SPECIAL ISSUE #2:  "A Looney a Look"

December 1992                               ISSN  0707-7106


Following numerous requests for additional information regarding UFOs
and crop circles in North America, I decided to make available the
original manuscript of "A Looney a Look".  This article was just
recently published in the INTERNATIONAL UFO REPORTER (CUFOS), Volume
17, Number 5, Sept/Oct. 1992, pp. 9-12.  The IUR version is slightly
different from the manuscript, and includes two photogrpahs which are
not reproduced here.  Readers are recommended to obtain the published
version from the J. Allen Hynek Center for UFO Studies at: 2457 West
Peterson Avenue, Chicago, Illinois 60659.  I think the single issue
cost is $25.00.

The article was written to show a different approach to the crop circle
phenomenon, and the describe what a typical investigation is like.

For further information, contact UFOROM or NAICCR at Box 1918,
Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada R3C 3R2.  The Swamp Gas Journal is copyright
(c) 1992 by Chris A. Rutkowski.  UFOROM, NAICCR and the Swamp Gas
Journal do not represent the opinions of the University of Manitoba or
the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada.  Address email correspondence

                        "A Looney a Look"

     I had just settled into bed, and was going to forego
watching the late news.  I was bone-tired; the kind of tired only
a parent with an eight-month-old baby can appreciate.  It was
about 10:30 PM, Sunday, August 16, 1992.
     The phone chirped (telephones don't "ring" anymore).  It was
Roy Bauer, an associate and good friend who has accompanied me on
many an investigation, and vice-versa.  He told me that a teaser
for the news had a story about new crop circles in Manitoba. 
Film at eleven.
     Several days earlier, he and I had gone with another NAICCR
associate to Friedensruh, Manitoba, where we investigated the
claims of a crop "triangle" in a pasture surrounded by an
electric fence.  We had concluded that the UGM there had been
caused by cattle accidentally herded within the fenced area. 
Still earlier in the summer, various NAICCR reps had visited
other crop formations closer to Winnipeg, which were heralded by
their discoverers and the media as being communications from the
space aliens.  As soon as we had seen them, we knew they were
lodging, a common field effect created by a combination of wind,
rain, and weak plant stems.
     But the story on the news that night spoke of actual
formations: circles with arrows and rings.  Now these were more
unusual, and sounded more like their better-known British
     NAICCR (North American Institute for Crop Circle Research)
was formed as a sister group of UFOROM (Ufology Research of
Manitoba) in 1990, in response to requests from British
cerealogists wanting information about crop circles in North
America.  We had realized that, although there were a number of
people in North America who were independently investigating crop
circles, there was no comprehensive gathering of data underway. 
Furthermore, like most UFO or Fortean groups, UFOROM members had
been studying crop circles for decades, long before they were
popularized in Britain.  Ted Phillips' catalogue of physical
traces listed many such swirled circles, along with other traces,
going back before the turn of the century.  These UGMs (unusual
ground markings) had been cropping up (pardon the pun) from time
to time in North America, sometimes with an associated UFO
     So, NAICCR began investigating Canadian crop circles and
soliciting information on American cases from other investigators
and groups.  (The phrase "pulling teeth" comes to mind.)  With
the co-operation of several researchers, NAICCR has published
reports and an annual review of North American UGMs, a feat still
lacking on the British scene.  (Sure, they publish lots of pretty
pictures, but what about the data?)
     But I digress ...
     After Roy called me, I turned on the TV and flipped channels
until I found a provincial newscast.  Sure enough, there was a
short blurb about crop circles near a town named Strathclair.  I
thought hard about where that was in relation to Winnipeg.  I had
a funny feeling I was going to be driving a long, long way.
     There was little more that could be done that night, so I
jotted down a few notes, and turned in.  Again.
     The next morning, I drove to work early, fearing that a
barrage of phone messages from the media would await me.  On the
way in, I heard a brief clip of a radio interview with a woman
who had observed a UFO at the circle sites.  This was a rarity in
cerealogy, and was a supporting datum for the ETH with regards to
crop circle creation.  Colin Andrews would be pleased, I mused.
     There were surprisingly few media calls at work, and I dealt
with them quickly.  Curiously, the local TV networks were not
really interested in the new cases.  I had hoped to get their
help in obtaining aerial videos of the formations, as NAICCR
hardly has enough money for gas, let alone airplane rental.  But
it turned out the media were gun-shy; they had been "burned" by
their coverage of the previous non-events, and were not going to
do anything further on the story.  This was okay, since it would
mean we could carry out an investigation without the cameras
following us around, as in other years.
     I phoned the editor of the Strathclair area newspaper, Greg
Nesbitt, and got more details about the cases.  There were said
to be seven separate sites, plus a handful of UFO sightings. 
Since they had been found, at least two or three hundred people
had visited the formations.  Well, so much for finding any useful
clues.  But, because of the unique shapes involved, we still felt
it was worth a look.  I told Greg that a NAICCR team would be out
the next day.
     On Tuesday morning at around 8:00 AM, Roy Bauer, Guy
Westcott and I left Winnipeg for Strathclair.  The town is about
275 kilometres northwest of Winnipeg, and it took us exactly four
hours to reach the area.  We had been told that one of the sites
was clearly visible from the highway, but we didn't notice it on
our way in.  We arrived in the town of Shoal Lake, where we were
to meet Greg, at around noon.
     Greg was going to be our guide, but we had an hour to kill
before he was ready to lead us out.  So, being hard-working
investigators, we went to the local bar.  During lunch, we made
casual inquiries about the crop circles.  Everyone had at least
heard of them, and some people admitted visiting the sites.  We
went over to the RCMP office and inquired if they had received
any official reports.  The commanding officer barely contained
his amusement with the situation.  He joked that he had the
aliens in a jail cell.  He did admit, though, that they had
received some calls about some bright lights that weekend.
     We met Greg around 1:00 PM in his print shop cum newspaper
office.  He grabbed a tape recorder and we headed for our
vehicles.  This was big news.  Not only had the aliens landed,
but investigators had come all the way from the "big city" to see
     Greg led us back down the highway to a patch of field
halfway between Shoal Lake and Strathclair, just outside a hamlet
named Ipswich.  (It was interesting how the first crop formation
in the area was at a site named for a British city.)  We had
missed it because from the road, the site looked just like a
patch of lodging.  We had seen many such patches on the drive
out, and in fact had stopped to examine one closely.
     But this wasn't lodging.  Once we were led in on the well-
trodden path, the shape of the formation became quite clear. 
Slightly elliptical, the site had diameter axes of 26 and 24.5
feet. On a northeasterly heading of 65 degrees, an arrow
protruded away from the crop circle, giving the effect of the
symbol for Mars, or "male".  The wheat was about four feet tall
outside the formation, and was neatly bent and swirled
counterclockwise inside the circle.  The wheat was bent away from
the circle inside the arrow, and toward its end points.  The
width of the arrow corridor was about 28 inches.  While we
measured, took samples and photos, two truckloads of visitors
arrived.  They tramped through the neatly-woven grain, and added
to the disturbed state of the site.
     The site was only 40 feet away from the nearest access road,
and about 100 feet from the highway.  It had been found on
Saturday, August 16, 1992, by the owner of the land, and reported
to the media the following day.  By that time, word had spread
anyway.  Once the circle news had got out, a woman reported that
she had seen a UFO over the field on Friday evening.  She had
been driving from Shoal Lake to Ipswich, and had been passing the
field when she observed a dark object with two "headlights" and a
flashing "taillight".  The UFO moved slowly over the field at an
estimated height of a telephone pole, and about 250 feet away
from the witness.  After a minute or so, it moved out of sight
behind some trees.  Two other people driving along the highway
also glimpsed the object before it disappeared.
     After we had finished our work at the Ipswich site, Greg led
us to the next site, nearer Strathclair.  This formation was
visible from the highway, situated on a slight hill so that it
was visible to eastbound travellers.  It, too, was a Mars symbol. 
This time, the main circle was perfectly circular, about 24 feet
in diameter.  The arrow was thicker than the one at Ipswich, and
pointed on a bearing of 120 degrees, away from the highway.
     Guy, Roy and I began musing about how one would go about
making such a formation.  Greg made a comment about how skeptical
we seemed to be.  After all, wasn't it obvious that only aliens
could have made the formation?  He related how one of the first
people on the scene had found a "dinosaur footprint" at the point
of the arrow, and how it had been suggested that the arrow could
have been made by a ramp extended from the landed, circular UFO. 
Of course, the numerous visitors to the site had eradicated any
sign of the print.
     I thought about the arguments which were raging on the other
side of the Atlantic, one of which was about whether or not it
was possible to hoax a crop formation.  On impulse, I sat down
abruptly in the field.  I was completely out of view of my
colleagues, a few feet away.  "Let's try making a circle," I
offered.  Greg was doubtful.  No human could make such a
formation, surely.  (I told him not to call me ...)
     I looked at the wheat closely.  It was planted in neat rows
about four inches apart.  I got up and walked about thirty feet
away from the site, carefully stepping between two rows.  I
looked back.  There was no sign of my entry.  I began walking in
what I thought was a circle, met my own path and began spiralling
inward.  Roy joined me, and we performed a triticale pas de deux,
trampling the wheat in a circle twenty feet in diameter.  In five
minutes, we had made a fair copy of the "real" circle.  Stems
stuck up here and there where we had missed them, and we did some
touch-ups.  I was surprised to find that our effort was almost
exactly circular.
     Greg and Guy compared our handiwork with the "real" site,
and declared it a reasonable facsimile.  ("Maybe someone could
have made it," Greg mumbled.)  I bent down to look at the newly-
trampled wheat, and was greatly surprised.  One of the points of
contention in debates over "real" and hoaxed British circles is
that wheat stems in "real" circles are bent, not broken.  When
one crushes wheat underfoot while walking in a field, it is
assumed that the wheat stems would show numerous kinks and
breakage.  Virtually none of the wheat in our new crop circle was
broken.  Somehow, the stems were neatly bent over in a
counterclockwise direction, swirled into the center, and showing
no evidence of having been trodden upon.
     I never intended to show that hoaxers had made the formation
this way.  Indeed, I would expect that there would have been some
basic tools used instead of one's own feet.  But this formation
had been made a few days after a full Moon, and the wheat was
tall enough to afford cover if a car had chanced to pass on the
highway ...
     There were still a few other questions about the formation,
though; the hoax theory wasn't completely fleshed-out enough to
my satisfaction.  What was the motive?  How was it done, really? 
Why would anyone bother?  And what about the UFO sightings?
     We headed for the other sites.  They were all approximately
three miles south of the main highway, along a farming road.  Two
were directly across a road from one another.  As we drove up, we
saw that some boys were standing in front of a formation,
wielding a hand-painted sign.  As we walked over, it became
readable: "A LOONIE A LOOK".  ("Loonie" is a Canadian slang term
for a dollar coin, because of the image of a swimming loon on one
     The boys turned out to be a gold mine of information. 
Contrary to what we had been told earlier, this particular
formation (another arrowed circle) had appeared over a week
before.  The one across the road had appeared first, a week
before that.  After the second had been found, the boys had
thought to make a ringlike path around the whole formation, so
that visitors could examine the site without disturbing it. 
Unfortunately, their idea didn't work, and what's more, the ring
had been assumed to be part of the original formation.
     The arrow from this circle pointed on a bearing of 260
degrees.  When we later plotted all the formations on a map, we
were disappointed to discover that the directions indicated by
the arrows didn't converge.  Furthermore, none of the arrows
pointed toward a significant local feature such as a native
midden, burial mound, mountain, or new age mystic site.  (Now, if
I was going to make such an elaborate hoax ... )
     The fifth site was clearly lodging.  However, because it was
only a mile from the two nearest formations, many people had
visited it.  While there, more visitors came by, and we asked
them about other sites.  We were given directions to other fields
where formations were said to have been found, but we were unable
to verify any others.
     On the drive back to Winnipeg, we stopped in at a TV station
in Brandon.  The news director told us of another circle site in
the area.  As it was already late, we decided to ask another
NAICCR rep, Jeff Harland, to investigate.  He lives in Brandon,
and had investigated some UGMs in the area a few years ago.  We
dropped by his house (by some remarkable timing) exactly at
dinnertime, and found ourselves graciously invited for supper. 
During the meal, we compared notes and swapped ideas about the
crop circle scene.  We drew up some maps of the formations, and
talked for hours about our findings.
     We learned that a TV special on British crop circles had
been aired on the Friday night that the Ipswich circle was
probably made.  It could be that someone got the idea to hoax a
circle from that show, but then, two circles were found before
the show was aired.  Other than that program, there had been very
little media attention given to crop circles.  There was no
national or international coverage of the North American circles
during the summer, and the media were staying away from the
British formations in droves.
     We had taken both VHF and AM/FM radios into the formations. 
No interference was heard.  A compass was not deflected by any
magnetic anomaly.  A tape recorder worked fine, and there were no
beepings or strange signals left on the tape.  Animals were not
wary to enter the sites, and there was no lack of insects at the
sites.  None of us felt any "bad vibes", unlike some circle
investigators at other formations.  All of these effects were
checked because some cerealogists are insistent that anomalous
phenomena plague such sites.  Apart from the fact they were
there, there was nothing particularly unusual about the sites.
("Another mysterious crop circle. Yawn.")  
     The wheat samples we collected will be sent to various
researchers for testing.  Now that cerealogists have finally
conceded that spagyrical analysis (the "tests" which showed a
change in the "crystalline structure" of the plant cells) is
spurious and unscientific, and the supposed radionuclides found
in crop circles have been shown to be glitches in the data, the
only remaining anomalous effects associated with crop circles are
the growth studies done by Dr. Levengood at the Pinelandia
Biophysical Labs.  He claims that wheat from crop circles will
grow more readily than control samples.  This is easy enough to
check, since we now have more seed samples.  Of course, these
will be double-blind tests.
     Since our expedition to the Strathclair formations, we have
kept abreast of the British scene, and read with interest the
reports of investigations by the Project Argus group.  North
America has only had one complex crop circle formation, and it
was distinctly different from the British experience.  My biggest
concern with the British circle scene was the overabundance of
formations in southern England compared with the rest of the
world.  Why does Britain have so many crop circles, and why do
they look as they do?  
     From my correspondence with other researchers, between 50
and 75 percent of all British formations are suspected to be
hoaxes.  I would suggest that the actual fraction is much
higher - probably around 90 percent.  Either way, there is no
question that the British data is badly contaminated.  What is
needed is a comprehensive list of the British sites with
indications of which ones are likely or proven hoaxes.  It seems
that people are delving into mystical philosophy and Gaiean
premonitions without first sorting out the "good" data from the
"bad" data, whatever the two sets may be.  (Paul Fuller, editor
of The Crop Watcher, a British circlezine, has just reported that
many "expert" cerealogists have grudgingly begun considering the
fact that most, if not all, crop circle formations are likely
     So far in 1992, less than two dozen North American crop
circle (rather, UGM) sites have been investigated.  Despite low
media coverage and a number of hoaxers' admissions, about two
hundred sites have been found in Britain this year.  What gives? 
The infamous circle hoaxers Doug and Dave probably made less than
ten formations, despite their earlier claims which were accepted
wholeheartedly by the general public.  Two NAICCR investigators
caught a hoaxer here in Manitoba.  Big deal.  We know that crop
circles can be hoaxed, and that cerealogy "experts" cannot tell a
"real" circle from a hoaxed one.  Why haven't the circles gone
away?  And a better question:  why is there still so much
interest in these peculiar UGMs?
     Cerealogy has attracted at least as many loonies as ufology,
unfortunately.  We seem to be looking at another sociological
phenomenon, perhaps a reaction to our confused technological age. 
I'm not particularly convinced that crop circles are alien
hieroglyphics, plasma vortex traces or patches left by mating
hedgehogs.  Actually, I'm more fascinated by those who think that
there is enough evidence to adhere to a certain theory.
     So with that, at least until I get my next phone call, I
will lay back and reflect on all this circular reasoning.  Pun
intended. (Again.)

                    A Looney a Look, Part 2

   Where, exactly, is cerealogy heading?  Well, according to Paul
Fuller, editor of the CROP WATCHER, a British circlezine, cerealogy
could be in for some real trouble.  In a recent issue of CW, he had
this to say:

"Even the paranormally-inclined cerealogists have admitted that 1992
produced fakes galore, with few prepared to stick their necks out and
claim that a single (NB!) British circle qualified as 'genuine'.  In
some ways, this restrained response could be construed as an
over-reaction to last summer's hoax revelations, but in reality the
awful truth has dawned on cerealogists everywhere - that most modern
crop circles really are man-made hoaxes and that if there ever was a
'genuine' phenomenon in the first place it has now been utterly swamped
by a smokescreen of wishful thinking and media-inspired mythology.  Sad
words indeed but a fact which most researchers now seem to be accepting
with some reluctance."

Later on, Paul notes that "leading cerealogists accept that they have
lost the crop circle battle and that it is time to flee the sinking
ship."  A number of cerealogists are said to be emigrating to the USA!

As for the remaining "meteorologically-caused" circles, Terence Meaden,
that theory's main proponent has now stated that: "Anything other than
a simple circle is definitely a hoax", and he has now restricted the
number of 'genuine circles' to "fewer than a dozen a year".  Paul
further notes: "It remains to be seen whether Meaden's meteorological
theory can survive such trauma."

Later in the issue, there appears a map of England, showing the
locations of "Known Crop Circle (Groups of) Hoaxes". Paul noted 
that "there are so many known hoaxers that we couldn't
squeeze them all in!"  Good old Doug and Dave, who got all the
publicity, are on there wih their small number of formations.

In North America, we know that Rob Day made a few hoaxed circles in
Alberta, a farmhand was caught by my colleagues and I in Manitoba, and
at least one set of hoaxers admitted to some circles in the American

   But what about all the physical evidence for crop circles?  As noted
earlier, the radionuclide issue is very nearly dead.  When I had first
been told of the unusual readings inside crop circles, I was very
surprised.  Crop circle "experts" were convinced that their readings
were correct, and that there was something abnormal about the creation
mechanism for crop formations that resulted in bizarre nuclear
reactions.  Yttrium?  Protactinium?  Tellurium?  As soon as I saw the
list of the elements, I knew the cerealogists were off on a wrong
track.  In order to create such elements, the proposed mechanism (a
neutron beam) would have had to make other elements as well.  But these
weren't detected.  Therefore, I knew the findings were probably
spurious.  There had rarely been any detectable radiation associated
with circular, swirled impressions previous to the cerealogy furore, so
it was odd that these new versions of UGMs were suddenly littered with
unstable elements.  For those researchers insistent that crop circles
were something other than the traces catalogued by Ted Phillips, the
radionuclide discoveries were proof that the crop circles were
abnormal, and a new phenomena altogether.  For those who considered the
British crop circles as only a new twist on an old phenomenon, the
radionuclides were only red herrings.

   What about the unusual characteristics of the circles?  Things like
the woven nature of the wheat and the claims that the stalks were
"bent", not "broken"?  The fact that "expert" cerealogists were fooled
on more than one occasion suggests that these characteristics are not
as cut-and-dry as one would like.  And, as Paul Fuller points out, the
1992 formations are very suspect, and no one is willing to declare them
authentic.  As my experiment at the Strathclair site indicates, wheat
stalks can be bent by manual or mechanical means in ways that would not
leave breakage.  To complicate matters, the quality of the wheat will
affect this characteristic.  The diameter of the stalk, the moisture
content, the weather, the soil nutrients and a host of other factors
will all affect the bending/breakage.

   One oft-repeated mystery is the abnormal "crystalline structure" of
wheat stalk sections, as discovered by a British laboratory.
Micrographic photos of these sections were reproduced in a number of
cerealogy books and zines as proof of a mysterious force at work in the
circles.  But as soon as the photos were published, some researchers
became suspicious.  What, exactly, was the procedure which generated
the crystalline analyses?  What devices were used?  It was reported in
some circlezines that questions about the analyses were rebuffed by the
reporters of the information.  It was only through continued requests
that it became known that the procedure was actually "spagyrical
analysis", a techniques developed by an alchemist hundreds of years ago
and without much scientific credibility.  Colin Andrews, in an
interview published in the summer of 1992, conceded that the analyses
were not acceptable as scientific methodology, and that the results
were suspect.

   Finally, the remaining physical evidence: the appearance and
abnormal growth of wheat seeds taken from within crop circles.
Reported originally by Michael Chorost, the seed tests were performed
by Dr. Levengood at Pinelandia Laboratories in the USA.  Seed samples
were obtained from circle sites in Canada, the USA and England.
Microscopic examination showed that the outer seed shells were
irregular in shape, with many "pits".  When grown in a laboratory, the
seeds from inside crop circles grew better than control samples.  It
was therefore concluded that some force probably caused an alteration
in the genetic structure of the wheat.

   It will be interesting to see if this claim stands the test of time.
Samples from Canadian crop circle sites are being prepared for sending
to Dr. Levengood and other researchers in a double blind test of this
theory.  One would wonder if the samples from last year were from sites
which were actually hoaxed.  Because of the difficulty in establishing
the "genuineness" of a site, it would be very odd to have all the
previously-tested samples produce consistently positive results.

   Another claim that is often hawked is the similarity between crop
circle formations and ancient hieroglyphics.  Some cerealogists have
"translated" crop formations and discovered a warning from space
beings, communications from Sumerian priests and "diatonic ratios".
The most scientific of these interpretations was published in Science
News, written by a noted archaeologist.  He made the observation that
whatever was creating the crop formations in England had a knowledge of
geometrical theorems.  Four theorems were "proven" through the
appearance of some sites, while a fifth theorem was postulated.  It was
argued that random hoaxers could not possess such abilities.  

   If most crop formations are hoaxes, then ANY discussion about
"translating" the formations' text is pointless.  Aside from a few
definite arabic lettering examples at sites (and one "reply" to the
aliens/Sumerians), reading obscure alphabets into crop formations has
led only to confusion over whether the circle creators were Hebrew,
Sumerian, Egyptian or alien.  Of course, if the circle creators knew
enough about terrestrial alphabets to begin with, one would think that
a better medium could have been selected.  And, since the
identification of circle formations with old alphabets involve some
liberal artistic licence, advanced circle creators might make their
attempts at communication more precise and open to less interpretation.

   All this is hair-splitting compared to the real problem of why crop
circles seem to be most prevalent in southern England.  Some records
(such as they are) suggest over two thousand circles have been
discovered during the late 80's and early 90's.  Yet, the numbers or
complexity of the formations are not evident in other areas of the
world.  A puzzling aspect of the UFO phenomenon is its presence
around the globe, with cases in Asia as well as America.  Indeed,
simple crop circle UGMs have been found in virtually all corners of the
globe.  But complex crop formations are really only in England.  Why?
Is this an indication of a profound, new kind of physical phenomenon,
as some cerealogists propound?  

   Probably not.  As the ratio of suspected crop circle hoaxes to
"real" circles climbs higher with each new evaluation, it is my guess
that the British crop circle wave will boil down to a flap of standard
flattened grass/wheat UGMs, to a level comparable with worldwide
activity.  There MAY BE a new phenomenon at work in southern England,
but the data so far presented does not bear this out.  A recent
excellent analyses of British data (finally available) published in the
Crop Watcher went to great length to attempt to support the Meaden
vortex hypothesis.  It was shown that there was a predominance of sites
in geographical positions favourable to wind-realted effects, as per
the theory.  But data was supplied by Meaden, and there was no mention
of a filtering for hoaxes.  This would be of particular importance
since Meaden has now reduced the number of "real" sites under
consideration, according to Paul Fuller.

   The bad news is that there is NO definitive evidence that suggests
there is a "real" crop circle phenomenon at work in Britain.  Physical
evidence is debatable, "expert" opinions are questionable, and proposed
theories are not supported by known physical mechanisms.  But WHO,
then, is responsible?  

   Certainly not Doug and Dave, for one thing.  An army of
technically-skilled hoaxers?  Hard to imagine?  During the crop circle
peak, estimates of a dozen new formations per day were considered
accurate, if not conservative.  One thing generally forgotten is that
most crop circle sites were only singles or doubles.  Such UGMs are
painfully easy to hoax.  Why weren't they seen?  How did they do it at
night?  Hard to say.

   The good news is that labelling crop formations as "hoaxes" does not
eliminate or solve the problem.  How WERE some of the sites made in
darkness and  in fields supposedly under surveillance?  Furthermore,
there is a possibility that the vortex theory CAN account for some
simple formations.  Which ones?

   As for the possibility that aliens were responsible, that remains
intact - as a possibility.  The ETH is almost always invoked when a UGM
is discovered, with or without a UFO sighting.  There are some videos
of lights bobbing about British fields around crop circle sites, and
one disputed video of a small "probe" Daylight Disk flitting across a
British field.  In rebuttal, vortex theorists produce eyewitness
testimony of winds creating flattened circles.  Can both sides be

   As much as debunkers would like to believe the crop circle issue is
solved in terms of Doug and Dave, there's more to the problem.  The
much broader "phenomenon" of cerealogy is still in need of examination.
Is there a residue of unexplained cases among the hopelessly
contaminated data?  Why has the subject attracted such attention?  Why
has there been such a preponderance of sites in southern England?  If
hoaxers were behind so many of the formations, what was their
motivation?  How does the crop circle fervour compare with that of
other historical and mythological physical traces such as fairie rings,
megaliths, witches' sabbaths, linear mounds and petroforms?  And on and
on and on.

   While this article will be interpreted as having a very negative,
skeptical tone, it is only because such an attitude is natural when
faced with an overwhelming amount of published comments and literature
that do not seem to have addressed the core of the cerealogy problem.
Instead, there have been coffee-table books of marvelous photographs and
exciting speculation about the messages from the alien scribes or the
new atmospheric mechanism responsible.  But in very few cases have the
Emperor's New Clothes been examined very closely.  Debunkers very
quickly pointed out the absurdity of such claims, but cerealogy refused
to listen.  This was one of the causes of the embarrassment faced by
cerealogists during the days of the hoax expose.  Researchers were too
keen to expound upon the circles' mystery without taking a tip from
ufology:  try a conventional explanation first.  Note that this is not
debunking - just rational investigation.  And it applies to all areas
of Fortean research, not just cerealogy.  Ufology and cryptozoology are
just as prone to these problems.
   Waht is the solution?  I certainly am not about to offer one.  It
has to come from the entire cerealogy or ufological community, from the
relevant peer groups who are sincere about their research efforts.
Until such time, we will be continued to be regaled with experts
talking about mysterious energies at work inside circles, invisible
alien scout craft with rotating landing gear, secret military aerial
microwave beam platforms, ancient Sumerian hieroglyphics, witnesses of
perfectly circular wind vortices and, of course, the infamous mating
dance of hedgehogs.