Tag Archive | UFOs

Thrive as Holy Scripture: The Emerging Religion of “Conspirituality.”

In a few articles on this site (and also in one on my other blog) I make an argument that the movie Thrive is largely a religious document. It is a statement of faith by Foster Gamble, and a plea to its viewers to adopt the same religious faith, which is a synthesis of New Age concepts, conspiracy theories and far right-wing Libetarian political ideology. Thanks to a recent article in the Journal of Contemporary Religion, not only does this idea have academic support, but the faith that Thrive advances now has a name: “conspirituality.”

In January 2011, two authors—David Voas, a professor at the University of Manchester, and Charlotte Ward, an independent researcher in the field of alternative spirituality—published an article called “The Emergence of Conspirituality” in the peer-reviewed Journal of Contemporary Religion. (The cite is Journal of Contemporary Religion, Vol. 26, No. 1, January 2011, 103-121. The abstract for the article is here but unless you have access to an academic database, you will have to pay to download the full article. If you want to see it for free, I suggest you visit a library that has a subscription to JSTOR or another academic database—it’s well worth your time). Although the article—which I only just recently became aware of—was published eleven months before Thrive’s release, I think it is extremely apposite to the film. In fact, if the article had been published after the film’s release, I have no doubt it would have been discussed as a case study of conspirituality.

The Ward/Voas article was peer-reviewed. That means that knowledgeable researchers in the field of contemporary and comparative religion reviewed drafts of it—their identities not known to the authors—and provided critical comments. Peer review is not infallible, but it is the hallmark of academia and it’s what separates publications like academic journals apart from other publications where material may or may not be independently checked. Most major trade magazines and reputable newspapers employ fact checkers, but academic journals operate on a strict system of review. It’s worth noting that virtually none of the “sources” that Foster Gamble and Thrive rely upon are peer-reviewed—such as the now-infamous BLTResearch.com, which is the film’s go-to source on crop circles.

What is “Conspirituality”?

The authors of the article have coined a new word—“conspirituality”—to describe what they see as a recently-emerging religion that melds New Age sensibilities and conspiracy theories. The best way to explain it is to quote from the article itself:

“We argue that conspirituality is a politico-spiritual philosophy based on two core convictions, the first traditional to conspiracy theory, the second rooted in the New Age:

(1) A secret group covertly controls, or is trying to control, the political and social order (Fenster).

(2) Humanity is undergoing a ‘paradigm shift’ in consciousness, or awareness, so solutions to (1) lie in acting in accordance with an awakened ‘new paradigm’ worldview.

Conspirituality is a web movement with diffuse leadership and constantly shifting areas of interest.”

In order to understand what this means, you need to understand how the authors define both “New Age” and “conspiracy theory.” Here’s what they say on that:

“[New Age] groups embrace the idea of a person as an integrated whole, with mind, body, and spirit subject to a common set of principles. The second ideology is conspiracy theory. Here one finds a denial of contingency, the discovery of patterns in events that might otherwise seem to be random, and the attribution of agency to hidden forces.”

The article goes on to explain that the central feature of New Age thinking is this idea of “new paradigm” or “new consciousness.” Many, many examples of this belief can be found in many places, and especially on the Internet, from which most of the authors’ examples were drawn. A frequent theme in New Age milieu is the idea that there is a massive shift taking place, or about to take place, in human consciousness. A good example of this type of message is what some people are saying about the “2012” prophecies. While some people literally do believe that the supposed “end” of the Mayan long-count calendar in December 2012 will mean the end of the world, in New Age circles it’s much more common for people to predict some sort of massive consciousness shift. Whitley Strieber, a noted New Age author (and conspiracy theorist) who is most famous for his claims of having been abducted by aliens, makes this sort of argument here.

As for conspiracy theory, well, that’s easy. If you read this blog or have seen Thrive, you know exactly what this means: bizarre, unsupportable and factually bankrupt assertions like the Illuminati or the “Global Domination Agenda,” “false flag” attacks, suppression of free energy, etc. The authors make the interesting point that the conspiracy theorist underground is overwhelmingly white, overwhelmingly male, and usually politically conservative. I’ll return to that point in a little while.

As for how New Age and conspiracy theories go together, I’m going to quote something I published a few months ago. I had an email correspondence with a British academic back in January where he talked about exactly this phenomenon. Here is what he had to say (it’s quoted in this article):

“I suspect that what’s going on is that New Age, now entering its third generation, has developed a theodicy. Now, this is a theological term, but it essentially means an explanation of the existence of evil – why bad things happen to good people. For some of those in the New Age milieu – Foster Gamble, David Icke, Whitley Strieber, Duncan Rhodes and others, all incidentally in middle age and with a long term involvement in the New Age milieu – an explanation is needed as to why, if we’ve entered the Age of Aquarius, is the world less peaceful, equal and progressive than ever? Conspiracy theories offer such a theodicy – the New Age hasn’t happened because evil people prevented it from happening.”

What is an Example of “Conspirituality” In Practice?

One very prominent example cited in the Ward/Voas article is another buzzword that has appeared occasionally on Thrive Debunked: the Zeitgeist Movement. In case you don’t know, the Zeitgeist Movement is an Internet-based organization—many call it a cult, and that term is apposite—which sprang out of the fanbase for the 2007 Internet conspiracy theory film Zeitgeist: The Movie, and which proposes that the world be remade with something called a “Resource Based Economy,” which is basically late-stage Communism with robots and computers standing in for the dictatorship of the proletariat. By melding conspiracy theories (including “9/11 was an inside job” theories, which were the film’s major selling points) with this sort of new consciousness argument, Zeitgeist’s leader, Peter Joseph Merola, minted one of the most paradigm examples of a conspirituality religious organization. Here’s what the authors say about that:

“The second [example of conspirituality] is weighted towards conspiracy theory. It was taken from the Zeitgeist Movement, a web site promoting global activism connected to Zeitgeist the Movie, a 2007 web movie. Zeitgeist alleges, among other things, that organised religion is about social control and that 9/11 was an inside job. The producers claim that the movie has been viewed 100 million times.

[quoted from the Zeitgeist Movement Facebook page:]

The elite power systems are little affected in the long run by traditional protest and political movements. We must move beyond these ‘establishment rebellions’ and work with a tool much more powerful: We will stop supporting the system, while constantly advocating knowledge, peace, unity and compassion. We cannot ‘‘fight the system’’. Hate, anger and the ‘war’ mentality are failed means for change, for they perpetuate the same tools the corrupt, established power systems use to maintain control to begin with. [. . .]

[Ward/Voas comment:] This could be called a ‘spiritual’ awakening.”

What Does This Have To Do With Thrive?

In a word: everything.

Thrive is an even more obvious and clear graft between New Age ideas and conspiracy theory ideology, which according to Ward and Voas is the definition of conspirituality. This is the point I made in my other blog’s article on how the conspiracy theory world has been changing—and in that article I made the point, several times in fact, that Zeitgeist and the Zeitgeist Movement are the progenitors of Thrive, and most likely the example Foster Gamble was trying to follow. But, just to line up a few factors that I think demonstrate that Thrive exemplifies the Ward/Voas concept of conspirituality, let’s look at this:

  • Thrive telegraphs its New Age associations, and tries to sell itself to a New Age audience, early in the film by heavy use of New Age concepts such as crop circles, ancient aliens and UFO contact.
  • One of Thrive’s central messages is that humanity must have some sort of “paradigm shift” if we are to break out of these horrible conspiracies that Foster Gamble says we suffer from.
  • Thrive’s promotional poster features an image of a woman removing a blindfold. The whole theme of “waking up” surrounds promotion of the film. Additionally, many Thrive supporters who have commented on this blog have advised me to “wake up” or employed similar language to urge me to change my thinking regarding the film.
  • Thrive pretends to impart to its audience hidden knowledge or forbidden knowledge that “they” don’t want you to know.
  • Thrive regards factual support of its conclusions as largely unnecessary. By looking at the ridiculous “Fact Check” section of the Thrive website, one sees right away that any factual support for the movie’s assertions is perfunctory, poorly-researched and shoddily done. The message is that it’s faith and belief, rather than facts and evidence, that make the difference between swallowing Thrive’s message and rejecting it.
  • The middle section of the film churns as many conspiracy theories as it possibly can, as fast as it can, and with as few facts cluttering the presentation as possible. It is obvious that this section of the film was built as a sort of “big umbrella” to welcome into the Thrive milieu as many conspiracy theorists as possible by appealing to a very wide range of disparate (and often mutually exclusive) theories.
  • The final section of Thrive purports to offer “solutions” to the problems it identifies. Its solutions either consist of ending the conspiracies, or implementing far right-wing Libertarian political ideology such as abolishing taxes, abolishing education, etc.
  • Thrive and its milieu exist mostly on the Internet. Like the Zeitgeist Movement, to the extent there even is a “Thrive Movement,” it is almost totally web-based. As the article makes clear, the Internet is overwhelmingly the main channel for proselytizing the conspirituality religion.

If the Zeitgeist Movement is a paradigm example of an organization offering a conspirituality religious message, I can see little doubt that Thrive would also qualify. The British researcher I talked to put it in very stark terms. Thrive asks the question, “Why hasn’t this New Age consciousness shift occurred?” and then answers it by pointing a finger at the Rothschilds, Rockefellers and “bankers” and says, “It hasn’t happened because they prevented it.”

An Interesting Angle: Foster & Kimberly Gamble and the Gender Issue.

The Ward/Voas article makes a very interesting point about the gender dynamic within the emerging religion of conspirituality. I hope they won’t mind if I quote them again, because they say it better than I could:

“Notwithstanding these shared principles, there is a wide gulf between the ordinary understandings of conspiracy theory and the [New Age] milieu. The former is male-dominated, often conservative, generally pessimistic, and typically concerned with current affairs. The latter is predominantly female, liberal, self-consciously optimistic, and largely focused on the self and personal relationships. It is therefore far from obvious how a confluence of these two streams could be produced.”

I argue that the husband and wife team of Foster and Kimberly Gamble represents a living example of the union between these previously incompatible belief systems. Foster Gamble, obviously male, seems to be very conservative politically; he believes, for example, that taxation is theft (a classic Libertarian idea) and in Thrive he even denounces the very idea of democracy as a form of tyranny and oppression. [Note: in this discussion I am not conflating political conservatism with support of the mainstream Republican Party in the U.S. I am not alleging that Mr. Gamble is a Republican, just that he espouses at least some politically conservative ideas. They’re not the same thing, though they overlap to some degree]. Clearly Mr. Gamble is concerned with current affairs, and his outlook is relentlessly pessimistic, at least regarding the current state of the world. Kimberly Gamble, by contrast, is shown in Thrive as more of a touchy-feely figure. Her subjects of discussion regard holistic healing, health issues, etc. Also note that in the film Mrs. Gamble generally appears in a much more optimistic-looking setting (a home-like room drenched with light) whereas Foster Gamble usually appears, through bluescreen effects, to be hovering in a dark space.

I believe the husband-and-wife presentation of Thrive was carefully calculated to appeal to both sides of the conspirituality coin. A male figure who speaks well and appears friendly gives the message about evil conspiracies, then recommends the implementation of far right-wing Libertarian political ideology as a potential solution. A female figure, conveying a softer tone, speaks of personal issues and seems well-connected to the New Age milieu. Her message, even more than Mr. Gamble’s, seems to hinge upon belief and faith rather than fact and evidence.

Even beyond the gender dynamic, I believe there is also a generational dynamic. Foster Gamble is in his 50s. He claims in at least one interview to have learned about the principles of conspiracy thinking from his son, who must be in his 20s or 30s. That demographic—white males in their 20s and 30s, or even teens—are the key consumers of conspiracy theory material, which can be witnessed by noting that the overwhelming majority of members of the conspiracy-minded Zeitgeist Movement fall into this category. Foster and Kimberly Gamble may be positioning themselves as sort of a “mother and father” team, administering their philosophy to a global family of New Agers and conspiracy theorists.

The Future?

If Thrive is an exemplar of a conspirituality religious text, what does this mean for the future? How do those of us who still live in the rational world deal with the emergence of conspirituality?

I don’t know the answer to this. I find it interesting that academics are now beginning to study the phenomena that we (those of us who debunk conspiracy theories) have been noting for the past few years, the trend of groups and individuals, like Foster Gamble or Zeitgeist’s Peter Joseph, to use conspiracy theories as a marketing tool to gain adherents to a political, social or religious philosophy. That’s the change I wrote about in my article in February. Does this development make movies like Thrive more or less dangerous, divisive, harmful and irresponsible?

I think it might depend on how conspirituality continues to develop. If it becomes very clear to most people that what Thrive espouses is a religious belief system, people and society at large may come to accept it on those terms, which is fine. Some Christians believe the world was created in six 24-hour days, about 6,000 years ago; many Mormons believe that Joseph Smith actually found golden plates and that a civilization called the Nephites lived in what is now the western U.S. These are accepted as religious beliefs. If adherents of conspirituality believe that 9/11 was an inside job and that aliens create crop circles, I suppose it’s not so bad so long as people realize that these are religious beliefs, which exist in the realm of unfalsifiable phenomenon—faith, essentially—and do not rise to the level of empirical matters that must be proven by actual facts and evidence.

On the other hand, if adherents of conspirituality reject the conclusion that what they’re espousing are religious beliefs, and continue to insist that the things they believe are true as a matter of objective fact—and demand that society act on those matters as if they were fact—I could see this becoming a major societal problem in the decades to come. As a practical matter I don’t them agreeing passively that what they’re peddling is a religion. Believers in the Zeitgeist Movement, to use that as an example again, emphatically reject any suggestion that the organization they follow is a cult or some sort of quasi-religious belief system; they insist it’s based on fact, and they usually insist that the conspiracy theories upon which their movement is based are also facts.

Conversely, the vast majority of Thrive fans who have posted comments critical of this blog seem to believe, for whatever bizarre reason, that the assertions contained in the movie are factual, though I admit that many of them seem more interested in arguing the efficacy of the film’s or the filmmakers’ proposed solutions—the spiritual meat of conspirituality, in a sense—more than the facts. (This is why I get so many comments to the effect of, “Well, what are you doing to save the world?” or “Why don’t you do something more productive with your time?”) As I pointed out in my February article, the arena in which traditional fact-based debunkers have been battling conspiracy theorists over the past few years is rapidly shrinking—largely because conspiracy theorists have come to care less and less about, and swayed less and less by, matters of fact and evidence. It’s the faith and the beliefs that are important to them, not the facts. That’s a world I would rather not live in, but unfortunately I think that’s the world we’re headed for.

Conclusion

The main point of this article is this: I hypothesized some time ago that Thrive is essentially a religious text, proffering beliefs that are probably more correctly classified as tenets of faith rather than matters of fact, and I believe the Journal of Contemporary Religion article lends support to this hypothesis. Furthermore, the Ward/Voas article gives us a name for this emerging religion—conspirituality—and begins to lay an analytical framework for us to understand it.

Boiled down to its core essence, it’s a rather simple equation. New Age beliefs plus conspiracy theories equals conspirituality, a religious belief, and the Internet is conspirituality’s church. I think everyone who sees Thrive should be aware that, when they hear Mr. Gamble’s soothing voice and watch pretty CGI images of glowing purple space donuts, they may well be taking part in a sort of high-tech mass—an initiation rite into a new religious belief system. This system is not an organized church in any traditional sense, but I think the signs are becoming ever more clear that it is a religion, or starting to become one. Where this belief system will take its adherents in the future, no one yet knows.

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Noted Canadian Skeptic Show Examines Thrive—And Tells the Truth.

A podcast called “Life, The Universe and Everything Else,” a program put on by the Winnipeg Skeptics association, has turned its sights on Thrive. I spent the morning listening to the podcast, and I recommend it very highly. You can play it from your computer here. The host of the show is Gem Newman (founder of Winnipeg Skeptics, computer science expert), and the guests include Gary Barbon, Mark Forkheim, Robert Shindler, Richelle McCullough and Greg Christiansen. You can see information on who these people are, and what their backgrounds are, here.

The Winnipeg Skeptics are a group of skeptics and critical thinkers who apply fact, logic and critical thinking to wild claims made on the Internet. Just as this blog has done since the beginning, the Skeptics have exhaustively examined Thrive and their review is, needless to say, highly negative. While they find some things to praise in the film, they are extremely critical of the film’s shoddy research, its trafficking in bizarre and divisive conspiracy theories, its promotion of far right-wing Libertarian propaganda, and its reductive and harmful worldview that obscures real problems of income inequality, political corruption and environmental degradation.

Thrive Debunked is mentioned prominently in the episode and I’m proud to say this site was used as a significant source to fact-check and analyze the film. You’ll see links to various articles here on the blog page discussing the episode.

At one point, Mr. Newman reads verbatim from the statement made by John Robbins repudiating Thrive and criticizing its conspiracy worldview—a statement published on this blog with Mr. Robbins’s permission.

If you’re a regular reader of this blog, very little on the podcast will be news to you. But it is noteworthy that whenever anyone approaches Thrive with a desire to check its facts and think through its conclusions, they invariably conclude that it is faulty, false and dangerous. We can therefore add the Winnipeg Skeptics’ review to the lengthening list of similar reviews catalogued on this site, such as JREF’s, Transition Culture’s and the Praxis Institute’s.

Do give the podcast a listen. It’s very well-done.

Foster Gamble Responds: Thrive and its Solutions are (Evidently) Only For Conspiracy Theorists.

Foster Gamble, the man behind the Thrive documentary, has responded to the open letter I addressed to him last week as well as other statements I’ve made on this blog. He responded in the form of a comment to the blog. I’m going to reproduce the text of Mr. Gamble’s statement in its entirety here in this article. Then, at the end, I will offer my own remarks in response.

Note: some commenters have taken Mr. Gamble to task by putting many of his thoughts in all caps, as if he is shouting. I don’t see it that way. Just how the blog comment system works on WordPress, there was really no other way for him to set off his text from words of mine that he was responding to.

Further note: Mr. Gamble’s statement contains some quotations of mine. Below the line that appears beneath this paragraph, all the words that are not set off in blockquotes are Foster Gamble’s (until we get to my remarks), and the ones in blockquotes are from me. I just want to state this to avoid confusion.

_____________________________________________

Mr. Dead Ones (Muertos)

I was told before launching THRIVE that I would know we were having significant impact when debunkers started devoting entire websites to negative-only commentary. So I guess I should thank you for fulfilling that role.

You claim there are no real conspiracies – despite vast documentation and court cases. You state there are no real zero point energy devices – despite a huge number of eyewitnesses, gag orders, court cases etc. You write off the possibility of contact with UFOs / ET – despite thousands of credible reports, hundreds of hours of footage, over 500 high level military, government, pilot and FAA accounts, and other country’s formal acknowledgement of UFO’s. You seem to think there is not any chance we could actually thrive with freedom for EVERYONE.

Clearly, we disagree. That’s fine- I just wonder what you base your opinions on?

If our predicament on this planet is the result of coincidence and incompetence, why do you hide your true identity? You claim to be afraid of repercussions from actually taking a transparent stand – Afraid of whom? What integrity is there is hiding and then deliberately trying to thwart the efforts of those who would transparently stand for our values, for deeper truths and for new paradigm solutions? I believe such cowardice and shortsightedness feed into the much more dangerous looming police state that you end up supporting through your denial.

If there is no destructive conspiracy to be concerned about and if you are sincere, why not just post your real name, picture, bio and affiliations?

I highly recommend that you take a fraction of the vast amount of time you put into creating only negative and baseless smears against THRIVE and actually do some real investigation so that we can engage in an informed dialog that will add something of value in these perilous times.

I am pausing to take some time to expose some of your most blatant misrepresentations of THRIVE. My input to your assessment is in all caps below.

“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.”

FG – I UNDERSTAND THAT YOU RELY ON COINCIDENCE THEORY AND NOTIONS OF GOVERNMENT INCOMPETENCE TO EXPLAIN THE CONSOLIDATION OF POWER THAT HAS THE MAJORITY OF THE WORLD IN SHACKLES AND AMERICA CAREENING TOWARD A POLICE STATE. I USED TO BELIEVE THAT ALSO. THEN I IMMERSED MYSELF IN RESEARCH AND FOUND CREDIBLE EVIDENCE ACTUALLY MADE MORE SENSE THAN THE MODEL OF INTERPRETATION YOU ARE RELYING ON. HOW DO YOU EXPLAIN THESE “33 CONSPIRACIES THAT TURNED OUT TO BE TRUE? http://www.abovetopsecret.com/forum/thread531572/pg1

“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.”

FG – AS A 3RD DEGREE BLACK BELT IN THE NON-VIOLENT MARTIAL ART OF AIKIDO, I LEARNED AND TAUGHT THAT THE FIRST IMPERATIVE OF DEFENDING ONESELF AND OUR LOVED ONES IS AN ACCURATE AND THOROUGH ASSESSMENT OF REALITY. CONSIDERING THE VIABILITY OF A CONSPIRACY AND UNDERSTANDING THE CLAIMS OF THOSE OF US WHO SUPPORT CONSPIRACY ANALYSIS IS FRUITFUL- NOT FOR YOU TO BELIEVE IT WITHOUT YOUR OWN DEEP ASSESSMENT, BUT TO CONSIDER IT SERIOUSLY. WHAT IS IT THAT SO MANY INDEPENDENT RESEARCHERS DISCOVER AND RISK THEIR LIVES TO SHARE? WHY JUST DISMISS IT WHEN SO MUCH IS AT STAKE? AN HOUR ON OUR WEBSITE, MUCH LESS AN OPEN-MINDED VIEWING OF THRIVE, WILL MAKE IT VERY CLEAR MY VIEW IS NOT SIMPLISTIC AND NEITHER ARE OUR SOLUTIONS UNPRODUCTIVE. MY INTENTION IS TO EXPOSE THE AGENDA SO THAT OUR SOLUTIONS CAN BE INFORMED. IF YOU DON’T BELIEVE THE FEDERAL RESERVE IS INTENTIONALLY CORRUPT YOU WILL CONTINUE TO LOOK TO THEM TO BAIL US OUT OF THE MESS THEY GOT US IN TO. OR IS IT THAT YOU BELIEVE THAT THIS IS ALL OUR FAULT? I HAVEN’T YET MET A PERSON WHO BELIEVES THEY RIGGED THE ECONOMIC SYSTEM TO SCREW THEMSELVES.

ALREADY CITIES ALL OVER THE WORLD ARE SELF ORGANIZING INTO SOLUTIONS GROUPS BASED ON WHAT IS REALLY GOING ON BEHIND THE SCENES AND GROUNDED SOLUTIONS THAT ADDRESS THE REAL PROBLEMS WITH RESPONSES. THIS IS THE VALUE OF PUTTING THE UNDERSTANDING THAT OUR RESEARCH AFFORDS INTO ACTION.

“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.”

FG – ALL THAT IS GREAT…AND THERE ARE OTHER OPTIONS TO SUPPLEMENT THESE IMPORTANT EFFORTS.

“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.”).”

FG – YOUR PROPOSAL THAT WE ARE ADVOCATING DOING NOTHING UNDERMINES YOUR WHOLE ASSESSMENT OF THRIVE FOR ANYONE THINKING FOR THEMSELVES. AND IF THERE WERE “FREE ENERGY” DEVICES ALREADY DEVELOPED BY CURRENT INVENTORS IN VARIOUS COUNTRIES (WHICH I HAVE SEEN), WOULD YOU WANT PEOPLE TO HAVE ACCESS TO THEM? AND DO YOU REALLY THINK THE GOVERNMENT DOES ALL THESE RAIDS, GAG ORDERS, INTIMIDATIONS AND EVEN ASSASSINATIONS ON HOAXERS? THERE IS HUGE EVIDENCE THAT THEY RECOGNIZE THE REAL INVENTORS BECAUSE THEY HAVE THESE TECHNOLOGIES THEMSELVES. WE HAVE SEEN DEVICES THAT PRODUCE MORE ENERGY THAN THEY USE- THAT IS A FACT. GIVEN THE REALITY OF THIS TECHNOLOGY, AND THE TREMENDOUS POTENTIAL IT HAS FOR RESTRUCTURING THE POWER DYNAMIC ON THE PLANET, HEALING LIVES, CLEANING WATER, RESTORING THE ENVIRONMENT, AND SO MUCH MORE THAT WE MUTUALLY WANT, WHY DO YOU CHOOSE TO PROMOTE SUCH AN UNIFORMED AND CYNICAL RESPONSE? WHY NOT CONSIDER SERIOUSLY THE SENSE IT MAKES THAT AN OIL ECONOMY WOULD DENY THE EXISTENCE OF TECHNOLOGY THAT WOULD OBSOLETE THE OIL ECONOMY? YOU SIMPLY LEAVE YOURSELF OUT OF MORE MEANINGFUL AND FRUITFUL DIALOG BY SHOWING NOT JUST YOUR LACK OF RESEARCH, BUT YOUR LACK OF INSIGHT.

“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.”

FG – SOUNDS NICE. HOW DO YOU DO THIS? WHAT IS THE PRINCIPLE IT’S BASED ON? HOW IS IT DIFFERENT FROM WHAT WE HAVE BEEN HOPING FOR ALL ALONG THAT HASN’T WORKED? NOW WE ARE SPIRALING TOWARD TYRANNY AND YOU ARE HOPING THAT IT MIGHT JUST SOMEHOW START WORKING? I THINK THAT’S REFERRED TO AS THE TRIUMPH OF HOPE OVER EXPERIENCE– NOT A GOOD STRATEGY WHEN ALL OF LIFE IS ON THE LINE.

“Thrive solution: Take out the “Global Domination Elite.” Taxation is theft; abolish it.”

FG – NOT “TAKE OUT” AS IN “KILL.” BUT YES, REMOVE THEM FROM THEIR POSITION OF DOMINATION OVER AND DESTRUCTION OF BILLIONS OF LIVES. WOULD YOU LEAVE THEM IN PLACE WITH MONOPOLIES ON MONEY-MAKING AND FORCE? CAN YOU DISTINGUISH BETWEEN OBSOLETING AND KILLING? IT’S A VALUABLE ONE TO RECOGNIZE. WE HAVE THE POWER TO OBSOLETE THROUGH NON-VIOLENT NON-PARTICIPATION, AND THAT IS WHAT WE CLEARLY ADVOCATE.

THE INCOME TAX IS ONLY 100 YEARS OLD – DURING WHICH TIME OUR ECONOMY AND THAT OF THE WORLD HAS BEEN DECIMATED BY THE SAME BANKING ELITE YOU SUGGEST WE LEAVE IN POWER AND HOPE TO REFORM. REVIEW OUR 3 STAGE SOLUTIONS STRATEGY – WHICH YOU HAVE NEVER MENTIONED ONCE – TO SEE THAT THE DISNFRANCHISED WILL BE CARED FOR IN STAGE ONE TRANSITION – NOT WITH NEW TAXES, BUT WITH MONEY FROM STOPPING THE WARS, CUTTING THE IMPERIALISM BUDGET OF THE MILITARY INDUSTRIAL COMPLEX EISENHOWER AND KENNEDY WARNED ABOUT, AND FROM ABOLISHING THE FEDERAL RESERVE.

IF SOMEONE TAKES THE MONEY YOU EARNED UNDER THREAT OF VIOLENCE IT IS THEFT. THAT IS HOW INCOME TAX OPERATES. I BELIEVE THE KEY QUESTIONS TO HELP US MOVE BEYOND THIS FAILING OLD PARADIGM ARE:

1) If there were a way to have accessible and good roads, education and healthcare, help for the poor, a respected system of justice etc. – without anyone being violated against their will – as in involuntary income tax – would you want that?

FG – IF SO, THEN WE CAN ENGAGE IN THE IMPORTANT AND DIFFICULT WORK OF FIGURING OUT HOW TO DO THAT. LUCKILY MANY PEOPLE HAVE THOUGHT ABOUT IT AND THEIR INSIGHTS AND STRATEGIES CAN HELP INFORM US. THAT IS WHAT WE HAVE EXPLORED IN DEPTH ON OUR WEBSITE IN HOPES OF SAVING PEOPLE TIME BY OUTLINING KEY PRINCIPLES SO THAT TOGETHER WE CAN FORGE A NEW PARADIGM OF SOLUTIONS TO GET BEYOND TWEAKING THIS FUNDAMENTALLY FLAWED AND FAILING SYSTEM.

2) Just exactly when, for you, is it OK for one human being to take the rightfully gained property of another under the threat of violence?

FG – IF IT IS NOT OK THEN HOW DO WE MOVE BEYOND THE INVOLUNTARY TAX-BASED SYSTEM INTO NON-VIOLATING, VOLUNTARY ASSOCIATIONS? ISN’T THAT WORTH CONSIDERING SERIOUSLY TO YOU? IF NOT, PLEASE GET OUT OF THE WAY OF THOSE OF US WHO WANT TO EXPLORE AND STRATEGIZE A PROCESS THAT WILL TRULY CARE FOR PEOPLE IN THE PROCESS, USING THE BEST OF THE PROGRESSIVE AND CONSERVATIVE WORLD VIEWS BUT ULTIMATELY TRANSCENDING THEM TO A PRINCIPLE-BASED NEW PARADIGM OF HUMAN INTERACTION AND ORGANIZATION.

I TRULY HOPE YOU WILL TRY TO ANSWER THESE TWO QUESTIONS SINCERELY AS I BELIEVE OUR RESPONSES TO THEM, AND OUR ABILITY TO CREATE SOLUTIONS TOGETHER WILL DETERMINE THE SURVIVAL AND THRIVAL OF OUR SPECIES.

“Problem: government corruption.

Real solution: Meaningful campaign finance reform; eliminate (or at least reduce) corporate/business influence in politics; punish wrongdoers; elect honest candidates.”

FG – FULLY AGREED…ALL GOOD…WE LIST CAMPAIGN FINANCE REFORM AMONG THE TOP 10 RECOMMENDED ACTIONS. BUT WHEN THE VAST MAJORITY OF PEOPLE WERE AGAINST THE IRAQ WAR, THE AFGHANISTAN WAR, THE BAILOUTS, THE PATRIOT ACT, THE NDAA ETC. AND THEY GO AHEAD ANYWAY…AND THEN OBAMA DICTATES WITH HIS EXECUTIVE ORDER SIGNED MARCH 16 THAT HE CAN TAKE OVER ALL RESOURCES, INDUSTRY, LABOR ETC AND RE-INSTITUTE THE DRAFT – JUST BY DECLARING A NATIONAL EMERGENCY -…. MAYBE THERE IS MORE TO THIS PICTURE THAN CAMPAIGN FINANCE REFORM CAN ACCOMPLISH ON ITS OWN. THE PURPOSE OF OUR FOLLOW THE MONEY PYRAMID ON THE WEBSITE (http://www.thrivemovement.com/followthemoneypyramid) IS TO SHOW THAT THERE ARE AT LEAST 5 LEVELS OF CONTROL ABOVE THE SO-CALLED “GOVERNMENT.” THAT IS WHY THRIVE SOLUTION STRATEGIES ENGAGE AT ALL THE LEVELS.

AND THAT IS WHY WE WANT TO ENVISION AND WORK TOWARD A WAY OF LIFE THAT TRANSCENDS INVOLUTARY GOVERNMENT SYSTEMS THAT RELY ON INVOLUTARY TAXES – COERCION- AND BEGIN THE DISMANTLING OF THOSE CORRUPT SYSTEMS. IF WE HAD THE MONEY THAT WE NOW PAY IN INTERST TO THE CORRUPT PRIVATELY OWNED FEDERAL RESERVE AND CUT THE PENTAGON BUDGET IN HALF, WE COULD AFFORD TO DECIDE FOR OURSELVES HOW TO CARE FOR OURSELVES AND EACH OTHER. WE WOULD HAVE THE MONEY NEEDED TO RESTORE THIS PLANET AND CARE FOR PEOPLE.

WE BELIEVE THAT WHEN PEOPLE HAVE WHAT THEY NEED, THEY WILL BE RESPONSIBLE AND COMPASSIONATE. AND WE DO NOT SUGGEST TAKING AWAY GOVERNMENT SUPPORT UNTIL PEOPLE HAVE THE RESOURCES- WHICH IS WHY YOU AND WE BOTH CONSIDER CAMPAIGN FINANCE REFORM AND HONEST VOTING AND UNDOING CORPORATE PERSONHOOD TO BE SO VITAL.

WHY NOT ENGAGE IN HOW TO BE SURE PEOPLE ARE CARED FOR (AS WE ADDRESS IN STAGE 1) AND ENGAGE IN A THOUGHTFUL EXPLORATION WITH US? WHAT IF THERE WERE RULES PROTECTING EVERYONE’S HUMAN RIGHTS, CONTRACTS, PROPERTY ETC. BUT NO RULERS WITH AGGREGATED RIGHTS TO TAKE MONEY, WAGE WAR, BAIL OUT CRONIES ETC.? REMEMBER THE “NATION STATE” IS RESPONSIBLE FOR MORE VIOLENCE AGAINST ITS OWN PEOPLE THAN ANY OTHER ENTITY IN HISTORY.

“Thrive solution: All corruption is the fault of the “Global Domination Elite.” Rise up against them and destroy them, and everything will be fine.”

FG – OF COURSE IT IS NOT “ALL CORRUPTION.” BUT THE BIGGEST AND MEANEST TRACES BACK TO THEM TIME AFTER TIME. THEY ARE THE ONLY ONES WITH ENOUGH POWER IN PLACE TO BE SO VASTLY CRUEL. “DESTROY THEM?” I NEVER SAID THAT AND NO ONE CAN FIND A PLACE WHERE WE HAVE EVER SUGGESTED THAT. OBSOLETE THEM? ABSOLUTELY! AND SOME TRUTH, RECONCILIATION, RESTORATION AND PROSECUTION TO GO WITH IT!

“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.”

FG – I NEVER SAID ALL VACCINES ARE EVIL TOOLS. I SAID MANY VACCINES ARE DANGEROUS AND THEY HAVE ALSO OFTEN BEEN USED TO HIDE TOXINS AND ENDOCRINE DISRUPTORS, LIKE MERCURY, SQUALENE AND MORE, AND USED TO SICKEN OR STERILIZE COVERTLY. THIS IS FULLY DOCUMENTED ON OUR SITE. PLEASE DO YOUR HOMEWORK IF YOU ARE GOING TO SPEAK PUBLICLY AT SUCH A CRITICAL AND DANGEROUS TIME.

“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.”

FG – AH…DEVELOP CLEAN TECHNOLOGY! AND IN ADDITION TO THE SOLAR, WIND AND GEO THERMAL (ALL GREAT – MY HOME RUNS ON SOLAR – BUT EACH TAKES SUBSTANTIAL RESOURCES AND INFRASTRUCTURE TO BUILD AND OPERATE). WHAT IF DEVICES HARMONIOUSLY TAPPING THE LIFE FORCE – RATHER THAN RADIATION – ALREADY EXIST AND ARE BEING REPRESSED AS COUNTLESS EYE WITNESSES AND COURT CASES AND GAG ORDERS ATTEST? WOULD YOU BE INTERESTED IN THAT? IF IT IS NOT SOMETHING YOU WANT TO FOCUS YOUR ATTENTION ON, THAT’S FINE- BUT WE DO. WHY IS IT EITHER/OR? ISN’T THIS THE BLACK AND WHITE THINKING YOU ARE ACCUSING ME OF?

“Thrive solution: The problem does not exist. Global warming is a hoax, a sham and a conspiracy by the “Global Domination Elite.””

FG – THIS IS AN UTTERLY FALSE CLAIM. WE DO NOT BELIEVE AND HAVE NEVER SAID THAT CLIMATE CHANGE IS A HOAX. WE SAID AND DO BELIEVE THAT CLIMATE CHANGE IS USED AS AN EXCUSE FOR THE GLOBAL TAX. NOTE THE DISTINCTION. THAT THE CLIMATE IS CHANGING IS NOT IN QUESTION- IT’S WHAT IS CAUSING IT, WHAT SHOULD COMMUNITIES BE DONG TO PREPARE, AND HOW CAN WE STOP IT FROM BEING USED TO CONVINCE GOOD PEOPLE TO SUPPORT A TAX TO FUND THEIR OWN DEMISE.

GLACIERS DON’T MELT ON THEIR OWN. AND WE NEED TO STOP POLLUTING OUR ATMOSPHERE – AS THE ALTERNATIVE ENERGY DEVICES WOULD ACCOMPLISH FASTER THAN ANYTHING. (ALONG WITH PROSECUTING THE INDIVIDUALS RUNNING THE CORPORATIONS WHO ARE DOING IT.)

I AM ASTONISHED THAT JUST QUESTIONING IF THE SUN IS PLAYING A ROLE IN THE WARMING AND WANTING TO HEAR FROM PEOPLE WHO DISAGREE ON THE SUBJECT HAS HAD YOU AND OTHERS WRITE US OFF AS CLIMATE CHANGE DENIERS. THIS IS A CRITICAL ISSUE AND SOME DISCTINCTION HERE WOULD GO A LONG WAY. CLEARLY PEOPLE NEED TO STOP POLLUTING. OUR WORK WITH FREE ENERGY IS IN PART TO HELP IN THIS REGARD.

BUT IT IS A FACT THAT THERE ARE OTHER PLANETS IN OUR SOLAR SYSTEM WHICH ARE WARMING ALSO, AND I DON’T THINK IT’S OUR CARS AND FACTORIES THAT ARE DOING THAT. WE NEED TO FIGURE OUT THE INTERFACE OF HUMAN AND COSMIC FORCES WITH REGARD TO OUR PLANET’S CLIMATE. FOR REAL SELF-DEFENSE…AN ACCURATE AND THOROUGH ASSESSMENT OF REALITY MUST COME FIRST…NOT PARTY POLITICS OR CLAIMING ALL SICIENTISTS AGREE WHEN AT LEAST 31,000 CREDIBLE SCIENTISTS, MANY FORMER AGW ADVOCATES HAVE COME OUT AGAINST THE THEORY THAT HUMANS ARE THE SOLE CAUSE CLIMATE CHANGE.

NO MATTER WHAT THE CAUSE, IT IS HAPPENING, AND WE NEED TO STOP HUMAN-CAUSED POLLUTION – BUT NOT BY LETTING THE CORPORATIONS AND THE RICH BUY THEIR WAY OUT AND THEN TAX PEOPLE TO CREATE THEIR GLOBAL POLICE STATE!

I AM AFRAID THAT IF WE STAND AROUND BICKERING WE MISS THE OPPORTUNITY FOR COMMUNITIES AROUND THE WORLD TO PREPARE ADEQUATELY FOR CLIMATE CHANGE THAT MAY NOT BE ABLE TO BE AVERTED BECAUSE EITHER 1. IT IS CAUSED BY WHERE WE ARE IN OUR CURRENT ORBIT IN RELATION TO THE SUN OR 2. CARBON TAX AND OTHER INNANE RESPONSES ARE INADEQUATE TO MEET THE CHALLENGE IN TIME. IN EITHER CASE, WE NEED TO BE STRATEGIZING TOGETHER AND SUPPORTING THE INVENTORS WHO ARE DEVELOPING THE NEW TECHNOLOGIES- LIKE FREE ENERGY- THAT CAN TRULY IMPACT THIS IN THE SHORT TERM.

I HAVE NOT BEEN ABLE TO GET A SINGLE PERSON WHO IS IRREVOCABLY IDENTIFIED WITH A PARTICULAR POLITICAL PARTY TO ENTER INTO A MEANINGFUL DEBATE ABOUT ALL OF THIS…STARTING WITH SERIOUS RESEARCH FROM ALL PERSPECTIVES AND ADDRESSING AT LEAST THESE QUESTIONS:

What is causing other planets in our solar system to warm at the same time as our planet?

What caused the medieval warming period?

Why can’t polluters be prosecuted directly instead of letting the corporations buy their way out of responsibility with cap and trade?

Are you aware of the plan to make carbon credits the new “one-world currency”?

Why doesn’t someone like Al Gore debate someone like Bjorn Lomborg or anyone publicly?

Why does Gore not mention that in his hockey stick graph the rise in temperature precedes the CO2 instead of vice versa? Since this was pointed out he refuses to discuss it.

Is it possible that the good intentions of environmentalists are being manipulated to create a global tax paid to the world bank that would transcend national sovereignty and fund the one-world government?

FG – WHAT INTERESTS ME IS AN OPEN, HUMBLE EXPLORATION OF THIS CRITICAL AND VAST ISSUE.

“Do you see how this works? This is why Thrive is worth speaking out against.”

FG – YES, I HOPE THIS IS BEING HELPFUL FOR YOUR READERS IN SEEING HOW THIS WORKS, WHAT THRIVE IS REALLY ALL ABOUT AND WHY I AM TAKING THE TIME TO ADDRESS SOME OF YOUR CARELESS MISREPRESENTATION.

“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?”

FG – THIS IS A GOOD ONE TO END ON BECAUSE IT EXPOSES SO CLEARLY THE LACK OF RESEARCH THAT YOU DO, OR WORSE, THE AGENDA THAT YOU MAY HAVE. HAARP IS NOT A CONSPIRACY THEORY OR A BELIEF. IT IS A GOVERNMENT / CORPORATE OWNED ANTENNA ARRAY IN ALASKA – THE LARGEST OF ITS KIND IN THE WORLD.

HAARP CAN FOCUS 3.6 BILLION WATTS OF RADIO-FREQUENCY ENERGY INTO A SINGLE AREA OF THE ATMOSPHERE. WE NEVER SAID WE THOUGHT HAARP WAS RESPONSIBLE FOR JAPAN’S QUAKE. 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.

BOTH THE CHILE AND HAITI QUAKES IMMEDIATELY FOLLOWED MAXIMUM CHARGING OF THE HAARP ANTENNA – WHICH WAS CUT OFF JUST AS THE QUAKES STARTED. IN THE CASE OF HAITI, THE US JUST HAPPENED TO HAVE 10,000 TROOPS AT THE SOUTHERN TIP OF FLORIDA WHO MOVED QUICKLY TO TAKE OVER THE HAITIAN CAPITOL AIRPORT. CLINTON AND BUSH SR. TOOK OVER THE RELIEF EFFORT, WHICH HAS DONE LITTLE. MEANWHILE, THE GOLD AND OIL DISCOVERED IN A RECENT RESOURCE ASSESSMENT BY PRESIDENT ARISTEDE BEFORE HE WAS OUSTED IN A CIA-BACKED COUP, ARE NOW LOOKING LIKE THEY WILL END UP IN THE COFFERS OF THE NORTHERN ELITE. THERE ARE MANY PICTURES, PATENTS, VIDEOS, BOOKS, CONTRACTS ETC. WHICH PROVE HAARP’S EXISTENCE – MANY OF WHICH ARE AVAILABLE HERE ON THE THRIVE WEBSITE: HTTP://WWW.THRIVEMOVEMENT.COM/HUMAN-GEO-ENGINEERING-CHEMTRAILS-AND-HAARP.

WE SPENT A DECADE DOING ALL OF THIS TO SAVE LIVES AND TO SAVE PEOPLE TIME. WE ENCOURAGE YOU TO USE IT.

PERHAPS THEN WE CAN GET ON WITH AN INFORMED AND RESPECTFUL DIALOG THAT CAN REALLY HELP GENERATE EFFECTIVE SOLUTIONS FOR THRIVING.

___________________________________

My Response

Mr. Gamble, thank you for responding to my open letter. If having a debunking site devoted to your film is a mark of accomplishment for you, then, you’re welcome.

The message I take from your response is a fairly simple one: Thrive and the “solutions” you want to implement are for conspiracy theorists only. Your film and its ideology spring entirely from your conspiracist worldview; nothing that you propose as a “solution” is aimed, in any significant measure, at anything other than curing the horrible conspiracies you see all around you. You say you approve of proposed solutions that address non-conspiratorial issues, such as my suggestion of campaign finance reform, but then you turn around and say that dealing with these horrid conspiracies is so much more important. How is a rational person supposed to respond to this?

Considering that the vast majority of society regards—and rightfully so—conspiracy theories as being fundamentally at odds with objective reality, your approach leaves those who do not share this worldview with little or nothing to take from Thrive and little incentive to get behind your proposed solutions.

I don’t think you realize that you’re doing this, but you are doing it. Go back and look at your response. Every single issue you raise either relies on a conspiratorial assumption, asserts the literal truth of conspiracy theories, or asserts that real solutions to genuine world problems (government corruption, income inequality, etc.) actually involve addressing the perceived causes of conspiracies, or else dismisses those who do not share your belief in conspiracy theories as somehow not offering anything of value.

In short, you have made clear something that I began to suspect some time ago—that literal belief in conspiracy theories is the prerequisite, the litmus test, for being taken seriously by you as someone who has a “solution” to offer. The only “solutions” you truly seem interested in implementing are those that address the conspiracy theories you believe in. Any other benefit is incidental, but in any event irrelevant. For example, if you think the way to tackle income inequality is to “obsolete” the “Global Domination Elite,” I can guarantee you 100% that that solution will fail, because income inequality is not the fault of a “Global Domination Elite.” This is what people mean when they say your proposed solutions are misguided.

Let’s look, very briefly, at a few examples of the issues you raise and see how every single one of them departs from a conspiratorial mindset or asserts that real world problems are actually the result of conspiracies.

The issue of my identity: “I believe such cowardice and shortsightedness feed into the much more dangerous looming police state that you end up supporting through your denial.”

Thrive’s diverting attention from real problems: “I understand that you rely on coincidence theory and notions of government incompetence to explain the consolidation of power that has the majority of the world in shackles and America careening toward a police state.” (Deriding skeptics as “coincidence theorists” is an old conspiracist trope. Coincidence is not the opposite of conspiracy).

Imaginary “free energy” machines: “And do you really think the government does all these raids, gag orders, intimidations and even assassinations on hoaxers?”

Anthropogenic global warming: “How can we stop it from being used to convince good people to support a tax to fund their own demise.”

HAARP: “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…both the Chile and Haiti quakes immediately followed maximum charging of the HAARP antenna…”

You see? Conspiracy. Over and over again. Conspiracy is the alpha and the omega of your worldview, Mr. Gamble; it is the departure point from which every single one of your proposed solutions proceeds. If a person does not accept the literal truth of the conspiracy theories that you believe in, you dismiss them as not “working toward real solutions.” That’s exactly how you reacted to John Robbins, whose opinion you used to value, at least to the extent that you asked him to appear in the movie; as soon as he repudiated it, though, suddenly you accused him of engaging in a “disinformation campaign.”

This is really the bottom line. I cannot get behind your solutions, because, fundamentally, the problems you want to solve are not the problems we really have. You say you want to address the effects of problems that exist in the real world, such as income inequality, but your analysis of the root cause of these problems is always the same: conspiracy. But the fact is that these conspiracies do not exist. The world you want to change is not the world we live in. It’s just that simple.

What You Don’t Address—Icke and Mullins.

In my open letter I challenged you to repudiate the bizarre theories of David Icke, who believes in shape-shifting reptilian aliens ruling the world. If you believe it’s unfair for critics of your film such as John Robbins to raise Mr. Icke’s bizarre beliefs as a point against you, then why wouldn’t you be willing to denounce those beliefs, if you don’t agree with them?

You did not mention David Icke once in your statement.

Furthermore, I challenged you to explain to us what you like about Eustace Mullins, a conspiracist author whom Mr. Robbins says you recommended to him. I’m particularly curious about what you find redeeming about Eustace Mullins, because you are clearly not an anti-Semite, and yet so much of Mullins’s work is scathingly anti-Semitic. A commenter on this blog posted some quotes from Eustace Mullins’s work. They were so sick, disgusting, racist and offensive that I considered deleting the quotes even though there was no question that they were presented as an example of how hateful, wrong-headed and destructive Eustace Mullins and his views actually are. Ultimately I decided to leave them up, but I feel cheapened and dirty by having them anywhere on my blog. I would really like to know what Eustace Mullins material you think is valuable to your efforts to improve the world.

You did not mention Eustace Mullins once in your statement.

So what do you have to say, Mr. Gamble, about David Icke and Eustace Mullins? The world is waiting to know.

Your Two Questions For Me (Both Trick Questions)

You specifically asked me to answer two questions you posed. Here they are.

“1) If there were a way to have accessible and good roads, education and healthcare, help for the poor, a respected system of justice etc. – without anyone being violated against their will – as in involuntary income tax – would you want that?”

I reject the premise of the question, because it’s a trick question. This question posits an assumption that has not been proven—that accessible and good roads, education, healthcare and justice only come about today by people “being violated against their will” in the form of taxes. That’s not even close to the way things really are.

“2) Just exactly when, for you, is it OK for one human being to take the rightfully gained property of another under the threat of violence?”

I reject the premise of the question, because it’s a trick question. Again, you’re equating the paying of taxes to the “threat of violence.” Maybe your local IRS office is more aggressive than mine, Mr. Gamble, but I have never been threatened with violence if I did not give up my property in the form of taxes. Equating taxes to theft is bad enough; equating them to armed robbery is simply ludicrous.

The purpose of these two questions is to trap the listener into an indictment of the concept of taxation. Since I don’t share your views on the evils of taxation, these questions are meaningless to me.

Conclusion: To Thrive or Not to Thrive?

Mr. Gamble, I received an email yesterday from a woman who had recently seen your movie. She wrote to thank me for creating this blog, for deconstructing the film and for laying out the truth about the claims made in it. She complimented me on being very brave to take on this project.

This woman, and the others like her who’ve written to me, are the true audience of this blog. I didn’t create this blog to harass or annoy you, and I don’t do it to provoke confrontation with fans of the movie (although that of course does take place, as you can see). I do this to reach people like the woman who wrote to me. She didn’t simply take my word for it. She did her own checking, her own research and her own analysis. (And she didn’t even ask me my name!) She came to the same conclusion I did. I guess she won’t be “thriving” any more than I will.

Today we passed 100,000 unique page views on this blog. If even as many as 90% of them are fans of your movie, that’s still 10,000 people who won’t be “thriving” either.

The world I live in—the world which I evidently won’t be “thriving” in—is one where belief is supported by evidence, where argument is logical, where cause and effect have a predictable relationship, and where real problems can be solved by the application of rational solutions. That is the real world, because that’s the way the real world works.

I do not know how your world works. But however it does, I’m glad I don’t live there.

Thrive Is Free: New Fans, New Approach, and a Fresh Welcome to This Blog.

The big news in Thrive-land this week is that the movie is now free. Originally released on the Internet on November 11 of last year—a date that supposedly has some kind of cosmological significance in New Age circles—the film was initially available only as a download for $5, although it was ripped to various torrent sites and even YouTube within hours after its release. Now it seems that Foster Gamble and Clear Compass Media don’t care if you pay for the movie anymore. You can now download the film from the Thrive website for free. We can speculate as to the motives for taking this new approach to the movie, but up until now there certainly have been those—even people highly complimentary of the film—who criticized the fact that you had to pay to see it. This move is likely to silence those critics.

Yesterday, coinciding with the release of Thrive free, I noted a sudden and dramatic upswell in page views here on the Thrive Debunked blog, which is now more popular than it ever was. Each of the last two days has been a record-breaker for page views. As people discover the film, in many cases they discover the debunking at the same time. One of the most common ways people come to this blog is by clicking from various forums, some conspiracy-related, others not, where a link has been posted. In almost all cases the paradigm is the same. A user on a forum will make a topic to the effect of, “Hey, have you seen this movie Thrive?” Usually the user posting the topic will be complimentary toward the film. Within a few replies someone will take a different view of the movie, and they’ll very often provide a link to this blog. I’ve seen forums from Germany, Romania, Italy, Poland, Hungary, Australia and Israel where this blog has been mentioned and discussed. This tells me that Thrive Debunked is doing exactly what I hoped it would do: it’s serving as a powerful counterpoint to make people think about the issues before blindly accepting the spurious claims in Thrive as gospel truth.

Because we now suddenly have many more readers thanks to the free release of the film, I thought I would provide a fresh welcome to those who are discovering Thrive Debunked for the first time. This blog has now been around for about five months. There’s a lot of material here and a lot of discussion especially in the comments. Here, therefore, is a quick guide to what parts of the film have been debunked, what remains to be done, and where you might be able to find answers to some of the most common questions about the movie and its claims.

Comprehensive Debunkings

Full Debunking of Thrive, Part I. This article, by our contributor SlayerX3, is the first of three to try to go through Thrive very quickly, tackling many of its claims in sequence. Not every claim in the first third of the film is dealt with here, but you’ll find comments on the film’s intro, the “torus” shape with which Foster Gamble is so entranced, the “Flower of Life” claims (which are dealt with in much greater detail in other articles), the supposed 64 energy units, Steven Greer and his UFO claims, more UFO material from Edgar Dean Mitchell, Clifford Stone, Harry Allen Jordan, Dwynne Anderson and John Callahan; and finishing up with crop circles. All of these subjects are roundly debunked.

Full Debunking of Thrive, Part II. SlayerX3’s second outing, this one at the middle section of the film. Here you’ll find debunkings of the UFO and energy claims of James Gilliland and Daniel Sheehan; the movie’s nonsensical distortions of the work of Nikola Tesla; free energy suppression; Adam Trombly (himself the subject of two additional articles), John Bedini and John Hutchinson, who all claim to have invented “free energy” machines; and Eugene Mallove, who was not killed (as the movie claims) because of his work on cold fusion.

Full Debunking of Thrive, Part III. The third in the full debunking series by SlayerX3 debunks the following: oil and energy empires; Foster Gamble’s misstatements about the Green Revolution; loss of biodiversity and environmental harm; Vandana Shiva; free trade agreements and globalism; a fake quote from Henry Kissinger; NEA and the Rockefellers; John Taylor Gatto; Deepak Chopra; alt-med quackery from R. Royal Raymond Fife, Rene Cassie, and Max Gerson; and the controversial Hoxsey Therapy.

Debunkings of Specific Topics and People

Crop Circles—Debunked! This article demonstrates how and why we can be sure that crop circles are not created by extraterrestrials, are not mysterious or unexplainable, and certainly are not messages from aliens telling us how to turn spinning electric donuts into “free energy” machines. In terms of page views, this is one of the most popular articles on the blog and seems especially offensive to fans of Thrive. It was the response to this article that began to convince me that the target audience of Thrive is the New Age religious crowd. For some reason I do not understand, the notion that crop circles are not extraterrestrial in origin is deeply offensive to many people in the New Age milieu. This article has surpassed the David Icke exposé as the single most controversial piece we’ve ever done on this blog.

Thrive Makers Back Down on “Flower of Life” Claim: This article details an extremely rare event—a factual correction by the Thrive makers. In this case they admitted that the claim, made in the movie by Nassim Haramein, that the “Flower of Life” design at the Osirian Temple in Abydos, Egypt is somehow “burned into the rock at the atomic level,” is in fact false. Nevertheless, despite this retraction, many Thrive fans continue to believe that the “Flower of Life” was put there by aliens and not by crafty Egyptian artisans.

Who Is Nassim Haramein? This article is a profile of Nassim Haramein, the person who makes the “Flower of Life” claim and most of the “ancient astronauts” claims in the film. As this article shows, Mr. Haramein has a history of making pseudoscientific and pseudohistorical claims that are met with extreme skepticism by members of the legitimate scientific community. An example of such a claim is his inventive “Schwarzschild Proton” theory, which postulates that every atom is a mini-black hole, despite the fact that this theory flies in the face of established physics. Yet, according to many Thrive fans in the comments, Mr. Haramein is a scientific visionary right up there with Galileo, Copernicus and Einstein. I’m not ready to book my plane tickets to Oslo for Mr. Haramein’s Nobel Prize acceptance ceremony quite yet.

Ancient Astronauts—Debunked! This article takes apart the ridiculous notion that Egyptians, Mayans and Incas were too stupid, backwards and ignorant to have created great works of ancient engineering, which Thrive claims must have been built by aliens instead. As you’ll see in the article, this idea rests awkwardly on a single untenable assumption that manages to offend historical fact, scientific reality and cultural sensitivity all at the same time. If there’s an old paperback copy of Erich von Däniken’s Chariots of the Gods on your bookshelf, you need to read this article.

Who Is Adam Trombly? This article must be read in conjunction with Exclusive: Allegations About Adam Trombly Present Potential Credibility Crisis for Thrive. The first article, the earliest person profile on the blog, began our descent into the Adam Trombly saga. Adam Trombly claims to have invented a “free energy” machine that will solve all the world’s energy problems. As you’ll see in the second article, another inventor, David Farnsworth, came forward in March 2012 and claimed that the machine shown in the movie and identified as Trombly’s was actually invented by him (Farnsworth), and that it can’t do what Thrive claims it can do. I don’t know what the absolute truth is here. Despite a lengthy back-and-forth between Mr. Farnsworth and Mr. Trombly, as well as additional comments from Mr. Trombly’s daughter and Foster Gamble himself, the two questions I have about the machine—(1) did Adam Trombly really build it? and (2) can it do what Thrive says it can do?—remain unanswered.

Global Domination Agenda—Debunked! This is my personal favorite of all the articles on this blog. In it I debunk the idea that the Illuminati or New World Order, which Foster Gamble calls the “Global Domination Agenda,” actually exists and is trying to control the world. In fact it does not exist, but the article attempts to explain why believers in this bizarre conspiracy theory are not only utterly convinced that it does exist, but why everything they see and hear seems to confirm their belief. Hint: it’s a self-reinforcing delusion that is specifically designed to be impervious to anything in the way of reason or evidence. My one regret about this article is that its length probably scares away most casual readers, but you can’t really describe the issues involved in Illuminati/New World Order conspiracy theories without using a lot of words.

False Flag Attacks—Debunked! This article attacks a small section of the film where Foster Gamble is guilty of serious historical distortions, especially regarding the 1964 Gulf of Tonkin incident that was a prominent milestone on the U.S. road to involvement in the Vietnam War. In the article I explain why Gulf of Tonkin was not a “false flag” attack, how and why conspiracy theorists get the whole idea of “false flag” attacks totally wrong, and why, contrary to what the film asserts, belief in the bizarre and ridiculous “9/11 was an inside job” theory is in fact declining rather than increasing. Hint: it’s declining because the idea that “9/11 was an inside job” is a bunch of crap, and the vast majority of the American public knows it’s a bunch of crap. Nevertheless, the true believers have chosen to go down with the sinking ship on this one; devotees of conspiracy theories are ferociously resistant to the reality that fewer people believe 9/11 conspiracy theories now than at any time since the disaster itself.

Who Is David Icke? Formerly the most controversial piece on this site–until surpassed by the crop circles article–this article profiles British conspiracy theorist David Icke, who, if Thrive had a conventional cast list, would probably get top billing as the star of the film. Mr. Icke believes that the world is secretly run by an evil race of reptilian shape-shifting aliens. “But wait!” you protest, “he doesn’t say that in Thrive!” This article explains why, and it also explains why Mr. Icke’s reptilian shape-shifting alien theories are especially dangerous and offensive.

Thrive’s Philosophy, Purpose and Broader Context

Should We Give Thrive a Pass on its Facts, And Instead Praise its “Message?” This article answers many of the objections Thrive fans have to why I don’t just go quietly into the sunset. Although the point of the movie seems to be to establish conspiracy theories as a theodicy for New Age belief systems (see the article for an explanation of what that means), it does still purport to be a documentary, and as such it has a duty to present the facts responsibly.

Progressive Think Tank Slams Thrive’s Political Agenda. This article could also go into the feedback/response section, but I put it here because it’s a good exposure of the neo-libertarian, pro-Ron Paul political subtext of the film, which many viewers who don’t follow politics may miss entirely. Much of this article is my critique of a progressive reviewer’s take on the film, and my thoughts on how conspiracy theories, such as those advanced by Thrive, are increasingly becoming intertwined with libertarian political ideology. The progressive reviewer herself chimed in in the comments section, as well as an especially shrill Ron Paul supporter.

A Post at the Sister Blog: Thrive Demonstrates How the Conspiracy World is Changing. This is a portal to an article I posted on my other blog, which is not specifically limited to Thrive, dealing with how the world of conspiracy theories is changing in the wake of the ignominious death of the “9/11 Truth Movement.” The article mentions Thrive as an example of how conspiracy theories are increasingly being deployed either as recruiting tools for particular groups or as marketing angles for ideological, political and even religious belief systems.

Reception and Reaction to the Film

JREF Reviews Thrive! This article, fairly short, showcases a review the film received from a writer for the James Randi Educational Foundation, a group devoted to skepticism and busting woo beliefs. Needless to say, the Randi folks didn’t exactly have Thrive on their best-films-of-2011 list.

Another Negative Review of Thrive Hits the Nail on the Head. This article presents the thoughts of a noted UK environmentalist blogger and activist on Thrive. Predictably, he savaged it, and many of the arguments he made against the film echo criticisms that had already been made on this blog. Be sure to see the comments on this one, where the UK blogger himself chimes in, and gets some heavy flak from outraged Thrive fans.

Thrive—A Flop? This article is somewhat outdated. Thrive seems to have become much more popular recently, but in December there were some indications that it had peaked. Nevertheless, there is still some topical material here, such as the controversy among conspiracy theorists as to whether the film is “disinformation” and especially whether its promotional poster contains “Illuminati symbolism.” It astonishes me that anyone could be so loony as to think that, but conspiracy theorists never cease to amaze me with what they’ll be willing to swallow.

Just for Fun

Poll: Is the Creator of This Blog a “Paid Disinformation Agent?” This article is a specific response to those readers (you know who you are) who insist that no one in their right mind could ever criticize the shining truth of Thrive, and therefore anyone who does so must be an agent provocateur paid by _________ (fill in the blank—the government, the Rockefellers, the oil industry, or whoever you most love to hate). In the poll at the end of the article you get the chance to vote on whether I am really a “paid disinformation agent,” but be careful—I might be logging your IP and telling the Illuminati death squads exactly where to find you!

Debunkings We Have Not Done Yet

This site is not yet complete. There are several topics I’d still like to tackle at some point, but, as I do have a job, a life, loved ones etc., I can’t spend all my time working on this blog (contrary to what some people think). While I can’t guarantee I’ll get to all of these topics, here are some topics I’d like to cover in the future.

  • Claims regarding fractional banking and the Federal Reserve. There is a lot of demand for a debunking of Thrive’s views on this topic, but as anything to do with banking bores me silly, it’s not a topic I relish taking on. However, SlayerX3 is reportedly working on an article along these lines. I think it will be a crucial addition to the site.
  • UFOs. Thrive traffics in so much UFO folklore and apocrypha that it seems incomplete for a site devoted to debunking it to not have an article specifically devoted to UFO claims.
  • Global warming denial. Thrive doesn’t hit it that hard, but I observe from other sources (interviews, etc.) that there are some indications that Foster Gamble is a global warming denier. I don’t know that for sure, but I do know that many conspiracy theorists deny the proven scientific reality of anthropogenic climate change, so it’s relevant enough to be included here. This is a topic I know much about and have written about before on other blogs. As it’s not a huge part of Thrive, it’s a lower priority, but I do hope to get to it.
  • Other claims regarding free energy. This is a very rich topic and I’ve learned a great deal about it in the past five months. Lately with the Trombly-Farnsworth debate we’ve focused a lot on energy claims, so the time is not right to do another article on it quite yet. However, it may be coming in the future.

Conclusion

Contrary to what it may seem like at first glance, I don’t dislike Thrive fans. I want to reach them and get them to expand their thinking. My whole point here is to educate people and get them to ask for evidence before accepting someone’s word for anything. In that spirit, I welcome all the new Thrive viewers who will be attracted to the movie now that it’s free. Read the articles, join the discussion, and understand what this movie is about, why it exists and what it’s telling the world. I already feel that this blog has been phenomenally successful, and I look forward to the discussions to come.

Should We Give Thrive a Pass on Facts, And Instead Praise its “Message?”

As stated here, the purpose of this blog is to bring to light the many errors, distortions, and inaccuracies contained in the conspiracy theory documentary Thrive. My objections to Thrive are primarily fact-based. It presents many claims as fact which are simply untrue: for example, that crop circles are of extraterrestrial origin, that Adam Trombly has invented a working “free energy” device, and that an insular group of conspirators control the world. These things are not true, and many other claims the movie makes aren’t true either.

A common thread in many of the comments I’ve received on this blog, however, has been to take me to task for focusing on the factual veracity of claims made in Thrive. According to certain commenters, the factual accuracy of the film and its claims aren’t the point, and instead of debunking them, I should be praising what some people view as the movie’s “positive message.” This article will evaluate that assertion critically, or at least as critically as an essentially faith-based proposition can be evaluated.

Should we give Thrive a pass on its purported facts, or some of its purported facts, in favor of praising either its overall “message” or the good intentions of its creators, such as Foster Gamble? I would clearly answer no to this question, but it’s equally clear that many fans of the film would unhesitatingly answer yes. This difference in approach illustrates some interesting things about the movie itself and the audience at which it is aimed.

Do Facts Matter?

On the face of it this question seems silly. Of course they do. Facts always matter. Without ascertaining what’s fact and what’s not, the world is unnavigable. However, it appears that, when one delves into the strange New Age netherworld of the sorts of subjects covered in Thrive—UFOs, magical energy devices, ancient astronauts, and conspiracy theories—facts become a whole lot less important, at least to the people who believe in these things.

Let’s take, for example, Adam Trombly’s “free energy” machine. An early article on this blog presented the facts that, not only is there no evidence that Trombly’s machine works, but the principle by which it supposedly operates violates the laws of physics. In the comments on that and other pages, however, some defenders of Thrive don’t seem to be very troubled by this. Believers in “free energy” devices, when confronted with facts demonstrating that a particular machine has not been proven to work, will often start arguing about possibilities and potentials of unlimited energy devices, sometimes citing examples of other particular machines—whose operations have not been proven either. You can see examples of this sort of argumentation in the comments to that page. To them, therefore, what seems to be important is that a person believes in the possibility of “free energy.” When you come at it from that tack, whether Trombly’s specific machine does or does not work suddenly recedes in importance. The factual question of whether it does or doesn’t work is no longer the key issue you’re arguing about.

But what does this say about Thrive? It seems safe to conclude that Foster Gamble believes strongly in “free energy” devices, and promoting that belief to the public seems to be one of the key objectives of Thrive. One would assume, therefore, that Adam Trombly and his device are, if not the best and most compelling example of “free energy” devices that Gamble could find, at least a representative example. Even if Gamble, in preparation for making the movie, interviewed 50 inventors of so-called “free energy” devices and only Trombly was willing to sign up to appear on camera, it wouldn’t make sense that Gamble would put him in the movie if his specific device wasn’t capable of illustrating the point Gamble wants to make about “free energy.” Seen in that light, isn’t the failure of Trombly’s case to persuade us that “free energy” devices are real extremely damaging to Gamble’s argument in general?

Don’t misunderstand what I’m arguing here. One failed example is not an excuse to trash an entire idea. If you can show me a working example of a “free energy” device whose operation is clearly and publicly verified by reputable scientific sources—a “free energy” device whose operation and functioning are unmistakable, explainable by science and capable of being reproduced—I will concede that “free energy” exists, and the fact that Trombly failed to build such a device is irrelevant. But what I am saying is that if Trombly is the best example of this phenomenon that Thrive can offer us, and that example fails to make its case, doesn’t that diminish the ability of the movie Thrive to persuade us that its arguments are credible?

Again, just to be clear: the point I’m making is that, by using Adam Trombly as a (presumably) representative example of “free energy,” Thrive turns out to be not very persuasive that “free energy” exists. This may be just because Trombly is a bad example, in which case the makers of Thrive chose him poorly; or it may be because there’s nothing to “free energy” to begin with, in which case the makers of Thrive are asserting something they either know is false or ought to know if they had done proper research into the matter. Either way it seems inescapable that Thrive’s competence and credibility as a source diminishes as soon as you realize that the claims the movie makes about Trombly and his machine don’t pan out.

To at least some defenders of the movie, however, this analysis doesn’t follow at all. To them it doesn’t really matter whether Trombly is a good example or a bad one—they wish to believe that “free energy” exists, and the fact that the specific inventor showcased in Thrive has not created a working “free energy” machine is not permitted to impeach this conclusion. This is purely faith-based, result-driven reasoning.

I’m using the Trombly case as an example here, but it is by no means the only example. It would be one thing if it was the only unpersuasive example. But it isn’t. If you pile the numerous errors, distortions and unwarranted conclusions in Thrive atop one another, it quickly becomes clear that the movie as a whole has an extremely serious problem with basic factual credibility on multiple levels.

Should We Cherry-Pick the Claims in Thrive, Believe Some and Leave Others Alone?

Another thread that comes through in some of the pro-Thrive comments suggests that viewers are approaching it as a sort of cafeteria smorgasbord where you’re expected to take one or more claims it makes at face value while dismissing, or ignoring, others. The movie offers so many conspiracy theories and New Age perspectives, changing gears so rapidly, that it’s difficult to keep track of them all. The problem is compounded when one looks at the Thrive Movement website, especially its section on the “Global Domination Agenda,” and sees links to a bunch of other conspiracy theories that the movie didn’t have time to cover, as well as mentions of conspiracy theorists, like Alex Jones, who themselves espouse particular conspiracy theories not specifically mentioned in the film. It’s difficult to accept that anybody could believe the literal truth of all of the conspiracy theories mentioned in Thrive or referenced, directly or indirectly, on the website, but, as I have long experience dealing with conspiracy theorists, I know that it is (unfortunately) possible, perhaps even likely.

A good example of the “cherry-picking” approach concerns David Icke. As most people familiar with the conspiracy underground know, Icke, perhaps the most well-known conspiracy theorist in the world, is instantly identified with his bizarre theories that the world is secretly run by evil reptilian shape-shifting aliens. These theories are science-fiction redresses of the old anti-Semitic “Jewish world conspiracy” theories that were popular in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, with aliens standing in for Jews. Icke appears in Thrive—in fact, although he isn’t interviewed until later in the movie, his face flashes on screen within the first seven minutes of the film—but does not talk about reptilian aliens on-screen. One of my strongest objections to Thrive is that Icke is involved in it and quoted as a reliable source about anything, even though he doesn’t push his reptilian alien crap in this specific film. Pro-Thrive readers of this blog have taken me to task for this. According to them, I’m supposed to overlook the fact that Icke believes in reptilian shape-shifting aliens and instead focus on positive things he says in Thrive. (Like what? The false claims of a “Global Domination Agenda”?)

I remain unconvinced that Foster Gamble put Icke on-screen just because he had something supposedly worthwhile to say that is unconnected to his reptilian alien delusions, as some Thrive fans have asserted. For one thing, Icke’s entire worldview stems from this delusion. If you read his writings it’s difficult to find anything he talks about that isn’t connected in some way to his elaborate sci-fi conspiracy mythology. For another thing, David Icke’s associations are so toxic that there’s no chance anyone who is not already predisposed to accept, or at least consider, Icke’s ideology could overlook them. The fact that David Icke appears in this movie at all is a not-very-subtle bid to market Thrive and its conclusions to Icke’s core audience, whom Gamble is obviously interested in reaching. Thus, don’t tell me that the fact that Icke believes in evil reptilians from outer space is somehow irrelevant to what he’s doing in this movie. Whether Foster Gamble himself believes in evil reptilians from outer space is not the point—he probably doesn’t (I certainly hope he doesn’t!)—but if you want to reach conspiracy theorists who dwell at that advanced level of fantasy, you can do no better than to utilize David Icke as a mouthpiece.

Again, as with the Trombly issue, if Icke was the only unreliable or questionable source in the movie, it might be easier to look past his presence and simply chalk up Gamble’s invitation for Icke to appear as a fluke in the “bad call, Ripley!” category. But in Thrive you don’t just get David Icke. You get Nassim Haramein, touted as a reliable source on ancient history but who plays fast and loose with the facts; you get Steven Greer, whose claim to fame is pushing the-gubbermint-is-covering-up-UFOs conspiracy theories; you get Edgar Mitchell, a former astronaut known for making outlandish conspiracy-oriented claims that NASA has officially denied; you get Deepak Chopra, well-known in New Age and alt-med circles; the list goes on and on. Inviting people to your movie to espouse controversial opinions is fine, and I have no problem with that. But these people are asserting as matters of fact many things which are demonstrably false. Everyone has a right to their own opinion. But nobody has a right to their own facts.

Good Intentions?

Okay. So Foster Gamble is wrong about crop circles, free energy, the Global Domination Agenda, the Rockefellers, alt-med cures, Nicola Tesla, UFO suppression, alien astronauts, and countless other things. One can certainly argue that he made a couple of poor decisions, credibility-wise, by giving the floor to Adam Trombly, whose claims cannot be verified, and David Icke, whose claims are something out of bad science fiction. Should Mr. Gamble’s good intentions in making Thrive insulate him from criticism on these points?

I’m sure Foster Gamble is a nice guy. On-screen he comes across as extremely personable. Before he made this movie he was widely associated with a campaign to ban (or reduce) industrial pesticide spraying—which I regard as a good cause and effort well spent. I’m quite sure he honestly wants to see the world improve and to see people lead better lives. I’m also quite sure he works very hard and puts a lot of effort into activities that he believes advances these goals.

Here’s the thing: so do I. However, I do not hear defenders of the Thrive movie arguing that my good intentions should insulate me from criticism for doing what I do on this blog.

Indeed, who doesn’t have good intentions? Who honestly doesn’t think the world can and should be improved, that people should live longer and more fulfilling lives, and that social justice should prevail? It’s not as if it’s so unusual to find a person as well-intentioned as Foster Gamble that a person with such intentions suddenly becomes immune from criticism on the basis of factual inaccuracies or logic errors, especially in a media piece that is, as Thrive purports to be, a documentary supposedly telling the truth about “how things really are.”

Personally, I devote a great deal of money and time to volunteer and charity activities. I believe strongly, for instance, in providing better access to education, especially higher education. I’m out there working on my ideas to “save the world” just as hard as Foster Gamble is working on his. What sort of special privileges or immunities do I believe this entitles me to? Absolutely none at all.

Here’s something else to keep in mind: peoples’ ideas for improving the world can, and usually do, conflict with one another. I believe that conspiracy theories impair peoples’ ability to think rationally and thus participate meaningfully in public discourse. Therefore, refuting conspiracy theories and promoting the facts is something I feel is a strong social good. I would venture to say Foster Gamble would disagree. He seems to believe that promoting conspiracy theories is a social good, or otherwise he wouldn’t have made Thrive in the first place. I do not question Gamble’s good intentions. But it’s a simple fact that Gamble’s activities in promoting conspiracy theories directly conflict with my own efforts to refute them. He has money to burn and an audience of millions, so he’ll probably make a lot more headway on his goal that I will on mine, but that doesn’t change that I think Foster Gamble is wrong. Am I not allowed to assert that view because I also believe that, however wrong he is, he at least is acting out of good intentions and pure motives?

What Is the “Point” of Thrive, Anyway?

Here we get to the real issue: why was Thrive created, what is its ultimate “message,” and who is it aimed at?

When I first began this blog I was reluctant to speculate too much as to Foster Gamble and the other makers’ motives in creating the movie, because those motives are extremely unclear. After studying the film and reaction to it for the past two and a half months, however, I believe we can make a reasonable hypothesis as to why this film was created and what it’s ultimately trying to say.

I’ve recently had a fascinating conversation over email with an academic, who happens to be an expert on conspiracy theories and New Age mythology. This person, whose credentials are impressive, is not a “debunker” as I am—he studies the phenomenon of conspiracy theories and why people believe them, whereas my study of them (and I do not study them in an academic realm) focuses on ascertaining their factual veracity. After my conversation with this person regarding Thrive, which helped me to see the larger context in which the movie operates, I think I understand the point of the film much better than I did in November. This topic is worth expanding upon and will probably be the subject of a self-contained article.

The upshot of my conversation with the expert was that Thrive was created as a means to explain, at least partially, the failure of New Age concepts—which have been around and popular since at least the ‘70s—to result in the transformative change that many New Age believers insisted would flow from the implementation of their ideas. Here is what he had to say on the subject (he asked that his identifying information not be disclosed on this blog, but he gave me permission to post his words): 

“I suspect that what’s going on is that New Age, now entering its third generation, has developed a theodicy. Now, this is a theological term, but it essentially means an explanation of the existence of evil – why bad things happen to good people. For some of those in the New Age milieu – Foster Gamble, David Icke, Whitley Strieber, Duncan Rhodes and others, all incidentally in middle age and with a long term involvement in the New Age milieu – an explanation is needed as to why, if we’ve entered the Age of Aquarius, is the world less peaceful, equal and progressive than ever? Conspiracy theories offer such a theodicy – the New Age hasn’t happened because evil people prevented it from happening.” 

Once you start to consider Thrive from this angle, everything falls into place. It suddenly makes sense why Thrive carefully strokes the various tropes of New Age belief systems: UFOs, ancient astronauts, alt-med miracle cures, benevolent aliens and magical free energy machines. It also makes sense why, once the movie has proclaimed its sympathy with these themes, it turns on a fire hose of conspiracy craziness, theory after theory thrown willy-nilly at the audience in an attempt to make one or more of them stick. The movie’s point, therefore, is this: “The reason that our New Age beliefs haven’t transformed the world is because the evil conspirators are thwarting us.”

This also explains why Thrive’s supporters aren’t generally swayed by factual arguments or applications of logic and critical thinking. The point is not to establish literal, verifiable truth (though the film seems, on the surface, to want to do this as well). The point is to validate an essentially spiritual belief system. At its core, then, seen from this angle, Thrive is basically a religious text. A Thrive supporter is no more likely to abandon his support for the film, when presented evidence that crop circles are terrestrial in origin or the Global Domination Agenda does not exist, than a Mormon is to leave the Church of Latter-Day Saints when told that there is no archaeological evidence that the Nephites and Lamanites actually existed.

That Thrive supporters take the movie this way—whether they are consciously aware of it or not—is borne out by comments like this one, which seems to equate criticism of the movie with some sort of assault on the primacy of the human spirit:

“Thrive is not out to get anyone other than the people that Gamble feels are responsible for the situation we find ourselves in today. I believe that all Thrive is trying to do is show people the power they have, which to me is amazing because all I see everywhere are reminders of how I need to better myself or change who I am because its not good enough. I don’t feel the need to back up any claims with links or anything of that nature because you can’t cite the claim I have which is this; Every human being has the capability of being amazing no matter what but there are people who try very hard to keep us unaware of this….I just love the movie Thrive because it gives me hope. All I want is for as many people to be inspired by this movie the way I was because it is too hard for me to see and hear about so many people living with so little while we enjoy the benefits of their destruction.”

So Thrive, then, is probably intended to be accepted on spiritual and philosophical terms—not factual ones.

That means that unless I’m ready to give battle on the supposed spiritual basis of Thrive, I need to delete this blog immediately, right? Not quite.

There’s Just One Problem…Thrive Purports to be a Documentary. 

Unfortunately Thrive doesn’t wear its intentions on its sleeve. On the face of it, it appears to be a documentary—a movie intended to state what the facts actually are. The fact that I had to talk to an academic expert on conspiracy theories and New Age beliefs to realize that it is not really a documentary demonstrates this. It also leaves the movie and its makes with the same fundamental problem that drew me to begin debunking it in the first place: the things that it says are facts are not, in fact, true. 

Appreciating the New Age context in which many supporters of Thrive perceive the movie is one thing. However, it doesn’t change that the movie is still out there claiming to be a documentary and telling people that the Rockefellers control their food supply and that evil oil companies are suppressing extraterrestrial technology. So long as statements of fantasy such as these are continued to be passed off as objective fact, attacking Thrive on the basis of its factual accuracy is, in my view, entirely fair game. To argue otherwise is to argue, effectively, either that (i) facts don’t matter; (ii) Foster Gamble’s good intentions in making the film should immunize him from criticism about its assertions; or (iii) that the purported “goodness” of the movie’s overall message outweighs the transgressions it makes against the truth. This article, I feel, has already effectively refuted (i) and (ii). Point (iii) makes me uneasy because it’s essentially an “ends justify the means” argument, which is always dangerous. 

Regardless of whether Foster Gamble would himself agree that the purported factual assertions in the movie should be taken with a “grain of salt”—and it would be very problematic if he did state that unequivocally—there’s no question that some people out there do believe everything Thrive says. I can state that, between comments received on this blog and replies directed to me on Twitter, I have, since beginning this blog, seen an example of an assertion of the direct factual accuracy of every major claim made in the film. Granted, this is spread among many different commenters, but if each individual claim in the movie is believed to be literal fact by at least one person, that still adds up to a lot of people believing in a lot of untrue claims. This is the problem with movies that play fast and loose with the facts masquerading as documentaries. It’s deceptive. If you’re trying to tell people the way things really are, here on Earth in our real world, by doing so you owe at least a moral duty to tell these things accurately, and that means doing diligent research to make sure the claims you want to make are really true. Given the ease with which I and the other contributors to this blog have debunked many of its claims, I’m left with serious doubts that Mr. Gamble and the others responsible for Thrive have done the research they should have done before passing off these claims as true. 

Should we give Thrive a pass on its facts and instead praise its motives or its message? So long as its makers offer it as a factual documentary, no, we shouldn’t. It’s just that simple.

Ancient Astronauts–Debunked!

One of the key claims in the Thrive movie, and in fact a major assumption on which the movie is based, is the idea of “ancient astronauts”—the supposition that extraterrestrial beings came to Earth in the early history of the human race and imparted knowledge to humans. As with most other claims and basic assumptions in Thrive, the idea of ancient astronauts is unsupported by facts and contrary to logic and critical reasoning. It is purely a faith-based proposition, and this article will explain why.

What Are “Ancient Astronauts” And What Does Thrive Claim About Them?

The idea of ancient astronauts is very popular in New Age circles. The basic idea is that supposedly aliens visited Earth thousands of years ago and gave humans knowledge that they wouldn’t otherwise have had. Thrive argues that part of this knowledge was the “torus” shape that Foster Gamble asserts is some sort of pattern for unlimited, free energy. This pattern is supposedly observable in the “Flower of Life” and virtually anything else in ancient or early modern art or architecture that involves 64 circles or really 64 of anything.

Much of the first quarter of Thrive either deals with ancient astronauts explicitly or implicitly. At 20:25 of the film, for instance, there is the explicit claim that alien intelligences were visiting Earth in UFOs in ancient times. Prior to that, however, there are various claims made, such as those by Nassim Haramein, of things that are supposedly of extraterrestrial origin, “proving” the ancient astronaut theory correct. At 20:10 in the film, Mr. Haramein states that the Egyptians, Incas and Mayans all talk about “sun gods” who come to Earth and teach them engineering, writing and all of their science. Evidently we (the human race) are supposed to get back to our extraterrestrial roots and discover the “gift” of free unlimited energy that these aliens supposedly gave us thousands of years ago.

What Is The Evidence That Thrive Relies On To Claim Ancient Astronauts Are Real?

The answer to this question is simple: none whatsoever. All of the claims made in Thrive about ancient astronauts are based on the same basic assumption: that ancient peoples couldn’t possibly have built this or that structure, or known about this concept or that concept, and therefore this “proves” that they must have been given these ideas by a superior intelligence.

That’s it. That’s all the Thrive movie has to support its claims about ancient astronauts. No evidence at all. Just an assumption followed by a supposition, neither of which are logically or factually supportable.

Example: at 18:45 of the film, Foster Gamble, finishing up his talk about the 64-circled “Flower of Life” design, says, “Is it a coincidence that this design appears on two different continents?” We have already seen on this blog that the Thrive movie’s claims about the “Flower of Life” being “burned into the structure of the rock” are false, and that the makers have acknowledged that they are false. Later, trying to link the number 64 with recent discoveries about human DNA, Gamble says of ancient peoples (at 20:02), “But how on earth did they know about it?”

This assumption is nothing less than a frontal assault on human intelligence. Mr. Gamble and Mr. Haramein are suggesting that ancient peoples were so stupid, simple-minded and helpless that they couldn’t have come up with anything worthwhile unless that knowledge was given to them by aliens.

There is also another incorrect assumption lying behind this one: that knowledge of science and technology in the modern world is always a perfectly linear expansion, that nothing that has ever been known or discovered in human history has ever been lost or forgotten, and that modern understandings of science and engineering are the sina qua non of intelligence. That is to say, if we can’t explain how the Egyptians built a pyramid in terms roughly analogous to understanding of the processes of building the Empire State Building, this precludes the possibility that the pyramids could have been built by humans.

Although it appeals to an extraterrestrial designer rather than a divine one, ancient astronaut theories are similar in reasoning (or lack thereof) to young-earth creationism and “Intelligent Design.” Right away this should tell you that ancient astronauts are not a rational explanation for the concepts or creations of ancient peoples.

Where Do Modern “Ancient Astronaut” Theories Come From?

Ancient astronauts, as the idea is commonly understood in the circles of New Age believers that are evidently Thrive’s target audience, burst into popular culture in 1968 with a pseudoscientific book called Chariots of the Gods? by Erich von Däniken, which is still in print 44 years later. This virtually fact-free book argues that ancient structures such as Stonehenge and the Nazca Lines are too advanced to have been built by ancient peoples, and thus must have been constructed by aliens. Probably the best debunking of von Däniken is this article written by John T. Omohundro way back in 1976 which takes apart both von Däniken’s supposed “evidence” and his faulty reasoning. A more concise criticism can be found on the Skeptic Dictionary page on von Däniken, which states:

“[M]ost of von Däniken’s evidence is in the form of specious and fallacious arguments. His data consists mainly of archaeological sites and ancient myths. He begins with the ancient astronaut assumption and then forces all data to fit the idea. For example, in Nazca, Peru, he explains giant animal drawings in the desert as an ancient alien airport. The likelihood that these drawings related to the natives’ religion or science is not considered. He also frequently reverts to false dilemma reasoning of the following type: ‘Either this data is to be explained by assuming these primitive idiots did this themselves or we must accept the more plausible notion that they got help from extremely advanced peoples who must have come from other planets where such technologies as anti-gravity devices had been invented.’”

These ideas weren’t new even in 1968. This article mentions some of the progenitors of the ancient astronaut theory, and also debunks some other examples from Chariots of the Gods?. But in New Age circles—people who want to believe spiritual “alternative explanations” for things rather than accept factual and rational explanations—von Däniken has been a hero for nearly half a century. Unfortunately, woo beliefs tend to be much more popular than dry facts of history and archaeology.

But Isn’t It True We Don’t Know How The Pyramids (Or Other Ancient Structures) Were Built?

Yes, in some cases it is true. But why does this lead to a binary choice—that if we can’t explain it, we must conclude that it was done by aliens? There is, in fact, another and much more likely possibility: that the ancient peoples did it themselves using means and procedures whose exact natures are no longer extant in the historical record.

Also, do not confuse “we don’t know how they were built” with “the building of these structures is impossible given what we know about physics and engineering.” Believers in ancient astronaut theories constantly confuse these two conclusions. We do not know how the pyramids were built, but the construction of them by human hands is certainly not impossible. Skeptic Dictionary puts it this way:

“We still wonder how the ancient Egyptians raised giant obelisks in the desert and how stone age men and women moved huge cut stones and placed them in position in dolmens and passage graves. We are amazed by the giant carved heads on Easter Island and wonder why they were done, who did them, and why they abandoned the place. We may someday have the answers to our questions, but they are most likely to come from scientific investigation not pseudoscientific speculation. For example, observing contemporary stone age peoples in Papua New Guinea, where huge stones are still found on top of tombs, has taught us how the ancients may have accomplished the same thing with little more than ropes of organic material, wooden levers and shovels, a little ingenuity and a good deal of human strength.”

What we lack is not an understanding of the scientific possibility of building these structures, but the historical records of the processes used to build them. For example, it is clearly not impossible for human beings to haul massive stones, such as those used to build the pyramids at Giza, many miles from a quarry to a construction site. We do it today with trucks and cranes, but many, many historical records exist of it being done in structures all over the world in the days before trucks and cranes. Therefore, we know it is possible. But with the pyramids, the historical record of how they were built has been lost. Did they use pulleys? Ramps? Did they haul the stones on donkeys? Did they use teams of slaves? We don’t know, but the fact that we don’t know doesn’t mean that any or all of these techniques were not or could not have been used.

See the difference? We don’t know how they were built is not the same as we believe that the building of these structures is impossible according to our understanding of science and engineering. Those are two very different concepts, but New Age believers conflate them constantly, and this conflation is the basis for ancient astronaut claims.

But What About Ancient Peoples’ Mythology About Sun Gods Who Taught Them Everything? Isn’t That Evidence of Alien Visitation?

No.

A key part of ancient astronaut bunk is to warp and distort ancient peoples’ mythology and religious beliefs to try to claim that they really were talking about aliens and UFOs. Von Däniken does this in Chariots of the Gods? and Nassim Haramein does exactly the same thing at 20:10 of Thrive. Mr. Haramein claims that Egyptians, Mayas and Incas all had “sun gods” that supposedly taught them science and engineering. This claim is false at least with respect to the Egyptians and Mayas.

The ancient Egyptian sun god was called Ra. I looked up Ra in my Ultimate Encyclopedia of Mythology, by Arthur Cotterell & Rachel Storm, and while I found a very detailed article on Ra’s role as the daily-reborn sun god of Egypt, there was not a single word referring to him teaching science and technology to the Egyptians. You can browse some online resources about Ra (such as this one) and you will also see that there is no mention of Ra’s relationship to science and technology. I read quite a lot about Egyptian mythology in my early years, and I don’t recall ever hearing this. If anyone more versed in Egyptian mythology than I am can correct me if this is a misconception, I invite them to do so—but please come armed with a direct quotation from a reliable source before commenting.

Mayan mythology and religion is extraordinarily complex. In researching this article, as near as I can tell the Mayan sun god was called Kinich Ahau, and he was primarily associated with music and poetry—not science and engineering. Clearly there is no mention of this god, at least in the materials I could find, “teaching” ancient peoples how to build anything. Again, if anyone who knows Mayan mythology wishes to dispute this characterization, I’ll do an update to this blog with a correction—but again, come armed with direct quotations from reliable sources.

I have a friend who is very much into Mayan culture, and who just got back from an archaeological dig in Guatemala. (His blog is here). I asked him about the sun god stuff. His answer: it’s garbage. Mr. Haramein appears to be mistaken.

He does have a point, however, when it comes to the Incan sun god. That god was called Inti and was the most important god in the Incan pantheon. This site refers to legends that Inti “taught civilization” to Manco Cápac, the mythological founder of the Incan civilization. Presumably the teaching of “civilization” involves science and engineering.

But before you conclude that this is “evidence” that the Incas learned everything they knew from little green men from the Pleiades, let’s step back a moment. Mr. Haramein made the claim that all three civilizations had sun gods who taught them about science and technology. The facts show that only one of them had a belief similar to that. Mr. Haramein was also proven incorrect about the “Flower of Life” at the Temple of Abydos. Clearly, when it comes to making assertions about ancient history, he doesn’t seem to be correct very much of the time.

Even beyond the issue of Mr. Haramein’s credibility, however, think of something more basic: if these ancient peoples were visited by extraterrestrials, why would formulations of myths and religious stories be their primary means of recording this extraordinary event? These ancient peoples did write down their history. Take the Mayans, for instance. In addition to recording their mythology, they recorded the genealogies of their kings and historical events that occurred in their countries. You can see a translation of a Mayan codex, called Popul Vuh, which does exactly that, here. Why would these peoples have not recorded what actually happened?

That dovetails with my next point.

If Ancient Astronauts Helped Ancient Peoples Build Things in the Distant Past, How Come They Haven’t Helped Us Build Anything in Recorded History?

This is a question I’ve never heard a believer in ancient astronauts even attempt to answer. If aliens helped Egyptians build the pyramids thousands of years ago, how come they didn’t help us build, say, the Hoover Dam in the 1920s? Why do all these supposed alien interventions lie in periods of the past for which historical records are sketchy or nonexistent?

Let’s take another example of an awesome and mysterious structure, every bit as amazing as the pyramids: the cathedral of Hagia Sofia (St. Sofia, the Church of the Holy Wisdom) in Constantinople, now called Istanbul.

This, one of the largest and grandest cathedrals in the world, survived many earthquakes over the centuries that turned most other structures to rubble. For many years modern scientists and engineers had no idea how or why the builders of St. Sofia were able to “earthquake-proof” the building. Then, in 2002, the answer was discovered: the Byzantines who built St. Sofia in the 530’s A.D. invented earthquake-proof cement 1300 years before anyone else had thought of it.

Before 2002, then, St. Sofia was in precisely the same category as the Egyptian pyramids or the Nazca lines: “We have no idea how they did it!” Yet I am unaware of a single instance in which New Agers have alleged that aliens helped build St. Sofia.

Why not? The answer is very simple. St. Sofia was built in recorded history. There are lots of written records relating to its construction in 532 A.D. We even know the names of the architects: Isidore of Miletus and Anthemius of Tralles. In short, we know that aliens weren’t involved in building St. Sofia because none of the historical records relating to the construction of the cathedral mention them.

This fact is proof positive of how and why the “We have no idea how they did it, so it must be aliens” reasoning is inherently faulty. We know for a fact that humans built St. Sofia without help from Antares or Alpha Centauri. There was something about how they built it that we did not know, at least until 2002, and that something was a marvel comparable only to modern techniques of modern earthquake-proof construction. Yet no one could take seriously the claim that because this marvel existed, it somehow “proved” that aliens must have been involved in its construction.

This means that the only candidates for alien construction projects are those for which we don’t already have detailed records of their construction. If, for example, a stone tablet was discovered in Egypt tomorrow with a complete record of how the Great Pyramid was constructed, and archaeologists verified the tablet as genuine, the Great Pyramid would suddenly be off the New Agers’ list of “proof” items for alien astronauts. This shows that alien astronaut claims can only thrive (pardon the expression) where there is no direct evidence to refute them. This is a classic telltale sign of faulty reasoning.

Aren’t You Being Unfair And Closed-Minded By Refusing To Accept The Possibility That Aliens May Have Interacted With Humans In The Past? I Mean, You Should Be Open To All Possibilities, Right?

Many defenders of Thrive who have come to this blog to comment have taken me to task for denouncing this or that possibility involving woo subjects like UFOs or crop circles, or conspiracy theories like the “Global Domination Agenda,” as if I am somehow being unfair and closing the door on potential understanding by insisting on verifiable facts and logical reasoning. This criticism totally misses the point and again reinforces the faith-based belief system of Thrive’s target audience.

Personally, I would be delighted if historical or archaeological evidence of extraterrestrial visitation came to light. It would undoubtedly be the greatest discovery in the history of the human race. I personally do think it is likely that there is intelligent life elsewhere in the universe. However, this supposition—and it is no more than a supposition—does not justify a belief that these extraterrestrial beings are visiting Earth in UFOs, because there is no credible evidence that this is in fact happening. Not only is there no credible evidence of extraterrestrial visitation in modern times, but the supposed “evidence” for extraterrestrial visitation in the past is even thinner.

Why, if aliens visited humans in the past, should the evidence of these visitations be so oblique and attenuated? If it really happened, shouldn’t it be unmistakable? Again—why didn’t Cheops, the builder of the Great Pyramid, erect a stone tablet stating, “I just want to leave this stone behind to thank Zorky and Bloopblop from the planet Galinka for all their help in building my wonderful pyramid”? If it really happened, wouldn’t there be ample evidence of it? And in the absence of such convincing evidence, is it really that unreasonable to conclude that it did not happen?

I believe in the human race, the intelligence of the human species, and the boundless ingenuity of humanity. I seem to believe in these things more than Foster Gamble and Nassim Haramein do. I believe that a bunch of very intelligent men and women, born in Egypt thousands of years ago, were clever enough to figure out a way to build the Great Pyramid, and if we modern peoples could see how they did it, we would be extremely surprised and intrigued by their ingenuity. Foster Gamble and Nassim Haramein do not believe that Egyptians were smart enough to do this; they’d rather believe that these people were pathetic and helpless and could only have done what they did if aliens helped them.

I believe that artists, engineers and artisans across many different cultures, in many different countries, in many different eras, were smart enough to come up with the idea of a flower-like design with 64 interlocking circles independently of each other. This is not a “coincidence.” Is it really that hard? Is it so far beyond the realm of possibility that one ancient person in Egypt came up with a 64-circle flower design and thought, “Gee, that’s pretty—I think I’ll paint it on the wall,” and then someone else in China hundreds of years later had the same idea and also thought it was pretty? Why does this stretch any sort of credulity to believe this?

But Foster Gamble and Nassim Haramein do not believe this. They believe people in Egypt and China—civilizations that gave us paper and fireworks, had running water in their houses, and explored much of the ancient world—were too stupid to do this without the help of aliens.

I believe that a couple of ordinary yahoos from rural England, with no advanced training in engineering or mathematics, working with boards, measuring tapes and other simple tools, can and regularly do create magnificent, geometrically perfect crop circles on a regular basis. In fact, I can prove that they do. But Foster Gamble and Nassim Haramein do not believe this. They believe people are too stupid to figure out how to flatten some wheat stalks and throw some magnetized particles around to fool the gullible.

Most sadly—and here is the real tragedy of Thrive—Foster Gamble and Nassim Haramein do not seem to believe in the capacity and ingenuity of the human species to improve its present condition. They don’t think we can end global warming, clean up the environment or improve the quality of life for many of the world’s people on our own, the same way we have solved many other problems, by using science and reason and calling upon the infinite creativity of the human spirit. No—the whole point of Thrive is that we, the human race, are too stupid and corrupt to do these things, and we must instead rely on magical technology supposedly given to us by extraterrestrials in order to solve these problems.

That’s their message. Humanity is doomed, and we always have been. Hell, according to Gamble and Haramein, as well as some commenters on this blog, we’re too stupid to figure out how to build crop circles correctly! But that doesn’t matter. Aliens will sail down from the skies to our rescue. As long as we don’t let those evil Rockefellers and the Federal Reserve take over.

Seen in this light, Thrive’s dogged insistence on the alien astronaut hypothesis is not only silly and illogical—it is downright insulting.

Crop Circles–Debunked!

At 25:33 of Thrive there begins an important section setting out one of the movie’s key claims: that “crop circles” found in agricultural fields are the creations of extraterrestrials and are intended to convey messages to the human race. Foster Gamble states affirmatively that crop circles are evidence of UFOs. The crop circle section is one of the most sensationalized portions of the first half of the Thrive movie. This article will debunk this specific portion of the film.

What Is A Crop Circle?

A crop circle is a large-scale pattern found in a cultivated field, usually involving stalks of grain (wheat, corn etc.) pressed and folded down to form a specific shape. Crop circles are usually geometric in design, but they’re not always circular. Crop circles (also known as crop formations) can be particularly impressive and beautiful if seen from the air. Many beautiful designs have been recorded. Over ten thousand crop circles have been reported in countries around the world, but 90% of the reports come from southern England (an important fact, as we’ll see).

What does Thrive claim about crop circles?

Foster Gamble, the maker and narrator of Thrive, asserts at 26:24 of the film that crop circles are associated with UFOs and extraterrestrials because they are too perfect to have been created by humans. Therefore, they must be products of extraterrestrials. This is the sole basis on which Gamble concludes that crop circles have a non-terrestrial origin. Then, having made this assumption, the movie goes on to discuss what the circles might mean, but all of this discussion proceeds from the assumption that circles are made by UFOs. Gamble concludes at 28:45 that the geometric shapes contained in some crop circles correspond with his own observations on the importance of the “torus” shape, which he describes earlier in the movie.

What causes crop circles?

The answer is very simple: crop circles are made by human beings. There is no real mystery about this. You can go to a website, http://www.circlemakers.org/perpetrators.html, where “circlemakers” freely discuss how they create the circles, why, and what they’re hoping to accomplish. It’s a complex phenomenon, but the main reason appears to be to hoax people and tap into their beliefs in the paranormal. Nowadays, it’s even become a business—people and firms hire “circlemakers” to make crop circles as a form of advertising or attention-getting.

You can see a video of exactly how crop circles are made below:

The phenomenon of crop circles seems to have taken off in earnest in the late 1970s. Two Englishmen, Doug Bower and Dave Chorley, began making crop circles in southern England at that time, using boards, string and a baseball cap. They admitted in 1991 that they were responsible for the vast majority of crop circles seen in England.

Why is Gamble’s reasoning faulty? An exercise with “rebuttable presumptions.”

In preferring an exotic explanation (extraterrestrials) over a more mundane one (human pranksters), Gamble is ignoring an important rule of evidence and reasoning: the simpler explanation is almost always the correct one. Once we have evidence that there are human beings out there making crop circles, the conclusion that all crop circles are of human origin becomes what we can call a rebuttable presumption. That means, unless you can rebut it with specific evidence to show that something else is in fact true, you must conclude that the rebuttable presumption is the explanation.

Let’s take an example. A little boy has been warned not to get into the jar of jam. A few minutes later the boy emerges from the kitchen with jam smeared on his fingers, shirt and around his mouth. You go into the kitchen and find the jar of jam open on the counter. You didn’t see the boy eat the jam, but when confronted, the boy says that his sister framed him by opening the jam and smearing it on his hands. The sister is upstairs in her room and no one saw her leave and come down into the kitchen. Also, her hands and clothes have no jam on them.

It is remotely possible that the boy’s story is true. The sister could have come down from upstairs, broken into the jam, smeared it on his hands, shirt and face, then washed her hands and gone back upstairs without being noticed. However, that explanation is extremely complicated. In order for this to be true a lot of unusual things would have to have happened: no one seeing the sister, no one hearing the commotion, this all happening so quickly, etc. It could be true, but it’s probably not.

The much simpler explanation is that the boy himself ate the jam and made up the story about being framed. Unless you have specific evidence that the sister did it—such as, the sister being witnessed in the act—the conclusion that the boy ate the jam himself is a rebuttable presumption. If you can’t rebut it, you must conclude that this is what happened.

Back to crop circles. We have two possible scenarios: (A) Gamble’s scenario, that crop circles are made by extraterrestrials; or (B), my scenario, that they are done by pranksters.

Things that would have to be true if Gamble is right:

  • Intelligent extraterrestrials must exist.
  • These intelligent extraterrestrials must have the ability and the desire to visit Earth in starships capable of traveling millions of miles across space and sustaining their occupants for years in order to make the trip.
  • These intelligent extraterrestrials must have a reason for wanting to come to Earth for the purpose of pressing weird designs in to fields of grain.
  • The process of creating crop circles must be done without the possibility of these extraterrestrials being witnessed in the act of doing it (I’ve never seen any claim of a person witnessing an alien making a crop circle).
  • Something must explain why extraterrestrials are particularly attracted to doing this activity in southern England much more often than anywhere else.

Things that would have to be true if I am right:

  • Some human beings must have the desire to play a prank.
  • Some human beings must have access to a board, a piece of string, and a baseball cap.
  • Some human beings must have some knowledge of geometry.
  • Some human beings who possess these characteristics must be present in southern England.

My explanation is much more plausible. It does not require the intervention of creatures whose existence is not proven; it does not require the use of technology that is beyond the capability of modern science; it does not rely on a host of suppositions that are meant to fill in the gaps between various weak parts of the theory; and most importantly, it is supported by evidence. Earlier in this article I directed you to a video where you can see people making a crop circle. You can, if you want to, even hire people to make one for you. This is pretty conclusive.

There is no evidence to support Gamble’s version. None. By contrast, I’ve presented evidence to support my theory. Because my theory is much more plausible and is supported by evidence, in contrast to Gamble’s which is extremely farfetched and not supported by any evidence, the conclusion that humans create crop circles is a rebuttable presumption that has not been rebutted—and that means you must conclude that it is correct.

But doesn’t Gamble admit that some crop circles are man-made?

Yes, he does, but he deals with this possibility in an extremely misleading way. At 26:14 of Thrive he admits that some crop circles are made by humans, but he says, “those made by human hands are crude compared to the vast majority of these elegant creations.” As he says this, several examples flash on the screen: very shoddy, poorly-done crop circles that do not compare to the “pristine” examples that Gamble wants you to believe are of extraterrestrial origin. The purpose of this exercise is to reinforce the basic assumption with which he approaches the subject of crop circles: that most of them are “too perfect” to have been made by human hands. I repeat that this assumption is the entire basis for Gamble’s claim that crop circles are made by aliens.

I have already attacked this assumption with evidence. Look at the video I posted above. Fast-forward to 9:35 and you can see the formation from the air. It doesn’t look anything like Gamble’s “crude” versions, does it? Indeed, it looks absolutely perfect. This crop circle was made in Silbury Hill, England in 2001 in about four hours.

This evidence demonstrates beyond all doubt that people can and do make crop circles quite easily. But even if this evidence did not exist, you can debunk Gamble’s reasoning with simple logic. Claiming that the shoddy examples shown on screen prove that human beings cannot make “perfect” crop circles is like claiming that because I drew this…

…and it sucks, this means that this

…is “too perfect” to have been made by any human, and therefore must have been painted by extraterrestrials.

Obviously, this conclusion is absurd.

Crop-circle makers themselves think this argument is absurd. Here is an excerpt from an interview with the maker of a crop circle, John Lundberg, who had this to say (link to the full interview here: http://www.starpod.org/news/1106291.htm)

“They [believers that crop circles have a paranormal explanation] come up with litmus tests that become an article of faith for them, terms such as ‘bent not broken stems’, ‘physiological changed to the plants’, etc are their ‘proof’ that the circles could not possibly be the work of mere human mortals. I think this attitude shows a complete lack of belief in human potential. Do these people not look around them and see what human civilization has achieved? The scientific, engineering and artistic marvels? We can get a man to the moon and back, but these people can’t believe that a few well organised artists can flatten cereal crops in a complex pattern.”

What about the strange “magnetic particles” that are found in crop circles?

At 26:48 of the film, Gamble asserts that “strange magnetic particles” are found in crop circles. This sounds like a convincing explanation for some non-human origin, doesn’t it? (Of course it does, which is why Gamble uses this example).

This feature too is easily explained. Here is a page that explains how to create a crop circle—with magnetic particles included. [http://www.wikihow.com/Make-a-Crop-Circle] Here’s how you do it:

“Also, melt some iron filings into droplets on site and sprinkle them around the flattened area to leave ‘meteorite particles’ and magnetized stalks.”

This is yet another technique used by hoaxers precisely to stoke the idea among believers that crop circles have some sort of paranormal origin. In this case, Foster Gamble fell for it.

Further evidence that crop circles are manmade: the Chilbolton crop circle and the “Arecibo message.”

At 26:56 in the film, Gamble devotes considerable attention to a crop “circle” at Chilbolton in England, which, as you see on the screen, is right next door to a radio observatory in England. I use the term “circle” in quotes because as you can see it was not a circle, but rather a rectangle, presenting an almost-duplicate of the Arecibo message. The Arecibo message, as explained in the movie, was a transmission of a graphic design beamed into space in 1974 by the Arecibo radio observatory in Puerto Rico as part of the SETI project (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence). That message contained information by which some astronomers thought might lead an extraterrestrial civilization to find Earth—a representation of our solar system, a human figure, and some other details.

The crop “circle” found next to Chilbolton Observatory mirrors the Arecibo message, except that in the place of a human figure it shows a figure obviously intended to look like the usual cultural depiction of an alien—big head, big eyes, small body, etc., and in the place of the representation of our solar system it shows a different solar system. It is obvious from Thrive that Gamble believes that this crop “circle” is a direct response by extraterrestrials to the Arecibo message.

But is it really? Think about it from the standpoint of the conclusion demonstrated above. If crop circles are manmade, how can we explain the “circle” next to Chilbolton Observatory?

Actually, we can explain it quite easily. Note that it occurs right next door to a radio observatory. The staff of this observatory would be expected to know about the Arecibo message. They would also presumably know that some people think crop circles are extraterrestrial in origin. If one or another of the people who work here were willing to play a prank, wouldn’t it make sense they might do something of this nature? Or, if it was done by pranksters not connected with the observatory, doesn’t the idea of putting a crop circle in that specific location make a lot of sense—i.e., someone playing a joke on the observatory itself?

I posit this: because we already know that the thesis of human pranksters making crop circles is a rebuttable presumption, which has not been rebutted, the theory that the Chilbolton “circle” was done by humans and is somehow connected to the observatory is conclusive.

If it was aliens responding to the Arecibo message, why would they choose to respond by making a crop circle? Why wouldn’t they beam their response back to the Arecibo observatory itself? Aliens in posession of awesome technology—starships that can cross the gulf of space and presumably communicate in extremely efficient technological ways—decide not to use any of those capabilities, and instead send a very ambiguous message by pressing down a bunch of grain stalks in England?

Or, if for whatever inscrutable reason extraterrestrials decided they had to respond by making a crop circle, why wouldn’t they have done it at or near the Arecibo facility where the message was sent from? If they wanted to respond, why wouldn’t they make both the content and the origin of their response absolutely unmistakable?

Furthermore, the Arecibo message (read about it here http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arecibo_message) was beamed at M13, which is 25,000 light years from Earth. The message left Earth in November 1974 at the speed of light. By now the farthest it could have penetrated into space is 37 light years. If M13 is inhabited by intelligent beings who wish to respond, they won’t even get the message for another 25,000 years!

There is no other rational conclusion to reach except this one: the Chibolton circle was done by humans, and Foster Gamble was punk’d. Thrive’s contentions regarding crop circles are simply wrong.

If most crop circles appear in England, and crop circles are done by UFOs, why don’t most UFO sightings occur in England?

This is yet another non sequitur in Gamble’s argument. He admits (23:53) that most crop circles have appeared in England. We have seen that this is true. In fact according to Wikipedia, about 90% of them have. But if crop circles are made by aliens who arrive here in UFOs, as Gamble unequivocally asserts, then why don’t 90% of UFO sightings occur in England?

I mean, it only makes sense, doesn’t it? People think they see UFOs all over the world, in the UK as well. But if there was a direct causal relationship between UFOs and crop circles, and we know for a fact that most crop circles appear in England, then you should expect England to be the UFO sighting capital of the world, by a far margin. However, 90% of UFO sightings do not occur in England. This is circumstantial evidence that Gamble’s theory is wrong.

My answer, however—that crop circles are made by human beings—easily accounts for why most crop circles appear in England: because most people who make crop circles, and/or the people who tend to make the most crop circles per capita, live in England. Bower and Chorley certainly do. The people in the video I linked above do. Indeed, making crop circles appears to be a pastime that is most popular in England. The people who originally did it taught their friends how to do it, and those people were copied (willingly or not) by others in their general circles (no pun intended) of acquaintances. This all makes perfect sense.

What does Thrive’s “fact-check” section say about crop circles?

The Thrive website contains a “fact check” section (http://thrivemovement.com/fact_checks). Most of the “fact checks” presented are not really facts, or are not very reliable. Here’s what the site has to say to defend Gamble’s claims on crop circles:

“Crop Circles Fact: 5,000 crop circles have appeared in over 30 countries, most of them in England.

This is a conservative estimate. Crop Circles, authored by Colin Andrews with Stephen J. Spignesi, is a reference guide on the subject and answers many commonly asked questions in the field. This work states that more than 11,000 crop circles have been reported in over 30 countries and that they occur mostly in England. Colin Andrews is a former engineer with the British Government and is widely accepted as an authority on crop circle phenomenon. Stephen J. Spignesi is a New York Times best-selling author.

Sources:

Both of these sources confirm that England is where most crop circles are made.

Hillary Mayell. “Crop Circles” Artworks or Alien Signs?” National Geographic: http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2002/08/0801_020801_cropcircles.html

Stephen J. Spignesi and Colin Andrews. Crop Circles: Signs of Contact. Franklin Lakes: Career Press, 2003. (178).

Stephen J. Spignesi and Colin Andrews. Crop Circles: Signs of Contact. Franklin Lakes: Career Press, 2003. (75).

Star Dreams: A Crop Circle Documentary: http://www.zimbio.com/Crop+Circles/articles/RzuAclFOjzE/Star+Dreams+Crop+Circle+D”

You can browse the book referenced, by Andrews and Spignesi, here: http://books.google.com/books?id=TBowgkpSZpEC&printsec=frontcover&source=gbs_atb#v=onepage&q&f=false Take a look. You will see that it accepts unquestioningly the assumption that crop circles are made by UFOs and are trying to send messages to humans. Therefore, the writers of this book have simply made the exact same error in logic and reasoning that Gamble has made. You’ll also notice the book veers in a lot of “New Age” directions. A scholarly examination of the crop circle phenomenon would not do that.

The “fact check” section goes on to state:

“Electromagnetic Charge of Crop Circles Fact: The electromagnetic field over the area where the crop has been laid down to create the image, is often electro-statically charged. Some of these areas are littered with strange magnetic particles.

In the early 1990s a unique discovery was made while studying a crop circle in England. Plants in the formation were coated with fused particles of iron oxides (hematite and magnetite). Since this discovery, soil sampling is regularly undertaken at crop circle sites. Traces of melted magnetic material, adhered to soil grains, have regularly been identified.

Sources:

Newworldencyclopedia.org: http://www.newworldencyclopedia.org/entry/Crop_circle

“Magnetic Materials in Soils”: http://www.bltresearch.com/magnetic.php”

I have already explained what these magnetic particles are and how they got there. As for the cite to the “New World Encyclopedia,” you will notice that this is a user-generated wiki with a decidedly New Age bent to it. However, even this source admits the following:

“The main criticism of theories of non-human creation of crop circles is that evidence of these origins, besides eyewitness testimonies, is scant. Crop circles are usually easily explicable as the result of human pranksters. There have also been cases in which researchers declared crop circles to be “the real thing,” only to be confronted soon after with the people who created the circle and documented the fraud. Many people have demonstrated how complex crop circles can be created.”

There you have it—a source that Foster Gamble cites specifically to support his contention in fact refutes it! The New World Encyclopedia, later in the article, carefully decides that it can’t conclude whether crop circles are man or ET-made, but if you read the article you’ll see that even this source, generally sympathetic to “New Age” type stuff, specifically and unequivocally contradicts claims made by Gamble in the Thrive movie.

Gamble’s own sources refute him!

OK, Gamble is wrong about crop circles. Does that mean the whole movie is garbage?

Crop circles aren’t the only thing Gamble gets wrong. As you will see from the various debunkings that have been posted and will eventually be posted on this blog, there are many aspects of the Thrive movie that are misleading or just totally wrong. Indeed, Gamble gets more wrong than he does right. That should give rational viewers serious pause.

However, even if that were not the case, consider that the UFO-crop circle connection is a key sequence in the film and it’s crucial to Thrive’s overall argument. The claim is that aliens exist, that they are trying to give us the secret to “free” energy, and that this secret is being suppressed. Gamble specifically uses crop circles as a means of supporting his claims about aliens. If he’s this wrong about a key part of his own movie, that has to make you wonder—what else is he wrong about?

Conclusion

I have demonstrated, with evidence, where crop circles really come from and why the reality is different than what Foster Gamble says it is in Thrive. I have also demonstrated, by using logic and reasoning, why it is illogical and irrational to believe that crop circles are caused by anything other than human beings. While the evidence in this article speaks for itself, I strongly encourage you to check it out for yourself, and do your own thinking. If you do, I’m confident you will conclude, as I have, that the section in Thrive regarding crop circles is absolutely incorrect, misleading, and is a product of seriously shoddy research and even more spurious reasoning.