Friday, September 07, 2007

Crop circles - Mysteries in the Fields - biased ending?

Crop circles mysteries in the fields - documentary from Discovery Channel, Featuring Colin Andrews, nancy Talbot,

Note: I posted this video to show you the effort involved in hoaxing a proper crop circle -even though the ending of the video is very biased and obviously lacked a proper explaination (see below)
Although the students come close to mimic an original crop circle - you see the overwhelming amount of effort it requires to mimic a real crop circle- including night vision goggles, gps equipment, computer and microwave equipment, exploading iron filings & more! - all of which would have to have gone un-noticed and (i'm sure the explosion done by students would not have!)- I mean hello i don't think the average hoaxer would attempt to go to this effort and how would you get power in the middle of a field to power a microwave generator!
The end of the movie is biased as they forget to mention that the criteria which the MIT students actually attempted to replicate in the field differed substantially from that which had been agreed upon with Ms. Talbott. (read below)
Please fast forward the first part of the movie to 4 minutes - the crop circle movie starts after 4 minutes after the bermuda triangle documentary:

Ms Talbot's response to the film:

Clearly, the producer is counting on the fact that most people either don't know much about crop circles, or don't care. And, further, that nobody will wonder where the power came from to run the portable microwave unit and the "particle shooter" (a very loud generator, off camera). Or think at all about the possibility of a really good field fire (there were two large fire trucks stationed next to the field, off-camera also). Or wonder why field-watchers in crop circle areas wouldn't notice any of this, not to mention the farmers and land-owners.

”We (BLT) had NOTHING to do with the analyses of the students’ performance. None of us were shown ANY of the plants from their man-made formation, nor were we shown any of the soil samples.”

”It was MIT graduate students who ”judged” the undergraduates' achievement – and these graduate students clearly didn’t have any idea of what the original three scientific criteria were which the undergraduates were supposed to replicate. Much to my surprise and dismay, the TV producer had removed all reference to elongated nodes as a major criterion, inserting instead the idea that the "geometry" of the circle was of major importance - this in spite of the fact that, while discussing the scientific parameters with the undergraduates ON CAMERA, one of the students clearly says he understands that the geometry of the circle does not matter.”

”The finished film does show the audience a good close-up of BLT’s example of an expulsion cavity (the second scientifically-determined plant change which the students were to try to replicate) - however, the film DOESN’T show even one close-up of any of the plants from the Ohio crop circle. The shot they do show is of one plant (which the announcer says has an expulsion cavity) but it is from a DISTANCE... so the viewer cannot see if there is an expulsion cavity or not.”

”Insofar as the 10-50 micron-diameter magnetized iron spheres are concerned, the film shows the iron filings (which can be bought at any scientific supply outlet) used by the students in their "particle projector" - but they DON’T show you even one iron sphere, magnetized or otherwise. Although clear photomicrographs of such magnetized iron spheres were provided as an example of what the students were to try to replicate, NO photomicrographs of the results were taken. The iron filings which were shown are hundreds of times larger than the tiny spheres in the protocol and, of course, they are neither magnetized nor spherical. And, although the "particle shooter" built by the students (including the two graduate student "judges") looked like an idea which might have produced the protocol results, it appears that the iron filings came out of the MIT gizmo in more or less precisely the same state as they had gone into it. There was no mention whatsoever in the film of these particles being distributed linearly, as outlined in the protocol.”

And so it appears that, once again, Hollywood's love of theatre and commitment to "entertainment" over any factual information has guided the hand of this producer. There were a number of interesting things about the film, though, not least of which was the fact that, on camera, we observe that a malfunction of the microwave projector (the wave-guide failed and the microwaves leaked out in all directions) knocks out the professional camera. This show clearly demonstrates that microwaves CAN, and DO, cause massive camera malfunction... something we now have demonstrated for us clearly.

Additionally, it is amusing to hear the announcer making various statements about how "some crop circles are man-made, but not all of them are", while the MIT students are busy congratulating themselves on their "success" and stating that, yes, they think this is how all crop circles must be made. (This bit really makes one wonder about the overall intelligence level of the "best and brightest" as students of MIT are generally thought to be.)

But the best part of the film is the really marvellous fire-show which accompanies the "particle shooter" (a ring of fire surrounds the end of this gizmo which could easily be seen from quite a distance away) and the huge plume of fire and smoke from a bomb-like device, which is set off at the very end in an attempt to produce a linear distribution of the iron particles. The pyrotechnics are terrific. Good theatre. Ridiculous, if you happen to know anything about crop circles.


Jarrett said...

Yeah, I found their experiment got a little wishy washy. They would have needed a lot more man power to achieve their goal. Even then, who knows.

thinista said...

Great post. I watched this doco on the net only a few days ago and found the conclusion of the MIT students ludicrous.As Nancy said....if this is what passes for scientific rigour at MIT, then they are in trouble. I am not a crop circle expert but know enough to know when I am having shoddy crop circle science foisted on me. Nancy said it all, much more articulately than I could. She knows that those who take the phenomena seriously will not be fooled by this piece of 'infotainment'. Why, oh why, are these EXTRAORDINARY phenomena not taken seriously?? What does it take?

Anonymous said...

Great post, I enjoyed the video, as well, right up to the very end. I thought that their research was very inconclusive, at best, and the fact that they were satisfied at the end at their so called "accomplishment", if you can even call it that, was concerning. I found it quite odd how they let "graduates" test another group of student's experiment and observe their findings, while not letting a professional, someone who knows what they are doing, what to look for, and the exact specifications they were trying to make. I was quite disappointed, and even that may be an understatement.