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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:



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

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    Mar 19 2013: i'm at 5:09, and i feel like reporting it. so far: we've been through the ten "dogmas" of science. ten of which are either not at all scientific statements (outside of it), or not held by science (unknown), or only a minor hypothesis within science, hardly important or deeply embedded in the structure of scientific thought. that is a wonderful 100% performance of being totally off base. good work.
    • Mar 19 2013: You are too small to talk like that, and even smaller to be ironic. A real disgrace for TED really
    • Mar 19 2013: can you prove this, Kriszatián, or are these just personal opinions of yours?
    • Mar 21 2013: You actually consider this a refutation of his talk? Sad indeed.
      • Mar 29 2013: It was an adequate review of why it wasn't important to sustain Sheldrake's talk. A refutation should take a bit more time and effort. Given the characterizations (explained adequately as hyperbole below by Knut Franke), Mr. Pintér's analysis is a helpful reasoning for why he thinks pulling was the right choice.

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