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Researcher in a spin


By John Lundberg
This week (16.5.99) has seen a flurry of media coverage generated by a press release from Colin Andrews about a donation of money for crop circle research provided by U.S. billionaire Laurance Rockefeller. The coverage has -so far - included BBC1, Radio 4, Radio 5, GLR, The Evening Standard, The Mail, The Scotsman, Science magazine (US) The Independent and Nicky Campbell is hosting a thirty minute discussion on Central TV at the end of the week.
Admittedly "U.S. billionaire funds crop circle research" does make a fantastic headline but what I find surprising about this story is that it's over a year old. Rockerfeller donated the money to Colin last year and it was to be used over a two year period, 98/99.
Call me a cynic but one reason why Colin has waited to take this to the press could be the fact that he is about to publish a new book 'Cosmic Artists' on the subject. Sources close to Colin have said that the sum is in the region of $10,000 to be used over two years, so about 3,000 for this year, which to be honest isn't going to pay for more that a couple of helicopter flights! On reflection the story doesn't quite live up to the headline, so it seems somewhat fitting that this veteran crop circle researcher is now a master of spin...
Here are links to online versions of several of the news reports:
BBC News: US billionaire funds crop circle research
BBC News: Mysterious circles keep cropping up
BBC News: Are crop circles a Hoax?
Evening Standard: Rockefeller funds bids to crack crop circles
Evening Standard: Cracking the crop circle mystery
Photo above: Colin Andrews.
Follow up:
On 18th June 1999 I received the following email from Colin. I agreed to post it here in response to my above article and have added a brief reply after it:
Dear John
I have just taken a look in your web site and the item written by you on the Rockefeller funding. I frequently read unpleasant things about myself, thankfully they are usually written by people who have an axe to grind and are almost always untrue or based upon inaccuracies. I very rarely respond, but on this occasion I feel I must.
I think in the main your article comes from a position of trying to communicate the facts, even though they are wrong, but you could not help yourself though from having several unfair and unjust shots at me also.
You ask "would you give this man money (using a picture which makes me look like a clown). That was just hurtful and cheap.
Your cynical suggestion that the press release has come one year late to coincide with a book I am about to publish is just totally wrong. My book is not even with a publisher yet and might not find one at all. It had nothing to do with my book as you will see.
The story was first issued last year and was printed as far as I know by just one small local Hampshire newspaper (The Andover Advertiser). This year a similar story was published in the Western Daily Press (west country) and mysteriously most of the nationals suddenly picked up on it. This came as much as a surprise to me as it did to you it seems. You were correct in stating that the funding started last year and was to cover a two year period.
I do not know who the source close to Colin' is, but they sure have it wrong when it comes to the sum of money which has been given to support my two years research. The figure is wildly inaccurate, it is very significantly more than the $10,000 you state. An article in The Hampshire Chronicle also stated $10,000 and they were also corrected. Mr. Rockefeller's office have asked me not to mention actual sums, or I would only be too pleased to do so. You might have heard me say on several of the radio and TV interviews listed that just one area covered by the funding was the engagement of staff in my USA office for two years - $10,000 would not cover wages for just weeks, let alone the other considerable projects now underway. The air costs to which you refer amount to approx.... 80 pounds per hour and I will be funded to fly several times each week for approx... 24 weeks. So I am sure you can see by simple measure, your close source is not so close. Let me be even more specific - NONE of my colleagues know the sum involved so your close source is not what they make out.
I know we come from different places with this subject John, I just hoped for fairer treatment from you - I actually do have considerable time for yourself and some of your colleagues, - outside of what is going on in the fields.
I somehow do not expect that you will show this on your web site, but would hope that you might consider doing so.
If you ever want to check out facts as far as I am concerned in the future, you know where I am so please do give me a call - I hope you will allow me the same privilege some time soon.
I do not like very much the idea that according to you I have entered the arena with the 'masters of spin', having spent so many of my years begrudgingly working with them in my local government position. As I think you will see now that you have the facts, the spin you claim does not exist, just truths that were not checked out. That is the way it usually turns out.
Colin Andrews
PS:Your media listing left out a full page in The Daily Express (UK), Evening Standard (New York), BBC World Service and I am sure there are others.
PPS: John - as your site is obviously public domain, I will consider a public response to it, if you are unwilling to correct the inaccuracies - I think that is just fair. Please let me know what you decide please.
Response from John Lundberg:
Colin, I still stand by what I wrote in the article, which was as much aimed at the media - many of whom were visiting the site at the time - as it was yourself.
On reflection the caption was unnecessary. I have now changed it to something more innocuous and have replaced the photo with the one you sent me. But I must say the caption was meant to be funny not hurtful and was sparked by the photo itself, I guess humour can sometimes hurt...
From where I was sitting the whole explosion of media coverage about a year old story did seem odd and one of the only explanations I could come up with was that you wanted to stir up public interest in the circles and in turn gain some exposure for your upcoming book. The fact that at the time you also announced that your book was being promoted at this years Frankfurt Bookfair seemed to back up my assertion.

In a Spin