One of the central passages of Thrive is a section often referred to as “Follow the Money,” which Thrive fans treat as some sort of slogan. This section contains Foster Gamble and others’ views on fractional reserve banking, the Federal Reserve, the economic crisis, and conspiracy theories related to these. This article debunks those ideas.
Fraction Reserve Banking
Before the Wikipedia bashing begins, I’m using Wikipedia for two reasons: (1) Simplicity, and (2) it works well for summaries of information, even though I will provide further sources and more detailed information links than Wikipedia can provide.
PS: This part of the movie is incredibly complicated for anyone involved here to deal with, as given that most people don’t understand how economy and politics work by themselves, much less together, unless you’re well-versed in mathematics, economics or political science. Comments that simply complain about how wrong or rigged the actual political and economic systems are will be seen basically as an opinion and not fact.
It also doesn’t help that for the makers of Thrive the current economic system is a scam/conspiracy created by a powerful Financial Elite to perpetuate their own power. Arguing the existence of this conspiracy (Thrive mostly uses misinterpretations and opinions that they exist instead of verifiable facts) feels like beating a dead horse, thanks to our good old friend Confirmation Bias.
When they begin talking about Fractional Reserve Banking, Foster Gamble and and David Icke get a few things right at the beginning. They are right about how saving deposits are used by banks for loans and financing, but the film cuts short the explanation of why this happens and the economic reasons to use fractional reserve banking. Instead of explaining the real reasons behind this, the movie simply dismisses it by saying “it creates money out of nowhere.”
What is Fractional Reserve Banking?
Fractional Reserve Banking (FRB) is a form of banking where the deposits made on the bank are separated in two parts. The first is the amount the bank is allowed to loan and the second is the part the banks is obligated to keep as a reserve. This amount is dictated by the central bank of the country where the bank is operating.
Does it really “create money out of nowhere?”
The answer will depend of which kind of money you’re talking about. If you’re referring to printed money, it can’t “create money out of nowhere,” as the values being loaned and being circulated haven’t been made or printed yet.
If you’re talking about value: yes it can create more value since there is more money circulating than there is physical printed money.
This is much better explained by the links I’ll provide.
Why do banks work with FRB and how come they don’t “run out of money”?
Because it is fluid, FRB allows banks to generate profit and still provide access to people or business to acquire money for whatever reasons they need it–for example, to buy a house or start a business. FRB guarantees there will be money circulating for investments, consumer goods and to accommodate a growing and active economy.
[Muertos comment: this is not a new invention. If we did not have FRB in some form, our economy would be stuck in the early 19th century. The whole concept of modern banking, historically, developed as a means to permit sufficient capital to be accumulated to fund large-scale projects, both public and private. Without something like FRB, we would not have public works projects like dams, sewer systems or transportation, and we would not have privately-funded industries such as computers and information technology, because it simply wouldn’t be possible to get enough capital together to even begin to pay for these things. This is the historical reality that critics of FRB refuse to understand.]
The influx of savings deposits and payments on loans that they make usually are enough for most banks to be secure they will have the money needed to honor the withdrawals, as there are more people making payments and saving deposits than there are people making withdrawals of their own savings and assets.
What if there are more people making more withdrawals than the bank has money on reserve?
Remember the credit crisis that started in 2008 and is still kicking? One of the reasons why it went from bad to worse and from worse to a total disaster was because of this–people making more withdrawals than banks had in reserve. In times of economic crisis, if there is a doubt that the banks will be able to honor the deposits made on them, this leads to people and investors to withdraw all their assets within the bank in a really short amount of time, before other depositors can withdraw their share. This creates a cascade effect that can possibly (almost certainly) cause a bank run. This forces the bank to call in its short term loans, draw upon credit lines with other banks or ask for last resort rescue loans from the central bank.
Okay, but how this is bad for people?
In time of a stable economy this not bad for financially responsible people, those who take out loans that are smaller than their average yearly income and can make sure that the accumulated interest won’t surpass all their earnings during the intended financing period. Take for example financing the purchase of a house with a 10 year mortgage plan. It is, however, extremely dangerous for people who to borrow who are in unstable financial situations (like no job security, health problems, addictions) or do not measure how much interest they’re incurring compared to how much they earn, or people who simply don’t care about the long term consequences of their lack of foresight (I can’t miss the chance to throw this jab at the American reader).
In times of instability, however, irresponsible borrowing (and lending) can hit hard even the responsible people hard. This is what happened in 2008.
Gamble continues with a story telling how the fractional reserve banking system was born.
Setting aside Mr. Gamble’s implications of how it is used to create money on the backs of people (which is an arguable question), if you want to know how central banks and fractional reserve banking came to be, look for the history of the Bank of Amsterdam.
Here are some links that further explain what FRB is and how it came about:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nH2-37rTA8U (Khan Academy on FRB, quite educational I must add, as long as you avoid the comments section).
http://econpapers.repec.org/paper/wpawuwpma/0203005.htm (look for the download link)
Later Gamble states how FRB is used to create a population that is tied to their debts to the bank.
Then Thrive provides us with this quote: “It is well enough that people of the nation do not understand our banking and monetary system, for if they did, I believe there would be a revolution before tomorrow morning” – Henry Ford, 1922
The quote appears to be completely fake. Although it is commonly cited on conspiracy theorist, 9/11 Truth and “End the Fed” websites, there is no source and no context linking it to Henry Ford. Not even the dates that Ford supposedly said it are consistent.
[Muertos comment: conspiracy theorists love to use fake quotes, and this is not the only fake quote in Thrive–there’s a quote by Henry Kissinger that is equally false. The problem with these quotes is that, once it gets out there and conspiracy theorists decide they like it, a quote gets repeated all over the place on all sorts of conspiracy theorist websites–thus creating the erroneous impression that, because the quote appears so often, it must be true and accurate. If you don’t believe that this happens all the time, just think back on all the things comedian George Carlin is supposed to have said–only a small fraction of them are actually real Carlin quotes, and as he is dead, he can’t dispute that he didn’t say them.
When conspiracy theorists are challenged on fake quotes, many of them will say something like, “Well, you can’t prove that he didn’t say it!” That, of course, is asinine. You can’t just make up any crap you like, put it in someone’s mouth and then challenge people to prove they didn’t say it. But, sadly, this is how conspiracy theorists think. Quotes about banking are particularly attractive to conspiracy theorists because they love the idea of respected figures from history having supposedly “warned” us about the dangers that they (conspiracy theorists) insist are right around the corner.]
After the fake Henry Ford quote, Gamble resumes his rant on how we have become debt slaves of a financial elite who has rigged the system to their benefit.
Take this as you will, but you’ll become a debt slave if you decide to acquire (too much) debt in the first place. For many this seems unavoidable.
[Muertos comment: the term “debt slave” bothers me because it’s misleading. Suppose you have a good job and a family. You take out a 30-year mortgage at a reasonable interest rate in order to buy a bigger house to raise your kids in. You can easily make the payments and your house increases in equity in the meantime. Are you still a “debt slave” for the next 30 years? If you decide to sell the house you pay off the mortgage, and can take the equity and invest in a bigger house elsewhere. How is this “slavery”? And what’s the alternative–live in a smaller, crappier place and try to raise your kids there, where you don’t have room for them? Why is taking advantage of the opportunities that debt creates necessarily a bad thing? Thrive doesn’t see distinctions along these lines. In its ideology, all debt is bad.]
Catherine Austin Fitts
“Catherine Austin Fitts was Assistant Secretary for Housing in 1989-90 under the first George Bush. She is also a Wall Street banker. She currently works for an investment advisory firm called Solari, Inc.”
Ms. Fitts, along with Mr. Gamble, keeps reaffirming how FRB is used to print more money and enslave more people through debt. Later she makes a comparison with ordinary people counterfeiting money being a crime, while the [central] banks printing money being called “increasing the money supply” as if there’s no distinction here. There is a distinction. I don’t know, maybe it’s related to the fact that central banks are trusted institutions, and they are an effective way to control interest rates and the amount of money being circulated so as to make sure hyperinflation or hyper-deflation do not take place. Yes, said measures can fail, but it’s certainly not the same as “printing money” just for the hell of it.
Gamble then cites the gathering of the “secret” Morgans and Rockefellers on Jekyll Island, where (he says) the draft of the Federal Reserve was created.
First he fails to mention that a central banking system was already in place in Europe–especially in Germany–long before the bankers and politicians in US were considering using a central banking system. Second, politicians in US were already studying alternatives to the US Treasury bonds and lack of liquidity and access to credit, mostly in response to the Panic of 1907.
After this Gamble beings talking about the creation of the Fed and the Internal Revenue Service in the same year, “forcing us to pay for the politicians’ debt”, and introduces the viewer to G. Edward Griffin and his book.
G. Edward Griffin
Writer of “The Creature from Jekyll Island” which is about the creation the Fed, Griffin is a critic of the current banking system and advocates private currency as being “real money.” Needless to say, his ideas are quite popular amongst libertarian circles.
(If you want to know how bad this idea of “real money” is, just imagine going to the state next to yours just to find out that the private currency of your local bank, backed by a commodity like silver or gold, is worthless because the other state operates at different standards or doesn’t accept your currency. Or, worse yet, imagine if the bank goes bankrupt, all your assets in said bank are gone, and there is no central bank or institution to guarantee the bank will have the resources to honor its deposits).
[Muertos comment: we had precisely this problem in the Great Depression, which resulted in an entity called the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation–an agency that makes sure that you, as a bank depositor, will be able to retrieve your money from that bank (up to $250,000, I think) even if the bank fails. Where would the money come from if the FDIC had to make you whole after your bank fails? It would come from a fund administered by the federal government. Doesn’t sound so bad when you think about it like that, does it?]
Griffin goes on about how the central banks are cartels that work with governments and have the legal power to create money out of nothing when the government needs it.
I think the “out of nothing” part of the money is not entirely nothing. There seems to be a massive misconception that when a central bank prints more currency, it’s simply creating more money out of nothing. First, it doesn’t happen this way. Even though the money is not backed by a scarce commodity (like gold), the value attributed to it is related to how trusted and reliable the country’s central bank is. Printing more money without the generation of wealth decreases the value of the money. This is why you can trade one US Dollar for 10,000 Zimbabwe Dollars, and the same reason why the Zimbabwe 1000 Dollar bill is worth less than the paper it’s printed on. Printing more money without generation of wealth will lead to inflation and the loss of value for the currency.
[Muertos comment: this has been proven time and time again historically, such as in the U.S. when “greenbacks” were printed to help finance the Civil War. It didn’t work then either.]
The central banks are not only able to create more money. They are also capable of removing money from circulation when needed. For example, during Christmas the US Federal Reserve prints more money to assure all the withdraws will be possible, and then they remove the extra bills from circulation afterwards.
When this happens, the fiat currency doesn’t lose its value because it is just a representation of the wealth that already does exist, even though most of this wealth is in form of data like the amount you have in your bank or how much all your declared belongs are worth. It doesn’t mean it’s worthless. It’s a representation. It’s not wealth itself.
Let’s put this way. The amount of wealth in dollars is X and the amount of printed paper money is Y. Because most of the wealth being traded, stored or transferred is in the form of savings, credits, stocks, checks and representations other than printed fiat currency, X will be always higher than Y, but when people are making withdrawals, collecting their payments or selling things, more money will begin to circulate from hand to hand. Since there is more money in data form than there is in the form of printed money, the Central Banks print the money and send bills to the local banks to make sure they are capable of handling all the money being moved and spent. This will make Y approach the amount of X, but if the amount of Y being printed and in circulation is getting closer to the amount of X, there is a chance that Y will surpass X. This will lead to the devaluation of the currency on which X and Y operate, leading to inflation.
To put it in even more simple terms: when you print currency to represent wealth, you’re not creating money out of nowhere. When you print more currency than you have wealth, you’re lowering the value of the money. The amount of wealth is still the same but the value of the currency changes.
Bill Still on the Federal Reserve
Bill Still is another Libertarian film producer, highly critical of the monetary system in US. He is also seeking the nomination from the Libertarian Party for the 2012 elections.
During his short appearance in Thrive, Mr. Still claims that the Fed is a privately-owned bank made to look like a government bank. To get his point across he says the Federal Reserve, instead of being on the blue government pages in the Washington DC area phone books, is on the white pages. He thinks this is evidence!
Since I don’t live in the US and I didn’t look at a phone book from the DC area during my short but pleasant stay in US, I have to say that was a really bad choice for evidence.
[Muertos comment: there are a lot of stupid assertions in Thrive, but this one has got to be in the top five most ridiculous things in the entire movie. I can’t believe Mr. Gamble let this one through–it’s simply insulting to the intelligence.]
Alan Greenspan on the government’s relations with the Federal Reserve
At 1:00:02 of the movie there is a short video clip in which Alan Greenspan claims that the Federal Reserve doesn’t take direct orders from the president or the Congress. This is used to show the Fed as a rogue agency that answers to no one.
This is totally wrong. Mr. Greenspan’s quote is taken out of context.
For starters, all members of the Federal Reserve Board of Governors, are handpicked by the president and approved by Senate vote. They are required by law to have a “fair representation of the financial, agricultural, industrial, and commercial interests and geographical divisions of the country.” This means they have to be scholars in economics, politics and above all they must represent the economic interests of the nation, not the interests of the Congress and not of the president. They are accountable for their actions which can lead to members of the board not being nominated again as well the formal and informal relationships of the board members with the president and the Congress.
There is a really good reason why the central banks usually don’t answer directly the executive chief in office and the Congress: if they did, politicians could use these banks for political gain and directly affect the economy. We need an independent Federal Reserve.
A brief study of history, especially looking at some South American countries and African countries, will show that when the politicians can control the decisions of the central banks and therefore dictate the course of the economy, the results are not pretty. More often than not this is completely disastrous for the country.
Even though the title of the linked video and the comment section of the youtube page follow the same line of thought of the people featured in Thrive, I’d like the viewer to see the part beginning at 8:00 where Greenspan remembers that the actions taken by the Fed would hurt G.H.W. Bush’s reelection. Just think about that for a few minutes. What if Bush was able to change the decisions of the Fed for his own political gain? What would that do to the economy of the United States? This could potentially harm the economy more than it was already harmed in 1992 (which at that time was in a deep recession). This is why the Congress and the president don’t have much say in the decisions of the Fed, but the Fed is still accountable for its decisions. The people on the Federal Reserve Board were chosen by the president and approved by the Senate in the first place, making them accountable for their actions inside the Federal Reserve.
Here are some documents containing detailed explanations of the relations of the Federal Reserve with other branches of the US Government. As you will see, it’s far from an unaccountable rogue entity.
After this, Mr. Gamble and Ms. Fitts give us analogies on how the bankers use their data on the economy to benefit themselves at expense of others. I won’t argue much with that because it is happening, but not for the reasons Gamble & friends would you like to believe.
Since it is Mr. Gamble talking about the FBI raiding her (Ms. Fitts’s) company not her saying it, and nowhere in her company’s website or her bio mentions the said raid, I’m skeptical that it even happened. I also tried to look for news articles mentioning this raid hoping to see something like the paper shot Gamble gave us on the screen, but the only places I saw any mention of it were 9/11 Truth websites and a few truthers’ blogs without any external links or sources to this event beyond what their word for it.
[Muertos comment: always be skeptical of anything that appears on 9/11 Truth websites and nowhere else. 9/11 Truthers are notoriously incapable of getting almost anything right.]
Unless Ms. Fitts herself can come forward and explain in her own words what happened, or if someone can provide me a reliable link or newsfeed with info validating Mr. Gamble’s characterization of what happened, I’ll keep my sense of disbelief about the big government suppressing her findings, specially someone with credentials and political reach like her. (Blogs or forums do not count as reliable source; I’m talking about newspaper articles or public data).
[Muertos comment: given the fact that ten people who appear in Thrive have signed a letter repudiating the film and saying the movie was misrepresented to them, I wouldn’t be at all surprised if what Ms. Fitts would say about what happened would differ significantly from the way Mr. Gamble puts it in the film.]
The Dollar and the Sub-prime crisis:
Gamble begins this part with a moot point about the devaluation of the dollar, showing it from 1913 to 2010.
Remember when I discussed the matter of currency in circulation vs. the real value of wealth? Well, this is what happened: when the Federal Reserve came into being, having a regular universally recognized currency made trade easier both on the internal market as well the international market. It made the US economy more open to these markets, generating more trade, and as result more currency started to circulate. To compensate for the new amount of money circulating and more people earning more money, prices rose, because people where consuming more. This effect is called “demand-pull inflation.” This is regarded as the good kind of inflation because it shows that the country is THRIVING.
This doesn’t make people poor. If the prices are rising, so are peoples’ wages. Even if products have higher prices they still hold the same value. (The kind of inflation that rises both price and value is called “cost-push inflation,” and this happens due to the increase of production cost or scarcity. This is the bad kind of inflation).
But why doesn’t the currency return to its original value after a while? This happens because of an economic effect called “built-in inflation,” where past experiences dictate how the wages and prices will rise. Workers expect inflation to pinch in the future, so they start asking for higher wages to compensate. As a result, companies start raising the price of their products so they don’t lose their profit margins. Because this builds over time it becomes something like a change of currency or a hard economic crisis, where money is being hoarded and trading comes to a halt.
Even if you look to Mr. Gamble’s graph you’ll notice the periods when the dollar’s value rose were in the interwar period and during WWII, when US was still suffering from the 1929 stock crash that brought the US economy to its knees, and during WWII where all the US economy was focused on the war effort instead of producing consumer goods and trading. After those periods were over, trading resumed and, as expected, the value of the dollar declined as more currency began circulating again.
Same case as the “economic parasite” claim: the gap in wealth is a big problem, but Thrive has the wrong take on what is the cause.
No, I don’t have a magic bullet solution for wealth disparity. No one does. I do, however, support several policies involving fiscal responsibility, fair taxation, better public health and education plans, transparency from both government and corporate business and not reelecting the same politicians with histories of corruption and incompetence.
Bankers and crisis
Gamble tries to correlate the stock crash of 1929 and the Great Depression to the creation of the Fed. Logically correlation does not equal causation. If you take a look at what happened, the stock crash of 1929 was caused by reckless investments on high risk and speculative shares. With the investments boom more people where buying shares and raising market prices. This would only become viable if the stock market kept rising at a quick rate. If the rise wasn’t fast enough, halted or went into a downturn, those shares would lose their value. This was combined with the massive loans stock brokers were making to investors (called “margin”). The investor only had to pay 50% of the share value and the broker would complete the rest with his own money. Thousands of people taking loans to purchase more shares didn’t help as it was creating a massive economic bubble. As expected, once the stock market faced a downturn, mass panic selling followed, forcing the share’s values down creating a cycle where investors had to sell their shares to pay their brokers and avoid losing too much money with shares that by this time had lost all their value.
[Muertos comment: the causes of the Great Depression are still highly controversial today. There is no one clear answer, but what you’ve identified is clearly part of the problem–any basic book on the crash will make this case. It’s also not limited to 1929. I was working in the financial sector during the “dot com bust” of 2000-2001, and much the same thing happened–shares were grossly overvalued, and there was too much credit attached to financial speculation. When dot coms started to post less than impressive profit numbers, the whole thing collapsed. Something similar happened in 2008, except instead of stocks it was financial products tied to real estate.]
It is also worth remembering that the both people buying and selling the shares are normal people, prone to make mistakes, get nervous or act on impulse. This means one bad rumor in a highly volatile place such as the stock market can cause many stocks’ value to plummet. Do this on a large scale and you can get yourself a nice big crisis on your hands.
http://stocks.fundamentalfinance.com/stock-market-crash-of-1929.php (this is a TL;DR version of the previous link)
I also would like to have access to this “research” Mr. Gamble claims did on the “major banks” moving their money away from the stock market before the crash, because I’m not able to find any reliable link or article showing that this in fact happened.
The 2008’s credit bubble crisis
This is the only thing preventing me to copy paste the debunking of Zeitgeist here and calling it a day.
But where do I start? First Foster Gamble and David Icke and their “research” (really, I’d like to see the data Gamble uses to make his statements) want to lead the viewer to believe the 2008 economic crash was a ploy engineered by the major banks to consolidate their power by breaking smaller business and seizing their assets.
But there are a few problems with this. For one those assets (mostly houses) have become worthless, and the bail outs are not even close to the amount lost by the banks during the crisis. Plus, why create an economic crisis in the first place? The last thing you want, if you’re a banker or an industrialist, is an economic crisis where people stop spending and the economy stagnates.
So what happened in the 2008’s subprime crisis?
It was caused by a combination of lack of foresight, greed, high interest rates, high risk investments and a complete lack of regulations for the financial sector (I can hear from here all the libertarians shrieking in horror after reading this).
Putting it in layman’s terms, before the 2008 crisis the housing sector in United States was one of the most attractive investments for a few reasons. First, the continuous rise of housing prices and the demand for new houses, and second the too low interest rates from the Federal Reserve that were not attractive to the investors anymore (they were around 1% during 2008).
Okay, what was the banks’ deal then?
They were buying the mortgages from lenders and then reselling them to investors looking for investments with better rates. The banks would proceed to lend more money, mostly from other major banks and from central banks, to acquire more mortgages. Then the banks would generate massive profits from all the homeowners paying their mortgages.
So far so good. But for them there was a problem: since this was one relatively safe and high profit deal, the banks wanted more people paying more mortgages on the rising housing prices.
When a financing company sold the mortgages for the banks, if the homeowner went into default the bank would get the house. This was attractive for the bank because the housing prices were rising at the time. This meant that when the mortgage broker sells the house at a new higher price, the lenders and the banks would make a better profit with the new mortgage payers.
Okay, but where do the problems begin?
The number of AAA home buyers (meaning, reliable and financially responsible people) buying houses was too low to sustain the kind of profits they wanted to make selling and flipping mortgages. So, not wanting to miss the opportunity of selling the houses at higher prices and collecting the higher mortgages, the banks and lenders started selling the houses to subprime families (non reliable people) that they knew would go into default in a matter of time so they could resell the house again and again. Major profits were made this way. The lender would sell the mortgage for the banks and then the bank would sell it to an investor willing to take the risk.
With this happening soon the number of houses going into default was increasing. The number of houses being placed on the market for sale was also rising, but the number of people looking for a house was not. Actually most of the people who could afford a house already had one and with the subprime families simply not paying, this was starting to drive the housing prices down. To make things worse, the people who could afford their high mortgages simply started abandoning their houses because now they were worth a fraction of what they used to be worth, and yet their mortgage was the same.
This left the banks with a lot of houses, but with no one paying for them. The banks borrowed massive amounts of money to buy those mortgages, and the lenders had a lot of houses with people who were going into default, and the investors had a lot of high risk deals that have become worthless. The investors were not able to sell the risk to anyone because by this time everyone noticed that things were not going as planned and stopped buying or selling, essentially freezing the banking and the financing market, bankrupting the banks, the investors and the lenders.
And the banks owned a lot of money they couldn’t pay back, usually to other large banks either in US or Europe, thus dragging those banks down into the crisis with them.
This is the simple explanation, but there are other factors that contributed to the crisis. For example, easy credit (it stimulated not only banks to borrow huge sums of money but also common folk), predatory lending (lending deals so long and prone to change that people were deceived into deals that aren’t what they are advertised) and underwriting (banks with mortgages that didn’t meet proper standards and selling them to other banks and investors) and deregulation of the banking industry (this made easier for banks and financing companies to pull their stunts without the government being able to interfere).
This showed that the banking system had serious problems both ethically and financially, but the reality is much less Machiavellian (and boring) than Gamble would you like to believe.
Back to the movie. We have Mr. Gamble explaining the crisis using a fish hook analogy to show how the financial elites consolidate their power. I’d bother to explain who this logic is wrong if I didn’t do it already above.
Again the banks won’t make major profit from a lot of houses with devaluated prices and with their credibility shot.
Gentlemen! Behold the links!
http://crisisofcredit.com/ (a friendly video explanation about how the crisis came to be)
“Give me control over a nation’s money and I care not who makes her laws.”–Baron Mayer Amschel Rothschild
I can’t find this quote in any history source or website. The only result that purported to show where it came from besides attributing it to Amschel Rothschild is from The Creature of Jekyll Island.
And it featured in America: Freedom to Fascism.
Too bad Mayer Amschel Rothschild died in 1812, virtually a hundred years before the quote started making its first appearances during the early 20th century.
Bank for International Settlements (BIS) and the International Monetary Fund (IMF)
There isn’t much to talk about the BIS and the IMF. The BIS acts like a hub for central banks to organize themselves, regularize the sector and push for transparency on the business. The IMF is a bank responsible for money lending programs enjoyed by its contributors. It is infamous for cases of sheer incompetence due to lack of touch with the reality of the countries they were lending money to or how the assistance programs are perceived by the local population. Depending on who you ask or which country you’re talking about, the IMF can be either seen as a major tool for the development of a country or just a means for the developed and industrialized nations to explore the undeveloped ones.
Like the Federal Reserve and other “major banks,” Gamble also claims they are controlled by the financial elite.
As with much else in Thrive, the “Follow the Money” section is long on rhetoric and short on identifiable facts. There are oversimplifications, important concepts left out, quotes whose truth can’t be identified, and a lot of distortions. This section isn’t done very much better than any other section in Thrive.
As difficult as this subject is, hopefully this analysis gives you something to work with as you evaluate the claims made by the movie.
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.