Robbins’ Response to Sherrills

By John Robbins

This is in response to Aqeela Sherrills' comments which you can see here: http://www.thrivemovement.com/aqeela-sherrills-response-to-john-robbins-critique-of-thrive-movie.

To see the full dialogue between the Thrive Filmmakers and Pioneers, and to add any comments, please visit: www.thrivemovement.com/public-dialogue-between-thrive-movie-filmmakers-and-pioneers.


There are many things in this comment that do not seem based in fact, and a that are matters of public record. For example, it would be hard to explain how the World Health Organization’s victory in the eradication of Smallpox in 1979 would be to blame for the genocide perpetrated on the Native American people in the 1700s. But those are all matters of public record and I have no desire to address them.

I do wish to set the record straight on two factually inaccurate items that, because they claim insider knowledge, would be impossible for readers to verify on their own.

First, it is true that some of the people interviewed in Thrive, including me, were invited to see the film just before it was released to the public – But his was after the film was completely finished. To imply that we were given any opportunity to provide any input on the film is completely inaccurate. Each of the ten people who appear in the film and who have chosen to publicly disassociate from it feel that if we had known the nature of the film, we would not have agreed to participate in it. And each of us have signed a statement of disassociation that includes this sentence: “Thrive is a very different film from what we were led to expect when we agreed to be interviewed.”

Second, this comment claims that I knew who Bernard Madoff was, and almost implies that I had insider knowledge of his 40 year, $65 billion fraud. That is completely untrue. Prior to his arrest, I had no idea who Bernard Madoff was, or what he was doing. I was pulled into this fraud, not unlike tens of thousands of others, by a financial advisor who told me the story he believed: of a reliable and socially neutral investment that could help to provide for the financial security of my special needs grandtwins. I had never met, spoken with, corresponded with, or, prior to his arrest, heard the first name of Bernard Madoff. I served on the board of a non-profit organization that was for a time investing some of its reserve fund in a partnership managed by this same financial advisor, and I am grateful that the board chose to remove its funds years before the Madoff scandal erupted. I wish Elie Wiesel, whose non-profit organization had $12 million stolen in the scam, had been so lucky.