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The debate about Graham Hancock's talk

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

http://blog.ted.com/2013/03/19/the-debate-about-graham-hancocks-talk/

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Closing Statement from TED

Thanks to all who participated in this conversation on TED's decision to move Graham Hancock'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 21 2013: I previously commented that I would not post further on this Blog page because it is so clearly designed to distract public attention from the disastrous way TED have handled their attempt to censor my “War on Consciousness” talk and Rupert Sheldrake’s “Science Delusion” talk. That in my view is the important point, for it bears on the future of TED itself as a viable platform for “ideas worth spreading”. I am heartened that so many of the 400-plus concerned people who have now posted here (and the 1000-plus who posted on the original Blog page) have refused to fall for TED’s sleight of hand and continued to press the organization to rethink its policy.

    Since TED have retracted and struck out all their justifications for the original deletion of my talk from the TEDx Youtube channel (http://blog.ted.com/2013/03/14/open-for-discussion-graham-hancock-and-rupert-sheldrake/ ) and since they have published my rebuttal, and done the same re Rupert Sheldrake’s talk, I agree with Rupert on a new post he has made on this page (http://www.ted.com/conversations/17189/the_debate_about_rupert_sheldr.html). There are no more specific points surrounding TED’s misguided decision that he and I need to answer. Nor is it possible to make much progress through short responses to nebulous questions like “Is this an idea worth spreading, or misinformation?”

    But I now make this one further post, simply to add my voice to Rupert’s and to put on record that I, too, would be happy to take part in a public debate with a scientist who disagrees with the issues I raise in my talk. My only condition is that it be conducted fairly, with equal time for both sides to present their arguments, and with an impartial moderator, agreed by both parties.

    Therefore I join Rupert in asking Chris Anderson to invite a scientist from TED’s Scientific Board or TED’s Brain Trust to have a real debate with me about my talk, or if none will agree to take part, to do so himself.
    • Mar 21 2013: Looking forward to watching the debate!
    • Mar 21 2013: Would love to see this debate!
    • Mar 21 2013: Can't wait for the debate. I hope this also leads to fair and open dialogue for a variety of other "controversial" topics that mainstream science has long dismissed or ridiculed because it challenges common core scientific beliefs (dogmas?). A fair, respectful and open debate is a great format.
    • Comment deleted

      • Mar 22 2013: Jerry Coyne and PZ Meyers seem to me more fitting given the circumstances of this whole issue.
      • Mar 22 2013: Lime Crime,

        Sam Harris will not take on Graham Hancock because they are on the same side on the War on Consciousness.

        Graham Hancock's "War on Consciousness" presentation boils down to a similar, if not exactly the same, conclusion as what Sam Harris argued on his blog regarding psychedelics. here's how Sam Harris eloquently put it.

        "The “war on drugs” has been well lost, and should never have been waged. While it isn’t explicitly protected by the U.S. Constitution, I can think of no political right more fundamental than the right to peacefully steward the contents of one’s own consciousness." ~ Sam Harris on Drugs and the Meaning of Life - http://www.samharris.org/blog/item/drugs-and-the-meaning-of-life

        you're welcome.
      • Mar 24 2013: Lime Crime,

        I specifically said that Harris and Hancock are on the same side on the War on Consciousness (aka War on Drugs)

        anyone who reads Sam Harris' post on psychedelics and watched Hancock's TEDx talk will draw a similar conclusion.
    • Mar 22 2013: Mr. Hancock,

      please invite Chris Anderson to your next ayahuasca journey and see what gives.
    • Mar 24 2013: Graham... maybe you should just make a better talk instead of posting sour jabs at TED for moving your talk. You can't win that fight anyway. What, did you expect them to break down crying and beg for your forgiveness just because you call them censors? (*) That will not happen and you know it.

      If you want to claim a moral highground here, make a better talk and show them that you are right, instead of just throwing names at them for not recognizing your supposed genius.

      (*) By the way... censoring is the act of prescreening an expression and stopping it before it was even conveyed to anyone else. That is not what is happening here... they are framing it in caution but it is STILL viewable.
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        Mar 27 2013: Michael you seem to be the one making the sour jabs. Hancock seems to have supporters in the thousands backing his claims, how many have given your statement a thumbs up even though it is anchored under the most popular comment (Graham's)?

        In a rough count I'd say they are 95% positive. Considering TED has fans in the millions those are pretty telling percentages.
    • Mar 27 2013: Yes, we'd like a debate, but even more we'd like TED to refuse to enter into a rational dialogue here, further proving that actually, in the case of drugs, there is no such thing as science, that we all of us are fallible, dogma-prone cowards.
    • Mar 27 2013: I fully support Graham Hancock's talk. It's controversial but the scientific world should pay more attention
      too his ideas.What a shame to put a censorship on his talk.Science can be great but science can be dogmatic.
  • Apr 2 2013: Thanks to all who have posted in my defence here. It means a lot to me.

    Big ideas are at stake, much larger than the individuals involved. But the knowledge that a community of good-hearted, open-minded people are out there, ready to fight for the freedom of ideas is the best thing to come out of this.

    Warmest wishes and deep appreciation
    Graham
    • Apr 2 2013: If you ever make it to Taos, New Mexico you would be more than welcome. Keep up the work,
  • Mar 19 2013: I've taken Ayahuasca many times, and I was also educated to PhD level in theoretical quantum physics. For me, the Ayahuasca experience obliterated the dogmatic, materialistic worldview I had been indoctrinated with over 10 years of physics education. It helped me to see how utterly small and incomplete science is in comparison to the mystery of creation. Rupert Sheldrake is right to call it a 'delusion' - this widely held belief that science has explained everything, and dis-proven even the existence of a creator. I was there, that was me for many years.

    Ultimately, I came to Ayahuasca searching for purpose in my life. Science taught me that the universe is fundamentally random, made up of dumb particles of matter floating around aimlessly, and this existence is just a happy cosmic coincidence, witnessed by an illusory consciousness in my brain. That worldview never felt right to me, i could sense a depth within myself which I had barely explored, as I had spent my life so focused on the outside world. Ayahuasca promised to help me dive within, and boy did it deliver.

    I can only describe it as an infinitely intelligent, infinitely creative, infinitely loving field of consciousness. It has the unique property that when it is witnessed, when it is felt, it is able to transform our understanding of reality in ways we could never have previously imagined. It REMINDS us of our eternal nature, by showing us our truest essence. And it's important to note that this is not like LEARNING - like reading a textbook, or doing an experiment - it's a KNOWING, a REMEMBERING. It is shown to you.

    Once you've been there and seen this thing, you MUST adjust your worldview to accommodate its existence. This is what Hancock is going through now. I applaud him for his profound honesty and bravery, and I KNOW that he speaks the truth. It's a shame so many other people (incl TED) can't yet see that, but it's not surprising. The truth will only reveal itself to those who seek it.
    • Mar 19 2013: Thank-you Steve for sharing your insight. Much needed here. People have little room to judge without any psychedelic experience. Graham was so right to call his video a War on Conciousness and this is what is happening in the NOW with this suppresion. It's actually beautiful to watch and perhaps will all this fuss it is maybe reaching out to those who are seeking some deeper meaning to life.

      Peace
    • D S

      • +5
      Mar 19 2013: Thanks for sharing, Steve! After prominent Canadian psychiatrist Richard M Bucke (who had been a logical positivist at the time) had such an experience, he remarked:

      "The person who passes through this experience will learn in the few minutes, or even moments, of its continuance more than in months or years of study, and he will learn much that no study ever taught or can teach. Especially does he obtain such a conception of the whole, or at least of an immense whole, as dwarfs all conception, imagination or speculation, springing from and belonging to ordinary Self Consciousness, such a conception as makes the old attempts to mentally grasp the universe and its meaning petty and even ridiculous."

      Now, his was of the "spontaneous" variety, but the point remains. You might also be interested in this account, from a scientist who appeared to be feeling similar to how you felt (his, like Bucke's, was a spontaneous happening):

      Turn-Around at Delphi
      http://www.issc-taste.org/arc/dbo.cgi?set=expom&id=00013&ss=1

      And this is one more stunning spontaneous account - from a scientist and (at the time) self-identified "atheistic materialist" - who hadn't been considering such matters at all ("I was not interested in nor was I searching for any sort of transcendent or supernatural experience. I had no idea of what a mystical experience was."):

      My Experience of Cosmic Consciousness
      http://www.issc-taste.org/arc/dbo.cgi?set=expom&id=00004&ss=1

      From the account:

      "Perhaps the most significant element of Cosmic Consciousness was the absolute knowingness that it involves. This knowingness is a deep understanding that occurs without words. I was certain that the universe was one whole and that it was benign and loving at its ground."

      That site is filled with accounts worth reading (not all dealing with those "peak experiences", though):

      The Archives of Scientists’ Transcendent Experiences
      http://www.issc-taste.org/arc/dbo.cgi?set=arc&ss=1
    • Mar 20 2013: Steve, thanks so much for sharing your experience. I had brilliant, insightful experiences with Ayahuasca and San Pedro. They are called entheogens and sacred teacher plants for a reason.

      We humans are multi-dimensional beings. To explore beyond the materialistic-mechanistic paradigm is the quest of our times, at least for the ones with open minds and hearts.
    • Mar 25 2013: Even PhDs can fall victim to the feelies. Guess what: your feelings aren't evidence for anything!
  • Mar 19 2013: On the related Blog page (http://blog.ted.com/2013/03/18/graham-hancock-and-rupert-sheldrake-a-fresh-take/) Tedstaff write: “TED and TEDx are brands that are trusted in schools and in homes. We don’t want to hear from a parent whose kid went off to South America to drink ayahuasca because TED said it was OK.”
    This is given amongst the justifications for the removal of my presentation, “The War on Consciousness” from the TEDx Youtube channel where it had received in excess of 132,000 views before it was axed.
    How therefore does TED explain its complete acceptance and endorsement of the content of Tim Brown’s 2008 presentation “Tales of Creativity and Play”, a presentation that has now received in excess of 842,000 views on the main TED Talks website (http://www.ted.com/talks/tim_brown_on_creativity_and_play.html) when this talk contains a clear endorsement (between 11 mins 57 secs and 14 mins 22 secs) of the psychedelic drug mescaline as a means to boost creativity by shocking people “out of their normal way of thinking and getting them to forget the adult behaviours that were getting in the way of their ideas”
    If you construe my presentation as dangerous because it might send a kid “off to South America to drink ayahuasca because TED said it was OK”, shouldn’t you also construe Tim Brown’s talk as equally dangerous because (since TED has said it was OK) it might send a kid off to consume mescaline in order to boost his creativity and perhaps even to benefit from the same sort of “great start with innovation” that Silicon Valley did. This is a serious question and I suggest it implies a deep double standard on the part of TED. If you don’t think it represents a double standard please explain to me why not.
    • Mar 19 2013: If TED wishes to take down a video based on the fact that it were to fully endorse drug use, then that would be within their right as a community of like minded scientific individuals to do so. I think that the debate has led you astray from the original message which you try to convey through your talk, Mr. Hancock. I do believe that this talk was far from a simple endorsement of ayahuasca, as you said it is not a recreational experience and it truly is the sort of thing that requires purposeful examination of your own psyche, and analyzation of views you hold from perhaps a perspective not quite the same as the "alert, problem solving state of consciousness" we become accustomed to through our daily lives. In reality, you have more focus placed on a shamanistic view of the world, rather that a prescription to guided psychedelic experiences. This view is more of a psychological intervention for the world, a shock to wake us from our zombie like existence that can come in a variety of ways, ayahuasca being one of them. Perhaps if you were to back me up, that you don't believe that ayahuasca is a necessity for every single human being (I surely doubt you do, think of the toll that would take on the rainforest!), then a necessary discussion about the nature of consciousness within the scientific community could ensue.
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      Gail . 50+

      • +3
      Mar 20 2013: Ah, the irony.... A talk about "The War on Consciousness" being attacked virulently because TED doesn't like the message. (And a fine message it was, thank you)
    • Mar 23 2013: Mr. Hancock... it comes down to the same basic principle that governs anyone that wishes for the rest of us to follow his advise/lead/suggestion/wish/demand: give us the proof.

      And you're going to have to do it the old fashined way: using the scientific method. You can't cheat that... you can't try to circumvent it by saying you don't have to because that method is flawed, because that is simply your opinion, not fact.

      Give us the PROOF so that we may see it, review it and make up our minds on our own. And no... asking us to dope ourselves won't cut it. Your personal experience is valid for you, and you alone.

      Your task is to prove that this experience will universal and safe. I wish you good luck.

      And until you return with some results, this talk should not be on TED because what it boils down to is claiming - rather hollowly - "My drug is better than everyone elses drugs... because I - and the shamans - that use it say so".

      Not good enough.
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    Mar 22 2013: As such, we request and urge you to re-upload the talks not only to the TEDx youtube channel, but also on the official TED.com site, including links to the discussions taking place on the TED blog. We also see this as a vital opportunity for TED to enhance their reputation as a forum for the free flow and sharing of ideas and open debate and an opportunity to win back the trust which may have been lost.

    We think the controversy over these talks is a wonderful opportunity for TED to clarify and strengthen it’s commitment to free thought, especially in the face of pressure from highly committed ideological interests from the blogosphere. Otherwise, we fear that TED will take a lot of criticism for censorship. Several of the other speakers, even if they don’t fully agree with Sheldrake’s and Hancock’s positions, are quite upset that their videos were removed. At our urging, they have been holding back from going public, waiting to see how this plays out. It would be a shame if this ends up causing negative publicity.

    We hope that you will consider this as an opportunity to become a resilient and remarkable organisation: one that has the capacity to be self-reflective, self-critical, adapt to change, evolve and grow with its communities and the challenges it faces. Most of all, that you can stay true to your values as a democratic and open platform for ideas worth spreading.

    It seems to us that enhancing Radical Openness by accepting our invitation to reinstate the talks publicly online, is an outcome that can benefit all parties involved.

    We appreciate your time to consider our message.

    With hope for a positive outcome for all

    Amrita, Stefana, Jennifer
    • Mar 22 2013: Perfectly put Amrita, Stefana and Jennifer!

      In response I would urge TED to look closely at the tone and content of your letter and compare it with that of the criticisms that sparked this controversy. I can only add, if the current paradigm isn't robust enough to handle the content of these two 18 minute talks then it isn't robust enough to be a paradigm, let alone the current one.
      • Mar 22 2013: The current paradigm has handled the content of those talks, and shown them to be false.
        • Mar 22 2013: If this were true, it might be a fair statement. It is NOT true. I have never seen ANY evidece that has convinced me that consciousness is false!
        • Mar 22 2013: I can only assume that the current paradigm you're referring to is some variant of physicalism or materialism, in which case it is not scientific -- it is a philosophy. That you fully expect the talks to be scientifically debunked by a philosophy is a pretty ironic reveal of your belief bias.
        • Mar 23 2013: The current paradigm has not shown the content of the two talks to be false, it hasn't even engaged it a proper debate but suppressed it.
      • Mar 22 2013: Aimee, nobody denies that consciousness is false.
        • Mar 23 2013: You confuse me?? I just did. And I am not alone.
    • Mar 22 2013: Thankyou!!
    • Mar 22 2013: *Bravo!*
    • Mar 23 2013: Kudos the TEDx Whitechaple team. Your letter is spot on, maybe main TED can learn from you. How if they'd let you organize a global TED on this paradigm challenging topic?
  • Mar 19 2013: It is extraordinary to see TED drop everything it previously said about Hancock's talk and now produce two new complaints which themselves withstand no scrutiny.

    The first complaint is that Hancock's report of the phenomenology (ie, how it seems to the user) of ayahuasca includes contact with "seemingly intelligent entities which communicate with us telepathically." These phenomenological facts are well documented. See, for example, the work of the University of New Mexico's Rick Strassman (DMT: The Spirit Molecule) and the Hebrew University of Jerusalem's Benny Shanon (The Antipodes of the Mind). That's the end of that.

    The second complaint involves Hancock's suggestion that such visionary contact/experience "can teach and heal us" and TED suggests that these are "claims that are well outside orthodox scientific thinking". On the contrary, ever since science became aware of the existence of hallucinogens, their use in a healing capacity has been at the forefront of research. There is interesting research on their effectiveness for "curing " addiction, for example, and here (in a TED talk no less! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LKm_mnbN9JY) is Roland Griffiths from The Johns Hopkins University, talking about, among other things, the way psilocybin can be used to treat the anxiety of terminal cancer patents. Moreover, he also discusses the powerful "teaching" value of such experiences, as regards the human condition, which was rated by many of his subjects as amongst the most powerful and profound experiences of their lives - akin to, eg, the birth of a first child.

    So, in summary, TED issued a whole load of complaints against Hancock which, in every case, turned out to be at best false, and at worse not even wrong. It has now come up with two further grievances which likewise evaporate under the mildest scrutiny. At what point will you accept that you are not well informed on this subject. Spread his ideas - not least to the TED science board.
  • Mar 19 2013: TED, you drag these talks from one debate to the other, still focussing on whether they are "pseudoscience", which distracts from the real problem. Your science board has enough data (the talks themselves and additional responses provided) to make a clear case for or against the talks being pseudoscience. Check the statements in questions, check the facts, follow them where they lead, and stand by whatever you find. This is not the real problem here.

    It's this: If you were able to make a clear case for taking these talks down because they're PS, you would have done so by now. But instead of doing the only logical thing, leaving/putting them back with the other talks and supporting them with clear arguments against allegations made by Myers, Coyne etc. - you refuse to make a stand and delegate the decision to the public. But what more do you want to hear ? You have multiple comment threads, exceeding in total far more than 1000 comments on the matter, you have detailled and in case of Sheldrake exceptional replies by the speakers - it's up to you to make a decision, and deal with the consequences.

    You can't please eberybody, so what's it going to be ? Please man up and make a decision, instead of inviting us to state the same points we already made over and over, until everybody runs out of steam and this whole things blows over.
    • Comment deleted

      • Mar 20 2013: Thanks Debbie ;)

        TED,
        watching these two new debates for a day, they are further testimony for what TED is really doing, which is evading the real problem - taking a stand. And to clarify, this is not going to be a stand just for or against these talks, but about the topic that lies at the heart of the debate since its beginning: materialism and science. The debate started with two talks that questioned the materialist interpretation of scientific findings, and were taken down after some undeniably staunch and dogmatic proponents of this interpretation complained about these talks. TED is afraid to become part of the struggle between those holding on to materialism and trying to establish it further as the only real answer, and those refusing to just shut up and believe, who point out it's too early to accept any one particular interpretation. Instead TED fragments this debate to the breaking point...an initial debate, a blog post followed by a long debate in the comments, now two new, separate debates, one for each talk, ever to postpone addressing the real issue of materialism and modern science. Gladly welcoming, it seems, the further fragmentation of these debates into sub-topics revolving around curation or censorship, pseudoscience, drugs, anecdotal talks vs. talks discussing hard evidence...

        CENSORSHIP - you made clear your position about this not being censorship, so you surely need no debate on this.

        PSEUDOSCIENCE - you have two talks, responses by the speakers and a massive amount of debate/opinion - it's not that fuzzy, tricky a decision to make. Besides, a talk still hosted by TED (Elaine Morgan about the Aquatic Ape theory) gives stage not just on a TEDx YT-channel, but on the main TED page, to a theory widely discussed as pseudoscience on the web (for example by Jerry Coyne) - but not challenging materialism. No debate needed on your pseudoscience stance it seems.

        cont'd. below
      • Mar 20 2013: DRUGS (and their dangers) - Tim Brown, mescaline. Roland Griffiths, psilocybin. Just two examples of two TED talks mentioning positive aspects of drug use - but not questioning materialism. As long as they don't call people to recklessly use drugs (which Hancock clearly never did), no problem in my opinion. Ken Robinson's talks come to mind - they're not about drugs, but do you feel the need to take them down, because his portrayal of a stifling education system and highlighting of a free, less controlled development of our personally dominant faculties might inspire kids to drop out of school ? Since he sure didn't make being in school look very attractive. Your stance on drugs seems pretty clear-defined as well.


        ANECDOTAL - For example, the talks I just mentioned, by Ken Robinson, are highly anecdotal in nature, and so is the evidence he gives for his OPINION. He surely didn't swamp the audience with data supporting his stance. Neither did he...question materialism.

        All this goes to show, you don't need a community debating these sub-topics. You need these drawn-out debates to pacify those who want to see the two talks in question back up, while all the while pacifying the other side by not having them back up anywhere but a corner of the blog, where in a few weeks noone will really find them any more unless specifically looking. If you were interested in anything but this, in a real debate about the central issue - you, the visionary TED, would host public debates on this, to really give it publicity. Between outright proponents of materialism, and more moderate voices (Thomas Nagel comes to mind these days). But you're afraid of the mine field.

        cont'd. below
      • Mar 20 2013: Not to be a cynic, but eventually this whole controversy will run out of steam, without you having had to really come out on the core of it all, or at least having a full-blown, TED conference-hosted debate on this - is this materialism, that obviously runs pervasively through mainstream science and 'consensus reality' really the answer ? That's what started this, and so far, your silence on this will end it. TED - evasive diplomacy worth studying.
  • Mar 19 2013: The theme for the Tedx event held in January this year at which both talks occurred was:

    “Visions for Transition: Challenging Existing Paradigms and Redefining Values (for a beautiful world)”

    That’s exactly what Sheldrake and Hancock did.
    Both talks received extensive hits and were extremely popular before they were removed from their original platform.

    Hancock’s talk is an exposition about his (and others) personal experiences exploring human consciousness. He has never claimed to be a scientist.
    Sheldrake, who IS a well known scientist, has successfully addressed the reasons put forward by Ted for removing his video. No pseudo science has yet been proven that I can see from reading this blog.

    Putting aside the censorship debate and also outrage expressed over an anonymous science board deciding what can and can’t be viewed by the public on the main Ted platform…it’s really just not fair of Ted to play with Sheldrake and Hancocks reputations this way. So, Ted, please re-instate these videos to their original platform and let’s move forward.
    • Mar 20 2013: Yep, bottom line, that's what's up. Restore the talks to their previous forms and let the debate continue there. TED is continuing to step in it, who do they have for PR over there? Time for some new PR blood TED.
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      Mar 20 2013: It's completely irrelevant what the theme of the TEDx event was, or whether the talks fit into the theme. TED is a media company that makes curatorial decisions about what content it wishes to share under its brand. It has been this way from day 1 - this is nothing new. There are probably hundreds of talks from the TED Conferences that never make it onto TED.com.

      You also forgot to mention that Sheldrake opened his talk by promoting his book -- a clear violation of the TED rules that he should have read before taking the TEDx stage...
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        Mar 20 2013: Seriously? It is quite convenient that this "small" point got ignored. If Sheldrake did, in fact, open his talk by promoting his book, then the talk should have never been uploaded because it is ABSOLUTELY a violation of the TEDx rules. That puts the TEDx organizer in a difficult spot - if they had seen an advance copy of his slides and this was an "ad lib" addition by Sheldrake, then that is pretty sleezy but as an organizer, nothing you can do about it.
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          Mar 20 2013: It probably should have been edited out. It wasn't an overt "buy my book" but he opens (1:30 in) with "What I do in my book, which is called..." and then goes on to name its two different titles, depending on where you'd be buying it.

          It's a tough spot. Obviously someone like Elizabeth Gilbert will reference her book in her story about becoming an author. But Sheldrake essentially just says "this is the argument I made in my book, which I'm going to repeat to you today."
        • Mar 20 2013: So now you're accusing Sheldrake of being sleazy. You people have no shame.
        • Mar 20 2013: Al Meyers, FYI I have flagged your post for calling Sheldrake's behavior "sleezy".
        • Mar 20 2013: I think that given the limitations of an 18-minute presentation, it is not "sleazy" for Sheldrake to make an offhanded comment to the effect that he has laid out this case in far greater detail elsewhere -- especially given the tendency of some to nitpick an obviously limited argument to death. While the point of Sheldrake's book reference is legitimately debatable, it is far from a shameless plug.

          If TED wants to keep these talks civil, its representatives should refrain from levying further inflammatory insinuations at its speakers.
        • Mar 21 2013: If your point, Mr Meyers, is that it's reasonable for TED to enforce their self-promotion rule, then I am in agreement with you. If TED had said, "We have a rule not to allow talks where speakers refer to their own books; Sheldrake referred to his book, so we're not posting his talk", I would have found that perfectly reasonable and fine (and I think most people here would have).

          However, the reality of the situation is very different.

          What happened is this:
          TED posted the talk. It was up for two weeks before a rude atheist blogger complained about it. TED invited the community to discuss the talk. The community was about 70% in favour of keeping it up. TED took it down, citing complaints from their community and making a rake of demonstrably bogus allegations about the talk.

          That's why they're losing all their credibility, not because of the self-promotion rule.
      • Mar 20 2013: Define "promoting."

        Sheldrake says at 1:32:
        "What I do in my book The Science Delusion, which is called Science Set Free in the United States, is take the ten dogmas or assumptions of science and turn them into questions, seeing how well they stand up if you look at them..." This is the only mention of his book.

        If using one of his (very relevant) works as a platform to begin talking about the topic is promoting the work, then yeah I guess he's guilty of promotion. I see the book's relevance though.
      • Mar 20 2013: No one is disputing Ted’s legal right to decide the content of its site. However the problems here are:
        1. In this case the talks were put on the site, they proved extremely popular and then were removed.
        2. They were removed because a “science team” which is anonymous therefore very hard to challenge, decided the talks were “unscientific”.
        3. Hancock, as already mentioned is not a scientist, was not speaking at a scientific conference and was discussing a topic (consciousness) that mainstream science has generally chosen to steer well clear of other than a few people like Sheldrake.
        4. The Conference’s express purpose was to challenge and explore “existing paradigms” which is exactly what happened.
        No one is saying Ted should not have certain standards. Several posts in the earlier discussions go into this in depth. What people are saying is that in this instance, Ted’s behavior has been unfair notwithstanding its legal rights. Perhaps the problem here is we've made the mistake of seeing Ted as an open information sharing forum instead of a media company policing its content with a science board, even when the issues under discussion are better vetted in some other way. After all science describes consciousness as "the hard question", meaning traditional scientific tools don't work well here.
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          Mar 20 2013: But don't you see the conundrum you are creating? It's not about legality, it's about TED being a media company that decides what content it is comfortable sharing. In this case, it decided after the talk was posted (due to the open nature of the TEDx YouTube channel that requires no approval), and facilitated discussion about the talks. It was also very open and transparent about the decision it made.

          If the main reason for attacking TED is that the talk went up and was then removed, TED will be forced to start reviewing talks in advance to make sure it is comfortable sharing them under its brand. And instead of a talk like Graham's being moved to a separate venue and a discussion happening, the talk will simply never be shared - just like hundreds of talks from TED Conferences that never make it to TED.com for various reasons. How is that better than what happened today?
        • Mar 20 2013: Part 1 of 2:
          @Nate Mook Thank you for providing us with a better understanding of the internal workings within TED. I understand you are trying to make the best out of a messy situation. However, the messy situation appears to be partly due to procedural issues on your end, such as TED not reviewing TEDx talks in advance to make sure they concur with TEDs editorial viewpoints. Removing them AFTER they have been posted and gained tens of thousands of viewers, supporters and comments, as this case well illustrates is an extremely awkward, painful, and ultimately damaging way of asserting editorial control over your content.

          The analogy of the New York Times brought up in this thread is a perfect one. I would argue TED is very similar to the opinion page of the New York Times – in-depth news analysis with a powerful editorial bent. For the opinion page the New York Times vets their authors, approves their content and then publishes their piece. If the piece proves to be controversial its a win-win situation for both author and media outlet. It draws in many more readers to the opinion page and results in long comment sections, letters to the editor, an increased potential for advertising, links to other blogs, etc. That is the role of a media outlet – to present both news and allow a public debate.

          The crucial point is that no matter how heated the discussion becomes, no matter how many influential or powerful voices weigh in pro or con, once the New York Times publishes the piece they STAND BY THEIR AUTHOR. The opinion piece always stays on the opinion page forever. They do not remove or sequester the opinion piece online AFTER they have published it. It remains on the opinion page where it continues to inform and inspire debate for years and years to come.
        • Mar 20 2013: Part 2 of 2:
          @Nate Mook If TED had decided to keep these videos on the official TEDx channel and simply added a disclaimer that these videos were controversial they would be respecting and honoring their TEDx event coordinators, the presenters who were invited in good faith, and perhaps most importantly the general intelligence of their viewers. The debate would have continued, however heated it may be, but it would foster discussion and debate, and like the New York Times opinion page be a win-win for all parties involved.

          However, as we all know that is not what happened. This PR debacle is the direct result of ignoring standard media protocol and heavy-handedly editorializing content after official publication rather than vetting it beforehand. It's been a frustrating exercise I'm sure for many of you, and I'm quite confident you are reviewing your procedures. But one thing is very clear - this messy affair has resulted in a dramatic tarnishing of TEDs reputation on many levels, the exact opposite of what was originally intended.

          I do hope you reconsider this move and restore the videos to their rightful place.
      • Mar 20 2013: It's relevant inasmuch as that if TED has a massive bee in it's bonnet about certain paradigms not being questioned then it should have refused to allow a conference about challenging them, or at least asked for further details, instead of waiting until some people complained and then seeing if they can abuse the offending speakers sufficiently to get back in the good books of the complainants. No?
      • Mar 20 2013: Nate, several times you write TED is a "media company"... but TED's website states "TED is a nonprofit devoted to Ideas Worth Spreading".

        Chris/TED should come clear about it. You are either a profit-seeking company with all your sponsors etc., or you are a non-profit? Is your aim private profit or advancing the public good?
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      Mar 20 2013: you have a point here. i was wondering what was going on on that tedx event. probably the entire thing does not deserve the ted logo, and it was given a go ahead by mistake. ted did not research the organizers and the speakers thoroughly enough, and only realized what kind of stuff they gave their name to after it happened. this "conversation" is an attempt to reduce the harm done, and at the same time neutralize the fanatic army of religious newage antiscience zealots.
      • Mar 20 2013: "Better a fanatical member of an army of religious newage anti-science zealots than a Hungarian who can't seem to grow a proper mustache", as Napoleon famously quipped.
    • Mar 25 2013: What tickles one's ears is not necessarily true.
  • Mar 19 2013: My last post on TED

    I am weary and disillusioned by the way the folks at Ted.com have behaved. Yes they have retracted and struck out the inaccurate and misleading comments they originally made about my “War on Consciousness” presentation, and yes they have published my rebuttal of those comments: http://blog.ted.com/2013/03/14/open-for-discussion-graham-hancock-and-rupert-sheldrake/

    But their latest tactic (see here: http://www.facebook.com/Author.GrahamHancock/posts/10151560463442354 ) is so underhand and devious that I have decided I will no longer play their game by participating any further in their ever-receding Blog pages of “discussions”, all of which are designed to distract public attention from the disastrous way they’ve handled this matter. I see now that even if the public remains engaged and continues to express outrage on this new Blog page they’ve created, TED has prepared an exit strategy. As they state here they intend to shut the conversation down completely in less than two weeks.

    It remains my hope that free thinking people everywhere who have found any merit in my “War on Consciousness” presentation will upload it wherever they are able to on the net. I guarantee that I for one will not pursue them for copyright violation and that they will have my thanks.

    Now onwards to brighter and better things!
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      Gail . 50+

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      Mar 20 2013: Thank you Graham. And now that I've ranted for about 3 hours, I too will EXIT stage left. I will grieve. Then I will find a new gathering of intellectually curious people, and I will find brighter and better.

      This behavior by TED speaks darkly.
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    Mar 22 2013: 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.

    And it is with this passion that we decided to host a TEDx event with the theme “Visions for Transition: Challenging Existing Paradigms and Redefining Values (for a more beautiful world)’. We believe that in order to deal with the diverse and complex crises converging on our planet, we need to challenge the dominant thought paradigms and radically reassess the values which govern our world. In line with Einsteins wisdom  “problems cannot be solved with the same level of thinking that created them” we saw TED as a truly special platform.

    You can understand therefore, how shocked and saddened we were when we were alerted to the news that you had decided to remove Graham and Rupert’s talk from the TEDx Youtube channel and furthermore the disrespectful way in which they were treated publicly on the TED blog where you moved them.
  • Apr 2 2013: I can add my name to those of Rupert Sheldrake and Graham Hancock as speakers who find themselves in TEDx’s crosshairs.

    I was scheduled to speak at the West Hollywood event. But my scientific credibility was questioned by TED's science advisory board in their decision to withdraw support and revoke the license of TEDxWestHollywood.

    I’ve lectured at dozens of top-tier medical schools and hospitals all over the U.S. for two decades. Although my colleagues don’t always agree with my points of view, this is the first time my scientific credibility has ever been questioned.

    My TEDx talk would have dealt with the correlations between spirituality, health, and longevity, for which there is immense evidence; and recent experimental findings that point toward a nonlocal view of consciousness for which, again, there is strong and abundant support. In view of our lack of understanding of the origins and destiny of consciousness, and considering the demographics of the TEDx followers, I thought this information would have been of considerable interest.

    As a board-certified physician of internal medicine, former chief of staff of a major hospital, author of twelve books and scores of papers on these subjects published in peer-reviewed journals, a recipient of many awards, a frequent lecturer at medical schools and hospitals, and executive editor of the peer-reviewed journal, Explore: The Journal of Science and Healing, I’d be interested in knowing from TED where I came up short.

    “A clash of doctrines is not a disaster, it is an opportunity,” Whitehead said. It should not be a reason for censorship.
    • Apr 2 2013: THANK YOU, Mr. Dossey for your succinct and kick-ass response!

      I've taken the liberty of posting your response on this thread too.

      Discuss the note to the TED community on the withdrawal of the TEDxWestHollywood license. | A conversation on TED.com ~ http://www.ted.com/conversations/17348/discuss_the_note_to_the_ted_co.html

      too bad the TED Science Board is comprised of anonymous members. in any case, I'd be interested to see an official response from TED. if the Sheldrake/Hancock threads are an indication, I doubt that TED would be capable of providing a sound and reasonable justification for explicitly pointing to Russell Targ, Larry Dossey, and Marilyn Schlitz in their decision to revoke TEDxWestHollywood's license.
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      Apr 2 2013: Thank you very much, Dr. Dossey! I hope this as well as other responses will bring TED organizers and Chris Anderson to re-examining their assumptions and questioning their own allegiances.
    • Apr 2 2013: Great reply, Larry. It is wonderful to have your voice here.
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    Mar 19 2013: As a Buddhist priest, I am naturally opposed to any kind of mind-altering drug BUT I am MORE opposed to discrimination and censorship!

    I feel deeply disappointed to discover that TED seems to have started censoring talks that do not match up to the "scientific dogma" of the "scientific advisors". Shame on you! There is no need to open separate spaces for discussions of controversial issues - let it all hang out in the open!

    No need for "fresh takes" and "separate discussions" - let the debate go on!

    "Science" does not need to be treated as a religion, and TED does not have to excommunicate "heritics" just because they don't follow the ruling dogma of the present age. With all the falsified studies funded by commercial interests, can we truly trust this ruling dogma any more than we can trust the "superstitions" of past ages?

    Ideas worth spreading should also be ideas that instigate, provoke and lead to deeper questionings!

    Open debate on the regular pages - no tricky censorship-style antics, please.
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      Gail . 50+

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      Mar 20 2013: May I repeat your well-spoken sentence? It deserves it. "Science" does not need to be treated as a religion, and TED does not have to excommunicate "heritics" just because they don't follow the ruling dogma of the present age."
    • Mar 25 2013: You clearly are not opposed to nonsense. How is movement of videos "censorship"? Graham&Rupert's ideas are not worth spreading. Religions all have differing conclusions; science converges on single conclusions.
  • Mar 20 2013: I think it's the height of hypocrisy for TED to accuse Hancock or Sheldrake or anybody else of "pseudoscience" when they, themselves, refuse to show their work. Chris Anderson's original stated reasons for removing these talks were so demonstrably ridiculous he crossed them all out. But what has replaced them? Only allusions to a super-secret Science Board and a lot of defamation. TED can't even articulate a clear reason to remove these talks, except that some people they won't name said they're bad science. Considering that one lecture was actually on philosophy of science and the other was on shamanism, that whole lotta nothing really doesn't add up to a justification for TED's actions, now does it. Show your work, TED, and prove your case, or apologize and put the lectures back.
    • Mar 21 2013: exactly. IMHO, the only thing that will settle this once and for all is for TED to restore Sheldrake and Hancock's videos in their rightful TEDx distribution channel and to apologize for its mistake of soft censoring them in the first place.
  • Mar 19 2013: Recent studies undertaken at Johns Hopkins University demonstrated that "When administered under supportive conditions, psilocybin occasioned experiences similar to spontaneously occurring mystical experiences that, at 14-month follow-up, were considered by volunteers to be among the most personally meaningful and spiritually significant of their lives."

    http://www.heffter.org/research-jhus.htm

    Psilocybin is a tryptamine closely related to DMT, the active component in Ayahuasca. Psilocybin is found in magic mushrooms. The experiences of these different substances and others are at once very different and very similar. Their 'healing' effects are widely recognised by those experienced in using them. This understanding is necessarily an underground one. The substances are illegal, so mainstream understanding of them has long suffered. Things are beginning to change on that front.

    As has been mentioned, it is difficult for a researcher to be taken seriously in the traditional scientific community if they themselves are taking the substance they're researching. This is a problem. I think we can only get so far with questionnaires and brain scans. For this reason I support Hancock's work to describe the experience in the first person. If the language he uses in doing so seems slightly crude, it is only because he is coming from a place that has been oppressed for so long that it has grown distant.
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      Mar 19 2013: I believe you're talking about Roland Griffiths' work at Johns Hopkins, which he presented at TEDxMidAtlantic in 2009. Note the nature of Griffiths' talk, and his claims. (Note that this talk was not distributed on TED.com, despite being thoroughly rooted in science — and no one is claiming "censorship.")

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LKm_mnbN9JY
      • Mar 19 2013: And note that it IS on the TEDx YT channel. And note that the person you were responding to didn't say anything about censorship.
      • Mar 19 2013: I'm confused about your response to my post. Yes I am talking about the work of Roland Griffiths, and I linked his study. I didn't say anything about censorship of Griffiths' work.
        • Mar 20 2013: My response was to Dave Troy's response to your post.
      • Swati T

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        Mar 20 2013: Why (Dave Troy) are you unable to formulate a relevant response to Lewis's post?

        You missed the point.

        I am not sure if your brain processed the text in the same way, but I suggest you go back and read it...carefully.
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      Mar 20 2013: I was pointing out, for other readers of this thread, that Griffiths talk which was fundamentally on the same topic as Hankcock's didn't generate any controversy because it was framed in a scientific context. There is a place for subjective descriptions of first-hand experiences, it just may not be TED's YouTube channel.

      Lewis' points are well made; I was merely expanding on them so that folks understand that TED is not inherently opposed to discussion of this topic, but there is a difference between a scientific talk and one which is more subjective and speculative. That difference seems to be at the core of this debate.
      • Mar 20 2013: I don't see anything wrong with a subjective account of first hand experience, and there are many examples of such on a range of topics hosted by TED.
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    Mar 22 2013: Naturally, we don’t expect TED to agree with the content of the talks, nor are we suggesting that they represent the ‘truth’. We think science offers us a kind of lens with which to view an unfathomably complex world. These speakers challenge the mainstream scientifically accepted viewpoints and this is exactly where their value lies. TED is a platform where these different points of view can be shared, debated and challenged so that we can collectively keep evolving and developing in our understanding.

    In fact, in light of this situation, we are now even stronger in our conviction that these are valuable ideas that need to be discussed and debated widely. The massive response from the TED community and the conversations which this has sparked, tells us that there is much interest in these ideas and therefore that they are highly valuable to the science debate. Indeed, if they were so totally radical and ridiculous as you suggest they are, it leads us to wonder why they have they been worthy of so much attention? Both talks have simultaneously been supported and challenged, which for us reflects a model of how the progression of scientific understanding develops and flows.

    Therefore, we do not support your actions to put the talks on separate blogs where they are hidden from the TED community, cannot be shared, and where the conversation is limited. We also oppose the lack of integrity with which they have been treated. In particular, It is obvious that the content of many of the other existing TEDtalks would not hold up to scrutiny were the same criteria applied to them. Furthermore, we hope that you would grant your community the respect to use their own faculties of discretion and reasoning with regard to the ideas and content of the talks.
  • Mar 19 2013: New and deeply disappointing TED tactic

    Just when I thought TED had seen the error of their ways and were trying to fix things I receive an email from TED Curator Chris Anderson telling me that yet another of their famous Blog pages – this one! -- has now been set up, apparently as a special standalone ghetto for discussion of my “War on Consciousness” presentation. This tactic helps to distance TED from the PR debacle they created for themselves by axing my talk from their Youtube channel in the first place (where it had attracted hundreds of comments and 132,000 views). Now not only is the presentation cut off from the discussion initiated by all those original commentators (and their ability to share it) but it is also cut off from the new discussion that followed exposure of TED’s censorship and shoddy methods – HERE: http://blog.ted.com/2013/03/14/open-for-discussion-graham-hancock-and-rupert-sheldrake/ AND HERE: http://blog.ted.com/2013/03/18/graham-hancock-and-rupert-sheldrake-a-fresh-take/ . So far there is no link back or forward between the two previous blog pages and this one. I have asked TED to provide such links as a matter of urgency and to make them prominent but this will only slightly reduce the problem, not solve it.

    I’m left reeling by this continual slicing down of my presentation and its context which is nonetheless cleverly done so that TED can say, effectively, “we’re not censoring the presentation because it is on our website.” Well yes, but in such an obscure place that pretty soon no-one will be able to find it, the whole debate and furor will be forgotten and TED will be able to move forward as though this never happened. And just in case TED aren’t allowed to pull off that disappearing act they have imposed a time-limit on this new “conversation” which they will close in less than two weeks from now.

    Wow! Way to go TED.
    • Mar 19 2013: Graham
      I don't know if you've seen this particular TEDx talk by Roland Griffiths (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LKm_mnbN9JY), but it is astonishing to see the extent to which he argues for one of the central messages of your talk. His concluding words on what is to be learned from the study of psilocybin mediated mystical states is that it may provide:

      "knowledge which I believe may ultimately be critical to the survival of the human species".

      It seems that by via some circuitous route (or some Grand Plan) you have found yourself on the cutting edge of mainstream science!
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        Mar 20 2013: Too late. Link now freezes up my computer, as did the other removed videos. Good old TED. Hide the evidence. Cover up the lies. Keep those brains locked up in those tiny prisons so that we can be controlled.
  • Mar 26 2013: Dear TED,

    I love TED Talks. I have watched more than 200 TED videos, which have introduced me to many amazing ideas. I have converted friends and family to being TED Talk watchers and sharers, and routinely have lively conversations beginning with "I saw this great TED Talk…". My wife and I look forward to attending a TED event live in the future.

    Also, I had a "psychedelic phase" some years ago, which profoundly impacted my understanding of myself, the significance of life, the boundless potential of the human instrument, and the extraordinary blindingly beautiful source from which we and all our ideas worth spreading emerge. I no longer use psychedelics. My life path took a pivot and brought me to a line of work that now taps my passion for spirit and creativity.

    In watching, sharing, and conversing about TED Talks, I feel part of a community of innovators, truth-seekers, researchers and pioneers who are willing to pursue the greatest of their potential, and willing to spur humanity onward as it slumbers and stumbles.

    In these TED Talks I have met artists, adventurers, visionaries, geeks, engineers, scientists, authors, musicians and teachers. I imagine your audience is similarly diverse. I am not a professional scientist. I also do not read any pro or pop scientific journals, and find many scientists' intellectual defenses against the profundity of consciousness/spirit unfortunate, misguided, and uninspiring.

    In short, as your viewer, I am excited to see top scientists present on your stage, but would be quickly turned off if a nameless panel of conventional scientists were curating (or censoring) your speakers.

    I watched the Graham Hancock video with interest. Actually, I'd be fascinated to see more trailblazing theories and experiments in psychedelics. I'm not sure whose benefit you are censoring him for, but a quick poll of the comments below indicates it isn't for your audience.

    Sincerely,
    Daniel

    p.s. Thanks for the introduction to Mr. Hancock.
  • Mar 24 2013: Graham is absolutely spot on,and I applaud his courage. Notes: The Egyptian icon of the Blue Lotus is one of, if not the most common icons in classical Egyptian iconology. It's psychotropic properties are, however, best utilized within a short while of harvesting because of the decay rate. The Soma of the Vedas refers both to a studied ritual and ingesting a number of plants in a mix that very probably included the Blue Lotus as well as the Suf reed., one of the few plants in the world that has both a DMT and an MAOI component. Other ingredients were added depending on the level and needs of the initiate. Eleusis was similar, though the plants were different and the ritual more appropriately designed for the prevailing Greek society, particularly with its Play of the Demeter myth. I am unsure If agree with the South American shamans attitude that Ayahuasca is the answer for the world at large. I've a strong hunch reconnection (remembering really) must come from local ground - and all that implies. This said, of course it's obvious (and unfortunately to be expected) TED is engaging both in deflection and sophistry here. Science itself has become something of a religion. In its pure form science is a very effective, but limited investigative tool that depends on the three pillars of skepticism (an open mind) , repeatable experiments and observable facts. How do the so-called sciences of psychology, economics, archaeology, sociology and so forth. stand up? And as one blogger stated, who the hell said Graham was talking science anyway?
  • Mar 20 2013: Honestly, the sort of entities that Graham describes could be easily understood to be creations of our subconscious. That makes the experience of them no less powerful nor their "revelations" less potent. I've long been convinced that the origin of our various gods are probably rooted in experiences like this. One person's "hallucination" is another's "encounter with the divine".

    The more important question is whether these encounters can be truly therapeutic or enlightening. Or the first step towards madness and addiction. Unfortunately, I don't think there is a one size fits all answer to that question.

    To those scientists who want to "frame" the talks now (after unsuccessfully trying to ban them) - why are you not out in front of this presenting alternative explanations for these experiences? The realm of human perception is well known to be subjective in its interpretation. Graham's interpretation might not be yours, so fine, present yours! And by that I mean, present a logical, believable alternative, not a shout down of Graham's interpretation (any kid can do that, you're supposed to be learned adults now!).
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    Mar 22 2013: We would like to offer our insights to you, as to why we chose to invite these speakers. We were guided by the advice that TED gives for identifying great speakers, which was as follows.

    To build a powerful speaker program, seek out extraordinary voices in your local community who have a unique story or an unusual perspective -- and who can convey it in a dynamic way.

    Local voices that few have heard before
    People who can present their field in a new light
    Perspectives that the global TED community may not have access to
    Speakers whose work fits your event theme

    Furthermore, tips for speakers include:

    Dream big. Strive to create the best talk you have ever given. Reveal something never seen before. Do something the audience will remember forever. Share an idea that could change the world.

    Controversy energizes!

    We find that Rupert and Graham meet this criteria extremely well. Please also note that Rupert Sheldrake addressed his concerns to us that in the 18 minute format, he would not be able to give a comprehensive explanation of the complex and extensive research and ideas explored in his book. To quote from our response to him, “TED is not supposed to be a source of knowledge, but one of ideas and creativity, which inspire and stimulate to further engage with them.”
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      Mar 22 2013: Good show, Amrita. Thank you for helping provide the opportunity to hear Sheldrake's and Hancock's talks. You've all catalyzed positive changes.
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    Mar 21 2013: I work in a university library, and we have titles like "The journal of psychedelic drugs"...which was later renamed "The journal of psychoactive drugs". I bet when it first came out in the 60's...that it was thought of as a bad thing by many mainstream academics. However it is a reputable source of information and has opened many doors due to its promotion.
    My university library is also open to the public. Should we also worry about people looking at this information, doing various drugs that are discussed...and then getting sued? Of course not.
    TED needs to think of itself as a library of information. Not a corporation that lives in fear of being sued, or is made to bend to the will of their owners and their personal bias.
    • Comment deleted

      • Mar 22 2013: I suppose you think that TED should behave as an ideological mouthpiece for whoever invests money in it?

        Ain't nobody got time for that.
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        Mar 22 2013: A few things about your observations are worth noting, Lime.

        You submit short, slap and run sentences which don't provide any real support about what you mention, other than to register a simple opinion. Next, most of your comments are flippant, and seem to rely strictly on the emotion of a claim phrased as an incomplete sound bite. Third, you're clearly hiding behind a pseudonym so you feel the privilege of writing whatever you want without having to be responsible for how you treat other people or even facts. And finally, most of your comments seem to lack compassion. So, are you only your comments, or are you more than that?

        And, your current understanding of what platforms are private, and what platforms are public, social trusts, needs updating. TED is a nonprofit, public, social trust, with only limited private rights. Under the law, TED *can't* do whatever it wants, but instead must conform to all the laws which govern public trusts. And part of its stated public trust contract is to serve as impartial venue for ideas which are different than what one finds in the usual media like the fact-free environments of Fox News, the Wall Street Journal and sometimes MSNBC.
  • Mar 19 2013: For years i've been having the same battle that Graham is having now - on a less public stage of course - trying to convince people of the existence of this other realm of consciousness (and all the implications of that). But when dealing with a skeptic mind, particularly of the hardcore atheistic sort like Jerry Coyne, Richard Dawkins etc, your academic credentials and heart-felt honesty mean absolutely nothing to them. In their eyes you MUST be mad, stupid or incompetent! You're an "enemy of reason" or the drugs have simply scrambled your brain!

    In academia, objectivity is praised, it has to be. But objectivity is just our awareness of the consensus reality. It's our ability to separate our own experiences from reasoned scientific argument. The best way to stay objective is to never experience anything out of the ordinary.

    A mild psychedelic trip will relieve you of your objectivity in just a few hours. But Ayahuasca is profoundly subjective, completely beyond linguistic or symbolic description, beyond 4-dimensional space-time, beyond anything. They say one of the biggest side-effects of taking Ayahuasca is becoming an artist, because art is the only way to express the experience.

    I no longer work in Academia, thankfully (I wasn't happy). Ayahuasca gave me the vision and the confidence to follow my deepest passion: music. I'm now a successful music producer and performer. I have no boss, I am completely free to do what I love, every day, and I no longer care about convincing skeptics of what I know, or proving how smart I am. I offer what i've learned with an open heart, people can take it or leave it. And I certainly don't worry about people thinking i'm crazy, in fact in the music business, a little crazy helps :)
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    Mar 22 2013: I don't know Hancock's work. I do know TED's reputation and now its perspective. After listening to this just this one of Hancock's talks, it has *nothing* to with good science or bad science. TED's suggestion - "Is this an idea worth spreading, or misinformation? Good science or bad science? What’s the evidence for either position?" - is nearly meaningless to me in this case.

    Hancock's talk crosses interdisciplinary boundaries into impassioned spirituality. I wouldn't necessarily call it science. I might call it philosophy. So, TED, when will you remove Billy Graham's talk from rotation? He might have been OK with people listening to big pharma who constantly recommend their especially damaging, especially dangerous, over-prescribed, off-schedule psychiatric drugs, or even alcohol from a daily glass of wine. I'm not.

    TED, your sponsors from their untouchable, virtual corporate states, and your anonymous scientistic board who don't have the courage of their reputations at stake have spoken. You have done their bidding. Aside from the many references to ayahuasca which seem like a polite sales talk, I'd rather put my faith in people with courage, like Hancock, to notice what's happening to the only planet capable of supporting life.

    And now, in some respects, TED is simply doing what any other big business does. It's protecting its sponsors and the party line. It doesn't make any difference that TED is a 501(c)(3). You're now acting like a corporation in which the primary mission is to perpetuate the dominant paradigm. All you have to do to find out how that's worked out for us is to look around you, and see a planet in peril from our ecocidal behaviors. Science hasn't solved what Hancock talked about, and it won't. Our values, or lack of them, are what power us.
    • Mar 22 2013: " So, TED, when will you remove Billy Graham's talk from rotation? "

      That would be a good idea.
  • Mar 21 2013: Might I suggest that Chris Anderson post the following, and then we can all be about our business:

    Graham, I'm sorry. due to the lack of a coherent internal policy, some TEDx organisers mistook our advertising blurb for the actual aims of our organisation and invited you to speak. And while I think your talk was passionate and compelling, there are some high profile bloggers and others who don't like you(r message) and who will make trouble for TED if we allow it to stay. TED is a global brand and as such we have to play things safe. We are therefore taking the rather embarrassing decision to remove your talk from our YT channel. I am very sorry we were not able to be upfront about this in the first place, and that we tried to so publicly spin it as being about the veracity of the content of your talk. It is not. I am also sorry that the first set of complaints we concocted were false, and that they included some comments of a personal nature that should never have been made. Please accept my sincerest apologies for any distress and/or damage to your reputation this may have caused. And while I know you will be disappointed, I am sure you can take comfort from the fact that in the discussions your talk generated, many articulate and well-educated people took time out to support you and your message. Sincerely wishing you all the best for the future.
    • Mar 21 2013: Brilliant Steve.

      Why does this discussion board have strange restrictions? I'd like to give you a thumbs up but it says "You have reached the weekly maximum number of ratings for this user". I am an active commentator in these debates and want to express my support.
      • Mar 21 2013: I guess it's so that the voting is not skewed by one or two people upvoting everything that supports their view, thus making them more selective in what they can visibly choose to support . Nothing very sinister in my view. Thanks for your support.
  • Mar 19 2013: TED is simply trying to dilute the wave of negative reaction to its unthinkable cencorship action by creating the “fresh take” and separate discussions for each talk. In this way newcomers will not be able to read the history of the debate and the interesting views of all participants. In the meantime TED remains silent…
  • Apr 2 2013: Seemingly intelligent people here call plants "drugs" while calling real drugs medicine... how did this happen? Over 200,000 people a year die from Dr prescribed drugs but you wont see that on the nightly news for example. Now we want to censor people? who is pushing that agenda? speakers must speak subjects approved by a... panel? a group? a... who will choose what we should see and what we should not see? where does it end? What was TED for in the first place but to have a chance to hear speakers that normally we would not know anything about... so.... again. Who really can say who speaks and who does not? no one. When that happens TED loses all its magic, its just another Time magazine owned by the Pharmaceutical companies with paid for articles and ruled by deception. Thanks Ted, was nice to know you, good bye.
  • Mar 20 2013: One has to take one's hat off for the 'cleverness' with which TED is managing this. If you create enough pages on the subject, cleaning up the comments each time a new one is created, and then keep forever insisting on further 'debate' without ever addressing the criticism or taking remedial action to correct your errors (like a prominent apology for your atrocious treatment of your own speakers/guests), you can probably get away with anything, can't you? Congrats Chris and TED. The effect is that, I, for one, won't attend or speak again at a TED-related event. Whatever else might happen, you lost me, in profound disgust.
  • Sascha M

    • +14
    Mar 20 2013: I find the arguments of the defenders of TED's decision rather weak. The "curatorial decision" argument falls flat, since the video was posted already, and was only removed after "scientific" advisors complained that it is "outside orthodox scientific thinking." If that's your yardstick, good luck coming up with many "ideas worth spreading."
    May I point out that "Jil Bolte Taylor's stroke of insight" video has reached over 10M views arguably because she tells us how she personally experienced an altered state of consciousness. I see Graham Hancock's talk in the same vain, with the only difference that he talks about substances, that are currently mostly banned from scientific inquiry. Luckily this is changing, and so will the quite unfounded fear of entheogens the more studies are undertaken (exhibit 1: NYU psilocybin study http://www.nyucanceranxiety.org/)
    • Mar 20 2013: The curator decision argument, unless it's actually based on something other than the curator's right to do as he pleases, renders this whole discussion irrelevant. Therefore anyone who raises it is conceding defeat on that basis alone.
  • Mar 28 2013: Here's Hancock's talk in a nutshell.

    1. Turns out humans may have been using visionary plants and experiencing altered states ever since we first made our presence known on this planet.
    2. Many ancient cultures also seem to have been using a variety of such plants to attain altered states.
    3. I took some and it had a profound effect - the phenomenology of the experience was extraordinary and it seems, much as preliminary scientific studies suggest, to offer a potentially powerful healing and teaching tool. It stopped my overuse of cannabis for example.
    4. The experience also gives us a strong sense of our relationship to the earth and may touch on some deep philosophical questions of who and what we are as people.
    5. We are currently treating the earth very badly and yet we seem unable to take obvious, and appropriate actions to stop this.
    6. Given 5 (and 1-4), but even if one ignore's them, it is a scandal that governments have cordoned off this area of consciousness with threat of a lengthy prison sentence if one dares have a look.
    7. We must demand the sovereign right of freedom to explore our own consciousness or we cannot be called free at all, and it might just be very beneficial for us and the earth.

    Which of these, if any, do people disagree with?
    • Mar 28 2013: Well said, Mr. Stark. This is a very lucid summary.

      I wish posters attempting to discredit these men would stick to the issues presented in their talks. The current spate is obfuscating the purpose of these debates with long-winded and (what I consider to be) irrelevant prattle, and are not contributing clarity, but regression.

      TED had originally expressed a wish that their shabby mistreatment be vindicated in these debates. I'm not sure that is possible. Their initial "pseudo" claims may just be positively indefensible.
  • Mar 21 2013: Re: Scientific quality of Graham Hancock's talk: I just shared it on Facebook as "The best TED talk ever".

    Indeed, as a scientist myself, investigating emotion for over 25 years, I have lost faith in academic science as a genuine endeavor of curiosity and open inquiry. Instead, I join the ranks of the "fallen" scientists who refuse the dogmas that Rupert has set forth - for the emotional system can only be fully understood when said liberation occurs.

    But what I find even more disconcerting is that better science of emotion THAT FALLS WITHIN THE DOGMAS is equally resisted by "peers" who do not even venture beyond the ever-narrowing disciplines of their given field.

    The better science suggests that EMOTION is actually an ENTIRE SENSE. Perhaps the first to have emerged, and a central component of the "qualia" of consciousness as well as the primary mechanism of motor control in living systems. It performs the biophysical function of "self-regulation" but limited models of "self" - the minds inside meatheads dogma - deny even the central intimacy of emotion and the immune system and its self/not-self distinction as well as genetic and epigenetic regulatory signalling. (There does indeed seem to be something like Rupert's morphogenic fields required to explain the nonlocality and collectivity suggested by the biophysical feedback dynamics involved, but EM fields are sufficient for all classical manifestations.)

    My paper about this is freely accessible at: www.emotionalsentience.com and I am happy to share my interactions with editors (reviewers) who find it "a poor fit for the aims" of the appropriate theoretical journal, yet who clearly either do not understand it or find it embarrassing to their own positions. But the idea that emotion is a sense would seem simple enough to comprehend, even without the mountains of evidence I've collected. One need look no further than the molecular circuitry of the crude sensory system of the E. coli bacterium to see this).