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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 29 2013: Hi Jimmy,
    Well, You seem a bit touchy. Your claws are showing. You couldn't have possibly spent any time trying to digest any of the experience/exploration I've accomplished - that has led me to this area of interest. Still, militant 'true believers' in their cherished security blankets, seldom dare to venture out beyond where they feel comfort. Your dismissive attitude toward experiential phenomenon is a bit transparent. I noticed that you've not restrained yourself from citing sites you consider to support your true religion (scientism?). But, when I mention my site (which contains information some may find relevent to the conversation for the possible mechanics of consciousness and my personal experience with this area), you seem to feel compelled to stomp around yelling spam!, spam!, spam! Please, give me a break!) Relax, take an ant-acid and some deep breaths. You are entitled to your security blanket - no one will wrench it from your tight grasp!
    But, being the dickens that I am I can't help tugging on your blankie ... just a little. Have you read Eban Alexander's new best seller? Eban Aexander has 25 years as a neurosurgeon and is teaching at Harvard Medical School. He is also I believe, working with the Monroe Institute. Ooooo ... I can already hear you stomping around your office in a tirade.
    Well, I've had my fun, for now. I don't want you to hurt yourself.

    Best Wishes,
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      Mar 29 2013: I saw Dr.Eben Alexander speak in Palm Beach Florida last month. It was an amazing talk. He is a scientist and was humbled by his experience when his was considered brain dead (no activity in his frontal cortex) because there was no way the scientific community could explain what happened to him with no frontal cortex activity.
      At times during his talk he became emotional and would take a breath and gracefully continue.
      I have bought his book for several of my friends and I am a big supporter of Hospice here in Florida and donate my art to them for fundraising. I encourage people to read Proof of Heaven!
      • Mar 31 2013: Hey Denny!
        It's so good to hear from folks who help support Hospice work. It not only helps those 'moving on', but their loved-ones as well!
        Here's another book you may find interesting "Glimpses Of Eternity", by Raymond Moody. What I found facinating is that it is not another NDE book. It is about the profound personal experiences of doctors, nurses, hospice workers and the family members who are at the bedside of loved ones as those folks graduate to their next great adventure. Some of the accounts are truly breath-taking!
        Oh, a P.S. here,
        Eben Alexander has started a nonprofit org. called Eterea.org to bring together scientists specializing in conscious research.
        This sort of profound personal experience also inspired Apollo astronaut Dr.Edgar Mitchell to found "The Institute of Noetic Sciences". His book "The Way of the Explorer", details his experiences with psi research on his way to the moon.
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          Mar 31 2013: Thanks so much I will definitely get Glimpses of Eternity.
          Ray Moody ( I think it was him, he sat on the stage but was not introduced, he looked like his photos) and Edgar Mitchell (definietly was him) were at the same talk as me to hear Dr Alexander. It is my understanding Ray helped Dr Alexander form Eterea which I joined after I read the book in January.. Edgar lives near me here in Florida and I was a member of his institute for many years and the last time we connected was several years ago at the Explorers Club in NYC when he talked about his experience returning to earth from the moon. Funny story. I was standing in line to speak to him after that event as I wanted to invite him to speak at a chapter I had started (Spirit in Business) near his home. The woman in front of me started talking to Edgar and shared she had just spend 6 months in South America doing research for an institute and the several Shaman she worked with told her they went to the moon regularly. Well I was so enthralled I stepped out of line to talk to her and never spoke with Edgar. LOL
      • Apr 1 2013: Oh... geeeez; Denny,
        I've really messed-up. I was not intending this message to go to the top of the conversation. I know many folks could easily feel put in an unfomfortable, too visible (targetable), place. If I've done this to you , please accept my apology. My only excuse is that I was pre-occupied. I was already late in getting us on the road to attend a family dinner and I was concerned about a health problem our Veiled Chameleon; George is having. In fact, he is going back into his vets. office this mourning. Please feel free to send him 'get-well-soon' wishes/thoughts - even if you upset, disappointed with my bumbling.

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