Foster and Kimberly Gamble, the husband and wife team behind the conspiracy theory movie Thrive, have issued a statement firing back at the ten signatories of last week’s letter, people who appeared in the film but who have now disassociated themselves from it. The signatories include progressive leader John Robbins, who knows Foster Gamble personally, and who also gave me a statement regarding his views on the conspiracy aspects of the film, and Adam Trombly, the inventor whom the film claims created a “free energy” device. The full text of the statement was posted on this blog as a comment by one of Thrive’s official spokespersons. It’s also available on the “Thrive Movement” website.
The disappointing and fatuous statement by Mr. and Mrs. Gamble attempts both to minimize the controversy and to belittle the signers of the letter and critics of the film. Most notably, Mr. and Mrs. Gamble accuse John Robbins, the driving force behind the disassociation letter, of engaging in a “disinformation campaign” to discredit the film. The statement also makes clear that acceptance of the conspiracy theories advanced by Thrive as literal fact is a prerequisite for being taken seriously in the discussion of “solutions” that the makers of the film say they wish to engage in.
Because there are also parts of the statement that may be addressed to me and to this blog, I thought I would present my comments regarding it here. If you’d rather see the statement in its full form, without my comments interjected, either click the link to the comment above, or go here to the statement on Thrive’s website.
“As those who have seen THRIVE know, we are committed to a bold inquiry into what is really in the way of our thriving – and to offering much more than just a tweak to our fundamentally flawed and failing system.
One of our core approaches in making THRIVE was to hear from people with differing points of view and to go for vital information regardless of the political affiliations of the source. That way we could do our own informed and critical thinking and glean the principles and facts from which true, just and lasting solutions can be created.”
I remain skeptical that anyone connected with Thrive engaged in any sort of sustained effort at critical thinking. Indeed, as this blog has shown, the makers have engaged in very little critical thinking. In order to reach the conclusion that aliens built various large works of ancient engineering, for instance, you must first accept a totally counter-intuitive assumption about the capabilities of ancient civilizations as compared to our modern world. Similarly, you have to turn off large portions of your brain to even conceive possible the bizarre “Global Domination Agenda” which a centerpiece of Thrive’s message.
“We encourage a transparent, respectful, informed and constructive dialog that can address the specifics of any differences some of the pioneers in THRIVE might have with us. Although the letter of dissociation raised no specific issues, we understand from John Robbins’ articles and the correspondence that he wrote soliciting others to participate in his disinformation campaign that the objections range from ET presence, to naming the reality of the Global Domination Agenda, to validating Zero Point Energy, to adhering to the Principle of Non-violation. Wow, not much of a movie left after eliminating those taboo inquiries!”
Setting aside the “disinformation campaign” accusation for the moment, I observe that Mr. Gamble is employing a common tactic among conspiracy theorists—labeling critics of conspiracy theories as people who are reluctant to discuss “taboo” subjects. This is a pretty transparent diversion. I don’t reject the Global Domination Agenda conspiracy theory because it’s “taboo” to accept it. I reject it because it is totally unsupported by evidence and also because it’s contrary to logic. I don’t denounce the idea of ancient astronauts because it’s “taboo” to admit that aliens built the pyramids. I reject it because aliens did not build the pyramids, and there isn’t a shred of evidence to suggest that they did. This has nothing to do with anything “taboo.”
The “disinformation campaign” comment is astonishing. Does Mr. Gamble really believe that John Robbins, who (Mr. Robbins told me) he has known for many years, is deliberately spreading false information about Thrive and soliciting others to join him? Really? I can’t even imagine, if this is what Mr. Gamble really thinks, why he supposes Mr. Robbins would do this. I’ve been accused many times of being a “paid disinformation agent” out to trash Thrive, and I’ve even joked about it. But it’s easy for Thrive supporters to make that accusation about me. Here’s Foster Gamble accusing his personal friend of that. How deep do you have to be in the thrall of conspiracist ideology to believe that your friends are spies out to destroy you?
“Decades Doing Our Homework”?
“We encourage everyone reading this to watch THRIVE and determine for yourselves if you agree that there is enough evidence to warrant additional dialog – about a covert agenda, about revolutionary new technologies and about bold strategies for achieving true liberty and justice for all.
We spent decades doing our homework on these issues and stand with complete integrity and clarity behind the facts represented in THRIVE.”
If Mr. Gamble and his team spent decades researching Thrive, they certainly missed a great deal of relevant information. It doesn’t take decades to find plenty of evidence, for instance, that crop circles are man-made. It also doesn’t take decades to research a historical event such as the Gulf of Tonkin affair, research which would have clearly indicated that the Gulf of Tonkin incident was not a “false flag” operation, as Mr. Gamble asserts in Thrive. I run this blog in my spare time. If I found all this information refuting the assertions in Thrive in my spare time in a mere five months, how come Thrive’s researchers, whoever they are, fell down on the job so badly?
The key part of this section of the statement is Mr. Gamble’s doubling down and going for broke. He says he stands behind Thrive’s facts. That’s extremely unfortunate, because countless matters he asserts as facts are untrue, misleading or taken out of context. Yet it seems Mr. Gamble is unwilling to admit that Thrive has any significant problems.
“We welcome meaningful dialog and otherwise consider it dangerous to undermine the millions of us who are standing up to expose the covert global scheme amongst the elite and their secret societies and intelligence agencies to destroy the economies of countless nations, take over their resources, and kill whatever leaders or people don’t play along.”
This is also classic conspiracy theorist paranoia. Anyone who opposes conspiracy theories is not only wrong in their eyes, but “dangerous.”
This part of the statement appeals to one of the central conceits of conspiracy theorists—that they’re privy to some sort of special knowledge that the rest of the world refuses to accept, and that knowledge will supposedly “save the world.” In this case Mr. Gamble is painting Thrive fans as an army of noble millions fighting the good fight against evildoers who destroy economies and kill people. Conspiracy theorists tend to love movies like The Matrix and V For Vendetta because they underscore this basic and very simplistic narrative. The real world is far more complicated than this, unfortunately.
Oh, did I mention that the “covert global scheme amongst the elite and their secret societies” does not, in fact, exist? I did? Oh, sorry. Just don’t want that to get lost in the shuffle.
“Hit and Run Communications”!
“Further hit and run communications are of little interest to us, especially as it distracts from time better spent with motivated solutions groups forming all over the world who are awakening to the agenda and taking actions based on integrity and freedom rather than staying confined by outworn and deceptive political polarities.”
Mr. Gamble is here saying that he has more important things to worry about than, say, the credibility of his entire movie. Well, no matter. The purpose of this blog is not to motivate any action by Mr. Gamble; nor is it, as some have suggested, to “troll” Thrive fans. The purpose of this blog is to expose the general public to the reality of the serious factual and logical problems with the movie Thrive. That purpose will continue to be served whether Mr. Gamble is paying any attention or not.
“We encourage those who have publicly dissociated to offer their best information and solutions rather than spending time trying to undermine ours.
Each of the pioneers in THRIVE were invited because their expertise in a particular area had been helpful in our gaining an understanding of the bigger picture that includes, but vastly transcends, their sector of expertise -or anyone’s political affiliation. We clearly state this in the movie:
“The people in THRIVE do not necessarily agree with the themes, statements, claims or conclusions presented in the film or website, nor does their inclusion imply our full agreement with all of their views. The people interviewed have each contributed in some deep way to our understanding and we are grateful to them all.””
Again, the statement seems preoccupied with political affiliation. Yes, I do oppose the libertarian aspects of Thrive, as John Robbins has stated that he does; however, speaking only for myself, this is not my primary disagreement with the film or even in the top five. Though I find Thrive’s politics fulsome, if it was just a piece of libertarian political propaganda I probably wouldn’t care that much about it. It’s the conspiracy angle that concerns me. Although conspiracy thinking is becoming increasingly interwoven with libertarian political thought, at least until the last few years conspiracy beliefs cut across the political spectrum. I think this has much less to do with political affiliation than Mr. Gamble suggests here.
Thrive’s Millions are Coming! Or Are They?
“We are encouraged by the millions of viewers, thousands of self-created screenings, the hundreds of THRIVE Solutions groups forming to get on with what’s needed now – informed and leveraged action. People from all over the world- Greece, Poland, India, Portugal and more have voluntarily translated THRIVE into their languages to get the important information to their cultures. THRIVE is now translated into 18 different languages and we hear from people all over the world about the value THRIVE is offering in their cultural transformations.”
People from all over the world are viewing my blog, too. Aside from the U.S., Canada and Great Britain, today alone I had page views from Israel, the Netherlands, Poland, Singapore, Hong Kong, New Zealand, and Brazil. Given the hits that show up from Google Translate it is also clear that Thrive Debunked has been translated into other languages also. This demonstrates to me that this blog is a clear success: many people are discovering the debunking at the same time as they discover the Thrive film for the first time. Therefore, they’re able to evaluate its claims side-by-side with the facts and logical arguments that refute it.
“We also are moved by the healings being reported in families, workplaces and communities as millions are getting the bridge between worldviews and beyond unnecessary and dangerous divide-and-conquer illusions. The new conversation, about what is really going on and solutions with human rights as primary, is, fortunately, unstoppable.
As stated in the book “1984”, “In times of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act.” There is a well-informed, nonviolent revolution brewing and we welcome constructive contributions from everyone ready to participate.
Foster and Kimberly Gamble”
Time will tell, but as hopeful a chord as this part of the statement sounds, I’m skeptical. Changing the world takes a lot more than just showing a movie to like-minded people who agree with it. The “Thrive Movement,” if such a thing can even be said to exist, isn’t doing much other than organizing screenings and discussion groups of fans who get together to talk about the movie. The problem is that this type of thing has been done before—with exactly zero effect. Here Thrive is emulating another group that organized itself as a fan club for a conspiracy movie, that being the infamous Zeitgeist Movement. Although the Zeitgeist cult is largely dead, there are still dwindling groups of supporters who meet occasionally to spin grandiose dreams of their “Resource Based Economy.” They have accomplished exactly nothing in the real world, except the promotion of conspiracy theories. Zeitgeist is different than the Thrive Movement in that it was, at least at one point in time, a real movement, with an identifiable leader, strict ideological guidelines and orthodoxy, and an organizational hierarchy. Even if a group can be said to be coalescing around Thrive—again, I’m skeptical this is even happening in any meaningful sense—it has none of these characteristics. If Zeitgeist can’t do it with a strong leader and supposedly an identifiable policy direction, I doubt very much that the fans of Thrive will be able to succeed where the Zeitgeisters failed.
That brings us to the next point:
What “Solutions,” Anyway?
The problem with Thrive’s “solutions” is that they are illusory, and in more ways than one. For one thing they aren’t clearly defined. The various “solutions” flogged on the Thrive website are all extremely vague and general. (I actually agree with many of them, but they’re still vague). Bank locally. Support independent media. Take part in “critical mass actions.” These sound terrific, but what do they really mean? What specific action are the Thrivers supposed to take to achieve these goals? That’s never defined, and Foster Gamble isn’t making any concerted effort to define them. And, as the experience with the Occupy Movement last fall demonstrates, getting a group of like-minded folks together and hoping that they work out for themselves what sort of specific goals they should pursue doesn’t tend to work very well. Successful grass-roots activist movements have never functioned on this model, and they never will. You’ve got to have someone in charge. Foster Gamble doesn’t seem to want to be in charge, which is fine. But expecting that a headless, leaderless group with no defined goals will accomplish anything in the real world is more than a little naïve.
Secondly, the point of Thrive is not really to push these “solutions” anyway. The point of Thrive is to make an ideological statement. The movie was created to animate belief, not action. It was created to advocate belief in New Age religious beliefs and conspiracy theories. I believe that the lip service given to the “solutions” is an add-on to mollify audience expectations. Thrive represents incremental progress on a very long road to legitimize and advance a certain belief system. If Thrive does end up “changing the world,” it will only be so because it leads to something else down the road. I discussed ideas along these lines in an article I wrote for my other blog about how the conspiracy world has changed.
But, let’s just assume for the sake of argument that I’m wrong about all that. The very troubling thing about Thrive is that the “solutions” its adherents say they advocate aren’t solutions to problems that we have. For example, as the Gambles’ statement indicates, Thrive fans fervently believe that crushing this “Global Domination Agenda” is a matter of paramount importance. But the “Global Domination Agenda” does not exist. They want to solve a problem that doesn’t exist. In the meantime, take a real problem that does exist—anthropogenic global warming, for instance, which I happen to believe is the single most crucial problem facing the world today—and most of them deny that it’s even a problem! Foster Gamble has made statements to the effect that he believes global warming is some sort of hoax. This, despite the absolutely overwhelming and conclusive scientific evidence that it’s happening, and that man has caused it.
So there you have it. Even if you can get past the vagueness of Thrive’s proposed solutions, it turns out they’re fired up to solve problems that don’t exist, and they deny the existence of the number one world problem that really does exist. Add to this the fact that the Gambles’ statement indicates that they’re not even really interested in talking to anyone who doesn’t, as a factual matter, accept the truth of the conspiracy theories pushed in Thrive, and you begin to see why this doesn’t work as a realistic means to move forward to solve world problems.
Conclusion: Why Am I Writing This Blog Instead of Making the World a Better Place?
This question is asked me often by Thrive fans, and you hear an echo of it in the Gambles’ statement: that somehow taking the time and effort to criticize Thrive is a waste of time, because instead you could be “making the world a better place.” This view is quite disingenuous.
For starters, I am making the world a better place by criticizing Thrive. Since the very beginning I’ve believed that this film, with its numerous deceptions, errors and incorrect statements, is on balance a bad thing. Belief in factually baseless conspiracy theories is a bad thing. This article I wrote last week explains why. My program for a better world is a world in which people think critically and rationally, and act on the basis of evidence and logic. In that world, conspiracy theories would not survive for long.
Secondly, none of the readers of this blog know what I am doing, and what I have done for a good many years now, to “make the world a better place.” The readers of this blog don’t know this because I haven’t told them, and I haven’t told them because this blog is not about me. So the readers of this blog don’t know that I have contributed large amounts of money to numerous charities and nonprofits. They don’t know the work I’ve done, and continue to do, to expand opportunities of higher education for kids from poor families—a cause I feel is especially important—or for children with cancer. They don’t know the work I did, personally, with my own two hands, to try to reduce wastewater emissions in the city where I used to live—a program that cumulatively cut toxic urban runoff by a total of 50% in three years. A few years ago I was the chief executive officer of a local activist organization that was estimated by the American Red Cross, during the year I was in office, to have been responsible for saving 21,000 lives. They don’t know the work I’ve been doing to increase historical understanding of global climate change. They don’t know about the kid in the Philippines, previously almost blind, who can today see because of something I did.
I hesitated to write the above paragraph because, as I said, this blog is not about me, and because I don’t wish to be seen as entering some sort of pissing match about “who’s done more.” I know that Foster Gamble has pursued many legitimate projects for positive change, such as his work on trying to limit pesticides, and I think that’s great. Nonetheless, I mention my own activities here for no other purpose than to demonstrate that I require no lectures from Foster and Kimberly Gamble, nor from any other Thrive fan, about what I should be doing to help “make the world a better place.”
I appreciate the Gambles’ desire to help. But, in my humble opinion, they’re not helping. Thrive is not part of the solution, it’s part of the problem. This was the reason the ten signed the disassociation letter. I commend them for having done so.
Why We Fight: Progressive Leader Who Repudiated Thrive Explains Why Its Conspiracy Theories Are Harmful.
This week I had an email conversation with John Robbins. Mr. Robbins is a well-known environmentalist author and lecturer, undoubtedly a leader in the intellectual progressive movement in this country. He appears in Thrive, and is one of the ten people who signed an open letter declaring their disassociation from the movie. I wrote an article about this development earlier this weekend, which includes the text of that letter.
The text of the letter does not mention conspiracy theories. I was curious whether Mr. Robbins had an opinion on the conspiracy content of Thrive and whether this was a motivating factor in his decision to disassociate himself from the film. The response I got from him was very interesting and illuminating. When I read it, I was amazed at how cogently he was also expressing my own reasons for opposing the movie.
The Text of John Robbins’s Letter to Me
Mr. Robbins gave me permission to post his response here on this blog. Here it is.
“There is a great deal about Thrive that I find untrue and dangerous. You ask if I have any comment on the film’s promotion of conspiracy theories. Yes, I do.
There is no doubt that staggering wealth and power is today concentrated in the hands of a tiny minority of humanity. The combined net worth of the world’s richest thousand or so people — the planet’s billionaires — is almost twice that of the poorest 2.5 billion. This disparity is nothing less than an indictment of our civilization. It is also certain that networks exist among the most powerful people that enable a remarkably few people to shape the world’s economy, to determine what is known and what is not, which views are accepted and which are not, and what priorities and values will prevail. They decide whether we will live in war or peace, how our treasure will be spent, and they have proven to be eminently successful at enriching themselves at the expense of the common good.
But fantasies about secret conspiracies distract us from the work at hand. Those few who hold immense wealth and power are still people. They are not reptiles in human form. They are perhaps pathologically competitive or greedy, but still human, riven with differences and egos, and not particularly good at sustaining relationships, much less of organizing massive secret cabals to dominate all life on this planet.
Thrive promotes conspiracy theories that are based on an imaginary division between “us” and “them.” “We” are many and well-meaning but victimized; while “they” are a tiny, greedy and immensely powerful few who are masterfully organized, who are purposefully causing massive disasters in order to cull the population, and who will do absolutely anything in their quest to achieve total world domination. I think the allure of this way of thinking is that it distracts and absolves us from the troubling truth that the real source of the problem is in all of us, and in the economic systems we have collectively produced. As Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn wrote, “The line separating good and evil passes not through states, nor between classes, nor between political parties either, but right through every human heart.”
Foster Gamble has said that the earthquake that caused the tsunami that wreaked havoc on the nuclear plants in Fukushima was deliberately created by those seeking absolute world domination to punish the Japanese for not acceding to their wishes. He has said that “they” have a machine in Alaska that enables them to create earthquakes at will, anywhere on earth, and of any desired strength. In my judgement, this is the thinking of someone who has lost all grounding in reality.
Thrive advances the idea that vaccinations have been purposefully created by the global elite to decimate the population, an idea that I find both ludicrous and dangerous. There is no doubt that vaccinations have troubling side effects. Some of them may be more toxic than we know. But it was a vaccine that enabled the elimination of smallpox, a scourge which was responsible for approximately 500 million human deaths in the 20th century. Thrive promotes the idea that the U.N. and world treaties are the work of evil-doers intent on total world domination. These institutions are far from perfect. But it was only through the concerted efforts of the global health community and the World Health Organization that smallpox, perhaps the killer of more humans than any other in world history, was eradicated.
There are many things that are terribly wrong in our world. All living creatures are poisoned and compromised by surging levels of man-made toxins that spew into our world, relatively unchecked. We are experiencing unprecedented levels of heart disease, cancer, obesity and childhood diabetes. Our financial institutions and to a large extent our political system have been hijacked by greedy, sociopathic individuals who seem to feel no sense of responsibility to the well being of the whole. Our military industrial complex with its voracious appetite for new markets, and its obscenely paranoid world view, expands unchecked with frightening and horrific speed.
But holding these tragedies as the intentional acts of a tiny group of families seeking to rule the world distracts us from the arduous work of confronting the real challenges before us.
I hope this is helpful.
My Own Thoughts
I find myself in virtually total agreement with the points Mr. Robbins raised in his letter. He’s not only expressed his own reasons for turning his back on the film, but he’s very neatly and eloquently summarized my own motivations for opposing it.
Some readers of this blog may be surprised to see this. The tone taken in many comments by Thrive fans who disagree with me seems to indicate that many of them assume that because I don’t believe in the film’s conspiracy theories, this must mean I agree with every action taken by the government or by economic interests, or that I don’t think there is corruption, or that I must think our current economic system is fair and just. Although I’ve stated repeatedly, beginning in the FAQ, that I don’t hold any of these views, many—perhaps even most—Thrive fans just don’t get it.
I believe that income disparity is a huge problem in the United States and the world. I believe that the economic system in America isn’t functioning fairly or properly. I believe business and corporate interests have too much influence and control over policy. I believe that we spend too much on wars and military interventions and not enough on helping Americans here at home. Above all, I believe that anthropogenic global warming is a dire threat to our planet and that immediate and decisive action must be taken—by governments, by businesses, and by individuals—to combat it. From his statement, I gather that Mr. Robbins probably shares these views.
How Does Thrive Divert Attention from Real Problems?
Thrive is deeply misguided because it’s diverting its viewers’ attention away from the real solutions that we must pursue to these very real problems. My core grievance with conspiracy theories is that they are false. However, it’s the effect of that falsity in the real world which is why opposing conspiracy theories matters. Conspiracy thinking reduces the world into a simplistic black-and-white, good-versus-evil, lightworkers-versus-disinformation paradigm. Against that background, nothing productive can get done.
Here’s how Thrive operates in this regard.
Problem: environmental degradation caused by reliance on fossil fuels.
Real solution: Work toward developing economically and socially realistic alternatives to fossil fuels, such as renewable energy resources (solar, wind, water power, etc.) as well as smarter solutions in building, land use and lifestyle.
Problem: income disparity and poverty.
Real solution: Work toward meaningful and fair reform of the economic system, policies that promote economic opportunity at the bottom, and make sure businesses and corporations pay their fair share and contribute to our society.
Thrive solution: Take out the “Global Domination Elite.” Taxation is theft; abolish it.
Problem: government corruption.
Real solution: Meaningful campaign finance reform; eliminate (or at least reduce) corporate/business influence in politics; punish wrongdoers; elect honest candidates.
Thrive solution: All corruption is the fault of the “Global Domination Elite.” Rise up against them and destroy them, and everything will be fine.
Problem: disease in the developing world.
Real solution: Develop medical technology and healthy vaccines, and put social and political institutions in place to distribute medical care to as many people as possible.
Thrive solution: Vaccines are evil tools of the “Global Domination Elite” and should be banned.
Problem: anthropogenic global warming.
Real solution: Massive worldwide mobilization by governments and business interests to develop clean technology as rapidly as possible, reduce carbon emissions and mitigate areas impacted by global warming disasters. International cooperation on political, economic, and scientific levels.
Thrive solution: The problem does not exist. Global warming is a hoax, a sham and a conspiracy by the “Global Domination Elite.”
Do you see how this works? This is why Thrive is worth speaking out against.
One Last Example: the HAARP Earthquake Machine.
A totally shocking detail included in Mr. Robbins’s letter is his statement of Foster Gamble’s statements about the Fukushima earthquake and tsunami which devastated Japan early last year. Mr. Robbins says, “He has said that “they” have a machine in Alaska that enables them to create earthquakes at will, anywhere on earth, and of any desired strength.”
This is a very old conspiracy theory called HAARP. You can read a debunking of HAARP conspiracy theories from noted skeptic Brian Dunning here. It’s one of the stupidest, most irrational and most paranoid conspiracy theories out there, but many people, unfortunately, believe it. I didn’t know until I saw Mr. Robbins’s letter that Foster Gamble has expressed belief in HAARP, but it doesn’t surprise me. It’s also a perfect illustration of how conspiracy theories, once they get inside a person’s head, can totally corrode their ability to think rationally about world problems.
If people who believed in HAARP had any significant positions of power, what sort of world would we have? An earthquake and tsunami in Japan, caused by tectonic stresses and geologic processes, would be interpreted through the lens of this conspiracy theory as a man-made act of war, quite naturally inviting some sort of retaliation or response. If Foster Gamble could identify a specific individual or groups of individuals that he thought caused the Fukushima disaster, I would venture a guess that he would want those individuals to be held accountable in some way. This is in the total absence of any evidence whatsoever that an earthquake and tsunami in Japan was caused by HAARP.
Can you see how dangerous this type of thinking is? Furthermore, does the fact that this sort of thinking is on the rise scare you as much as it scares me?
Why is conspiracy thinking and conspiracy ideology on the rise? Because of people like Alex Jones, Eustace Mullins, David Icke, and Jeff Rense—and because of movies like Loose Change, Zeitgeist, and yes, Thrive.
So, those of you who wonder why I created this blog, why I speak out so forcefully against conspiracy theories and conspiracy thinking, you now have your answer.
When I open my email inbox every morning to see the host of comments posted on this blog during the night—the majority of them highly negative—I sometimes think of this old song by Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers. “You can stand me up at the gates of Hell, but I won’t back down.”
Adam Trombly, the inventor who appears in the movie Thrive and who the film asserts created a “free energy” machine that has been supposedly suppressed by conspiratorial powers, has made a lengthy statement on his website responding to this blog, to me, and to allegations made against him on this blog by one David Farnsworth. Mr. Farnsworth is another inventor who claims Mr. Trombly stole from him the photos of the supposed “free energy” machine that appears in Thrive. When I presented the questions raised about Mr. Trombly and his work, I pledged that I would offer him a chance to respond fully and completely on this blog. Today I make good on that pledge.
The statement by Adam Trombly does not defend Thrive unequivocally. In fact, I was told yesterday that Adam Trombly has joined the nine other people interviewed in Thrive who recently signed an open letter disavowing the film and maintaining that its contents and approach were not appropriately disclosed to them at the time their participation was secured. Mr. Trombly’s essay doesn’t state that he signed the letter, but he’s certainly now on record as having expressed criticism of the film. This is a surprising development and a positive one, in my view. In fact, as you’ll see at the end of this article, I think there are several issues on which Adam Trombly and I agree. Thus, while certainly this article is going to include plenty of conflict, there’s a silver lining too.
There are a lot of issues here, and I’ll get to them all in my own comments, but first, I’m going to present Mr. Trombly’s statement in its entirety. My own comments regarding it will appear after the text of the article.
Adam Trombly’s Essay: “Really Correcting the Record”
Before I address any other issues I must address the individual who hides behind the pseudonym Muertos. I will henceforth call him only Pseudonym. He has collaborated with others to attempt to defame and slander my name, my character, and my work. He has attempted to stir up a mob mentality against the movie Thrive and most of its participants.
Most of the people who appear in Thrive are good human beings who care about the future of this planet and unlike Pseudonym, are attempting to do something positive about it. Pseudonym and his allies are a dull spearhead of the forces attempting to
undermine fuel and pollution free forms of electrical and mechanical energy production.
Pseudonym criticizes Foster Gamble for his fact checking but he himself posts the utter nonsense of David Farnsworth without any fact checking at all.
It is strange to me and my friends and colleagues that I should have to write this narrative.
I harbored no angst against my former friend and co-worker David Farnsworth. I did feel sadness about the decision I was forced to make (over ten years ago) to no longer work with the mercurial Mr. Farnsworth. To say that David has been episodically unstable would be a profound understatement.
I realize in retrospect I over compensated in my accommodation of David. I actually loved him like a brother and wished the world could one day see his real gifts beyond the tornadic blur of his troubled soul. There is good and genius buried in him no matter what he says about me. There is also an incredible and destructive schism in him.
He signs off on the last email I received from him prior to this recent set of new attacks by calling me “old friend”. You can imagine my chagrin when he began publicly flailing against me once again a few weeks ago. I thought that by removing a photograph, which he suddenly objected to after it had been posted for over twelve years on the Project Earth website, David’s concerns had been assuaged. Alas, this was not the case. The “other David”, as we used to call him around here, reappeared with a vengeance.
In the process David cited some witnesses he said would corroborate his claims. The first person he cited was Elizabeth Rauscher who needs his nonsense no more than the rest of us. I would not even mention her name regarding this unpleasantness but for the fact Mr. Farnsworth left me with no choice.
I am very grateful to my friend Patrick Flanagan for putting me in touch with Elizabeth Rauscher just two days after David’s latest tantrums began. She did not and does not corroborate the claims David made against me when he cited her and her deceased husband Bill as witnesses providing prima facie against my person.
It had been too long since she and I had last spoken. She is now and always has been a leading edge thinker and genius of remarkable breadth.
It was RJ Reynolds III who gave me my formal introduction to Elizabeth and Bill in the early 1980’s. This was during the time right after he hired ten top professionals to test the voracity of my scientific arguments in their related fields, while I visited his (and his brothers’) twelve thousand acre estate at Devotion, North Carolina. As the result of ten days of oral examination, these men unanimously recommended that Josh take the next step, which he called, “a life endowment”. Josh announced that I was the first “RJ Reynolds III scholar” to receive this stature since Andrea Puharich. His brother Will Reynolds joined him in generously supporting Project Earth.
The original proposal I had written to Mr. Reynolds stated, among many other things, my belief that there are real ELF electromagnetic precursors to earthquakes to which certain biological organisms were sensitive. I wrote that these “signals” might be generated by pressure changes that appear at a lock on a seismic fault and cause the piezoelectric constituent minerals to express current in such a way that the electrical polarity of the ground proximate to these locations would actually change from positive to negative. I wrote that this might be detectable by instrumentation and not just by the symptomatic fight or flight syndrome observed in certain species (including many humans) prior to quakes. (This is very abbreviated.)
Josh responded, “Do you know Elizabeth Rauscher and Bill Van Bise? If not, then I need to introduce you to them because I believe that is exactly what they have discovered.”
My time with them in the 1980’s was a period of remarkable learning and exploration for me. I am forever grateful. As anyone who has followed Project Earth over the last few decades already knows, I have always stated that Elizabeth Rauscher and Bill Van Bise discovered the use of extremely low frequency spectrum analyzers for the forecasting of earthquakes.
I was sorry to have to disrupt her day or that of Patrick with the vacuous fiction portrayed by David Farnsworth in his “For the Record”. David fails to realize that there actually is a record and his brazen lies about me do not stand up to the witness and witnesses of history. Nobody wants to be drawn into David’s self-serving and self-generated maelstrom.
David has claimed that I have a pathetic memory. However, his recounting of events either stems from a pathology, drug abuse, or it is intentional fraud. It is beyond my purview to say either way. I am not a psychiatric clinician.
Regarding the famous picture of the magnetic motor:
Dave sent me the picture (which he admits to) after I asked for it to post on the Project Earth.com website (which he denies). You see, at that moment, we were friends and coworkers. He scanned it and freely sent me the digital scan. We published the photo.
He stated nothing about a “copyright” or anything stating that this was his and only his technology until shortly before the release of Thrive. TWELVE YEARS LATER. Very curious, don’t you think?
David scanned the Polaroid(s), he sent the scan(s) and we published it (not them). What could be simpler to understand than that? David posing, glaring into the camera holding two Polaroid’s convicts him of misrepresentation. He has the originals in his hands! No one stole a thing! Pirate a Polaroid? Get a life.
The Project Earth site stated clearly that this photo was not of a Closed Path Homopolar Generator.
The first actual generator I worked on would have never been successfully designed without the brilliance and extremely hard work of the then young Joseph Kahn. I have always said this. It disappeared from a warehouse/laboratory in an industrial park North of LA shortly after Project Earth Co-founder R. Buckminster Fuller’s death.
In its final embodiment I redesigned the liquid metal brushes as a refinement to the original Trombly/Kahn design. I called the new brush design the Micro-Turbulent Magnetohydrodynamic Liquid Metal Brush. It created micro-turbulent vortices, which acted as tiny pushing bearings and assisted the rotation of the rotor. Prior designs, including the initial design that was used in the first Closed Path Homopolar Generator design, could actually create a back torque on the rotor.
After the theft/confiscation of this generator in 1983, I never worked with a Closed Path Homopolar Generator again.
I next worked with the late Marcel Vogel of IBM to whom I was introduced to by Lee Sannella, a dear friend and an early champion of Project Earth after Bucky’s death. Marcel was a genius of considerable stature in the scientific community in spite of his lack of complete “credentials”.
He was a lead scientist on many of the basic Patents filed by IBM for things like the Liquid Crystal Display, the Hard Drive, the Floppy drive, etc. He was one of the most productive scientists in the history of IBM. Thomas Watson, Founder and long time Chairman of the Board for IBM, called Vogel, “One of the most creative individuals I have ever had the privilege to know. He has produced more basic Patents for our company than all but one other individual.”
It was an honor to work with him.
That work occurred years before I met David. My task with Marcel was to work on the first Piezo-Ringing Resonance Generator. This was a very different device than the one David and I worked on. This device was designed to use actual quartz crystals. However, it was fundamentally based on the same principle as the device David and I demonstrated in New York, Washington, D.C., San Francisco, and other venues. I know that the principle utilized in these technologies could one day provide a brighter tomorrow.
I told David about Piezo-ringing resonance theory and reduction to practice early in our working relationship. We discussed the concept, settled on a simple design and shortly thereafter he called me and asked me to come to Oregon. When I arrived he had a case of newly wound Piezo-ringing-resonance coils. Coiltron, Inc. had beautifully wound them at no small expense.
I asked Dave where the money to create these coils had come from and he told me he had acquired it from an investor named Pete Karkonan. I don’t really know much about who Pete Karkonan (sp?) really was but he poured a lot of money into the work.
To the best of my knowledge he provided funds for David’s first HP 3561a and several other instruments as well. I never knew where some of the funds came from. I was somewhat baffled that this man (David), who said he was “completely broke” around the time he introduced himself to me at and after the 1988 Tesla Symposium in Colorado Springs, had managed to acquire so much costly electronic equipment, which he had housed in a nice home on the Umatilla Indian Reservation near Pendleton, Oregon. His wife at that time was named Tina and she was a member of the tribe. She was always very hospitable.
Things progressed rapidly in 1989 and by early June David and I took off for physical demonstrations in New York and Washington D.C. in a motor home filled with newly acquired and/or leased scientific instruments and a veritable forest of antennae. Senator Timothy Wirth of my home state of Colorado in cooperation with Friends of the Earth had arranged for the D.C. demonstration. My friend Electra Briggs and colleague Noel Brown had arranged for the United Nations demonstration. David’s affable brother-in-law Terry, who was a tremendous help on our journey, drove and accompanied us for the entire trip.
It felt good to be on the road to provide physical proof that efficiency of greater than 100% was attainable in relatively inexpensive and compact technologies.
It was an inspiring and heart breaking adventure for all of us. President H.W. Bush actually proposed tradable “carbon credits” at the White House while Fmr. Ambassador James George, David and I stood in the Senate Banking and Finance Committee Hearing Room with a handful of people who had chosen to come to the demonstration of a revolutionary energy technology rather than attend the White House announcement of Bush’s “Clean Air Act”.
It is hard to imagine why David now declares that we never worked together. We worked and laughed and wept together. To deny all of it is beyond the pale and is utterly absurd.
In his missive David tells of the raid by several Federal Marshals in 1997 but suggests that it was “his lab” that got confiscated and that I was somehow behind the raid itself. (Huh?) It was in fact supposed to be our lab and he admitted to that fact, prior to the confiscation, in front of his ex-wife and in-laws and my daughter and I. No one benefitted from that raid. No one won. We all lost.
Since David states that he got his “first earthquake forecasting equipment from William Randolph Hearst II” I have to point out that this was impossible. I had not even met Will Hearst II when Dave got his first equipment. It was the aforementioned “Pete” Karkonan or individuals or entities unknown to me who provided funds for a copious amount of leased and purchased equipment.
Since I am the one who introduced David to Will Hearst II it is another perplexing misstatement. Will did provide us with funds to lease equipment but told me he was dismayed by David’s usurpation of everything that was leased for us. I emphasize for us. The equipment Will had provided funds to lease could not be returned at the end of the lease because David had so modified it that HP would not take it back. Will had to buy it and thenceforth withdrew his support.
David never “gave” me any earthquake forecasting equipment. I actually purchased (with funds from Will Hearst) and physically picked up an HP 3561a at the Hewlett Packard facility in the “Tech Park” of Denver, Colorado. Mr. Farnsworth cannot claim that this was “his” machine because he could not put his name on the warranty. We discovered, over the years of working with him, that this is his modus operandi. Without any financial contribution on his part, David simply put his name on all the warranties such that all of the equipment became his and not the property of the corporation for which the funds had been raised to purchase said equipment.
Nancy and I affectionately called our one HP 3561a instrument “Quency” (after frequency). “Quency” died a month or so ago after thousands of hours of use and many successful forecasts.
We forecast many quakes with that instrument, both in cooperation with David and also many times without him. This is a matter of public record and refutes Mr. Farnsworth’s false claim to have given me my only equipment and to his claims of being the only one to forecast quakes!
As a case in point: In March of 1993 I was communicating on a nearly daily basis with then Commander Michael Egan who was the Head of Strategic Planning for the US Coast Guard at the time. The reason for our conversation was to articulate our contribution to the National Performance Review, which for our part was an endeavor to reinvent Science in the US Government.
During our daily multi-hour conversations I told Mike of the earthquake forecasting technology. When I saw the signature’s pass across the analyzer screen indicating a break, deep in the earth’s crust, over twenty four hours prior to the “surfacing” of a quake, now known as the Scots Mill quake in Oregon, I reported it to Commander Egan. I had not heard from David for many days because he actually thought that there was going to be a “9 point quake” and had packed up his motor home and gone to the country side. After he “hit the road” he had become incommunicado for several days.
David and I were both watching the same signatures on our analyzers but he was so close to the epicenter that the amplitude of the signal at his location was much higher than it appeared in Aspen, Colorado where we watched from the Institute for Advanced Studies at Aspen. In Aspen we forecast a quake of between 5.6 and 6.0 on the Richter scale. This is many orders on magnitude less than a 9.0 quake and was an accurate forecast.
Cmdr. Egan called the Portland Oregonian to report the forecast and this is also a matter of public record. Both the US Coast Guard Station in Portland and FEMA were put on alert prior to the quake. It was the first time in United States history that such a preparedness exercise had been initiated prior to an actual quake.
When an article acknowledging the forecast of this quake appeared in the Portland Oregonian, David became furious because Commander Egan said, “Adam Trombly is extremely brilliant” and said nothing about him. This was not an intentional slight on Cmdr. Egan’s part it was just a reflection of the fact that he and I had been in constant communication. Commander Egan knew I was working with David, but while we were in conversation regarding this actual event, David was absent and for whatever reason not answering his phone. The next article in the Oregonian included David’s name.
The point I want to make is this. Elizabeth Rauscher and Bill Van Bise revealed their discovery to me and spent their time generously with me regarding the forecasting of earthquakes when the study of this process was in its infancy. I then passed on what I had learned to Mr. Farnsworth. He in his inimitable way picked up on the thread and we went forward rapidly as our understanding of the process improved over time.
Earth taught us all directly as we watched the patterns of stress/strain excitation and release. We watched and learned. Hour after hour, day after day, night after night we observed the pre-seismic spectral signatures, which sometime manifest as quakes, volcanic eruptions, or just gradual release with little or no seismic expression.
I consider it one of the great blessings of my life that I have had the time, energy, and money to learn from Elizabeth and Bill, discoverers of the process and from Mother Earth the signs of her increasingly unstable seismic and volcanic processes. I have also been very grateful for much of the time I spent learning with my former friend and colleague David. My life partner Nancy also spent countless vigilant hours learning from the Earth by my side and frequently had insights that deepened our mutual understanding of this process.
It is very exciting to be on the leading edge of discoveries that could positively impact all of our lives. It is disconcerting ad nauseum to have a former colleague attempt to obfuscate a formerly productive working relationship.
Dave claims to have introduced Nancy and I. That is complete bs. I had been speaking to Nancy on the phone for months before he claims to have introduced us. We were actually introduced by a mutual friend in Aspen.
David claims to have never screwed his investors. The record reflects this as a grossly inaccurate statement.
Here a case in point is his relationship with Geordie Hormel, a primary heir to the Hormel Meat dynasty. David took a large amount of money from Geordie Hormel, who was my friend and sat on the board of my company Zero Point Technologies, Inc. before I ever met Farnsworth. I introduced David to Geordie and then Mr. Farnsworth abused my trust by doing everything in his power to undermine my relationship with my friend. Geordie himself said this to me. Geordie and I reconciled our friendship before his death.
This leads us to a very different understanding of the cause of the 1997 raid mentioned above. Within the last week a friend pointed me to an Associated Press article stating that a Federal Judge ordered the raid because of a lawsuit against David Farnsworth that was initiated by Geordie Hormel. The headline reads, “Spam Heir Files Suit Over Investment.”
Since Elizabeth and Bill discovered the real method for using ELF precursors to forecast quakes only a few have been able to pursue it. It is a very important area for scientific investigation, which could be applied towards the safety and welfare of the people of this unstable planet. Those of us who have learned and continue to learn could contribute greatly to the security of populations who are proximate to both seismic and volcanic regions of the earth.
As elucidated above, Former Ambassador James George did not arrange for me to speak at the United Nations nor for David and I to do our demonstration down the street from the UN in 1989.
Ambassador George is one of my dearest friends and colleagues and a mentor for whom I will always offer up thanks. It would be difficult to count number of times of I relied on his counsel. He is a rare gem in this world. Although David references Jim as a witness on his behalf, Jim does not support a word of David’s attacks.
As mentioned above it was Electra Briggs, who organized the UN event and invited me to speak because she knew of my work from well before any relationship with Mr. Farnsworth. She confirms this.
Noel Brown, then the Head of the New York Office of the United Nations Environment Programme helped arrange for an alternative demo venue for the technology at Holy Covenant Church down the street from the U.N. because of last minute security concerns at Dag Hammerscold Auditorium where I spoke immediately after the successful demonstration.
Anyone who was there knows that it was a very special moment. Some of us felt briefly that the world might change as a result. David had no problem saying we were working together back then.
As for the Liquid Nitrogen Snuffer technology used to put out several oil fires in Kuwait I have always said that David called me in the wee hours of the morning (2 am) in February of 1991with this fantastic idea for putting out oil fires with large tanker trucks of liquid Nitrogen being used like giant pulsed fire extinguishers with a circle of nozzles at the end of gantry arms to shear and suffocate the high pressure flames. (This is a really oversimplified description.) He and I spent several hours on the phone that night and in the days following fleshing out the details. David never before objected to me being cited as his co-inventor.
I will not bore you with the litany of that process and who contributed what. All I cared about was getting the fires out. I promised my daughter.
Boots and Coots did indeed try to patent the technology. I was one of the people who called the US Patent Office to prevent that because I knew very well where it came from.
David’s claims of doing earthquake forecasting and having patents pertaining to ELF earthquake forecasting before knowing me are not even close to being true.
After introducing himself to me at the 1988 Tesla Society Conference in Colorado Springs, David called my office every day and begged to work with me. That is how this whole thing started. I certainly had no need to pursue this man or to learn “buzz words” from him. I already had a successful career and had I known then what I do now I would have made very different decisions regarding working with this man.
David’s claim that he used me, as a sounding board for “his” ideas is ridiculous.
On more than occasion after not speaking to David for months and even once for well over a year (because of his violent mood swings and methamphetamine abuse) I received conciliatory calls in which he said things like, “I need you to come back and work with me. I need your ideas.”
On more than one occasion David tearfully apologized for abusing our working relationship and our friendship. He would apologize for not giving me credit where credit was due. Then, like many other addicts, he would revert to his old pattern of self-deception and abuse.
This is a sad thing to have to say. Anyone who has had an acquaintance, a friend, or a loved one who is or has been addicted to methamphetamine can understand. This dreadful poison has ruined millions of lives worldwide. It is a toxin, which often causes human beings to become monstrously deluded and abusive. I cannot say conclusively that David Farnsworth is currently using this substance but his recent behavior does suggest either residual damage or current abuse.
The Emergency on Earth is too far along to sustain this kind of dissipative distraction. I say in all of my lectures that this is not about any one individual. It is about the contributions we can all make to the healing of our Wounded Earth and ourselves.
It may be of interest to some that I was invited to join the group of fellow interviewees who wish to dissociate from the movie Thrive. I have great respect for all of them. I received a lovely letter of invitation to join this group from my old friend John Robbins. Like Robbins and other signers of the letter I have serious differences with the final edit of the movie.
Even so, I am saddened by attacks on Foster Gamble (or anyone else for that matter) by individuals who hide behind pseudonyms and take pleasure in causing pain. I am not speaking of the signers of the aforementioned list. I am speaking of bullying cowards who place no value on the accuracy of their statements.
Let no one fool you into believing that there is not an Emergency on Earth. David Icke and those who say that Climate Change is a scam do a great disservice to us all. I cannot be associated with nor endorse anything that embraces such a view on this subject.
At Project Earth we have always supported fuel free and pollution free energy producing technologies that could help heal the Earth. These technologies have been suppressed since Tesla. This is not a new issue.
Millions know of my work with Project Earth over the decades. I am so grateful for the support of honest witnesses and the real friends that Project Earth and I have. My record is clear. I stand for the Earth and her creatures. I stand for solutions.
Our planet is now at the fulcrum of great change. We could move into a future that would be wonderful or we could continue on a path that leads to an environmentally bankrupt world. We all need for our governments to invest in Life worth living. The only way this will happen is if we find and raise our voices above the tide of lies.
Obviously, there’s a lot here. As you can see, the bulk of Mr. Trombly’s essay is devoted to responding to the allegations of Mr. Farnsworth. I’ve said before, and I’ll say it again now, that I don’t know where the truth lies in this dispute between the two of them. I reported Mr. Farnsworth’s allegations; I have now reported Mr. Trombly’s. Although Mr. Trombly’s statement makes it sound like I’ve reported Mr. Farnsworth’s claims as if they are absolutely true and factual, I’ve never done any such thing, because I don’t know which one of them is telling the truth. Go back and look at the article and you’ll see this is the case.
As for the portions of the statement directed at me, I wish to raise three main issues.
Mr. Trombly’s statement that I’m stirring up some sort of “mob” against Thrive is a grotesque mischaracterization. I’ve presented facts and arguments that refute many of the claims made in the movie. I’ve reported, as accurately as I can, questions that have been raised by others about the work and the credibility of people who appear in the film, most notably David Icke, Nassim Haramein and Adam Trombly. I believe Thrive is a deceptive film, and my entire purpose in creating this blog has been to lay out the case for why I believe this is so. How is this in any way stirring up a “mob?”
Have I ever advocated hurting anyone over Thrive? Have I ever told people that I think they should take action against anyone connected with the film? Indeed, have I ever even stated or implied that I think Thrive should be banned, censored or suppressed? The answer to each of these questions is a resounding no.
Indeed, if there’s any sort of “mob” here, it’s definitely looking for me, not the other way around. One need only glance at some of the comments to any article posted here to see numerous examples of the extreme hostility with which many Thrive fans have responded to this blog. I’ve been accused of causing wars, suicides and depression. I’ve been accused of making up sources. I’ve been accused of “collaborating” with evil forces bent on enslaving the world. And yes, as most readers well know, I’ve been accused of being a “paid disinformation agent.” Right now about 30% of the readership of this blog believes someone is paying me to trash Thrive.
So let me ask Mr. Trombly—if I’m the one stirring up a “mob,” how come I’m the one getting death threats?
Undermining Pollution-Free Forms of Energy?
Mr. Trombly states that I am “undermin[ing] fuel and pollution free forms of electrical and mechanical energy production.” This is untrue.
I do not and never have opposed pollution-free forms of electrical or mechanical energy production. I would love to see a cheap, reliable form of pollution-free energy production. The world needs that sort of technology desperately. Personally, my belief is that the governments of the United States and other industrialized countries should devote considerable resources to the development of solar, wind and other renewable forms of energy. I believe a symbiosis of public-private interests, geared with great urgency and coordinated toward common goals, can develop realistic clean alternatives to fossil fuel power generation within the next ten years. I would support massive increases in public expenditures to bring about such a result. I’m willing to have my own tax burden raised significantly if I knew that the money was going toward development of clean, renewable energy on a wide scale, and I would whole-heartedly support political candidates who would advocate this. (Barack Obama has been a disappointment in this regard).
How have I “undermined” the cause of advocating environmentally and socially responsible energy? By asking for evidence that supports claims of “free energy” machines? How is this in any way unreasonable?
I would like to ask Mr. Trombly, if I had a million dollars that I was thinking of investing with him to develop the technology he’s working on, would he think it unreasonable if I asked for evidence that his claims are, in fact, supportable? Would he expect an investor to simply give him money on faith, without seeing anything? I’m not sure how the inventing business works, but I’d be very surprised if it actually works like that.
If a person makes a very broad and sweeping claim about something, they must be prepared to be asked for evidence that what they claim is true. If what they claim is true, they should have absolutely no fear of being asked to prove it. In fact, they should welcome the opportunity to prove themselves right, because the process of proving it will eliminate any potential doubt.
This is why I’ve stated before, and will state again here, that it would be very easy for Mr. Trombly to silence my criticism of “free energy” once and for all time. All he need do is show me (and the rest of the world) a working “free energy” device that actually does what is claimed of it. That demonstration needs to be out in the open and done in such a way that others can replicate the result, or at least verify it beyond all doubt. This can be done without jeopardizing patent or other intellectual property rights to which the inventor of such a device would, quite justifiably, be entitled.
That’s all Mr. Trombly has to do. Show me a working “free energy” device and prove that it really works. That’s all. If he does that, I’m a believer. It really is that simple.
Mr. Trombly’s Disagreement With Thrive—Is There Common Ground?
I now wish to get away from the obvious points on which I disagree with Adam Trombly. Let’s move toward a place where we might be able to find common ground.
For the first time I see in Mr. Trombly’s statement an indication that he’s unhappy with how he and his work was portrayed in Thrive. Whether he has actually signed the letter that John Robbins and eight others have signed is unclear from his statement, but he clearly indicates he’s thinking about it. He also clearly indicates that he strongly disagrees with David Icke and others who deny the proven scientific fact of anthropogenic global warming.
Here, then, are two points where I couldn’t agree more with Adam Trombly. I would say that, if I had to jettison every one of my issues with Thrive except for one, the presence of David Icke in the film is the one that would stand out as most bothering me. I do not like David Icke. I believe his theories are extremely harmful and damaging. As a human being who strongly opposes racial prejudice, I am deeply offended by the racist implications of Mr. Icke’s theories. My position on this is well-known.
I also believe that anthropogenic global warming is the single most important problem facing the world today. This is an issue that must be addressed. We can’t ignore it. Fighting global warming is of absolutely vital importance to every human being on the planet. And it is a crisis. If that’s what Mr. Trombly means about an “Emergency on Earth,” I agree. Mr. Trombly is wrong when he suggests that I’m not doing anything about the future of the planet. The work I’ve been doing in my everyday life for the past two years has significant implications for the understanding of climate change and how to deal with it.
I also commend Mr. Trombly for stating that he can’t endorse or be involved with anything that embraces the denialist view that global warming is some sort of scam. I would like to know if this is Mr. Trombly’s main basis for criticizing Thrive. Foster Gamble has made statements that indicate that he’s a global warming denier. I think it’s great that Adam Trombly is taking a stand against that. It’s an important stand.
A common thread is emerging from the various criticisms of Thrive that are out there. Many people oppose the film because they believe its unsupportable and sensational claims divert people’s attention away from real issues that need to be solved. This is certainly the basis of my disagreement with the film. Blaming the problems of the world on imaginary conspiracies created by an imaginary “Global Domination Elite” draws attention away from solving real problems that exist, not in Foster Gamble’s fantasy world, but in the real world where the rest of us live. I suspect that Adam Trombly’s disagreement with the film comes from a similar perspective. If that’s true, there’s some more common ground.
I’ve never stated that I think Foster Gamble is a bad person. In fact I’ve gone out of my way to stress that I believe he’s a good man with good intentions and who really does want to help the world become a better place. If I was stirring up a “mob,” or if I didn’t care about accuracy or fairness, why on earth would I say this about him? I think Foster Gamble is misguided in many of his beliefs. I think that he made numerous errors of fact and judgment in putting Thrive together. But none of that makes him a bad person. Mr. Trombly makes me out as some sort of demagogue who will stop at nothing to tear him down. Why, if that’s the case, haven’t I been far harsher on Foster Gamble?
Thus, I would suggest that perhaps my opinion of Foster Gamble, as a human being, is probably not too different from Adam Trombly’s. This is some more common ground.
So there are four issues on which Adam Trombly and I agree. If he’s willing to stand up and be counted with those who oppose and distance themselves from this deceptive film, as others have done, at least from my perspective the issues on which we continue to disagree will attain much lesser importance.
I started this blog because I was very bothered by the factual and logical errors and inaccuracies of Thrive, and I didn’t want the people out there on the Internet who were its most likely fans—young people, mostly, who are concerned with the direction our global society is taking—to accept it unquestioningly without at least being aware that the film has very serious problems. The bulk of Mr. Trombly’s statement is aimed at countering allegations made by David Farnsworth. I understand and appreciate why he’s doing that, and if I hadn’t been willing from the get-go to air both sides of the story, you would not see Mr. Trombly’s statement reproduced here in its entirety.
Setting aside for a moment his conflict with Mr. Farnsworth, there are indications in Mr. Trombly’s statement that he is also bothered by certain aspects of Thrive—bothered enough to join, or at the very least consider joining, a group of people who appear in the movie and who now want to distance themselves from it. I think that’s very positive. Considering that Mr. Trombly and I seem to agree on other issues—the urgency and importance of solving the problems of anthropogenic global warming, for instance—I’d venture to say that perhaps there is room to move forward in a constructive manner to evaluate Thrive and the issues it raises. For that reason, there is a great deal about Mr. Trombly’s statement that I welcome.
Throwing Thrive Under the Bus: Progressives Interviewed in the Film Distance Themselves From Its “Dangerously Misguided” Ideas. (UPDATED!)
This blog, originally published April 12, 2012, was updated April 13, 2012. Scroll to the end for the update.
It seems that the honeymoon the public has had with Thrive as a result of the film’s release free on the web has already come to a crashing halt. Yesterday, nine of the people interviewed in Thrive—John Robbins, Deepak Chopra, Paul Hawken, Elisabet Sahtouris, Duane Elgin, Vandana Shiva, Edgar Mitchell, Amy Goodman and John Perkins—issued a public statement denouncing the film and stressing their profound disagreement with it. They also claim that Foster Gamble and the makers of the film misrepresented it when securing their participation. This is potentially an extremely serious development for Foster Gamble and Clear Compass Media, whose film is already under heavy attack from anti-conspiracy skeptics, progressive political thinkers, and environmentalists.
Who Said What?
An article in the Santa Cruz News (online) by reporter Eric Johnson quotes portions of the statement as well as remarks by John Robbins. Mr. Robbins is an environmentalist, an advocate for sustainability and a health/fitness author best known for his book Diet for a New America, which was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize. He lives in the Santa Cruz, California area and knows Thrive makers Foster and Kimberly Gamble personally. According to the article, Mr. Robbins was invited to an advance screening of Thrive at Mr. Gamble’s house. Here’s how he describes what he saw there:
“Robbins, who makes a brief appearance in the film, says he was “overwhelmed” by what he saw.
“There were parts I liked, but there were other parts that I just detested,” he recalls. “I didn’t want to be rude—we were there with our families—so I just didn’t say anything.”
According to the Santa Cruz Weekly News article, Mr. Robbins told the reporter that Foster Gamble didn’t tell them about the real contents of the film beforehand. They didn’t know what was in it until it came out publicly. Additionally, Paul Hawken and Elizabeth Sahtouris told the news outlet that Mr. Gamble had actively misrepresented the film.
Just this evening, John Robbins posted a comment on my blog which included the full text of the statement signed by himself and the six other interviewees who have denounced Thrive. Here is the text of the statement as it was presented to me:
“We are a group of people who were interviewed for and appear in the movie Thrive, and who hereby publicly disassociate ourselves from the film.
Thrive is a very different film from what we were led to expect when we agreed to be interviewed. We are dismayed that we were not given a chance to know its content until the time of its public release. We are equally dismayed that our participation is being used to give credibility to ideas and agendas that we see as dangerously misguided.
We stand by what each of us said when we were interviewed. But we have grave disagreements with some of the film’s content and feel the need to make this public statement to avoid the appearance that our presence in the film constitutes any kind of endorsement.
Signatories (in alphabetical order)
I am not surprised by this move. Since at least December I’ve been hearing rumors that numerous interviewees in Thrive were upset at how the movie came out and appalled that their words and images appear in it. This clearly indicated that there were problems with how the makers of the film presented the project when they went to secure these commentators’ interviews. However, at the time I had no hard knowledge that these rumors were true, so I didn’t feel comfortable publicizing them. I expected that eventually one or more of the interviewees would go public. Now they have.
Why now? It’s clearly because of the recent free release of the film, which seems to have boosted its popularity. The Santa Cruz Weekly article states that the nine who disavowed the movie had hoped Thrive would simply go away. It didn’t, and has become “something of a Web cult phenomenon.” Because of the popularity of the movie, they decided to go public at this time.
Why Am I Not Surprised?
There is a clear division among the people interviewed in Thrive. Some of them are people who have severe problems commanding credibility in the mainstream—David Icke, Adam Trombly and Nassim Haramein all fall into that category. However, there are also others interviewed in the film who do not appear to be conspiracy theorists, pseudoscientists or otherwise makers of wild and unproven claims. That doesn’t mean I agree with them on everything they have to say; however, I suspected from the very get-go that these people weren’t being told the full story of what Thrive was about before they agreed to appear in the film.
I will direct the readers to a passage in my very first article about Thrive, which was a debunking of the trailer, even before I’d seen the full film. Here’s what I had to say about Elisabet Sahtouris, Paul Hawken, and Amy Goodman:
“Dr. Sahtouris is the first person in this movie [at the time I meant the trailer] who actually has a real, verifiable Ph.D…. She lectures on evolution of humanity and how to create a better future. Given that she, like Catherine Fitts, sounds completely sane, I suspect that her inclusion in this movie is somewhat unwitting. Another clue that tells me this is that she appears to believe in global warming. While global warming isn’t mentioned in the Thrive trailer, I would lay odds that most of Thrive’s target audience believes that global warming is a hoax. Most conspiracy theorists do. I do not think Dr. Sahtouris is a conspiracy theorist….
Paul Hawken is a California businessman and environmentalist. He advocates for socially and environmentally responsible business practices (and I certainly agree with that). He hosted a 17-part series on PBS about running socially responsible businesses. Again, another sane person who makes me wonder if he was told he was going to be in the same movie as David Icke and Adam Trombly…
Democracy Now! is a radio program on the Pacifica radio network, dedicated to progressive causes. I’ve never listened to the show, but browsing their material there seems to be a lot of stuff I agree with. Amy Goodman was arrested along with two other reporters at the 2008 Republican National Convention despite having committed no crime. The charges were eventually dropped.
As with several other respectable names here (Fitts, Hawken, Sahtouris, williams) I wonder what she is doing in a conspiracy theory movie.”
In fact, it is noteworthy that Mr. Robbins is most upset about the very same aspect of Thrive that most upsets me—its inclusion of David Icke. According to the Santa Cruz article, he was especially concerned with the inclusion in the film of Mr. Icke as well as G. Edward Griffin, both of whom are detailed on the Thrive website. The Santa Cruz Weekly article reports that Griffin is associated with the ultra-right-wing John Birch Society. As for David Icke, whose claim to fame is obviously (as I pointed out in my own piece on him) the conspiracy theory that the world is controlled by a race of shape-shifting reptilian aliens from the constellation Draco, the Weekly article raises exactly the same concerns about the anti-Semitic aspects of Mr. Icke’s theories as I’ve noted on this blog.
Furthermore, Mr. Robbins told the Santa Cruz Weekly that Foster Gamble has taken a lot of inspiration from the work of Eustace Mullins. Mullins is, in Mr. Robbins’s words, “the most anti-Semitic public figure in U.S. history.” The article mentions that Eustace Mullins is the author of a book called Adolf Hitler: An Appreciation. The mere title of that book should tell you what it’s about–and in this case the cover of the book is quite a good advertisement for what you’ll find inside. In that book Mullins rails against “Jewish international bankers” and alleges a plot by them for world domination. Near the end of the article, Mr. Robbins is quoted as saying, “Foster is extremely naïve about the political consequences of his film.”
I’ve stated on more than one occasion that I think the main problem with Foster Gamble is that he is naïve. I don’t think he’s a racist and I don’t think he’s a bad person. I’ve even begun to question whether I think his commitment to conspiracy theorist ideology runs very deep. But what I hear Mr. Robbins saying here is exactly what I’ve been thinking for the past five months.
What Does This Mean For Thrive?
In my view, the statement issued yesterday, and the public dissociation of nine prominent people interviewed in the film from the finished product, is devastating. If Foster Gamble and the makers of Thrive had to misrepresent the film in order to sell it to the people they wanted to appear in it, as the nine undersigned allege, what does that say about the validity of the film and its message as a whole?
Thrive’s credibility has already suffered so many blows that very little of it remains. The inclusion of David Icke as a reliable source was just the tip of the iceberg. This very blog exposed further questions of credibility, when I published statements by inventor David Farnsworth who claims that the “free energy” device shown in Thrive and attributed to Adam Trombly was not in fact invented by Trombly, and does not do what the film says it does. The implication of that crisis is that, if Mr. Farnsworth’s claims are true, Foster Gamble seems not to have done a very good job in checking his sources and vetting the people who appear in Thrive. Yesterday’s allegation complicates further the question of how this film was made and what was said to the people who participated in it.
I’m curious if Foster Gamble will respond to the statement and if so, what he has to say about how the film was made and what was told to Mr. Robbins and the others who signed the statement.
There will probably be further developments regarding this story in the future. I’ll update this article as events warrant.
Update: 13 April 2012
John Robbins posted a comment on this article today in which he states that Adam Trombly has also signed the repudiation of the film.
I’m trying to learn more about this, especially Mr. Trombly’s reasons for doing so. If he has indeed walked away from Thrive, this represents the most significant defection yet–and an even more serious blow to the Thrive organization.
In a note posted on the movie’s official Facebook account, an unnamed spokesman said that Foster and Kimberly Gamble are traveling and will respond more fully later, but they didn’t knowingly misrepresent the film. The response quotes the disclaimer on the film that says they (the filmmakers) don’t agree with everything the people in the movie say. Presumably that works both ways.
I look forward to hearing what more the Thrive people have to say. But if even someone as closely identified with the film as Adam Trombly has been (up until this point) is scrambling for a life preserver, I’d venture a guess that Thrive is starting to resemble a sinking ship.
One of the people whose views the Thrive movie showcases is a man named Nassim Haramein. A caption on the screen identifies Mr. Haramein as “Cosmologist, Inventor.” Beginning at 12:23 in the film, excerpts of interviews with Haramein begin and continue for almost the next ten minutes. Mr. Haramein opines on questions of astronomy and ancient history. Even before Thrive, Mr. Haramein was well-known in New Age circles. This article will evaluate what Mr. Haramein claims in Thrive, and also try to answer the question, who is he?
What Does Nassim Haramein Claim in Thrive?
In his first appearance in Thrive at 12:23, Nassim Haramein appears in the context of the discussion about the “torus” design which Thrive creator Foster Gamble believes is the key to free energy. Mr. Haramein refers to “big arms of galaxies spinning around” and a claim is made at 12:34 that the galactic halo is shaped like a torus. A little later, at 16:12, Mr. Haramein appears again, talking about the Osirian Temple in Abydos, Egypt. This discussion occurs in the context of the “Flower of Life” design that Foster Gamble asserts is of extraterrestrial origin. At 16:32 of the film, Mr. Haramein states that the Flower of Life at the Osirian Temple is “burned into the atomic structure of the rock in some extraordinary way.” No backup is given for this claim at all. In fact, this claim is false. It is the only factual claim that I know of, to date, which the Thrive creators have retracted.
Mr. Haramein continues to appear sporadically over the next few minutes. He appears again at 18:20 talking about the Forbidden City in China, “where the sun gods reside.” Later still, at 20:10, Mr. Haramein again refers to “sun gods” from Egyptian, Incan and Mayan culture who supposedly came to earth and taught ancient peoples engineering, writing and science. This is clearly an assertion that “ancient astronauts” are supposedly responsible for great feats by ancient civilizations, who were mistaken by these civilizations for “sun gods.”
At 21:25, Foster Gamble states that “Nassim has impressive evidence to back up his theories.” He does not state what this “impressive evidence” actually is.
Is Nassim Haramein Right About the Things He Says in Thrive?
Not very much of the time. A lot of what Mr. Nassim states in Thrive is simply false. On this blog we have already debunked much of the material he presents. For example, we’ve already noted that his claim about the “Flower of Life” in the Osirian Temple is incorrect. It is not “burned into the atomic structure of the rock.” In this article, which debunks the idea of “ancient astronauts,” I explain at length how and why Mr. Haramein’s assertions about ancient civilizations and ancient history are wrong. For instance, the Egyptian and Mayan “sun gods” had nothing to do with science or engineering. A case can be made that the Incan “sun god” did supposedly teach some knowledge to the Incas, but the context in which Mr. Haramein employs this idea—supposedly to illustrate that “ancient astronauts” exist—is totally incorrect. There is not a single piece of evidence anywhere in the world indicating that aliens visited ancient civilizations thousands or hundreds of years ago. The only basis for the “ancient astronaut” claims is the supposition that particular structures, such as pyramids, were beyond the capability of ancient peoples to construct, and therefore they must have been built by aliens. As I explained in the article debunking ancient astronauts, that supposition is totally unsupportable. Furthermore, he’s also wrong about the Forbidden City being “where the sun gods reside.” The Forbidden City, built in Beijing in the early 1400s, was where the terrestrial emperor resided, not the “sun gods.”
Who is Nassim Haramein?
The subject that concerns the bulk of Mr. Haramein’s testimony in Thrive is ancient astronauts. He is clearly identified with that theory. In fact, while this article was being written, in late February 2012 yet another YouTube video popped up of Mr. Haramein claiming that certain archaeological artifacts “prove” ancient astronauts existed. These claims are no different than the basic gist of his claims in Thrive. All proceed from an assumption that “ancient peoples couldn’t possibly have created this!” because whatever is being examined is judged from the standpoint of modern technological and scientific understanding.
However closely he’s associated with ancient astronauts in Thrive, this theory is not Mr. Haramein’s main claim to fame. Who is he, then and what his he known for?
According to the bio that appears on his own site—for the Resonance Project—Nassim Haramein was born in Switzerland in 1962 and began developing, at the age of nine, a “hyperdimensional theory of matter and energy.” His bio goes on to state:
“Haramein has spent most of his life researching the fundamental geometry of hyperspace, studying a variety of fields from theoretical physics, cosmology, quantum mechanics, biology and chemistry to anthropology and ancient civilizations. Combining this knowledge with a keen observation of the behavior of nature, he discovered a specific geometric array that he found to be fundamental to creation and from which the foundation for his Unified Field Theory emerged.”
Mr. Haramein often gives lectures at conferences, and you can see many of his talks on YouTube. The topic he lectures on most often is something called the “Schwarzschild Proton,” which we’ll get to in a minute. I find it interesting that neither the Thrive movie nor Haramein’s own website list any degrees or credentials. That is noteworthy, because people who do have degrees or credentials and who are interviewed in Thrive are usually presented with a title card on-screen that lists what their credentials are—example, “Dr. Jack Kasher, Ph.D.—Professor Emeritus of Physics, University of Nebraska” (31:01). I have also not been able to locate a C.V. (curriculum vitae), sort of an academic résumé, for Mr. Haramein. If anyone is aware that he has advanced degrees in physics or other relevant fields, please pass on the information to me and I will gladly add that to this blog.
What Is the “Schwarzchild Proton” Claim?
This blog has already debunked what Mr. Haramein claims in Thrive, both in this article and the previous articles. Let’s move on to some of the other claims he makes other than the ones in the film. Although the focus of this blog is on the film, Mr. Haramein’s other claims are relevant to judging his overall credibility as a source on matters of science and ancient history.
The “Schwarzschild Proton” theory states that a proton is really a miniature black hole. I am not trained in physics, but what I do know of it, this assertion is completely outside the realm of science as we understand it. Needless to say, the scientific community is not impressed by the “Schwarzschild Proton.” In fact, it’s very difficult to get a scientist to spend their time debunking it. Nevertheless, there are scientific opinions about Mr. Haramein’s theories. Here’s one, a fairly high profile blog called “Up,” which ran several articles about Mr. Haramein and his various theories. The creator of this blog, Bob (also known as Bob-a-Thon), had this to say about Mr. Haramein and his paper:
“(a) His overall argument is circular, which means it shows nothing. A hypothesis is presented that a proton might be considered as if it were a black hole, and his first conclusion, after a few pages of equations, is that the forces between them would be very strong, like the forces in a nucleus. But this goes without saying! If you pretend that something is as heavy as a thing can be, then it shouldn’t come as a surprise to find that the forces would be as strong as a force can be. There’s no significance in this whatsoever.
(b) His theory implies that the nucleus of a single atom of hydrogen has a mass of nearly a billion tons. This does seem a bit silly – but theoretical physicists do hypothesise apparently silly things sometimes, so that’s not a deal-breaker. For obvious reasons, though, you need a very convincing reason to do something like that, including an explanation as to why we never measure this huge mass when we weigh hydrogen (or anything else), and none is given.
c) The paper, while using some scientific terms, is presented at a very basic level. This could be considered a plus – all scientists would agree that there’s nothing better than a simple theory, if it works. But Nassim is merely playing with equations from student textbooks (these are the only references cited in the paper), things that have been explored thoroughly for decades, and he’s using them in a pretty simplistic way. It’s unlikely that he’ll find anything that hasn’t been found before by doing this. What he has found is some values for things that look suspiciously like what he knew when he started. This is often what happens when you go around in a circle.
It’s a bit of a joke to claim that anything profound can come from this kind of thing. But again, it looks cool, and it’s clearly enough to impress a lot of his followers.”
Bob went on to post a lengthy scientific debunking of the Schwarzschild Proton theory. You can find it here. I won’t reproduce it here because it’s full of a lot of very specific scientific jargon and equations that I don’t think I need to show here so long as it’s available at the link. Suffice it to say that Bob’s blog makes a strong argument that Mr. Haramein’s theory does not have any validity when judged against actual provable science.
Bob’s conclusion, at the end of that article, was the following:
“Haramein claims to be doing serious science. He claims to have unified the forces of nature, and to have created a unified field theory. He claims to be able to point out where all ‘the other physicists’ are going wrong. He claims, moreover, that his paper, The Schwarzschild Proton, has won serious academic acclaim. All of these are patently false.
The only sensible conclusion from looking at this example of his work is that he is utterly incompetent as a physicist – even with the help of his hired academics, whose “advice and careful reading of the manuscript” didn’t reveal any of the myriad of nonsensical implications that a little exploration should have found.
He knows that taking on the air of authority of a research physicist will give weight to his outlandish ideas, many of which are in the language of physics. And he knows that this will bring him followers and cash. Indeed it does.”
It appears likely from this analysis that Mr. Haramein’s claims are not supportable by science. I say it appears likely because I’m not a trained scientist. While I suspect that Bob is a trained and credentialed scientist, we do not know this for certain. Therefore, I’ll state that if someone with at least a Ph.D. in physics is willing to come forward and state (1) that Bob’s debunking of Mr. Haramein’s Schwarzschild Proton theory is fundamentally flawed, and (2) that Mr. Haramein’s theory is correct or at least reasonably arguable in good faith, I will retract this article and issue a high-profile correction.
Good luck. I’ve been searching for a physicist who will comment on Mr. Haramein’s theories on the record since Thrive came out. No one will touch it. It’s that bad.
Here’s what other scientists are willing to say, however. On the Skeptic’s Guide to the Universe podcast of January 12, 2011, linked here, Dr. Phil Plait had this to say about a video he saw of Mr. Haramein expounding various astronomical theories (the relevant part starts about 50 minutes in):
“It’s hard to actually describe or understand a place to start or find any sort of grip on the amount of weirdness that this video has in it. I mean, he just says stuff and it doesn’t matter what he’s saying, he just says it. He’s talking about watching Shoemaker Levy 9, the comet, hitting Jupiter back in ’94, and he says, “the community said that comet might not be visible from the earth.” No, actually most astronomers thought it would, and there were a few who said it might not, but we weren’t sure, but that’s how science works…His whole thing, watching this, he’s talking about the tetrahedron dictating the energy about to happen inside Jupiter, and I’m thinking tetrahedrons, certain specific latitudes, he’s talking about Hoagland! And five seconds later “this is the theory of consultant to NASA, Richard C. Hoagland!”…This is so bad it’s not even wrong…You can watch this guy giving talks about pyramids and Egyptians and he just says stuff…it’s made-up silliness.”
Richard C. Hoagland is an infamous pseudoscience purveyor and conspiracy theorist. He’s most famous for expounding the ridiculous Face on Mars theory from the ‘80s. Any mention of Hoagland as a credible source should set off alarm bells.
Need more to convince you that Mr. Haramein’s theories are not good science? Check some physicists kibbutzing about him over at Reddit. Here are some of the comments:
“For some reason I was browsing /r/psychonaut and I saw a video posted of this guy, Nassim Haramein, lecturing about “sacred geometry and unified field theory”. After about 5 seconds you see he’s just making it up as he goes along, misunderstanding even the most basic principles of physics and math(s). He basically just tells people into that whole “new age” thing exactly what they want to hear. This pseudoscientist is either deliberately misleading the public, extremely deluded or mentally ill in some way.”
“We can, but on the other hand we could do physics instead. Nevertheless, I took the liberty of correcting one of your hecklers.”
“You’re probably right… I’m not sure why it bugs me so much. I guess I just think it’s sad that the people who are enjoying his talks are showing an interest in physics and not being told anything that resembles real physics.”
What Does Mr. Haramein Say In Response?
Bob’s “Up” blog engendered a response from Mr. Haramein himself. Here it is. Please go to the link for the full text, as it’s very lengthy. Here are a few excerpts:
“I typically avoid wasting my time participating in these so-called debunking sessions. However, as I can see that the gentleman has invested substantial efforts in this particular example, and because it is such a prime and typical expression of the reactionary tendencies defending against all odds the status quo and proclaiming it as “the truth”, I feel obligated to reply.
I actually don’t believe in mediocre minds, as I consider that everyone is born brilliant but that certain life experiences and difficulties can reduce one’s capacity to access deeper levels of awareness that are necessary for creative and fundamental reflection. Here the inhibitors are constraints resulting from a style of education in which what is taught is proclaimed as the truth and the only truth, and where students are discouraged and severely reprimanded if they tend to wander in the awful world of untruth as predetermined by the Obvious Truth Holder…
[H]istory speaks for itself as any new significant changes that were brought to the scientific community were typically largely resisted, ridiculed and then eventually accepted. As Schopenhauer said, ‘All truth passes through three stages. First, it is ridiculed. Second, it is violently opposed. Third, it is accepted as being self-evident.’”
Much of the rest of the response is very technical, and those issues, while quite relevant, are beyond the scope of this blog. Nevertheless, Bob responded to the response. Needless to say he wasn’t too impressed:
“So, what to make of all this. To summarise, his rhetoric is great! The bits of physics he’s thrown in look really impressive! If the aim is to wow the fans and seal their contempt for me, he’s done an excellent job.
But has he actually addressed the criticisms that I’ve raised? Surely, somewhere in all that work, he must have? Help me out here if you think I’m missing something, but I really don’t think he has. I’ll illustrate some of the ways he’s misused physics in his defence later on.
If you disagree – if you can find any single point in there that convinces you that any of my criticisms of his physics aren’t completely valid – then I’d really love to hear from you. It would be great if we could keep it to the physics. I know it won’t happen, but it would be great if it did.
Meanwhile, as you can see for yourself, he has had fun doing what he does best – inventing things to entertain his fans, and telling them what they want to hear. He presents this new, conveniently fictionalised version of me to his followers as “an important study for anyone who is interested in my work.”…
The back-and-forth between Bob and Mr. Haramein is actually quite interesting. Because I can only present the smallest snippets of it here, I strongly recommend that anyone interested in evaluating Mr. Haramein’s grasp of physics (or ancient history, for that matter) look at the entire exchange. Looking at this material certainly led me to a a conclusion regarding the level of credibility to which Mr. Haramein is entitled.
A Related Issue: Academia, Credentials, and the Value of Experts.
A key theme that you should see emerging from this analysis is that Mr. Haramein does not and cannot back up any of the major assertions he makes with any evidence or argumentation that passes muster among professionals in the fields he opines on—physics and ancient history. If you read Mr. Haramein’s responses to Bob’s critique, you’ll see a lot of references to Einstein and how Einstein was not (supposedly) a “mainstream” physicist, coupled with philosophical statements about how closed-minded and corrupt the institutions of mainstream learning are. Indeed, from what I’ve observed in my research for this article, this is the primary line of defense when Mr. Haramein is attacked: claim that Einstein (or someone else who is well-respected but has an unorthodox background) had radical ideas too, and suggest that because he was vindicated, Mr. Haramein’s unorthodox ideas are worthy of the same level of credulity and acceptance that we today give the theories of Einstein and Copernicus.
I’ve encountered this line of argumentation many, many times before. In fact, it’s a trope used almost universally by believers in fringe phenomena such as pseudoscience, pseudohistory, and conspiracy theories. I wrote an article about this about 18 months ago on my other blog, specifically in the context of conspiracy theorists, and explaining why their views on academics and experts are wrong. The same principle goes here. People who accept fringe beliefs exhibit a curious form of bipolar behavior when it comes to experts. On the one hand, they really wish that some credentialed experts would agree with them so it would lend credence to their pet theories. Simultaneously, because they can’t get any credentialed experts to agree with them, they’re forced to explain why this is by claiming that credentialed experts are worthless and that the institutions they come from are closed to any new ideas or new knowledge.
The problem with this argument, however, is that it presumes the legitimacy of credentialed experts and institutional knowledge—academia and peer-review, if you will—is essentially arbitrary and has little to do with the substantive content of their fields. Followers of pseudoscience, pseudohistory and conspiracy theories think that academia and institutional knowledge is a sort of old boy’s club, where a cap and gown and a secret handshake get you “in the club,” and only knowledge that originates from within “the club” is taken seriously. The reality is very different.
You do not have to be a credentialed expert with a Ph.D. in physics to come up with a revolutionary new idea that totally redefines scientific truth. You could be a plumber and still come up with a revolutionary new idea that totally redefines scientific truth. However, whether you are a Ph.D. physicist or a plumber, the validity of your idea must be still be provable using the scientific method.
You do not have to possess a Ph.D. in archeology to come up with a bold new theory that explains the workings of ancient civilizations. You could work at Subway and still come up with a revolutionary theory that redefines ancient history as we know it. However, whether you are a Ph.D. archaeologist or a Subway sandwich maker, the validity of your idea must still be provable with evidence and the methods of archaeological research and historical analysis.
This is what Mr. Haramein doesn’t seem to understand. The reason his theories don’t have any credibility is not because he is not a credentialed expert doing research at a traditional institution. The reason his theories don’t have any credibility is because they’re not verifiable or supportable according to the methods of physics, astronomy and ancient history. It’s the methods that matter. Scientific inquiry and historical analysis have been built up over centuries, even millennia. Democritus was doing science in Thrace in the 4th century B.C., and Thucydides was researching history at about the same time. Guess what? The methods that Democritus used all those centuries ago are still sound by today’s scientific standards (though of course technology is much different), and the methods that Thucydides used to describe the Peloponnesian War are still recognized as hallmarks of historical scholarship today. This is not to say that science or history haven’t advanced since the time of the ancient Greeks; clearly they have. But our process of asking questions and seeking answers, of judging hypothesis based on verifiable facts, and of testing the evidence for its reliability are remarkably similar to the processes that experts have been using for centuries to get at the truth of various problems.
Want to know something else? The “scientific heretics” that fringe believers like to trot out on cue—Galileo, Copernicus, Einstein, etc.—could prove their unorthodox theories by using those same processes. Galileo was persecuted by religious authorities, but he could still prove that Jupiter had moons; Copernicus’s books were banned by political authorities, but his mathematics still proved that a heliocentric solar system was the truth. Einstein wasn’t even much of a heretic at all. After all, he won a Nobel Prize. They don’t give Nobel Prizes to people who don’t use the scientific method or whose discoveries can’t be verified by it.
Through his rhetoric about institutional knowledge and credentialism, Mr. Haramein and his supporters seem to want you to jump to the conclusion that he’s a bold innovator and a brave defender of scientific truth in the face of unreasonable conformity. But the real bold innovators and brave defenders of scientific truth, like Galileo and Copernicus, could prove their theories using scientific methods and reasoning, and thats why their ideas are accepted today as truth. By contrast, Mr. Haramein seems to want to skip the part where his theories are actually proven using the methods and reasoning that experts have been using for centuries to determine what’s true and what’s not. Unfortunately, science and history don’t work that way.
During his brief appearance in Thrive, Nassim Haramein makes a number of statements and invites a number of inferences. He makes statements about the “Flower of Life” design which are incorrect. He makes statements about ancient gods and the history of ancient peoples which are incorrect. He invites the conclusion that aliens came to Earth long ago to help civilizations build various things, a conclusion which is unsupportable.
Outside the movie Thrive, Mr. Haramein is known for making similar wild claims, which are similarly incorrect. His “Schwarzschild Proton” theory is absolutely unsupported given physical science as we know it today. Real scientists consistently deride his methodology as flawed and his arguments as totally unpersuasive. His response to these criticisms, which is to dismiss the value of expert opinion or institutional knowledge, is similarly unpersuasive.
The rational viewer of Thrive, when confronted with these facts, should not only be extremely skeptical of the assertions Mr. Haramein makes in the film, but should also wonder why the makers of the film did not conduct better research, and consult more reliable sources, about the matters Mr. Haramein discusses.
This blog has not dealt much with Thrive’s political ideology. That has been by design. The main focus of this blog is to evaluate Thrive from a factual standpoint: are its assertions and underlying assumptions accurate as a matter of objective fact? Discussions of politics are mostly beyond the scope of this inquiry. Nevertheless, it is undeniable that Thrive has a strong political undercurrent, and the orientation of that undercurrent is strongly libertarian. Foster Gamble, creator of Thrive, has endorsed Ron Paul for President in 2012. Furthermore, some of the “solutions” proposed by Gamble in Thrive, and on the associated website, are similar to libertarian planks.
This week, the Praxis Peace Institute, a progressive think tank founded by musician and longtime political activist Georgia Kelly, issued a 56-page pamphlet entitled Deconstructing Libertarianism: A Critique Prompted by the Film Thrive. Because several readers of this blog have directed me to the pamphlet, I thought I would do a brief article on it. It’s impossible to avoid touching the political implications of the film in an article like this, but I do want to stress that, regardless of my personal political beliefs, my primary arguments with the film are factual, not political.
Praxis Institute’s Critique of Thrive: The Basics
You can see the Praxis pamphlet here (note, clicking that link will begin a download of the pamphlet itself in .PDF format). As suggested by the title, the main purpose of the pamphlet is to address libertarian philosophy and explain why, from the point of view of a political progressive, it doesn’t work. Georgia Kelly is the editor of the pamphlet. She came into conflict with Foster Gamble and Thrive back in December when she posted a sharply critical review of the film on Huffington Post. In the pamphlet, she and other writers from the Praxis Peace Institute deliver a double-barreled blast against the film and its political agenda, analyzing many of the assumptions and philosophies behind libertarian thought.
Ms. Kelly states in the introduction why Thrive prompted her to issue this pamphlet:
“Through discussions of the content in the film and the written material on the Thrive website, we realized that many people viewing the film would not readily perceive the libertarian political agenda behind the film. Because many people are confused about libertarianism and its impact on the current political landscape, we felt it important to plumb this political philosophy, particularly during an election year. The articles written in this booklet cover a range of topics that deconstruct libertarianism and place it in the context of our current political environment.”
A bit later, in an article within the pamphlet entitled “Deconstructing the Political Agenda Behind Thrive,” Ms. Kelly writes:
“The website’s “Liberty” page (in the “Solutions” section) is a real shocker. Peppered with quotes from Ayn Rand, Ron Paul and Stefan Molyneux, the page even includes an attack on democracy. Gamble lumps democracy in with bigotry, imperialism, socialism, and fascism, and claims all of these — including democracy! — violate the “intrinsic freedom of others.”
The pamphlet proceeds through several articles written by various authors critiquing the ideological assumptions behind Thrive in much the same terms that Ms. Kelly uses. For example, in an article by Ben Boyce entitled “Challenging the Hidden Political Underbelly of Thrive,” this criticism is given:
“Make no mistake, the actual policy solutions in the documentary constituted the norm in the first Gilded Age of ‘laissez faire’ capitalism, that is, the McKinley Era at the end of the 19th century, for which the libertarian/conservative movements seem to still pine. That was a time when there were minimal taxes on corporations, no worker’s rights, no pesky EPA environmental regulations, no minimum wage, no social safety net to prevent families from tumbling precipitously from marginal employment and insecure housing to abject penury and homelessness. Everywhere in the world where the libertarian ideology has been put in practice, this condition of mass immiseration and concentration of wealth in the hands of the 1% has been a consistent historical fact. This ideology has been tried and failed.”
Another contributor, Gus diZerega, argues:
“[M]y problem with Thrive is the movie’s failure to adequately understand the principles it itself advocates in order for us to create a more humane and sustainable society. It presents one dimension of a problem that is multi-dimensional. The core insight lacking in libertarian thinking is the failure to grasp the centrality of relationships as constitutive of individuals, and to recognize that relationships are the key to understanding property rights and just politics.”
My Take on the Praxis Critique
Having read the Praxis critique, I think it’s self-evident that it is primarily a political document. Its purpose is to criticize the underpinnings of libertarian political thought that surface in Thrive and its milieu as opposed to really critiquing the movie point-by-point. Indeed, while I think the Praxis pamphlet is a very useful tool in evaluating the political agenda of the film, I’m somewhat disappointed by Praxis’s lack of engagement with factual matters asserted in the movie. There is very little discussion of conspiracy theories at all or their relationship to libertarian thought. I think this is a missed opportunity, and could have opened an interesting discussion on the role that conspiratorial thinking plays in political movements both historically and in contemporary society.
Case in point: the Federal Reserve. Mr. Gamble leaves no doubt that he absolutely detests the Federal Reserve, as most libertarians do; he blasts it as a tool of the “Global Domination Elite” to control the money system and hence the world. As a matter of economic policy, what the Federal Reserve does and should do is certainly a legitimate political issue, but aside from that, it is an absolute magnet for conspiracy theories. (Don’t ask me to opine at length on the Federal Reserve. I hate talking about it because it’s intensely boring. For a very good debunking of most of the popular FR conspiracy theories, go here). Mr. Gamble’s hatred of the Federal Reserve may be ideologically oriented, proceeding from libertarian thought, but I suspect at least part of his animosity may also stem from his obvious belief in Federal Reserve-related conspiracy theories. Here we have a prime example of a libertarian political goal—“End the Fed!,” as politicians like Ron Paul like to sloganize—that is being advanced through the spread of paranoid conspiracy theories. I would have liked Praxis to address how, from a progressive political standpoint, this could best be handled. How do you separate legitimate and rational political motivations from illegitimate and irrational belief in conspiracy theories? The pamphlet doesn’t go there. Indeed there are only a few perfunctory mentions of the Federal Reserve at all.
The conflation of conspiracy theories with politics is a dangerous trend and one of the main reasons why I push back against conspiratorial thinking. It is well known, for example, how an undercurrent of anti-Semitic conspiracy thinking in Europe in the late 19th and early 20th centuries provided a fertile breeding ground for the rise of Nazism in Germany in the 1920s and 1930s. Those theories are still with us—in fact David Icke, one of the chief talking heads in Thrive, pushes a thinly-veiled science fiction redress of these anti-Semitic conspiracy theories with his ludicrous “shape-shifting reptilian alien overlords” theories that, while they do not refer specifically to Jews, are eerily similar in tone and function to those traditional anti-Jewish theories. Conspiracy theories corrode the ability of people to think rationally about real political solutions. The rise of fringe candidates, like Ron Paul, spouting bizarre philosophies and openly employing racist and conspiratorial language to motivate supporters, is a disturbing effect of this tendency. I would like to know what the Praxis Institute thinks we ought to do about this trend.
Personally, I oppose libertarianism as a political philosophy. I don’t like its emphasis on so-called “free market” principles, its hostility toward taxation and responsible government, and its demonization of any form of collective societal action toward social justice. However, my political beliefs are small issue to Thrive, and are not the primary motivation, or even a significant motivation, for me to push back against the film on this blog. Even if Thrive’s politics were squarely in agreement with my own I would object to its use of conspiracy theories and conspiratorial thinking to advance its aims. Georgia Kelly and the Praxis Peace Institute seem to care much more about Foster Gamble’s politics than I do. That’s not a criticism at all; different viewers of the film will have different approaches in reacting to it. Nevertheless, in their critique of Thrive from a political standpoint, I would have liked to have seen more emphasis placed on the ethical dimensions of using demonstrably false conspiracy theories to advance whatever agendas—be they political, social or religious—lay at the heart of this deceptive film.
Foster Gamble’s Response to Ms. Kelly’s Original Huffington Post Article
What does Foster Gamble have to say to Georgia Kelly? To my knowledge he has not (so far) come out with a response to the Praxis pamphlet itself, but he did respond to her original Huffington Post article, an expanded version of which forms the basis of the first chapter of the pamphlet. Here’s how Mr. Gamble responds:
“Georgia Kelly, founder of the Praxis Peace Institute in Marin County, has posted a fearful review of THRIVE on the Huffington Post. Ms. Kelly has been active in Liberal Democrat politics, and she mistakenly assumes that I am a covert Right-winger, and then goes about attacking that position and me. Her supposition is not true, so she seems to end up missing both the value of THRIVE and critical insights that can inform breakthrough solutions strategies to help humanity escape our lethal situation and flourish…
Ms. Kelly has mislabeled me as “right wing” and started lobbing word grenades over a self-created ideological fence. What I want to explore is “What is just” and “What works?” So I challenge Ms. Kelly and any who are interested in this conversation to answer the most fundamental moral question I know of:
Just exactly when, for you, is it OK for one human being to take your property — be it your body, your wages, or your privacy — against your will and under the threat of violence?
That is what mandatory taxation is…”
This is only a tiny portion of Mr. Gamble’s response, and I encourage you to read the rest for yourself. It’s lengthy, and deals mostly with ideas of political philosophy, which seems to be the primary battlefield on which Ms. Kelly wishes to engage Thrive. I do not find, anywhere in Mr. Gamble’s blog, anything that addresses the factual problems with the film. As Ms. Kelly on Huffington and Praxis Peace Institute in their pamphlet did not focus on factual issues, I see the debate between them and Mr. Gamble on ideological matters to be essentially a political argument, and thus only tangentially relevant to the issues raised on this blog.
Speaking only for myself, I would rather engage Thrive in the arena of what is provable fact as opposed to what is desirable public policy. That doesn’t mean that I don’t have my own opinions on political philosophy or public policy, nor does it mean that I whole-heartedly endorse (or condemn) either the political agenda of Thrive or of the Praxis Peace Institute. My political opinions are not very relevant to the matters I created this blog in order to explore. In short, I’ve read the Praxis Peace Institute pamphlet. I agree with some of it, I disagree with other parts of it, but, while it’s certainly an interesting take on the Thrive phenomenon, if your main interest in the film is (as mine is) whether it is a credible source of factual information about what’s happening in the world around us, the political argument is largely irrelevant to that concern. Let’s certainly be aware of Thrive’s political agenda, but I for one don’t intend to make political disagreements with the film or its makers a significant point of contention. I’m willing to let others, like Georgia Kelly and her friends at Praxis Peace Institute, do that, and I wish them all the best in doing so. The movie has enough problems simply stating what it thinks is factual truth before it even gets to the realm of politics and policy.
[photo by Ray Flowers]
Debunking and fact-checking of claims in the Thrive movie are already bearing fruit. One of the outrageous claims made in the film is where Nassim Haramein says, at 16:32 of the film, that the “Flower of Life” design at the Osirian Temple in Abydos, Egypt is “burned into the atomic structure of the rock in some extraordinary way!” Neither Haramein nor anyone else provides a single shred of substantiation for this claim.
In context, the “Flower of Life” design is cited by Thrive maker Foster Gamble as being related to the “torus” design that he believes is a signal from extraterrestrials on how to tap free unlimited energy. The claim about the Osirian Temple design is intended to bolster the (false) idea that aliens came to Earth in ancient times and gave this design to various cultures. A debunking of the “Flower of Life” section appears in Part I of the debunking of the full-length film.
Now the Thrive makers have publicly admitted that the claim about the Flower of Life being “burned into the atomic structure of the rock” is false. Recently the “Fact Check” section on the Thrive website was changed to read thusly:
“Since the completion and launch of THRIVE: What On Earth Will it Take?, we have received new information that the Flower of Life symbol at Abydos is believed by some experts to be inscribed with Ochre stain, which might date it instead to the 1st century AD. It was clearly meant to stand the test of time and to do further testing would require chipping the stone which is currently not allowed. So it remains an open mystery. Nassim Haramein’s original reference was a statement by Greg Braden in his book, Awakening to Zero Point, where on page 135, he writes:
“These beautiful geometric codes have not been etched, painted or carved into the hard rose-granite walls – they are literally “flash-burned” into the stone through a process that is not understood today.”
It doesn’t remain an “open mystery” at all. There is absolutely no evidence that the design was “flash-burned” into the stone (whatever that means). The only basis for that claim is the statement in Braden’s book, but note that Haramein even got that wrong: Braden’s statement, at least as quoted by Thrive on the website, makes no reference to the atomic structure. Haramein just made that up.
So, the Thrive makers are already beginning to retreat from their claims. Note also that Haramein’s defense of the false claim is that he was simply quoting another totally unsourced statement, which he got wrong. Greg Braden is a prolific New Age author who likes to make broad sweeping statements about spirituality and consciousness, and has opined before on ancient astronaut theories. I found a review of Awakening to Zero Point on Amazon (here is the link) which has this to say about that book:
This book is full of much speculation and doubtful “facts” that are supposed, somehow, to be linked. I find it less convincing than most other reviewers. The book starts with a series of “Wow!” events that are implied (without evidence), to be connected. Included are: the end of the cold war, increased numbers of earthquakes, climate change, new viruses, increases in the number of alien sightings and crop circles, and unspecified “studies” and “evidence” that someone other than the Egyptians built the pyramids…
Sounds like the usual Thrive material: pseudoscience, unsourced claims, bad history, New Age woo and crankery being passed off as serious research.
Nevertheless, it’s significant that the Thrive makers backed down on this point. I am curious to see what other retractions they will (or will not) make over the coming months.
Thanks to “Sequoia” in the comments on a previous post for bringing the retraction to our attention.