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Eric Julien: The Fearmonger Who Cried Wolf

I’ve done some pretty damnable things in my day. Things forbidden by the bible, such as eating oysters, trimming the hair at my temples, and wearing makeup (for a high school play.) And yet I have great faith that when I reach the pearly gates, St. Peter will look down on me, and say “Well, you’re not Eric Julien, so you couldn’t have been that bad. Go on in.”

Eric Julien is the pseudonym of one Jean Ederman, a French citizen and fear-monger. In April 2006 he predicted that a fragment from a comet would land in the Atlantic ocean on May 25, causing a mega-tsunami that would obliterate the coastlines of dozens of countries, including the United States and Morocco. The fragment of the comet was created by an alien civilization that knew it would strike the earth.

So some nutcase predicted the world was going to end. What’s the harm in that? For starters, he did a pretty thorough job of screwing over the countries with coastlines on the Atlantic. In Morocco, Abdul Muhib’s elementary school students came to him, asking “This guy is predicting a 200 meter tsunami is going to hit Morocco. Should we not come to school?" Okay, so some children didn’t come to school one day. That’s not so bad, is it?

Mustafa Jana, the head of the Moroccan Meteorological Office, had to go on national news to tell people that there was no threat of a Tsunami. NASA even got dragged into it, working to prove that there was no reason to be afraid.

Some stuffy men in suits had to go on TV. Big deal. But that’s only a taste of the panic that was created by this numbskull. His tsunami predictions caused such terror that the inhabitants of costal areas in several North African countries abandoned their homes and fled towards higher ground, anxiously awaiting the destruction slated for the 25th. People in countries as far removed as Cost Rica began preparing shelters to receive the wounded and hoarding supplies.

That’s the age we live in. One nut with a website can cause a panic that disrupts the lives of many thousands of people, cause untold headaches for governments, and suck unimaginable sums of money out of economies.

Eric Julien claims that, when he worked as a military air traffic controller for the French government, he tracked a UFO traveling at about 17,000 mph. He later claimed that the inhabitants of this UFO contacted him and took him aboard their spaceship so as to teach him how to operate it. The police began looking into the circumstances surrounding this “disappearance” and it turned out that he had returned to his home island of Reunion, despite telling everyone he’d be in outer space. A thoroughly terrestrial explanation to a preposterous claim.

Eric Julien claims to have received his information about the comet fragment through psychic contact. I suppose if you believe that aliens are flying around in space blowing up comets, it’s not too out there to believe that other aliens would warn us through psychic means, but ask yourself this: if the aliens were interested in warning us about an incoming comet chunk, why would they tell a kook like Julien? Hell, sending their psychic message to a guy at the Weather Channel would have been a better idea.

Eric Julien’s a nutcase, the exact sort of person that you should not believe if he starts talking about psychic spaceship messages. But what about the science behind his theory that a comet striking the earth would create a “mega-tsunami”?

That’s not the way it works. First of all, tsunamis are products of tectonic activity, such as earthquakes below the ocean floor, and not the product of something big falling into the water. Even if it would cause a tsunami, which is highly unlikely, there’s absolutely no way to predict where a chunk of a comet would land many months in advance, and we would only be able to predict a tsunami a few hours in advance, at most. I guess the aliens have access to a huge number of supercomputers that run on a type of math we can’t imagine.

On his website, Eric Julien has a number of maps of the areas to be worst affected. If I’m reading them correctly, the comet fragment was to strike the exact center of the Atlantic ocean. The tsunami was supposed to have completely covered the states of New Jersey and Florida, yet Cuba and some of the small islands off the coast of Africa were to have remain unharmed. The Netherlands was to be deep underwater, but Ireland and Spain, closer to the impact, wouldn’t lose an inch of property. I have no idea how he came to these conclusions, I just know they sound ridiculous.

Add to this one more piece of science: the comet was something like 9 million kilometers away, and astronomers have been tracking it for roughly 80 years. In all of that time, no one has ever decided to warn us that something bad might happen. I guess when the government wants something kept under wraps, they really do a good job of it.

Suffice it to say that the comet which passed the earth 9 million kilometers wide of the mark didn’t cause the end of the world. This is the part where it gets absolutely infuriating: despite the fact that we’re all still here, Julien still claims to have been correct. The comet, you see, really did strike the earth, causing waves “up to 80 meters high.” The current world-record sized wave was 34 meters, though I have no idea how you’d measure something like that.

The huge waves were, however, suppressed by a benign alien civilization and their advanced technology. For whatever reason, they decided to stop the wave and save the lives of millions of people. At least, that’s what he claimed at first. Now his website states that the aliens decided to intervene because America had decided not to use nuclear weapons in an attack on Iran. For some reason, the detonation of atomic weapons on earth harms the parallel dimension in which the aliens live, which is why they sent the comet to wipe us out in the first place.

My head hurts. I’m willing to concede that. What it boils down to is that Julien claimed we’d all be dead, and after we did not die, he claimed his original claim was conditional and made up a bunch of stuff about nuclear weapons. I won’t even get into the ideas that a) nuclear weapons, of which we have detonated thousands in the last half dozen decades, can have some sort of detrimental effect on another universe, and b) that technologically advanced alien spacemen from that other universe would break up a comet in 1995, knowing that in 2006 the earth would stand on the brink of nuclear war, and use that comet to destroy us through use of a tidal wave. Hell, if they’re so advanced, they should be able to just fly around in their saucers, shooting down atom bombs as they are launched.

I found this graphic in an article written by Eric Julien in, I believe, 1990. It may be part of his upcoming "science of extraterrestrials" book. I suppose it might sound good to a layperson, but as an engineer, let me categorically state that the stuff contained on the slide above is gibbersih. The speed of light has nothing to do with electrons. Neither do isotopes. I think he may have been thinking of an "ion", an atom with more or less electrons than it would normally have. Regardless, neither of these things have much, if anything, to do with the speed of light.

The fact of the matter is this: Julien considers himself something of an author, having recently written a book about space aliens and their technology. I rather suspect that this whole mess is just a publicity stunt for that book; his previous stunts, such as moderating some sort of internet debate about contact with space aliens, and claiming to have worked with those aliens to learn to fly their space ships when in fact he was vacationing on Reunion, didn’t seem to gather much attention. It’s mentioned towards the bottom of his site that the book is being translated into English at the moment, and there is not a doubt in my mind that when it’s available for sale there will be similar grandstanding antics from this bozo.

He’s not alone. Another fellow has a number of short essays on Julien’s site, where he claims that a series of prophetic dreams led him to believe in the whole comet/earth/spacemen thing. According to him, your dreams are psychic messages from space aliens telling you what to do on May 25th. Apparently they were wrong, but here’s a fool-proof test: we’ll use the dreams I’ve had in the last week and see if they come true. According to this guy, sometime before the end of the world, I should both build a refrigerator with my old English teacher and become an officer in the Marine Corps, in charge of keeping people from having picnics. I thought they were just weird dreams, possibly drunken stupors, but according to this guy, they’re prophecy.

I can’t help but wonder if there’s some sort of strange cultural thing going on inside of Julien’s head. Looking at his maps, he predicted the total destruction of the eastern seaboard of the United States. He claimed that the reason for this destruction of America’s intent to attack Iran with nuclear weapons. He claims that atomic weapons harm the universe in which the space aliens live, yet declines to mention that France is the only nation that continues to actually explode atomic weapons in tests, even though they already know how to build them. (They detonated a 20 kiloton device named Xouthos in 1996.) Besides that, France has by far the worst record on nuclear testing of any nation. His followers have also gotten that famous Frenchman Nostradamus involved in the act, claiming that Julien is fulfilling some of his prophecies. Maybe I’m wrong, and it’s not all just publicity for his book. Maybe he’s the product of some sort of anti-American French cultural backlash.

The more I read on Julien’s website, the more despondent I become. He’s going to make more crackpot claims. They’re not going to come true, but then he’s going to say that he really meant something else, or that his original claim was based on some conditions that he didn’t mention at the time. I can’t win. People who don’t know about his past shenanigans, and don’t understand the science behind what he’s talking about, will continue to get suckered in to believing his insane claims. I guess the only good news from all of this is that those Moroccan schoolchildren might get an extra day off. I know I’d want to believe Julien if it meant a day off of school for me.

Be seeing you.