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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: I’m speaking here as a TED Fellow, and a professor who dances in between science and social science (I run a remote sensing/GIS lab, and do survey/excavation work in Egypt). I am teaching a class this term on pseudoscience in archaeology/ “hoaxes”/documentary issues a la “Ancient Aliens” -History Channel. This dialogue this TED “discussion” has created in the archaeological community is fascinating (where Mr Hancock‘s name is generally cited alongside Robert Bauval and Erik Von Daniken). It is fascinating what people will say for fame/money/attention/controversy/promotion of racist etc views. I will not comment on the talk, which speaks for itself, but on pseudoscience in general.
    • Mar 19 2013: Hi Sarah,
      I am wondering what you found objectionable in the talk since it wasn't on Hancock's archaeological work (which I don't find compelling in the least) but rather on consciousness.
    • Mar 19 2013: So now a thinly veiled accusation of racism rears its head. Whatever next - Graham Hancock eats babies! Why not try that - might I suggest a new blog entitled, Should Bay Eaters be Allowed to Give a TED Talk. As Butthead put it, or was it Beavis, Stop in the name of all which does not suck!
    • Mar 19 2013: Well Sarah I remotely sense that you are biased and did not study these talks nor the allegations or the replies and probably never put any effort in checking these replies.

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