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The Great A&E / Discovery Channel
Crop Circle Hoax

Many of you in the U.S. will have seen the TV documentaries aired by A&E and The Discovery Channel about the crop circles phenomenon, namely 'Where are the UFOs?', 'The Mystery of the Crop Circles' and an episode of Arthur C. Clarke's Mysterious World. You should be aware that both stations are using dishonest practices in portraying the making and reporting of the crop circle phenomenon.

Researchers were conned into doing 'unbiased' interviews and submitting research for documentaries that, at the time, were portrayed as fair-minded attempts to broadcast a balanced view of the phenomenon. Once these stations had the necessary material, the producers were apparently told to blatantly ignore the bulk of the factual data and instead, through the cunning use of selective editing techniques, portray the whole phenomenon as the work of pranksters and hoaxers such as Doug and Dave.

In one segment, Colin Andrews' aerial footage and interview was followed by night footage showing two people constructing a circle in the dark. The film material used for the night-time making of a crop circle was borrowed from a 1991 film by skeptic John MacNish who decided that the phenomenon could be hoaxed. He arranged for people to make a simple formation at night while he filmed them with night vision cameras. This film was then used to convey the idea that all this was caught on camera by surprise. They then proceeded to set up noted researcher Colin Andrews by having the farmer call him to have the formation investigated in the morning. Colin expressed doubts as to its authenticity, but none of this was conveyed in the programs aired.

John MacNish also claimed that the TV stations knew that the footage he had given them was of a staged event. He himself expressed disgust that it had been misused, and went on to say that when the programs' researcher, Mary Benjamin, phoned him she asked what material he had to use in a program "with a skeptical slant." Mary later told Colin that A&E had asked for a skeptical spin on the material. This has the hallmarks of a set up, but since Colin had not gone along with it they omitted his analysis of the hoax.

In another segment, Doug and Dave are seen planking a perfectly clean piece of wheat field; what we do not see is the pathetic mess they accomplished (in daylight), and instead the action cuts to the beautiful Froxfield Flower crop circle pattern which not only was a genuine formation, but was made two years after Doug and Dave's retirement.

This disinformation practice had been previously used with great affect by the British Government to debunk and ridicule the crop circles phenomenon back in 1991, which succeeded in culling public interest at the time. D&D's story as the men who conned the world has been traced to a secret military establishment.

To date, no man-made crop circle has yet exhibited the unusual features found in genuine formations (see 'Introduction to Crop Circles...').

These programs are attempting to bias the truth by portraying these incidences as candid and genuine when the opposite is true.

This is of great concern to those of us who believe in freedom of speech and information. A&E repeatedly runs week-long topics on such fringe topics as UFOs, yet it is perfectly happy to let these programs bash governments, the U.S. in particular, for covering up information. By comparison, these programs are better served in terms of bias than the crop circle phenomenon. Why are these people scared?

In Arthur C. Clarke's programme, the implications are simply astonishing. I have a great deal of respect for this genius. But as a scientist he proceeded to show no facts, no evidence, introduce an expert that no one in the research community has heard of, and focus on the meteorological evidence by Terence Meaden whose theories were disproved as far back as 1989. Moreover, he shows a group of people making a small, but to their credit, beautiful flower design. What he does not reveal was that it took two days to make and in broad daylight. The plants were crushed, the center was a trampled mess, and no comparative tests made. What on earth possessed this respected man to do this is simply mind-boggling.

It seems that this subject is too hot for the authorities to handle. After all, why go through so much trouble to distort the truth or simply avoid it altogether. They cannot handle it, they cannot spoon-feed a tangible explanation to the public, and until such time comes (and I doubt it ever will) debunking is here to stay.

In the name of public knowledge and justice, you are urged to contact these TV channels and protest your disgust vociferously. Nothing pisses off TV people more than audiences saying they will change loyalty: it upsets the advertisers and they take their money elsewhere. The programme managers involved are hard working people. I cannot understand why they would go to this trouble to distort one program out of their entire stock. It would seem clear, therefore, that they are told to tow the line. Simply letting these people know that we are onto the game is enough to give them an opportunity to show more backbone in the future. In addition to showing your disgust, tell them that you would support them to make a new documentary that states the facts, so the public at least can make up their own minds.

After all, you can't con an informed public.

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