Since they began to capture media attention in the mid 1970s, and to proliferate and evolve through the decades of the 1980s and 1990s, crop circles have provided mystery and controversy. New books, touting “scientific research,” continue the trend. The topic is also getting a boost from a new Hollywood movie, Signs, starring Mel Gibson as a Pennsylvania farmer who discovers a 500-foot design imprinted in his crops and seeks to learn its meaning.
They can range from small circles only a few feet in diameter to elaborate “pictograms,” some now as large as a few hundred feet across. By the end of the 1980s books on the crop circle phenomenon had begun to spring up as well, and soon circles-mystery enthusiasts were being dubbed cereologists (after Ceres, the Roman goddess of vegetation). Circlemania was in full bloom (Delgado and Andrews 1989; Nickell and Fischer 1992; Schnabel 1994).