A podcast called “Life, The Universe and Everything Else,” a program put on by the Winnipeg Skeptics association, has turned its sights on Thrive. I spent the morning listening to the podcast, and I recommend it very highly. You can play it from your computer here. The host of the show is Gem Newman (founder of Winnipeg Skeptics, computer science expert), and the guests include Gary Barbon, Mark Forkheim, Robert Shindler, Richelle McCullough and Greg Christiansen. You can see information on who these people are, and what their backgrounds are, here.
The Winnipeg Skeptics are a group of skeptics and critical thinkers who apply fact, logic and critical thinking to wild claims made on the Internet. Just as this blog has done since the beginning, the Skeptics have exhaustively examined Thrive and their review is, needless to say, highly negative. While they find some things to praise in the film, they are extremely critical of the film’s shoddy research, its trafficking in bizarre and divisive conspiracy theories, its promotion of far right-wing Libertarian propaganda, and its reductive and harmful worldview that obscures real problems of income inequality, political corruption and environmental degradation.
Thrive Debunked is mentioned prominently in the episode and I’m proud to say this site was used as a significant source to fact-check and analyze the film. You’ll see links to various articles here on the blog page discussing the episode.
At one point, Mr. Newman reads verbatim from the statement made by John Robbins repudiating Thrive and criticizing its conspiracy worldview—a statement published on this blog with Mr. Robbins’s permission.
If you’re a regular reader of this blog, very little on the podcast will be news to you. But it is noteworthy that whenever anyone approaches Thrive with a desire to check its facts and think through its conclusions, they invariably conclude that it is faulty, false and dangerous. We can therefore add the Winnipeg Skeptics’ review to the lengthening list of similar reviews catalogued on this site, such as JREF’s, Transition Culture’s and the Praxis Institute’s.
Do give the podcast a listen. It’s very well-done.
Although the main objective of Thrive is informational—to disseminate conspiracy theories and promote right-wing libertarian political ideology—it cannot be ignored that Thrive’s makers and a lot of its supporters say they want to take action. On this very blog Foster Gamble, creator of Thrive, has dismissed the utility of discussing the factual errors and distortions in his film, in favor of “creating solutions.” Unfortunately, the “solutions” that Thrive fans say they want are aimed overwhelmingly at exposing and combating the various conspiracy theories that the film asserts exist. This is the central tragedy of conspiracy thinking—that it diverts people’s energies and attentions away from solving real problems in the real world, and instead motivates them to solve fake problems endemic to the fantasy world in which conspiracy theorists dwell.
This article will discuss the phenomena of what I call “conspiracy activism.” Thrive is not the first conspiracy movie to spark an activist response. Mr. Gamble’s film exists in the context of a conspiracist underground that has, in recent years, been rapidly transformed by the Internet, and is continuing to evolve quickly. I wrote about this in an article over at my other blog, which I also publicized on this one. You can consider this article to be sort of a companion piece to that one.
What Is The “Thrive Movement” And What Is It Actually Doing?
Before we get to the topic of conspiracy activism in general, let’s look at what “solutions” the Thrive people are promoting. There is no “Thrive Movement” to speak of in any real sense. Foster Gamble is not, so far as I can tell, attempting to exert any sort of real control over the activities or direction of the film’s fans, and I’ve seen no evidence that the fans of the movie are trying to organize themselves.
Clicking the “Solutions” tab on the Thrive website unleashes a dizzying avalanche of propaganda. The vast majority of it is right-wing libertarian propaganda, such as the “Liberty” page which assaults the reader with political diatribes studded with quotes from libertarian deities like Stefan Molyneux, Ron Paul and Ayn Rand. Although Thrive’s political agenda is a serious issue, we and others have dealt with it before. The key message is “vote for libertarians,” and thus we’ll leave the film’s political advocacy at that.
More interesting are the “Critical Mass Actions” tabs. Here the Thrive people have listed twelve specific campaigns they’re promoting, with icons where you (as an Internet user) can “sign up” or else embed the icon itself on another site. If you click the icons so sign up, it produces a box where you fill in your email info and hit submit. Almost all of the links included in the “Critical Mass Actions” sections are to websites or online petitions. Of these twelve campaigns, two are anti-Federal Reserve; three are related to protesting GMO food; two relate to “free energy” devices; two are protests of “chemtrails,” a conspiracy theory promoted by the film; one is anti-nuclear power; one is “protect Internet freedom”; and one protests resource extraction on Native American lands.
The Federal Reserve is what Thrive identifies as the linchpin of a worldwide conspiracy theory to enslave the globe through the use of deceptive currency practices. We debunked the film’s money conspiracy theories here. “Free energy” does not exist, as we have also demonstrated. “Chemtrails” have not been debunked on this site, but they’ve been amply debunked elsewhere; it’s abundantly clear that “chemtrails” are a total fantasy. You don’t have to be a conspiracy theorist to oppose GMO foods, but Thrive couches its criticism of such foods in expressly conspiratorial terms; they think it’s some weird kind of plot aimed at killing people with poisons in the food.
These issues account for nine of the twelve “Critical Mass Actions.” Of the twelve, only three—anti-nuclear power, protecting Internet freedom, and protesting resource extraction on Native American lands—are not somehow addressing the conspiracy theories the film promotes.
Ironically, it is one of these three non-conspiratorial solutions—the Internet freedom icon—that had the most people (5,547 on the day I checked) signed up.
When it comes to what these “Critical Mass Actions” actually are, the website is extremely vague. Here’s what it says when you click on a question about “how do you know when an action reaches critical mass?”
“As actions gain momentum and the most popular ones become apparent we will set a target number for “critical mass.” We will keep in touch via email to make sure you know when we’re approaching critical mass. What determines an effective “critical mass” will vary according to the nature of the action to be taken. The critical mass number will be announced as far in advance as possible and will be determined by what would create significant impact and assure optimal security for participants.”
That’s it. You’ll get an email once they decide how many people they need. In the meantime, it’s a lot of Internet petitions and “getting the word out.” That’s what the Thrive Movement is doing—that, and organizing local screenings of the film itself. The act of promoting Thrive is itself treated as a form of activism to which fans should aspire.
Is This Real Activism?
No. The “solutions” offered on Thrive’s website are ineffective in changing anything in the real world for two reasons: first, the vast majority of them are aimed at ameliorating conspiracy theories that don’t exist; and second, even for the non-conspiratorial goals, there is no actual real-world activity being proposed. Thrive’s brand of activism is a complete chimera.
Take chemtrails, for example. We know for a fact that chemtrails do not exist. The elaborate narrative that conspiracy theorists construct—that a “Global Domination Elite” is spraying chemicals into the sky to sicken and kill people deliberately—is simply fantasy. Yet, Mr. Gamble wants to “Expose Chemtrails With a Mass Protest at NOAA Offices.” Even assuming that legions of Thrive fans get organized and storm NOAA’s headquarters, what effect is this going to have? NOAA can’t do anything because there’s nothing to do anything about. Chemtrails do not exist. This is a “solution” that, even if it’s pulled off, will accomplish exactly zero, except wasting the time of the people involved.
As to the second criticism, it’s difficult to see how these “Critical Mass Actions” will have any effect regardless of the goals they’re aimed at. Take for example the critical mass action about stopping the environmental poisoning of Native American communities—which is a goal I think most people would agree with, and is one of the few that isn’t specifically directed at a conspiracy theory. Here’s what Foster Gamble wants you to click to sign up for:
“In the US, indigenous lands are being exploited and targeted by big business for resource extraction, nuclear dumping, and more. There are proposals for coal, oil, gold and copper mines, coal bed methane, natural gas “fracking,” and nuclear storage that threaten these communities and the environment. This is a chance to stand up for Native American rights and show that we are committed not just to apologizing for past wrongs, but ending the violations that continue to this day.”
Okay…but how? What does this actually mean?
What are the Thrive fans going to do? There’s no protest march planned. There’s no letter-writing campaign. There’s no attempt to introduce legislation or lobby lawmakers. There’s no fundraiser. There’s no outreach to any of the Native American communities impacted by resource extraction. There’s not even a link to an online petition, as there is for the “End the Fed” suggestion. There is exactly…nothing.
You click on, sign up and get an email. That’s it.
In the meantime—or, should I say, in the real world—if you care about resource extraction harming Native American communities, there are real people doing real things to try to stop this. In less than five minutes of searching online I came across this site for the Wolf River Protection Fund which is seeking to buy key lands to protect the watersheds and wetlands related to Native American communities in Wisconsin. One of the tribes associated with this fund recently celebrated a huge victory by buying out—yes, actually buying out—a mining company that was planning to mine near their lands. That’s activism. Not just clicking on a website—but actually sending your dollars to an organization that is taking action to make a real-world impact. And yes, the Wolf River Protection Fund does take donations.
Thrive isn’t doing anything even close to this.
So If They’re Not Making a Difference In the Real World, What Are They Doing?
They’re promoting conspiracy theories and related ideology—in Thrive’s case, right-wing libertarian ideology. The promotion of the ideology is the ultimate point of the activism.
This is understandable, if you analyze the thought processes of Thrive’s makers and fans from the standpoint of their conspiracy beliefs. They believe that all or most of the world’s problems stem from actions taken in secret by groups of shadowy conspirators. How best to combat these actions? Expose the secrets and shine a light on the conspirators. Then, it is presumed, the nefarious activity will end, and things will get better.
Seen from this standpoint, the act of exposure is the most important action. Therefore, most of a conspiracy theorist’s preferred “solutions” for solving problems start and end from a “get the word out” type paradigm. Indeed, most of the nine conspiracy-oriented Critical Mass Action suggestions on the Thrive website are aimed at information exposure or gaining visibility for something. This is classic conspiracy activism.
Why Do Conspiracy Theorists Engage in Conspiracy Activism?
It used to be that conspiracy theorists weren’t activists. There were certainly groups of them, and there have been conspiracy-related newsletters—especially related to the JFK assassination—circulating for decades. But traditionally they didn’t try to reach out to the mainstream or get others to join them.
That changed with 9/11. The purveyors of conspiracy theories related to the 9/11 attacks—especially Richard Gage and David Ray Griffin—changed the stakes in the mid-2000s by waging concerted, energized campaigns to try to increase the exposure of their conspiracy theories and encourage people to believe in them. Ultimately their success was only temporary; as I pointed out in an earlier blog here, contrary to something Foster Gamble says in Thrive, fewer people believe that “9/11 was an inside job” today than have so believed at any time since 9/11 itself. However, the conspiracy activism of 9/11 Truthers upped the ante and set a new paradigm, vastly aided by the rise of the Internet: if you believe in conspiracy theories, now you’re expected to go out there in public and try to get others to believe in them as well.
As the conspiracy world has changed, and (as I argued in February) conspiracy theorists have gone from defining “victory” as increasing the numbers who believe their theories to selling prepackaged ideologies, the activism component remains. Now what conspiracy theorists are selling are the ideologies, not the theories, but they’re still self-motivated to try to proselytize in exactly the same was Richard Gage and David Ray Griffin did with their nonsense 9/11 theories. I argued in the February blog that it was Zeitgeist: The Movie and its conspiracy-activist offshoot, the Zeitgeist Movement, that cemented this development into the basic blueprint of future conspiracy endeavors.
As there are many instructive lessons for evaluating Thrive inherent in the Zeitgeist story, let’s turn to that next.
Why Conspiracy Activism is Pointless: The Example of the Zeitgeist Movement.
One of the first statements I ever made about Thrive was that it appeared to be “Zeitgeist 2.0.” Clearly the movie imitates a lot of features of Peter Joseph’s notoriously fact-free 2007 Internet conspiracy film Zeitgeist, and even the suggestion of a “Thrive Movement,” aping the Zeitgeist Movement, indicates a kindred spirit.
The Zeitgeist Movement, founded in 2008 by Peter Joseph, attempted to capitalize on the interest generated among conspiracy theorists from the first Zeitgeist film to sell a neo-Utopian ideology called the Venus Project, which resembles late-stage Marxism except with computers and technology in the role of the dictatorship of the proletariat. The problem with the Zeitgeist Movement and the Venus Project, however, was that support for the non-conspiratorial (but deeply flawed) “Resource Based Economy” paradigm was built entirely on the backs of conspiracist beliefs and the popularity of Zeitgeist: The Movie. Most fans joined the Zeitgeist Movement because they were attracted by the conspiracy explanations; to the extent the movement’s leaders could motivate them to care about the Venus Project and a Resource Based Economy for its own sake, it was mainly presented as a “cure” for all those horrible conspiracies. As a result, “get the word out” type activist projects meant to promote the Venus Project and Resource Based Economy became increasingly conflated with promoting the Zeitgeist movies and its conspiracy worldview.
The Zeitgeist Movement imploded in April 2011 when the Venus Project side of the organization divorced itself from the group as a result of a dispute over donations. Since then the Zeitgeist Movement has dwindled to an insignificant core of high-commitment fans who do little more than post occasional comments on blogs or YouTube videos. (Zeitgeist Movement supporters constantly show up on the Thrive website comments, still valiantly trying to sell their Resource Based Economy shtick. Few Thrive fans are buying). The Zeitgeist Movement’s attempts at conspiracy activism could never effectively outpace the reach of the films themselves. Unlike the Thrive Movement, the Zeitgeist Movement did have a central, engaged, hands-on leader who directed the group; in fact that was one of its downfalls, because Peter Joseph’s inept leadership of the group transformed it into something very much like a cult surrounding him personally and his films.
The failure of the Zeitgeist Movement can teach Thrive fans an important lesson: that conspiracy activism is inherently self-limiting. Five years after its release, Zeitgeist: The Movie is now old news. Most conspiracy theorists have seen it. The sequels which completed the Resource Based Economy narrative could barely achieve a tiny fraction of the impact that the first film had, because the second and third Zeitgeist films dealt much less with conspiracy theories. Essentially, when Zeitgeist stopped talking about conspiracy theories, the Internet stopped listening. With the market of potential converts already saturated, the Zeitgeist Movement sputtered into oblivion. Once you “get the word out” about your pet conspiracy theories or the ideology you’re promoting by using conspiracy theories, where do you go from there? Zeitgeist couldn’t answer this question. It’s unlikely Thrive will be able to either.
Does Clicking Links, Watching Videos and Signing Online Petitions Really Help?
There’s another more fundamental reason why Thrive’s conspiracy activism will have no real-world impact other than to “get the word out” about what they think the world is like. Most of the consumers of this material, especially those who are heavy Internet users, aren’t really willing to do more than click links, watch videos and sign online petitions. Very, very few of them will actually be motivated to go out of their homes and do something in the real (non-cyber) world. This is just a fact of life. If you put a website up about any cause, however well-intentioned, the more you actually have to do to take action on it, the fewer people you’ll have who will make the effort. People click “like” buttons and share links because it’s easy and they can do it in the flash of an eye. Only the truly devoted will be motivated to get in their cars and go to a preplanned event; fewer still will do that if it will cost them money. This is a self-limiting factor of Internet activism.
The problem is even worse when the main audience you’re preaching to consists of conspiracy theorists. Conspiracy theorists are notoriously lazy. Few of them, for example, can even be motivated enough by their beliefs even to pick up a book and read it. To them, videos on the Internet are just as good as books, and they require much less effort to comprehend. Most conspiracy theorists have virtually no awareness of the depth of knowledge the world contains beyond the Internet or how to access that knowledge. Many of them live their lives in an online bubble; if it’s not happening on the web, it’s not worth knowing about. If this is the crowd you’re trying to draw activists from, the chances of finding supporters who are high-commitment enough to meet in person, put together a viable plan of action on something and see it through to the end are much reduced.
That’s not to say that this doesn’t happen. In the heyday of 9/11 Truth theories, for example, hundreds of Truthers would gather at Ground Zero in New York City and harass people by shouting conspiracy garbage at them through bullhorns. But what did they do beyond that? Note that even this real-world activity is just another species of “getting the word out,” albeit in an extremely destructive, annoying and disagreeable way that turned off and angered far more people than it attracted. Even the 9/11 Truth organizations, like the ridiculous “Architects & Engineers for 9/11 Truth”—clearly an organization created by the most high-commitment supporters of the conspiracy theory—continue to focus their efforts on “getting the word out” as opposed to actually doing anything. In the very, very few instances where they do try something other than “getting the word out”—like filing a lawsuit, as one group of 9/11 Truthers attempted—they always meet with spectacular failure.
Activism in the real world is hard. It takes money, time, effort and competent people to guide the activity toward any real goal. Conspiracy theorists are mostly kids. They don’t have a lot of money. What time they have they usually spent on the Internet. Exerting real-world effort happens in a few rare cases, but not very often. Competent people who can actually think something through and put something together are about as rare in this subculture as blue diamonds.
As a result, conspiracy theorists rationalize. They lower the bar and define what they are willing to do as “activism.” Thus, the sort of low-intensity effort that they can get many people to do—clicking “like” buttons, sharing links, watching videos and signing online petitions—becomes, in their minds, a substitute for real-world activism. In an endeavor where “getting the word out” has already been defined as the major goal, getting 10,000 people to click a “like” button becomes the equivalent of a smashing victory for right and justice.
Conclusion: Do You Really Want to Help?
This article has demonstrated why conspiracy activism is pointless and counterproductive. I can hear the shouts from angry Thrive fans now: “Why don’t you stop blogging and do something that actually helps?” (This assumes that I do nothing but write blogs all day—obviously an incorrect assumption).
What can you do to make the world a better place instead of watching Internet conspiracy videos or wasting time on the Thrive website (or this one)?
Here’s something you can do: give blood. This is one of the easiest things you can do, and one which has a huge real-world impact—you can literally save someone’s life. Here’s a website where you can type in your zip code and find out where to go in your area to give blood.
Here’s something you can do: become a tutor for adult literacy. You can find organizations that do this all over the country. Here’s just one example, from Florida.
Here’s something you can do: get a group of people together and assemble care packages of medical supplies for AIDS sufferers in Africa. This has been a hugely successful program. It also has real-world impacts. Here’s how to get involved.
Here’s something you can do: donate money to the American Indian College Fund. This fund helps people from America’s least-college-educated demographic get access to higher education. This helps real people in the real world. Here’s how to donate:
There you go. Stop watching Internet conspiracy movies and go do some good in the world. You have no excuse now.
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.