Tag Archive | reception

My Open Letter to Foster Gamble: Turn Your Back on Conspiracy—Don’t Let Thrive Define You. (UPDATED!)

This blog, originally published April 30, 2012, was updated May 4, 2012. Scroll to the end for the update.

Dear Mr. Gamble:

I have been motivated to write this letter by yours and Mrs. Gamble’s response, posted yesterday on your Thrive website, responding to John Robbins’s recent statement entitled “Humanity and Sanity: Standing for a Thriving World.” The text of that statement has been reproduced here on John Robbins’s website. I was quite interested to hear what your response would be to Mr. Robbins’s critiques. As I pointed out to the readers of my blog in a recent article, one of the main reasons why John Robbins has felt the need to dissociate himself from your film—its advancement of conspiracy theories—is the core basis of the disagreement I have with Thrive. In fact, John Robbins’s statement expresses my disagreements with you and your film in some ways better than I can myself.

Consequently, I was extremely disappointed by your response. You have not only failed to address the substantive criticisms of the film, but your dismissive and reductive attitude toward the most serious issues with Thrive makes it harder, not easier, to move forward in assessing what’s wrong with the world and how we can make it better. More troubling than that, at least for me, your response indicates that you’ve become very deeply invested in conspiracy thinking and conspiracist ideology—and you’re not doing the world any favors by trying to advance this ideology through your film.

I wish to make several major points here. Some will deal with your response to critics such as John Robbins, while some will go beyond that. I hope you take this criticism in the spirit in which it is intended—which is to help right what I see as a dreadful wrong being done, especially to the young people who’ve seen Thrive and who may choose to believe it without thinking critically about exactly what it is you’re asking them to accept.

You are not a bad person. You are an intelligent, thoughtful, well-meaning person with a very deep desire to help make the world a better place. This much has been extremely obvious from the get-go. If I met you in person I think I’d like you, and you might be surprised to find that I am considerably less nasty or trollish than some of your fans seem to think I am. But, Mr. Gamble, you’re wrong. You’re as wrong as you can possibly be, and you’re becoming part of the problem—you’re not helping us get to a solution. I’m just a blogger on the Internet. I don’t have the resources or clout at my disposal that you do, and I don’t claim to be an activist trying to save the world. But I’m not alone in my criticisms of your film; some very prominent people feel the same way I do.

What is the basis of John Robbins’s disagreement with Thrive?

In your statement, Mr. Gamble, I believe you have seriously mischaracterized the nature of John Robbins’s disagreement with your movie. Your statement yesterday, and previous statements made by you responding to critics of the film, seem to indicate that you think the main basis of disagreement is political—that the film is caught in the traditional left-right divide that you say you want to transcend. This is not the case, and it’s very clear from Mr. Robbins’s statement that this is not the case. He says:

“[T]he 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….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.”

Your response was:

“We believe this is an uninformed and dangerous interpretation that undermines people’s ability to recognize the power we have to change the dynamic.

If you feel you are personally responsible for the mortgage fraud, for the devaluation of the dollar, for the wars of aggression killing millions of innocent people with your money, for the lack of decent health care, and for the lies of the corporate media, then what THRIVE offers is not for you. If you instead believe that we have been deceived and deprived of our power and feel ready to reclaim it, then we encourage you to join with the millions of people empowered by THRIVE to come together in this bold time of awakened action to stand up for our lives and our future.”

This fundamental misunderstanding of John Robbins’s central argument is nothing less than tragic. John Robbins takes Thrive to task for establishing a pernicious “us vs. them” mentality, which he finds (and I agree) dangerous and counterproductive; in your response, however, you get right back up on the soapbox, point an accusing finger at the evil “them” and rage at the people you blame for “deceiv[ing us] and deprive[ing us] of our power.”

In your worldview, Mr. Gamble, bad things are done to us by evil people. Of course I can’t speak for him, but my interpretation of what John Robbins is saying is that we have done this to ourselves. There is no “Illuminati” out there trying to enslave the world. Who put the politicians into office who rolled back regulation of our economic and banking systems, thus leading to the 2008 economic collapse? We, the people did. Who supports, works for and buys the products of the corporations who are profiting from the destruction of our environment? We, the people do. Who is buying the fuel-inefficient cars that are contributing to anthropogenic global warming? We, the people, are. Who is consistently voting against property tax measures that fund schools to educate our children? We, the people, are doing that.

You want to blame a “Global Domination Elite,” or people who happen to be born with the names Rockefeller or Rothschild, for these problems. What I read from John Robbins’s letter is that, instead of looking for someone named Rothschild to blame for our problems, we should instead look in the mirror.

How is it that you don’t understand this is what he’s saying?

Do you not see what you’re doing, Mr. Gamble? You’re holding up a small group of people and telling the viewers of Thrive that they—this evil, sociopathic “other”—is responsible for their problems. You are encouraging the viewers of Thrive to hate those evil people who supposedly did this to us. This is so horrendously destructive, so antithetical to the central ideas of civil cooperation in a democratic society. But the conspiracy theories you espouse, and that you’re pushing through Thrive, reduce the complexities of our modern problems to a very simple and very cynical solution: hate them, the evil “other,” for doing this to us. As soon as the “other” is overcome, our problems will be over.

I cannot get behind this worldview. From my reading of his essay, I think it’s clear that John Robbins can’t either. Speaking only for myself, a worldview such as this is so harmful, negative, toxic and divisive that it absolutely negates the effect of what you think is the positive work you’re doing to improve society. You can do better, Mr. Gamble.

David Icke: do you believe in his “reptilian shape-shifting aliens” theories or don’t you?

Another key part of Mr. Robbins’s disagreement with the film is his objection to the presence of David Icke in Thrive. I agree. I would have to say that, if I were to make a list of the things that bother me the most about your movie, I’d probably put David Icke as #1.

You said:

“Robbins also does not feel comfortable being in a movie with David Icke, who he says “advocates utterly bizarre theories” –although none of the theories John objects to are in THRIVE. Instead, Icke provides a very sound critique of the money system: that banks have the power to create money out of nothing; that the Federal Reserve can rig “booms and busts” by lowering and raising interests rates; and that “the greatest prison people live in is the fear of what other people think.” We benefitted from this analysis, and find that millions of others feel similarly, which is why he’s included in THRIVE. We stand by what Icke says in the film.”

Mr. Gamble, I believe this is totally disingenuous.

You could have gotten any number of people to appear in your film to give a “very sound critique of the money system.” Instead, you chose to get David Icke. Why?

As I pointed out in my article profiling Mr. Icke, I believe the reason you chose David Icke to make this statement, as opposed to someone far less controversial who doesn’t bring the baggage to the table that Mr. Icke does, is because you wanted access to David Icke’s built-in audience of conspiracy believers—an audience that I think you felt, probably correctly, would be uniquely receptive to Thrive. Given the anti-Semitic flavor of David Icke’s ridiculous and untrue theories, if you had done even the slightest bit of due diligence you would have seen that Mr. Icke is absolutely radioactive from a public relations and credibility standpoint. Don’t get me wrong—I think you knew full well what baggage David Icke carries—but you elected to put him in your film anyway. So, my question is, why?

More importantly, if you’re willing to make a distinction between the “very sound critique of the monetary system” (which isn’t that sound, by the way) that David Icke espouses in your film, and his bizarre theories about reptilian shape-shifting aliens from Draco which he does not espouse in your film, are you willing to go on record as repudiating that very significant portion of David Icke’s belief system? You say it’s unfair of Thrive’s critics to taint you with the extremities of Mr. Icke’s belief system—if that’s the case, will you denounce the beliefs of Mr. Icke that have given John Robbins, and me, and many others, so much consternation?

Are you willing to state, Mr. Gamble, unequivocally and without qualification, that you reject the “reptilian shape-shifting aliens” theories of David Icke, that you dissociate yourself from them, and that you denounce them for the harmful paranoid conspiracy theories that they are?

Don’t just stand on the disclaimer that you’re fond of quoting from Thrive. Tell your audience clearly and without equivocation what you think of David Icke’s reptilian theories. Do you believe them or don’t you?

If you’re willing to make this statement, I think it may help clear the air. If you are not willing to make this statement, would you please tell us (A) what your views are on Mr. Icke’s reptilian shape-shifting aliens theories, and (B) why you included him in your film, when any number of others could have made the same statements about banking that he makes in your film?

What about Eustace Mullins?

In your statement, Mr. Gamble, you breeze casually past the objections to G. Edward Griffin by saying you don’t endorse the John Birch Society. But an even more important objection that Mr. Robbins raised was your apparent endorsement of the theories of Eustace Mullins. Mr. Robbins stated:

“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…”

Mr. Robbins then quoted three utterly disgusting paragraphs, dripping with hateful anti-Semitic vitriol, from this book by an author he claims you recommended highly to him. You do not comment on Eustace Mullins at all in your response. Why not?

There’s obviously something you like about Eustace Mullins, if you recommended him to Mr. Robbins. (If he was in error in claiming you did, now’s a perfect opportunity to set the record straight). This is all the more puzzling because I do not believe you are an anti-Semite; Mr. Robbins did not make that accusation either, and it’s clear that you’re not. But the fact is, once you cut out the anti-Semitism, there’s not much left of Eustace Mullins’s philosophy that stands on its own. So please, Mr. Gamble, educate us. Which parts of Eustace Mullins’s philosophy you like, and why? Furthermore, why did you not even mention this very key point of John Robbins’s criticism of Thrive in your response?

Global Warming Denial—Ignoring the Elephant in the Room.

Your statements regarding anthropogenic climate change are, like your mischaracterization of John Robbins’s central argument, profoundly unfortunate. The fact that you deny the irrefutable scientific proof that climate change is being caused by human activity is deeply depressing, and not just to me. Your denial of global warming seems to have been the key reason why Adam Trombly turned against you. It is also one of the key reasons why I find Thrive, and conspiracism in general, so pernicious, because it’s a prime example of how conspiracy theories divert attention away from real problems.

You stated:

“We do not question that the climate is changing…What’s called for here is to distinguish between denying that the climate is changing (which we do not) and valuable inquiry into some of the deeper issues surrounding climate change (which we do). This is a distinction we feel would serve people far more than name-calling and disassociation.”

So, you don’t deny that climate is changing; you just deny the evidence of what’s causing it. This distinction is utterly meaningless.

If you deny that human activity is causing global warming, you are endorsing an excuse to do nothing about it. By definition, if it’s natural, it will resolve itself on its own, right? If global warming isn’t being caused by greenhouse emissions and industrial processes, then there is no meaningful action that we have to take; in fact we shouldn’t take action at all because that would be tampering with a natural process. It seems that you don’t want us to take any action at all about global warming, other than to overcome the “Global Domination Elite” that you say is withholding “free energy” from us. Once we overcome them, all our problems will be solved. Isn’t that the take-home point from Thrive?

Your claim that you’re simply looking out for people in the hopes that carbon taxes don’t take away their freedom is a chimera. There are other ways to fight global warming besides carbon taxes. (For the record, I don’t believe that carbon taxes are the answer, and everyone who knows me knows that I’m passionate about the issue of fighting global warming). What actions by governments, business interests and individuals are you willing to support, Mr. Gamble, to reverse anthropogenic global warming?

You can’t deny the causation of the problem and then pretend like you’re still interested in solving the problem. This is the biggest problem on the planet today. What do you suggest we do about it?

Will you please tell us, Mr. Gamble, what action you are willing to support—besides reliance on “free energy” machines—in order to combat and reverse anthropogenic global warming?

HAARP—the Final Frontier of Conspiracist Thinking.

Your statement makes clear that you do believe in HAARP—one of the most farfetched, unsupportable and bizarre conspiracy theories out there, with the possible exception of David Icke’s reptile theories—after all. This is deeply distressing to me. Your attempt to address this subject simply digs you deeper into the hole:

“John Robbins claims we said Japan’s earthquake was caused by HAARP – an electromagnetic antenna array project in Alaska that can focus 3.6 billion watts of radio-frequency energy into a single area of the atmosphere. We hope John said this because he misremembered and was not just distorting this for effect. In fact, what we said is that we check into major earthquakes now that we are familiar with HAARP’s involvement in causing other quakes. We currently have no evidence of HAARP causing Japan’s earthquake, however, there is ample evidence of HAARP involvement in both the Chile and Haiti quakes.”

Okay—so Japan wasn’t HAARP, but Chile and Haiti definitely were!

Do you really think, Mr. Gamble, that this makes you seem any more in touch with objective reality regarding this subject than if you had asserted that the Japan quake was caused by HAARP?

You believe in a magical machine, controlled by the U.S. government, that can cause earthquakes anywhere on earth with the push of a button? Really? Do you appreciate how expressing beliefs such as these negatively affect your basic credibility as someone claiming to have answers for moving the world forward?

When you say things like this, can you really blame us for being skeptical?

The Disease of Conspiracy Thinking

Mr. Gamble, I’ve been debunking conspiracy theories, in one form or another, for seven years now. I’ve seen many tragic examples of what conspiracy thinking can do to a person. I had a friend, a young man, who was a believer in UFO/alien conspiracies and NESARA, a supposedly secret law that will bring unlimited plenty to the whole world if only the Global Domination Elite and their evil alien allies would stop obstructing it. This young man chose not to go to college or to prepare for any sort of meaningful future, because he believed NESARA would be implemented any day now and there would be no need to work or provide for himself. Another man, also a believer in the Global Domination Elite, decided to home-school his children because he feared they were receiving “Illuminati indoctrination” through the public schools. The “home schooling” he gave them consisted of making them watch Alex Jones and other conspiracist videos on YouTube, all day, every day, day after day. You may remember the “Don’t taze me, bro!” incident from a few years ago where a man was attacked with a taser gun at a John Kerry rally. Most people don’t know that the man involved in that incident was a conspiracy theorist; he was convinced Kerry was a member of your Global Domination Elite and was shouting questions about Kerry’s involvement with Yale’s “Skull and Bones Society.” These are but a few examples of the harmful effects conspiracy beliefs can have on a person.

Conspiracy theories are like a virus. They infect a healthy person, replicate inside of them, and then spill out to infect others. A person who believes in one conspiracy theory rarely stops there. Usually they end up swallowing them all. The person infected is no more to blame than someone who catches pneumonia or the flu. I know all too well; I myself recovered from this disease. I am a former conspiracy theorist.

I would like to ask you to think—just think—about your conspiracy beliefs in these terms. Suppose, just for the sake of argument, that the Global Domination Agenda doesn’t exist, that HAARP can’t create earthquakes, and that anthropogenic global warming is real. If it is possible that the things you believe are factually incorrect, how could you have come to believe them so fervently? Could there be an explanation in the way you’ve thought about them, the sort of evidence you find convincing, the questions you ask, or the people you seek out for information? I’m suggesting this because thinking along these lines is what got me out of conspiracy thinking. The more I insisted upon real evidence, solid arguments, and knowledgeable experts, the flimsier and falser became the conspiracy theories that I thought I believed in. I wouldn’t be surprised if you go down the same road someday. In fact I think it’s likely you will, and someday you may repudiate Thrive, the way Dylan Avery did with Loose Change.

We are all members of this society. We all have a stake in making the world a better place for our children. All I’m asking you to do, Mr. Gamble, is consider approaching these problems from a rational, skeptical and logical standpoint. If you do, it doesn’t mean you feel any less or that your passion for improving peoples’ lives is at all diminished. It’s not about taking the government’s word for anything. Approaching the world with skepticism doesn’t mean that you become more gullible, more trusting or more capable of being manipulated. In fact, you will find that the opposite is true. Let’s approach the world from the standpoint of what’s really out there. The disease of conspiracy thinking makes that very difficult, but this disease, thankfully, has a cure: critical thinking.

You Want to Talk About Solutions? Let’s Talk About Solutions.

In your statements you’ve emphasized that you’d rather talk about solutions to world problems than the problems with your movie. Okay, I have a few solutions. Let’s talk about them. As I said earlier, I lay no claim to being an activist, and I don’t pretend to have a plan to save the world. But with as many fans of your movie as have asked me what my solutions are, I guess somebody wants to hear them.

Solution 1: Stop promoting baseless conspiracy theories.

Diverting attention from real problems in the real world is not helping anybody—in fact, it’s hurting quite a bit. The central teaching of the disease of conspiracy thinking is “they are bad.” Whoever they are changes, but it’s always an external enemy, some super-powerful source that’s opposed to what’s good and proper. So long as we’re trying to overcome them, whoever you think they are, we’re not moving forward.

This is why Thrive is not productive, is not constructive, and is not helpful. It has nothing to do with your intentions, which I believe are good. But the simple truth is that the so-called “facts” your movie promotes are just not true. There is no “Global Domination Agenda.” Banks are not tools of the Rothschilds for world domination. 9/11 was not a “false flag” operation. These things just aren’t true, and it’s very easy to ascertain that they aren’t true. So let’s stop promoting them.

Solution 2: Fight anthropogenic global warming.

The warming of our climate, greatly accelerated to disastrous levels by the activity of human beings, is the single greatest threat to this planet right now. Inaction or denial is unacceptable. Neither can we wait for a “transition” to some nebulously-defined future utopian society in order to save us from global warming. We need action now—a mass program of cooperation between governments, business interests, individuals, and non-governmental organizations, on local, national and trans-national levels. We must reduce carbon emissions. We must change the game to make existing forms of clean energy—not magical “free energy” devices—economical and desirable, things like solar, wind and water power. We should have started doing this 35 years ago. We didn’t. Every day we delay means that the effects of our measures will pinch us that much more in the future.

Solution 3: Promote smarter, better, more compassionate government.

There are very few people in America who believe that our political system couldn’t stand drastic improvement. We need to reduce the impact of corporate money on politics. We need to make sure that government makes decisions that benefit real people before corporations and business interests. We need to increase funding for public education at all levels—and by increase I mean a vast increase, an increase of staggering proportions, a massive diversion of a significant chunk of America’s GDP to education. If we spent on public schools what we spend every year to fight the war in Afghanistan, the entire country would begin to reap immediate and dramatic benefits. Even a five-year program to fund schools at the level that we today fund military expenditures would profoundly transform this country. Education is the cure to so many problems in our society, and it’s a cure that exists now, without waiting for magical technology to swoop down from the sky, as Thrive asserts.

We, the people, have the power to enact these solutions. We can do it right now, in our existing communities; the politicians we send to our statehouses and to Washington, after all, are put there by us. This is what I think John Robbins meant, Mr. Gamble, when he talked about the problems being caused by us. But we have to recognize what our problems really are. Your film does not present the problems as they really are.

Why Listen to Me At All? Because It’s Not Just Me Saying This.

I doubt you’ll think very much about my solutions. Your past statements have indicated that the price of admission to a debate you’re willing to have about solutions is acceptance of the conspiracy theories contained in Thrive. Most likely you won’t take me seriously because I reject those theories. You took a similar tack toward Rob Hopkins and Georgia Kelly, both of whose criticisms you refused to entertain. What you’re doing, therefore, is to close yourself off into an isolated universe—where only the voices of fellow conspiracy believers are heard, a universe where the key litmus test of legitimacy is conspiracist thinking, and where input from the fact-based world is rejected as a mortal threat. Forgive me for being skeptical that any reasonable solutions to societal problems can emerge from such a universe.

If it were just me, some random guy from the blogosphere, saying this, that would be one thing. It would be very easy to dismiss me. Your spokesperson, Lee, has come to this blog several times to insist that because I don’t advertise my name on this blog, somehow this makes my criticisms unworthy of attention, as if the facts and reasoning I present here have no persuasive value unless my name is attached to them. I think this is nothing more than an excuse for refusing to engage with the serious problems surrounding Thrive. You’re fond of citing statistics on the number of people who have seen your movie, or the fact that it’s been translated into such-and-such languages. These statistics do nothing to bolster the veracity of your claims. In fact, they underscore the urgency of the mission of this blog. You claim your film has been seen a million times; my blog has been read by about 100,000 people. If an untruth can circle the world while the truth is still putting its shoes on, those of us who profoundly disagree with your movie have a great deal of work ahead of us.

But it’s not just me. Look at the main points I’ve made here. I take issue with your inclusion of David Icke, with your praise of Eustace Mullins, with your assertions about HAARP, and your conspiratorial worldview. Your friend John Robbins was bothered by these exact same points. Others are too; I’ve talked to many of them, some of them your personal friends and acquaintances. Your response to their very cogent criticisms has done nothing to ameliorate our concerns. If I went off into the sunset or deleted my blog tomorrow, these concerns about Thrive would still remain. That’s one reason I say that this blog is not about me.

Mr. Gamble, I believe you are a good, kind, compassionate and intelligent man. That’s one reason why Thrive bothers me so much, because I think you can do better. We could all benefit from your immense energy and passion to help the world, if it was directed toward that end. Please, Mr. Gamble: turn away from conspiracism. Don’t let Thrive define you.

Sincerely,

Muertos

Update 4 May 2012

Foster Gamble responded to this letter. His response is reproduced in its entirety here, along with my own remarks regarding his thoughts.

Gambles Fire Back, Accusing Thrive Critics of “Disinformation Campaign”

Foster and Kimberly Gamble, the husband and wife team behind the conspiracy theory movie Thrive, have issued a statement firing back at the ten signatories of last week’s letter, people who appeared in the film but who have now disassociated themselves from it. The signatories include progressive leader John Robbins, who knows Foster Gamble personally, and who also gave me a statement regarding his views on the conspiracy aspects of the film, and Adam Trombly, the inventor whom the film claims created a “free energy” device. The full text of the statement was posted on this blog as a comment by one of Thrive’s official spokespersons. It’s also available on the “Thrive Movement” website.

The disappointing and fatuous statement by Mr. and Mrs. Gamble attempts both to minimize the controversy and to belittle the signers of the letter and critics of the film. Most notably, Mr. and Mrs. Gamble accuse John Robbins, the driving force behind the disassociation letter, of engaging in a “disinformation campaign” to discredit the film. The statement also makes clear that acceptance of the conspiracy theories advanced by Thrive as literal fact is a prerequisite for being taken seriously in the discussion of “solutions” that the makers of the film say they wish to engage in.

Because there are also parts of the statement that may be addressed to me and to this blog, I thought I would present my comments regarding it here. If you’d rather see the statement in its full form, without my comments interjected, either click the link to the comment above, or go here to the statement on Thrive’s website.

“Disinformation Campaign”?

“As those who have seen THRIVE know, we are committed to a bold inquiry into what is really in the way of our thriving – and to offering much more than just a tweak to our fundamentally flawed and failing system.

One of our core approaches in making THRIVE was to hear from people with differing points of view and to go for vital information regardless of the political affiliations of the source. That way we could do our own informed and critical thinking and glean the principles and facts from which true, just and lasting solutions can be created.”

I remain skeptical that anyone connected with Thrive engaged in any sort of sustained effort at critical thinking. Indeed, as this blog has shown, the makers have engaged in very little critical thinking. In order to reach the conclusion that aliens built various large works of ancient engineering, for instance, you must first accept a totally counter-intuitive assumption about the capabilities of ancient civilizations as compared to our modern world. Similarly, you have to turn off large portions of your brain to even conceive possible the bizarre “Global Domination Agenda” which a centerpiece of Thrive’s message.

“We encourage a transparent, respectful, informed and constructive dialog that can address the specifics of any differences some of the pioneers in THRIVE might have with us. Although the letter of dissociation raised no specific issues, we understand from John Robbins’ articles and the correspondence that he wrote soliciting others to participate in his disinformation campaign that the objections range from ET presence, to naming the reality of the Global Domination Agenda, to validating Zero Point Energy, to adhering to the Principle of Non-violation. Wow, not much of a movie left after eliminating those taboo inquiries!”

Setting aside the “disinformation campaign” accusation for the moment, I observe that Mr. Gamble is employing a common tactic among conspiracy theorists—labeling critics of conspiracy theories as people who are reluctant to discuss “taboo” subjects. This is a pretty transparent diversion. I don’t reject the Global Domination Agenda conspiracy theory because it’s “taboo” to accept it. I reject it because it is totally unsupported by evidence and also because it’s contrary to logic. I don’t denounce the idea of ancient astronauts because it’s “taboo” to admit that aliens built the pyramids. I reject it because aliens did not build the pyramids, and there isn’t a shred of evidence to suggest that they did. This has nothing to do with anything “taboo.”

The “disinformation campaign” comment is astonishing. Does Mr. Gamble really believe that John Robbins, who (Mr. Robbins told me) he has known for many years, is deliberately spreading false information about Thrive and soliciting others to join him? Really? I can’t even imagine, if this is what Mr. Gamble really thinks, why he supposes Mr. Robbins would do this. I’ve been accused many times of being a “paid disinformation agent” out to trash Thrive, and I’ve even joked about it. But it’s easy for Thrive supporters to make that accusation about me. Here’s Foster Gamble accusing his personal friend of that. How deep do you have to be in the thrall of conspiracist ideology to believe that your friends are spies out to destroy you?

“Decades Doing Our Homework”?

“We encourage everyone reading this to watch THRIVE and determine for yourselves if you agree that there is enough evidence to warrant additional dialog – about a covert agenda, about revolutionary new technologies and about bold strategies for achieving true liberty and justice for all.

We spent decades doing our homework on these issues and stand with complete integrity and clarity behind the facts represented in THRIVE.”

If Mr. Gamble and his team spent decades researching Thrive, they certainly missed a great deal of relevant information. It doesn’t take decades to find plenty of evidence, for instance, that crop circles are man-made. It also doesn’t take decades to research a historical event such as the Gulf of Tonkin affair, research which would have clearly indicated that the Gulf of Tonkin incident was not a “false flag” operation, as Mr. Gamble asserts in Thrive. I run this blog in my spare time. If I found all this information refuting the assertions in Thrive in my spare time in a mere five months, how come Thrive’s researchers, whoever they are, fell down on the job so badly?

The key part of this section of the statement is Mr. Gamble’s doubling down and going for broke. He says he stands behind Thrive’s facts. That’s extremely unfortunate, because countless matters he asserts as facts are untrue, misleading or taken out of context. Yet it seems Mr. Gamble is unwilling to admit that Thrive has any significant problems.

“Dangerous”?

“We welcome meaningful dialog and otherwise consider it dangerous to undermine the millions of us who are standing up to expose the covert global scheme amongst the elite and their secret societies and intelligence agencies to destroy the economies of countless nations, take over their resources, and kill whatever leaders or people don’t play along.”

This is also classic conspiracy theorist paranoia. Anyone who opposes conspiracy theories is not only wrong in their eyes, but “dangerous.”

This part of the statement appeals to one of the central conceits of conspiracy theorists—that they’re privy to some sort of special knowledge that the rest of the world refuses to accept, and that knowledge will supposedly “save the world.” In this case Mr. Gamble is painting Thrive fans as an army of noble millions fighting the good fight against evildoers who destroy economies and kill people. Conspiracy theorists tend to love movies like The Matrix and V For Vendetta because they underscore this basic and very simplistic narrative. The real world is far more complicated than this, unfortunately.

Oh, did I mention that the “covert global scheme amongst the elite and their secret societies” does not, in fact, exist? I did? Oh, sorry. Just don’t want that to get lost in the shuffle.

“Hit and Run Communications”!

“Further hit and run communications are of little interest to us, especially as it distracts from time better spent with motivated solutions groups forming all over the world who are awakening to the agenda and taking actions based on integrity and freedom rather than staying confined by outworn and deceptive political polarities.”

Mr. Gamble is here saying that he has more important things to worry about than, say, the credibility of his entire movie. Well, no matter. The purpose of this blog is not to motivate any action by Mr. Gamble; nor is it, as some have suggested, to “troll” Thrive fans. The purpose of this blog is to expose the general public to the reality of the serious factual and logical problems with the movie Thrive. That purpose will continue to be served whether Mr. Gamble is paying any attention or not.

“We encourage those who have publicly dissociated to offer their best information and solutions rather than spending time trying to undermine ours.

Each of the pioneers in THRIVE were invited because their expertise in a particular area had been helpful in our gaining an understanding of the bigger picture that includes, but vastly transcends, their sector of expertise -or anyone’s political affiliation. We clearly state this in the movie:

“The people in THRIVE do not necessarily agree with the themes, statements, claims or conclusions presented in the film or website, nor does their inclusion imply our full agreement with all of their views. The people interviewed have each contributed in some deep way to our understanding and we are grateful to them all.””

Again, the statement seems preoccupied with political affiliation. Yes, I do oppose the libertarian aspects of Thrive, as John Robbins has stated that he does; however, speaking only for myself, this is not my primary disagreement with the film or even in the top five. Though I find Thrive’s politics fulsome, if it was just a piece of libertarian political propaganda I probably wouldn’t care that much about it. It’s the conspiracy angle that concerns me. Although conspiracy thinking is becoming increasingly interwoven with libertarian political thought, at least until the last few years conspiracy beliefs cut across the political spectrum. I think this has much less to do with political affiliation than Mr. Gamble suggests here.

Thrive’s Millions are Coming! Or Are They?

“We are encouraged by the millions of viewers, thousands of self-created screenings, the hundreds of THRIVE Solutions groups forming to get on with what’s needed now – informed and leveraged action. People from all over the world- Greece, Poland, India, Portugal and more have voluntarily translated THRIVE into their languages to get the important information to their cultures. THRIVE is now translated into 18 different languages and we hear from people all over the world about the value THRIVE is offering in their cultural transformations.”

People from all over the world are viewing my blog, too. Aside from the U.S., Canada and Great Britain, today alone I had page views from Israel, the Netherlands, Poland, Singapore, Hong Kong, New Zealand, and Brazil. Given the hits that show up from Google Translate it is also clear that Thrive Debunked has been translated into other languages also. This demonstrates to me that this blog is a clear success: many people are discovering the debunking at the same time as they discover the Thrive film for the first time. Therefore, they’re able to evaluate its claims side-by-side with the facts and logical arguments that refute it.

“We also are moved by the healings being reported in families, workplaces and communities as millions are getting the bridge between worldviews and beyond unnecessary and dangerous divide-and-conquer illusions. The new conversation, about what is really going on and solutions with human rights as primary, is, fortunately, unstoppable.

As stated in the book “1984”, “In times of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act.” There is a well-informed, nonviolent revolution brewing and we welcome constructive contributions from everyone ready to participate.

Foster and Kimberly Gamble”

Time will tell, but as hopeful a chord as this part of the statement sounds, I’m skeptical. Changing the world takes a lot more than just showing a movie to like-minded people who agree with it. The “Thrive Movement,” if such a thing can even be said to exist, isn’t doing much other than organizing screenings and discussion groups of fans who get together to talk about the movie. The problem is that this type of thing has been done before—with exactly zero effect. Here Thrive is emulating another group that organized itself as a fan club for a conspiracy movie, that being the infamous Zeitgeist Movement. Although the Zeitgeist cult is largely dead, there are still dwindling groups of supporters who meet occasionally to spin grandiose dreams of their “Resource Based Economy.” They have accomplished exactly nothing in the real world, except the promotion of conspiracy theories. Zeitgeist is different than the Thrive Movement in that it was, at least at one point in time, a real movement, with an identifiable leader, strict ideological guidelines and orthodoxy, and an organizational hierarchy. Even if a group can be said to be coalescing around Thrive—again, I’m skeptical this is even happening in any meaningful sense—it has none of these characteristics. If Zeitgeist can’t do it with a strong leader and supposedly an identifiable policy direction, I doubt very much that the fans of Thrive will be able to succeed where the Zeitgeisters failed.

That brings us to the next point:

What “Solutions,” Anyway?

The problem with Thrive’s “solutions” is that they are illusory, and in more ways than one. For one thing they aren’t clearly defined. The various “solutions” flogged on the Thrive website are all extremely vague and general. (I actually agree with many of them, but they’re still vague). Bank locally. Support independent media. Take part in “critical mass actions.” These sound terrific, but what do they really mean? What specific action are the Thrivers supposed to take to achieve these goals? That’s never defined, and Foster Gamble isn’t making any concerted effort to define them. And, as the experience with the Occupy Movement last fall demonstrates, getting a group of like-minded folks together and hoping that they work out for themselves what sort of specific goals they should pursue doesn’t tend to work very well. Successful grass-roots activist movements have never functioned on this model, and they never will. You’ve got to have someone in charge. Foster Gamble doesn’t seem to want to be in charge, which is fine. But expecting that a headless, leaderless group with no defined goals will accomplish anything in the real world is more than a little naïve.

Secondly, the point of Thrive is not really to push these “solutions” anyway. The point of Thrive is to make an ideological statement. The movie was created to animate belief, not action. It was created to advocate belief in New Age religious beliefs and conspiracy theories. I believe that the lip service given to the “solutions” is an add-on to mollify audience expectations. Thrive represents incremental progress on a very long road to legitimize and advance a certain belief system. If Thrive does end up “changing the world,” it will only be so because it leads to something else down the road. I discussed ideas along these lines in an article I wrote for my other blog about how the conspiracy world has changed.

But, let’s just assume for the sake of argument that I’m wrong about all that. The very troubling thing about Thrive is that the “solutions” its adherents say they advocate aren’t solutions to problems that we have. For example, as the Gambles’ statement indicates, Thrive fans fervently believe that crushing this “Global Domination Agenda” is a matter of paramount importance. But the “Global Domination Agenda” does not exist. They want to solve a problem that doesn’t exist. In the meantime, take a real problem that does exist—anthropogenic global warming, for instance, which I happen to believe is the single most crucial problem facing the world today—and most of them deny that it’s even a problem! Foster Gamble has made statements to the effect that he believes global warming is some sort of hoax. This, despite the absolutely overwhelming and conclusive scientific evidence that it’s happening, and that man has caused it.

So there you have it. Even if you can get past the vagueness of Thrive’s proposed solutions, it turns out they’re fired up to solve problems that don’t exist, and they deny the existence of the number one world problem that really does exist. Add to this the fact that the Gambles’ statement indicates that they’re not even really interested in talking to anyone who doesn’t, as a factual matter, accept the truth of the conspiracy theories pushed in Thrive, and you begin to see why this doesn’t work as a realistic means to move forward to solve world problems.

Conclusion: Why Am I Writing This Blog Instead of Making the World a Better Place?

This question is asked me often by Thrive fans, and you hear an echo of it in the Gambles’ statement: that somehow taking the time and effort to criticize Thrive is a waste of time, because instead you could be “making the world a better place.” This view is quite disingenuous.

For starters, I am making the world a better place by criticizing Thrive. Since the very beginning I’ve believed that this film, with its numerous deceptions, errors and incorrect statements, is on balance a bad thing. Belief in factually baseless conspiracy theories is a bad thing. This article I wrote last week explains why. My program for a better world is a world in which people think critically and rationally, and act on the basis of evidence and logic. In that world, conspiracy theories would not survive for long.

Secondly, none of the readers of this blog know what I am doing, and what I have done for a good many years now, to “make the world a better place.” The readers of this blog don’t know this because I haven’t told them, and I haven’t told them because this blog is not about me. So the readers of this blog don’t know that I have contributed large amounts of money to numerous charities and nonprofits. They don’t know the work I’ve done, and continue to do, to expand opportunities of higher education for kids from poor families—a cause I feel is especially important—or for children with cancer. They don’t know the work I did, personally, with my own two hands, to try to reduce wastewater emissions in the city where I used to live—a program that cumulatively cut toxic urban runoff by a total of 50% in three years. A few years ago I was the chief executive officer of a local activist organization that was estimated by the American Red Cross, during the year I was in office, to have been responsible for saving 21,000 lives. They don’t know the work I’ve been doing to increase historical understanding of global climate change. They don’t know about the kid in the Philippines, previously almost blind, who can today see because of something I did.

I hesitated to write the above paragraph because, as I said, this blog is not about me, and because I don’t wish to be seen as entering some sort of pissing match about “who’s done more.” I know that Foster Gamble has pursued many legitimate projects for positive change, such as his work on trying to limit pesticides, and I think that’s great. Nonetheless, I mention my own activities here for no other purpose than to demonstrate that I require no lectures from Foster and Kimberly Gamble, nor from any other Thrive fan, about what I should be doing to help “make the world a better place.”

I appreciate the Gambles’ desire to help. But, in my humble opinion, they’re not helping. Thrive is not part of the solution, it’s part of the problem. This was the reason the ten signed the disassociation letter. I commend them for having done so.

Why We Fight: Progressive Leader Who Repudiated Thrive Explains Why Its Conspiracy Theories Are Harmful.

This week I had an email conversation with John Robbins. Mr. Robbins is a well-known environmentalist author and lecturer, undoubtedly a leader in the intellectual progressive movement in this country. He appears in Thrive, and is one of the ten people who signed an open letter declaring their disassociation from the movie. I wrote an article about this development earlier this weekend, which includes the text of that letter.

The text of the letter does not mention conspiracy theories. I was curious whether Mr. Robbins had an opinion on the conspiracy content of Thrive and whether this was a motivating factor in his decision to disassociate himself from the film. The response I got from him was very interesting and illuminating. When I read it, I was amazed at how cogently he was also expressing my own reasons for opposing the movie.

The Text of John Robbins’s Letter to Me

Mr. Robbins gave me permission to post his response here on this blog. Here it is.

“There is a great deal about Thrive that I find untrue and dangerous.   You ask if I have any comment on the film’s promotion of conspiracy theories.  Yes, I do.

There is no doubt that staggering wealth and power is today concentrated in the hands of a tiny minority of humanity.  The combined net worth of the world’s richest thousand or so people — the planet’s billionaires — is almost twice that of the poorest 2.5 billion.  This disparity is nothing less than an indictment of our civilization.  It is also certain that networks exist among the most powerful people that enable a remarkably few people to shape the world’s economy,  to determine what is known and what is not, which views are accepted and which are not, and what priorities and values will prevail.  They decide whether we will live in war or peace, how our treasure will be spent, and they have proven to be eminently successful at enriching themselves at the expense of the common good.

But fantasies about secret conspiracies distract us from the work at hand.  Those few who hold immense wealth and power are still people.  They are not reptiles in human form.  They are perhaps pathologically competitive or greedy, but still human, riven with differences and egos, and not particularly good at sustaining relationships, much less of organizing massive secret cabals to dominate all life on this planet.

Thrive promotes conspiracy theories that are based on an imaginary division between “us” and “them.”  “We” are many and well-meaning but victimized; while “they” are a tiny, greedy and immensely powerful few who are masterfully organized, who are purposefully causing massive disasters in order to cull the population, and who will do absolutely anything in their quest to achieve total world domination.  I think the allure of this way of thinking is that it distracts and absolves us from the troubling truth that the real source of the problem is in all of us, and in the economic systems we have collectively produced.  As Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn wrote, “The line separating good and evil passes not through states, nor between classes, nor between political parties either, but right through every human heart.”

Foster Gamble has said that the earthquake that caused the tsunami that wreaked havoc on the nuclear plants in Fukushima was deliberately created by those seeking absolute world domination  to punish the Japanese for not acceding to their wishes.   He has said that “they” have a machine in Alaska that enables them to create earthquakes at will, anywhere on earth, and of any desired strength.  In my judgement, this is the thinking of someone who has lost all grounding in reality.

Thrive advances the idea that vaccinations have been purposefully created by the global elite to decimate the population, an idea that I find both ludicrous and dangerous.  There is no doubt that vaccinations have troubling side effects.  Some of them may be more toxic than we know.  But it was a vaccine that enabled the elimination of smallpox, a scourge which was responsible for approximately 500 million human deaths in the 20th century.  Thrive promotes the idea that the U.N. and world treaties are the work of evil-doers intent on total world domination.  These institutions are far from perfect.  But it was only through the concerted efforts of the global health community and the World Health Organization that smallpox, perhaps the killer of more humans than any other in world history, was eradicated.

There are many things that are terribly wrong in our world.  All living creatures are poisoned and compromised by surging levels of man-made toxins that spew into our world, relatively unchecked.   We are experiencing unprecedented levels of heart disease, cancer, obesity and childhood diabetes.  Our financial institutions and to a large extent our political system have been hijacked by greedy, sociopathic individuals who seem to feel no sense of responsibility to the well being of the whole.   Our  military industrial complex with its voracious appetite for new markets, and its obscenely paranoid world view, expands unchecked with frightening and horrific speed.

But holding these tragedies as the intentional acts of a tiny group of families seeking to rule the world distracts us from the arduous work of confronting the real challenges before us.

I hope this is helpful.

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.”

Free Energy Fracas: Adam Trombly Attacks Me (And Thrive)—But Is There a Silver Lining?

Adam Trombly, the inventor who appears in the movie Thrive and who the film asserts created a “free energy” machine that has been supposedly suppressed by conspiratorial powers, has made a lengthy statement on his website responding to this blog, to me, and to allegations made against him on this blog by one David Farnsworth. Mr. Farnsworth is another inventor who claims Mr. Trombly stole from him the photos of the supposed “free energy” machine that appears in Thrive. When I presented the questions raised about Mr. Trombly and his work, I pledged that I would offer him a chance to respond fully and completely on this blog. Today I make good on that pledge.

The statement by Adam Trombly does not defend Thrive unequivocally. In fact, I was told yesterday that Adam Trombly has joined the nine other people interviewed in Thrive who recently signed an open letter disavowing the film and maintaining that its contents and approach were not appropriately disclosed to them at the time their participation was secured. Mr. Trombly’s essay doesn’t state that he signed the letter, but he’s certainly now on record as having expressed criticism of the film. This is a surprising development and a positive one, in my view. In fact, as you’ll see at the end of this article, I think there are several issues on which Adam Trombly and I agree. Thus, while certainly this article is going to include plenty of conflict, there’s a silver lining too.

There are a lot of issues here, and I’ll get to them all in my own comments, but first, I’m going to present Mr. Trombly’s statement in its entirety. My own comments regarding it will appear after the text of the article.

Adam Trombly’s Essay: “Really Correcting the Record”

Before I address any other issues I must address the individual who hides behind the pseudonym Muertos. I will henceforth call him only Pseudonym. He has collaborated with others to attempt to defame and slander my name, my character, and my work. He has attempted to stir up a mob mentality against the movie Thrive and most of its participants.

Most of the people who appear in Thrive are good human beings who care about the future of this planet and unlike Pseudonym, are attempting to do something positive about it. Pseudonym and his allies are a dull spearhead of the forces attempting to

undermine fuel and pollution free forms of electrical and mechanical energy production.

Pseudonym criticizes Foster Gamble for his fact checking but he himself posts the utter nonsense of David Farnsworth without any fact checking at all.

It is strange to me and my friends and colleagues that I should have to write this narrative.

I harbored no angst against my former friend and co-worker David Farnsworth. I did feel sadness about the decision I was forced to make (over ten years ago) to no longer work with the mercurial Mr. Farnsworth. To say that David has been episodically unstable would be a profound understatement.

I realize in retrospect I over compensated in my accommodation of David. I actually loved him like a brother and wished the world could one day see his real gifts beyond the tornadic blur of his troubled soul. There is good and genius buried in him no matter what he says about me. There is also an incredible and destructive schism in him.

He signs off on the last email I received from him prior to this recent set of new attacks by calling me “old friend”. You can imagine my chagrin when he began publicly flailing against me once again a few weeks ago. I thought that by removing a photograph, which he suddenly objected to after it had been posted for over twelve years on the Project Earth website, David’s concerns had been assuaged. Alas, this was not the case. The “other David”, as we used to call him around here, reappeared with a vengeance.

In the process David cited some witnesses he said would corroborate his claims. The first person he cited was Elizabeth Rauscher who needs his nonsense no more than the rest of us. I would not even mention her name regarding this unpleasantness but for the fact Mr. Farnsworth left me with no choice.

I am very grateful to my friend Patrick Flanagan for putting me in touch with Elizabeth Rauscher just two days after David’s latest tantrums began. She did not and does not corroborate the claims David made against me when he cited her and her deceased husband Bill as witnesses providing prima facie against my person.

It had been too long since she and I had last spoken. She is now and always has been a leading edge thinker and genius of remarkable breadth.

It was RJ Reynolds III who gave me my formal introduction to Elizabeth and Bill in the early 1980’s. This was during the time right after he hired ten top professionals to test the voracity of my scientific arguments in their related fields, while I visited his (and his brothers’) twelve thousand acre estate at Devotion, North Carolina. As the result of ten days of oral examination, these men unanimously recommended that Josh take the next step, which he called, “a life endowment”. Josh announced that I was the first “RJ Reynolds III scholar” to receive this stature since Andrea Puharich. His brother Will Reynolds joined him in generously supporting Project Earth.

The original proposal I had written to Mr. Reynolds stated, among many other things, my belief that there are real ELF electromagnetic precursors to earthquakes to which certain biological organisms were sensitive. I wrote that these “signals” might be generated by pressure changes that appear at a lock on a seismic fault and cause the piezoelectric constituent minerals to express current in such a way that the electrical polarity of the ground proximate to these locations would actually change from positive to negative. I wrote that this might be detectable by instrumentation and not just by the symptomatic fight or flight syndrome observed in certain species (including many humans) prior to quakes. (This is very abbreviated.)

Josh responded, “Do you know Elizabeth Rauscher and Bill Van Bise? If not, then I need to introduce you to them because I believe that is exactly what they have discovered.”

My time with them in the 1980′s was a period of remarkable learning and exploration for me. I am forever grateful. As anyone who has followed Project Earth over the last few decades already knows, I have always stated that Elizabeth Rauscher and Bill Van Bise discovered the use of extremely low frequency spectrum analyzers for the forecasting of earthquakes.

I was sorry to have to disrupt her day or that of Patrick with the vacuous fiction portrayed by David Farnsworth in his “For the Record”. David fails to realize that there actually is a record and his brazen lies about me do not stand up to the witness and witnesses of history. Nobody wants to be drawn into David’s self-serving and self-generated maelstrom.

David has claimed that I have a pathetic memory. However, his recounting of events either stems from a pathology, drug abuse, or it is intentional fraud. It is beyond my purview to say either way. I am not a psychiatric clinician.

Regarding the famous picture of the magnetic motor:

Dave sent me the picture (which he admits to) after I asked for it to post on the Project Earth.com website (which he denies). You see, at that moment, we were friends and coworkers. He scanned it and freely sent me the digital scan. We published the photo.

He stated nothing about a “copyright” or anything stating that this was his and only his technology until shortly before the release of Thrive. TWELVE YEARS LATER. Very curious, don’t you think?

David scanned the Polaroid(s), he sent the scan(s) and we published it (not them). What could be simpler to understand than that? David posing, glaring into the camera holding two Polaroid’s convicts him of misrepresentation. He has the originals in his hands! No one stole a thing! Pirate a Polaroid? Get a life.

The Project Earth site stated clearly that this photo was not of a Closed Path Homopolar Generator.

The first actual generator I worked on would have never been successfully designed without the brilliance and extremely hard work of the then young Joseph Kahn. I have always said this. It disappeared from a warehouse/laboratory in an industrial park North of LA shortly after Project Earth Co-founder R. Buckminster Fuller’s death.

In its final embodiment I redesigned the liquid metal brushes as a refinement to the original Trombly/Kahn design. I called the new brush design the Micro-Turbulent Magnetohydrodynamic Liquid Metal Brush. It created micro-turbulent vortices, which acted as tiny pushing bearings and assisted the rotation of the rotor. Prior designs, including the initial design that was used in the first Closed Path Homopolar Generator design, could actually create a back torque on the rotor.

After the theft/confiscation of this generator in 1983, I never worked with a Closed Path Homopolar Generator again.

I next worked with the late Marcel Vogel of IBM to whom I was introduced to by Lee Sannella, a dear friend and an early champion of Project Earth after Bucky’s death. Marcel was a genius of considerable stature in the scientific community in spite of his lack of complete “credentials”.

He was a lead scientist on many of the basic Patents filed by IBM for things like the Liquid Crystal Display, the Hard Drive, the Floppy drive, etc. He was one of the most productive scientists in the history of IBM. Thomas Watson, Founder and long time Chairman of the Board for IBM, called Vogel, “One of the most creative individuals I have ever had the privilege to know. He has produced more basic Patents for our company than all but one other individual.”

It was an honor to work with him.

That work occurred years before I met David. My task with Marcel was to work on the first Piezo-Ringing Resonance Generator. This was a very different device than the one David and I worked on. This device was designed to use actual quartz crystals. However, it was fundamentally based on the same principle as the device David and I demonstrated in New York, Washington, D.C., San Francisco, and other venues. I know that the principle utilized in these technologies could one day provide a brighter tomorrow.

I told David about Piezo-ringing resonance theory and reduction to practice early in our working relationship. We discussed the concept, settled on a simple design and shortly thereafter he called me and asked me to come to Oregon. When I arrived he had a case of newly wound Piezo-ringing-resonance coils. Coiltron, Inc. had beautifully wound them at no small expense.

I asked Dave where the money to create these coils had come from and he told me he had acquired it from an investor named Pete Karkonan. I don’t really know much about who Pete Karkonan (sp?) really was but he poured a lot of money into the work.

To the best of my knowledge he provided funds for David’s first HP 3561a and several other instruments as well. I never knew where some of the funds came from. I was somewhat baffled that this man (David), who said he was “completely broke” around the time he introduced himself to me at and after the 1988 Tesla Symposium in Colorado Springs, had managed to acquire so much costly electronic equipment, which he had housed in a nice home on the Umatilla Indian Reservation near Pendleton, Oregon. His wife at that time was named Tina and she was a member of the tribe. She was always very hospitable.

Things progressed rapidly in 1989 and by early June David and I took off for physical demonstrations in New York and Washington D.C. in a motor home filled with newly acquired and/or leased scientific instruments and a veritable forest of antennae. Senator Timothy Wirth of my home state of Colorado in cooperation with Friends of the Earth had arranged for the D.C. demonstration. My friend Electra Briggs and colleague Noel Brown had arranged for the United Nations demonstration. David’s affable brother-in-law Terry, who was a tremendous help on our journey, drove and accompanied us for the entire trip.

It felt good to be on the road to provide physical proof that efficiency of greater than 100% was attainable in relatively inexpensive and compact technologies.

It was an inspiring and heart breaking adventure for all of us. President H.W. Bush actually proposed tradable “carbon credits” at the White House while Fmr. Ambassador James George, David and I stood in the Senate Banking and Finance Committee Hearing Room with a handful of people who had chosen to come to the demonstration of a revolutionary energy technology rather than attend the White House announcement of Bush’s “Clean Air Act”.

It is hard to imagine why David now declares that we never worked together. We worked and laughed and wept together. To deny all of it is beyond the pale and is utterly absurd.

In his missive David tells of the raid by several Federal Marshals in 1997 but suggests that it was “his lab” that got confiscated and that I was somehow behind the raid itself. (Huh?) It was in fact supposed to be our lab and he admitted to that fact, prior to the confiscation, in front of his ex-wife and in-laws and my daughter and I. No one benefitted from that raid. No one won. We all lost.

Since David states that he got his “first earthquake forecasting equipment from William Randolph Hearst II” I have to point out that this was impossible. I had not even met Will Hearst II when Dave got his first equipment. It was the aforementioned “Pete” Karkonan or individuals or entities unknown to me who provided funds for a copious amount of leased and purchased equipment.

Since I am the one who introduced David to Will Hearst II it is another perplexing misstatement. Will did provide us with funds to lease equipment but told me he was dismayed by David’s usurpation of everything that was leased for us. I emphasize for us. The equipment Will had provided funds to lease could not be returned at the end of the lease because David had so modified it that HP would not take it back. Will had to buy it and thenceforth withdrew his support.

David never “gave” me any earthquake forecasting equipment. I actually purchased (with funds from Will Hearst) and physically picked up an HP 3561a at the Hewlett Packard facility in the “Tech Park” of Denver, Colorado. Mr. Farnsworth cannot claim that this was “his” machine because he could not put his name on the warranty. We discovered, over the years of working with him, that this is his modus operandi. Without any financial contribution on his part, David simply put his name on all the warranties such that all of the equipment became his and not the property of the corporation for which the funds had been raised to purchase said equipment.

Nancy and I affectionately called our one HP 3561a instrument “Quency” (after frequency). “Quency” died a month or so ago after thousands of hours of use and many successful forecasts.

We forecast many quakes with that instrument, both in cooperation with David and also many times without him. This is a matter of public record and refutes Mr. Farnsworth’s false claim to have given me my only equipment and to his claims of being the only one to forecast quakes!

As a case in point: In March of 1993 I was communicating on a nearly daily basis with then Commander Michael Egan who was the Head of Strategic Planning for the US Coast Guard at the time. The reason for our conversation was to articulate our contribution to the National Performance Review, which for our part was an endeavor to reinvent Science in the US Government.

During our daily multi-hour conversations I told Mike of the earthquake forecasting technology. When I saw the signature’s pass across the analyzer screen indicating a break, deep in the earth’s crust, over twenty four hours prior to the “surfacing” of a quake, now known as the Scots Mill quake in Oregon, I reported it to Commander Egan. I had not heard from David for many days because he actually thought that there was going to be a “9 point quake” and had packed up his motor home and gone to the country side. After he “hit the road” he had become incommunicado for several days.

David and I were both watching the same signatures on our analyzers but he was so close to the epicenter that the amplitude of the signal at his location was much higher than it appeared in Aspen, Colorado where we watched from the Institute for Advanced Studies at Aspen. In Aspen we forecast a quake of between 5.6 and 6.0 on the Richter scale. This is many orders on magnitude less than a 9.0 quake and was an accurate forecast.

Cmdr. Egan called the Portland Oregonian to report the forecast and this is also a matter of public record. Both the US Coast Guard Station in Portland and FEMA were put on alert prior to the quake. It was the first time in United States history that such a preparedness exercise had been initiated prior to an actual quake.

When an article acknowledging the forecast of this quake appeared in the Portland Oregonian, David became furious because Commander Egan said, “Adam Trombly is extremely brilliant” and said nothing about him. This was not an intentional slight on Cmdr. Egan’s part it was just a reflection of the fact that he and I had been in constant communication. Commander Egan knew I was working with David, but while we were in conversation regarding this actual event, David was absent and for whatever reason not answering his phone. The next article in the Oregonian included David’s name.

The point I want to make is this. Elizabeth Rauscher and Bill Van Bise revealed their discovery to me and spent their time generously with me regarding the forecasting of earthquakes when the study of this process was in its infancy. I then passed on what I had learned to Mr. Farnsworth. He in his inimitable way picked up on the thread and we went forward rapidly as our understanding of the process improved over time.

Earth taught us all directly as we watched the patterns of stress/strain excitation and release. We watched and learned. Hour after hour, day after day, night after night we observed the pre-seismic spectral signatures, which sometime manifest as quakes, volcanic eruptions, or just gradual release with little or no seismic expression.

I consider it one of the great blessings of my life that I have had the time, energy, and money to learn from Elizabeth and Bill, discoverers of the process and from Mother Earth the signs of her increasingly unstable seismic and volcanic processes. I have also been very grateful for much of the time I spent learning with my former friend and colleague David. My life partner Nancy also spent countless vigilant hours learning from the Earth by my side and frequently had insights that deepened our mutual understanding of this process.

It is very exciting to be on the leading edge of discoveries that could positively impact all of our lives. It is disconcerting ad nauseum to have a former colleague attempt to obfuscate a formerly productive working relationship.

Dave claims to have introduced Nancy and I. That is complete bs. I had been speaking to Nancy on the phone for months before he claims to have introduced us. We were actually introduced by a mutual friend in Aspen.

David claims to have never screwed his investors. The record reflects this as a grossly inaccurate statement.

Here a case in point is his relationship with Geordie Hormel, a primary heir to the Hormel Meat dynasty. David took a large amount of money from Geordie Hormel, who was my friend and sat on the board of my company Zero Point Technologies, Inc. before I ever met Farnsworth. I introduced David to Geordie and then Mr. Farnsworth abused my trust by doing everything in his power to undermine my relationship with my friend. Geordie himself said this to me. Geordie and I reconciled our friendship before his death.

This leads us to a very different understanding of the cause of the 1997 raid mentioned above. Within the last week a friend pointed me to an Associated Press article stating that a Federal Judge ordered the raid because of a lawsuit against David Farnsworth that was initiated by Geordie Hormel. The headline reads, “Spam Heir Files Suit Over Investment.”

Since Elizabeth and Bill discovered the real method for using ELF precursors to forecast quakes only a few have been able to pursue it. It is a very important area for scientific investigation, which could be applied towards the safety and welfare of the people of this unstable planet. Those of us who have learned and continue to learn could contribute greatly to the security of populations who are proximate to both seismic and volcanic regions of the earth.

As elucidated above, Former Ambassador James George  did not arrange for me to speak at the United Nations nor for David and I to do our demonstration down the street from the UN in 1989.

Ambassador George is one of my dearest friends and colleagues and a mentor for whom I will always offer up thanks. It would be difficult to count number of times of I relied on his counsel. He is a rare gem in this world. Although David references Jim as a witness on his behalf, Jim does not support a word of David’s attacks.

As mentioned above it was Electra Briggs, who organized the UN event and invited me to speak because she knew of my work from well before any relationship with Mr. Farnsworth. She confirms this.

Noel Brown, then the Head of the New York Office of the United Nations Environment Programme helped arrange for an alternative demo venue for the technology at Holy Covenant Church down the street from the U.N. because of last minute security concerns at Dag Hammerscold Auditorium where I spoke immediately after the successful demonstration.

Anyone who was there knows that it was a very special moment. Some of us felt briefly that the world might change as a result. David had no problem saying we were working together back then.

As for the Liquid Nitrogen Snuffer technology used to put out several oil fires in Kuwait I have always said that David called me in the wee hours of the morning (2 am) in February of 1991with this fantastic idea for putting out oil fires with large tanker trucks of liquid Nitrogen being used like giant pulsed fire extinguishers with a circle of nozzles at the end of gantry arms to shear and suffocate the high pressure flames. (This is a really oversimplified description.) He and I spent several hours on the phone that night and in the days following fleshing out the details. David never before objected to me being cited as his co-inventor.

I will not bore you with the litany of that process and who contributed what. All I cared about was getting the fires out. I promised my daughter.

Boots and Coots did indeed try to patent the technology. I was one of the people who called the US Patent Office to prevent that because I knew very well where it came from.

David’s claims of doing earthquake forecasting and having patents pertaining to ELF earthquake forecasting before knowing me are not even close to being true.

After introducing himself to me at the 1988 Tesla Society Conference in Colorado Springs, David called my office every day and begged to work with me. That is how this whole thing started. I certainly had no need to pursue this man or to learn “buzz words” from him. I already had a successful career and had I known then what I do now I would have made very different decisions regarding working with this man.

David’s claim that he used me, as a sounding board for “his” ideas is ridiculous.

On more than occasion after not speaking to David for months and even once for well over a year (because of his violent mood swings and methamphetamine abuse) I received conciliatory calls in which he said things like, “I need you to come back and work with me. I need your ideas.”

On more than one occasion David tearfully apologized for abusing our working relationship and our friendship. He would apologize for not giving me credit where credit was due. Then, like many other addicts, he would revert to his old pattern of self-deception and abuse.

This is a sad thing to have to say. Anyone who has had an acquaintance, a friend, or a loved one who is or has been addicted to methamphetamine can understand. This dreadful poison has ruined millions of lives worldwide. It is a toxin, which often causes human beings to become monstrously deluded and abusive. I cannot say conclusively that David Farnsworth is currently using this substance but his recent behavior does suggest either residual damage or current abuse.

The Emergency on Earth is too far along to sustain this kind of dissipative distraction. I say in all of my lectures that this is not about any one individual. It is about the contributions we can all make to the healing of our Wounded Earth and ourselves.

It may be of interest to some that I was invited to join the group of fellow interviewees who wish to dissociate from the movie Thrive. I have great respect for all of them. I received a lovely letter of invitation to join this group from my old friend John Robbins. Like Robbins and other signers of the letter I have serious differences with the final edit of the movie.

Even so, I am saddened by attacks on Foster Gamble (or anyone else for that matter) by individuals who hide behind pseudonyms and take pleasure in causing pain. I am not speaking of the signers of the aforementioned list. I am speaking of bullying cowards who place no value on the accuracy of their statements.

Let no one fool you into believing that there is not an Emergency on Earth. David Icke and those who say that Climate Change is a scam do a great disservice to us all. I cannot be associated with nor endorse anything that embraces such a view on this subject.

At Project Earth we have always supported fuel free and pollution free energy producing technologies that could help heal the Earth. These technologies have been suppressed since Tesla. This is not a new issue.

Millions know of my work with Project Earth over the decades. I am so grateful for the support of honest witnesses and the real friends that Project Earth and I have. My record is clear. I stand for the Earth and her creatures. I stand for solutions.

Our planet is now at the fulcrum of great change. We could move into a future that would be wonderful or we could continue on a path that leads to an environmentally bankrupt world. We all need for our governments to invest in Life worth living. The only way this will happen is if we find and raise our voices above the tide of lies.

Sincerely,

Adam Trombly

My Response

Obviously, there’s a lot here. As you can see, the bulk of Mr. Trombly’s essay is devoted to responding to the allegations of Mr. Farnsworth. I’ve said before, and I’ll say it again now, that I don’t know where the truth lies in this dispute between the two of them. I reported Mr. Farnsworth’s allegations; I have now reported Mr. Trombly’s. Although Mr. Trombly’s statement makes it sound like I’ve reported Mr. Farnsworth’s claims as if they are absolutely true and factual, I’ve never done any such thing, because I don’t know which one of them is telling the truth. Go back and look at the article and you’ll see this is the case.

As for the portions of the statement directed at me, I wish to raise three main issues.

“Mob Mentality?”

Mr. Trombly’s statement that I’m stirring up some sort of “mob” against Thrive is a grotesque mischaracterization. I’ve presented facts and arguments that refute many of the claims made in the movie. I’ve reported, as accurately as I can, questions that have been raised by others about the work and the credibility of people who appear in the film, most notably David Icke, Nassim Haramein and Adam Trombly. I believe Thrive is a deceptive film, and my entire purpose in creating this blog has been to lay out the case for why I believe this is so. How is this in any way stirring up a “mob?”

Have I ever advocated hurting anyone over Thrive? Have I ever told people that I think they should take action against anyone connected with the film? Indeed, have I ever even stated or implied that I think Thrive should be banned, censored or suppressed? The answer to each of these questions is a resounding no.

Indeed, if there’s any sort of “mob” here, it’s definitely looking for me, not the other way around. One need only glance at some of the comments to any article posted here to see numerous examples of the extreme hostility with which many Thrive fans have responded to this blog. I’ve been accused of causing wars, suicides and depression. I’ve been accused of making up sources. I’ve been accused of “collaborating” with evil forces bent on enslaving the world. And yes, as most readers well know, I’ve been accused of being a “paid disinformation agent.” Right now about 30% of the readership of this blog believes someone is paying me to trash Thrive.

So let me ask Mr. Trombly—if I’m the one stirring up a “mob,” how come I’m the one getting death threats?

Undermining Pollution-Free Forms of Energy?

Mr. Trombly states that I am “undermin[ing] fuel and pollution free forms of electrical and mechanical energy production.” This is untrue.

I do not and never have opposed pollution-free forms of electrical or mechanical energy production. I would love to see a cheap, reliable form of pollution-free energy production. The world needs that sort of technology desperately. Personally, my belief is that the governments of the United States and other industrialized countries should devote considerable resources to the development of solar, wind and other renewable forms of energy. I believe a symbiosis of public-private interests, geared with great urgency and coordinated toward common goals, can develop realistic clean alternatives to fossil fuel power generation within the next ten years. I would support massive increases in public expenditures to bring about such a result. I’m willing to have my own tax burden raised significantly if I knew that the money was going toward development of clean, renewable energy on a wide scale, and I would whole-heartedly support political candidates who would advocate this. (Barack Obama has been a disappointment in this regard).

How have I “undermined” the cause of advocating environmentally and socially responsible energy? By asking for evidence that supports claims of “free energy” machines? How is this in any way unreasonable?

I would like to ask Mr. Trombly, if I had a million dollars that I was thinking of investing with him to develop the technology he’s working on, would he think it unreasonable if I asked for evidence that his claims are, in fact, supportable? Would he expect an investor to simply give him money on faith, without seeing anything? I’m not sure how the inventing business works, but I’d be very surprised if it actually works like that.

If a person makes a very broad and sweeping claim about something, they must be prepared to be asked for evidence that what they claim is true. If what they claim is true, they should have absolutely no fear of being asked to prove it. In fact, they should welcome the opportunity to prove themselves right, because the process of proving it will eliminate any potential doubt.

This is why I’ve stated before, and will state again here, that it would be very easy for Mr. Trombly to silence my criticism of “free energy” once and for all time. All he need do is show me (and the rest of the world) a working “free energy” device that actually does what is claimed of it. That demonstration needs to be out in the open and done in such a way that others can replicate the result, or at least verify it beyond all doubt. This can be done without jeopardizing patent or other intellectual property rights to which the inventor of such a device would, quite justifiably, be entitled.

That’s all Mr. Trombly has to do. Show me a working “free energy” device and prove that it really works. That’s all. If he does that, I’m a believer. It really is that simple.

Mr. Trombly’s Disagreement With Thrive—Is There Common Ground?

I now wish to get away from the obvious points on which I disagree with Adam Trombly. Let’s move toward a place where we might be able to find common ground.

For the first time I see in Mr. Trombly’s statement an indication that he’s unhappy with how he and his work was portrayed in Thrive. Whether he has actually signed the letter that John Robbins and eight others have signed is unclear from his statement, but he clearly indicates he’s thinking about it. He also clearly indicates that he strongly disagrees with David Icke and others who deny the proven scientific fact of anthropogenic global warming.

Here, then, are two points where I couldn’t agree more with Adam Trombly. I would say that, if I had to jettison every one of my issues with Thrive except for one, the presence of David Icke in the film is the one that would stand out as most bothering me. I do not like David Icke. I believe his theories are extremely harmful and damaging. As a human being who strongly opposes racial prejudice, I am deeply offended by the racist implications of Mr. Icke’s theories. My position on this is well-known.

I also believe that anthropogenic global warming is the single most important problem facing the world today. This is an issue that must be addressed. We can’t ignore it. Fighting global warming is of absolutely vital importance to every human being on the planet. And it is a crisis. If that’s what Mr. Trombly means about an “Emergency on Earth,” I agree. Mr. Trombly is wrong when he suggests that I’m not doing anything about the future of the planet. The work I’ve been doing in my everyday life for the past two years has significant implications for the understanding of climate change and how to deal with it.

I also commend Mr. Trombly for stating that he can’t endorse or be involved with anything that embraces the denialist view that global warming is some sort of scam. I would like to know if this is Mr. Trombly’s main basis for criticizing Thrive. Foster Gamble has made statements that indicate that he’s a global warming denier. I think it’s great that Adam Trombly is taking a stand against that. It’s an important stand.

A common thread is emerging from the various criticisms of Thrive that are out there. Many people oppose the film because they believe its unsupportable and sensational claims divert people’s attention away from real issues that need to be solved. This is certainly the basis of my disagreement with the film. Blaming the problems of the world on imaginary conspiracies created by an imaginary “Global Domination Elite” draws attention away from solving real problems that exist, not in Foster Gamble’s fantasy world, but in the real world where the rest of us live. I suspect that Adam Trombly’s disagreement with the film comes from a similar perspective. If that’s true, there’s some more common ground.

I’ve never stated that I think Foster Gamble is a bad person. In fact I’ve gone out of my way to stress that I believe he’s a good man with good intentions and who really does want to help the world become a better place. If I was stirring up a “mob,” or if I didn’t care about accuracy or fairness, why on earth would I say this about him? I think Foster Gamble is misguided in many of his beliefs. I think that he made numerous errors of fact and judgment in putting Thrive together. But none of that makes him a bad person. Mr. Trombly makes me out as some sort of demagogue who will stop at nothing to tear him down. Why, if that’s the case, haven’t I been far harsher on Foster Gamble?

Thus, I would suggest that perhaps my opinion of Foster Gamble, as a human being, is probably not too different from Adam Trombly’s. This is some more common ground.

So there are four issues on which Adam Trombly and I agree. If he’s willing to stand up and be counted with those who oppose and distance themselves from this deceptive film, as others have done, at least from my perspective the issues on which we continue to disagree will attain much lesser importance.

Conclusion

I started this blog because I was very bothered by the factual and logical errors and inaccuracies of Thrive, and I didn’t want the people out there on the Internet who were its most likely fans—young people, mostly, who are concerned with the direction our global society is taking—to accept it unquestioningly without at least being aware that the film has very serious problems. The bulk of Mr. Trombly’s statement is aimed at countering allegations made by David Farnsworth. I understand and appreciate why he’s doing that, and if I hadn’t been willing from the get-go to air both sides of the story, you would not see Mr. Trombly’s statement reproduced here in its entirety.

Setting aside for a moment his conflict with Mr. Farnsworth, there are indications in Mr. Trombly’s statement that he is also bothered by certain aspects of Thrive—bothered enough to join, or at the very least consider joining, a group of people who appear in the movie and who now want to distance themselves from it. I think that’s very positive. Considering that Mr. Trombly and I seem to agree on other issues—the urgency and importance of solving the problems of anthropogenic global warming, for instance—I’d venture to say that perhaps there is room to move forward in a constructive manner to evaluate Thrive and the issues it raises. For that reason, there is a great deal about Mr. Trombly’s statement that I welcome.

Throwing Thrive Under the Bus: Progressives Interviewed in the Film Distance Themselves From Its “Dangerously Misguided” Ideas. (UPDATED!)

This blog, originally published April 12, 2012, was updated April 13, 2012. Scroll to the end for the update.

It seems that the honeymoon the public has had with Thrive as a result of the film’s release free on the web has already come to a crashing halt. Yesterday, nine of the people interviewed in Thrive—John Robbins, Deepak Chopra, Paul Hawken, Elisabet Sahtouris, Duane Elgin, Vandana Shiva, Edgar Mitchell, Amy Goodman and John Perkins—issued a public statement denouncing the film and stressing their profound disagreement with it. They also claim that Foster Gamble and the makers of the film misrepresented it when securing their participation. This is potentially an extremely serious development for Foster Gamble and Clear Compass Media, whose film is already under heavy attack from anti-conspiracy skeptics, progressive political thinkers, and environmentalists.

Who Said What?

An article in the Santa Cruz News (online) by reporter Eric Johnson quotes portions of the statement as well as remarks by John Robbins. Mr. Robbins is an environmentalist, an advocate for sustainability and a health/fitness author best known for his book Diet for a New America, which was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize. He lives in the Santa Cruz, California area and knows Thrive makers Foster and Kimberly Gamble personally. According to the article, Mr. Robbins was invited to an advance screening of Thrive at Mr. Gamble’s house. Here’s how he describes what he saw there:

“Robbins, who makes a brief appearance in the film, says he was “overwhelmed” by what he saw.

“There were parts I liked, but there were other parts that I just detested,” he recalls. “I didn’t want to be rude—we were there with our families—so I just didn’t say anything.”

According to the Santa Cruz Weekly News article, Mr. Robbins told the reporter that Foster Gamble didn’t tell them about the real contents of the film beforehand. They didn’t know what was in it until it came out publicly. Additionally, Paul Hawken and Elizabeth Sahtouris told the news outlet that Mr. Gamble had actively misrepresented the film.

Just this evening, John Robbins posted a comment on my blog which included the full text of the statement signed by himself and the six other interviewees who have denounced Thrive. Here is the text of the statement as it was presented to me:

“We are a group of people who were interviewed for and appear in the movie Thrive, and who hereby publicly disassociate ourselves from the film.

Thrive is a very different film from what we were led to expect when we agreed to be interviewed. We are dismayed that we were not given a chance to know its content until the time of its public release. We are equally dismayed that our participation is being used to give credibility to ideas and agendas that we see as dangerously misguided.

We stand by what each of us said when we were interviewed. But we have grave disagreements with some of the film’s content and feel the need to make this public statement to avoid the appearance that our presence in the film constitutes any kind of endorsement.

Signatories (in alphabetical order)

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.

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Another Negative Review of Thrive Hits the Nail on the Head

More than two months after its release, Thrive is still struggling to command any significant positive attention in mainstream circles. As I pointed out not long ago, the film has placed itself in a difficult niche: by its reliance on conspiracy theories it becomes toxic to the mainstream, but even many hard-core conspiracy theorists do not trust it because of Foster Gamble’s corporate associations and the ridiculous delusions that its imagery, especially its promotional poster, is “NWO occult symbolism.”

The film’s search for mainstream acceptance was dealt yet another blow a few weeks ago with a scathing review posted on the award-winning UK green/sustainability blog Transition Culture, one of the most widely read environmental blogs in Britain. TC’s founder, Rob Hopkins, lectures and blogs about topics regarding peak oil and the transition from our current unsustainable energy practices to more locally-oriented and eco-friendly solutions. Far from being a sympathetic audience to Thrive, Mr. Hopkins savaged the film, and for many of the same reasons I criticize it on this blog: its factual inaccuracies, its promotion of conspiracy theories, and its pandering to New Age sensibilities largely divorced from positive real-world solutions to the problems it purports to respond to.

“What do you do when you are the heir to the Proctor and Gamble fortune and you have spent years surrounding yourself with new agey thinking and conspiracy theories?  You make a film like ‘Thrive‘, the latest conspiracy theory movie that is popping up all over the place.  I’ve lost count of the number of people who have asked me “have you seen ‘Thrive’?”  Well I have now, and, to be frank, it’s dangerous tosh which deserves little other than our derision.  It is also a very useful opportunity to look at a worldview which, according to Georgia Kelly writing at Huffington Post, masks “a reactionary, libertarian political agenda that stands in jarring contrast with the soothing tone of the presentation”.

Mr. Hopkins is especially critical of Thrive maker Foster Gamble’s questionable approach to evidence and reasoning. He writes:

“Visually the film is like some kind of Star Trek fan movie crossed with a National Geographic wildlife film, and is largely built around Gamble’s own years of ‘research’ into the question of what it is that “stops life on earth from thriving”.  A reasonable question to ask, but his approach can hardly be called ‘research’ due to the low standards he accepts as ‘evidence’ and his all-round lack of critical analysis.  His research, such as it is, is cherry-picked to deepen and support his established worldview, rather than the worldview being built from a careful analysis of the evidence.  As we’ll see, this is a dangerous foundation.”

Taking the film’s major arguments in turn, Mr. Hopkins reaches largely the same conclusions that we have here at Thrive Debunked. Regarding free energy machines, Mr. Hopkins raises precisely the same point that our contributors have repeatedly raised, most notably in an article involving Adam Trombly:

“[A]ll we are offered as evidence is some grainy film of machines that could be anything doing anything, and some smart computer graphics of spinning torus shapes. If this amazing breakthrough that would rewrite science and win Nobel Prizes for anyone involved were actually a reality, and if you were going to spend huge amounts to make a film to argue for their existence which you would then put out into the public arena, surely you would get a working model of such a device into the studio with some impartial scientists to verify it in operation?  If they actually exist, and actually work, then this wouldn’t be a big challenge surely?”

A lot of Thrive supporters have come to this blog to argue that “free energy” is real. I almost always have the same point: show me the evidence! And Adam Trombly’s website, or a YouTube video supposedly depicting “free energy” machines, does not constitute evidence. By evidence I mean, show the machine to somebody reputable who can replicate it and verify that it actually works. This is precisely the point that Transition Culture is making.

Mr. Hopkins then takes Thrive to task for training a fire hose of conspiracy nonsense directly at the audience:

“Then we are bombarded with the full range of conspiracy thinking.  9/11 was an inside job, there is a conspiracy to suppress natural medicines, “Big Brother’s not coming, it’s already here”, we are one step away from a “military dictatorship”, a climate treaty in Copenhagen would have been “a tax base for tyranny”, there are ‘chemtrails’ in the sky to deliberately poison us, there is a deliberate attempt to reduce the world’s population underway, there is only a cancer epidemic because all the cures have been suppressed, etc, etc…

Gamble wheels out the classic conspiracy theorists’ gambit, “could I be wrong?  Perhaps.  But what if I’m not?”  No, you are wrong.  And even if you were right, you have presented us with so little evidence to back up you claims that you would have no way of knowing whether you were right or not.”

This again strongly supports the point we’ve been making here. The main function of Thrive, as I recently detailed toward the end of this entry, seems to be to account for the reason why New Age concepts such as “free energy” have not transformed the world into a magical utopia. The reason? Evil conspirators are preventing it from happening. Conspiracy theories are not the whole game for Thrive, but they’re a major part of it.

Mr. Hopkins’s ultimate indictment of Thrive has also been echoed on this blog: that the movie diverts attention from real issues, such as anthropogenic climate change, and instead urges its audience to hate imaginary bogeymen and focus its actions on bringing them down. He says:

“‘Thrive’ is dangerous because it invites us to put our faith for the future in a fantasy.  A fantasy that free energy is possible, a fantasy that the only thing that is preventing us from creating a benign and enlightened society is a handful of powerful families….

It’s not about ‘free energy’, it’s about learning to appreciate what a precious thing energy is and learning to live well with less of it.  It’s not about ‘no involuntary taxation’, it’s about taxes that disincentivise the things that are narrowing our future options, and incentivising the things we need to get in place urgently.  It’s not about ‘no government’, it’s about truly democratic government using its considerable powers to build resilience, decarbonise society, shift the collective focus.  The few countries in the world that are actually seriously engaging with the climate issue are those with stronger government, not weaker government.”

I agree completely with these statements. I believe anthropogenic climate change is the most serious issue facing the world today. The makers of Thrive don’t even believe that anthropogenic climate change is happening! How can they even pretend to address this problem when they refuse to accept that it exists? “Free energy” is not the answer, because “free energy” does not exist. Better energy is the answer, and we know that exists because many people, companies and government agencies in numerous countries are out there developing it right now. We will not kick the fossil fuel habit overnight, but we need to begin a transition to cleaner, more renewable energy. This technology will not drop out of the sky, handed to us on a silver platter from bug-eyed aliens. It will be human beings—research labs, some corporate, some private, universities and think tanks, as well as NGOs—that create these solutions. Given the serious lack of faith that Foster Gamble and the other makers of the film seem to have in the ability of human beings to accomplish great things, I remain skeptical that Thrive offers any real solutions. It is, in short, part of the problem, not part of the solution.

I recommend reading the full review.

Thrive: A Flop?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Is Thrive really “waking people up”?

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

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

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

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