skeptical inquiry

skeptical inquiry

The Great Crop Circle Mysteries

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Description

A crop circle is a sizable pattern created by the flattening of a crop such as wheat, barley, rye, maize, or rapeseed. Crop circles are also referred to as crop formations because they are not always circular in shape. The documented cases have substantially increased from the 1970s to current times. Twenty-six countries reported approximately 10,000 crop circles in the last third of the 20th century; 90% of those were located in Southern England. Circles in the United Kingdom are not spread randomly across the landscape, but they appear near roads, areas of medium to dense population, and cultural heritage monuments, such as Stonehenge or Avebury, and always in areas of easy access. Archeological remains can cause cropmarks in the fields in the shapes of circles and squares, but they do not appear overnight, and they are always in the same places every year. Paranormal Since becoming the focus of widespread media attention in the 1980s, crop circles have become the subject of speculation by various paranormal, ufological, and anomalistic investigators ranging from proposals that they were created by bizarre meteorological phenomena to messages from extraterrestrial beings. Many crop circles have been found near ancient sites such as Stonehenge, a prehistoric monument located in the English county of Wiltshire. They have also been found near mounds of earth and stones raised over a grave or graves, also known as tumuli barrows, or barrows and chalk horses, or trenches dug and filled with rubble made from brighter material than the natural bedrock, often chalk. There has also been speculation that crop circles have a relation to ley lines. Many New Age groups incorporate crop circles into their belief systems. Some cereologist groups think that crop circles are caused by ball lighting and that the patterns are so complex that they have to be controlled by some entity. Some proposed entities are: Gaia asking to stop global warming and human pollution, God, supernatural beings (for example Indian devas), the collective minds of humanity through a proposed "quantum field", or extraterrestrial beings. Responding to local beliefs that "extraterrestrial beings" in UFOs were responsible for crop circles appearing, the Indonesian National Institute of Aeronautics and Space (LAPAN) described crop circles as "man-made". Thomas Djamaluddin, research professor of astronomy and astrophysics at LAPAN stated, "We have come to agree that this 'thing' cannot be scientifically proven." Among others, paranormal enthusiasts, ufologists, and anomalistic investigators have offered hypothetical explanations that have been criticized as pseudoscientific by sceptical groups and scientists, including the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry.