Unlikely though it may seem, the Space Centre at Houston, Texas has recently mounted an exhibition of crop circle material, to the intense annoyance of sceptics and scientists…
Yes, we were as surprised as anyone to receive a telephone call this summer from NASA – traditionally the Nemesis of anything considered ‘paranormal’ - asking for crop circle material that could be used for a special exhibition. Intrigued and happy to be asked, we obliged and also helped vet some of the information boards.
The exhibition is one in a series of ‘specials’ that the Space Centre mounts from time to time, and, of course, this one was timed to coincide with the release of the movie ‘Signs’. Photos, books, and other circle-related items were (and probably still are) displayed with details about the mystery in a refreshingly open way.
Predictably, those who feel NASA should not be getting involved with such silly and obviously man-made fripperies as crop circles have not been amused. In particular, a biting piece by one Dylan Otto Krider from the ‘Houston Press’ describes the exhibition as “A bird's-eye view of bullshit”. In a piece entitled ‘Space Center & Me: Or, how I learned to stop caring and accept the dumb’, Krider goes on to say:
“It would not be possible to come up with an exhibit more at odds with everything a research institution like NASA stands for than ‘Crop Circles’.
…For Space Center, the mandate to "bring people in" has gone beyond movie tie-ins. They now feel obligated to trump up and sell ideas that NASA scientists give absolutely zero credence [to]. And they're getting more visitors as a result. But understand: Space Center Houston has nothing to do with science. It's about selling tickets, even if they have to sell out NASA to do it.”
The piece, rather pleasingly, manages to get in a dig about my own book ‘Vital Signs’ (due out in the US at any moment in a specific American edition, incidentally, published by Frog Ltd) and manages to express resigned rage at the exhibition’s neglect of sceptics.
In truth, we share his view that crop circles DO appear to be at odds with the standard NASA policies, but are happy that at least one department, even if it’s just the exhibition centre, appears to be broadening its horizons a little. Note that Krider accepts that “they're getting more visitors as a result” – he puts this down effectively to the sad fruits of dumbing down. But could it not equally be because there are an increasing number of people out there who see that there is a world beyond that which hard science will recognise, that demands acknowledgement..? There’s a lesson in there somewhere.
Who knows what we may see next for the Space Centre! Psychic channelling? Atlantis? Or how the evidence for the NASA lunar landings might be fake..?!
The full ‘Houston Press’ report can be found at:
[Thanks to David Haith]