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The debate about Rupert Sheldrake's talk

Please use this space to comment on the debate around Rupert Sheldrake's TEDx talk, as described here:

http://blog.ted.com/2013/03/19/the-debate-about-rupert-sheldrakes-talk/

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Closing Statement from TED

Thanks to all who participated in this conversation on TED's decision to move Rupert Sheldrake's talk from YouTube to TED.com. It was scheduled as a 2-week conversation, and has now closed. But the archive will remain visible here.

We'd like to respond here to some of the questions raised in the course of the discussion.

Some asked whether this was "censorship." Now, it's pretty clear that it isn't censorship, since the talk itself is literally a click away on this very site, and easily findable on Google. But it raises an interesting question about curation. Should TED play *any* curatorial role in the content it allows its TEDx organizers to promote? We believe we should. And once you accept a role for curatorial limits, you have to accept there will be times when disputes arise.

A number of questions were raised about TED's science board: How it works and why the member list isn't public. Our science board has 5 members -- all working scientists or distinguished science journalists. When we encounter a scientific talk that raises questions, they advise us on their position. I and my team here at TED make the final decisions. We keep the names of the science board private. This is a common practice for science review boards in the academic world, which preserves the objectivity of the recommendations and also protects the participants from retribution or harassment.

Finally, let me say that TED is 100% committed to open enquiry, including challenges to orthodox thinking. But we're also firm believers in appropriate skepticism, or critical thinking. Those two instincts will sometimes conflict, as they did in this case. That's why we invited this debate. The process hasn't been perfect. But it has been undertaken in passionate pursuit of these core values.

The talk, and this conversation, will remain here, and all are invited to make their own reasoned judgement.

Thanks for listening.

Chris Anderson, TED Curator

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    Mar 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.

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