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Depending on one's view of paranormal phenomena, the formation of crop circles is either an elaborate hoax or visible evidence of metaphysical energy at work. About the only thing both sides can agree on is that crop circles do exist. There is sufficient photographic and eyewitness testimony to support the claims, but no one can agree on the purpose of crop circles or the means used to create them. Some people have confessed to creating crop circles as hoaxes, but a number of elaborate formations still remain unclaimed by human pranksters.
Although there have been claims of crop circles for centuries, the phenomenon became more widely known in England during the late 1970s. Landowners growing cereal crops such as wheat and corn began to notice some unusual formations in their fields. Stalks of grain appeared to be trampled in a circular pattern, but not always damaged or destroyed. It was as if the grain stalks were bent by a powerful force, but there was little evidence of a human intruder or mechanical device. Because of their simple shapes, these formations became known as crop circles.
Shortly after the worldwide media picked up on the first crop circles, even more elaborate formations began to appear in other countries. While some were still simple variations on circles, others reflected an advanced knowledge of geometry and mathematical elements called fractals. Some of these advanced crop circles stretch out across hundreds of acres of land, which believers claim is proof that humans could not have created them in the middle of the night with primitive tools. The intricacy of these crop circles would require a significant amount of measurement and coordination, which would far exceed the capability of most pranksters. There would also have to be a staging area for the dozens of people needed to complete such a task, and little evidence of such a large human presence exists.
The theories behind crop circles range from alien technology to psychic energy to subterranean electromagnetism. Some believe that UFOs use an unknown power source to bend the stalks into elaborate patterns without destroying their DNA structure. Others suggest that a form of psychic energy could form crop circles, much like a tornado carves a visible path of destruction. Some have even suggested that the fields are situated above subterranean energy sources that cause the crops to bend but not break. One hint to the crop circle phenomenon emerged when two British men confessed to using wooden planks and a string to trample down simple crop circles. They did not claim responsibility for all of the crop circle formations, but their crude methods proved that crops could be bent through purely mechanical means without damage.
Whether crop circles are the work of men, aliens or psychic forces, they are an interesting diversion from the mundane world. We may never be able to explain their origins completely, but many crop circles are enjoyable to view through photographs available on the Internet and books on the paranormal.