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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 20 2013: Consider these three scientific tenets that Sheldrake questions:
    1 Memories are stored as material traces in brains and are wiped out at death.
    2 Unexplained phenomena like telepathy are illusory.
    3 Mechanistic medicine is the only kind that really works.

    Can Krisztián Pintér or any other participant in this thread convince us that Sheldrake's questioning of these is misguided?
    I also wonder if any of the participants in this discussion have had experiences which violate any of these tenets.

    I used to ask others if they ever had a metaphysical experience, about one third respond affirmatively.
    Examples of metaphysical experiences include
    a) Visiting a city or town or place for first time, but knowing the location of landmarks or buildings or homes.
    b) Having a vision of someone, and subsequently discovering the person died or experienced some mishap about the time of your vision.
    c) Suddenly performing an artistic or athletic skill at a level higher than you have ever done before or done subsequently
    d) Dreaming about a subsequent event.
    e) Having a voice, possibly of a deceased relative or acquaintance, warn you, and thus allowing you to avoid, a hazard or danger.
    f) Having dream involving another, and later having that person tell you s/he simultaneously had the same dream

    I keep a list of the several such experiences I have had and those that acquaintances have reported to me.. For example....I used to have dreams of my walking in colorful forests with the trunks and leaves of trees being all sorts of bright colors. I subsequently attended an exhibit at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York which contained paintings from the last 2 years of Van Gogh's life, most of which strikingly resembled the types of scenes from my dreams. I never again had such dreams.

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