1990s >> 1995 >> no-1095-november-1995

Is David Icke Serious?

It is common—and polite—to describe David Icke’s views as being somewhat ‘eccentric’; a more honest way of describing them would be ‘absolute nonsense’.

Most people will regard David Icke as a nutter, an utter nutter in fact. Which is not surprising since in his talks and books he puts forward a fantastic proposition: that the planet Earth is in the grip of hostile extraterrestrials who are behind a group of humans, “the Global Elite”, plotting to establish a world government under which we would all have microchips implanted in us linked to a central computer; since these extraterrestrials feed off our negative feelings our only hope lies in changing ourselves through substituting Love for hatred, fear and guilt. It’s a peculiar combination of 1960s’ hippyism and far-right conspiracy theories.

Icke is not the only person to put forward such views but, as a former TV sports presenter and Green Party national speaker, he has been able to obtain a much wider hearing for them than they would otherwise get. Since Icke presents them as being literally true they are open to refutation—or confirmation—by the same standards as any other claim about what happens in the world of human experience.

Mind and Matter

Icke’s basic philosophical position is that mind has priority over matter and that in fact matter was created by a mind. As he puts it in his latest book And the Truth Shall Set You Free:

“Creation is the expression of one infinite mind and all life forms are aspects of that one mind what many people call God. We are all God, if you wish to use that term. At the heart of this mind is a consciousness I see as a blinding light— the Source Consciousness from which all has been brought into existence ” (p. xiv).

We don’t now how the universe came into being or indeed that it did “come into being” (it might always have been there), but what we do know about it is that forms of matter able to think arose at a later time than non-thinking matter and non-living (i.e. non-self-reproducing) matter generally, and in fact evolved out of it. So in this sense it is matter that has priority over mind—or rather, since mind is a form of matter, that non-thinking matter has priority over thinking matter—and not vice versa.

But we don’t need to pursue this point further since Icke’s brand of philosophical idealism does not deny that an external world of physical reality exists. It is a theory of how this world came into existence and accepts that it exists independently of our minds.

Icke also puts forward a theory of the nature of the self-conscious mind that humans have:

“Contrary to what medical science is obsessed with telling us, the physical body is not the whole human being. It is a fantastic physical shell through which the eternal us experiences this physical world. There is far more to us than a body . . . Our mental, emotional, and spiritual selves are a series of magnetic energy fields interacting with each other via vortices of energy known by the Hindu and Sanskrit word, ‘chakra’, which means wheel of light. These vortices are spirals of energy which intersect all levels of our being and pass energies between them . . . We are continually absorbing magnetic energy from the cosmos, mostly through the ‘base’ chakraat the base of the spine. After this life-force has passed through our levels of being and we have taken from it what we need, we broadcast our energy through the chakras back to the cosmos and the world around us ” (pp viii-ix).

Despite Icke’s basic philosophical idealism this is a materialist theory of the self-conscious mind since it posits that it has a physical existence. It is a claim that humans are a series of electromagnetic fields and that our bodies are receivers and transmitters of electromagnetic radiation. As it is a materialist theory it can be tested against the facts established so far about the nature of the human body and of electromagnetic radiation to see whether or not it is valid.

Energy and our bodies

The human body is indeed an absorber and transmitter of energy, including some radiation energy. Most of the energy we consume, however, is chemical energy, in the form of food which our bodies convert into, mainly, mechanical energy (to enable us to work and to keep our internal organs functioning) and heat energy (to maintain our body temperature) but also some electrical energy. The electromagnetic energy we absorb is mainly through heat and light but also some ultra-violet, X- and gamma rays, and cosmic rays (which normally don’t do us any good).

So Icke is right to the extent that our bodies do act as receivers of electromagnetic radiation, particularly light, but this is not done via the base of the spine (the Sun may shine in—and out—of Icke’s backside but most people absorb light through their eyes). Heat is another form of electromagnetic radiant energy and some will indeed be absorbed via the base of the spine but equally by the rest of the external surface of the body.

It is also the case that our bodies transmit radiation energy, overwhelmingly as heat but also as some electrical activity (such as that of our brains as measured by an encephalograph) and that to do this the body has to create and maintain magnetic fields.

It may well turn out that our “mental, emotional, and spiritual selves” are actually forms of radiant energy, as Icke claims. Or it may be that they are a form of chemical and mechanical energy that is generated by electrical and radiation energy or a combination of all four forms of energy. We don’t yet know. Icke, however, makes the additional claims that the electromagnetic fields which he believes our selves to be composed of could exist in the absence of our bodies.

This is basically a claim that an electromagnetic field can exist in the absence of atoms, molecules and subatomic particles. There is no evidence at all for this since, from what we know about magnetic fields, they can only be produced by particular movements of these forms of matter.

Changing frequency

To tell the truth Icke doesn’t really know all that much about what he calls “magnetic energy” since he writes of something that “it is like two magnets attracting each other” (p. 453) and that “under the law of like attracts like, this magnetic energy field . . . will attract to it compatible energy fields” (p. x). Actually, the whole theory of magnetism and electricity is based on like repelling like. He should try putting two magnets together and see what happens.

Despite his use of scientific terms such as magnetic fields, wavelengths and frequencies, Icke seems remarkably ignorant of what would be involved in for instance increasing the frequency of electromagnetic radiation. There are various different kinds of radiation energy and these are distinguished not only by their effects but also by their wavelengths and the time within which a wavelength is completed (their frequency). Basically, the shorter the wavelength the higher can be the frequency. But if you go on changing the wavelength and frequency you eventually change the nature of the radiation, from radio waves at the bottom with the longest wavelengths and the lowest frequencies through heat and light waves and on to ultra-violet and X-rays and beyond.

Icke claims that humans can voluntarily increase the frequencies of the electromagnetic radiation our bodies generate. In fact his whole theory of the future fate of the world depends on this (according to him this is what the power of Love will enable us to do, so defeating the evil extraterrestrials and their henchmen who’ve got us in their grip).

Suppose for the moment that this were true—and that we could voluntarily move the atoms and particles in the matter that makes up our bodies in such a way as to increase the frequency of the radiation our bodies emit—what would be the effect? The main electromagnetic radiation we emit is heat. If we increased the frequency the first thing that would happen is that we would overheat and eventually burn up. After that, had our bodies not been destroyed, we would begin to emit light. Then we would become radioactive, in short, we would destroy our bodies. It is fortunate, then, that we cannot in fact change the frequency/wavelength of what electromagnetic radiation we do emit.

Not that Icke is particularly concerned that increasing the frequency of the radiation we emit would destroy our bodies since he believes that:

“at the moment we call death, our mind-emotion-spirit, everything that is the thinking, feeling us, withdraws from the body, the ‘genetic space suit’ as I call it. The eternal spirit moves on to another wavelength of reality, another ‘world’, to continue its evolution ” (p. ix).

But, on his theory of the nature of our ”mind-emotion-spirit” (“a person is a series of magnetic fields”), this cannot be. This is because without matter to be agitated an electromagnetic field cannot exist. Despite his attack on the science “which claims there is no afterlife of any kind and when this physical life is over, the lights go out forever” (p. 449) this is a corollary of the particular (materialist) theory of the nature of mind and consciousness that he has chosen to espouse. The body ceasing to exist or to function is precisely like turning out the light since switching off the current terminates the electromagnetic field on which the light depends.

We don’t yet know the exact physical nature of the human mind and consciousness but we do know that it can’t exist in the absence of a body that functions. This is our only life and only world. Which is why it is so important to concentrate all our efforts on working for a better world for humans to live in, instead of waiting for the Millennium, the Second Coming, the Age of Aquarius, the Appearance of the Maitreya or whatever.

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