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Are crop circles a hoax?

Mysterious shapes appearing in cornfields - is there a rational explanation or are they really proof that UFOs exist?

Background ¦ Your reaction

The Background:

When you read about mysterious shapes appearing in cornfields, what are your immediate thoughts - imminent UFO invasion or a bunch of hoaxers having us on?

Crop circles are strange phenomena, with thousands appearing around the world, 90% of which are in Britain.

US billionaire Laurance Rockefeller, a UFO enthusiast, is so fascinated by them that he is funding the UK's biggest survey of the strange patterns.

A far cry from the amateur "croppies", scientists are to carry out aerial research over Wiltshire next month and private detectives will also be called in to get to the bottom of the mystery.

Do you think crop circles are proof that there's "something out there"?

Many farmers say the whole thing is a hoax, costing them thousands of pounds of damage every year.

People have even come forward admitting that they have strapped planks of wood to their feet to create the weird patterns.

But "croppies" are quick to point to the lack of tracks and footprints leading from the crop circles as proof that there is something paranormal about their presence. Alien space ships and a connection with ancient "ley lines" are both popular explanations.

Hundreds of Americans flock to the UK every year on "crop circle tours" which are reported to be a sell-out.

Read your thoughts on crop circles.

Background ¦ Your reaction

Your Reaction:

I'm the journalist who last week exclusively reported Laurance Rockefeller's decision to fund a study of crop circles. My article for the Western Daily Press of Bristol was seized upon by news agencies around the world and I was amazed to see that this patently man-made creation still exerts such a fascinating hold on the gullible. I've studied crop circles for a decade now in the course of my work as a journalist. I like a good mystery as much as the next man, but these circles are, I have to say, overwhelmingly of human origin. The remainder are the result of freak weather conditions known as mini-vortexes. Sorry Mr Rockefeller: give your money to charity instead.
David Humphrey, UK

Some of the formations are too perfect to be the work of pranksters. I do, however, think that they are the result of natural processes such as magnetic fields, underground archaeology or geology and the wind rather than aliens.
Barry Tregear, England

If aliens have the intelligence to get in and out of earth that many times without being seen, they could certainly come up with something better than a crop circle!
B. Kuzava, USA

Our planet is a marvellous wonder and has secrets that it will never reveal! Freak of nature or out of this world - who knows or ever will know!!
Cathie, England

Piffle. That these things could be anything but people playing the ignorant, superstitious and stupid for fools, is patently silly. If they were really the work of aliens, then what do they represent? A landing zone? How far up can one get above them before they can no longer be seen? Certainly not to the limits of the atmosphere. Are they simply an alien version of 'Kilroy was here?' The fact that people waste more than a few seconds pondering this issue reinforces my faith in the basic stupidity of mankind.
Jim Hubbell, USA

I tend to have an open mind on most things and if you are inclined to think we are the only ones inhabiting this galaxy you are very naive. Of the 100 billion plus stars this side of the galactic centre, why should ours be the only one to have a rock with life attached floating around it. Also, alien intelligence is likely to be considerably more advanced than ours. Humans have been around for about 15 million years, a blink of an eye in the 5 billion years the Earth has.
I reckon any advanced alien race could warrant no real reason to spend their valuable time seriously interacting with us, like we don't really bother interacting much with say, ants or beetles. But there are some people that catalogue and monitor the progress of ants and beetles etc (why i don't know) so why not catalogue the Earth?
Mark, England

The formation of crop circles goes against all the rules of human logic. However, all you hoax theorists ask yourself this..... what are the rules of an aliens logic?
Paul Marshall, USA

If Crop Circles are made by aliens, it is unlikely that 90% of these are found in Britain. Unless somehow the aliens are extremely fond of Britain. I think Crop Circles are a chapter of "Dr. Who".
Thiam Huat, Singapore

A bunch of hippies with nothing else to do at night except ruin a proportion of farmers' crops, because they have no mates to meet at the pub.
Jonathan Harker, New Zealand

I don't think that the crop circles are a hoax. Some of them look a bit to complex to be manmade. Suppose that the crop circles were made by aliens, wouldn't that be great? A sign from outer space!
Gilbert Koningstein, The Netherlands

Crop circles could well be hoaxes, but shouldn't we investigate why people would want to create them in the first place? Could they be linked to Stonehenge, and what makes people sure that they are related to UFOs? Perhaps they (crop circles) are unmodified gateways between the reality of this universe and a parallel spiritual plain.
Mark Hampson, England

Always the rural folks cooking up such stories. Crop circles are the creation of bored farmers or bored citizens of small towns who are having a laugh at the expense of those fools called UFO enthusiasts. A counter question, if you wanted to communicate with someone far away, would you travel all that way to merely draw shapes in someone's back yard hoping someone would notice?
Steve Kenney, USA

Years ago in Minnesota, a UFO believer had a joke played on him by his brother-in-law. The in-law made circular burn marks in the man's cornfield. The UFO believer was ecstatic to find the discovery on his property. A few days later, the joker in law informed him it was a gag that he went to a great deal of trouble to play on him. No matter. The UFO believer still thought he had alien visitors. They are a stubborn breed, those UFO freaks.
David Hulbert, USA

The only reasonable argument for crop circles being of 'alien' construction would be that they only seem to appear in localised areas of the world in arable farmland. This, however is also the most convincing argument against the 'alien' theories, I mean, who has ever heard of a mud circle or a dust circle? This is either the work of intelligent life-forms, or people from Hampshire.
Lisa Harvey-Smith, England

So little green men are flying billions of miles in highly sophisticated craft simply in order to hide behind clouds and draw circles in cornfields near where hippies are squatting? Hmm ... maybe not.
Gretl Coudrille, UK

Maybe, maybe not there is no solid proof either way.
Efrem Gebrehiwet, Canada

Aliens? No. A Hoax? No. Natural phenomenon? Quite plausible. There are many things we don't yet understand about this sphere we live on. The corn lays undamaged facing the same way with no footprints approaching the patterns. I doubt a hoaxer would be able to create this effect with string and a plank of wood without damaging the crop. This study should include a timed attempt at creating these intricate circles using sting and planks of wood, and see if they can achieve the same effect.
Michael, UK

Since these formations are only properly visible from the air, isn't it obvious that it's not passing aliens signalling to us, but aliens here on earth sending messages to their airborne brethren ? By a stroke of luck, the peak foreign holiday season on Mars coincides with the best growing season in Wiltshire.
Dave Smith, UK

Fake? What do you think? I can just imagine...somewhere on the far side of the galaxy a race of aliens have spent vital resources and years building a craft, and training their crew. Then travel in suspended animation and suffer the perils of deep space, potential super novae, black holes and worse, arrive on earth, 'draw' pretty diagrams amongst plants - crop circles - and then, without a word head back home. Mission accomplished. This is millennial madness, and sadly the result of a post-Christian society looking to the sky for a God-substitute.
Jon Gardner, England

Wouldn't it just be the most amazing thing to happen to us, if there was something out there coming to visit us.
Shabaz Siddique, England

Clearly not many of these respondents have actually been in a crop formation nor have they sought any information other than that which is presented to them. Why do cameras and mobile phones fail to operate in formations? Why do dogs often refuse to enter? Why have some post-menopausal women started bleeding again? Why do many people report dizziness and nausea, others elation and peace? Why does lodging (aka. wind damage) show similar physical effects to those found in crops circles? Where are the photographs of hoaxers in mid-creation? Why haven't any been caught and prosecuted?
Damian Brothers, England

It is a sad reflection on mankind as we approach the new millennium that superstition and irrationality still guide the thought processes of so many people.
Richard Gibson, UK

Unexplained phenomenon are always a challenge to any people. Crop circles are not recent, but ancient, and clearly challenge explanation. No so-called hoaxers could do this. Let's hope the research scheduled this year will bring some new facts out!
Robert Heilman, USA

Of course they are fake. They are planted just like the cereal they are made in. How come few are caught doing it? Imagine: Helicopter dangling disc at end of a line. The spinning disc causes the effect of a circle in the crop. Helicopter goes away. Crop circle formed by "mysterious" craft!
Graham Roberts, UK

Just ask yourself one question, why would a species intelligent enough to cross vast distances of empty space land on a planet and make pretty circles in the fields of crops? Crop circles have always been the work of terrestrial beings armed with string, ladders, planks and sense of humour.
Ian Thomas, England

I believe they are a craze just as is graffiti.
Michael Smith, UK

I have seen many crop circles as I used to live in the Marlborough Downs where great many of the crop circles appeared in the early nineties. I can honestly say that the locals including the farmers are just as puzzled as everyone else. The things I remember are the fact the corn is not broken but bent over and still alive. Some of the crop circles were impossible to get to. Strange electromagnetic fields seem to be around some the crop circles and I remember TV cameramen not being able to film the crop circles close up due to malfunctioning cameras.
Tim, England

Of course they're a hoax. It may be absurd to suggest we're the only intelligent life in the universe, but it's just as ludicrous to think that aliens would travel for centuries, millennia even, purely to mess around in our farms. Besides, I know someone who does it. Although his are frankly rubbish. But then, I'm not sure he isn't an alien anyhow.Rob Marriott, UK

In my opinion crop circles are not a hoax, I base my theory on the fact that some of the circles that have been produced overnight both in the U.K and abroad are far too intricate in design to have been knocked up by someone with a torch and a lawn mower. At the end of the day I personally feel that people are experiencing a classic fear of the unknown and dealing with this by labelling these and other strange phenomena as the work of hoaxers when really they don't have a clue and this is the most convenient answer.
P.Fletcher, England

Of course they're a hoax - the hoaxers have put their hands up! The persistence of this kind of new age thinking in the face of all the evidence including the confessions of those responsible is more worthy of research than are crop circles.
Paul Cooper, UK

How about putting one in for the Turner prize? There's no doubt they are of human origin and it's no more dotty that wearing strange hats crossing London Bridge last May 'for art'.
K. Jackson, USA

Judging from the amount and frequency of these 'phenomena' I believe it seems rather too much like hard work to be a hoax. But to suggest the involvement of extra-terrestrial life is far-fetched. This money would be better spent investigating whether Scottish football referees are in fact aliens.
Gus McGhee, Germany

It would be rather depressing to think that after the vast expense and time it would take to reach our planet that all the 'visitors' wished to do was vandalise a few crops!! Plus, how come we don't get similar patterns appearing on snow?
John Wedderburn, UK

When crops are given too much fertiliser, they become too top heavy and are easily blown over by the wind. If you were to add fertiliser to the ground before planting in a 'crop circle' pattern, when it grows the pattern will emerge as the areas of fallen crops.
Colin Harrison, UK

Hoax? No way! Even on the picture on the top of this page you can see that they are real and created with techniques we have absolutely no idea of. Besides all of these marks have meanings. This one shows Earth and Moon. Earth is the third planet from the sun and we can see that Earth symbol is marked with 3 vertical lines aside. Moon is the only Earth's satellite and we can see that Moon sign is marked with 1 vertical line. Besides, Earth and Moon proportions showed by these signs match real ones. It's a disputable question who creates these marks. But one can be said for sure: no one on Earth can do this so precisely.
Alex Wierzbowsky, EU

There are no aliens and there are no UFO's and all this is just a hoax. (what most people who believe in UFO's do not realise that even if there were space travellers, they could not get here as they would be too far away to find us.)
And also probably we are the only intelligent life form anywhere in the universe. Even it there is life of any kind in our galaxy, or any galaxy, it is so far away, that we are never going to find it, or know about it. Yes, we are alone!!!
Marius Balogh, Australia

They're either a hoax of an earthly nature or there are some very bored ET's out there having a joke at our expense!
Guy Dawson, UK

The whole 'crop circles are formed by aliens' malarkey is a swizz. Quite honestly, I think people believing in extra-terrestrial activity in cornfields are quite mad. Wheat, fields on the other hand...
Rupert C Kent, London, UK

Crop circles definitely exist. My garden backs onto a large field of barley. One morning, many many moons ago I awoke to find the local farmer scratching his head and chewing his corn in a very perplexed manner. When I enquired as to his confusion he told me to go upstairs and gaze over his field. I did this and low and behold there was a perfect circle of flattened barley in the middle of the field.
Naturally I expected tom foolery from the local ruffians but when he pointed out that there were marks leading into the field, I had to scratch my head in amazement too. There had been many strange goings on in the hamlet round then, only that night had a large helicopter landed in the field!!!
Michael Norton, England

Of course Corn Circles are fake! But that is not the issue - the issue is why do so many people believe that aliens could be responsible? It appears to me that these people believe in a whole load of twaddle - all this 'New Age' nonsense - probably something to do with the breakdown of ordered religion for many people in this country - they're searching for some spiritual fulfilment. Well, they won't find it in a field full if hippies off the M4!
They need a cold shower!
Charles Ungard, UK

Although some corn-circles are certainly hoaxes, the sites that are confirmed as being made by humans tend to be rather simplistic, tatty affairs, quite unlike the geometric precision and beauty found in some examples. There is no way that these are produced by hoaxers.
I don't believe aliens have anything to do with it either and I personally support the freak weather conditions or natural phenomenon explanations but I hope that this new study can provide some definite proof.
Dave Cogbill, UK

Either a hoax or demonic activity!
E.W. Dunn UK

There is no hoax. Nor is there any indication that they are anything other than natural phenomena.
Daryle Denomy, Canada

So we get crop circles but no desert circles, forest circles, pasture circles, pebble circles - I would expect the superior beings who are our alleged visitors to do something a little more impressive than flatten down a bit of corn.
Maybe they just wanted to freak out the farmers, or perhaps writing any of the extremely basic languages used to communicate on this planet is beyond them??
Long may crop circles continue if it means more Yankee dollars coming our way!
Richard, UK

The public seem to be very misinformed about crop circles in general. The BBC Country File program did nothing that wasn't already known about the phenomenon. What they failed to show after the circles had been made was the broken stems that were strewn over all the formations, something that is not seen in many of the others.
Crop circle investigators have been asked to prove that they are genuine. The so-called "crop circle artists", "hoaxers", etc have never been asked to provide evidence of which formations they have made. Based on this I can claim to have made every circle in the world.
As for Laurance Rockefeller funding research. Who are his scientists? Where are they from? There is a lack of basic investigation from croppies and media alike.
Mark Haywood UK

High numbers of Young Farmers equals high numbers of crop circles, I think there is a connection.
M. Gallacher, Scotland

Hmm... If those circles were a hoax, then how come their creators have not been caught on a single occasion, in a relatively dense populated island, such as Britain?
I believe that human mind alone cannot be so creative... until it's exposed to AN EXAMPLE, and then just modifies it and simulates. My opinion, reasoning from the info I got so far, those circles are indeed something of "outer" nature.
Alex "Sasha", Russia

Since the men responsible for the whole hoax have already come forward and flawlessly reproduced the crop circles, this seems like a moot point. But then people generally don't like their beliefs questioned, so I'm not surprised that the debate still lingers.
Croppists are looking for ways to explain an existing belief; they should instead be looking at beliefs to explain existing facts. But how often does that happen?
Kat, USA

Perhaps crop circles are the work of inter-galactic graffiti artists. Translated they probably say 'Zog Was Here'.
Phil Huddlestone, UK

The most noticeable thing about the current wave of crop circles is how close many of them are to tourist sites like Avebury and Glastonbury - just what you need to get a good hoax noticed!
Of course, the New Agers claim this is due to the 'mystical power' of such sites, but I prefer the simpler explanation that people like their work to get attention.
James W Bottomley, UK

A few friends and myself created a circle one night. The resulting investigation by UFO "experts" showed strange radiation readings and psychic vibes in the centre of the circle. It just shows how stupid some people are.
Joe, England

Has anyone ever been caught making a crop formation? No. Wiltshire is not the back of beyond. Whilst there is no doubt that many formations, in this country at least are manmade, this does not explain the 10,000 plus formations that have appeared in India in the last twenty years, many of them in remote fields far away from media cameras and tourists.
Neill Wood, UK

How many of the hoaxers must confess before it is accepted that they are a hoax? Why do so many people insist that there be proof that flying saucers don't exist? Accept the evidence (the confessions) and let the rest of us get on with our lives.
Richard T. Ketchum, USA

While I generally approve of seriously-minded scientific investigation of unexplained phenomena - after all, lightning bolts were supposed to be all sorts of paranormal things until Benjamin Franklin put his mind to work - I can't help feeling that crop circles hold no great discovery for mankind. Except, perhaps, that some forms of graffiti are much more imaginative than others.
M. Reed Austin, UK

I am a tax advisor and drink shandy. Only when me and my advisor chums have had too little lemonade in our shandies and get a little boisterous do we go out and try and make crop circles. Unfortunately they are usually crop squiggles.
Steve McMullen, England

Hasn't anyone else noticed that the first link site is by the circle makers themselves?
David, UK

Hail fellow Kights! Crop circles are the work of my teams of Pixie Knights in their relentless pursuit of Pixie Magic.
King Arthur of Camalot, England

Crop Circles are by far the most interesting mystery of the 20th century. We have more or less successfully debunked Nessie and Bigfoot and all that rubbish, crop circles are still, unexplained for the most part.
They happen in too many places, too often, for even a fairly well organised group of persons would be hard pressed not to EVER get caught.
Crop Circles are scary, they are unknown, that is why most of the people here are moved to write, and to assert they 'do not exist'.
Roger, USA

I am 74 years old and can remember crop circles in cornfields from when I was a child living first in Norfolk and later in Dorset. Some of them were quite elaborate. The country people accepted them, they were part of the landscape, and had been for generations.
There was no talk of them being hoaxed in those days, people were much more law abiding, and the thought of deliberately damaging a farmer's crop was unthinkable.
I have always believed a proportion of the formations are real.
Sam Dalston, UK

Anybody who takes a step back to consider this 'phenomenon' realises that aliens, or any other alternative explanation just does not hold up. Even a die hard believer forced to answer why the aliens have targeted corn fields of all places, and why these bizarre patterns have been the result of technology far beyond us usually concedes the point.
Other forms of intelligence are very likely to exist - but get real. Corn circles have nothing whatsoever to do with that issue.
Chafir, England

I've seen a few circles from the air myself. All were connected to a road or track, either by tractor ruts or a direct path in the crops in some cases! Is this proof that aliens walk?
The real mystery is why people prefer to believe their own fantasies, rather than testimony and demonstrations from the hoaxers.
Then again, some people believe that Eastenders is a fly-on-the-wall documentary!
Rik Alewijnse, UK

Crop circle tours are selling out? A US billionaire is financing an investigation? Sounds like a money maker to me.
Tim Donovan, US

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