JREF Reviews Thrive!

Kyle Hill, who is associated with the James Randi Educational Foundation, recently posted an article reviewing the Thrive movie. The full article, which I eagerly recommend, is here.

The article begins:

I recently started doing my skeptical due diligence with a link on Facebook that was connected to the newest conspiracy theory movie, “Thrive”, released just last week on 11/11/11 (you can watch the trailer here). If you are unfamiliar with it, this movie is basically Zeitgeist 2.0. It talks about ancient codes “burned into atomic structures”, huge energy company conspiracies and free energy technology, as well as the standard Federal Reserve, Rockefeller, and economic policy rants. Supporting these claims are people like David Icke, world-renowned conspiracy theorist who believes that a secret reptilian race controls the world, and our old friend Mr. Chopra. The movie also proffers that the Illuminati (useless conspiracy placeholder) are covering up free energy technology (which contradict the laws of physics) which was given to us by aliens who make coded crop circles, and have crashed on Earth numerous times, which the government covers up. When you align all of the claims that this movie purports to be true, it is hard not to think it is some kind of joke.

I won’t go into the specifics here, suffice it to say that there is a lot of Chopra, crop circles, aliens, Illuminati, world-bank, new world order, federal reserve, reptilian overlord kind of gibberish in it. I’m just sad to see actual scientists hoodwinked into giving statements that they did not know would be taken out of context for this so-called “research.”

If you don’t know, the James Randi Educational Foundation (JREF) is an organization established by former world-class magician James Randi, who has devoted a significant portion of his life to promoting skepticism and critical thinking. Randi is probably best known for exposing the tricks of phony psychics, most notably an Israeli man called Uri Geller who claimed he could bend spoons with his mind. For many years Randi had an open challenge that anyone who could replicate psychic powers under controlled scientific conditions would win $1 million from JREF. No one won.

Today, JREF is known as a gathering place for others who believe in Randi’s ideas of skepticism and critical thinking. The JREF web forums are probably the most significant gathering of debunkers on the Internet in the English-speaking world. Conspiracy theorists hate JREF because the skeptics there frequently demolish the very theories to which conspiracy believers are most committed.

JREF’s article on Thrive echoes many of the sentiments stated on this blog. I again recommend reading the full article. Toward the end, however, Mr. Hill offers this warning for debunkers of Thrive, which is probably good to take to heart:

What can skeptics do to counter-act such arguments? In my experience, these are typically intelligent people who have put their efforts into theories that only could be true, without relying on evidence or skepticism to sort through them. Getting a conspiracy theorist to converse on rational terms is then the objective, supplanting the seed of skeptical doubt the ultimate goal. However, if you run up against the kind of opposition that I have, perhaps you should jettison and try to promote critical thinking to people not so entrenched. Charging headlong into the lion’s den is admirable, but dangerously unproductive.

I think this is sage advice. I’m posting material on this blog to rebut the errors and misconceptions in the film, but I am stopping short of charging full-bore into conspiracist forums to force this information upon Thrive believers. It’s been my experience that conspiracy theorists reform only if they want to, and their journey out of the darkness of conspiracy thinking can only be self-motivated. Thus, while I’m happy to post my information here, I’m not on a “crusade” to convert believers in the film.

As an aside I will also remark that, while there’s no way to tell quantitatively, it appears that Thrive is not making a particularly profound impact, even in the conspiracy underground. Certainly conspiracy theorists like it, but now two weeks after its release I don’t see much evidence of it “going viral” in the same way that, say, Zeitgeist or Loose Change did. I think this is very good news, if it can be borne out by some sort of quantitative analysis.

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11 responses to “JREF Reviews Thrive!”

  1. The Locke says :

    I hope Foster Gamble gets the Pigasus Award for either Funding or Media…

  2. eukelek says :

    Yes, thank you. This article is not any better than the Kyle Hill one. Bare with me here, I am having some trouble seeing a connection between the JREF critique and the actual film´s raison d’être, and I find a sudden lack of “critical thinking” in the supposed great center of “critical thinking” (JREF whom I respected!). Since when does a proper CRITICAL THINKER dismiss the THEORY of conspiracy for its soul fact of being a conspiracy? So what if it talks about Rothschilds and Rockefellers and JPMorgans? Does talking about them dismiss their claims? Yes, David Icke is delusional, does that make every word that comes out of his mouth jargon? Where is the debunking on the real substantive claims that make the message? What about the more interesting claims like the fact that it is actually scientifically possible that human nature can be corrupted by money and power, that aliens exist and they are trying to tell us something, together with other simpler claims made in this flick? I was expecting a historical fact-check of some of the more incriminating claims made in the movie but I found a smearing hit piece on the laws of thermodynamics instead. Yes, I agree the machines part is quite unconvincing, but that doesn’t mean the premise of the message they are trying to convey should be thrown out the window. In fact, the message is a damn good one that needs to be retold in more objective terms helping people have CRITERIA of discerning the valuable message with the invalid fluff. I find the article as not only a hit-piece probably inspired on the ego mind believing it is “right”, but also lacking human altruistic vision and the true search for a better future, which might be just a tad bit important, no? A critic who only focuses on the fringes of the message and ignores the core of what is being conveyed is a lousy critic and should be called out for it, for humanity´s and their own sake.

  3. Hollywood Tomfortas says :

    I went to the THRIVE Facebook page to let them know about this blog and see if I could get a discussion started. Got 4 responses with one supporting debunking.

  4. anticultist says :

    LOL Danny Rampling is backing up Thrive on that post you made Hollywood Tomfortas. That just goes to show too much acid, drugs and hippy lifestyle can detriment your critical thinking skills, that dude is an extremely famous international dj and producer. That really made me chuckle seeing him all up on there liking the peoples comments backing up CT’s.

  5. bensteigmann says :

    A book length undermining of Randi appears in the text ”RANDI’S PRIZE: What sceptics say about the paranormal, why they are wrong and why it matters” by Robert McLuhan. I will not replicate his research here. McLuhan has an overview of the fraud inherent in Randi’s Million Dollar Challenge here: http://monkeywah.typepad.com/randis_prize/million-dollar-challenge.html

    Also, for evidence of the fact that, when confronted with something he cannot easily distort, Randi refuses to carry on the tests, see the following: http://www.sces.info/randi-retreats.html

    It can be shown that Randi and his cohorts were intellectually dishonest with regard to Jacques Benveniste and others as well: http://homeoinfo.com/09_reference/literature/ullman_0097_benveniste_nature.php

    further decimation of Randi occurs here: http://www.debunkingskeptics.com/Page30.htm

    We find this pattern of intellectual dishonesty among many in that movement. Robert Todd Carroll, for instance, has a tendency to deliberately misrepresent his opponents’ arguments: http://www.sces.info/skepdic-com.html

    But perhaps the most pernicious of these characters is Stephen Barett of the “Quackwatch” website, who arose just after the AMA lost a court case against chiropractors, having engaged in systematic defamation. Barett attacks everything that does not conform to the highly toxic system of modern “medicine”, which is only good for treating traumas and is the third leading cause of death in the United States. Barret’s entire public image is fraudulent, and he likewise has a tendency to engage in distortion. A refutation of him is provided here: http://longevitylibrary.com/article/243.pdf

    People like Barett libel those like the two-time Nobel prize winner, Linus Pauling, and other advocates of orthomolecular medicine (a challenge to their arguments is provided here: http://www.doctoryourself.com/). The standard medical focus is greatly ignorant of nutrition, and it’s essential role in health was revealed by the research of Weston A. Price (http://tinyurl.com/77bvr7z), who showed that so-called “primitives” had extremely good facial structures with the diet they had (which, for us, would translate as grass fed meat, fish, raw dairy products, nuts, and leafy vegetables), but their physiological structures degenerated greatly when they were introduced to the western diet. This research empirically proved that the Western diet (which included a lot of sugar, vegetable oil, and wheat) was a root cause of illness. Responses to critiques of that work can be found here: http://www.westonaprice.org/traditional-diets/nasty-brutish-short, and here: http://www.westonaprice.org/basics/the-right-price

    Also, effective practices, based on vitalistic frameworks, have been unfairly marginalized, even though high quality studies have shown, far beyond any “placebo effect”, the effectiveness of acupuncture (http://tinyurl.com/7mxpbbx), homeopathy (http://tinyurl.com/7mpmqgm), and chiropractic vertebral subluxation (http://tinyurl.com/73gmj36). A significant challenge to the worldview that denies the possibility of this form of medicine can be found in the collected works of Lynne McTaggart (http://tinyurl.com/3hyo32v), “Energy Medicine in Therapeutics and Human Performance” by Dr. James Oschman (http://tinyurl.com/7qmkkqj), “Integrative Biophysics: Biophotonics” edited by Fritz-Albert Popp (http://tinyurl.com/746mgc9), and “The Scientific Basis of Integrative Medicine” (http://tinyurl.com/7p44x22).

    • Daws says :

      I guess if you don’t have anything to say about the article and the debunking go after the person founding the site himself huh?

      You also forgot to mention he’s gay and short, also equally relevant.

      • Alan Joun says :

        Seriously, what is there to say about an article that refers to the work of The Randi gang as some serious kind of instituition ?

        James Randi is a fraud, an habitual liar, and basically a damn good conman. Whilst I would agree that this is a claim that can also be fairly laid at the door of many of those people he investigates, this is a man who throws the baby the bathwater, the bath and the bathroom out in his crusade against anything he cant and many of his cohorts cant seem to wrap their head around.

        Therefore , in addition to his overall dishonesty in regards to many of his claims of debunking, and In keeping with his own standards, perhaps anyone who, also cant wrap their head around the idea of “intellectual”,, morally responsible adults propositioning underage boys, should be the subject of the same mass-disposal treatment ?

        http://www.debunkingskeptics.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=1308

        The tapes of Randi are also at that link.

        But at least , to anyone who knows about the findings of the FMSF, and their claims that serial child abuse is just an implanted memory can now understand why he was included on that board of liars too.

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