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The debate about Rupert Sheldrake's talk

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



Closing Statement from TED

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thanks for listening.

Chris Anderson, TED Curator

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    • Mar 28 2013: "This article is available to subscribers only.
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    • Mar 28 2013: Perhaps instead of posting constantly you could take a moment and answer my question? Here is the pertinent link again, that has links to the ganzfeld studies.

      Please show us your knowledge about parapsychology by addressing what are the most significant studies in the field. What specific problem do you have with the Ganzfeld studies and why do you think that they are not convincing evidence for telepathy?
      • Comment deleted

        • Mar 28 2013: So you make a pretend link mocking me in response? Not helpful.

          You seem to be very sure of yourself and confident that you are right and the rest of us are wrong. Do you realize that with this comes a responsibility to know what you are talking about?

          Do you, or do you not know anything about the ganzfeld studies? If so, let's have a discussion.
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        • Mar 29 2013: "if the effect isn't strong enough to win the million dollars, then what good is it?" That's perilously close to the second stage of belief. Moving from not so, to yes but irrelevant. Next you'll be telling us you said it was real all along.
        • Mar 29 2013: TED has reached a crossroads. When it finally officially declares that the Sheldrake talk will not be restored, as appears inevitable from their actions so far, it will cement its audience. The remarkably diverse, open-minded and forward thinking members who have made this on-going thread vibrant and engaging will abandon TED in droves. Left behind will be the one-note Skeptics who cannot discern the difference between a TV illusionist and genuine scientist.
        • Mar 29 2013: Jimmy,
          And with all these shows you've seen you still have no idea how to argue your position regarding the ganzfeld evidence? What, exactly are these shows teaching you?
      • Comment deleted

        • Mar 29 2013: We've given you dozens of examples of psi under controlled conditions. You seem to imagine that scientists have to come to your house and demonstrate effects in your living room. Not so. Get yourself to, eg, a university.
      • Comment deleted

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