The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

A review of the crop circle season of 2000 and some of the rather dubious characters involved

As the traditionally wet and windy April came around once again, the expectations of the crop circle research community were, as usual, high for the upcoming season of cereal thrillers. However as we’ve learned from years of circle research, what was expected didn’t happen. In fact, virtually nothing happened through April and May. Huge expanses of oil-seed rape lay unadorned for weeks on end leaving people with no explanation for the absence of formations in the pungent yellow flowers. At this stage of the season the previous year, huge and extremely impressive designs were already appearing throughout southern England, and indeed across the globe.

This early season situation set the scene for what would turn out to be a summer of fits and starts. A season that would incorporate some of the most magnificent formations of all time, and at the other extreme, some of the most spectacular corn crunching hoax claims. This coupled with the usual mix of irate farmers and a media intent on ignoring the facts regarding this most profound phenomena, made for a season to remember for good reasons, and a few bad and ugly ones too.

During the course of the season many researchers, including ourselves, were approached by a local group calling themselves the real crop circle makers or, as they now prefer, crop circle facilitators. This group consists of Mathew Williams and his less well-known side kick, Paul Deamon (who incidentally, was observed deliberately and purposefully spitting into the floor of a formation at Silbury Hill earlier in 2000).

In early June, Mathew Williams turned up on our doorstep wielding what he considers to be, “the new truth,” i.e., “all formations are man made and we know this because we make most of them.” Seventy percent was the figure he mentioned. Mathew then took the time to go into some detail about how he makes formations and continues to do so undetected.

On the face of it he comes across as quite plausible, with fast and sometimes convincing explanations to most questions put to him. When asked, how do you do it without being observed by anyone he replied: “Well, the paranormal aspect of the phenomenon shields us with a strange mist or sometimes we are rendered invisible to all but each other”” According to Williams, two separate teams of hoaxers created the two formations that arrived on the same night in the huge east field in mid 1999, neither group being aware of the other. This pair of glyphs, it should be noted, were no more than fifty meters apart and were positioned very close to the edge of the field near Knapp Hill car park. On this particular night I bedded down on the slope facing the field, just a few meters from the edge of the standing crop. From there I could clearly hear people chatting at a normal pitch in the car park, which was some quarter mile behind me. At (approx.) 12-30am I went to sleep and awoke at 4-30am to discover two expansive formations about 150 meters in front of me. Even a rabbit foraging at that distance in the barley would have created a commotion, especially on such still night.

Yet I heard nothing.

At first light I had walked wet (from heavy dew) into the first formation. I explained to Mathew how my boots were caked with mud and how I was leaving huge muddy boot marks all over the clean and neatly laid barley. So how could I walk around a formation for ten minutes and leave such obvious evidence whilst five or six hoaxers can tramp about for hours and leave no trace whatsoever?

The conditions observed within known hoax formations are exactly what one would expect to see in a damp corn circle that had been stomped on for a few hours. Anybody who feels they can walk in a damp or wet field of barley and leave no trace would be well advised to try it themselves; it is very muddy, heavy and slow going.

Mathew told us that he and his team were capable of creating precise and immaculate crop formations in incorporating sophisticated mathematics and geometry with ease. When we have visited and examined his efforts it has been immediately apparent that, compared to other formations, they are not at all precise. Even a formation created by these people during many hours of daylight contained some very obvious flaws; in a couple of places within the circle it was clear that somebody had fallen over into the standing wall of crop and then picked all the damaged plants up as best they could, and carried on.

Apart from this, the fact is that all the formations created by Mathew and crew were flat to the floor. This is in complete contrast to around 90% of formations examined by us over the years that are not at all flat. Quite the opposite in fact, very often the corn is very neat, fluid and bouncy with a fine lightness that just isn’t present within the formations claimed by Mathew or for that matter the ones made by team Satan.

It must be said that these formations bear very little resemblance to the large majority of crop circles examined by this writer and many other honest researchers. Our experience and observations tells us that nobody is faking them; there are just too many obvious discrepancies.

However there are still some ready to believe Mathew and his “new truth.” During the summer 2000 season a number of researchers were offered the opportunity to witness the creation of crop circles, in daylight and at night. These demonstrations, it appears were enough to convince a few high profile members of the research community that Mathew and his team were indeed the real thing. So it has to be asked, what is so convincing about a few shabby and badly constructed patterns in the corn? These researchers must have seen how messy and foot-trodden the formations they were standing in were.

At least one of the researchers treated to a display of Mathew’s talent reported phenomena such as time distortion whilst the construction of a formation was under way. Perhaps this experience, if indeed it happened at all, was enough to convince him not to worry too much about the downright shabby formation. For whatever reasons some of these researchers were not at all concerned about the messy formations. In fact, they fell over backwards to line up and proclaim that manmade formations were the “new truth.” This lack of reasoning makes little sense, especially when considering the hard facts regarding construction quality and sheer geometric wonder and innovation that’s readily apparent in most formations, which it must be said, is completely absent in the known fakes.

So why are people such as Mathew Williams doing this, or at least claiming to be doing it?

Maybe they are clever con men getting a buzz from seeing researchers rollover when they sing. The ego is a major factor in many individuals involved with the hoaxing of circles, as indeed it is in many other activities. Or maybe they are part of some ongoing campaign of disinformation, designed to confuse and divide the research community? It is at least possible that some individuals are, knowingly or unknowingly, local pawns in a game that’s being controlled from a far higher level. Why, for instance, did the relatively minor story of Mathew making a circle and his subsequent arrest and conviction for criminal damage receive such massive international media attention?

The bottom line here is quite simple; basically it is impossible to reconcile the claims of the hoaxers with what I and many other researchers experience on the ground in the large majority of crop circles. Lets hope for more fun next year . . . and no doubt we’ll get it.

Crop circle that appeared near Liddington Castle, Wiltshire, in July 2001. Photo Steve Alexander

See ‘And the Spin Goes On’ for some further perspective: