Wanting to Believe

Religion or, to put it more loosely, “spirituality”, will always be with us. The only question is the form that it will take. This entertaining piece from the Daily Telegraph about crop circles is, in its own way, a reminder of just that:

Ask Francine what she gets from the circles and she replies: ‘A sense of wonder. Which is something not many people feel these days. We’re so dull, so suspicious, so limited in our way of thinking.’ She speaks, tenderly, about the beauty of the circles, of how the lain corn seems to ‘flow like water’, of how each formation teaches each person something more about the field they’re expert in: the American Indian finds a message from Gaia, the Tai Chi guru a new form of Tai Chi, the physicist – well, one physicist said to her: ‘Quantum physics? Forget quantum physics. This is far beyond.’…

…Irving [Rob Irving, the main author of The Field Guide: The Art, History and Philosophy of Crop Circle Making] thinks people want to take ‘a vacation from rationalism’. And, he adds, it’s particularly the case that ‘people associate certain landscapes with legends. That’s why circles come to sacred sites: Avebury and Stonehenge galvanise this idea of mystery. I see it as a feedback route: people go to a certain place with certain expectations. Then something happens and they leave satisfied.’

…We move back towards my car. A couple appears and the woman asks if we’ve been at the circle. They’re Inga and Erik, and they’re Dutch, over here to look at circles. They were at Chisbury yesterday, and it was perfect: they’re very keen to see the Cley Hill formation. And what, I ask, do they think brought the circles into being? Inga smiles, knowingly. ‘You mean, are they man-made, or not?’ She smiles again. ‘That’s mystic: that’s a mystery.’ And off they go, ready for a sense of wonder.

And if all that’s too much for you, just enjoy the comments from Doug Bower. Along with Dave Chorley he created the first crop circle back in the 1970s in the wake (apparently) of a session in the pub discussing UFOs. The two pranksters finally went public in 1991. As the Daily Telegraph’s writer notes, Doug told television cameras that there was nothing like being in a field of English corn at two in the morning, after a few pints and some cheese rolls, stomping corn.

Indeed there’s not. And yet still people believe. Or like to. Read the whole thing.

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3 Responses to Wanting to Believe

  1. Le Mur says:

    A crop circle said to be based on Euler’s Identity, the ‘most beautiful formula in mathematics’,

    This is what they came up with after ignoring half the lines: e^(hi)pi)1=0

  2. Carter says:

    Reports of crop circles go back to at least 1678, see here, here, and the full account here.

  3. Anthony says:

    “And yet still people believe. Or like to.”

    Andrew, have you actually looked into the crop circle phenomenon? As of a few years ago (when I researched it) no one had been able to publicly recreate the more complex displays as they were found, in the time constraints they were supposedly made in.

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