Author John Robbins, Other Progressives Denounce ‘Thrive’

ThrivePosterThere was quite a strong reaction to the Foster Gamble post about THRIVE yesterday. Here at disinformation we try to expose our visitors to multiple views on the many topics we cover, so without taking a position for or against Mr. Gamble and his film, we thought it worth posting this piece by Eric Johnson at

Last fall, the acclaimed environmentalist and nutrition guru John Robbins was invited to the home of his friends Foster and Kimberly Carter Gamble, near Santa Cruz, to view the Gambles’ just-completed film, Thrive. Robbins, who makes a brief appearance in the film, says he was “overwhelmed” by what he saw.

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

Thrive, which was released online in November and had its theater debut at the Del Mar last month, is an uncanny hodgepodge of pseudo-science, Utopian fantasy and veiled right-wing conspiracy theory. Strangely, it also includes onscreen interviews with a number of bona fide progressives, environmentalists and spiritual leaders.

In addition to Robbins, author of the groundbreaking Diet for a New America in 1987, the film features conversations with Deepak Chopra, the superstar self-help author; Paul Hawken, the green entrepreneur and environmental economist; Elisabet Sahtouris, the evolutionary biologist and philosopher; Duane Elgin, the futurist and author of Voluntary Simplicity; Vandana Shiva, the physicist and advocate for sustainable agriculture; and former astronaut Edgar Mitchell.

In the months since the film’s release, Robbins says, he has been in communication with all of these folks. He wasn’t surprised to find that many of them agreed with his assessment of the film.

While they might have hoped the film would just disappear, Thrivehas become something of a Web cult phenomenon—by some estimates it’s been seen by more than 1 million people. And now they have decided to speak out.

In a just-released statement, Robbins, Chopra, Hawken, Sahtouris, Elgin, Shiva and Mitchell write that they have “grave disagreements” with some parts of the film…

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16 Comments on "Author John Robbins, Other Progressives Denounce ‘Thrive’"

  1. Thanks for sharing both sides. I just wish both pieces were released at the same time (yesterday) and linked to one another. Mainly because that movie is sneaky good, it leads you one way and then in half a beat you’re knocking down the world trade center and babbling about the Illuminati. But partly because I am ashamed of how gullible I am, and how quickly movies can convince me of things. 

  2. Freight Train | Apr 12, 2012 at 5:06 pm |

    >Here at disinformation we try to expose our visitors to multiple views on the many topics we cover

    why, then, do you ban people from commenting?

    • Good point.

    • gravyrobber | Apr 12, 2012 at 5:43 pm |

      Commenting about banned comments on said comment board… that’s META.

    • I’m curious about what comments have been banned, though I can understand how sometimes there may be a need to ban comments which are patently commercial or otherwise destructive of the community.

      Tough to balance that sometimes.

      Have the banned parties considered posting the comments on a different page(maybe a personal website or something) and then merely linking to them in the moderated forum?

      That might fly.

  3. One thing I’ve learned is that if everyone has a beef with you, you just might be doing something right… or you’re just a total asshole.

    At least that’s what I’ve been told.

    • Monkey See Monkey Do | Apr 12, 2012 at 10:15 pm |

      How bad could the comment be for him to get banned? I’ve seen some pretty racist, sexist, and prejudice comments on this site.

      • Yeah, now I’m kinda interested, if only for the shock value.

        • VaudeVillain | Apr 13, 2012 at 12:03 am |

          I have the sneaking suspicion that it is something “shocking” without any real meaning or originality. The sort of thing one can see by reading every “-1, Troll” comment on any given Slashdot article; your pick of dumbass copypasta, shock porn, etc.

          I could be wrong, and these posts could be interesting and original and totally worth reading… but somehow a variation on “in Soviet Russia, frosty pisses YOU” seems more likely.

  4. Before any one jumps to any serious conclusions about censorship, I’d like to mention that at least twice this evening, in this thread and another, I’ve gone back to look at a post I made only to find it missing.

    So, it might be a problem with disqus service rather than active censorship.

  5. This article touched on some of my uneasiness with the film.  The first half was well laid out as it addressed the source of problems.  In the second half when the solutions were presented it slanted towards maintaining a Piscean-era individualism instead of basing society on interdependent sharing models where appreciating the value of the greater self (humanity) is comprehended as being as important, if not more, as that of the lesser (individual) self.

  6. Barbelith | Apr 13, 2012 at 3:19 pm |

    Looks like everything is happening on schedule.

  7. mannyfurious | Apr 13, 2012 at 7:02 pm |

    I just watched the movie. It certainly has it’s share of kookie moments (the entire first 3rd/the torus/many of the “solutions”). But that middle section seemed pretty flawless. The fact that the “debunk thrive” website is apparently going to take aim at that section (and that fact that it took exception to the claims about Tesla, which I think are pretty accurate) shows me that that website isn’t really about truth but just about shitting on the movie for the sake of shitting on the movie.

  8. So, I too just finished watching the movie. I have to agree with mannyfurious about the kookie UFO/Interplanetary Visitation/Crop Circle/Torus parts of the film. I could certainly have done without those. I suppose that many people might be drawn in by such things, but to me, they’re red flags.

    He then introduces a large number of “Conspiracy Theory” type items on everything from Finance, to War, to Medicine, to Education, etc, etc. Nothing was presented in this portion of the film that I hadn’t heard before. I tended to agree with most of it from the research I’ve done over the years. To me, that was an unremarkable part of the movie, though I can see most people seriously choking on that.

    Then he gets into his ideas about how to fix things.

    I think this is probably where he starts to lose some people (that didn’t tune out in the Crop Circle section or have a mental breakdown in the Conspiracy section).

    He throws out an eclectic mix of ideas which I’m sure he’s synthesized into a more or less coherent worldview but which would tend to alienate people with both right and left wing political leanings.

    What may have disappointed me most was that Gamble advocates simply disengaging from those implicated in the Conspiracies and Domination of the past and generally letting them alone.

    I however am really looking forward to owning a set of [Insert Family Name Here] Skull drinking mugs.

  9. Foster and Kimberly are currently on tour hosting THRIVE screenings and meeting with various solutions groups in cities around the US. They look forward to offering a full response as soon as they have time. Meanwhile, Foster never received an email requesting a comment, and they never intentionally misled anyone in the movie. This statement has been in the credits of THRIVE all along: 

    “The people in THRIVE do not necessarily agree with the themes, statements, claims or conclusions presented in the film or website, nor does their inclusion imply our full agreement with all of their views. The people interviewed have each contributed in some deep way to our understanding and we are grateful to them all.” We do not know of any film- documentary or otherwise- that could get made giving final say to the people who are in it. As those disassociating acknowledge, they stand by what was quoted in THRIVE and gave full authorization for their presence in a film that was described at the time as “a bold look at what is in the way of our thriving and what we can do about it”. A fuller response is coming. Thank you for your patience. The THRIVE team

  10. I’m just wondering if John Robbins is related to Tony Robbins? Both are gurus but on different fields. While John is an environmentalist and nutrition guru, Tony on other hand is a self-help and business guru.

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