Tag Archive | John Robbins

One Year Later: Thriving No More.

By Muertos

Today, November 11, 2012, is the one-year anniversary of the initial release of the conspiracy theory movie Thrive. The film’s first birthday is, I think, an appropriate time to evaluate the film’s impact on the conspiracy underground and its continuing viability, as well as an assessment of our own efforts on this blog to correct and rebut the film. You might say that this article is a “postmortem” of Thrive, and that characterization wouldn’t be inaccurate. If the movie was intended to create a “new paradigm” or “wake people up,” it seems clear that Thrive has failed to do this on any significant scale. The main argument of this article is that, one year on, Thrive is “thriving” no more.

Thrive’s Declining Popularity: The Empirical Proof.

There is no doubt that Thrive is declining in popularity, and the numbers prove it. According to the website traffic analyzer Alexa.com (you can find stats here) the movie’s main website, thrivemovement.com, has been receiving markedly less traffic over the past several months than it did during either of the months it peaked—in November 2011, when Thrive was released, and April 2012, when Foster Gamble and Clear Compass Media made it available for free as opposed to a $5 fee. Alexa.com shows jagged spikes in the website’s popularity week by week (which is measured in terms of traffic ranking within the Internet as a whole), but each spike is successively smaller, the last one being barely a quarter of the website’s all-time interest spike.

On the day I checked, thrivemovement.com had gone down by 27.38% in “reach” over the past three months alone. That means that the site today is reaching 27.38% fewer people now than it was just three months ago. These stats change day by day, so if you check you will probably see a slightly different number.

The statistics on this blog match this trend almost exactly. Interest in Thrive Debunked has proven, over the past year, to be an extremely keen indicator of interest in the movie itself (I’ll explain why that is later in the article). The daily high for page views in the past year was April 13, 2012. Since then, this blog receives barely a quarter—on a good day—of the number of daily page views than it did on that day. The pattern of traffic on this blog mirrors almost exactly the ebb and flow of traffic for thrivemovement.com, with spikes of ever-decreasing intensity followed by prolonged valleys.

Furthermore, there has been much less comment traffic on this blog in the past few months than there was, say, before July 1. I used to receive as many as ten or more comments a day from various people either pro- or anti-Thrive (mostly pro). Now, days go by without any new comments being posted at all.

Speaking solely in terms of web traffic, Thrive Debunked is like a pilotfish on a whale. Wherever the whale goes, it goes along for the ride. The trajectory is down, down, down across the board. The numbers prove it beyond any doubt.

Why is Thrive Declining?

The answers as to why the movie is declining are less clear, but here I offer a few hypotheses.

1. The movie didn’t contribute anything substantially new—at least nothing that its fans could latch onto as new.

For all of its bluster and bravado about a “new paradigm,” Thrive contributed very little to the conspiracy theory underground that was fundamentally new. All that was new was the packaging, which is a shiny object that can only hope to distract the masses for a limited time. Ancient aliens? Been around since 1968. Crop circles? Old news. Money conspiracies? Lyndon LaRouche was doing that in the 80s. “Global Domination Agenda”? Every Alex Jones radio show since 1998 has been about that. Far right-wing Libertarian political propaganda? Ron Paul was peddling that folderol in 2007; now, after two spectacularly embarrassing failures at running for president, he has (mercifully) been put out to pasture, and his sycophantic fan base is finally fading away.

Substantively, the only truly novel idea contributed by Thrive was the obsession with the “torus” shape. (Of course the idea existed long before, but had never been injected into the conspiracy underground before). This proved to be a non-starter among conspiracy theorists, who revel in gloom, apocalypse and disaster. If it can’t oppress you, take away your freedoms, abduct you, give you an anal probe or blow up the World Trade Center, conspiracy theorists probably won’t be interested in it. So scratch the “torus” idea.

Conceptually and structurally, Thrive did make a significant contribution—that being the continued meld of conspiracy theory ideology and New Age sensibility, a toxic mixture that some academic researchers are beginning to term “conspirituality.” Essentially, Thrive is a document evincing the embryonic creation of a new quasi-religious belief system. But this alone won’t sustain its popularity among conspiracy theorists. If Thrive does go down in history it will be because of its contribution to conspirituality, but this is not an accomplishment that conspiracy theorists can sink their teeth into, because most of them vehemently deny that their belief system even is religious in nature. So, appealing though conspirituality is on a subconscious level, that alone is not going to sustain interest in Thrive.

2. The “Thrive Movement” is largely illusory and is not driving continued interest in the movie.

Another reason why the movie has failed to sustain and increase its reach is that there’s no real organization behind it that’s continuing to push it. We’ve blogged before about how ineffectual, illusory and ephemeral are the “solutions” proposed by the movie—they are mainly talking points aimed at ending the conspiracy theories that the movie insists are out there, but because of course these conspiracy theories do not really exist, the movie’s “solutions” are cures in desperate search of a disease. Beyond that, though, the “Thrive Movement” that you see touted (somewhat disingenuously) on the website does not exist in any real sense. Yes, there are small ad-hoc groups of the movie’s fans that have met on an informal basis in various parts of the country. But a mass movement to motivate action based on the movie’s principles? If such a thing exists, it’s keeping an awfully low profile–which can hardly be what fans of the movie want.

Here is one place where Thrive failed to live up to the predecessor it hoped to imitate, the Zeitgeist Movement, which was similarly a fan club of approbation for the infamous (and roundly debunked) 2007 conspiracy theory movie Zeitgeist: The Movie. As we all know, the Zeitgeist experience was the blueprint for Thrive. Although the Zeitgeist Movement imploded in 2011 and has now shriveled to a tiny burned-out nub of high-commitment supporters who have been largely forgotten by the outside world, between 2008 and 2011 at least there was an organization—centrally directed, and under the leadership of the film’s director and his close associates—out there pushing Zeitgeist: The Movie and its tiresome preachy sequels. Thrive has no such organization behind it. The effort that Foster Gamble has exerted to rally fans of the film around a set of action points has been minimal, and no one else has (so far as I know) stepped up to exert any sort of leadership role in this capacity. Without the benefit of a “street team” out there flogging it, Thrive must sink or swim on its own merit. You can see from the numbers that Thrive is not doing well in swimming against the current.

3. Some conspiracy theorists distrust Thrive, thus limiting its reach even within its own target demographic.

Debunkers and other followers of rational, reality-based belief systems aren’t the only detractors of Thrive. Many conspiracy theorists are deeply distrustful of it, for two main reasons: (1) Foster Gamble’s familial connection to the Proctor & Gamble company, and (2) the film’s promotional poster, depicting a woman taking off a blindfold, which especially paranoid conspiracy nutters think is “Illuminati propaganda.” Thrive has been pilloried in the conspiracy underground for these two characteristics. As a result, the many hard-core, incorrigible, detached-from-reality conspiracy nuts—whom you would expect to be Thrive’s core constituency—reject the film out of hand for these very reasons.

This is a battle that Foster Gamble and Thrive can’t possibly win. It does absolutely no good for Foster Gamble to protest that he has nothing to do with his Proctor & Gamble relatives, because no one will believe him anyway. Conspiracy theorists are notoriously intransigent and will accept anything on faith, however bizarre or improbable, so long as it feeds into their paranoid delusions. Even the suggestion that Foster Gamble is an “Illuminati stooge” is, in the conspiracy underground, tantamount to an immutable sentence of guilty.

The controversy over the poster is even more ludicrous. Any image, anywhere, in any context of a person showing one eye is automatically construed by hard-core conspiracy lunatics as “proof” of “Illuminati symbolism.” No amount of remonstration on the part of Foster Gamble or the Thrive crew could possibly alter this. Therefore, Thrive and its makers are—in the zero-evidence-needed universe of hard-core conspiracy lunatics—guilty right out of the starting gate, and Thrive is viewed as dangerous “disinformation.” This is doubly ironic because many people who accept Thrive as gospel truth accuse rationally-based critics—such as myself and fellow contributor SlayerX3—of being “paid disinformation agents” for even daring to criticize the movie.

Thus, Thrive has a self-limiting factor even within its own target audience. The most paranoid and delusional of conspiracy theorists preach against the film because they think it’s part of a conspiracy, whilst debunkers pile on because it promotes conspiracy theories. In this sense Thrive embodies the worst of both worlds. There is no escape from this vicious circle. If Thrive can’t even unite conspiracy theorists across the wide spectrum of their beliefs, it has absolutely no hope of doing so in the mainstream world where conspiracy thinking is generally not accepted.

4. Thrive cannot make any inroads among mainstream (non-conspiracy, non-New Age) audiences.

This is the most important reason Thrive is declining: it simply can’t attract any mainstream attention, which means its potential fan base is limited to its core constituencies of conspiracy theorists and New Age adherents—at least the ones who don’t distrust it because of Gamble’s familial connection or the image on the poster. The reasons for Thrive’s inability to break through to the mainstream is the subject of the next section.

Preventing Mainstream Acceptance: The Repudiators (and the Debunkers).

Without any doubt the single most important event in the history of Thrive was the signing of a letter, by ten of the people interviewed in the film, repudiating it and stating that they were misled as to the film’s contents. If you’ve read this blog, you know all about the “repudiators” (and if you don’t, start here). This event was “game over” for Thrive. Almost single-handedly, the repudiation—orchestrated most vocally by John Robbins—ended any chance the movie ever had of gaining credibility in mainstream circles.

Now, wherever Thrive is shown or even mentioned, the story of the repudiation follows it. Although the repudiation is not generally a deal-breaker for conspiracy theorists and New Agers who like the movie, it certainly is a deal-breaker for anyone else out there who might otherwise have been attracted to the movie’s message or themes but who wasn’t already a conspiracy theorist or New Age adherent. The explanation Thrive’s makers give for the repudiation—that Robbins and company were part of a “disinformation” campaign against the film—is totally incredible and unlikely to satisfy anyone. It’s tough to interest mainstream media in hard-core conspiracy material anyway, but the repudiation is the kiss of death for Thrive. It simply can’t be explained away, ignored or rationalized. Robbins and company acted out of principle. That’s extremely persuasive.

The Thrive Debunked blog has arguably played a role in preventing Thrive from expanding its fanbase into the mainstream, but probably only a small one. I’ve said many times before that the repudiation, and especially the beautiful essay by John Robbins on why he did it, were far more effective in preventing gullible people from falling for Thrive’s nonsense than anything I or my contributors have done. What I believe we and other debunkers who have spoken against the movie have done is to make it very easy for rational people seeking information on the film to see just how wrong the film and its assertions are. The target audience for this blog has always been people who are curious about the movie, who might have some interest in the subjects it covers, but who are cautious enough to investigate the film before believing what it says. Although that universe of people is quite small compared either to the conspiracy fans who love the film or the vast mainstream who realize from the get-go that it’s not worth their time, this blog has been extremely successful at reaching that target audience. On that front, this blog has been a huge success.

The Cycle of Thrive Discovery—And Rejection.

This blog has become an integral part of the public conversation about Thrive. I know because WordPress tracks the “incoming” traffic to this blog and logs the pages that link to it. The vast majority of “incoming” links follow exactly the same pattern. Here’s how it works:

1. A conspiracy theorist or New Ager discovers the film, watches it online, loves it, and makes a post about it on a web forum or in a chatroom. Almost always this initial post praises the film and recommends it to others, like, “There’s this great movie that shows us how our world really works! Everyone should see it!”

2. A few other conspiracy theorists reply, expressing agreement with the film and thanking the original poster who brought it to their attention. Often, some type of discussion about the film’s specific theories (usually “free energy” or the “Global Domination Agenda”) results.

3. Another poster makes a negative comment on Thrive and says something like, “That movie is crap” or “Don’t be fooled by this nonsense.” This is the poster who will almost always post a link to Thrive Debunked.

4. The original poster returns, defending the movie (usually in a shrill, angry and indignant tone), denouncing this blog and calling me a “paid disinformation agent.” Then the original poster will add a bunch of links to other conspiracy theorist material that supposedly “validates” Thrive.

5. The pro-Thrive and anti-Thrive forum posters argue amongst themselves for a few more posts.

6. The original topic goes fallow and is forgotten as the posters move on to something else.

This pattern repeats day after day, all over the Internet, in country after country. (If you want a recent example of this effect, go here). What is clear from this cycle of discovery and rejection is that Thrive has no staying power. It’s a shiny toy that attracts the temporary attention of conspiracy theorists, and then after it’s been debunked and the requisite “paid disinformation agent” accusations have been vomited up against the doubters of the film, the conspiracy nuts lose interest and move on to the next shiny toy. This demonstrates that, even among conspiracy theorists, Thrive operates at a highly superficial level. It generates very little sustained contemplation, thoughtful discussion or even self-reflection. It’s bubble-gum candy, intellectual junk food. To be sure this is as much the fault of the defective mentality of the conspiracy theorist underground—which vociferously discourages any attempt at intellectual analysis—as it is the failure of Thrive, but it’s telling that there’s so little “there” there behind most public discussions of the film.

But Isn’t The Film Valuable Because It Gets People Talking About Important Issues in Our World?

No.

This argument presupposes that Thrive is ethically neutral–that if it is not true, its untruth is harmless, but if (by wild coincidence) the filmmakers happen to aim a wayward arrow at some real-world issue that needs addressing, Thrive is a net positive because it’s directed at least some energy toward addressing that issue. That’s not the case, because the great deal of damage that its untrue and disingenuous depictions of societal issues cause far outweighs any marginal benefit the film might have by “accidentally” aiming at a valid target.

Let me give you an example. The dependence of industrialized societies on fossil fuels is a crucial issue in our world that must be solved, before anthropogenic climate change renders our environment uninhabitable or hostile. Thrive implicitly does accept the premise that dependence on fossil fuel is bad. However, Thrive’s proposed solution is to rely on “free energy” machines, built from plans given to us by aliens, which will miraculously liberate us from all our energy problems. This is a false solution. Even a fan of the film who is motivated to take action to advance a solution to fossil fuel dependence will have his or her energy diverted in a completely useless direction: advocacy for “free energy” machines that do not exist.

In order to turn this hypothetical Thrive fan into an activist working toward real solutions to energy problems–for example, political lobbying for greater public investment in R&D to develop solar, wind, or geothermal energy–will require reeducating the person to realize that “free energy” is a falsehood and that Thrive has misled them. If they’re already interested in working toward energy independence, it’s likely that whatever stimulus sets them on a more productive path could have interested them in the real solution at the get-go, which means the fact that Thrive turned them on to the issue of fossil fuel reliance is totally irrelevant. In fact, Thrive in this example has been counterproductive, because it wasted the would-be activist’s (and society’s) time by encouraging him to tilt uselessly at the windmills of imaginary “free energy” machines. This is not a net positive.

Even this hypothetical example is extremely speculative because it’s not likely that Thrive will interest people “by accident” in genuine issues and genuine solutions anyway. The issues Thrive cares most passionately about are the conspiracy theories. Consequently, what little “activism” it can hope to ignite will almost invariably be directed at ending these horrible conspiracies. That is not a net good for society. It’s a net negative, because conspiracy thinking is part of the problem and is not a solution to anything.

The Final Truth—The One Thrive Fans Will Never, Ever Admit.

There’s a line in Michael Jackson’s song “Beat It” that goes, “No one wants to be defeated.” Conspiracy theorists are more ferociously resistant to admitting failure and defeat than just about anyone else. In fact, they’re so resistant to the notion that their theories are failing to “wake people up” that they will engage in the most egregious contortions of reality to avoid accepting that the mainstream world either treats them as irrelevant wingnuts or incurable lunatics. Consequently, I predict that Thrive fans who choose to comment on this article will never, ever admit that Thrive is losing, rather than gaining, viewers, and that instead of “waking people up” it’s falling quite quickly into well-deserved obscurity.

Conspiracy theorists love to assert that more and more people are joining their side. They love to say things like, “The worm is turning!” or “We’re gaining critical mass!” Bizarrely, they persist in these delusions even long after the party is over, after it becomes painfully obvious that the mainstream world has passed them by.

Take, for instance, 9/11 Truthers. Right now, the conspiracy theory that maintains “9/11 was an inside job” is less popular now than it has been at any time since the attacks of September 11 happened. I proved this in this article, refuting the absolutely false assertion made by Foster Gamble in Thrive that “a growing number of people” believe in this delusion. In fact, based on poll data, the numbers of people who believe in “9/11 was an inside job” theories is shrinking, not growing. But Truthers will never admit this. To them, the conspiracy theory has to be gaining converts every day. The lack of evidence that Trutherism is becoming more popular is treated as irrelevant, or (more typically) that news of its supposedly growing popularity is suppressed. Truthers will never—never—admit that mainstream society rejected this conspiracy delusion long ago and moved on.

In fact, I’ve had 9/11 Truthers try to tell me that the reason nobody talks about 9/11 conspiracy theories much anymore is because they (the Truthers) have already won—they think the vast majority of the public considers 9/11 a closed issue, having concluded that it was a conspiracy, so there’s no need to debate it anymore! They’re right on one score—there is no need to debate it—but for precisely the opposite reason: mainstream public opinion long ago tossed 9/11 conspiracy theories on the dustbin of history, and trying to gain new adherents to the theory is like trying to sell tickets to the Titanic after the ship has already gone down.

There’s one more powerful piece of evidence indicating that the mainstream world has forgotten about Thrive, and that’s here: the very interesting discussion that took place behind the scenes at Wikipedia over whether Thrive was “notable” enough to warrant an entry in the database. Despite the frenzied efforts of Thrive partisans, the Wikipedia gatekeepers decided that Thrive wasn’t even worth their time. There is no Wikipedia page on Thrive. Nor will there be. It’s not suppression; it’s not propaganda; it’s not the “Global Domination Agenda” paying Wikipedia to snub them. It’s much simpler than that: no one cares.

One Wikipedia editor summed up the argument against Thrive with these very telling statements, which ultimately won the debate:

“This page [the one on Thrive that was eventually deleted] reeks of promotion and has the barest credentials. I must agree with nominator that page created by a known sock puppet of an indef-blocked socker [translation: a known conspiracy theorist troll] should be subject to close scrutiny. [An anti-Thrive Wikipedia user] makes the valid points above this film has no wide interest and zero sources other than blogs…”

This is the truth. No one cares anymore. No one should care. Thrive is dead. John Robbins and the other nine repudiators ended the Thrive phenomenon, if indeed there ever was one. Game over.

Conclusion

This is my final article for Thrive Debunked. After seven years in the arena, I have retired from actively debunking conspiracy theories, and Thrive marks the final chapter in that journey. My contributors and I have, in the past year, successfully refuted every major assertion made in the film. There’s nothing of substance left standing of Thrive. Our work is completed. Thrive has been completely debunked. Even if it wasn’t, John Robbins and the repudiators have rendered further effort in deconstructing the film largely pointless, because it’s clear that the film is not going to have any real resonance in the future beyond the realm of conspiracy theorists and New Agers who already know about it.

But, like a dead oil tanker that continues to leak toxins into the environment decades after the main oil spill has been contained, Thrive will continue to infect a small, steady trickle of viewers with its conspiracy poison, whether its new victims are young people who are just entering the dark and nihilistic world of paranoia, or other potential fans who simply haven’t heard about the movie before. For that reason, this blog will remain up for at least a while. It’s already helped a lot of people, and can continue to do some good, even if it is no longer actively updated.

The conspiracy theorists out there will invariably interpret this as some sort of victory, or perhaps further “proof” that I am a “paid disinformation agent”—maybe my CIA/Project Vigilance masters have stopped paying me, or transferred me to another assignment!—but there’s nothing I can do about that. Conspiracy nutters will make that accusation anyway, regardless of how stupid it is. I am not a “paid disinformation agent,” of course, but the fact that paranoiacs continue to believe that I am gives me no grief at all. I have nothing to prove to conspiracy theorists. This blog wasn’t meant for them anyway; it was meant to reach people who are still capable of rational thought.

What I feel most toward fans of Thrive is not anger or even pity, but sadness. What could have been great hope, promise and energy of a generation of young people who want to change the world has been squandered, bastardized and ultimately wasted by sad obsessions with bizarre conspiracy theories that can do nothing—absolutely nothing—to move our society forward or address the problems within it. This is the tragedy of conspiracy thinking. It is a tragedy upon which I can no longer dwell, and with Thrive now debunked, I no longer have to.

I want to thank the contributors to this blog (SlayerX3 chief among them, though he’s by no means the only one), as well as those behind the scenes who helped me research, fact-check, and keep ahead of developments I wouldn’t have heard about otherwise. I want to thank the readers (you know who you are) who respond tirelessly in the comments, slamming down the endless assaults of idiocy and irrationality spouted by Thrive’s more militant fans. If by some miracle of fate Thrive’s fortunes do turn around—or if Foster Gamble decides to make a Thrive 2, perish the thought—I will be looking to you to carry on my work, and to defend rationality, sanity and reason against the endless waves of woo, bullshit, paranoia and propaganda in which our world is sadly awash. Thanks for a job well done.

Foster Gamble or his fans may not think so, but I, for one, am thriving quite well.

Thanks for reading.

One World Governments–Debunked!

By SlayerX3

This article which debunks the ridiculous “one world government” conspiracy nonsense in Thrive is closely related to my previous article about “world domination conspiracies,” and Muertos’s article debunking the Global Domination Agenda.

The Norm Prison

At 1:18:02 of Thrive David Icke speaks about the fear of what other people think. He cites the ridicule he went through when he lost that fear and decided to speak out. (I’m sure the ridicule has nothing to do with the things he publicly speaks being completely unfounded and insane).

He states how by dictating what is right and wrong, weird and normal, the Illuminati/GDE (Global Domination Elite) have created a prison for the population who is afraid to speak its own mind.

His main point is how these groups would use norms and social standards to keep people from stepping out and showing their “uniqueness,” for if they did the rest of the society would shun them. This would create a social prison where you’re not as afraid of the reaction from the “elites” as you are of the reaction from your relatives, friends and co-workers.

There is a problem with this line of thought, however. Social norms have existed since humans started to live in society and as society changed so did the norms. Social norms weren’t invented by some “global elite.”

I’m certain this segment is aimed towards the people who honestly believe in conspiracy theories, in an attempt to vindicate their status as social rejects.

Icke’s argument seems to equate believing in conspiracy theories–free energy and other pseudoscience–with social injustices. Like a few decades ago interracial marriage and gay marriage were taboos (in some places they still are) but the norms changed for those to be accepted.

But you can’t equate ridiculing someone’s conspiracy beliefs with social injustice. They’re not the same thing. Thrive’s and Icke’s claims have no foundation in reality, and I don’t mean the reality of what is acceptable and what is not. I mean that these beliefs have absolutely no foundation in observable facts. Gamble and Icke make absurd statements and expect people to accept them as if they were a completely valid view of the world.

If you’re an adult male who goes to a “My Little Pony” fan convention you can’t expect people not to give you weird looks. And you shouldn’t expect people to accept that shape shifting reptilians control the world, the Illuminati is responsible for everything important since the 19th century and that Elvis Presley was an alien without them thinking there is something wrong in your head. While the former is a matter of taste and generally harmless, the later represents a group of beliefs that have no foundation in reality, and is extremely harmful.

The World Government Unions

The European Union

Gamble claims the GDE has plans to split the world in several power blocks to make it easier to control. He cites the European Union and the African Union as examples and mention how the Pacific and American Union are on their way.

If I were to talk about how the European Union worked in real life it’d take an entire full length article just to do that, so I’ll summarize and show how things aren’t exactly what Gamble thinks they are.

The European Union is a loose federation of countries, that include most of Europe, with the intent to ease the movement of people and merchandise across its members’ borders. Defense is in the hands of NATO (which includes the U.S.A and Canada).

It has achieved these goals by unifying the currency, applying several legislative policies that are voted on in the EU parliament with the approval of each of its member states.

I also have to mention that the countries who have adopted the Euro as a currency are referred as the Eurozone. Some member states decided to maintain their own currency, like Sweden and the United Kingdom.

There are as many arguments against the EU as there are in favor of it. It is worth mentioning that even among the EU members it is common to disagree with each other whenever a new law or policy is to be applied.

The most recent example is the Greek financial crisis and the “austerity measures” proposed by Germany and France which are being opposed or severely criticized by several other EU members, especially Portugal, Spain and Greece.

Most of the laws (save those on importation tariffs, unions and  industry regulations) aren’t directly imposed on its member states. Nor does the EU dictate the policies its members will adopt in their own countries as long as it doesn’t directly harm other members.

http://www.brugesgroup.com/HowEULawsAreMade.pdf

http://www.ngoeuconnect.ie/content.php?area=3

http://europa.eu/legislation_summaries/index_en.htm

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/European_Union  (This splits into several sub sections and main pages)

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Euroscepticism

http://www.economicshelp.org/dictionary/c/criticism-eu.html

http://econ.economicshelp.org/2008/04/problem-with-euro.html

This is not a unified “world government” body. It just isn’t.

The African Union

The AU is a political block to push for development within Africa’s borders, defend Africa’s interests and security and promote democratic governments and human rights.

If you have been keeping tabs on the news, you know the AU exists on paper only.

With its massive history of corruption, internal conflict and sheer incompetence, the African Union is anything but unified.

Claiming the AU has created a unified Africa is almost comical. The AU reactions to Somalia’s lawless state, Sudan’s Darfur humanitarian crisis and Libya’s civil war can only be described as totally absent.

Along the history of ethnic, religious and political conflict and with at least one war with one African state against another or a civil war within a member state occurring  at least once every decade makes the African Union the exact opposite of what a unified continent should look like. Not to mention the continent is rife with poverty and disease giving the AU more important problems to deal with than trying to take over Africa.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/African_Union

http://fmso.leavenworth.army.mil/documents/Problems-Plaguing-the-AU-Forces.pdf

The American Union

Gamble claims an American Union is on its way citing trade policies involving the USA, Canada and Mexico (forgetting both South and Central America).

While there are free trade treaties with those countries, there is no political will to unify the American continent. There are people who advocate a unified America much like the European Union. Politicians and citizens from left and right (see what I did there?) have vocal stands against such a union. South and Latin American countries fear more US intervention, abusive policies and lack of sovereignty and the US fears massive immigration, the loss of power in case the US dollar gets replaced by the Amero (theoretical Trans-American currency) and being saddled with the burden of solving several of those countries’ problems.

If the proposed American Union also includes the Central and South American nations, there will be even more problems than just turning the USA, Canada and Mexico into a Union.

There is a massive anti-American sentiment in South and Central America mostly due to past policies US imposed in South and Central America during the Cold War and the economic practices the US adopts which are viewed as unfair in most South and Central American nations.

There is also a strong nationalist fervor and idealism against imperialistic policies (which without doubt the Unification would be perceived as so) within South and Central American countries.

Even if you decided to unify South America into a South American Union there would be a strong political and civil resistance against it. It’s just not going to happen.

The closest thing we have is the Mercosul, which is another free-trade-treaty accepted by most of the South American countries. This is also a source of major political and economic disputes among its members.

NAFTA is currently the only integration treaty ratified by USA, Canada and Mexico. It is a political and economic treaty to promote free trade among those countries.

There is a good share of conspiracy theories regarding the creation of an North American Union, specially about the proposed NAFTA super highway (firmly opposed by Ron Paul).

Why is creating an American Union a challenge? The only fully developed countries in the Americas, economically speaking, are USA and Canada. While most European countries have similar political and economic set ups (which facilitated the creation of the EU), the American continent doesn’t have this advantage. USA’s economic policies are radically different from Canada’s and Mexico’s, let alone all the other Latin American countries. For example, Brazil has major differences with Argentina and Venezuela in how their economies function, and integrating those differences into a single power block would be a political and economic nightmare. Who would make decisions? How would anything get done?

Creating a Union would force the USA and Canada to elevate the status and the condition of all the other members, given the state of poverty the majority of the countries in the Americas are in. This alone would be a gargantuan task big enough to stop a unification process in its tracks.

In the real world, discussions about “unifying” American countries weren’t about creating a European Union-like power, but instead stimulating better cooperation and integration among the American nations using the Security and Prosperity Partnership of North America (SPP) as a mediator.

http://www.snopes.com/politics/immigration/nau.asp

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mercosur

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/NAFTA

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/North_American_Union

http://www.cfr.org/canada/building-north-american-community/p8102

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/North_American_currency_union

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/North_American_Free_Trade_Agreement_%28NAFTA%29_Superhighway_System

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Security_and_Prosperity_Partnership_of_North_America

http://factcheck.org/2008/02/wrong-paul/

Pacific Union

Australia is already a member of the Commonwealth and feels little need to integrate itself with the rest of Asia. Japan and China hate each other. North Korea and South Korea unification is a nightmare by itself and if you want to have an idea of how troublesome it would be creating a Pacific Union, put all the issues I mentioned in the American Union with the ones in the African Union together.

Thrive’s lack of gasp in geopolitics is astonishing. Gamble simply doesn’t understand how the world works.

One World Government and “Economic Hit Men”

At 1:20:48 Gamble shows videos of the EU leaders talking about “Global Governance,” again taking it out of context. Both videos refer to how governments all over the globe worked to avoid the worsening of the economic crisis that started in 2008 and the efforts of the G8 and G20 to cope with the economic issues. Both also deal with mentions to create a set of rules to stabilize the financing sectors across the world and the importance of the G20 in future policy making.

Gamble claims groups like the World Health Organization, World Trade Organization, the World Bank and the IFM are tools for the GDE to impose their plans.

Full video:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hfnTOm3xZp0&feature=related (The part shown on Thrive is at 0:25:00)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MIFvwwIFZ58

The “Economic Hit Man”

Gamble introduces the controversial book Confessions of an Economic Hit Man by John Perkins. The book is about how governments and corporations employ “economic hit men” to bribe leaders in undeveloped countries and “Jackals” to assassinate leaders who don’t comply.

This book was met with a lot of criticism, from how poorly written and simplified it was to the absence of citations and complete vagueness in its assertions.

The book itself is Perkins’s account of the job he did. As for its veracity, basically he says “trust my word on this one.” The book has also been criticized for several inaccuracies regarding policy making and how intelligence agencies work. For example, attributing the NSA (cryptography and code breaking) to an economic organization.

Perkins has explored the conspiracy theory ground both in his book and in his interviews. As result he has become popular in conspiracy theory circles.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Confessions_of_an_Economic_Hit_Man

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Perkins_%28author%29

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/02/26/AR2006022601265.html

http://www.putnampit.com/reviews/hitman2.htm

https://www.nytimes.com/2006/02/19/business/yourmoney/19confess.html?pagewanted=all (The text of the interview I mentioned, which is the clip shown in Thrive)

http://www.america.gov/st/washfile-english/2006/February/20060202155604atlahtnevel6.165713e-02.html

The reverse Hanlon’s razor

Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity.

The above is an idea called Hanlon’s Razor. Gamble and Ms. Fitts subvert Hanlon’s Razor by claiming the government is not only using its incompetence as a facade to hide its plans, but is actually extremely competent in furthering its plans.

I could fill this article with examples of how this is wrong, but I’m just going to cite the latest. SOPA and  PIPA, law that would have given corporations and the government a green light to do as they wanted with the Internet, didn’t pass despite heavy political support and corporate lobbyism. If the government can’t pass laws like this, how are they supposed to create a “one world government?”

Pyramids of information

Right after this, David Icke discusses the “pyramid organization” where the knowledge of the real intentions of the GDE decrease the further down the pyramid you go. Icke cites the Manhattan Project as an example of how such big secret can be kept hidden.

Bad example, the Manhattan Project did have leaks. They stemmed from accidents, incompetence and active espionage. If that was the case how did Gamble stumble with all his “evidence” and lived to tell the tale?

https://www.fas.org/irp/ops/ci/docs/ci2/2ch1_f.htm

There is also a big difference between the Manhattan Project and the kind of “secret” Icke claims is being hidden here. The Manhattan Project was a plan to win the war, which everybody thought was a good goal. People were not likely to object to something that would win the war for their side and save millions of lives. With the GDE plan though, you have to convince people to do something they wouldn’t otherwise want to do. You just couldn’t do it. Also, keep in mind the Manhattan Project existed for a very short period of time (1942 to 1945). You didn’t have to keep it secret for very long. The GDE has to be kept secret over decades or even centuries. It just wouldn’t work.

Conclusion

I’ve shown here how these “one world government” theories are false. Gamble and Icke don’t understand how the world really works, they take information out of context and hope nobody will notice. I noticed.

Humanity and Sanity: The Full Text of John Robbins’s Repudiation of Thrive and its Conspiracy Theories.

Probably the single most important event in Thrive‘s short history was the announcement, on April 10, 2012, that nine of the people interviewed in the film had signed a letter repudiating it and claiming that Foster Gamble misrepresented the film to them. (A tenth signatory, Adam Trombly, later joined the letter). Those events as well as the Gambles’ response were covered on this blog as they happened. The architect of the repudiation letter was John Robbins, who was nice enough to write me a note a few months ago specifically expressing his displeasure with the conspiracy theories advanced in Thrive. I found Mr. Robbins’s reasons for opposing the movie closely congruent with my own.

Mr. Robbins recently contacted me with a revised and complete version of his letter regarding Thrive, which he titles “Humanity and Sanity.” Although many of the words and especially the sentiment of Mr. Robbins’s statement have been reproduced here before at Thrive Debunked, I feel it’s important to produce the entire text all in one place for you to see. I think this is the best and most coherent repudiation of Thrive that we’re ever likely to see. Therefore, I offer it to you full, unedited and unabridged.

I haven’t put Mr. Robbins’s letter in block quote format because it’s so long and it would be distracting to read. Everything below the line comes from John Robbins, not me. I thank him for making his letter available to me and giving me permission to post it in its entirety here.

___________________________________________________________

Humanity and Sanity: Standing for a Thriving World

(and challenging the Movie Thrive)

 By John Robbins

Thrive is the name of a richly produced and controversial film that asks, and attempts to answer, some of the deepest questions about the nature of the human condition and what is thwarting our chances to prosper.  Elaborately funded, with appealing imagery and beautiful music, it features interviews with many leading progressive voices.  And yet ten of these leaders have taken the highly unusual step of signing a statement formally disassociating ourselves from the film.

Why have Amy Goodman, Deepak Chopra, Paul Hawken, Edgar Mitchell, Vandana Shiva, John Perkins, Elisabet Sahtouris, Duane Elgin and Adam Trombly, as well as yours truly, gone to the trouble of signing our names to this public statement?

“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.”

I have joined the other signers of this statement, even though there are aspects of the film that I find inspiring, and even though the makers of the film, Foster and Kimberly Gamble, are old friends.

In Thrive, the Gambles have attempted to address some of the crucial challenges of our times.  I appreciate their idealism, their commitment, and their passion.  And I agree with them about some things they state in the movie and on their website — such as that the political system is depraved, the Federal Reserve has been used to consolidate economic power, fiat currency tends to produce a corrupt financial system that depends on ever increasing debt, the tax system is unfair, and enormously powerful economic interests often collude with one another to deceive and defraud the public.  I stand with them as they promote the labeling of genetically engineered foods and in their desire to see our nation cease spending enormous sums on war.  I appreciate that they support local and organic agriculture, their passion for credit unions and local banking, and their opposition to governmental invasion of privacy.  They recommend many action steps that I support.

But I do not agree with some of the core conclusions they draw.  Nor do the other signers of the statement of disassociation from Thrive.  Duane Elgin, one of the signers, says: “Thrive is idealistic, naive, narrow, shallow, and focuses attention away from more productive areas of engagement.”

At the very heart of the Thrive message is what it calls the Global Domination Agenda.  Foster Gamble explains:

“A small group of families are actually controlling virtually every sector of human endeavor…  Their agenda… (is) to take over the lives of all people across the entire planet… to collapse the economies throughout the European Union… to devalue the dollar to almost zero… and to create a one-world government, with them in charge.”

The Thrive movie and website also state that this “small group of families” are developing and experimenting with plans to radically reduce the world’s human population to make us “easier to manage.”

Could this be true?

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.  I believe this disparity to be nothing less than an indictment of our civilization.

It is also certain that networks exist among the most powerful 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 policies will prevail.  More than most of us realize, they decide whether we will live in war or peace and how our treasure will be spent.  And they have proven to be eminently successful at enriching themselves, often at the expense of the common good.  Exposing the global power elite is tremendously important work.  And this, Thrive purports to do.

But the Thrive movie and website are filled with dark and unsubstantiated assertions about secret and profoundly malevolent conspiracies that distract us from the real work at hand.  The conspiracy theories at the heart of Thrive are based on an ultimate division between “us” and “them.”  “We” are many and well-meaning but victimized.  “They,” on the other hand, are a tiny, greedy and inconceivably powerful few who are masterfully organized, who are purposefully causing massive disasters in order to cull the population, and who are deliberately destroying the world economy in order to achieve total world domination.

This way of thinking has an allure, for 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.  If the ills of the world are the deliberate intentions of malevolent beings, then we don’t have to take responsibility for our problems because they are being done to us.  Thinking this way may provide the momentary comfort of feeling exonerated, but it is ultimately disempowering, because it undermines our desire to be accountable for the way our own thoughts and actions help to create the environmental degradation and vast social inequity of the world in which we live.  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.”

The Thrive movie has lavish production values, and presents interviews with many leaders in the consciousness movement, all of which lend a beguiling aura of credibility.  Foster Gamble himself comes across as soft, warm, and inquiring.  Those who have only seen the film may not recognize the agenda and belief system that actually underlie Thrive.

For example, Foster Gamble says that the Japanese earthquake that caused the tsunami that wreaked havoc on the nuclear plants inFukushimawas deliberately created by those seeking absolute world domination, in order to punish the Japanese for not acceding to their wishes.  He explains that “they” are able to use an electromagnetic array project inAlaskacalled HAARP to create earthquakes and tsunamis at will, anywhere on earth.  The catastrophic earthquakes that devastated Haiti and Chile in 2010, he says, were intentionally created via HAARP.  According to this view, these earthquakes were not the result of tectonic stresses and geologic processes.  They were intentional acts perpetrated by a ruling elite with unimaginably sinister intent.

I’m tempted to think that Foster Gamble has watched too many James Bond movies.  But the level of diabolical malevolence in the Thrive worldview makes the villains in James Bond movies seem like Mother Teresa in comparison.

There are many things that are terribly wrong in our world, and some of them are dire.  All living creatures are poisoned and compromised by surging levels of human-made toxins that spew into our environment, 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 and at times even sociopathic individuals who seem to feel no sense of responsibility to the well being of the whole.  The world’s military industrial complex is spending more money than ever on guns, bombs, and the machinery of unfathomable destructive power, while governments learn little about how to make peace and hundreds of millions of people go hungry.

But holding these tragedies as the deliberate acts of a tiny group of families seeking total world domination via a global police state distracts us from the arduous work of confronting the true challenges before us.

For example, as an environmentalist I heed the monumental evidence that global warming may be one of the most serious threats faced by humanity and many of the other species on this planet.  Those who have merely seen the movie might not know that Foster Gamble and the Thrive website strongly recommend a film (The Great Global Warming Swindle) which states that man-made global warming is a “lie” and “the biggest scam of modern times.”

The Thrive website opens its climate change discussion with this question:

“How does the premise of man-made global warming relate to the banking elite’s effort to transcend national sovereignty, establish global governance and create a global tax to fund their dominance?”

The insinuation is that the idea of human-caused global warming is being fabricated as an excuse to create a global police state and a tax basis for tyranny.  If this is true, just about every scientific expert in the world has been taken in by the hoax.  A 2010 study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences found that 97 percent of scientific experts agree that it is…

“very likely that anthropogenic (human-caused) greenhouse gases have been responsible for the unequivocal warming of most of the Earth’s global temperature in the second half of the 20th century.”

It has been personally painful for me to witness friends of mine become caught up in seeing just about everything on earth as part of a vast demonic conspiracy.  When I wrote Foster Gamble to voice my disappointment with many of the ideas in the film and website, he wrote back, encouraging me among other things to study the works of David Icke, Eustace Mullins, Stanley Monteith and G. Edward Griffin.  These are among the people he repeatedly refers to in the movie as his “sources.” It is in these people’s worldviews that Thrive has its roots.

I find this deeply disturbing.  Here’s why…

David Icke is a major player in Thrive.  In fact, he is featured more prominently in the movie than anyone other than Foster Gamble.  An extended interview with him, intercut with supporting material, forms much of the middle section of the film.

Though this is not mentioned in Thrive, Icke is well-known for advocating utterly bizarre theories, including that the entire world is run by a secret group of reptilian humanoids who drink human blood and conduct satanic rituals.  Forty-threeU.S. Presidents, he says, have been such reptilian beings, and many of them have been part of global satanic pedophile rings that murder hundreds of thousands of children a year.  I wish I was making this despicable stuff up, but I’m not.  This is what Icke teaches.

What is Thrive’s relationship to these beliefs?  Foster Gamble explains:

“In our film, we do not go into his (Icke’s) research on reptilians, nor his immensely important investigations into global satanic pedophile rings, because it does not serve our film.  That does not mean that revealing what is happening to hundreds of thousands of our most vulnerable every year should not be exposed and stopped.”

Icke’s war on common sense goes even further.  He says that the Global Elite’s plan for world domination was laid bare in a document titled The Protocols of the Elders of Zion.  This document is actually a notorious hoax, published inRussia around 1903.  It supposedly presents a plan by the Jewish people to take over the world, and was a primary justification used by Adolph Hitler as he initiated the Holocaust.  This fraudulent document was also used to justify the violent pogroms and massacres of the Jewish people in pre-SovietRussia.

How anyone could take seriously a man who espouses such “information” is beyond me.  Thrive not only takes Icke seriously, but relies more heavily on his “insights” than on any other source, both in the movie and as a source of “data” for its website.

In a recent interview, Icke seemed to be competing for lunatic of the year:  “What I’m explaining now,” he said, “is that the moon is not a heavenly body but a construct.”

One of the signers of the statement of disassociation from Thrive, former astronaut Edgar Mitchell, has grounds to disagree.  As the lunar module pilot of Apollo 14, he spent nine hours working on the moon’s surface.

Another of Thrive’s primary sources, and another of the authors Foster Gamble told me I should read in order to better understand Thrive, is Eustace Mullins.  I honestly find it difficult to convey the level of anti-semitism in Mullins’s books, without it seeming that I am exaggerating.  So I will let Mullins’s own words speak for themselves:

“We must remember that there is no Jewish crime per se, since the existence of the Jewish parasite on the host is a crime against nature, because its existence imperils the health and life of the host…

This religious ceremony of drinking the blood of an innocent gentile child is basic to the Jew’s entire concept of his existence as a parasite, living off the blood of the host…

The Jews do not want anyone to know what Nazism is. Nazism is simply this–a proposal that the German people rid themselves of the parasitic Jews. The gentile host dared to protest against the continued presence of the parasite, and attempted to throw it off.”

The title of one of Eustace Mullins’s books is: Hitler, An Appreciation.  While Foster Gamble evidently believes that Mullins has shed valuable light on banking systems and other aspects of the “Global Domination Agenda,” I have no interest in looking to such individuals for insight into anything.

The Gambles state that they do not necessarily agree with all of the thoughts and beliefs of their sources, but rather that they have incorporated only those ideas they find useful and with which they agree.  I’m sure the Gambles do not condone Mullins’ overt anti-semitism, but I find it disturbing that the thinking of these men has been used as the foundation for some of the key ideas presented in Thrive.  While I do not believe the Gambles are themselves guilty of anti-semitism, I do believe they are naïve and gullible, and that in depending heavily on sources such as Icke and Mullins they have unwittingly allowed anti-semitism to become a subtext in their work.

As journalist Eric Johnson points out, viewers of the movie may not realize that Gamble’s central thesis, that a handful of families, many of them Jewish, control the world and plan to enslave humanity, is nearly identical to the argument that Joseph Goebbels made in his notorious Nazi propaganda film The Eternal Jew: that a handful of banking families, many of them Jewish, run the world and seek global domination.

Two of the other sources that Foster Gamble recommended to me so that I might better understand the philosophical underpinnings of Thrive are Stanley Monteith and G. Edward Griffin.  Monteith, who happens to be a neighbor of mine, has long been involved with Pat Robertson’s Christian Coalition, and professes that the environmental movement is a pretext for the effort to create a global police state.  The author of two books on AIDS, he says “the vast majority of AIDS information available to the American public has only one purpose – and that purpose is to deceive the people of our nation.”  Monteith’s answer?  He calls for schools to “abandon all comprehensive sex education” in favor of “abstinence only sex instruction.”

G. Edward Griffin is showcased in both the Thrive movie and website.  Both he and Monteith have long been members and officers of the John Birch Society, a far-right political organization that first came to public attention when one of its founders, Robert W. Welch, proclaimed that Dwight Eisenhower wasn’t the genial war hero and popular President he seemed, but rather “a conscious, dedicated agent of the international communist conspiracy.”  G. Edward Griffin has written an admiring biography of Welch, who co-founded the John Birch Society along with Fred Koch, the father of today’s notorious Koch Brothers.

Both Thrive and the John Birch Society view government, in Welch’s words, “as always and inevitably an enemy of individual freedom.”  And both see a small group of families, including the Rockefellers and Rothschilds, as behind an utterly malevolent conspiracy seeking total global domination.  The Thrive website features this statement from the second president of the John Birch Society, Larry McDonald:

“The drive of the Rockefellers and their allies is to create a one-world government…all under their control… Do I mean conspiracy?  Yes I do.  I am convinced there is such a plot, international in cope, generations old in planning, and incredibly evil in intent.”

There are only a few of the ultra-right wing sources whose ideas and agendas pervade Thrive.  Another is the economist Ludwig von Mises, whose words and beliefs are cited frequently and sympathetically on the Thrive website.  Many Americans first learned of von Mises when Michele Bachman, seeking the Republican nomination for the Presidency, said she read his books at the beach.  Von Mises’s brand of laissez-faire capitalism is hard-core.  In his eyes, nearly all government intervention in the economy is strictly verboten, and taxes are a crime against freedom.

Buoyed by lush visual effects and lovely words, the Thrive film has been attractive to many who know how often we are deceived and exploited by the powers that shouldn’t be.  “In times of universal deceit,” wrote George Orwell, “telling the truth will be a revolutionary act.”

But what is the revolution Thrive would bring?  Both the Thrive movie and website call for the end of taxation even for the rich.  Thrive’s goal is a world in which public schools and welfare programs, including social security, have been terminated.  Instead of police, we have private security forces.  As Foster Gamble puts it, “Private security works way better than the state.”

That may be true for the rich who can pay for it.  But who, I might ask, would pay to protect low-income communities if all security was privatized?

Eventually, if Foster Gamble had his way and the Thrive vision was fully manifest, there would be no taxes, no government, and everything would be privately owned, including roads.  “It’s clear that when you drive into a shopping center you are on a private road, and almost without exception it is in great shape,” explains the Thrive website, as though a free market unfettered by concern for the 99 percent would somehow magically meet the needs of all.

I am saddened to see Foster Gamble, an heir to the Procter & Gamble fortune, so oblivious to the realities of those who do not share his privileges.  If all roads are privatized, how will the poor get anywhere?

It is hard to overstate how opposed Thrive is to taxes, even on the ultra-wealthy.  To Foster Gamble’s eyes, any form of government that depends on taxation, including democracy, is unconscionable.  He writes on the Thrive website:

“Democracy…which is born of and sustains itself by taking people’s hard-earned money, whether they like it or not, and calling it ‘taxation,’ – is in and of itself a violation [against life].”

No wonder Amy  Goodman, who appears in the film, is one of the signers of the statement repudiating Thrive.  She has long been the host of what may be the most significant progressive news institution of our time.  While Thrive finds democracy abhorrent because it depends on taxation, her outstanding program is called Democracy Now.

How, you might be asking, did those of us who have signed the statement of disassociation from Thrive ever allow ourselves to be filmed for a movie that advances such ideas?  The answer is simple.  We were grievously misled about what the film would be.

I want to underscore that although I think the Gambles are promoting a destructive agenda (which they kept secret from those of who were interviewed for their film), I do not think either Foster or his wife Kimberly are sinister or malicious, which is why it has been a very painful process for me to write this critique.  I have known them to be kind people who mean well, and I have long considered Kimberly in particular to be one of my closest friends.  But I have found it necessary to speak out in this way, because some of the ideas at the heart of Thrive strike me as frightening and misguided, and they most certainly are not ones with which I or the other signers of the disassociation statement can condone.

I have spent decades exposing and seeking to undermine powerful industries whose ways of doing business are diametrically opposed to the public welfare.  In my view, the deregulation of the economy and the demolition of government programs that Thrive proposes, would take us even further in the direction of a winner-take-all economy in which wealth would concentrate even more in the hands of the financial elites.

As one of the signers of the disassociation statement, evolutionary biologist Elisabet Sahtouris, writes:

“Without community, we do not exist, and community is about creating relationships of mutual benefit.  It does not just happen with flowers and rainbows, and no taxes.”

Each of us who have signed the statement have dedicated our lives to creating and conveying positive visions of how to create a truly thriving, just and sustainable way of life.  We have been part of vast movements toward generating a human presence on this planet that is spiritually fulfilling, socially just, and environmentally responsible.  We do not want to see our names, reputations, and influence used to fuel unsubstantiated claims or misguided policies.  We want to see them used to strengthen individuals and communities, and to serve the ability each of us possesses to live with respect for ourselves, for one another, and for the truth of our interdependence.

As another of the signers, Paul Hawken, writes:

“The world is riven by people who are convinced they are right, while others are wrong.  Dualism permeates political, economic, cultural and religious conflict.  It is the true source of suffering and the despoliation of the world.  This wound cannot be healed by the us/them divisions that inform Thrive.  Evil most certainly exists, but the core of evil is ignorance, and it cannot be repelled by righteousness or by making others wrong.  It is only through compassion that we can create true transformation.”

We do not deny the evil in the world.  It is here and it is real.  But there is also hope here, and it too is real.

It is hope that believes we can build trust, build community, and build a better world.  Such hope is not the blind belief in something which has little possibility of ever materializing.  It is the hope which remains open to miracles while investing the sweat and perseverance to lend the Universe a hand in creating those miracles.  It is the hope that is borne from knowing that it is far too late, and our situation far too serious, to indulge in the luxuries of pessimism, paranoia, and finger-pointing.

The state of the world is perilous.  But it is not too late to love, not too late to work to realize our dreams, and not too late to believe in ourselves and each other.

In the end, we are all in this together.  Each step you take to lessen the amount of fear in yourself and the world brings us closer to a world reflective of the beauty that exists — sometimes buried and other times apparent — in each of us.  Every act you take that increases the amount of trust and compassion in your relationships helps us move from a world created by privilege to a world created by community.

As the poet Adrienne Rich wrote, “So much has been destroyed.  I have cast my lot with those who, age after age, perversely, with no extraordinary power, reconstitute the world.”

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.

Warmly,

John”

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.

Thrive solution: “Free energy” machines developed from technology given to us by aliens will save the world without us having to do anything (except to oppose the “Global Domination Elite.”).

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.”

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)

Deepak Chopra

Duane Elgin

Amy Goodman

Paul Hawken

Edgar Mitchell

John Perkins

John Robbins

Elisabet Sahtouris

Vandana Shiva”

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.

.

Part 3 of the Debunking of the Full-Length Thrive Movie.

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.

Hunger claim:

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.

Link: Does the world produce enough food to feed everyone?

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.

http://www.eolss.net/Sample-Chapters/C08/E3-18-04-03.pdf

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

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

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).

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/U.S._farm_bill

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Food,_Conservation,_and_Energy_Act_of_2008

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Agricultural_subsidy#United_States

http://farm.ewg.org/

Family Farming:

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.

http://www.usda.gov/factbook/chapter3.htm

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).

Vandana Shiva:

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

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!)

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

http://www.bc.cas.cz/en/MOBITAG.html

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Genetically_modified_food_controversies

http://bmb.oxfordjournals.org/content/56/1/62.full.pdf+html

http://www.ecologyandsociety.org/vol4/iss1/art13/#ComparisontoIntroducedSpecies

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).

http://www.ehow.com/about_5452992_negative-impact-trade.htmlv

http://www.twnside.org.sg/title2/gtrends68.htm

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

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

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.]

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

http://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Henry_Kissinger

http://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Talk:Henry_Kissinger

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.

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/National_Education_Association

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

http://www.nea.org/

John Taylor Gatto:

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

John Robbins:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Robbins_%28author%29, http://www.johnrobbins.info/

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.

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

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2430660/

http://www.ajcn.org/content/72/3/868S.full

http://www.nationaldairycouncil.org/Pages/Home.aspx

[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.

Deepak Chopra:

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

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:

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

http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.3322/canjclin.44.2.115/pdf

http://www.healthwatcher.net/Quackerywatch/Cancer/Cancer-news/smh001230rife-aus.html

http://www.devicewatch.org/reports/aquadetox.shtml

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.

Rene Cassie:

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

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.

http://www.quackwatch.org/01QuackeryRelatedTopics/cancer.html#Essiac

http://www.fda.gov/Drugs/GuidanceComplianceRegulatoryInformation/EnforcementActivitiesbyFDA/ucm171057.htm

http://quotations.hubpages.com/hub/Essiac-Tea-Does-It-Work-For-Cancer

Max Gerson:

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

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.

Quoting Wikipedia:

“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.

http://cancertreatmentwatch.org/reports/gerson.shtml

http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/pdq/cam/gerson/patient

http://www.cancer.org/Treatment/TreatmentsandSideEffects/ComplementaryandAlternativeMedicine/DietandNutrition/gerson-therapy

http://www.post-gazette.com/regionstate/19990409davis4.asp

Hoxsey therapy:

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

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!

http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.3322/canjclin.40.1.51/pdf

http://www.fda.gov/AboutFDA/WhatWeDo/History/ThisWeek/ucm117863.htm

http://www.cancer.org/Treatment/TreatmentsandSideEffects/ComplementaryandAlternativeMedicine/HerbsVitaminsandMinerals/hoxsey-herbal-treatment

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[More debunking of Thrive to come!]