The funny thing about David Icke is that he did not "invent" any of his conspiracy theories, even the wildest ones. He is responsible for their rather unique and eclectic shape, in the sense that he has taken all of this disparate information (e.g. Reptilian-humanoids, the New World Order agenda, the elite bloodlines that tend to get into power far more often than is statistically acceptable) and welded it into what is supposed to be a Grand Unified Conspiracy Theory. Even what he calls "the most extreme" information that he writes about - the idea that there is a race of reptilian humanoids that have been interbreeding with and controlling humans for thousands of years - is an idea he has received from other people.

Now, it is all too easy to dismiss David Icke as a simple raving lunatic, end of story. He himself admits that he said and did things early on, just after his "awakening" experience, that pretty much guaranteed him public ridicule, in the UK at least, for the rest of his life. He seems pretty "zen" about this in the sense that he is not letting it discourage him from continuing with his life's work. However, as with many people who have been pegged as madmen by the mainstream media, there is more to it than that.

I picked up The Biggest Secret out of curiosity, because I'd heard so many people say "David Icke, the nutcase". I brought it upstairs in Borders along with a couple of other books and bought a coffee. About three hours later I had not touched the other books, and had filled a small notebook with "facts" and questions to check out on my own. The reason I wanted to check them out was because my most frequent thought as I was reading was "This can't be true, can it?" I decided that, as I was reading a book written by "a known nutcase" that I was going to apply the most stringent tests to the information contained within it.

I went home and spent hours finding things on Google and researching the things that Icke weaves together in The Biggest Secret. I found out that yes, it does seem that there is strong evidence that Pearl Harbour was anticipated, and allowed, by the U.S. government, in order to provide an excuse to enter the war. I found out that yes, there is a huge, unexplained problem of child disappearances in the U.S. I found out that yes, the Bilderberg group does exist, and yes, George W. Bush is related to the Queen of England.

Here's the thing: everything checked out. Icke had not told a single lie or stretched the truth in any of his factual statements. His research had been painstaking. There remained, of course, ideas that I could not confirm or deny. For example, the "reptilian connection". I am not able to accept the idea of reptilian humanoids interbreeding with humans, for many different reasons, without unequivocal evidence - not because I can't imagine it to be possible - I've read a lot of science fiction - but because it is an extraordinary claim requiring extraordinary proof. Icke builds a mountain of evidence supporting his claim, from the peculiarities of European heraldic devices to the first-hand stories of people who claim to have seen others "shape-shift" between human and reptilian, but the case is not proven, any more than the case is proven about WHO killed JFK, or exactly WHAT is going on in the world.

What David Icke has managed to do is pull together an absolutely staggering amount of non-mainstream information and present it to the public. You don't have to follow his ideas to their conclusions or accept his (admittedly extreme and unique) synthesis of the material, in order to have your worldview profoundly shaken by this information. And much of his analysis is spot on. For example, it took me about a month of educating myself on economics and banking and debt to grasp that his analysis of the world economic system was quite simple and accurate.

In the end, I decided that it wasn't important whether or not he was right about the reptilians or about the New World Order conspiracy that had supposedly been in place for thousands of years. This decision was a relief to me as I had been afraid of drifting off into the realms of the "public insane" myself. I decided that what was important was that I process all of this new information myself and see where it led me; and, in fact, something that Icke emphasizes repeatedly is that he wants people to make up their own minds about everything he says. His tone throughout everything he writes is refreshingly direct and quirky, and you can't help but smile when he repeatedly describes the elder George Bush as "paedophile mass-murderer George Bush."

(The thing about that is, George Bush the elder may or may not be a paedophile and a mass-murderer - I am not in a position to comment on that - but he has definitely been involved in some very dodgy things that were kept out of the public eye. Mostly. For example, he was a central figure in the Iran Contra Affair, and there is copious evidence linking him to CIA drug-running operations. Don't label me a conspiracy theorist before you do your own research on this topic.)

So, to finish up, it is a very easy thing to ridicule David Icke, and if you want to do this you can rest easy in the knowledge that you are acting with the same level of discrimination and humour as most of the tabloid-reading population of the United Kingdom. You have proved that you value conformity and will use your intellectual weapons to attack those who depart from it - congratulations. There is nothing wrong with you and there most certainly is something "wrong" with David Icke. He is not writing as a balanced, objective scientist, nor does he claim to be. What he claims to be doing is, as far as I can see, exactly what he does do - present a huge amount of very challenging information, offer his own synthesis of it (which he admits is evolving and necessarily flawed), and leave the reader free to decide what to do - throw the book at the wall, laugh about it with their friends in the pub, or find out a little more about some of the social structures they mostly take for granted.

Yes, he once said that he was "the son of god". However, he also said "and so are we all". But you don't read that in the papers.

David Icke's website: