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In his book ‘Vital Signs’, author and crop circle researcher Andy Thomas recognizes the importance of William Levengood's research on plant changes in crops from within "authentic" formations when compared with the appropriate controls. Previous authors including Linda Mouton Howe, Nancy Talbott, and even Colin Andrews have also referred to this work. However, its conclusive nature is still not widely appreciated.

In short, "statistically-valid node-elongation is the conclusive fingerprint that represents the only scientifically definitive litmus test for an authentic crop formation." In recognition of its discoverer, I have named this the "L-NEAT" process for "Levengood Node Elongation Analysis Test." The importance of this process was not readily apparent in early work, as it was presented along with a host of other changes, many of a technical nature. While I propose that samples still be sent to established researchers for verification, I believe that it is time that competent field investigators learn to carry out the simple, straightforward procedures, and begin making local determinations. This would eliminate much time wasted on speculation about a formation's authenticity, allowing more focused attention on its possible significance in the context of whether it is authentic or not.

It is with some trepidation that I release this information, as it would make it possible for truly unscrupulous persons to convincingly "doctor" collected samples, though not entire formations in the field. However, I can use the same solution elegantly presented by Dr Gerald Hawkins for his excellent work on diatonic ratios. By terminating the investigation period at the end of the current crop circle season prior to the publication of this essay, I can establish an unassailable ‘closed file’. Since all conclusions regarding this period are based on experiments done during this time, and pronouncements made by various authorities, including hoaxers during this time period, once this essay is published, no ‘new’ but previously ‘undiscovered’ evidence is admissible. To be sure, the proven scientific principles which were made public knowledge during this time will still be available for future analysis and will stand on their own authority. However, should a new hoaxing technique be discovered which was not claimed during this time, it will not be retroactively applicable.

Under normal circumstances I would quickly ‘get on with it,’ demonstrating the appropriate techniques now while the reader is still fresh and putting them into historical perspective later. However, these are not normal conditions. The conclusive proof has been publicly available for over a decade, and yet, even now, it is generally overlooked. Clearly there is a serious problem at some level of communication, so I will address that first.

Once again, statistically-significant node-elongation is the conclusive fingerprint that represents the only scientifically definitive litmus test for an authentic crop formation. Although Dr Levengood investigates each occurrence thoroughly, including studies of other plant abnormalities, seed germination, mitochondrial respiration, and more, the L-NEAT process, which can be carried out in a few hours' time by local investigators, is the definitive test. Thus, while I recommend that samples continue to be sent to Levengood directly (Pinelandia Biophysical Laboratory, Grass Lake, Michigan, USA) or through Linda Moulton Howe at, as well as to Nancy Talbott's BLT Inc., which is now independent, at, I also urge local investigators to become familiar with the technique and provide ‘same day’ preliminary determinations along with their descriptions and photographs when reporting a formation. In addition, I am willing to network with other researchers with technical degrees to provide a same-day confirmation service by analyzing the images of plant samples, along with a metric rule, scanned locally and sent by e-mail. Thus the evidence will be available to all and the L-NEAT results confirmed by a number of "independent" sources. Following the scientific principle of replication, anyone will be able to do their own analysis to verify the results. If a procedure is repeated with all the same factors, the results, if valid, will also be replicable. This is exactly the test that all hoaxing techniques, demonstrated or proposed during the ‘closed file’ period, have failed.

Dr Levengood has carried out every conceivable controlled experiment called for by researchers, hoaxers, and the evidence. Crops were planted and lodged by rolling or planking at various times during their growth cycle. The effects of geotropism and phototropism in the recovery process of downed plants was fully investigated. Experiments were carried out with controlled overfertilisation, etc. No process proposed by any source and properly tested by controlled experiments was able to produce statistically-valid node-elongation in the field. However, Levengood was able to produce similar effects by exposing samples to microwave radiation in the laboratory. Freddy Silva has also proposed that sound waves should have similar capabilities, (see, for example, Properly designed controlled experiments may possibly add ultra or infra sound to the list of factors capable of causing node elongation in the laboratory. However, there are no devices known to public science, let alone available to researchers or hoaxers, that can duplicate the pattern of node elongation which defines an authentic circle in the fields. All procedures claimed by hoaxers up till now have been subjected to duplication under controlled conditions and have been conclusively proven to be unable to produce the authentic fingerprint. Whether skillful hoaxers are able to create or duplicate a complex pattern is a matter of debate, however it has been conclusively proven by controlled experiments that the procedures they claim to have used are unable to produce the node elongation patterns characteristic of authentic formations in the field.

There are sceptical scientists and there are proponents of the philosophy of negativism who call themselves sceptics. A sceptical scientist will examine the evidence. If they are not satisfied that the rigor of the experimental process was sufficient, then they will duplicate the procedure and verify it or demonstrate a source of error. The L-NEAT results are amenable to replication, which confirms their validity. CSICOP, ‘the Committee for the Scientific Investigation of Claims Of the Paranormal’, has levied criticisms against Dr Levengood's experimental procedures, while never addressing his conclusive results. Their motto is "extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence." However, there are established scientific protocols, which, if met, provide conclusive evidence. Levengood's research fulfills the highest criteria in this regard. The ‘Committee,’ in direct opposition to its claim for the "investigation" of such research, has never attempted to duplicate his results. In science, "investigation" means to subject the disputed results to the rigors of controlled experimentation where possible. It is possible with Dr. Levengood's work.

The "Committee" has failed to carry out its own mandate. The reason given for not dealing with his valid evidence directly is that "Dr Levengood did not carry out double-blind experiments." The protocols of scientific research determine when different experimental constructs are required. Dr Levengood's procedures simply do not call for double blind experiments. Such experiments are used when researcher bias could affect a judgmental outcome. For instance, they are often used in the testing of new medications and in cases where a subjective decision is required, such as the visual classification of a colour. They are neither required, nor even called for, when the process involves common, straightforward procedures with standard equipment such as a centimeter ruler, the markings of which are independent of the investigator's judgment. Furthermore, Steve Alexander, inadvertently, did provide a double-blind test, which Dr Levengood passed. He produced a man-made circle in 1995 and waited to see the pronouncements of the experts. Dr Levengood's node analysis determined that there were no statistical differences between the formation plants and the controls, even though neither he nor Nancy Talbott, who was associated with him at the time, suspected Steve's intentions.

The rest of CSICOP's criticisms are equally unfounded. Chief among them is that the research is based on circular reasoning, no pun intended, since the node elongation criteria which are used to prove that the circles are genuine also provides the definition of an authentic circle. This stems from the fact that the cause is currently unknown and cannot be duplicated, which is actually strong evidence in favour of the non-hoaxed nature of the circles. Many phenomena studied by science, such as the sub-atomic particle and the neutrino, are unable to be reproduced, yet their existence is also defined by the criteria through which they are recognised. The case of this scientifically accepted ‘fact’ is a direct parallel of that involving the statistical node elongation criterion which characterizes an authentic circle. In addition, Levengood's research provides stronger valid evidence for the existence of non-hoaxed, authentic circles than mainstream science has for the astronomical phenomenon of ‘black holes,’ the "existence" of which is commonly taught in most science textbooks. Having already addressed several major objections, there is no further need to continue discussing the validation of the L-NEAT process at this time.

During the more than a decade that Dr Levengood applied this technique, he analyzed circle and control samples from over 300 crop formations. Surprisingly, many were of a random, non-geometrical nature. However, he also evaluated hundreds of others including many of the most famous ones from England. While he has not released a public list of those which proved authentic, Nancy Talbott is moving in that direction by publishing results of investigations which they did together in the past on the new BLT Inc. website, While it has been proven that the techniques demonstrated by hoaxers are unable to cause significant node elongation in the field, upwards of 90% of the formations analyzed proved to be authentic. In the sense of a ‘closed file’ case, these results are now permanently indisputable.

Why then did we go through a destructive process of wild speculation, claim and counter-claim, producing crippling fragmentation, driving out sincere researchers, and destroying our own credibility? Two reasons come to mind. One being that we are guilty of the same kind of provincialism as our critics, being more concerned with public recognition than in sincerely cooperating to shed light on the mystery. If this continues, then we do not deserve to find the truth. The other seems to be the result of confusion over the significance of the conclusive scientific research. Since many researchers did not agree with Dr Levengood's hypothesis that the source of the changes is an ion plasma distorted by magnetic forces, not unlike a kind of plasma vortex, they rejected his work entirely, thus throwing the proverbial baby out with the bathwater. Levengood's research proves the validity of the various tissue changes, the fact that hoaxing techniques cannot produce them, and the fact that microwave radiation in the laboratory can replicate some of them. That much is as conclusive as possible according to the highest levels of scientific protocol. Levengood's hypothesis that ion plasmas are the source of that effect is only learned speculation. His experiments conclusively prove the existence of these effects, but are not designed to provide any information relevant to the source of the energy which actually causes these changes. Thus, his work cannot be used to favour one speculative source over another, and the recognition of his conclusive results is not directly linked to accepting his hypothesis about their source.

Fortunately, the conclusive L-NEAT data is quite simple to obtain. If one is not familiar with statistics, there are a number of websites, see for example:


These allow the researcher to simply enter the measurements, press a few buttons, and look up the result on a standard chart. The ‘Student's T-test’ is the most commonly used to compare the differences between groups of measurements, here being the formation samples as compared with the proper controls from the same field. It simply tells, by internally comparing parameters, whether the measurements of the two groups should be considered the same, or different. If different, the resulting number or ‘statistic’ is looked up on a standard table. If the resulting probability (really, the percentage of times that this difference is likely to happen by chance alone) is low enough, usually taken as p0.05, then the difference is considered significant and the formation is authentic. The actual minimum but statistically valid procedures are quite simple. If time permits, the analysis can be more thorough, however, the following procedures will give statistically valid L-NEAT results. Since our tests predict that if the circle is authentic then the formation samples will be significantly larger than the controls, we are allowed to claim the higher significance of a ‘one-tailed’ or ‘one-directional’ test. Unfortunately, although it is the only conclusive test available without specialized laboratory techniques, it is only applicable to cereal crops with relatively flexible tissues. It is definitive for wheat and barley, and applicable to some other grains and some field grasses. However, due to differences in plant structure in non-cereal crops, and the highly fibrous nature of maize, its application is limited in these cases.



Five locations within the formation are to be sampled. At each location, ten adjoining plants are to be sampled. While each plant will probably have as many as five or more nodes, only a single node in the same location on each plant need be measured if time is at a premium. This node may either be the uppermost ‘leaf node,’ or the second from the top or ‘penultimate’ leaf node as conditions permit. Lower, older and therefore more fibrous nodes may show less elongation, but have a higher chance of developing expulsion cavities instead. (Since older nodal leaf sheaths may be too fibrous to expand as much as younger ones, internal vapor pressure appears to build up, eventually rupturing the veins, leaving behind highly visible "blown nodes", known as "expulsion cavities.") Be sure that the same node is measured on all plants. Since the creation forces seem greatest near the centre of the circle, these samples should show the greatest degree of elongation when compared with the controls. Downed plants may show a different degree of changes than those left standing, so collect and label both. The individual formation groups are to be kept separate. Toward the end of the season the mature cereal stems have a lower water content and node elongation may be less prominent or even marginal. In this case the uppermost leaf node will probably display the greatest change. In an authentic circle, if the results are consistent, they should register as significant even when they do not appear visually impressive. It appears that Dr Levengood has never encountered an expulsion cavity in a control specimen. Thus, the presence of several plants with expulsion cavities or blown nodes should be a good field indicator that the L-NEAT results will be positive.

There is often a spillover effect of the energies involved in the formation of the circles. Thus plants from just outside the periphery may show some node-elongation as well. To counteract this, five control samples are taken at varying distances from the edge of the formation, going as far away as possible within the same field, even up to a hundred yards. Be careful that the control samples do not come from any ‘lodged’ areas, as these may be energy spillover from the formation. Also avoid control plants from near the edge of the field as these may have been subjected to different amounts of light, wind, etc. than the formation plants or controls within.

Keep each sample group separate.
For cereal plants and other grasses, the growth areas or nodes are generally marked by raised ridges ringing the stem, or at least by a ring of colour. The exact landmarks may vary from different locations and among different species, however, as long as the same points are measured on all the same nodes for a given formation and controls, the results will be valid. Wheat may provide two distinct ridges, whereas other species might display a choice of landmarks. A simple magnifying glass may or may not be necessary. Normal rulers are marked in millimeters allowing a measurement to be made to the nearest estimated 1/10 of a millimeter in the space between the markings. Measure the longest linear distance between the two landmarks. If the node is bent, do not bother correcting for the curve, even though this will reduce the measurement by a small amount. Simply go with the longest straight-edge distance between node ridges or lines on the same side, to the nearest estimated 1/10 millimeter.

When using the Student's T-test, an ideal number of measurements in a sample consists of 31, about equally divided between controls and formation samples. Mathematically, lump all control measurements together, giving a sample of 50 measurements. Then compare each sample of 10 formation plants separately to the whole control group, as there may be variations among the formation samples related to their placement. Since the energy drops off with distance from the centre, the differences between formation groups from near the periphery and the lumped controls may be less than those of formation groups from near the centre. A single significant difference between a formation group (of 10) and the control group (of 50, thus totaling 60 specimens) is enough to validate the formation. Lumping the measurements of all formation groups together for a final analysis may dilute the differences, but they should generally still remain significant, depending upon the energy distributions.

The photographic examples which accompany this article are taken from an asymmetrical area of downed barley in a field in Blueball, Maryland, 1995 (see They were selected because they demonstrate one of the greatest amounts of node elongation yet encountered. At 203%, the largest formation nodes were enormously larger than the controls. The typical degree of node elongation often falls below 20%. However, if the change is consistent, it will still score as significant even though it may not be as visually dramatic as this example.
As seen, the barley node possesses a distinct ridge at the actual origin of the new growth. This makes a convenient landmark to begin measuring towards the tip to the left. Since the L-NEAT results depend upon relative differences between controls and formation plants from the same location, as long as the same landmarks are used for the same nodes throughout, the differences, if present, will register as significant. The nodes used in this demonstration are the uppermost leaf nodes below the seed head. Using the ridge as a starting point and measuring towards the top at left, this control node measures about 3.9 mm, whereas the equivalent formation node is much larger, measuring about 8.0 mm across its largest straight edge expanse.
The actual measuring of the nodes should be able to be completed in a few hours or less. The calculations should take less, especially if a computer program, such as those discussed above, is used so that only the measurements need be entered and the result is calculated almost instantaneously. Even laborious step-by-step calculation with a hand calculator can be completed in an hour's time or so.
Some confessed hoaxers such as Matthew Williams have claimed that "messy" circles, which they have created, have been mysteriously "cleaned up." It may be that this phenomenon is stranger than we think and if an alternate intelligence is involved, it may be fueling controversy by producing authentic changes in formations which were originally created by hoaxers. If this could be shown to be the case, it would prove even more intriguing than just the formation of an authentic circle by itself.
I hope you will agree with me that such procedures have long been necessary and that the implementation of these suggestions may lead to a new era of progress and cooperation.

CHARLES N. LIETZAU, Ph.D., Waterford, Michigan (


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