Toronto Aetherius Society: Jesus, Venusians, and some bad astronomy (Part 1)

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My best friend Terry has, for the want of something to occupy his time, decided to become the leading expert on the Betty and Barney Hill UFO abduction case. I keep promising the listeners of my Conspiracy Skeptic podcast that I’m going to have him on as a guest and blow the lid off the claims of many of the prominent Ufologist who have built careers around the idea the Hill Case is a slam dunk for Ufology. (Note, this “blow the lid off” claim is my hyperbole, not Terry’s.) Terry is “still working on it”. Every time he thinks he’s got the full skinny he discovers the onion has another layer. Terry is a perfectionist. I have learned in my 30+ years of friendship with him it’s impossible to rush him. Genius eventually tumbles out of his brain.

The Hill case is usually described as the first UFO abduction case and created the template for what is consider legitimate features of the abduction mythos: grey aliens, invasive medical experiments, and missing time. The 50th anniversary of the Hill case actually passed in September 2011 with little fanfare. This was not too surprising as much of North American culture was concerned with the 10th anniversary of a demonstrably real and more terrifying event that took place on Sept 11, 2001.

Contactees

Previous to the rise of the UFO abduction myth, 1950s Ufology was populated with “contactees”. Contactees were people who claimed to have been contacted by space aliens and were usually given a very contemporaneous message. The 1950s was the start of the Cold War and to many in the West, it seemed a war the godless Soviets were winning. The Soviets seemed to be winning in the race to space and in nuclear weapons development. No doubt many people would take solace in a belief that benevolent space aliens were up there, standing ready to enforce the peaceful use of space and save us all from nuclear madness.

Many skeptics are probably vaguely familiar with the contactee movement via the seminal work on cults and cognitive dissonance called When Prophecy Fails. A UFO cult formed around a contactee who predicted the end of the world on a specific date. When Prophecy Fails documents what happens to the members when, as the researchers suspected, the world didn’t end. How did they rationalize it?

One of the biggest names in the contactee movement was American George Adamski. Adamski had some pretty far out claims:

1) In 1952, a space alien from Venus contacted Adamski and warned him about the dangers of nuclear war.

2) Adamski was taken on a UFO and given a tour of the solar system.

3) People were being reincarnated onto other planets, notably Venus.

Remember this list because it’s going to sound familiar shortly.

The idea that planets within our solar system support advanced intelligent life seems quaint today. We know Venus is hot enough to melt lead and is not a jungle planet. Mars is not a Dune-like world with sword-wielding Amazons riding lizards. But in the 1950s, intelligent life within our solar system was a feature of sci fi literature, TV shows, and movies. The contactee movement well parroted it.

Ufology has largely moved beyond the contactee movement, probably somewhat embarrassed by their unsophisticated claims later proven false by real space exploration. Adamski today is the poster child for the silliness of the times. Modern contactees are largely shunned by “serious” Ufologists. Even as early as 1965, Ufologists Jacques Vallee commented (according to wiki) “No serious investigator has ever been very worried by the claims of the ‘contactees’.”

Surely, no one adheres to these 1950s contactee myths today?

UK Contactee George King

Well, yes. Yes, people still do. My friend Terry pointed out to me an alternative Toronto bookstore called Origo Books was hosting on January 21, 2012 a talk by Allan Jaggard called “A True UFO Contactee”. It was subtitled “The Irrefutable Evidence of the Claims of Dr. George King”. Not many people on this side of the pond have ever heard of King. The wiki page on contactees doesn’t feature King beyond merely listing him among dozens of claimants. King has fallen so far off the skeptical radar, there’s little online skeptical content about him. Randi’s skeptical dictionary seems to be the main source, offering a few brief passages on him and his Aetherius Society.

Although George King is not a ready name on the lips of many skeptics, Terry is what record collectors would call a “completionist” and he had heard of him. Terry suggested we attend the lecture. It could be interesting. The lecture promised:

“…overwhelming irrefutable evidence that will show to any logical, open‐minded thinker, that the claims of this true cosmic channel are valid and of the utmost importance to all upon Earth.”

Proof! Irrefutable evidence! Sounded like a fine way to spend a Saturday afternoon in January. I was also particularly intrigued to meet someone who, in this day and age, actually still believes there’s an advanced civilization on Venus. My own bias had me imagining someone not unlike Mork & Mindy‘s Exidor. (Exidor, like so many UFO contactees of the 1950s, was hung up on the notion of Venusian saviors.)

The Talk

Speaker Allan Jaggard in "the loft" at Origo Books

Jaggard turned out not to be a guy in a dirty cassock. Jaggard, one of the founding members of the Toronto Aetherius Society, was an extremely dapper man in his mid-fifties. Jaggard wore a nicely tailored dark suit, blue shirt, and a perfectly coordinated tie. Your classic Harry Rosen man. George Hrab could take sartorial lessons from him. His public persona was as polished and pleasing as his dress. The talk ran about 3 hours with a short break. If this had been a university night course, it would have been agony but Jaggard was such an engaging speaker one barely noticed the passage of time.

The talk began with a history of King and the beliefs of the Aetherius Society. King, now deceased, was a British yoga practitioner back in the 1950s and a pacifist during World War 2. Yoga today might be all the rage but I’m sure in the 1950s it was considered as alien as, well, space aliens. Jaggard alleged that King had achieved such an advanced yogic state that he (and he alone) was worthy of being contacted by “Cosmic Intelligences”. (This is a ready-made counter to the common objection “why are contactees housewives and farmers and not Einstein?” Wouldn’t Einstein better understand an alien message and reach more people instantly? Clearly the answer is Einstein just needed to spend more time on a yoga mat instead of in front of a blackboard.)

In 1954, the Cosmic Intelligences contacted King. These Cosmic Intelligences are ostensibly aliens from Mars and Venus who spoke to King telepathically. The Cosmic Intelligences represent a cosmic parliament and warned him about the dangers of nuclear energy. Humans can reincarnate onto other planets in our solar system, like Venus. And, BTW, Jesus was from Venus. Jaggard made a side note that the “parliament” concept might sound kind of funny but the space aliens were just trying to explain things to King in language he might understand, being he was British. This aside will become relevant in part 2.

Reviewing the above, we can see King and Adamski both had the same message: nuclear energy is bad, Venusian reincarnation, and both claimed to have been flown around the solar system on space ships. Adamski’s contactee story, however, preceded King’s by two years (1952 vs 1954). Both had a message contemporaneous with the times and, oddly, the plot of The Day the Earth Stood Still which came out in 1951. My friend Terry noted another similarity with The Day the Earth Stood Still. During the talk Jaggard read a prophesy about the Aetherius Society messiah who will replace the late King. We would recognize him, partially, by his dress. He would wear “a single garment of the type now known to you. His shoes will be soft-topped, yet not made of the skin of animals.”

“Oh, exactly what Klaatu wears in the movie,” quipped Terry.

I came to the talk hoping to point out to Jaggard we’ve actually been to Mars and Venus with landers and found conditions quite inhospitable to humanoid life. It was naive of me to think Jaggard had never heard of this objection before. Yes, Jesus was from Venus. Yes, there’s intelligent life on Venus. Yes, Venus has a poisonous crushing atmosphere. But these are not corporeal beings. They’re kind of spirit beings, they live on a different “vibrational” plane of existence. I guess. But it made me wonder was that King’s original claim or was that a retcon to adapt knowledge gained from landers? Examining King’s book You Are Responsible! (1961) where he records many supposed conversations with these Martians and Venusians we see passages like:

“What is the temperature of those on Venus who use a physical body?”

“On Venus…some of our younger ones eat and drink the juice from certain berries and the juice that’s given off by certain trees.”

That sounds to me like King believed there were beings on Venus in physical bodies and there were trees and other plant life.

King also claims to have traveled to Mars and described buildings, “longitudinal vegetation belts”, and Martian soil to be radioactive. As best I can tell, no lander has found radioactive regolith. And my good friend and semi-regular Conspiracy Skeptic guest Stuart Robbins has spent over five years staring at high resolution images of Mars and he’s never mentioned seeing vegetation. Or buildings.

I suggest King never went to Mars.

To be fair, the book does make a lot of references about the aliens being able to acquire new bodies as needed for the local conditions so there is a textual basis for claiming the aliens are in some kind of spirit form and ostensibly not subject to rather deplorable living conditions on Venus. But the book does seem to make it pretty clear there are trees on Venus.

Regarding the “vibrational plane” concept, Jaggard pulled out the Quantum Mechanics gambit to support it. The audience, mostly your energy healer types, nodded in agreement. For those still skeptical, Jaggard had a quip that made me nearly fall out of my chair.

“When you die, what does a scientist say? A scientist says you go to heaven! But you don’t!”

Really? Scientists say that?

The Asteroid Belt and Planet X

I really had to bite down hard on my tongue at the scientist quip. Remember: Don’t be a dick. And as a podcaster who doesn’t follow a script, I do realize when speaking freely with my guests I do say a lot of stupid things and make a lot of mistakes. Jaggard may not have actually meant scientists. He was answering an unexpected floor question and had to deviate a bit from his prepared talk.

But I did let out an audible “fah!” when Jaggard claimed humans came to earth from another planet that we destroyed with runaway nuclear technology. The planet was known as Maldek and became the asteroid belt after exploding. The idea that the asteroid belt was a destroyed planet (from a collision) was an early hypothesis about its origins but that hypothesis was abandoned as it is not supported by the evidence. The objects in the asteroid belt largely just accreted in place. The lines of evidence for this run:

1) The matter in the asteroid belt is about 4% of the moon’s mass. Nowhere near a planet’s size.

2) There’s not enough mass to have accreted into a planet.

3) The gravity from Jupiter prevents the matter from further accretion.

4) Asteroid chemistry is inconsistent with having once been part of a planet.

Jaggard claimed scientists have recovered material from the asteroid belt in the form of meteorites and have proven they came from a planet blown apart by a nuclear accident. He did not name the researchers.

Jaggard’s other astronomy claim was there’s a Planet X about five times the size of Earth in the solar system. He quoted a couple NASA scientists who claim data from Pioneer 10 and 11 and the irregularities in the orbits of Uranus and Neptune were evidence for a Planet X. I believe, he was quoting from news reports from 1987. Like the origin of the asteroid belt, Jaggard’s knowledge is out of date regarding the state of Planet X and the orbits of Neptune and Uranus. Measuring the mass of a distant planet isn’t easy. A small error in the mass can lead to incorrect orbits. The Voyager 2 mission eventually gave us a better measure of Neptune’s mass and therefore the orbits of Neptune and Uranus. This has been in the literature since 1993. Their orbits are fully explained . One does not have to invoke a Planet X.

Oddly enough, Jaggard didn’t seem to read the 1987 report correctly or the Reuters version he was using got its facts incorrect. He claims “Data from two US Pioneer Spacecraft point increasingly to the likelihood of an undiscovered 10th planet beyond the orbit of Jupiter.” According to the NYT article, “…two Pioneer spacecraft traveling far beyond the known planets have failed to find any evidence to support speculation that a 10th planet is out there somewhere…” The rest of the NYT article continues explaining how there could still be a Planet X despite a lack of confirming Pioneer data.

Jaggard also suggested we could not see this Planet X as it was in a strange orbit at a right angle to the solar plane. Since we can see the full 360 degrees of the sky from Earth, there’s no orbit where such a planet could remain hidden from optical telescopes, unless it were extremely far away. I was a bit confused about the significance of the Planet X comment although I think he was suggesting true Aetherius Society devotees will one day be reincarnated onto this planet.

After the talk I did get a chance to point out to Jaggard his astronomy seems to not have been updated in recent years. It was curiously redolent of 1950s ideas of the solar system. Terry pointed out people in these things tend to find the scientific evidence they think confirms their belief but don’t seem to understand science revises knowledge as we learn more. They don’t periodically check to see if 30-year-old evidence is still accurate.

It reminds me of HIV denialists who point to some of the early disagreement over the origin of HIV (was it related to a monkey virus or a sheep virus?) as evidence scientists are so in the dark about HIV origins that there’s a good chance it doesn’t exist. They don’t consider findings over the last quarter century have eliminated the disagreement.

To the asteroid belt claim, Jaggard suggested some scientists disagree with the current theory. He didn’t supply any names and I would not expect him to come so prepared. He might have been referring to the work of the late Canadian astronomer Michael Ovenden who hypothesized this in 1972. Ovenden’s idea hasn’t gained any traction in forty years. There appears to be no controversy about this among scientists. Sorry, it was never a planet.

A Maldeki...errr Mysterian from an astroid belt planet destroyed by nuclear weapons

Terry pointed out an interesting parallel between King’s Maldek claim and a 1957 Japanese sci fi movie called The Mysterians. The movie is about aliens who came from a planet that was in the current asteroid belt. Get this. The planet was destroyed by nuclear weapons! Familiar? According to this source, the Maldek “revelation” was transmitted to King on April 7, 1960. The Mysterians had its US release May 1959. I have no information if this movie had a UK release or whether or not King was in the USA or if King ever heard of this movie via press or letters from an American follower. But as Jaggard was given to say a few times, isn’t that an interesting coincidence? Hmmm.

To the Planet X claim he noted it wasn’t really a central tenet of Aetherius Society beliefs. I suggested to him if he gave the talk again, astronomy buffs might turn out (since he does claim to offer proof of UFOs). If he’s getting some basic astronomy wrong, they’re going to mentally shut down. Our conversation was friendly. Jaggard did not seem offended or taken aback by my pointing out he was wrong.

Okay, this is getting long. I’m going to break this into two parts. Next installment we’ll get into the irrefutable evidence.

One Response to “Toronto Aetherius Society: Jesus, Venusians, and some bad astronomy (Part 1)”

  1. Oscar says:

    (on behalf of Brian Keneipp, Executive Director of The Aetherius Society in America)

    Dear Karl,

    You certainly are not the first person through the years who has been somewhat skeptical towards our Teachings. They are after all a little different from the beliefs held by most. However, I will say you were quite gentlemanly about it, for which I thank you. You also pointed out correctly near the end of your articles that Allan and The Aetherius Society profess a belief system that stresses service to others, which is very true.

    It seems the crux of your article is in refuting Allan’s claim for

    “…overwhelming irrefutable evidence that will show to any logical, open‐minded thinker, that the claims of this true cosmic channel are valid and of the utmost importance to all upon Earth.”

    It sounds to me that Allan did in fact present excellent evidence that would stand up favorably to an open-minded person looking for truth. However, providing irrefutable evidence to a skeptic is nigh on impossible.

    Allan did not make clear his definition of open mindedness. You are, by definition, a professional skeptic and one seemingly anchored to current scientific theory. But science is a growing and changing modality. As you will know the greatest scientific minds on Earth theorized that Earth was the center of the Universe for centuries. Before Hubble in the 1920s astronomers were convinced there was but one Galaxy. And who was predicting water on Mars ten years ago?

    We believe that we have wisdom that combines the spiritual traditions of the past with a greater understanding of the cosmos in which we live, which is not necessarily the same as the orthodox scientist. These teachings conclude that the most important thing that anyone can do in these days is give service to others. We prefer not to spend too much time in philosophizing. We try and teach others the importance of developing their spirituality, no matter what tradition that is. We offer the information that has been given to us regarding the cosmos and try to explain this in the context of current scientific and metaphysical knowledge. We also offer what we feel are effective ways to help the world for those who wish to join with is. We are, however, very careful to let people be the judge of their own path. This is why Allan informed me that he stated that night, as well as during every talk he gives:

    “Don’t believe anything that I say, just listen and absorb what I say and then use your own logic and discrimination and make up your own mind.”

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