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The debate about Rupert Sheldrake's talk

Please use this space to comment on the debate around Rupert Sheldrake's TEDx talk, as described here:

http://blog.ted.com/2013/03/19/the-debate-about-rupert-sheldrakes-talk/

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Closing Statement from TED

Thanks to all who participated in this conversation on TED's decision to move Rupert Sheldrake's talk from YouTube to TED.com. It was scheduled as a 2-week conversation, and has now closed. But the archive will remain visible here.

We'd like to respond here to some of the questions raised in the course of the discussion.

Some asked whether this was "censorship." Now, it's pretty clear that it isn't censorship, since the talk itself is literally a click away on this very site, and easily findable on Google. But it raises an interesting question about curation. Should TED play *any* curatorial role in the content it allows its TEDx organizers to promote? We believe we should. And once you accept a role for curatorial limits, you have to accept there will be times when disputes arise.

A number of questions were raised about TED's science board: How it works and why the member list isn't public. Our science board has 5 members -- all working scientists or distinguished science journalists. When we encounter a scientific talk that raises questions, they advise us on their position. I and my team here at TED make the final decisions. We keep the names of the science board private. This is a common practice for science review boards in the academic world, which preserves the objectivity of the recommendations and also protects the participants from retribution or harassment.

Finally, let me say that TED is 100% committed to open enquiry, including challenges to orthodox thinking. But we're also firm believers in appropriate skepticism, or critical thinking. Those two instincts will sometimes conflict, as they did in this case. That's why we invited this debate. The process hasn't been perfect. But it has been undertaken in passionate pursuit of these core values.

The talk, and this conversation, will remain here, and all are invited to make their own reasoned judgement.

Thanks for listening.

Chris Anderson, TED Curator

  • Mar 20 2013: I appreciate the fact that TED published my response to the accusations levelled against me by their Scientific Board, and also crossed out the Board’s statement on the “Open for discussion” blog. http://blog.ted.com/2013/03/14/open-for-discussion-graham-hancock-and-rupert-sheldrake/

    There are no longer any specific points to answer. I am all in favour of debate, but it is not possible to make much progress through short responses to nebulous questions like “Is this an idea worth spreading, or misinformation?”

    I would be happy to take part in a public debate with a scientist who disagrees with the issues I raise in my talk. This could take place online, or on Skype. My only condition is that it be conducted fairly, with equal time for both sides to present their arguments, and with an impartial moderator, agreed by both parties.

    Therefore I ask Chris Anderson to invite a scientist from TED’s Scientific Board or TED’s Brain Trust to have a real debate with me about my talk, or if none will agree to take part, to do so himself.
    • Mar 20 2013: This is a very, very good point. You're being put through a Kafkaesque Double Secret Probation here where you've been accused of a crime but you don't even know the charges.

      Perhaps TED would be so kind as to at least provide Mr. Sheldrake with the reasons for this tribunal, uh debate?
    • Mar 21 2013: It seems only fair that you be allowed to face at least one of your anonymous accusers face to face. I beg one of them to have the courage to step out of the shadows and face Mr. Sheldrake in a public debate. TED says you folks did your "due diligence" in coming to the conclusion he was nothing but a "pseudoscientist"- prove it. And if none of them are willing hopefully Chris Anderson will step up to the plate. Personally, I wouldn't mind seeing Sheldrake debate Jerry Coyne in a TED sponsored debate if none of his TED affiliated accusers are willing to stand behind their charges. Seeing as Coyne was publicly thanked by a TED employee and was instrumental in getting these vids removed he might make for a good alternate. No idea if Coyne is up for a debate with Sheldrake though- I kind of doubt it.
      • Mar 21 2013: I second the idea of a Sheldrake-Coyne debate, if it is possible. TED hosted a debate before (about nuclear energy).

        They are claiming that Sheldrake's talk was flagged because its content was basically wrongheaded. They made one attempt to demonstrate this - and fluffed it badly. They are haemorrhaging credibility, and need to either [A] withdraw the accusation or [B] justify it.

        As regards B, TED is a media outlet, and is hardly qualified to debate science, so why not bring in an outside academic to debate for them, while they provide the platform and benefit from the publicity? As I've said before, no one's reputation has been damaged in this kerfuffle except TED's, and they need to restore it with some sort of evenhanded treatment.

        Now who should debate Graham Hancock....?
      • Mar 21 2013: Forgive me for being skeptical, but is there really a science board? Is there any evidence, other than someone's testimony? This could be a problem, debating someone who doesn't exist.
    • Mar 21 2013: Hell, let one of the anonymous science board members speak from behind a screen, with his voice vocoded to retain anonymity. It would be hilarious.
    • Mar 21 2013: exactly what I was asking for! now where's my popcorn?! :)

      btw, is it just me or do PZ Myers and Jerry Coyne have been quiet lately? ;)

      please Mr. Anderson, make this debate happen.
      • Mar 21 2013: Jerry Coyne is too busy trying to find new controversial titles for his posts, so that he can get a few more hits for his blog. The nice thing about his audience is that they rarely read much more than the title of his post - which is just as well really because he likes his fluff in large doses.

        PZ Myers is all about drama and hand waving, but he will run a mile when asked to defend his position. He automatically deletes any comments on his blog that question his ideas. He tends to prefer drive by shootings because he would never cope with a real debate.
        • Mar 21 2013: Maybe we should give them a chance to respond before calling them cowards? I'm just saying it doesn't help our case for a debate if we're presupposed to hostility before it even starts.
        • Mar 21 2013: it's very telling that both PZ Myers and Jerry Coyne are awfully silent right now. this tells me that they are not interested in a public discussion. they are very good at making fun of ideas they don't agree with and calling people names (i.e. woo, woomeister, pseudoscience, etc.) if they really have scientific facts to back up their critiques of Sheldrake and Hancock, then by all means i expect them to have the decency to face the people they accuse in the arena of public debate. they pride themselves as scientists and rational people right? so they ought to behave like one. this is why i was so disappointed with TED's decision to pull out Sheldrake and Hancock's talks from the TEDx channel. to think that a couple of atheist/skeptic bloggers would have that influence on TED's content is very disheartening. i just hope that Myers and Coyne are *not* on the TED Science Board.
    • Mar 21 2013: This is an excellent idea. I can think of no better format to advance the stated goals of this debate. And, incidentally, no better way to repair TED's credibility and satisfy both camps in this debate.

      TED Staff - This is a prime opportunity to turn a PR nightmare in a big win for everyone.
    • Mar 21 2013: TED has initiated debate after debate so far, and as far as I can tell from that, TED and Chris Anderson will be delighted to get a debate going beyond this hidden corner of the site, out in the open on the main stage/page ! Go TED !
      • Mar 21 2013: I think you mean "Mr. Anderson," Agent Smith. ;)

        FTFY
      • Mar 21 2013: @Agent Smith,

        I think Chris is trying his best here. He's in a tough spot, at least from his perspective.

        Please, PLEASE, do the right thing here and accept Rupert Sheldrake's debate invitation. You guys put him on the defensive, and your science board did so with extreme (over?)confidence. There is clearly no fear on his end, and there should be none on yours. At the very least, it will be one heck of an entertaining, constructive, and informative debate.

        You know, in your heart of hearts, that an open debate is the most fair and graceful way to resolve this, while -- at least in my book -- completing repairing any damage to TED's credibility and turning a PR nightmare into a huge win for everyone.

        Edit: Today I learned that Chris Anderson of TED is not the same person as Chris Anderson of WIRED. Regardless, I think they'll both pretty chill guys. :-P
        • Mar 21 2013: I really appreciate your comment, that's why I just 'liked' it - but you're really making the same point as me...Anderson should take Sheldrake up on his offer, there's really no other way ! Now I never said he had it easy...of course he hasn't, having taken on the job he has. But the HONEST way out of UNeasy is not, if you want at the same time to be moral, to just avoid all that's coming your way, by avoiding a broader discussion, by avoiding the deeper issue at hand (materialism's value in modern science and society), and occasionally dropping in for snarky comments, while not doing what you ask everybody else to do - enable debate. And we're all adults - when TED calls for debate, we know it's gotta be more than some comment section on some soon forgotten blog post.
        • Mar 21 2013: Culture desperately NEEDS the conversation this debacle has highlighted to MOVE FORWARD. It is critical. This is a time for TED to now turn the whole thing around and play a truly historical role. Don't drop the ball. Don't run from this tremendous opportunity. Grab it and take us ALL forward!!
    • Mar 21 2013: It is incumbent upon TED, if it is not pretense but actually truly does stand for what it claims to stand for - to take Dr. Sheldrake up on this offer - to sponsor, organise and hold a proper debate/discussion between Dr. Sheldrake and his (anonymous) detractors. That would be the ultimate rectification of this debacle and the highest service to the movement of ideas in culture. Running from it would reveal TED to clearly be something entirely other than that which it claims to be. I am on the edge of my seat and keenly excited. Lets get on with it!
      • Mar 21 2013: Exactly. They should either come out definitely for or against the talk - or put all the energy into debating the contended topics, instead of paying lip service to debate by having it go on under blog posts which are only found by those aware of the debate, and will soon sink into the obscurity of this blog's timeline.
    • Mar 21 2013: I would love to view such a debate! Let scientists defend their views in the open and not by censoring views.
    • Mar 21 2013: Come on Mr Coyne, Science needs YOU !
      • Mar 21 2013: Between the anonymous Science Board, the "TED Brain Trust" (the names of which can be found here: http://www.ted.com/pages/41 ), Chris Anderson, PZ Myers and Jerry Coyne (the two bloggers who were instrumental in getting these talks removed and who were publicly thanked by TED), TED probably has around 50 bright people they can call on. Surely one of them will be brave enough to step forward and debate Dr. Sheldrake. Either take up Sheldrake on his challenge or issue a full public apology, say you were wrong, your charges were false, admit Sheldrake is a scientist and not a "pseudoscientist", and restore the videos to YouTube. Or you can just keep trying to make it all go away. Thing is, I suspect Sheldrake is not going to let it all go away until he gets satisfaction. And after the outrageous way you've treated him I can't say I blame him.
        • Mar 21 2013: Rupert could debate all 50 of them :) - admittedly being right helps...
    • Mar 21 2013: I fully support Rupert in his request for a debate.
    • Mar 21 2013: Can I point out how reasonable Rupert Sheldrake has been? He was criticised quite harshly yet responded in a very constructive and balanced way, and this is very much to his credit. I cannot imagine that there would be no scientist available to debate with him and so I very much hope that TED does the right thing in facilitating the discussion that we all want to hear, regardless of whether or not we agree with Sheldrake.
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    Mar 22 2013: ***OPEN LETTER FROM TEDxWHITECHAPEL TEAM*** Please join our call to TED to take the best course of action for all.

    Dear Chris, Lara, and the TED team

    We, the TEDxWhitechapel team - the initiators and co-curators of the event - have deeply reflected on your actions to remove the talks of two of our speakers Rupert Sheldrake and Graham’s Hancock from the official TEDx Youtube channel. We wish to clearly and openly express our views on the matter with the intention of constructively contributing to the discussion as well as to highlight potential pathways for moving forward which are mutually beneficial to all parties involved; our speakers, the TED corporation, and the TED community.

    We want to begin by sharing what TED means to us.

    We have been genuinely transformed through many of the inspiring TEDTalks; they have profoundly challenged our perceptions of and assumptions about the world, opening us up to new perspectives outside of the established mainstream thinking. Moreover, we really believe TED to be an ingenious medium to spread ideas across the globe. As such, TED represents the free and open flow and exchange of ideas globally, enriching and empowering an increasingly connected global community.
    • Mar 23 2013: thanks for this very eloquent response from TEDxWhitecapel. now this is an Idea Worth Spreading! i'm spreading the word.

      ~ http://www.c4chaos.com/2013/03/tedxwhitechapel-calls-out-ted-to-reinstate-sheldrake-and-hancocks-talks/
    • Mar 23 2013: Amrita, I wanted to thank you for the amazing event you held at Whitechapel. You did a remarkable job at bringing all these speakers together. TED may not appreciate it, but I am sure you can see how many of us do.

      I have seen Satish Kumar, Rupert Sheldrake, Graham Hancock, Tim ‘Mac’ Macartney and Richard Burnett's talks and they have all left a strong and positive impression on me, each one in a different way.

      Keep up the great work, I have certainly benefited much from what you have done.
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      Mar 24 2013: you are responsible for this debacle in the first place. now that these talks were given, there is really no solution that is respectful to everyone. ted should not give its name to such dishonest pseudoscience, but also does not want to flush all the effort those people put in these talks down the toilet, and also take them away from the audience. care should have been given before the selection of speakers, and it did not happen. either you did not research your speakers in enough detail, or ted did not monitor the project closely enough. either way, the very action of inviting pseudoscientific quacks was a mistake. we might address that to enthusiasm and lack of information, but a mistake is still a mistake.
  • Apr 2 2013: With little time to go, this "Conversations" thread is showing about 2000 comments, about 20% more comments than the next highest thread (the one discussing Graham Hancock's talk with about 1655 comments), and nearly six times as many comments as the next highest thread with around 339 comments (on an unrelated discussion). The issue has definitely interested TED participants. Note that many individuals made multiple posts.

    The three most popular TED talks of all time, have (1) 15,480,019 veiws with 2937 comments (2) 10,741,137 views with 2425 comments (3) 10,311,697 views and 1287 comments. Two have been online for over fives years, the other for 18 months.

    Sheldrake's and Hancock's talks have been online for less than 4 months. There were also 1677 + 325 + 483 comments from previous combined discussions, making the average comment count (2000 + 1655 + 1677 + 235 + 483) / 2 = 3025 comments per talk.

    By this calculation, it makes both talks the post popular of all time by comment count. Popularity does not imply support or endorsement of their ideas.

    My personal estimate is that people oppose TED's actions by around 10-to-1 (I think it is actually more than this, as I found it difficult to find people who support TED, but wanted to be conservative). This does not necessarily translate into support for Sheldrake's and Hancock's ideas, only their right to be treated reasonably.

    Having read through the vast proportion of posts, my personal assessment is that the issue is not as clear cut as the science board and advisors would suggest, from which I hope that the necessarily actions will be taken.
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    Mar 22 2013: We think the controversy over these talks is a wonderful opportunity for TED to clarify and strengthen it’s commitment to free thought, especially in the face of pressure from highly committed ideological interests from the blogosphere. Otherwise, we fear that TED will take a lot of criticism for censorship. Several of the other speakers, even if they don’t fully agree with Sheldrake’s and Hancock’s positions, are quite upset that their videos were removed. At our urging, they have been holding back from going public, waiting to see how this plays out. It would be a shame if this ends up causing negative publicity.

    We hope that you will consider this as an opportunity to become a resilient and remarkable organisation: one that has the capacity to be self-reflective, self-critical, adapt to change, evolve and grow with its communities and the challenges it faces. Most of all, that you can stay true to your values as a democratic and open platform for ideas worth spreading.

    It seems to us that enhancing Radical Openness by accepting our invitation to reinstate the talks publicly online, is an outcome that can benefit all parties involved.

    We appreciate your time to consider our message.

    With hope for a positive outcome for all

    Amrita, Stefana, Jennifer
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      Mar 22 2013: Thank you Amrita, Stefana and Jennifer.
    • Mar 22 2013: Perfectly sensible response from Amrita Bhohi and colleagues. Most of us would much rather live in a world with this free spirit of inquiry
    • Mar 22 2013: Thank you for posting this publicly Amrita, Stefana and Jennifer, you touched on all the points where TED seems to be in the wrong, particularly the:
      -Hypocrisy
      -Disrespect
      -Censorship
      TED (and Chris Anderson himself) have displayed.

      Will be interesting to see how they react next.
    • D S

      • +3
      Mar 22 2013: Excellent! Thanks for sharing that Amrita, Stefana, and Jennifer - and for putting on such an amazing and thought-provoking TEDx conference to begin with!
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      Mar 22 2013: Thank you for inviting both Graham Hancock and Rupert Sheldrake as well as others to your TEDxWhiteChapel event. Your willingness to publish an open letter and defend your speakers earns my respect.

      Cheers from Russia,
      Eugene
    • Mar 22 2013: To: Amrita, Stefana, & Jennifer: It occurs to me that with such thoughtful ground from which you apparently spring, you might consider taking on the creation of a alternative venue, as it is pretty apparent we now need one. Individuals commenting here await a response from the TED folks, but I suspect there will not be one that will satisfy most of us.

      I'd like to propose the creation of NOTted, and I nominate you three as its creators. We need to move on from this violation of principle, and your commentary here indicates you carry the necessary mantle of integrity. It's rather likely you would find supporters among those of us who previously looked to TED for such a venue, but who now view them with essential suspicion.

      In any case, thank you for your appeal here. I do not share your hope of a course change as they seem to be answering to unknown higher masters.
    • Mar 22 2013: Thanks! Well said.
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      Mar 22 2013: bravo!
    • Mar 23 2013: Thank you so much for showing the integrity to stand behind your speakers. Well done. I, for one, would be interested in hearing what Rupert and Graham's peers from the Whitechapel event have to say on the matter. It sounds like they are as appalled as the rest of us.
  • Apr 2 2013: Sheldrake is not advocating that we abandon the scientific method or deny ourselves the advantages that scientific inquiry brings, he is simply asking for a moment of introspection to evaluate our assumptions. Just becasue we hear what he has to say and take a moment to consider his perspective and his research does not mean that we believe everything he presents. We do not need protection from new perspectives on science.

    Let us not forget that the theme of this presentation was "Challenging Existing Paradigms and Redefining Values",
    not "Everything We Already Know and Are Completely Comfortable With Reiterated."

    TED.... lighten up. The precious edifice of science as a replacement for God is still intact.
  • Apr 2 2013: excellent response by Rupert Sheldrake on the TED/TEDx controversy.

    TED, Jerry Coyne, PZ Myers, you've been served!

    ------

    Dr. Rupert Sheldrake: I do see Chris Anderson’s point of view and indeed, I had a long conversation with Chris Anderson on the telephone. We got on perfectly well. I wasn’t particularly angry with him or anything like that. It was a reasonable conversation. They do have a point. There’s a lot of rubbish and there has to be some kind of filter. So I’m not against the idea of a filter but what I am against is the idea of applying the filter in a very partial kind of way.

    There are lots of things up on the TEDx website which are controversial. For example, there are a lot of talks by militant Atheists which a lot of people find controversial. A lot of people disagree with what they say and think they’re actually wrong in a variety of ways. But those haven’t been flagged up or put in the Naughty Corner. Those have been allowed absolutely free run on the Internet. They’re put up on the main website, talks by people like Richard Dawkins, for example.

    The difference here is that my talk was flagged up as being pseudo-scientific because Jerry Coyne didn’t like it. Well, Jerry Coyne is a very bigoted man who writes very loud-mouthed things on his website. I don’t take him very seriously. I mean, he’s a polemicist, a kind of Dawkins-type polemicist. So they pay a lot of attention to what Jerry Coyne and PZ Meyers said on their websites. If there had been a similar attack by, for example, Christian Fundamentalists on Dawkins they would have ignored it. But if it’s by scientific fundamentalists then they pay attention, and what’s more don’t just pay attention but dig themselves into a hole trying to justify this.

    read more: ~ http://www.skeptiko.com/rupert-sheldrake-censored/
    • Apr 2 2013: Marvelous. I look forward to listening to the whole thing. It will give me something to do when drop the hammer on this so-called debate in 20 minutes. Thanks for posting.
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    Mar 22 2013: In fact, in light of this situation, we are now even stronger in our conviction that these are valuable ideas that need to be discussed and debated widely. The massive response from the TED community and the conversations which this has sparked, tells us that there is much interest in these ideas and therefore that they are highly valuable to the science debate. Indeed, if they were so totally radical and ridiculous as you suggest they are, it leads us to wonder why they have they been worthy of so much attention? Both talks have simultaneously been supported and challenged, which for us reflects a model of how the progression of scientific understanding develops and flows.

    Therefore, we do not support your actions to put the talks on separate blogs where they are hidden from the TED community, cannot be shared, and where the conversation is limited. We also oppose the lack of integrity with which they have been treated. In particular, It is obvious that the content of many of the other existing TEDtalks would not hold up to scrutiny were the same criteria applied to them. Furthermore, we hope that you would grant your community the respect to use their own faculties of discretion and reasoning with regard to the ideas and content of the talks.

    As such, we request and urge you to re-upload the talks not only to the TEDx youtube channel, but also on the official TED.com site, including links to the discussions taking place on the TED blog. We also see this as a vital opportunity for TED to enhance their reputation as a forum for the free flow and sharing of ideas and open debate and an opportunity to win back the trust which may have been lost.
  • Apr 1 2013: In cancelling the TEDx event in West Hollywood, it appears that I was accused of "using the guise of science" to further spooky claims, (or some such). People on this blog have asked what I was going to talk about. That's easily answered. I was co-founder of a 23 year research program investigating psychic abilities at Stanford Research Institute. We were doing research and applications for the CIA, Defense Intelligence Agency, Air Force and Army Intelligence, NASA, and others. In this $25 million program we used "remote viewing" to find a downed Russian bomber in North Africa, for which President Carter commended us. We found a kidnapped US general in Italy, and the kidnap car that snatched Patricia Hearst. We looked in on the US hostages in Iran, and predicted the immanent release of Richard Queen, who was soon sent to Germany. We described a Russian weapons factory in Siberia, leading to a US congressional investigation about weakness in US security, etc. We published our scientific findings in Nature, The Proc. IEEE, Proc, AAAS, and Proc. American Institute of Physics. I thought a TED audience would find this recently declassified material interesting. And no physics would be harmed in my presentation.
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      Apr 1 2013: Russell Targ: I'd be among those who'd be interested in how TED and/or its scientific faithful might respond to your posts. At the time I'm writing this, it has been around three hours after your post. A fairly long time in the sometimes snappy repartee I've seen here.
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      Apr 1 2013: Russell, I couldn't find an abstract for your paper, Information transmission in remote viewing experiments, on the Nature website (http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v284/n5752/pdf/284191a0.pdf). I hadn't heard of your work until this event was cancelled but it looks fascinating. Your work was published in Nature, paid for by the CIA, and we have you to thank for safe commercial flying due to lasers you developed to detect windshear and air turbulence. Those are serious scientific credentials. Just because TED does not agree with your conclusions is not a reason for prior restraint.

      This also happened a few weeks ago when the TEDx talks by Rupert Sheldrake and Graham Hancock were removed from the TED YouTube channel. There has been a very lively debate on this topic. Like you, Rupert Sheldrake was published in Nature, made important contributions to science, and is now also being labeled as non-scientific by an anonymous scientific committee at TED. I've always been a big fan of TED and I guess I was naive to believe that this is really all about the free exchange of ideas.

      Hopefully, new people will learn about your work as a result of the controversy. I hear that the West Hollywood show will go on. That's great news! I will look for the event on YouTube. Best, Matthew
    • Apr 1 2013: Welcome to the discussion, Mr. Targ. Prior to this fiasco I had not heard of you and am only beginning to become familiar with it. I just thought I'd draw your attention to a thread on the Hancock debate in which your comment here was quoted and criticized. It's odd that the individual didn't address you directly so thought you might want to check it out.


      http://www.ted.com/conversations/17190/the_debate_about_graham_hancoc.html?c=640331
    • Apr 2 2013: thank you Mr. Targ for responding!

      why TED has pointed a finger to Russell Targ leads me to speculate that the TED staff are ignorant of the Remote Viewing literature.

      i don't claim expertise on the subject of remote viewing but I've been familiar with the literature for more than two decades now. i understand the RV protocol -- it's double-blind. the late Ingo Swann was instrumental in designing the protocol. then it was taught to a few intelligence personnels (one of them is remote viewer #001 Joe McMoneagle). however, i've always focused my attention to the original people who started it all because they did solid research on the phenomenon and they're the ones who designed the original protocol. Targ/Puthoff had a deal with the CIA/military that in return for the funding they would help the military with intelligence work (e.g. locating people and cites of interests). another condition was that Targ/Puthoff would be free to publish their work on scientific journals. the project lasted for more than two decades. i don't know about you but i don't think Targ/Puthoff/Swann could hoax the Defense Department, CIA, and FBI for a long time, especially when millions of money were involved.

      see also Russell Targ's response on TED Conversations:
      ~ http://www.ted.com/conversations/17189/the_debate_about_rupert_sheldr.html?c=639679

      "Remote viewing is an ability that many people can easily learn. It is a nonlocal ability, in that its accuracy and reliability are independent of distance. Dean of Engineering Robert Jahn has also published extensively on his experiments at Pronceton, (Proc. IEEE, Feb 1982). I am not claiming it is quantum anything. It appears to possibly make use of something like Minkowski's (8 dimensional) complex space/time that he described to Einstein in the 1920s, and is now being re-examined by Roger Penrose. This is not necessarily The answer. But the answer will be some sort similar nonlocal space/time geometry." (read more)
  • Mar 19 2013: Unfortunately, TED still seems to be unable to let go of its preconceived notions of what Sheldrake said by, for example, talking of his "radical ... claim that the speed of light has been changing". He didn't say it had been changing, at least not during the timescales during which measurement has been taking place, and not on account of the data observed. He merely made the observation that the data itself had been changing and that this was explained away without much investigation and without even the curiosity to examine the data in detail to see if any interesting trends could be observed. A further point was about the extent to which the measurements themselves seem to have clustered at various times and he wondered aloud about what, if anything, the explanation of "intellectual phase locking" might tell us about the veracity of data in general.

    His point, then, was far more about the scientific process and the mindset that guides it than it was about any actual deviation in the speed of light during the time measurement has been taking place. It does not auger well for this discussion that this fairly straightforward point, which has been made numerous times on the various discussion forums, has been completely ignored and the critic's false view of what Sheldrake was saying is presented up front as fact.

    I should also point out that the community has spoken, and spoken clearly, on at least two occasions about this talk. They want it to stay, and they want it to stay by a ratio of, as best I can gather, more than 10 to 1. It seems as if you're just going to keep asking the same question over and over until nobody can be bothered posting anymore. What more can we say? The general points are:

    1. The talk is primarily philosophy of science.
    2. We don't buy the perceived errors/factual inaccuracies and believe these are a function of an inaccurate view of the talk.
    3. Even if we did buy the potential legitimacy of the complaints, Sheldrake has refuted you.
  • Apr 2 2013: Well, with time almost up, I think the community here has spoken by more than 10-1 that Sheldrake's talk should reinstated. I doubt they will be but it should be noted that in three weeks nobody has been able to come up with much of an explanation for removing them in the first place. TED's science board's first attempt had to be crossed out and very little - nothing of substance - was put in its place. Thus it seems the talk was removed for either invalid reasons or reasons TED has not botthered to share with us. Here's the talk for anyone who hasn't seen it.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1TerTgDEgUE
  • Apr 2 2013: I can add my name to those of Rupert Sheldrake and Graham Hancock as speakers who find themselves in TEDx’s crosshairs.

    I was scheduled to speak at the West Hollywood event. But my scientific credibility was questioned by TED's science advisory board in their decision to withdraw support and revoke the license of TEDxWestHollywood.

    I’ve lectured at dozens of top-tier medical schools and hospitals all over the U.S. for two decades. Although my colleagues don’t always agree with my points of view, this is the first time my scientific credibility has ever been questioned.

    My TEDx talk would have dealt with the correlations between spirituality, health, and longevity, for which there is immense evidence; and recent experimental findings that point toward a nonlocal view of consciousness for which, again, there is strong and abundant support. In view of our lack of understanding of the origins and destiny of consciousness, and considering the demographics of the TEDx followers, I thought this information would have been of considerable interest.

    As a board-certified physician of internal medicine, former chief of staff of a major hospital, author of twelve books and scores of papers on these subjects published in peer-reviewed journals, a recipient of many awards, a frequent lecturer at medical schools and hospitals, and executive editor of the peer-reviewed journal, Explore: The Journal of Science and Healing, I’d be interested in knowing from TED where I came up short.

    “A clash of doctrines is not a disaster, it is an opportunity,” Whitehead said. It should not be a reason for censorship.
  • Mar 20 2013: Mr. Sheldrake suggests that science itself needs inquiry and TED recoils in shock. In the process, TED dismisses and degrades Mr. Sheldrake's lifetime work and efforts with little more evidence than the say so of a so-called anonymous review panel (isn't this how totalitarian states operate?).

    Did Mr. Sheldrake break any rules? No. Was he rude? No. Was he invited to speak by an authorized group? Yes? Was the video of Mr. Sheldrake in conformance to all rules? Yes. So what was the crime that he was treated so? His crime was that he ruffles feathers of those who disagree with him, and since science decides what can or cannot be said about science, Mr. Sheldrake is the automatic loser.

    There is one and only one thing that TED, if it has an ounce of ethics left in its organization, can do and that is to immediately apologize to Mr. Sheldrake, reinstate the video in question, admit to its rude behavior and move on.

    If TED wishes to change the rules of what it is admissible in the future, it is free to do so. It is a private venture with its own agenda. But to treat Mr. Sheldrake in this manner is infuriating and more than this - simply unfair and unjust.
  • Apr 1 2013: Remote viewing is an ability that many people can easily learn. It is a nonlocal ability, in that its accuracy and reliability are independent of distance. Dean of Engineering Robert Jahn has also published extensively on his experiments at Pronceton, (Proc. IEEE, Feb 1982). I am not claiming it is quantum anything. It appears to possibly make use of something like Minkowski's (8 dimensional) complex space/time that he described to Einstein in the 1920s, and is now being re-examined by Roger Penrose. This is not necessarily The answer. But the answer will be some sort similar nonlocal space/time geometry. We taught remote viewing to 6 army intelligence officers in 1979. They then taught a dozen other officers, and created an operational army psychic corps at Ft. Meade, which lasted until the end of our program in 1995. You can see two examples of real remote viewing on my website, www.espresearch.com. One with Hella Hammid is double blind, live on camera for a 1983 BBC film, "The Case of ESP." available on Google.
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      Apr 1 2013: I've seen and enjoyed "The Case of ESP." Interesting, Russell Targ, that you're not claiming, "quantum anything" about remote viewing. I didn't know about Minkowski's eight-dimensional space/time idea. A mathematician I'll never be, but I found this on Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Minkowski_space) about Minkowski spacetime. That's as close as a mortal with my experience will come to even reading about Minkowski's theories.
    • Apr 1 2013: I've been following your work enthusiastically for 20 years. I read Mind Reach in the 80's, Miracles of Mind a few years ago and just yesterday ordered your latest book, I can't wait! I've taken Ed Dames DVD RV course and I've written up my own 20 year journey into psi and RV here:
      http://danpouliot.com/blog/?p=819

      It takes courage to speak out about such important work in the face of such opposition. I look forward to the day when TED shares the same enthusiasm for your work as bright minds like Brian Josephson or Deepak Chopra.
    • Apr 2 2013: THANK YOU, Mr. Targ for your excellent response

      please post your response on this thread too:

      Discuss the note to the TED community on the withdrawal of the TEDxWestHollywood license. | A conversation on TED.com ~ http://www.ted.com/conversations/17348/discuss_the_note_to_the_ted_co.html

      too bad the TED Science Board is comprised of anonymous members. in any case, I'd be interested to see an official response from TED. if the Sheldrake/Hancock threads are an indication, I doubt that TED would be capable of providing a sound and reasonable justification for explicitly pointing to Russell Targ, Larry Dossey, and Marilyn Schlitz in their decision to revoke TEDxWestHollywood's license.
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      Apr 2 2013: explain to me, mr targ, how would any "remote sensing" experiments anyhow prove non-locality? you happen to have millisecond precision in those experiments? or one participant was on the moon?

      anyway, good to have one more quack around here. you people don't waste time.
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    Mar 22 2013: And it is with this passion that we decided to host a TEDx event with the theme “Visions for Transition: Challenging Existing Paradigms and Redefining Values (for a more beautiful world)’. We believe that in order to deal with the diverse and complex crises converging on our planet, we need to challenge the dominant thought paradigms and radically reassess the values which govern our world. In line with Einsteins wisdom  “problems cannot be solved with the same level of thinking that created them” we saw TED as a truly special platform.

    You can understand therefore, how shocked and saddened we were when we were alerted to the news that you had decided to remove Graham and Rupert’s talk from the TEDx Youtube channel and furthermore the disrespectful way in which they were treated publicly on the TED blog where you moved them.

    We would like to offer our insights to you, as to why we chose to invite these speakers. We were guided by the advice that TED gives for identifying great speakers, which was as follows.

    To build a powerful speaker program, seek out extraordinary voices in your local community who have a unique story or an unusual perspective -- and who can convey it in a dynamic way.

    Local voices that few have heard before
    People who can present their field in a new light
    Perspectives that the global TED community may not have access to
    Speakers whose work fits your event theme
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    Mar 22 2013: Furthermore, tips for speakers include:

    Dream big. Strive to create the best talk you have ever given. Reveal something never seen before. Do something the audience will remember forever. Share an idea that could change the world.

    Controversy energizes!

    We find that Rupert and Graham meet this criteria extremely well. Please also note that Rupert Sheldrake addressed his concerns to us that in the 18 minute format, he would not be able to give a comprehensive explanation of the complex and extensive research and ideas explored in his book. To quote from our response to him, “TED is not supposed to be a source of knowledge, but one of ideas and creativity, which inspire and stimulate to further engage with them.”

    Naturally, we don’t expect TED to agree with the content of the talks, nor are we suggesting that they represent the ‘truth’. We think science offers us a kind of lens with which to view an unfathomably complex world. These speakers challenge the mainstream scientifically accepted viewpoints and this is exactly where their value lies. TED is a platform where these different points of view can be shared, debated and challenged so that we can collectively keep evolving and developing in our understanding.
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    Mar 20 2013: Dear TED community,

    PART ONE

    I am very touched by the recent events around Rupert Sheldrake. I think his stance is widely and unjustly misrepresented by a particular camp of critics. These critics attempt to frame Sheldrake’s activities as if he was against modern science. This is not so.

    In my opinion, this happens not because of a careful consideration of Sheldrake’s work but due to political reasons (i.e. human beings are political creatures): A group of people who share a specific worldview and read a specific corpus of texts seems to want to protect their right to monologically claim what science “is” and what science “isn’t,” often refusing to have a polite and reasonable discussion.

    What Sheldrake does, however, is something different than undermining science and the grand scientific project of humanity. Sheldrake himself is a scientist; and he has always been. I believe his intentions are to expand science, to add more curiosity to it, to dissolve some of the obstacles inherent to contemporary scientific praxis.

    You see, we most often think of science as a flatland phenomenon (especially if we are outsiders to science): There is one science, there is one consensus in science, and our immediate perception reflects the world of science in a correct way (reflection paradigm).

    However, the relatively recent emergence of post-metaphysical philosophy represented by Jurgen Habermas (who grounds much of his arguments in the work of Lawrence Kohlberg on the stages of moral development) and constructivist developmental schools of thought and psychology (Robert Kegan, Susanne Cook-Greuter, etc.) carefully points out that there are hierarchies of complexity of thinking about reality, and that the leading-edge perspective today is the one that involves grasping that both the cognizing subject and the cognized objects arise in a vast interconnection and both of them follow stages of development (from a lesser complexity to a higher complexity).

    Cont'd in Part Two
  • Mar 19 2013: You asked, hundreds of commentators answered:
    Restore fully Sheldrake's and Hancock's talks! No need to hide them in discussion boards, people can think for themselves.
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    Mar 19 2013: 1.) Is this an idea worth spreading, or misinformation?

    Yes, absolutely it is an idea worth spreading. It's clear this discussion needs to happen as this is a valid philosophical dialogue and Sheldrake is able to frame it quite objectively.

    No this is not misinformation and positioning it that way is very misleading itself. I personally not have identified what in the talk is 'misinformation', a false idea presented as true scientifically in this talk. Can TEDSTAFF identify the misinformation in question?

    I believe that the examples given by TED regarding Sean Carrol's rebuttal have been addressed by Mr Sheldrake quite objectively here. http://blog.ted.com/2013/03/14/open-for-discussion-graham-hancock-and-rupert-sheldrake/

    Can TEDSTAFF follow up on his reasoned rebuttal point by point?

    I think it's important to note that what I believe TED is missing is that Rupert's presentation is not trying to conflict with any scientific facts, but rather he is addressing and critiquing the scientific materialistic philosophy that is shared amongst educated people in mainstream society. So 'misinformation' i believe is an incorrect way to phrase it, since these are philosophical issues he is raising.
  • Mar 22 2013: Science is meant to be a method of testing hypothesis as to whether or not the hypothesis has validity. Rupert Sheldrake has pointed out that in many areas Science is not doing this, that Science is being blindsided. For Tedx to then remove the video talk not only suggests that Rupert Sheldrake is close to the mark but that many people are nervous about what he is stating. That there may actually be validity in his point of view. So, let me see Dark Matter and Dark Energy make up 96% of the universe but there is no physical evidence of their existence. How many Scientific video talks have been removed because of their lack of evidence aside from Rupert Sheldrakes and Graham Hancock?
  • Mar 22 2013: dear TED,

    let me make my points clear, simple, and in bullet points:

    - you made a mistake of (soft) censoring Rupert Sheldrake and Graham Hancock's TEDx talks. please restore those videos to their original distribution channels.

    - you owe Sheldrake and Hancock a sincere apology.

    - moving forward, please don't be bullied by a couple of ideological atheist/skeptic bloggers. they're not worth it. they've done more damage to your brand than the speakers you have censored in the past.

    - Sheldrake and Hancock have issued a public challenge to debate anyone from the TED Science Board and/or the TED Brain Trust. TED will look *really* bad if you don't take this challenge.

    - no more tricks. no more excuses. no more insulting our collective intelligence. we saw through this shenanigan since day one.

    thank you very much. i'm hoping that you will do the right thing.
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    Gail . 50+

    • +15
    Mar 20 2013: The only reason Sheldrake's talk crossed the line is because he didn't present the evidence/sources he claims he has - but that he provided in his rebuttal. Many who do follow the science do understand what he said, and only an uninformed group of people would insult and defame him by calling real science, "pseudoscience".

    Though it was an inept talk - perhaps because of the 18 minute time constraint, the real problem is with the TED board that is uneducated in what is happening in modern physics and related consciousness studies, and that chooses experts who disagree with what so many experts with at least equal if not better education have to say.

    I don't know who the scientists are that disagreed with Sheldrake, but I now believe that TED has a responsibility to release their names. I find it impossible to believe that they have PhDs in quantum mechanics and knowledge of the related study of consciousness, unless that degree is so out-of-date as to be worthless.

    I think that it's time for TED to rethink the educational minimums for its own board. The world is changing. TED doesn't like what it's changing into, so it is trying to stop it using outdated science as its weapon. This makes the TED board who call his talk pseudoscience a bunch of self-righteous hypocrites.
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      Mar 20 2013: Why do you describe the talk as inept ??
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        Mar 20 2013: That which is happening in quantum physics, neuroscience and the study of consciousness is so exciting that it deserves to be explained complete with the actual studies that tell in a more detailed way what has been discovered and why it is so important and life-changing. If he couldn't give details about his 10 dogmas, he should have done so competently with his favorite 3 or 5.

        Furthermore, it was factually incorrect in that it said that almost all scientists maintain a mechanical view of the world, which is no longer a correct statement. There is a polar shift going on in QM.

        There are also some misleading or incomplete statements in his talk - such as one of the dogmas is that the laws of nature are fixed, but he doesn't give enough information to tell me why he believes with this statement that I cannot agree with based on my information/education. For instance, evolution appears to be a law of nature, and evolution is not fixed. What does he mean?

        Bottom line: It is in humankind's best interests to allow talks such as these to be aired on TED, but it would be better if one or a panel of scientists exploring QM and those scientists studying "mind" or "consciousness" were to be allotted a half hour or even an hour for a panel of four. As there is a paradigm shift occurring in the world of science - that WILL affect your beliefs about who and what you are, I would like a better and more articulate speaker to stand on the stage and tell the world about it. Peace on earth is within our sights - as is the end to most social ills.

        Lastly: Sheldrake - in his last dogma, says that governments fund mechanistic medicine because it's the only one that works. He made a major mistake there. Governments fund mechanistic medicine because it's profitable. Meditation, that could save millions of lives and vastly reduce health-care costs is free, so governments don't encourage it. No $$$ = no campaign contributions = no way to profit from us.
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          Mar 21 2013: You seem to have disagreements of varying degrees with about on-third to one-half of Sheldrake's talk. If TED has not removed the talk, then your points could have been discussed in comments following the the talk.

          Can you support your claim that it is no longer true that "almost scientists no longer maintain a mechanistic view of the world?

          If non-mechanistic medicine were the prevailing dogma, then companies would be finding ways to profit from that.
  • Mar 19 2013: I don't think we can have a legitimate discussion about how to move forward without first being aware of how we got to this point. If you haven't seen Rupert Sheldrake's rebuttal to the initial charges leveled against his talk I urge you to please go read it now. His response can be found here:

    http://blog.ted.com/2013/03/14/open-for-discussion-graham-hancock-and-rupert-sheldrake/

    After reading it I think any fair minded individual will conclude that TED's treatment of Sheldrake up until this point has been nothing short of outrageous. They grossly misrepresented his talk, concocted a number of essentially baseless charges against him, and casually referred to him as a "pseudoscientist". It was an attempt to marginalize Sheldrake, to let the community know his seat is not at the back of the bus, but rather he shouldn't be allowed on the bus to begin with. Perhaps most disappointingly, even though Sheldrake has clearly shown the anonymous accusations made against him were false, TED still seems unwilling to admit they were wrong and give up the witch hunt. Just last night they mentioned ( http://blog.ted.com/2013/03/18/graham-hancock-and-rupert-sheldrake-a-fresh-take/ ) that Sheldrake's talk should have a "clear health warning"; it's almost as if instead of possibly just being inspired to ask questions, viewers of his talk are at risk of getting lung cancer! Seriously, what exactly is the justification for this bizarre "health warning"? Sheldrake has already shown their accusations against his presentation are without merit. Again, please go read his response to their charges if you doubt this.
  • Mar 27 2013: I am an independent science writer based in Vancouver, B.C. While I specialize in the behavioral sciences, I also have a pretty respectable informed layman's grasp of physics and astronomy, having studied these in university, and keeping abreast of the subject in my leisure reading. I first saw Rupert Sheldrake speak at a conference in Montreal in 2004, and then a second time here in Vancouver a couple of years ago. I have also read a few of his books. While it is true that more research must be done to substantiate some of his claims, particularly in the area of telepathy, good evidence is building from people like emeritus social psychologist Daryl Bem from Cornell, and intriguing new evidence from quantum biology, though admittedly, evidence that is still early in the game around quantum smell and vision, although quantum photosynthesis appears to be here to stay. But what fascinates me more, and I have written about it in a book that I've co-authored with a psychiatrist on the subject of the victimization process (a project that has taken seven years to complete, and which is now in final editing), is that science, or should I say scientists, are prone, as are all humans, to experiencing cognitive dissonance when new challenging ideas come along. Sheldrake's morphic resonance theory certainly fits that category. But it is a theory, and as such, it deserves the opportunity to find its legs if only as a placeholder theory until some better theory for explaining overall body plans can come along. Epigenetics may one day do that, but not yet. I am happy to see that TED decided to re-post his talk, even if it was with a cautionary note. I am most familiar with his case, and the manner in which he was excommunicated by Nature Magazine from the Church of Science. Ever since that inglorious incident, his reputation as a scientist has yet to fully recover. In this sense, his is a cautionary tale of what can happen to scientists who dare to push the envelope, even today.
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      Mar 27 2013: thank you for your comment!!!
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      Mar 27 2013: Whoa, independent science writer - is this also what happened to Michael Behe, then? He "dared to push the envelope" (as you put it)? And got 'excommunicated ... from the Church of Science"?

      "Church of Science ..." strikes me as quite a piece of talk. And it rings recognizably in my ear - from studying pseudo-critiques of science spawned and cherished by - the religious right. Our good friends in anti-evolution creationism etc. Knowest thou them?

      Likewise, the exhortation of ideologically-driven representation of science as some kind of cryptic religion, disguised as inquiry - like science is a fraud, a pretense feigning interest in nature and natural phenomena, its theoretical pursuit of explanation actually an ulterior operation - out to destroy inspiration, undermine faith - is a familiar narrative.

      Its the pseudoscientific anti-evolutionary right's exact line - verbatim. Same script - chap and verse.

      When any pov presents that sort of drum-beating caricature of science, all sanctimonious as if science were an ideological movement opposed to genuine interests - whether the tin horn is blaring from old time religion's right fringe (e.g. Bible-inspired) or opposed choirs from the neo left, whichever factions (various obscure little movements in the larger cultic milieu) - I suggest we might sensibly wonder, and in all good reason ask - maybe we're "not in Kansas anymore ..."
      • Mar 27 2013: Brian, are you sure you are being evenhanded here?

        In your 2nd paragraph, don't you say it is bad to compare your opponents to religious believers?

        In your 1st, 3rd, 4th and 5th paragraphs, don't you compare your opponents to religious believers?
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          Mar 28 2013: Conor, I'm not sure how to address that. I think we are applying very different methods, from contrasting perspectives.

          I'm not sure if or how you understand, general level. What information base, what standard for analytic comparison and contrast are you working? I'm utilizing well-known 'right wing' pseudoscience, case studies if you will, as highly informative sources. "Sci" Creationism, Intel-D ... show and tell a lot.

          What does an ideological movement or extremity do and how, when antagonized by scientific findings that skewer its tenets, the authority of its teachings? What type of propaganda, how does it proceed, what are its tactics, strategies etc?

          And what are the vulnerabilities, the exposure points of science - from educational to public presentation to research settings?

          I'm not sure how to follow your line of thought. Its unclear to me how well you understand questions in evidence I'm asking. Perhaps I could explain better, if I knew what your background expertise is - for clues to what terms, what models or foundations of understanding would avail. By way of disclosure, I'm grad degreed in natch sciences (PHD, spec in plant/fungal biol) and social (MA, cultural anthro plus PHD coursework) - also comparative religion (BA).

          I put stuff under microscope, look at it close, applying different tests and methods. The brush strokes. X-ray, UV. Search images, what should we predict depending on what we're testing? My orientation is scientific investigation, research. There's plenty of 'funny business' in the history of science, exploitation of different kinds - object lessons from Piltdown to Castaneda's don Juan, that need to be understood, to realize some of the finer issues.

          The core of issue I find here has two sides, enabling a kind of 'round and round' that awaits vertigo and exhaustion. On one hand - Ideology posturing as philosophy, lack of boundary there. On other, TED might clarify criteria, as Christophe Cop rightly notes.
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    Mar 26 2013: I'm a fan of Rupert Sheldrake. I've read his books and have listened to many of his web video talks on his research. In the interests of balance, I've also read Richard Dawkins books and listened to his talks and TV programmes. I find Rupert's arguments far more convincing, intellectually inspiring, challenging and exciting. To me, Rupert is the very definition of a scientist - open minded, rational, intellectually rigorous, courageous and willing to challenge world views and dogmas.

    Rupert is simply telling the more "certain" scientist that they're (at worst) "naked", or (at best), inappropriately clothed. On a personal level he speaks clearly, in plain, simple language, with good manners and respect - unlike Richard Dawkins who is often rude about anyone who disagrees with his point of view.

    Respect to you Rupert. I hope that powerful and influential people, considerable funding and high quality PhD students beat a path to your door :-)
  • Mar 26 2013: This format that TED has created for discussing this issue is a real head scratcher. Did we really need two weeks of debate on this subject?

    Shouldn't the science board have been part of these discussions? Maybe float some objections out our way so that they can see how they're received? Maybe put some other minds to work on whether these are reasonable or not?

    The way this is set up, we all put in all sorts of comments over an extended period of time and then when it's all done the science board gets the last word. If they cave in and allow the videos back up, then it's all good.

    But what if they come up with a new set of objections and we don't like them? Then what? We haven't had a chance to see them beforehand or discuss them, so they'll be coming out of the blue. We're right back where we started. There are a lot of people covering this. I've tried to make a list of them on one of my blog posts, but it's way outdated by now: (I have 24 listed at the bottom of the post.)
    http://weilerpsiblog.wordpress.com/2013/03/18/ted-chased-by-army-of-passionate-supporters-escapes-into-tardis/

    As Sheldrake pointed out, he has nothing to argue about because the Science board hasn't weighed in.

    It's not like everyone is just going to pack up and go home. No, the fight will continue and a lot of people will still be unhappy with TED.

    This is screwy. This is, of course, crossposted to the Hancock thread.
  • Mar 25 2013: a lot of skeptics/debunkers are calling Rupert Sheldrake "pseudoscientist" because of his research on psi and telepathy. for most skeptics, psi is relegated to pseudoscience. think again.

    i've been sharing this lecture by Dr. Michael Persinger ever since i saw it a couple of years ago. it gives me pleasant sensations to watch "skeptics" and debunkers squirm and contort when faced with this lecture. note that skeptics cannot just dismiss Persinger as a "pseudoscientist" nor call him a quack. the results of Persinger's experiments with the late great psychic Ingo Swann have been published on PubMed. note also that Persinger has already moved beyond the question: "is psi real or not?" Persinger is already way past that debate. for Persinger, psi phenomena is real and can be observed in the lab and replicated. he's already left everyone (debunkers, skeptics, and parapsychologists) in the dust. what he's now trying to do is find the *mechanism* for psi. that's why Persinger is my kind of scientific reductionist. 

    i'd love to see Dr. Persinger present his psi research on TED. it would be a blast to see Jerry Coyne, PZ Myers, and other debunkers and pseudoskeptics contort, squirm, and pull their hair out.

    "Dr Michael Persinger of Laurentian University quickly became the science darling of skeptics and atheists a decade ago with news of his 'God Helmet', which appeared to show that 'sensed presence' of supernatural entities (and/or 'God') may be simply due to magnetic disturbance of the brain. Since then however, Persinger has not made himself an overly attractive science reference for skeptics as he has been involved with, and claims to have achieved positive results in, experimental parapsychology."

    see Persinger's lecture here: http://www.dailygrail.com/Mind-Mysteries/2011/5/Michael-Persinger-No-More-Secrets-Telepathy

    you're welcome.
    • Mar 25 2013: you're right - persinger went of the deep end and this talk would not make any of those skeptics squirm - it would make them giggle.
      • Mar 25 2013: giggle in ignorance, that is. btw, nice to see you here Julian. looking forward to your "skeptical" arguments (hopefully) backed up with solid facts (instead of empty rhetoric).

        btw, in case you haven't read it yet. here's just one of the papers by Persinger published on PubMed. you may call this going "off the deep end." i call it science.

        Remote viewing with the artist Ingo Swann: neuropsychological profile, electroencephalographic correlates, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), and possible mechanisms.

        Persinger MA, Roll WG, Tiller SG, Koren SA, Cook CM.
        Source: Department of Psychology, Laurentian University

        ~ http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12081299
        • Mar 25 2013: I know you call it science, but i wont hold my breath for the peer review and replication that would make it part of the body of real scientific knowledge.
        • Mar 25 2013: @Julian
          The peer-review,publication, replication, subsequent peer-review, and subsequent publication of these effects have all taken place many times over. Thus it is already in the body of scientific knowledge, with the main difference being that there are still many who will dispute its very existence such as you are doing. That, though, will not make it go away. And the fact that there are many, such as yourself, who will continue to deny the (existence of) the evidence, merely shows that, despite your protestations to the contrary, you have zero support for the scientific method when you feel it challenges your philosophical/ideological beliefs.
        • Mar 25 2013: ah ha! so it is a conspiracy! :)

          show me the money steve - where are these replicated, published, peer reviewed studies please.

          also: why is this not bigger news? wait.... conspiracy? suppression?
        • Mar 25 2013: I've already given you the studies. As to why it is not bigger news, it's because there is a massive taboo in academia which has many sources. And if you don't believe there is a taboo, and that it;s dangerous to get involved in such topics, then you'd need to explain what happened to, eg, John Mack. The point being that you will likely find your career ended/compromised unless you are in as secure an academic position as it is possible to be, and even that might not help you.
    • Mar 25 2013: Thanks for this reference. It is excellent. Stanley Krippner, who was the lead investigator on the Maimonides Dream studies, was on my dissertation committee. I am a PhD psychologist who employs the principles of the extended mind in my clinical practice. The 1,000+ cases in my own caseload and the 10,000s of experiences of my colleagues working worldwide, supports Sheldrake's theory of Morphic resonance. The competing model of consciousness being an epiphenomenon of brain activity is contradicted again and again by the accessing of highly detailed and accurate information received telepathically.
      • Mar 25 2013: Dan says: "The 1,000+ cases in my own caseload and the 10,000s of experiences of my colleagues working worldwide, supports Sheldrake's theory of Morphic resonance."

        very interesting. thanks for this info. has it been published in a peer-reviewed science journal yet? any articles on the Internet i can read about this?

        serendipitously, i just read this article about growing human organs. the quote below seems to me can be interpreted as anecdotal evidence suggesting on the plausibility of morphogenetic field. but of course it can also be interpreted as purely biological/genetic mechanism which is still not understood by scientists.

        "Growing a heart is much harder than, say, growing a windpipe, because the heart is so big and has several types of cells, including those that beat, those that form blood vessels, and those that help conduct electrical signals. For a long time, scientists didn't know how to make all the cells grow in the right place and in the right order.

        The problem had been cracked by Dr. Taylor. She said that when human stem cells were put into a heart scaffold in 2010, they seemed to know just where to go. "They organized themselves in a way I didn't believe," said Dr. Taylor, who now works at the Texas Heart Institute but makes regular visits to Madrid to help with the experiments. "It's amazing that the [scaffold] can be as instructional as it is. Maybe we don't need to micromanage every aspect of this.""

        read more: ~ http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424127887323699704578328251335196648.html
      • Mar 25 2013: thanks for the links Dan! will check them out.
    • Mar 25 2013: It's funny, isn't it. Persinger goes from impeccable scientist to lunatic because he gets results some don't want to believe. And so now instead of being a skeptic who was gradually convinced by the evidence as a good scientist should be, he is no longer a proper scientist because the armchair critics have an ideological commitment to the falsity of the claims he is making.
      • Mar 25 2013: persinger goes off the deep end when he makes extraordinary claims without the necessary evidence that's all any of this is about.

        replicate any of this data in a peer reviewed study and he gets a nobel.

        until then he is just another fringe scientists making unlikely claims and being supported by people whi simply want to believe him.
        • Mar 26 2013: No, replicate any of his data in a peer reviewed study and get hounded out or mocked or ignored. This has all been replicated. Here, eg, is a quote that appeared in an article in Quackwatch:

          "Had skeptics said some 40 years ago that all we wanted was reasonable quality replicated research, we might now be having to eat our words."

          Thus, there is the clear admission that sound, replicated results have been produced. And that was in 1998 since when there have been more experiments with the same results and many more replications with ever more stringent controls. The evidence simply won't go away, but since nobody has a theoretical framework to make sense of it it is largely ignored. Thus nobody will be getting a Nobel until we have a sound theory that accounts for the effects seen. And nobody is allowed to put forward a theory because many refuse to acknowledge the evidence because there is no theory. Thus we see the vicious circle of taboo closing round this topic, and a good example of the kind of dogmatic thinking that is sidelining something that is potentially of great importance and that is certainly of great interest.
  • Mar 22 2013: Dear TED,
    I was disturbed by your biased censorship of Rupert Sheldrake's contribution. Sheldrake is a highly respected researcher with formitable credentials! He has collaborated with such greats as David Bohm, one of the fathers of Quantum Physics and QED research. As far back as 1998 Paul Davies and John Gribbon wrote "The Matter Myth".
    Even the well-respected mathematcian and physicst,Sir Roger Penrose has begun tying human consciousness to
    QED energy-information fields. Einstein believed these energy fields to be real, in his own way (remember, "E=MC, squared", where matter and energy are inter-changable. Do you remember what an "=" sign means?).This is not new stuff (except to your so-called "scientific board" that has apparently been sound asleep for over a hundred years now!
    Or, is it that a few crankie mechanistic materialists (who are becoming so very reactionary and insecure, as their cherished beliefs are further and further outdated and marginalized), whine and and complain like insecure children - so loudly that you felt intimidated by them?
    Either way, you have soiled your undies with this foolish censorship of interesting ideas that deserve to be discussed - not squashed!
    I really am hoping that 'TED Talks' don't become 'TED Tanks', and that you find your way back to your original mission purpose. I appreciate you letting me brow-beat you a little. I really do care about TED.

    Sincerely,
    Jordan Wm. Burrill
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    Mar 22 2013: I doubt TED will be hosting any debates but Rupert has already debated a few of these issues with a pretty tough crowd: Stephen Jay Gould, Daniel Dennett, Oliver Sacks, Freeman Dyson, and Stephen Toulmin: http://www.nautis.com/2007/06/how-do-pigeons-home/

    There is also a 90 minute interview with Sheldrake from the same series here: http://www.nautis.com/2009/08/glorious-accident-interview-with-rupert-sheldrake/.
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      Mar 22 2013: Thanks for posting these. It's hard to imagine the "anonymous 'science' board" stepping up to debate anything with Dr Sheldrake after seeing these talks, lol.
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        Mar 22 2013: I think people forget that Rupert was a director of cell biology at Cambridge, a member of the Royal Society, and published in the journal Nature. I wouldn't want to debate him either. ;-)
      • Mar 22 2013: After the amateur ficticous job TED did of trying to discredit Sheldrake the first time it would be intellectual suicide to try and take him on.

        To quote Prof Stanton Friedman when debating with Skeptic Science "guru" Bill Nye "You have to admire someone who comes on a national television program to debate something they do not know the first thing about and have read none of the literature".

        Sheldrake has made people smarter than the TED Board look like proclaiming fools.
    • Mar 22 2013: Have you seen the list of TED's "Brain Trust"? I wonder if there's some crossover between them and their Science Board. Sheldrake has said he'd be willing to debate any of the members of the TED "Brain Trust" as well. Both Dennett and Steven Pinker are on it- given how opposed both of them are to his ideas I could imagine neither would be too happy with TED having a Sheldrake video on their YouTube channel. Here's the list:
      http://www.ted.com/pages/41
      • Mar 22 2013: Yes as soon as I saw Steven Pinker on the board... it all makes it a little more clearer as to how TED is influenced. Any man that quotes Richard Dawkins as an "influence" is hardly going to give an unbiased scientific view on anything.
        • Mar 22 2013: Whoever is the on the science board, or someone re[presenting them, really should come here and try to make a case. I mean, their first case was fabricated, and their second case was partly fabricated and partly false, so as things stand we have no actual explanation of what it is that gets their goat.
      • Mar 22 2013: I went to a talk by Daniel Dennett last night in London, and heard him saying to Rupert Sheldrake that he thought TED had made a mistake with regard to this whole controversy. Dennett also said he had had nothing to do with the controversy.
        • Mar 22 2013: That's likely because, as a philosopher, Dennett will know that Sheldrake's views on science are quite widely shared in academia, and particularly within philosophy departments. By contrast, not many scientists of the die-hard materialist reductionist cast like philosophy all that much. But then, not too many of them know that much about it. It is, they think, a subject to be waved away with the back of their hand as if all philosophical questions were answered the day we discovered the atomic weight of lead.
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          Mar 22 2013: Guy, since Dennett is on the TED Brain Trust and a staunch proponent of materialism this is fantastic. I wonder if you could go into more detail on this or point to some mention of it online, if there is any.
        • Mar 22 2013: What a decent thing of Dennett to do! Props to Dennett for saying that in public and thanks to Guy Hayward for sharing it here.
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      Mar 22 2013: Thanks for this! I've been trying to find more of this round-table discussion and pointing people to the one good clip from it here, then realized it was on your YouTube channel. Having seen more of it previously on YouTube, I was disappointed not to be able to link to a fuller representation. The stuff on homing pigeons is fantastic.
  • Mar 21 2013: Is TED aware of the irony here? The theme of Sheldrake's presentation was explaining why people shouldn't do exactly what TED just did. Any intelligent and awake person would see this and just laugh at TED for being so unaware to have done this. TED really needs to spend some time grasping the concept of what Sheldrake's presentation was about and then reflect carefully on their actions and motivations.
    • Mar 22 2013: LOL I think it is obvious to all and sundry that the last thing TED did was actually watch Sheldrake's presentation. How could they possibly have watched it and STILL publish the reasons they gave for removing it... when it was so factually false.

      I don't think they had the feintest clue what his presentation was actually about... which makes it all the more laughable.