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Thrive: A Flop?

Lately I have been browsing around the net trying to ascertain the sort of impact that the Thrive movie is having. While admittedly there is no reliable quantitative way to measure such a thing, from my own experience observing conspiracy theories and conspiracy movements, I’m suspecting that Thrive is not having the impact its makers hoped for–and in fact it may be an out-and-out flop.

It has been more than a month since the release of the film on the Internet. In that brief space of time, “buzz” about the film seems to have declined rather than increased. Stats on how many times it has been paid for and downloaded aren’t very reliable, considering the film was ripped to various torrent sites literally the day it was released (November 11), and it has been popping up on YouTube (and being taken down again) several times in succession. Do a search for the hashtag #ThriveMovement on Twitter and you’ll bring up only 26 hits since December 9–most of which are the same people over and over again, some of whom are critics (including me). The hashtag #Thrive has more hits, but many of them are not related to the movie at all. Indeed, most of the hits on Google regarding the movie lead to conspiracy theorist web forums where someone brings up the movie, it is briefly discussed, and then the participants move on to another topic.

I suspect the model the Thrive makers intended to emulate is the Zeitgeist experience. Zeitgeist: The Movie, a poorly-made Internet documentary released in 2007 which also promoted conspiracy theories, went viral and even sponsored an online cult of followers, the “Zeitgeist Movement,” which is now largely defunct. The buzz on Zeitgeist built slowly and peaked around 2008, but even then the whole “Zeitgeist Movement” had to be kept alive by the release of two (soon to be three) sequels, with each one decreasing markedly in popularity from the previous one. Nevertheless, Zeitgeist had a life-span of about four years. It seems Thrive may be looking at a life-span considerably shorter–months, or perhaps even weeks.

Here are some reasons why I think Thrive may be struggling to achieve or maintain its relevance.

1. Many conspiracy theorists don’t trust Thrive…because they think it’s a conspiracy!

Most of the criticism directed at the Thrive movie is not from people who debunk and disbelieve conspiracy theories, but from the exact opposite. The vast majority of anti-Thrive commentary on the net comes from conspiracy theorists who believe the movie is deliberate “disinformation” made by conspirators!

Take for example this webpage, which warns people not to get “sucked in” to the film. The site rails at the movie thusly:

“The Thrive movie has big advertising. Big names. Big message. Big budget…and it has big “disinformation” mixed with truth. Watch the trailer…and get sucked right in to yet another hijacking of the activist movement by the ruling crime families. This is a hijacking!”

A discussion on a conspiracy-friendly web forum contains similar sentiments, such as this:

“In my opinion the movie was made to suck people’s energy out of them and make them feel hopeless! It is so overwhelming in what they say….I personally believe this film was made by the same elite that he (Gamble) talks about in the movie and how they control every aspect of the world.”

The number one reason paranoid conspiracy theorists distrust Thrive is because its director, Foster Gamble, is a member of the Gamble family (of the corporation Procter & Gamble). To conspiracy theorists, this is proof positive that Gamble is part of the “global elite” that secretly runs the world. This blog has already debunked the ridiculous “Global Domination Agenda” conspiracy theory as presented in Thrive, but, as that article notes, because it is extraordinarily difficult to convince believers in this nutty conspiracy theory that it is not happening, Gamble’s last name plays right into their paranoid delusions and he magically becomes part of the conspiracy.

This type of thing is an occupational hazard of being in the conspiracy theory business. Conspiracy theorists see enemies everywhere and believe that powerful forces are expending a lot of effort to spread “disinformation” to discredit them–for example, many believers in the ridiculous “9/11 was an inside job” conspiracy theory believe that Dr. Judy Wood, who thinks the World Trade Center towers were demolished with super magical beam weapons from outer space, is an agent provocateur who was planted in the “Truth movement” to make it look ridiculous. What they miss is that, in the eyes of the vast majority of the public, conspiracy theorists could not look more ridiculous than they already are.

Gamble either didn’t appreciate this, or gambled (no pun intended) that his name, wealth and connections to a large corporation wouldn’t sour his pro-conspiracy-theory message. Nevertheless, Thrive seems to have a serious credibility problem within the core demographic at which it is aimed, that being paranoid conspiracy theorists.

2. The Thrive movie doesn’t really have a “happy ending.”

Another potential reason Thrive isn’t catching on is because it’s too bleak, and is not clear enough about proposing solutions, which its audience evidently wants to hear about. This is a criticism I’ve seen several places on the net–you can see a hint of it in the second forum post reproduced above. Here is another similar sentiment:

“It pretends to be an examination of the power elite but it conflates this power-elite analysis with an “alien code.” This does two things. For many people it makes the movie a kind of “crackpot” endeavor (and we note they’ve gone out of their way to include many prominent free-market thinkers in their narrative). Second, it doesn’t apparently produce any real solutions, inspiring helplessness and fear rather than inspiration or education.”

It may seem strange that an audience of conspiracy theorists, who love predictions of economic or societal collapse, craves a “happy ending,” but it makes sense if you understand the basic psychology of conspiracy beliefs. Many conspiracy theorists are attracted to these theories because they like the idea of having “secret knowledge” that is generally denied or ignored by the world at large. This gives them a feeling of empowerment, that they’re in a secret club that knows the “truth” and is fighting the good fight to get other people to notice it. However, this dynamic doesn’t work without the implicit assumption that this secret knowledge can do some good. Conspiracy theorists like to think of themselves as Neo, the hero of the 1999 science fiction film The Matrix, who takes the “red pill,” recognizes that the world is fake and then becomes a sort of messiah to bring it down. Those who are bothered by Thrive’s failure to propose “solutions” seem to be disappointed because Gamble has given them the “red pill,” but hasn’t told them what to do with it.

One of the most common conspiracy theorist memes is that people are “waking up.” If you surf conspiracist web sites or read their forum posts you’ll see a lot of metaphors related to sleep, waking up, opening eyes, etc., and material that posits conspiracy theories, especially “Global Domination Agenda” theories and similar tropes, will often be praised as helping “wake people up.” Thrive itself plays on this meme in its promotional poster, showing a woman removing a blindfold. But it seems, interestingly enough, that “waking people up” alone isn’t enough anymore. Conspiracy theorists want to be “inspired” or “educated” as to what they can do about all these horrible conspiracies. Thrive is very short on action points and that seems to bother people.  While it is part of a conspiracy theory narrative, it seems to lack the elements necessary to compel commitment among its followers–meaning, validation of the implicit idea that the “special knowledge” the movie imparts will be of some earthly use.

If Gamble does make a Thrive 2, expect that to be the plot.

3. The conspiracy theory world moves much faster than it used to.

It is possible that, even in the short space of a month since its release, Thrive may have already peaked. Only time will tell, but if this is true, it lends credence to a theory by former JREF debunker Ryan Mackey, who stated recently that the world of conspiracy theories moves a lot faster than it used to thanks to social networking and instant information sources like Twitter. If this is true, it may be a lesson that many purveyors of conspiracy theories have yet to learn.

In November, Mackey published (on the web) a very interesting essay called The Great Internet Conspiracy: The Role of Technology and Social Media in the 9/11 Truth Movement. The essay is very long but a fascinating read. In diagnosing the rise and fall of the 9/11 “Truth” movement from its beginnings in 2005 to its burnout in 2008-09, Mackey analyzes two conspiracy theories that became popular after 9/11 Truth, those being the “Birther” thing (the conspiracy theory that Barack Obama was secretly born in Kenya and his Hawaii birth certificate is a fake), and the Osama bin Laden “deathers” (the conspiracy theory that Osama bin Laden was not killed by US forces on May 1, 2011, or that his death was somehow different than explained, and covered up for whatever bizarre reason). He makes the point that these conspiracy theories peaked much, much faster than 9/11 Truth did, which took years:

“The Birther conspiracy theory…made the jump into the mainstream very quickly. Unlike the Truth Movement, it seems to have begun its runaway growth phase in only a matter of months, steeply increasing in popularity from mid-2009 through April 2011. It peaked with something like 30% of Americans believing the conspiracy theory (there is a lot of scatter in the polls), but then rapidly slipped to a stable support level of about 10%….We see a similar pattern in the Deather conspiracy theory, except here the timeline is compressed even further. This conspiracy theory exploded into the mainstream at the same speed as the news story it challenged, reaching the media almost instantly…

In this case, the conspiracy theory still exhibited distinct phases of initial growth among conspiracy theorists, rapid growth as it assaulted the mainstream, and then a decline back to its conspiracist base, but here it all happened in a matter of hours. It is no coincidence that Twitter played such a significant role this time. As our relationship to the Internet continues to evolve, we now receive news and new information faster than ever, albeit without any sort of context at all. Much of this conversation now takes place on personal devices instead of workstations, which both enables and constrains this new, terse, burst-mode form of communication. As a result, the public experienced the conspiracy theory almost at the moment of its origin, discarded it as nonsense, and moved on.”

Could this be what happened with Thrive? There was a big roll-out and a lot of attention on 11/11, the day of the film’s release. There was Internet traffic, Facebook posts, Twitter posts, and the movie went up on YouTube. Then, as the movie saturated into the conspiracy theorist underground, people saw it, talked about it, and moved on. Now, while Thrive is still out there, it definitely does not have a sense of urgency around it as it did on 11/11. People still do watch it and talk about it, but its momentum doesn’t seem to be building.

Indeed, statistics from this blog could support this theory. I started this blog within days after Thrive’s release because I knew that in order to have any impact, fact-checking and debunking the film would have to be essentially simultaneous with the film’s discovery–meaning, people who Google “Thrive movie” for the first time, and are introduced to it, must also be introduced to its debunking material at the same time. At this I think this blog has been pretty successful. The high water mark of page views on this blog occurred on November 26, Thanksgiving weekend. Since then, views have been declining–just, as I suspect, like views of the Thrive movie itself.

If Foster Gamble hoped that Thrive would replicate the “success” of Zeitgeist, he may well not have taken the increased speed of the conspiracy underground into account. Zeitgeist was released in 2007, toward the end of the 9/11 Truth movement. But even four years ago the Internet moved much slower than it does now. People could continually discover the Zeitgeist movies on YouTube and other video sources at their own pace and then buy into its conspiracy ideology, which by the advent of the Zeitgeist Movement, was ready and waiting to receive them. This doesn’t seem to be happening with Thrive. At least, I don’t see indications that it’s going to have a slow simmer that will eventually build into some sort of mass discovery of the movie or its messages. While we can’t know for sure until more time passes, it could very well be that Thrive peaked on Thanksgiving weekend, and may never attain that level of interest again.

Of course, this prediction could be wrong. Thrive may gain a high-profile supporter or suddenly and inexplicably achieve some type of viral saturation–maybe as part and parcel of the ridiculous but inevitable “2012 doomsday” hysteria that is certainly right around the corner. And it’s always possible that Gamble may make a follow-up movie or take some other action to try to capitalize on the film. But if it does gain a sudden notoriety, I would be very surprised if that translates into sustained and durable popularity. I just don’t think Thrive has it in itself.

Is Thrive really “waking people up”?

As stated earlier in this essay, conspiracy theorists love to believe that they are “waking people up” and “opening people’s eyes.” Indeed the conviction that conspiracy theory X or Y is gaining more and more acceptance with the general public is a virtually universal belief among conspiracy theorists, even in the total absence of evidence that it is true. For example, far fewer people today believe that “9/11 was an inside job” than did in 2005-06, yet Truthers are still out there claiming that “critical mass” of belief in their conspiracy theory is right around the corner, or, even more astonishingly, that a majority of the public already believes that 9/11 was a government conspiracy and that their work in convincing people is largely done. No amount of evidence that the Truth movement is dead could convince these believers.

Similarly, I would be very surprised to encounter an enthusiastic supporter of Thrive who does not believe that the movie is a rip-roaring success that is going to gain millions of converts. This despite the fact that the mainstream media has completely ignored the film, views of the film are apparently declining after only a month, and the film is encountering significant obstacles to widespread acceptance by large segments of the conspiracy underground. The fiction of Thrive gradually snowballing, gaining converts and credibility until it bursts into the mainstream with legions of high-commitment supporters, is probably one that we are going to encounter for quite some time to come.  However, I have seen no evidence that this is even close to true, and considerable anecdotal evidence that the opposite is true.

Thrive is not “waking people up.” Indeed, it appears to be putting them to sleep.

Global Domination Agenda–Debunked!

Contents

  • What is the “Global Domination Agenda”?
  • The Central Assumption Behind The Theory.
  • A diagram: the “Global Domination Agenda” and its logical links.
  • Example One: “The GDE deliberately created the global economic crisis!”
  • Example Two: “George H.W. Bush said he was instituting the New World Order!”
  • Example Three: “But the Bilderberg Group and the Trilateral Commission are real! You can’t claim they don’t exist!”
  • Mistaking Political/Economic Power or Social Status for “Evidence” of GDE.
  • A Logic Game: The Neighborhood Watch.
  • Questions Believers in “Global Domination Agenda” Should Ask Themselves.
  • So if there’s no GDE and the “Global Domination Agenda” doesn’t exist, who does rule the world?
  • You call this a “debunking”? You haven’t disproved the Global Domination Agenda at all!
  • Conclusion

One of the central messages of the Thrive movie—indeed, arguably the central message—is the assertion that the world is controlled by a conspiratorial group of persons, entities and business interests who are pursuing goals inimical to the best interests of humanity. On the Thrive website, this conspiracy theory is referred to as the “Global Domination Agenda,” though there are many permutations of this conspiracy theory which go by many different names. This article will debunk the notion that the world is controlled by a unified group pursuing a “Global Domination Agenda,” at least as that concept is elucidated in the Thrive movie.

Debunking “Global Domination Agenda” is at once simple and very complicated. The simple answer is, there is not a shred of evidence to support the existence of this conspiracy theory. However, explaining how and why this is so, and why it is illogical to believe in the existence of a “Global Domination Agenda,” is more complicated. It also involves the exact sort of reasoning and argumentation that is least likely to satisfy believers in this conspiracy theory.

This is a lengthy article. Before we begin, I’d like to ask all persons who intend to post comments on this article to read the entire thing before making comments. Please don’t raise an objection in the comments that’s already covered by the main bulk of the article.

What is the “Global Domination Agenda”? 

For purposes of this article I will refer to the conspiracy theory at issue as the “Global Domination Agenda,” because that’s the term used by the makers of the Thrive movie. I conceive of this conspiracy theory as being essentially synonymous with the idea of the “Illuminati” or the “New World Order,” both much more popular terms than “Global Domination Agenda.” Exactly what this conspiracy theory means, and what its details are, differ widely depending on who believes it. It’s impossible to come up with a description of this conspiracy theory that takes into account all permutations of it; however, the most commonly agreed-upon features of the theory generally hold: 

  1. That a group of persons, entities and business interests exert total, or at least significant, control over international relations, economics, media and technology on a global scale;
  2. That this group has some sort of internal unity—i.e., that its actors are working in concert toward a common goal or goals; and
  3. That either the direct goal of this group, or the effect of their goals, is to consolidate dictatorial power over all, most, or a significant portion of the world’s people.

Believers in a “Global Domination Agenda” are probably the most intractable and unyielding of all conspiracy theorists. Many debunkers simply throw up their hands when confronted with a believer in this theory, because it’s virtually impossible to convince them that this conspiracy theory is illogical and completely unsupported by evidence. Nevertheless, a full debunking of the Thrive film wouldn’t be complete without at least an attempt at addressing this conspiracy theory. Therefore, we will try to analyze why people believe in this conspiracy theory and what can be done to demonstrate that the “Global Domination Agenda” does not exist. 

The Central Assumption Behind The Theory. 

At its core, the “Global Domination Agenda” conspiracy theory is an assumption. Conspiracy believers simply assume that points 1, 2, and 3 are true. Once they make this assumption, virtually anything they see they will interpret as “evidence” supporting the truth of points 1, 2 and 3. Basically, they think it’s true because it’s true. The circular and self-reinforcing nature of the assumption admits no outside stimulus that can either support or refute the points of the assumption. 

How do we know that a group of persons, entities and business interests exert total, or at least significant, control over international relations, economics, media and technology on a global scale? Because they do, and if you don’t agree, you’re a blind brainwashed sheeple. How do we know that this group has some sort of internal unity—i.e., that its actors are working in concert toward a common goal or goals? Because they are, and if you don’t agree, you haven’t done your research. How do we know that that either the direct goal of this group, or the effect of their goals, is to consolidate dictatorial power over all, most, or a significant portion of the world’s people? Because it is. Wake up! 

This is a difficult point to grasp. At the risk of making this more complicated than it is, I’ll attempt to demonstrate it graphically. 

A diagram: the “Global Domination Agenda” and its logical links. 

Let us map out how this system would work if the “Global Domination Agenda” was true. A graph of it would look like a pyramid. There would have to be some sort of unified command, a group of ultimate decision-makers, at the very top. Let’s call this the “Global Domination Elite” or GDE for short (a term I just made up, but call it what you want—Illuminati, NWO, reptilians, whatever). There would have to be connections of some type between the GDE and the persons, entities, governments etc. that they use to do their bidding. Let’s call that layer the “Action Elements.” There would have to be connections of some type between the Action Elements and the individual acts or conditions that they create—the “Results” layer.

 

[Click to see a larger version.]

In order to prove that the “Global Domination Agenda” is true, you need to prove (I) that each layer of this pyramid exists; and (II) the connections between each layer. Without both I or II, the very idea of a “Global Domination Agenda” collapses. 

Believers in the “Global Domination Agenda” simply assume that I and II are either already proven, are self-evident, or can be proven by evidence that in fact does not point to either I or II. 

I don’t expect this statement to make much sense without concrete examples. So, we’ll get to some. 

Example One: “The GDE deliberately created the global economic crisis!” 

This type of claim is very common among “Global Domination Agenda” believers. In fact it is presumed in Thrive that the GDE deliberately tanked the world’s economy as part of whatever their plan is supposed to be. If you ask a “Global Domination Agenda” believer to prove this, he or she will usually offer two types of “evidence”: 

1. Links to news articles about wrongdoing by mortgage bankers, irresponsible economic decisions by governments or corporations, or trends about worsening economic conditions like foreclosure or unemployment.

2. Statements of opinion, often made by other conspiracy theorists, that the GDE or persons working for them created the economic crisis. 

But note what’s really happening. News articles about bad economic decisions, corporate malfeasance etc. only prove the existence of the results—not the cause, not the connections between the various layers of the pyramid. That sort of evidence goes to prove only these parts of the diagram…

 

[click to see larger] …not these.

 Think about it. A CNN.com news article that Acme Megabank made a series of disastrous loans between 2000 and 2008, when they should have known better, does not prove the connection between Acme Megabank and the GDE. All it proves is that Acme Megabank made a series of disastrous loans when they should have known better. An article about how youth unemployment is at 30% and getting worse does not prove the connection between the employers who are refusing to offer jobs to young people and the GDE. All it proves is that there’s a youth unemployment problem. But we know that already.

Proving one set of connections and then the other doesn’t work either. Thus, proving that the former CEO of Acme Megabank is now Assistant Secretary of the Treasury does not make the connection, because you still haven’t proven that Acme Megabank acted on the GDE’s orders to make those disastrous loans. You have to prove connection from the bottom up—from the result all the way up to the GDE. 

Furthermore, statements of opinion, or unsourced assertions, by other conspiracy theorists—“Guess what? The directors of Acme Megabank made those disastrous loans on purpose to further the Global Domination Agenda!”—similarly proves nothing. It does not prove the existence of the GDE, nor the connections between the GDE and the Action Elements. All it proves is that somebody thinks there are connections. But that is not proof that the connections exist.

Indeed, these pieces of “evidence” are totally meaningless unless you already accept the assumption that the “Global Domination Agenda” exists. Then, and only then, do they become relevant. This is an other illustration of the point that the “Global Domination Agenda” conspiracy theory operates on totally circular logic. 

Example Two: “George H.W. Bush said he was instituting the New World Order!” 

Believers in the “Global Domination Agenda,” when they are not providing “evidence” along the lines discussed above, will sometimes point to “incriminating” statements by persons they believe to be part of the GDE, supposedly indicating an “admission” of their true agenda. One of the favorites in this category is a speech made on March 6, 1991 by President George H.W. Bush in which he used the words “New World Order.” Supposedly this indicates an “admission” that the New World Order, as conceived by conspiracy theorists, exists, and that Bush was one of the people trying to implement it.

But does it, though? I doubt most conspiracy theorists have actually read Bush’s speech, in which he outlined his vision of a world following the Persian Gulf War. Here is the full text (http://millercenter.org/president/speeches/detail/3430). He does in fact use the words “new world order.” But, if you read the full speech—I won’t excerpt it here because I encourage you to read it for yourself—it’s very clear he’s not talking about global domination. He’s talking about a vision for foreign policy which, ironically, ultimately did not come to pass. How, then, does this prove the existence of a “Global Domination Agenda”?

Time and time again, believers in a “Global Domination Agenda” will serve up these sorts of tidbits, which do not stand for the propositions they claim they stand for. (At least Bush’s “New World Order” speech is real, even though it doesn’t say what they think he said. Often, quotes by high-ranking figures used by conspiracy theorists are simply false. For example, the Thrive movie claims that Henry Kissinger makes an ominous-sounding statement. I cannot find any reputable source—meaning, not another conspiracy theorist website—that even indicates Kissinger ever said this.) 

Example Three: “But the Bilderberg Group and the Trilateral Commission are real! You can’t claim they don’t exist!” 

Yes, the Trilateral Commission and the Bilderberg Group exist. But their simple existence does not prove the existence of the GDE or the “Global Domination Agenda.” Very often believers in conspiracy theorists will cite the mere existence of these groups as supposed evidence of their claims. This ignores that, again, an assumption is being made: that these groups really do have the power and the characteristics that believers in a “Global Domination Agenda” claim that they do. 

The Bilderberg Group is a rotating conference of politicians, business leaders and intellectuals who meet informally to discuss affairs of the world. The membership changes frequently, but usually includes high-ranking government officials, CEOs, etc. The Bilderberg Group has no official power. It controls no army, it can neither make nor enforce laws, and has no formal status under any government in the world. It’s a think tank. Its members talk about things they think their countries should be doing, but little else. 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bilderberg_Group 

The Trilateral Commission is a group of businesspersons who get together to discuss business relations between America, Europe and Japan. Like Bilderberg, it is populated by wealthy people who have a lot of influence. Also like Bilderberg, it has no official power, controls no army, can neither make nor enforce law, and has no formal status under any government in the world. 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trilateral_Commission 

Most believers in the “Global Domination Agenda” conspiracy theory believe these groups are either the GDE or members of it. They routinely cite the mere existence of these groups as affirmative evidence n favor of the “Global Domination Agenda.” 

What’s missing here is any evidence that these groups have the influence or power that the believers in a Global Domination Agenda say they have. Not a single shred of evidence has ever been produced that these groups have any power at all! The fact that they are made up by influential people, and that they discuss world problems, are the sole basis for conspiracy theorists’ claims that they control the world. In fact, while individual members of these groups may have significant power in their own governments or organizations, there is a complete lack of evidence that matters discussed or recommendations made by these groups have ever translated directly into policy. And yes, we do know what they discuss. Search WikiLeaks for “Bilderberg Minutes.” You can download hundreds of pages of extremely boring policy discussions. Not one of them proves conspiracy theorists’ claims. 

Where is the proof of control? Where is the proof of influence and power? 

Indeed, as with most “evidence” proffered by believers in the “Global Domination Agenda,” what they say and what they can actually prove are very far apart. However, these people will often frame the argument in terms of, you cannot disprove a “Global Domination Agenda” unless you deny that the Bilderberg Group or the Trilateral Commission exists. Whether they exist is not the issue. The issue is whether they have the power that conspiracy theorists say they have. They don’t. 

Mistaking Political/Economic Power or Social Status for “Evidence” of GDE. 

Another mistake, made almost universally by believers in a “Global Domination Agenda,” is to argue that the fact that a person, corporation, or group has political power, economic power or social standing is evidence that they are in fact a member of the GDE. This is, yet again, misapplication of evidence. 

Let’s take George H.W. Bush again. I could not imagine a single believer in the “Global Domination Agenda” not believing that George H.W. Bush is a member of the GDE. 

There is no doubt that George H.W. Bush is, or at least was, a very powerful and influential person. Even before he was elected the 41st President of the United States in 1988, he was from a very rich and prominent family, had many connections among business and political leaders, and was ambitious for political power at an early age. When he was in the White House, he commanded the armed forces of the U.S. and exerted significant influence on the economy. 

But ask yourself this: why is George H.W. Bush a powerful and influential person? Is it because he is a member of the GDE? Or is it because he is from a very rich and powerful family, has many connections among business and political leaders, and held significant positions of political and economic power? 

This distinction will be lost on many believers in the “Global Domination Agenda,” but it might become a bit clearer if you ask yourself this question: 

Is it possible for any person, anywhere in the world, to rise to a position of significant political/economic power or social status, without being a member of the GDE? 

If you answered “no” to this question, you have just engaged in circular reasoning. George H.W. Bush is powerful/influential because he is a member of the GDE; because George H.W. Bush is a member of the GDE, he is therefore powerful/influential. 

See the circular reasoning there? 

If you answered “yes” to the question, then ask yourself: how can you distinguish between someone who has political/economic power or social status because he/she is a member of the GDE, or someone who has that power/status for some other reason? Chances are you won’t be able to answer that question at all. 

We do not live in a society without class or social stratification. There are powerful and influential people. Rich people and business interests do have influence on government and economic policy. But be careful that you don’t mistake evidence that these things are true for “evidence” that a “Global Domination Agenda” exists. It’s very easy to do that, especially when you’re accusing people of being members of the GDE based solely on membership in a group or family or because they hold a particular office. If you’re doing that, you’re again illustrating that all “Global Domination Agenda” theories proceed from an assumption that is never questioned. 

A Logic Game: The Neighborhood Watch.

Let’s play a little game of logic and reasoning that I hope will help illustrate both how the “Global Domination Agenda” conspiracy theory works, and why believers in it are so incredulous that it can’t be real. 

Imagine a gated community in the suburbs. Five couples live there: Alan & Bess, Charlie & Dora, Ed & Flo, Gerald & Harriet, Irving & Joyce, and Kevin & Linda. The community is a planned development with covenants and a homeowner’s association. Alan & Bess are the richest people in the community and own the biggest house. Bess is president of the homeowner’s association. 

Kevin is a conspiracy theorist. He believes in the existence of a secret group called the “Neighborhood Watch” which he thinks controls everything that happens in the community. He believes that the Neighborhood Watch intends to rule the community with an iron fist and destroy all freedom in the neighborhood. In fact, the Neighborhood Watch does not exist. 

At a homeowner’s association meeting, Bess proposes a new rule that everyone in the community must mow their lawn once a week. The group votes. Kevin & Linda are opposed, but everyone else votes yes and the rule goes into effect. Kevin believes that this vote demonstrates that the Neighborhood Watch controls the homeowner’s association, and that Bess, and probably Alan, are members of it. 

A week later, Irving & Joyce’s young son is playing in the street when he’s hit by a car and injured. At the next homeowner’s association meeting, Bess proposes a new rule that no one’s kids are allowed to play beyond the confines of their own yards. The rule passes, again with Kevin & Linda opposed. Kevin begins to tell everyone that the Neighborhood Watch deliberately lured Irving & Joyce’s son into the street so he would be hit by a car, thus giving the homeowner’s association an excuse to pass a restrictive rule. Because everyone else but Kevin & Linda voted for the rule, Kevin begins to believe that all the other couples are also members of the Neighborhood Watch. 

A week after that, Gerald is accused of sexually harassing his secretary and is fired from his job. He and Harriet can no longer afford their mortgage, so they have to move out. They sell their house to Alan & Bess who buy it for a song. Kevin begins to tell people that the Neighborhood Watch framed Gerald for sexual harassment, so he would lose his job and have to sell out of the neighborhood. 

A week after that, it rains heavily. All the houses in the neighborhood have faulty siding and after the rain all the siding must be replaced. As it turns out, Ed works for Acme Siding Co. and he gets a good deal for his neighbors, most of whom buy their new siding from Acme. Ed gets a fat bonus check as a result of this. 

Kevin believes that this proves that Ed is a member of the Neighborhood Watch. He now starts telling people that the Neighborhood Watch can control the weather, that they made it rain so the siding would be ruined, thus providing Ed and Acme the opportunity to make a killing by selling new siding to the neighbors. 

Alan & Bess have a dinner party where they invite Ed & Flo and Charlie & Dora. None of the other couples are invited. Kevin starts telling people that the dinner party must be the secret meeting place of the Neighborhood Watch and it is there that they must be deciding on their nefarious plans to control the community. 

Kevin says he can prove that the Neighborhood Watch secretly rules the community. What is his “proof”? The fact that Bess is influential and on the homeowner’s association; the fact that Alan & Bess are rich; the fact that Irving & Joyce’s young son got hit by a car; the fact that Gerald lost his job; the fact that Ed works for Acme Siding; and the fact that Alan & Bess had a dinner party. 

All of these facts are undeniable. What’s missing is the connection between them. Kevin has not proved—and cannot prove—that the Neighborhood Watch exists. All he can do is prove these various facts to be true, and then tell you to “connect the dots.” But the alleged “connection” between these events makes sense only if you accept Kevin’s basic assumption—which is that the Neighborhood Watch exists. If you question whether or not it exists, the facts that Kevin states suddenly don’t seem as connected as he insists that they are. 

This is exactly the reasoning engaged in by believers in the “Global Domination Agenda.”

If this Neighborhood Watch example seems pretty silly to you, it should. It’s a prime example of bad reasoning and faulty logic. But it also explains why Kevin will choose to view everything that happens in the neighborhood—every rule, every meeting, every accident, every association between everyone else—as “evidence” supporting the existence of the Neighborhood Watch. This is why believers in the “Global Domination Agenda” are shocked when you claim there is no evidence for their claims. “Look around!” they shriek, without realizing that what they think is evidence does not support what they think it supports. 

Questions Believers in “Global Domination Agenda” Should Ask Themselves. 

Here are four questions that people who believe in the “Global Domination Agenda” should ask themselves. The answers—or lack thereof—may be revealing. 

  1. Think of a specific person that you believe is a member of the GDE, i.e., a perpetrator of the “Global Domination Agenda.” What is your basis for believing that person is part of the GDE? 
  2. If the “Global Domination Agenda” exists, why is it taking so long for the GDE’s plans to be implemented?
  3. If the “Global Domination Agenda” exists, why are the GDE so incompetent?
  4.  Assuming the GDE want to take over the world, what do you think they’re going to do with it once they have it?

Let’s take the questions one by one. 

1. Think of a specific person that you believe is a member of the GDE, i.e., a perpetrator of the “Global Domination Agenda.” What is your basis for believing that person is part of the GDE? 

We touched on this with the George H.W. Bush example above. How do you know a member of the GDE when you see one? In almost all cases, the criteria for accusing someone of being a member of the GDE is based on (i) the person’s name; (ii) their job, position, wealth, or social status; or (iii) their opposition to conspiracy theories like the “Global Domination Agenda.”

Indeed, these are the only criteria that conspiracy theorists ever employ to categorize people as members of the GDE. The Thrive movie does this too, when Foster Gamble rages at the Rockefellers. The Rockefellers are rich and influential; therefore, they must, by definition, be part of the GDE. Conspiracy theorists also like to pick on people with the last names Rothschild, Du Pont, Kennedy, Bush, Vanderbilt, etc., etc. The same lack of reasoning is present with respect to a person’s job, position or social status. I’ve had more than one conspiracy theorist tell me that, because the GDE would never “allow” someone untrustworthy to become President of the United States, anyone who gets elected president is automatically a member of the GDE. If that’s not circular reasoning I don’t know what is.

Occasionally ordinary people like me are accused of being a member of the GDE, solely on the basis of my outspoken opposition to conspiracy theories. If someone doesn’t like conspiracy theories, they must be part of a conspiracy! In this vein I have been accused of being a member of the Illuminati, a CIA agent, and a Freemason. I even had one conspiracy theorist say that he felt certain I personally had a role in the September 11 attacks. Ludicrous accusations such as these are beneath comment.

The point is, there’s no rational basis for concluding that someone is a member of the GDE. Inclusion in the conspiracy depends solely on whether the person who believes in the conspiracy theory wants or needs to assume that person must be involved. There’s no rhyme or reason to it. It’s simply absurd.

2. If the “Global Domination Agenda” exists, why is it taking so long for the GDE’s plans to be implemented? 

Believers in the “Global Domination Agenda” have a hard time with this one. They talk about the awful things the GDE has done in the past, but the stress is always on the much worse things that are going to happen in the future. Various individual conspiracy theories that fit under the rubric of the “Global Domination Agenda” such as the North American Union, RFID microchipping, etc. all emphasize a future dimension. Yet the terrible future consequences never happen. They’re always going to happen, but they haven’t happened yet.

Example: FEMA camps. Supposedly the federal government is building large detention camps, run by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, where people will be sent. Oh, isn’t that awful!

How come it hasn’t happened yet? 

Indeed, Alex Jones—who is listed on the Thrive website as a resource for fighting the “Global Domination Agenda”–has been predicting horrible things for more than 10 years, including FEMA camps. They never happen. What’s taking the GDE so long? If they’ve been building those camps for 10+ years now, when are they actually going to open? 

Even past events fit this pattern. Many believers in the “Global Domination Agenda” will tell you that 9/11 was staged in order to provide an excuse for “taking away our liberties.” How did “they” (the GDE, surely) take away our liberties? By passing the PATRIOT Act, and by instituting invasive TSA searches at airports. Look! They’re taking away our liberties! 

So let me get this straight. The PATRIOT Act was passed 10 years ago, with all these expansive powers that have very seldom, if ever, been used in the past ten years. Some of its provisions have been used against suspected terrorists—but if the GDE really intended the PATRIOT Act as a major tool of oppression, why haven’t courts and enforcement officials been making more and ever-increasing use of it? I mean, why put this law into place but not use it? What is the GDE waiting for? 

Similarly, TSA searches. These were instituted in early 2011. The believers in the “Global Domination Agenda” want you to believe that the GDE, having done 9/11, waited an entire decade to institute a new type of search at security checkpoints. Assuming there’s a considerable distance remaining from invasive pat-downs at the airport to total dictatorial control over all the world’s people, it would seem that the GDE are moving very, very slowly. 

If the GDE is moving this slowly to implement their agenda, where’s the incentive for people to join the conspiracy? They’ll all be dead by the time we reach the “total world domination” stage, if we ever do. What, then, do they have to gain? Why should they commit crimes now to benefit some future generation of iron-fisted rulers who haven’t even been born yet?

This analysis gets sillier if you take into consideration that most believers in the “Global Domination Agenda” believe that the GDE has been around, and has been working on their nefarious plans, for a very long time already. The Thrive movie doesn’t talk about the “Illuminati,” but believers in that form of GDE think that a secret society founded in 1776 is the real power ruling the world. So, in addition to the dozens, scores, or perhaps hundreds of years that have yet to elapse before the GDE’s plans come to fruition, it turns out they’ve already been working on them for over 230 years!

Does this make any sense at all?

3. If the “Global Domination Agenda” exists, why are the GDE so incompetent?

This sounds like a joke, but it’s not. If this GDE is out there and really trying to enslave the world, why are they doing such a terrible job of it? Indeed, it would seem, with as many holes in their plans, that they’re totally incompetent.

After all, “Global Domination Agenda” believers are asking you to accept that a group of all-powerful conspirators is tightening their grip over the entire world, but yet

  • …Foster Gamble is allowed to blow the whistle on their agenda with his Thrive movie and website.
  • …Alex Jones is allowed to screech, grunt and wail about their agenda every single week on his radio show.
  • …Charlie Sheen and Rosie O’Donnell are allowed to make fools of themselves peddling “9/11 Inside Job” crap on their TV shows and in interviews.
  • …Bernie Madoff, undoubtedly a member of the GDE, is allowed to be caught red-handed in his Ponzi scheme.
  • …Richard Nixon, undoubtedly a member of the GDE, is caught on tape, in his own words, committing a crime that leads to him resigning his office.
  • …Nobody helps George W. Bush, undoubtedly a member of the GDE, make a slam-dunk case for his war in Iraq by planting WMD’s on Iraqi soil, instead letting the world see that there were no WMDs in the first place.
  • …Minutes of the Bilderberg Group meetings have been posted on WikiLeaks.
  • …Tens of thousands of conspiracy theorists are allowed to junk up YouTube with their videos claiming that the “Global Domination Agenda” is real.

Believers in the “Global Domination Agenda” who try to tackle this question will invariably say something like, “This is how the GDE wants it,” or “They have to give you [debunkers] something to use to claim they aren’t real.” Anyone familiar with psychology would recognize these responses as self-reinforcing delusions.

4. Assuming the GDE want to take over the world, what do you think they’re going to do with it once they have it? 

Believers in the “Global Domination Agenda” usually breeze right by this type of question. What’s the ultimate point of the GDE trying to rule the world? Power, of course! Why, then, do they want to rule the world? For the sake of ruling the world. 

History teaches us, however, that people who desire a great deal of power seldom desire it for its own sake. That’s a common trope in fiction, but don’t even James Bond supervillains have a plan of some kind that they hope to implement? Don’t they usually have an ideology they want to advance, or a set of goals that they feel can best be vindicated by achieving a position of dominance?

Few people would dispute that Napoléon Bonaparte was a very ambitious man, even power-hungry. A man who crowned himself Emperor of France could not be anything other. However, even Napoléon wanted something. He believed in the ascendancy of the French state and thought its interests would best be served by being the most military and politically powerful state in Europe. Napoléon took power in France in part to achieve these goals. He didn’t just sit there wringing his hands and cackling, “Wheeee, I’m going to rule the lives of millions of Frenchmen and lay waste to the continent of Europe!”

What, then, do the GDE want? Believers in this theory don’t have much of an answer beyond, “they want to rule the world.” They seem to assume that power is its own reward. But that doesn’t make much sense, does it? Yet conspiracy theorists cannot point to any specific set of goals that the attainment of “total world domination” would help the GDE achieve. What are they going to do with the world once they have it? Build themselves big mansions? Waterski behind yachts? Erect statues to themselves? (Can’t many of the people suspected of being members of the GDE already do that?)

Some conspiracy theorists attempt to avoid this question by declaring that the GDE are “psychopaths” or otherwise insane. This makes no sense either. In fact it’s a convenient out, by saying, “well, we don’t have to explain what these people want, because they’re just nuts and want power for its own sake.” This argument is not convincing.

So if there’s no GDE and the “Global Domination Agenda” doesn’t exist, who does rule the world?

This question again proceeds from the same assumption as the “Global Domination Agenda” conspiracy theory does—the assumption that someone rules the world, and that those people have some type of unity. Asking the question is pointless because it presumes that all you have to do is point a finger at some group and say, “They run the world!”

A lot of people run the world—more accurately, a lot of people run little pieces of it, or, more accurately still, they run little pieces of the little pieces of the little pieces of the world. Those people do what they do out of an extremely broad array of motivations. Much of what they do conflicts with each other, because people, countries and industries have competing and contradictory goals. Barack Obama is undoubtedly one of the most powerful men in the world. However, there are things he can’t do. He can order a nuclear strike on China, but he can’t get his budgets passed. He can influence Bernake to adjust interest rates, but he can’t snap his fingers and create millions of jobs. He can order a SEAL team to assassinate Osama bin Laden, but he can’t stop Mitt Romney from talking trash about him on the campaign stump.

There certainly are a lot of things wrong with the world. Clearly, people are starving in developing countries. Man-made global warming is threatening our environment. Personally, I believe that our economic system is not functioning properly, and social inequality is a serious problem. But to assume that these things are all part of a conscious design by a single person or small group of people is to ignore everything we know about history and about human nature. Thrive seems to suggest that the world is somehow deliberately built to be cruel and unfair, and it is the fault of the GDE, those evil people, who made it so. That belief is absolutely asinine, and should offend anyone who believes in rational thinking.

You call this a “debunking”? You haven’t disproved the Global Domination Agenda at all!

It is true, I have not disproven the existence of the “Global Domination Agenda.” But I am not required to do that.

You are required, if you believe in the “Global Domination Agenda,” to prove that it existsnot the other way around. Until you can prove that it does exist, it is not rational to believe in it. That is why this article is an effective debunking, because in it I’ve stated why the “Global Domination Agenda” is not worthy of belief.

The facts as we know them indicate that Grant is buried in Grant’s Tomb. The conclusion that Grant is buried in Grant’s Tomb is entirely consistent with what we know about the world around us. If we come upon a monument in New York City with an inscription reading “Here Lies Ulysses Grant,” it would be entirely rational to conclude, just by what we know about how funerals, cemeteries and graveyards work in the real world, that most likely Ulysses Grant is buried beneath that stone.

If you claim that Lincoln is buried in Grant’s Tomb, the burden of proof is on you to demonstrate that this is true. You don’t get to believe that Lincoln is buried in Grant’s Tomb simply because you want to, and because, short of getting a bulldozer and a crowbar and cracking open the tomb and the coffin of the person buried inside, I can’t disprove that Lincoln is buried there. I can show you evidence, eyewitness accounts of Grant’s funeral, perhaps a document from his undertaker and the man who built the tomb stating that, yes, in fact Ulysses Grant is buried there. If you continue to insist that Lincoln is buried there, don’t be surprised, if you produce no further proof, that everyone else continues to accept what has been indicated as true—that Grant is buried in Grant’s Tomb.

I do not expect conspiracy theorists to be persuaded by this logic. I do, however, expect that maybe one or two rational people out there will begin to ask questions about whether the existence of the “Global Domination Agenda” is really as self-evident as it seems.

Conclusion

The Thrive movie’s claims of a “Global Domination Agenda” are based solely on an assumption that is self-reinforcing. Believers in this conspiracy theory will typically never, under any circumstances, even question the validity of the assumption. Once convinced of its veracity, strangely nearly everything they see in the world seems to look like “evidence” supporting the assumption, when in fact it is not.

I am not required to disprove the existence of the “Global Domination Agenda.” It is up to the believers to prove it exists.

There is no evidence that the “Global Domination Agenda” exists. Therefore, the “Global Domination Agenda” does not exist.