaks were not present in the control sample
readouts.  Because of the difficulty in producing these
artificial elements, Chorost and Dudley devote much of their
paper to ways in which deuteron (an energetic particle)
bombardment of the soil could create the rare elements.  In the
end, they concluded that this deuteron bombardment was
responsible for the presence of the radioactivity, and that such
a beam may have also have been related to the formation of the
circles themselves, though how and why is unknown.  They actually
don't say that a UFO was responsible, although this could be read
into their report.
     However, the finding of these elements is not only strange,
it is downright impossible (uh-oh, I'm sounding like Donald
Menzel).  The reason is that if a deuteron bombardment did occur,
then many other elements would have been found as well.  For
example, even weak activation of soil by deuterons (or protons,
for that matter) will create Cobalt-56 out of Iron-56.  Since
there is a lot more Iron in soil than Ytterbium, the radioactive
Cobalt would be definitely found.  Since it wasn't, deuteron
bombardment probably did not occur.  An analogy is this: suppose
you went into a someone's room and found a few gold-coloured
coins on the floor.  You could see them as evidence that the
room's occupant was a bank robber, because of the "loot"
scattered about.  But if this were true, where would all the
other types of money be, like dollar bills and bonds?  And what
if the coins turned out to be wrapped chocolate?
     Dudley and Chorost do caution that more intensive research
and more thorough surveys of fields are required for
comparative data.  It may be that the distribution of elements in
the soil just happens to be high in that particular area. 
Another source of possible error is in the interpretation of the
energy peaks and the checking of an energy table.  In fact,
using the standard energy table, we found several other elements
that should have been created in the deuteron bombardment, but
were not mentioned.
     Greg Kennedy, a circle researcher from Quebec, found the
claims of radionuclides in crop circle samples to be
unsupported by the data.  If radiation was found, he noted, it
certainly did not come from the "deuteron beam" suggested by the
American cerealogists.  It's possible that some sort of exotic
combination of elements were somehow in the soil samples, but it
was just as possible that the samples were contaminated in some
way.  Greg tested samples of the Alberta circles given to him by
Mike Strainic from Chad Deetken.  No anomalies were found.  He
also has been looking at samples from other Alberta circles which
originated from Gord Kijek.  Now, if there are no radionuclides
in the Alberta samples, it does not necessarily negate the
American results (of the British cases).  It could mean: a) the
Alberta circles are fakes; b) the British circles were hoaxes;
c) a different "beam" created the Alberta circles; d) the testing
was inconsistent; or e) somebody screwed up.  But who?  I
think the only way to resolve this is to get several independent
labs (and I wouldn't hesitate to get Phil Klass involved here)
to test the same samples for comparative analyses.  Along with
this would be a standardization of experimental cerealogy.  And
there are a number of procedures that would probably satisfy most
     What I suggested to Mike was the following experiment. 
First, postulate that a deuteron (or proton) bombardment will
cause some observed effects.  Take samples from inside and
outside a circle site.  Test them on the same instrument.  Record
your results.  Next, send the same samples to a different lab
without passing on your data or findings.  While the second lab
is analyzing the samples, recalibrate your instrument.  Obtain a
new set of samples, with a different control sample, and analyze
this new set using the same procedure.  Have the other lab repeat
its steps and test the new set of samples.  Then, you'll have
four sets of data for comparison.  Look specifically for certain
elements.  Cobalt-56 is a standard test element.  Check for
Iron, Magnesium, Sodium, then Lead, Strontium, etc.  If there are
significant differences found (and I would use an alpha of
about 0.05), then you have something that you can point to and
say: "This needs further examination!"
     Sure, it's a long procedure, but remember, what you're
trying to do is prove an external mechanism for the creation of
crop circles, which are already widely assumed to be caused by
hoaxers.  The skeptics have already launched their arguments
against the reality of the crop circle phenomenon; Dennis Stacy
sent me a preprint of an article in the Skeptical Inquirer on
this topic.
     Another reason why so much care needs to be taken is that in
all the history of UGMs (unidentified ground markings),
"saucer nests" and "UFO landing sites", a very, very small number
had any associated radioactivity.  Cerealogists often argue
that crop circles are different from other UGMs, but it should be
obvious that they are really quite similar.  Crop circles are
kinds of UGMs, and the link with UFOs definitely exists.  Bower
and Chorley claim they even got the idea for their artistic
endeavours from the Tully "saucer nests" of the 1960's.  It would
be rather odd for UGMs to suddenly be laced with
radioactivity;  it is more likely that cerealogists are
frenetically searching for evidence to show that crop circles are
unlike other UGMs, and believe that they have found the radiation
as their proof.
     Now, much to my wife's consternation, I do have some
radioactive soil safely stored in a cement container in my house.
It came from the Michalak site, from the "saucer nest" found near
Falcon Lake in 1967.  The area was so radioactive that the
Government closed the area for health concerns at the time. 
Nuclear waste dumps were checked, and Michalak went to a nuclear
research establishment for testing.  For many years, it was
widely assumed that the radiation was either due to a clever
"seeding" of the area with radium particles by a hoaxer, or was
actually caused by a spacecraft with a leaky reactor.  However,
recent tests sponsored by UFOROM gave another interpretation:
that the radiation came from natural uranium ore, and the odd
peaks found in the energy spectrum came from byproducts of radon,
a gas.  
     But, of course, things are not quite that simple.  This
latest interpretation requires that researchers at a major
government nuclear research establishment failed to recognise the
peaks as being due to natural uranium and radon.  While this
is possible, one can wonder what other mistakes might have
occurred, and what were their consequences?

Circle Roundup:  After Granum, Alberta, near the beginning of
September, there were no more Canadian UGMs reported.  In the
United States, there were cases reported in North Dakota, New
York, Kansas, and the noted case near Argonne.  However,
summertime down under has produced a new crop of circles and UFO
reports in Australia.  Reports of "over 100" circles on the
island continent are making headlines as I write these notes. 
Here in North America, we wait for springtime to see what might

From the Mailbag:  Laurence Sokoloff, whom some have likened to
an alien, sends me obscure articles he comes across during his
literary endeavours.  His latest came from Paris Match for 12
Decembre 1991, with the accompanying note: "Chris - This article
is about French scientist Jean-Pierre Petit, who maintains that
startling scientific discoveries have been revealed to him by
aliens from the planet UMMO, located about 15 light-years from
Earth.  His book on the subject, Inquiry into the Aliens Who Are
Already Among Us, has become a best-seller in France.  Of course,
these are people who like Jerry Lewis."  Thanks for the
article, Larry! 

                         Snailmail et al

     It would be difficult to list every missive I have received
over the past 6 months, and downright dangerous.  More than
a few people have pored through previous LoCs and WAHFs in
previous issues and complained that I missed their names.  If it
happens, it's an accident, really!  However, let me throw caution
to the wind and comment on a few letters.
     Len Stringfield sent me his latest Status Report VI (thanx,
Len!); it is a very readable survey of current crash-
retrieval stories, ranging from Roswell to Carp to Christian
Page's "alien" photo from Montreal.  Christian, by the way, is
rapidly emerging as one on Canada's finest ufologists, with the
added dimension of contributing UFO info from French Canada
which was generally inaccessible until recently.  Mike Strainic
and Lorne Goldfader in BC have been contributing cases and other
info to my Canadian UFO Survey. Mike's article in MUFON about
Chad Deetken's circle expeditions has already been commented
upon.  John Schuessler has sent me his UFO Potpourri; Bonnie
Wheeler sent along her Cambridge UFO Research Group Newsletter
(honestly, Bonnie, what is your xerox bill?); Bob Girard's
Arcturus Book Service Catalog is worth reading just for his
     A special thanks goes out to John Salter, who continues to
document his fascinating experiences and keep his close
friends abreast of the latest (TV makes you look thinner, John!). 
MUFON rep Eric Aggen publishes UFO Paradox occasionally, and
it is usually chock full of interesting Lazar or alien tech
stories.  I am proud to say that I am among the non-subscribers
to Saucer Smear, published by James Moseley.  Where else can you
read a running tirade between believers and skeptics, with barely
a hint of sarcasm?  Jim is definitely worthy of his title,
Supreme Commander!  Smear is absolutely essential to any
fortean's reading.
     As for cerealogy, Paul Fuller's Crop Watcher and Pat
Delgado's CPR Newsletter are the two circlezines I receive most
regularly.  Coming from two different "camps", they provide
complementary (and often discordant) views on the British circle
scene.  I would like to note that Jenny Randles has resumed her
exchange of Northern UFO News with SGJ, which was interrupted by
a span of 10 years.  Ah, but that was back in the days of UFOSIS
     As I am not a paying member of MUFON, I only get its Journal
intermittently.  However, Walt Andrus and Dennis Stacy have
both been corresponding with me and we have been sending things
back and forth throughout the year.  Dennis sent me a draft of
an anti-cerealogy article from an upcoming Skeptical Inquirer,
and asked me for a few comments and ammunition for his response
to CSICOP.  Oddly, my package to him was returned unopened.  MIB?
CIA? M-O-U-S-E ...
     Eric Herr in San Diego is compiling a list of physical trace
cases that support his magnetic propulsion system theory. 
John Musgrave has moved to BC, and has been somewhat quiet of
late.  (How's trix, John?)  What can I say about Paul Cuttle, the
intrepid fortean who keeps Canada Post in business?  I wish I had
the time to track down all the material you find, Paul!
     As an experiment, I have been encouraged to offer the SGJ as
a textfile in the UFO International echo, available on
computer BBs's.  If it doesn't work, I would like to thank the
people who post me or netmail me with info.  Linda Bird in
Arizona has been very helpful in providing info on UGMs down her
way.  And her pix of the "Starthenon" are out of this world! 
Dark skies, Linda!  Sheldon Wernikoff, a BBS regular, has
thankfully snailmailed me some stuff to save a lot of typing. 
His access and interest in circles is a significant contribution
to the field.  I must thank Harsha Godaveri who got me onto the
BBs's in the first place, and who uploaded my disks until my
feeble system was up and running.  The bad news is, Harsha, I've
contracted three different viruses since being on the BBS's, and
I'm going to give up until it gets a bit safer.  I don't want
to lose another hard drive!
     Michael Chorost has been keeping me abreast of his detailed
work on circles, including his catalogues of cases and his
articles in various journals.  Similarly, another MUFON
contributor, Vince Migliore of California, has sent along his
comments about the circle scene.  I have had many letters from
people along the lines of: "please send me everything you have
about crop circles and/or UFOs".  Sorry, but I don't send more
than three filing cabinets at a time through the mail.
     It is fascinating to receive information from researchers
with differing viewpoints; the "alien technologists", the
"Lear/Cooper" camp, the "nuts-and-bolts" theorists, the "plasma
vortex" theorists, the mystics, the contactees, the debunkers,
etc.  It has always been my philosophy and approach to the field
that the only way to get an adequate understanding of the
phenomena is to examine all (both) sides of the arguments, no
matter how esoteric or stoic.  A pet peeve of mine is the
preponderance of new "experts" who lack any kind of background in
the genre.  Circle researchers who have never studied other
kinds of trace cases are one kind of irritant, as are ufologists
who haven't done their homework and haven't bothered reading
any of the historical literature that would shed light on their
"new" cases.  Until Bower and Chorley mentioned the Tully saucer
nests, many cerealogists had never heard of the case.  Similarly,
"plasma vortex experts" sometimes scratch their heads when
told of Phil Klass' articles in AW&ST, or of Persinger's TST. 
Actually, I think one problem is the overwhelming amount of
information that has been published on the subject during the
last forty or fifty years.  Chester Cuthbert, the Canadian expert
on the paranormal, also has one of the largest collections of
science fiction literature.  He told me that when he began
collecting SF, it was possible to get everything published during
the course of a year.  Then, when SF actually became popular
and it went commercial, he couldn't keep up, so he had to
specialize.  One of his "specializations" back then was flying
saucer literature, which sprang out of SF literature.  But by the
late 1950's, saucer literature was blossoming and it started to
become difficult to collect even this small field.  The situation
has progressed to the point where UFOlit is nearly impossible
to collect in its entirety.  A single one of Bob Girard's
catalogs now contains more titles than were ever published a mere
20 years ago! (In the Seventies!)  Even with the help of
compilers like George Eberhart, getting a complete overview of
the UFO or circle field is not easy, and it's not getting any
better.  Vanity presses continue to churn out accounts of contact
with the space brothers;  collecting only Billy Meier material
could send you into the poorhouse in a year!


     A number of interesting books of note have been added to the
UFOROM library, among them:  Angels and Aliens by Keith Thompson
(1991); UFOs Over Canada by John Robert Colombo (1991); The
Algonquin Experiments by James Penman Rae (1978); UFO Report 1992
edited by Timothy Good (1991); and Things That Go Bump in the
Night by Emily Peach (1991).
     Colombo's latest tome is a collection of anecdotal accounts,
all in the first person, of UFO sightings in Canada over two
centuries.  The lack of the investigation reports of the cases
gives it more of a folkloric approach to the subject rather than
an overview such as the earlier UFO Sightings, Landings,
Abductions by Yurko Bondarchuk.  Nevertheless, it
provides a refreshing viewpoint of the witnesses' own
interpretations of their experiences, and is a worthwhile read.
     On a different topic, it looks like the infamous Carp UFO
crash/retrieval is not quite dead.  Len Stringfield included
comments about the matter by Clive Nadin, Christian Page and
myself in his latest Status Report.  I continue to get the latest
ravings from its originator(s), including ramblings about Red
China taking over the world and how the Brotherhood will protect
the Holy Grail and save us from the aliens.  Theaccompanying
photos are mostly blurry, though one shows a guy in a bad
alien mask.  Sad, sad.  We have been able to show that the
packages are mailed from Ottawa/Hull, so the suspicion falls on
UFO buffs in that area.
     A special note to Canadian readers: it's time once again for
the annual Canadian UFO Survey!  Send just your report data to
the address below for inclusion in the yearly case roundup.  And
while you're at it, some of you (Americans included here!) have
not provided details of UGMs and crop circles for the annual
NAICCR report.  Tsk.  They're waiting for you!
     Thanks to all who provide data or otherwise contribute to
the information exchange in ufology, cerealogy or forteana.  You
are the reason progress continues to be made in these fields!
The SWAMP GAS JOURNAL is an irregular ufozine published by:

Ufology Research of Manitoba
P.O. Box 1918
Winnipeg, Manitoba
Canada   R3C 3R2

Copyright 1991 by Chris A. Rutkowski