Toronto Aetherius Society: His Master’s Voice, stuff that goes boom, and a lack of proof (Part 2)

 
After about an hour of bringing us up to speed on who King was and the beliefs of the Aetherius Society, Jaggard got into the “irrefutable evidence”. Alas, it was nothing like an alien body or parts of a saucer. Jaggard admits he believes the existence of alien-piloted UFOs is a given. Me, I’m not so sure. Anyway, his evidence was, basically, three anecdotes. For anyone who follows Michael Horn, Billy Meier‘s acoly … errr authorized American media representative, this kind of so-called evidence is familiar. It runs like this: George King is on record for knowing x before anyone else could have possibly known. Since King could not have gotten x from any conventional terrestrial source, it could only have come from the Cosmic Intelligences. (Hi, Michael. Welcome to the comments section!)

Anecdote 1: The Russian Incident

On April 18, 1958, an alien called Mars Sector 6 informed King that there was a nuclear accident in the Soviet Union and hundreds of people were killed. It would have been worse but the aliens used some kind of technology to suck up large amounts of the radiation (enough to kill 17 million people). No one but those in the Soviet Union knew about the accident. The world did not find out until Zhores Medvedev defected to the west and exposed the story in the New Scientist in 1976. As it turns out in September of 1957 there was a nuclear accident in the Soviet Urals. How could King have known about something the world was clueless about until a couple decades later?

In laying out this evidence, Jaggard appeared to be reading the “prediction” (well, it’s technically a revelation of something that happened in the past) from King’s book You Are Responsible! I have a copy before me and found the section he appeared to be reading from. The most obvious problem is the prediction gives no specifics. No dates, times, or locations. The USSR is (or I should say “was”) a pretty big place. Is getting a hit on “at some point the Soviets will have a nuclear accident or maybe have had one” really a remarkable hit? It’s a pretty safe bet the Soviets had a few nuclear disasters as they entered the atomic age.

The major problem is the New York Times and other papers carrying UP stories were abuzz on April 13-14, 1958 about a possible nuclear accident in the USSR:

Soviet Catastrophe Reported
Copenhagen, Denmark, April 13 UP — Berlingske Tidende, Denmark’s biggest newspaper, said today the recent Soviet nuclear tests had to be broken off because of a “catastrophic accident”. The newspaper, quoting information reaching Copenhagen through diplomatic channels from Moscow, did not define the nature of the reported accident, but said it caused radioactive fallout over the Soviet and many neighboring states to increase to the danger point.

I remind you King made his prediction April 18, 1958 (four or five days later). It seems plausible to me that King (or Mars Sector 6) was simply able to read the day’s headlines about such speculation. Did King get this information from an alien or newspapers? Hmmm.

Jaggard touched upon one backstop. Someone from the Aetherius Society showed Medvedev the original account and Jaggard claimed Medvedev claimed the report was stunningly accurate. Jaggard didn’t highlight what was so accurate about the report. We also have to assume Medvedev was quoted accurately. That’s not an assumption one makes in Ufology (or creationism or holocaust denial, et al.) Let me see the full quote. For example, the alien autopsy film proponents claimed a report by Kodak verified that authenticity of the film. Wow! But Kodak offered no such validation.

Oddly, Medvedev makes no mention in his New Scientist interview about the miraculous containment of massive amounts of radiation. Wouldn’t he have mentioned it then? I find it difficult to believe Medvedev would stamp the King claim as amazingly accurate with the claim about the massive release of radiation vacuumed up by space aliens present.

Anecdote 2: The Windscale Accident

In October of 1957, England’s first nuclear power plant (Windscale) had a fire. The government claimed the accident was not serious. King, however, claimed the Cosmic Intelligences told him (on October 29)  the government was not giving a true account of the accident. Documents released in 1989 showed the government, in fact, did not give a true account of the accident. The government’s 1957 secret report was prepared the day before King’s Cosmic Intelligences report.

In the late 1950s, the UK wanted the US to see it as a responsible nuclear partner. It did not want to seem like a nation that doesn’t know what it’s doing with nuclear technology. And it wanted access to US research instead of having to recreate it from the ground up. Of course the government wasn’t going to give a true account to the public and seem like it was an irresponsible nuclear partner. You don’t need to be in contact with all-seeing space aliens to suggest any government in any nuclear disaster, especially relating to a weapons program, isn’t going to tell the full story. Water is wet.

Jaggard, when laying out the evidence, noted people were reporting isotopes as far away as Australia and the radiation evidence was not jibing with the government report. Clearly there was already skepticism among the public. It sure seems to me King was merely echoing public skepticism. Would the British tabloid press not question the government account during the course of the accident? Would non-government scientists not go “well, if they’re detecting this amount of radiation in Australia then it’s an educated guess the disaster is worse than the government is letting on.”

A page here gives a couple transcripts of contemporary news reports. The Whitehaven News on October 11 reported some troubling findings. The paper reported there “…came disturbing reports from the monitoring vans which were touring the  district testing vegetation and air “.  This was 18 days before King’s supposed message from the Cosmic Intelligences.

It certainly sounds like there was enough alarming news to make anyone with a strong anti-nuclear stance consider the reality on the ground wasn’t matching the government account. So, like Anecdote 1, King could easily have been repeating what he read in the newspaper. No slam dunk here.

To further support this astounding non-claim, Jaggard noted the timing of King’s revelation and the government document seemed too close to be mere coincidence. King was only one day off. Unfortunately, Jaggard doesn’t consider how many degrees of freedom are involved in suggesting a “hit” is too improbable to be coincidence. If King came up with it three days before or a month after, would he still be calling this a hit? If the publication date of the document wasn’t a good match, maybe the date the government experts first convened the panel is a hit. Or when they adjourned is a hit. It’s very easy, retrospectively, to find any two data points that correlate in some loose fashion.

Anecdote 3: Chernobyl Disaster Predicted

Aetherius members charging a spiritual energy battery (from a BBC Documentary "Out Of This World")

In April 1986, King was ostensibly told by the Cosmic Intelligences to take some unprecedented action in preparation for a disaster. Jaggard did not make it clear what they were actually doing. They were doing something with an unnamed device for several days, apparently several days longer than they had ever done before. I suspect he was referring to “prayer batteries” adherents believe they can charge up with karma energy or something. Jaggard seemed to avoid getting into some of the manifestly sillier claims of adherents, like the prayer battery notion or that King flew in a space ship with Jesus (god was literally his co-pilot!) and defeated aquatic space aliens. The upshot is King claims he received the message five hours before the Chernobyl disaster (April 26). The USSR didn’t officially admit the disaster happened until April 28. How did King know some five hours before the disaster happened and a couple days before the official admission?

The argument here seems to be “We were doing something we’ve never done before and something unusual happened in the USSR. So our unusual activity is evidence we knew that disaster was coming.”

Again, like Jaggard’s second anecdote, this is classic post-hoc reasoning. Something odd happened. So we look for something odd we might have done before, find something, and then make a connection. But we forget all the other times we were doing other odd things and nothing odd happened within some undefined space of time.

We also are asked to simply accept the truth of this account. Was this the first time they had run the machines for such a span of time? I don’t know. I don’t, for one, accept Scientology’s accounts of L. Ron Hubbard’s boyhood unquestionably. Perhaps this is all documented but if not properly documented, this claim is not irrefutable evidence. I need to take the word of someone with a vested interest.

Finally, the times don’t add up. They started charging up prayer batteries (or started working some device) two days before the Soviet announcement (and the day before reports of radiation that many assumed at first was a Swedish nuclear accident). But, and maybe I heard this wrong, going more than a couple days had never been done before. So it seems they were not into their record activity until they knew about the disaster. Since they believed it would help, they’d keep it going. And, sure, doing something with this device five hours before the accident seems like a hit but Jaggard gave us no information how often they “topped up” this prayer battery (assuming that was the unidentified gadget). Do they do it every other day? Every week at a regular schedule? I need a lot more information before I’m willing to call it a “hit”.

Summing Up the Evidence

So, what do we have? Three stories and all lacking prospective specifics. Lots of 20/20 hindsight claims and information that could have simply been known reading a newspaper. Combine this with what I described in part 1 (claims that don’t jibe with scientific evidence and space men stories that strongly parallel popular works of fiction), well, I see nothing irrefutable. There are many plausible explanations King followers have not considered or eliminated as sources of King’s knowledge.

His Master’s Voice

Near the end of the talk, Jaggard let us listen to a recording of one of the Cosmic Intelligences. I think it was supposed to be Aetherius, kind of the Gandalf the White of the space people. Technically it wasn’t Aetherius’s voice itself. It was King channeling Aetherius. The Aetherius Society has several archives of these recordings. Jaggard claimed the BBC had listened to several samples over the years and concluded the voice remained the same, something that was impossible with the normal human voice. That rings true. I used to do a comedy radio show back in the late 1980s when I was in my twenties. I still have the tapes. My voice is certainly different then as compared to my podcast voice at forty five. However, did the BBC really make that claim? I’d like to see the BBC’s full report. If you tell me you have a unicorn in your backyard, I might not just take your word for it…

Even if the BBC claim is accurate, one needs to have the BBC’s methodology peer reviewed. As well, the claim a voice can’t remain the same over years might be true for someone speaking in their own voice. King might just be doing a voice, like a comedian might do an impression of Christopher Walken. If you’re purposely trying to do a voice that’s not your own, can you be reasonably consistent over the years? Did Mel Blanc’s Bugs Bunny voice change over the fifty years he did it?

The recording itself was, charitably, painful to listen to. I’m rather glad King’s adherents have never adopted Aetherius’s staccato speech pattern. You can listen to a sample via this Youtube video (at the 8 minute mark). This is not the sample we were allowed to listen to. However, in the sample we listened to I noticed one thing. Aetherius kept referring to earth people as “Terrans”. If you recall from part 1, Jaggard stressed the space parliament wasn’t quite a space parliament. That was just a term the Cosmic Intelligences were using so King might have a better understanding; language he was familiar with. But now the space aliens were using “Terrans” instead of “Earthlings” or “humans”. Who calls themselves Terrans? Who calls Earth “Terra”? You would expect someone trying to sound space alien-y to refer to humans as Terrans and to Earth as Terra. It reminded me of a quip the cast of Skeptics’ Guide to the Universe made a long time ago. They were watching someone who claimed to channel the spirit of an Indian warrior. The channeler sounded just like an American except every now and then she’d throw in namaste just to sound Indian.

Putting the Lack of Evidence Aside

What do these Aetherius Society people do? They seem entirely pleasant. Not the stereotypical Heaven’s Gaters. Jaggard stressed several times that their group’s philosophy was about service to your fellow human beings. Service to family isn’t enough. You need to help your neighbor shovel his drive way or help a homeless person. Also the message was one about deep personal responsibility. An evil cabal isn’t out to harsh your life. Your failings are frequently your own. Success is going to be a lot of hard work and a lot of self-sacrifice.

Jaggard wasn’t offering the Shamwow of new age spiritualism. I really liked him. I think he’s found a belief system to anchor his life. Atheists and Christians find belief systems as well and do just as fine. That does not argue for the truth of the underlying claims. That an ancient civilization’s calendar works well is not evidence its idea that gods move the planets is true.

Terry notes: “I have always wondered why religionists will jeopardize a perfectly good message by trying to prove something totally unrelated and usually unnecessary about their faith. It’s as if they’re implying their values are not persuasive on their own, therefore they must compel us to submit via use of proofs.”

I don’t particularly agree with the rationalizations he marshals to justify his life philosophy of service. There’s some good advice behind Jaggard’s spiritual dress. Sometimes you need to take a long, hard look at yourself in the mirror. Your socks might need a long way to pull up. But you don’t need space men to tell you that.

And I’m sure after the Fukushima disaster, any kind of consciousness raising group that combines an anti-nuclear stance with yoga has some game with the kids. That is, if the kids can overlook the old-school sci fi Venusian hokum…

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