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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 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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