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Did Rupert Sheldrake make a factual error?

An editor at TED seems to suggest that Rupert Sheldrake made a factual error in his talk "The Science Delusion" when he said governments "ignore complimentary and alternative therapies." She writes:

"Sheldrake says that governments do not fund research into complementary medicine. Here are the US figures on NIH investment in complementary and alternative medicine 2009-2010: http://nccam.nih.gov/about/budget/institute-center.htm "


At the NIH link we find that the NIH invested $441,819, 000 in complimentary and alternative medicine in 2011.

But the total NIH budget is about $31,000,000,000 or $31 billion.


This means the NIH invested about 1.425% of its budget in complimentary and alternative medicine in 2011.

To what extent have other governments funded research in complimentary and alternative medicine?


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  • Apr 9 2013: The so-called factual errors were trumped up because Sheldrake disagreed with the materialist dogma and favored a scientific approach instead.

    A double standard was applied. Because Sheldrake disagreed with materialism, they went looking for "factual errors." But we could find the same sort of things and probably a lot worse in other TED videos. The "factual errors" were never the point.

    The point was always that Sheldrake had disagreed with materialism. The TED science board couldn't debate him on that issue because they knew he would expose them as dogmatists, so they trumped up these "factual errors."

    That is how dogmas are defended -- by distracting people from the real issues, ad-hominen remarks, and straw-man arguments, all of which we saw on display here.

    It's okay that TED and its science board have different views; that's their right. But I think they could have treated Sheldrake and Hancock a lot more fairly.
    • Apr 9 2013: Disagreeing with Sheldrake (and Hancock) is all well and good. I'd hope that any talk would open up issues for disagreement and debate. That people, like Jerry Coyne, sought instead to silence them speaks volumes. It shows fear.

      Worse, when TED advanced reasons to justify pulling the lectures and those reasons were demonstrated to be fallacious, Chris Anderson refused to address their wrongness for days, but then did so by crossing them all out. TED's reasons were thoroughly refuted and he conceded that. He has yet to demonstrate any errors that would justify the lectures being pulled. No one from TED has even attempted to address the substance of the talks since. They've also refused to put anyone forward to debate the authors, despite offers from both. In the final analysis TED has pulled these lectures for no reason at all that they are wiling to identify. I'm left to assume that they don't actually know why they pulled them.


      The other "error" identified by TED, and later crossed out, was that Sheldrake raised questions about the measured speed of light. Jerry Coyne misrepresented him as saying that he claimed the speed of light was falling. Coyne posted an explanation of the issue by physicist Sean Carroll who ended up validating Sheldrake's statements about the variations in the data and about speed of light having been fixed by definition. This was what TED put forward as "careful analysis" in its justification for pulling the talk. They apparently didn't notice that it validated, but did not refute Sheldrake. Sheldrake was further validated by two new studies that show fluctuations in the speed of light. http://www.csmonitor.com/Science/2013/0325/Scientists-examine-nothing-find-something

      It's no wonder TED won't debate Sheldrake. He makes them look like rank amateurs. And all the nitpicking and semantic quibbling in this discussion doesn't change that.

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