At 25:33 of Thrive there begins an important section setting out one of the movie’s key claims: that “crop circles” found in agricultural fields are the creations of extraterrestrials and are intended to convey messages to the human race. Foster Gamble states affirmatively that crop circles are evidence of UFOs. The crop circle section is one of the most sensationalized portions of the first half of the Thrive movie. This article will debunk this specific portion of the film.
What Is A Crop Circle?
A crop circle is a large-scale pattern found in a cultivated field, usually involving stalks of grain (wheat, corn etc.) pressed and folded down to form a specific shape. Crop circles are usually geometric in design, but they’re not always circular. Crop circles (also known as crop formations) can be particularly impressive and beautiful if seen from the air. Many beautiful designs have been recorded. Over ten thousand crop circles have been reported in countries around the world, but 90% of the reports come from southern England (an important fact, as we’ll see).
What does Thrive claim about crop circles?
Foster Gamble, the maker and narrator of Thrive, asserts at 26:24 of the film that crop circles are associated with UFOs and extraterrestrials because they are too perfect to have been created by humans. Therefore, they must be products of extraterrestrials. This is the sole basis on which Gamble concludes that crop circles have a non-terrestrial origin. Then, having made this assumption, the movie goes on to discuss what the circles might mean, but all of this discussion proceeds from the assumption that circles are made by UFOs. Gamble concludes at 28:45 that the geometric shapes contained in some crop circles correspond with his own observations on the importance of the “torus” shape, which he describes earlier in the movie.
What causes crop circles?
The answer is very simple: crop circles are made by human beings. There is no real mystery about this. You can go to a website, http://www.circlemakers.org/perpetrators.html, where “circlemakers” freely discuss how they create the circles, why, and what they’re hoping to accomplish. It’s a complex phenomenon, but the main reason appears to be to hoax people and tap into their beliefs in the paranormal. Nowadays, it’s even become a business—people and firms hire “circlemakers” to make crop circles as a form of advertising or attention-getting.
You can see a video of exactly how crop circles are made below:
The phenomenon of crop circles seems to have taken off in earnest in the late 1970s. Two Englishmen, Doug Bower and Dave Chorley, began making crop circles in southern England at that time, using boards, string and a baseball cap. They admitted in 1991 that they were responsible for the vast majority of crop circles seen in England.
Why is Gamble’s reasoning faulty? An exercise with “rebuttable presumptions.”
In preferring an exotic explanation (extraterrestrials) over a more mundane one (human pranksters), Gamble is ignoring an important rule of evidence and reasoning: the simpler explanation is almost always the correct one. Once we have evidence that there are human beings out there making crop circles, the conclusion that all crop circles are of human origin becomes what we can call a rebuttable presumption. That means, unless you can rebut it with specific evidence to show that something else is in fact true, you must conclude that the rebuttable presumption is the explanation.
Let’s take an example. A little boy has been warned not to get into the jar of jam. A few minutes later the boy emerges from the kitchen with jam smeared on his fingers, shirt and around his mouth. You go into the kitchen and find the jar of jam open on the counter. You didn’t see the boy eat the jam, but when confronted, the boy says that his sister framed him by opening the jam and smearing it on his hands. The sister is upstairs in her room and no one saw her leave and come down into the kitchen. Also, her hands and clothes have no jam on them.
It is remotely possible that the boy’s story is true. The sister could have come down from upstairs, broken into the jam, smeared it on his hands, shirt and face, then washed her hands and gone back upstairs without being noticed. However, that explanation is extremely complicated. In order for this to be true a lot of unusual things would have to have happened: no one seeing the sister, no one hearing the commotion, this all happening so quickly, etc. It could be true, but it’s probably not.
The much simpler explanation is that the boy himself ate the jam and made up the story about being framed. Unless you have specific evidence that the sister did it—such as, the sister being witnessed in the act—the conclusion that the boy ate the jam himself is a rebuttable presumption. If you can’t rebut it, you must conclude that this is what happened.
Back to crop circles. We have two possible scenarios: (A) Gamble’s scenario, that crop circles are made by extraterrestrials; or (B), my scenario, that they are done by pranksters.
Things that would have to be true if Gamble is right:
- Intelligent extraterrestrials must exist.
- These intelligent extraterrestrials must have the ability and the desire to visit Earth in starships capable of traveling millions of miles across space and sustaining their occupants for years in order to make the trip.
- These intelligent extraterrestrials must have a reason for wanting to come to Earth for the purpose of pressing weird designs in to fields of grain.
- The process of creating crop circles must be done without the possibility of these extraterrestrials being witnessed in the act of doing it (I’ve never seen any claim of a person witnessing an alien making a crop circle).
- Something must explain why extraterrestrials are particularly attracted to doing this activity in southern England much more often than anywhere else.
Things that would have to be true if I am right:
- Some human beings must have the desire to play a prank.
- Some human beings must have access to a board, a piece of string, and a baseball cap.
- Some human beings must have some knowledge of geometry.
- Some human beings who possess these characteristics must be present in southern England.
My explanation is much more plausible. It does not require the intervention of creatures whose existence is not proven; it does not require the use of technology that is beyond the capability of modern science; it does not rely on a host of suppositions that are meant to fill in the gaps between various weak parts of the theory; and most importantly, it is supported by evidence. Earlier in this article I directed you to a video where you can see people making a crop circle. You can, if you want to, even hire people to make one for you. This is pretty conclusive.
There is no evidence to support Gamble’s version. None. By contrast, I’ve presented evidence to support my theory. Because my theory is much more plausible and is supported by evidence, in contrast to Gamble’s which is extremely farfetched and not supported by any evidence, the conclusion that humans create crop circles is a rebuttable presumption that has not been rebutted—and that means you must conclude that it is correct.
But doesn’t Gamble admit that some crop circles are man-made?
Yes, he does, but he deals with this possibility in an extremely misleading way. At 26:14 of Thrive he admits that some crop circles are made by humans, but he says, “those made by human hands are crude compared to the vast majority of these elegant creations.” As he says this, several examples flash on the screen: very shoddy, poorly-done crop circles that do not compare to the “pristine” examples that Gamble wants you to believe are of extraterrestrial origin. The purpose of this exercise is to reinforce the basic assumption with which he approaches the subject of crop circles: that most of them are “too perfect” to have been made by human hands. I repeat that this assumption is the entire basis for Gamble’s claim that crop circles are made by aliens.
I have already attacked this assumption with evidence. Look at the video I posted above. Fast-forward to 9:35 and you can see the formation from the air. It doesn’t look anything like Gamble’s “crude” versions, does it? Indeed, it looks absolutely perfect. This crop circle was made in Silbury Hill, England in 2001 in about four hours.
This evidence demonstrates beyond all doubt that people can and do make crop circles quite easily. But even if this evidence did not exist, you can debunk Gamble’s reasoning with simple logic. Claiming that the shoddy examples shown on screen prove that human beings cannot make “perfect” crop circles is like claiming that because I drew this…
…and it sucks, this means that this…
…is “too perfect” to have been made by any human, and therefore must have been painted by extraterrestrials.
Obviously, this conclusion is absurd.
Crop-circle makers themselves think this argument is absurd. Here is an excerpt from an interview with the maker of a crop circle, John Lundberg, who had this to say (link to the full interview here: http://www.starpod.org/news/1106291.htm)
“They [believers that crop circles have a paranormal explanation] come up with litmus tests that become an article of faith for them, terms such as ‘bent not broken stems’, ‘physiological changed to the plants’, etc are their ‘proof’ that the circles could not possibly be the work of mere human mortals. I think this attitude shows a complete lack of belief in human potential. Do these people not look around them and see what human civilization has achieved? The scientific, engineering and artistic marvels? We can get a man to the moon and back, but these people can’t believe that a few well organised artists can flatten cereal crops in a complex pattern.”
What about the strange “magnetic particles” that are found in crop circles?
At 26:48 of the film, Gamble asserts that “strange magnetic particles” are found in crop circles. This sounds like a convincing explanation for some non-human origin, doesn’t it? (Of course it does, which is why Gamble uses this example).
This feature too is easily explained. Here is a page that explains how to create a crop circle—with magnetic particles included. [http://www.wikihow.com/Make-a-Crop-Circle] Here’s how you do it:
“Also, melt some iron filings into droplets on site and sprinkle them around the flattened area to leave ‘meteorite particles’ and magnetized stalks.”
This is yet another technique used by hoaxers precisely to stoke the idea among believers that crop circles have some sort of paranormal origin. In this case, Foster Gamble fell for it.
Further evidence that crop circles are manmade: the Chilbolton crop circle and the “Arecibo message.”
At 26:56 in the film, Gamble devotes considerable attention to a crop “circle” at Chilbolton in England, which, as you see on the screen, is right next door to a radio observatory in England. I use the term “circle” in quotes because as you can see it was not a circle, but rather a rectangle, presenting an almost-duplicate of the Arecibo message. The Arecibo message, as explained in the movie, was a transmission of a graphic design beamed into space in 1974 by the Arecibo radio observatory in Puerto Rico as part of the SETI project (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence). That message contained information by which some astronomers thought might lead an extraterrestrial civilization to find Earth—a representation of our solar system, a human figure, and some other details.
The crop “circle” found next to Chilbolton Observatory mirrors the Arecibo message, except that in the place of a human figure it shows a figure obviously intended to look like the usual cultural depiction of an alien—big head, big eyes, small body, etc., and in the place of the representation of our solar system it shows a different solar system. It is obvious from Thrive that Gamble believes that this crop “circle” is a direct response by extraterrestrials to the Arecibo message.
But is it really? Think about it from the standpoint of the conclusion demonstrated above. If crop circles are manmade, how can we explain the “circle” next to Chilbolton Observatory?
Actually, we can explain it quite easily. Note that it occurs right next door to a radio observatory. The staff of this observatory would be expected to know about the Arecibo message. They would also presumably know that some people think crop circles are extraterrestrial in origin. If one or another of the people who work here were willing to play a prank, wouldn’t it make sense they might do something of this nature? Or, if it was done by pranksters not connected with the observatory, doesn’t the idea of putting a crop circle in that specific location make a lot of sense—i.e., someone playing a joke on the observatory itself?
I posit this: because we already know that the thesis of human pranksters making crop circles is a rebuttable presumption, which has not been rebutted, the theory that the Chilbolton “circle” was done by humans and is somehow connected to the observatory is conclusive.
If it was aliens responding to the Arecibo message, why would they choose to respond by making a crop circle? Why wouldn’t they beam their response back to the Arecibo observatory itself? Aliens in posession of awesome technology—starships that can cross the gulf of space and presumably communicate in extremely efficient technological ways—decide not to use any of those capabilities, and instead send a very ambiguous message by pressing down a bunch of grain stalks in England?
Or, if for whatever inscrutable reason extraterrestrials decided they had to respond by making a crop circle, why wouldn’t they have done it at or near the Arecibo facility where the message was sent from? If they wanted to respond, why wouldn’t they make both the content and the origin of their response absolutely unmistakable?
Furthermore, the Arecibo message (read about it here http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arecibo_message) was beamed at M13, which is 25,000 light years from Earth. The message left Earth in November 1974 at the speed of light. By now the farthest it could have penetrated into space is 37 light years. If M13 is inhabited by intelligent beings who wish to respond, they won’t even get the message for another 25,000 years!
There is no other rational conclusion to reach except this one: the Chibolton circle was done by humans, and Foster Gamble was punk’d. Thrive’s contentions regarding crop circles are simply wrong.
If most crop circles appear in England, and crop circles are done by UFOs, why don’t most UFO sightings occur in England?
This is yet another non sequitur in Gamble’s argument. He admits (23:53) that most crop circles have appeared in England. We have seen that this is true. In fact according to Wikipedia, about 90% of them have. But if crop circles are made by aliens who arrive here in UFOs, as Gamble unequivocally asserts, then why don’t 90% of UFO sightings occur in England?
I mean, it only makes sense, doesn’t it? People think they see UFOs all over the world, in the UK as well. But if there was a direct causal relationship between UFOs and crop circles, and we know for a fact that most crop circles appear in England, then you should expect England to be the UFO sighting capital of the world, by a far margin. However, 90% of UFO sightings do not occur in England. This is circumstantial evidence that Gamble’s theory is wrong.
My answer, however—that crop circles are made by human beings—easily accounts for why most crop circles appear in England: because most people who make crop circles, and/or the people who tend to make the most crop circles per capita, live in England. Bower and Chorley certainly do. The people in the video I linked above do. Indeed, making crop circles appears to be a pastime that is most popular in England. The people who originally did it taught their friends how to do it, and those people were copied (willingly or not) by others in their general circles (no pun intended) of acquaintances. This all makes perfect sense.
What does Thrive’s “fact-check” section say about crop circles?
The Thrive website contains a “fact check” section (http://thrivemovement.com/fact_checks). Most of the “fact checks” presented are not really facts, or are not very reliable. Here’s what the site has to say to defend Gamble’s claims on crop circles:
“Crop Circles Fact: 5,000 crop circles have appeared in over 30 countries, most of them in England.
This is a conservative estimate. Crop Circles, authored by Colin Andrews with Stephen J. Spignesi, is a reference guide on the subject and answers many commonly asked questions in the field. This work states that more than 11,000 crop circles have been reported in over 30 countries and that they occur mostly in England. Colin Andrews is a former engineer with the British Government and is widely accepted as an authority on crop circle phenomenon. Stephen J. Spignesi is a New York Times best-selling author.
Both of these sources confirm that England is where most crop circles are made.
Hillary Mayell. “Crop Circles” Artworks or Alien Signs?” National Geographic: http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2002/08/0801_020801_cropcircles.html
Stephen J. Spignesi and Colin Andrews. Crop Circles: Signs of Contact. Franklin Lakes: Career Press, 2003. (178).
Stephen J. Spignesi and Colin Andrews. Crop Circles: Signs of Contact. Franklin Lakes: Career Press, 2003. (75).
Star Dreams: A Crop Circle Documentary: http://www.zimbio.com/Crop+Circles/articles/RzuAclFOjzE/Star+Dreams+Crop+Circle+D”
You can browse the book referenced, by Andrews and Spignesi, here: http://books.google.com/books?id=TBowgkpSZpEC&printsec=frontcover&source=gbs_atb#v=onepage&q&f=false Take a look. You will see that it accepts unquestioningly the assumption that crop circles are made by UFOs and are trying to send messages to humans. Therefore, the writers of this book have simply made the exact same error in logic and reasoning that Gamble has made. You’ll also notice the book veers in a lot of “New Age” directions. A scholarly examination of the crop circle phenomenon would not do that.
The “fact check” section goes on to state:
“Electromagnetic Charge of Crop Circles Fact: The electromagnetic field over the area where the crop has been laid down to create the image, is often electro-statically charged. Some of these areas are littered with strange magnetic particles.
In the early 1990s a unique discovery was made while studying a crop circle in England. Plants in the formation were coated with fused particles of iron oxides (hematite and magnetite). Since this discovery, soil sampling is regularly undertaken at crop circle sites. Traces of melted magnetic material, adhered to soil grains, have regularly been identified.
“Magnetic Materials in Soils”: http://www.bltresearch.com/magnetic.php”
I have already explained what these magnetic particles are and how they got there. As for the cite to the “New World Encyclopedia,” you will notice that this is a user-generated wiki with a decidedly New Age bent to it. However, even this source admits the following:
“The main criticism of theories of non-human creation of crop circles is that evidence of these origins, besides eyewitness testimonies, is scant. Crop circles are usually easily explicable as the result of human pranksters. There have also been cases in which researchers declared crop circles to be “the real thing,” only to be confronted soon after with the people who created the circle and documented the fraud. Many people have demonstrated how complex crop circles can be created.”
There you have it—a source that Foster Gamble cites specifically to support his contention in fact refutes it! The New World Encyclopedia, later in the article, carefully decides that it can’t conclude whether crop circles are man or ET-made, but if you read the article you’ll see that even this source, generally sympathetic to “New Age” type stuff, specifically and unequivocally contradicts claims made by Gamble in the Thrive movie.
Gamble’s own sources refute him!
OK, Gamble is wrong about crop circles. Does that mean the whole movie is garbage?
Crop circles aren’t the only thing Gamble gets wrong. As you will see from the various debunkings that have been posted and will eventually be posted on this blog, there are many aspects of the Thrive movie that are misleading or just totally wrong. Indeed, Gamble gets more wrong than he does right. That should give rational viewers serious pause.
However, even if that were not the case, consider that the UFO-crop circle connection is a key sequence in the film and it’s crucial to Thrive’s overall argument. The claim is that aliens exist, that they are trying to give us the secret to “free” energy, and that this secret is being suppressed. Gamble specifically uses crop circles as a means of supporting his claims about aliens. If he’s this wrong about a key part of his own movie, that has to make you wonder—what else is he wrong about?
I have demonstrated, with evidence, where crop circles really come from and why the reality is different than what Foster Gamble says it is in Thrive. I have also demonstrated, by using logic and reasoning, why it is illogical and irrational to believe that crop circles are caused by anything other than human beings. While the evidence in this article speaks for itself, I strongly encourage you to check it out for yourself, and do your own thinking. If you do, I’m confident you will conclude, as I have, that the section in Thrive regarding crop circles is absolutely incorrect, misleading, and is a product of seriously shoddy research and even more spurious reasoning.
Tags: aliens, Arecibo, Arecibo message, bad arguments, Chilbolton, Chilbolton Observatory, crop circles, crop circles debunked, debunking, England, evidence, extraterrestrials, fact checking, Foster Gamble, hoaxes, jumping to conclusions, key claims, logic, logic games, magnetic particles, paranormal, pranks, reasoning, rebuttable presumption, Thrive, Thrive Debunked, Thrive movie, time stamps, UFOs, unsourced claims