This article is a preview from the Winter 2014 edition of New Humanist. You can find out more and subscribe here.

It’s been a strange year for David Icke, although the same could be said about any year since 1990, when he was first contacted by the psychic healer who shared with him the secrets that he so famously later revealed on Wogan. In some ways, you could say he’s been vindicated. For years he has claimed that people operating at the highest levels of the establishment were members of secret paedophile networks, claims that now routinely appear on the front pages of our newspapers. Many of the people at the centre of these stories were even specifically named by Icke in print years ago. Maybe he was right all along. Disappearing dossiers and inquiry chiefs with close links to those associated with the claims do little to discourage the idea of an elaborate cover-up.

But even on this issue Icke’s credibility is compromised by his habit of naming more or less everyone and claiming they are all part of the same network. Inevitably, he’s going to be right once in a while – after all, if you throw enough shit at a stopped clock, some of it will stick. And throw shit he does. On stage in front of thousands of people at Wembley Arena on a bright Saturday in October, he names several high-ranking (living) politicians, both here and the US, and claims they are paedophiles. How can he do this without fear of the legal repercussions? Because no one would want to engage with him. This is a man famous for believing the world is run by lizards.

Except that’s a very crude description of his theories. In brief, he argues that the universe is made up of “vibrational” energy. The world as we perceive it is just a holographic projection of this. Time is an illusion; there is no past and no future, only an infinite now. Humans are infinite awareness; we are consciousness (“All that there is, has been and ever can be”), but we are victims of a conspiracy. An inter-dimensionary race of beings called the Archons have hijacked our world and have stopped us from realising our true potential. Instead, they keep us trapped in “five sense reality”, feeding off the negative energy created by fear and hate. Frequencies broadcast from a “hexagonal storm” on Saturn are amplified through the hollow structure of our artificial moon (whereas a standard conspiracy theorist might be satisfied by not believing that man walked on the Moon, Icke doesn’t even believe in the Moon itself). A genetically modified human/Archon elite of shape-shifting reptilians manipulate global events to keep us in this state of fear. Only by waking up to the truth and filling our hearts with love can we defeat this Archontic influence.

Speaking such truth is difficult. Many would find such a message hard to believe, and so Icke repeatedly emphasises the importance of remaining true to yourself, speaking your heart regardless of what other people might think. True geniuses are rarely recognised during their lifetimes and are often mocked, he tells the Wembley audience, before mentioning how he was mocked after appearing on Wogan. The truly brave aren’t worried by ridicule, he adds, before reminding us that he has been ridiculed.

There is an obvious tension in using Wembley Arena as a platform for his message. Time is an illusion, he tells us at the end of the first section, before asking us to be back in exactly one hour. As people file out of the building for lunch, security staff scan the barcodes of everyone’s tickets and check people’s bags for bottles and liquids as they re-enter the building. Stewards stroll up and down the aisles throughout the day telling people not to take photos. Thousands of people sit in silence as they are told what brave and original free thinkers they are, politely applauding the numerous well-crafted gags Icke weaves into his ten-hour PowerPoint presentation.

There’s also a tension in what he’s saying. He ridicules scientists for displaying the “arrogance of ignorance” and repeatedly refers to “Dogma Dawkins”. He mocks “experts” on the news who begin their sentences with “What we know is…” because in reality they know nothing. But then he repeatedly cites “mainstream science” to back up his claims (and then, perhaps self-aware, he repeats in a mocking tone, “What we know is…”) Don’t believe what anyone tells you, he says from the stage in front of thousands of people listening to his every word with awe.

But while it’s easy to dismiss him, his message is fundamentally a positive one; which might hint at why it appeals to some. At points during his lengthy talk, his voice begins to crack, the emotion gets to him. “If we want a world of love and peace,” he says through stifled sobs, “we have to be loving and peaceful with everyone, even people we don’t like.” Yes, it’s a simplistic message, but it’s difficult to really object: we need to love each other more. The logic behind every single step he’s taken might be completely wrong – it is completely wrong – yet somehow he’s ended up in almost the right place. There’s very little difference between this core message and that of Russell Brand’s “revolution”, and yet Brand appears on Newsnight and Icke is mocked. But what’s the difference really? Oh, right – Archons.

The day ends with a series of musicians and bands – his son Gareth; a Canadian band called The Ancient Order; a reggae group called Rebel Control; a singer called Louisa Love. The crowd visibly thins with each successive act. At one point, Icke is joined on stage by a group of dancers (“The Love Tribe”) and dances an Irish jig. It’s a strange way to end, but then what else would you expect?