In the November 7 New York Times was the obituary of Geoffrey Crawley, the Englishman who proved the Cottingley Fairies were a hoax.   The Cottingley Fairies have a great deal in common with Biodynamics.

 In the summer of 1917, two young girls in England, cousins Frances age 10, and Elsie age 16, liked playing by a stream near their home which annoyed Elsie’s mother because they came home dirty.  The girls said they played by the stream because of fairies, and to prove it,  they borrowed a camera and made five photographs of cardboard cutouts of fairies.  While Elsie’s father thought the photos were fakes, the mother did not, and in 1919 the mother went to a Theosophical society meeting on “Fairy life” and showed the photos.  Edward Gardner, a prominent member of the Theosophical Society, and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (yes, the creator of Sherlock Holmes) became convinced that the photos were real.  The controversy continued into the 1970s until Geoffrey Crawley both proved that the photos were fakes and got the cousins to admit it was all a lark that got out of control. 

Here’s the connection and the parallels with Biodynamics.  Rudolf Steiner was the leader of The Theosophical Society from 1902 until 1912.  Sir Arthur Conan Doyle was the rock star of his era for his creation of the Sherlock Homes stories; he wrote an article defending the fairies as real.  On one of his many visits with the girls Edward Gardner brought Geoffrey Hodson, a clairvoyant who saw many, many fairies.  Both Gardner and Conan Doyle went on to write books supporting their belief in the Cottingley fairies and two Hollywood movies were made about them.

 So there is the parallel to Biodynamics: Rudolf Steiner and Theosophy, the support by world famous people, field confirmations by eye witnesses and the “scientific proof” of the photographs, what more could you want?  

 Yet it was all a hoax, just like biodynamic farming is a hoax.  Unfortunately, Rudolf Steiner didn’t fess up before he died. 

Stuart Smith



  1. Bill says:

    Yes, a lot of it is just silly, but adding compost to the soil, and paying attention to what is happening does improve quality, and sustainability.

    • biodynamicshoax says:

      We agree that compost and foot steps in the vineyards are good, but both activities are part of the conventional, sustainable and organic farming methodology. As such, I don’t see how supporters of Biodynamics can point to them as evidence and say “see Biodynamics works.”

  2. Bo Barrett says:

    It is astonishing that BD continues to get any true believers anymore when Rollin Soles [Dundee, Or] has proven it is the Gnomes and Bio-Gnome-nomics that really does all the magic and heavy lifting that BD is credited with!

  3. Oded Shakked says:

    Stu is so ‘On the Money’ in his response to you (pun intended…). Like him, I believe that the real benefit is farmers paying more attention to their land, period. The rest is just dogma. ‘Green’ is the religion-du-jour and Demeter is just trying to sell you their particular brand of snake oil. I know some wonderful people who farm biodynamically and it sure does not bother me if it works for them. What I can’t stand is that look of ‘you poor unbeliever who can’t see the light’ I get when I ask them very simple, direct questions about some of the practices. Same look you get from those who become Scientologists or other cult members.

  4. 1WineDude says:

    Gotta admit, I about laughed my ass off reading this! 🙂

  5. Robert C says:

    I am on the fence about all of this and have not gone into depth about Steiner and his beliefs. So what is it that the many adopters of this kind of farming are seeing? I am sure it is not fairies, but they are getting some kind of beneficial results or so many people would not be buying into it.
    Thank you for the reply and I look forward to hearing from you at Unified in January if you are there.

    • biodynamicshoax says:

      There are approximately 6,500 wineries in North America and they all want a little piece of the PR sunshine. There are the true believers that will support Steiner and Biodynamics to the bitter end, much like those that still believe autism is caused by vaccinations. Others I’ve known think Biodynamics is kinda cool and if it’s better than organic well let’s try it, no harm no foul – think information cascade. Then there are the savvy marketers to the gullible, who are capitalizing on the green hysteria that is sweeping over this country and the world.

      Some of the worst looking vineyards I’ve ever seen were Biodynamically farmed. However, if some are getting beneficial results it’s likely because of two reasons. First, they are paying more attention to their farming practices and the second is they are adding boat loads of compost to their soils. BTW, anyone can add compost, you don’t have to be Biodynamic to do it. People make all sorts of claims, so don’t get conned just because someone says “it works I’ve seen it with my own eyes.”

      Here’s something else to think about. Of the four farming paradigms, conventional, sustainable, organic and Biodynamic, only Biodynamic farming is owned by a private company, Demeter USA and thus has a vested monetary interest in its success. Think of Biodynamics as a product that Demeter USA is promoting and selling.
      Good luck,

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