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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 23 2013: "Lime Crime" seems to forget that Sheldrake is not on trial here. Where in his presentation does he mention psychic dogs?

      A red herring. Also, many people have forgotten that the burden of proof lies with TED and the "skeptics" they represent for making as-yet unjustified claims (bordering on libel) at the beginning of this debacle.
      • Mar 23 2013: Maybe TED should choose "Lime Crime" to debate Sheldrake? He seems to be about as well informed as their Scientific Board.
        • Mar 23 2013: I fear Lime Crime is ill-equipped for debate. TED would do well to go with someone more reputable.
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          Mar 23 2013: I don't think Lime Crime is any more likely to come out to publicly debate Sheldrake than the anonymous "science" board members are. Such people like to make rude comments from the shadows where no one can get a good look at them. Their ideas don't stand up in the light of day and they know it.
    • Mar 23 2013: Ridicule is the last resort of those who cannot debate the points. It's clear for any reasonable person to see that the pseudo-skeptics have nothing to offer. I've read many hundreds of comments on this issue for over a week now and, with few exceptions, the best they can do is throw insults. If people like Lime Crime are representative of the mainstream of science, then mainstream science is doomed. I look forward to the new scientific revolution.
    • Mar 23 2013: Look at this guy TED, these are the type of people you are pandering to. Complete disrespect for people who want to put forward other theories about the world, and yes Lime Crime, I do believe in psychic dogs... Sheldrakes research clearly shows that there is a real effect, and so did the famous skeptic Richard Wisemans, though he didn't like to admit it...

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