Not a month goes by without The Croppie being asked why an individual named Robbert van den Broeke isn’t covered in these pages. The answer isn’t complicated: The Croppie is primarily concerned with the British circles scene. Nonetheless, to fill that void on RvdB and to share things that really must be said, here’s a general lowdown on one of croppiedom’s weirdest and most dubious characters:
Who is Robbert van den Broeke?
Robbert, born May 1980, is a supposedly psychic medium and minor domestic celebrity from Hoeven in the region of North Brabant, The Netherlands. That’s the official line, although The Croppie will go so far as to say Robbie is a charlatan when it comes to his alleged paranormal abilities.
What’s van den Broeke’s backstory?
RvdB seems to have been a troubled youth. He struggled badly with learning difficulties and mental health issues. After Robbert had turned thirteen he was admitted to an institution for children with behaviour issues. Things then began to turn odd. A staff member at the clinic is said to have identified Robbert as psychically gifted. In turn Robbert’s parents enlisted the support of a spiritual therapist who offered to help the boy by psychically transmitting loving, positive ‘energy’ to him. This, apparently, helped van den Broeke improve his behaviour and earn release from the unit. Awwww.
What’s Robbert got to do with crop circles?
From February 2006 the spiritually awakened van den Broeke developed the curious knack of being the first to discover small, rough crop circles in fields amusingly close to his parents’ back garden. On occasions he’s even seen them forming — read into that what you will. Unlike those British circles that tend to appear only in oilseed rape, barley and wheat, van den Broeke’s finds come all year round in a wide variety of plants. Carrots, beans, mustard seed and grass all feature in Robbert’s
circle making discovery portfolio.
These circles look odd alongside their English counterparts and possess a distinctive style. On the whole they’re ridiculously small, regularly include tiny grapeshot, and look like the sort of thing that could be thrown together by a single person in under an hour.
How does RvdB explain the appearance of these crop circles?
Despite skepticism as to the close proximity of the circles to the van den Broeke family home, Robbert serves up a paranormal explanation for their appearance: he has supposedly witnessed heat emitting balls of light descending and spinning over fields where circles would subsequently appear.
What evidence has Robbert presented of these lights?
The best we’ve seen so far are one or two amateurish videos that have almost certainly been put through video editing software. Nonetheless, Robbert’s followers continue to fight his corner on the basis they believe he’s the real deal, therefore he must be!
How did van den Broeke become a well known croppie?
Robbert wasn’t exactly shy in sharing his experiences with the media and subsequently came to the attention of American cerealogist Nancy Talbott. Van den Broeke’s orbs fitted in with Talbott’s personal belief that an unknown heat source was responsible for the flattening of plants during the circle making process. From 1998, Talbott would make a number of visits to stay with the van den Broeke family. Whilst she never witnessed a crop circle forming, she claims to have observed light phenomena from inside the house on the nights when new formations would manifest. These events cemented Talbott’s support for Robbert van den Broeke, even in the face of some rather unfortunate and unpleasant events that would follow.
What makes The Croppie think RvdB is full of nonsense?
Like numerous other people claiming to possess paranormal abilities, Robbert’s past is littered with suspicious events and, on occasion, proof of outright fraud that only the most wildly deluded sycophant could deny. Here are two examples:
In 2004 RvdB was invited to showcase his psychic photography skills by photographer Rein Gelejinse. Successive attempts by Robbert to entice the spirits to appear on film were unsuccessful until he retreated, by himself, into another room. RvdB had captured the shoulders and head of a ‘white creature’, seemingly a grey alien, although Gelejinse was less than impressed; had Robbert ‘held a piece of paper in front of the lens?’ Others were also unconvinced. Previously sympathetic cerealogist Eltjo Hasselhoff reproduced RvdB’s elementary spirit photography skills and became persona non grata in the van den Broeke household.
The epidose that remains the most damaging to RvdB’s reputation occurred on Dutch national television in 2005. Read on from Rob Nanninga’s Skepter magazine article:
As early as 2005, the high ambitions of Robbert and his father could be realized. [Television personality] Irene Moors, who had just started her own production company … decided to make a series of four programs in which the now 25-year-old Robbert was allowed to showcase his special gifts … The series started in December 2005 under the title There Is So Much More …
I myself watched the third episode for the first time on December 18. It was immediately clear that Robbert was overplaying his hand … Robbert … held a so-called reading for the wife of a deceased cameraman. That was not such a success at first, until he talked about the woman’s past life. He knew exactly her name two centuries ago, where she lived, who she married, and when she had lived. The broadcast showed a genealogical webpage showing that the person Robbert spoke about, a certain Hillegien Roseboom, had indeed lived in Coevorden from 1793 to 1823. After a discussion on Skepnet, Skepsis’s mailing list, I decided to listen to the passage again (it was only on my voice recorder). I heard the name Hillegien Rozeboom (with a Z). According to Robbert, she was married to a ‘gene burner’ in 1823, although he did not know what this meant. When I looked up Hillegien with Google, I immediately ended up on a genealogical page that contained all the information Robbert mentioned, including the profession ‘gene burner’. However, this was a spelling mistake: it had to be genever burner!
At the time, the non-existent word gene burner could only be found on one web page, namely exactly on the page that also contained the information about Hillegien Rozeboom. In addition, the correct word gin burner is pronounced very differently. It seemed extremely unlikely that Robbert had accidentally made the same mistake. I published an article about it on the Skepsis website, which was picked up by the science editorial staff of de Volkskrant. After that, the exposure appeared in many other newspapers, in magazines and gossip magazines, and in TV and radio programs … Presumably it has never happened before that a medium fell through the basket so hard by overlooking just one letter.
Seems legit. Not to worry, it’s very easy to make such a mistake when talking about past lives.
But what about crop circle specific acts of naughtiness RvdB has attempted to pass off as paranormal?
During 2000, Robbert’s sister Madelon came home at 3.30am from a night out. She found the house empty: her parents were on holiday, but Robbert was nowhere to be found. Half an hour later, he appeared in what the late Dutch writer Rob Nanninga described as ‘a confused state’. According to Nanninga, Robbert’s trousers ‘were wet and muddy and there was a large burn hole in them. Robbert could not explain what had happened. The next day he found five circles in a nearby cornfield.’ The Croppie wonders if RvdB had propped up his stomper somewhere in the family shed.
Things took a sinister turn in 2012 when Robbert claimed to have taken spirit photographs of the late circle maker Dave Chorley and late cerealogist Pat Delgado. Anyone who has taken the time to study the images will note how the facial expressions of Chorley and Delgado never changed; this wasn’t wasted on croppie Roger ‘Woger Ribberley’ Wibberley who located the YouTube videos from which van den Broeke had pulled his images and added some very rudimentary effects.
Does anyone in the crop circle world take RvdB seriously?
Yes, they do, and Robbert has retained a solid following in The Netherlands. Nancy Talbott remains loyal to him, as does Dutch croppie and Qanon documentary maker Janet Ossebaard.
If you were one of those people who has found a discarded apple in the centre of a circle in recent years, this possibly has a link to van den Broeke. Apparently the alien intelligences behind the circles will ‘engrave’ a pattern on the apple’s skin. Then you eat the apples and take in the ‘higher vibrations’. Or something.
Is it true that people who have crossed Robbert van den Broeke have received some hassle in the past?
Very much so. One podcaster, for a while at least, found himself on the wrong end of weird hate mails from van den Broeke’s email account. These included explicit, gory photos as part of their content. The owner of Circular State of Mind has also received similar treatment, plus a death threat. The worst hate mails were sent to Dutch critic Constantia Oomen. Follow the links at the end of this piece for examples of the idiocy she received, including abusive videos from van den Broeke.
Van den Broeke explained away the abusive emails as the work of a hacker. How bizarre that Robbert was in a close friendship at the time with Stan Pluijmen, an IT ‘security consultant’. Funnily enough, cerealogist Colin Andrews and an associate of his claim to have been hacked after their investigation of RvdB in 2012.
During 2016 van den Broeke was held in custody by police following a series of complaints from at least six parties who claimed to have received hate mail. This group included croppie Bert Janssen. RvdB would subsequently be released, but the story reached the national media. The case was later dropped due to a lack of evidence.
What’s Robbert up to these days?
RvdB’s crop circles are still appearing and he regularly produces videos for his YouTube channel. In January 2019 van den Broeke ended up in hospital. Robbert claimed he’d been in a road traffic accident, but a third party —- supposedly a farmer —- said he’d given the psychic charlatan a beating after catching RvdB on his land, about to make a circle. Oh well.
Where can I read more on Robbert van den Broeke and company?
The following are ideal starting points to get some more specific information on RvdB and his antics:
Robbert’s official YouTube channel: (here)
Archive of Robbert’s website: (here)
An excellent piece on Robbert’s background by Rob Nanninga: (here)