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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 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.

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