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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:



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 19 2013: How quick and easy it is to jump to the conclusion of sensorship and high handed paternalism. How interesting that Grahams talk has provoked this debate.
    Im not a quantum physicist or and rocket scientist. Ive not read his books. I looked at the first 5 mins of the talk and could not watch anymore.
    I felt turned off by the tone and mixing of “science” and conjecture. It seemed to invite me with the same charm of the proselytising prophet to be persuaded of something which had attraction but little solidity in anything I could test or access. Belief in the conjecture is the only access.
    I don’t care about enzyme inhibitors – and they don’t matter to the discussion, they do add a tone of gravity and status but are not relevant and this is where I turned off. I felt I was being sold.
    Now if you bought his gig I think may have been your suckered into some quirky world. And like the fresh Christian convert perhaps you need others to come over to your side to support your position.
    I don’t think TED is guilty of anything. This is quite reasonable cautioning about a man who has often been on the edge, and who makes his living by creating debate which (and here I regret my own cynicism creeps through) fuel the sales of his books.
    At a deeper level I suspect people WANT to believe this stuff, and with their cry’s of censorship etc they project onto rational scientists their own subtle (maybe even sub conscious) confusion about what is science and what is dogma.
    • Mar 19 2013: Have you ever had a psychedelic experience Peter ?
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        Mar 19 2013: Experience is a qualification lack of experience is disqualification ? Humm .let me think about that. Actually lets cut to the chase

        Whether I have or not is not reverent.
        • Mar 19 2013: Well was Graham discussing science or his persoanl experience and his veiw on the world. An idea of his he felt is worth sharing. You know what I resonate with his message becuase I have had psychedelic experiences so I do believe it is relevant but to slander him they way you do I believe is out of line.
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        Mar 20 2013: Keen, where Peter is concerned, he is the uninformed criticizing the informed.
    • Mar 19 2013: It's been very quick and easy for you, yes, because, as you admit, you didn't even watch the talk. Preferring instead to project onto us some notion that we have projected some false view onto the talk you couldn't bear to watch.

      As regards rational scientists - this may interest you http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LKm_mnbN9JY
    • Mar 19 2013: Well, from now on you can enjoy TED without trash. Don't worry, be happy... and live your linear life...
    • Mar 19 2013: Hi Peter,

      If Hancock mentioned enzyme inhibitors it was probably only in the context of explaining how the brew works. (Without certain enzyme inhibitors present in the stomach, the DMT will not be absorbed into the bloodstream.)

      Also, your suspicions about Hancock's financial alleged financial motivation and the will to believe can just as easily cut both ways with skeptics.
    • Mar 19 2013: It is not possible to understand what Ayahuasca is without understanding the enzyme inhibiting aspect of the brew.

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