Crop Circles: Skeptics please

  • #1
Ivan Seeking
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Crop Circles

We all know that many to most circles are hoaxed. It is my understanding that beyond any doubt, this phenomenon predates modern reports by at least decades. Some years ago I watched a Nova or similar that discussed this subject purely in meteorological terms. It was shown that meteorologist in the US studied this phenomenon as early as the 1940s.

Here is one link that I happened upon. How do we explain the real ones? Wind? Earthlights or similar? Some kind of electrostatic phenomena? IMO it is unfortunate that this subject is obscured by the National Enquirer stuff.

http://www.paranormalresearchonline.com/unexplained_crop.html [Broken]

The Mowing Devil:
http://www.rense.com/general39/mow.htm

Other mythical references: Interesting.
http://www.danu.co.uk/ne/66/mower.html
 
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  • #2
Ivan Seeking
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A nice discussion from BBC:
FACTS:
There are reports of crop circles going back to 800 AD.

A famous woodcut depicting The Mowing Devil and crop circles in Hertfordshire dates back to 1687.


There are numerous stories of people playing in the crop circles as children in the 1920s and 1930s.

There are eye witness reports of crop circle formations from over 40 countries including Australia, America, Russia, South Africa and Israel.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/insideout/south/prog_03/index.shtml [Broken]
 
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  • #3
russ_watters
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How do we explain the real ones?
In your title, you asked for skeptics. As a skeptic, that question has no meaning to me.
 
  • #4
Ivan Seeking
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Originally posted by russ_watters
In your title, you asked for skeptics. As a skeptic, that question has no meaning to me.

Which explanation do you prefer: ET, wheat fairies, or some natural but unknown process? If the latter, then what?
 
  • #5
abhishek
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How is a skeptic (or anyone of such position) to identify an "unknown process"?
 
  • #6
Ivan Seeking
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Originally posted by abhishek
How is a skeptic (or anyone of such position) to identify an "unknown process"?

First we consider the evidence; and then the physics required to produce such evidence. From this we can speculate as to the source. I am assuming that the explanation lies well within the bounds of known physics. We just don't understand the process.
 
  • #7
zoobyshoe
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I haven't seen any photographs of anything that couldn't have been hoaxed. I haven't seen any photographs of anything that looked like the result of natural processes except the "Vacant Lot" circle you posted a month or two ago. Evidence from circles 800 AD to when modern ones began to be photographed is all gone.

So it looks like the only possible source of reliable descriptions would be the records of the 1940s meteorological studies. If you can find these then there might be photos and descriptions to look at of circles unsullied by association with the hoax movement.
 
  • #8
Ivan Seeking
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Originally posted by zoobyshoe
I haven't seen any photographs of anything that couldn't have been hoaxed. I haven't seen any photographs of anything that looked like the result of natural processes except the "Vacant Lot" circle you posted a month or two ago. Evidence from circles 800 AD to when modern ones began to be photographed is all gone.

So it looks like the only possible source of reliable descriptions would be the records of the 1940s meteorological studies. If you can find these then there might be photos and descriptions to look at of circles unsullied by association with the hoax movement.

I have no idea if this early research is available on the net. Here is some more recent information.

http://www.diagnosis2012.co.uk/blt1.htm

Sorry; sometimes I forget that not everyone knows this stuff. I will spend a little time looking for the orignal research.
 
  • #9
Ivan Seeking
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We begin with a publication in the prestigious journal Nature in 1880. In that summer a description of crop circles was published by a scientist who was a frequent correspondent to scholarly journals of that time. His name is J. Rand Capron, a spectroscopist who lived in the country at Guildown near Guildford, Surrey, in the south of England. The reference is Nature, volume 22, pp 290-291, 29 July 1880.
The content of the article is enough to prove that some of the basic crop circles, of the type that came under scrutiny a century later in the 1970s and 1980s, were similarly non-artificial. The marks which Rand Capron saw he described as having "a few standing stalks as a centre" of what were otherwise flattened circles, all possessing "a circular wall of stalks which had not suffered."
Rand Capron's account has been reprinted in the January 2000 issue of the Journal of Meteorology (ISSN 0307-5966: Volume 25, pp 20-21: "A case of genuine crop circles dating from July 1880 -- as published in Nature in the year 1880"). The rediscovery of this crucial narrative was made by Peter Van Doorn in the course of archival research arising from his ball-lightning interests. Peter Van Doorn heads the Ball Lightning Division of the Tornado and Storm Research Organisation, for which refer to http://www.torro.org.uk

http://www.stonehenge-avebury.net/scienceofcropcircles.htm
 
  • #10
zoobyshoe
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The info at that link (in your post before last) is pretty much impossible for me to comment on. I know nothing about botany. If you have an unreadable notes by Hoover about this I can translate, though.
 
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  • #11
Ivan Seeking
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Originally posted by zoobyshoe
The info at that last link is pretty much impossible for me to comment on. I know nothing about botany. If you have an unreadable notes by Hoover about this I can translate, though.

There is one famous quote from Hoover in this regard. Since you can't open pdfs I will tranlate for you. When the FBI was asked to stay out of crop circle investigations, Hoover responds:

I would agree to this but first I want access to the mowers recovered.

To my knowledge, the meaning of this comment has never be ascertained.
 
  • #12
zoobyshoe
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http://www.stonehenge-avebury.net/scienceofcropcircles.htm
Well, this link is super-duper. Did you read it all? Eyewitness reports of a perfectly natural explanation for the "simple" crop circle.

Whirlwinds are weird. I was laying out on a towel sunning myself in a park once and one came along and dipped own right on me, disheveling my hair and towel, then retreated back up and whirled away. Another time I was driving slowly along a shady dirt road on a wickedly hot, dry day, and came upon something like a standing dust devil where another dirt road lead off the one I was on. I stopped and watched it for a while. It danced around quite a bit, got stronger, weaker, stronger, weaker, but never seemed to leave the spot. I got bored and drove on.
 
  • #13
Ivan Seeking
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Originally posted by russ_watters
In your title, you asked for skeptics. As a skeptic, that question has no meaning to me.

Russ, I was hoping for some skeptical feedback towards a credible mechanism. For example, ionic vortices are one favored explanation. Is this possible? Could this be an example of micro-micro bursts? Could this be related to earthlights?

Many explanations have been proposed over the years - many of them could not survive the wrath of Russ. The denial of the mystery only serves to perpetuate the mystery. Explanations that make sense have a way of getting around.
 
  • #14
zoobyshoe
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Originally posted by Ivan Seeking
There is one famous quote from Hoover in this regard. Since you can't open pdfs I will tranlate for you. When the FBI was asked to stay out of crop circle investigations, Hoover responds:

Quote
------------------------------
I would agree to this but first I want access to mowers recovered
-------------------------------

To my knowledge, the meaning of this comment has never be ascertained.
I know this note, actually. The meaning is clear in the context of the next sentence:

Quote
-----------------------------
For instance in the La. case the Army grabbed it and would not let us use it on the lawn at headquarters, here.
-------------------------------
 
  • #15
russ_watters
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Originally posted by Ivan Seeking
Which explanation do you prefer: ET, wheat fairies, or some natural but unknown process? If the latter, then what?
No, my point was being a skeptic I think there are no "real" ones.
Russ, I was hoping for some skeptical feedback towards a credible mechanism.
Fair enough. The mechanism I would suggest is a guy with a stick, a board, and some string.
 
  • #16
Ivan Seeking
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Originally posted by russ_watters
No, my point was being a skeptic I think there are no "real" ones.

You claim to be a skeptic:
I think there are no "real" ones

This is a belief.

In order to be objective one must consider all evidence about which to be skeptical. You want to stop with the assumption that all are hoaxes. The evidence is to the contrary. As a skeptic, I don't accept your explanation. How do you justify your position?
 
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  • #17
russ_watters
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Originally posted by Ivan Seeking
You claim to be a skeptic:

This is a belief.

In order to be objective one must consider all evidence about which to be skeptical. You want to stop with the assumption that all are hoaxes. The evidence is to the contrary. As a skeptic, I don't accept your explanation. How do you justify your position?
Hehe, no. I have seen no compelling evidence that any are anything but artificial. Thats not an assumption, that's a conclusion based on data.

Further, the failure of the secondary goal of finding a non-artificial cause is more evidence that they must all be artificial.
 
  • #18
Ivan Seeking
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Originally posted by russ_watters
thats a conclusion based on data.

Like I said, you are not a skeptic.

You have not responded to any of the information posted. If you wish to dispute the evidence, could you address each item point by point?
 
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  • #19
selfAdjoint
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So let me respond as a skeptic. Of the three links you gave, only the first is addressable on a reasonable basis. The others are just cute.

The first link is BS. If the people who produced it had been interested in representing reality, they'd have followed every statement - especially those about chemical changes - with a reference to the original paper, which would have been published in a refereed journal, or at least posted online where we could judge its results for ourselves. Instead this essay is the usual in-group babble to the faithful.

That skeptical enough fer ya?
 
  • #20
Originally posted by selfAdjoint
So let me respond as a skeptic. Of the three links you gave, only the first is addressable on a reasonable basis. The others are just cute.

The first link is BS. If the people who produced it had been interested in representing reality, they'd have followed every statement - especially those about chemical changes - with a reference to the original paper, which would have been published in a refereed journal, or at least posted online where we could judge its results for ourselves. Instead this essay is the usual in-group babble to the faithful.

That skeptical enough fer ya?
I agree...the problem is that you are starting from the assumption that some crop circles are real, and others are hoaxes. We KNOW that most of them are, so we put the rest in the 'probably also hoaxes' column until some evidence shows up. A search for a 'mechanism'(besides boards and rope) for this sort of 'event' is nearly meaningless. You can guess all you like, but then you have to come up with experimental or observational proof that your guess is correct. And, has anyone actually shown the existence of the "ionic vortices"?


Darn it, two places in a week that me and Russ agree on something!
 
  • #21
Ivan Seeking
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Originally posted by selfAdjoint
So let me respond as a skeptic. Of the three links you gave, only the first is addressable on a reasonable basis. The others are just cute.

This is only an accusation. You don't address the evidence. The photographs are of real effects that are well documented. criticism without homework is just an uniformed opinon.


The first link is BS. If the people who produced it had been interested in representing reality, they'd have followed every statement - especially those about chemical changes - with a reference to the original paper, which would have been published in a refereed journal, or at least posted online where we could judge its results for ourselves. Instead this essay is the usual in-group babble to the faithful.

That skeptical enough fer ya? [/B]

No. This is a newspaper report; not a scientific paper.

Have that you checked all of the scientific reference listed in the third link? You must have since you have already dismissed it as cute.

Rand Capron's account has been reprinted in the January 2000 issue of the Journal of Meteorology (ISSN 0307-5966: Volume 25, pp 20-21: "A case of genuine crop circles dating from July 1880 -- as published in Nature in the year 1880".

Another cute source I suppose.

In my experience, these references usually check out. I am posting these particular links since I have seen much of this information before; from other more credible sources.
 
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  • #22
Ivan Seeking
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Originally posted by Zero
I agree...the problem is that you are starting from the assumption that some crop circles are real, and others are hoaxes. We KNOW that most of them are, so we put the rest in the 'probably also hoaxes' column until some evidence shows up. A search for a 'mechanism'(besides boards and rope) for this sort of 'event' is nearly meaningless. You can guess all you like, but then you have to come up with experimental or observational proof that your guess is correct. And, has anyone actually shown the existence of the "ionic vortices"?

I have posted information and evidence commonly known to be accurate. People are simply trying to explain what is observed.
 
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  • #23
russ_watters
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Originally posted by Zero
I agree...the problem is that you are starting from the assumption that some crop circles are real, and others are hoaxes. We KNOW that most of them are, so we put the rest in the 'probably also hoaxes' column until some evidence shows up. A search for a 'mechanism'(besides boards and rope) for this sort of 'event' is nearly meaningless. You can guess all you like, but then you have to come up with experimental or observational proof that your guess is correct. And, has anyone actually shown the existence of the "ionic vortices"?


Darn it, two places in a week that me and Russ agree on something!
Just a clarification, you quoted selfAdjoint, but that assumption came from Ivan Seeking in the opening poll.

Incidentally, your evalutaion of the invalidity of the assumption is impeccable. (damn, didn't meant to use so many big words, it just kinda happened)
Originally posted by Ivan Seeking
You have not responded to any of the information posted. If you wish to dispute the evidence, could you address each item point by point?
You asked for an opinion, not an evaluation of evidence. I didn't read the links because they weren't relevant to the question. I HAVE read plenty about the subject - I even have a book about it - and I highly doubt there will be anything compelling in there. You started the thread though, and if you want to change the topic, I guess that's up to you (though that is partly on me since I did challenge the validity of the assumption)...

With the links you provided came the assumption that your opinion was proven fact. Clearly from the other responses, that question is very much still open - though ironically I would consider it more close to closed in the other direction from your stance. I'll look at your links though and tell you what I think.

edit: Ok, I gave those links 30 seconds and that's all they are going to get. I said in a previous thread I'm a stickler for credibility: those sites have none and as a result, any information contained in them is suspect and therefore not worth evaluating.
 
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  • #24
zoobyshoe
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It's not clear to me what Russ, Zero, and selAjoint are objecting to in the information at this link posted by Ivan:

scienceofcropcircles
Address:http://www.stonehenge-avebury.net/scienceofcropcircles.htm
It gives a perfectly natural, non-extrordinary explanation for "simple" crop circles.
 
  • #25
Ivan Seeking
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First, Self Adjoint, I was confused about the links that you referenced. There are two more down the page that I was referencing.

Originally posted by russ_watters
Just a clarification, you quoted selfAdjoint, but that assumption came from Ivan Seeking in the opening poll.

Incidentally, your evalutaion of the invalidity of the assumption is impeccable. (damn, didn't meant to use so many big words, it just kinda happened) You asked for an opinion, not an evaluation of evidence. I didn't read the links because they weren't relevant to the question.
Yes they were. This is why I posted them.

I HAVE read plenty about the subject - I even have a book about it - and I highly doubt there will be anything compelling in there.

You readily admit to lacking objectivity. You also use subjective terms by which to view the evidence. Would kind of compelling be OK; instead of complelling? It is either evidence or not.

You started the thread though, and if you want to change the topic, I guess that's up to you (though that is partly on me since I did challenge the validity of the assumption)...

I made clear a few posts later what my intent was:
I was hoping for some skeptical feedback towards a credible mechanism. For example, ionic vortices are one favored explanation. Is this possible? Could this be an example of micro-micro bursts? Could this be related to earthlights?

With the links you provided came the assumption that your opinion was proven fact. Clearly from the other responses, that question is very much still open - though ironically I would consider it more close to closed in the other direction from your stance. I'll look at your links though and tell you what I think.

I stated up front that this phenomenon is real. I was not interested in defending this point.

edit: Ok, I gave those links 30 seconds and that's all they are going to get. I said in a previous thread I'm a stickler for credibility: those sites have none and as a result, any information contained in them is suspect and therefore not worth evaluating.

Really? 30 seconds. Thanks Russ!
 
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  • #26
selfAdjoint
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Oh for lord's sake, is that supposed to be evidence? Nature in 1880-something, a typically snarky either it's a hoax or it's something else from Hawking (guess which), and mythology? That's more like an editoral in Fate or Astrology Today than sober evidence.

The text I commented on before was not a newspaper report, It was on some believer site as the word of authority.
 
  • #27
Ivan Seeking
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Originally posted by selfAdjoint
Oh for lord's sake, is that supposed to be evidence? Nature in 1880-something, a typically snarky either it's a hoax or it's something else from Hawking (guess which), and mythology? That's more like an editoral in Fate or Astrology Today than sober evidence.

The text I commented on before was not a newspaper report, It was on some believer site as the word of authority.

First, sorry; I did get your references mixed up. I was thinking only one link was made in the first post.

Crop circles are found; this is a fact.. I am glad to concede that some if not most are made by people; I insist that others are not. In order to establish that this phenomenon predates the modern hoaxes, I posted historic references that support this fact. This is not scientific evidence, it is historic evidence. From this we may or may not be able to infer or deduce anything scientific, but at least we can use these as a baseline for further examination. Obviously we can't do much else to obtain 800 year old or even 70 year old evidence.

Next, I was hoping to get some feedback on the evidence and the other explanations offered. As I said, these sites list evidence [at least some of it] that can be substantiated otherwise.

In my opening post I stated my intent. I had hoped to get beyond this never happened business for a change. This phenomenon requires no great leaps of faith to accept that something at least not fully understood takes place. I was not prepared at this time to debate this fundamental point. This is why I clearly presented the context of this discussion in the opening post. When objections were made, I listed information that points to the sources for credible information.

This stuff takes a great deal to time to sort out - references are often obscure, or they require expensive subscriptions in order to obtain the information. Then, by law, and also by the limitations of posting documents, I can't post the pertinent information. If you wish to engage in useful debate on this, you either have to accept my word for some of these claims, or you have to do your own homework. There is only so much I can do on the internet.

Just saying boloney only gives the true fringe promoters more ammunition. I am fully convinced that this phenomenon is unrecognized but meteorological. In this light, I was hoping for some help in finding a rational explanation.

Does anyone remember when this argument was called Ball Lightning? Earthquake lights?
 
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  • #28
zoobyshoe
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Originally posted by selfAdjoint
Oh for lord's sake, is that supposed to be evidence?
I brought your attention to that link because it contains two eyewitness accounts I find to be satisfying as perfectly natural explanations for "simple" crop circles.
Nature in 1880-something
You say this as if implying this is a disreputable publication. If it is you'll have to fill me in. I'd never heard of it before.
a typically snarky either it's a hoax or it's something else from Hawking (guess which), and mythology? That's more like an editoral in Fate or Astrology Today than sober evidence.
The bad writing surrounding the interesting quotes is pretty much irrelevant.
from the link:
Rand Capron's account has been reprinted_ in the January 2000 issue of the Journal of Meteorology_ (ISSN 0307-5966: Volume 25, pp 20-21:_ "A case of genuine crop circles dating from July 1880 -- as published in Nature in the year 1880").
_
Here is Capron's report:
"The storms about this part of_ Surrey have been lately local and violent, and the effects produced in some instances curious. Visiting a neighbour's farm on Wednesday evening (21st), we found a field of_ standing_ wheat considerably knocked about, not as an entirety,_ but in_ patches forming, as viewed from a distance, circular_ spots.
______ Examined more closely, these all presented much the same character, viz., a few standing stalks as a_ centre,_ some prostrate stalks with their heads arranged pretty evenly in a direction forming a circle round the centre, and outside these a circular wall of_ stalks which had not suffered.
____ I send a sketch made on the spot, giving an idea of the most perfect of these patches._ The soil is a sandy loam upon the greensand, and the crop is vigorous, with strong stems, and I could not trace locally any circumstances accounting for the peculiar forms of the patches in the field, nor indicating whether it was wind or rain, or both combined, which had caused them, beyond the general evidence everywhere of heavy rainfall._ They were to me suggestive of some cyclonic wind action, and may perhaps have been noticed elsewhere by some of your readers."
__
This person says he saw one being made by a comon whirwind:_
Mr William Cyril Williams wrote: "With reference to the corn circles mystery I actually witnessed one being made._ I was standing in a cornfield one morning and saw a whirlwind touching the ground and forming a circle in the corn._ It was just the strength of the wind in the whirlwind that formed the circle".
_ The event happened in the late 1940's when he worked on his father's farm, Penfedw Farm at Cilycwm._ He was then in his twenties._ The area is surrounded by hills on all sides, and circles had been seen there "frequently"._ On this occasion, a weekday in August, at about 10.30 to 11 in the morning [or circa 0930-10 GMT] Mr Williams had gone into the wheat field on harvesting day in advance of the cutting and binding machinery, and was crossing the middle of the field when he heard the buzzing noise of a whirlwind starting up only a few metres away._ He then saw a spinning mass of air with dust in it, and, as he watched, in a matter of_ "only a couple of seconds or so the wheat fell down producing a shard-edged circle 3 to 4 metres in diameter"._ It looked just like the other crop circles he had seen before except that this one was completely flat-bottomed whereas some of the earlier ones had stalks standing at their centres like a conical pyramid._ The vortex then died out rapidly, but during its brief lifetime (under 4 or 5 seconds) it remained at the same place.
This sums up CERES' position:
It is the scientific viewpoint of_ the Circles Effect Research Organisation (CERES) that crop circles which are more complicated than simple round ones are either hoaxes (deliberate pranks) or 'experimental hoax-like creations' for whatever purpose (e.g. advertising, film-making).
_
Yes the whole site is badly written but it is arguing that the "simple" crop circles are just the product of conventional whirlwinds, and that all the rest are hoaxed. I don't get the "Oh, Lordy, is that supposed to be evidence?" attitude.
 
  • #29
Ivan Seeking
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From there, the swollen nodes and burst cells found in the stalks, an indication of exposure to microwave radiation, also appears to be true. Given high winds and charged particles, perhaps this is not so difficult to explain. I have considered that we might get significant static charge accumulation which could use pollen as a vehicle. The heads of the stalks are very prickly with many fine hairs pertruding that could act as a charge source. Wheat dust is famous for its static properties and for starting grain chute fires.

This is just speculation, but some reasonable hypothesis could be concieved and then tested, perhaps we could put the pre-hoax history to rest. Personally, I would find this kind of explanation preferable to LASER beams from the great mother ship.
 
  • #30
zoobyshoe
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I think it was Phobos who sneered at the microwave theory in a crop circle thread a while back and pointed out that bending any stalk over exposing it broadside to the sun is going to cause it to heat up and burst cells and get its nodes swollen. That made perfect sense to me.

I saw a whole special on whirlwinds about a year and a half ago. They are so charged that some scientists wonder if this is what causes them, rather than temperature differentials.
 
  • #31
Ivan Seeking
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Originally posted by zoobyshoe
I think it was Phobos who sneered at the microwave theory in a crop circle thread a while back and pointed out that bending any stalk over exposing it broadside to the sun is going to cause it to heat up and burst cells and get its nodes swollen. That made perfect sense to me.

No way. This is one means of telling the real ones from the fakes. Faked circles don't exhibit this feature...at least they didn't in the early days. By now hoaxers may be getting more sophisticated. A group of physics grads tried to duplicate this effect with mobile microwave transmitters. Of course, most hoaxers don't have generators handy.

Note: by the foregoing explanation, all complex crop designs are faked. This did [and I think still does] agree with with the node test.
 
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  • #32
zoobyshoe
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Well, I suppose I could put some tall grass in the microwave tomorrow, as well as bend some stalks over in the sun. Any idea how long the setting should be for crop circle microwave effects?
 
  • #33
Ivan Seeking
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Originally posted by zoobyshoe
Well, I suppose I could put some tall grass in the microwave tomorrow, as well as bend some stalks over in the sun. Any idea how long the setting should be for crop circle microwave effects?

It is difficult to know how long some of these circles may have been present before they were noticed. Often they are found in obscure locations and may have been there for weeks. Other times, the person is quite sure that nothing was there the day before. I think I have seen these from what are known to be newly formed circles but I can't be sure.

Oh, as to the setting: I would try the thawed grain setting; Or set the time for the typical period of an ionic votex.
 
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  • #34
russ_watters
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Originally posted by zoobyshoe
It's not clear to me what Russ, Zero, and selAjoint are objecting to in the information at this link posted by Ivan:
A tour guide site for Stonehenge doesn't pass my credibility test as being a reliable source of scientific information. Therefore I refused to even read the link. However... I'll try now.

Ok, first sentence:
This page summarises the fundamental state of scientific knowledge regarding authentic crop circles.
So, this "article" makes the same assumption that Ivan does. It ignores step 1 of the process:

Step 1: Prove that not all crop circles are man made.
Step 2: Find a mechanism for how they might be made.

By jumping to step two, they trick people into accepting the conclusion of Step 1. Its a trap and you (and Ivan) fell into it.

I will not engage in a discussion of step 2 as step 1 has not been adequately established.
Originally posted by Ivan Seeking
You readily admit to lacking objectivity. You also use subjective terms by which to view the evidence. Would kind of compelling be OK; instead of complelling? It is either evidence or not.
Certainly, Ivan, you must acknowledge that what looks like evidence to one person may not look like evidence to another. Everyone has their own particular bias. You have yours, I (and the general scientific community for that matter) have mine. Flat out, Ivan, your standards are not up to the standards of science. I'm sorry, but that's the way it is.
I stated up front that this phenomenon is real. I was not interested in defending this point.
Pot, meet Mr. Kettle. In any case, this confuses me: if you aren't interested in arguing that point, why were you looking for skeptics? Skeptics of WHAT?
 
  • #35
Hey, Russ, don't read any of the other links, either...on eof them 'comfirms' crop circles by using dowsing. That's like confirming the existence of UFOs by talking to an astrologer.
 

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