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Crop Circle

Vallee on Crop Circles Part Trois

Jacques Vallee has posted the third instalment of his four-part series on crop circles over at Boing Boing. This time around, Jacques discusses the hoaxer theory, the weakness of ‘New Age’ explanations, and once again returns to the question of advanced technology being used:

I once met several of these artists at a conference in Switzerland, where they were presenting their techniques and the resulting data. When I asked them, “How dare you fool people this way?” they answered that art in general was about fooling people to create a sense of awe, beauty or simply a brief, healthy disconnect with ordinary reality. One of them pointed out that “When you look at the Mona Lisa you think you look at a woman, but you have been fooled: there is no woman there; someone just applied some paint to a rectangular piece of canvas. Well, we do the same thing, except that our canvas happens to be a cornfield.”

When you put it that way it is perfectly all right for teams of artists to run through the fields at night and produce things like the spider, the bicycle or more elaborate geometric designs. People like Jim Schnabel have participated in the game and there are even international competitions in circle making, with recognition for the most complex productions. No wonder people are convinced that all the circles are made for fun by a team of humans crushing the corn for kicks when the subject comes up in discussions among scientists or businessmen today. The difficult question is, “does this explain ALL the circles, or only the relatively simple ones?” The artists I spoke to in Switzerland confessed that some of the extraordinary designs were beyond their ability to produce them. While the initial “weather phenomenon” theory of Terence Meaden and others has not survived, there are still people who firmly believe the complex designs are made by Aliens and some who state they are a warning from Gaia. Among the technical community there are also those who pursue the idea first expressed by Dr. Jean-Pierre Petit, Jean-Jacques Velasco and others, looking to military electronics as the key to the mystery.

As I’ve mentioned previously, I don’t feel there’s much evidence supporting the ‘aerial weapon’ theory, and it certainly doesn’t shake hands politely with the rule of parsimony. I *do* however support Jacques in raising these questions and exploring them. For all the attacks in the comments, few people seem to have noted the final paragraph, in which Jacques makes clear that he does not think the weapon hypothesis is the most logical. He just wants to explore possibilities:

From the point of view of rational analysis the weight of evidence is still on the side of the skeptics who assure us that all crop circles are made by artists and lovable, jolly old men like Doug and Dave. But there are facts that don’t quite fit, and the alternatives are worth considering.

And, viewing some of his words in these blog posts – and the comments left by readers – I also do get the feeling that these ‘crop circle’ posts are as much about Jacques exploring people’s beliefs and rationalisations as they are about glyphs in fields. Certainly, he knows and is interested in the replies being posted – more than the commenters seem to appreciate…I had a bit of a giggle when I read this line: “Since we have obviously hit a nerve it may be interesting to drill a bit further.”

I’m looking forward to the final instalment of the series, which Jacques says will explore the “construction and manipulation of belief systems” – ground which he covered in depth in his classic book Messengers of Deception: UFO Contacts and Cults (Amazon US and Amazon UK), re-released in 2008 by Daily Grail Publishing.

Previously on TDG:

  1. Are Boing Boing’s comments really about the subject?
    I hope that Vallee is not reading too much into the Boing Boing comments, and thinking there is actually some connection they have to crop formations or Jacques Vallee.

    While the actual postings on BB are often about though-provoking issues, the comments section has become a smug chorus that is not afraid to comment on subjects they know nothing about. The trash talking about the Vallee series is their standard response to anything they consider “woo,” and I’ve seen the pattern there enough times that I now tend to avoid reading the Boing Boing comments.

  2. from the Thralls-of-Newton’s-Sleep-Dept.
    The famed mystic Gurdjieff was once asked if he could come up with a one sentence precis of his teachings:

    “To prevent your past from becoming your future.”

    The map isn’t the territory. Words aren’t the objects they describe. Everyone has their favourite map(s), and we confuse our favourite maps with the territory — witness a political election, such ephemera being whipped around like solid stone.

    Every map has their own ‘There be dwaggins’ on there, certain notions that are taboo; where it is often taboo to mention that it is taboo. Witness the online world.

    The trick is to be able to try out other maps. Other frames.

    (realizing just where the map of one’s own anxiety, discomfort, anger comes from)

    And revel in the notion that it is maps all the way down.

  3. ‘Shock Valet’ & the ‘Jacques’ of the Noö!
    Jacques Vallee: “How dare you fool people this way?”

    Given how he seems to be transforming himself into something of a paranormal shock jock – i.e., going out of his way to be deliberately almost gleefully provocative – then, presumably in amongst all the gallons of phlegm and vituperation hurled his way someone’s thought to include the demand, “How dare YOU!”

    Personally I’ve no problem with his thesis, (I’ve long wondered whether at least some examples are products of SAS style training ops), or even, really, his approach – it’s just I find myself wondering if it’ll ultimately prove productive.

    Maybe he should signal his new status as a fully fledged servant of chaos by changing his name to Shock Valet.

    All I know is, is he’s a very naughty boy!

  4. Artists………
    all artist pay for their medium to produce their art.
    These “artists” should be made to pay for there’s.
    As a farmer, I think it would be fair.
    It costs approx. $120 an acre to plant and if your lucky you may get 2 to 4 tons an acre. If you get $200 to $400 a ton, depending on the crop, then compensation is warranted.
    They choose to stand up and take responsibilty for this “art” then take responsibility for the farmers cost.

    1. yes
      I agree that this goes beyond art and is costing too much money to the farmers. As an artist I can respect the purpose of making this work, but I do not agree with the process. If you want to make art that eventually goes away “back into nature” go to a beach and use sand.

      1. Sand circles
        I seem to remember reading a while back that at some location in Wales a circular design appeared on the beach. The tide came back in and covered it, but when the tide went out again it left a different pattern in the sand. Strange – and I can’t see how that could have been the work of hoaxers.

        Regards, Kathrinn

      2. I hadn’t thought about it
        I hadn’t thought about it that way before.

        I guess I’d need to think about how pretty vandalism has to be before it becomes art.

        I have rolled around in fields before, but I doubt anyone would have called it art; even if someone might have looked at the field and said ‘I think a spaceship landed there’.

        If someone has to clean up graffiti from their own property then its bad, but costs time (perhaps time that could have been spent elsewhere though). This is a direct affect on the income of a family though, more like hacking someone’s bank account to show off.

        Pity the farmers hay.

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