The recent ‘Proclamation Initiative’, for all its apparent good intentions, has been, for some, divisive and troubling. But why? And why do people’s qualms matter so much in this case? MICHAEL GLICKMAN looks more deeply into the nature of the Proclamation...
DECENT, RESPECTFUL AND FAIR
"Proclamation" was always going to be the wrong word (apart, of course, from "self-proclaimed", which it would probably be better not to explore here). I thought only Kings and Heads of State proclaimed.
It is important to clarify these matters. I believe we are all working to bring this phenomenon to a wider public. We are all entitled to our own views, but they are different views. One way to promote peace and goodwill would be to think carefully and consult with others before unilaterally initiating massive publicity for a single position with which others might disagree. This is the kind of arrogant behaviour which has, in the past, generated ill-feeling.
Before I go any further, I want to pledge my personal commitment to decent, respectful and fair relations. I have no problem with this; indeed I have always aspired to living decently and fairly. My relations - with decent and fair people - have always been decent and fair! However, I cannot tolerate insincere people with secret agendas and, surprise surprise, when I question them, they are able to respond only with abuse.
And, for me, this abuse has increased unbelievably since the advent of the malformed "proclamation". I responded to Andrews' belated invitation to sign up by politely writing and explaining why I would not join a gang which had granted admission to several known hoaxers, who - by definition - are insincere people with secret agendas.
Andrews' reply to me, predictably, answered none of my questions but was simply a vehicle for more abuse, a total of no less than eight epithets or direct insults. He did, however, explain to me that, coming as he did from an engineering background, he had called me a "bastard" only in the engineering sense. Phew! So that's OK then. I guess, however, that "silly old sod' and "idiot" are not engineering terms.
A few days ago I was compared by Peter Sorensen to Goebbels. I am used to most of this stuff, but that one hurt me. Congratulations, Peter. (By the way, I see that Peter has changed his “kick the bull****ters off the throne” statement on the latest reissue of the "Proclamation". I wonder why that was?)
Freddy Silva, another signatory, writes on his website: "Also I'd like to pre-empt the 2004 season by stating there will be few genuine crop circles this season, possibly less than two. In any event a new proclamation for ethics in research has been launched. It is hoped that a number of popular figures in crop circle research will stop profiteering from lies and deceit."
These are only three examples of the sincerity of some of the signatories and the candour of their pursuit of "trust, respect, integrity and friendship". Let us forget here Silva's absurd prophecy, which I imagine will be as wrong this year as it was last, and go straight on to ask him just who are these "popular figures" and exactly how do they "profiteer" from lies and deceit? Or will he do what they all do, refuse to take responsibility for his libels, and duck sideways when asked direct questions?
This, then, is the true spirit of the "proclamation". This is the behaviour, in the last few weeks, of people who loudly claim that they are "taking the high road" in their "renewed spirit of respect for others".
* * *
Many of the signatories ARE decent and fair people and some are dear friends of mine. They have been conned! They did not read the small print and they missed the several not-so-hidden agendas.
If the Proclamation was so truly about "peace", why is "land design" (a euphemism for hoaxing) mentioned so early? What are the "social and mechanical studies" that are talked about? I cannot think of a single person (hoaxers excepted) who would not immediately wish to sign, and comply with, an undertaking promoting civility and honesty. But surely Andrews must have known that this would be contentious, if not offensive, to a large section of the community?
Why do I, and others, believe that the conjunction of "hoaxers" and "integrity" is an impossibility? I was there during the Doug and Dave scam and in the years following and I witnessed the glee with which good and decent people were misled and humiliated. Colin Andrews himself was once persuaded to believe that the famous Stonehenge formation of 1996 was man-made, ironically by one of his signatories! Presumably, he now trusts him, though apparently Colin subsequently changed his mind on the Stonehenge matter. Those of us who have paid attention over the years have observed the consistency of the hoaxer spirit. It is as noble as that of the young vandal who takes inordinate pleasure in scratching the paintwork of unattended cars.
And we are - without more than anecdotal evidence - to believe that these people suddenly have a direct spiritual contact with this numinous phenomenon? Please! We are further to believe that those of us who have doubts, and refuse to sign, are "divisive, deceptive and isolationist", and that it is WE who "profiteer" from our "agendas".
(I reiterate here, without any signatures, documents or cartels, my personal commitment to decent behaviour.)
Yet there are still those who believe the hoaxers and wish to pursue their claims. Bless them! We await their results with interest, though we will not be holding our breath. However, to promote these suspect ideas (from demonstrably dishonest sources) as the cutting edge of crop circle research, and to tie it in to what is supposed to be a Peace Proclamation is - for many of us - both distasteful and unsupportable.
* * *
Let us go directly to the heart of this matter. Four years ago, in response to a phone call from a BBC journalist, Colin Andrews, always available for publicity, put together, seemingly overnight, the 80%/20% idea [which holds that 80% of crop formations are man-made]. It was a superficial notion; both unsubstantiated and unsubstantiable. Of course, he can hold whatever opinions he likes, but, being Colin Andrews, he organised a totally disproportionate amount of international publicity for this whim. It was promoted around the world as the results of a statistically and scientifically verified study. This was untrue. He was riding a treacherous tiger and he found it impossible to dismount.
After a year, he published ‘The Assessment’, a CD-Rom which, he promised, would justify his 80/20 idea. I studied this in some detail (though I suspect few others did), and I produced my ‘80% Proof’ articles on Swirled News [see the Glickman archives – link at the foot of this page]. I stated in one: "If I have made errors, I will immediately correct them and apologise", and in another: "Is there anyone out there who can draw my attention to any errors I have made, to any of Andrews' discoveries or insights that I might have overlooked, or to any way that I dealt unreasonably or unfairly with his claims? If so, I will immediately and publicly correct my mistakes and apologise."
I believe my articles completely demolished the 80/20 argument. Over the following weeks I received much appreciation and many notes of gratitude for the work. However, to this day, two years later, I have heard not one correction, not a single word of constructive dissent or criticism.
But the rules are clearly different in the world of Colin Andrews. He is never called to account. Any critic, any questioner is "offensive" or "coarse". We are accused of "untruth" or "lies". When we ask that the lies are specified so that they can be corrected, the correspondence ends.
Here in the real world we expect these things to be handled correctly. When an objection to a hypothesis is published, it is normally incumbent upon the author of the initial theory to point out errors and to defend his work. He cannot simply ignore it and proceed as though it remained unchallenged. But for Colin Andrews, the self-appointed "world’s leading crop circle authority", such niceties as discussion, discourse or debate are unnecessary.
Though aspiring to a "trustworthy dialogue with the public", he still pronounces the veracity of this notion, and now, by having somehow persuaded several people of good heart into signing his "proclamation", flagrantly uses their names to endorse a hollow idea. He continues to promote 80/20 widely as though it were proved to be true! Compare the Andrews repetition of 80/20 with the recent repetitions by various governments. 80/20 has become our very own Weapons of Mass Destruction issue.
There will be more press releases, and there will be more abuse of his critics. To no avail. Watch, as he insults his questioners! Thrill, as he struggles desperately to preserve the lives of both the Proclamation and the spurious 80/20 idea! The broad river of History will leave them beached on the sand.
I will remind you of this next spring. Don't say I didn't warn you.
The tenth video in Michael’s ongoing ‘Crop Circle Lectures’ series has just been released. ‘SQUARES, ROPES AND TWISTED RIBBONS’ features Michael’s engaging performance at the 2003 Glastonbury Symposium, as professionally filmed and edited by Nikola Duper.
Cost: £16.50 (UK); $27.00 (USA): 29 Euros (EU). Cheques should be made payable to ‘Crop Circle Reality’ and posted to:
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