by Eltjo H. Haselhoff

August 19th 2002

The Crabwood alien
An interesting characteristic of crop circle formations is that each year the 'best' formation seems to be 'better' than the 'best' formation of the previous year. Obviously, 'better' and 'best' are subjective concepts, also depending on personal taste. Nevertheless, the recent Crabwood Farm House formation in the UK has blasted everyone away, even after the appearance of such impressive formations as last year's Milk Hill formation and 'The Face' of Chilbolton. A first reaction by the Dutch Centre for Crop Circle Studies.

Awesome! That is an adjective that certainly applies to the "Alien Face" formation that appeared at Crabwood Farm House in Witshire, England. A very crisp piece of work, at least seen from the air. Those who claim that crop circles are made by alien civilisations in order to attempt to communicate with us, seem to have a stronger case each year.

The "Arecibo Replay" of 2001, which appeared at Chilbolton together with a pixelised portrait of a human(oid) already was a clear hint in that direction, this one is even better.

Compared with the Alien Face at Crabwood Farm House, the Chilbolton formations have degraded considerably in quality. Have a look at the Chilbolton Face (e.g., here) and compare it to this new masterpiece (which can be seen here). The first thing you notice, is that the new portrait has a much higher effective resolution (crispness). Moreover, the simple pictographic communication by means of a matrix with dots (composed of two prime numbers), has been replaced by a much more modern medium: a stylized Compact Disc,with a binary code.

It was obvious that this Compact Disc contained a message. I planned to try and decode it myself, but even before I started, an email from David Kingston notified me that the translation could already be found on the Internet:

"Beware the bearers of FALSE gifts & their BROKEN PROMISES. Much PAIN but still time. EELRIJUE. There is GOOD out there. We OPpose DECEPTION. Conduit CLOSING [bell sound]"

(Check out Linda Moulton Howe's website to read all about the analysis.) The dots inside the circular imprint can be read along a spiral that runs from the inside towards the outer edge of the disc (exactly the way a compact disc works), and is deciphered in a straightforward manner by simply applying the 8 bit binary codes that describe the international ASCII character set as used in computers. This may seem like abracadabra to some of you, but representing characters from a computer keyboard by zeroes and ones (or standing and flattened crop) is less than Kindergarten stuff for any computer analyst (or almost any 13-year old kid with a PC).

It may be clear to you: I have a few serious concerns about this formation, and I am convinced it's a man-made hoax. The reasons are multifold:

Modulated lines of the formation1. Clearly, this formation is a continuation of last year's Chilbolton events. We actually expected this one. However, one thing is curious. The Chilbolton "Face" was composed of dots of varying sizes, made in a similar way as black and white news paper photographs are printed. The dots were arranged on a regular, rectangular grid (oriented at 45 degrees), and apparent gray scales were created by varying the sizes of the dots. The Crabwood formation is different. It is made out of horizontal lines, the width of which is modulated in order to create apparent gray scales. The image is similar to what you see on a TV screen, rather than on a black and white photograph in a news paper. The fundamental principle of photographic encoding is completely different! And that is very strange. Why didn't the alleged 'aliens' employ this more sophisticated method last year? Has their technology improved so much in such a short time?

2. Secondly, there is something very peculiar about the binary message. I have no problems with the fact that the aliens can speak and write English. Why not? They may have been the ones who actually taught us to speak their language (a long time ago). But why on earth (or better: why off earth) would they employ a binary encoding to spell out a message? If they can produce such high-quality graphical images in the fields, why didn't they simple write the message in the field? If they know the ASCII character set, they also know the characters! So why do they have to stylize the shape of a CD to give us a (most obvious) clue that the dots inside the circle are actually a binary code? It simply does not make sense at all.

The 'Compact Disc'3. I am very much aware of the fact that any speculation about alien life forms and their possible interactions with humans cannot be judged by human logic. Whatever is obvious or logical to us, humans, may be anything but logical or even completely incomprehensible to an intelligence that developed a million light years from here. For that reason, a plea such as "why don't the aliens create a crop circle in front of the White House" is not valid. Have you ever tried to explain to a mosquito that he should not sting you? There may be an extremely obvious thing to do (i.e., obvious for a mosquito) to explain such a thing to the little insect, but despite our much higher intelligence, mosquito logic cannot be understood by humans. However, this argument cannot be applied to my statements written above. The problem is exactly the opposite: the Crabwood formation is full of human logic! And that is exactly the reason why I believe it's an elaborate hoax. The classical 'Gray', straight out of Star Trek, the silly way of creating a 152 byte CD (containing about 0,2 millionth of the data on a real CD), an anonymous decoding engineer who comes up with the translation shortly afterwards... The formation says it all: We OPpose DECEPTION.

The most fascinating things about this crop formation, I think, are 1. the curious message, which is completely empty (of course you should beware of false gifts, deception etc., nothing new here) and 2. the strange way of combining capital and lowercase characters, particularly in the word "OPpose". And what does "EELRIJUE" mean? It may all be just a smart trick to deviate our attention from the obvious clues that someone is trying to pull our legs. The question remains: Why? Would anyone create such a time-consuming an elaborate hoax just to fool others? Was this formation made by Mel Gibson and friends, afraid that Signs will flop? There must be a reason, and probably a pretty good one too. I wonder if time will tell.

However, whoever made this formation, they did a great job, and that is another fact. My compliments!

Eltjo H. Haselhoff
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