Icke is not the only conspiracy theorist to have been accused of promoting anti-Semitism under the cover of space aliens or the occult. The German author Jan Van Helsing (a.k.a. Jan Udo Holey) also draws on the Protocols of the Elders of Zion and other anti-Semitic works, and he has been convicted in France of inciting racial hatred. His books have been banned in several European countries as a result.
The settlement, while large, will not badly hurt Icke, whose financial empire places him in a suspiciously similar category to the Jewish-Reptilian bankers he despises. The book in question sold more than 55,000 copies, according to Warman, generating at least tens of thousands in royalties. (If he received 10% of the cover price, a standard royalty, he stood to make somewhere between $75,000 and $120,000.) A single stage show in Time Square in 2011 brought in a gross of £94,500 ($140,800) in ticket sales, according to the Daily Mail. Keep in mind that Icke had a large number of books in print and has held much larger stage shows around the world—not to mention his pricey line of David Icke merchandise and the premium memberships he offers to his website. He could probably suffer a libel settlement every couple of years without noticing.
Well, that was depressing.
As a palate cleanser, I thought I’d offer a little more discussion of some of Jacques Vallée’s and Chris Aubeck’s crappy scholarship in Wonders in the Sky (2009). Even though they have a major publisher (Penguin) and, for Vallée, international respect, it’s at least satisfying to see that they lack even basic understanding of their own work, and that their publisher simply didn’t care about the quality of the book. Remember, Penguin described the book as “one of the most ambitious works of paranormal investigation of our time, […] written with rigor.” (Disclosure: Penguin is now part of Penguin Random House, which distributes my Cult of Aliens Gods internationally on behalf of Prometheus Books.)
This time let’s look at the pair’s presentation of two different versions of a passage from Gaimar’s History of the English (lines 5359-5374), whose bibliography they mightily misunderstand:
1854 prose translation
by Joseph Stevenson
In this year, truly, several people saw a sign; in appearance it was fire: it flamed and burned fiercely in the air; it came near to the earth, and for a little time quite illuminated it; afterwards it revolved and ascended up on high, then descended into the bottom of the sea; in several places it burned woods and plains. No man knew with certainty what this divined, nor what this sign signified. In the country of the Northumbrians this fire showed itself; and in two seasons of one year were these demonstrations.
1889 line by line translation
by Thomas Duffy Hardy
This year truly
Many folk saw a sign
In likeness of fire it was,
In the air it greatly flamed and burned:
Towards the earth it approached,
For a little it quite lighted up.
Then it revolved above,
Then fell into the deep sea.
In many places it burnt woods and plains.
There was no man who was certain
Nor who knew what this meant,
Nor what this sign portended.
In the country of Northumberland
This fire went about showing itself;
And in one year, in two seasons,
Were these displays.
The parallel passage in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle fails to mention the comet, as the authors discuss from the 1937 text. This suggests that it is a fictitious interpolation. But because the authors don’t understand that Gaimar was translating and versifying the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, this conclusion escapes them.
To my interest, the most unusual thing about Gaimar is that he chose to make the Argonauts the opening act in his history of England, though sadly that part of the text does not survive.