Eltjo Haselhoff’s nonsensical BOL model for alleged node lengthening anomalies in crop circles


Crop circles are nowadays generally considered to be made by human pranksters or artists. There are still some people who think they are made by other means than planks and ropes. In the nineties, there were even some people who researched this phenomenon scientifically. Or at least they tried. Many theories which were proposed assume the involvement of some kind of electromagnetic radiation during the circles’ formation. Some were even published in a peer-reviewed scientific journal. Although criticised before, a fresh look provides a new argument why this idea should have been dismissed straight away.

tl;dr the upper nodes of plants in a field do not lie in a horizontal plane, therefore the BOL model for crop circles is flawed.

In 1999 Eltjo Haselhoff, a Dutch physicist with a PhD, proposed an improved model for this, which implies that ‘balls of light’ hovering above the fields might be the source. He published some articles on this matter. The most recent one is titled “An Experimental Study for Reproduction of Biological Anomalies Reported in the Hoeven 1999 Crop Circle”( Journal of Scientific Exploration.Vol. 28 No 1. 2014). The following quote from the introduction gives a good summary what this is all about:

In the summer of 1999, Dutchman Robbert van den Broeke reported that he saw a luminescent sphere hovering above a farm field while a crop circle was apparently forming underneath (Haselhoff 2001a, 1999; http://www. robbertvandenbroeke.com). This happened in the village of Hoeven, The Netherlands, and since then the Hoeven 1999 circle has become a famous and controversial case in crop circle history. It is famous because biophysical studies of plants sampled from the circle, performed independently by researchers Eltjo Haselhoff and William Levengood, revealed biological anomalies (Haselhoff 1999, Levengood 2001). These anomalies varied over the circle’s area, with a symmetry similar to the radiation intensity distribution of an electromagnetic point source. These findings enticed crop circle “believers,” who could finally reference a scientific argument that “crop circles were made by balls of light,” and infuriated crop circle skeptics, who stated that the research methods applied by Haselhoff and Levengood were flawed and that their findings had natural explanations.

Van den Broeke is an infamous Dutch medium who ‘discovers’ almost all crop circles in The Netherlands and he is also known for his fake spirit photography. He sees in the research by Haselhoff proof that ‘his’ crop circles are a genuine phenomenon and not something that one or two guys could make during a night just to get some attention from ‘believers’.

Node lengthening

The whole issue centres around node lengthening, which is a phenomenon that occurs in the stems of certain grain varieties. You can see the nodes (pulvini) as sort of a joint, which allows the plant to grow in a slightly different direction than it was doing. Now, these nodes will lengthen under certain conditions, for instance when the stem is bent towards the ground. What Levengood found is that this lengthening was more pronounced in the flattened crops in crop circles that some consider genuine than in crop circles that are known to be made by humans. In fact, Levengood thought this was a good test to discern the real crop circles from those made by hoaxers.
Levengood also proposed a cause for this difference, namely that in the creation of the genuine crop circles an electromagnetic field had altered the nodes in such a way that in the following days the difference would become apparent in a different pace of elongation. In 1999 Levengood managed to get an article on this theory published in a peer-reviewed journal, Physiologa Plantarum, together with Nancy Talbott. A lot can be said about the scientific credentials of Levengood and Talbott and their work, both of which have shown to be quite dubious, but you can read information on that elsewhere.

from The Deepening Complexity of Crop Circles (2001)

BOL model

Haselhoff was at that time chairman of the Dutch Centre for Crop Circle Studies and in 2000 he wrote a comment to the article in the same journal, it was published in 2001. In this comment, he proposes his BOL model which should be considered a better explanation for the found node lengthening (Levengood thougth of a wave or vortex). BOL stands for the ‘balls of light’, which have been mentioned to be present at the time of creation of the crop circles by some people who claim to have witnessed that.
Haselhoff suggests that if you consider the origin of the electromagnetic radiation to be a point source hanging above the field, there is a very high correlation between the node lengthening and the amount of radiation that would reach that node, considering that the intensity of the radiation diminishes with the square root of the distance from that point source. This is because the energy from a point source is dispersed equally in all directions in 3D-space. Therefore you can say the energy of ‘a single moment’ is spread over the surface of a sphere,  and the surface of a sphere is proportional to the square of its radius). You can also read Haselhoff’s explanation in his book The Deepening Complexity of Crop Circles (2001), the relevant pages (78-81) are available in the Google Books preview.

To find out how much radiation hits a node in the field from the point source in the BOL model, you’ll need several numbers. The distance to the centre of the circle (‘d’ in the figure left) is easily obtained. However, the heigth ‘h’ is not known, as well as a proportionality constant which depends on factors as absorption of the radiation under the specific atmospheric conditions at the time of the formation of the crop circle. But if you have several samples from nodes you can use mathematical techniques to find the best fit for these variables.
According to Haselhoff the fit to a spherical distribution is very good in crop circles which are considered genuine by ‘crop circle experts’ and far less in known hoaxes. From the conclusion of his comment:

The experimental data published in Levengood and Talbott (1999) suggest that pulvinus length expansion in crop circles is a thermo-mechanic effect, possibly induced by a kind of electromagnetic point source. Data obtained from a simple hand-made formation did not reveal the same characteristics. By no means does the author pretend to present a ‘lithmus test’ for distinction between a ‘genuine’ crop formation, whatever it may be, and a hand-flattened area of crop.

Although here he refrains from claiming that his BOL model can be used to find out whether a crop circle is genuine or man-made, in other writings he shows fewer constraints.

Hoeven crop circle, perfect fit

In his article in Physiologa Plantarum, Haselhoff used the measurements of crop circles which were given by Levengood and Talbott. In his book and later article in the Journal of Scientific Exploration (JSE) he gives the example of a crop circle he sampled himself. This is a crop circle ‘discovered’ by Robbert van den Broeke. The sampling looks pretty systematically as can be seen in this figure:

Sampling points in crop circle (from Haselhoff 2014)

Also the way Haselhoff determined how much the nodes lengthened looks quite meticulously. He used a computer program which enabled him to measure the node lengths from photographs of the samples which were made under the same conditions. These measurements have to be done with accuracy because it is all about differences of millimetres (!).

The result of all this work must have pleased Haselhof as they almost perfectly fit his BOL model. Look for instance at sampling line B. Note that a node length of 100% means that these nodes on average show elongations similar to those of control samples some distance from the crop circle.

Average node lengthening in Hoeven crop circle, B-samples (Haselhoff, 2014)

Here you can see that in the centre of the circle the node lengthening is the highest and that the effect diminishes towards the edge of the circle until it can not be distinguished from the lengthening of the control samples.

The 2014 JSE article describes an attempt to refute the BOL theory by making a crop circle by hand (using planks and ropes) under conditions which were as similar as possible to those under which the Hoeven 1999 circle formed. Almost needless to say that in this replication no anomalous node lengthening distribution was found and that therefore the Hoeven 1999 findings still stand as an unexplained anomaly.


A couple of Italian skeptics from CICAP, Francesco Grassi, Claudio Cocheo and Paolo Russo, were not that impressed by the BOL model. They discussed it with Haselhoff via e-mail, asked him for his raw data and performed their own analysis. This can all be found on a dedicated section on the CICAP website. They tried to get their commentary article published in Physiologa Plantarum as well, but the editor didn’t want to continue the discussion while admitting that he regretted that the papers of Levengood, Talbott and Haselhoff had been published. In 2005 they got their article published in the Journal of Scientific Exploration.

The Italians argue that the BOL model is not nearly as good as Haselhoff suggests on several grounds. The main argument is on Haselhoff’s statistical analysis. For the examples he gives in the article, other three-dimensional distributions would fit equally well as the sphere which is implied by the BOL model. This is not surprising as only a few samples were considered in those calculations and this will never give strong evidence for a model in which several variables need to be determined. Haselhoff has contested the conclusions of the Italians, you can go into the details yourself, but the statistical arguments against the BOL model would not hold quite so good when you look at the Hoeven 1999 crop circle anyway, I think.

BOL model lacks physical realism

Apart from their main criticism on the BOL model, which is purely mathematical, Grassi et al. also point out other problems. For instance, the stems may shield radiation coming from the point source so that stems in their shadow will receive less energy than the BOL model predicts:

From a physical point of view it should be pointed out that the BOL model is not realistic. A hypothetical BOL model should be much more complex, because the striking energy will depend on the incidence angle of the radiation on the stem nodes and the energy absorption will depend on the path length of the radiation inside the plants and therefore on their actual transparency. A nontransparent stem partially shields the node, so Haselhoff’s model is only valid if we assume that the plants are completely transparent to the striking radiation and so could not absorb energy at all.

While this is a valid point (and they mention more), I think there is a far more obvious physical problem with the BOL model, which is somehow missed completely by Haselhoff and his Italian critics.

The nodes are not in the same horizontal plane!

When you look at the pictures of the BOL model used by Haselhoff and the calculations involved we see that he assumes that the influence of the radiation works via points which lie in the same horizontal plane. You can say that he ‘fixes’ the average node length of a bundle of sampled stems from a spot in the crop circle on that plane. Does he implicitly assume that all these nodes are on the same plane? Probably he just forgot to take into account that it matters on which height the nodes were. But by doing so, he does away with a whole dimension!
But why is this important? As mentioned before, the differences in node lengthening measure in millimetres, but you can easily check that the differences in the vertical position of the nodes in a field (either before the flattening or afterwards) measure in centimetres. These differences overshadow the minimal differences in node lengthening completely. Even if you would like to fix the model by assuming that the influence happens via the point where the stems stick out the ground, you will find that these positions differ more in height than a few millimetres.

OK, you do have to take into account that the node lengthening can be twice as high in the centre of a crop circle if we take Haselhoff’s measurements for granted, and the fact that the difference in height is not likely to be that huge. But even if that would only be as much as 20% it would induce extra variance which the model should account for. I do not think we would see a significant fit if we could redo the analysis with the actual heights of the nodes properly taken into account, but it is not something we can check as this information was not gathered in the sampling.

You could argue that I have not actually shown that the nodes are not (approximately) in the same horizontal plane in areas where genuine crop circles are formed, but I think that it would be an even more mysterious phenomenon than a difference in node lengthening if those nodes would be found to lie in the same plane. Anyway, it is obvious that Haselhoff (as well as the reviewers of the journals and the CICAP members) did not take the vertical position of the nodes into account, which makes the whole idea look baseless.

Of course, this is not an explanation for the apparent anomalies itself, but it shows that BOL model, which gives sort of a physical explanation, does simply not suffice. And the only other support for the ‘balls of light’ was already pretty shady, because of the reputation of Van den Broeke, the only person Haselhoff brings forward to have seen that these alleged balls were involved in the formation of the crop circles.

It is also fair to mention the criticism of Rob Nanninga, editor in chief of Skepter, the magazine of the Dutch Skeptics Foundation. Nanninga pointed out that the measurements of the node lengths should ideally have been done blindly, without the person doing the measurements knowing where the stems come from (i.e. a ‘genuine’ crop circle, a known hoax, or another control area). Haselhoff did not see this as a huge problem for his working method. I think he is simply wrong on this issue, it is one of the most likely ways bias could have influenced the results.
Also, it is unclear why Haselhoff in his 2014 article in JSE doesn’t mention that he had sampled two crop circles in Hoeven in 1999, which formed separately within a couple of days. The other circle did not show the anomalous node lengthening, but leaving this out in his book and JSE article is cherry picking.

Proper sciencific conduct vs overselling results

In the discussion with CICAP Haselhoff repeatedly states that he is just presenting a hypothesis and seems to think that his article is not treated fairly because it is just a comment to the articles by Levengood and Talbott:

Anyone who reads my paper will agree that this was a mere comment to the work of the BLT team, suggesting some model adaptations and carrying ahead their hypotheses with a modified version, only to stimulate further study. In my opinion the style of Grassi’s comment, as well as the propaganda related to it that he currently carries out over the internet and beyond is way out of proportion, and casts a dark shadow over his true intentions.

To me, it looks like that Haselhoff is applying double standards here. When his ideas are cracked based on scientific arguments he is downplaying how significant he thinks his model is, or whether he thinks the proof is solid. But have a look at the end of this fragment of a documentary on crop circles (which features the Oliver Castle crop circle hoax video):


And it turns out, that the node lengthening as measured in the field, corresponds perfectly to the distribution of a small electromagnetic source hanging above the field.

Scientifically seen this statement is nonsense or at least a pretty unfair representation of what Haselhoff had shown in his research.  Even taking into account that at the time of recording the criticism of CICAP probably had not yet been published. That the CICAP article was published must have been a setback for Haselhoff, because in his book The Deepening Complexity of Crop Circles (2001) he wrote the following about his comment in Physiologia Plantarum:

I find this a hilarious view on how science works. If a hypothesis is shown to be false it obviously shouldn’t matter where it is published. Stating that you will only consider such proof when it is published in a journal, shows that it is not the truth that is your main interest, but that only the ‘scientific status’ matters to you. This is just a blog and definitely not peer-reviewed,  so I don’t think that we can expect to see a reaction from Haselhoff on my remarks that the BOL model is flawed because of its basic assumptions, aside from the other issues with sampling and statistics, but he is welcome in the commentary section.

Addendum 31/10/2017

It is even worse

When I first read some of Haselhoff’s articles on this matter, the question had come up whether he performed his regression analysis correctly. The problem with finding out whether he messed this up as well, was that the data of the individual stems was not given and the 2014 JSE article is not very clear on how Haselhoff performed the regression analysis on the ‘best’ example, the Hoeven 1999 crop circle. From the report Haselhoff published online in 1999  about these cases, we can, however, learn a few things.

regression analysis on trace B

To me, it is now clear that Haselhoff performed the regression separately for each of the ‘traces’ of sampling spots (A, B, and C). For each trace, he calculates the best fit, but the heights do not match up! So based on set A Haselhoff finds a best fit with height 3.1m, for set B it is 4.1m and for set C 6.6m. Of course, this is silly, the point source can only be in one place. This was also noted by Russo in his analysis of the Hoeven case (I don’t quite understand why he did not give this more attention in his article, as it is a direct kill for the approach of Haselhoff).
In his 2014 JSE article, which is the first ‘peer-reviewed’ article in which the Hoeven case is presented, Haselhoff mentions about the results he found: “The best correlation was found for a value of h = 4.1 meters, with a Pearson correlation coefficient R = 0.99 for the B-trace”. This is true, but this omitting of values for the traces A and C, and failing to mention that the different heights found this way pose a huge problem for the BOL model, makes me wonder whether Haselhoff was just deliberately setting up a smoke screen, or simply didn’t know what he was doing. I doubt that he missed the remarks Russo made, but maybe Haselhoff is just consistent in ignoring all comments that have not been published in peer-reviewed journals …

Node length measurements show large variance

Also, the ‘perfect’ correlation of the node lengthening in trace B to the values predicted by the BOL model is not as good as his ‘R=0.99’ suggests. Haselhoff has used the average node lengths from each sample as input for the regression instead of the individual stems. This can be done, but then you have to take into account that these are averages coming from a sample with a variance. I’m pretty sure that Haselhoff has taken the averages as single values (the CICAP skeptics thought so too, it appears)  This highly overestimates the goodness of fit as the variance per sample is quite high as can be seen in the screenshot of the program Haselhoff used for measuring the nodes lengths.

What a mess!

PS To test the BOL model correctly you would have to run the regression on all individual nodes sampled in the circle together, using the correct distance ‘r’ to the alleged point source and of course taking into account the vertical position as wel.


The most interesting articles discussing the BOL model can be found on the CICAP website, but I found that the index page does not link in a very helpful way to all the articles, so I decide to list them here and also give the links to the other articles that play a role.


  • Balls Of Light: A scientific demonstration for “genuine” crop circles? Grassi et al. (October 2003)
  • Balls of lights (2): The Questionable Science of Crop Circles. Reaction on the article by Francesco Grassi et al. Haselhoff.(June 2005)
  • Balls of lights (3): The Questionable Science of Crop Circles. Grassi et al. reply to the internet rapid reaction by Eltjo Haselhoff on the JSE article. Grassi et al.(July 2006)
  • Balls of Light (4): The Questionable Science of Crop Circles. Eltjo Haselhoff writes a letter to the editor of the Journal of Scientific Exploration; Grassi et al. reply (October 2007)
  • Balls of Light (5): The Questionable Science of Crop Circles. Eltjo Haselhoff anticipates our exchange in the Journal of Scientific Exploration. Haselhoff. (August 2007)
  • Balls of Light (6): The Questionable Science of Crop Circles. Reply to Eltjo Haselhoff’s open letter. Grassi et al. (March 2008)
  • Balls of Light at Hoeven? Russo (October 2005, June 2006)
  • Balls of Light at Hoeven? (2) Reaction to Paolo Russo’s article. Haselhoff (July 2007)
  • Balls of Light at Hoeven? (3) Russo replies to Haselhoff’s open letter. Russo (March 2008)

Journal of Scientific Exploration

  • Grassi et al. Balls of Light: The Questionable Science of Crop Circles (Vol. 19, No. 2. 2005) [pdf]
  • JSE editor Henry H. Bauer – Haselhoff Responds to ‘‘Balls of Light: The Questionable Science of Crop Circles’’ – Grassi, Cocheo, and Russo’s Reply (Vol. 21, No.3. 2007) [pdf]
  • Haselhoff et al. An Experimental Study for Reproduction of Biological Anomalies Reported in the Hoeven 1999 Crop Circle (Vol. 28, No. 1. 2014) [pdf] [alternative]

Physiologa Plantarum

  • Levengood. Anatomical anomalies in crop formation plants. (1994) [from BLT-research]
  • Levengood and Talbott. Dispersion Of Energies In Worldwide Crop Formations. (1999) [from BLT-research]
  • Haselhoff. Opinions and comments on Levengood WC, Talbott NP (1999). Dispersion of energies in worldwide crop formations. (2001) [pdf]



(title image by Daz Smith | Flickr)

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12 thoughts to “Eltjo Haselhoff’s nonsensical BOL model for alleged node lengthening anomalies in crop circles”

  1. Pepijn wrote: “But I see you have picked up some new topics like an alternative view on relativity. This looks even more absurd to me, to be honest.”

    Hi Pepijn, good to see that at least you’re not prejudiced, hahah! If you’re curious to know what exactly you find so absurd: http://www.simplerelativity.info. Have fun!

  2. Hello Sir
    I have your book “les cercles dans les blés” (en français) since some years for the picture. But I have seen later that it contents also some scientific approach.
    I have some comments. Sorry, The reference concerns the french version of the book.

    1.- Page 94 , you describe measurements of node length and you conclude that this elongation is due to temperature.
    Did you try to confirm this conclusion making test of elongation with an infrared source on original plants?

    2.- Page 110, you are speaking abaout 1E6 Volt energy. Volt is not an energy, but eV is an energy!!

    3.-Page 146, you mention the correlation between the position of elongation ant the model of electromagnetic irradiation. But where is the demonstration of this correlation and the prove that the elongation is electromagnetic root cause?

    May I have some comments and do you have a more recent book to read.

    Thank you in advance

    j.-c. schlup

    1. Hi Mr Schlup,

      This is Eltjo – accidentally running into your questions and currently not too busy to quickly answer them. 🙂

      1. No. I was told Levengood did this (with microwave radiation) with successful results, but I never saw the reports. Actually, in later years I tend to believe that the node ‘lengthening’ is not really a lengthening process, but rather a reduced shrinkage when the stems lose their humidity. So some kind of cellular modification that prevents the cell walls to shrink.

      2. Absolutely. In the original book I wrote “…a highly energetic state of one mega-electronvolt…”. The French translator was a little too liberal here, and I never read the French version word to word I’m afraid.

      3. It’s a standard method in experimental physics, widely applied all the time for hundreds of years. You hypothesise a physical model, determine the (usual non-linear) relationships and then you test for these by a correlation measurement. Often this approach was rebutted by the objection that “correlation is not causation”, but – although true per se – that statement does not hold here. The whole objective of the regression analysis is to reject or confirm the hypothesis for the causation. Whether that is ‘proof’ or not quickly strands into philosophical discussions (or worse ;-). In this case it looks like EM radiation, it behaves like EM radiation and then after regression analysis appears to leave quantitative traces that obey EM radiation physics… call it what you want, but it’s a pretty strong case, and none of the skeptics have ever come with a better explanation.

      Hope this helps, salut!

  3. Hoi Pepijn,

    Het stoort me aan jullie ‘professionele skeptici’ dat je altijd achter de mensen om publiceert, en nooit eerst een persoonlijke discussie aangaat. Waarom heb je me niet een keertje gemaild of zo? Ik had je graag uitgenodigd om onder het genot van een biertje o.i.d. wat ervaringen uit te wisselen. Dan was je er snel achter gekomen dat ik niet zo gek of zo dom ben als jij wilt doen voorkomen. Je verhaal vind ik zwak, bevooroordeeld, emotioneel, en Je maakt een paar rare denkfouten. Ik hoop maar dat je in je dagelijks leven niet je geld met je hersens moet verdienen. 🙂

    Vriendelijke groet,

    1. Hi Eltjo,

      As you will have seen, the language used on this website is English. So if you would like to discuss matters around the BOL-theory in Dutch, I think it is a better idea to copy-paste your comment in the comments at the Dutch translation of this article on Kloptdatwel.

      But let me address the points you make here as well.

      You wonder why I didn’t contact you about the issues I wrote about in this article to talk them over in private conversation so that I would find that you’re not as crazy or stupid as I would like to portrait you. Although I’m indeed critical about what you wrote about the crop circles, and also about your apparent general view on scientific discussions (like your stance that criticism has only to be taken seriously if that is published in peer-reviewed scientific journals), that doesn’t imply that I think you are crazy or stupid as a person, on the contrary.

      And I don’t think it is unfair at all to write about and criticise ideas, books or (scientific) articles that are easily available to the public, without first contacting the person who published those. Especially if you yourself open up the platforms where you publish this kind of criticism for commentary like I do on this website (and I rarely censor comments).

      You also mention that I made a couple of strange thinking errors. Just enlighten me and the other readers of my blog, where my reasoning derails.

      1. Hi Pepijn,

        Pardon the prior reply in Dutch, I speak many languages and sometimes mess them up ;-). I think we agree on many more fronts than you would think, like it turned out that Rob Nanninga and I agreed on many more fronts than he initially thought – but only after we started to have personal conversations. It’s perfectly fine to condemn ideas published by others, but the condemnation should never be the primary objective, like I feel is almost always the case with skeptic organisations like Skepter and others. In order for criticism to be constructive, profound understanding of the mutual viewpoints is essential. And you clearly missed a view points. So let me enlighten you, as you requested.

        I quote: “…the differences in node lengthening measure in millimetres, but you can easily check that the differences in the vertical position of the nodes in a field (either before the flattening or afterwards) measure in centimetres. These differences overshadow the minimal differences in node lengthening completely.”
        I still cannot believe you wrote this. Let me phrase this in your language, mathematics. Let’s call the node length y and the distance between the node and the ball of light x. What you state is that for every function y = f(x) a change in x must always be in the order of magnitude of the corresponding change in f(x). This is a ridiculous assumption, and completely wrong reasoning. So what is the real story? Let’s assume there is a variance of 10 cm (I’m sure it’s less) in your ‘horizontal plane’ for all stems. The distance between the ball of light and each node varies between 4 and 6 meters, so let’s take it 5 meters. This means the distance between the nodes and the ball of light varies by *at most* 10/500 = 2% (straight under the ball of light, in the center), and about 1% at the edges (taking a 9 m diameter of the circle – you can do the math, it’s a simple Pythagoras rule). So we are talking about a 1-2% source of input error at max. HOWEVER, since I take the average of approximately 20 stems in each sampling point, the effective error is probably even an order of magnitude smaller.

        Talking about averaging, I quote: “Haselhoff has used the average node lengths from each sample […] This highly overestimates the goodness of fit as the variance per sample is quite high […].”
        Again, I can’t believe you wrote this. OF COURSE I took the average of all samples in each sampling point. Node lengths, just like almost any biological quantity, always reveal a natural, biological spread. This spread is completely uncorrelated to the external effect as assumed by the BOL model. Your suggestion to run the regression on all individual nodes would imply I need to match the BOL model to this biological spread. Now if you want to apply the word “nonsensical”, this is where to insert it. The reason you take averages is in order to *reduce the effects of biological spread*, and estimate the center of the distribution’s bell curve. This is a simple standard procedure in any biophysical measurement. I’m really surprised you could not think of this yourself, as a mathematician.

        There is much more, but let’s finalise with this one: “Nanninga pointed out that the measurements of the node lengths should ideally have been done blindly, without the person doing the measurements knowing where the stems come from […] Haselhoff did not see this as a huge problem for his working method. I think he is simply wrong on this issue, it is one of the most likely ways bias could have influenced the results.”
        This comment also demonstrates a profound lack of your understanding. In addition, I have explained this thousands of times, so if you really want to understand it, it should be a breeze. Let me summarise it as follows: I am not performing a test, I am not testing the effect of a new drug or a new therapy, I am performing a *simple measurement*. This is how experimental physics works, trust me, “been there, done it”. If I could manipulate measurements performed by an automatic computer program and know a priori that this would make a better fit to a pre-defined model, I would be a true genius, which I’m not. Again, I am not performing a test, but a measurement.

        In conclusion, let me remind you that the BOL model is a simple, first-order model, with explicit neglect of several components that could (or could not) affect the final results (you pointed out one of them). The fact that the model corresponds so well to the measurements, despite its simplicity, is a strong indication that the model is valid. Your reasoning is, however, that the model should also take into account additional effects, and since it does not, the results must be all wrong. That’s not how experimental physics works my friend. Does that mean the BOL model is 100% water proof? Of course not. But until someone comes up with a trivial explanation for the crazy symmetry in the node length variations, it’s the best we have.

        1. In my view you avoid the main issue: by using average node lengths from each sampling point as a measurement without variance you overestimate the goodness of fit of the model. For the estimated height it doesn’t matter, of course. And when you do this you make undisclosed assumptions about the effect of the radiation. Why would the biological spread be similar to a normal distribution in this particular case if you don’t have a clue about the working mechanism?

          I wrote: “I do not think we would see a significant fit if we could redo the analysis with the actual heights of the nodes properly taken into account, but it is not something we can check as this information was not gathered in the sampling.” and I know think that I should have thought about the effect of wind on the positions of the nodes as well …

          But even more important is still the fact that by your calculations you don’t actually find a single source, but seperate sources with different heights for each sampling trace. You should have concluded that the measurements have proven your hypothesis wrong, but you have taken exactly the opposite position.

          Also, why don’t you address the fact that you sampled two crop circles in 1999 but only reported the measurement one in the 2014 JSE article?

          Anyway, another reason I did not take the trouble to contact you over this, was my impression that you weren’t actually active anymore in, let’s say, borderline science. But I see you have picked up some new topics like an alternative view on relativity. This looks even more absurd to me, to be honest. Might be an interesting topic for the future …

    2. Eltjo,

      The entire idea behind publishing in a scientific journal is that you take the scientific debate outside of the smoke-filled rooms of your debating society. Scientific publishing means that you draw a global community into a public exchange of ideas. It is therefore a bit disingenuous on your part to publish your ideas & results in international journals with the expectation that criticism will be kept private and confidential “onder het genot van een biertje o.i.d.”.

      Martin Bier

      1. Hi Martin,

        Rest assured that when I wrote “onder het genot van een biertje”, I was not referring to you! (Sorry, could not resist ;-).

        You are erroneously assuming that personal discussions and (scientific) publications are mutually exclusive. They’re not. Particularly in the case of strong and personal criticism, as is the case in this blog, it’s a simple matter of professional courtesy to align with the original author(s) prior to publication. In scientific communications, this is how it is always done. Comments are rarely published without a rebuttal of the original authors, often based on mutual prior alignment. This prevents that the global community is drawn into a senseless debate, based on poor mutual understanding only.

        Now this is only an internet blog, of course, but that does not imply that professional courtesy should be abandoned. However, if your only objective is to bring discredit to others, no matter what, well… in that case I understand – and disapprove. Hence my earlier reaction.

        Proost! 😉


  4. I referred crop circle researcher Colin Andrews to this article of Pepijn van Erp and he was so kind to share his opinion and thoughts with us:

    I dont feel to make anymore comments about BLT/Levengood’s work. As you know, I lost all respect for his theories and even his published findings following my own blind tests. I found them to be spurious at best.

    Based upon my many years of experience examining the plants, working with numerous farmers and other scientists over the years, I would agree with the conclusions of Pepijn van Erp. I would though add that Pepijn van Erp did not take into account several other variations between the experimental site and the eye witness site. Those being weather conditions, i.e. precipitation, hours of sunlight, soil type and moisture levels – all effecting rates of growth. There is more that could be said, but a little pointless, this far down the road.

    Thank you, Colin, much appreciated!

    1. Of course, Colin Andrew has a point when he states that it is not 100 percent sure that the natural conditions at the experimental site were the same as those during the formation of the Hoeven 1999 crop circles. But that’s only a concern for those (like Haselhoff) who want to argue that this experiment supports the idea that an electromagnetic point source has something to do with the ‘genuine’ crop circle, because all other natural conditions would be the same and the only known difference would be that the experimental crop circle was hand-made.

      But as I argue, there is very little reason to think that there really is an anomalous pattern in the node lengthening in the Hoeven 1999 crop circle. There are just three (probably not significant) correlations between the averages on the three traces with three hypothetical spherical distributions of energy coming from a source on different heights. And it is all based on measurements that were not done blind using a computer program (probably not validated by other people), that shows a running average of the sample you are measuring/inputting the node lengths. Well, that’s a perfect way to make sure that bias can play a role.

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