TED Conversations

  • TED
  • New York, NY
  • United States


This conversation is closed.

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

Showing single comment thread. View the full conversation.

  • Mar 19 2013: to pretend that the religion vs. science debate is not lurking in the shadows here is na├»ve.
    • thumb

      Gail . 50+

      • +1
      Mar 20 2013: Not just lurking! EXPOSED!

      TEDs actions mark the very first time that anyone has been able to successfully argue that atheism is a religion. What damage this will do to atheism is untellable, but I can well imagine the fun that Christians will have as they decry the Atheist religion's complaints about prayer in school, creationism as science, and the anti-intellectualism that is so predominant in some of their circles.

      Now that they can legitimately point to proof (as opposed to mere evidence) that TED is also against the science that it doesn't like, theists can make demands for things atheists such as myself have been fighting against for a long time.

      Unintended consequences will probably follow.

Showing single comment thread. View the full conversation.