By Rod Dickinson and John Lundberg
[ see Colin Andrews Reply to our following criticisms of his August statement ]
With our unique insiders perspective to the crop circle phenomenon we've always known crop circle research has centred on beliefs - rather than empirical derived evidence. Without studying the detail of researchers statements this is a difficult point to demonstrate, let alone articulate in sound bytes in the media.
For us the circles are Rorschach tests writ large across the landscape. Beliefs are projected onto them. Here we chart some of those beliefs - specifically their flaws and falsehoods, revealing how the mechanics of the contemporary legend that we inhabit spreads and replicates across the globe.
During the summer of 2000 the media focussed on crop circle researcher Colin Andrews assertions that 80% of circles were man made and 20% were the product of some kind of magnetic energy. Colin was featured on almost every TV and radio Channel, often with us arguing that Colin's estimate...was just that, an estimate without substantial proof, or evidence.
Later he emailed a bulletin "clarifying" this view. In this text we take the detail of Colin Andrews statement to task. We focus entirely on demonstrable facts, which Andrews has misappropriated to argue his case.
[ See Colin Andrews statement in full ]
Andrews claims that
"During the mid-1990's I was shown privileged information by a BBC journalist who had gone undercover for two years working closely with Dave Chorley and Doug Bowers in an effort to establish the truth behind their claims to be making crop circles. Doug Bower and Dave Chorley were filmed unknowingly making circles."
Andrews was shown this information by John Macnish, a BBC producer. John Macnish published his findings in a book (Crop Circle Apocalypse) and a documentary, creating an unforgettable sensation across the crop circle scene. John Macnish worked closely with Doug and Dave, and did not film them covertly as Andrews suggests. Doug and Dave co-operated entirely with John Macnish, letting him film them overtly. Before 1991 when Doug and Dave came forward to claim their long-term involvement in making circles Andrews believed that very few formations were man made. In 1989 in Circular Evidence he and Pat Delgardo wrote,
"We have witnessed hoaxed circles and rings and studied all aspects related to human involvement at ground level and have had to discount the hoax theory." (p 82)
Andrews goes on
"In ensuing weeks, other hoaxers were tracked and their handy-work also filmed."
As Andrews well knows the other hoaxers /circlemakers, were Rob Irving and Jim Schnabel, who were not tracked down. They contacted John Macnish and they invited him to watch and film them in the fields. Andrews was not instrumental in precipitating these events or any of Macnish's investigations.
"During 1999 I began another special project into people making crop circles. My research has included detective work, site inspections, physical evidence, aerial photography, personal experiences, information from media who have paid to have formations created for upcoming programs, and from undercover researchers."
Andrews announced several times in the media (once at least to The Andover Advertiser) that he was specifically investigating us, The Circlemakers from London. In fact there was no investigation, and Andrews later admitted that the "detective" was investigating circles, after they had appeared. Rather than as he had claimed; tracking down circlemakers.
We also know that the media organisations, which commissioned us, did NOT pass on any advance or special information to Andrews. He learned of our formation made for the Daily Mail (our only commission of 1999), when they published it in the paper, the same day as the rest of the country!
Andrews also writes
"My findings at this time are that ample evidence exists that an estimated 80% of crop circles are man-made. On the other hand, 20% revealed no evidence of human involvement. A handful of these 20% also displayed the newly discovered magnetic profile (all these were simple formations).
Some of the filmed evidence will be seen in an upcoming Channel Four production and a BBC documentary scheduled for early next year. The latter will also be shown on BBC2 and American TV."
At the CCCS Andover conference this August Andrews also announced that these two programmes would show footage of seven formations from this year being created.
Consistently, he was wrong again.
We participated in both the programmes Andrews is referring to. He did not. The Channel 4 Production was a programme called Slam, which will be aired sometime in October and November of this year. It shows us making one formation, which we announced in Advance Warning. Andrews did not participate in this programme and he has not spoken to the production team.
The BBC programme called Conspiracies will show footage of us filmed in 1998 making the Milk Hill formation. This was originally shown on Countryfile in 1999. The Conspiracy programme does have an interview with us and separately with Andrews. It will not reveal any information about the human authorship of formations this year. Nor will it show any 2000 formations being made.
Andrews has no evidence of the human authors of any of the circles in the 2000 season (bar public commissions). His statement that 20% of circles are not man made (according to a magnetometer survey) is speculation. Strangely it is the same figure that he was touting, BEFORE he undertook his research. At Granada TV studio in early last summer, Andrews mentioned the same figure in a conversation with me.
As this text is focussing only on factual evidence we let you draw your own conclusions to the likelihood and veracity of Andrews claims...
Meanwhile researcher Freddy Silva has also been misinforming the readers of his website with similar ill-researched "factual reports".
On his page Silva shows photographs of a formation made by us and one made by another circlemaker allegedly to scale, against the triple arm spiral at Windmill Hill in 1996.
According to Silva these formations were tiny - a sixth and tenth of the size respectively compared to the Windmill Hill formation, which he states "dwarfs man made attempts".
The Windmill Hill formation was 375ft across, (It was measured by researcher Paul Vigay, amongst others who created a very accurate scale diagram from his measurements) though it is often inaccuarately cited as being nearly 1000ft across.
Our formation was 200ft across (made by three of us in 2.5 hrs). The other circlemakers formation was a respectable 218ft across, made in only 2hrs by two people. Not the minute size that Silva alleges.
In 1999 our formation made for the Daily Mail was 300ft across and made in 4.5hrs. A man made attempt that was not dwarfed by the Windmill Hill formation, or any other crop formation.
Silva also criticises these formations for prominent construction lines (underlying paths of flattened crop that circlemakers use to lay out the geometry of the design), thereby indicating human involvement. He neglects to mention that the Windmill Hill formation (which he regards as not man made) was characterised by very prominent construction lines.
On the same page Silva uses a geometric graphic overlay on an aerial photograph of the formation made by another team of circlemaker. Silva would have us believe this overlay shows the inaccuracy of the geometry in the formation.
Aerial photos taken by
amateurs have no calibrated angular alignment from the ground to the air to show that they
are oriented exactly at 90' above the formation. For this reason any
slight variance from perfect 90' would mean the picture would be
skewed and contain perspective errors.
Unless the distortion in the lens has been measured and calibrated
all distances and distortions cannot be accurately corrected (using computer software) and the photograph cannot be altered accurately to create an orthogonal, overhead projection.
We suggest that Silva should employ the services of a professional surveyor to go to the field and do a proper ground survey to assess the accuracy of the design...
In both cases Andrews and Silva have presented erroneous information to support their own beliefs and to inflate their importance and perceived knowledge of the subject. In the case of Andrews the media accepted his statements with little scepticism or scrutiny, and his beliefs have been portrayed as scientific fact across the globe.
[ see Colin Andrews Reply to our criticisms of his August statement ]