The crop circle phenomenon is thought to have been initiated by two Englishmen, who, in 1976, thought it would be great fun to hoax evidence for a UFO landing in a field in Hampshire. Both Doug Bower and Dave Chorley were flying saucer enthusiasts and were aware of the strange flattened circles which had appeared in reed beds in Tully, Queensland, Australia in 1966. These had been interpreted by some ufologists as landing traces of flying saucers. Doug and Dave continued to create their crop circle 'nests' on and off for four more years before British UFO investigators reported the circles made at Westbury in Wiltshire, England in a field below the Westbury White Horse hill figure. Having achieved press notice Doug and Dave continued to create more and more elaborate groups of circles, rings and formations as the phenomenon became more widely known.

Two more flying saucer enthusiasts, Colin Andrews and Pat Delgado, both from Hampshire, investigated this 'strange phenomenon', much to the delight of Doug and Dave who reacted to their theories by redeveloping the designs of the crop formations season by season. Andrews and Delgado gained fame and fortune through their best seller "Circular Evidence", which collected a set of colour photographs of crop circles and wove them into a theory about alien intelligence. All the time Doug and Dave continued their efforts, to be joined by groups of copy-cat hoaxers whose crop circle designs became more and more complex.

By the early 1990s, groups, societies, journals and self-styled experts had all set up stalls and were making a tidy profit from the public fascination with the phenomenon. A virtual circus was in motion. Every summer crowds of tourists poured into Wiltshire to see the circles for themselves. The true believers (i.e. those who believed in an exotic origin for the crop formations) were to be brought down to earth with a crash in 1993 when the Today newspaper revealed the true story of Doug and Dave's nocturnal activities. For a short while the bubble had burst. The press lost interest overnight, Doug and Dave were vilified by the circle faithful and John Michell, the grand old man of earth mysteries who had helped found The Cereologist (a magazine for crop circle enthusiasts) retired as editor.

Despite this, the hoaxers have continued to wind up the circle faithful, many of whom have developed a blind spot to the reality of hoaxing. Crop circles are still linked with exotic "earth energies", sacred sites and UFOs. There is no objective evidence for any of these claims.

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