In recent months The Croppie has had a few discussions as to what defines a hoaxed crop circle. Different people have different perspectives.

What The Croppie terms a hoax is, except in extreme cases, not a comment on the artistic ability or ingenuity of its creators. Let’s make it clear:

Doug Bower and Dave Chorley.

Today’s crop circle scene is very different to that of the 1980s and early 90s. Doug Bower and David Chorley began making crop circles as a means to dupe ufologists into believing extraterrestrial spacecraft were landing in the fields of southern England. With the arrival of tornado expert Terence Meaden proposing a meteorological explanation of the circles, Bower and Chorley began to incorporate features into their work that belied Meaden’s vortex theory. (Not that this stopped Meaden from simply shifting the boundaries of his conjecture.)

After Chorley and Bower admitted their circle making antics to TODAY newspaper in autumn 1991, the landscape changed. Crop circles became synonymous with hoaxing. The phenomenon pulled through, surviving thanks to the discretion of the majority of other circle makers. Even those who did not conceal their identities largely remained silent as to what they had made. This, coupled with an increase in design complexity, slowly recovered a significant amount of public interest.

Robbert van den Broeke: ‘I’ve never hoaxed a crop circle in my life, even though they’ve been appearing at the bottom of my garden for the last 20 years.’

To The Croppie, mystery is at the heart of the phenomenon: true crop circles have no owners. Mystery invites discussion. A crop circle can be whatever the public want it to be. From aliens, messages from Gaia to ‘certainly man-made as the field gate was open’; all of these interpretations are valid.

Once the awe of the mystery disappears, either by the makers leaving equipment behind; trying to sell circle plans; or otherwise making it clear human hands were responsible for specific formations, these crop circles die. What we have, instead, are hoaxes that look like the mystery but are devoid of its awe and wonder.