May 26 2010

It’s Crop Circle Season

I have to admit, I love crop circles. I think they are a compelling art form. So I have anticipated for many years the coming of crop circle season in the Spring. Circle makers have really progressed the art form tremendously.

Here is the first one I have seen so far:

The theme seems to be mathematical – a common theme. The implication is that aliens are trying to communicate to use through the use of math and music, of course they never seem to teach us anything – just copy established mathematics. But it does represent the utility of math in producing beautiful symmetry in art.

Crop circles pretty much have to be mathematical – the mechanisms used to make them by necessity result in geometric shapes with mathematical relationships. It’s like using the Spirograph, and then marveling at the perfect symmetry and mathematical relationships of the resulting work.

Here is a funny account by a person claiming to have made the famous Avebury crop circle. It is all about technique, and circle makers have improved the craft over the years so that following a few simple procedures can produce amazing results. (Not unlike many art forms.)

I continue to admire crop circles as an art form, while chuckling a the true believers who have such little faith in human ingenuity (or such a desire to believe in the fantastical) that they conclude they could not have been the work of humans.

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As always, I also post on Science Based Medicine on Wednesdays.

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18 responses so far

18 Responses to “It’s Crop Circle Season”

  1. Hubbubon 26 May 2010 at 10:38 am

    Gotta love this comment to the linked story:

    “I do not believe this story for a second. Not until it is backed up. I have studied geometry and sacred geometry intensely for 10 years, and I am 100% sure that some of these formations could not have been done by man, in the middle of the night, with a plank of wood and rope. Absolutely none.”

    Sacred geometry? I must have slept through that math lecture.

  2. banyanon 26 May 2010 at 11:19 am

    Hubbub: I would also question what he means by “studied.” :)

  3. chaos4zapon 26 May 2010 at 12:00 pm

    Yeah, my roomate has a quack that comes and gives her massages. I often overhear him spouting all types of non-sense. He often mentions these “research” or “study” groups he has where he and a group of likeminded friends, apparently, do something that they are calling research into their quack beliefs. This “research” has led him to conclude that allergies are a myth, the cure for cancer exists and is being suppressed and that we can easily cure diabetes, but big Pharma chooses not to because of the old “there is no money in the cure” garbage. It absolutely blows my mind how people can spend a couple of hours with confirmation bias and google and delude themselves into thinking that they are somehow qualified to be giving medical advice. Yeah, “research” and “studied” are terms so broad now, they are meaningless without clarification.

  4. krison 26 May 2010 at 12:27 pm

    I can’t help but notice that it looks like a binary coded message of some sort. So far it’s not in any of the most obvious encodings. I’ll have to play with it some more later.

  5. wb4on 26 May 2010 at 12:52 pm

    kris, I had the same impression. I think somebody should do a QR Code as a crop circle (crop square?), which encodes a URL that points to a website that debunks the notion that they’re made by aliens.

  6. locutusbrgon 26 May 2010 at 1:39 pm

    Are you kidding me, it looks like the symbol of The Empire.
    George Lucas will arrive soon with his star destroyers to conquer us all with really slow firing lasers,artificial gravity, and plasma swords.
    Oh wait, maybe that is a secret message that he has conquered us with merchandising rights. the lack of evidence proves that the governments of the world are behind this. Perhaps George Lucas is behind the vaccination plot to kill us all with autism. Perhaps he is not George Lucas at all, maybe he is a reptiod made to look like a human and enslave us all with credit card bills for action figures. Yeaa that must be it. He is telling the aliens to watch his movies.
    I knew it!!
    Don’t even try to prove me wrong, So Called Dr. Novella evil physician bought and paid for by the millitary industrial complex. We both know who you work for.

  7. provaxmomon 26 May 2010 at 2:32 pm

    No money in a cure huh? So exactly what does he call the trillion dollars that’s been made from Lipitor?

  8. locutusbrgon 26 May 2010 at 2:57 pm

    Provaxmom, chaos4zap

    Sorry but Lipitor is exactly what the “quacks” focus on because it is a chronic treatment. It is a steady income rather than one treatment and it is cured. Like Amoxicillin for strep throat. I would like to point out that the “study group’s” own argument fails for cancer.
    There is only 2 outcomes, survive it or don’t. So the treatment is not chronic, with some small exceptions like Chronic Lymphcytic Luekemia.
    On so many levels they are wrong. For example: the incorrect thought that Diabetes is one disease. Or that different types of cancer are the same disease because they carry the same name.
    That is like saying I have an infection and believing that there is no difference between types of infections and there should be one treatment for all infections. IE: why doesn’t Amoxicillin cure AIDS.
    For example Gestational Diabetes has a cure, Give birth. Most likely you will someday develop full blown diabetes but for now you are “Cured”.
    I would also like to say that the “Massage therapist” should point to his cures and show how he does not benefit from chronic treatment. Maybe he is part of the vast medical conspiracy.

  9. Calli Arcaleon 26 May 2010 at 3:13 pm

    Crop circles can be quite lovely, but I find it difficult to appreciate most of them. The beauty and craftsmanship is paired, after all, with vandalism — the medium is somebody else’s property, which they are counting on to make enough money for the season. Each line is a bit less yield come harvest time.

    I used to appreciate them better before I married into a family with a lot of farmers in it. If some farmers believe they are made by UFOs, that’s very lucky for the real circle makers; I’ve met people who would do physical violence to a circle maker if they ever caught one in the act. Bad enough to lose crops to pests or weather, but to artists? If you’re going to do art, at least get permission to use the medium first.

  10. astrotoolon 26 May 2010 at 4:37 pm

    Great post, most people forget to appreciate the art form of the crop circle. Although, I do agree with Calli Arcale on the point that it is vandalism, like graffiti, I still think both can be amazing forms of art. I have seen an interview on my local news channel a few years back that had this farmer who was “vandalized” and he actually thought it was pretty cool. He got some local press and I guess it helped out his small farm business get some recognition.

    Could these circles be just as powerful in a field of weeds or some other medium? I don’t know what the alternatives are, but I know of a couple of my neighbors yards that would probably work :-)

    Maybe sand circles, like that artist Andy Goldsworthy who made art that was purposefully temporary (Rivers and Tides 2001 DVD).

  11. chaos4zapon 26 May 2010 at 4:42 pm

    I agree that Lipitor is a bad example. Many drugs that treat symptoms are amazing, but the quacks focus on drugs like this for their so called criticisms because people need to keep coming back and feeding the big, bad, evil corporate pharmaceutical companies. The drugs that turn out to be hazardous after they are approved and hit the market are worse. Quacks take those examples and make another ridiculous accusation that the FDA is on the take and is in no way concerned with safety and/or efficacy. For my money, vaccines are the single best example. Maybe it’s not accurate to say we “cured” small pox, but we did eradicate it from the face of the plant (except sample sin a few labs, of course).

    locutusbrg, to the rest of your points, anyone with half a brain is well aware that cancer, infections, etc.. are broad categories that contain many, many complex forms and degrees within each. Lumping them all into one category is always the red flag of a quack that doesn’t really have any idea of what they are talking about. Something we might expect from a child with a grade school level understanding of biology and health, but these are grown adults. When you try and point this out, they will sometimes throw out nonsense like “but all different forms of cancer are caused by [insert whatever nonsense you want here: Diet, unbalanced energy, etc] and if you address that root cause, then you eliminate all cancers before they even become cancer!” Wow, sounds great! Except it’s total non-sense. Quacks will be quacks as long as it is legal and/or there is demand. Trying to point out the flawed logic to the quack himself is a futile endeavor indeed. One additional thing that really bothers me is that more and more M.D.s are sending people to Chiroquactors and Acupuncturist and that only helps further drape the garbage in a false veil of legitimacy.

  12. ccbowerson 26 May 2010 at 6:31 pm

    But how do the aliens get the people to make the crop circles for them?

  13. SquirrelEliteon 27 May 2010 at 10:33 am

    You overlooked the Real Reason For Crop Circles:

    http://icanhascheezburger.com/2010/05/25/funny-pictures-of-crop-circles/

  14. SquirrelEliteon 27 May 2010 at 10:39 am

    Also, I noticed that Arthur C. Clarke’s Mysterious Universe episode on crop circles is available in three parts on YouTube.

    http://youtube.com/watch?v=BrfAABTp9js&feature=related

  15. Norwegian Shooteron 27 May 2010 at 6:34 pm

    Where did you get the picture – or where is this crop circle? I’m more interested in the rich-ass “farmer” estate than the circle. He has a replica wind-mill?

  16. caoimhon 28 May 2010 at 5:35 am

    Lucy Pringle of the Centre for Crop Circle Studies believes that 93.8% of crop circles are made on chalky soil.

    I can picture these guys walking around the circle with handfuls of litmus paper

    It reminded me of this scene

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BzOFTYIHHPc

  17. Carlon 28 May 2010 at 7:25 pm

    Lucy Pringle of the Centre for Crop Circle Studies believes that 93.8% of crop circles are made on chalky soil.

    In order to even make that estimate she has to have soil test results for 500 circles. To make it statistically useful to add that “.8″ onto the end, several thousand.

  18. Cayon 30 May 2010 at 11:51 am

    caoimh – Thank you for the Waiting for Guffman clip. It is a perfect send up of all those armchair pseudo-scientists.

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