Hoax Museum Blog: Crop Circles

Salinas Crop Circle Update — To almost nobody's surprise, that crop circle near Salinas has been revealed to be a marketing stunt. It was created in order to promote a new mobile processor by NVIDIA. The CEO of NVIDIA admitted to the stunt during a presentation in Las Vegas.

There were some clues. Small dots inside the circle spelled out the number 192, in braille. Also, three large dots on the outer perimeter of the circle were positioned at the clock-hand positions of 1, 9, and 2.

The number 192 was a reference to the number of cores in the company's new processor.

This isn't the first time a company has created a crop circle as a marketing stunt. Back in February 1993 a crop circle appeared in a field of rye outside Johannesburg, South Africa. The clue that time was more obvious. The crop circle was in the shape of the BMW logo.

Posted: Tue Jan 07, 2014.   Comments (0)

Salinas crop circle — A crop circle has appeared in Salinas, California. It looks vaguely like a microchip. I assume this must be a publicity stunt of some kind. [links: nbcbayarea, mercurynews]

Posted: Tue Dec 31, 2013.   Comments (1)

Crop circles from 1945? — Greg Jefferys, a PhD candidate at the University of Tasmania, recently claimed to have found evidence that crop circles were around long before the crop circle craze of the 1990s focused attention on them. He studied images in Google Earth's 1945 overlay, showing historical pictures of British locations 68 years ago, and found numerous circular patterns in the British countryside. [link: Birmingham Mail]

Jefferys is quoted as saying, "This discovery proves that claims by various artists to be the sole creators of crop circles are themselves a hoax. It just goes to show that the circles remain unexplained. I hope this discovery will stimulate renewed interest in crop circles by serious scientific researchers who have been fooled by the hoax claims."

Jefferys believes that "high frequency electromagnetic energy" is somehow responsible for the formation of crop circles. However, he's unclear about "what generates that energy and organises it into circular patterns."

Here are some of the 1945 crop circles he found:

I gotta say, these are somewhat feeble crop circles. They hardly seem to merit the media attention Jefferys has received for his "discovery".

David Clarke points out that back in the early 1940s there actually was great concern about strange markings appearing in farmer's fields. But people didn't think that either space aliens or "electromagnetic energy" were the cause of these formations. Instead, they worried that Nazis were putting them there, as "air markers" to guide an air invasion of the UK and US. But these air markers turned out to have innocent explanations. They were caused by everyday farm activities — sowing crops, laying out bags of manure, etc. (I cover this episode in my Nazi Air Marker Hoax article.)

In the same way, these "crop circles" that Jefferys found could easily have been created by farm activities. There's no need to invoke electromagnetic energy to explain them.

Our brains love to find patterns in the world around us and attribute meaning to them. The trick is knowing when that meaning is justified and when we're being led astray by random noise.
Posted: Wed Feb 06, 2013.   Comments (2)

Crop Circles and Ostension — An article on smithsonian.com discusses the history of crop circles and why people believe in them. Part of the reason is the paradox of ostension. Fake evidence, even if proven fake, nevertheless tends to reinforce belief:

False evidence intended to corroborate an existing legend is known to folklorists as “ostension.” This process also inevitably extends the legend. For, even if the evidence is eventually exposed as false, it will have affected people’s perceptions of the phenomenon it was intended to represent. Faked photographs of UFOs, Loch Ness monsters and ghosts generally fall under the heading of ostension. Another example is the series of photographs of fairies taken by Elsie Wright and Frances Griffiths at Cottingley, Yorkshire, between 1917 and 1920. These show that the motive for producing such evidence may come from belief, rather than from any wish to mislead or play pranks. One of the girls insisted till her dying day that she really had seen fairies—the manufactured pictures were a memento of her real experience. And the photos were taken as genuine by such luminaries as Sir Arthur Conan Doyle—the great exponent, in his Sherlock Holmes stories, of logic.

According to Jan Harold Brunvand in The Encyclopedia of Urban Legends, there are a number of varieties of ostension. Ostension itself involves people inspired to act out legends. Examples of this would be "people forming satanic groups and practicing rituals based on stories they have heard, as well as carrying out mutilations, sacrifices, murders, or other crimes." Then there's pseudo-ostension, in which people pretend to act out legends. Example: "teenagers dressing as the grim reaper to scare other teens visiting a legend-trip site." Finally, there's quasi-ostension in which people use legends to explain mysterious events. Example: "observers interpret some puzzling information (such as cattle mutilations) not as a likely result of natural causes (like the work of predators) but as resulting from cult activity or visits from extraterrestrials, as described in rumors and legends."
Posted: Wed Dec 23, 2009.   Comments (21)

Stoned Wallabies Make Crop Circles — Traditional explanations for crop circles: 1) Drunken pranksters; 2) tourism councils; 3) UFOs; 4) whirlwinds; 5) magnetic vortices.

To this we can add a sixth: stoned wallabies.

Posted by Beasjt in the forum:

WALLABIES are hopping into Tasmania’s opium poppy fields and getting high.
The revelation has also solved what some growers say has spurred a campfire legend about mysterious crop circles which appear in the state’s poppy paddocks. In true X-Files style, Attorney-General Lara Giddings said yesterday the drugged-up wallabies had been found hopping around in circles squashing the poppies, creating the formations. [Link]

Posted: Thu Jun 25, 2009.   Comments (4)

Sheep Circle — About 100 sheep in Kington, Herefordshire spontaneously formed a ring in a field. Apparently they did this entirely on their own. A photographer was on hand who captured the strange scene.

The Daily Mail interviewed Dan Seaborne, farm manager at Herefordshire College of Technology, who speculated:

"I just think they've been fed with dry feed in that shape - you can get snacker feeders now and you tow behind a quad and it drops pellets on the ground. I would imagine that's what's happened... I think there was a chap in Yorkshire who spelled out 'will you marry me' to his girlfriend in sheep by putting feed down."

Or it could be a signal from extraterrestrials. 😉
Posted: Sat Jan 26, 2008.   Comments (4)

Rude Crop Circle — The Smith family, owners of Hee Haw Farms in Utah County, weren't too pleased when they found a crop circle in their corn maze. According to the Deseret News:
Two strategically positioned circles, each measuring 36 feet in diameter, and a 100-foot-long rectangle appeared near the maze entrance in the southwest portion of the nine-acre corn field over Labor Day weekend. From the ground they appear random, but from above the shapes' placement appears more strategic, not to mention anatomically correct.
What kind of message are the extraterrestrials trying to send? Unfortunately I couldn't find an aerial picture of this crop formation. (Crop circle seems like the wrong word.)
Posted: Fri Sep 21, 2007.   Comments (2)

Quick Links: 3D Crop Circle, etc. —
3D Crop Circle
Seeming to look down on skyscrapers, experts are impressed by what is being touted as the world's first 3D crop circle.

Swiftly followed by:
Pig Circle
A pig-shaped crop circle measuring more than 250m across has been discovered in a field in the English countryside.

Two-faced Kitten
A kitten with two faces has been born in Ohio.

Man Wins Lawsuit Over Decade-long Erection
Charles "Chick" Lennon has won his $400,000 lawsuit after his steel and plastic penis implant went wrong, leaving him with a permanent erection.

Posted: Tue Aug 15, 2006.   Comments (6)

Crop Circle Beer — Here's something I'd really like to try, but sadly it doesn't seem to be available anywhere except a few bars in the New York region. It's Crop Circle Beer, dreamed up by Dudley Cates, Jr. who, according to this Newsday article, has always had a passion for crop circles and beer, and finally found a way to join the two interests. The beer is brewed with barley collected from fields in which crop circles have appeared. Hmmm. This is an idea I wish that I had thought of first. It would sure beat selling Loch Ness Water (though that gives me an idea... what about a taste contest pitting Crop Circle Beer head-to-head with Nessie's Monster Mash Beer? and just for fun you might want to enter Olde Frothingslosh Pale Stale Ale into the contest as well).

One poster on ratebeer.com who's actually had a chance to taste Crop Circle Beer reports that "This is quite a sweet amber ale, but balanced just enough to keep it from being too much so - slick mouthfeel with lots of caramel malt, nut and chocolate flavors - this is pretty damn good for a gimmick beer." The Canadian Broadcasting Corp. also has an audio interview on their site with the farmer who grows the crop circle barley (the interview is 4 years old... Dudley has been trying to sell this stuff for a long time). What I found interesting was how concerned the farmer seemed about the authenticity of his crop circles. He was quite worried about the possibility of the circles not appearing in future years because that would obviously bring a quick end to the business model of Crop Circle Beer. (Thanks, Goo)
Posted: Mon Aug 30, 2004.   Comments (6)

AMD Crop Circles — amd crop circle Last month Advanced Micro Devices debuted its new 64-bit micro processor. Apparently it helped promote the launch of this new processor by hiring a group of crop-circle experts to create circles throughout the UK and America. Pictures of their efforts can be seen here (Thanks to Geoduck for the link).
Posted: Sun Oct 19, 2003.   Comments (0)

Soy Circles — Crop circles are appearing in soy bean fields in Adams County, Ohio.
Posted: Sat Sep 06, 2003.   Comments (0)

Posted: Sun Aug 17, 2003.   Comments (0)

Crop Circle — A radio station admits to being the creator of a crop circle.
Posted: Thu Aug 07, 2003.   Comments (0)

Posted: Tue Jul 22, 2003.   Comments (0)

Crop Circles — Four teenagers confess to having made the crop circles that appeared in the Sacramento Valley a few weeks ago (the largest circles ever to appear in the US). But others think the teenagers are lying.
Posted: Mon Jul 14, 2003.   Comments (0)

Posted: Thu Jul 03, 2003.   Comments (0)

Kew Garden Crop Circle — image Strange crop circle mystery in London's Kew Gardens. A flower-shaped crop circle appeared in a field of wheat that had been specially grown there as part of an exhibit.
Posted: Thu Sep 26, 2002.   Comments (0)

Posted: Thu Sep 19, 2002.   Comments (0)

Crop Circle Analysis — Simon Jeffery of The Guardian offers a comprehensive guide to the phenomenon of crop circles.
Posted: Mon Sep 16, 2002.   Comments (0)

Crop Circles: Quest for Truth — There's a new documentary movie out called "Crop Circles: Quest for Truth." It's got a pretty cool website. Apparently it argues that crop circles are the work of extraterrestrial beings of natural forces. But the San Francisco Chronicle reviews it and calls it a "credulous bore."
Posted: Fri Sep 06, 2002.   Comments (0)

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