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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

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  • Mar 19 2013: This debate should be about TED's poor handling of the matter.

    Yes of course Rupert's talk should be put back on the TED you tube channel and then TED should publicly apologise for blatantly censoring it in the first place.

    Censorship is wrong, stupid, and counterproductive.

    @Stephen Collins - What was the name of the TED event at Whitechapel ? And "of course" you would Support TEDs actions what with you being an TEDx Organiser, Associate and Attendee. I imagine you wouldn't be very welcome in their circles if you didn't support them. I would fully expect you to toe the party line comrade.
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      Mar 19 2013: John, I think you'll find the organiser community is pretty diverse. Many of us, me included, don't always agree with the mother ship, and we often make it known (there's an active community of organisers in contact with TED and it's there where these things get thrashed out).

      In this case, I agree with their reasoning behind moving the talks (pseudoscience, etc.) though I'd argue (and imagine they'd admit) their handling of it will be no small learning experience for them.

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