Signs: Are Crop Circles a Real Phenomenon?

In the 2002 horror film, ‘Signs,’ the world watches with rapt attention as a series of crop circles appear everywhere overnight. Graham Hess and his family, who live in their humble farmhouse in the Bucks County countryside, wake up to unexplained shapes traced into their cornfields one day. Soon, reports emerge of several crop graffiti being found in other countries, as a TV presenter tells the audience, “Crop circles were a phenomenon of the early ’80s. After being dismissed as hoaxes, they disappeared.” Hinting at a larger conspiracy involving a web of interconnected occurrences, they point towards an eerie truth hiding underneath the surface. Therefore, due to their narrative importance, the reality of these artifacts drawn into crop fields becomes a fascinating topic of discussion worth delving into.

Crop Circles Are a Real Occurrence

The phenomenon of odd, intricately designed circles being stamped into fields of grain, popularly known as crop circles, is an actual occurrence that started in England in the 1970s. While conceptualizing his story, writer and director M. Night Shyamalan revealed that his inspiration for ‘Signs’ was drawn from these mysterious events. He said, “Signs came from two ideas: One was a family finds a crop circle in their backyard, and then a kind of end-of-the-world movie, à la ‘Night of the Living Dead,’ where it’s from the perspective of a house.” As there are strong notations of eerieness in the film’s atmosphere, it is fitting to have its horror narrative pinned to the discovery of one of these figures in the Hess family’s backyard.

In reality, crop circles can be traced to Wiltshire, England, in 1976, where they first appeared in the local countryside. Although there was a lack of interest in these events initially, people were immediately drawn to the meticulous nature of the diagrams, which suggested an intelligent force had created them. They often consisted of geometrical shapes and figures, primarily that of a circle, which was flanked by other smaller circles. Later, these designs became more complex as lines and other shapes were added to provide more dimension. Many concluded that due to their flattening effect on the crops in a perfectly circular shape, they must be linked to UFO saucers or alien ships landing in the middle of the field.

The details in the crop circles were so striking they took over the zeitgeist during the 80s, leading to a proliferation of these pictograms. Several people got involved in the discussion surrounding them, including researchers, who tried to find an explanation behind the phenomenon. The reasons provided were endless – it was aliens visiting us in the dead of night, or it was extraterrestrials communicating with us in some other language, or perhaps higher forms of intelligence attempting to establish first contact. Ultimately, their appearance was so astonishing that the mystery kept continuing. Links were made to other alien phenomena – which was becoming rampant – including connections between crop circles and strange monuments on Mars.

The Origins of Crop Circles Was Less Sensational Than Expected

Due to the popularity of the notion of extraterrestrials visiting humans, the fascination with crop circles was endless. Also, due to the Roswell Incident with UFOs in the 1970s, there was an even greater interest in alien things. Enthusiasts from around the world started holding vigil in fields overnight, equipped with audio and video devices to capture who was behind these enigmatic creations in the farm field. Researchers in Japan tried to explain it through the occurrence of ball lightning, while others came up with their conclusions. Thus, it shocked everyone when two men from Southampton, England, named Doug Bower and Dave Chorley, admitted in 1991 that they had been creating the crop diagrams for fifteen years.

Doug Bower(left) and Dave Chorley(right)//Image Credit: Think Anomalous/Youtube

Inspired by the Roswell Incident and the UFO reports they had conjured, Bower and Chorley wanted to craft their own version of these incidents, citing that they were “wondering what we could do for a bit of a laugh.” To etch out the figures in the crops, the pair used planks, ropes, and a bit of string to flatten the wheat into the desired shapes. Eventually, they got so good at it that they kept pressing on with the challenge as they made more and more of them. When media coverage of their work snowballed, other copycat circle makers joined them in designing their own around the world. While most crop circles can be traced to the work of human beings, there are still some who persist that they are connected to aliens and UFO sightings.

The consensus among experts is that crop circles are artificial occurrences that have nothing to do with aliens at all. However, it has also been observed that certain diagrams are so elaborate and made on such short notice that they must have some relation to a supernatural or higher intelligence operating in the shadows or the result of an unexplained meteorological phenomenon. The whole topic is considered a form of pseudoscience today, and although it can be traced in reality, unlike its depiction in ‘Signs,’ they were made by people like Bower and Chorley and not a force of invading aliens.

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