* Is He In A Godda Da Vida?

Iron Butterfly Member Disappears After Allegedly Working on Faster-Than-Light Communication - Is He In A Godda Da Vida?

By Fredric Rice (frice@skeptictank.org)
The Skeptic Tank (626) 335-9601

Originally appeared in:
Skeptic Magazine, Vol. 4, No. 2, 1996.

Here's a story that is so fragmented, so contradictory, so strange and bizarre I eventually had to tape all the bits and pieces of the story to my office walls to try to create some kind of a big picture.

The story is growing and I can't help but think of the possibility that all of this information on the wall will eventually form the basis of a legend among must-believers; a legend not quite as powerful as the Kennedy assanation conspiracy, true, yet a legend which should last for decades -- if not forever among believers.

I'm going to offer you what I've been able to learn about this story as well as my own conjectures.

Philip Taylor Kramer, one-time bassist for the rock group Iron Butterfly, disappeared on February 12'th, 1996, and hasn't been seen or heard from since. Among the computer networks, news of his disappearance created only a minor flurry of comments by rock music fans yet for the most part his disappearance remained of little interest. Until, that is, the rumors came down from both reliable and dubious sources that Kramer was working on a faster-than-light communications system just before his disappearance. In various paranormal and so-called "advanced science" discussion groups, the possibility that he had been abducted by a super secret agency of the United States, the Russians, or aliens from another planet began. A dozen "real reasons" for his alleged abduction have risen to the top of the conjecture heap and all of them are, well, imaginative.

I observed the growing rumors and the widening conspiracy yet I didn't think much of it -- until KTLA News here in Los Angeles ran a short five minute report on his disappearance and confirmed that Kramer had indeed been working on a faster-than-light communications system. KTLA reported that Representative James A. Traficant Jr. of Ohio was concerned about Kramer's disappearance due to the fact that Kramer held nuclear-oriented security clearances tied to the MX Missile project and due to the type of mathematical research Kramer was working on.

Though several tabloid papers covered this strange story, eventually reliable sources started to invstigate and report. On May 5'th, the San Diego Union Tribune ran a lengthy story covering the disappearance. As I had expected, the story also covered the growing claims of conspiracy and possible abduction by mysterious agencies. Ron Bushy, Iron Butterfly's co-founder, was supposed to have been working with Kramer to schedule an Iron Butterfly reunion tour at the time of his disappearance. When the Union Tribune talked with Bushy about Kramer's disappearance, Bushy said "I honestly believe that he has been abducted by our government or an agency that is part of it or maybe a foreign government or a company." [Reference 1]

The reason for this suggestion was the fact that just days before his disappeared, Kramer and his father believed they had worked out a mathematical breakthrough which would allow the nearly instantaneous transmission of matter which would also revolutionize the communications industry. "We're talking 'Beam me up Scotty' time," Bushy said.

The research deals with a mathematical representation describing faster-than-light communication employing gravitational waves and magnetic particles. Current research on the detection of gravity waves consists of hugely massive aluminum or niobium cylinders, sitting inside of superconducting tubs of liquid nitrogen deep underground, and the only events capable of producing gravity waves of a high enough intensity to be detected by such devices is a supernova, the collapse of a black hole, or the creation of the universe. Contemporary research also suggests that using the Earth itself in conjunction with a distant spacecraft might also be used to detect these extremely weak waves. [reference 2] How such a technology can be used to transmit matter or communicate over any distance instantaneously hasn't been covered in any of the articles I've found and nothing in any faster-than-light conjecture books I have on hand talk about it.

The headlines of some of the articles I've found are kind of interesting and guarantee to provoke the purchase of the publication. "Alien Abductions? Two Rockers Lost in Space" is a story in a publication by an organization called "Addicted To Noise" -- ATN -- which covered the disappearance of Richey Edwards and Philip Kramer -- two rock stars who share a great many similarities in their disappearances.

Many web pages on Internet which offer comment on Kramer's disappearance also carry attention-grabbing titles and offer mysterious conjectures. Several comment upon how the story of Kramer's disappearance is worthy of something one expects to see on "The X-Files," the FOX Network's very popular science fiction series. Some speculate upon the meaning of the title and words of Iron Butterfly's highly successful song "In a godda da vida," the meaning of which is widely known among music fans as being a drunkenly slurred reference to the Christian "Garden of Eden" myth. Even KTLA's News anchor mistakenly stated that the song's contents and title remains a mystery. If mankind can learn the "true meaning" of Iron Butterfly's most famous song, several New Agers have suggested, we'll find out what "really happened" to Philip Kramer.

Some of the newspaper accounts conflict slightly with others. Various report that Kramer either did or did not make an appointment to pick up an associate at the Los Angeles Airport yet a $3.00 bill for 45 minutes of LAX parking was received by the Kramer residence 10 days after his disappearance containing a receipt with Kramer's IOU written on it. Kramer, it seems, didn't have the cash on hand for parking or -- it is considered by some -- he didn't wish to waste three dollars on parking knowing in advance that he was going to disappear and wanted to save his money. Being a computer executive, Kramer would have known how easily credit cards and checking account transactions can be tracked and, if one wishes to go underground, hanging onto three dollars when one can write an IOU instead makes good sense.

What's interesting is that Kramer _didn't_ pick up his associate. Something must have happened to him at the airport while he was waiting. It seems that he went to the airport parking lot, receiving a parking stub, and started waiting in the arrival terminal for his associate to arrive. Sometime during his wait, something prompted him to simply walk back to his green van, leave an IOU for his 45 minutes of parking, then drive off into oblivion. As he was driving away, he made a series of strange telephone calls to friends and family expressing his love. It seems that the last call he made was to 911, "This is a Philip Taylor Kramer and I'm going to kill myself."

I have asked myself, if a man is going to kill himself, why would he leave an IOU for three dollars unless he seriously just didn't have it on him? A successful computer executive, I would think, would always have at least a small amount of cash. If Kramer was intent upon making himself disappear, planting the suggestion that he was going to kill himself might have been an attempt to make the police who would later investigate his disappearance suppose that he was successful. Kramer's wife also might not stand to get legal issues resolved until years after Kramer's disappearance made him legally dead so the claim of suicide might also have been out of a desire to help his wife. His van hasn't been found. If he did kill himself, his van might have been stolen and stripped down just hours or days after his suicide. At this point, all anyone seems to be doing is employing conjecture, myself included.

What is in agreement is that Kramer's mental stability was slipping. Just days before he disappeared, he stated that the Earth was going to end due to a supernova; that his father, a Professor of engineering at Youngstown University in Ohio, was really a god; that Jennifer, his wife, was really Mother Earth. As they were looking for a new home several days before his disappearance, he told his wife that he was frightened that people were going to come for him. "Honey, we're going to have to live behind walls. Honey, people are going to want to get at me."

Perhaps Kramer actually believed that he had stumbled upon an astounding breakthrough. The paranoia expressed tends to make me think that perhaps Philip Kramer disappeared to try to protect his wife and family from what he believed were dangerous government agencies who would eventually come after him after news of his breakthrough became known to them. That leads me to think that, if he is still alive and simply in hiding, he will eventually resurface and perhaps try to either start a laboratory of his own to develope his breakthrough else find a laboratory he feels he can trust and sign on with them.

For us skeptics, though, what might be more interesting was Kramer's growing involvement and belief in New Age mysticism. The Union Tribune reported that Kramer had read "The Celestine Prophecy" -- a best-selling book about a middle aged man who sets out to find the "nine insights" of life. Kramer asked his wife to only eat "colors of the spectrum," asking that she not wear black clothes or eat meat. This book also factors greatly in must-believers' conjectures among the computer networks. Perhaps, some suggest, the mathematical breakthrough that Kramer and his father developed caused Kramer (and the van he was driving) to "vibrate" out of visibility, just as happens in the "Celestine Prophecy." This inability to discern reality from fiction has manifested itself repeatedly since I started paying attention to this case. Stories from popular fiction -- like "The X-Files," are being used to "explain" Kramer's disappearance.

Kathy Kramer, Philip Kramer's sister, has been getting unsolicited letters from self-professed "psychics" pin-pointing her brother's location using map-dowsing -- the "psychic" lays out a map and suspends an object from a chain or string and, depending upon the movement of the object, one pretends to discern where the missing person or object is. One such "lead" which came through the mail was from Austria and it stated that her brother was the victim of an accident yet was alive and being worshipped as a deity among the Pechanga Indians on a reservation outside of Los Angeles. Kathy Kramer went to talk with the tribe's council yet they knew nothing about her missing brother.

This brings us back to Representative James A. Traficant Jr. He has twice asked for a federal investigation, citing Kramer's reported mathematical breakthrough and his work with the MX missile as cause for national security concerns. Traficant states in his request to the FBI that it's not unlikely that the research Kramer was working on was such that a foreign power might have "abducted, apprehended, compromised, or somehow brainwashed" Kramer. He even suggests that it's possible domestic agencies could use Kramer's "extraordinary knowledge for nefarious purposes." The FBI, for its part, at first rejected the suggestion for an inquiry yet has reversed itself, stating "It's a known fact there are rouge nations like Iran working on nuclear weapons who could use someone with Taylor Kramer's knowledge to make long-range missiles. Just because it's a remote possibility doesn't mean you shouldn't investigate it."

Because of Traficant's request, some believers in either the alien abduction theory or the foreign/domestic government kidnapping theory have suggested that Traficant will be the next to disappear if he doesn't stop asking questions.

The "fact" that Kramer has finally created a "Star Trek transporter" doesn't seem to be worthy of debate by some of the believers I've talked with, interestingly enough. To "prove" the "undeniable fact" that Kramer successfully created a matter transmitter, I've been told that the electrostatic photocopier is a "case in point." When I express my ignorance at how this proves Kramer developed a matter transporting technology, I'm usually ignored or told to "stop acting stupid." Doubtless there are connections between these two amazingly useful technologies, yet I can't help but question how the obvious existence of photocopiers proves the existence of matter transmitters. Perhaps the existence of one amazing machine is "proof" that any amazing machine one might dream up is possible.

So what about faster-than-light communications? Dr. Milton A. Rothman, former professor of physics at Trenton State College and former research physicist at the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory, covers the reasons why physicists don't expect to find undiscovered forces allowing anti-gravity devices, faster-than-light transportation and communication devices, and ESP, in his book "The Science Gap: Dispelling the Myths and Understanding the Reality of Science." Dr. Rothman states that for such things to be possible, a new particle responsible for carrying a new force would have to be discovered yet were such a particle to actually exist, it would have been inferred by experimentation long before now. Dr. Rothman states, "The conclusion to which we are forced -- unsatisfactory as it might be to many -- is that we cannot depend upon the discovery of new and radically different kinds of forces in the future to help us go faster than light, to hold vehicles suspended in midair, to make objects move by directing thoughts at them, or to transmit messages telepathically. We must make do with the forces that exist." [Reference 3]

Dr. Rothman also covers must-believer's arguments to the contrary when it is suggested that science has been wrong before and thus the possibility of faster-than-light star travel or communication is still possible. (What New Agers disdainfully call "the conventional wisdom.") "What makes this argument invalid is the fact that it is based upon a myth. The idea that all theories are temporary is simply not true, even though it is believed by a great many people. The reason is, as we have shown, that we do know some things for a certainty."

Several things are certain in Philip Kramer's case. Kramer obviously believed that his mathematical breakthrough was going to put his life and the lives of his family in danger. It's also certain that if Kramer ever surfaces, either dead or alive, the conspiracy theories and conjecture as to the "true story" will continue for a long, long time.

[Reference 1]
San Diego Union Tribune, May 5, 1996, page A-23 [Reference 2]
Jeffries, A. D., et al., "Gravitational Wave
Observatories," Scientific American, June 1987

Trimble, Virginia, "Gravity Waves: A Progress
Report," Sky & Telescope, October 1987.

[Reference 3]
"The Science Gap: Dispelling the Myths and
Understanding the Reality of Science," Dr. Milton
A. Rothman, page 117.

Fredric L. Rice, Sr. Software Engineer frice@skeptictank.org

Skeptics Socity
Post Office Box 338
Altadena, California.
Voice: (818)794-3119
Fax: (818)794-1301
email: skepticmag@aol.com
web: http://www.skeptic.com/
ftp: ftp://ftp.skeptic.com/pub/skeptic


The views and opinions stated within this web page are those of the author or authors which wrote them and may not reflect the views and opinions of the ISP or account user which hosts the web page.

Return to The Skeptic Tank's main Index page.

E-Mail Fredric L. Rice / The Skeptic Tank