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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 19 2013: Of course TED entirely has the right to decide what and what should not be posted. However, I expected TED of all organizations to be in support of emerging psychedelic research and anything geared towards the possible therapeutic value of such substances. The fact that they choose not to be associated with it is disappointing because it shows a lack of willingness to embrace *risky* ideas. What is more valuable than the ideas that are risky? The ones that really bring our beliefs into question?

    This is all my opinion of course and I'm not pointing the finger at TED saying they are an organization not worthy of attention. I think what upsets people is the fact that they believed TED was an organization that would be first to back up the riskiest ideas, whether they're popular or not. It's understandable that TED would be concerned with their academic credibility, but again what's disappointing to us is that they would put that factor above what is truly thought-provoking.

    Of course it's their right to choose what they share and what they don't. However, in my eyes and according to the "About TED" page, the organization is first and foremost about spreading thought-provoking ideas. Unless it's clearly spreading something illegal, if a talk is thought provoking it shouldn't even be a question of whether or not it's posted.
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      Mar 19 2013: To the contrary, TED has welcomed discussion about psychedelic research, as long as its rooted in research and scientific study.

      Here's a talk from Roland Griffiths about psilocybins from TEDxMidAtlantic:

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LKm_mnbN9JY
      • Mar 19 2013: Psychedelics go beyond science and research, it is a spiritual and social issue also. There are many talks on TED which are not rooted in research and scientific study but in personal experience, creative discourse, and opinion. Until psychedelic culture is allowed such an avenue of expression in public, the full value of psychedelics will remain obscured, and psychedelic people and their insights will remain marginal and inaccessible.

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