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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: