Debunking TED myths

TED Talks first appeared online in 2006, and within a few years were ubiquitous. As we've become part of pop culture (as much to our surprise as anyone's), it's natural that people speculate on who the heck we are, what we believe, and why we're even doing this. And sometimes people speculate incorrectly. Here, a few things you might have heard.

TED is elitist

In one sense, this is true — we curate our speaker list and our TED Talks lineup very carefully. And we "curate" our audience at conferences to make sure we have a balanced, diverse group that can support our mission of bringing great ideas to the world for free.

But we also work hard not to be elitist in ways that matter. We actively seek out ideas from all over the world in multiple languages. We work to diversify both our lineup and our attendee roster, devoting time and budget to seeking out and supporting attendees who couldn't afford to come on their own, but who'll be great contributors. We also devote significant time and money to bringing TED Talks to people who lack access to broadband or have other accessibility issues. We hope the proof of the pudding is that our talks are available for free to anyone in the world.

TED is biased

Not every talk given at a TED conference or a TEDx event makes it to the front page of TED.com. Some speakers have suggested that their live talks didn't become TED Talks because of a bias against their political stance. In truth, TED is nonpartisan and we do our best to post talks that will contribute to a productive conversation. TED is not a place for partisan slams and one-sided arguments.

TED is full of pseudoscience

As the global TEDx movement grows, some local events have been targeted by speakers who make unsupported claims about science and health — from perpetual motion to psychic healing. TEDx's science guidelines clearly state that science and health information shared from the stage must be supported by peer-reviewed research. If you have concerns about the content of a TEDx talk, please write to tedx@ted.com and let us know.

TED bans discussion of GMOs and food

In 2013, another website created this meme in order to draw page views (and sell vitamin supplements). The story went viral because it seemed simply too awful to believe. And indeed it was not true. TED does not ban discussion of GMOs and food. Our formal response includes a long list of TED Talks about food, GMOs, food science and the sustainability and health of our food supply.

TED bans [insert topic]

TED has no formal bans on any topic. If you notice we have not covered a topic of interest to you, please suggest a speaker who can do it justice, and feel free to let us know we've been missing out! We are always looking for new ideas, topics and speakers.

TED is rich

TED is owned by a nonprofit. Our North American conference itself makes money, as do partnerships with companies and foundations — but we spend it as soon as we get it, supporting big projects like making TED Talks available for free, and supporting the independent TEDx community around the world. We pay fair salaries to our workers and we pay our interns. No one at TED HQ is getting rich; every dime we make goes right back into supporting our work.