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.
This is Part III of the first debunking done on the full-length Thrive movie. There will be additional debunking material that is more detailed, both on the full movie and on various individual aspects of it, posted later. This debunking is not by me, but by gabrieltech (SlayerX3), a contributor to this blog. If you missed Part I, here it is, and here is Part II.
Free Energy suppression: “Follow the Money.”
The Oil & Energy Empires:
Summarizing this part, Gamble states that the power, money and influence of major energy and oil corporations like Standard Oil, BP, Texaco, Exxon Mobil and specially the Rockefellers have been suppressing alternative free energy sources to protect their profits.
I don’t think they need to suppress something that doesn’t work.
[Muertos comment: Gamble’s assertion that free energy is being “suppressed” is based on a handful of extremely spurious “examples.” As described in Part II of the debunking, the claims that various “free energy” scientists have had their labs ransacked or have even been murdered do not stand up to scrutiny. In short, there is no evidence of suppression at all. Everything in the Thrive movie about is unsourced, anecdotal, or unrelated–for example, the murder of Eugene Mallove, which in fact had nothing to do with his energy work.]
The green revolution:
Gamble states that with the power acquired from the Rockefeller Oil Empire and the creation of oil based fertilizers and pesticides, Rockefeller also controls our food as well.
He later talks about the 1960’s and 1970’s green revolution and his disappointment towards it, saying it used massive amounts of fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides yet it wasn’t able to end world hunger and the US farmers received billions of dollars in subsides.
It’s commonly accepted among the economist and humanitarian groups that the world hunger is not caused by the insufficient production of food, but by improper food distribution caused by poverty, governmental policies and military conflict and more recently climate change. These are the main reasons why the African continent and South Asian countries and the like are plagued by hunger: the population is barred access to food due to economic disparity, policies that benefit the nation’s elites and war. Blaming the industrial food production method for the world hunger is another one of Gamble’s attempts to make the viewer think that industrial groups are the sole agents responsible for the hunger problem.
Production cost and subsides:
For starters, industrial fertilizers are cheaper and more efficient (not less harmful, but that is arguable) in producing crops with higher yield per acre. The issue with those is not the chemical themselves but the manner they are being used, which sometimes leads to over fertilizing and scorching the ground. There is also a tendency to use massive amounts of land to grow crops, which tends to reduce the yield when compared to smaller crops (that is a management issue, not a technological one), yet the cost of production is very low when compared to all organic farms and crops, while the yields are higher per acre when compared to the latter.
Gamble cites the subsides paid to US farmers as evidence of inefficiency, yet this doesn’t explain why crops and farms in South America, Asia, Africa and Europe who use the same techniques are economically viable and profitable. There are somewhat obvious reasons why the US farmers receive subsides from the US government, and I’m sure Mr. Gamble missed them on purpose.
- First, they receive the subsides because there is a bill that permits US agricultural producers to receive monetary help regardless of need or not. This bill predates the Great Depression started by the 1929 stock market crash in order to stabilize prices and elevate the crops’ value.
- Second, the US farms are in direct competition with other emerging nations’ agricultural industries, most notably from the BRIC block (Brazil, Russia, India and China). Several factors ranging from geographical advantages to currency exchange rates give some countries, especially Brazil and India, a major edge in food exportation to US and Europe. Not only US but the EU also uses subsides to shield their local producers from cheaper products coming from developing nations.
It’s also worth mentioning that the World Trade Organization along with the G8 and G20 discuss on a regular basis the subsides from US and EU producers. This is a matter of competition rather than alleged inefficiency (not really the type that Gamble implies).
More than anything else the fall of the family farmer is tied to income. Mostly outside US, especially in developing countries, rural workers migrate to cities in the search for better job opportunities, with the well-paying jobs being localized in urban areas. This leaves little room for family farming to sustain, well a family.
Inside US is another story, and is more tied to the higher industrial demand where larger farms have a better ability to deliver and supply the commercial demand.
Loss of bio diversity and environmental harm:
A broken clock is right twice a day. Do I really need to explain that predatory human action in nature does almost every kind of harm?
On a note, since agro toxics tend to remain in the superficial skin of vegetables, a simple wash is able to remove most of the harmful chemicals. Also on the production line food does receive baths and other processes to remove harmful chemicals (the ethical companies do that at least).
A prominent figure in ecoactivism and ecofeminism, and perhaps one of the most respectable people to feature in Thrive, even though I don’t agree with most of her views. She discusses the use of GMOs (Genetically Modified Organisms) and Free Trade Treaties.
First definition of GMOs: “is an organism whose genetic material has been altered using genetic engineering techniques. These techniques, generally known as recombinant DNA technology, use DNA molecules from different sources, which are combined into one molecule to create a new set of genes. This DNA is then transferred into an organism, giving it modified or novel genes. Transgenic organisms, a subset of GMOs, are organisms which have inserted DNA that originated in a different species.”
The top 5 users of GMO crops are (by area, in millions of Hectares, data from 2006): USA (54.6), Argentina (18.0) Brazil (11.5) Canada (6.1) China (3.5) and Paraguay (2.0).
The debate on the use of GMOs is very controversial from the scientific, economic and sociological point of views, with discussions about the safety, gains, access and health benefits and dangers related to the use of GMOs.
Shiva focuses in the social repercussions of the GMOs in Thrive, mostly because of the seed patenting, sterile seeds and exclusion of impoverished producers.
There’s an uproar against the seed patenting among environmentalists. Quoting Shiva “patenting seed and patenting life as a way of control, declaring seeds to be private property”.
The main issue is that GMOs do not occur naturally in nature and are products of extensive research and genetic manipulation to modify or enhance living organisms such as plants and add or remove traits. Currently only major companies and well-funded research agencies are able to create GMO seeds. This excludes the majority of the small producers because they don’t have enough capital to purchase these type of seeds and because they would be at a serious disadvantage when competing with the producers that purchased GMOs.
Patenting is a way to ensure other companies don’t copy the designed GMOs and trade them as their own. This is a very common practice in business and industry to avoid intellectual theft, but the impact in common producers is that they can’t trade the GMO seeds they acquired, as this would be considered theft. This brings us to another practice.
The “Terminator” control mechanisms–this is a control mechanism that has several purposes. The Terminator seeds only generate plants whose seeds are sterile. This is done first to avoid cross pollinating, and second to prevent spreading of GMOs in foreign environments.
Another and less noble practice depends solely on ethics as the producer would be tied to the GMO supplier forever. The producer wouldn’t be able to harvest new seeds from his current crop and will be forced to acquire directly from his supplier. From a social point of view this is horrible since it ties small producers to major groups and doesn’t give them much freedom to handle their own affairs.
The third practice is intended to prevent further generations of GMO seeds from being sold by farmers. This generates two main disadvantages for the company that designed and produced the GMO: (1) they can’t control the spread and cross breeding of their product (since this could generate undesired effects, the legal and public relations fallout could be enormous) and (2) their product would be spread without granting them the royalties associated with their patents.
It’s easy to see why Shiva doesn’t sympathize with GMOs as she aims for what she believes is best for the impoverished population, and those technologies when used unethically could cause great harm to people.
(I was really disappointed when I found out the Terminator technology wasn’t about kill bots!)
Free Trade Treaties:
Shiva points out that free trade treaties exclude common people, but this happens by design as free trade treaties allow major producers to export and import products and goods without many drawbacks from taxes, tariffs and bureaucracies.
Since major companies have the resources to organize, administrate and supply higher demands along with transporting their products, they receive the upper hand in free trade treaties.
The impact of this is that smaller producers and traders can’t compete with major groups and lose both internal and external markets to cheaper products. Although free trade treaties can benefit economies from a global point of view, they tend to ruin local economies that aren’t properly shielded or adapted to compete with the new economic environment. (This is the case when some governments and union groups adopt subsides or other protectionist measures to prevent this scenario from happening).
Quote: “Who controls the food supply controls the people; who controls the energy can control whole continents; who controls money can control the world.” – Henry Kissinger.
I couldn’t find any paper, interview, video, press conference or anything that had evidence or source claiming or showing that Henry Kissinger actually said that, but it’s quite common in end the Fed and other anti-capitalism sites and forums.
And it was surprisingly similar to George Orwell’s 1984 Ingsoc slogans.
[Muertos comment: it is very common in conspiracy theorist circles for a completely made-up quote, usually from a distrusted figure like Kissinger, Zbigniew Brzesinski, George H.W. Bush, etc. to gain the appearance of being true simply by the number of times it is quoted by like-minded conspiracy theorist websites. This is particularly frustrating when you try to argue with a conspiracy theorist that there is no proof the person actually said this, and the theorist responds with a dozen examples of unreliable sites all quoting each other and containing the unsourced and false quote. The quote also does not have to be totally false; sometimes it can be a partially true quote that is taken out of context, such as George H.W. Bush’s 1991 speech including the unfortunate words “New World Order” (unfortunate because it saddles us debunkers for the rest of time to listen to conspiracy theorists telling us how this supposedly proves the “New World Order” exists, even though it does not, and even though Bush was talking about something completely different. That will likely be the subject of another blog post.]
After Henry’s (mis)quoting, Gamble reaffirms that elite banking groups and their corporations control energy and food.
Patterns of control:
[A full debunking of this section is coming in the future.]
National Education Association:
I wasn’t able to tie the foundation of the NEA either with the Rockefeller family or with the Carnegie and Ford families, but those entities did invest and donated money to the NEA, especially because they were lobbying for bills that provided tax cuts to companies that invested in philanthropic projects and foundations. And during the 1920 and 1930s USA had a dire need for more qualified workers and access to a trained workforce was crucial for companies to expand.
But the point is simple: there is no conclusive evidence that those companies control the NEA.
John Taylor Gatto:
Gatto is a former professor and writer. He claims that compulsory schooling indoctrinates children and leaves them more susceptible to authority. He also defends homeschooling.
Gamble states that the education system was set to create a docile, consumer and obedient workforce.
I guess it’s not working.
The American Medical Association:
[A full debunking of this section is coming in the future.]
Robbins is the author of several books on health and food including the award winning Diet for a New America. In his brief appearance he points out how the material distributed to doctors and medical school students on the subject of nutrition are from food industries that profit from unhealthy eating habits. He mentions the National Dairy Council, Beef USA and the American Sugar Association.
I can’t properly comment on this since I have no easy access to medical school curriculum material.
[Muertos comment: this is the type of claim that can never really be substantiated. Unless Robbins or Gamble specifically identify the material they’re talking about, we have no way of checking it. This is an insidious way of sneaking an un-verifiable claim into the movie.]
Soon after this part of the film, Deepak Chopra states that the pharmaceutical corporations make profits using the AMA and other medical centers to promote their products by selling from doctors and physicians to their patients.
An Indian physician, Deepak Chopra is known for many of his self-help books, new age spiritualism and alternate medicine.
He is a critic of the current system of medicine in the western world, and his ideas revolve around the use of quantum mysticism and spirituality to improve health and cure diseases.
Author note: I admit that a clean state of mind does help and can improve your health, but finding a licensed doctor for a more objective diagnosis is crucial. Personally I think that alternate medicine is as good as a placebo but don’t let people undermine modern doctors and medicine in favor for exotic, esoteric and alternative treatments. Those can cost lives.
Gamble then talks how the cure for diseases has been suppressed the same way free energy has, and then he introduces the viewer to the “well documented example” of Royal Raymond Rife.
R. Royal Raymond Rife:
Yet another inventor who was more of a scam artist than a scientist, Dr. Rife became famous for his “cancer curing machine” using electromagnetism that he claimed was able not only to cure cancer but other infectious diseases. This was during the 1930s when electricity and magnetism were still being studied. During that time many inventors and scam artists used those to sell miracle machines using buzz words and techno babble to convince people of its properties, but this time Rife got the cake.
After other scientists failed to reproduce the same results using Rife’s technique and machines, the scientific community started to reject Rife’s devices and ideas on cancer. Rife blamed the rejection of his devices on a conspiracy that consisted of accusations that the AMA and other medical organizations were behind the failures.
After the accusations of medical fraud, Rife’s lab was destroyed in a fire, probably arson by Rife himself to prevent investigations of his lab from revealing him as a complete fraud.
Today and then, Rife is considered nothing more than a scam artist and his devices are regarded as nothing but pseudoscience by the scientific community.
During the 1980s several scam artist started using Rife-based machines to sell miracle cures, once again causing health problems for those who tried to treat serious diseases, like cancer, with them.
Kimberly C. Gamble later makes an emotional appeal using the cancer history in her family. Then she proceeds to make links between cancer treatment patents by corporations and the suppression of alternative cancer treatments that worked and which didn’t leave the patient tied to the treatment, citing Rene Cassie, Max Gerson and Hoxsey therapy as examples.
Cassie is a Canadian nurse who is claimed to have found herbs from whose tea can cure and prevent cancer. During the 1970’s up until now, several medical laboratories tested the efficiency of her ESSIAC tea and concluded it isn’t effective at curing cancer and in some cases it stimulated the cancer growth.
Cassie was prosecuted for practicing medicine without a license. Many of the people who were treated and “cured” from cancer using ESSIAC were found not to have had cancer at all but were misdiagnosed instead.
ESSIAC can’t be sold as a treatment for cancer but it can be sold as food supplement.
Gerson is a german physician that created the Gerson therapy. It consists of special diets aimed to relieve the body from toxic residues. He made several claims that his method cured cancer during the 1950s but medical tests proved no direct relation to his therapy and curing cancer.
“Gerson’s therapy required the patient to consume a vegetarian diet and to drink a 250-milliliter (8-ounce) glass of fresh organic juices every waking hour. Coffee and castor oil enemas were among several types of prescribed enemas, and some patients were given hydrogen peroxide orally and rectally. Rectal ozone was also applied. Dietary supplements include vitamin C and iodine. The diet prohibited the drinking of water and consumption of berries and nuts, as well as use of aluminium vessels or utensils.”
If you read the last two sentences it’s easy to see why his therapy was found to be dangerous and even deadly, as it can lead to dehydration, infections and other health problems.
Another therapy involving the use of herbal formulas to treat and cure cancer. So far this therapy has been proven to be more harmful than helpful.
As the peer review of Hoxsey treatments showed, there was no evidence of the effectiveness of his therapy. He also had issues with the AMA, which he claimed was persecuting him.
Ironically he used his own therapy to treat his prostate cancer. Due to the failure of his own treatment he had to rely on conventional surgery to remove his cancer!
[More debunking of Thrive to come!]