Ian Mrzyglod is little known among contemporary croppies, even though he occupies one of the noteworthy roles in their history, leading the first ever investigation into the appearance of crop circles.
As a member of regional UFO group PROBE, Mrzyglod visited two small, simple circles close to the Wiltshire town of Westbury during August 1980. His subsequent investigations would take him to tornado expert Terence Meaden, seeking views as to whether whirlwinds could have caused the ground markings.
Ian kindly agreed to be The Croppie‘s first interviewee through the power of Facebook Messenger…
Can you tell The Croppie a little about PROBE prior to your visit to the first crop circles in the Westbury area?
PROBE, from what I recall, hadn’t been going that long before the first crop circles. We were trying to be a group, leaning towards a more sceptical approach, and not taking each report at face value.
Why did you decide to visit the circles? What drew you towards them?
The circles got reported in the press. It was very local so it made perfect sense to visit the circles. They were called UFO nests back then. The term ‘crop circle’ hadn’t been coined at that time.
So, what was your first impression of the circles?
We had no idea what caused them. We didn’t think they were man-made because of the size. We thought it might have been meteorological.
For how long did you think such a meteorological phenomenon may be responsible for the circles?
That idea worked for the single circles, and even for the three-circle combinations that appeared the following year. Or later that year. Can’t remember. The next year the five circle formations appeared, then it clicked that this was not the weather, but a prank.
Looking back on the whole crop circle phenomenon, what role do you think the circles played in the development of domestic and global ufology?
The circles were fun and today still provide entertainment. They are an art form. They have done nothing to contribute to UFOLOGY. Anyone who thinks there is a connection is misguided, and unfortunately there are far too many folks who believe these circles are extraterrestrial and continue to promote them as such. I guess any development that was beneficial is the fact that it highlighted certain individuals as complete idiots.
Do you harbour any ill feelings towards the people, allegedly Doug Bower and David Chorley, who made the crop circles that you investigated?
I feel no ill to the circle creators. I’d like to have shaken Doug and Dave’s hands. I think what Doug and Dave did was important in that it showed how easily people want to believe in the fantastic rather than the mundane reality. People to this day dismiss the idea that man makes these circles. They deny the obvious, even back then calling Doug and Dave liars, just to perpetuate their beliefs.
Your work at the Westbury circles has led you to be described as the first ever crop circle investigator; the first cerealogist. Within the croppie community there seems to have been a rewriting of crop circle history since 2010 and the roles of the early investigators, except Colin Andrews, have been all but forgotten by the public. Do you think it is important to remember the early days?
Yes, I believe we were among the first people to enter and investigate the crop circles. Others followed and promoted the ET approach, got famous, made money and to this day spout their nonsense. Once we had 100% determined they were man-made, I lost interest and quit the subject. I can still find my early comments on the internet, so wasn’t aware that history had been re-written. What is being said??
Well, websites come and go, and with them their content. The growth of social media enabled a guy called Andrew Pyrka to become an overnight sensation in the croppie world. He went from being a true believer in the circles’ paranormal origins to a very bitter, angry and destructive person once he realised the extent of human circle making. He started kicking over the tables in his own temple, making himself out to be the great revelator, one who was saving a gullible public from anyone who promoted the circles from a paranormal angle or for financial gain. He seemed very unaware of how much information on human circle makers was already in the public domain. As an example, there are books by John Macnish, Jon Lundberg and Rob Irving, Peter Rendall and Jim Schnabel that reveal a lot about what has been going on in the fields since the late 1970s. Doug and Dave revealed what they were up to back in 1991! Pyrka wasn’t telling us anything new, despite how he presented himself.
Moving on, what lessons have you learned from the circles?
I think it is important to remember the early days, if only to show how the circles developed in time to be the complex works of art they came to be. Lessons? If you provide a mundane explanation, it doesn’t get anyone’s attention. Claim that they’re made by aliens then everyone listens. It demonstrated to me that people want to be entertained. They read ghost books to find out about ghosts, and not squeaking doors. My message wasn’t interesting enough, and there are far too many idiots out there who can feed the media need for garbage. I learned to quit when the time was right for me.
On the subject of quitting, just one more question. What are you up to these days?
I live in Atlanta, Georgia, USA. I’m still working and keep in social media touch with a few old UFO colleagues. I still read articles and laugh. There is so much nonsense published in the press. So many arguments between individuals too. Ufology is a mess.