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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

  • Mar 20 2013: I appreciate the fact that TED published my response to the accusations levelled against me by their Scientific Board, and also crossed out the Board’s statement on the “Open for discussion” blog. http://blog.ted.com/2013/03/14/open-for-discussion-graham-hancock-and-rupert-sheldrake/

    There are no longer any specific points to answer. I am all in favour of debate, but it is not possible to make much progress through short responses to nebulous questions like “Is this an idea worth spreading, or misinformation?”

    I would be happy to take part in a public debate with a scientist who disagrees with the issues I raise in my talk. This could take place online, or on Skype. My only condition is that it be conducted fairly, with equal time for both sides to present their arguments, and with an impartial moderator, agreed by both parties.

    Therefore I ask Chris Anderson to invite a scientist from TED’s Scientific Board or TED’s Brain Trust to have a real debate with me about my talk, or if none will agree to take part, to do so himself.
    • Mar 20 2013: This is a very, very good point. You're being put through a Kafkaesque Double Secret Probation here where you've been accused of a crime but you don't even know the charges.

      Perhaps TED would be so kind as to at least provide Mr. Sheldrake with the reasons for this tribunal, uh debate?
    • Mar 21 2013: It seems only fair that you be allowed to face at least one of your anonymous accusers face to face. I beg one of them to have the courage to step out of the shadows and face Mr. Sheldrake in a public debate. TED says you folks did your "due diligence" in coming to the conclusion he was nothing but a "pseudoscientist"- prove it. And if none of them are willing hopefully Chris Anderson will step up to the plate. Personally, I wouldn't mind seeing Sheldrake debate Jerry Coyne in a TED sponsored debate if none of his TED affiliated accusers are willing to stand behind their charges. Seeing as Coyne was publicly thanked by a TED employee and was instrumental in getting these vids removed he might make for a good alternate. No idea if Coyne is up for a debate with Sheldrake though- I kind of doubt it.
      • Mar 21 2013: I second the idea of a Sheldrake-Coyne debate, if it is possible. TED hosted a debate before (about nuclear energy).

        They are claiming that Sheldrake's talk was flagged because its content was basically wrongheaded. They made one attempt to demonstrate this - and fluffed it badly. They are haemorrhaging credibility, and need to either [A] withdraw the accusation or [B] justify it.

        As regards B, TED is a media outlet, and is hardly qualified to debate science, so why not bring in an outside academic to debate for them, while they provide the platform and benefit from the publicity? As I've said before, no one's reputation has been damaged in this kerfuffle except TED's, and they need to restore it with some sort of evenhanded treatment.

        Now who should debate Graham Hancock....?
      • Mar 21 2013: Forgive me for being skeptical, but is there really a science board? Is there any evidence, other than someone's testimony? This could be a problem, debating someone who doesn't exist.
    • Mar 21 2013: Hell, let one of the anonymous science board members speak from behind a screen, with his voice vocoded to retain anonymity. It would be hilarious.
    • Mar 21 2013: exactly what I was asking for! now where's my popcorn?! :)

      btw, is it just me or do PZ Myers and Jerry Coyne have been quiet lately? ;)

      please Mr. Anderson, make this debate happen.
      • Mar 21 2013: Jerry Coyne is too busy trying to find new controversial titles for his posts, so that he can get a few more hits for his blog. The nice thing about his audience is that they rarely read much more than the title of his post - which is just as well really because he likes his fluff in large doses.

        PZ Myers is all about drama and hand waving, but he will run a mile when asked to defend his position. He automatically deletes any comments on his blog that question his ideas. He tends to prefer drive by shootings because he would never cope with a real debate.
        • Mar 21 2013: Maybe we should give them a chance to respond before calling them cowards? I'm just saying it doesn't help our case for a debate if we're presupposed to hostility before it even starts.
        • Mar 21 2013: it's very telling that both PZ Myers and Jerry Coyne are awfully silent right now. this tells me that they are not interested in a public discussion. they are very good at making fun of ideas they don't agree with and calling people names (i.e. woo, woomeister, pseudoscience, etc.) if they really have scientific facts to back up their critiques of Sheldrake and Hancock, then by all means i expect them to have the decency to face the people they accuse in the arena of public debate. they pride themselves as scientists and rational people right? so they ought to behave like one. this is why i was so disappointed with TED's decision to pull out Sheldrake and Hancock's talks from the TEDx channel. to think that a couple of atheist/skeptic bloggers would have that influence on TED's content is very disheartening. i just hope that Myers and Coyne are *not* on the TED Science Board.
    • Mar 21 2013: This is an excellent idea. I can think of no better format to advance the stated goals of this debate. And, incidentally, no better way to repair TED's credibility and satisfy both camps in this debate.

      TED Staff - This is a prime opportunity to turn a PR nightmare in a big win for everyone.
    • Mar 21 2013: TED has initiated debate after debate so far, and as far as I can tell from that, TED and Chris Anderson will be delighted to get a debate going beyond this hidden corner of the site, out in the open on the main stage/page ! Go TED !
      • Mar 21 2013: I think you mean "Mr. Anderson," Agent Smith. ;)

      • Mar 21 2013: @Agent Smith,

        I think Chris is trying his best here. He's in a tough spot, at least from his perspective.

        Please, PLEASE, do the right thing here and accept Rupert Sheldrake's debate invitation. You guys put him on the defensive, and your science board did so with extreme (over?)confidence. There is clearly no fear on his end, and there should be none on yours. At the very least, it will be one heck of an entertaining, constructive, and informative debate.

        You know, in your heart of hearts, that an open debate is the most fair and graceful way to resolve this, while -- at least in my book -- completing repairing any damage to TED's credibility and turning a PR nightmare into a huge win for everyone.

        Edit: Today I learned that Chris Anderson of TED is not the same person as Chris Anderson of WIRED. Regardless, I think they'll both pretty chill guys. :-P
        • Mar 21 2013: I really appreciate your comment, that's why I just 'liked' it - but you're really making the same point as me...Anderson should take Sheldrake up on his offer, there's really no other way ! Now I never said he had it easy...of course he hasn't, having taken on the job he has. But the HONEST way out of UNeasy is not, if you want at the same time to be moral, to just avoid all that's coming your way, by avoiding a broader discussion, by avoiding the deeper issue at hand (materialism's value in modern science and society), and occasionally dropping in for snarky comments, while not doing what you ask everybody else to do - enable debate. And we're all adults - when TED calls for debate, we know it's gotta be more than some comment section on some soon forgotten blog post.
        • Mar 21 2013: Culture desperately NEEDS the conversation this debacle has highlighted to MOVE FORWARD. It is critical. This is a time for TED to now turn the whole thing around and play a truly historical role. Don't drop the ball. Don't run from this tremendous opportunity. Grab it and take us ALL forward!!
    • Mar 21 2013: It is incumbent upon TED, if it is not pretense but actually truly does stand for what it claims to stand for - to take Dr. Sheldrake up on this offer - to sponsor, organise and hold a proper debate/discussion between Dr. Sheldrake and his (anonymous) detractors. That would be the ultimate rectification of this debacle and the highest service to the movement of ideas in culture. Running from it would reveal TED to clearly be something entirely other than that which it claims to be. I am on the edge of my seat and keenly excited. Lets get on with it!
      • Mar 21 2013: Exactly. They should either come out definitely for or against the talk - or put all the energy into debating the contended topics, instead of paying lip service to debate by having it go on under blog posts which are only found by those aware of the debate, and will soon sink into the obscurity of this blog's timeline.
    • Mar 21 2013: I would love to view such a debate! Let scientists defend their views in the open and not by censoring views.
    • Mar 21 2013: Come on Mr Coyne, Science needs YOU !
      • Mar 21 2013: Between the anonymous Science Board, the "TED Brain Trust" (the names of which can be found here: http://www.ted.com/pages/41 ), Chris Anderson, PZ Myers and Jerry Coyne (the two bloggers who were instrumental in getting these talks removed and who were publicly thanked by TED), TED probably has around 50 bright people they can call on. Surely one of them will be brave enough to step forward and debate Dr. Sheldrake. Either take up Sheldrake on his challenge or issue a full public apology, say you were wrong, your charges were false, admit Sheldrake is a scientist and not a "pseudoscientist", and restore the videos to YouTube. Or you can just keep trying to make it all go away. Thing is, I suspect Sheldrake is not going to let it all go away until he gets satisfaction. And after the outrageous way you've treated him I can't say I blame him.
        • Mar 21 2013: Rupert could debate all 50 of them :) - admittedly being right helps...
    • Mar 21 2013: I fully support Rupert in his request for a debate.
    • Mar 21 2013: Can I point out how reasonable Rupert Sheldrake has been? He was criticised quite harshly yet responded in a very constructive and balanced way, and this is very much to his credit. I cannot imagine that there would be no scientist available to debate with him and so I very much hope that TED does the right thing in facilitating the discussion that we all want to hear, regardless of whether or not we agree with Sheldrake.
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    Mar 22 2013: ***OPEN LETTER FROM TEDxWHITECHAPEL TEAM*** Please join our call to TED to take the best course of action for all.

    Dear Chris, Lara, and the TED team

    We, the TEDxWhitechapel team - the initiators and co-curators of the event - have deeply reflected on your actions to remove the talks of two of our speakers Rupert Sheldrake and Graham’s Hancock from the official TEDx Youtube channel. We wish to clearly and openly express our views on the matter with the intention of constructively contributing to the discussion as well as to highlight potential pathways for moving forward which are mutually beneficial to all parties involved; our speakers, the TED corporation, and the TED community.

    We want to begin by sharing what TED means to us.

    We have been genuinely transformed through many of the inspiring TEDTalks; they have profoundly challenged our perceptions of and assumptions about the world, opening us up to new perspectives outside of the established mainstream thinking. Moreover, we really believe TED to be an ingenious medium to spread ideas across the globe. As such, TED represents the free and open flow and exchange of ideas globally, enriching and empowering an increasingly connected global community.
    • Mar 23 2013: thanks for this very eloquent response from TEDxWhitecapel. now this is an Idea Worth Spreading! i'm spreading the word.

      ~ http://www.c4chaos.com/2013/03/tedxwhitechapel-calls-out-ted-to-reinstate-sheldrake-and-hancocks-talks/
    • Mar 23 2013: Amrita, I wanted to thank you for the amazing event you held at Whitechapel. You did a remarkable job at bringing all these speakers together. TED may not appreciate it, but I am sure you can see how many of us do.

      I have seen Satish Kumar, Rupert Sheldrake, Graham Hancock, Tim ‘Mac’ Macartney and Richard Burnett's talks and they have all left a strong and positive impression on me, each one in a different way.

      Keep up the great work, I have certainly benefited much from what you have done.
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      Mar 24 2013: you are responsible for this debacle in the first place. now that these talks were given, there is really no solution that is respectful to everyone. ted should not give its name to such dishonest pseudoscience, but also does not want to flush all the effort those people put in these talks down the toilet, and also take them away from the audience. care should have been given before the selection of speakers, and it did not happen. either you did not research your speakers in enough detail, or ted did not monitor the project closely enough. either way, the very action of inviting pseudoscientific quacks was a mistake. we might address that to enthusiasm and lack of information, but a mistake is still a mistake.
  • Apr 2 2013: With little time to go, this "Conversations" thread is showing about 2000 comments, about 20% more comments than the next highest thread (the one discussing Graham Hancock's talk with about 1655 comments), and nearly six times as many comments as the next highest thread with around 339 comments (on an unrelated discussion). The issue has definitely interested TED participants. Note that many individuals made multiple posts.

    The three most popular TED talks of all time, have (1) 15,480,019 veiws with 2937 comments (2) 10,741,137 views with 2425 comments (3) 10,311,697 views and 1287 comments. Two have been online for over fives years, the other for 18 months.

    Sheldrake's and Hancock's talks have been online for less than 4 months. There were also 1677 + 325 + 483 comments from previous combined discussions, making the average comment count (2000 + 1655 + 1677 + 235 + 483) / 2 = 3025 comments per talk.

    By this calculation, it makes both talks the post popular of all time by comment count. Popularity does not imply support or endorsement of their ideas.

    My personal estimate is that people oppose TED's actions by around 10-to-1 (I think it is actually more than this, as I found it difficult to find people who support TED, but wanted to be conservative). This does not necessarily translate into support for Sheldrake's and Hancock's ideas, only their right to be treated reasonably.

    Having read through the vast proportion of posts, my personal assessment is that the issue is not as clear cut as the science board and advisors would suggest, from which I hope that the necessarily actions will be taken.
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    Mar 22 2013: We think the controversy over these talks is a wonderful opportunity for TED to clarify and strengthen it’s commitment to free thought, especially in the face of pressure from highly committed ideological interests from the blogosphere. Otherwise, we fear that TED will take a lot of criticism for censorship. Several of the other speakers, even if they don’t fully agree with Sheldrake’s and Hancock’s positions, are quite upset that their videos were removed. At our urging, they have been holding back from going public, waiting to see how this plays out. It would be a shame if this ends up causing negative publicity.

    We hope that you will consider this as an opportunity to become a resilient and remarkable organisation: one that has the capacity to be self-reflective, self-critical, adapt to change, evolve and grow with its communities and the challenges it faces. Most of all, that you can stay true to your values as a democratic and open platform for ideas worth spreading.

    It seems to us that enhancing Radical Openness by accepting our invitation to reinstate the talks publicly online, is an outcome that can benefit all parties involved.

    We appreciate your time to consider our message.

    With hope for a positive outcome for all

    Amrita, Stefana, Jennifer
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      Mar 22 2013: Thank you Amrita, Stefana and Jennifer.
    • Mar 22 2013: Perfectly sensible response from Amrita Bhohi and colleagues. Most of us would much rather live in a world with this free spirit of inquiry
    • Mar 22 2013: Thank you for posting this publicly Amrita, Stefana and Jennifer, you touched on all the points where TED seems to be in the wrong, particularly the:
      TED (and Chris Anderson himself) have displayed.

      Will be interesting to see how they react next.
    • D S

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      Mar 22 2013: Excellent! Thanks for sharing that Amrita, Stefana, and Jennifer - and for putting on such an amazing and thought-provoking TEDx conference to begin with!
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      Mar 22 2013: Thank you for inviting both Graham Hancock and Rupert Sheldrake as well as others to your TEDxWhiteChapel event. Your willingness to publish an open letter and defend your speakers earns my respect.

      Cheers from Russia,
    • Mar 22 2013: To: Amrita, Stefana, & Jennifer: It occurs to me that with such thoughtful ground from which you apparently spring, you might consider taking on the creation of a alternative venue, as it is pretty apparent we now need one. Individuals commenting here await a response from the TED folks, but I suspect there will not be one that will satisfy most of us.

      I'd like to propose the creation of NOTted, and I nominate you three as its creators. We need to move on from this violation of principle, and your commentary here indicates you carry the necessary mantle of integrity. It's rather likely you would find supporters among those of us who previously looked to TED for such a venue, but who now view them with essential suspicion.

      In any case, thank you for your appeal here. I do not share your hope of a course change as they seem to be answering to unknown higher masters.
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        Mar 23 2013: Thanks Bill, we'll consider your message, you're not the only one to have made this suggestion.
    • Mar 22 2013: Thanks! Well said.
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      Mar 22 2013: bravo!
    • Mar 23 2013: Thank you so much for showing the integrity to stand behind your speakers. Well done. I, for one, would be interested in hearing what Rupert and Graham's peers from the Whitechapel event have to say on the matter. It sounds like they are as appalled as the rest of us.
  • Apr 2 2013: Sheldrake is not advocating that we abandon the scientific method or deny ourselves the advantages that scientific inquiry brings, he is simply asking for a moment of introspection to evaluate our assumptions. Just becasue we hear what he has to say and take a moment to consider his perspective and his research does not mean that we believe everything he presents. We do not need protection from new perspectives on science.

    Let us not forget that the theme of this presentation was "Challenging Existing Paradigms and Redefining Values",
    not "Everything We Already Know and Are Completely Comfortable With Reiterated."

    TED.... lighten up. The precious edifice of science as a replacement for God is still intact.
  • Apr 2 2013: excellent response by Rupert Sheldrake on the TED/TEDx controversy.

    TED, Jerry Coyne, PZ Myers, you've been served!


    Dr. Rupert Sheldrake: I do see Chris Anderson’s point of view and indeed, I had a long conversation with Chris Anderson on the telephone. We got on perfectly well. I wasn’t particularly angry with him or anything like that. It was a reasonable conversation. They do have a point. There’s a lot of rubbish and there has to be some kind of filter. So I’m not against the idea of a filter but what I am against is the idea of applying the filter in a very partial kind of way.

    There are lots of things up on the TEDx website which are controversial. For example, there are a lot of talks by militant Atheists which a lot of people find controversial. A lot of people disagree with what they say and think they’re actually wrong in a variety of ways. But those haven’t been flagged up or put in the Naughty Corner. Those have been allowed absolutely free run on the Internet. They’re put up on the main website, talks by people like Richard Dawkins, for example.

    The difference here is that my talk was flagged up as being pseudo-scientific because Jerry Coyne didn’t like it. Well, Jerry Coyne is a very bigoted man who writes very loud-mouthed things on his website. I don’t take him very seriously. I mean, he’s a polemicist, a kind of Dawkins-type polemicist. So they pay a lot of attention to what Jerry Coyne and PZ Meyers said on their websites. If there had been a similar attack by, for example, Christian Fundamentalists on Dawkins they would have ignored it. But if it’s by scientific fundamentalists then they pay attention, and what’s more don’t just pay attention but dig themselves into a hole trying to justify this.

    read more: ~ http://www.skeptiko.com/rupert-sheldrake-censored/
    • Apr 2 2013: Marvelous. I look forward to listening to the whole thing. It will give me something to do when drop the hammer on this so-called debate in 20 minutes. Thanks for posting.
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    Mar 22 2013: In fact, in light of this situation, we are now even stronger in our conviction that these are valuable ideas that need to be discussed and debated widely. The massive response from the TED community and the conversations which this has sparked, tells us that there is much interest in these ideas and therefore that they are highly valuable to the science debate. Indeed, if they were so totally radical and ridiculous as you suggest they are, it leads us to wonder why they have they been worthy of so much attention? Both talks have simultaneously been supported and challenged, which for us reflects a model of how the progression of scientific understanding develops and flows.

    Therefore, we do not support your actions to put the talks on separate blogs where they are hidden from the TED community, cannot be shared, and where the conversation is limited. We also oppose the lack of integrity with which they have been treated. In particular, It is obvious that the content of many of the other existing TEDtalks would not hold up to scrutiny were the same criteria applied to them. Furthermore, we hope that you would grant your community the respect to use their own faculties of discretion and reasoning with regard to the ideas and content of the talks.

    As such, we request and urge you to re-upload the talks not only to the TEDx youtube channel, but also on the official TED.com site, including links to the discussions taking place on the TED blog. We also see this as a vital opportunity for TED to enhance their reputation as a forum for the free flow and sharing of ideas and open debate and an opportunity to win back the trust which may have been lost.
  • Apr 1 2013: In cancelling the TEDx event in West Hollywood, it appears that I was accused of "using the guise of science" to further spooky claims, (or some such). People on this blog have asked what I was going to talk about. That's easily answered. I was co-founder of a 23 year research program investigating psychic abilities at Stanford Research Institute. We were doing research and applications for the CIA, Defense Intelligence Agency, Air Force and Army Intelligence, NASA, and others. In this $25 million program we used "remote viewing" to find a downed Russian bomber in North Africa, for which President Carter commended us. We found a kidnapped US general in Italy, and the kidnap car that snatched Patricia Hearst. We looked in on the US hostages in Iran, and predicted the immanent release of Richard Queen, who was soon sent to Germany. We described a Russian weapons factory in Siberia, leading to a US congressional investigation about weakness in US security, etc. We published our scientific findings in Nature, The Proc. IEEE, Proc, AAAS, and Proc. American Institute of Physics. I thought a TED audience would find this recently declassified material interesting. And no physics would be harmed in my presentation.
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      Apr 1 2013: Russell Targ: I'd be among those who'd be interested in how TED and/or its scientific faithful might respond to your posts. At the time I'm writing this, it has been around three hours after your post. A fairly long time in the sometimes snappy repartee I've seen here.
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      Apr 1 2013: Russell, I couldn't find an abstract for your paper, Information transmission in remote viewing experiments, on the Nature website (http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v284/n5752/pdf/284191a0.pdf). I hadn't heard of your work until this event was cancelled but it looks fascinating. Your work was published in Nature, paid for by the CIA, and we have you to thank for safe commercial flying due to lasers you developed to detect windshear and air turbulence. Those are serious scientific credentials. Just because TED does not agree with your conclusions is not a reason for prior restraint.

      This also happened a few weeks ago when the TEDx talks by Rupert Sheldrake and Graham Hancock were removed from the TED YouTube channel. There has been a very lively debate on this topic. Like you, Rupert Sheldrake was published in Nature, made important contributions to science, and is now also being labeled as non-scientific by an anonymous scientific committee at TED. I've always been a big fan of TED and I guess I was naive to believe that this is really all about the free exchange of ideas.

      Hopefully, new people will learn about your work as a result of the controversy. I hear that the West Hollywood show will go on. That's great news! I will look for the event on YouTube. Best, Matthew
    • Apr 1 2013: Welcome to the discussion, Mr. Targ. Prior to this fiasco I had not heard of you and am only beginning to become familiar with it. I just thought I'd draw your attention to a thread on the Hancock debate in which your comment here was quoted and criticized. It's odd that the individual didn't address you directly so thought you might want to check it out.

    • Apr 2 2013: thank you Mr. Targ for responding!

      why TED has pointed a finger to Russell Targ leads me to speculate that the TED staff are ignorant of the Remote Viewing literature.

      i don't claim expertise on the subject of remote viewing but I've been familiar with the literature for more than two decades now. i understand the RV protocol -- it's double-blind. the late Ingo Swann was instrumental in designing the protocol. then it was taught to a few intelligence personnels (one of them is remote viewer #001 Joe McMoneagle). however, i've always focused my attention to the original people who started it all because they did solid research on the phenomenon and they're the ones who designed the original protocol. Targ/Puthoff had a deal with the CIA/military that in return for the funding they would help the military with intelligence work (e.g. locating people and cites of interests). another condition was that Targ/Puthoff would be free to publish their work on scientific journals. the project lasted for more than two decades. i don't know about you but i don't think Targ/Puthoff/Swann could hoax the Defense Department, CIA, and FBI for a long time, especially when millions of money were involved.

      see also Russell Targ's response on TED Conversations:
      ~ http://www.ted.com/conversations/17189/the_debate_about_rupert_sheldr.html?c=639679

      "Remote viewing is an ability that many people can easily learn. It is a nonlocal ability, in that its accuracy and reliability are independent of distance. Dean of Engineering Robert Jahn has also published extensively on his experiments at Pronceton, (Proc. IEEE, Feb 1982). I am not claiming it is quantum anything. It appears to possibly make use of something like Minkowski's (8 dimensional) complex space/time that he described to Einstein in the 1920s, and is now being re-examined by Roger Penrose. This is not necessarily The answer. But the answer will be some sort similar nonlocal space/time geometry." (read more)
  • Mar 19 2013: Unfortunately, TED still seems to be unable to let go of its preconceived notions of what Sheldrake said by, for example, talking of his "radical ... claim that the speed of light has been changing". He didn't say it had been changing, at least not during the timescales during which measurement has been taking place, and not on account of the data observed. He merely made the observation that the data itself had been changing and that this was explained away without much investigation and without even the curiosity to examine the data in detail to see if any interesting trends could be observed. A further point was about the extent to which the measurements themselves seem to have clustered at various times and he wondered aloud about what, if anything, the explanation of "intellectual phase locking" might tell us about the veracity of data in general.

    His point, then, was far more about the scientific process and the mindset that guides it than it was about any actual deviation in the speed of light during the time measurement has been taking place. It does not auger well for this discussion that this fairly straightforward point, which has been made numerous times on the various discussion forums, has been completely ignored and the critic's false view of what Sheldrake was saying is presented up front as fact.

    I should also point out that the community has spoken, and spoken clearly, on at least two occasions about this talk. They want it to stay, and they want it to stay by a ratio of, as best I can gather, more than 10 to 1. It seems as if you're just going to keep asking the same question over and over until nobody can be bothered posting anymore. What more can we say? The general points are:

    1. The talk is primarily philosophy of science.
    2. We don't buy the perceived errors/factual inaccuracies and believe these are a function of an inaccurate view of the talk.
    3. Even if we did buy the potential legitimacy of the complaints, Sheldrake has refuted you.
  • Apr 2 2013: Well, with time almost up, I think the community here has spoken by more than 10-1 that Sheldrake's talk should reinstated. I doubt they will be but it should be noted that in three weeks nobody has been able to come up with much of an explanation for removing them in the first place. TED's science board's first attempt had to be crossed out and very little - nothing of substance - was put in its place. Thus it seems the talk was removed for either invalid reasons or reasons TED has not botthered to share with us. Here's the talk for anyone who hasn't seen it.

  • Apr 2 2013: I can add my name to those of Rupert Sheldrake and Graham Hancock as speakers who find themselves in TEDx’s crosshairs.

    I was scheduled to speak at the West Hollywood event. But my scientific credibility was questioned by TED's science advisory board in their decision to withdraw support and revoke the license of TEDxWestHollywood.

    I’ve lectured at dozens of top-tier medical schools and hospitals all over the U.S. for two decades. Although my colleagues don’t always agree with my points of view, this is the first time my scientific credibility has ever been questioned.

    My TEDx talk would have dealt with the correlations between spirituality, health, and longevity, for which there is immense evidence; and recent experimental findings that point toward a nonlocal view of consciousness for which, again, there is strong and abundant support. In view of our lack of understanding of the origins and destiny of consciousness, and considering the demographics of the TEDx followers, I thought this information would have been of considerable interest.

    As a board-certified physician of internal medicine, former chief of staff of a major hospital, author of twelve books and scores of papers on these subjects published in peer-reviewed journals, a recipient of many awards, a frequent lecturer at medical schools and hospitals, and executive editor of the peer-reviewed journal, Explore: The Journal of Science and Healing, I’d be interested in knowing from TED where I came up short.

    “A clash of doctrines is not a disaster, it is an opportunity,” Whitehead said. It should not be a reason for censorship.
    • Apr 2 2013: This is the reason why you were treated as you were: http://www.ted.com/conversations/17189/the_debate_about_rupert_sheldr.html?c=640622
    • Apr 2 2013: I'm really sorry to hear that TED is alienating thinkers such as yourself Larry, and I hope that some other platform in the future gives you the opportunity to share your ideas as widely as TED could have.
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      Apr 2 2013: Well stated Larry..
    • Apr 2 2013: thanks for responding Mr. Dossey!

      I've taken the liberty of posting your response on this thread too.

      Discuss the note to the TED community on the withdrawal of the TEDxWestHollywood license. | A conversation on TED.com ~ http://www.ted.com/conversations/17348/discuss_the_note_to_the_ted_co.html
    • Apr 2 2013: I was astonished and appalled to hear that you, of all people, were treated in this way by TED. I'm glad to read your response here
    • Apr 2 2013: Sorry Larry. I clicked to recommend not realising I had already done it and it downgraded it from 7 to 6 . I'm not familiar with this style of recommending
    • Apr 2 2013: Hi Larry!
      I am familiar with your work. Be of good cheer! As a sculptor I've recieved enough rejection slips from art juries - for introducing challenging work, to paper a wall in my studio. I now consider them to be almost badge or honor.

      Best Wishes,
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      Apr 2 2013: Thank you!
  • Mar 20 2013: Mr. Sheldrake suggests that science itself needs inquiry and TED recoils in shock. In the process, TED dismisses and degrades Mr. Sheldrake's lifetime work and efforts with little more evidence than the say so of a so-called anonymous review panel (isn't this how totalitarian states operate?).

    Did Mr. Sheldrake break any rules? No. Was he rude? No. Was he invited to speak by an authorized group? Yes? Was the video of Mr. Sheldrake in conformance to all rules? Yes. So what was the crime that he was treated so? His crime was that he ruffles feathers of those who disagree with him, and since science decides what can or cannot be said about science, Mr. Sheldrake is the automatic loser.

    There is one and only one thing that TED, if it has an ounce of ethics left in its organization, can do and that is to immediately apologize to Mr. Sheldrake, reinstate the video in question, admit to its rude behavior and move on.

    If TED wishes to change the rules of what it is admissible in the future, it is free to do so. It is a private venture with its own agenda. But to treat Mr. Sheldrake in this manner is infuriating and more than this - simply unfair and unjust.
  • Apr 1 2013: Remote viewing is an ability that many people can easily learn. It is a nonlocal ability, in that its accuracy and reliability are independent of distance. Dean of Engineering Robert Jahn has also published extensively on his experiments at Pronceton, (Proc. IEEE, Feb 1982). I am not claiming it is quantum anything. It appears to possibly make use of something like Minkowski's (8 dimensional) complex space/time that he described to Einstein in the 1920s, and is now being re-examined by Roger Penrose. This is not necessarily The answer. But the answer will be some sort similar nonlocal space/time geometry. We taught remote viewing to 6 army intelligence officers in 1979. They then taught a dozen other officers, and created an operational army psychic corps at Ft. Meade, which lasted until the end of our program in 1995. You can see two examples of real remote viewing on my website, www.espresearch.com. One with Hella Hammid is double blind, live on camera for a 1983 BBC film, "The Case of ESP." available on Google.
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      Apr 1 2013: I've seen and enjoyed "The Case of ESP." Interesting, Russell Targ, that you're not claiming, "quantum anything" about remote viewing. I didn't know about Minkowski's eight-dimensional space/time idea. A mathematician I'll never be, but I found this on Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Minkowski_space) about Minkowski spacetime. That's as close as a mortal with my experience will come to even reading about Minkowski's theories.
    • Apr 1 2013: I've been following your work enthusiastically for 20 years. I read Mind Reach in the 80's, Miracles of Mind a few years ago and just yesterday ordered your latest book, I can't wait! I've taken Ed Dames DVD RV course and I've written up my own 20 year journey into psi and RV here:

      It takes courage to speak out about such important work in the face of such opposition. I look forward to the day when TED shares the same enthusiasm for your work as bright minds like Brian Josephson or Deepak Chopra.
    • Apr 2 2013: THANK YOU, Mr. Targ for your excellent response

      please post your response on this thread too:

      Discuss the note to the TED community on the withdrawal of the TEDxWestHollywood license. | A conversation on TED.com ~ http://www.ted.com/conversations/17348/discuss_the_note_to_the_ted_co.html

      too bad the TED Science Board is comprised of anonymous members. in any case, I'd be interested to see an official response from TED. if the Sheldrake/Hancock threads are an indication, I doubt that TED would be capable of providing a sound and reasonable justification for explicitly pointing to Russell Targ, Larry Dossey, and Marilyn Schlitz in their decision to revoke TEDxWestHollywood's license.
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      Apr 2 2013: explain to me, mr targ, how would any "remote sensing" experiments anyhow prove non-locality? you happen to have millisecond precision in those experiments? or one participant was on the moon?

      anyway, good to have one more quack around here. you people don't waste time.
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    Mar 22 2013: And it is with this passion that we decided to host a TEDx event with the theme “Visions for Transition: Challenging Existing Paradigms and Redefining Values (for a more beautiful world)’. We believe that in order to deal with the diverse and complex crises converging on our planet, we need to challenge the dominant thought paradigms and radically reassess the values which govern our world. In line with Einsteins wisdom  “problems cannot be solved with the same level of thinking that created them” we saw TED as a truly special platform.

    You can understand therefore, how shocked and saddened we were when we were alerted to the news that you had decided to remove Graham and Rupert’s talk from the TEDx Youtube channel and furthermore the disrespectful way in which they were treated publicly on the TED blog where you moved them.

    We would like to offer our insights to you, as to why we chose to invite these speakers. We were guided by the advice that TED gives for identifying great speakers, which was as follows.

    To build a powerful speaker program, seek out extraordinary voices in your local community who have a unique story or an unusual perspective -- and who can convey it in a dynamic way.

    Local voices that few have heard before
    People who can present their field in a new light
    Perspectives that the global TED community may not have access to
    Speakers whose work fits your event theme
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    Mar 22 2013: Furthermore, tips for speakers include:

    Dream big. Strive to create the best talk you have ever given. Reveal something never seen before. Do something the audience will remember forever. Share an idea that could change the world.

    Controversy energizes!

    We find that Rupert and Graham meet this criteria extremely well. Please also note that Rupert Sheldrake addressed his concerns to us that in the 18 minute format, he would not be able to give a comprehensive explanation of the complex and extensive research and ideas explored in his book. To quote from our response to him, “TED is not supposed to be a source of knowledge, but one of ideas and creativity, which inspire and stimulate to further engage with them.”

    Naturally, we don’t expect TED to agree with the content of the talks, nor are we suggesting that they represent the ‘truth’. We think science offers us a kind of lens with which to view an unfathomably complex world. These speakers challenge the mainstream scientifically accepted viewpoints and this is exactly where their value lies. TED is a platform where these different points of view can be shared, debated and challenged so that we can collectively keep evolving and developing in our understanding.
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    Mar 20 2013: Dear TED community,


    I am very touched by the recent events around Rupert Sheldrake. I think his stance is widely and unjustly misrepresented by a particular camp of critics. These critics attempt to frame Sheldrake’s activities as if he was against modern science. This is not so.

    In my opinion, this happens not because of a careful consideration of Sheldrake’s work but due to political reasons (i.e. human beings are political creatures): A group of people who share a specific worldview and read a specific corpus of texts seems to want to protect their right to monologically claim what science “is” and what science “isn’t,” often refusing to have a polite and reasonable discussion.

    What Sheldrake does, however, is something different than undermining science and the grand scientific project of humanity. Sheldrake himself is a scientist; and he has always been. I believe his intentions are to expand science, to add more curiosity to it, to dissolve some of the obstacles inherent to contemporary scientific praxis.

    You see, we most often think of science as a flatland phenomenon (especially if we are outsiders to science): There is one science, there is one consensus in science, and our immediate perception reflects the world of science in a correct way (reflection paradigm).

    However, the relatively recent emergence of post-metaphysical philosophy represented by Jurgen Habermas (who grounds much of his arguments in the work of Lawrence Kohlberg on the stages of moral development) and constructivist developmental schools of thought and psychology (Robert Kegan, Susanne Cook-Greuter, etc.) carefully points out that there are hierarchies of complexity of thinking about reality, and that the leading-edge perspective today is the one that involves grasping that both the cognizing subject and the cognized objects arise in a vast interconnection and both of them follow stages of development (from a lesser complexity to a higher complexity).

    Cont'd in Part Two
  • Mar 19 2013: You asked, hundreds of commentators answered:
    Restore fully Sheldrake's and Hancock's talks! No need to hide them in discussion boards, people can think for themselves.
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    Mar 19 2013: 1.) Is this an idea worth spreading, or misinformation?

    Yes, absolutely it is an idea worth spreading. It's clear this discussion needs to happen as this is a valid philosophical dialogue and Sheldrake is able to frame it quite objectively.

    No this is not misinformation and positioning it that way is very misleading itself. I personally not have identified what in the talk is 'misinformation', a false idea presented as true scientifically in this talk. Can TEDSTAFF identify the misinformation in question?

    I believe that the examples given by TED regarding Sean Carrol's rebuttal have been addressed by Mr Sheldrake quite objectively here. http://blog.ted.com/2013/03/14/open-for-discussion-graham-hancock-and-rupert-sheldrake/

    Can TEDSTAFF follow up on his reasoned rebuttal point by point?

    I think it's important to note that what I believe TED is missing is that Rupert's presentation is not trying to conflict with any scientific facts, but rather he is addressing and critiquing the scientific materialistic philosophy that is shared amongst educated people in mainstream society. So 'misinformation' i believe is an incorrect way to phrase it, since these are philosophical issues he is raising.
  • Mar 22 2013: Science is meant to be a method of testing hypothesis as to whether or not the hypothesis has validity. Rupert Sheldrake has pointed out that in many areas Science is not doing this, that Science is being blindsided. For Tedx to then remove the video talk not only suggests that Rupert Sheldrake is close to the mark but that many people are nervous about what he is stating. That there may actually be validity in his point of view. So, let me see Dark Matter and Dark Energy make up 96% of the universe but there is no physical evidence of their existence. How many Scientific video talks have been removed because of their lack of evidence aside from Rupert Sheldrakes and Graham Hancock?
  • Mar 22 2013: dear TED,

    let me make my points clear, simple, and in bullet points:

    - you made a mistake of (soft) censoring Rupert Sheldrake and Graham Hancock's TEDx talks. please restore those videos to their original distribution channels.

    - you owe Sheldrake and Hancock a sincere apology.

    - moving forward, please don't be bullied by a couple of ideological atheist/skeptic bloggers. they're not worth it. they've done more damage to your brand than the speakers you have censored in the past.

    - Sheldrake and Hancock have issued a public challenge to debate anyone from the TED Science Board and/or the TED Brain Trust. TED will look *really* bad if you don't take this challenge.

    - no more tricks. no more excuses. no more insulting our collective intelligence. we saw through this shenanigan since day one.

    thank you very much. i'm hoping that you will do the right thing.
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    Gail .

    • +15
    Mar 20 2013: The only reason Sheldrake's talk crossed the line is because he didn't present the evidence/sources he claims he has - but that he provided in his rebuttal. Many who do follow the science do understand what he said, and only an uninformed group of people would insult and defame him by calling real science, "pseudoscience".

    Though it was an inept talk - perhaps because of the 18 minute time constraint, the real problem is with the TED board that is uneducated in what is happening in modern physics and related consciousness studies, and that chooses experts who disagree with what so many experts with at least equal if not better education have to say.

    I don't know who the scientists are that disagreed with Sheldrake, but I now believe that TED has a responsibility to release their names. I find it impossible to believe that they have PhDs in quantum mechanics and knowledge of the related study of consciousness, unless that degree is so out-of-date as to be worthless.

    I think that it's time for TED to rethink the educational minimums for its own board. The world is changing. TED doesn't like what it's changing into, so it is trying to stop it using outdated science as its weapon. This makes the TED board who call his talk pseudoscience a bunch of self-righteous hypocrites.
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      Mar 20 2013: Why do you describe the talk as inept ??
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        Gail .

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        Mar 20 2013: That which is happening in quantum physics, neuroscience and the study of consciousness is so exciting that it deserves to be explained complete with the actual studies that tell in a more detailed way what has been discovered and why it is so important and life-changing. If he couldn't give details about his 10 dogmas, he should have done so competently with his favorite 3 or 5.

        Furthermore, it was factually incorrect in that it said that almost all scientists maintain a mechanical view of the world, which is no longer a correct statement. There is a polar shift going on in QM.

        There are also some misleading or incomplete statements in his talk - such as one of the dogmas is that the laws of nature are fixed, but he doesn't give enough information to tell me why he believes with this statement that I cannot agree with based on my information/education. For instance, evolution appears to be a law of nature, and evolution is not fixed. What does he mean?

        Bottom line: It is in humankind's best interests to allow talks such as these to be aired on TED, but it would be better if one or a panel of scientists exploring QM and those scientists studying "mind" or "consciousness" were to be allotted a half hour or even an hour for a panel of four. As there is a paradigm shift occurring in the world of science - that WILL affect your beliefs about who and what you are, I would like a better and more articulate speaker to stand on the stage and tell the world about it. Peace on earth is within our sights - as is the end to most social ills.

        Lastly: Sheldrake - in his last dogma, says that governments fund mechanistic medicine because it's the only one that works. He made a major mistake there. Governments fund mechanistic medicine because it's profitable. Meditation, that could save millions of lives and vastly reduce health-care costs is free, so governments don't encourage it. No $$$ = no campaign contributions = no way to profit from us.
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          Mar 21 2013: You seem to have disagreements of varying degrees with about on-third to one-half of Sheldrake's talk. If TED has not removed the talk, then your points could have been discussed in comments following the the talk.

          Can you support your claim that it is no longer true that "almost scientists no longer maintain a mechanistic view of the world?

          If non-mechanistic medicine were the prevailing dogma, then companies would be finding ways to profit from that.
  • Mar 19 2013: I don't think we can have a legitimate discussion about how to move forward without first being aware of how we got to this point. If you haven't seen Rupert Sheldrake's rebuttal to the initial charges leveled against his talk I urge you to please go read it now. His response can be found here:


    After reading it I think any fair minded individual will conclude that TED's treatment of Sheldrake up until this point has been nothing short of outrageous. They grossly misrepresented his talk, concocted a number of essentially baseless charges against him, and casually referred to him as a "pseudoscientist". It was an attempt to marginalize Sheldrake, to let the community know his seat is not at the back of the bus, but rather he shouldn't be allowed on the bus to begin with. Perhaps most disappointingly, even though Sheldrake has clearly shown the anonymous accusations made against him were false, TED still seems unwilling to admit they were wrong and give up the witch hunt. Just last night they mentioned ( http://blog.ted.com/2013/03/18/graham-hancock-and-rupert-sheldrake-a-fresh-take/ ) that Sheldrake's talk should have a "clear health warning"; it's almost as if instead of possibly just being inspired to ask questions, viewers of his talk are at risk of getting lung cancer! Seriously, what exactly is the justification for this bizarre "health warning"? Sheldrake has already shown their accusations against his presentation are without merit. Again, please go read his response to their charges if you doubt this.
  • Mar 27 2013: I am an independent science writer based in Vancouver, B.C. While I specialize in the behavioral sciences, I also have a pretty respectable informed layman's grasp of physics and astronomy, having studied these in university, and keeping abreast of the subject in my leisure reading. I first saw Rupert Sheldrake speak at a conference in Montreal in 2004, and then a second time here in Vancouver a couple of years ago. I have also read a few of his books. While it is true that more research must be done to substantiate some of his claims, particularly in the area of telepathy, good evidence is building from people like emeritus social psychologist Daryl Bem from Cornell, and intriguing new evidence from quantum biology, though admittedly, evidence that is still early in the game around quantum smell and vision, although quantum photosynthesis appears to be here to stay. But what fascinates me more, and I have written about it in a book that I've co-authored with a psychiatrist on the subject of the victimization process (a project that has taken seven years to complete, and which is now in final editing), is that science, or should I say scientists, are prone, as are all humans, to experiencing cognitive dissonance when new challenging ideas come along. Sheldrake's morphic resonance theory certainly fits that category. But it is a theory, and as such, it deserves the opportunity to find its legs if only as a placeholder theory until some better theory for explaining overall body plans can come along. Epigenetics may one day do that, but not yet. I am happy to see that TED decided to re-post his talk, even if it was with a cautionary note. I am most familiar with his case, and the manner in which he was excommunicated by Nature Magazine from the Church of Science. Ever since that inglorious incident, his reputation as a scientist has yet to fully recover. In this sense, his is a cautionary tale of what can happen to scientists who dare to push the envelope, even today.
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      Mar 27 2013: thank you for your comment!!!
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      Mar 27 2013: Whoa, independent science writer - is this also what happened to Michael Behe, then? He "dared to push the envelope" (as you put it)? And got 'excommunicated ... from the Church of Science"?

      "Church of Science ..." strikes me as quite a piece of talk. And it rings recognizably in my ear - from studying pseudo-critiques of science spawned and cherished by - the religious right. Our good friends in anti-evolution creationism etc. Knowest thou them?

      Likewise, the exhortation of ideologically-driven representation of science as some kind of cryptic religion, disguised as inquiry - like science is a fraud, a pretense feigning interest in nature and natural phenomena, its theoretical pursuit of explanation actually an ulterior operation - out to destroy inspiration, undermine faith - is a familiar narrative.

      Its the pseudoscientific anti-evolutionary right's exact line - verbatim. Same script - chap and verse.

      When any pov presents that sort of drum-beating caricature of science, all sanctimonious as if science were an ideological movement opposed to genuine interests - whether the tin horn is blaring from old time religion's right fringe (e.g. Bible-inspired) or opposed choirs from the neo left, whichever factions (various obscure little movements in the larger cultic milieu) - I suggest we might sensibly wonder, and in all good reason ask - maybe we're "not in Kansas anymore ..."
      • Mar 27 2013: Brian, are you sure you are being evenhanded here?

        In your 2nd paragraph, don't you say it is bad to compare your opponents to religious believers?

        In your 1st, 3rd, 4th and 5th paragraphs, don't you compare your opponents to religious believers?
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          Mar 28 2013: Conor, I'm not sure how to address that. I think we are applying very different methods, from contrasting perspectives.

          I'm not sure if or how you understand, general level. What information base, what standard for analytic comparison and contrast are you working? I'm utilizing well-known 'right wing' pseudoscience, case studies if you will, as highly informative sources. "Sci" Creationism, Intel-D ... show and tell a lot.

          What does an ideological movement or extremity do and how, when antagonized by scientific findings that skewer its tenets, the authority of its teachings? What type of propaganda, how does it proceed, what are its tactics, strategies etc?

          And what are the vulnerabilities, the exposure points of science - from educational to public presentation to research settings?

          I'm not sure how to follow your line of thought. Its unclear to me how well you understand questions in evidence I'm asking. Perhaps I could explain better, if I knew what your background expertise is - for clues to what terms, what models or foundations of understanding would avail. By way of disclosure, I'm grad degreed in natch sciences (PHD, spec in plant/fungal biol) and social (MA, cultural anthro plus PHD coursework) - also comparative religion (BA).

          I put stuff under microscope, look at it close, applying different tests and methods. The brush strokes. X-ray, UV. Search images, what should we predict depending on what we're testing? My orientation is scientific investigation, research. There's plenty of 'funny business' in the history of science, exploitation of different kinds - object lessons from Piltdown to Castaneda's don Juan, that need to be understood, to realize some of the finer issues.

          The core of issue I find here has two sides, enabling a kind of 'round and round' that awaits vertigo and exhaustion. On one hand - Ideology posturing as philosophy, lack of boundary there. On other, TED might clarify criteria, as Christophe Cop rightly notes.
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    Mar 26 2013: I'm a fan of Rupert Sheldrake. I've read his books and have listened to many of his web video talks on his research. In the interests of balance, I've also read Richard Dawkins books and listened to his talks and TV programmes. I find Rupert's arguments far more convincing, intellectually inspiring, challenging and exciting. To me, Rupert is the very definition of a scientist - open minded, rational, intellectually rigorous, courageous and willing to challenge world views and dogmas.

    Rupert is simply telling the more "certain" scientist that they're (at worst) "naked", or (at best), inappropriately clothed. On a personal level he speaks clearly, in plain, simple language, with good manners and respect - unlike Richard Dawkins who is often rude about anyone who disagrees with his point of view.

    Respect to you Rupert. I hope that powerful and influential people, considerable funding and high quality PhD students beat a path to your door :-)
  • Mar 26 2013: This format that TED has created for discussing this issue is a real head scratcher. Did we really need two weeks of debate on this subject?

    Shouldn't the science board have been part of these discussions? Maybe float some objections out our way so that they can see how they're received? Maybe put some other minds to work on whether these are reasonable or not?

    The way this is set up, we all put in all sorts of comments over an extended period of time and then when it's all done the science board gets the last word. If they cave in and allow the videos back up, then it's all good.

    But what if they come up with a new set of objections and we don't like them? Then what? We haven't had a chance to see them beforehand or discuss them, so they'll be coming out of the blue. We're right back where we started. There are a lot of people covering this. I've tried to make a list of them on one of my blog posts, but it's way outdated by now: (I have 24 listed at the bottom of the post.)

    As Sheldrake pointed out, he has nothing to argue about because the Science board hasn't weighed in.

    It's not like everyone is just going to pack up and go home. No, the fight will continue and a lot of people will still be unhappy with TED.

    This is screwy. This is, of course, crossposted to the Hancock thread.
  • Mar 25 2013: a lot of skeptics/debunkers are calling Rupert Sheldrake "pseudoscientist" because of his research on psi and telepathy. for most skeptics, psi is relegated to pseudoscience. think again.

    i've been sharing this lecture by Dr. Michael Persinger ever since i saw it a couple of years ago. it gives me pleasant sensations to watch "skeptics" and debunkers squirm and contort when faced with this lecture. note that skeptics cannot just dismiss Persinger as a "pseudoscientist" nor call him a quack. the results of Persinger's experiments with the late great psychic Ingo Swann have been published on PubMed. note also that Persinger has already moved beyond the question: "is psi real or not?" Persinger is already way past that debate. for Persinger, psi phenomena is real and can be observed in the lab and replicated. he's already left everyone (debunkers, skeptics, and parapsychologists) in the dust. what he's now trying to do is find the *mechanism* for psi. that's why Persinger is my kind of scientific reductionist. 

    i'd love to see Dr. Persinger present his psi research on TED. it would be a blast to see Jerry Coyne, PZ Myers, and other debunkers and pseudoskeptics contort, squirm, and pull their hair out.

    "Dr Michael Persinger of Laurentian University quickly became the science darling of skeptics and atheists a decade ago with news of his 'God Helmet', which appeared to show that 'sensed presence' of supernatural entities (and/or 'God') may be simply due to magnetic disturbance of the brain. Since then however, Persinger has not made himself an overly attractive science reference for skeptics as he has been involved with, and claims to have achieved positive results in, experimental parapsychology."

    see Persinger's lecture here: http://www.dailygrail.com/Mind-Mysteries/2011/5/Michael-Persinger-No-More-Secrets-Telepathy

    you're welcome.
    • Mar 25 2013: you're right - persinger went of the deep end and this talk would not make any of those skeptics squirm - it would make them giggle.
      • Mar 25 2013: giggle in ignorance, that is. btw, nice to see you here Julian. looking forward to your "skeptical" arguments (hopefully) backed up with solid facts (instead of empty rhetoric).

        btw, in case you haven't read it yet. here's just one of the papers by Persinger published on PubMed. you may call this going "off the deep end." i call it science.

        Remote viewing with the artist Ingo Swann: neuropsychological profile, electroencephalographic correlates, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), and possible mechanisms.

        Persinger MA, Roll WG, Tiller SG, Koren SA, Cook CM.
        Source: Department of Psychology, Laurentian University

        ~ http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12081299
        • Mar 25 2013: I know you call it science, but i wont hold my breath for the peer review and replication that would make it part of the body of real scientific knowledge.
        • Mar 25 2013: @Julian
          The peer-review,publication, replication, subsequent peer-review, and subsequent publication of these effects have all taken place many times over. Thus it is already in the body of scientific knowledge, with the main difference being that there are still many who will dispute its very existence such as you are doing. That, though, will not make it go away. And the fact that there are many, such as yourself, who will continue to deny the (existence of) the evidence, merely shows that, despite your protestations to the contrary, you have zero support for the scientific method when you feel it challenges your philosophical/ideological beliefs.
        • Mar 25 2013: ah ha! so it is a conspiracy! :)

          show me the money steve - where are these replicated, published, peer reviewed studies please.

          also: why is this not bigger news? wait.... conspiracy? suppression?
        • Mar 25 2013: I've already given you the studies. As to why it is not bigger news, it's because there is a massive taboo in academia which has many sources. And if you don't believe there is a taboo, and that it;s dangerous to get involved in such topics, then you'd need to explain what happened to, eg, John Mack. The point being that you will likely find your career ended/compromised unless you are in as secure an academic position as it is possible to be, and even that might not help you.
    • Mar 25 2013: Thanks for this reference. It is excellent. Stanley Krippner, who was the lead investigator on the Maimonides Dream studies, was on my dissertation committee. I am a PhD psychologist who employs the principles of the extended mind in my clinical practice. The 1,000+ cases in my own caseload and the 10,000s of experiences of my colleagues working worldwide, supports Sheldrake's theory of Morphic resonance. The competing model of consciousness being an epiphenomenon of brain activity is contradicted again and again by the accessing of highly detailed and accurate information received telepathically.
      • Mar 25 2013: Dan says: "The 1,000+ cases in my own caseload and the 10,000s of experiences of my colleagues working worldwide, supports Sheldrake's theory of Morphic resonance."

        very interesting. thanks for this info. has it been published in a peer-reviewed science journal yet? any articles on the Internet i can read about this?

        serendipitously, i just read this article about growing human organs. the quote below seems to me can be interpreted as anecdotal evidence suggesting on the plausibility of morphogenetic field. but of course it can also be interpreted as purely biological/genetic mechanism which is still not understood by scientists.

        "Growing a heart is much harder than, say, growing a windpipe, because the heart is so big and has several types of cells, including those that beat, those that form blood vessels, and those that help conduct electrical signals. For a long time, scientists didn't know how to make all the cells grow in the right place and in the right order.

        The problem had been cracked by Dr. Taylor. She said that when human stem cells were put into a heart scaffold in 2010, they seemed to know just where to go. "They organized themselves in a way I didn't believe," said Dr. Taylor, who now works at the Texas Heart Institute but makes regular visits to Madrid to help with the experiments. "It's amazing that the [scaffold] can be as instructional as it is. Maybe we don't need to micromanage every aspect of this.""

        read more: ~ http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424127887323699704578328251335196648.html
      • Mar 25 2013: thanks for the links Dan! will check them out.
    • Mar 25 2013: It's funny, isn't it. Persinger goes from impeccable scientist to lunatic because he gets results some don't want to believe. And so now instead of being a skeptic who was gradually convinced by the evidence as a good scientist should be, he is no longer a proper scientist because the armchair critics have an ideological commitment to the falsity of the claims he is making.
      • Mar 25 2013: persinger goes off the deep end when he makes extraordinary claims without the necessary evidence that's all any of this is about.

        replicate any of this data in a peer reviewed study and he gets a nobel.

        until then he is just another fringe scientists making unlikely claims and being supported by people whi simply want to believe him.
        • Mar 26 2013: No, replicate any of his data in a peer reviewed study and get hounded out or mocked or ignored. This has all been replicated. Here, eg, is a quote that appeared in an article in Quackwatch:

          "Had skeptics said some 40 years ago that all we wanted was reasonable quality replicated research, we might now be having to eat our words."

          Thus, there is the clear admission that sound, replicated results have been produced. And that was in 1998 since when there have been more experiments with the same results and many more replications with ever more stringent controls. The evidence simply won't go away, but since nobody has a theoretical framework to make sense of it it is largely ignored. Thus nobody will be getting a Nobel until we have a sound theory that accounts for the effects seen. And nobody is allowed to put forward a theory because many refuse to acknowledge the evidence because there is no theory. Thus we see the vicious circle of taboo closing round this topic, and a good example of the kind of dogmatic thinking that is sidelining something that is potentially of great importance and that is certainly of great interest.
  • Mar 22 2013: Dear TED,
    I was disturbed by your biased censorship of Rupert Sheldrake's contribution. Sheldrake is a highly respected researcher with formitable credentials! He has collaborated with such greats as David Bohm, one of the fathers of Quantum Physics and QED research. As far back as 1998 Paul Davies and John Gribbon wrote "The Matter Myth".
    Even the well-respected mathematcian and physicst,Sir Roger Penrose has begun tying human consciousness to
    QED energy-information fields. Einstein believed these energy fields to be real, in his own way (remember, "E=MC, squared", where matter and energy are inter-changable. Do you remember what an "=" sign means?).This is not new stuff (except to your so-called "scientific board" that has apparently been sound asleep for over a hundred years now!
    Or, is it that a few crankie mechanistic materialists (who are becoming so very reactionary and insecure, as their cherished beliefs are further and further outdated and marginalized), whine and and complain like insecure children - so loudly that you felt intimidated by them?
    Either way, you have soiled your undies with this foolish censorship of interesting ideas that deserve to be discussed - not squashed!
    I really am hoping that 'TED Talks' don't become 'TED Tanks', and that you find your way back to your original mission purpose. I appreciate you letting me brow-beat you a little. I really do care about TED.

    Jordan Wm. Burrill
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    Mar 22 2013: I doubt TED will be hosting any debates but Rupert has already debated a few of these issues with a pretty tough crowd: Stephen Jay Gould, Daniel Dennett, Oliver Sacks, Freeman Dyson, and Stephen Toulmin: http://www.nautis.com/2007/06/how-do-pigeons-home/

    There is also a 90 minute interview with Sheldrake from the same series here: http://www.nautis.com/2009/08/glorious-accident-interview-with-rupert-sheldrake/.
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      Mar 22 2013: Thanks for posting these. It's hard to imagine the "anonymous 'science' board" stepping up to debate anything with Dr Sheldrake after seeing these talks, lol.
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        Mar 22 2013: I think people forget that Rupert was a director of cell biology at Cambridge, a member of the Royal Society, and published in the journal Nature. I wouldn't want to debate him either. ;-)
      • Mar 22 2013: After the amateur ficticous job TED did of trying to discredit Sheldrake the first time it would be intellectual suicide to try and take him on.

        To quote Prof Stanton Friedman when debating with Skeptic Science "guru" Bill Nye "You have to admire someone who comes on a national television program to debate something they do not know the first thing about and have read none of the literature".

        Sheldrake has made people smarter than the TED Board look like proclaiming fools.
    • Mar 22 2013: Have you seen the list of TED's "Brain Trust"? I wonder if there's some crossover between them and their Science Board. Sheldrake has said he'd be willing to debate any of the members of the TED "Brain Trust" as well. Both Dennett and Steven Pinker are on it- given how opposed both of them are to his ideas I could imagine neither would be too happy with TED having a Sheldrake video on their YouTube channel. Here's the list:
      • Mar 22 2013: Yes as soon as I saw Steven Pinker on the board... it all makes it a little more clearer as to how TED is influenced. Any man that quotes Richard Dawkins as an "influence" is hardly going to give an unbiased scientific view on anything.
        • Mar 22 2013: Whoever is the on the science board, or someone re[presenting them, really should come here and try to make a case. I mean, their first case was fabricated, and their second case was partly fabricated and partly false, so as things stand we have no actual explanation of what it is that gets their goat.
      • Mar 22 2013: I went to a talk by Daniel Dennett last night in London, and heard him saying to Rupert Sheldrake that he thought TED had made a mistake with regard to this whole controversy. Dennett also said he had had nothing to do with the controversy.
        • Mar 22 2013: That's likely because, as a philosopher, Dennett will know that Sheldrake's views on science are quite widely shared in academia, and particularly within philosophy departments. By contrast, not many scientists of the die-hard materialist reductionist cast like philosophy all that much. But then, not too many of them know that much about it. It is, they think, a subject to be waved away with the back of their hand as if all philosophical questions were answered the day we discovered the atomic weight of lead.
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          Mar 22 2013: Guy, since Dennett is on the TED Brain Trust and a staunch proponent of materialism this is fantastic. I wonder if you could go into more detail on this or point to some mention of it online, if there is any.
        • Mar 22 2013: What a decent thing of Dennett to do! Props to Dennett for saying that in public and thanks to Guy Hayward for sharing it here.
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      Mar 22 2013: Thanks for this! I've been trying to find more of this round-table discussion and pointing people to the one good clip from it here, then realized it was on your YouTube channel. Having seen more of it previously on YouTube, I was disappointed not to be able to link to a fuller representation. The stuff on homing pigeons is fantastic.
  • Mar 21 2013: Is TED aware of the irony here? The theme of Sheldrake's presentation was explaining why people shouldn't do exactly what TED just did. Any intelligent and awake person would see this and just laugh at TED for being so unaware to have done this. TED really needs to spend some time grasping the concept of what Sheldrake's presentation was about and then reflect carefully on their actions and motivations.
    • Mar 22 2013: LOL I think it is obvious to all and sundry that the last thing TED did was actually watch Sheldrake's presentation. How could they possibly have watched it and STILL publish the reasons they gave for removing it... when it was so factually false.

      I don't think they had the feintest clue what his presentation was actually about... which makes it all the more laughable.
  • Mar 20 2013: @Chris Anderson & the TED team,
    I don’t agree with all of Dr Sheldrake’s theories, but having read his refutation and comments here and elsewhere, it is now evident that there can be no justification for excluding the Sheldrake talk from TED. Given the interest this talk has sparked, I believe TED should consider more from Sheldrake and similar scientists who dare to challenge the current paradigm.

    I think you (TED) have to consider yourselves to be more like a large eclectic bookshop rather than a publisher. You cannot endorse every presentation and the most controversial are often the most stimulating and valuable. I believe that TED should exclude material that is offensive or dangerous: Sheldrake’s is neither. After all, TED does encompass plenty of conjecture about religious faith, fringe topics like the Aquatic Ape and dubious theoretical concepts like a 12 dimensional universe, multiverse, dark matter and dark energy without losing its integrity as a resource.

    This problem lies with the composition of the anonymous 'science' board. A few appear to be pushing their personal beliefs and distaste over the interests of science. Sheldrake's reasonable questions are uncomfortable for those for whom science is a fixed belief system. Their dogmatic response and quibbling makes them appear to be more like evangelical apologists than rational scientists. This board should be either more balanced or purged of any such extremism including ‘Militant Atheists’ (not atheists), pseudoscientists and fringe promoters, religious fanatics or members of skeptical groups. This would make way for scientists who have been shown to follow a dispassionate, neutral and scientific approach. Those who have also studied philosophy and the history of science tend to have an overall view of science compared with scientists confined to a narrow field. History reminds us that the most outrageous, controversial and ridiculed theories are often part of the science of the next generation.
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    Mar 20 2013: PART THREE

    This kind of very highly developed (“highly mature,” as experts in adult development would say) postformal cognitive intelligence brings forth a different, much broader and complex view of science, and it challenges the clichés that predominate in the formal operational constructions of science by transcending and including their essential elements in a more integral, holistic, comprehensive view. This view itself evolves through time and produces increasingly complex and abundantly mature philosophies, epistemologies, and scientific paradigms (i.e. practices).

    Thus, we have to see that, first and foremost, the question is not whether Rupert Sheldrake crosses the line of science (which science?). The question is that we have to become more aware of both the postformal philosophies of science and the postformal psychologies of scientists themselves (and here is where Rupert Sheldrake as a philosopher and social criticist of science acts spectacularly).

    Sheldrake is not the only one who in the second decade of the 21st century decides to move on and address some of the dogmas of science. Another brilliant thinker Thomas Nagel has authored a book which he named “Mind and Cosmos: Why the Materialist Neo-Darwinian Conception of Nature Is Almost Certainly False” (Oxford University Press). He advances a variation of panpsychism (the idea that consciousness is inherent to the universe), and, of course, the proponents of formal operational science are outraged.

    I think the idea that science is a highly complex endeavor that involves both the objects of scientific inquiries and the subjects that do the inquiry, with the latter being prone to various epistemological prejudices and biases, is an idea worth spreading and investigating.

    Eugene Pustoshkin

    Specialist in clinical psychology (a graduate of St. Petersburg State University, Russia)

    Bureau Chief / Associate Editor for Russia at Integral Leadership Review http://integralleadershipreview.com
    • Mar 20 2013: Thank you Eugene.
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      Mar 20 2013: Very well argued Eugene. In fact, it's so well said I need to do a bit of reading to fully comprehend you. I can, for example, guess what formal-operational thinking is but I'd rather have an explicit definition. Your references should serve that purpose. Thanks.
      • Mar 20 2013: Sabastian you can start with Wilber's work. Eugene is brilliant and has translated quite a bit of Wiber's work into Russian. A Brief History of Everything is a good place to start, it's where I began.
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        Mar 20 2013: Thank you, Sebastian! Formal operational cognition is a classical stage researched by Jean Piaget, one of the most famous developmental psychologists of 20th century.

        You can read some introductory information here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Piaget's_theory_of_cognitive_development#Formal_operational_stage Note that Piaget studies the development of children, while there is a field of adult developmental psychology which found that humans can continue psychological development in adulthood into what is called postformal stages (because they come after formop or formal operations). Various researchers call these stages differently (dialectical thinking, network-logic, vision-logic, etc.).

        One of the best sources on the overall adult development theory, in my opinion, can be found in the works of Susanne Cook-Greuter (she’s done her doctorate research at Harvard). Google her official website, much of her work can be downloaded there.
    • Mar 20 2013: Bringing development into this discussion is a vital move. I have not read in these ongoing debates about an acknowledgement of adult development. Stages of development as a model shows that how we interpret a person, or an idea comes from a certain level or “holarchy” as it is referred to in Integral theory(see Ken Wilber). Pustoshkin is pointing out that Sheldrake is not throwing traditionalist science out and replacing it with his own brand of science. No, Sheldrake is showing/telling us a challenging view on the areas in which the realm of science effects everyday, rote understanding of our world. That in which we take “for granted.”

      The adage, “You can prove anything with facts” should be taken seriously. This is clearly shown to be true by the TEDx and TED authorities, and their followers. However, if facts are testable and measurable then isn’t it in the best interest of humanity to review that evidence? What kind of research has Sheldrake done? Clearly, if one were to look into what Sheldrake has done there would be evidence of scientific research. It is the glory of empirical data!

      Sheldrake should be added to the pantheon of scientific theory and theorists.

      Thanks again Eugene!

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        Mar 20 2013: Thank you, Scott!

        Incidentally, a colleague sent me a reference to a recent article published in peer-reviewed Journal of Consciousness Studies which seems to support Sheldrake’s questioning regarding consciousness being merely a byproduct of the material substrate of the brain:

        Non-local Consciousness A Concept Based on Scientific Research on Near-Death Experiences During Cardiac Arrest

        Pim van Lommel

        Journal of Consciousness Studies. Jan/Feb2013, Vol. 20 Issue 1/2, p7-48. 42p.


        “In this article a concept of non-local consciousness will be described, based on recent scientific research on near-death experiences (NDEs). Since the publication ofseveral prospective studies on NDEs in survivors of cardiac arrest, with strikingly similar results and conclusions, the phenomenon of the NDE can no longer be scientifically ignored. In the last thirty years several theories have been proposed to explain an NDE. The challenge to find a common explanation for the cause and content of an NDE is complicated by the fact that an NDE can be experienced during various circumstances, such as severe injury of the brain as in cardiac arrest to conditions when the brain seems to function normally. The NDE is an authentic experience which cannot be simply reduced to imagination, fear of death, hallucination, psychosis, the use of drugs, or oxygen deficiency. Patients appear to be permanently changed by an NDE during a cardiac arrest of only some minutes duration. According to these aforementioned studies, the current materialistic view of the relationship between consciousness and the brain as held by most physicians, philosophers, and psychologists is too restricted for a proper understanding of this phenomenon. There are good reasons to assume that our consciousness does not always coincide with the functioning of our brain: enhanced or non-local consciousness can sometimes be experienced separately from the body.”
        • Mar 21 2013: Pim van Lommel came to one conclusion and one conclusion only, that there seemed to be consciousness from patients who showed no brain activity on equipment that was monitoring the patient.

          That is all. Of course you can speculate that perhaps consciousness is not localized in the brain, just as you can speculate that perhaps the instruments do not monitor all brain activity (activity known to us yet to be discovered)

          Of course NDA can not be ignored. Why would it. But that does not mean the possible explanations are facts.
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      Mar 21 2013: Thanks Eugene
      I appreciate your well reasoned framings of the TEDx Sheldrake discussion within an Integral context.

      As I've read the stream of postings since TED's first intervention, I have been struck with what a perfect Case History (for studying paradigm shifts) has been created. Such a Case Study has the data here to examine through an integrating lens:
      1. the inteded focus(?) of the discussion
      2. the TED comments
      3. the TED actions
      4. the TED curatorial policies and practices
      5. the subscriber comments, belief systems, worldviews +++
      6. Sheldrake's talk, comments, philosophy

      It seems to me there is massive confusion because of the (mostly undifferentiated) mixture of :

      Ontologies: (subjective, intersubjective, objective, interobjective)
      Epistemologies: (subjective, intersubjective, objective, interobjective)
      Scales: individuals, organizations, collectives, cultures
      Developmental Psychologies: subject/object maturities
      Levels of discourse development: modern, post-modern, post-post modern
      Value systems: systematic, strategic, social, systemic (not to mention espoused and lived)
      Worldviews: ego, ethno, eco, global
      Typologies: as filtering mechanisms for what is noticed
      Change States: calm, agitated, defiant, blocked +++

      With such a mixture of Intentions, Actions, Cultures, Systems and an explosion of energy from all involved we have a perfect storm of dissonance AND a spectrum of perspectives - each offering a partial view of reality.

      It is for this reason that I support Eugene's suggestion that we consider Kegan's & Wilber's approaches to understanding the qualities of our messengers, and the substance of our messages and Beck's approach to emerging coherence from the Tower of Babel we have constructed before our very eyes. With an Integral Methodology to curate the discussion, perhaps, we could recover the dignities and let go of the disasters in our meme war? Now those ideas would be worth spreading imho.

      Marilyn Hamilton PhD, CGA, CSP
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        Mar 21 2013: Thank you, Marilyn!

        You provide a great framework for considering all the numerous perspectives that are involved in the panoramic picture of these events.

        This is important in order to be able to differentiate various undercurrents and make informed decisions regarding our interpretations and further actions in this and most other cases.
      • Mar 21 2013: TED did this with other speakers they removed. But for some reason with mr Hancock and mr Sheldrake they don't.
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    Mar 19 2013: Shame on you, TED!

    As a Buddhist priest, I am naturally opposed to any kind of mind-altering drug BUT I am MORE opposed to discrimination and censorship!

    I feel deeply disappointed to discover that TED seems to have started censoring talks that do not match up to the "scientific dogma" of the "scientific advisors". Shame on you! There is no need to open separate spaces for discussions of controversial issues - let it all hang out in the open!

    No need for "fresh takes" and "separate discussions" - let the debate go on!

    "Science" does not need to be treated as a religion, and TED does not have to excommunicate "heritics" just because they don't follow the ruling dogma of the present age. With all the falsified studies funded by commercial interests, can we truly trust this ruling dogma any more than we can trust the "superstitions" of past ages?

    Ideas worth spreading should also be ideas that instigate, provoke and lead to deeper questionings!

    Open debate on the regular pages - no tricky censorship-style antics, please.
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      Mar 19 2013: Censorship?! Come now. These are talks that were widely criticized on scientific grounds. The simple thing to do would have been to take them down without comment. Instead we have posted the talks where they are available for anyone in the world to watch free of charge. And have invited people to engage in a respectful conversation about them.

      This is the opposite of censorship.

      We've gambled on fair-minded people turning this into a constructive conversation. I so hope this proves to be the case. Thanks.
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        Mar 19 2013: Chris, I agree that we should leave this charge of censorship behind us and move on to a more productive discussion.

        In that light, can you expound on the wide criticism you reference? Perhaps those who did the criticizing could contribute something to the discussion here.
      • Mar 19 2013: With all due respect, you are bordering on the delusional now... What happened is unbelievable by most standards of civilised societies. It is really sad
      • Mar 19 2013: "Widely criticized" by and anonymous "science board."

        There is no discussion here. At a ration of about 100 to 1, commenters believe that you made the wrong move. Moreover no real reply has been made either to Sheldrake's or Hancock's powerful responses to the flimsy and largely dishonest initial criticism of their talks.

        I'm sorry but you're just in the wrong on this one. If you want to talk about "fair-minded people" with any legitimacy then you're going to have to apologize and replace the videos.

        I hope this proves to be constructive...
      • Mar 19 2013: I don’t necessarily support all of Sheldrake and Hancock’s views, but I do abhor all forms of censorship.

        Yes, censorship, Chris. You've relegated these videos to another more obscure page (where the links to the Vimeo-page is broken) and then pre-framing it with your own bias (read: worldview) away from where the public can easily access it and in the process robbed it of its initial public momentum where an “idea” could have been spread based on its own worthiness judged democratically/publicly. How can you possibly fit that into your own stated standards of openness?

        Of course you’ve got the “brand” to think about first, right? But don’t you then ever dare claim that you support real scientific progress. Wasn’t the event at Whitechapel ironically titled ‘Challenging Existing Paradigms’?

        TED has basically made itself guilty of conflating “science” with “worldview.” Science is a method. Your worldview is the certain and particular assumptions you accept regarding the investigation into reality and in which you then (hopefully) chose to practice the method of science on in so far as technological advancement can afford you to do at any point in time.

        Moreover, how exactly is this encouraging “open debate”? By re-posting the clips with a preface basically warning “Everything you’re about to see is actually baloney”? How can you possibly not realize that this is a shameful attempt at reputation assassination?

        Sheldrake is a Cambridge and Harvard educated scientist who publishes in peer reviewed journals. I've seen very little sense of decency from TED’s side the last couple of days. But now "respectful conversation" is implored...

        Where’s the proof that these “talks were widely criticized on scientific grounds”? Are there any links to the blogs of those on your mythical “Science Board”? What’s TED’s real stance on transparency then if their “Science Board” hides behind anonymity? No, it’s not so “obvious”. Please will you elaborate on how it is so “obvious?
      • Mar 19 2013: So essentially, separate but equal, eh Chris?

        We can split hairs over semantics, but the vast majority of the TED community that has participated in this conversation -- at your behest -- is in agreement that what you have done is at least a soft form of censorship. It is true that TED is a private organization, but its own claims of "radical openness" are what rightly open it to these criticisms.

        To argue that this is not censorship is akin to saying that making someone use a separate water fountain because of their race isn't racist. Because at least they can still get a drink of water, so why are they complaining, right?

        I have immense respect for TED's body of work to date, and have been a longtime fan of your work. Heck, I even wrote college papers on your books, 'The Long Tail,' and 'Free.' That's what makes this feel like such a slap in the face.

        The only explicit arguments TED have made against these presentations have been abundantly refuted. You have now split and segmented this conversation at least twice, while failing to properly respond to either speaker's thoughtful rebuttal, and have almost entirely ignored the will of your community, which has spoken quite clearly.

        TED has, for a long time, been one of the most valuable pieces of social capital to emerge from the Internet. I implore you to protect that, swallow your pride, and honor the values of this remarkable enterprise you have helped to create.
      • Mar 19 2013: I also urge you to consider that if a diverse community of people didn't have so much respect for TED , and value it so highly, you would not be deluged with such an overwhelming and passionate response.
      • Mar 19 2013: The opposite of censorship would be to put the talks back where they were - as the community has almost unanimously suggested several times. This could be justified by the fact that you have been unable to come up with any serious complaint against either talk that can withstand even the slightest scrutiny. And so, if I may make a suggestion: if you spent half the time you spend complaining about the word "censorship" on actually remedying your appalling treatment of these two men (eg, apology for the misleading/false/defamatory remarks your science board misled you into publishing, and reinstating the videos as per the clear community view and on account of your inability to find any serious flaws in them), then you would quickly find the claims of censorship would cease. altogether.
      • Mar 19 2013: But you did intend to censor them. You intended to delete them. This is evident in the email sent to the TEDx organisers.

        It was only after the fact that you made a concession, and even then it was prefaced by falsehoods. Falsehoods which you have failed to apologise for.
      • Mar 19 2013: @ Chris Anderson, This section is closing for comments in two weeks, so please, tell us more about how this isn't censorship. You've removed these two videos from YouTube where they could have been debated in perpetuity and quarantined them in increasingly obscure locations. They CLOSE for comments in two weeks. So tell me again, one more time, how you're not censoring anything. And please, try to say it with a straight face. I dare ya.
        • Mar 29 2013: @Time Walker, Editorialship or moderation necessitates a standard applied which serves to exclude. Censorship is a biased action taken on the part of a state against a citizen regarding expression. The two are different categories. Mr. Sheldrake is free to express himself elsewhere, and the videos are remaining up but without the implied endorsement of TED as viable scientific considerations.

          We might wonder how and why it was that TED was convinced that exponents such as Hancock and Sheldrake might present something salient and reliable, who provided them with assurance that their science board would feel comfortable with these individuals' assertions and hypotheses.
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        Gail .

        • +5
        Mar 20 2013: Chris: Sheldrake's talks are supported by (based on) evidence (not proof - in case you don't know the difference). The problem is with the inadequately educated TED board that doesn't like the direction that studies into consciousness are taking us. But evidence is evidence - even if TED doesn't like it.

        No adequately educated person would make so many mistakes in its reasoning for removing Sheldrake's talk. No educated person of even small degree would make the claim that TED is not censoring anything. Such a claim proves that there are great problems with the TED board's agenda.
      • Mar 29 2013: @ Satanist Mufti, You write: "Editorialship or moderation necessitates a standard applied which serves to exclude. Censorship is a biased action taken on the part of a state against a citizen regarding expression. The two are different categories."

        You are simply incorrect. Censorship is undertaken by private entities all the time. Television networks, for instance, have censors whose job it is to ensure that nothing is broadcast that violates their policies, whatever they may be. Some censorship is reasonable. Generally it's done BEFORE something airs. And often their reasoning is as risible and out of step with the public interest as TED's decision here.

        You appear to be confusing the use of the term censorship with free speech or First Amendment infringement. No one is claiming that TED as a private entity is interfering with anyone's right to free speech -- only that they made a censorship call and a ridiculous one.
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      Mar 19 2013: this is a lot of anger for a buddhist priest.
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        Mar 19 2013: No, no anger - just disappointment with TED.
        I live in a country where there was censorship during my first years of residence. It could be recognized by recipies and other "strange" material appearing in the wierdest places of the newspaper, like the editorial page. Some people who disagreed with the regime simply disappeared, others went into exile until democratic process was restored. So I do have some familiarity with what censorship is. Nowday, with democracy, "pandemonium" reigns - how wonderful!

        To my mind, any time a person or a group feels the need to remove material (or people) that doesn't fit the ruling dogma, or shift them into unusual locations, there is some kind of censorship going on. There are various kinds of censorship, ranging from open, direct censoring to subtle strategies aimed to reduce access ou even discourage it.

        If I understand correctly, first you took the talks down (direct, open censorship), then changed them over to an unusual location - that's an "exiling" and subtle censorship. From what I understand, these controversial talks are no longer kept on the main sections of TED. Am I mistaken? It looks sort of like hiding the embarassing family member away in a back room... .

        As I said, "science" should not be treated like a religion. "Scientific truths" are constantly changing. Serious scholars swore that no such thing as bacteria exist, airplanes could never fly, steamships were impossible, we could never get to the moon or survive in outer space, computers were a useless invention, etc etc etc. How many proposals were heavily criticized be leading figures, only to eventually turn into proven realities? Just in the last 100 years, how many inventors and researchers were considered lunatics before their inventions or theories won acceptance?

        Until now, I always though of TED as a place where provocative discussions were "mainstream" - so why have these been exiled to a non-mainstream location?

        Let the debate rage on, mainstream!
      • Mar 21 2013: Buddhists are human beings. We feel anger, in fact often greater anger than most because we sense so keenly the injustices of the world, such as this attempt by TED to stifle debate, bury this issue and deny the spiritual debates on consciousness that dearly need to happen in the scientific world. The flip side of anger is compassion, and so we also work hard at transforming our anger into compassion for such people as the scientific board of TED who in their arrogance, think they have attained what they have not. Such people were called False Arhats, by Shakyamuni Buddha - people who pretend to be wise when they are not, people who fawn over others who have power, people who try to stifle debate and people who lead others down the wrong path. TED and their boards are these people. But people like these, never win in the end.
    • Mar 20 2013: hats off to the Buddhist Priest. very eloquently put. i just wanted to say that.
  • Mar 19 2013: TED, you drag these talks from one debate to the other, still focussing on whether they are "pseudoscience", which distracts from the real problem. Your science board has enough data (the talks themselves and additional responses provided) to make a clear case for or against the talks being pseudoscience. Check the statements in questions, check the facts, follow them where they lead, and stand by whatever you find. This is not the real problem here.

    It's this: If you were able to make a clear case for taking these talks down because they're PS, you would have done so by now. But instead of doing the only logical thing, leaving/putting them back with the other talks and supporting them with clear arguments against allegations made by Myers, Coyne etc. - you refuse to make a stand and delegate the decision to the public. But what more do you want to hear ? You have multiple comment threads, exceeding in total far more than 1000 comments on the matter, you have detailled and in case of Sheldrake exceptional replies by the speakers - it's up to you to make a decision, and deal with the consequences.

    You can't please eberybody, so what's it going to be ? Please man up and make a decision, instead of inviting us to state the same points we already made over and over, until everybody runs out of steam and this whole things blows over.
  • Apr 2 2013: The "The debate about Rupert Sheldrake’s talk" says that "TED’s scientific advisors [..] believe there is little evidence for some of Sheldrake’s more radical claims, such as his theory of morphic resonance"

    a. Sheldrake's talk praises science as a method, but criticises "science" as a belief system. So it is unfortunate, or ironic, that TED’s scientific advisors seem to follow the scientific "belief" system.

    b. "Little evidence" is not the same as "no evidence", In fact, most new ideas begin with "little evidence",or is it more accurate to say "some evidence".

    c. Sheldrake describes morphic resonance as a "hypothesis", not a theory, so not even he "believes" it.

    Whether or not you accept some of Sheldrake's ideas, he does come across as more scientific and reasonable than the TED scientific board and advisors.
  • Mar 27 2013: TED,
    Thank you for censoring this talk. Had you not censored it, there would have been no controversy, and I never would have heard of it. But you did, and so I heard about it and watched it and found his talk quite compelling! Your act of censoring his talk ironically reinforced his assertion that the field of science contains powerful dogmatists that hold back inquiry. Do what scientists are supposed to do: refute. Sheldrake is clearly no dummy: his articulate hypotheses deserve more refutation than one fact-free dismissive sentence.
    • Mar 27 2013: Well said

      and as the debate rages on ....and the "click/hits" accumulate so TED can say to potential sponsors "look how popular we are" ( current rating 215 out of 500 most popular) this has turned into a BIGefit to TED …and little else. Also note that TED in it self description does not claim to be a specifically “science” site ….other then that narrow band classified as “applied science,” under the “Technical” banner.

      The bottom line kicker here is that in the publication “New Yorker” last summer articles titled “Is TED all Talk?” the reporter included a report of a “spoon bender’ demonstrating his abilities among the crowds of $7000.00 (plus) paying TED attendees. This demonstration was observed and reported. This seems to go counter to those that are anti-everything about "What I say is Truth" at TED

      It seems the New Yorker was spot on and ahead of the pack in its reporting.
      • Mar 27 2013: TED's trust-us-he's-wrong response sure affirms Sheldrake's claim of dogmatism!
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    Mar 26 2013: I listened to Rupert Sheldrake's talk, and I did not hear even one sentence that is demonstrably false. Some of the sentences were admittedly speculation or opinion, and they were all stated in the context of suggesting that would be a good field for further study. Every single accusation of "pseudoscience" is just plainly bogus. "There is no there there" to any of the charges against Sheldrake.
  • Mar 26 2013: (Response to 'Jimmy Randy')

    I identified several logical fallacies in Julian's posts before I gave up trying to correct them.

    1. Onus Probandi. Julian says the burden of proof is on Sheldrake to justify morphic resonance. Unfortunately for Julian, this entire discussion is not about morphic resonance but about Sheldrake's presentation. The burden thus falls to TED and Sheldrake's detractors to present justification for their mistreatment of Sheldrake.

    2. Conflation. Julian fails to acknowledge the difference between the scientific method and philosophy of science.

    3. Misrepresenting the facts. Julian trivializes idealism, dualism, anything not specifically materialistic, as being "on the wrong side" of the evidence. Unfortunately for Julian, his attempts to defend materialism reveal him to be a dualist.

    4. Straw man. Julian mischaracterizes those who question materialist principles as having an "agenda" whereby science will be corrupted by spiritualism.

    5. Bandwagon fallacy. Julian asserts the truth of materialism -- that it has been proven by science -- is evidenced by its ascendent position among mainstream scientists.

    6. Equivocation. Julian objects to characterizing materialism as mechanistic because it's a "monstrous" and "nonsensical caricature" even though it is consistent with the language employed by materialist proponents.

    7. Psychologist's fallacy. Julian makes statements presupposing to know Sheldrake's motivations.

    8. Ignoratio elenchi. Julian makes a tirade against imaginary positions that no one holds in at least one instance. ("biology is amazing, consciousness is extraordinary, even without an immaterial soul, pantheistic spirit, paranormal powers or creationist faith.")

    9. Guilt by association. Julian attempts to (I assume) discredit Sheldrake by associating him with the likes of "chopra, mctaggart, wallace etc" for reasons that are unclear to me.

    10. Faulty analogy. Julian continues to equate openness to evidence with being creationist.
    • Comment deleted

      • Mar 26 2013: He quoted Julian 4 times.
      • Mar 26 2013: There were so many I couldn't be bothered to list them all; I just stopped when I ran out of room.

        Here are quotes:

        1. "but sheldrake explicitly makes scientific claims and these are to be assessed on scientific grounds. the burden of proof is 100% on him. the rest is just noise."

        2. "scientific materialism is what science has discovered, not what science set out to prove." and "the entire history of science is the basis for materialism." and "science has not been studying matter it has been studying everything and so far it turns out we live in a material universe." and "because he and his ilk don't have good evidence for what they want to believe, their only recourse is to try and discredit scientific method itself." etc.

        3. "quantum physics does not support either dualism or idealism." and then "consciousness reduces causally but not ontologically to the brain."

        4. "the ten dogmas turned into ten questions... tries to sneak in a dualist, idealist and creationist agenda through the faux respectable door os pseudo-intellectualism." and "not sure what the controversy is, unless one has a supernatural quasi religious agenda."

        5. "science has brought us to a picture of a materialist reality. it's just what the evidence shows." and "if the data ever goes elsewhere so will the view of scientists and the science literate."

        6. "this is just a nonsensical caricature. who wouldn't agree that this is monstrous? easy rhetorical straw man. scientists don't think we are machines."

        7. "sheldrake is dishonest" and "this is not only completely inappropriate and dishonest, it also seeks to erase the differences between science and religion, the massive breakthrough represented by scientific method, and in so doing, elevate unevidenced religious, paranormal and magical claims to being on a par with those based in evidence and reason." and "sheldrake is probably just trying to open a loophole for paranormal explanations"
      • Mar 26 2013: 9. "there is a broader agenda that he is part of and folks like chopra, mctaggart, wallace etc" and "he (and others like chopra and b. allan wallace)" and "so to with sheldrake, chopra, and those with their agenda."

        10. "This again is not so different than climate change deniers, and creationists saying their free speech is being suppressed" and "not unlike creationists and climate change deniers it is this attempt to lean on the extreme relativist sensitivity that wants all claims to be seen as equal and given equal airtime and if they aren't this is bias." and "the examples i have given a few times here about climate change and creationism stil stand - there is a problem when one acedes to claims that all points of view should be given equal air time or else be accused of censorship or bias."

        EDIT: These quotes are by no means exhaustive.
    • Mar 26 2013: Daniel Dennett: "I think we philosophers should help people get over their anxiety about being machines, since it is no longer possible to deny it, unless one chooses to be weirdly uninformed. Logically, there are two possibilities: diminish our sense of self-worth because we discover we are machines, or raise our appreciation of the power of machines because we discover we are machines."
      • Mar 26 2013: I don't agree with Dennett, but at least he comes out and takes the argument to its logical conclusion. And although I don't agree with it, at least he made an attempt to explain consciousness in his book, "Consciousness Explained."

        He at least knows what he is defending.
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        Mar 26 2013: Hey, Conor O'Higgins and Craig Weiler: I know of a well-documented, significant and witnessed case of one researcher who left Dennett speechless and embarrassed in front of an audience, because he couldn't support his assertions. Consider reading the Foreword to Russell Targ's book, "The Reality of ESP," if you like. I'm not selling here. I do this for compassionate sport, camaraderie and the nature of reality when it pleases me.
        • D S

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          Mar 26 2013: Now I'm intrigued. Is the account featured in the Foreword to Targ's book?
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        Mar 26 2013: D S: Page xv of the Foreword. I wouldn't characterize it as "featured." It's simply a part of the eight-ish page Foreword. AND if and when you read it, bear in mind I believe it's never appropriate, under any circumstances, to shred anyone for their thought or actions. That makes it unnecesarily personal, disguises what's *really* going on, makes it hard to get to the truth, and disallows the possibility that people can and do change to adjust for reality. You are not your thoughts, actions or business card. You are mostly your own interpretation of yourself.
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        Mar 26 2013: D S; Having just been told by Joe Anderson, another TED commenter, that Daniel Dennett is part of TED's Brain Trust, I wondered if I might save you the trouble of looking up what I mentioned? From Russell Targ's book, "The Realities of ESP," is this section of its Foreword by Stephan A. Schwartz on page xv:

        "Along with Ed May, I once debated with Daniel Dennett, a prominent critic of ESP research, at an event produced by ABC News for station news staffs and station managers. We debated along for about thirty minutes, with Dennett making dismissive and disparaging remarks to anything Ed or I said, but always in generalities. Finally I said to him: 'Let's pick an experiment we both know, and you tell me what it wrong with it, and I will respond.' Without a moment's hesitation he shot back in the most deliberately condescending act I have ever witnessed, saying, 'You don't actually think I read this stuff, do you?' There was a moment's silence, the laughter began, first as giggles, then as chuckles, and finally, as guffaws. It suddenly dawned on Dennett what he had said. He blushed and sat down, and left as soon as he could."

        This passage should give anyone a clear indication about why TED opted to remove Hancock's and Sheldrake's talks from YouTube, and also don't feature these supposed "debates" on TED's home page. It's at this point that I'd suggest that anyone hoping TED will ever stage a debate with Sheldrake or Hancock is very unlikely. If people want uncensored ideas worth spreading they *might* be forced to find them in spaces other than TED's.
        • D S

          • +1
          Mar 27 2013: Absolutely stunning. But, sadly, all too familiar. Good point on the (slim) potential for a debate. Sheldrake, unlike his detractors/accusers, is actually versed on the literature.

          Thanks for the info and for taking the time to post it!
    • Comment deleted

      • Mar 26 2013: I find your reply highly ironic given that you have not bothered substantiating in the slightest any of your critical claims that myself and others have been employing "fallacious reasoning" in defending Sheldrake; it's especially ironic that you would claim my post "doesn't count" after accusing me of appealing to "made up rules" (of which I remain ignorant; read our exchange here: http://www.ted.com/conversations/17189/the_debate_about_rupert_sheldr.html?c=634174).

        When confronted with criticism, you resort to simply aping your opponent. If you have substantiated arguments to make, then make them. TED has expressed a wish that some champion of their cause would enter the debate and vindicate their decision. So far, this has not happened.
  • Mar 29 2013: There is absolutely no reason why they should have been banned or removed. That is absurd. Attacking an area that we know close to nothing about IS science. Being stubborn is not. That was a good talk and it is no secret that mainstream science has become an ignorant belief system rather than actual science. Those who think we know everything, or remotely close to it, are in the same boat as the religious ones who ignored science from day one. No difference.
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    Mar 21 2013: Philip Stevens did his MSc dissertation on Sheldrake, looking not at whether his ideas were right or wrong, but how he was treated - whether fairly or unfairly - by the scientific community. It's an interesting read, and makes it clear that, like here at TED, Sheldrake has been historically mistreated. Many have likely heard about the "book burning" review of A New Science of Life in Nature by its editor John Maddox. Stevens cites a quote from Maddox, twelve years afterwards, which sums it up nicely: “Dr Sheldrake is putting forward magic instead of science and that can be condemned in exactly the language that the Popes used to condemn Galileo, and for the same reason: it is heresy.”

    I think this examination by Stevens is particularly germane to the matter at hand. You can find a link to his dissertation, and an interview with Stevens, here: http://goo.gl/cCwVE
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      Mar 21 2013: Thanks for pointing to this. I had not heard of it. Very cool.
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    Mar 21 2013: I'm sure many of you have seen the newly posted "letter to the TEDx community on TEDx and bad science" (http://bit.ly/14dbyE0). Good science is defined by TED as essentially respectability and academic conformity. This would ban most parapsychology and alternative medical research at a stroke. This criteria would also have disqualified Albert Einstein, who in his great creative year of 1905 was working as a patent clerk in Zurich and his work would have failed these tests:

    It is based on theories that are discussed and argued for by many experts in the field
    It is backed up by experiments that have generated enough data to convince other experts of its legitimacy
    Its proponents are secure enough to accept areas of doubt and need for further investigation
    It does not fly in the face of the broad existing body of scientific knowledge
    The proposed speaker works for a university and/or has a PhD or other bona fide high level scientific qualification

    This is hard to believe, really. It's the opposite the free market of ideas. In business, capital markets are based on innovation and radically different thinking - in fact, it's always the new, new thing that pushes the market forward. What TED has outlined is not a recipe for innovative thinking - this is a recipe for dogma and status quo. Playing it safe does not work for long in business and I doubt it will work out well here either.

    I've been a big TED fan since the Wurman days. This whole chain of event and the reaction by TED leadership has left me completely baffled.
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    Mar 19 2013: Anger? No, no anger. Disappointment, yes.

    I live in a country where there was censorship during my first years of residence. It could be recognized by recipies and other such material appearing in the strangest places of the newspaper, like the editorial page. Some people who disagreed with the regime simply disappeared, others went into exile until democratic process was retored. So I do have some familiarity with what censorship is.

    To my mind, any time a person or a group feels the need to remove material (or people) that doesn't fit the ruling dogma, or shift them into unusual locations, there is some kind of censorship going on. There are various kinds of censorship, ranging from open, direct censoring to subtle strategies aimed to reduce access ou even discourage it.

    If I understand correctly, first you took the talks down (direct, open censorship), then changed them over to an unusual location - that's an "exiling" and subtle censorship. From what I understand, these controversial talks are no longer kept on the main sections of TED. Am I mistaken? It looks sort of like hiding the embarassing family member away in a back room... .

    As I said, "science" should not be treated like a religion. "Scientific truths" are constantly changing. Serious scholars swore that no such thing as bacteria exist, airplanes could never fly, steamships were impossible, we could never get to the moon or survive in outer space, computers were a useless invention, etc etc etc. How many proposals were heavily criticized be leading figures, only to eventually turn into proven realities? Just in the last 100 years, how many inventors and researchers were considered lunatics before their inventions or theories won acceptance?

    Up until now, I always though of TED as a place where provocative discussions were "mainstream" - so why have these been exiled to a non-mainstream location?

    As I said before, let the debate rage on - mainstream ! No need to hide
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    Mar 19 2013: TEDSTAFF writes:TED’s scientific advisors have questioned whether his list is a fair description of scientific assumptions — indeed, several of the dogmas are actually active areas of science inquiry (including whether physical ‘constants’ are really unchanging) — and believe there is little evidence for some of Sheldrake’s more radical claims, such as his theory of morphic resonance, and claim that the speed of light has been changing.

    1.)His 'hypothesis' of morphic resonance is a straw man in this discussion i believe. This talk is not about his hypothesis. He mentions it in relationship to a point philosophically, but he could have also mentioned many hypothesis, and theories in science, that are either on the frills or questionable. His point is that because of a certain mindframe that guides science and many educated people, science is stopped into valid inquiry into many phenomenon that does not appear accountable in materialism.

    Question for TEDSTAFF. Is it fair to use Sheldrake's work in the past to judge the value of his current talk even though they are not related?

    2.) Sheldrake does not clam that the speed of light is changing. He uses an example of recorded changes in the speed of light at a certain point in history to highlight how inquiring into the value of a fixed speed is never questioned. He gave quite a detailed rebuttal to Sean Carrol's 'debunking' and I believe that it is TEDSTAFF's fair duty hear to allow Sheldrake to talk this through with a reasoned and experienced party. It does not appear to me that TED has a grasp of the actual argument in question and is unable to frame their position.
  • Mar 19 2013: TED claims they relied on two things to remove the talks, one of which was the advice of an anonymous Board of Scientific Advisers. TED says this board did their due diligence- if this is true how do they account for the fact Sheldrake convincingly demolished the accusations they so confidently made against him? The first thing I would do to avoid this happening again is to get some new people on that board; someone like Dean Radin would be a good start. Because really, this board has done TED no favors up until this point. In fact, they've done a lot of damage and cost you a ton of goodwill.

    Ted also says they depend on a set of guidelines. These guidelines are far too rigid and not compatible with TED's stated goal of adopting a "broad interpretation" of the phrase "ideas worth spreading". Similarly, the guidelines seem to contradict the understanding TED says they have that sometimes "scientific assumptions get turned upside down". Frankly, the guidelines as they currently exist give the impression that anything that's not mainstream should be considered anathema. Set aside your pride and please do the right thing- issue a public apology and restore the videos to YouTube, where they will be seen and shared by the largest possible audience. End this ridiculous segregation. And remove any prejudicial warning, which is likely to turn viewers against the speakers before they even have a chance to hear them- it smacks of a scared attempt to keep minds shut, which we can all agree is not what TED should be about. Please respect the fact I don't need someone from TED trying to tell me how to think. I want to go back to being a TED fan, but the longer you drag this out the less likely that is to happen.
  • Mar 24 2013: On a positive note, so many of you have made me realize there's a whole community of people who are exploring the real frontiers of science and thought, who believe that it is our birthright to explore what may be outside the acceptable parameters of mainstream scientific thought, and that it is important that marginalized voices be heard and the ideas discussed. We don't all agree, but many of us are fascinated by new discoveries and insights and are disillusioned or unsatisfied with orthodox explanations because they are failing us.

    Thank you all first giving me hope that maybe, just maybe, the jig is up for the pseudo-skeptics. Time for science to truly be set free from dogmatic thinking.
    • Mar 24 2013: >Time for science to truly be set free from dogmatic thinking.

      Like requiring evidence before we think something exists? Grr those stuffy scientists demanding that someone have evidence before they make assertions about the nature of reality.

      • Mar 24 2013: Hi again Matt. There's plenty of evidence for the sorts of things Sheldrake suggests. Have you read any of his peer reviewed papers or picked up a book by him or someone like Dean Radin? I hope you don't live in a bubble where the only voices you listen to when it comes to these issues are those that seem to confirm your prejudice. Sheldrake has made available much of his work online for free at his website. He also has audio of things like debates with skeptics there. If you'd like to take a look at some of the research just go here:
      • Mar 24 2013: Matt, "requiring evidence before we think something exists" isn't dogmatic thinking, it's a crucial part of the method. What is an example of dogmatic thinking is saying, for example, that something is not worth investigating because we know it can't exist, even though there is evidence to the contrary.
      • Mar 24 2013: ">Time for science to truly be set free from dogmatic thinking.

        Like requiring evidence before we think something exists? Grr those stuffy scientists demanding that someone have evidence before they make assertions about the nature of reality."

        I applaud your point that science should demand evidence before accepting a worldview. Sheldrake's message is that we should stop dogmatically accepting unsubstantiated claims like nomology, Platonism and epiphenomenalism. Instead, let's question them and see how well they stand up to openminded inquiry.
      • Mar 24 2013: Exactly, Matt.... Stuffy stuffy dogmatic evidence loving closed minded experimenter forming reason applying deniers of magical thinking and my favorite literalized myths about reality!
  • Mar 23 2013: The issue I have with the criticism of the ted talk is it doesn't seem to be based on a proper analysis of the actual content for example the latest text from Ted refers to:

    "and claim that the speed of light has been changing."

    which is clearly not a claim that is made in the ted talk at all.

    What concerns me about this is that it is not evidence based critical analysis. I feel any criticism of the Ted Talk should be based on a proper analysis of the talk and not on peoples personal feelings or other things outside of the realm of the talk itself. It especially concerns me that the critics in this matter are representing themselves as "a board of scientific advisers" but that they seem to be completely lacking in scientific rigor in the matter.

    This should be a simple matter for scientific enquiry because the evidence is clearly there for analysis. Basic mistakes, such as criticism that does not relate to the Ted talk, and invented criticism should not be happening...

    ...but they very clearly have happened at a most basic level which leads me to suggest that the board is poorly equipped to carry out the work at hand.

    I think Ted need to examine this because it is beyond poor.
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    Mar 21 2013: Come on TED Science Board, let's see what you're made of. Right now you've got egg all over your anonymous faces. Which one of you, if any, has the courage to meet Rupert Sheldrake's straight forward challenge? Your audience awaits, and this issue is not going away.
  • Mar 20 2013: More suppression? TED's home page lets you view the talks with the "Most comments this week". It shows Dan Pallotta at Number 1 with 801 comments as of now. Let's compare:

    The (a) March 14 "Open for discussion: Graham Hancock and Rupert Sheldrake from TEDxWhitechapel" currently has 1182 comments, (b) the March 18 "a fresh take", 245 comments, (c) the new "debate about Rupert Sheldrake's talk" has 147, and (d) the new "debate about Graham Hancock's talk" has 289 comments. Total comments = 1863 comments.

    I know these comments are spread across two talks, but by my reckoning, these talks have more than twice as much interest as Pallotta's talk, and I am hard pressed to find any talk with as many comments.

    It is very clear from the comments that TED should not have self-declared itself as an arbiter of science, and very clear that debate is not unanimous either way.
    • Mar 21 2013: I agree that there exists no suppression whatsoever about the fact that TED decided to label these two talks Pseudo science without any good arguments.

      What is generating al these comments and attention is the fact that TED gives no solid arguments why this decision had been made, actually they retracted them. Which makes it even more strange.

      And it doesn't change the fact dat the talks are suppressed from the official youtube channel and placed on Vimeo with restricted acces so it will not appear on any searchengines. Which is obviously censorship.

      What will appear on search engines is TED labeling both talks pseudoscience, that is damaging for both speakers.

      Which is censorship in al its dark glory.
  • Mar 20 2013: it's important to understand that Science is a logical subset of Philosophy. in other words, the bounds of Science, it's methods, it's goal, and the interpretation of its results are ALL non-scientific. this is why Sheldrake should not be judged by scientists, but philosophers. scientists don't don't' debate this –they're toto busy doing science. but, when one of them starts to interpret their resultS – bringing meaning and value to their work – they are no longer doing Science. unless they are trained in philosophy, then there are likely conducting pseudoscience.

    THIS is the problem. the TED Science Board is the one guilty of pseudoscience because they are using their Scientific credibility to make philosophical claims about Sheldrake's work and acting if those claims themselves are scientific.
  • Mar 20 2013: One has to take one's hat off for the 'cleverness' with which TED is managing this. If you create enough pages on the subject, cleaning up the comments each time a new one is created, and then keep forever insisting on further 'debate' without ever addressing the criticism or taking remedial action to correct your errors (like a prominent apology for your atrocious treatment of your own speakers/guests), you can probably get away with anything, can't you? Congrats Chris and TED. The effect is that, I, for one, won't attend or speak again at a TED-related event. Whatever else might happen, you lost me, in profound disgust.
    • Mar 20 2013: Creating mulitple pages does seems an attempt to water down the controversy.
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      Mar 20 2013: I don't think there's anything to this argument. There are functional reasons for what they've done. The first "move" was simply a notice that they would be setting up this discussion the next day. We took over that notice to further voice our opinions. Then, they set up two discussions, so that each speaker would have their own space, rather than having them lumped together. If anything, multiple locations means multiple results in any search, so it's more exposing.
    • Mar 20 2013: Bernardo, I'd be interested to get your thoughts on the guidelines TED has sent out to TEDx organizers in an effort to weed out bad science. To me they seem overly restrictive. If TED were around when Alfred Russel Wallace and Charles Darwin were doing their research, I don't think either of them would've been permitted to speak! Please take a look at them and let me know. They seem incongruous with TED claiming they take a broad view of "Ideas worth spreading" and they also say the realize that "scientific assumptions can get turned upside down". Here are the guidelines:
      • Mar 20 2013: Joe, I think TED has their work cut out for them. It's not easy at all to weed out junk from original thought, worthy of consideration, on the basis of generic guidelines. The only way to do it with some accuracy is to analyse each talk on a case-by-case basis, which is impossible in the case of a franchise like TEDx (it's only possible at the TED main event). So I don't envy their challenge and even sympathize very much with the difficulties they face. You see, it is indeed important for them, if the franchise is to mean anything, to NOT have totally-non-serious stuff (like History Channel's "Ancient Alien" material, which someone referred to) under their platform. I recognize it cannot be a just-open-the-gates-and-let-anybody-say-anything approach, otherwise the name 'TEDx' will stand for nothing. If you could buy only Mongolian meat sticks at one particular McDonnald's, what point would there be to the franchise? It would mean nothing to people. In conclusion, I am not necessarily against their guidelines, though some aspects of it (like 'argued for by many experts in the field') will simply eliminate all the paradigm-breaking, innovative stuff. It's a choice TED makes here, and I don't think it's illegitimate.

        Maybe I am disappointing you here. But my main grievance with TED is not their attempt to separate themselves from nonsense; that I think is okay. My grievance is the way they treated the people upon whom they depend entirely: their speakers. TED is NOTHING without their speakers. These speakers are invited, they work for free, and they contribute nearly all the value that TED has to offer. Not only do they have to be presumed innocent until proven guilty, they need to be treated with particular respect and courtesy, for they are making a favor to TED. To be continued...
        • Mar 20 2013: If you agree with their guidelines then you agree that pretty much all non-mainstream speakers should not be allowed to speak at TED/TEDx don't you think? I think that would be a HUGE mistake. Much better to err on the side of free speech IMO and occasionally get it wrong. They need to have far more leeway and not respond to every hysterical complaint by the Jerry Coyne's of the world. They should understand that not every TED talk is going to make everyone happy- people who subscribe to rigid belief systems are prone to be upset.
      • Mar 20 2013: ...Continued from above...

        In the case of Rupert and Graham, I believe they have been presumed guilty and sentenced without trial. TED seems to have gotten carried away by fanatic, populist ideologues who excel in rhetoric as much as they lack in substance, and committed a near crime against their own guests. Make no mistake: Although TEDx is a franchise, TED's association with it has been made pretty clear here, so Graham and Rupert were not only guests of TEDx, but of TED too. In exchange for their gracious favor to TED, they have had their reputation attacked, their source of income threatened, and their work unfairly characterized by generic, false, and defamatory statements. This has been the way they have been thanked by the TED organization for their gracious contribution. As a former speaker, I feel the injustice here as though it had been done to me. This whole thing really upset me, precisely because of my heart-felt association with TED; a brand-name I used to promote liberally in all my web presence (no longer). I felt betrayed by a close friend, and still feel; more by the day.

        Graham and Rupert should have been contacted by TED in private and asked for input with regards to the accusations others were making against them. Then, it should have been clear that they said nothing that the organizers shouldn't have known they would say, because it's their bread-and-butter material. If they were invited to speak in a conference about changing paradigms, everybody should have known what they would say. If TED then regretted having made the invitation, and then concluded they should change their guidelines, fine! It would be a lesson for them for future events. But don't blame their guest speakers for TED's own change of heart. Don't create a fallacious strawman to hide TED's own mistake. Don't try to destroy Rupert's and Graham's reputation for having done exactly what, I am sure, they were invited to do by the local organizers, just so TED can save face.
        • Mar 20 2013: Yes, I agree with you that the character assassination of Sheldrake and Hancock has been nothing short of outrageous. But for me this is about something much more than that. Going forward I'd like to see TED have more speakers like Sheldrake, not less. I'd like to hear Dean Radin give a talk. If you support those guidelines I can assure you that we will never hear someone like Radin or any parapsychologist. That would be an enormous pity and a wasted opportunity.
      • Mar 20 2013: Joe,

        You wrote: "If you agree with their guidelines then you agree that pretty much all non-mainstream speakers should not be allowed to speak at TED/TEDx don't you think?"

        Yes, their guidelines would eliminate most non-mainstream speakers. Notice that I don't agree with their guidelines in the sense that I wouldn't issue the same guidelines. But I agree that they have the right to issue those guidelines; that the guidelines represent an understandable CHOICE; and that SOME kind of guidelines are necessary if the franchise is to mean anything.
  • Apr 2 2013: This has been one of the most interesting and illuminating conversations I have read online. I must thank TED for this if nothing else. The unintended consequences of TED's actions appear to be reverberating far and wide - I have been following links provided by the many commenters here and not only revisiting the writings of David Bohm and others but also adding to my wish lists or actually buying books by Dean Radin, Russell Targ and others. The links to bloggers and authors such as Marcus T Anthony have also been inspirational and though-provoking and I have already bought two of his ebooks.
    This has been an exciting couple of weeks for me (and I should imagine a very productive and heartening time for Rupert Sheldrake and Graham Hancock -TED's unintended consequences!)
    I've been having some great conversations with my husband - a retired science teacher - very much from the mainstreeam, reductionist perspective who greatly admires Richard Dawkins. He is now reading Sheldrake's Science Delusion with great interest and he shares my astonishment at TED's actions.
    • Apr 2 2013: Marianne, you expressed beautifully exactly what I have been thinking. Perhaps TED will now redeem itself after this slap on its wrist by reposting Rupert and Graham's talks together with an apology, and allow TEDx WestHollywood to go ahead?

      The prevailing, predominantly materialistic world view of modern science has become almost a religion in itself with its high priests jealously guarding their positions of power (and sources of funding, no doubt). Restriction of scientific enquiry to that which is revealed by the five physical senses effectively limits the scope of investigation. Who knows what could be discovered through common sense, sixth sense or even what may seem at first sight to be nonsense?

      Einstein had this quote framed above his desk at Princeton:
      "Not everything that counts can be counted, and not everything that can be counted counts."

      It's not my style to rely on the quotes of others but Einstein came up with so many gems, some are worth including. Had he given a TEDx talk including the following, would it have been relegated to the "shame bin" as pseudoscience?


      And here's the daddy of them all:

      "The most beautiful experience we can have is the mysterious.  It is the fundamental emotion which stands at the cradle of all true art and science. Whoever does not know it and can no longer wonder, no longer marvel, is as good as dead, and his eyes are dimmed."
  • Mar 31 2013: Steven Biko who was murdered because of his ideas. A brilliant insight he shared was this, “The most potent weapon of the oppressor is the mind of the oppressed”. Hauntingly true but ultimately what is at play here. This has nothing to do with science. This goes at the fundamental right that makes us human. If we are not allowed the respect by our society to have sovereignty of our own consciousness then it is oppressive. This is what is at play here corporate interests have shacked up behind the slogan “Ideas worth sharing” , The only problem is the shield they chose has proven too heavy for them to wiled and now by having to add a caveat to help keep it up they have destroyed it. Exposing them for the predators they are.

    By not being able to live up to the Brand Slogan “Ideas worth sharing” without a qualifier then you basically destroy your brand, leaving it hollow and wanting exposing you as fake and undeserving of the stage your audience so generously offers you. If you doubt this fact it will be sobering to know the interest in their discussions has rocketed despite TEDS self-righteous motives to try burry them. Or dare I suggest it’s morphic resonance is reverberating and its drawing attention despite TED trying to supress it. Perhaps Hancock and Sheldrake do have ideas worth sharing after all.

    Wasn’t that the point of Sheldrake’s discussion? That we should let Ideas resonate freely and was it not Hancock’s to have the freedom to have our own ideas.

    But just like Biko ilustrated those at the center wish to controll our minds.
    • Mar 31 2013: In every generation, the evolution of belief and knowledge emerges from the tension, even conflict between conservative and progressive elements. As Heraclitus put it, “Panton pater polemos [Strife is the father of all things].”

      Sheldrake did not set out to be a heretical revolutionary. He simply asked questions that were out of favor with the times. He disregarded common assumptions and created experiments to test un-examined phenomenon. Although such individualized visions abound in the annals of scientific discovery, defenders of orthodoxy necessarily embrace common creeds and condemn free thinkers.

      In practice, as Giegerich (2007) and Thompson (1981) convincingly argued, contemporary institutions that elevate scientific knowledge to the highest rank maintain religion's essential preoccupation with defending dogma and orthodoxy. Dean Radin bristled. “The thing that gets me upset every so often is the word ‘wacky’ written in conjunction with what I do. . . . You’re wacky before you succeed. Afterwards, you’re a genius”
    • Mar 31 2013: Christ why bring up Steven Biko and that he was murdered. Are you trying to draw some correlation that TEDx is going to murder you for your heretical knowledge of psi? Don't know how that post got 7 likes.
      • Apr 1 2013: I thought it was pretty clear that Adrian brought him up because he wanted to quote him.
  • Mar 25 2013: For those who maintain biases are not at play, a brief object lesson from history:

    "The Sorcerer of Menlo Park appears not to be acquainted with the subtleties of the electrical sciences. Mr. Edison takes us backwards. One must have lost all recollection of American hoaxes to accept such claims." -Professor Du Moncel

    "Edison's claims are 'so manifestly absurd as to indicate a positive want of knowledge of the electric circuit and the principles governing the construction and operation of electrical machines.'"-Edwin Weston, specialist in arc lighting

    "Louis Pasteur's theory of germs is ridiculous fiction." -Pierre Pachet, Professor of Physiology France, 1872

    "Fooling around with alternating current in just a waste of time. Nobody will use it, ever." -Thomas Edison, 1889

    "If the whole of the English language could be condensed into one word, it would not suffice to express the utter contempt those invite who are so deluded as to be disciples of such an imposture as Darwinism." -Francis Orpen Morris, British ornithologist 1877

    "The whole procedure of shooting rockets into space. . . presents difficulties of so fundamental a nature, that we are forced to dismiss the notion as essentially impracticable, in spite of the author's insistent appeal to put aside prejudice and to recollect the supposed impossibility of heavier-than-air flight before it was actually accomplished." -Richard van der Riet Wooley, British astronomer

    "The energy produced by the atom is a very poor kind of thing. Anyone who expects a source of power from the transformation of these atoms is talking moonshine." Ernst Rutherford, 1933

    "Space travel is bunk" - Sir Harold Spencer Jones, Astronomer Royal of Britain, 1957, two weeks before the launch of Sputnik

    "There is no reason anyone would want a computer in their home." -Ken Olson, president of Digital Equipment Corp. 1977

    Source: http://amasci.com/supress1.html
    • Mar 25 2013: And these are only the ones who finally made it through. I'd imagine there are hundreds of others whose work is now forgotten, and hundreds of breakthroughs made later, if at all, because of exactly the attitude displayed above. I think a library of rejected science papers would offer a fascinating insight into the real world workings of the scientific community.
    • Comment deleted

      • Mar 25 2013: I do not, but I'd be happy to read them if you can supply them.
    • Mar 25 2013: just because breakthroughs that have turned out to be milestones in scientific history were met with resistance and even scorn initially does not mean that every claim met with scorn and derision will be a breakthrough that will change the paradigm.

      there is no reason to think sheldrake is the new edison, or haramein the new hawking, persinger the new newton based on their claims being rejected.

      as always their claims would first have to be demonstrated to be true - and THEN the rejecters will be seen to have been wrong. the burden of proof is squarely on the shoulders of those making the claims.
      • Mar 25 2013: You're absolutely right, Julian. Which is why investigation is called for (not a priori dismissal). The evidence is there. You can either explain it away, or attempt to verify it's veracity yourself. What you can't do as a scientist is drone on about how consistently reproduced results are "impossible". Scientists cannot make ontological assumptions without compromising their integrity as scientists. That is the entire point of Sheldrake's talk, and it's well received by me.
        • Mar 25 2013: yup - and i 100% support investigation.

          we should be careful though not to conflate either a) supporting research with acting as if all opinions and beliefs are equally valid regardless of evidence, or b) acting as if dismissing unlikely claims about reality until sufficient evidence is provided, with having some ideological bias.

          the examples i have given a few times here about climate change and creationism stil stand - there is a problem when one acedes to claims that all points of view should be given equal air time or else be accused of censorship or bias.
        • Mar 25 2013: Jimmy Randy wrote: "The rest of us just can't get on board because the evidence we have today doesn't support his ideas".

          In which case (a) you present the evidence that you have, and explain how it contradicts Sheldrake's (b) You ask Sheldrake for more evidence to support his claims.

          What you don't do is (a) decide that you don't need to adhere to the scientific standards you claim to uphold, (b) Prevent others from seeing the impartial, logical clarity of the scientific process.
        • Mar 26 2013: @Jimmy Randy: And I may not agree with you, but I think you would be the first to complain if I had your views suppressed.
      • Mar 25 2013: I think Noah posted those quotes not to claim that Sheldrake is the next Einstein, but to refute the claims that there is no dogma in science, that scientists are always angelically evenhanded and rational. People in this thread have been saying things like, " "dogmas of science" - [is] a complete oxymoron that misunderstands science completely." and I think Noah was just giving some exaples of the shocking fact that scientists are human, and humans get mad when you step on their Belief System.
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      Mar 25 2013: you forgot the biggest debacle of all time: the geocentric worldview that lasted for many millennia, and finally kepler had to debunk it, facing great opposition.

      guess who opposed it, among others: all the priests. guess who finally created the correct model. that's right, scientists, like galilei and newton.

      science never claimed to have all the answers. science claims to discover the answers one after the other. delivering since the dawn of time. surrounded by hatred, suspicion, denial and misunderstanding.
      • Mar 25 2013: "science never claimed to have all the answers. science claims to discover the answers one after the other. delivering since the dawn of time. surrounded by hatred, suspicion, denial and misunderstanding."

        We all know and appreciate this - it's just that that hatred, suspicion, denial and misunderstanding has now been incorporated into scientismic culture.
      • Mar 25 2013: Newton and Kepler believed in God. Kepler wrote a book about the "Harmony of the Spheres", where he derived the structure of the solar system from the Platonic bodies. Newton wrote more in volume about the occult than about science. He also studied alchemy and was convinced about the possible transmutation of all elements into each other.

        Galileo believed in the truth of the Bible, though not in a literal sense.

        "It seems to me that it was well said by Madama Serenissima, and insisted on by your reverence, that the Holy Scripture cannot err, and that the decrees therein contained are absolutely true and inviolable. But I should have in your place added that, though Scripture cannot err, its expounders and interpreters are liable to err in many ways; and one error in particular would be most grave and most frequent, if we always stopped short at the literal signification of the words."

        I think the whole conflict of "science versus religion" was driven historically more by the people concerned about their worldly powers and influences, the mediocre minds, but not by the great truth seekers. There is no conflict between spiritual teachings and mathematics or physics in the works of Plato or Aristotle, for a start.

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          Mar 25 2013: they believed in god, like almost everyone back then. i wonder what kind of conclusion you can draw from here.
      • Mar 26 2013: So your argument here is really against the catholic church and you will substitute anyone for them that allows you to vent spleen. Thus your trump card is hundreds of years old, frayed at the edges, and completely irrelevant to anything discussed here.
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          Mar 26 2013: no my argument is about scientific thinking vs mythological thinking. scientific thinking is based on observations and logic. mythological thinking is based on assumptions and metaphors.
      • Mar 26 2013: “[Sheldrake’s theory] can be condemned in exactly the language that the Popes used to condemn Galileo, and for the same reasons: it is heresy.” ~ John Maddox, Editor of Nature

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          Mar 26 2013: can be. it also can be condemned based on lack of scientific rigor, and also based on its obvious and blatant lies about what science actually claims.
      • Mar 26 2013: What does science actually claim and who is this Science guy?
      • Mar 26 2013: @ Krisztián Pintér

        It "can be?" So, you're saying, that it's perfectly appropriate to condemn a book for "heresy" and to condemn a book of science because it violates orthodoxy? Seriously? You agree with Maddox's statement? After all your criticism of priests for doing exactly that? Well, I guess, like John Maddox, you lack an irony meter.
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          Mar 26 2013: no, it is not appropriate. you said it can be condemned, and i agreed. it is a possibility to condemn on that basis, but it is not a good thing to do. everything can be condemned using bad arguments, it does not mean anything.

          what does mean something is whether an argument can be dismissed using right arguments. like lack of scientific rigor and blatant lies. like sheldrake's talk.
      • Mar 26 2013: @ Krisztián Pintér

        No. I didn't say it could or should be condemned at all. John Maddox did as a means of justifying his book review in Nature -- the one wherein he joked about burning Sheldrake's book. I find it alarming that the editor of a prominent science journal would joke about burning books and accuse a scientist of heresy. You don't?
      • Mar 26 2013: I conclude from this science and the occult can go together well, in some (like Newton) at least.
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          Mar 26 2013: and sheldrake for example. yep, it is possible to understand an area of science, and still believe in the tooth fairy. we humans are not consistent. but newton had an excuse: he was raised religious in a religious world. sheldrake should know better.
  • Mar 25 2013: Sheldrake has refuted most of the comments here against his thesis about scientific dogmas in his public talks. See for example the Q&A section of his talk at Google 4 years ago: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JnA8GUtXpXY, where he totally destroys the canard about why he doesn't take up James Randi's million-dollar challenge. TED's science committee should stand up for their beliefs and challenge Sheldrake to a public debate about whether his work really is, as they claim, "pseudo-scientific". Let's compare Sheldrake's notions of science side by side with theirs, and make up our own minds instead of having a committee make it up for us.
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    Mar 24 2013: Science itself is unthreatened by calling constants into question; scientific fundamentalists seem very threatened. The community should be entirely agreed that no questions are out of bounds.
  • Mar 23 2013: To 'Lime Crime' and his ilk:

    Your extraordinary ability to judge upfront the validity of Sheldrake's lines of inquiry -- without a need to look at evidence -- gives me pause to consider the possibility that 'psychic dogmatists' might exist.
    • Mar 23 2013: "psychic dogmatist" may just be the greatest thing to come out of this whole affair.

      Well played sir.
    • Comment deleted

      • Mar 24 2013: I hope no one flags this comment. It may be better to preserve the inflammatory remarks of 'Lime Crime' so others can see how he discredits himself and his cause.
    • Mar 24 2013: Part of me has been wondering whether 'Lime Crime' might not actually be someone on Hancock / Sheldrake's side who is acting the part of deluded and aggravated scientismic dogmatist so as to put that side of the argument in a bad light.

      If so.. It really isn't necessary. I know your intentions are good, but that's not an ethical tactic to take. Let's maintain our integrity.
  • Mar 22 2013: PART 2:

    If you are someone who is interested in exploring revolutionary paradigm-changing ideas TED is no longer (if it ever was) the place for you. TED is being very clear about it, while at the same time protecting their image for those who can’t take a (loud) hint or have a more materialistic/mainstream view of life.

    You also need to understand that TED cannot be completely upfront about this, in our topsy-turvy world honesty is not something that TED as an organization (say business) of its size can (or believes it can) afford.

    Having said all this, there’s much positive that has come out of this. TED’s true colours have been revealed, so those of us who had any doubt as to what TED’s goals and objectives are need wonder no more. We can move on to another platform.

    Graham Hancock and Rupert Sheldrake’s ideas have gained increased exposure thanks to TED’s handling of the matter. It’s also my impression, that regardless of the slanderous and defaming claims originally made by TED, Sheldrake and Hancock’s reputations have not suffered; but on the contrary, as it is TED who has refused to answer their questions and act respectfully towards them.

    From TED’s point of view, and based on what they really stand for, I can see how they feel this is preferable than to allow Sheldrake and Hancock a platform where their ideas can gain even more credibility in front of an even wider audience.

    Those people that are comfortable and satisfied within the limits of the currently established mainstream perspective will now feel safer with the TED brand.

    For those of us who truly want to explore any and all “ideas worth sharing”, there is no need to dismiss TED altogether as a brand or organization. I am certain that there are still many interesting talks to come; you may just be wise not to expect anything too challenging of the scientific and social status quo.
    • Mar 22 2013: Heimat, please don't let the ignorance and rudeness of "Lime Crime" get you down or discourage you from contributing.
      • Mar 22 2013: Joe, thank you for your words.

        Lime Crime can say whatever he/she wants to say. That's how he/she feels. It's all good on my end. Doesn't bother or affect me in the least :)

        There are many people that think that by insulting or trying to put others down they will somehow feel better about themselves. This reveals their flawed way of thinking to others, but what would actually be of benefit to these people and to those with whom they communicate, is if they themselves were able to see this.

        This would free them from some of the pain they feel, and mistakenly think they must try and inflict upon others in order to get relief, when it only makes it worse.

        In all honesty, I wish nothing but the very best to Lime Crime.
    • Mar 22 2013: I just proposed an alternative platform above, before reading this. I agree this is exactly what is needed. I found the Clay Shirky quote: "Institutions will try to preserve the problem to which they are the solution." TED herein provides the proof of his assertion.
  • Mar 21 2013: “Truth, curiosity, diversity, no selling, no corporate bullshit, no bandwagoning, no platforms. Just the pursuit of interest, wherever it lies, across all the disciplines that are represented here.”
    — Chris Anderson on the core values of TED
    • Mar 21 2013: It appears the core values of TED have been lost.
      • Mar 21 2013: It appears that the core values of TED are as flexible as Charles Foster Kane' s "Declaration of Principles."

        And just as easily discarded when they are not to the purpose.
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      Mar 21 2013: Jonathan, Julee and Cassandra: I get the feeling TED wanted to have those values and, in this case, wanted to live up to them. But I feel they flinched while facing the controversy, and then cowered behind the anonymity of their obviously *partial* science board. And if you have a partial science board, then you don't have science or any semblance of it. You're just scientistic.

      In some sense, this whole thing's kind'a funny. TED promoted something without checking what it felt, then the finger-pointing started about what people actually perceived. We're a goofy species, for sure.
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    Mar 21 2013: In a criminal court of law, not only do you have the right to face your accusers, you get to know what the actual charges are and the sentence is handed out after the trial is over.

    At TED, they start things off with a sentence consisting of censorship against the accused. To make matters worse, they post libelous statements about the accused, who has no proper redress against such actions. Finally, the accused never gets to face his accusers or even know what the specific charges are.

    Apparently TED has mistaken itself for a banana republic.
    • Mar 21 2013: To be fair, Ted is not a country or a court, nor do they have an obligation to its viewers in the light you are painting.
      And there are now four areas of redress for this matter.
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        Mar 21 2013: You are correct, TED doesn't have the right to slander anyone. But here we are.
        • Mar 21 2013: They posted the complaint as they received it, allowed for rebuttal and posted it and then provided a forum for resolution.
          At no time did Ted directly slander anyone. But they do have a responsibility to spread accurate information as best as they can and must at least go through the process when someone flags something.
          Personally I feel the talks are fine although not presented as unbiased as they should be but Ted can't be too careful considering many people have critiqued these two public figures in the past.
      • Mar 21 2013: This is true, Mike, that TED has no obligation to it's viewers - however, I think that it would be a shame if for the sake of doing business TED diminished it's position as a progressive force in the world. Just because TED is not a public entity doesn't mean that it can't act like one.
        • Mar 21 2013: I agree to an extent, that being this is still being decided upon. I hope they reinstate the talks.
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        Mar 21 2013: TED should have at least made sure the charges against these talks were true. They didn't even use due diligence in something as simple as watching the talks to see what was actually said. What was posted by TED, whatever the supposed source, was incorrect.

        Attributing the charges to outside sources is a lame way to get out of taking responsibility for one's own actions.

        Shame on TED.
  • Mar 20 2013: I simply cannot understand how one can stand for innovation, hold a "Challenging existing paradigms and redefining values" conference, and then remove content on the very subject from its original source, therby reducing its visibility and exposure to the public on the ground that the speaker (who himself is by the way an acknowledged and accredited scientist) has publicly challenged existing paradigms and openly spoke about dogma's of science... This is just plain wrong.
    On another note, TED is a platform that reaches many people from different countries or cultures, and as such it would be really appreciated if they could restrain themselves from imposing certain world-view on others.
    Although for the Western world the idea of censorship might be well forgotten or "naturally" suppressed by enormous overflow of information, for people, who have either experienced reality of Orwell's 1984 or just understand that “truth may be stranger than fiction, because fiction is obliged to stick to possibilities, while truth isn't”, your reaction to this pretty brave scientist's speech about science itself, may well be considered censorship.
    "Censorship?! Come now." Such reaction to the accusation of censorship, on the other hand, shows your lack of understanding (or even willingness to understand) of people with different mindset from yours. Just so you understand then - such reaction, plus the way the whole issue has been handled - is actually highly offensive to people who also participate in creating TED experience – the audience.
    I would appreciate then, and believe plenty of others would too, if you restore the original content on TEDx youtube page and officially apologise to the speakers, participants of original discussion on youtube (whose voices have been silenced too) and those who have been nothing but support for you, and yet whom you have tried to treat like bunch of morons and called an angry army, as if yourself looking for war. Thank you in advance.
  • Mar 19 2013: Another link to another discussion? Let me gess TED, another descussion you won't be involved in? Your just trying to split the mass comments because everybody can see the thousands of replies against your case already.. Everybody can also see your handful of childish replies where every question put forth is still unanswered.
    I erge everybody goes back and really see how the "curator" of Ted handles these sorts of situations. Quite pathetic, rude to his TEDx guest speakers and naive.
  • Mar 19 2013: Creating new blogs to avoid dealing with an absence of apology?
    Certainly have a debate on this process but firstly, man up,and apologize for the "clumsy" and erroneous claims that started this fooferah!
  • Apr 2 2013: Quick links:

    Mar 19 2013: The debate about Rupert Sheldrake's talk (this page)

    Mar 19 2013: The debate about Graham Hancock’s talk

    Mar 18, 2013: Graham Hancock and Rupert Sheldrake, a fresh take

    Mar 14 2013: Open for discussion: Graham Hancock and Rupert Sheldrake from TEDxWhitechapel

    Mar 7 2013: Rupert Sheldrake's TEDx talk: Detailing the issues
  • Apr 2 2013: How sad that TED believes asking challenging questions about mainstream science can endanger their reputation, audience and respectability. Rupert Sheldrake is a scientist with the courage to challege and explore what he believes have become unquestioned assumptions in his own community. And isn't that precisely what science should do?
    If a system of knowledge cannot constantly reappraise and question itself and its methods, isn't that where the danger lies?
    If TED truly believes in science as 'a process, not a locked in body of truth', then a lecture from a scientist questioning what he believes to be the 'locked-in' aspects of his own discipline is important and thoroughly, one would hope, in the spirit we have come to expect from TED. What a shame this spirit was driven down precisely by the locked-in mentality of their science board.
  • Apr 2 2013: Just to get another word in before the window closes ...

    Saying TED doesn't want particular videos to appear under TED's banner is one thing, but stopping visitors learning about specific non-pornographic material just because they object to the ideas expressed is censorship de luxe! I gave a lecture to a student group recently about this kind of thing; you can listen to that lecture, 'Heretical Science', at http://sms.cam.ac.uk/collection/664697 (not on our group's web server so it may not be blocked by TED). People interested in moving on from the present paradigm may also be interested in the symposium on 'Shifting Assumptions in Science', which you can find in the same list. We are currently working on developing John Archibald Wheeler's proposal that observer-participation is the fundamental creative mechanism in nature (see the very preliminary paper entitled 'Biological Observer-Participation and Wheeler's "Law without Law" ' in the physics preprint archive).
    • Apr 2 2013: See below. It looks like I was jumping to conclusions. It may not be due to official TED action.

      "John Campbell

      10 hours ago: The answer is Akismet, which is what TED uses. Apparently there is potential for abuse, and a few angry bloggers. The problem from what I can tell is a blogger can mark a legit comment as spam, Akismet then begins to learn that what is non-spam is spam, propagates this information to it's servers, and autodeletes comments on other blogs as well that don't wind up in a blogger's moderation queue. The following link is old but describes what we've been experiencing with the tcm site.


      The problem is almost certainly not TED, so I apologize here for saying that it was. "
  • Mar 31 2013: The problem with the TED science boards decision is that they are trying to justify it with objective argument when the decision was actually a political one. Consciousness cannot be defined in objective terms and any attempt to do so is folly and exposes the only alternative which is a politically motivated one. Exposing the truth.

    Science as it is today can only define the universe interpreted trough our 5 senses. The rest is best guess.

    Another way to put this is, you cannot explain to a blind man what sight is or a deaf man what sound is. Conciseness could almost be called our sixth sense, but it differs from the other senses in that it can appreciate and process them while they can’t do this. Consciousness evolves while the other senses don’t.

    All intellectual inquiry including science must be open to question and interpretation. All Hancock and Sheldake are guilty of is daring to look behind the veil and that is obviously politically Tabooooo!!! So that is where the REAL woo, woo and Pseudo-Science is happening. Like I said their lens is a mirror, by removing it they will see clearly.

    I’m just glad we get to see the wolves in the sheep’s clothing now rather then later. The reality is that the fairy tale about snow white and the seven dwarfs is true only here TED is the wicked witch.

    I hope this helps you see how consciousness can be tricky to define.
  • Mar 26 2013: I demand that TED stop hiding behind smokescreens and respond to Hancock’s and Sheldrake’s challenges. Obviously TED fears the truth or else they would have responded long ago.
    • Mar 26 2013: Hear, hear. A secret science board star chamber decision, ignoring offers to debate... What a bunch of cowards...
  • Mar 24 2013: First, I want to thank TED for bringing my attention to Rupert Sheldrake. His trilogues with Terence McKenna and Ralph Abraham have been blowing my mind.
    Second, i'd like to know if Ted has ever answered Rupert's rebuttals and refutations or did they just put a hat on it and let others debate (which is not bad, but a little forthcoming and transparency on TED's part is, I think, expected).
    • Mar 24 2013: I'd love to hear Ralph give a talk.
  • Mar 22 2013: The main characteristic of a good scientist is to be OPEN-MINDED. Shame on you, TED.
  • Mar 20 2013: This is more of a business decision on how TED wants to run their organization. It's their ball, they can take it and play any sport they want with it, but they need to be consistent. They created TEDx to open things up to a broader audience and promote these talks through their brand. They indicate that they have a hands off approach and do not directly control these - yet they are concerned about how these talks can have a negative impact on the integrity of their brand. A little lack of foresight there perhaps.

    I, for one, don't feel that there is any dark conspiracy here on TED's behalf and I think their intentions are honest and they now find themselves grappling with a beast of a problem. The solution? Well, if they want to continue to have an open forum for people of all differing opinions and ideas to have their 18 minutes, then they need to stand behind it. If they want to control the integrity and their brand - then they need to take control of that. Do not invite guests to an event that they are not prepared to showcase to the world.

    It is wrong - Tantamount to slander and libel - To invite a guest to a forum of discussion to present his ideas, his lifework, etc. to the discerning TED followers and then publicly denounce that persons work. That is spiteful and smacks of an agenda of some sort. No insult intended but, your laziness in being willing to vet speakers at your TEDx events has had a negative impact on the lives and careers of the gentlemen in question. You invited them to speak - you posted their discussions online - then you took them down denouncing them as bunk. Sounds like a set-up.

    The only solution you have is to reinstate the talks in question and apologize immediately. Next step is to set up a more formal process - An "Anonymous board" if you will - to screen potential speakers at all TEDx events to ensure the purity of the material discussed - before the event. You can't do it after the fact.
    • Mar 20 2013: I disagree. If lectures that challenge materialism are pre-screened by materialists, will they be presented? Who are they to decide the "purity" of an argument for you? Wouldn't you at least appreciate the opportunity to reject or further research the material for yourself, as opposed to never knowing it in the first place? This would be the most regrettable lesson that TED could take away from this, namely "If we had caught it earlier, none of this would have happened."
      • Mar 20 2013: Indeed. The mere mention of screening speakers for "Purity" is supposed to get the hackles up on the reader of my post. (My sarcasm was the fallacy of doing this screening and the "Anonymous board", but I don't think that came across as sarcasm) I of course do no agree with that philosophy at all. I think the intelligent people who view TED talks are smart enough to determine for themselves what to believe. My main point was it is absolutely wrong to set someone up by inviting them to speak and then trying to publicly disgrace them so that you can discredit them to further your own agenda. This may not have been what they were doing, but it is obvious from the responses that this is the prevailing opinion.

        And if TED IS going to try and protect their brand to conform to some vision of scientific purity, they are going to do it. As I said - this is their ball game. They are not a scientific organization. They make their own rules and can do what they want. However, I think the repercussions of the decisions they will make in the next few days will have a great impact on the integrity that they hold in their followers eyes.
      • Mar 21 2013: So long as TED depends in some way on institutions that subscribe to the things that Sheldrake is critical of, it will be hard to get TED to appear to endorse work like Sheldrake's. This is just the nature of working within capitalism, relying on sponsors, etc.

        We can't expect TED to let through talks that will get them in trouble with the people TED relies on (although we should expect TED to somehow remunerate Hancock and Sheldrake for this particular disaster) but I think that it is important that we show TED how we feel about the particular agenda they appear to be following, whether it is TED's own, or that of their stakeholders. Ultimately that agenda will change with the times, or if it doesn't then TED will be left behind. I think that TED is smarter than that, though.
    • Mar 20 2013: I think you've hit several nails on the head. TED seems to be treating Sheldrake and Hancock as if they've applied under a false name and turned up in disguise to try to sneak their views in in order to undermine the TED brand. Both these men are, I would imagine, fairly acutely aware of their non-mainstream position but no doubt felt, looking at TED's stated aims and objectives, that here is an organisation that is truly open to exactly the kind of thing they have talked about for many years. Hancock, it seems to me, was careful to tread a line closer to the mainstream in this talk, while Sheldrake is, whether people like this or not, still highly regarded, albeit as a maverick, because of his impeccable credentials. There was no reason for either man to imagine that TED would cave in so spectacularly to a few outspoken bloggers whose religious and ideological views are well known and who are not taken seriously outside of their small specialist field. And there was certainly no reason for either man to suspect they would be treated in such a shoddy manner even if TED ultimately did decide to pull the plug.

      TED, then, needs to decide what it wants to be, and it needs to get a handle on the political world that underlies the new internet world of the scientistic thought police. A chat with either Jerry Fodor or Thomas Nagel would no doubt avail TED of an interesting take on some of the forces at work in this fascinating sub-culture that is the pseudo-academic blogosphere.
      • Mar 20 2013: Agreed. You've expanded on some of my ideas I was trying to get across nicely. There are other venues out there that these men could have used and perhaps they do go to a variety of non-mainsteam symposiums. I'm not sure. But don't suck them in and give them a TED talk and then throw them away with the garbage. There are a lot of topics out there that are fascinating and interesting to listen to even if you don't agree with them.
  • Mar 20 2013: Evidence for parapsychological phenomena is a threat to materialism. Materialists believe human minds are just complex classical computations. Classical (Turing) computers cannot (or should not) theoretically guess ESP targets better than chance expectation yet humans in double blinded, randomized control trials that block out all sensory clues can select targets better than chance expectation on average. This means our minds are not based purely on localized classical physics and materialist assumptions about the limits of the human mind are in some degree of error.

    I mention the above as there are number of commentators who keep saying that this has nothing to do with political materialist and atheist movements pretending to own science. Those who keep saying this are obviously unfamiliar with the activities of groups such as CSI or CSICOP, JREF, Skeptics Society, New Atheism, very biased 'Skeptics Dictionary' commentary, organized editing of wikipedia by groups such as 'Guerilla Skepticism', Rational Skepticism' and so on. If anyone looks closely it is a political materialist movement and TED has been duped in to thinking it is a scientific one.

    If TED's anonymous 'science board' is supporting political terms like 'pseudoscience', the public should be suspicious as to whether this so called 'science board' are also members of organized political materialist /atheists movement, who are trying to redefine science – a neutral, unbiased method – as a materialist world view to be stamped upon society, education, etc. These political groups are attacking evidence that wrecks their viewpoint. That is why people like Sheldrake become victims of censorship attempts, they cannot debate him on the evidence for psi, Sheldrake would win.
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    Mar 20 2013: PART TWO

    Then, as developmental thinkers (most notably represented by such theorists as Ken Wilber, Don Beck and Robert Kegan) point out, people identified with different stages of complexity often engage in an inter-stage clash (simply because higher complexity is “in over the heads” of the people who can only grasp a particular kind of complexity). For instance, there are clashes between “mythical” and “formal operational” (prerational vs rational) worldviews as well as clashes between “formal operational” and “postformal” (both rational) worldviews.

    In my opinion, some of the harshest criticists of Rupert Sheldrake often can be identified as the proponents of strictly formal-operational thinking and worldview of what science is—i.e. what they assume it “is” (formal operations is a reasonably high stage of cognition that undertakes universalistic generalizations and sees patterns of the universe as givens reflected by their perception—hence, sensory empiricism and the mirror of nature view, or “the view from nowhere”, as Thomas Nagel puts it).

    However, Rupert Sheldrake’s argument itself clearly stems from a postformal stage of cognition (in adult development there is a number of postformal stages of cognition, please consult the works of such developmental theorists as Michael Commons, Kurt Fischer, Robert Kegan, Susanne Cook-Greuter, and Jane Loevinger).

    The postformal cognition increasingly recognizes the importance of such notion as a constructed/evolutionary nature of all phenomena (that virtually everything there is, that is everything we as subjects register, seems to follow the self-organizing dynamics of complex systems; Erich Jantsch, an Austrian astrophysicist, nails it by saying that the universe “self-organizes through self-transcendence,” while Ilya Prigogine refers to the existence of dissipative structures and the irreversibility of time arrow), including human activities such as science and cognition themselves.

    Cont'd in Part Three
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    Mar 19 2013: The debate started on YouTube (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kO4-9l8IWFQ). Those comments disappeared when the video was removed. Then the debate moved to a page that Emily McManus created (http://t.co/NvnpqcG5rZ). The conversation then moved to the "Open for discussion: Graham Hancock and Rupert Sheldrake from TEDxWhitechapel" page on ted.com (http://bit.ly/1192f3p). Then, moved to the "Graham Hancock and Rupert Sheldrake, a fresh take" page (http://bit.ly/YPXCeq). Now, we are on yet another page.

    There have been at least 2,000 comments on this topic so far despite this. Really thoughtful dialogue is now spread out across multiple pages (some no longer accessible). Now, Shedrake's response is on a different page. There didn't need to be yet another page for debate. The debate is documented in the previous 2,000 + comments. Each fork in the road is diluting the discussion, not enhancing it.
    • Mar 20 2013: @ Matthew Clapp,

      You write: "Each fork in the road is diluting the discussion, not enhancing it."

      I think it's pretty clear that diluting the discussion was entirely the point of this little game of musical chairs. And for their next trick, they'll be disappearing it entirely. Watch.
      • Mar 20 2013: Diluting the discussion is happening, whether it's intended or not. I find this whole subject interesting, but it's become a bit of a shell game. I think I'm done.

        Too bad TED took their course of action and too bad there hasn't been any clear apologies. It was a mistake, a type of knee jerk censorship by a group of people who think they own the conversation about what science is, and have set themselves up as arbitrators. They represent a belief in scientism, with all its materialist baggage. In the end, the conversation will move elsewhere and TED will be left behind. They will become irrelevant, trapped in a dying paradigm.
        • Mar 20 2013: I think that you're right about TED being left behind - maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow, but some day - and I think that this is a sad thing. Many who have learned much through TED are now sentimental towards the platform and will likely be anchored by their attachment to it.
  • Mar 19 2013: to pretend that the religion vs. science debate is not lurking in the shadows here is naïve.
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      Gail .

      • +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.
  • Mar 19 2013: When I hear "TED, Ideas worth spreading", I can't help but think about the following entry from the Oxford English Dictionary:

    propaganda, n. 2. Any association, systematic scheme, or concerted movement for the propagation of a particular doctrine or practice. 3. The systematic propagation of information or ideas by an interested party, esp. in a tendentious way in order to encourage or instil a particular attitude or response. Also, the ideas, doctrines, etc., disseminated thus; the vehicle of such propagation.

    How do you determine what is "worth spreading"? That implies a judgement of value and presupposes an ideology.

    An organization spreading ideas with corporate sponsors cannot be objective, the scientific pretension is just a way to present an argument ad verecundiam. TED is a propaganda organization by the very definition of the word, and has an ideology behind that is trying to spread. Like any good church, any talk questioning its doctrine has to go trough their inquisition.

    Should we be surprised that the talks of Hancock and Sheldrake are censored by an organization that finds the ideas of Clinton, Gordon Brown and Al Gore, and the depopulation agenda of Bill Gates worth spreading?

    Paradoxically, TED's reaction to this talks is the most powerful validation to the ideas presented by Hancock and Sheldrake: that there is a war on consciousnesses and that the materialistic principles held by the "scientific" community are taken as dogma.
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    Mar 19 2013: 2.) Does Sheldrake accurately describe scientists’ beliefs and are his theories credible? What’s the evidence for either position?

    First off, is it fair to discuss his theories when the talk was not about his theories? Secondly, he has an hypothesis on Morphic Resonance and he is quite clear about labeling it a hypothesis and not a theory. Thirdly those are two distinct questions and really only one of them applies to this issue of his talk.

    So to answer your question does he describe what scientists believe? Sure, many of them, but Sheldrake is careful to frame his philosophy on the paradigm of scientific materialism, or materialism for short - so this extends not just to niche scientists in niche fields, but a large majority of educated people. Your question is more properly framed as "Does Sheldrake accurately describe materialistic philosophy?" and I imagine that is a debate to be had between Sheldrake and materialistic philosophers and scientists who hold that philosophy.

    So your question is somewhat of a strawman or at least that is how it appears to me and I believe framing it that way is not really honest in terms of addressing what Sheldrake is talking about.

    @TEDSTAFF, do you believe TED has honestly considered Sheldrake's talk, or at least understand it enough to make strong value judgements on it's content and Sheldrake's research?
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    • Apr 2 2013: All I've learned is that some hedges are stranger than others and some of the strangest are not the ones one might initially suppose.
  • Apr 2 2013: Rupert Sheldrake talks about his TED experience... btw, no response yet from TED on Sheldrake's debate challenge. go figure.

    "Dr. Rupert Sheldrake: I think this whole controversy and the people who have weighed-in in favor of TED’s actions do indeed confirm what I’m saying. These dogmas are ones that most people within science don’t actually realize are dogmas. They just think they’re the truth. The point about really dogmatic people is that they don’t know that they have dogmas. Dogmas are beliefs and people who have really strong beliefs think of their beliefs as truths. They don’t actually see them as beliefs. So I think this whole controversy has actually highlighted exactly that."

    ~ http://www.skeptiko.com/rupert-sheldrake-censored/
  • Apr 1 2013: As I noted here: http://www.amazon.com/review/R32DEEY27DH8J6/ref=cm_cr_rev_detmd_pl?ie=UTF8&asin=0770436706&cdForum=Fx331MZOPIFPR1D&cdMsgID=Mx28JY1QZOCITBM&cdMsgNo=13&cdPage=2&cdSort=oldest&cdThread=Tx3FGGFGBW1I8QU&store=books#Mx28JY1QZOCITBM

    Sheldrake's morphic resonance is in many ways an extension of, and in fact integrates with, David Bohm's interpretation of quantum mechanics.

    In that link I refute attacks on both (though Bohm is currently held in much higher esteem). Together, Sheldrake and Bohm provide the basis for a scientific refutation of materialism. As the article "The Anti-Sheldrake Phenomenon" noted: http://www.sheldrake.org/Articles&Papers/articles/Dace_Anti-SheldrakePhenomenon.html

    "By devising a testable hypothesis of natural memory, Rupert Sheldrake has established himself as the world’s central figure in the evolutionary theory of existence. Heir to the lineage of Darwin, Peirce, Bergson, Elsasser and Bohm, Sheldrake bears on his shoulders the weight of their worldview. Attacks on his work amount to an offensive against any alternative to a universe under the control of eternal immutable laws.

    In 1980 Bohm proposed that material events are abstracted into an “implicate” order that influences subsequent events in the everyday “explicate” realm. The following year, Sheldrake proposed that current organic events are influenced by a composite of previous, similar events. Are these different theories or just the same theory arrived at by different means? When the scientists got together to discuss their work, they weren’t sure.1
    Yet their books received radically different receptions. Bohm’s Wholeness and the Implicate Order was treated with the respect owing to any scientific work, while Sheldrake’s A New Science of Life evoked not just hostility but hysteria and out-of-thin-air accusations of pseudoscience."
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      Apr 1 2013: "Together, Sheldrake and Bohm provide the basis for a scientific refutation of materialism."

      Are you saying these two collaborated, worked together? Or are you saying that you can put them together, Do-It-Yourself style (by whatever type arithmetic or 'meme grafting'), and arrive at the refutation of which you speak?

      I don't know of any collaboration between Sheldrake and Bohm (?). Likewise, I don't know any cited sources where Bohm comments on the use of his work made by Sheldrake. I haven't found any referenced, by anyone here. Since Sheldrake invokes Bohm (sort of standing on his coat tails?) - I wonder how Bohm assesses Sheldrake's use of his work.

      Same question applies to "Sci" Creationist 'creative' use (i.e. 'interpretations') of fossil evidence, DNA etc, or any findings from biology. It isn't a matter of, what do Sciencey Creationists say (so we can swallow it hook line and sinker). The focus of question is critical - how do biologists evaluate Sci Creas usage, of any data or discoveries reported in scientific lit.

      Regardless whether info is accurately cited, the question goes to whether its utilization is theoretically sound, whether interpretation is critically valid - by scientific standards, not creationist. Unless we're trying to be 'rigorously uncritical' ...

      So that's question I ponder here, relative to Sheldrake's "Bohm-badier" name-dropping. What does Bohm say about Sheldrake citing him? Sources, citations - anyone?
      • Apr 1 2013: Here's a source:

        "The implicate order can be thought of as a ground beyond time, a totality, out of which each moment is projected into the explicate order, for every moment that is projected out into the explicate there would be another movement in which that moment would be injected or "introjected" back into the implicate order. If you have a large number of repetitions of this process, you'll start to build up a fairly constant component to this series of projection and injection. That is, a fixed disposition would become established. The point is that, via this process, past forms would tend to be repeated or replicated in the present, and THAT IS VERY SIMILAR TO WHAT SHELDRAKE CALLS A MORPHOGENETIC FIELD AND MORPHIC RESONANCE. Moreover, such a field would not be located anywhere. When it projects back into the totality (the implicate order), since no space and time are relevant there, all things of a similar nature might get connected together or resonate in totality. When the explicate order enfolds into the implicate order, which does not have any space, all places and all times are, we might say, merged, so that what happens in one place will interpenetrate what happens in another place."

        Thanks to Conor O'Higins who posted this a day or two ago. It's Sheldrake quoting Bohm in "The Presence of the Past: Morphic Resonance and the Habits of Nature". See:

        • Apr 1 2013: In the appendix to "Morphic Resonance", the update to "A New Science of Life", there is a dialogue between Sheldrake and Bohm where they discover that in many ways they arrived at the same thesis via different means. This dialogue is excerpted in a link to fair use excerpts from "Morphic Resonance" that is provided in the Amazon link I gave.
      • Apr 1 2013: And here's a video that certainly indicates they've shared their ideas:

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          Apr 2 2013: I as in Ojai when this was filmed.
          "K" Krishnamurti had profound connections with physicists and other scientists and he and David Bohm had many dialogs .
      • Apr 1 2013: What does creationism have to do with anything here? Are you saying that Sheldrake is a creationist? That Sheldrake applies creationist standards as opposed to scientific standards? If so, what evidence do you have that he applies these "creationist" standards, whatever they are, over scientific standards? Or are you really saying that the problem with his work is that it doesn't adhere to what prevailing consensus science considers permissible lines of inquiry?
  • Mar 29 2013: First, I would like to state the obvious. There are no extraordinary claims. Claims can only seem to be extraordinary because of the lens in which humans use to understand the cosmos has to be limited. Facts are facts and evidence is evidence. You have to be God in order to determine what is extraordinary. Obviously, everyone fails that test.

    Second, Sheldrake isn't claiming anything about materialism. He doe not have to. Materialism claims the cosmos is limited to specific phenomena. Moreover, materialism claims that consciousness is an illusion. The internal problem that causes is that a person that holds that view is saying they have no ability to determine ANYTHING. Their belief holds that everyone is unable to determine truth.

    If the philosophy of materialism excludes themselves as being able to determine truth as everything is a hallucination, then they cannot determine if someone else is able or not to determine a truth. They my be right that no one can determine truth, but they themselves would be unable to prove it. However, they are also unequipped to determine if they are wrong. That is why that road leads to nowhere.
    • Mar 30 2013: Beautifully said!

      As I've said before, Sheldrake's talk is not so much about making claims as it is about rebutting them
  • Mar 28 2013: From: http://www.forteantimes.com/features/fbi/6421/the_science_delusion.html

    In The Science Delusion, Sheldrake reminds us that scientists are, above all else, human, with all the short-comings and foibles of other mere mortals: “They compete for funding and prestige, constrained by peer-group pressures and hemmed in by prejudices and taboos.” This image runs directly counter to that actively promoted by scientists in recent history – one of a totally impartial, dispassionate elite, who can be uniquely relied upon to reveal the exact truth. Sheldrake quotes Ricky Gervais, who naïvely claims that: “Science is humble… It doesn’t get offended when new facts come along.” This popular view of science is aired regularly in the media by other high-profile celebrities. [...]

    Since the Enlightenment of the 18th century, the world of science has professed to operate in “an open-minded spirit of enquiry” but this is rarely true in practice; any modern research programme is under a good deal of pressure to not produce unexpected or unwanted results. Making waves by questioning accepted dogma is simply not on. Rupert Sheldrake may well be correct in his assertion that something fundamental has been ignored by science – it could even be something as important as gravity. But unless science comes to practise the open-mindedness that it preaches, we may never know. As Sheldrake writes:

    “In the Enlightenment ideal, science was a path to knowledge that would transform humanity for the better. Science and reason were the vanguard. These were, and still are, wonderful ideals, and they have inspired scientists for generations. They inspire me. I am all in favour of science and reason if they are scient-ific and reasonable. But I am against granting scientists and the materialist worldview an exemption from critical thinking and sceptical investigation. We need an enlightenment of the Enlightenment."
  • Mar 28 2013: Is this an idea worth spreading?
    If the goal of TED is to be a place promoting ideas which drives the field of science, this idea seems absolutely worth spreading. His talk reflect the reason that philosophy of science exist, and is such an important reminder in all scientifically works.

    Does Sheldrake accurately describe scientists beliefs?
    I find Sheldrake to educational describe some scientists beliefs. As scientists we have our different philosophical foundations who has an important impact on our research. One position may be the one Sheldrake ask questions about and another may be the position Sheldrake himself is a part of.

    Are his theories credible?
    Theories should be seen according to their philosophical traditions and foundations. The theories Sheldrake presents seems to have a credibility according to a set of different philosophical foundations. Process philosophy, phenomenology, panpsychism and idealism may in some part support his ideas. His theories will likely not find credibility in the traditions which he criticise; like materialism.

    What's the evidence?
    Sheldrake present questions and not evidence first of all in his talk. He present some thesis on the nature of certain things, but I do not experience that he present any evidence, beyond some historical data which would count as empirical, because his talk is not of such a character where evidence would add anything.

    TED have the potential to be a research social network with the best video presentations, but they need to be open for research of all kind then too.
  • Mar 27 2013: Has TED Talks not been embarrassed enough by its solipsistic "Science Board" to issue a full apology and amends to Hancock and Sheldrake? And to return their videos to the TED YouTube Channel and TED.com front page?? When are you people going to grow up enough to admit this egregious error??

    Or will this episode mark the beginning of the end of TED taken-seriously? Honestly, even your own TEDx staff has demanded a full apology and retraction. The TeaParty attitude of TED's "Science Board" recalls the church orthodoxy that took 400 years to apologize for censoring Galileo. Pathetic.
  • Mar 27 2013: Western science is only on discovering some of the things Eastern traditions have known for thousands of years.

    Sheldrake is right on. Always good to question the "establishment".

    Shame on TED and its "science advisors".
  • Mar 25 2013: ...And the 10 dogmas....

    "Here are the ten core beliefs that most scientists take for granted.
    1.Everything is essentially mechanical. Dogs, for example, are complex mechanisms, rather than living organisms with goals of their own. Even people are machines, ‘lumbering robots’, in Richard Dawkins’s vivid phrase, with brains that are like genetically programmed computers.
    2.All matter is unconscious. It has no inner life or subjectivity or point of view. Even human consciousness is an illusion produced by the material activities of brains.
    3.The total amount of matter and energy is always the same (with the exception of the Big Bang, when all the matter and energy of the universe suddenly appeared).
    4.The laws of nature are fixed. They are the same today as they were at the beginning, and they will stay the same for ever.
    5.Nature is purposeless, and evolution has no goal or direction.
    6.All biological inheritance is material, carried in the genetic material, DNA, and in other material structures.
    7.Minds are inside heads and are nothing but the activities of brains. When you look at a tree, the image of the tree you are seeing is not ‘out there’, where it seems to be, but inside your brain.
    8.Memories are stored as material traces in brains and are wiped out at death.
    9.Unexplained phenomena like telepathy are illusory.
    10.Mechanistic medicine is the only kind that really works.

    Together, these beliefs make up the philosophy or ideology of materialism, whose central assumption is that everything is essentially material or physical, even minds. This belief-system became dominant within science in the late nineteenth century, and is now taken for granted. Many scientists are unaware that materialism is an assumption: they simply think of it as science, or the
    scientific view of reality, or the scientific worldview. They are not actually taught about it, or given a chance to discuss it. They absorb it by a kind of intellectual osmosis."
    • Mar 25 2013: It should be noted that many people may only hold these dogmas partially, and also that they may be held unconsciously. In fact I think it would be rare or impossible to find someone who is absolutely certain on all ten points, but partial certainty on some of them is plenty enough to effect outlook.
  • Mar 25 2013: I thought this would be relavent here. This is from the Introduction of Sheldrake's book 'Science Set Free' on which this talk was based --

    "Contemporary science is based on the claim that all reality is material or physical. Th ere is no reality but material reality. Consciousness is a by-product of the physical activity of the brain. Matter is unconscious. Evolution is purposeless. God exists only as an idea in human minds, and hence in human heads.

    These beliefs are powerful, not because most scientists think about them critically but because they don’t. The facts of science are real enough; so are the techniques that scientists use, and the technologies based on them. But the belief system that governs conventional scientific thinking is an act of faith, grounded in a nineteenth-century ideology."
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    Mar 24 2013: A related issue is important in all this. People are getting smarter (not more stupid, as the skeptics would like to have us believe). Psychologist Stephen Flynn identified the fact that specific realms of human intelligence have been expanding dramatically, as indicated by IQ test scores – esp. visual-spatial intelligence and scientific thinking (and the capacity for abstraction). Flynn believes that people are smarter because of “scientific thinking”. In turn the widespread dissemination of “shorthand abstractions” such as “random sample”, “control group” and “falsifiability” equip us with cognitive tools which make us smarter. Still, Flynn is quick to criticise what he believes are false shorthand abstractions. He uses examples like “reality is a text” and “gender science”, and he is hostile to postmodern thought which attempts to contextualise knowledge formation. While some of Flynn’s criticisms of postmodern thought and relativism is well founded, his attitude highlights an issue at the heart of “the psi wars”. Conservative thinking in science wants us to accept the benefits of science and the great knowledge it has granted us. But many in the more conservative scientific community fail to grasp that the general public is now armed with a host of concepts akin to Flynn’s short-hand abstractions which make them far “smarter” than their parents. The concepts of “worldview”‘, “paradigm” and “ways of knowing”, for example, mean that masses of people are now able to pry behind the machinations of science to ask deeper questions about how our knowledge is produced and communicated. Sheldrake and many people looking at the issue from outside are just too informed to unquestioningly buy what they are being sold by TED and experts in the scientific community.
    As Einstein stated, a mind once expanded by a new idea can never return to its original size. Just as scientific literacy is here to stay, so is the deepening of awareness of how knowledge is created.
    • Mar 24 2013: Thankyou Marcus.

      I actually quoted that section of your blog post on the Hancock thread before I noticed you'd done it here. To it I said that I used to be slightly confused about the way 'skeptics' like to diss Derrida, Foucault, etc, but it is increasingly clear to me why they hate the whole postmodern school: it provides the perfect tools for dismantling the paradigm on which they depend.

      Oh to have Foucault speak on TED..
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    Mar 24 2013: Blogger Craig Weiler weighs in on TED's inappropriate tactics against Sheldrake and Hancock:

    " Having a discussion, but choosing to ignore it and rely on its board of materialist scientists instead.
    Removing both videos from the main page and quarantining both of them
    Defaming the the two presenters by claiming their talks were unscientific
    Presenting reasons for removing the talks that are so ludicrous as to be an obviously transparent attempt at ideological censorship
    Failing to acknowledge this ideological censorship for what it is
    Failing to directly address the rebuttals of both presenters
    Holding another debate, and splitting them in two even though the issues for both presentations were essentially the same
    Removing the ability to see the size of the debate or to jump to a particular section of it without a tedious and difficult process of sorting and counting
    Failing again to directly address the objections of both presenters to this new format (there are currently no objections raised against the presentations, so there is nothing for either of them to debate.)
    Creating a situation where their science board will have the last word.
    Dragging out the present debate for two weeks to wear down the opposition.
    Failing to acknowledge Sheldrake’s call for a debate with the science board "

    "It is all evasiveness, stonewalling and general pettiness. This is not what people do when they know that they are right; this is what they do when they know that they are wrong. "

    Kudos, Craig!

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      • Mar 24 2013: You know, I like a good intelligent discussion that forces me to consider that the opposing point of view might be better reasoned and more sound than my own. It's a thrilling moment of having my intellect challenged and tested.

        This is not it. As I go through your posts, I find nothing of substance to give me the slightest pause.

        You're up against some very scholarly people here. These short snarky posts aren't going to impress any of us.
      • Mar 24 2013: This isn't about whether or not we like science, it's about reclaiming science and the public image of science from the ideologues who've taken it hostage.
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        Mar 24 2013: Hey, Lime: one could fit the entire substance of all your comments into two words: unsupported and flippant. You're a fearful sort, or trying to hold onto a world which doesn't exist any more and never really did, or both. And TED's letting your unsupported, combative comments lie where you put them, which suggests to me they don't have the imagination or interest to moderate them.
    • Mar 24 2013: Materialist science as opposed to what exactly?! Immaterial superstition, supernatural invisibilism, ghostly essentialism, idealistic panpsychism..... What? And on what basis?
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        Mar 24 2013: How big a reading list would you like to start with, Julian?

        Radin - Entangled Minds
        Tart - The End of Materialism
        Beauregard & O'Leary - The Spiritual Brain
        Bucke - Cosmic Consciousness
        Chalmers - The Conscious Mind: In Search of a Fundamental Theory
        Kelly, Williams Kelly, Crabtree, Gauld, Grosso, and Greyson. - Irreducible Mind: Toward a Psychology for the 21st Century
        van Lommel - Consciousness Beyond Life: The Science of the Near-Death Experience
        Carpenter - First Sight
      • Mar 24 2013: It's actually kind of irrelevant because science is distinct from philosophy, strictly speaking. Science is for modeling the regularities of Nature, not interpreting them within a philosophy. Many scientists can rightly be considered pseudo philosophers for this reason. I personally do not mind that, but let's be honest and not delude ourselves, nor anyone else, as to what we're doing.
      • Mar 24 2013: Hi Julian, I'd be interested to get your thoughts on Sheldrake's response to the charges made against him by the TED Science Board. You can read it here: http://blog.ted.com/2013/03/14/open-for-discussion-graham-hancock-and-rupert-sheldrake/
      • Mar 24 2013: "Materialist science as opposed to what exactly?!"
        What a wonderful question! Probably a lot of materialist-atheist people believe that it has no answer - that you're either a materialist or you're at odds with some scientific evidence (though they seem to never specify what evidence).

        Oversimplifying a bit, we could break philosophy of mind down into 4 categories, and we'd find scientists, philosophers and mathematicians in all four camps:

        1. Matter is much more real than mind. Most scientists believe this, with the exception of most major quantum physicists. In philosophy of mind you have the eliminative materialists (like Dan Dennett and Paul & Patricia Churchland) and epiphenomenalists.

        2. Mind is much more real than matter. I'd put the quantum physicists Max Planck, Amit Goswami and John Archibald Wheeler, the astrophysicists James Jeans and Arthur Eddington, and lots of mathematicians in this camp. Also Hegel and Berkeley and some interpretations of Hinduism.

        3. Mind and matter are both real. Descartes was firmly in this camp. It fell out of fashion in philosophy, but became popular among physicists with the advent of quantum theory. Anyone who thinks that the quantum field is related to consciousness (while the world of classical physics is obviously related to the body) could be categorized here: John von Neumann, Eugene Wigner, Henry Stapp, David Bohm, Wolfgang Pauli, and most definitely Sir Roger Penrose and his quantum-consciousness school. (Anton Zeilinger is in a weird quantum superposition occupying both this category and the idealist category.) We can probably put Rupert Sheldrake in here.

        4. Neither mind nor matter are real. They are both illusions or mere metaphors. According to my interpretation, Gautama Buddha, Lao-Tzu, Vedanta, Aleister Crowley, A.N. Whitehead, Niels Bohr, Wittgenstein, Heidegger and Robert Anton Wilson believed this. Instrumentalist and Copenhagenist interpretations of quantum mechanics seem to me to fall into this camp.
  • Mar 21 2013: I really hope something positive comes from this. Hopefully TED will stop acting beholden to a small number of angry atheist bloggers, people who seem to get a kick out of being obnoxious and rudely dismissive towards anyone who does not subscribe to their rigid belief system. It genuinely worries me that TED would publicly thank people like Jerry Coyne. Unfortunately that, and the folks at TED's subsequent actions, make me think the higher ups at TED share a similar disdain, a similar lack of respect for anyone whose ideas challenge their belief system. Maybe TED will prove me wrong. Maybe they'll host a conference with people like Dean Radin and Rupert Sheldrake and Erlendur Haraldsson- and when bloggers like Myers and Coyne inevitably complain TED won't cave this time, they'll actually show some courage and leave the videos up for people to watch, without a "health warning", and trust that their audience are capable of making up their own minds. They'll understand that they don't need a few people from TED to tell them what to think. And host a conference on NDE research and have people like Sam Parnia, Eben Alexander, Raymond Moody, and Pim van Lommel. These are important topics, of enormous interest to the vast majority of people, and TED has largely shut itself off from them. Most of all, I want someone from TED to debate Sheldrake and defend the accusations that have been made against him. After all the insults, labeling him a "pseudoscientist", I think you owe him that.
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      Mar 21 2013: Joe: Thank you! Yes to everything you wrote except the "health warning." There are those of us with children who still want to advance clear-headed values, and I won't be sending anyone's child off to experience illegal substances, whether or not the legality is morally correct.
  • Mar 21 2013: The actions of TED would not look out of place in a Laurel and Hardy sketch. The organization is obviously run by a bunch of rank amateurs who are too easily swayed by drama queens like Jerry Coyne - a "skeptic" blogger who likes to make outrageous claims in order to attract people to his blog. It is time to speak to some real scientists and not those calling for censorship. It is time for TED to do the right thing and they can begin by allowing Sheldrake to face his accusers.
  • Mar 20 2013: I want to address an argument I see coming up again and again:
    - Sheldrake claims that there is a dogma that [X]
    - But I found this statement by scientist [Y] questioning [X]
    - Therefore Sheldrake is wrong about there being a dogma.

    I don't think Rupert Sheldrake believes that ALL scientists follow ALL ten dogmas ALL of the time. Of course the constancy of constants gets questioned. Of course mainstream scientists occasionally write about mind-body effects. But that doesn't change the fact that the PREDOMINANT mode of thinking in science is to ASSUME a mechanistic-nomological-Platonist view of universe.

    Sheldrake's own words (http://www.skeptiko.com/184-dr-rupert-sheldrake-sets-science-free-from-dogma/):
    "I think that there are plenty of people in academic science who are not materialists. One of the points I try to make in my book [Science Set Free] is that a great many scientists nowadays are not materialists; they’re not Atheists. The culture of science and indeed of the academic world is generally speaking Atheistic and materialistic. But that’s the kind of surface culture people pay lip service to in public. In private, there are a great many people with different views."

    (By the way, this fits pretty well with my experiences of chatting to professional scientists about their beliefs.)
  • Mar 19 2013: I have been thinking quite a bit about the genesis of this controversy. TED curator Chris Anderson stated in the comments to “Graham Hancock and Rupert Sheldrake, a Fresh Take” that the removals had nothing to with “radical atheists.” While it is true that atheism might not have played a role in the TED staff’s decision, it certainly motivated the bloggers who forced TED’s hand. Jerry Coyne even makes this explicit in one of his blog posts on Sheldrake: http://whyevolutionistrue.wordpress.com/2012/02/06/the-guardian-touts-sheldrake-again-pigeons-find-their-way-home-ergo-jesus/ Jerry Coyne and the other bloggers who started the firestorm are atheists and adherents of philosophical naturalism. They believe that the only real things in the universe are material things, that human beings are “wet robots,” and that free will is an illusion. Moreover, they believe that science has vindicated this metaphysical stance, and that every scientist, if he wishes to be intellectually honest, must subscribe to it. Of course, this is not to say that all scientists are atheists or philosophical naturalists, but a large proportion are, and the percentage is even higher among elite scientists. This article on the reaction to philosopher Thomas Nagel’s recent book, Mind and Cosmos: Why the Materialist Neo-Darwinian Conception of Nature is Almost Certainly False, makes that point clear: http://www.weeklystandard.com/articles/heretic_707692.html?page=1 Nagel’s sin, if you will pardon the pun, was to question the physicalist worldview. Despite being an atheist himself, he was excoriated for “[bringing] comfort to creationists and fans of Intelligent Design. I feel like something similar is going on here. Although neither Sheldrake nor Hancock bring up God in their talks, their criticisms of physicalism and discussions of the alleged irreducibility of consciousness smacks of religion in their critics’ eyes . Again, I am not saying that TED acted as it did because it is atheistic, but
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      Gail .

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      Mar 20 2013: I am. (though I know that not ALL are atheist). But they are not atheist with a small "a". They are Atheist with a capital "A". Because they will not allow discussion of the science that doesn't fit into their neat little worldview, they are, by any definition, Atheist - the religion.

      They have done GREAT damage to the atheist community that loves ALL science regardless of the directions that the science takes us.
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    Mar 19 2013: Is Rupert Sheldrake a scientist, or a pseudo-scientist?

    Here's his academic pedigree.

    1) Double first class honours degree, Cambridge University, awarded the University Botany Prize
    2) Studied philosophy and history of science at Harvard University, Frank Knox Fellow
    3) Ph.D. in biochemistry, Cambridge University
    4) Fellow of Clare College, Cambridge - Director of Studies in biochemistry and cell biology
    5) Rosenheim Research Fellow of the Royal Society
    6) With Philip Rubery, discovered the mechanism of polar auxin transport
    7) Principal Plant Physiologist and Consultant Physiologist at the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT)
    8) Director of the Perrott-Warrick Project funded from Trinity College, Cambridge
    9) Fellow of Schumacher College, in Dartington, Devon
    10) Fellow of the Institute of Noetic Sciences near San Francisco
    11) Visiting Professor at the Graduate Institute in Connecticut
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    Mar 19 2013: There are clearly taboo subjects in mainstream science. Some scientists and educated individuals buck the trend to discuss and research them, but many others are afraid to do so openly, even when they themselves find such topics compelling. Telepathy is one such taboo, and by extension, any case in which information is exchanged without a recognized physical mechanism. These taboos are institutionalized in the peer review processes of top scientific journals and so called skeptics routinely denigrate any scientist offering contrary hypothesis in a knee-jerk fashion. If any can dispute this, please do so.

    The dogmas Sheldrake lists largely stem from the materialist philosophy, which dominates authoritative science and the beliefs of many educated, usually liberal, lay people. This is true despite the fact that 51% of scientists believe in God or a spiritual force, according to a 2009 Pew poll. http://www.pewforum.org/Science-and-Bioethics/Scientists-and-Belief.aspx

    What is the evidence for these dogmas? I'd love it if some scientists could share their experiences here, however doing so might harm their careers, so I doubt any will do so. I don't have time at the moment to delineate the evidence myself, point by point. That is in part what Sheldrake has done in his book Science Set Free, so perhaps a review of his statements there are in order, for those who doubt this state of affairs.
  • Apr 2 2013: Hi Jim!
    I understand you frustration (I believe that is what you're feeling, if I'm hearing hearing you correctly). I see the entire debate here (and else where), as a natural process for an emerging science. We do have some wonderfully thoughtful responses by average folks like us, some gracious contributions by serious researchers - such as Larry Dossey and even Russel Targ! We have also been give lots of references to look at and consider. This kind of raucous food fight / debate will continue for years as the old paradigms make way for the new science. I know we've seen a few intensionally hurtful or disrespectful responses. But, this is what happens when belief systems get challenged and some begin to feel threatened. It's just human. I just have to reiterate my theme of personal, experiencial evidence for personal reality model building.
    The founder of Analytical Psychology, Carl Jung was asked in an intervue I saw 'do you believe in god? He paused for a moment and then said "No ... I don't believe, I know! How could such a well respected researcher say such a thing? He had experienced a massive heart attack and a full-blown near death experience. again, person proofs (which can be well beyond our current technology and symbolic language to communicate or test) is at the heart of this entire issue.
    Best Wishes
  • Apr 2 2013: On the 20th anniversary of Woodstock, Bill Graham participated in a forum about the lasting impact of the gathering in American society and culture. He was asked, "What is the single most important lesson learned from Woodstock." His answer surprised me, but I still recall it decades later. He said, "The most important lesson of Woodstock was the consumer products and media industries learned how big the hippie market was." Beforehand, the American mainstream thought the hippie culture was a tiny subset of American youth. They targeted their products and services to the more clean-cut, mainstream American Bandstand demographic. But when 500,000 kids showed up to Woodstock, it opened their eyes.

    Something like this may come from this debacle. TED will not change its decision nor address the substance of its error in public. The controversy will be buried to the best of its ability. TED is now revealed to be an instrument of mainstream corporate media and will conform to its taboos and prohibitions in service of their financial interests.

    However, the lasting impact of the ham-handed and unintelligible censorship may be the realization at the size of the market of educated scientists and professionals who have had direct experiences with psi phenomenon. They are no longer satisfied with the ill-founded criticisms that these experiences are illusory self-deceptions.

    This debate has revealed that the potential audience for Sheldrake's science is far larger than anyone knew. In this sense, TED's poor judgment may prove to their detriment as their brand becomes identified with Ideas Worth Suppressing/Corporate Infomercials Worth Spreading.
  • Mar 30 2013: The discussion is being hijacked by a troll. Sheldrake's talk at TEDx had nothing to do with television psychics.
    • Mar 30 2013: I know that I'm going to sleep better at night knowing that all over the world skeptics are working tirelessly to protect me from having any woo thoughts.
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        • Mar 30 2013: Jimmy, why not educate yourself in the areas of philosophy and delve deeply into it and then start to ask yourself what "thinking" even is. Start with Heidegger's, "Das Man" then reflect deeply upon who it is that you are and what reality you are experiencing for yourself.

          People on this forum are already onto you being a "troll." The pattern is quite clear. People can't be fooled so easily now.
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        • Mar 30 2013: what is insulting and weak about Sheldrake's talk? and what is the evidence being presented that Sheldrake's talk is not just a little or a portion of it inaccurate, but so inaccurate it should be deleted/held up as an example of how not to do a TED talk?
        • Mar 30 2013: Gary - Sheldrake's talk is weak because he is no different from a right wing Christian preaching that Jesus is the one true savior. On top of that, Sheldrake's talk is trying to convince people that TV psychics like Sylvia Browne and James van Praagh have real supernatural powers. Did you even watch the video?

          This is the main argument Jimmy Randy (James Randi) has been smearing everywhere.
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    Mar 29 2013: There are many psychics. Look at those who attended the Scole Experiment; look at those included In Gary Schwartz's Afterlife Experiments. Those are examples from contemporary studies. But there are many historical examples, such as Leonora Piper, Lesley Flint and a host of others. The many highly intelligent and distinguished scientists who have, over the past century, given their services to the SPR and, following their investigations, concluded that the phenomena they witnessed were real, cannot be dismissed out of hand. They were neither fools nor fundamentalist religious zealots, they were some of the best scientific mindsof their time. To attempt to dismiss this area of investigation out of hand is a gross example of arrogance and disrespect for some of our greatest scientific minds in history.
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      • Mar 30 2013: here you go. ~ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4VJoc8nE6ik

        i bet you didn't see that coming.

        you're welcome.
      • Mar 30 2013: Everybody apparently. Or at least that's what the scientific evidence suggests. Too early to be absolutely certain but well enough established for a reasonable person to believe it is so. That's not to say one has to believe it, one doesn't, but the most unreasonable position is absolute denial allied with a refusal to acknowledge that is possible to tentatively accept the phenomenon as genuine - ie, your position.
  • Mar 28 2013: just wanted to share this very astute observation by this blogger. i think it reflects a lot, if not most, of the opinions of the people here on TED Conversations who have been following the Sheldrake and Hancock TEDx talks censorship (um, i meant suppression from the official TED/TEDx distribution channels). it's a great read.

    "Nonetheless, what is very notable is that no TED representative engaged in the discussion, other than one or two short comments on the first day or two. Absent also were any notable critics from the materialist camp, other than a very small number of rather fanatical skeptics who used pseudonyms to post. These people did little more than keep repeating  the same mantra about “woo” and endlessly restating  “Where is the evidence?” This was despite the fact that both talks were heavily philosophical, and Sheldrake’s consisted primarily of asking ten questions about the foundations of science. Probably 95 percent of the comments on the four discussion threads were dominated by idealists, many of them venting anger.
    So far TED has not responded to Sheldrake’s request for an open debate on the issues he bought up in his talk. Personally, I doubt that they will. They have little to gain, and it is difficult to find scientifically literate individuals who have Sheldrake’s extensive knowledge of the subject matters he raises. Most of the criticisms it raised of Sheldrake’s talk are simply unsubstantiated, and defending them would be close to impossible. TED, and its science advisory board, risk looking rather foolish in any public debate. The support that Sheldrake and Hancock have received over this issue has probably spooked them, I suspect. Still, I would love to see such an open debate. I just don’t think it is going to happen."

    ~ http://www.mind-futures.com/the-way-out-of-the-ted-mess-1-the-problem/
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      • Mar 28 2013: Jimmy,

        so are you suggesting that Dr. Michael Persinger did not do good science with his research on psi? are you saying that the Ganzfeld experiments did not yield a statistically significant result on psi?

        it's not my first time in the skeptical ringer. i am a skeptic, but in a true *philosophical* meaning of the word (see Pyrrhonism), and not a Skeptic of Shermer variety. I understand how the scientific method works. I know how double-blind experiment works, and i know how peer reviews are conducted.

        so yeah, this skeptic is not a stranger to the skeptical ringer.

        speaking of McKenna, yes he had a some way out there ideas, but what I liked about him was that he was an out of the box thinker which made him very interesting. and besides, he was right about psychedelics -- it dissolves boundaries. here's a TEDx talk given by Dr. Roland Griffiths on psilocybin. you're welcome.

        "Roland Griffiths, Ph.D., is Professor in the Departments of Psychiatry and Neurosciences at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. His principal research focus in both clinical and preclinical laboratories has been on the behavioral and subjective effects of mood-altering drugs."

        ~ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LKm_mnbN9JY
      • Mar 28 2013: oh, Jimmy, the JREF $1M prize is not as easy as you paint it to be. it's actually a joke. ~ http://stevevolk.com/archives/1040

        and btw, thanks for evading my points on Persinger and Roland Griffiths. and if Shermer/Randi are the main source of your skepticism, then i rest my case.
        • Mar 28 2013: Thanks for the link. Randi too is a dogmatist, allowing his emotions to override basic scientific reasoning!
      • Mar 28 2013: As someone who has been engaging skeptics for many years, I can tell you that it's not a skeptical ringer so much as a house of mirrors. You make a lot of claims, but don't display a lot of knowledge. If you are knowledgeable about parapsychology, now would be the time to demonstrate it. I've got a post on the evidence for telepathy. Have at it:

        We're all waiting for the science board to weigh in, which strangely enough, comes after the debate. I'm not sure how they think we're going to respond if their new decision is as poorly thought out as the last one. None of this really makes sense to me. A typical scientific discussion requires all the information up front. No surprises.
        • Mar 28 2013: Craig,


          simply put. there are skeptics (in the true sense of the philosophical meaning of the word), and there are pseudo-skeptics.

          go figure :)
      • Mar 28 2013: Jimmy Randy,
        I've given you a post on telepathy so that you can show us your knowledge of parapsychology. Please point out specifically what problem you have with the Ganzfeld and why you think the experiments and meta analyses are not sufficient evidence for the existence of telepathy.
  • Mar 27 2013: Have the debate; restore the talks to their original place. Stop eroding our faith in TED!! Wake up guys...
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    Mar 26 2013: I'm of the opinion that TED have taken offence at Sheldrake and Hancock's talks because they are credible scientists.

    If they were religious or spiritual people TED would have easily ignored them as from the loony fringe. Likewise if they were simply non-scientists they would have been given considerable slack - listen to Jane Fonda's TED WOMEN talk (it's worth a listen anyway - it's a great talk) http://www.ted.com/talks/jane_fonda_life_s_third_act.html

    Neither Sheldrake or Hancock said anything outrageous, neither were rude or offensive. Both have presented their cases calmly and clearly, using plain language. The fee paying TED audience appeared to enjoy and appreciate both speakers. The issue they discuss is one of current scientific investigation - what is human consciousness? A brain or spiritual function? The answer is not clear - perhaps it is a question without an answer.

    Who am I? is the root of philosophy - people have been asking that question for thousands of years, so who is TED to stop anyone asking that question and posing their answer or challenging the current scientific status quo. Science is based on challenge. Only bigots and people fixed in fundamental dogma behave in such a closed minded way.
    • Mar 26 2013: Actually, Hancock is not a scientist and has never passed himself off as one. Sheldrake, on the other hand, is a very credible scientist, though perhaps not to the psuedosckeptics.
  • Mar 25 2013: Seems TED saw the writing on the wall and turned back to save themselves. Good on them. I hope they learned their lesson and get rid of their invisible board or get members unafraid to voice their opinions publically and have the courage to stand by them. Oh, it would be nice if their opinions had facts in them as well unlike the present board. However, the board was not the only warrior hiding behind the skirts of a women. While TED gave the board invisibility they then used that as an excuse to not follow very basic logic by suggesting that they could not disagree with their board's opinions. Nobody sane needs TED to tell them when ideas are off the wall. We all can discern that for ourselves. The question is is this the end or just the beginning. If the motivations of TED have not been altered but just adjusted to meet the new challenges of keeping ideas they don't like out, then they will only be smarter about what does not gather protests like the videos that were banned before when no outcry came forth. I have not heard what the `jobs are not created by the wealthy' and 7 foot giants of north America stand with them. These are based on facts just the same as Sheldrake's ideas.

    This will repeat unless the standard is that the talk must stand on facts. That to me is the only criteria that matters.

    TED can ask for a transcript of any TEDx talk and have it go thru their publically known board. Any disagreement of what the facts are can be aired publically. Any disagreements can stand on that alone. At least local organizations will know where TED and they stand. Any other way is likely to end TED's brand for good, which oddly is what they publically stated they desired to protect.

    I find this nonsense. TED wants to become established in a bigger way quickly and that requires bowing to the establishment and their agenda. The truth requires much more work than that.

    Good luck TED in making the right choices.
  • Mar 25 2013: "When you start studying psychic phenomena, a lot of people get upset". Dean Radin

    The talk is starting with anecdotic reports he is receiving in the hundreds moving to some very hard evidence obtained for Ganzfeld telepathic experiments in numerous university labs over the last 90 years, when you are just interested to see these results, move to 12:44 onward.

    Experiments done at:

    Havard University
    Duke University
    City State University of New York
    University of California, Los Angeles
    (long list)

    Overall hit rate 32%, that is 7% over chance, for the used 1-out-of-4 picture selection task, done by the receiver in acoustic and electromagnetic shielded rooms.

    I think this is very convincing evidence.


    " DEAN RADIN: Men Who Stare at Photons, Part 1 | EU 2013

    By its discernment of connectedness within every domain of the physical world, the Electric Universe progressively breaks down the boundaries between "normal" and "paranormal." Now it calls for consideration of phenomena that have been rigorously investigated for over a century. The phenomena studied include direct interactions between minds, and between minds and matter, now confirmed through rigorous experiments.

    Dean Radin is Senior Scientist at the Institute of Noetic Sciences and author of over 200 articles and three books: The Conscious Universe "
  • Mar 22 2013: Censorship has its uses. For example, words of hate, racial slurs, or words intended to threaten or cause harm should be censored. Children should be protected from age-inappropriate sexual content, so we censor what goes out over the airwaves (to some degree). However, there really is no place for censorship within the context of intellectual debate amongst participating adults. I don't need to be "protected" from Sheldrake's and Hancock's ideas. As an educated adult, a former college instructor, I can surely assess for myself whether or not I find their ideas worth considering. I do happen to agree with much of what Sheldrake asserted, but my agreement or non-agreement is really beside the point. What disturbs me most about TED's actions regarding these talks is that it would appear the scientific community has cowed the organizers into doing something unconscionable -- censoring a talk based upon the ideological content alone. TED, give us the respect we deserve and let us decide for ourselves what to believe. Ideas should stand or fall on their own merit. Your reputation is gravely at stake on this one.
  • Mar 22 2013: The open letter from the White Chapel team is most excellent. I agree with every point. However, I doubt it will have any impact that will alter the situation because it was not caused by a lack of care on their part. Any organization at some point will try to achieve greater power in society and will choose to align themselves with either the free truth or the more established and influential elements holding significant cards in the bigger game. The pocketed influencers begin to slowly alter the game to their advantage as they always do. Like Fox so called news in the US facts begin to be challenged. Agruments that favor the rich and established begin to take hold. 7 foot tall giants are shot down by an invisible board despite the fact that the records of them are in the scientific literature. The false idea that the rich are job creators is safeguarded. A war on consciousness is renewed by denial. While TED has every right to not show any video it wants it simply cannot do so arbitrarily without consequences. And the consequences are here. The idea of TED is dead unless they alter course 180 degrees to save themselves. Dr. Sheldrake is their own self inflicted stake in the heart. There is nothing false stated in the video by this man of great integrity. However, it will not matter one wit that what he stated was correct. He will be outcast because he has upset greatly the powers that be.

    I doubt anyone knows why they so greatly fear this humble man. It is because he dares suggest that their sacred paradigm is to be doubted. Not since Kepler and Aristotle's perfect circle as the be all of paradigm's for the motion of the heavenly bodies has such an sacrilege been committed. Now Sheldrake threatens their second Aristotle paradigm that mass attracts mass. Of course, in that universe it made sense because the Earth was the center of the universe and as the center all non heavenly stuff had to fall together. [I'll continue this about big G next post].
  • Mar 21 2013: I really enjoyed Rupert Sheldrake and Graham Hancock's talks on TED. I was shocked to hear that TED removed them, after asking them both to give talks on challenging existing paradigms. They basically did exactly what they were asked to do and now they are being punished for it. This makes no sense! Diversity of perspectives is a good thing that is needed for growth. The people can decide for themselves what they believe. I strongly encourage TED to both put their TED talks back where they belong on TED and take them up on this debate idea. Healthy discussion is a path towards healing, censorship of ideas seems to go against what TED stands for. I know I would lose a lot of respect for TED if this mistake is not handled better in the future. Thanks for being open to feedback, you got that part right!
  • Mar 21 2013: Well, it looks like Dr. Sheldrake is offering TED an opportunity to explain themselves (and make amends?) Considering the catastrophic negative hit TED Talks has taken by this episode - accepting Sheldrake's offer to debate the TED "Science Board" is most generous. Refusal to follow through and allow the public to see who and how your "Science Board" operates - will nail the TED coffin shut.

    OPEN science means OPEN dialog - allowing the public to determine whom to follow and for what reasons. TED? Your move.
  • Mar 21 2013: I am very much looking forward to the proposed debate between Rupert Sheldrake and a member of TED's Scientific Board or TED's Brain Trust. Such a debate, if conducted fairly, could contribute to undoing some of the damage done to TED's credibility as a result of the recent censorship of Sheldrake's talk.
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    Mar 21 2013: Wow. Amazing posts, all. Hey, TED: I'd like it if you had a fairly-refereed debate, as Sheldrake has asked. Whad'ya say? The worst that could happen is that you generate some positive publicity about a situation which bruised your reputation. Right? Sheldrake's a big boy and can take care of himself in a fair fight.
  • Mar 21 2013: Maybe one way forward would be for TED to host a series of debates. It's not perfect in my opinion, I'd rather have these people be able to present their research free of interruptions, like other TED speakers, but it would at least get TED to start devoting more resources to these issues, issues that I suspect would be of great interest to the TED community. So maybe have someone like Dean Radin debate a skeptic on the issue of telepathy, have a debate on NDE research, etc. Like I said, I hate the idea that researchers into these issues can't simply present their research like other scientists who speak at TED, but maybe this could be a step forward, and could be something that the folks at TED could agree to. The worst thing would be if TED continues to ignore these issues- or allows people like Richard Dawkins to be the only voice heard when it comes to them.
  • Mar 21 2013: I actually believe that some good is going to come out of this mess. It has sent a clear message to the “skeptical” community, that their attempt to police human knowledge is doomed to failure. This vocal group of activists are the modern equivalent of “curtain twitchers” – people who spy on their neighbors and constantly call in complaints to the police. The modern skepticism cause is inherently unpopular because most decent people view this type of behavior as a bit nasty. The skeptics were ignored while they kept their activities under the radar, but now that they are more actively working for censorship of ideas they can expect a backlash.
  • Mar 21 2013: The fact that TED took this action in the first place has tarnished their image. By refusing to put things right, they are doing irreparable damage. The outrage against TED is increasing, and all the only benefit of their actions has been to introduce the ideas of Rupert Sheldrake to an even wider audience - I doubt that this was their original intention. TED needs to take immediate action to salvage their reputation while there is something left to salvage. They are deluded if they believe that they are too big to fail.
  • Mar 20 2013: I think it's great that TED provides a forum for discussing these issues, but this is a true pandora's box. Now that it's been done, it's quite important for TED to follow through in a meaningful way, otherwise this is simply censorship lite.

    The original claim by the science board that Sheldrake's presentation was unscientific was pure fiction. That's clear to every objective person and it is the primary reason that so many people have been up in arms.

    TED has not admitted this, which has further fueled the flames.

    Now we have two nearly insurmountable problems: The first is that the science board decided that Sheldrake and Hancock had to go and proceeded to cook up reasons to get rid of them. This is the most obvious and parsimonious explanation for what happened.

    We now are being asked to trust this same science board, which acted unethically, to go back and review the videos again. And this is the first problem: We have no reason to trust them.

    The second problem is the secret nature of this committee. We already don't trust them, so now we have a second reason to not trust them. If they are radical materialists, what's the point? Why not close the discussion now and give both Sheldrake and Hancock the boot " just because." It would be about as credible.
  • Mar 20 2013: TED is suffering from a failed attempt at a sucker punch...they waved their hand over this way a few times, said " look over here" and then faltered in the follow through. (Sheldrake and Hancock are still standing!)
    A huge crowd has gathered to discuss events and much has been said many ways that has been a great lesson for all...
    BUT, almost everyone is still incensed that they have not shown any class and apologized for the name calling that began this brouhaha!
    This is a direct request that Chris respond and apologize for the impolite( and impolitic) way he handled things at the very beginning.
    • Mar 20 2013: I second that request. TED backtracked somewhat on the accusations they made against Hancock and Sheldrake, but they really need to say, "We were wrong and we are sorry" if they want to salvage some credibility.
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    Mar 20 2013: For me this whole thing boils down to process.

    Back in 2009, in the spirit of radical openness, TED opened up and created the TEDx platform. As a result, they turned thousands of TED enthusiasts all over the world into TED activists. A mere four years later the conference has become a movement, impacting the lives of millions. The benefits have been self-evident for a while but potential problems are only now beginning to surface.

    But how do you maintain innovation of a scale as vast as this? Our experience at TEDxSoweto tells us that there are five important balancing acts that will determine the future success of TEDx, and TED itself.

    1. Volunteerism vs. Sustainability:
    TEDx works because good people are willing to become active participants for no apparent financial gain. As the stakes become higher their resources will be put under considerable strain.

    2. Independence vs. Accountability:
    While most TEDx organizers are fiercely independent free spirits, they are smart enough to understand that for the big idea to work they will need to allow themselves to be accountable to the broader TEDx community.

    3. Guidelines vs. Rules:
    Each TEDx takes place in it’s own unique environment. That requires a fair amount of flexibility in approach to allow for all potential variables. The guidelines and rules that TEDx uses to manage this are sometimes too loose, and other times too rigid.

    4. Accessibility vs. Exclusivity:
    TEDx has turned a very exclusive club into a more accessible one. At what point will this runaway success begin to cannibalize the exclusivity that made the original idea special in the first place?

    5. Virality vs. Control:
    Ideas want to be free. But are we happy for any idea to be free? Should some ideas be freer than others? How much control do we want to have over which ideas go viral in our name?

    Our team at TEDxSoweto grapples with these issues everyday. This debate has made their resolution more urgent.
  • Mar 20 2013: I think part of the problem is that TED's guidelines are far too restrictive. In a post the other night TED claims they understand that what is considered heretical today might become accepted science tomorrow, as they put it, "scientific assumptions get turned upside down". They also say they take a broad view towards "ideas worth sharing". But go read the guidelines they've sent out and tell me if you think the guidelines are compatible with their stated beliefs. I read them and immediately thought, if TED were around when Alfred Russel Wallace and Charles Darwin were doing research, neither would be allowed to speak at TED or TEDx- that is, if these guidelines were being applied fairly. Both Wallace and Darwin would've thrown up far too many red flags. I appreciate that TED doesn't want to be a platform for crazy people- but I think they should err on the side of free speech and common sense instead of dogma and closed minds. You could pick apart any number of TED talks and come up with errors- but most people just aren't motivated to try and censor things that they disagree with. However, there is a small group of people out there who feel threatened by people like Sheldrake, who seem to want everyone to subscribe to their belief system. These people see nothing wrong with trying to suppress ideas. And sadly, they seem to have found sympathetic ears in some of the key people at TED. They complain, TED removes. Don't believe me? Go look at Jerry Coyne's blog. He complained about Sheldrake- TED put up a post about removing the Sheldrake vid. He complained about Hancock- well look who else TED decides to remove. If you or I were inclined to start pointing out problems with TED talks that essentially support the materialist belief system, do you think they would take our concerns so seriously and start promptly removing vids? Anyway, here are the guidelines:
  • Mar 20 2013: I don't think this is an issue of censorship. TED is privately managed. For me this is an issue of PRETENSE. It has become VERY clear through this debacle that TED is not what it pretends to be. It's always good to have more clarity moving forward. And sometimes it takes time and real tests to reveal these things.
    • Mar 20 2013: Exactly. The only damage that has been done is to TED's reputation.
  • Mar 20 2013: thanks to TED for holding this space for discussion as well as for publishing Rupert Sheldrake and Graham Hancock's responses on the original blog post that started it all.

    i'd like to mention that i'm a big fan of TED. i've learned a lot over the years and have watched hundreds of inspirational and intellectual presentations. i have promoted and shared TED talks that i find stimulating and inspiring. so thank you to all the people behind TED's continuing success and service. more power to the TED and TEDx brand.

    now that i got that out of the way... it's precisely because my admiration for TED that got me passionately involved with this discussion. it's not because that i'm a Sheldrake fan or one of Hancock's "army of passionate supporters." i have watched Sheldrake's and Hancock's TEDx talks multiple times before it was pulled out of the official distribution channel. i was glad to see their voices represented on TEDx. for me, their ideas are worth spreading. that's why i was so disappointed when I've learned that their talks got pulled from the official distribution channel.

    i'm well aware that Sheldrake is a devisive personality in the scientific establishment, but he is no pseudoscientist. Sheldrake is a hard core scientist who just happen to have theories that challenge the fabric of scientific materialism. he is willing to work with scientists who will be eager conduct experiments on his theory.

    that said, what I'd like to see is a discussion and/or debate between Sheldrake and the people (i.e. anonymous science board, Jerry Coyne, PZ Myers, etc.) who accused Sheldrake of pseudoscience. this is a scientific and philosophy of science discussion. i'd rather watch the pros do it in the arena of public discussion than a bunch of us amateurs hacking away at something we don't fully understand. my two cents.

    P.S. hats off to the Buddhist Priest (Kathy Havens - http://www.ted.com/profiles/516449) in this forum. i agree with her eloquent and passionate opinion
    • Mar 20 2013: Yes, very much thanks TED for holding this space for discussion. I was disturbed myself when I saw so much net negativity aimed at them, at such an early stage in what looks like could be an informative and growth-inducing debate for all - including TED.

      I appreciate people have strong opinions, and I think its wrong to jump on Ted like this, without giving them time to respond, and to develop a dialogue. It looks like they made a mistake, but i don't think its that bad a one, and, as I thought they would they are doing something about it, They do seem reasonable to me, more reasonable than many commentators. I appreciate its fully their remit to behave professionally maturely, reasonably and fairly...
  • Mar 19 2013: TED describes itself as about "spreading ideas" In Sheldrake's opinion, some aspects of science are dogmatic, and some constants are not as constant as are often taught. And you see no irony in removing a talk about these questions?

    This is not about whether a talk should be considered to be 100% science. It is about why a couple of anonymous individuals can assess a talk on the philosophy of science, as hard science, and why they exempt themselves from following the principles they are trying to uphold, (a) by not providing sufficient rationale for their case (what many errors?) (b) suggesting a talk is pseudoscience, a pejorative label with no scientifically agreed definition, under the guise that they are making a valid scientific assessment, sounds very much like one of the many indicators of pseudoscience (c) that so few people can make such a radical decision.

    There are many subjects areas that I do not "believe" or accept, but I will completely support the right of individuals to make their case, so I can assess their argument for science, rationale, and logical thinking.

    If a talk is so bad and unscientific as people purport, what a great way to demonstrate the un-dogmatic, logical, and rationale process of the scientific method.
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      Mar 20 2013: There's a lot of interesting things on citizen science. That's a way Dr. Sheldrake could gather more data in a rigorous way. I suggest collaborating with somebody like James Randi for experimental deisign
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        Gail .

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        Mar 20 2013: You started your earlier post with a call for civility then you insult your critics in an uncivilized way.

        You offer the name James Randi (who wrote one of my favorite quotes) as someone with a more legitimate and more rigorous mind. Again, you show your bias and lack of critical thinking skills.
      • Mar 20 2013: Guido, I am absolutely stunned that anyone with the slightest knowledge of these issues would recommend Randi. Randi is not a scientist- he is a showman. And not a particularly honest one at that. This is what Sheldrake has to say about an encounter he had with Randi:
        The January 2000 issue of Dog World magazine included an article on a possible sixth sense in dogs, which discussed some of my research. In this article Randi was quoted as saying that in relation to canine ESP, "We at the JREF [James Randi Educational Foundation] have tested these claims. They fail." No details were given of these tests.

        I emailed James Randi to ask for details of this JREF research. He did not reply. He ignored a second request for information too.

        I then asked members of the JREF Scientific Advisory Board to help me find out more about this claim. They did indeed help by advising Randi to reply. In an email sent on Februaury 6, 2000 he told me that the tests he referred to were not done at the JREF, but took place "years ago" and were "informal". They involved two dogs belonging to a friend of his that he observed over a two-week period. All records had been lost. He wrote: "I overstated my case for doubting the reality of dog ESP based on the small amount of data I obtained. It was rash and improper of me to do so."

        Randi also claimed to have debunked one of my experiments with the dog Jaytee, a part of which was shown on television. Jaytee went to the window to wait for his owner when she set off to come home, but did not do so before she set off. In Dog World, Randi stated: "Viewing the entire tape, we see that the dog responded to every car that drove by, and to every person who walked by." This is simply not true, and Randi now admits that he has never seen the tape.

        I will keep this temperate but let me just say, Randi has ZERO credibility when it comes to these issues.
      • Mar 20 2013: For anyone who looks to Randi as being some kind of hero or considers the Million Dollar Challenge to be a legitimate means of examining these issues, I suggest you try to read the following article with an open mind. Randi has conned a lot of people into thinking he and the JREF are something they are not. Based on the comments made by the folks at TED, I suspect the members of their science board are some of them.
  • Mar 19 2013: I have been following this discussion since day 1 and I can't say much more on this subject that hasn't already been said, but I do want to add my 2 cents. I agree with the point that this IS censorship - I know it, TED knows it (every time they begin this 'discussion' under a different url they are further censoring them) and obviously everybody else knows it too. Until both videos are put back in their original locations with sincere apologies and even the 'health warning' you claim is needed, this issue will never be solved to ANYONE'S satisfaction. I still have the original YouTube page on my favoites bar and I've been checking it everyday, just praying that TED would come to their senses.
    I will never look at / think of TED the same - I am so utterly disappointed in them. I originally found TED when Jill Bolte's talk was new and I fell in love with them. There were so many great videos. All these other videos that people are stating need to be removed from the TED sites, due to a double standard, these are the kinds of videos I come to TED to watch. Talks like Graham's & Rupert's are the entire reason I even visit TED or TEDx. This is an atrocity. I hope someone else hurries to take advantage of this downfall of TEDs and create a new site that does NOT have a secret board of mainstream scientists (BigPharma minions) that have the power to nix what they don't like. Since I will no longer frequent TEDs sites, someone needs to hurry :-)
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    Mar 19 2013: So who is on this anonymous science board?
  • Apr 2 2013: Since Mr. Pinter has referred to us as an army sent here by (_x__), why not just stick around after the debate is over? That ought to make him and some others happy. The forum software is excellent, and it looks like this place needs intelligent and articulate voices who don't pander to the pseudo-skeptics and prefer to think outside the box. By participating here after this debate, we can at least start topics of interest to us.

    Just a thought. I went to the trouble of registering, I might as well stick around. If we all just leave, Mr. Pinter would be very disappointed and we wouldn't want that, would we?
  • Apr 2 2013: May this debate prove to be a historic event, and the starting point for new truly progressive forums for the advancement of thought and science. From tomorrow TED will be athing of the past for many people. Its people will surely regret their decisions and stubborness all these days. And of course its 'scientific comitee' will have to live in obscurity for many years to come. Each one fo its members will be trying to forget hie or her monumental ethical error by mumbling useless excuses to their friends and peers.
    I would like to send my greetings to all the unknown people who fought for freedom of ideas in here and to express my hopes of meeting them again in a more truly scientific setting.
    Bye bye guys!
  • Mar 31 2013: (Part 3 of 3)

    At the same time, the TED science board tries to claim that the ideas Sheldrake lists aren’t dogmas at all, but rather are “active areas of scientific inquiry.”

    However, I don’t buy this. The fact that Sheldrake hasn’t been able to persuade metrologists to consider these inquiries and the fact that the talk has been removed from TED’s YouTube channel prove it remains an enormous problem.

    It seems to me a rather Orwellian attempt to muddy the waters: They’re not the dogmas of mainstream science at all. Rather, they’re active areas of inquiry. But no one can talk about them at TED because they’re pseudoscience.

    Some of the mischief can probably be traced back to the ideas found in “A letter to the TEDx community on TEDx and bad science,” which is about as good a recipe for supporting old dogma as you will find.


    The letter contains several items that are antithetical to scientific inquiry. For example, a couple of the problematic “Marks of good science”:

    “It is based on theories that are discussed and argued for by many experts in the field”

    “It does not fly in the face of the broad existing body of scientific knowledge”

    And a few of the problematic “Marks of bad science”:

    “Has failed to convince many mainstream scientists of its truth”

    “Speaks dismissively of mainstream science”

    And, my favorite:

    “Comes from overconfident fringe experts”

    All these should be red flags that the TED science board is not particularly interested in open scientific inquiry, but rather has dedicated itself to supporting prevalent attitudes and beliefs.

    The only way that TED can resolve this without enduring harm to its brand is by re-uploading the video to its YouTube channel.

    From there it might consider replacing some of the members of its science board with people who are less dogmatic and more sensitive to the issues of open scientific inquiry.
  • Mar 27 2013: To add to the debate:

    1) Use of terms like 'heretic' and 'dogma' in the context of Sheldrake actually started with his opponents. The editor of 'Nature' Magazine, John Maddox, who described his first book 'A New Science Of Life' as a book that was a candidate 'burning', said in defence of his hostility:

    "Sheldrake's is not a scientific theory. Sheldrake is putting forward magic instead of science, and that can be condemned, in exactly the language that the Pope used to condemn Galileo, and for the same reasons: it is heresy."

    Similar language has been used over this debacle.

    2) Sheldrake is not a pseudo-scientist in practise and can't be bracketed with Chopra. Sheldrake doesn't pose as a spiritual leader or guru and he knows that if his points are to be heard they have to be demonstrated scientifically. He's not a media-hugger or a millionaire and he doesn't write self-help books, books of morality or books on religion and spirituality. He has presented evidence for his findings and has proposed experiments to test his theses. He was even ready to challenge James Randi but Randi wussed out. There's more evidence for his idea of the Morphic Field than there is for Richard Dawkins' Memes, but no-one talks about Memes as 'pseudoscience', even though there has been no experimentation confirming them or even any concrete explanation from Dawkins as to what they actually are or what the mechanism is that makes them work.

    Whatever we feel about Sheldrake's ideas, he's not a fraud in his methodology. He isn't afraid to debate and he's willing to have his ideas tested.

    The issue here is simply this. Sheldrake was asked to talk by TED. Moreover, he was asked to talk as part of a conference called 'Challenging The Scientific Paradigm'. TED would not have asked him to do so had they not been 100% aware of his ideas or his position within science. If they felt his ideas were psuedoscience, they should not have invited him. Banning him retrospectively is just wrong.
    • Comment deleted

      • Mar 27 2013: One might say Randi told the malicious lie. Why should we believe a word he says. He was caught fiddling the results to a dowsing experiment - the man's a joke.
      • Mar 27 2013: On the contrary. It is well known that Randi took the results from dowsing tests of different abilities and then illicitly combined them in order to generate a near chance overall result. Perhaps it was incompetence, perhaps dishonesty, perhaps both, but the facts are the facts.

        I never said I provided links - I said I referred you to Sheldrake's response (where the links are to be found). You are free to check them out any time you like.
      • Mar 27 2013: Go do some research, and then come back and apologise.
      • Mar 28 2013: Ok. Here's Sheldrake on his encounter with Randi:


        I guess we're on 'He said - He said' territory here. All we can do is listen to Randi's version of the story and Sheldrake's. You decide!
      • Mar 28 2013: I'd have to add, therefore, that calling what I said 'a malicious lie' is itself 'a malicious lie'. You can't just make things up. We have the internet now. ;-)

        In fact I don't think either of us have been guilty of making 'a malicious lie'. I think we've both gone with the information we have available to us. Name-calling isn't nice, however.

        And come, come! TEDx and TED are related. Don't split hairs!
        • Mar 28 2013: I think he was telling me that what I said was a malicious lie. I told him about the time Randi fiddled the results to a dowsing experiment and I don't think he wanted to know the truth. Oh well.
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      Mar 27 2013: Not to butt in, butt - you touch some key nuances, seldom brought into balanced focus. Worthy points, I wish the context of discussion here could facilitate better - speaking as one who quite disagrees overall perspective you put them in.

      But I think you're right, scientists (my phd's in plant/fungal biology - just disclosin') can say things badly, use unfortunate language, with unintended consequences, ultimately self-defeating. On one hand, key issues remain inadequately clarified. On the other, it can unwittingly hand over rhetorical ammo to antagonists, in effect.

      Funny how much hay can be made from just little bit of hyperbole; and how hazardous that stuff can be from strategic-discursive pov, apparently. Almost tightrope-like, maybe. A fraction of a degree off balance is all it takes for a major problem.

      A gently hard-hitting film documentary FLOCK OF DODOS - about the evolution / intel-d culture war - has its eye on that, kind of refreshing and unique. It keeps 'sciencey' creationism well out in the doghouse where it belongs. But much of its focus is on the scientific community and how it replies, when confronted by various tactics - especially when more reactive rather than responsive.

      But I'm inclined to agree with you, unlike genes 'memes' seems in search of physical evidence. I'm not even sure what would qualify. And may I suggest implications for our understanding of space-time are well within physics, science, critical interest.

      But that doesn't remotely mean science is dogmatic, nor suggest science is strangulating inquiry, closing minds etc - and that's Sheldrake's point, his message. It isn't about physics, that's merely a story element. He saying science, methods and knowledge obtained thus - is the same as scientific materialism, i.e. a philosophical, or ideological position. Its not just 'oops' failure to distinguish - its subtly but overtly pointed. I'm not sure what would qualify as evidence. How would you propose test it?
      • Mar 27 2013: I don't think Sheldrake says anything about science as a method. It's pretty clear he is critical of what he perceives as philosophical "dogmas" dissembling as established fact.
      • Mar 28 2013: Nicely put, Brian. Thank you.

        But I didn't say that science was dogmatic. Sheldrake did. Or rather as Noah points out, he doesn't say that about science in general, but a strand of science which he characterises as Materialist.

        So he *doesn't* claim that the scientific method is wrong, that science is wrong or even that Materialism has nothing to offer. He is genuinely *not* anti-science. He's anti the notion that certain working hypotheses are established facts, as he thinks this is suffocating science and leading to incomplete conclusions in certain areas. He also criticises the fact that there is, to his mind, a highly vocal and influential group of scientists who call themselves Materialists who police the borders of science, as is being suggested now over this controversy.

        I should point out that I am non-commital about Sheldrake's ideas. I just don't see why he should have been deleted from TED.
        • Mar 28 2013: Thanks, Pegasus.
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          Mar 28 2013: Thanks Pegasus. I think you certainly present some valid, fine-scale points, and word them well. Even if the bottom lines we reach differ, the stepping stones along the way are critical, and seldom adequately considered (imho) in and of themselves.

          I appreciate your clarification, its not you but Sheldrake who said science was dogmatic. My reservation (admittedly firm) is about appropriate emphasis, question of balance, relative validity of perspective. Part of what I take from that FLOCK OF DODOS film's perspective freely grants reasonable interest and concern in your point, about highly vocal and influential scientists who call themselves Materialists.

          BTW - not sure if you've read a recent book by Gordin, PSEUDOSCIENCE WARS - you might like the author's balanced critical inquiry into a concept like 'pseudoscience' and how it 'works' i.e. what it does discursively. For us science types to 'police the borders of science' as you aptly put it is easier and collegially safer, than voicing concerns within ranks about how anyone in formation is holding. That book looks closely at the Velikovsky affair (1950-1970's), a rich 'object lesson' case study with revealing aspects.

          Science exploitation seems to take many forms, some putting a lot into their costumery and script (Behe, for example). I take a cautionary stance in general, and feel like more concerted in-depth study is warranted, multi-disciplinary, informed inquiry - 'something happenin' here (what it is ain't exactly clear)' ... a complex nest of issues, with far-reaching social and cultural ramifications.

          Thanks for your thoughtful reply and considerations.
  • Mar 27 2013: You would think that if TED is going to consign this discussion to back pages of their site and set a time limit on it, they'd at least acknowledge the discussion. It's painfully obvious that this served no purpose but to allow people who were angry about their censorship of these two talks to burn themselves out and go away. They're clearly not interested in what anyone has to say about it. It's been how many days since Sheldrake and Hancock offered to debate the TED representative of their choosing and TED is completely ignoring it.

    This is a black mark on "the brand" that is TED. They made a decision they can't justify with any clear reason and just refuse to defend or explain that decision. It's just so friggin' cowardly.
  • Mar 27 2013: Unbelievable! You bury a talk by a prestigious thinker! Reinstate Sheldrake's talk fully and immediately! Your denial that you have used censorship by burying him deep into your site and then cutting off comment on April 6th is truly shocking. You should be embarASSed. Fully reinstate. Afraid of ideas MR. Ted? Ideas fully conceived and well argued? He got one thing slightly wrong about the NIH funding (paltry) of alternative medicine and you yank him??? Ted- YOU are wrong.
  • Mar 26 2013: I fully support rupert in his proposal of a debate, it is not only necessary that this is openly debated, it is in TED's interest to stand and be counted.
  • Mar 25 2013: Sheldrake's methodology in his research is superb. His arguments are cogent and elegant. The interesting scientific question in this debate is a psychological one: whence the resistance to the data on the part of the materialists?
  • Mar 25 2013: The Sheldrake-sceptics seem also to fall into the trap of "scientism", i.e. reducing all knowledge to natural science excluding social and phsychoclogical sciences, therefore leading to an excessively reductionist view of the world. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scientism

    If TED really cares about science then the platform needs to be fair enough to allow talks on the philosophy of science such as Shelrake's. The more I research the topic, the more it becomes clear that the accusations against Sheldrake (and Hancock) are baseless.
    • Mar 25 2013: i don't know a single person who critiques folks like sheldrake that is a proponent (even unwittingly) of "scientism."

      there are many ways to know many things about the world, many forms of knowledge, many methods of approaching it.

      but sheldrake explicitly makes scientific claims and these are to be assessed on scientific grounds. the burden of proof is 100% on him. the rest is just noise.
      • Mar 25 2013: Hi Julian, just a reminder that the burden of proof lies with TED and the "skeptical" community to which they are beholden for making spurious claims defaming Sheldrake and using those as the basis for pulling his talk. Nothing you can say will change this UNLESS you provide a substantiated argument that is not just a sweeping generalization. Can you, for example, specify the claims that Sheldrake makes in his talk that you find objectionable? So far, all I've read from you has been predicated on a misunderstanding of what science is... and is not.
      • Mar 25 2013: " i don't know a single person who critiques folks like sheldrake that is a proponent (even unwittingly) of "scientism.""
        Ah, I don't know about that Julian. You don't, in fairness to you, but there have been people on these discussions criticizing people for respecting philosophical arguments. Graham Hancock's talk got criticized for respecting the worldviews of prescientific cultures.
      • Mar 26 2013: If you skim through the over 1000 comments there are plenty of people applying scientism and even worse very dogmatic materialistic beliefs not even looking at the evidence presented as it's beyond "what can be true" for them (i.e. belief, paradigm).

        Sheldrake primarily asks a lot of (brilliant) questions. Why would we shy away from asking BIG questions? They are the ones we can learn most from. As they challenge the 'scientific' establishment and its belief system - NOT the scientific method - he gets backslash.

        Sheldrake also comes up with several hypothesis - in line with the scientific method - and has provided empiric evidence to back up some forms of telepathy and other phenomena. In this debate other evidence has been mentioned, too. Sheldrake does not claim premature conclusions.

        Therefore , it is reasonably clear that pulling his talk was entirely baseless. It should be reinstated immediately (as should Hancock's) and the questions raised merit further debate and research.

        Why is TED and it's 'scientific board' shying away from that debate? Nothing from Chris/TED here since days, no response yet to the open letters from Sheldrake's, Hancock's and TEDx Whitechapel. No response yet to the huge majority of comments and petitions to their support.

        TED this debate will not be forgotten nor fade away as its a decisive (tipping?) point.
  • Mar 24 2013: This is for many of you here, who I think will enjoy watching this:

    The Nature of the Mind - between the 16th & 18th of april, 1982 Four discussions took place in Ojai, California between the religious philosopher J. Krishnamurti, the physicist David Bohm, the biologist Rupert Sheldrake and the psychiatrist John Hidley.

    The purpose of these discussions is to explore essential questions about the mind: What is psychological disorder and what is required for fundamental psychological change? Is it possible to understand the mind, the nature of consciousness, its relationship with human suffering and the potential for change?

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    Mar 24 2013: Why is it wrong or unscientific to question that physical constants do not change? What's wrong with suggesting a hypothesis of "morphic resonance"? Why is it less scientific than speculating about 10^500 possible universes? All I see here is an alternative way of interpreting nature. He offers a different paradigm.

    Removing Sheldrake's talk is akin the inquisition court of Galileo. I thought, those ages are over.
    • Mar 24 2013: @Arkayd Grudzinsky, You were mistaken. Those ages are not over:

      “[Sheldrake’s theory] can be condemned in exactly the language that the Popes used to condemn Galileo, and for the same reasons: it is heresy.” ~ John Maddox explaining why, in his capacity as editor of Nature, he had written a review of Rupert Sheldrake's book A New Science of Life entitled "A Book for Burning?"

  • Mar 22 2013: After being publicly thanked by TED for his role in having the Sheldrake and Hancock videos taken down, atheist blogger Jerry Coyne has a new TEDx speaker in his sights- Russell Targ, who is scheduled to speak at a TEDx West Hollywood event. He's once again encouraging his readers to complain. How will TED respond? Will the event be cancelled? I think it's a safe bet that at the very least we will not see Targ on TED's YouTube channel, which would be a real shame as he's a great speaker and his research is fascinating!
    • Mar 22 2013: I guess the science community is now blessed with their own Rush Limbaugh and TED will just bend as it needs to because money is involved. So much for the scientific methodology.
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      Mar 22 2013: I wonder how TED's anonymous "science" board will counter the fact that Targ's work was published in Nature?
      • Mar 22 2013: Seeing as the TED Science Board's criticisms of Sheldrake seemed to be based on the misrepresentations of a blogger I doubt they're too concerned with what Targ might have actually done. Why bother doing real due dilligence when you can just parrot what some largely uninformed skeptic who has never read a paper by Targ has added to his Wikipedia article. It's not like there are sites called "Guerilla Skepticism on Wikipedia" whose readers routinely slant Wikipedia articles to fit their belief system. Oh wait, yes there are. Their narrow minded fanaticism is one of the reasons Wikipedia is a terrible resource for anyone who wishes to get informed about these topics.
    • Mar 22 2013: I don't particularly like this Jerry Coyne guy after having a look through his blog, he seems extremely closed minded and views people who are interested in parapsychology as complete idiots and "woomeisters". He still seems to be stuck in this science vs religion mindset...

      "his ideas that dogs finding their way home, or people knowing that others are watching them behind their backs, proves Jesus; his weakness for telepathy and other bizarre mental phenomena..."

      He also sees telepathy as "paranormal bollocks" when there is a large amount of evidence to show that it exists thanks to the work of people like Dean Radin: http://youtu.be/FMXqyf13HeM

      Overall he seems very arrogant, and very uninterested in hearing other theories about the world that don't fit into his paradigm. Are you really listening to this guy TED? Embrace new interesting ideas that breathe life into science and the world.
      • Mar 22 2013: Sadly Oliver, they are not only listening to him, they publicly thanked him regarding the Sheldrake video. Coyne also complained about the Hancock video and look what happened to it as well. To me, it's mind boggling that TED takes such an uninformed and dogmatic man so seriously. Coyne now has two blog posts up about the Targ event. It'll be interesting to see what TED does.
        • Mar 22 2013: I hear ya, hope TED make the right decision and embrace new possibilities.
  • Mar 21 2013: I just posted over on the Graham Hancock discussion and had an unsettling thought about this entire affair. Since the beginning this entire thing has been framed as a 'Graham Hancock and Rupert Sheldrake' censorship and it seems to me this is quite a beautiful propaganda attack by TED. Rupert Challenges scientific orthodoxy in his speech Graham challenges political cultural orthodoxy in his presentation. By excommunicating them both TED has effectively made them seem 'one and the same,' in effect marginalizing them both. One might agree with Rupert's assertions about science but be vehemently opposed to Hancock's assertions of a 'war on consciousness.' Or vice versa. But by lumping them together for the debate, effectively TED is making the accusations towards both- as if to say: O you know that one is pseudoscience -- So according to the scientific advisory panel- Both are pseudoscience. Which brings back the question: What is this really about? Many TED lectures are filled with factual errors, exaggerated claims, or by non-scientists. Yet these 2 are being picked on for reasons that remain unclear. In both cases assertions were made which were not found in the presentations themselves. (TED apologized in their Blog) But TED's confusion should be an indicator of their lack of understanding on what both were accused of. It's obvious that they were uncomfortable, but why? And why accuse both of pseudoscience when the topics were radically different, both men have very different backgrounds and very different approaches.
  • Mar 21 2013: I've read these comments and watched it all unfolding from the initial censorship, to the burial of public reaction in a series of moving blog threads and the weak replies from TED trying to defend the indefensible. I'm just wondering how many people can see the elephant in the room? If you can't see him, just check the list of TED corporate partners. First rule of living in this crazy world... if in doubt or perplexed about others actions, follow the money and power trail and just ask yourself who stands to lose from these kinds of ideas taking off? Who stands to gain from the censorship? The hubristic alliance of corporate power and scientific dogma is on display here for the world to see. Time for science to find a new forum for its ideas.
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      Mar 21 2013: Moogle: you're writing under a pseudonym, why not just write the TED partner name you're suggesting and save us all some time hunting it down. Just bring things out into the light of day.

      To wit: professionals to theocratic rightists, CounterPoint Strategies, recently visited my blog after I impugned the Koch and DeVos tribe for their subversion of science over anthropogenic change, via an article I reposted by George Monbiot. If you want some surprising, amusing and sobering reading, take a look at Counterpoint Strategies' attitudes about spin doctoring in their CounterPoint Strategies' Cavalry manifesto at http://cpscavalry.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/11/CPS_Brochure.pdf.

      It includes statements on page 16, under the heading, "Ethos," like:

      "We help clients plant a confident flag in the public discourse, confront their aggressors— activists, journalists, regulators, lawmakers, or competitors — and safeguard a path through the hostile public affairs environment.

      Journalists are not friends and their relationships run one-way only. That’s not what traditional public relations firms will say, but the truth is reporters are mercenaries at best and adversaries more often. They will attack almost any institution, even their own, and no tactic or device is out of bounds.

      But journalists can be held accountable and the most aggressive activist groups are being successfully confronted and rebuked. CounterPoint has built a strategy that recognizes the modern news media in its actual nature: ideological, hostile, under intense competitive pressure, and willing to disregard standards and collude with almost any antagonist."

      Aside: it was always curious to me that the words calvary and cavalry are so similar. "Mercenaries?" "Rebuked?" Westboro Baptist Church has nothin' on CounterPoint Strategies. Do CounterPoint Strategies' attitudes of fearful entrenchment remind you of anyone? Maybe TED could have hired their liberal analogues.
  • Mar 21 2013: What's with this divide and conquer approach with Sheldrake and Hancock? They were both booted by the maneuvers of same status quo guardians, and it makes TED look spineless. This decision flies in the face of what I thought TED was all about.
    We want both of them back, please.
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      Mar 21 2013: Henry: That's right. And in my case, I'm opting not to participate in the discussion about Hancock. Only Sheldrake.
  • Mar 21 2013: TED, from the comments below it is clear that this is not a 'debate'. Whilst I have long been a fan of TED, myself and many others will be watching to see how you approach this. My view of your agenda as an organisation has been called into question. As for my personal opinion, science is about the acquisition of new knowledge - sometimes this means being empirical and critical; sometimes it means thinking outside the box (or conformist worldview). I actually think it's quite astounding that TED did not see the obvious irony in shunting this talk, given its content.
  • Mar 21 2013: Let me preface this by saying that I don't think either of the videos in question are particularly scientific in nature, they are largely philosophical and subjective, but anyway- TED's "letter to the TEDx community on TEDx and bad science" and the guidelines contained therein are, I think, dangerously dependent on the idea that the mainstream of science is the most valuable science.

    It IS important to recognise that mainstream science largely is where reliable, trustworthy, and useful science can be found. The mainstream can be thought of as the resting point where ideas go to once they are accepted and their uses are well established (and where they often remain past their use by date, it must be said). However, much of what is now well accepted - Einstein's theories; our most basic astronomical understandings; the existence and dangers of bacteria and viruses; evolution - began not in the mainstream, but in the tributaries, far out and visibly separate from the mainstream.

    Many of those who are used to the mainstream, ideologically dependent on it, or some way have a vested interest in it, are resistant to ideas in the tributaries. This has always been the case, and it only makes sense. We can only be so open minded, and it takes time and effort to maintain awareness of what is going on on the fringe so as to be able to judge fairly the worth of different things going on there. It's hard to maintain that effort if you're heavily vested in what's going in the mainstream - say if you're trying for tenure with some mainstream institution, or you're relied upon as a source of reliable, mainstream knowledge.

    This situation isn't surprising, but I think that it causes a great deal of conflict, and it holds us back. Our most progressive, pioneering individuals are alienated in this situation. I am sure that many of them simply give up, or lack the support they need to really develop their ideas.

    I think that TED's policy is likely to perpetuate this situation.
    • Mar 21 2013: Good point Lewis. More people need to read those guidelines to see just how restrictive they are. It sounds great when TED said in the "Fresh Start" entry that they don't "see science as a locked-in body of truth" and they recognize scientific assumptions can "get turned upside down". They also mentioned how they take a "broad" view towards the "ideas worth spreading" slogan. It all sounds so open minded. And then you read those guidelines. In my opinion the guidelines are in opposition to TED's stated goals. There is no way Alfred Russel Wallace or Charles Darwin could have spoken at TED given those guidelines- assuming TED had been around back then. By the way, I just saw an old Dean Radin blog post from January of 2012 where someone said they wanted to nominate him to speak at TED. This was his reply:
      "I've been nominated for TED by several previous TED speakers. So far no interest."
      What a pity. I guess TED's opposition to having people like Radin shouldn't surprise me. But it's still disappointing. I suspect the TED community would be intrigued by his ganzfeld experiments. But if you look at those guidelines it'll never happen- someone like Radin will never get a chance to speak at TED. Anyway, here are the guidelines: http://blog.tedx.com/post/37405280671/a-letter-to-the-tedx-community-on-tedx-and-bad-science
      • Mar 21 2013: Just read the TED guidlines.I agree how limiting are those! Surely its up to theonline audience to decide whether or not they agree with the speaker. The main problem with Science is that it always has to be right. Don't get me wrong there have been some amazing discoveries. Why have a forum if there are so many restrictions? Innovative thinkers have always questioned Science and if we aren't prepared to listen then we are just limiting ourselves. I personaliy think that this outcry by Scientists and Religious non-believers is fear because let's be honest some of these'Dogmas' if true would certainly change our beliefs and in my eyes for the better ! So I say applaud these'mavericks' because it is only when we question do we move forward.
  • Mar 20 2013: Inherent within TEDs actions is the attitude that their viewers are passive observers of information who cannot rationalize which claims against established scientific dogmas are legitimate and which ones are not. The attempt to pull this lecture reveals an elitist assumption that their secret review board is wiser and nobler than their viewers, thus it is their responsibility to filter material that we are incapable of filtering for ourselves. It is clear from the reactions by the TED community that we would prefer the opportunity to evaluate information for ourselves as opposed to being denied exposure to it at all, as if it does not exist. The fear that a couple of lectures that challenge scientific assumptions, among the thousands presented that do not, will somehow undermine TEDs integrity is preposterous.
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    Mar 19 2013: Scientific papers continued:

    Sensing the Sending of SMS Messages: an automated test
    Explore: The Journal of Science and Healing (2009) 5, 272-276
    (by Rupert Sheldrake, Perrott-Warrick Project with Leonidas Avraamides, and Matous Novák Mobifi Ltd, London)

    A Rapid Online Telepathy Test
    Psychological Reports (2009)Vol 104 957-970
    (by Rupert Sheldrake and Ashwin Beharee)

    An Automated Online Telepathy Test
    Journal of Scientific Exploration (2007) Vol 21 No 3, 511-522
    (by Rupert Sheldrake and Michael Lambert)

    Testing for Telepathy in Connection with E-Mails
    Perceptual and Motor Skills (2005), 101, 771-786
    (by Rupert Sheldrake and Pamela Smart)

    Videotaped Experiments on Telephone Telepathy
    Journal of Parapsychology (2003) 67, 147-166
    (by Rupert Sheldrake and Pamela Smart)

    A Filmed Experiment on Telephone Telepathy with the Nolan Sisters
    Journal of the Society for Psychical Research (2004) 68, 168-172
    (by Rupert Sheldrake, Hugo Godwin and Simon Rockell)

    Investigaciones Experimentales En Telepatía Por Teléfono
    in Spanish
    Revista Argentina de Psicología Paranormal 15 No.3-4, Julio-Octubre 2004
    (by Rupert Sheldrake)

    Experimental Tests for Telephone Telepathy
    Journal of the Society for Psychical Research (July 2003) 67, 184-199
    (by Rupert Sheldrake and Pamela Smart)

    Apparent Telepathy Between Babies and Nursing Mothers: A Survey
    Journal of the Society for Psychical Research (2002) 66 181-185

    The Anticipation of Telephone Calls: A Survey in California
    Journal of Parapsychology (2001) 65 145-156
    (by David Jay Brown and Rupert Sheldrake)

    Telepathic Telephone Calls: Two Surveys
    Journal of the Society for Psychical Research (2000) 64 224-232
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    Mar 19 2013: Scientific papers continued:

    Prayer: A Challenge for Science
    Noetic Sciences Review (Summer 1994 ). 30, 4-9

    An Experimental Test of the Hypothesis of Formative Causation
    Biology Forum (1992) 85,(3/4), 431-443

    Cattle Fooled by Phoney Grids
    New Scientist (1988 ) Feb 11, 85

    Mind, Memory, and Archetype Morphic Resonance and the Collective Unconscious - Part I
    Psychological Perspectives (Spring 1987), 18(1),9-25

    Society, Spirit & Ritual: Morphic Resonance and the Collective Unconscious - Part II
    Psychological Perspectives (Fall 1987), 18(2), 320-331

    Extended Mind, Power, & Prayer: Morphic Resonance and the Collective Unconscious - Part III
    Psychological Perspectives (Spring 1988), 19(1) 64-78

    Personally speaking
    New Scientist, (2001) July 19, 48-49

    How Widely is Blind Assessment Used in Scientific Research?
    Alternative Therapies (1999) 5(3), 88-91

    Could Experimenter Effects Occur in the Physical and Biological Sciences?
    Skeptical Inquirer (1998) 22(3), 57-58

    Experimenter Effects in Scientific Research: How Widely are they Neglected?
    Journal of Scientific Exploration (1998) 12, 73-78

    Sheldrake and His Critics: The Sense of Being Glared At
    A special edition of the Journal of Consciousness Studies (2005) Vol 12 No. 6
    Papers from the Journal:
    The Sense of Being Stared At - Part 1: Is it Real or Illusory?
    The Sense of Being Stared At - Part 2: Its Implications for Theories of Vision
    The Non-Visual Detection of Staring - Response to Commentators

    Investigating Scopesthesia: Attentional Transitions, Controls, and Error Rates in Repeated Tests
    Journal of Scientific Exploration 22, 517-527 (2008)

    Research On The Feeling Of Being Stared At
    Skeptical Inquirer (2000) March/April, 58-61

    The Sense Of Being Stared At: An Automated Test on the Internet
    Journal of the Society for Psychical Research (2008) 72, 86-97
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    Apr 2 2013: I have read Ruperts new book (listned to the audiobook) over 12 times now and I "get" every principle he discusses it is not dogma it is not anti science it is not radical or challlenging it is rather humorous and very much in the spirit of lovely enquiry. I doubt that anyone in the TED community has even read it skeoptic or non skeptic. Download it from Audible.com as an audiobook and have fun. Sheldrake only asks us gently to ask some questions and see some basic discrepancies he supports it with factual information...and as far a telepathy goes. anyne that has not read the data in the many hundreds of books and thousands of scientific papers on telepahty and related sciences is in the dark ages. We cannot expect others to respond ro reason but we can inform ourselves as a commmunity adn learning is a fun process not a laborious one.
  • Mar 31 2013: TED Not Satisfied With Current Censorship: TEDxWestHollywood is Taken Down


    So It contines, The witch hunt has become the Inquisition. Next they will be holding peoples feet to fire. If there was any doubt to the validity in Sheldrake's claim, "materialist science has become a religion", its now been dispelled.
    • Mar 31 2013: "More than 2000 TEDx events will take place in the year ahead. If your program is allowed to proceed, it will truly damage other TEDx organizers’ ability to recruit scientists and other speakers. (Indeed many in the TED and TEDx communities have already reached out to us to express their concern.)"

      Not gonna blow a ring over it. Wouldn't want to give TEDx the f@#%#% publicity
      • Mar 31 2013: Strange that next to none of the many concerned members of the community who contacted TED could be bothered to make an appearance here to try to justify their worries in the very forum TED set up for them to do precisely that. I would content that these "many" who "reached out" are actually few in number and clearly committed to ideologies antagonistic to science.
        • Mar 31 2013: You're speculating a lot of stuff there
      • Mar 31 2013: I don't think so. I mean, TED surely can't have pulled the talks because of the concerns expressed by Krisztian and/or the now departed Jimmy Randy. But where are the others? There are a few dotted here or there but nobody I've seen has any academic clout. The only one with any real academic record who has commented here as far as I can see actually supported Sheldrkae.
        • Mar 31 2013: What? And leave the safety of the echo chamber at Jerry Coyne's blog?
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        Apr 1 2013: Don't give publicity to TED, but please give it to Ex TEDxWestHollywood. We will proceed without TED's sanction and need alternative ways to get our Live Stream seen on April 14: https://new.livestream.com/extedwesthollywood. Help!
        • Apr 1 2013: Excellent Suzanne. I hope everyone will put the word out to try to help this event.
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      Mar 31 2013: that's good news. that tedx event should not have got the green light in the first place. again, ted reacting too late, but better late than never. these people do everything in the book to get media attention. they use the ted brand to get some credibility. they will never stop, never give up and never go away. you all have been warned.
      • Mar 31 2013: Those people were INVITED to do a talk. They didn't hunt down TED and "do everything in the book to get media attention."
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          Mar 31 2013: and who invited them? yep, their believers. a chiropractor, new age babblers, etc. people that were convinced at an earlier lecture or a book. these people are circle-inviting each other, and pretend that they have something, while all they have is each other, and a misled audience.
        • Mar 31 2013: Very big claims to hide behind when TED is too scared to merely calenge them in open debate. The only side that is desporate is always the one that is useualy wrong. Your assumptions smell of desperation.
      • Mar 31 2013: Sheldrake doesn't really need to go hunting for media attention. He's very well-known and whenever he writes a book all the main high-brow media will seek him out for an interview and/or review his book. And, as happened in this case, many learned people will offer praise, unconcerned by, eg, what a group of religious fanatics in the US (or Hungary) have got to say about the matter.
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          Mar 31 2013: probably that is why sheldrake took personal offense in ted taking down his talk, wrote multiple articles, appeared here in person to lament, and so on.

          if you are in the media business, you find out that there is no such thing as enough media coverage. every opportunity to appear in public brings in a new chunk of cash. if your job is to be famous, you have to do it 8 hours a day, 5 days a week, or more. there is no lazying around.
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          Apr 1 2013: Krisztián Pintér: As your profile explains you're a "TED Translator," I'd suppose that means you work with TED. And in looking through most of your comments, the tone of them is often one of black and white disparagement, and that you're doing it for sport. You're even calling people names. If you were my volunteer or staffer, I'd recommend a way to discourage such absolutely disrespectful behavior.

          That TED would consistently allow such disrespectful comments in a situation they already control, means to me their standards for civility, courtesy and compassion have sunk to a new low. A company culture that would allow your disrespectful comments would be absolutely consistent with what I've seen and heard of TED's inability to gracefully handle controversy. Anyone thoughtful will notice this, and mark their perceptions of TED by it. Mine are.
      • Mar 31 2013: Sheldrake almost always responds to his critics, however lowly they may be. The fact is, whether you like it or not. Sheldrake is in no need of TED, and only became involved when he was invited and only responded when various false claims were made about him.
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          Mar 31 2013: sure he is. it is his job. unlike scientists, that have an actual job, like original research. this is the difference. scientists do science, and as a secondary activity, they give lectures, they review books, they write blogs and all. sheldrake!s job is to appear in the media, and to back that up with something, he pretends to do some original research.
      • Mar 31 2013: On the contrary - Shedrake's book was already well known, and well received, before any of this happened. He certainly doesn't stand in need of an endorsement by anti-science organisations like TED who have decided, it seems, to get behind the pseudoscientific New Atheist movement.
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          Mar 31 2013: i tell you once more: if your job is to get media attention, you don't sit back after one success. i can't skip my next day at work, just because i successfully finished my previous project. sheldrake's job description is celebrity quack. it is a fulltime job.
      • Mar 31 2013: You can tell me any number of times, but it won't make what say any more true. Sheldrake was invited to give a talk and he did so, only responding when TED decided to act in a way which was without any integrity or decency in order to cozy up to a few anti-science clowns who are trying to turn science into religion. That you share that religion and likewise want to see science subordinated to it is the reason for your shrill nonsense here. That's why, eg, whenever pressed to discuss the actual talk, all you've got is name-calling and unsupported accusations.
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          Mar 31 2013: i was repeating it because you did not seem to understand. you keep telling that he does not need publicity. sure he does not need. he could have continued his life as a not very successful scientist. but he chose to be a celebrity instead, and now he does that. and you fell for it. and many others fell for it too. well, bad luck. you should have listened better in school.
      • Mar 31 2013: I never said he didn't need publicity. I said he didn't need TED. And he doesn't. As for the rest of your silly analysis, the less said about that the better. See my last post for the reasons you spout such stuff.
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          Mar 31 2013: okay, try to approach it from another angle, maybe it leads somewhere. why are you here? you were following ted for some time, and then learned that they pull some talks, and you disliked this practice? or you are a sheldrake supporter, and you came here solely for the purpose to fight the fight for your master? bingo. a man like sheldrake uses every opportunity. he was invited to ted? good! another audience. he was pulled? good too! time to cry oppression! a debate is opened? good too! let's just blog a few times about it, ask a few friends to blog too, send over the army of fanatics, and start the war! that's what you get if someone has 8 hours a day organizing his popularity.

          how does it feel to be a member of the fundamentalist army? how does it feel to be a puppet of a media star?
      • Mar 31 2013: I don't know how it feels to be a member of a fundamentalist army. Me not being a member of any such thing and all that. You, on the other hand, are part of such an army - a minor know-nothing foot-soldier, fwiw. A foot-soldier in a small army of New Atheists who are trying to co-opt science for religio-political ends. Re Sheldrake, I happen to agree in general with what he says, but disagree with the specifics in a number of ways. My concerns, though, are of a philosophical nature which it would be pointless to try to explain to you. And I am here because I care about science and hate seeing it be co-opted for religious purposes by the likes of you.
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          Mar 31 2013: i don't know who do you plan to fool. you are not here because you care about science. you don't care about science. you don't have a passion for the truth. you don't have a passion for logic. you don't have a passion for facts. you don't spend evenings and nights reading about science, about the philosophy of science. you don't spend endless hours on learning new things, to strengthen your understanding. you did not came here to defend science. you came here to win. you are on a crusade.
      • Mar 31 2013: I do indeed care about science. This is in contrast to you who cares primarily about doing down certain religious views (see your comments throughout for details). And it is your hatred for certain religious views that has led you to support a band of anti-science New Atheists, who likewise hate religion, and who are trying to co-opt science into their religio-political war. And, as always in war, truth is one of the first casualties, and thus evidence which doesn't appear to help the war effort has to be jettisoned, ignored, or censored. This is why you, unlike me, are committed a priori to the falsity of certain empirical propositions. This is also why you have tried consistently to portray Sheldrake as being motivated from a particular religious standpoint when he is clearly not. And this is why you rant and rave all the time about the catholic church. No need to disturb poor Occam here, the simplest explanation is easy enough to see.
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          Mar 31 2013: so you do care about science. can we have a quick overview of your scientific education, interests, insights?
      • Mar 31 2013: My interest is primarily philosophy of science and is focused mainly on the way science is currently being abused by (anti-)religious fundamentalists like Richard Dawkins. I think it is very damaging to science and I think more in the scientific community should call him on the nonsense he spouts. That they don't is, I believe, a function of the very poor standard of historical and philosophical education scientists receive (ie, none). This makes them much easier targets for unscrupulous people like Dawkins who play on that ignorance to further own religio-political agenda. And the war thus engendered has had the effect of making science far more dogmatic than it should be and is undermining the supposed self-correcting nature of the enterprise. I could go into details but it is unlikely you would understand or agree given your anti-science stance.
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          Mar 31 2013: can you give us some overview about how dawkins is wrong from a philosophical point of view?
        • Mar 31 2013: Bravo Steve, been watching all these threads for what seems like weeks now, and you have handled some tightrope exchanges beautifully and retained your character while others resorted to ridicule (the accepted Dawkins strategy and one of the reasons I despise his footprints on this earth) I can see you brother and know the importance of your contribution here. I'd take a time out dude, your work is done, and if you came here to win, you did. No need to justify yourself to anymore parasites.
        • Mar 31 2013: What Jim said. Much obliged.
        • Mar 31 2013: @ Steve, I've apparently run out of thumbs. It would appear that I'm way too laudatory of your posts so I've been cut off. If you have a blog or anything I'd love to know about it. Your insights over the past couple of weeks have been a joy to read.
      • Mar 31 2013: Couldn't reply in the right place, so, re the above @Time walker @Wian and @Jim Thanks - much appreciated. I think there's been a lot of great input and almost all of it very civil (from our side). Well done to all.

        I guess his most recent nonsense was his preposterous afterword for Lawrence Krauss' pseudo-philosophical musings about the meaning of "nothing". That whole episode was a good example of how (anti-)religion is driving some science now. Thankfully, some in the academic community spoke out and Krauss' book was largely, and rightly, panned. Here's a good article about it.

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          Mar 31 2013: i was asking for an overview, some basic analysis. since you care so much about science and philosophy of science, i trust you can come up with a simple summary of dawkins' claim, and your analysis on how is that wrong. a new york times article just won't cut it.
      • Mar 31 2013: Dawkins seems to imagine science supports atheism. It doesn't.
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          Mar 31 2013: dawkins and many others, like stephen hawking are hoping for science can prove atheism. they pretty much understand that it can't as of now. but for example hawking worked on a model of the universe that did not have a beginning, so was not created, and had no natural constants or boundary conditions other than those that follow from the model, and not inputs of it. if such a model can be created, and it turns out to be a precise description of reality, it disproves any sort of choice in the "making" of the universe, and effectively eliminate any creator or designer. he was not able to construct such a model, so he did not manage to put an end to the debate. but he tried. dawkins also believes that such a model can be constructed, and someday someone might construct it. krauss is actually working on it, but still isn't there yet.

          this thinking is perfectly scientific, though as i explained, hypothetical. those that claim this to be nonsense are not scientific, and are religious. it is an open question, and pretending to know the answer is nothing but superstition (or dumb).

          but now i see where you are coming from. you are religious, and you want to protect your religion from science. you call anything that threatens your religion "unscientific", asserting that science can never refute religion. this is just an assumption, and originates in your religious beliefs. sheldrake is your ally, as he attacks "atheist" science, and advocates a "new science" that allows your religion to survive. that is why you side with him, caring not at all about his lies and sly ways. the enemy of my enemy is my friend.
      • Mar 31 2013: And, fwiw, Krauss' argument rests on equivocation on the word "nothing". Anyone with the least philosophical understanding, or who wasn't blinded by their religious views, would see that. Thus Dawkins' nonsense in the afterword about the impact of Krauss' claim..
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          Mar 31 2013: exactly what are the two meanings of "nothing" and how krauss mixes them? stop talking *about* the mistakes. *explain* the mistakes! it is not enough to claim that you know some problem. tell the problem.
        • Mar 31 2013: Krisztián does not seem to be aware of the double standard blinding him on this issue.

          "dawkins and many others, like stephen hawking are hoping for science can prove atheism"

          Just like Sheldrake hopes that science can prove morphic resonance.

          "if such a model can be created, and it turns out to be a precise description of reality..."

          Yeah? Go on.

          "this thinking is perfectly scientific, though as i explained, hypothetical. those that claim this to be nonsense are not scientific, and are religious."

          Is that so? Someone tell TED. Methinks they've made a mistake.
      • Mar 31 2013: Well, Krauss describes the properties of his nothing but if you have to describe something's properties then it's not nothing.
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          Mar 31 2013: maybe you need to catch up on quantum mechanics. there is only one kind of "nothing" in physics, and he is talking about that. it is the quantum theoretic description of vacuum. it does not matter if physics claims things that contradict common sense. 20th century science proved a lot of things that contradict common sense. our common sense is not perfect.
      • Mar 31 2013: On the contrary. Krauss regularly flits between two notions of "nothing" - the physics one and the ordinary sense from which he generates his theological conclusions. It would be fine if Krauss just said, hey, look at this physics, but he doesn't, he goes on, as noted, to make all manner of theological claims involving a different sense of nothing (with tricky Dickie tagging along behind nodding lamely). This is what Albert takes him to task for in the article I referred you to. And this is why nobody, not even physicists, except those with certain ideological commitments, bought his bs. The general problem - the specific one being equivocation - was that Krauss spun it as if he had answered the ultimate question when he had done no such thing. Thus the book was seen as a bait and switch to make Krauss a quick pop-science buck by fleecing the atheist rubes desperate for a confirmation of their faith from science. This is what I find distasteful and what, in a roundabout way, brought me here. Goodnight, God bless, and buy British.
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          Mar 31 2013: at least you claim so. krauss and quantum theorists claim otherwise. they say that the nothing as we knew does not exist at all. only the vacuum of quantum theory exists. there are no two notions. the real notion of "nothing" can be considered, according to that theory, obsolete and a bad description of reality.
      • Mar 31 2013: Well of course nothing doesn't exist for goodness sake. If it existed it would be something, duh!
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          Apr 1 2013: he never talks about the nothing you talk about here. it does not exist. never existed. the physical nothing is not the common sense nothing.
      • Apr 1 2013: Of course nothing doesn't exist - that's the very point - that's at the heart of the very puzzle Krauss ignores by his equivocation. And of course he uses the ordinary sense of nothing at times - this is how he makes his theological claims. That's why Dawkins lauds Krauss for having destroyed "the last trump card" of the theist. And of course the physical nothing isn't the common sense nothing because any physical anything isn't a nothing simply in virtue of that fact. But as I said earlier, there's no point trying to explain these things to you, because you are one of those who is so ideologically committed against religion that you'll swallow anything that helps your cause without even a cursory examination.
    • Mar 31 2013: Why Bad Science Is Like Bad Religion - Rupert Sheldrake
      • Mar 31 2013: Hear hear! Sheldrake articulately calls out the close-mindedness of the scientific community, and TED.

        TED removes from their lineup two of my favorite scientists: Dr. Rupert Sheldrake and Dr. Russell Targ. TED's takedown is hypocritical.... they claim those two use the "guise of science" to promote sketchy claims, yet that accusation in and of itself is a sketchy claim made under the guise of science. Where is TED's evidence to support that claim? They don't provide any. TED is a wonderful resource, I'd love to see them take their own medicine and show their counter claims, or else reinstate Sheldrake and Targ.
    • Mar 31 2013: Wow.

      "We will be especially interested to hear about the ideas that ...Russell Targ... will be presenting.... TED and TEDx cannot be platforms that give undo legitimacy to false evidence"

      To any TED spokesperson: please tell me what "false evidence" Russell Targ promotes? Please no heresay, just actual quotes.
      • Mar 31 2013: They will be especially interested to hear his ideas? Really? :)
        • Mar 31 2013: Brian Josephson, Nobel Laureate in Physics and Emeritus, Professor, Physics, University of Cambridge says of Targ's latest book: "This book, detailing its author's many successful investigations into the paranormal, should make those who deny the possible existence of such phenomena think again." So either TED or Josephson is mistaken.
      • Comment deleted

        • Mar 31 2013: Agreed. The lack of courage is what needs addressing.
      • Apr 1 2013: this is not about scientific method/inquiry. TED is sympathetic to the scientific materialist worldview and "skeptical" community. why else would TED give a platform to the Amazing Randi but deny a TEDx event to a real hardcore scientist like Russell Targ? go figure.

        speaking of Russell Targ... he is often lumped with New Age and "pseudoscience" by people who don't his background. never mind the fact that Targ's (and his colleague Hal Puthoff) research work was good enough to be funded by the CIA. incidentally, Targ has just published a new book where he has divulged declassified information in the CIA remote-viewing program. TED will never dare touch this material. so you and i will just have to rely on our own research and other alternative news sites to be informed.

        case in point: here's a good interview with Targ on The Paracast.

        "Gene and Chris present the ever-elusive Dr. Russell Targ. Dr. Targ and Hal Putoff led the team at Stanford Research Institute that created the "remote viewing" protocols in the early '70s, about which many stories have been written. Targ's latest book is The Reality of ESP: A Physicist's Proof of Psychic Abilities."

        ~ http://www.theparacast.com/podcast/now-playing-march-10-2013-dr-russell-targ/
        • Apr 1 2013: TED has a Randi talk?! The hypocrisy!

          As for funded by the CIA.... funded bye the CIA for twenty years. You don't get to work for the CIA for twenty years if your work isn't providing results.
    • Apr 1 2013: been covering this TED fiasco since Day One of the Sheldrake/Hancock controversy. fortunately for TED, the latest shenanigans are still under the radar. they haven't yet gone viral like the way the Hanauer talk has gone viral. but this controversy with TEDxWestHollywood might push the issue to go viral. let's wait and see.

      in the meantime, there's already a ExTED WestHollywood page on Facebook.

      i wonder how TED will deal with ExTED events. after the Sheldrake/Hancock, TEDxWhitechapel, and TEDxWestHollywood fiascos, the TED brand has some PR cleanup work on its hands.

      see my blog update: (Jerry Coyne: 2; Woomeisters: 0) - go figure...

      The TED Saga Continues on the Sheldrake and Hancock Debates (and TEDxWestHollywood)
      ~ http://www.c4chaos.com/2013/03/the-ted-saga-continues-on-the-sheldrake-and-hancock-debates/
  • Comment deleted

  • Mar 30 2013: I can think of a number of "ideas worth spreading", each supported by facts and scholars, that will most likely get flagged amd censored out for no reason other than mainstream does not "agree". Which further supports Sheldrake's talk.
  • Mar 30 2013: Strange. Recent news states that the speed of light is indeed not constant.. so what, exactly, is the debate?


    I have watched some truly pointless (yet entertaining) videos on Ted, that have nothing to do with science or "Ideas Worth Spreading", and yet there seems to be no issue. For instance, one Ted talk where a speaker provides no proof yet openly advocates giving billions of dollars to corrupt charities because "overhead is important". Another video, albeit adorable, of a trio of young boys playing bluegrass (I do love bluegrass, but what place does this video have on Ted?). Another video, which was wonderful, of dancing robots.

    Sheldrake's opinions may not be accepted by mainstream science but the principles, ideas, and opinions stated in his talk are still valid and important.

    People should try to understand that the scientific community isn't hellbent on banning Sheldrake (and Hancock for that matter) out of maliciousness, but out of fear. The ideas both of these men bring to the table are disturbing to those who are afraid of breaking free of their materialistic world-view. The idea that science isn't fact, that the laws of nature are malleable, is to many scientists a lot like telling someone who fervently believes in religion that their God is a sham. The initial reaction to perception-altering information is almost always outrage and shock.

    While I strongly disagree with Ted's decision to ban Sheldrake's talk, shaming Ted employees, insulting them, or threatening to boycott Ted entirely is counter productive and malicious. By all means, voice your opinions. But be polite. It is difficult to take someone seriously when their response to this debacle is akin to "you banned a video! I hate you! I'm never going to watch your videos ever again, so there!". We're better than that.
    • Mar 30 2013: " While I strongly disagree with Ted's decision to ban Sheldrake's talk, shaming Ted employees, insulting them, or threatening to boycott Ted entirely is counter productive and malicious. By all means, voice your opinions. But be polite. It is difficult to take someone seriously when their response to this debacle is akin to "you banned a video! I hate you! I'm never going to watch your videos ever again, so there!". We're better than that. "

      So how would you suggest taking action against a media outlet that has abandoned its standards?
      • Mar 30 2013: What kind of action would satisfy you? Reinstatement of the videos? Publication of the names of the individuals who opposed the talks so that we can tar and feather them in the village square? Do you want to punish Ted, or do you simply want Ted to re-post the videos?

        I think it's fair that they removed the videos, and then re-posted them for public debate. With all luck they will eventually reinstate the videos and add a "the views therein may not reflect the views of mainstream science" disclaimer along with, perhaps, an objective apology to the speakers.
      • Mar 30 2013: They're never going to give an apology, and there's nothing to be gained from gloating over an apology, or a lack of it for that matter.

        What we can take from all this is that we can't rely on TED to carry weight in the areas of progress that Hancock and Sheldrake's talks focus on. If we hoped TED would help us there, we know now that those hopes were misplaced. The way I look at it, TED still has a job to do but it's no longer part of the vanguard. I'm glad I know this now.
    • Mar 30 2013: Niomi, we have been pointing out to TED, over and over again, through different channels, what they did wrong, and what they might do better. Some people have been impolite about it, but I don't believe I have been. There is a legitimate grievance here that TED have (so far) refused to address or even acknowledge.
      • Comment deleted

        • Mar 30 2013: If you pull someone's talk because it "makes claims it can't back up", shouldn't you specify which claims?
      • Apr 2 2013: Perhaps the issue is more complicated than we on the outside realize. I am making an assumption here, but perhaps the reason why Ted is reticent to publish Sheldrake's talk is because someone who contributes large donations - and is keeping Ted afloat - is threatening to pull funding. Without funding Ted would cease to exist.

        Perhaps they're concerned that if they allow Sheldrake's talk it will open the floodgates to true pseudoscience, such as David Icke's belief in extra-dimensional beings and reptilian shapeshifters and the like. (Personally, while extra dimensional beings and biological transmogrification may be possible, David Icke is so fervent - and angry - that I avoid anything he publishes because I feel that he is perpetrating the very thing he is advocating against: spreading fear and hate).

        Perhaps Ted simply does not have the resources available to dedicate to policing talks and the most time-effective solution is to remove sponsorship from scientifically-questionable talks.

        Perhaps we should realize that Ted is a private organization and while the public is welcome to voice its opinions the bottom line is that Ted is allowed to ban whatever talks they see fit and have no obligation to justify it.

        And lastly, if you do not agree with Ted's policies perhaps you and a group of like-minded friends should consider creating your own organization devoted to supporting and disseminating fringe science. There is certainly an audience for it. But there is a fine line between fringe science and quackery, and woe is the individual charged with the responsibility of delineating between the two.

        The bottom line is, while we may not agree with some of Ted's policies, Ted is nevertheless an excellent source for information and inspiration. Take what you need from Ted, and fill in the rest yourself by performing your own research. This is what I do, it works for me.
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    Mar 29 2013: Come on TED, why are you hiding? Either agree to the debate with Rupert Sheldrake or offer an explanation as to why you are unwilling to do so. It is very disturbing to see a prominent body of people, purporting to support a platform for ground-breaking ideas in science, which cannot even address simple questions from it's audience. Can you at least give us reasons for this current breakdown in communication?
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      • Mar 30 2013: Jimmy, do you believe everything is nature is mechanical? And if so, how would you prove that? Let's take the weather, they can't even predict it correctly. So, why do you claim this is scientifically proven? You see, it's a belief. It worked out well in many cases but it may not always do so.
  • Mar 28 2013: In my opinion, there is one key piece of information that has been left out of this debate . It is the phenomena that Einstein called, "Spooky action at a distance" otherwise known as quantum entanglement or non-locality. Since I'm sure Jimmy and the others here who are critical of Sheldrake's work believe in what science and mainstream academicians and quantum physicists tell us, then they would accept that entanglement does truly exist. It has been shown to exist through many experiments. If quantum entanglement is real, then "thoughts" and human consciousness is by it's VERY nature, non-local. Since the brain uses electrical pulses and chemical reactions at the speed of light when it "thinks", then thoughts can be broken down into quantum particles. Quantum particles can and do travel through solid objects. All quantum particles are thought to have entangled partners in the Universe. The process of entanglement allows information to be shared instantaneously, in other words, faster than light speed. Hence, Einstein's moniker of "spooky". If information is shared by particles and since we know these particles can and do pass through solid objects (i.e. bone like the skull), than it is patently obvious that our thoughts are not simply confined to our head. If one accepts entanglement, then one is compelled to at least admit the possibility that our thoughts (information) can be sensed in one way or another by something or someone who is separated from us physically. To dismiss Sheldrake's work reveals ignorance of the basic premise of non-locality. Many in mainstream science hate the discovery of entanglement because it not only makes Sheldrake's work theoretically possible and provides a platform for explanation, it actually makes the old idea that our consciousness is contained in our head highly unlikely!
    • Mar 28 2013: I think you are on a right track in principle, but this is not a solid line of argumentation. A physicist would smash it to bits with ease. Better look up Penrose and Hameroff quantum OR.
      • Mar 28 2013: Most physicists I know agree with it.
      • Mar 28 2013: " I think you are on a right track in principle, but this is not a solid line of argumentation."
        Nailed it.

        "If quantum entanglement is real, then "thoughts" and human consciousness is by it's VERY nature, non-local."
        No. That non-locality exists does not prove that thoughts are non-local. That ice-cream exists does not prove that the Eiffel Tower is made of ice-cream.

        "the brain uses electrical pulses and chemical reactions at the speed of light"
        Nerve impulses travel at less than one-millionth the speed of light.

        "Quantum particles can and do travel through solid objects."
        I would rather say that "solid objects" ARE quantum particles.

        "All quantum particles are thought to have entangled partners in the Universe."
        Who thinks this?

        "The process of entanglement allows information to be shared instantaneously, in other words, faster than light speed."

        To say that non-local communication allows telepathy requires two premises: [1] That non-local quantum communication happens. [2] That neural computation uses it.
        The first premise has been adequately demonstrated by quantum physicists from Aspect to Zeilinger. (See what I did there?) The second is extremely speculative. A. Titurel is right on the money in saying that you need to add the Orch-OR theory to non-local communication before you have a mechanism for telepathy.
        • Mar 29 2013: As one who is not a physicist, I am not qualified to make a cogent argument either pro or against Orch-or, at least from the standpoint of someone who understands the intricacies and mathematics of the arguments supporting or denying it's validity. I've read a bit of Hammerhoff's work in regards to consciousness (although in his case it was "un" consciousness) and the role that micro-tubules might play in quantum processing. One thing that is clear to me is that the theory has neither been shown to be false or accurate. Your statement that the idea that neural computation uses quantum processes is speculative is indeed completely true, however, the whole field and study of consciousness is speculative! EM theory which explains consciousness as an elector-magnetic phenomena, has many critics, yet it DOES explain many anomalies that to date, have not been adequately explained by any other process.

          There are certain physical behaviors observed in animals, like schools of birds/fish making synchronous movements, that have not been adequately posited by science. I believe that Sheldrake's morphic field theory offers the best interpretation of such behavior. In addition, his experiments in human psi research beg the question; If his experiments were sound and the data is reliable, what process best explains such results? I believe (not a statement of fact) that quantum entanglement is the best scientifically proven process to explain how a morphic field might work or indeed the process by which information can be "transferred" from one individual member of a group to another. Since the study of the inner workings of the human mind and consciousness is truly in it's infancy and much is unknown (which makes speculating a reasonable exercise), I'm simply offering a layman's opinion as to a possible explanation for the observed behaviors. Feel free to offer a better explanation, but for now, I'm going to put my money on Sir Roger. We shall see.
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  • Mar 28 2013: Please explain why you would label this 'pseudoscience'.


    The 10 dogmas from 'The Science Illusion':

    Everything is essentially mechanical. Dogs, for example, are complex mechanisms, rather than living organisms with goals of their own. Even people are machines, “lumbering robots”, in Richard Dawkins’s vivid phrase, with brains that are like genetically programmed computers.

    All matter is unconscious. It has no inner life or subjectivity or point of view. Even human consciousness is an illusion produced by the material activity of brains.

    The total amount of matter and energy is always the same (with the exception of the Big Bang, when all the matter and energy of the Universe suddenly appeared).

    The laws of nature are fixed. They are the same today as they were at the beginning, and they will stay the same forever.

    Nature is purposeless, and evolution has no goal or direction.

    All biological inheritance is material, carried in the genetic material, DNA, and in other material structures.

    Minds are inside heads and are nothing but the activities of brains. When you look at a tree, the image of the tree you are seeing is not ‘out there’, where it seems to be, but inside your brain.

    Memories are stored as material traces in brains and are wiped out at death.

    Unexplained phenomena like telepathy are illusory.

    Mechanistic medicine is the only kind that really works.

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      Mar 28 2013: it is not pseudoscience. it does not even attempt to look scientific. this is just a bunch of silly statements / lies.
      • Mar 28 2013: If you don't want to debate this, as it seems, please don't comment. For a debate, we have to start at some specific point. If you know these are lies, if you know, what the truth is, tell us!
      • Mar 28 2013: No, you haven't done it once. You said they were lies about 100 times but every time someone has asked you to explain you've not responded and then a few minutes later you've repeated the "lies" accusation. It then became clear that you were confused about what the word "lie" meant thinking it had something to do with bank robbery or some such thing. Then you called people some names, and then you went back to making accusations of lies. Oh, and at some point you said the dogmas didn't even make sense, but when asked which and how, you didn't respond. Then you said they were lies again. And again.
      • Mar 28 2013: We can agree it is not pseudoscience and also it is not scientific research, in this form. It is *about* science, not doing science. It is not cooking in the kitchen, it is a discussion about cooking in general.
      • Mar 28 2013: I also agree with you (what you mentioned at another comment) that there may be several ways to notice a changing speed of of light. Sheldrake here probably is no expert and just trusted in what the metrologist told him, that now we would not notice anymore, because we fixed it. I do think we would, but I am not an expert in this either, and also I don't see this invalidating his whole argument. Also there is the discussion about the gravitational constant.
      • Mar 28 2013: >it is not pseudoscience. it does not even attempt to look scientific. this is just a bunch of silly statements / lies<

        In my experience of P J Myers, Richard Dawkins, Jerry Coyne, Peter Atkins etc, they aren't lies or silly statements at all. They are exactly what these people believe.

        And that's ok. What is not ok is deleting someone who disagrees.

        Seriously - why be ashamed of these ten dogmas? They are the reason Sheldrake has been deleted. Come on! Sing out and be proud! Don't be embarrassed! Stop pretending you don't believe what you believe.
  • Mar 26 2013: I'd like to reinterpret the message advanced by Rupert Sheldrake, hopefully making it less controversial.

    His main point relates to the present historically unprecedented situation in science. Some of us (very few) among scientists have a feeling that we are in the midst of an unrecognized but unprecedented scientific 'crisis' and are at the threshold of an unparalleled transitional period in science, and feel that sometimes in the next 25 years our science, as a whole, will head in a *radically* new direction. Why?

    One of the main sources of the scientific 'crisis' came to the fore in the second half of the last century. With the advent of computers and the emergence of various "data processing" fields, 'the mind'---intentionally excluded from the scientific agenda by the fathers of the Scientific Revolution (mainly of the 16th--17th centuries)---has been permanently brought into the focus. Although based on the great achievements of the past millennia, our science was really set in motion during the so-called Scientific Revolution, whose fathers have very deliberately excluded mind from scientific agenda because they decided to proceed on the basis of spatial considerations going back to the ancient measurement practices (distance, motion, speed, acceleration, etc.) and the mind, they all have agreed, is a *non-spatial* phenomenon.

    The fundamental inadequacy of our present scientific knowledge should have become apparent when, despite the enormous human and financial expenditures, the urgent need for intelligent information processing could not be satisfied. The main reason it hasn't become apparent has to do with the naive misconception of computer scientists, including AI researchers, that they can approach 'the mind' incrementally, as some, not very radical, form of computation. And this is despite the fact that, obviously, mind is a *natural* phenomenon requiring an entirely new *scientific* (not just computational) framework to accommodate it.
    • Mar 27 2013: Cartesian Dualism effectively was a truce between the universities and the Church. They agreed to divide the Kingdom of Truth, with the universities holding dominion over the physical universe and the Church maintaining is sovereignty of the Soul. The truce held for centuries until came the troika of Marx-Darwin-Freud. With them, the Soul was declared non-existent because it had no physical substance. It was replaced by the Mind which has since been declared an epiphenomenon of brain activity.

      Otto Rank (1930) spoke directly to this situation when he wrote:

      To know psychology one has to know its object, the soul. But given its peculiar nature, psychology finds itself in a unique position. . . . The soul, as we know it from antiquity in folk belief, religion, and mythology, does not exist for scientific psychology, yet research goes on as if it did. Ironically, psychology purports to determine the validity of the soul-concept, but its research only confirms that there is no soul.

      In the 80 years since Rank, psychology has narrowed its focus to developing tools, techniques and medications to control emotion and behavior. The mental health industry is predicated on the hypothesis that the mind is an epiphenomenon of brain activity. If Sheldrake's opposing hypothesis is validated, psychiatric medications (which 10% of all Americans ingest) would be seen as toxic chemicals that perturb the natural functioning of the brain, not as medications that re-balance faulty brain chemistry.

      The pharmaceutical industry knows its enemy when they see it. Sheldrake's theory of morphic resonance is in direct confrontation with the industry's economic interests. If TED remains loyal to its corporate masters, it will close this discussion, flee from an honest debate and keep the Sheldrake video off of its YoutTube site.
  • D S

    • +5
    Mar 26 2013: Now, when Sheldrake was discussing our notion of the speed-of-light as a constant, I think he was mainly pointing out that our measurements have changed and calls into question what this implies. Some have accused him of outright saying that the speed-of-light changes. Like I said, he just pointed out the fluctuations in measurements - which might suggest the measurements/equipment is what accounts for the disparity, or, perhaps, it is the "constant" that does in fact fluctuate. This, apparently, helped earn him the "pseudoscience" label.

    That being said, two articles came out recently that further support Sheldrake's contentions and call for inquiry:

    Speed of Light May Not Be Fixed, Scientists Suggest; Ephemeral Vacuum Particles Induce Speed-Of-Light Fluctuations

    "Two forthcoming European Physical Journal D papers challenge established wisdom about the nature of vacuum. In one paper, Marcel Urban from the University of Paris-Sud, located in Orsay, France and his colleagues identified a quantum level mechanism for interpreting vacuum as being filled with pairs of virtual particles with fluctuating energy values. As a result, the inherent characteristics of vacuum, like the speed of light, may not be a constant after all, but fluctuate.
    As a result, there is a theoretical possibility that the speed of light is not fixed, AS CONVENTIONAL PHYSICS HAS ASSUMED [emphasis mine]. But it could fluctuate at a level independent of the energy of each light quantum, or photon, and greater than fluctuations induced by quantum level gravity. The speed of light would be dependent on variations in the vacuum properties of space or time."

    The Scharnhorst Effect claims we've got the speed of light wrong
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      Mar 26 2013: D S, you point to this problem well. As a non-physicist, I was not all all confused by what Sheldrake was saying. He was merely saying that the measurements have changed and when he brought this up to an expert in the field of such measurments he got double talk back in response. He then only suggests that instead of double talk this might be a fruitful area for further investigation to maybe actually determine what the cause of the differences in measurements is. It is a no-brainer that TED has blown way out of proportion by listening to the scientists of the neo-inquisiiton.
  • Mar 26 2013: I watched this talk this morning and happened to find this article tonight which seems quite relevant to the debate about constants.

    • Mar 26 2013: Oh - WOW! That's a good one. Thanks :-)
    • D S

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      Mar 26 2013: Wow! From the article:

      "Where did the speed of light in a vacuum come from? Why is it 299,792,458 meters per second and not some other figure?

      The simple answer is that, since 1983, science has defined a meter by the speed of light: one meter equals the distance light travels in one 299,792,458th of a second. But that doesn't really answer our question. It's just the physics equivalent of saying, 'Because I said so.'

      Unfortunately, the deeper answer has been equally unsatisfying: The speed of light in a vacuum, according to physics textbooks, just is. It's a constant, one of those numbers that defines the universe. That's the physics equivalent of saying, 'Because the cosmos said so.'

      Or did it? A pair of studies suggest that this universal constant might not be so constant after all."

      You say that on a TED stage (right down to the measure of a meter) and you'll be accused of scientific heresy.
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    Mar 25 2013: I have a question that I certainly hope will be intelligently addressed by some member of the TED staff or someone capable of speaking in their defense.

    In light of this entire controversy, and purely by comparison only:



    It currently has nearly 1.3 million views on Youtube.

    I mean honestly. How does one define an "idea", and more specifically, what are the subjective parameters which determine its eligibility for being "worth spreading"?

    Elizabeth Gilbert's talk is by far one of the most moving and persuasive arguments I've ever heard. The veracity and substance of her virtual sermon dances so precariously on the line of religion, it is no wonder the video is as popular as it is. Spiritually compelling, through and through. But most importantly, it is merely an idea, worth entertaining. The compilation of abstract notions into a single, well-rehearsed monologue tailored to the listenership of an intelligent audience.

    I do not understand how Sheldrake's talk is anything different.
    • Mar 25 2013: first of all gilbert is not saying anything about science, she is not purporting to refute science, educate about science, outline a position in philosophy of science etc....

      she is speaking as an artist, a writer.

      that said i can't stand that talk or its popularity. it is kitschy superstitious cornball nonsense.
      • Mar 26 2013: Hmmmm... Kind of like Graham Hancock.
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        Mar 26 2013: It is my understanding that Sheldrake as a scientist advocates the scientific method. He in fact advocates the unmitigated, unbiased use of the method against all established orthodoxies. Which is the entire point. He mentions this quite emphatically.

        If the backlash against his IDEAS isn't evidence that such dogmas actually exist, I don't know what is.
  • Mar 24 2013: Here's an interesting argument:

    1. Sheldrake says scientists think consciousness doesn't really exist - that they think it's illusory.

    2. Scientists respond - "rubbish - most of us fully acknowledge that consciousness exists, indeed, many animals are conscious".

    3. On account of (1) and (2) TED accuses Sheldrake of misrepresenting science.

    4. Dennett gives a TED (not TEDx) talk called 'The Illusion of Consciousness'.

    5. TED's rules say any scientific claims which have not garnered the support of mainstream scientists are fringe/pseudoscience and have to go.

    6. Dennett's views can't have garnered widespread support in the scientific community if (2) is true and (3) is justified.

    7. Dennett's talk must be cast out as fringe/pseudoscience or;

    8. (2) is false and (3) isn't justified.
    • Mar 24 2013: Yes. I've noticed that going on too. Nicely articulated. You're a pretty lucid thinker, my man.
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      Mar 25 2013: Don't be unfair to Dennett. I love his talks. In his talk he does not claim that we don't have consciousness. He just points out the circularity in reasoning associated with it. So does Sheldrake. Reason fundmentally fails when dealing with circular questions - what is "self"?, observations of how we observe, thoughts of how we think, beliefs about faith, how do we know that we know anything, can we choose our feelings or is 'free will' just a feeling itself? To say nothing of religious issues associated with omnipotence and omniscience.

      Philosophy is not pseudoscience. It's just not science. See Sean Carroll's comment regarding micology below. Sheldrake's mistake was to present his claims to *appear* scientific whereas they seem to be clearly slanted towards philosophy.
      • Mar 25 2013: I wasn't serious about removing Dennett's talk. I was just demonstrating the 'any old thing' nature of the arguments TED has used against Sheldrake. Of course Dennett's talk should stay, and of course Sheldrake's should too. The very idea of censoring philosophy, or consulting scientists about to see if it's kosher, strikes me as ludicrous. I'd imagine if you took Sheldrake's talk to any philosophy department in the land there would scarcely be an eyebrow raised because even those who disagree strongly will have a few colleagues who think Sheldrake has hit some nails on the head.
      • Mar 25 2013: Hi Arkady, I like what you've written, but do have a question:

        "Sheldrake's mistake was to present his claims to *appear* scientific"

        Can you specify the claims to which you refer? Thanks.
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          Mar 25 2013: Noah,

          I think, Sheldrake's talk is great. What he says makes us think - that's the main goal which he successfully accomplishes.

          However, in my opinion, he mixes philosophical claims with scientific and verifiable claims. E.g. the statement that there are a priori scientific dogmas which are not questioned any more is a philosophical claim. Questioning the postulate that laws of nature and physical constants do not change is a philosophical claim. Questioning it shakes the foundation of scientific induction and reliability of our knowledge about distant galaxies or the past. It's a valid philosophical question, but I can understand why a scientist may be opposed to such belief. "Morphic resonance" paradigm raises questions. Does he have data to back it up? Is it verifiable? It's not clear if this claim is scientific or metaphysical. Claims about telepathy and ability of living creatures to feel the gaze of a predator appear to be verifiable but, again, it opens up discussion whether parapsychology should be considered as a scientific discipline which is a whole different discussion. I don't know if it is clear yet whether psychology is a science in a strict sense.

          To sum up, the talk seems to me like a mix of quite explosive claims across multiple disciplines of science and philosophy presented in a rather haphazard way - too much to keep under control in a 20-minute talk. Each point is valid by itself, but presenting them together in a short presentation has an explosive effect.

          That's what I meant if it makes sense.
      • Mar 25 2013: Arkady, I'm not sure if what you say makes sense to me. I agree Sheldrake's talk is philosophy of science. But asking a question does not seem to me the same as making a positive statement about belief. Can you direct me to where Sheldrake makes a positive claim regarding morphic resonance or telepathy in his presentation? I do not understand why scientists would be opposed to the "belief" that dogmas should be questioned.
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          Mar 25 2013: He clearly refers to "morphic resonance" as a scientific hypothesis at 8:00 of the video. And he is clear that he draws similarity between laws of society and laws of nature. It's a metaphor, no doubt. Just like "natural selection" is a metaphor, because nature does not "select" anything in a sense a biologist may do to create a better sort of apples.

          Darwin has tried to break away from this metaphor which makes nature appear anthropomorphic http://darwin-online.org.uk/content/frameset?viewtype=side&itemID=F385&pageseq=121. Whereas Sheldrake deliberately drags anthropomorphism back into natural science.

          Questioning dogmas is not what shakes science. Questioning the uniformity of natural laws does. Without this postulate, we cannot claim any reliable knowledge about the Sun or distant galaxies. The reliability of scientific predictions is also shaken. Questioning uniformity of natural laws erodes the foundation of the whole science as we know it. It also opens the flood gates for all kinds of claims to infest science. I can see how hist talk can be viewed as high treason by scientists. Not that there is anything wrong with questioning foundations. It just has to be done in a more responsible way.

          But these views can be debated openly. It does not justify removing the talk.
      • Mar 25 2013: Thanks for your response. I think you're dramatizing what's at stake. Science would likely carry on as before. After all, the regularities of Nature are not likely to change to conform with Sheldrake's or anyone's model. It's a question of explanatory power.

        Science will not be eroded, keeping in mind that it's a method and not a philosophy. Yes, the prevailing philosophy would take a hit and that might have far-reaching consequences, but again, that's not really significant for science-as-method. I'm not sure I share your concern about "flood gates" -- though I do agree that philosophy has consequences for human affairs.

        I can also see why scientists might consider this talk treasonous, but I would say that only those scientists posing as pseudo-philosophers really have any stake in the matter.

        Also, mentioning morphic resonance as a hypothesis doesn't really strike me as a questionable truth claim. Thanks again for your reply.
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          Mar 25 2013: Science as a method will survive, of course. But most of scientific claims from general relativity to genetics may need an overhaul.

          Regarding "flood gates". There is no doubt in my mind that this idea can be exploited by all kinds of religious fundamentalists especially if we accept the anthropomorphism of the universe.

          Re: "I would say that only those scientists posing as pseudo-philosophers really have any stake in the matter." I like the term "scientists posing as pseudo-philosophers". I am not opposed either to science or religion or philosophy. I just believe that we need to be crystal clear about what is what. Religion or philosophy posing as science is equally problematic.
        • Mar 25 2013: @Arkady
          But science is already being misused by fundamentalists. In this case, though, it's atheist fundamentalists. The problem being that science is now being pressed into the service of all sorts of ideological movements.Check out the shrill tone of many of Sheldrake's detractors and you will see that what is being defended here is not science, but the "scientific" materialist worldview that they quite knowingly want to impose on the world for religio-political reasons. Thus their objections, while made under the guise that science would suffer, are clearly all about protecting the false portrayal of science they need for their religio-political work. These people make no bones about wanting to destroy religion and about using science to do it. Thus Sheldrake's questions are to be dismissed lest science can no longer be misused in the way his detractors wish to misuse it.
      • Mar 25 2013: I think we're in agreement regarding the need for clarity. We hear so much about pseudoscience, and there's no doubt that it's something to look out for. But Sheldrake's message in this video is salient particularly because it's so unconscious for many people. I can think of no reason why we should actively resist exposing philosophical assumptions dissembling as established science.
    • Mar 25 2013: dennett is not saying that consciousness doesn't exist, he is saying something much more interesting about how our conception of consciousness as something apart from it's functions may be illusory.

      great talk actually.
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    Mar 24 2013: I'm not a supporter of "morphic resonance". This theory may explain the spread of social phenomena, but not the spread of natural phenomena . However, removing Sheldrake's talk was a mistake. It was counterproductive. There was a debate about removing the talk, now there is a debate about debate about removing the talk. This drew way more attention to it than it would have otherwise. Why not just leave it there and let people debate the talk itself? Removing the talk just confirmed Sheldrake's point regarding the dogmatism in science. I hope, whoever proposed this decision learned the lesson.
    • Mar 25 2013: I think your comment adds to the discussion though it's not clear to me what reasons you have for drawing a distinction between the social and the natural.
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        Mar 25 2013: I see a fundamental difference between humans studying nature and humans studying themselves. Our knowledge of the laws of nature does not change the laws of nature. Our knowledge of how we behave and why, as individuals and as society, does change our behavior. If I believe that I am a scientist, I may become one. My belief that the rock in my pocket is a piece of gold will not have the same effect.

        "Morphic resonance" may explain why there are waves of mass shootings across the country once in a while - because media spreads ideas. "Morphic resonance" is a valid analogy between society and physics, just as "memes" are the analogy between society and biology. It cannot explain why one star is similar to another star, a few millions light years away. If you destroy the postulate that laws of nature remain the same across the universe, we are left with speculations. In this case, "morphic resonance" would be an invalid analogy. It projects our behavior onto the nature.
        • Mar 25 2013: I'm by no means an authority on the subject, but the distinction you give to differentiate between the natural and the social strikes me as arbitrary and a little superficial. I am sure there are others more qualified than I who are prepared to debate the particulars of morphic resonance, though. Thanks for your reply.
        • Mar 25 2013: While I agree we should resist anthropomorphic tendencies in our thinking about how reality works, I think that it's equally important to resist the notion that non-human systems must necessarily be very different to human systems - a sort of anti-anthropomorphism.
          It seems a perfectly valid possibility to me that human systems and non-human systems may function similarly in some aspects due to influence from some underlying organisational tendency. I'm not saying that this is the case, but I wouldn't be surprised if it were and I'm ok with people thinking in that direction.
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        Mar 25 2013: I don't pretend to be an authority either. It's just my view :-) It's a philosophical view, not a scientific one. It cannot be declared right or wrong by any kind of evidence. I'm fully aware of it. But I would be happy to discuss it. I usually learn a lot from such discussions.
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        Mar 25 2013: @Lewis Smart

        I agree. I am not at all opposed to drawing analogies between natural laws and laws of society.

        I would like to draw one more distinction - between objective patterns of how society develops and human laws meaning the legal system. The first are independent of human will, the second clearly have purpose. We cannot assume that laws of nature evolve in the same way as legal systems of society, as edicts by a higher authority. This was another confusing point in Sheldrake's talk.
        • Mar 25 2013: I think it's important to point out that any objective pattern that can be discerned has to likewise be subjectively perceived. That's more or less the crux of the philosophical debate as I understand it. Incidentally, it's not a debate in which science has any business taking sides, strictly speaking.
  • Mar 23 2013: Pseudoscience is a Thought-terminating cliché
    Thought Reform and the Psychology of Totalism popularized the term "thought-terminating cliché", which refers to a cliché that is a commonly used phrase, sometimes passing as folk wisdom, used to quell cognitive dissonance. Though the clichéd phrase in and of itself may be valid in certain contexts, its application as a means of dismissing dissent or justifying fallacious logic is what makes it thought-terminating.
  • Mar 23 2013: GO RUPERT GO!!!! This thing is really like a mini-scandal, anti-science pseudo scientists hating progress and doing anything they can to to avoid anything that is new and not believe, its incredible. What would the enlightenment folks think if they knew that these enemies of science and progress are now pretending to defend real science, while actually trashing it completely with their make believe bs? They even admit to not be cognitively able to handle Mr Sheldrake, but they are not ashamed of that, or of being public figures while lacking education, intelligence and the spirit of progress and scientific inquiry, THEY THINK it is legit. We must save enluightenment and rationality from these children. Science is defined by progress not by holding on to fairy tales
    • Comment deleted

      • Mar 23 2013: I thought I sound like funk metal meets dubstep meets neo-classic, but given that this is about science not art, and thus about truth criteria, not phenomenology nor aesthetic sound alike issue, I didnt give it a thought.

        So, even if your perspective on the surfacre has nothing to do with the debate, thanks for the creative enrichment from a very uncommon angle.....

        (btw, if you didnt mean to enrich anything: english is my third language in five, thus I might sound a little simplistic)
  • Mar 23 2013: For people who are new to this discussion, I think you should take the time to read Sheldrake's response to the criticisms leveled against him by TED's anonymous Science Board. His response can be found here:
    Also, Sheldrake has posted here, in this discussion, asking for a debate with anyone from TED's Science Board, TED's Brain Trust, or Chris Anderson. If you sort the comments by "highest rated" you'll see Sheldrake's comment. I think the least the folks from TED can do is be willing to defend their accusation that Sheldrake is not a scientist but a "pseudoscientist". If you're going to be so stridently dismissive of the work of a Cambridge/Harvard educated scientist, implying not only that his work is without value but is dangerous (in a blog post TED mentioned the Sheldrake and Hancock vids should come with a "health warning"), you damn well better be able to defend yourself. At the very least, it's the decent thing to do. You don't slander someone if you can't back it up. Please show some decency and give Sheldrake the debate he's requested.
  • Mar 22 2013: making it clear that sheldrake's talk is not something TED can endorse as being either scientifically or philosophically coherent is simple the responsible thing to do.

    the accusations of censorship are an unfortunate consequence.

    handling this in the way that you have is admirable in that you have transparently responded to the initial outcry and your perhaps unskillful managing of the problem.

    sheldrake is widely evaluated as a pseudoscientist with an anti science agenda, supernatural proclivities, paranormal claims and a position on the wrong side (says the data) of the materialsim vs idealism debate in philosophy.

    the 10 dogmas he lays out are not only mostly laughable, but rooted in that cynical piece of rhetoric used by so many postmodernists, sophisticated theologians, new age hucksters, and religious apologists - use religious language like "dogma," "heresy," "faith" etc to describe the scientific or materialist worldview.

    this is not only completely inappropriate and dishonest, it also seeks to erase the differences between science and religion, the massive breakthrough represented by scientific method, and in so doing, elevate unevidenced religious, paranormal and magical claims to being on a par with those based in evidence and reason.

    he (and others like chopra and b. allan wallace) is not unlike climate change deniers or "creation scientists" in that they demand that their minority and fringe opinion be given equal standing alongside widely accepted scientifically evidenced arguments.

    when they are called out on their pseudoscience, logical fallacies, and irrational beliefs they then begin the hysterical journey toward conspiracy theory, starting with crying censorship and claiming the faceless mainstream corporate machine has it in for them because they are threatening the status quo.

    scientists are not threatened by folks like sheldrake, but science education and well-informed public opinion are...

    good job TED team.
    • Mar 22 2013: On the contrary, when called out Sheldrake provided peer-reviewed science papers to support his claim and TED had to cross out everything they had said - didn't you know. Moreover, he offered to debate anyone from TED's science board on any of the issues discussed, but we have so far heard nothing back. This often happens, and then those on the side of the falsified reductionist model start throwing around insults (or rather continue throwing around insults) and repeat exactly the same stuff that had to be crossed out only moments before when it was shown to be made up nonsense.
    • Mar 22 2013: Hi Julian. Sheldrake took the time to rebut all of the charges TED made against him. I think anyone who wants to honestly and fairly debate whether what TED has done is right should take a look at what Sheldrake said here: http://blog.ted.com/2013/03/14/open-for-discussion-graham-hancock-and-rupert-sheldrake/

      Finally, I'm curious if you've read any of his scientific papers on these issues- or if you've only read what people who share your belief system have said about him/his work? If you're interested in educating yourself and reading some of them just check out his website.
      • Mar 24 2013: See you later this evening for an in depth response.
    • Mar 23 2013: You state that "Making it clear that Sheldrake's talk is not something TED can endorse as being either scientifically or philosophically coherent is simply the responsible thing to do." I wasn't aware that TED was supposed to be endorsing the views of every speaker. I thought TED was a neutral platform for the sharing of ideas in the hopes of generating more inquiry and discussion. Apparently, I was wrong. Furthermore, I heartily disagree with your sidelong attack on Sheldrake's talk as being philosophically and scientifically incoherent. There are thousands of people who have viewed the talk and found it perfectly coherent on both counts. It's a mystery to me what you found so hard to understand.
      • Mar 23 2013: first of all - sure, TED is a platform, but pseudoscience is a tricky problem because of it's intentional or unintentional dishonesty. so this puts them in a difficult position.

        sheldrake is a purveyor of pseudoscience. he does not add to the inquiry, he adds to the new age noise of misinformation designed to make it seem as if paranormal and supernatural assertions are more plausible than they are.... because he and his ilk don't have good evidence for what they want to believe, their only recourse is to try and discredit scientific method itself.

        lastly, it is not that i found his talk hard to understand, it is that i found it filled with logical fallacies, riddled with a problematic agenda, and willfully distorting of science in several ways.

        those who want to believe in consciousness as transcendent of biology, paranormal powers and other such notions unsupported by any evidence have to make materialism seem cold, mechanistic and inhuman, and of course utilize the language of religion to (ironically) make is seem as if a scientific materialist worldview is a kind of superstitious dogma.

        nothing could be more topsy turvy.
        • Mar 23 2013: Have you got an actual example of any of this? For example, where are the logical fallacies? These accusations are oft thrown out but seldom backed up.
        • Mar 23 2013: Julian, you have not read a single scientific paper or book by Sheldrake, you've listened to none of his debates with his critics (available at his website), yet you feel confident in making these sweeping assertions. It's remarkable. I provided you with a link to the charges TED made against him and his response. I don't think you even bothered to read those! How can someone so ignorant about what Sheldrake has said be so confident in their opinion about the man? It's like you're living in a bubble and you won't allow anything to penetrate it.
        • Mar 23 2013: For one who appears to place a high value on science I note a profound lack of evidence being cited in defense of your claims.
        • Mar 23 2013: I take great offence to you calling "sheldrake is a purveyor of pseudoscience". As a peer-reviewed published scientist, I think he would take offence too, as he fully supports and abides by the scientific method. Yet you continue to resort to unscientific pejorative labels.
        • Mar 23 2013: They don't have good evidence? Read up on the matter a bit more dude.
        • Mar 23 2013: For the record, there is much of Sheldrake's theories that I do not accept. But I completely support his right to present his findings.
        • Mar 23 2013: I agree with you that pseudoscience is problematic in its dishonesty. However, you make a completely false connection between Sheldrake's talk and pseudoscience. He was not purveying pseudo-scientific views. Rather, he was questioning and deconstructing the prevailing dogmas of science. Sheldrake is merely pointing out the rise of a dominant worldview that has essentially become its own religion. Questions are just too uncomfortable for some people to sit with. Questions and uncertainty make one feel vulnerable. The materialist worldview offers the illusion of certainty, which must be a great comfort to those who don't want to question. Give me topsy turvy any day.
      • Mar 24 2013: Everyone in this thread, I will be back later tonight for a full point by point refuting of the sheldrake talk. See you then! All the best.
    • Mar 23 2013: @Julian Walker: TED has not been transparent. It claimed that Sheldrake made factual errors, and gave one ambiguous examples. I'm still waiting to see the other alleged errors, if they exist at all. No scientist would label another as a "pseudo-scientist", the pejorative label has no agreed scientific definition. Only children resort to name-calling. "climate change denier" is another example of name calling, implying that no criticism may be offered. I have a scientific background, and am ashamed that scientists would suppress the talk of another scientist, and then try and justify their actions. TED does not have to endorse Sheldrake's talk, nor anyone else's, but of science publishes only papers with which it agrees, then we have a very sorry state of affairs.
      • Mar 23 2013: all criticism is welcome and encouraged! this does not mean that climate change deniers should be seen as on equal footing and deserving of equal audience as those relying on actual science.

        so to with sheldrake, chopra, and those with their agenda.

        it is not so much about publishing only papers with wich they agree, as it is having a standard for papers. sheldrake is dishonest in claiming to be presenting an argument that seriously challenges the edifice of science.
        • Mar 23 2013: If all criticism were welcome, then TED would not have suppressed Sheldrake's talk.

          Science is not biased towards climate change supporters or critics, their evidence must be assessed equally. Presupposing that one is less equal than the other is not scientific. The scientific method is very simple. A critic presents their evidence and makes their case, and someone else assess and possibly rebutts it.
    • Mar 23 2013: Well then....I wish they offered a THUMBS DOWN button on here.
      I have to say I DISAGREE with just about every single thing you write here.
      • Mar 23 2013: A thumbs down used to be offered, but it was removed due to abuse. Ultimately the marketplace of ideas functions just fine under a 'if you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all' rule - and perhaps better.
      • Mar 27 2013: Aimee, exactly :)
    • Mar 23 2013: Isn't it ironic that you have no qualms about using that same language in a post condemning everything you consider heterodox? If anything that lends credibility to the movement to label such beliefs as dogmatic, since your comment is arranged around an argumentum ad populum fallacy.
      • Mar 23 2013: established scientific evidence and reasoned arguments based on what is most likely about what we don't know given what we don't know is not argumentum ad populum!

        this sentence did not add up - can you rephrase: "Isn't it ironic that you have no qualms about using that same language in a post condemning everything you consider heterodox?"
        • Mar 23 2013: Censorship (or suppression) is not "established scientific evidence and reasoned arguments".
        • Mar 23 2013: In other words: a widely held opinion. Science should not have anything to say on the matter, if done right. Sheldrake and Hancock merely expose that there are those that pretend that it does.

          Here is what you said: "sophisticated theologians, new age hucksters, and religious apologists". It's clear to me that you're trivializing Sheldrake's work as "anti-science" though the reasons for this claim are not made explicit. Bad company fallacy?
        • Mar 23 2013: But what Sheldrake's saying about ESP, to take one example, is that you haven't bothered looking for it, and you have ignored those who have looked because you know a priori it's impossible. Thus all the accusations of pseudoscience and dishonesty etc. I mean, why not just ask the question (some have), and why not just admit the evidence is puzzling and that at the moment nobody really knows how to account for it? That is the situation after all. Very strange things have been found and nobody knows what to do about it. That's science for you. All Sheldrake is saying is please don't shut your eyes.
        • Mar 23 2013: It's pointless to argue with Julian. He's read nothing Sheldrake has written, he won't even read Sheldrake's rebuttal to TED's criticisms, yet he's absolutely certain he's correct. He knows what he knows and can't be bothered with the facts. Ever tried to have a rational discussion with a fundamentalist about the Bible? I suspect it's similarly impossible to have a rational discussion with Julian about Sheldrake. In effect, Julian is a true believer.
    • Mar 23 2013: Could you describe the specific logical fallacies made by Rupert Sheldrake in his talk?
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      Mar 23 2013: Slandering an invited speaker at a TEDx event is hardly the kind of thing anyone should be proud to support. It's one thing to respond to a complaint. It's quite another thing to respond inappropriately to an unfounded complaint. TED still hasn't justified it's behavior.

      As it stands, TED is still hiding behind an anonymous "science" board that doesn't even have one member with the backbone come forward and debate Dr Sheldrake in a fair public forum.

      Secret boards, censorship, libel... that's not something to be proud of at all.

      TED still owes Sheldrake and Hancock apologies.
      • Mar 23 2013: That point should never be forgotten. These were guests not gatecrashers. It's not their fault that some of TED's new friends don't like them.
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          Mar 23 2013: I wish I had some thumbs up left to bestow upon you, Steve!
    • Mar 23 2013: Julian, your argument is very persuasive, but please try to understand that not all of us are convinced that your worldview is leading us down the wisest path. All of the fantastic advances in science and technology have represented amazing accomplishments, but they have also been coupled with tremendous sacrifices to our earth. Many of us feel that we have used our scientific prowess irresponsibly, leading to enormous environmental consequences, such as the Gulf oil spill, the Canadian tar sands, The Fukishima meltdown, and the Great Pacific Garbage Patch just to name a few without even mentioning global warming. I see these events as a failure of science to differentiate between the best interests of economic will and the public good. We are looking for answers to questions of sustainability that science has been unable to provide. We are looking for fresh perspectives on our humanity. I feel that materialist science has led to a crisis in the human condition rooted in sustainably unsound perspectives on the nature of reality. Sheldrake is not demanding that we abandon the scientific method or deny ourselves the advantages that scientific inquiry provides, he is simply asking for a moment of introspection to evaluate our assumptions.
    • Mar 23 2013: "Sheldrake is widely evaluated as a pseudoscientist with an anti science agenda" Sheldrake can hardly be accused of 'anti-science'. He not only adheres to the rules of the scientific process as demanded by contemporary mainstream science, but opens up to a wider definition of science.
      So who are the final arbiters of what science is?
      The Science Council (whoever that is) has spent a year working out a new definition os science. See this Guardian article here http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/blog/2009/mar/03/science-definition-council-francis-bacon
      A challenge to the prevailing dogma is hugely welcome. Sheldrake has resonated with those of us who love science but dislike being forced into the evidence-based science versus religion dichotomy.. We are capable of a far more nuanced and complex mode of question and analysis.
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      Mar 23 2013: May I applaud Julian Walker for astutely identifying the core issue I find in Sheldrake's presentation.

      " ... rhetoric used by so many postmodernists, sophisticated theologians, new age hucksters, and religious apologists - use religious language like "dogma," "heresy," "faith" etc ... to erase the differences between science and religion ... elevate unevidenced religious, paranormal and magical claims to being on a par with those based in evidence and reason."

      I'm sure there is a valid context of inquiry for questions about things like physical constants, the significance of variations in measurement etc, Well and good for a scientist to suggest further study. But Sheldrake subordinates the potential scientific interest of such questions to an ideological message, of a fatal flaw in entire scientific paradigm in crisis.

      Among foundations of the presentation , one to me eye seems a 'rigorously uncritical' oversight of key distinctions. For example, science and scientism. Meanwhile, dichotomies on which he builds his case - a general one about science in crisis, 'conflict at the heart' - appear fatally flawed. I'm sure science entails a duality - as a body of systematically gathered knowledge of the physical world (nature, natural phenomena) - and as method(s) on the other. But how could that pose some tectonic fault or oppositional conflict splitting the 'paradigm'? The duality would seem to me complementary like two sides of a coin. The matter of 'belief' or 'faith' in a scientific worldview isn't a term in that equation, seems to me. Whatever specific questions of theoretical importance can stand - neither scientific knowledge, nor methodology, stand on personal belief or disbelief.

      I'm troubled by precedent comparisons, too close for comfort - ex. Sheldrake's use of speed of light question, and equivalent propagandistic use by the religious right. For example: www.khouse.org/articles/1995/58/

      My blood chills at what I hear in that presentation.
      • Mar 23 2013: "I'm sure there is a valid context of inquiry for questions about things like physical constants, the significance of variations in measurement etc, Well and good for a scientist to suggest further study. But Sheldrake subordinates the potential scientific interest of such questions to an ideological message, of a fatal flaw in entire scientific paradigm in crisis."
        Right - this is why Sheldrake's talk is more philosophy-of-science than science.

        "Among foundations of the presentation , one to me eye seems a 'rigorously uncritical' oversight of key distinctions. For example, science and scientism. "
        Sheldrake did make this this distinction at the beginning of his talk, saying: "there's a conflict in the heart of science between science as a method of enquiry based on reason, evidence, hypothesis and collective investigation, and science as a belief system or a worldview"
        Sometimes he uses the word 'science' to mean inquiry ("I'm a total believer in the importance of science") and sometimes he uses the word 'science' to mean philosophical materialism ("the ten dogmas or assumptions of science"). I think this homophony leads to confusion. One lesson I've learned from this incident is to never give materialism the label 'scientific'; it creates confusion, and allows defenders of materialism to accuse their opponents of being anti-scientific.
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          Mar 25 2013: Conor, you make many important points I can only affirm, if in different light. You definitely help clarify the issue. I don’t take that for granted, from my sense of most of the liveliness here.

          You’re right about Sheldrake’s dual, split use of ‘science’ – along with its true definition, he uses it to mean a “belief system or worldview.” That goes to my observation, of his failure to distinguish science, as such, from materialism (or scientism, ‘radical secularism’ etc.) He categorically confuses them - as I find reflected in the quote you cite above.

          Sheldrake renders this crucial distinction implicit not explicit – obscuring rather than clarifying it. The literal meaning of ‘science’ is ‘knowledge;' and that, not belief / disbelief, is the product of its method(s). But Sheldrake makes no mention of knowledge as distinct from 'belief or worldview' - in effect, passively conflating them.

          Its a common mistake, a confusion in popular currency, Sheldrake easily builds on it by simply saying nothing to address it as such. Due to ideological aspects implicated in such 'casual' oversight of fine critical nuance, this is a key point. You perceptively noted how, by exactly such carelessness - ‘scientific’ materialists can call non-materialists ‘unscientific.’

          Thing is - its not just materialists who can exploit that false equation. By a reverse play, it also enables religious interests to scorn science as dogmatic, call it a religion of ‘godless atheism’ etc.

          Alas, that's close to Sheldrake’s message. Though its left-fringe, rightwing pseudoscience provides a necessary critical comparison standard, simply because its well known and exposed - compared to its counterparts (in Western hermetic and esoteric currents, including psychedelicism).

          (W. Hanegraaff" ...almost no research has been done into this phenomenon as such, its origins, its theoretical underpinnings, the authors responsible for it, or the current of alternative spirituality ...")
      • Mar 24 2013: Brian I will,be back later today to do a full point by point refuting of the sheldrake talk, as these more structural observations are met with predictable (if sincere) reactions. Hope to see you in the mix!
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          Mar 25 2013: Thanks Julian, I stay tuned with interest and appreciation for your input. Seems like a lot of unfocused attention and energy here, so its good to see some genuine discussion from guys like you, and Conor.

          Tried 'thumbs upping' your post just now - got some smart aleck error msg - "you've used up your thumbs-up quota for this poster, sorry, hah hah" or some such. Keep the fire burning, and kudos for your participation.
      • Mar 24 2013: "science entails a duality - as a body of systematically gathered knowledge of the physical world (nature, natural phenomena) - and as method(s) on the other. But how could that pose some tectonic fault or oppositional conflict splitting the 'paradigm'? The duality would seem to me complementary like two sides of a coin."
        Hi Brian, I've been thinking about this. The situation seems clearer to me if I think of science as having four elements, not two:
        1) Data. (i.e. "body of systematically gathered knowledge of the physical world")
        2) Methods
        3) Theories
        4) Philosophical assumptions (i.e. 'paradigm' in Kuhn's sense)
        When you model it like this, your question "how could that pose some tectonic fault or oppositional conflict splitting the 'paradigm'?" becomes easier to answer. The tension is between data and paradigm, not data and method.

        With apologies to Kuhn for collapsing his thought into a paragraph: Kuhn said that the paradigm determines the theory and directs the investigation. Sheldrake's example of this (from the talk) is that the Platonist paradigm implies the theory that constants are constant, and causes scientists to average measurements of big G rather than look for fluctuations. (Paradigm > theory > method.) But sometimes investigation throws up data that clashes with the paradigm (e.g. evidence of wave-particle duality, evidence of telepathy). For psychological reasons (to do with confirmation bias) this data is suppressed, ignored, ridiculed etc. It is certainly not published in the most respected journals. But eventually the data weighing against the existing paradigm becomes too massive and the paradigm has to crack.
    • Mar 24 2013: Firstly, thanks to Julian Walker and Brian Akers for representing the anti-Sheldrake position here, and doing it in a reasonable and polite way.

      "this is not only completely inappropriate and dishonest, it also seeks to erase the differences between science and religion, the massive breakthrough represented by scientific method, and in so doing, elevate unevidenced religious, paranormal and magical claims to being on a par with those based in evidence and reason."

      Personally, I think pointing out the irrationality, confirmation bias and human fallibility of scientists is a step forward for reason, not backward. The scientific method is a device for debugging human inquiry, hopefully making it rational. BUT it is never practised perfectly. I stress this because it is not recognized by believers in scientism: science as it is practised in universities, research companies etc. is FULL of irrationality, assumptions, and agendas motivated by confirmation bias and money. Earning a Ph.D does not root all the cognitive biases out of a person's brain. Might it not be very, very useful to sometimes remind scientists that they are as prone to dogma, superstition and faith as anyone else? What if shining the light of awareness on scientists' biases helps them to think more rationally? Does that "erase... the massive breakthrough represented by scientific method"? Or does it defend the scientific method against the natural unscientific thinking of human psychology?

      Sheldrake is entirely unlike a New Age anti-science agitator because he believes in the scientific method and spends his working life conducting controlled experiments. I think he makes it as clear as day that he is NOT out to attack the scientific method; he is out to use it to investigate materialism, to "take the ten dogmas or assumptions of [materialist] science and turn them into questions, seeing how well they stand up if you look at them scientifically".
      • Mar 24 2013: Thanks Connor for being reasonable too!
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          Mar 27 2013: Hi Noah (I hope this displays under your post to me, which shows no 'reply' queue ;-( !

          The nuance, as you rightly put it, is indeed the crucial zone of comprehension. Do you consider ideology categorically identical to philosophy - a synonym?

          I ask because of your express perplexity, as to why I might "think there's a difference between ideology and philosophy." Is such a notion, for you, that strange or new? No more than a thought someone is having (your humble narrator, moi)?

          Not knowing your background, education, specializations etc - have you looked into basic educated perspectives, from liberal arts and humanities, political or social sciences etc - about is meant by the term 'ideology'? I'm not much for arguing, I'm more interested in questioning, critical inquiry. I have everything to find out, to learn, to discover - nothing to prove.

          I believe you're on right track to ponder whether you've understood well. But may I suggest, look into these questions if you like. There's a massive legacy of study and educated inquiry, and any who'd look into it have homework to do. I can't task you, but kindly let me know if there is anything I can say to encourage you, Noah, to become an 'inquiring mind' - finding out. I'm more sponge than fountain. What have scholars and leading authorities in relevant fields (including philosophy) had to say, from their research and studies - about ideology, what it is, what defines it. That would be the work you take on, if you're interested in such questions.

          Perhaps you feel I've misunderstood your purport, i.e. that maybe ideology doesn't differ significantly from philosophy (or science?). I feel I understand what you say clearly, and find ground for question - deeply.

          Arguing's not much my cup of tea, however popular a sport. Here's an interesting 'google hit' - just came up. Easy to look into things, as what I like to do: www.differencebetween.net/miscellaneous/difference-between-philosophy-and-ideol
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        Mar 25 2013: Appreciation returned from loyal opposition, Conor. Your many good points and observations, helpful in many ways.

        Our disagreement is at the level of larger perspective - and that's where the I feel the actual problem lies. I'm glad you're willing to engage there, with intellectual integrity and purpose. As a basic consideration of complex issues in conflict, the mere possibility of communication depends critically on common purpose of opposed voices, in dialogue if possible - toward better mutual understanding, at least, if not agreement. You bring a multitude of important considerations to the table, which actually facilitates discussion - otherwise entangled by all kinds of red herrings, confusion, and questions of fundamental purpose. So - thanks for what and how you're doing.

        An overarching aspect of dilemma I ponder - is a need for hypothesis-testing inquiry, toward a fuller understanding in general, of factors operant in our ideologically tempestuous milieu. The paradigm level is where a lot of the action is, and needs better illumination.

        In our era, ideologies - not to be confused with philosophy, or with science - both left and right seem to have become ambitious, even aggressive. Pseudoscience, and pseudophilosophy, become ideal 'sheep's clothing' for purposes of staking out claims, to demand places in discussion arenas of broadly critical interests, that would question ideological movements and their assertions without disguise. There's a lot going on, many questions not yet asked much less answered.

        Overall - my perspective rests in some vital distinctions, such as an ostensible idea placed out on exhibit, and an operant idea it may harbor or conceal. Another nuance is to distinguish between philosophy proper, and ideology trying to philosophize or sound philosophical. That's why I linked that hardline Christian discussion - about the speed of light and how it means science is imperiled at its very core. That's not philosophy.
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        Mar 25 2013: Conor, you've wonderfully emphasized the key questions I consider of critical essence. Like science and other disciplines, philosophy is critical inquiry; New Age anti-science drum beating is not.

        Unlike yourself, as you clearly detail - I can only find Sheldrake's message, put to proper litmus test and analysis, in adequate theoretical light - proves to be the latter not the former. The very heart of the matter. He uses plenty of dissembling and rhetorical ploy to effect a contrary appearance, along lines you plead -- on many a worthy, reasonable consideration - in principle; whether or not in application, this case file.

        I feel part of our disagreement originates in context of what questions we’re asking, from what perspectives – methods of investigation or analysis, from what informed disciplines. Science both natural and social, is vital. But DRAGNET-like questions can shed a completely different light on what meets the eye in ‘funny theorizing.’ A ruse means to go undetected as such. Its one thing to realize a theory per se doesn't stand up as such. But it took legal process in Dover PA - with crack forensic work plus expertise in biology, to unmask Intel Design, as “not science, but an incredible simulation.”

        Quarrels of emergent neotradition with science are poorly known compared to old time religion’s. They pose an equal but ideological opposite’ type anti-science backlash, traceable to the ‘Romantic Counter-Enlightenment’ - bummed out thinking science spoils faith without offering an 'alternative' or substitute. I find study of subcultures and currents in our milieu and history indispensable as a crucial framework of inquiry, for discovering by methodical test - how and why Sheldrake’s talk doesn’t qualify as philosophy or science.

        A revealing moment in this regard, is Sheldrake’s recourse to an eloquently worded, blatantly ideological quote: “Give us one free miracle, and we’ll explain the rest.” Its skin-crawling (con't) ...
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        Mar 25 2013: (con't) That ‘one free miracle’ rationalization precisely echoes a notorious pseudo-critique of ‘Darwinism’ from "Sciencey" Creationism, for not explaining biogenesis - on pretense it must. The line goes: since natural selection doesn’t tell us how life started, its invalid - period. And so, as its sun sinks in the west, the ‘moral of the story’ is of an entire paradigm of science in crisis, headed for a big crash. Lyrics differ slightly in Sheldrake’s rendition but its quite the same song to my ear.

        Again, for valid analysis here - I can't sufficiently emphasize, from my perspective, how critically vital study of things like anti-science rhetoric of the religious right is (being so well known and exposed).

        The ‘logic’ alone - ahem (you be the judge) - marks Sheldrake’s message as ideology, not philosophy or science. But from a more specialized standpoint in my own studies, the 'intellectual authority' Sheldrake cites with that quote is a dead giveaway - a veiled genuflection to the name ‘Terence McKenna' - exalted charismatic icon of contemporary psychedelia, surrounded by cultish veneration and false claims of ‘contributions’ to science, philosophy, etc.

        Invoking the name as an intellectual precedent or authority, is a note almost unheard by uninitiated ears. But its mere mention is inspirationally electrifying fanfare to an enraptured choir devoted to embroidering his iconic legend as a genius - ‘an unsung Newton’ (his phrase).

        This ‘alternate current’ has flown largely below radar of broader awareness, so far almost undetected. But among indicators: McKenna founded 2012ism (his "theory" of time)(http://wouterjhanegraaff.blogspot.com/2013/03/grand-theories-weak-foundations.html). He also crafted a new type evolutionary pseudoscience to rival that of the religious right. Mainly he founded a tradition of venerating his name, celebrating his ‘contributions’ as heralded in psychedelia – a cultic submilieu enthralled by a charismatic spell he uniquely cast.
        • Mar 27 2013: Hi Brian. I read your responses, and while I appreciate your thoughtfulness, and that you took the time to type out and share your concerns, I think you're just engaging in begging the question, albeit in sophisticated fashion.

          For instance, I can't tell why you think there's a difference between ideology and philosophy. You seem to just assume that philosophy is more honest, so you can put Sheldrake in the 'dishonest' category.

          Also, I'm at a loss as to how Sheldrake's friendship with the late Terence McKenna bears at all on this discussion. Your dislike for McKenna is evident, but his observation regarding the 'big bang' is, I think, a valid point about the limits of our knowledge. You seem to think Sheldrake's association with him discredits his work. But McKenna's character is not really at issue.

          I'm having a hard time understanding why it's so difficult to articulate an argument for discrediting Sheldrake without resorting to this kind of intellectual subterfuge other than the possibility you really want to believe it's true; that your belief (that Sheldrake is mistaken) is shaken, and you're trying to devise a means to convince yourself it's true. I don't mean to seem untoward. Maybe I've miscalculated. Perhaps I am unable to grasp the level of nuance in your comments. Maybe you can help me to understand what I'm not getting by speaking as to a layman.
        • Mar 27 2013: Hi Brian, I saw your post above and would like to share my impressions. I agree, the nested response structure here makes things a bit tricky:

          First, I think the link you provided is unsatisfactory because it's centered around what I consider to be an etymological fallacy. There are many uses of either word that currently overlap. Because the meanings of 'philosophy' and 'ideology' contain a degree of ambiguity, I reject many of the conclusions of that article, namely that philosophy is objective, or that deology is only concerned with the future. I am inclined to view this strategy as raising what I would call trivial objections.

          I would suggest it is philosophy's fundamental nonobjectivity -- it's unprovable nature -- as being what is at issue here. In that sense, 'philosophy' and 'ideology' are similar in that both are predicated on belief in some axiomatic truth, in my view.

          Anyway, thanks for clarifying your thoughts. We seem to both be devoted to critical inquiry, though we reach opposite conclusions.
    • Mar 27 2013: gee, isn't this what Sheldrake talked about in his TEDx talk that got yanked by TED? who woulda thunk? ;)

      "As a result, there is a theoretical possibility that the speed of light is not fixed, as conventional physics has assumed. But it could fluctuate at a level independent of the energy of each light quantum, or photon, and greater than fluctuations induced by quantum level gravity. The speed of light would be dependent on variations in the vacuum properties of space or time. The fluctuations of the photon propagation time are estimated to be on the order of 50 attoseconds per square meter of crossed vacuum, which might be testable with the help of new ultra-fast lasers.Leuchs and Sanchez-Soto, on the other hand, modelled virtual charged particle pairs as electric dipoles responsible for the polarisation of the vacuum."

      Speed of Light May Not Be Fixed, Scientists Suggest; Ephemeral Vacuum Particles Induce Speed-Of-Light Fluctuations
      ~ http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/03/130325111154.htm
    • Mar 27 2013: Julian,

      first of, i'm glad to see you here on TED conversations. perhaps we can rehash our spirited and passionate debates we've had elsewhere (i.e. Facebook) :)

      based on what you wrote, i can only skratch my head in amazement/amusement with everything you said.

      i'm not sure if you've followed this TED fiasco since the beginning, or have read Sheldrake and Hancock's responses, or have read the open letter by TEDxwhitechapel who organized the event, or have even considered the massive support of most people in TED conversations behind Sheldrake and Hancock. i won't rehash my argument on this because i've already covered it on my blog. see

      in any case, i'll offer my two cents here to refute your series of poor arguments and logical fallacies. but since there's only limited characters for each comment, i'll break up my responses to you in a series of replies.

      please read my series of replies below.
    • Mar 27 2013: you wrote: "sheldrake is widely evaluated as a pseudoscientist with an anti science agenda, supernatural proclivities, paranormal claims..."

      really? just because some loud scientists "evaluated" Sheldrake as "a pseudoscientist" doesn't mean that it's true and well-argued.

      Sheldrake is a hardcore scientist *not* a "pseudoscientist." if you want to play the credentials game, how about getting to know the credentials of Sheldrake? published on Nature, Research Fellow on the Royal Society, etc.

      your logical fallacy, it seems to me, is: https://yourlogicalfallacyis.com/appeal-to-authority

      as for Sheldrake's morphogenetic field theory, there are circumstantial and anecdotal evidence to support it, as he claims. also, Sheldrake has proposed tests for his theory. Sheldrake's theory can be tested and falsified. he even invited other scientists to test his theory.

      it's one thing to disagree with Sheldrake's interpretation of data to support his theories. it's another to call the guy a "pseudoscientist." the former is a valid way of critique among scientists. the latter is just pure and simple character assassination via name-calling.

      your logical fallacy, it seems to me, is: https://yourlogicalfallacyis.com/ad-hominem

      what's your understanding of "pseudoscience" anyway? i remember you labeling NDE (Near-Death Experience) research as "pseudoscience" before. do you still think that NDE is pseudoscience?
    • Mar 27 2013: (continued)

      Julian wrote: "the 10 dogmas he lays out are not only mostly laughable, but rooted in that cynical piece of rhetoric used by so many postmodernists, sophisticated theologians, new age hucksters, and religious apologists - use religious language like "dogma," "heresy," "faith" etc to describe the scientific or materialist worldview."

      oh, really? have you actually watched Sheldrake's entire lecture on the 10 dogmas or have read his book "Science Delusion"? i admit, i haven't read Sheldrake's book, yet. but i have watched his series of lectures on this subject.

      your logical fallacy, it seems to me, is: https://yourlogicalfallacyis.com/strawman

      btw, for those who have actually watched Rupert Sheldrake's TEDx talk and think that TED doesn't really have a good reason to pull it out of the official distribution channel, here's the 1 hour and 15 minutes version of that talk. it's more nuanced. it's more awesome. you're welcome.

      Dispelling the Ten Dogmas of Materialism & Freeing the Spirit of Enquiry - DR RUPERT SHELDRAKE ~ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-XcfhGxdZ3Y
    • Mar 27 2013: (continued)

      Julian wrote: "he (and others like chopra and b. allan wallace) is not unlike climate change deniers or "creation scientists" in that they demand that their minority and fringe opinion be given equal standing alongside widely accepted scientifically evidenced arguments."

      oh, really? by name-dropping Chopra and B. Alan Wallace you are conflating Rupert Sheldrake with other personalities. this argument, it seems to me, is another red herring. it's a form of personality conflation/association and strawman attack. your logical fallacy is: https://yourlogicalfallacyis.com/strawman

      and besides, i can turn your argument on its head and call you and other "skeptics" to be not unlike "climate change deniers" on the subject of psi.

      are you familiar with the Ganzfeld experiments?

      have you read Dean Radin's presentation of data in his book "The Conscious Universe" on the meta-analyses of psi experiments which yielded a significant result in favor of psi? (in fact, the meta-analyses results are more significant compared to the typical drug meta-analyses done in pharmaceutical research.)

      i'm sure you have seen the Persinger lecture i posted earlier where Persinger presented a summary of his published research (see PubMed) on his experiments with the late psychic Ingo Swann.

      here's the link again: Michael Persinger- No More Secrets: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9l6VPpDublg

      these are just some of the studies on psi i can cite right away. it should be more than enough for you to chew on. (if you really care about science, experiments, and data).

      so who's the "denier" now? :)
    • Mar 27 2013: (continued)

      Julian wrote: "scientists are not threatened by folks like sheldrake, but science education and well-informed public opinion are..."

      oh, really? if they are not threatened, then why did they (Jerry Coyne, PZ Myers) made a big fuss about Sheldrake's talk? gee, i wonder. um, maybe because Sheldrake's 18-minute talk challenged the very fabric of scientific materialism?

      and how come nobody has yet accepted Sheldrake's challenge for a debate? if Sheldrake is truly a "pseudoscientist" then it should be very easy for defenders of "real science" (this is Jerry Coyne's term not mine) to expose Sheldrake's ignorance of the scientific method. "real scientists" should take this opportunity take down Sheldrake and shame him for his "pseudoscience."

      as i wrote on one of my very first comments here on TED Conversations, i'd love to see a debate among peers (Sheldrake debating other scientists). good thing Sheldrake had issued his debate challenge. but so far, no takers. gee, i wonder why.

      that is all. i rest my case.

  • Mar 22 2013: I thought I'd post the talk to make it easier for people to avoid misrepresenting it, and lay it out to fact-checking. See below.
  • Mar 22 2013: Imagine a TED conference in the year 1785 and what the "scientific board" would think of William Blake addressing the issues of "setting science free" or "the war on consciousness."

    We can see that it would have looked very similar to what just happened with TED in 2013. And interestingly those who made the decisions to censor Sheldrake's and Graham's presentations don't even realize this.

    Some interesting quotes from William Blake that seem to perfectly address this situation:

    "I must create a system or be enslaved by another mans;
    I will not reason and compare: my business is to create."

    Blake understood at this time that it wasn't possible to reason with people who are trapped in "left brain" consciousness.

    "When I tell the truth, it is not for the sake of convincing those who do not know it,
    but for the sake of defending those that do."

    Blake understood how powerful this is. And today with the internet, it is even more powerful. And for those who know about Sheldrake's theories on the morphic resonance, this is even more profound. The ability for more to understand these concepts is growing rapidly.
  • Mar 21 2013: "and claim that the speed of light has been changing"

    I've only just listened to this Ted Talk for the first time, and maybe I need to listen to it again, but I don't actually remember him making the claim that the speed of light has been changing. I do remember him stating that the recorded data of the speed of light has been changing over historical time but that isn't the same thing, and that is surely something that can be checked one way or another in a fairily straightforward way I would have thought?

    Can anyone point me to the part of the talk where he actually makes the claim described here?
    • Mar 21 2013: No need, you're right, he didn't say it. As regards the data, Sheldrake was right. The whole thing is rather interesting because TED said Sean Carroll posted a careful rebuttal of Sheldrake's claims, but as Sheldrake pointed out Carroll's rebuttal missed out the data for the very years in question which made it look like there had been no large change in the recorded data of the kind he referred to. Sheldrake, however, checked some of the other sources Carroll listed which did show the data for the time in question and there, large as life, was the data Sheldrake had referred to in the first place showing exactly what he said it did.
      • Mar 21 2013: Which brings me to this: "several of the dogmas are actually active areas of science inquiry (including whether physical ‘constants’ are really unchanging)"

        Okay, so what the Ted staff seem to be saying here is that there are valid areas of scientific inquiry as to whether the current thinking is correct, which to my mind would seem to back the validity of the talk and not invalidate it?

        So as of the 19th March Ted seem to be making claims about the talk which are obviously not true. I watched it again and he doesn't make the claim that the speed of light has been changing.

        Ted also seems to imply that these claims about the talk have come from their scientific advisers and that they are the basis of their criticism of the talk??
        • Mar 21 2013: Yes indeed, half of Sheldrake's critics have been lambasting him for suggesting things which are clearly contradicted by facts established beyond any reasonable doubt, while the other half have been lambasting him for claiming that anyone in science treats these same things as facts established beyond any reasonable doubt.
        • Mar 22 2013: Yup that is basically the big uproar. The reasons they gave for removing Sheldrake's talk was basically all lies. My guess is that their "science board" that reviewed it was really not the science board at all but a list of Atheists backed up 2 particular Atheists who originally complained about the 2 offending videos.

          My guess is TED took the word of these Atheists without actually checking the video itself that those claims were true.

          It smacks of what has happened for the last 30 years with PSI research and Atheist/Materialists making claims that are just false. Will Storr even wrote a book about it called "The Heretics". He went in thinking the "woo" crowd and fringe scientists investigating PSI were the ones fabricating data and lying.... and started investigating it.... only to find it was absolutely the other way around. The PSI crowd were the ones that were telling the truth.... and it was the Atheist groups like James Randi who were found to be continually lying and manipulating information... to keep people away from taking the PSI claims seriously.

          Sounds exactly what is happening now at TED with Rupert and Hancock doesn't it?
      • Mar 21 2013: Seán Carroll also backed up Sheldrake's claim about the speed of light being fixed by convention rather than empirical measurement:

        Rupert Sheldrake: "How can we be so sure it's not going on today and that the present values are not produced by intellectual phase-locking? He said, 'We know that's not the case'. I said, 'How do we know?' He said, 'Well,' he said, 'We've solved the problem.' I said, 'How?' He said 'We fixed the speed of light by definition in 1972.' " (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LEo2hChKeMs&t=12m15s)

        Seán Carroll: "Indeed, today the speed of light is fixed by definition, not by measurement." (http://whyevolutionistrue.wordpress.com/2013/03/06/tedx-talks-completely-discredited-rupert-sheldrake-speaks-argues-that-speed-of-light-is-dropping/)
        • Mar 21 2013: And TED called that a "careful rebuttal".
    • Mar 21 2013: The speed of light tested in an almost sterile environment in a 20 mile long tube on earth, proves what light can do in a sterile environment, not in space.

      Science could easily attach a laser to a probe and test fro a million miles away, but I'm betting there is too much interference in outer space with all the plasma, cosmic rays, dust enough for star nurseries, billions of miles of gas and so much more.

      NASA the scientific method

      How long does it take the photons to return? The scientific method?

      So, the moons reflectors are 239,000 miles from earth, approximately and since the speed of light is 186,000 miles per second, y'all must think that laser beam will get back to earth pretty fast. Actually, the light should return to earth from the moons reflectors in 1.3 seconds, with the reflectors designed to reflect the light back, but according to the scientists and this web site page, it takes a few seconds to return to earth. A FEW SECONDS,--wow, how very scientific,- when judging light speed. Gotta love the very accurate, scientific method, NOT!!!
      A few seconds is at least twice as long as the beam or photons should take to return to earth.

      At least they depend on all of us being stupid enough to believe them.


      The piece claims,--Once the laser beam hits a reflector, scientists at the ranging observatories use extremely sensitive filtering and amplification equipment to detect the return signal, which is far too weak to be seen with the human eye. Even under good atmospheric viewing conditions, only one photon is received every few seconds.

      Read that last line above again, one photon every FEW SECONDS.

      It should only take 1.3 seconds for each return photon, if that light is traveling at the speed of light. If light can be so depleted to just one photon every few seconds, from just going to the moon and back, who in their right mind would thing light can travel billions of miles through space?
      • Mar 21 2013: Must the light not bounce back, thus making the round trip 478,000 miles?
        • Mar 21 2013: Not according to how the piece is written. Oh, that must be more of sciences attention to detail. That's the scientific method.

          "Once the laser beam hits a reflector, scientists at the ranging observatories use extremely sensitive filtering and amplification equipment to detect the return signal,"

          The above sentence states, ---Once the laser beam hits a reflector, --- meaning, they are only watching the return trip from the light. However, according to science, our galaxy is spinning at 600,000 mph, so science shouldn't be reading anything, because in 2.6 seconds, the earth should be more than a few hundred miles away from its original release of light, but that seems to confuse a lot of people.
    • Mar 21 2013: He goes into more detail about changes in G here: http://sciencesetfree.tumblr.com/post/40594151940/how-the-universal-gravitational-constant-varies

      Thought some of you might be intersted.
  • D S

    • +5
    Mar 21 2013: Time-lapse Tuesday: A frog's electric face

    How does an embryo know where its face should grow? This amazing time-lapse video reveals a surprising mechanism at work: electricity.

    The footage shows a frog embryo early on its development. Watch carefully and around nine seconds into the video you'll see a flash of light and dark patterns that looks like a template for where the face will subsequently develop.

    These patterns are called bioelectric signals - fluxes of charged particles shooting across cells - that are already known to be involved in the formation of organs which rely heavily on electrical signals to function, such as the heart. This is the first time that they've been spotted in the formation of such a complex embryonic structure.

    Dany Adams, a developmental biologist at Tufts University in Boston, Massachusetts, stumbled upon the patterns after leaving her time-lapse camera running overnight. She describes the recording that she saw the next day as "jaw-dropping".

    The footage reveals three distinct stages of bioelectrical activity. In the first stage, a wave of negative charge sweeps across the entire embryo - the first bright flash in the video. In the second stage, a pattern of light and dark patches appears, which overlaps with areas where genes for head patterning are switched on, and seems to match the placement of the eyes, nose and mouth. In the final stage, a flash of electricity happens just before the embryo undergoes a growth spurt.

    "We believe this bioelectrical signal is a 'pre-pattern' - marking areas on the embryo that will become certain craniofacial structures," says Adam's colleague Laura Vandenberg. "What was most amazing was that this bioelectrical information is used to 'instruct' most if not all of the facial structures - the jaw, eye, nose, and otolith [a kind of ear bone]."
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      Mar 21 2013: D S: brilliant, thank you. I didn't expect to find an actual fan of science posting an actual scientific vid with a real scientist's comments in their natural habitat. And it's one I haven't seen, thanks.
  • Mar 21 2013: Let´s make a real revolution on the current paradigm. Enough of technologies and sciences suppressions. Let the science be creative and free to honestly inquiry about everything. And again, great minds of our history always looked at these subjects, let´s honor them, bringing them to the main focus and rescue them from the suppressions and attack they suffered.

    “The day science begins to study non-physical phenomena, it will make more progress in one decade than in all the previous centuries of its existence.” - Nikola Tesla.
  • Mar 20 2013: Publishing a talk is not the same action as removing a talk. If the TED organization really had a problem with Rupert Sheldrake promoting his book and that violated TED guidelines, then it's TED's perogative to not publish the talk. But, once it's published, it's published. Now a different situation exists, and a published talk contains some controversial information. Now, removing the talk amounts to censorship because of the controversial information.

    Perhaps TED needs to fortify it's pre-publishing efforts and vet their brand concerns privately before they enter the public domain. Once in the public domain (which is arguably where this comment "exists") The entire contextual presentation can then be evaluated on it's net merits.

    On that basis, what Rupert Sheldrake has presented is profoundly important to discuss and dissect. The analytical approach to the phenomenon of consciousness is an important area for study, and the posturing and fighting that prevent detailed analysis of the hypotheses are what should be pushed aside, not the questions themselves.

    Lastly, what "should" TED do about presenters who have published materials? Pretend like they don't exist? It's not even relevant in the public arena. If TED wants to avoid letting individual presenters somehow "stealing" the TED brand to market their publications, then do the screening before the talk. Maybe TED should "consciously evolve into what they want to become" rather than censor what they've already done.
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    Mar 20 2013: There are many things that Rupert Sheldrake's talk brings to mind. But his comment that one dogma of the scientific method is "that the constants of nature are fixed" is false. Yes, in the current best-fitting cosmological model the constants of nature are constant in time. However, I (and other) scientists constantly test this belief (you can see our test of a variable fine structure constant in a recent paper here: http://arxiv.org/abs/1301.0824).

    What we have found is that given the current data, it does not support a varying fine structure constant. It isn't a 'fudging' of the data, if the data supported this model, I would be the first person to advocate this. In fact, many cosmologists in my field take data and fit a wide variety of models to try and understand the universe, even if this means challenging ideas previously held fixed. It is my explicit job to test theories until they fail and when they fail, to refine them. Until they fail, they remain the best-fitting theory - and that is the key point: any theory has to be tested with data.

    I agree with Sheldrake that dogma needs to be challenged and confronted with evidence. Unfortunately that also means dogma about the scientific method itself.
    • Mar 20 2013: TED’s Scientific Board refers to a Scientific American article that makes my point very clearly: “Physicists routinely assume that quantities such as the speed of light are constant.”
    • Mar 20 2013: That's not one of his dogmas. It's a secondary point. The underlying dogma is that the ultimate laws of physics are, well, ultimate, and fixed. Perhaps getting a reasonable handle on the issues Sheldrake is discussing would help you appraise his talk more accurately.
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      Mar 21 2013: I applaud your work Renee, though your abstract is well beyond my ability to comprehend, and I'm glad you've joined us here. Do you mind responding to a couple thoughts of mine?

      It's clear there is scientific interest in examining the constants as you have done, and Sheldrake's statements elsewhere make it clear that he's aware of this: "The variation of fundamental constants is now a matter of serious debate among physicists" [Science Set Free, 92]. However, for decades he has been the subject of scorn and ridicule for believing that the laws of nature are more like habits and, to some degree, may be subject to evolutionary change or fluctuation. Earlier I referenced an interesting roundtable discussion between Sheldrake and others, including Freeman Dyson, on this topic. http://goo.gl/AQnaT

      Considering this, and your own experience of course, would you agree or disagree that, historically, many scientists and educated people have been taught, and have frequently espoused as incontrovertibly true, that the laws of nature are fixed? I myself was taught this in college physics and astrophysics classes, and accepted it as undeniable.

      If not, could you at least acknowledge that there's SOME basis for such a belief being considered common? Or are the laws more commonly held to be working assumptions, as they are for you, and not incontrovertibly fixed?
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    Mar 20 2013: Also, avoiding throwing the world "materialist" as an insult, would help. It avoids a deeper discussion. Many scientists believe in an afterlife, and we accept as facts things weirder than Dr. Sheldrakes claims. Particles that come out from nothing, places where even light cannot come out, alcohol among the stars, that we are very similar to mice and horses at the genetic level, and many more things that are counter intuitive. The difference is that we have strong evidence about these weird, mind blowing claims. Quantum mechanics is weird, nearly impossible to understand and bizarre, but we accept it. It's not a matter of accepting what we'd like to be true, but of accepting the evidence. But often people with weak or zero evidence resort to name calling when asked for more evidence.

    Maybe tomorrow Dr. Sheldrake will be praised as the stubborn man who fought the establishment, the one who saw a whole new field, boiling with new opportunities and wonders. Maybe. But for now, he still needs to show a lot more evidence than quoting a thee words of a scientist, instead of new experimental results.

    I have been proved wrong many times in my life, in science, it's often delightful. I doubt this will be the case here. But if so, the wonderful perspectives would outweigh any negative feelings for being proved wrong. That's why I am scientist, not because I am right all the time, or I pretend I am, but because the universe is beautiful, complex and mysterious, and I find pleasure understanding how things work out.
    • Mar 20 2013: I think the strongest evidence for the morphogentic field is the way the morphogentic field which connects TED Fellows, Tedx Organizers, Ted Staff and sundry other TEDsters has been working its magic and causing all these people with TED Something under their name and have almost identical viewpoints who have all suddenly turned up to toe the party line while being conspicuous by their absence when the first two discussions were taking place. It must be the morphogentic field because TED would never have sent a memo round asking for support or anything like that, eh.
      • Mar 20 2013: @Steve -- we asked TED to get involved in this discussion and they are doing so. While nothing in their responses makes me think either of these videos should have been removed, they make some fair points and are contributing intelligently and constructively to the conversation.

        This is about having a conversation and friendly debate about these videos, not simply winning at all costs.

        That being said, the way this was initially handled by TED and their unprofessional and disrespectful treatment of the speakers and community have created a fair amount of ill will for those who have stuck it out with the conversation this long.

        So I ask all TED-affiliated commenters here to be aware that you are coming into a room of people who feel frustrated, disrespected, and marginalized -- and in many ways understandably so. You are doing a great job so far, but I encourage you to be patient as you work to rebuild goodwill and get this dialogue back on a constructive track.
        • Mar 20 2013: Fair enough I suppose, I just felt that the initial TED badge holders who appeared were lawyering endlessly without any seeming background knowledge of the issues that had resulted in this particular discussion page.
      • Mar 20 2013: @ Steve Stark,

        Yes. Someone probably rang them up and said "Our community is asking for us to get involved in this conversation and it's coming off as pretty one-sided at this point. Can you please jump in and do your best to represent our concerns in a reasonable, well-substantiated, and courteous manner?"

        If this is the case (and I sincerely apologize to any TED-affiliated commenters if it is not), they seem to be doing their best to get up to speed and contribute constructively.

        What has been fundamentally lost in this conversation is the assumption of mutual good faith on both sides. Now that TED and its representatives are willing to engage with the community in a civilized and substantive manner, I suggest we do our best to put past offenses behind us and focus on having the conversation that should have taken place on day one.
    • Mar 20 2013: Guido, did you read Sheldrake's response to the accusations made against him? Do you consider the charges TED made against him valid, even after his response? If so, please explain. And of course many scientists believe in an afterlife. Rupert never said they didn't. But the talk is about dogmas. You say many scientists believe in an afterlife. Well how many scientists can you name who are currently involved in afterlife research? I can name a few but their numbers are miniscule. Why do you think that is? I'd suggest that one reason might be because people fear it's career suicide to conduct research into things like psi or the afterlife. Now why do you think that is? Maybe because they're afraid they'll get branded a "pseudoscientist" and ostracized by the mainstream scientific establishment? Please be honest with me Guido, you casually dismiss Sheldrake's evidence- but how many of his papers have you actually read? I'd like to suggest you visit this link and get acquainted with some of them:
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        Mar 20 2013: Yes, I read it. And that's why I wrote what I wrote.

        "Materialist" is the new bogey man. And quoting a scientist, not his experimental results, or offering new results, does not proof a thing about the claim of quicker, easier crystallization.

        Maybe it's because a lot of people has tried to study afterlife and has gotten no result at all when they are rigorous. See Susan Blackmore, for instance.
        • Mar 20 2013: You say, "Maybe it's because a lot of people has tried to study afterlife and has gotten no result at all when they are rigorous." Who are all these scientists you have in mind? You say "many scientists believe in afterlife"- I agree with you, I'm certain Sheldrake agrees with you; so how do you explain so few of these scientists who believe in an afterlife actually doing research into an issue which is of enormous concern to a lot of humanity- do we survive death? Also, you mention Blackmore. I would recommend this paper, which offers a critical look at her parapsychological research: http://archived.parapsych.org/psiexplorer/blackmore_critique.htm
        • Mar 20 2013: Susan Blackmore is an interesting case. Perhaps you should check out just how negative her negative results actually were.
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      Mar 20 2013: Guido, Sheldrake has a decent track record. I remember in the early 80's reading A New Science of Life he called attention to one of the central dogmas of genetics at the time, namely that DNA was "read-only" and that the only avenue for change was mutation. He argued for a neo-Lamarkianism. At that time inheriting acquired characteristics was still linked to vitalism. Today, epigenetics is a thriving discipline albeit one that took a long time to get off the ground.

      I think this is an example where an idea (mutation as the only driver of change) was just accepted. After the Human Gemone Project was complete it became clear that DNA was doing much more than coding for proteins. There were too few genes to explain all of our questions in biology.
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      Gail .

      • +2
      Mar 20 2013: Sheldrake's talk was inept - perhaps because of the time constraint, but not because of the content. If you demand more proof than was available in that time frame (because you are not aware of the research now being done in leading universities who are researching "mind" or "consciousness"), then you had better start pulling down a lot of other talks.

      Let's start with Allan Savory: "How to green the desert and reverse climate change". He condemns mainstream ecological science. Next move on to Sir Ken Robinson's "Changing Educational Paradigms". He mentions ONE study conducted using ONE test - and neither the study nor the test demonstrate clearly that loss of creativity is not a natural part of growing up that would be lost with or without formal schooling.

      I love these two videos that violated TED principles. Yet you allow these (and MANY others) while condemning anything that the board is either unaware of or doesn't like because the evidence doesn't suit the board's agenda. The Sheldrake controversy has demeaned and defamed TED.

      Just because the board is unaware of what is happening today in the field of study of "mind" or "consciousness" doesn't mean that there are not great and stunning things being discovered. Just because the board consists of those with mindsets such as that which Sheldrake mentioned does not mean that there are not an abundance of legitimate, notable, leading edge scientists who are not of YOUR mindset when it comes to making certain parts of science off-limit.
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    Mar 19 2013: Sheldrake's scientific papers:

    The Production of Hormones in Higher Plants
    Biological Reviews (1973) 48, 509-559

    Do Coleoptile Tips Produce Auxin?
    New Phytologist (1973) 72, 433-447

    Auxin in the Cambium and its Differentiating Derivatives
    Journal of Experimental Botany ( 1971), 22, 735-740

    The Occurrence and Significance of Auxin in the Substrata of Bryophytes
    New Phytologist (1971) 70, 519-526

    The Production of Auxin by Autolysing Tissues
    Planta (Berlin) (1968) 80, 227-236

    Production of Auxin by Detached Leaves
    Nature (1968), 217, 195

    The Production of Auxin by Tobacco Internode Tissues
    New Phytologist (1968) 67 1-13

    Effects of Osmotic Stress on Polar Auxin Transport in Avena Mesocotyl Sections
    Planta (1979) 145, 113-117

    Carrier-mediated Auxin Transport
    Planta (1974) 118, 101-121

    The Polarity of Auxin Transport in Inverted Cuttings
    New Phytologist (1974) 74, 637-642

    Auxin Transport in Secondary Tissues
    Journal of Experimental Botany ( 1973) 24, 87-96

    Effect of pH and Surface Charge on Cell Uptake of Auxin
    Nature New Biology (1973) 244, 285-288

    Polar Auxin Transport in Leaves of Monocotyledons
    Nature (1972), 238, 352-353

    Cellulase and Cell Differentiation in Acer pseudoplatanus
    Planta (1970), 95, 167-178

    A Cellulase in Hevea Latex
    Physiologia Plantarum (1970), 23, 267-77

    Cellulase in Latex and its Possible Significance in Cell Differentiation
    Planta, (1969), 89, 82-84

    Some Constituents of Xylem Sap and their Possible Relationship to Xylem Differentiation
    Journal of Experimental Botany, (1968) 19(61), 681-9

    The Ageing, Growth and Death of Cells
    Nature, Vol. 250, No. 5465, pp. 381-385, August 2nd 1974

    Effect of Harvest Methods on the Second Flush Yield of Short-duration Pigeonpea (Cajanus cajan)
    Journal of Agricultural Science, (Cambridge), (1987),109, 591-593

    Factors Affecting Growth and Yield of Short-duration Pigeonpea and its Potential
    Journal of Agricultural Science, (Cambridge), (1987), 109, 519-529
    • Mar 19 2013: Thank you, Sebastian, for contributing so thoughtfully and constructively to this conversation.
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      Gail .

      • +1
      Mar 20 2013: I will add my thanks to Jonathan's.
  • Apr 2 2013: I've enjoyed this very much. Best Wishes to all!!!
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    Apr 2 2013: This is From TED's "ABOUT" page TED =Ideas Worth Spreading. It started out (in 1984) as a conference bringing together people from three worlds: Technology, Entertainment, Design. Since then its scope has become ever broader. (Broader? or more narrow?) I dont see the term "Science" in the acronym TED.."80% or more of TED talks are not scientific in Nature .TED has become "whimsical" -creative -or artistic in content but never scientific.
    • Apr 2 2013: More like orthodoxy-defending. Their decision isn't about science. It's about supplicating to the whims of a few very loud pseudo-intellectuals who have not bothered to actually engage the material, or to reliably report on it (as noted here: http://www.ted.com/conversations/17189/the_debate_about_rupert_sheldr.html?c=640514).
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        Apr 2 2013: Ben
        I beleive this is leading to a renewal here and I beleive that the team at TED really want to make it right -that is my intuitve feelin The "protocols of moderation" are a pain in the rear and not easy but the TED format of media presentation with purpose is impossible to beat
        We can copy it but not top it...just as you cannot really improve on basics like Facebook in social networks with a PURPOSE. Purpose driven social networks... in the end it is only about the daily quality of our lives not analytics or intellect or objective reality

        We cannot coax a scared child into the dark room and we cannot demand the dogma based beleifs that there is an objective reality beyond subjectivity...the reason that "relativity" is relevant is because it is all relevant to either
        background or context or conditioning (the biggie) and prejudice or peer pressure.

        The term "Science" is as useless as God as a term unless there is some serious definition of terms and i dont see that happening in this century.
        We will continue to use the terms GOD and SCIENCE but they are too loaded with controversy and obstinate adherence to even allow room for breathing. We will have to take on the task of evolving new terms while still using these old terms..

        Regardless we are all running frm the true frontier..the question that begs to be entered.. The Mystery of life and consciousness will never be apprehended with the rational/ analytical mind which is anti-thetical to discovery. I beleive that TED HAS heard this discussion and is gestation a change of position . TED wants the best possible outcome but certain "outside fundamentalists" have continued to run roughshod over even the most honorable dialog and they pursue the spokes people for resonable insights with a passion to discredit them..These same factors create dissonance and controversy on other peoples websites to get attention..much worse than trolls.,
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    Apr 2 2013: Jordan... I have read all the books that detail the Monroe Work with the CIA and the Military and the police.
    I think though we are ready to co host another format and still support TED for what it is and co create the additional format

    Moderating is a thankless task so we can just opt to create a solution now . TED is s great format for its defined parameters and that is fine as it is also fine to create some alternate solutions.We all have to thank TED for the job it has done in its arena which is admirable in every way. But the Sheldrake issue is outrageous because NOT ONE of the Science Board nor the skeptics and naysayers have read Sheldrake's recent book. None..
    Not one. Nor could they reliably perceive what he said even during his talk...that is egregious IF one claims to be open to rational dialog . But again science is not a proper noun it is an active VERB and science -a s a process-- evolves as anecdotal experience and research continue. We can opt to create a new format with even more value . Wouldn't that be exciting for all of us? TED is an excellent format as is and really does require some boundaries...and here comes the thankless task of moderating.

    The Office of the Inquisition is still a functional office in the Catholic Church (I kid you not)_ so we cannot expect for "hidden"/ not transparent individuals to actually engage in meaningful dialogue when there is either prejudice or threat or undue "hidden" hierarchy. I am still in denial though as Sheldrake is one of the quintessential thinkers of our time and taking anything he said in the TED talk out of context is indicative of the Seachange upon us.
    • Apr 2 2013: Hi Elan!
      geeeez ... My apologies. I almost missed your fun reply! I can see it all now ... "The Elan and Jordan Show - starring..."! :). I suspect there are even more forums than we are aware of. I would start by looking at sites by the researcher themselve. They may have opportunities for contributions to discussions, as well as e-updates of their work and any up coming conferences or even transcript of presentations already given.
  • Apr 1 2013: I'm not sure if this has been posted before but fits into this puzzel very nicely: -

    Richard Dawkins comes to call.


    You dont need to be a scientsis to see where the woo woo is

    Dawkins in his opening remark - Richard began by saying that he thought we probably agreed about many things, “But what worries me about you is that you are prepared to believe almost anything. Science should be based on the minimum number of beliefs.”

    He makes the presumption that science is a faith and should have only one interpretation. Well then why is it that he refuses to debate evidence collected by the same standards as any other scientific understanding. Its because it will force him to look outside his belief system and that will bring into question its validity, something he cant bare to contemplate or be openly challanged in fair debate and open to the court of public opinion. A king with no clothes
    • Apr 1 2013: I just noticed that Richard Dawkins is on the "Notable Polemicists" list on Wikipedia.

      Dawkins is a propagandist as far as I'm concerned. Polemics isn't useful for much except propaganda.
  • Mar 31 2013: Thanks, Amfortas, for pointing me to this site:

    http:// www . tcm. phy. cam. ac.uk/~bdj10/

    If TED believes the site is too radical for TED Conversations that it needs to auto-delete posts that link to it, then it must be interesting. And it is. There is a bug in this though, so that if I leave out http:// and just use www, it works. Haven't tried this since very early this morning. First post of this will be with http://, and if it doesn't work, then I'll try with www.

    Also, this is worth a read at the same site. We've had two trolls here over the course of this so-called "Debate", and they provided a master class in "Zen.....and the Art of Debunking".

    http:// www. tcm. phy. cam. ac.uk/~bdj10/scepticism/drasin.html

    While I missed saving a version of this farce of a TED debate with Lime Crime's comments, I've saved various versions since and have all of Jimmy Randy's comments. The provide a master class in the art of debunking and trolling.

    And thanks to so many of you who have participated here. I've been amazed. I've discovered a few more heretics from many of your posts and see a bright future ahead judging by the work of Dean Radin, Michael Persinger, Russel Targ, Brian Josephson, and many more. I've also been very impressed with the quality and intelligence expressed in many of the comments over these past two weeks. Just when a discussion gets good is when you see the appearance of the trolling debunkers, which is telling. It's very clear that when they arrive, their objective is to lower the level of discussion, and they usually succeed. Here, they only succeeded in temporarily. Having followed the whole debate, it's pretty clear to me who is being reasonable here, and it's not TED's science board.

    (Note: two posts autodeleted and only obfuscated links work. Unbelievable. What a disgrace you are to your mission, TED.)
  • Mar 31 2013: Hi Denny!
    Thanks for your informative reply. I knew Moody was on the Board, but didn't know how helpful he had been to Alexander. Sweet story! Regarding cosmic travel - no doubts in my mind, from my personal experiences.
    I guess you are primarily a painter (as well as a deeply empathetic humanitarian)? I'm primarily a sculptor and a practicing occultist. I've begun contributing over at the 'god' area, for topics not really appropriate for the main food fight still raging over Dr. Sheldrake and Graham Hancock's shabby treatment.
    May I also make a futher reading suggestion? I know how getting reading suggestions are like. My 'to read' list always seems to grow exponentially faster than my 'have read' list - whew! "Thanks alot"!, you're probably thinking :). The 'Journey' trilogy of Robert Monroe - who also founded the first modern consciousness study org., The Monroe Institute. You may wish to starting with "The Ultimate Journey". His work is important because he was a pretty ordinary fellow - successful business man (commercial radio), who had no real interest in religion, spirituallity, etc. But, began having spontaneous OBEs. First he thought he was going nuts or was going to die. After seeing doctors and having psych. evals. (which showed no evidence of any problems), he began to embrace this new phenomenon with real curiosity. The rest, as they say; 'is history'.
    There is an important reason for my suggestion. He was a high-functioning, but pretty average soul. No PhDs in Quantum Physics coming out of his ears. Just a good family man. As Robert Monroe's life shows, WE can all learn to better understand 'reality' through personal, experiential, evidence-gathering. We can learn to take our personal model-building of reality from quessing, hoping or a comfort addiction to experience-based (with gobbs of introspection), hieghts of new understanding and perspective. I did a version of the M. I. "Gateway"
    workshop some years ago. Very fruitful!
  • Mar 31 2013: (Part 1 of 3)

    What we’ve seen play out here is the conflict within science that Sheldrake mentions early on in his talk “between science as a method of inquiry . . . and science as a belief system or a worldview.”

    I’d like to try to suss out the difference between these two views using “Big G” as an example. Here is Sheldrake describing how they arrive at the value for Big G:

    “What happens is they measure it in different labs; they get different values on different days; and then they average them. And then other labs around the world do the same, and they come out usually with a rather different average. And then the international committee on metrology meets every ten years or so and averages the ones from labs around the world to come up with the value of Big G.”

    So the final value is an average of averages. There thus isn’t hard evidence that G has a precise, constant value.

    It may be that G is a constant only we can’t measure it very precisely, or it may fluctuate within a narrow range. To assert G is a constant at this point would be dogmatic, a claim without strong evidence to back it up.

    Sheldrake, on the other hand, isn’t making assertions without evidence. Rather, he speaks the language of inquiry and suggests further investigation to see what we can learn:

    “But what if G were actually fluctuating?” he asks. “What if it changed? . . . For more than ten years I have been trying to persuade metrologists to look at the raw data. In fact, I am now trying to persuade them to put it online on the internet, with the dates and the actual measurements, and see if they’re correlated, to see if they are all up at one time, all down at another. If so, they might be fluctuating together, and that would tell us something very, very interesting. But no one has done this. They haven’t done it because ‘G is a constant; there’s no point looking for changes.’ You see, here is a very simple example of where a dogmatic assumption actually inhibits inquiry.”
  • Mar 31 2013: (Part 2 of 3)

    Unlike dogmatic materialists, Sheldrake is not asserting theories or making claims without evidence, despite TED’s claims to the contrary in the introduction to this debate. Rather, he is inquiring, in the spirit of C. S. Peirce, whom he mentions in his talk. The idea with inquiry is to apply the scientific method everywhere, even on dearly held assumptions that don’t have hard evidence to back them up, and not privilege any interpretation without reason or evidence.

    Notice that he asks, “What if . . . ?” five times in his discussion about Big G. He uses the language of inquiry in Science Set Free as well (emphasis mine):

    “MAYBE the constants fluctuate, too, and PERHAPS one day scientific periodicals will carry regular news reports on their latest values. The implications of varying constants WOULD BE enormous." (p. 93).

    But he runs into enormous resistance because so many scientists dogmatically assert that G is a constant, including those who hold the raw data. In Sheldrake’s words, “So here science has become a belief system rather than a method of inquiry and actually inhibits the scientific process.”

    The same basic dynamic occurs with the other dogmas as well. In each case, dogmatic assertions frequently make it difficult for scientists and philosophers to hold further investigation or inquiry. Indeed, this dogmatism makes it difficult even to speculate about doing such things in a TEDx talk.
  • Mar 31 2013: A quote from the well-known pseudoscientist David Bohm about Sheldrake's theory (emphasis mine):

    "The implicate order can be thought of as a ground beyond time, a totality, out of which each moment is projected into the explicate order, for every moment that is projected out into the explicate there would be another movement in which that moment would be injected or "introjected" back into the implicate order. If you have a large number of repetitions of this process, you'll start to build up a fairly constant component to this series of projection and injection. That is, a fixed disposition would become established. The point is that, via this process, past forms would tend to be repeated or replicated in the present, and THAT IS VERY SIMILAR TO WHAT SHELDRAKE CALLS A MORPHOGENETIC FIELD AND MORPHIC RESONANCE. Moreover, such a field would not be located anywhere. When it projects back into the totality (the implicate order), since no space and time are relevant there, all things of a similar nature might get connected together or resonate in totality. When the explicate order enfolds into the implicate order, which does not have any space, all places and all times are, we might say, merged, so that what happens in one place will interpenetrate what happens in another place."
    • Mar 31 2013: Great find. Thank you.
      • Mar 31 2013: Note that in Bohm's model, the regularities of world are explained more as "habits" than "laws", which is a big part of Sheldrake's message in the talk. ("If you have a large number of repetitions of this process, you'll start to build up a fairly constant component to this series of projection and injection. That is, a fixed disposition would become established. The point is that, via this process, past forms would tend to be repeated or replicated in the present")
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    Mar 30 2013: This is truly sad and acutely embarrassing situation that TED has created here. Does *anyone* here really feel that a full and proper explanation is not required? I am utterly astonished at this state of events.
    • Comment deleted

      • Mar 30 2013: Sheldrake's talk is not a bad talk and it meets TED's standards if you ask me. And if TED's standards are so high why are they not removing you from this debate huh? huh huh?
  • Mar 30 2013: Kant held that autonomy, the ability of people to determine universal law through the faculty of their own reason, is a precursor to human dignity. This insight underpins our concept of human rights and informed the establishment of formal human rights by the UN.

    Is the imposition of factual information, or 'truth', then a denial of dignity? If a person doesn't arrive at a conclusion through autonomous exercise of their own abilities to reason, but has that conclusion imposed upon them through suppression of the individuals prior beliefs and indoctrination of the 'correct' ones, is that not an attack on the individual's dignity?

    I believe that it is, and this is why I resist the monocultural trend of scientism, which seeks to denounce alternatives and establish its self as the one true path. Ultimately whether it is in some sense currently more 'correct' or 'accurate' than it's competitors, materialistic, empirical science, when wielded as a device to destroy other knowledge construction systems and convert their adherents, is an instrument of dehumanisation.
    • Mar 30 2013: "First we should not deride the world of its ambiguity, this is what *good taste* already demands, gentlemen!" Friedrich Nietzsche
  • Mar 30 2013: Sheldrake claimed in his talk (www.youtube.com/watch?v=LEo2hChKeMs&t=9m21s) that "there is already evidence" that rats learn a trick faster if other rats have learned it. Some people in this thread called this evidence into question, and some assumed that the evidence must not exist.

    Sheldrake has now posted the evidence on his Tumblr: http://sciencesetfree.tumblr.com/post/45669879746/rat-learning-and-morphic-resonance

    Feel free to inspect the evidence and respond in any of the following ways:
    A) This proves what I knew all along! Sheldrake is a genius!
    B) Bullshit! This isn't even worth looking at. There must have been methodological flaws. Don't ask me what they are - you don't expect me to take this seriously, do you?!
    C) Hmmm, this is interesting. I wonder how we might interpret this evidence?
    • Mar 30 2013: If I am not mistaken, he doesn't actually call it "evidence" in the book excerpt you linked to, but rather "experimental support". It is written in a very cautious and considerate style, worthy a true scientist, I like it.Other explanations are still possible and he is calling for further detailed investigation. Maybe he is refering to the experiments with crystals in the talk as evidence?
  • Mar 29 2013: One of the points people keep levelling against Sheldrake is that he misrepresents what scientists really think. Here's my take on that.

    Many TED talks criticize a loosely-defined consensus opinion:
    - Sir Ken Robinson criticizes those who think education is purely academic
    - Aubrey de Grey criticizes those who think aging is a good thing
    - Sherwin Newland criticizes those who think ECT is barbaric
    - Hans Rosling criticizes those who think the world is divided into "the West and the rest"
    - Allan Savory criticizes those who think livestock cause desertification
    - etc.

    None of these speakers say exactly who it is that holds these opinions. TED talks are very short, and this is a good way of structuring a short talk: "the consensus belief is X, but here's why it's wrong". I noticed a long time ago that this is probably the most common structure of TED talks. It's nice and punchy. You could call it a straw man argument if you want to be harsh.

    Sheldrake is equally guilty of such a rhetorical exaggeration. He criticizes scientists who unquestioningly accept the "10 dogmas". If you've got your mind made up that Sheldrake must go, then this might be a flaw you could point out. But it's not a major error, just a rhetorical generalization.
    • Mar 30 2013: @Conor, are there review boards for any of these fields you mention comparable to the science review board supposedly operating for TED on these two speakers? Were there any other speakers sidelined like Hancock and Sheldrake were, or are these two unique displacements? Is it possible that the science board (anonymous?) is so biased against Hancock / Sheldrake that they skew TED's content toward less expansive criticism? This appears to be the general argument against TED's decision to continue *primary* support for these videos (instead dumping them in several successive spots; someone did upload the original again, temporary?).

      I still think that the question of why they were allowed to speak at all if they were going to be subjected to moderation/exclusion ought to be addressed. Who made that decision? Why? Are they receiving rebuke now that their science professionals or sounding board has determined against their judgement? Is there a list of these science decision-makers? Is Sheldrake's contention in writing after the fact that a couple of extremists are opposed to his ideas reasonable, or is it special pleading? I was not aware that Sheldrake was mainstream. He appears to be pushing a particular subcultural struggle (against "The God Delusion"?).
      • Mar 30 2013: "Were there any other speakers sidelined like Hancock and Sheldrake were, or are these two unique displacements?"
        There have been some other talks removed for the TEDx youtube channel, but only one or two, I think.

        "I still think that the question of why they were allowed to speak at all if they were going to be subjected to moderation/exclusion ought to be addressed. Who made that decision? Why? "
        The organizers of TEDx conferences pick speakers without vetting from TED.

        "Is there a list of these science decision-makers?"
        No, they are anonymous - TED has not clarified why.

        "Is Sheldrake's contention in writing after the fact that a couple of extremists are opposed to his ideas reasonable"
        Yes, see here: http://whyevolutionistrue.wordpress.com/2013/03/07/tedx-has-second-thoughts-about-rupert-sheldrakes-talk-asks-viewers-to-weigh-in/ .

        "Is it possible that the science board (anonymous?) is so biased against Hancock / Sheldrake that they skew TED's content toward less expansive criticism?"
        TED picked out minor quibbles with these talks, and twisted the two men's words to make them seem inaccurate or dangerous. This to me suggests prejudice. TED acted on the complaint of Jerry Coyne; this to me suggests prejudice. TED held a discussion, in which the community were in favor of keeping the talks, then took the talks down, citing complaints from the community; this to me suggests prejudice.
  • Mar 29 2013: Are the sceptics a benefit to TEDx's message or a , cough cough, an embarrassing burden. Is TEDx going to be lead by the sceptics? Is that going to be TEDx's public image? Would TEDx put Jimmy on a promotional poster?
    • Mar 29 2013: This looks to be what is happening. By letting this debacle drag out so long without taking corrective action, TED is alienating its broader audience. It feels analogous to the Republican Party in the States.

      TED ~ Republican Party
      Angry Skeptics ~ Tea Party
      Randi, Coyne & Meyer ~ Fox News, Limbaugh & Beck
      Corporate Funders ~ Corporate Funders
  • Mar 29 2013: "TED - Ideas Worth Spreading" ... This is your public logo; you stand by it, and have created standards associated with work produced/directed by it. Rupert Sheldrake's ideas are worth spreading (period). Is it that you (TED) are in fear of losing your license? “Presenting bad science on the TEDx stage is grounds for revoking your license.” If that be the case, I am sad for you will be closing your doors, and I have enjoyed your presentations. Sheldrake is one of many (Graham Hancock, & Bruce Liption to name but a few) that will be speaking of such challenging content for the Science World to digest. As Sheldrake has mentioned in his talks, there is a process of which he is setting in motion. Perhaps he is aware of it, perhaps not, but it is 'no matter' (no pun intended). The three (Sheldrake, Hancock, Lipton) are breaking the 'fixed pattern' of science into a living process allowing for others to share such content with more ease in the near future. Thank you TED for bringing more attention to this matter.
    • Mar 29 2013: I think it is valuable that TED has weighed in on the side of 'ideas worth spreading' that Graham Hancock and Rupert Sheldrake are insufficiently substantive to be taken seriously in the focal area of science philosophy. Their methods of argumentation and substantiation to their claims are clearly substandard, and extracting them from a venue which *does* attempt to retain high standards gives the proper message about their weaknesses. Way to go TED! This isn't censorship, this is editorial moderation and responsible content review!
      • Mar 29 2013: Dear Mr/Ms. Anonymous Satanist, thank you for your opinion.

        Can you maybe please try to elaborate on your claim of how exactly Sheldrake’s presentation is “insufficiently substantive to be taken seriously in the focal area of science philosophy” [sic]?

        Or are you also just trolling under an alias in the spirit of anonymous science boards expecting to be taken seriously when so very scientifically conflating opinion with logic?
        • Mar 30 2013: @Grobbelaar, you are very welcome. I think this was adequately deconstructed by a previous poster who explained in some detail how and why the exaggerations as regards the scientific community's attentions and activities (including, apparently, the dearth of substantiating support for his morphogenetic field theories) gave TED incentive to distance itself from him.

          I don't think that Graham Hancock is really comparable to Mr. Sheldrake, but may be mistaken. Lumping the two together is as relevant as proclaiming that exercising moderation or editorial oversight is "censorship" (barely worth a rational reply).

          Find me in facebook. I am simply using this account to express my solidarity with TED. I am not trolling, though I do go by the name of Troll Towelhead. Kind regards,
      • Mar 29 2013: Jimmy Randy: "it's obvious why Sheldrake's talk is BS, why can't you see that?"

        Coz only a few years ago it was also "quite obvious" that the world was flat, or that the telescope was only Satan telling lies to your eyes.

        Really Jimmy, is that it?
      • Mar 30 2013: @Satanist Mufti,

        Thank you for your reply. Sorry, I cannot find the post you’re referring to explaining your claims. Maybe it got lost in the overwhelming consensus on these boards that TED’s adherence to the status quo in favour of established institutions hurdles real scientific progress.

        One of which details the gist of Sheldrake’s talk vis-à-vis the Philosophy of Science, as follows (apologies for not attributing),

        “[They] are comparing rational conversation that proposes theoretical opinions regarding consciousness – a topic not understood [by] mainstream science. […] Even if all of Sheldrake’s scientific hypotheses are all wrong and even if he made generalizations that do not express the views and opinions of every scientist on the planet, that in no way undermines the entire point of his talk which was a critique of the dogmatic assertions of certainty around a variety of assumptions the scientific community makes, a priori, that are actually open to questioning.”
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      Mar 29 2013: "period"
  • Mar 29 2013: Congratulations! You have effectively poured fire on two rather tame embers, effectively fanning them into conflagration.

    Well done.
  • Mar 28 2013: Hopefully readers will see this as relevant. I received training as a Remote Viewer, and I've published some of my results.

    Russell Targ, one of the founders of Remote Viewing, says in his forthcoming book (The Reality of ESP: A Physicist's Proof of Psychic Abilities ), that sufficient previously classified research has been released through FOIA that he can safely (without threat of prison) share the data that psychic phenomena have been effectively scientifically proven.

    I say this is relevant here because of Sheldrake's mention of telepathy, and some commenters quick dismissal of it. Anyone who dismisses it hasn't looked at the real research out there, and hasn't tried it for themselves. Remote Viewing is trainable, reproducible, and requires no special abilities.
    • Comment deleted

      • Mar 28 2013: You haven't read the research. You've read (and believed) what ideologically motivated opponents of psi have said in the safety of their own non peer-reviewed magazines and articles. The actual research, and official reviews of it, have all concluded that something unexplained is going on. And it's not that you just don't believe it, it's that you so actively denigrate it and anyone who doesn't share your True Disbelief - almost as if you had some stake in the matter and were not really engaged in a dispassionate search for the truth.
        • Mar 28 2013: yup! thanks!
        • Mar 28 2013: Jimmy Randy, do you think that circles (yep, circles) do really exist? Or do they just exist in people's minds? Think carefully.. ;)
        • Mar 28 2013: No, I was asking with Plato what makes up a circle and if something like a real circle is actually to be found in the physical world. That one should therefore consider the reality of ideas independant from the material. Can you give us scientific proof for the existence of a circle? How round should it be to make actually a true 'circle'? Or will any precision do? Just some food for thought.
      • Mar 28 2013: Jimmy, I only posted that a minute ago. You didn't even have time to read my link.

        [edit] I see you admit to not reading what I have to say. Fair enough. I will reciprocate that gesture.
        • Mar 28 2013: @Jimmy
          We already quoted Sagan showing that he didn't share your view and was just as disdainful of your attitude as he was of people who believed everything. There is also the quote from Wiseman below, which echoes the views of Jessica Utts who was selected to officially review the remote viewing evidence, that RV has been proven using the standards of any other area of science. Thus your dismissal of the idea as silly etc, is a function of your own a priori belief system and has absolutely nothing to do with the evidence, which all who have actually studied it, regard as puzzling in the extreme. Thus you can roll your eyes all you like but the place you need to roll them is over the evidence.
        • Mar 28 2013: I'm not falsely misrepresenting anything. Sagan clearly said that skepticism was a balance that you have singularly failed to achieve. Moreover, in the Demon Haunted World he quite specifically said that certain aspects of psi had some intriguing evidence and needed further study.

          As regards your insults, I think you are stepping pretty close to (ie, well over) the line. It doesn't bother me but if you don't want to have to open up a third account (after what happened to your first) then perhaps you could tone it down a bit. After all, we're only discussing psi - nothing to get so worked up about. If we have it we have it, if we don't we don't. It's not like one of the main tenets of our religions are being challenged.
      • Mar 28 2013: "I agree that by the standards of any other area of science that remote viewing is proven, but begs the question: do we need higher standards of evidence when we study the paranormal? I think we do... Because remote viewing is such an outlandish claim that will revolutionise the world, we need overwhelming evidence before we draw any conclusions." ~ Richard Wiseman

        • Mar 28 2013: The quote from Wiseman is here - http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-510762/Could-proof-theory-ALL-psychic.html

          And here's the one from Jessica Utts, who was officially invited to study the evidence,

          Using the standards applied to any other area of science, it is concluded that psychic
          functioning has been well established. The statistical results of the studies examined are far beyond what is expected by chance. Arguments that these results could be due to
          methodological flaws in the experiments are soundly refuted.


          Thus, while you are entitled to disregard the evidence due to your ideological commitments, those of us without such commitments, and with an interest in and respect for, the application of the scientific method are duty bound at the very least to scratch our heads and say "hmmn".
        • Mar 28 2013: Just yesterday, I did an online PSI card guessing test (the first time I tried this in my life), and scored a hitrate of 29% in a 1-out-of-5 card pre-guessing testrun with 100 card-trials. The odds for chance were given from the statistics as being 49.5 to 1, that means this result is comparable to finding the single correct box out of ~50 possible where only one contains some hidden object, on the first trial. Not bad, for my 49th birthday! :) Later I did another 100 trials test, but shortly after starting it I decided I would try this time to never pick the correct card, failing it as much as possible. It also kind of worked, as I got only 17 correct. In the first run, the constantly calculated and displayed hitrate was always close to 30%, there was no big fluctuation, and I was very concentrated on the cards, highly motivated to get it right. So, I conclude something is going on.

          What are the extraordinary claims, tell me again? That this is pure chance? That the software is manipulating the results? Come on.


          If you want to do the test, you would have to register and answer a few (anonymous) questions.

          I have chosen this site because I already read some theoretical papers from Boundary Institute staff before and got the feel these are serious and trustworthy researchers.

          Happy me I performed 3rd in the hall of fame highscore list for yesterday (out of 60 people), bummer is I spoiled it with my second negative-bias run! Will keep investigating..
        • Mar 28 2013: Happy birthday Amfortas!
      • Mar 28 2013: @ Jimmy Randy, " skeptico.com is not a trustworthy source"

        Man, are you lazy. If you took two minutes to check the link, you'd find that the quote is from a dissertation. It's footnoted. But, if there's one thing I've noticed in reading your comments throughout, it's that you're quick to dismiss things that don't match your worldview without considering the evidence at all, as you've done with Don Pouliot's post. So tell me: Is that how science works? Dismiss immediately, fling ad hominem, and walk away self-satisfied?
    • Mar 28 2013: This is a pretty interesting remote viewing study - http://www.lfr.org/lfr/csl/library/IEEE1976.pdf
      The research director made a list of 100 locations within 30 minutes driving of the research institute. A "viewer" and a lab technician sat in a room, the research team left, picked a location from the list, and travelled there. 30 min after they left, the viewer would start describing his/her impressions. This was done 9 times, with 9 different locations, with each viewer. Transcripts of the viewer's 9 descriptions were given to a blinded judge, who then went to each of the 9 locations, and ranked the 9 desciptions according to how well they matched the place. I like this because it gives numerical results, overcoming the difficulties of other remote-viewing studies where you can force the description to match the target. For one subject, the judge ranked the 'right' description 1st 6 times out of 9. All subjects scored above chance.

      Why did the judges rank the matching descriptions so highly? Fluke? Fraud? Wishful thinking? Some sort of pattern-recognition or sensory leak - but what exactly? (Of course, we know in advance it can't be psychic ability, because that's contrary to our scientific theories.)
      • Mar 28 2013: "overcoming the difficulties of other remote-viewing studies where you can force the description to match the target."
        that issue is easily overcome with blind judges. i.e., shuffle the sessions and the targets... judges don't know which sessions go with which targets, then have the judges match them. If matching results are no better than chance, then the effect was not there.
  • Mar 28 2013: Why has TED decided to leave the following inane comment by Jimmy Randy up, yet delete comments by those who object to it? How is this not considered "insulting" and "intemperate"? Jimmy Randy says, "is there a source for the scientists who support Sheldrake's work, and their personal drug habits specifically? (I'd like to know which working scientists support Sheldrake's work that also happen to be hard drug users, LSD etc.) I'd like to know if sober scientists hold a different position on his work, or is it truly split?"

    I'm through with this farce of a discussion. Do the right thing. Have a real debate with the man your Scientific Board slandered and recommended censoring. Do the folks at TED really believe this will all end in another 5 days when this "discussion" is over? Good luck with that.
    • Comment deleted

      • Mar 28 2013: Three comments were deleted. You can see where they were by the "comment deleted" note that appears three times in a row. One of them was the post where you offered $100 to anyone who could provide an example of a Sheldrake supporter who hadn't taken certain specific drugs and was a working scientist. You removed it immediately after I posted the name of such a scientist and said I would email him about his drug use. This is why we got into Randi's million dollar scam.
  • Mar 27 2013: Nice point, CChaos.

    There's also this interesting piece of news that may tally with Sheldrake's concept of the Morphic Field:


    >"The surprising discovery of self-organized electromagnetic fields in counter-streaming ionized gases (also known as plasmas) will give scientists a new way to explore how order emerges from chaos in the cosmos. This breakthrough finding was published online in the journal, Nature Physics on Sept. 30.

    "We've created a model for exploring how electromagnetic fields help organize ionized gas or plasma in astrophysical settings, such as in the plasma flows that emerge from young stars," said lead author Nathan Kugland, a postdoctoral researcher in the High Energy Density Science Group at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL). "These fields help shape the flows, and likely play a supporting role alongside gravity in the formation of solar systems, which can eventually lead to the creation of planets like the Earth."<

    And here is further exploration of how the Laws of Physics may not be universal or fixed:


    > The laws of physics may not be as set in stone as previously imagined.
    One of the laws of nature seems to vary depending on where in the universe you are, research suggests.
    The new analysis of data from Hawaii's Keck telescope and Chile's Extremely Large Telescope, could have profound implications for our understanding of the universe.
    The 'constancy' of physics is one of the most cherished principles in science - but the scientists say that the 'laws' we know may be the galactic equivalent of 'local by-laws' and things may work quite differently elsewhere.
    The discovery - if true - violates one of the underlying principles of Einstein's theory of General Relativity, and has profound implications for our understanding of space and time.<
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    Mar 27 2013: Well I used to trust and respect TED but this is outrageous!!!! As an artist doing Shaman Art and experiencing levels of extraordinary realms of consciousness I find the intellectual minds running TED STUCK in 3 dimensions and that is so limiting!
    My comment to TED.....let the audience form their own opinions please.
    My comment to Rupert....bravo, keep up the good work.
  • Mar 27 2013: If it fluctuates, its not constant. Unless it is constantly fluctuating and the fluctuations are themselves constant but then it would be in constant flux and not just constant and they're not, just constant, because they fluctuate, so...Rupert Sheldrake was right!!! At least about that. and that alone should give you pause,

    Scientists examine nothing, find something

    Two studies of vacuums suggest that the speed of light in a vacuum might fluctuate, pointing the way to a quantum mechanical explanation for why the speed of light and other so-called constants are what they are.


    There's your sign!!!
    Rupert Sheldrake - The Science Delusion BANNED TED TALK
    • Mar 27 2013: Careful. Watch Richard Feynman's lectures about QED, he is already in there stating that speed of light is just a statistical mean value.

      (it must be somewhere close to the end of second video, sorry I don't find it atm)

  • Mar 27 2013: So the censored TED Talks guy, Rupert Sheldrake, was right the speed of light is not a constant, Told you So...

    Scientists examine nothing, find something

    Two studies of vacuums suggest that the speed of light in a vacuum might fluctuate, pointing the way to a quantum mechanical explanation for why the speed of light and other so-called constants are what they are.


    There's your sign!!!
    Rupert Sheldrake - The Science Delusion BANNED TED TALK
  • Mar 26 2013: Where has TEDx and the Scientific Board gone? Seems they're lost in action on this one, the silence makes me wonder what they're thinking. TEDx has opened this debate under the spirit of "radical openess," so I'm waiting for it, but the Scientific Board and TEDx are a no-show and have been for days!
    • Mar 26 2013: I've noticed that even on forums dedicated to very open thinking, the owners of the forum/site are always more conservative than one would "expect" (removing posts, banning members etc) - it's like they are worried about not damaging thier "brand name" - clearly the case here.
      After all, we live in an age where the brand is more important than the product.
      • Mar 26 2013: It is sometimes necessary to prune a public discussion in order to prevent its being subverted by those that would spam it. That said, it is not always clear where to draw the line, and I'm sure each decision is made on a case by case basis.
  • Mar 26 2013: TED must know enough about the history of science to know that they sound Old Paradigm here.
    Sheldrake must secretly be pleased with all this - Old Paradigm resistance is, after all, a sign that the new paradigm is closing in.
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    Mar 26 2013: I would like to open the debate to a more abstract level...

    The question is :

    What are the demarcation criteria of "Ideas Worth Spreading"?

    This is a question that can be opened to debate. But it can't be decided by majority.
    I do think TED can open this for debate, but always has the right (and duty) to set the criteria (explicitly or implicitly)

    If I'm not mistaken the rules for TEDx events are still:
    * No religion promotion
    * No political party promotion
    * No Stage selling (so no business promotion or self promotion)

    * No Pseudo-science (This one is currently under debate, and was untill a few months ago less pronounced)

    I think these are good guidelines. And If you have better demarcation criteria: please curate your own video channel on youtube and try and see how you are recieved.

    TED tries to maintain high quality and a low level of BS... for which I'm thankfull.
    some TEDx Organizers do make errors due to lack of scientific knowledge or scepticism.
    And maybe some people who used to sell BS have become good scientists that pose alternative hypothises along the same rules any other scientist ought to follow (observation, experiment,... )

    So please continue the debate,
    but know that the earth is round and that no (democratic or other) opinion can change that fact.
    • Mar 26 2013: It's a bit disingenuous to pull out the old "it's my ball" argument when one has opened up a blog for supposed free discussion, and then another blog when that one first one failed to offer support, and then a third when the second failed to offer support. If TED wants to remove the videos that is TED's choice - as many here have already noted on many occasions. If, on the other hand, TED wants to hear what people have to say then it is no answer to tell them to shut up unless they agree with TED. Thus, let TED simply close this blog now and say no more about it, or let them delete any comments (almost all) not supportive of their stance.

      To deal with one of your specific points. We don't agree it's pseudoscience. We think it's more philosophy, or even sociology, of science. We don't think Sheldrake was making many scientific claims, and those he did make were more tentative suggestions supported, as it turns out, by peer-reviewed literature. In the main, we take him to have been making claims about the manner in which science is conducted. Thus we reject your claim of pseudoscience as a function of your lack of knowledge about the true nature of the talk.

      Just out of interest, when you said the earth was round did you consider its magnetic field?
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        Mar 27 2013: I think the free discussion has other purposes than letting us decide... I think it's more likely to have a debate here around the worldviews we hold that seem to conflict.

        I don't mind people telling a story. If you do, don't say it's true... it's a story and truth value of a story is irrelevant.
        I think that each truth-claim that cannot be backed by facts can be considered unscientific.
        If you wish to talk about the philosophy of science, then you better understand something about information theory and inductive reasoning. There is something very undemocratic about that.

        It does not matter that we disagree or agree. One can disagree with the roundness of earth all you want, it will not change reality.

        For the earth is round:
        • Mar 27 2013: I never said the discussion was about letting us decide. On the contrary, I said it was intended to generate support for the already decided decision, and that another one was started when the first failed to do that, and then a third when the second likewise failed to do it.

          Re information theory, I fail to see it's relevance to a discussion of the historical circumstances which resulted in certain philosophical views becoming associated with science. And I would put that failure down to it having no relevance.

          Re the earth's magnetic field, I'm sorry you don't agree it exists, but it kinda does. If you want sources I will happy to provide them.

          Re Asimov, a good example of the fallacious reasoning Sheldrake is concerned about. I'm always surprised when people cite that essay because many of it's main points are wild speculation presented as fact and many others are patent nonsense. Not only that, it's published in the magazine of a well known pseudoscientific organisation which is committed a priori to the falsity of certain empirical propositions. I trust I don't need to explain to you why such views are anti-science and thus are, when presented as science, pseudoscience.
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      Mar 26 2013: Christophe Cop: I generally like what you penned, and appreciate it. I also find from long experience that many otherwise reputable, good scientists unknowingly treat their trade like their religion. I see paradigms and facts changing beneath everyone's feet and sometimes we notice and sometimes not. From experience I believe that whether or not facts support them, at the end of each day that people believe whatever makes them feel most comfortable, whoever they are, even the most reputable scientists. As soon as TED removes talks from people like those with Billy Graham's message from its regular sites, I'd see TED as being more objective.
    • Mar 26 2013: When you speak of a demarcation line for ideas worth spreading, the question immediately comes up: who decides? And the second question is: Are they fair?

      We don't know who decided. We do know that their initial reasons were NOT fair. TED has acknowledged this by rebooting the debate, so this is hopefully not a point of contention. Whoever did decide, very definitely was biased against both videos. That was fairly obvious from the very poorly thought out criticisms that bore little resemblance to the videos themselves.

      Are the same people who were initially not fair, going to be the decision makers the second go around? They have not earned our trust by demonstrating fairness, so whatever demarcation line TED has is irrelevant to the discussion because it comes from people who are blatantly biased against the presenters.

      Earn the trust first, and the rest will follow.
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        Mar 27 2013: TED decides in this case, you can decide on your platform.

        that said:
        - "who" decides leads to a logical fallacy that "who" is arbitrary, and that any person's decision might be considered as good as another.
        Rather ask yourself: Why has it been decided?
        - Fairness does not need to be a criteria for decision making (why should it be?) , furthermore: fair towards which dimensions?

        This debate is probably re-opened, because of all the people reacting so hard... Maybe this indicates we are onto something here... (and my analysis is that this has everything to with belief systems and our fundamental problems we run into when we try to be reasonable... it is very difficult fur a homo sapiens to think without cognitive biases and even then we always run into the problem of incomplete information)
        • Mar 27 2013: What is the LOGICAL fallacy you refer to? Perhaps you could explain.
        • Mar 27 2013: The debate reopened because the reasoning of the mysterious scientific board was awful and transparently biased. Those reasons were rather easily shot down by the presenters. That's what got people upset. You could ask them.

          Fairness is important in order to earn trust. You are, after all, asking people to trust TED's judgment in this matter are you not?

          Fairness is one step toward overcoming cognitive bias as well. A person attempting fairness is trying to understand both sides of an argument. A person who understands both sides of an argument is generally considered more trustworthy.
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        Mar 27 2013: steve: I will try to explain

        might be one I refer to (or something similar)

        What I mean to say is:
        the question "who decides" is not the question. The person making the decision does it according to some explicit or implicit criteria. I assume based on his knowledge (and probably intuition)
        Even though a person can have credibility or not, it is not because of credibility that a judgement is right (or wrong).

        An(other) error you (might) make by raising the question, is assuming that the question has any relevance to the problem or debate. There is no relevance, because if we know who decides, one could start to go ad hominem or one could fall into the fallacy of authority.

        The only thing that (imo) seems worthwhile to discuss is the reasons why talks like these are NOT worth spreading.

        [Edit: Steve: Your arguments don't handle the issue, you might try to show that my English is not my mother tongue. You are seriously failing Grice prnciples and not willing to understand (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cooperative_principle) Other than that: my master degrees are Statistics and neurobehavioral science, that includes philosophy of science, probability theory, cybernetics, logic, theory of mind,... but let's assume it's just veneer. It does not matter which fallacy or how you name it: it remains a fallacy, and you can't deny that, whatever logic or pseudologic you wish to adopt. ]
        • Mar 27 2013: It might have been this fallacy or it might have been that one or it might have been none at all. Does it really matter? Pseudologic is what that's called. Throwing out accusations of logical fallacies without the faintest idea what the words mean, and trying to give one's arguments a veneer of respectability by co-opting the jargon of academic disciplines without any actual knowledge of those disciplines.
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      Mar 26 2013: * No Stage selling (so no business promotion or self promotion)
      * No Pseudo-science (This one is currently under debate, and was untill a few months ago less pronounced)

      Well, from the point of view of this observer EVERY SINGLE PRESENTER is doing "stage selling" by the business of "self-promotion." This so-called "criteria" is ludicrous. All it really says is "don't openly state the price."

      The question of no "pseudo-science" is a bogus criteria because it is so vague. It is like saying "no ugly speakers." Totally subjective. Sheldrake's talk is a direct assault on pseudo-science and I believe that is why the real pseudo-scientists used that label against him just to discredit him without any facts behind them.
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        Mar 27 2013: * As for stage selling: I guess you can give it that interpretation...

        * I don't want to go into semantics, but pseudo-science is not vague.
        Each truth claim that is counter-factual or unobserved can be considered unscientific. If you then try to package it and sell that claim as if it were backed by observation (experiments, measurements) and logically valid, you are being pseudo-scientific.
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      Mar 26 2013: Metaphor # 1:

      Let’s pretend the TED organization happened to be around in the 16th-century. Their mission was to organize “Agoras” all over Europe. Let’s say Nicolas Copernicus, Johannes Keppler, or Galileo Galilei happened to give a TEDx talk on heliocentrism. Based on the recent events, is it reasonable for us to assume that no matter how forward-thinking and revolutionary the idea of the sun being the centre of our solar system might be, TED curators would have stopped printing transcripts of the talk and spreading it with the public as soon as they realized the potential consequences of being affiliated with such a controversial subject?

      Fearing the judgement of mainstream scientific minds and the masses of the time, would TED curators maybe move on to dismiss the idea as “pseudo-science” and “pseudo-astronomy”? Would they maybe leave one single record of the idea tucked away somewhere on their vast library, so as to protect themselves from the accusation of censorship by the minority of supporters of a heliocentric view of the world? What ya think?

      In other words, YES, Christophe, TODAY we know the Earth is round THANKS to scientists who were BRAVE enough to CHALLENGE the scientific paradigms of their time, NOT thanks to mainstream scientists who held on to their "scientific orthodox views of the world" as strongly as Christians hold on to their religious views of the world.
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        Mar 26 2013: the right metaphor goes as this.

        the priests of 1600 reincarnate today. they give a presentation about "four centuries of heliocentric lies". they advocate the geocentric view, as it feels better, and they also support it some rag-tag science-lookalike reasoning and so called experiments. they are invited, for some crazy reason, an astronomy convention. the organizers, after hearing the proposals, wash their hands, and try to hide the shame. and then the priests cry oppression and mobilize their religious army.

        isn't it like that all the time? creationists also cry oppression and discrimination. they just want to teach the "controversy", and they get bashing for it. poor guys. this trick is older than dirt. pose yourself the victim of aggression, and reap the empathy.

        sorry, i'm not buying. sheldrake is a liar, that's what he is, nothing more. liars do not get sympathy, empathy or support from me.
        • Mar 26 2013: Creationists, the Catholic church, priests etc etc. Your hatred for religion is, I think, clouding your judgement in this case, and is leading you into all sorts of over the top claims. It's hard to see what else could have prompted such anger - surely not the mere suggestion that some assumptions of science should be subjected to the same dispassionate scrutiny that is, we are informed, the hallmark of science.
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          Mar 26 2013: Have you read every book by Sheldrake? Likely not. So, tell me Mr. Pinter, how can you believe with such conviction that he's a LIAR? Not even that he's simply wrong but that he's actually "lying" - in other words, you think that he's fully aware that he's wrong, but for some reason, profits you probably think, he's willing to stand in front of a TED audience and just spit outrageous lies.

          In case you haven't noticed, one of the main points we're arguing here is that most of you who agree with TED haven't taken the time to actually rigorously study the ideas discussed by Sheldrake, or Hancock, but you hold on to your convictions so strongly, as if it was a religion.

          If you accuse him of lying, then please elaborate a decent, carefully-researched, reasonable response to every single one of his rebuttals here: http://blog.ted.com/2013/03/14/open-for-discussion-graham-hancock-and-rupert-sheldrake/

          If you don't, then by calling him a liar you're actually being the "religious army" yourself, in case you didn't notice.
        • Mar 27 2013: Exactly right, kriztian - it is amazing how the irony is so lost on those trying to paint sheldrake as a kind of gallileo! He's on the wrong side of history and science.
        • Mar 27 2013: Here's the correct metaphor: for one reason or another, and with no involvement of the men themselves, two men are invited to give talks at a conference, which they do and the talks go down well both at the conference and online. Some people complain, and the overarching organisation removes the talks, and then produces a list of complaints which turn out to be wildly false and which include a number of completely uncalled for personal slurs. And then, after admitting the allegations they made up were false, the organisation sets up a series of blogs where people who are affiliated with the organisation throw various other false/libelous statements at the gentlemen in question and generally abuse anyone who disagrees with any aspect of the organisation's handling of the matter. The great advantage to this metaphor being it is not metaphorical.
        • Mar 27 2013: A TED translator calling Sheldrake publicly a liar. Oh dear, what level has this debate reached?

          The open letter by the TEDx organizers sounded much more educated to me.
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        Mar 26 2013: easy. a person is a liar if he lies. i don't need to read all of his work. a person that robs the bank is a bank robber. it does not matter if he does not rob a bank on most days. i don't need to know his life, work, ambitions and all. he is just a bank robber. if you don't want to be referred to as a bank robber, you don't rob banks.

        in the talk we are discussing here, sheldrake started with ten dogmas allegedly central to the scientific thought. zero out of the ten are statements central to scientific thought. many of them are not even held by science at all. many of them makes no sense as far as i'm concerned. i don't need to read any further. this is already terrible.
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          Mar 26 2013: Key phrase here being "as far as I'm concerned". Well, as far as I'm concerned, you're not the know-it-all of science. And as far as I'm concerned, a debate is NEVER terrible. But anyway, thanks for your opinion. :)
        • Mar 27 2013: @ Krisztián Pintér, So are YOU a mind-reader now?! You somehow know, not only that Sheldrake is incorrect, but that he's being deliberately incorrect? You have somehow intuited his motivations? Really?! And yet, you disregard psi research... Fascinating. And here I was thinking that perhaps you'd be a perfect candidate for studies into telepathy.
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        Mar 26 2013: it is just a common phrase. i know those don't make sense. but even if they do, it is still just a partial recovery, since there are those that not central and not held by science. bank robber.
        • Mar 26 2013: You seem unfamiliar with some basic concepts. A lie involves deliberate falsehoods, and while unintentional falsehoods are commonplace and therefore quite possible, unintentional bank robberies are non-existent. Thus the analogy misses a key step which you need to show to support your allegations.

          It's also strange that you suggest many of the dogmas don't make sense (although I note you don't specify which), when the majority who have complained about Sheldrake have suggested that these dogmas are actually the result of centuries of evidence piling up. Again, then, we see the 'any old thing' nature of the complaints.
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          Mar 27 2013: It's called metaphor. And I'm not saying Sheldrake is like Galileo. I don't know enough about what he discussed to make such a claim (though I am certainly claiming Hancock is like Galileo). But I think the analogy is still useful here as it's about a scientist challenging the mainstream scientific paradigm of his time and being condemned for it.
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        Mar 27 2013: I think Krisztian made the bulk of the argument already.

        The metaphor does not hold because (among other reasons):
        - What is scientific and what is not scientific is NOT arbitrary! and it is not democratic either.

        At the time, given the knowledge (the observations), Newton and Kepler actually made good inferences. So their idea of Heliocentrism would have been worth spreading.
        Nowadays, we could invite them for historical reasons, but I would not put someone on stage that is defending Heliocentrism.
        heliocentrism has been replaced by better theories (relativity theory for example), as we know the sun is not the center of the universe).

        I would consider putting on stage some quantum-fysicist who does research at cern (as a matter of fact I did http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=irWoA_pEbQk) to see which ideas that are currently in the running as possibility to explain the universe...

        These people use the same idea as Kepler and Darwin: they observe and use the observations to falsify their ideas, to wonder how it might work.
        But most importantly: they will abandon their ideas for new ones in the light of new information.
        • Mar 27 2013: Explain the universe - lol. Which part? The programme Cheers, the rules of baseball, my dreams, or the behaviour of particles which may be abstractions? Talk about pseudoscience!
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        Mar 27 2013: Steve:
        If I refer to the universe, I do mean the one that is described from a few seconds after what we call big bang up until this moment (ans expected future), with all matter in it.
        But it can be defined broader if you wish.
        So: All of it.

        If you think that such is pseudoscience, please continue to do so and refrain from any further comments, asI don't think you want to understand what I wrote.
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          Mar 27 2013: So Christophe, since you're very well-versed in orthodox scientific views and theories, would you care to elaborate what "good" science today thinks regarding what was going on BEFORE those few seconds after the big bang?
        • Mar 27 2013: What I'm saying is that you work from the assumption (for it is nothing else) that the rules of baseball, or the prgramme Cheers (which are surely parts of the universe), are to be explained by physicists. Start with Cliff - he's a postman - what's the physics of being a postman? Is postmanness a physical property of Cliff? How much does it weigh? And remember, he's not even really a postman at all - he's an actor - how do you suppose physics will capture this distinction? Or are these not really part of the universe? I await your equations.
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        Mar 27 2013: Camila

        Haha, Well, according to my humble interpretation of the facts presented to me by scientists that claim to have done the proper research and not lied about it together just to deceive me...

        What is north of the north-pole?
        We assume that (space-)time did not exist before what we call the big bang.
        We are not sure the big bang actually happened, we can only see up to a few seconds after it happened.
        A good scientist first acknowledges this ignorance and admits he needs to be agnostic about it.
        but then he starts to fantasize what could have happened and how and what might or might not and what if,.... And starts to formulate ideas and debate amongst friends and fellow thinkers,...
        Up until a point where the possibility of a certain idea seems worth looking into, or makes some predictions that can be tested.
        then he runs around in his lab-coat (because we love a good laugh and a stereotype anyway), and tries to get money form society to build some crazy big machine (like CERN) in order to investigate this new idea.
        And then he hopes he was wrong so he can try and find new ideas that might be less wrong
        • Mar 28 2013: A very astonishing post that would seem to vindicate Sheldrake.
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          Mar 28 2013: Okay, so what you're saying here is that, unlike "good scientists", Sheldrake:

          - DOES NOT acknowledges his ignorance
          - DOES NOT fantasize about what could have happened and how and what might or might not
          - DOES NOT formulate ideas and debate amongst friends and fellow thinkers
          - DOES NOT try to get money form society to investigate his ideas
          - DOES NOT hope he was wrong so he can try and find new ideas that might be less wrong

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        Mar 28 2013: "what I'm saying is that you work from the assumption (for it is nothing else) that the rules of baseball, or the prgramme Cheers (which are surely parts of the universe), are to be explained by physicists."

        Dear Steve....
        If you understand chaos theory, you should know that you can't even predict the weather more than 10 days even though the system might be completely deterministic ànd the equations known.

        So asking for such equations is folly
        • Mar 28 2013: I would say that knowing no such equations can ever be give, while believing absolutely that they are there and that they govern everything, is an act of faith. The materialist reductionist mechanistic faith, to be precise. A faith which Sheldrake is, rightly imo, critiquing in his talk.
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        Mar 28 2013: Camelia:

        No (incorrect), I did not say that... I don't understand why you think that I would imply that, or how it would logically follow from what I have said.

        1) He does not acknowledge that most scientists think differently than what he talks about... (but unknown unknowns are hard to in-calculate of course)
        2 ) He does fantasize
        3) He debates and formulates ideas
        4) He tries to get funding
        5) He is not trying to falsify his ideas, and is very biased towards his own research findings compared to those of others.

        Is this sufficient? I don't really see how your question added to the debate, or how my answer could clarify something... It might just cause more opportunities to misunderstandings.

        (I think each subsequent post that I will do on this topic will be of diminishing returns)
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      Mar 26 2013: Rupert Sheldrake is a respected scientist - he may study subjects that less curious or less brave scientists would shy away from, but that does not make him less of a scientist. His science is not pseudo-science. His is good science on fringe subjects and there is nothing wrong with that in my opinion.

      TED has slipped up in its own "group think" - I hope they think again.

      The response in support of these two speakers only shows how much TEDsters care about TED and free speech. It's good that TED gets "kicked in the ass" by its members when it slips up. It's democratic and it's good for the soul! Ha ha
    • Mar 26 2013: Hi Christophe. Based on your comment I'm assuming you wish Sheldrake hadn't been invited to speak and you consider him a "pseudoscientist"- is this correct? Can you tell me on what basis you consider Sheldrake to be a "pseudoscientist"? Please be specific, not vague. Also, have you bothered to read Sheldrake's response to the charges made against him by the TED Scientific Board? You can read them at the link below. Let me know what you think. Thanks!
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        Mar 27 2013: Dear Joe, (you make a lot of assumptions!)
        I would not invite Sheldrake, although I might consider some other people talk about the topic he brought forth.
        Do I consider him a pseudoscientist? I don't know. I do think he believes in things that are quite unlikely. (No observation of a morphogenetic field has thus been done, and the explatory model of his theory does not produce clear hypothesis that are testable against other hypothesis). I dare to assume that he does not understand the implications of inductive reasoning (as decribed by E.T. Jayness in his book "probability theory, the logic of science).

        What I think is that Sheldrake ignores a lot of knowledge about reality and does not understand Occam's Razor sufficiently in order to update his belief system for one that has a higher plausibility.

        It is good for any scientist to challenge hypothesis (that's how science advances), through good experiments and considering the logical implications of new and old theories in order to generate more tests that can answer new questions (&c &c).

        I read your link. please read http://bayes.wustl.edu/etj/prob/book.pdf (just Chapter one)
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        Mar 27 2013: Sheldrake says:
        "But it’s equally possible that the relationship – and nothing in neuroscience rules it out – that the relationship is more like the relationship of the TV signal to the TV set and in that case when the TV set is broken of course the TV signal continues and this is the paradigm of all spiritual traditions – that we are immortal souls, temporarily incarnated in these physical forms to learn and to grow and to develop."

        It is not equally possible... Because then you need a signal. There is no evidence that there is such a signal. From a thermodynamical and information-theoretical point of view, all information needs an information carrier (ergo a material substrate that has more than one state). There is even a minimal energy-signal necessary (that can be calculated), and that signal should be stronger than our current measurement tools are capable off.
        We should be able to manipulate the signal...
        As long as Sheldrake cannot prove any of the above, it is not equally valid.

        The idea of an immortal soul stays void of any observation supporting the claim.

        I find it hard to believe that Sheldrake did not consider this, or never heard about this argument before. If he did not, he should understand that his theory becomes unvalid, if he did, then he should argue why he should not follow the rules laid out by scientific reasoning or admit he is unscientific.
        • Mar 27 2013: You're on the wrong page. That was Hancock.
    • Mar 26 2013: Whatever the guidelines would be, Sheldrake and Hancock should pass them. Their arguments can and should be debated, but they are not producing "BS". I mean, it's not that they are crazies, frauds or stupid people.
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      Mar 27 2013: Well said, Christophe. May I suggest, question you raise - of criteria to define 'worth spreading - is 'basic' and fundamental - of the essence. Not so much 'abstract' as brass tacks, ground floor.

      I'd like to suggest, following your boldly-going inquiry: categorically, core problem I'm seeing boils down to ideology -- distinct from science and philosophy. no matter how it tries to gussy itself up, pass itself off in scientific / philosophical contexts of interest.

      I hardly see anybody posting here, who is speaking to that, as you are. I feel you are on the right track to possible clarification, where it seems needed. Whether your cue is taken, by whom, is another question I'm sure.

      I just posted (above) my 'lone voice in wilderness' perspective on this, hope its of interest. I doubt it can engage partisan ideological interest. I doubt there's a good forward path across ideological lines, but I think you're pointing in sound directions. I'd challenge others posting off here to respond (not react) to what you're saying - without digression or motions to change the subject.
    • Mar 27 2013: Christophe Cop wrote: "What are the demarcation criteria of "Ideas Worth Spreading"?"

      I don't think this is the right question, or the right criteria. I could quite easily find two speakers, (a) one discussing the merits of higher taxes (b) the other the merits of lower taxes. Although you could not necessarily draw the conclusion that one talk is worth spreading (because they can't both be right), I'd be interested to hear both points of view.

      There are many other examples we could dream up, which clearly touch on science, but are not science, eg. (a) The influence of art on science (b) what is pseudoscience (c) What can we learn from bad science, (d) Are morphic fields, dark matter, multiverses, and string theory, testable? (e) Does consensus out-weight reason.
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        Mar 27 2013: true, and good remark I must say.

        In the case of taxes, there is still debate about what is the better (as we don't know how the whole tax thing works exactly, probably non-linear I guess), and none of the theories are considered as falsified or blatantly wrong.

        How would you formulate the question? or how would the question be better?

        When giving a talk that does truth claims, I truly hope that these claims are plausible (let's say for example: given our knowledge, the claim needs to be at least 1% likely where 100% the total probability of all the hypothesis ).
        • Mar 27 2013: On the About TED page, it has the strapline: "Our mission: Spreading ideas". This is good, and neutral. This is quite difference to the judgemental tag: "Ideas worth spreading", which can't possibly please all the people all of the time.

          The criteria is that a local TEDx (not a single individual) has decided that they want to hear someone talk, not because we pre-suppose the "truth" of various ideas.

          I actually don't mind hearing talks that may contain inaccuracies provocative ideas, or even outrageously wrong ideas, because rationale people will step in and either correct them, or ensure that talker clarifies them. This is how we all improve our critical thinking.
    • Mar 28 2013: Christophe,

      good question.

      as for "pseudoscience" i've noticed in this thread that this term is being thrown around liberally without a clear definition. but for the most part, pseudoscience is often used as *ad hominem* and to marginalize scientific work on the *fringes*. to illustrate my point, allow me to provide a more specific example.

      in your opinion, how would you classify Dr. Michael Persinger's research on psi? see this lecture:

      "Michael Persinger on No More Secrets" ~ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9l6VPpDublg

      note that Persinger is a scientist with impeccable credentials. he has published his works on science journals indexed by PubMed. below are a couple of his published research:

      "Remote viewing with the artist Ingo Swann: neuropsychological profile, electroencephalographic correlates, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), and possible mechanisms."
      ~ http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12081299

      "Possible disruption of remote viewing by complex weak magnetic fields around the stimulus site and the possibility of accessing real phase space: a pilot study"
      ~ http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12509207

      Dr. Persinger works on fringe science (e.g. The God Helmet, remote-viewing, psychedelics, etc.) the Skeptic community praised him when he claimed that OBEs, religious and mystical experiences can be triggered by Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation of the brain. but then the same Skeptic community kept their distance from Persinger when he claimed to demonstrate in his experiments that psi is indeed real. in fact, he's beyond that debate already. he's moved on to finding out the *mechanism* for psi -- his hypothesis is *geomagnetic field*. see the lecture i linked to above.

      based on TED's treatment of Sheldrake and Hancock, i seriously doubt that Persinger will be invited to TED or TEDx even if his ideas are interesting and, IMHO, worth spreading.
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        Mar 28 2013: Freud did great research on Aphasia, while he later developed theories that can now safely be dismissed.
        Same goes for other scientists in the past.

        What Persinger is telling in your link are quite hard claims. I don't agree with what he says and he should get some real data to support his claims of entanglement.
        he can challenge the skeptics and accept the Randy million,
        Hmm.... http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Michael_Persinger tells me that he had attention from sceptics, but that it later proved to be unreproducable...
        Skeptics are curious when some good research shows surprising results, so will divert attention to it. They then want to improve the data and confirm the claims... If that does not happen, the distance will increase again.

        So I would suggest not to invite him.
        • Mar 30 2013: Christophe,

          Persinger *is* a profilic scientist (look him up on PubMed). he doesn't need validation from non-scientist skeptics. he supports his hypothesis with experimental data and then he publishes them in scientific journals. just because some other scientists weren't able to reproduce his God Helment experiments doesn't mean that Persinger can easily be dismissed. in fact, he had a rebuttal on that issue: see http://www.innerworlds.50megs.com/The_God_Helmet_Debate.htm

          also, by suggesting that Persinger has to challenge skeptics and accept the JREF $1M prize is another case in point why Steve Volk's critique of the $1M prize is spot on. the $1M is not science. it's a joke.

          The Joke of the James Randi Challenge (In Defense of Sheldrake) ~ http://stevevolk.com/archives/1040
  • Mar 26 2013: “Science is based on experiment, on a willingness to challenge old dogma, on an openness to see the universe as it really is. Accordingly, science sometimes requires courage - at the very least the courage to question the conventional wisdom.”

    ― Carl Sagan
    • Comment deleted

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        Mar 26 2013: Well, what's with the dogma of saying conventional views can't be questioned?
  • Mar 26 2013: A central lesson of science is that to understand complex issues (or even simple ones), we must try to free our minds of dogma and to guarantee the freedom to publish, to contradict, and to experiment. Arguments from authority are unacceptable.
    -Carl Sagan
  • Mar 26 2013: I think his is a voice that should be heard.

    Setting up strawmen in a discourse is hardly grounds for censorship.

    Just apologize, post the video and drop all of this.

    I disagree with a lot of the details but agree with the message to be ware of your assumptions, especially the assumptions that are so ingrained that you don't even see them. Dogma IS antithetical to science.
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    Mar 26 2013: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/03/130325111154.htm

    "Speed of Light May Not Be Fixed, Scientists Suggest; Ephemeral Vacuum Particles Induce Speed-Of-Light Fluctuations"

    "Mar. 25, 2013 — Two forthcoming European Physical Journal D papers challenge established wisdom about the nature of vacuum. In one paper, Marcel Urban from the University of Paris-Sud, located in Orsay, France and his colleagues identified a quantum level mechanism for interpreting vacuum as being filled with pairs of virtual particles with fluctuating energy values. As a result, the inherent characteristics of vacuum, like the speed of light, may not be a constant after all, but fluctuate."
  • Mar 25 2013: Experimental data suggesting speed of light may not be constant, instead depending on gravitational "turbulences" and directions in space.


    Lunar Laser-Ranging Detection of Light-Speed Anisotropy and Gravitational Waves
    Reginald T Cahill (Flinders University)
    (Submitted on 14 Jan 2010 (v1), last revised 3 Feb 2010 (this version, v2))

    The Apache Point Lunar Laser-ranging Operation (APOLLO), in NM, can detect photon bounces from retro-reflectors on the moon surface to 0.1ns timing resolution. This facility enables not only the detection of light speed anisotropy, which defines a local preferred frame of reference - only in that frame is the speed of light isotropic, but also fluctuations/turbulence (gravitational waves) in the flow of the dynamical 3-space relative to local systems/observers. So the APOLLO facility can act as an effective "gravitational wave" detector. A recently published small data set from November 5, 2007, is analysed to characterise both the average anisotropy velocity and the wave/turbulence effects. The results are consistent with some 13 previous detections, with the last and most accurate being from the spacecraft earth-flyby Doppler-shift NASA data.

    Professor Reg Cahill was also talking about his approach to Process Physics to some top physicist at Askloster Symposia 2004, pity I can't find the video link, seems to be dead atm.

    Here is his webpage:
    • Mar 26 2013: Does this mean that the light actually 'slows down' like a moving object slows down when it meets the resistance of air, or does it just mean that the light takes longer to get to its destination because its path has been made less direct? Couldn't light be like a car that travels at a fixed speed but takes longer to get where it's going depending on how bendy the road is?
      We know that light bends around gravitationally heavy objects, as we see that lensing effect when distant stars are behind these objects from our pov. Presumably even weaker gravity objects effect light to some degree, unless there is some cutoff point at which gravity is or isn't strong enough to effect light, which seems counter-intuitive to me, but what do I know.
      If all gravity imparts some small amount of bend on light then I have to assume that it never travels through space in a perfectly straight line, as the gravitational landscape is not going to be perfectly flat anywhere.. which means that whether or not it slows down or stays the same speed, we can't judge how far it has come if we don't know what path it has taken? I mean depending on how strong the effect is we might be able to get pretty accurate, but the margin of error might still effect our ideas.
      But surely if it were this simple a physicist will have pointed it out and someone else refuted it already.
  • Mar 25 2013: One of the important factors in understanding why the anonymous (non-existent?) Science Board of TED is so vehemently opposed to Sheldrake and Hancock is the economics of the consciousness debate.

    If consciousness is an epiphenomenon of brain activity,
    Then disturbances in mind, emotion and behavior are products of a faulty brain, not a faulty mind.
    If the underlying cause of mental illness is a faulty brain,
    Then the most effective treatments will fix the brain, not the mind.
    Consistent with this logic, 10% of adults in the United States ingest prescribed psychiatric medications to "fix" imbalances in their brain chemistry. In certain demographics, this figure is much higher.
    Sheldrake's and Hancock's TEDx talks challenge the validity of this nearly ubiquitous worldview.
    If they are correct, people suffering from depression, anxiety, and other emotional and behavioral disorders might consider non-pharmaceutical treatments.
    If these are shown to be effective and catch-on with the public, the psych-med industry would see its revenues and profits shrink or even collapse.

    This does not tell the whole story, but it is an important factor in understanding why an industry supported organization such as TED is not allowed to popularize hypotheses that challenge consciousness as a product of brain function. The censorship of Sheldrake's views makes good economic sense in this context.
  • Mar 23 2013: Crisis IS Oppurtunity

    We all act unconsciously to some degree and to become more conscious of ourselves is one of the gifts of our experience.One of the most common unconscious assumptions we all carry is that a MISTAKE is a negative experience ,a sub text of our education systems unfortunately .However this is a very poor belief to carry for the re-cognition of. mistakes are superb creative moments and that moment of re-cognition should be cherished .There is an inspiring example of the enormous potential of this in the TED talk given by Allan Savory who recognised the error of his and the accepted theories and consequently has developed an elegant and beautiful world changing soloution to the desertification of our soils.It takes a little courage to admit a mistake, maybe because a mistake is a small crime in the classroom, but that courage swings open the doors to a myriad of. new possibilities.So this is where TED now finds itself, a small amount of courage is required (courage - le coeur ,the heart) not a lionheart just a little heart and an even greater soloution will be born.There seems to be something awry at TED at the moment some kind of “groupthink” issue according to Eddie Huang's experience but again the recognition of the issue is THE creation moment .

    Time to wake up..........I think you fell asleep..............We have to wake the others

    “Psuedoscience is the Brandspeak word for thoughtcrime (thoughts that are unorthodox or outside the official Brand platform) as well as the verb meaning “to commit thoughtcrime” Accepted, which is approved by the Brand , is the opposite of Psuedoscience

    .“psuedoscience does not entail death ,psuedoscience is death”

  • Mar 22 2013: I strongly feel that TED's decision here will be a significant and remembered contribution to the historical process. We're at an impasse here, and the way in which it is resolved will have an effect on the future.

    I'm not suggesting that this particular incident is THE central event of a paradigm shift, but I think that it is a big window into what's going on, and as such we can learn a lot from it. We need to pay attention to it, remember it. We'll be wanting to look back on it to understand what happened in these times.

    Following that, I'm writing down as much as I can about my impressions of what's happening here. I strongly urge you all, in your own ways, to commit these events to record, give them serious contemplation, and communicate your thoughts with one another.

    If the two sides of this debate fail to come to terms this time around, our success next time will depend on what we learn here.
  • Mar 22 2013: Having never heard of PZ Myers, I looked up his website. Controversy seems to be his trademark. Rather more noise than reflection and considered analysis.
    I am astonished that the TED team felt constrained to pay attention to his criticism of Sheldrake.
    Let's hope TED can find someone to equal Sheldrake's powers of reasoning and intellectual courage.
    I look forward to a debate
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    Mar 21 2013: A simple disclaimer, a tool used effectively by broadcasters since the early days of radio and television, is all that is needed to distance TED from the ideas put forward by any speaker it finds too controversial.

    Surely that makes far more sense than treating an invited speaker to a TEDx event so appallingly.
    • Mar 22 2013: Yes Sandy.. the disclaimer makes sense... if what you are doing is trying to distance your brand from the opinions made by speakers whilst offering up a platform for free thinking.

      But if what you are trying to do is the opposite of that... and stop people from having access to this information at all (What do they say about mushrooms being fed s#@t in the dark) then you do exactly what TED has done.

      It's as simple as that.
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    Mar 21 2013: When is TED going to apologize? It's way overdue.
    • Mar 21 2013: The refusal to restore the videos to YouTube and to issue a genuine apology to authors Sheldrake and Hancock, confirms TED and its "Science Board" have retreated to the rear of their cave - fingers in ears; reciting their mantra, "La la la la..."
  • Mar 21 2013: One thing I find quite amusing is that Sheldrake is accused of being a woo-meister by some bloggers who actually believe that the content of their complaints against Sheldrake (ie, every single word) was completely determined at the time of the big bang without any conscious input from a mind at any stage whatsoever. Sheldrake thinks otherwise. Sheldrake thinks that the content of his talk, and the content of their complaints, is in large part the product of human minds exercising causal powers over, eg, the particular ordering of the letters and words. Now I ask you, I ask you in a quiet tone of voice - you be the judge: who are the real woo-meisters?
    • Mar 21 2013: I find it interesting to think that whether or not our thoughts and actions are determined by the playing out of chains of unconscious physical interaction triggered at the beginning of the universe, the presence of this concept as true or not appears to effect the behaviour of the brains which hold those concepts in quite different ways.
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    Mar 20 2013: I have a question that I certainly hope will be intelligently addressed by some member of the TED staff or someone capable of speaking in their defense.

    In light of this entire controversy, and purely by comparison only:



    It currently has nearly 1.3 million views on Youtube.

    That is all. Thank you.
    • Mar 21 2013: Duplicity is the refuge of charlatans.
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        Mar 25 2013: I mean honestly. How does one define an "idea", and more specifically, what are the subjective parameters which determine its eligibility for being "worth spreading"?

        Elizabeth Gilbert's talk is by far one of the most moving and persuasive arguments I've ever heard. The veracity and substance of her virtual sermon dances so precariously on the line of religion, it is no wonder the video is as popular as it is. Spiritually compelling, through and through. But most importantly, it is merely an idea, worth entertaining. The compilation of abstract notions into a single, well-rehearsed monologue tailored to the listenership of an intelligent audience.

        I do not understand how Sheldrake's talk is anything different.
  • Mar 20 2013: I agree with Rupert Sheldrak's talk regarding ESP. As Humans I think we are constantly evolving as this happens I believe our levels of consciousness are increasing and our minds are open to communicating through our senses. I believe that everyone has the ability to communicate this way but we have to be in a medatative state by this I mean that the mind has to be uncluttered and accepting. I have heard of people who have communicated by telepathy consciously and unconsciously but for many reasons do not make it widely known.Why do we always have to rationalize everything for it to be right? Until we open our minds and admit that not everything can be explained and accept that our capacity as humans remain limited.
  • Mar 20 2013: I wonder if there are any TED talks that couldn't be justifiably removed if one was to scrutinize them hard enough. I also wonder if that is not the position we are now in. Without getting Sheldrake back and grilling him for 18 hours rather than 18 minutes, whatever anyone says is going to turn on our interpretations of what is, largely, a philosophical talk. I am thinking here about the fact that Sheldrake is keen to distinguish at the start of his talk between a mode of inquiry and a world-view. Thus his criticism may be more a case of that within science the left-hand doesn't know what the right hand is doing and often scientists within one field are constrained by dogmas that in the field where the "dogma" comes from it is no longer, in some cases, really a dogma. Thus, and this is my view, physicists still talk of a theory of everything seemingly unaware that the reductionism it entails is dead in the water, while many biologists appear to believe it is still the 17th century.
  • Mar 20 2013: Rupert Sheldrake is a clear and brilliant thinker who is not only challenging scientific dogma but is also challenging us to think for ourselves. I am chagrined but not shocked that TED has allied itself in ostracizing those such as Shelldrake who do not go along with the crowd. That is the way business has been transacted since ancient times. Yes, science is about inquiry as long as the inquiry is not about science itself. This attempt to undermine Sheldrake's work has nothing to do with science. This has everything to do with habit. A habit called protecting turf and power.
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    Mar 20 2013: Yes, Jim, I apologise if I wasn't clear. In general we do assume that the speed of light is constant (as we do with other constants) - but part of the reason why we do that is because our current tests don't support variations in the fundamental constants. But just because this assumption is often made doesn't actually apply that scientists are dogmatically fixed - since we do in fact test for variations.
    You'll find similar tests/questions about whether we gravity holds on the largest scales etc.
    We assume the standard picture until we feel compelled (by data and not dogma) to change the model.
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    Mar 19 2013: Scientific papers continued:
    The Sense Of Being Stared At: Do Hit Rates Improve as Tests Go On?
    Journal of the Society for Psychical Research (2008) 72, 98-106

    Experiments On The Sense Of Being Stared At: The Elimination Of Possible Artefacts
    Journal of the Society for Psychical Research (2001) 65, 122-137

    Sense of Being Stared At' Does Not Depend On Known Sensory Clues
    Biology Forum (2000) 93 209-224

    The 'Sense of Being Stared At' Confirmed by Simple Experiments
    Biology Forum (1999) 92, 53-76

    The Sense Of Being Stared At: Experiments In Schools
    Journal of the Society for Psychical Research (1998) 62, 311-323

    Testing a Language - Using Parrot for Telepathy
    Journal of Scientific Exploration 17, pp. 601-615 (2003)

    A Dog That Seems To Know When His Owner is Coming Home: Videotaped Experiments and Observations
    Journal of Scientific Exploration (2000) 14, 233-255

    Testing a Return-Anticipating Dog, Kane
    Anthrozoös, (2000) 13, 203-212

    Commentary on a Paper by Wiseman, Smith and Milton on the 'Psychic Pet' Phenomenon
    Journal of the Society for Psychical Research (1999) 63, 306-311

    A Dog That Seems To Know When His Owner is Returning: Preliminary Investigations
    Journal of the Society for Psychical Research (1998) 62, 220-232

    Perceptive Pets: A Survey in London
    Biology Forum (1998) 91, 57-74

    Perceptive Pets: A Survey in North-West California
    Journal of the Society for Psychical Research (1998) 62, 396-406

    Psychic Pets: A Survey in North-West England
    Journal of the Society for Psychical Research (1997) 61, 353-364

    Listen to the Animals: Why did so many animals escape December's Tsunami?
    The Ecologist March 2005

    An Automated Test for Telepathy in Connection with Emails
    Journal of Scientific Exploration (2009), 23 No. 1, 29–36
    (by Rupert Sheldrake and Leonidas Avraamides)
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    Mar 19 2013: Scientific papers continued:

    A Perennial Cropping System from Pigeonpea Grown in Post-rainy Season
    Indian Journal of Agricultural Sciences, (1987), 57, 895-9

    Pigeon Pea Physiology
    In: The Physiology of Tropical Crops ed. P. H. Goldsworthy
    Blackwell, Oxford (1984)

    Effect of Seed-grading on the Yields of Chickpea and Pigeonpea
    Indian Journal of Agricultural Science (1981), 51, 389-393

    Varietal Differences in Seed Size and Seedling Growth of Pigionpea and Chickpea -
    Indian Journal of Agricultural Science, (1981), 51, 389-393

    Effects of Pod Exposure on the Yield of Chickpeas -
    Field Crops Research, (1980), 3, 180-191

    Iron Chlorosis in Chickpea Grown on High pH Calcareous Vertisol -
    Field Crops Research, (1980), 3, 211-214

    Comparisons of Earlier- and Later-formed Pods of Chickpeas (Cicer arietinum)
    Annals of Botany (1979), 43, 467-473

    Comparisons of Earlier- and Later-formed Pods of Pigeonpeas (Cajanus cajan)
    Annals of Botany (1979), 43, 459-466

    The Effects of Flower Removal on the Seed Yield of Pigeonpeas (Cajanus cajan)
    Annals of Applied Biology (1979), 91, 383-390

    Growth, Development and Nutrient Uptake in Pigeonpeas(Cajanus cajan)
    Journal of Agricultural Science (Cambridge) (1979), 92, 513-526

    A Hydrodynamical Model of Pod-Set in Pigeonpea (Cajunus Cajan)
    Indian Journal of Plant Physiology, (1979), 22, 137-143

    Pigeonpea as a Winter Crop in Peninsular India -
    Experimental Agriculture, (1979), 15, 91-95

    The Expression and Influence on Yield of the 'Double-Podded' Character in Chickpeas
    Field Crops Research (1978), 1, 243-253

    Some Effects of the Physiological State of Pigeonpeas on the Incidence of the Wilt Disease
    Tropical Grain Legumes Bulletin, (1978), 11, 24-5

    Book: The Anatomy of the Pigeonpea (with S. S. Bisen)
    ICRISAT Monograph Series, Hyderabad (1980)
  • D S

    • +3
    Apr 2 2013: So, what happens when the clock runs out here? Conversation closes, no debates, and the talks remain in their sequestered space? Or are they just going to take them down entirely? Does TED plan on issuing another empty response, or are they just gonna forget about it and hope it fades away?
    • Apr 2 2013: I guess we will see some more defensive statements, and they will keep the talks where they are now.
      • Apr 2 2013: Isn't the original comment thread still open? The one that included both interviews. I don't think that one's timed. Just sayin' if people feel frustrated by their inability to express themselves here once it closed in... 13 minutes.
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    Apr 2 2013: On of the main problems was "either or thinking"
    'Classical Physics works for what it works for but not for the extremely small the particle and the wave

    Here the "OBSERVER effects the observed.

    in personal experience this translates as "The Observer is the observed"
    Krishnamurti used Bohm's term paraphrased "You are the World and the World is You"
    • Apr 2 2013: I wrote before on how such "quantum" phenomena occur on macro-events as well - thus challenging the materialist predicate. See this for more: http://arxiv.org/abs/quant-ph/0202158

      See also and especially this item:: http://henry.pha.jhu.edu/aspect.html

      I think it's important to view that in light of other information presented here: http://www.amazon.com/review/R32DEEY27DH8J6/ref=cm_cr_rev_detmd_pl?ie=UTF8&asin=0770436706&cdForum=Fx331MZOPIFPR1D&cdMsgID=Mx28JY1QZOCITBM&cdMsgNo=13&cdPage=2&cdSort=oldest&cdThread=Tx3FGGFGBW1I8QU&store=books#Mx28JY1QZOCITBM

      you stated: "in personal experience this translates as "The Observer is the observed"
      Krishnamurti used Bohm's term paraphrased "You are the World and the World is You""

      I would argue that this is certainly true psychologically, and that there arises physical effects from that - a freeing up of tensions - and possible intention based action at a distance as well, as the "broadcast signal" becomes more coherent. It's a theory I have relating to personal experience that the Amazon link provides some basis for.
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        Apr 2 2013: Ben said,..."and that there arises physical effects from that - a freeing up of tensions - and possible intention based action at a distance as well, as the "broadcast signal" becomes more coherent."

        i would add that this is the key element of manifesting anything
        i.e. relaxed state of awareness- intention-embodiment.......

        you said ""broadcast signal" becomes more coherent." this is the key to all telepathy and remote viewing.. the field has all data and it is accessible with protocol and focus and intention
        • Apr 2 2013: Or, for what you describe, perhaps there is greater receptivity - that is another way of looking at it.
  • Apr 1 2013: The Magic of Science,

    Magic is what discovery is all about and science enjoys one of society’s frontier pedestals in terms of prestige. The very method and founding principals upon which it is based and developed should equally apply then to any interpretation of data collected by the same accepted standard. What we have here is a recurring example of so called authority jumping to conclusions on interpretations of data that doesn’t fit or compliment their own. Rather then investigate these ideas to see if they are valid, or will lead to new discoveries which history shows they often do. They desperately try to suppress these ideas. There is nothing wrong with being sceptical. But it is only by further testing and analysis that the validity of interpretation can be determined. Not by holding your hands over your eyes and hysterically screaming for everyone else not to look. This only locks us into their self incarcerated reality and the distortions they perpetuate.

    We all live under the spell of the magicians at the heart of the academic establishment beleving they are pure and noble. Sometimes this is merely a spell of deception and one that is desperately being used here to stop us from following the normal scientific accepted standards that have been used to debunk or confirm any perspective.

    If the shoe was on the other foot, would people be willing to accept Sheldrake or Hancock’s refusal to engage in open debate. No, they would rightly be ridiculed and deserving of the criticism currently expressed. So why then should the those at the centre be treated any differently?

    Funny how this doesn’t seem to bother many of those who claim to believe that science can explain everything. Mysteriously they are asking us to exonerate their perspective as if it is a divine constant. Their delusion is simply this if they can’t apply their own standards to themselves, their beliefs are groundless pseudoscience and woo woo.
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    Apr 1 2013: It seems clear, at least to me, that TED, and its anonymous scientific board, regard the commentators here as the great unwashed; wholly unworthy of respect, or even acknowledgement. What does that say about TED? And what does that say about mainstream science? This must surely be the final nail in the coffin of materialist dogma. Organisations like TED bring revolution upon their own heads.
  • Apr 1 2013: TED is running out the clock on this one, a day and a half left for the pro-Sheldrake camp to vent to an un-listening TED. The conformity of thought on TED is formed not through the crucible of rigorous debate, but by stamping out dissenting voices.
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    Apr 1 2013: Thanks for posting that here, Adrian. While I've seen the article before, this must surely be the most timely and significant presentation of it. We read such things and assume that, since the information is out there, all reasonable and rational people will see the game that is being played at the expense of scientific advancement and it's fringe pioneers.

    If there is no retraction of the verbal assaults that TED has meted out to Rupert Sheldrake, and no reinstatement of his TEDx talk contribution to its rightful and respectful place in the TED archives, then we must conclude that the TED brand is no less fundamentalist and intellectually repressive than the likes of Scientology and the Jehovah's Witnesses. What a truly sorry state of affairs in the twenty-first century. And shame on Richard Dawkins for such a bare-faced dismissal of the sanctity of scientific truth.
  • Mar 31 2013: by revoking the TEDxWestHollywood license, TED has now made it official that they will not allow voices from the fringes to be on the TED/TEDx platform. TED has no interest of "spreading ideas" by the likes of Russell Targ, Marilyn Schlitz, and Larry Dossey. the TED platform is only big enough for "skeptics" and scientific materialists. disappointing, yes but hardly surprising. as i said before, their slogan ought to be changed to "Status Quo Ideas Worth Spreading."

    speaking of Russell Targ... he is often lumped with New Age and "pseudoscience" by people who don't his background. never mind the fact that Targ's (and his colleague Hal Puthoff) research work was good enough to be funded by the CIA. incidentally, Targ has just published a new book where he has divulged declassified information in the CIA remote-viewing program. TED will never dare touch this material. so you and i will just have to rely on our own research and other alternative news sites to be informed.

    case in point: here's a good interview with Targ on The Paracast.

    "Gene and Chris present the ever-elusive Dr. Russell Targ. Dr. Targ and Hal Putoff led the team at Stanford Research Institute that created the "remote viewing" protocols in the early '70s, about which many stories have been written. Targ's latest book is The Reality of ESP: A Physicist's Proof of Psychic Abilities."

    ~ http://www.theparacast.com/podcast/now-playing-march-10-2013-dr-russell-targ/
    • Mar 31 2013: Targ is one of my heroes. The amazing thing about rv...which I discovered last year... Is since 1995 the protocol has been available to civilians. Training too. I took the time to learn the protocol and do it myself. I've done about 30 sessions. I'm still learning, so my accuracy rate isn't perfect, but when it works it is mind blowing. This is the kicker.... Skeptics can try it out for themselves and see firsthand results. I've got targ's book on my amazon wish list, gonna get it when it is released. The only people saying it doesn't work are those who refuse to look at all the docs that have been declassified, or heck just try it yourself! Been reading the Sagan book Jimmy mentioned.... First it doesn't support his arguments against Sheldrake, and second, Sagan himself says that scientists can be stubborn, which can slow adoption of new ideas.
      • Mar 31 2013: "I'm still learning, so my accuracy rate isn't perfect, but when it works it is mind blowing."

        What sort of percentages are you getting?
        • Mar 31 2013: I think I saw some RVers have a spreadsheet to help quantify their accuracy, but I haven't learned that. Moreover rv sessions are long (45 minutes+) and tiring, so I haven't done any in a while. But I did link earlier in this thread to my own published results, here it is again

          Though I don't do "official" rv lately, Lynn Buchanan said "the goal of a session is not to learn about the target, it's to learn how your mind works". That is a wonderful way of putting it, quite true. Since I did the training, something got unlocked in my mind. I have been having precognitive experiences, where that never used to happen to me before. I've gotten a lot better at understanding the difference between a "normal thought" and "receiving a signal". I'd call it spooky, but really it's just how our minds work, it is normal. I wondered if I could do a target session in my sleep, I.e. intend before falling asleep to get some information (mostly this is because rv session are long, and I haven't enough free time to do them, plus the questions I want answers to are "front loaded" and I haven't been trained on how to do front loaded RV sessions (a front loaded session is where you are given some info about the target, as opposed to just a target ID number). Long story short, while dreams generally aren't as reliable as a true session, I have had some amazing results there too. In every case, I seem to get the answer in the last dream before I wake in the am. Interestingly, after I discovered this about myself, I heard Targ on a radio show say the same thing happens to him... The last dream before he wakes often gives him information. Anyway, sorry for the long post, I could talk about this all day!
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        Mar 31 2013: Is this... technique learnable, or do you need certain traits? I would imagine that people who do not put up boundaries in their minds would be more inclined to something like this.
        And did these- messages feel like thoughts, or less clearly formed intuitions?
        so many questions
        • Mar 31 2013: Great questions, long answer here (not a genric post, I just wrote this specifically to answer your questions):

          It's Easter morning, so I gotta go be a good dad! More later
    • Mar 31 2013: Just started listening to that mp3. It's so frustrating when good talks like this have spooky or exposé type music as a lead in, I mean sheesh, way to make yourself look like you aren't worth being taken seriously.
    • Mar 31 2013: To understand what is happening, I suggest looking at the money trail. It's like the relation between the Tea Party and the Koch Brothers. The public face of the debate is a bunch of loud-mouths who spew venom, but clearly are not informed or especially deep in their analysis or understanding. Behind the scenes, are billionaires who are pushing a pro-business agenda. "Drill Baby Drill" is shouted by people who are manipulated by propaganda. But the oil interests who promote these simplistic slogans, will make huge profits from gas fracking, tar sands, etc.

      In this case, instead of the Tea Party, we have Skeptics spewing misinformation. The pejorative Woo is a simplistic way to dismiss a century's worth of experimental data. The attempt to equate Sheldrake with right wing Creationists has no basis in fact, but is effective in muddying the waters.

      The money trail in this case leads to psychiatric medications. This multi-billion dollar industry is premised on mental illness being a brain disease. If consciousness is not a product of brain function, then psych meds are not treating the cause of emotional disorders. Disturbances of consciousness are better treated by tools that deal directly with consciousness.

      TED has fallen into bed with the pharmaceutical industry. They are determined to suppress any science that contradicts consciousness = brain. The TED slogan can be Industry Advertising Worth Spreading.
      • Mar 31 2013: While I am a sheldrake fan, I think the explanation for some people's unwillingness to seriously look at the legitimate inquiry and real science being done by people like him and Targ is much simpler. It comes down to basic stubbornness, and an emotional investment in the status quo. "Skeptics" who abandon scientific reasoning when railing against real science that is shattering long held beliefs are just like you and me.... Letting their emotions get the best of them from time to time.
        • Mar 31 2013: Absolutely, I agree. These are challenging and perplexing issues for everyone. People experience telepathy frequently, but we are conditioned to dismiss it as coincidence or illusion. It has taken me decades to integrate that these experiences are common and valid. Being skeptical means being intelligent and discerning. These are not simple issues and there is much room for debate and disagreement.

          But really? What ordinary person with a sensible level of skepticism is going to devote themselves to bashing Sheldrake? The reasonable response is to be challenged by the material and unconvinced of his assertions.
        • Mar 31 2013: Thanks Dan. I appreciate your explanation and completely agree with your assessment. There are likely some very influential and powerful forces behind the obvious censorship of this man's ideas. I don't necessarily agree with everything he postulates either. Nor do I completely agree with Bruce Lipton's research and conclusions that belief can actually influence our genetic evolution, but I think his research is absolutely fascinating! I understand that Tedx has to have some standards by which they judge the merits of a presenter, but by walking lockstep with the same, old, tired skeptics and debunkers of ANYTHING that falls even slightly outside of their precious and narrowly defined "science", Tedx quite frankly, has completely lost the respect of a great many bright, interested, and skeptical people.
          AND, so we are clear, I too, believe the Tea Party has more than its share of knucklehead haters. I pisses me off quite frankly as it gives a bad name to many who really just want our government to relax restrictions on business and perhaps give free market principles more consideration when passing future legislation.
          As Amfortas stated above, I think this whole conversation is about spent. I've truly enjoyed the interaction with the majority of people here. I'm extremely interested in the nature, including such "woo" topics as psi, the afterlife, etc. and particularly curious about the role quantum mechanics might play in explaining them.
          I'm incredibly encouraged by the number of people here who seem to be open minded enough to consider Sheldrake's work. The evidence regarding many esoteric subjects is voluminous. Sadly, much of it has never been given the proper scientific investigation it deserves due to the very reasons that you and others have so eloquently argued. It boils down to what you have alluded to; money. Couple that with ego, reputation, and fear of ridicule, and it is easy to understand why there aren't more Rupert Sheldrakes out there. Regards!
      • Mar 31 2013: Dan, when you paint a group that espouses principles different than your own as "loudmouths spewing venom", I don't think you're helping your case. The whole point of this discussion is that Tedx is being close minded and intolerant of positions that fall outside of their narrow paradigm. NO ONE has a monopoly on the truth. Although I wouldn't call myself a "Tea Partier", I do believe in free market principles espoused by the likes of Milton Friedman and Thomas Sowell. Neither, in my opinion spews venom, yet their views represent what many in the Tea Party espouse. You can certainly disagree with those views, but stereotyping a political movement as being hate filled is a little much.
        I do not and will not engage in a political discussion here; I do that on enough other sites, but my point is, we should leave politics out of this discussion unless discussing political considerations which are directly tied to the Tedx/Sheldrake issue. There's enough politics involved with the rigid, materialist, viewpoints promulgated by mainstream science and academia to keep us busy without engaging in the typical right vs left discussions that define so many debates concerning the direction our country should be taking. I completely respect your views and you have contributed much to this debate. I just think we should leave the other stuff out of it.
        • Mar 31 2013: James - I agree with you that the Tea Party draws from respected sources and many of their platforms have merit. What I am pointing to is the strategy of corporate interests to pay for front organizations. I would not put hate-radio personalities like Michael Savage or Glen Beck in the same category as Milton Friedman. "Loudmouths spewing venom" is a proven technique for influencing public opinion. It is used across the political spectrum.

          The professional Skeptics have their own breed of attack dog. The undermine coherent debate by slinging insults and feigning outrage. Jimmy Randy/James Randi was employing this technique. I applaud his removal from the debate.

          If this debate was about whether Sheldrake is correct or not, I think there would be much room for debate. Even with his extensive research, these questions are far from being settled. One can make a strong case that Sheldrake is fundamentally incorrect.

          However, that is not the topic. It is whether TED's criticism and censorship was merited. The initial criticisms have been refuted. TED has refused to elaborate or expand on them. Their decision to remove the video is seemingly final.

          That calls into question, what are their motives? My conjecture is TED's corporate funders do not want to give Sheldrake a platform because were his ideas about consciousness accepted, they would be bad for business. The pharmaceutical industry is presently drugging 25% of all incoming female college freshman on US campuses and 10% of the entire US adult population. The entire industry stands on the platform that consciousness is made by the brain. Take that away and people will soon wake up to the toxic effects of psychiatric medications.
  • Mar 30 2013: I don't think he's ignorant at all and I don't blame him for believing as he does. The preponderance of testable and repeatable experimentation back up his assertions. There IS good evidence to the contrary however including but not limited to Sheldrake's work and that of Dean Radin. It doesn't matter the amount or quality of work presented. It will NEVER be enough to satisfy an ardent materialist. I know. I once held such beliefs. It was through dramatic, personal experience that I "came to believe" as it were. Similar life altering experiences have been noted here and for those that have had them, no amount of scientific "evidence" is going to persuade me to believe differently. As rigid and unyielding as that position may seem, it really, in my mind at least, just means that Jimmy and I just represent different sides of the same coin. He will maintain, predictably, that his position is superior because he has "science" on his side. And I respond that I have history, public opinion, and the knowledge that my life experiences were real on mine. Maybe someday he and I will have that beer and ill share what's happened in my life that has led me to the absolute certainty that intelligence can and does exist outside the narrow confines of our skull.
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    Mar 30 2013: Come on TED Science Board, have the courage and decency to stand up and be counted.
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  • Mar 30 2013: Nietzsche said, “Convictions are more dangerous enemies of the truth than lies”
    Throughout the ages there have been periods of dramatic scientific discovery and rapid advancements of technologies. In many of these instances, in order for the changes to take place, a complete paradigm shift was necessary to explain the new ideas.

    The keepers of the “truth” in any such transformational period used derision, slander, misdirection, and sometimes outright falsehoods to deride those thinkers emulating the new way of thinking. Many times the “new thinker’s” discoveries were not completely accepted or proven to be true until many years later, often after the “new thinker” was deceased.

    By grouping Sheldrake in this category I will likely be accused of fallacy by association however, according to at least one “scientific” website*, there are several criteria that will flush out the charlatans;
    • Consider the reliability of those making the claim. Could they be biased or have an agenda?
    • If possible, ask to see the supporting evidence for their conclusions. Is the claim based on only one or two studies? Or none at all?
    • Do an online check of any studies that are cited. Have they been through a peer-review process? Were they published in legitimate scientific journals?
    • Check online to find out whether there are systematic reviews of their claims or similar claims.
    I postulate that Sheldrake’s work meets all of the criteria listed, therefore, my case that he is a victim of the so called Galileo Gambit is shown to be true. Get your towel out of the closet, Jimmy.

    • Comment deleted

      • Mar 30 2013: Lol. I'd like to have a beer with you sometime.We may not agree, but you make me laugh. That's a good thing. Take care bro.
  • Mar 30 2013: since this latest TED fiasco also boils down to "skeptics" vs. pro psi people...

    here's an idea worth spreading you won't see on TED, especially now that we have confirmation on where TED stand on the scientific materialsm vs. scientific method/inquiry debate. at least Google Tech Talks is more open.


    Google Tech Talks
    January, 16 2008


    Do telepathy, clairvoyance and other "psi" abilities exist? The majority of the general population believes that they do, and yet fewer than one percent of mainstream academic institutions have any faculty known for their interest in these frequently reported experiences. Why is a topic of enduring and widespread interest met with such resounding silence in academia? The answer is not due to a lack of scientific evidence, or even to a lack of scientific interest, but rather involves a taboo. I will discuss the nature of this taboo, some of the empirical evidence and critical responses, and speculate on the implications.

    "Science and the taboo of psi" with Dean Radin
    ~ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qw_O9Qiwqew
    • Mar 30 2013: This is an excellent frame on the problem. My daily work as a psychologist involves working with dimensions of human consciousness that mainstream academics would claim to be non-existent. I do not call myself psychic. However, I routinely access information that refutes the speculation that all consciousness is contained within the cranium.
    • Comment deleted

      • Mar 30 2013: You misunderstand what the words "critical thinking" means. It actually means being able to assess an argument on its merits, and not, as you think, simply finding something, anything, critical to say. Indeed, form what you post it seems you have spared yourself the trouble of thinking at all, preferring instead to take your beliefs whole from some anti-science bloggers who have decided a priori what must be true.
  • Mar 30 2013: as of this writing, there are only about 3 days left before this "debate" thread closes for good. so far, i haven't seen a convincing argument from the TED staff, TED Curator (Chris Anderson), TED Science Board, or TED Brain Trust regarding a valid justification for pulling out Sheldrake and Hancock's TEDx talks from their official distribution channels.

    Sheldrake and Hancock have issued a public challenge for a debate on this issue. so far their challenge has fallen on deaf ears. no one in TED has the courtesy and integrity to respond.

    i don't think TED is serious about *real* debates on Sheldrake's and Hancock's talks. and this leads me to speculate that:

    1) the people at TED were not interested in a real "debate." they just wanted a holding place for people to vent their frustration until they get tired and move on.

    2) they knew that they made a mistake of pulling the videos but cannot afford to admit this mistake in public.

    3) they know that they are on the losing side of the debate if they accept Sheldrake's and Hancock's challenge.

    4) so it is best to just stay mum on this and let this fiasco pass.

    maybe Jerry Coyne was right all along.

    "Besides, TEDx did not remove their videos—they just relegated them to a “website of shame.” And that’s exactly where they belong."

    ~ http://whyevolutionistrue.wordpress.com/2013/03/22/oy-vey-tedx-continues-the-woo-now-with-more-self-help/

    i just wish that if there are no takers from TED to accept Sheldrake's challenge, maybe TED can arrange for a Sheldrake-Coyne debate.

    IMHO, if given the opportunity of a fair public debate setting, Sheldrake will rip Coyne's arguments apart. Coyne is good at name-calling. but i don't think he has what it takes to make a convincing case against Sheldrake. just sayin'.
    • Comment deleted

      • Mar 30 2013: it's worse than a conspiracy! IT'S CHICKENING OUT!!!
        • Mar 30 2013: One of the thing that has come out of this is the total ineptitude of those arguing against the talks. At no point have they actually been able to come up with any kind of reasoned argument for what they are doing and their childish attacks and false claims just make them look silly. The whole thing could have been handled in a very straightforward way, with integrity, and an understanding that nobody - certainly not Hancock or Sheldrake was to blame. Instead, though, TED chose to bend over backwards to appease a few people who already despise them, and in the process offending a whole load of people who actually rather liked them.

          Another thing that has come out of it is the total bankruptcy of the peudoskeptic position which seems to be based on nothing more that wholesale denialism, childish insults, and a total disregard for the very things, eg, science, that they claim to stand for. And while it's always amusing to see people who can't distinguish psi from Santa bang on about stuff they clearly know nothing about, I think many who are unfamiliar with such types will have been surprised to see just how naked the emperor actually is.
      • Mar 30 2013: REPOST. Jimmy Randy = James Randi. He is