Americans might need reminding about David Icke. He was a British soccer player who went on to become a popular sports presenter for BBC television in the Eighties, and that’s how most people thought of him until he popped up on the Wogan talk show in 1991 and agreed that, yes, the reports were true: he was the Son of God. Icke appeared with a mullet haircut, a turquoise tracksuit — turquoise is ‘the frequency of love and wisdom’ — and the blank eyes of a madman. The world would end in 1997, he told the audience, who reacted with laughter. He replied that people had laughed at Jesus too.

The laughter was liberating. The mockery of the small-minded lost its sting and he became a proto-Alex Jones, the TV conspiracy theorist host of Infowars, only with more mysticism. In 2011, he wrote Children of the Matrix about how the world is controlled by an ‘interdimensional race’. That’s the one where he says the Queen is an alien lizard, along with George W. Bush, Bill Clinton, William F. Buckley, David Rockefeller and Burt Bacharach. Wouldn’t someone notice if the Queen were a reptile? No, Icke writes: ‘Insiders have told me that the reptilians need to drink human (mammalian) blood to maintain human form and stop their reptilian DNA codes from manifesting their true reptilian state.’

Icke believes the blood drinking happens at Bohemian Grove, a retreat set in 2,700 acres of California redwood forest. Alex Jones managed to sneak into it once ‘disguised in hooded robes’ and claims to have witnessed ‘ancient Satanic rituals’ performed by members of America’s elite. A spokesman for Bohemian Grove told the Washington Post that people gathered there to ‘share a passion for the outdoors, music and theater’.

Icke demonstrates that there is literally nothing you can say so outlandish it will stop people from following you: vaccines will barcode us with ‘quantum dots’; vaccines contain agents to sterilize 90 percent of the population; vaccines will mutate our genes so we become slaves to an AI supercomputer. Behind all this is The Spider, a ‘non-human force operating beyond…human perception’. It acts through The Cult, the lizard-human hybrids, giving them new technologies during the Satanic ritual witnessed by Jones. Bill Gates is one of The Cult’s leaders, obviously.

How could anyone take this seriously? Perhaps because the stuff about lizards is the thick end of a wedge that starts with Icke citing respectable scientific papers. Many fans probably don’t buy the full Satanic-alien-lizard plot but go with him part of the way, then further and further. The madness is seductive. A favorite tactic is to interview an ‘expert whistleblower’, someone who can supposedly speak with authority both as a scientist and as an insider. One was Celeste Solum, described as an employee for 20 years at the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), which Icke calls ‘a 100 percent front’ for The Cult.

Reuters checked with FEMA, who said they had no record of a Celeste Solum ever working there. When Solum spoke to me over Zoom from her home in Montana, she said they had been looking under the wrong name. She brandished a bomber jacket with a FEMA badge to prove she had been an employee. She was 67, with a gray bob and a quavering voice. Disagreeing with her was a bit like beating up someone’s grandmother. Still, I pressed her about her background in ‘pediatrics and dentistry’. In fact, she had started, but not finished, training as a nurse and had then worked as a dental assistant. But she read ’50 to 60’ scientific journals and it was from these that she had learned that COVID testing is really about mind control.

The swabs used in COVID tests were, she told me, laced with a substance called hydrogel, which she said had been developed by DARPA, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency. It was made of nanoparticles that could change ‘the body’s magnetism and the spin of the body’s atoms’. The nanoparticles reassemble inside you into little devices capable of transmitting and receiving. That was why the test nurses shoved the cotton swab so painfully far up your nose, she said, to get as close to the brain as possible. ‘Do I believe that the average doctor or nurse knows? No. Do I believe that planetary managers know? Absolutely. This technology has been under development for a long time.’

Hydrogel does exist — I checked — and it does contain nanoparticles. And DARPA is trying to make a small sensor that can monitor a soldiers’ health, including whether they are fighting an infection such as COVID. But there is, needless to say, no evidence that hydrogel is being used for mind control or — Solum’s other concern — to deliver poisons to start thinning out the population.

I asked her for evidence or even just to explain how the nanoparticles are engineered to work in the malevolent way she describes. She produced reams of government documents but, of course, these didn’t prove anything. She told me she had traveled to Washington DC, to show another journalist the same documents. At the end of their meeting, she asked how he would cover the story and was devastated when he said it would be a piece about conspiracy theories. ‘Is that what this is?’ she asked me sadly.

Arguing with a conspiracy theorist is almost always a waste of time. Even the stubborn refusal of the world to end on schedule in 1997 hasn’t changed Icke’s mind about his prophecies. But it’s a mistake to ban him and his ‘experts’ from YouTube, Facebook and Twitter. If they come for Icke today, they’ll come for you tomorrow. The price of this is that some people will listen to Icke when he says that COVID-19 is a ‘hoax’— and decide not to get the vaccine. That is when ‘poor, mad David Icke’ — as he was called after appearing on Wogan — becomes much less of a joke.

This article was originally published in The Spectator’s June 2021 World edition.