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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 do not see TED as a censor. They are curators, they take their decisions. I am a curator too, and I know perfectly well that you have to apply your principles, you have to decide whats in and whats out, and it costs you white nights and a lot of preoccupations. As a curator and prominent person or institution you will always be attacked, no matter what you do, This is why it is so hard to be true to oneself, and it requires years of training and effort not to try to please everybody. TED is true to itself I believe, and I respect that. It is not a matter to be right or wrong about a talk, is it about integrity, Maybe I do not agree with those principles, and I am free to stop following TED. But TED integrity is there and derserves respect.
    • Mar 19 2013: The email sent to the TEDx organisers clearly shows that they intended to censor the talks.

      When they made a concession (after complaints), they prefaced it with lies about the talks. Lies that they eventually retracted. And so far no apology has been issued.

      That's an odd way of defining integrity.
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        Mar 19 2013: Not sure where you got that. Here's a paragraph from that original letter. "The talks won’t simply disappear from the web. Instead, we propose to feature them in a new section of TED.com that allows for debate..."

        The reason that paragraph is in there is precisely because we intended from the start that we would NOT censor the talks. It's a pity there's so much disinformation out there.
        • Mar 19 2013: The video's are removed from your official youtube channel in other words they are censored from your official youtube channel aren't they?

          They are on vimeo now, but they are restricted so they don't show up in vimeo's search engine. When you search for a video on google which is on vimeo, google shows this video in an excellent way but because of your restriction on this vimeo channel that possibility is supressed.

          Which means it is being censored.

          Check your dictionary mr Anderson.
        • Mar 20 2013: Distributing a video, unedited, to hundreds of thousands of people does not equate to censoring it.
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        Mar 20 2013: @bart "When you search for a video on google which is on vimeo, google shows this video in an excellent way but because of your restriction on this vimeo channel that possibility is supressed. Which means it is being censored. "

        Er.... but if you actually try googling "Graham Hancock TED Talk", it takes you right to the blog post featuring his video. It really is time to drop the censorship claims. You can criticize us for slapping a watch-with-care warning on these talks. But censorship it ain't.
        • Mar 20 2013: OK, let's forget the censorship issue and deal with something more substantive.

          Are you going to say anything about how the initial analyses of Sheldrake and Hancock's talk came to be published, and are you going to apologize to these speakers for any distress and/or damage to their reputation it may have caused?
        • Swati T

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          Mar 20 2013: Practically speaking, once a video is put on the internet, it is out there and will not 'disappear'. So whether the talks can be accessed on TED's site or somewhere else is irrelevant. It is also irrelevant whether TED chooses to 'select' (read censor) certain talks. That is up to TED since it is an private organization.

          What is inexcusable is TED's persistent denial that they actively tainted the reputation of these two speakers.

          Best part...no apology was offered. Neither privately nor publicly. None.

          THAT is what the real issue is.
          THAT is what TED refuses to address.
        • Mar 20 2013: Mr Anderson. In 2012 there was a video of Jim Vieira which was removed.

          There was a very clear response from TED
          what exactly was wrong about mr Vieira's talk

          Why are you refusing to clearify exactly what is wrong with the talks of Mr Hancock and mr Sheldrake?

          Why don't you make a statement like TED did with Jim Vieira in 2012.

          Why isn't there a list with references with timeframes in which is pointed out where the Speakers are plain wrong?

          Why are you doing this? Why don't you just explain expose the pseudoscience in a very clear way so we all know what we are looking at.

          All TED is saying: "Well it is pseudo science because eh... it is!"

          Why in Gods or Science name do you think that that will do?

          Why won't you give a thourough answer mr Anderson? I really really do not understand this and I am not the only one, and it is not because I am stupid.

          I just want to know why TED is convinced why these talks are pseudoscience!
        • Mar 20 2013: Here's one of the problems Chris. Every time the word "censorship" comes up you seem to be about the least busy man in Christendom, prepared to endlessly debate the finer points of what "suppression" means. And the same applies to most of the TEDsters who turned up to lecture us on what constitutes censorship. But, and this is the issue, whenever we try to get to the nitty-gritty of how we will proceed there is only thunderous silence. The only comments TED as an organisation has made in this respect, has been the science board's complaints as posted on the intro page to this discussion, but the points made there have been dispatched in less time than it took to read the previous concerns of your science board, which were likewise dispatched in less time than it took me to write this.

          So here we are, you asked a question about Hancock's talk, and the answer is that the science board got it wrong again. What would you have us, who are interested, do for the next 13 days?
    • Mar 19 2013: So you never ever made a wrong decision.
    • Mar 19 2013: With statements like yours TED finally exposed its true coordinates. In a way it is comforting to know what it was all about. But, seriously, do not expect the real thinkers and innovators, those who push the limits and create wisdom, to support you anymore. You will certainly feel the repercussions of this incident and they will not be good ones.
      Because in a way you tricked the community in believing that you were a truly open forum. And open forums have the selfrespect and the sense of responsibility not to behave this way. From now on you will be respected as a media company, with specific strategy and agenda. Good for you, but in the end, when the curtain falls, deep inside all of you there will be regret...
    • Mar 20 2013: I think that most of us are aware that TED is exercising it's right as curator (although there are strong suspicious regarding third party influence. Stakeholders hold stakes, afterall).

      The backlash has to do with judgement and criticism of that curation.

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