An SFU professor is bringing together human geography and paranormal investigations with his latest research on crop circles. Paul Kingsbury, a professor in the department of geography, has observed that crop circle enthusiasts are less focused on the origins of the circles, compared to their beauty.
Kingsbury recently attended a crop circle conference in Wiltshire, England, an area where crop circles are often found, to investigate the research culture. In the summer that Kingsbury visited Wiltshire, thirty new crop circles appeared in the region.
Kingsbury made clear that his research did not focus on the validity of crop circles, but rather the research process itself. “I’m interested in how they work, why people get involved, and how they share knowledge,” he said at a lecture hosted by the geography department on November 2.
The first recorded crop circle appeared in 1678 and since then tens of thousands more have been observed in fields around the world. What causes the designs to appear in the crops has generated a lot of attention — leading to one contemporary theory that they were created by aliens.
Kingsbury, whose research focuses on psychoanalytic, aesthetic, and paranormal geography, said that he thinks human geographers should take people’s social or cultural experiences in society seriously.
In an analysis of a geometry workshop, he noted how crop circle enthusiasts viewed the circles as having a sacred geometry, which they engaged with via drawing. This illustrates an area between the very tangible crop circles and the mystery of their meaning and origin.
During his visit to Wiltshire, Kingsbury visited some of the crop circles along with enthusiasts and spoke about the emotional reactions he witnessed when enthusiasts entered the crop circles themselves.
“People were hugging the crop circles, and tuning into the energy,” Kingsbury reported. “Desire is the key to people’s relationship with crop circles.”
Kingsbury’s research on paranormal investigators, which has led him to attend conferences and investigations on aliens, UFOs, and ghosts in North America, is funded by a grant from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council.
In the discussion section of the lecture, after an hour of Kingsbury interweaving crop circle research analysis with geography humour, an attendee asked Kingsbury if he planned to attend the Wiltshire crop circle conference again next summer. To that, the professor reported that next summer he will be attending a Sasquatch expedition.