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This conversation is closed.

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

  • 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
    • 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.

    • D S

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      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

      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

      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
    • 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 .

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      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: 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 .

      • +2
      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.
  • 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 ;)

        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.
  • 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 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.
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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 .

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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."


    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.")

      • 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

        • +2
        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.
  • 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.


    p.s. Thanks for the introduction to Mr. Hancock.
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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.
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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.
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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 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!).
  • 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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        Gail .

        • 0
        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 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?
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      Mar 24 2013: Good show, Mr Voohees. Well written and honest.
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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.
  • 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: 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 :)
  • 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 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).
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    Mar 21 2013: Consciousness - the final frontier. We cannot be stopped. Too many around the globe are exploring it - whether with or without drugs. We are evolving as a species. The die has been cast. TED cannot stop it. It can try to stymie it, as it has done, but TED is hurt as its reputation for excellence is lost.

    There is much to criticize TED for: Its anti-intellectualism, its anti-science, its dishonesty, its self-aggrandized hypocrisy, and more. But when this thread expires in 12 days, what will YOU do about it?

    There are many in this forum who are familiar with both consciousness exploration and the new sciences that are exploring consciousness, thanks to amazing insights received from quantum mechanics.

    Let us flood this site with a new kind of conversation - one that brings what we know to those who cannot afford to attend a TED conference, and who we now know will not be able to find a relevant video at TEDs site.

    It's all in the questions, isn't it? Words are powerful things. We are not powerless because we have words, no matter what TED has decided to make itself into. Let us not be victims. Let US do what is right.
    • Mar 25 2013: You know nothing of evolution. The suppression of nonsense is not "anti-intellectualism".
  • 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

    • +15
    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 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…
  • 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 20 2013: "Condemnation without investigation is the height of ignorance." ~Albert Einstein
    • Comment deleted

  • Mar 19 2013: "There’s only one rule for the conversation. Comments need to be phrased in respectful terms. Those that are intemperate or unnecessarily insulting will be removed."

    However, TED can publicly insult and ridicule their guest.
  • Mar 19 2013: I guess when you have partners like the ones below you need to toe the line.

    TED Talks Partners

    American Express
    Fidelity Investments
    Kohl's Cares
    American Express Project
    HP Color Project
    Johnnie Walker Ideas Project
    Pfizer Health Project
    Shell Urbanization Project
    TOMS Giving Project
    Sponsoring TED
    • Mar 19 2013: Can someone explain to me the significance of having these companies as partners, its correlation to the removal of the video, and how this relates to disparagement of Hancock's talk and Hancock himself?

      [Edited 3/19 at 2:30pm for clarity.)
      • Mar 19 2013: Well TED the non-profit organisation is sponsered by large corporations seen above.

        Therefore making tedX lectures mainstream internet essentially. A space for ideas and corporate agendas to coexist, and perhaps almost exclusively for the benefit of the latter.

        Whereas mainstream broadcast TV represents social engineering in its unplugged, explicit, coarse forms, from the mind-numbing surreal "reality" shows; to the condescending pundit prognostications of the faux-news reporting mainly rubbish.

        Mainstream TV hosts the hardcore social programming, the tedX lectures represent the fine art form of mainstream deceptive programming in my opinion.
        • Mar 19 2013: I still do not follow your logic and I'm not sure your argument holds much efficacy. (I'm actually rather confused about it receiving ten upvotes so far.)

          TED is partnered with TOMS shoes and therefore is spreading some corporate agenda? TOMS doesn't want us taking ayahuasca to explore consciousness? Lynda.com wants to keep us materialist zombie-like consumers? What is your point? Is this your point?
      • Mar 19 2013: Don't worry about it. Maybe one day you will understand my point maybe not. life goes on.
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        Gail .

        • 0
        Mar 20 2013: Let me try it this way: A house divided against itself cannot stand. TED must now choose between money and profits.

        If, as it appears, TED chooses the money, and defames neuroscience as pseudo science, then it supports money. If where the new science is taking us turns mainstream, many of those companies would be put out of business.

        Perhaps there are no corporate sponsors' representatives on the TED board. Perhaps it is just the TED board that lacks any evolved form of critical thinking skills. Perhaps there are no "awakened" people on the TED staff. If so, my grief is amplified.

        And I just added a thumbs up to the list of corporate sponsors.
  • Mar 19 2013: Discussion about the merits and validity of Graham Hancock's talk are almost beside the point now. The point is that many previously enthusiastic followers of TED talks are now disillusioned with TED because of what they've done, and now they're in a tight spot of their own making.

    What we believed before--the view that TED itself has propounded up to this point--was that TED was a forum for significant current ideas, the "Ideas worth spreading" stated in the slogan. No one actually believed that TED had authorial endorsement of the content that appeared on its forums. They were distributing the information, and critical evaluation of that information is up to us. This is the spirit of conversation and inquiry.

    What TED has done now is take up that function of critical evaluation for us, saying, effectively, "we'll decide what's a valid idea, and then feed you only approved content." In doing so, they've demonstrated exactly the kind of closed-minded, closed-paradigm censorship that both Graham Hancock and Rupert Sheldrake have alluded to in their presentations.

    TED can admit they've been wrong about this and see this as a growing opportunity. Or they can now stand in open and obvious view to the world as an organization with an agenda and a curriculum more tightly controlled than that of the average university under academic freedom requirements, and a seriously questionable claim to inquiry and openness.
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    Mar 22 2013: ***OPEN LETTER FROM TEDxWHITECHAPEL TEAM*** Please join our call to TED to take the best course of action for all.

    Dear Chris, Lara, and the TED team

    We, the TEDxWhitechapel team - the initiators and co-curators of the event - have deeply reflected on your actions to remove the talks of two of our speakers Rupert Sheldrake and Graham’s Hancock from the official TEDx Youtube channel. We wish to clearly and openly express our views on the matter with the intention of constructively contributing to the discussion as well as to highlight potential pathways for moving forward which are mutually beneficial to all parties involved; our speakers, the TED corporation, and the TED community.
    • Mar 22 2013: A very welcome and eloquent request to TED to consider their actions concerning this issue. Coming as it is from someone directly affiliated with the TED organisation, and moreover a curator of these talks, I'm sure a lot of the people who have taken the time to comment on this thread, and on others will appreciate what you have said here. From what you say concerning the guideline criteria that you were following in choosing speakers it is quite obvious that both Hancock and Sheldrake sit comfortably within these parameters.Let us all hope now that your very reasonable request to the TED team is taken up with good grace and these fascinating talks are reinstated.
    • Mar 22 2013: Thankyou :)
    • Mar 23 2013: thanks for this very eloquent response from TEDxWhitecapel. now this is an Idea Worth Spreading! i'm spreading the word.

      ~ http://www.c4chaos.com/2013/03/tedxwhitechapel-calls-out-ted-to-reinstate-sheldrake-and-hancocks-talks/
  • Mar 21 2013: 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

    but before Sam Harris and Graham Hancock, there was Terence McKenna. i wonder if McKenna would be allowed to present at TED/TEDx if he were alive today. judging by TED's reaction to Hancock's talk, i doubt that even the great Psycheldelic Bard would've had a place in the world of TED. good thing he's still alive and riffing on the internet.

    Terence Mckenna - Take back your mind! ~ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jf7qkDSFbzc
    • Mar 21 2013: I love that post by Sam Harris. I'd love to see him speak on TED about psychedelics. Surely he is straight, sober, and scientifically minded enough to be allowed to speak even if TED must limit its self to mainstream speakers?

      Terence McKenna on TED, that would be worth seeing. Truly worth seeing. I have often thought about who amongst the passed I would most like to see speak on TED - Aldous Huxley, Buckminster Fuller, Marshall McLuhan, but most of all Terence McKenna.
      • Mar 21 2013: Sam Harris has spoken at TED, but on a different topic (science and morality). It is an excellent talk too.
  • Mar 19 2013: What is science and what is pseudo science? A little lesson in history in 1612 Galileo's began to encounter serious opposition to his theory of the motion of the earth that he taught after Copernicus. Thus began Galileo's trouble with the Catholic Church.

    Today all of Galileo's ideas about the motion of the earth are clearly accepted as good science, were they pseudo science in 1612? I find it alarming that TED who have blundered through this whole debacle regarding Graham Hancock and Rupert Sheldrake's talks continue to use the "science and pseudo science" labels as some kind of validation for their abrupt censorship. There is no need to try and mask the censorship by furiously back pedalling and sticking the talks in a hard to acces area of the TED web site. TED should now start using the motto "Ideas worth spreading but only if they are not too controversial"
    • Mar 20 2013: The whole issue of pseudoscience vs science is a red-herring. Surely the question is whether the gist of the idea expressed, or any part of it, is any good and whether it might actually spark some light in some mind or other. Not whether the idea conforms to some definition which is completely ill-suited to a 20 minute talk format. To me this has only been raised because of TED's repeated failure to identify anything of note that was actually wrong with the talk. And that's hardly surprising because the reason for the complaint was the name Graham Hancock and the books he wrote which he didn't discuss here.
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      Gail .

      • +1
      Mar 20 2013: According to this TED link, anything that attempts to merge science and spirituality (read consciousness) is pseudoscience. So is neuro-science. (neuro-science??????? How amazing) Apparently they don't like what the "SCIENCE" is saying about consciousness or the brain. They call evidence found in this study, the basis of a "religion".

  • Apr 2 2013: "They read all the sacred texts and call themselves scholars.
    They make a thousand pilgrimages to the Hall of Science,
    and add the suffix Ph.D to their names.
    They wield their words bravely like a sword
    and imagine themselves warriors.
    In Truth, they have done nothing."
    We should give John Hoopes credit for stamina if nothing else. At times he must have felt like an antelope in the veldt being attacked by hyenas. Even if his arguments were often weak, opinionated, full of logical and even factual errors, he held up well, A bellweather, described as that ball in spray paint that stirs the paint when the can is shaken.
    As for "Ideas worth sharing"? This debate has touched into the most important matters of human existence.

    From the beginning there are those among us who have sought answers to life's great questions. As humans we've gone through the available pharmacy, experimenting with whatever's on the shelf - drumming, whirling, breath techniques, singing, symbolic ritual - and yes, an enormous variety of psychotropic substances many of which can be found right outside your door - barley, Syrian rue, mushrooms, cacti, datura, even many common grasses. There are more powerful substances than Ayahuasca in use - Verola, Yopo. Toad sweat. The road is a confusing one, the rules largely hidden. Trails may appear promising only to lead to dead ends. . .or chasms. The strength and clarity of the travelers intent seems to be the crucial factor. It's said there are teachers who know the way. We all have our favorite guru, guide, professor, shaman or priest. Hidden schools. Unfortunately the real ones are far fewer than we might like . Yet it's not all BS. As for the role of science in the search, I'll let Einstein answer that - "The intuitive mind is a sacred gift and the rational mind a faithful servant. We have created a society that honors the servant and has forgotten the gift."
  • Apr 2 2013: TED, you let yourselves down by your recent behaviour. I was shocked, having admired you for so long. It's so out of character. Are you having a bad hair day? Does the thought of a paradigm shift in human understanding disturb you or is this blog your latest method of engaging an audience? Whether that was your intention or not, I want to thank the many brilliant and eloquent commentators on this and the sister debate on Rupert Sheldrake's talk who have inspired me with ideas that are truly worth spreading.

    Thank you, everyone.
  • Mar 26 2013: This format that TED has created for discussing this issue is a real head scratcher. Did we really need two weeks of debate on this subject?

    Shouldn't the science board have been part of these discussions? Maybe float some objections out our way so that they can see how they're received? Maybe put some other minds to work on whether these are reasonable or not?

    The way this is set up, we all put in all sorts of comments over an extended period of time and then when it's all done the science board gets the last word. If they cave in and allow the videos back up, then it's all good.

    But what if they come up with a new set of objections and we don't like them? Then what? We haven't had a chance to see them beforehand or discuss them, so they'll be coming out of the blue. We're right back where we started. There are a lot of people covering this. I've tried to make a list of them on one of my blog posts, but it's way outdated by now: (I have 24 listed at the bottom of the post.)

    As Sheldrake pointed out, he has nothing to argue about because the Science board hasn't weighed in.

    It's not like everyone is just going to pack up and go home. No, the fight will continue and a lot of people will still be unhappy with TED.

    This is screwy.
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    Mar 24 2013: “Thanks TED, for giving Mother Ayahuasca her big break! :)”

    Metaphor # 1:

    Let’s pretend the TED organization happened to be around in the 16th-century. Their mission was to organize “Agoras” all over Europe. Let’s say Nicolas Copernicus, Johannes Keppler, or Galileo Galilei happened to give a TEDx talk on heliocentrism. Based on the recent events, is it reasonable for us to assume that no matter how forward-thinking and revolutionary the idea of the sun being the centre of our solar system might be, TED curators would have stopped printing transcripts of the talk and spreading it with the public as soon as they realized the potential consequences of being affiliated with such a controversial subject?

    Fearing the judgement of mainstream scientific minds and the masses of the time, would TED curators maybe move on to dismiss the idea as “pseudo-science” and “pseudo-astronomy”? Would they maybe leave one single record of the idea tucked away somewhere on their vast library, so as to protect themselves from the accusation of censorship by the minority of supporters of a heliocentric view of the world? What ya think?

    (...) I think the issue with TED censoring these talks has made a rapidly increasing division of modern society very clear. To us on this side of the “psychedelic fence”, the deep frustration comes from knowing that a handful of people who happen to have the incredible power of choosing which ideas will be propagated through such a wide-reaching platform like TED are able to dismiss Hancock’s talk as an idea NOT worth spreading without ever having experienced anything he talked about.

    > After years experiencing a frustrating writer's block, I suddenly felt an urge to write down my thoughts on this issue. After a long day of writing and re-writing, I finished my first blog post ever. What I wrote above is a very small part of it. You can read the rest, including 2 other metaphors, and see some cool pics, here:

    >> http://ventusetmare.tumblr.com/
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      Mar 25 2013: That's a mighty worthwhile metaphor, Camila Mendes.
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        Mar 25 2013: Thanks Michael! :) Here's another one:

        Metaphor # 2:

        Let’s take a minute to imagine a dystopian futuristic world where humans no longer sleep due to pills and bio-technology mass-produced by corporations to keep us awake and working 24/7. Hundreds of years go by and humans eventually forget what sleep is and, consequently, what dreaming is too. Generation after generation, our need for, memory of, and any knowledge related to sleeping and dreaming are intentionally wiped out of our minds.

        Then one day, an archaeologist finds the ruins of an ancient pharmacy. He finds a bottle of something called melatonin. He reads on the back of the bottle that melatonin is not an artificial substance as it naturally occurs in our bodies at night to help humans “fall asleep.” He doesn’t know what that means, but his curiosity gets the best of him and he courageously decides to take a few pills to see what happens. Within half an hour, he’s sleeping for the first time in his life. He then experiences intense vivid dreams, full of visions and insights about his childhood and relationships, about his self and his life and the nature of the universe. When he wakes up, he’s so completely transformed by this unique and profound experience that he rushes to tell his family about it. But to his disappointment and frustration, they don’t believe him.

        See - they cannot understand what sleep is. They cannot grasp the idea of closing their eyes for a long period of time, having their alert, awakened minds turn off, and seeing visions of the past, present, and future flash behind their eye lids. The concept is way too distant from their reality. So because they have never experienced anything like it, they have no reason to believe dreaming is even possible. They think the dreamer has gone mad or is trying to pull some kind of trick on them for his own selfish purposes.
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        Mar 25 2013: But the dreamer knows in every single cell in his body that he has experienced something real. There’s just no way he can deny the reality of what has happened to him. And the whole time, all he’s saying is: “Here - try it for yourself, you’ll know what I mean.”

        But his family doesn’t want to go to sleep. They’re too busy being awake. And truthfully, most are too absorbed in their own self-righteousness to entertain the idea they might be wrong. Some are actually scared, some don’t have the time, some just don’t care. Regardless of their motives or lack of knowledge, they all agree on disagreeing with the dreamer. They actually believe they don’t need to try any pill to know that the dreamer is wrong. Yep, that is their logic - they don’t even need to try it because they just “know” that what he’s talking about is not possible.

        However, no matter how strongly they hold on to their beliefs, at the end of the day, they ARE wrong. Because in reality, dreaming and sleeping ARE possible, and the dreamer DID experience them. And even if the idea that sleeping and dreaming don’t exist is defended by the majority of people in that world, that doesn’t make them simply stop existing. And the dreamer knows that, because, again, he experienced them first-hand. So unless anybody in his family decides to take a stand, disagree with all the other family members, and give their brother dreamer the benefit of the doubt - unless they decide to give this damn pill a try, they will never, ever truly understand what the heck he’s talking about. They will die thinking he was crazy, or a liar. And the dreamer will die knowing they were wrong.

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        Mar 25 2013: Now all you have to do to make the story above a direct metaphor for today’s world is replace melatonin for another naturally-occurring substance: DMT, which, yes, is also found in our bodies (it’s actually what makes us dream), as well as in most animals and plants on Earth, and of course, in Ayahuasca and other entheogens. Then you replace dreaming and sleeping with the profound “awakening” and healing that happens during entheogenic experiences, replace the dreamer with all those who have experienced this “awakening” and healing first-hand, and replace the dreamer’s family with the majority of contemporary society who hasn’t had such experiences.

        Guess what human family: no matter how strongly you believe that what Hancock and so many of us are talking about is nothing more than “pseudo-science”, that does not make any of our experiences less real, profound, and potentially Earth-saving. Which is why, as you can tell, many of us are so passionately engaged in this debate and determined to defend the fact that the entheogenic experience IS an idea worth spreading. We have learned from history that what mainstream science tells us to believe is not always right. And based on our own experiences, we know that if you don’t take the “pill” at some point in your lifetime, yes, you might die thinking we’re “cuckoos”. But we’ll die knowing you’re wrong.
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    Mar 24 2013: Blogger Craig Weiler weighs in on TED's inappropriate tactics against Sheldrake and Hancock:

    " Having a discussion, but choosing to ignore it and rely on its board of materialist scientists instead.
    Removing both videos from the main page and quarantining both of them
    Defaming the the two presenters by claiming their talks were unscientific
    Presenting reasons for removing the talks that are so ludicrous as to be an obviously transparent attempt at ideological censorship
    Failing to acknowledge this ideological censorship for what it is
    Failing to directly address the rebuttals of both presenters
    Holding another debate, and splitting them in two even though the issues for both presentations were essentially the same
    Removing the ability to see the size of the debate or to jump to a particular section of it without a tedious and difficult process of sorting and counting
    Failing again to directly address the objections of both presenters to this new format (there are currently no objections raised against the presentations, so there is nothing for either of them to debate.)
    Creating a situation where their science board will have the last word.
    Dragging out the present debate for two weeks to wear down the opposition.
    Failing to acknowledge Sheldrake’s call for a debate with the science board "

    "It is all evasiveness, stonewalling and general pettiness. This is not what people do when they know that they are right; this is what they do when they know that they are wrong. "

    Kudos, Craig!

    • Comment deleted

      • Mar 24 2013: Lime Crime, please give us something to work with. Show us an argument against the content of Craig's post.
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        Mar 24 2013: Yo, Limey, I've got something I can use your help with. I've been given some land in Florida I'd like you to have a look at. You can handle that on your own, right? Please let me know soon in case I lose interest in your posts.
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          Mar 24 2013: Won't he have to ask Jerry Coyne if it's OK? I don't think Limey is allowed to make decisions on his own. If Coyne isn't available, maybe Limey's mom can tell him what to do. (Although she may just tell him to get a job and move out of her basement.)
  • Juris Ahn

    • +10
    Mar 21 2013: I read TED's blog and still find some of their stance to be deeply disingenuous. For example: "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." That is the kind of double speak that has blocked most genuine scientific inquiry into psychedelics for 30 years. It appeals to the same puritanical unreasoned emotional response that Partnership for a Drug Free America and DARE used unsuccessfully to deal with the issue. Would you say the same thing if a parent wrote to you and said their child had been killed in Columbia fighting the US military war on drugs because they were inspired by Colin Powell's presentation on discipline and volunteered for the army? Collin Powell is a non-scientist who sent people out to be killed and remains on the main TED website. This is not an argument of 'pseudo-science' vs. science. It is simply an argument of a corporate Brand protecting itself. I respect the scientists who had concerns on the talks due to their 'scientific' objections- BUT, similarly since they are anonymous what right do they have to set the standards of scientific inquiry? Openess, debate discussion are all essential elements of science. This Blog may be a step in the right direction...
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    Mar 20 2013: Dear TED stooges,

    If you are coming in here to debate if TED has the right to remove videos from their website, just stop. Obviously TED can do what ever the hell they want with their brand. This is not the point, and you know it. Seems like all of the pro TED comments are about TED's right to manage their brand. What ever. We get it.

    The REAL debate is:

    Is this talk interesting?

    Is this talk worthy of honest consideration?

    If so, why?

    If not, why?

    Is the gesture of labeling Mr. Hancock "pseudoscience" appropriate or valid?

    Were TED's actions to remove this talk actually the right thing to do?

    The actual topics Graham tried to highlight in his talk ( Consciousness, The War on Consciousness, The State of Humanity and the Planet )

    These points are debatable, not TED's right to censor. Just because TED has a right to manage themselves as they see fit does not make it right.
    • Mar 20 2013: Dear Moe,

      Is it interesting? In the same way that watching some of the December 21, 2012 or Nostradamus "documentaries" was interesting.

      Worthy of honest consideration? Nope. Because there is no basis on which to expect that anything he says has any substantial relationship with the real world. Sure, you'll accuse me of closed-mindedness and rejecting exciting possibilities and perhaps even of being "afraid" of something or other, but in fact there's nothing in his talk that's potentially within the realm of reality. No evidence. Nothing that even lends itself to rational debate. He says there were telepathic communicating non-corporeal entities. I say I've got the (cliche) invisible dragon in my garage. Each statement has equal validity, and each is equally worthy of honest consideration.

      I don't know if it's pseudoscience, because definitions are difficult. It's certainly not science, though.

      TED shouldn't have had to remove it because it shouldn't have been there in the first place. They set themselves up for this ludicrous debate, because once it was there it was certain that quite a few believers would object to its removal.

      The "War on Consciousness." Geeez.
      • Mar 20 2013: You again seem to have missed the point. Hancock makes no claims as to the reality status of the entities, only that they are part of the phenomenological content of the ayahuasca experience. This is well attested to in the literature on the topic, and is in stark contrast to your dragon. If you have a genuine complaint, then, then let's hear it. If not then you're wasting everybody's time by inventing false allegations about stuff not said. Thus there is nothing in your comments that is potentially within the realm of reality or potentially in the real of being relevant to this discussion.
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        Mar 20 2013: No basis because it is not there, or YOU have no basis because you do not have any education or experience in Ayahuasca? The proof may be in the pudding. Maybe you should educate yourself first and try the Ayahuasca experience before you claim someone's idea or conversation is unworthy. Maybe?
        • Mar 20 2013: As a matter of fact, I *have* tried the ayahuasca experience, as I mentioned earlier. I know exactly what I'm talking about. And there are real scientists, unlike Graham Hancock, exploring the use of DMT and other psychedelics for real reasons. Not for adolescent woo-mongering like that proposed by Hancock.

          Sure, one can say Hancock is making no reality claims, but he's "not making reality claims" with a wink and a nudge, so that "enlightened" people like so many of his supporters in this discussion can pretend that what he's peddling is worthy of serious consideration.

          He's welcome to his ideas. But it's not accurate to call them "Ideas Worth Spreading."

          Every legitimate scientific idea has to cross a threshold of basic rational plausibility before it's worthy of serious consideration. Sometimes scientists have to labor to get their ideas accepted by the mainstream. In this case, there are already, as I just said, real scientists doing real work with these substances because they have cleared that bar. Hancock not only doesn't reach a level of necessary legitimacy, he doesn't even seem to realize that such a thing exists. That's why he's a crackpot and that's why TED was wrong to give him a platform in the first place. Hancock has staked his place. On The History Channel.
      • Mar 20 2013: Ah, so your complaint is not based on what Hancock actually said but on some nudges and winks that only you can detect/decode. Well, never fear, since only you can detect/decode them there's no danger of anyone getting the hidden message you feel so sure is there. Or perhaps we should use the following disclaimer:

        "Viewer discretion is advised since the slippery Hancock is believed to be using secret signals to transmit secret messages to his army of believers. Take not this man at his word. See Patrick Moore for details."

        I'm up for it.
        • Mar 20 2013: OK. This has dragged on long enough. Certainly it has taken more time than Graham Hancock's ideas are worth. But I'm left curious about one thing. From you or any of his other advocates here.

          Precisely what in your view is Graham Hancock's Idea Worth Spreading?

          And to perhaps avoid the need for further posts, I'll say that my problem with him is that he hasn't got one. An Idea Worth Spreading, that is. His idea, as far as I can tell from the talk is something like: "Take ayahuasca and you'll get in touch with invisible telepathic entities." Or perhaps, if you prefer, "Take ayahuasca and you can get in touch with another dimension of reality." Or something.

          Unless you've got something more than that, he's wasting everyone's time. That's not an Idea Worth Spreading. I understood that idea, along with many many others, 40 years ago. And it's a dangerous idea. Not dangerous to "the power structure." Dangerous to anyone who takes him up on his idea. Currently, real scientists are working on that idea, with no help from Graham Hancock. Sounds to me like he's just another old guy trying to be hip and sell a book. He needs to be in a dorm room somewhere rather than on TED.
      • Mar 20 2013: Hancock's idea that is worth spreading is this:

        The human mind is the most extraordinary thing in the known universe, and we all have the capacity to investigate the extraordinary realms within. And yet, while governments are willing to spend billions of your tax dollars inventing new ways to kill and main, or even, more laudably, to find out what the surface of Io looks like, they will lock you away for a very long time if you try to explore your own mind in your home whilst hurting nobody but (possibly) yourself. Moreover, given the destruction of the world, and given the particular message on that topic that ayahuasca seems to impart, the situation is not only scandalous, and dangerous, but potentially species ending.
        • D S

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          Mar 21 2013: And this:

          “I stand here invoking the hard-won right of freedom of speech to call for and demand another right to be recognised and that is the right of adult sovereignty over consciousness. There’s a war on consciousness in our society, and if we as adults are not allowed to make sovereign decisions about what to experience with our own consciousness while doing no harm to others, including the decision to use responsibly ancient and sacred visionary plants, then we cannot claim to be free in any way and it’s useless for our society to go around the world imposing our form of democracy on others while we nourish this rot at the heart of society and we do not allow individual freedom over consciousness.”
      • Mar 21 2013: Patrick, it sounds to me as if you've essentially missed the point of Graham's talk and instead spent your time nit picking the elements which betray the paradigm you live by.. Graham is encouraging people to think for themselves and advocating freedom in an area people may not have even realised they were lacking it in - consciousness itself - and I and many others here it seems resonate with this view quite strongly.

        Also, if you do some quick searches and look into people's experiences with DMT and ayahuasca you'll find that "telepathically communicating entities" are actually an extremely common phenomena experienced with these substances... I have personally had this experience a number of times with smoked dmt (and also psilocybin mushrooms) and I know many others who have too. The notion of telepathically communicating entities is probably hard for you to grasp simply because you have not experienced it.. it is a concept in your mind which you have built your own image around-which more than likely differs a great deal from the actual experience itself.

        I think Graham is a wonderful man who is doing the world a lot of good and I reckon your being pretty harsh on him merely because you sit on the other side of the fence and find his views challenging.

        I do have a question for you.. how would you go about measuring the claim of "telepathic entities"? ... if they did exist, would it even be possible to do so? There is a level of subjectivity that needs to be taken into account with these experiences. just because you yourself do not experience or believe in the phenomena does not mean that it is not possible for others to.. you can't get inside other people's consciousnesss so how can you really claim reality of other people's experiences?
        • Mar 21 2013: I guess you haven't been following the discussion. I've actually drunk ayahuasca. My experience was somewhat different in that I didn't actually sense entities, but did sense what seemed to be "the power of eternity," as I described it then, among other hallucinatory colors, shapes and odd animals. I can personally vouch for ayahuasca's efficacy as a purgative. So I know what Hancock is talking about at least as well as you or anyone else in this discussion.

          I've already said I'm a strong supporter of legitimate investigation into the properties of psychoactive substances. Just last month I urged my father-in-law, not for the first time, to pursue participating in one of the current MDMA studies being conducted, hoping it would help him with his Vietnam PTSD. (If that makes the timeline seem off, it's because my wife is a few years younger than I am.) So don't lecture me about "my paradigm" and don't smugly assume what is "hard for me to grasp."

          Your question? I wouldn't "go about measuring the claim of telepathic entities." Given my personal experience coupled with any reasonable notion of prior plausibility I'd say they don't exist, so there's nothing to measure. That's not, of course, to say that Hancock and others don't "experience" them. That I didn't doesn't mean others don't. But it's not a "real" physical phenomenon. So nothing to measure. Any more than, as I also said earlier, one can measure the (cliche) invisible dragon my garage. Those claiming reality of these things will have to do the measuring.

          So go on. Explore consciousness to your heart's content. Just don't do it as a pseudoscientist. Don't claim reality of things which you can't provide evidence for, much less prove, and which are virtually certainly not true. Hancock's no doubt a nice man who loves puppies, but he has a long history of promoting pretty much any fringe notion that comes down the pike. He's not progressive, original, or a scientist. And he's not doing the world a lot of good.
      • Mar 21 2013: I point you to the work of Dr. Rick Strassman who's research substantiates the extensive anecdotal evidence of the experience of 'entities' during the DMT or Ayahuasca experience.

        Hancock's experience of these entities is subjective, but it is a phenomenon shared by many. He didn't just make it up.
      • Mar 25 2013: Thank you, Mr. Moore, for your fine contributions.
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        Mar 20 2013: Good points Mrs. Gallagher. Pretty easy right? Thanks for playing nicely
        • Mar 20 2013: So anyone who agrees with you is "playing nicely." Hilarious.
  • Mar 20 2013: Could part of the problem be that Graham's detractors -- technical experts in various specialized fields -- are falling prey to the Dunning-Kruger effect, relying on a golden hammer to assess the truth-value of claims beyond their ken? If the only tool is a profound skepticism, could the temptation be to see pseudoscience everywhere? Just posing this as food for thought. One of the main criticisms of the talk appears to be some variant of argument from ignorance.
    • Mar 20 2013: It's good food - I'll bite.
  • Mar 19 2013: To be honest, I don't think it's right at all for TED to decide what is worthy of people's attention or not. I've followed TED for years because of the intriguing and often controversial ideas their speakers present. There has always been something fresh and stimulating to find. At what point did TED start deciding what should and shouldn't be heard? Each speaker should be allowed to present whatever it may be that he or she is passionate about and believes in. It's up to us to decide how we feel about it and whether or not it's worth our attention. I was always under the impression that TED believed in spreading ALL the ideas, no matter how controversial. It seems now though that TED is more geared towards handing out pats on the back to the entrepreneurial and scientific community rather than being a true supporter of global awareness and everyone's ideas - not just the ones they agree with.

    If this is how things are now then TED is no longer about Ideas Worth Spreading, they're about Ideas Worth Marketing.
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      Mar 19 2013: TED from day 1 has always decided which talks to post and which to not. Just as the New York Times decides what op-ed pieces to publish and which to not. That is the nature of any media company.

      If you thought otherwise, you were unfortunately mistaken!

      But TED is also not blocking or censoring this talk. In fact, they are drawing special attention and discussion to it. What they have decided is they are not comfortable sharing the talk under the TED brand, which is 100% in their right to do, and something they have always done.
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        Mar 20 2013: This is an important point that few understand. The role of curation. The only reason TED talks ever acquired a reputation for being worth watching is because we fought like crazy to ensure that only good stuff appeared on the site. People may say just let anything go. Then I invite them to open a website for serious content that does that, and watch what happens.

        The decision to open up to TEDx events and create a Youtube channel for them was a huge risk for this very reason. We believe overall TEDx brings in far more of the great than the problematic. But it is absolutely not an option for us to just wash our hands of any and all curatorial decisions on that channel. It's just really hard work to do that without upsetting people - as this episode so powerfully illustrates.
        • Mar 20 2013: Curation is challenging, no question. And I agree that a HUGE part of the value of TED lies in its curation.

          The issue for me (and I do believe many others) is that the curation in this case was poorly done in two regards.

          1) The presentations were posted and THEN taken down. Curation is normally a gate through which worthy content passes after review. Not a shepherd's crook yanking someone off stage that has strayed from the script.

          2) Most damning, the reasons given for the shepherd's crook were spurious and demonstrably false. It's clear to me that the reasons expressed were based on impressions (prejudices?) formed well beyond what is contained in these presentations.

          The first problem appears both censorious and incompetent. A more terrible combination would be hard to find in the world of curation.

          The second issue called in to question the integrity of TED as a whole. That may sound overly harsh, but imagine if you had been told you had said things you knew perfectly well you hadn't said. And everyone in the world could confirm your version of reality! This leads to all sorts of questions about motives, etc.

          I do think the level of dismay and protest is a bit out of scale with the offenses. And I personally continue to value what TED brings to us (and has brought). But none of that changes the reality that there are serious issues with what was said under TED's name. And things were handled in an incredibly clumsy and embarrassing manner.

          So yes, thank you for all you've done. Thank you. But do please understand where most of us are coming from here.
        • 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.
        • Mar 20 2013: @Chris, thank you for taking the time to better elucidate TED's position here.

          Please understand that at least 75% of the outrage and animosity here is due to the way this was initially handled, e.g. framing the videos with refutations that clearly misrepresented what both speakers had to say, leveling wikipedia-based accusations of "pseudoscience" on the speakers, and leaving them up for days without adequate response.

          Regarding the challenges of curation, 165k+ people watched these videos before they were pulled. While there was some healthy criticism and debate, the response from the community was overwhelmingly positive, and the videos appealed to a large audience beyond dedicated Hancock/Sheldrake groupies and stoners. I can think of no better illustration of public response to ideas worth spreading.
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    Mar 19 2013: Part 7 of 7: In the past, the materialistic hold on spirituality led to the unconscionable abuses by the Church through witch-hunting, inquisition, and crusades. The swing to materialistic science was hoped to be the antidote and cure for those abuses stemming from that spiritual materialism. However, the dangers from the fruits of materialistic science in the form of nuclear weapons, pesticides, fertilizers, etc., all leading up to the global threat of climate change, show us that swinging from materialistic spirituality in the service of giant global religious institutions to materialistic science in the service of giant global commercial institutions has not brought a genuine alternative to the fundamental issue of our relationship to living on Earth, with each other and all beings.

    Hancock is doing a great service to us all by speaking out about the pivotal issue of our time and calling out for clarity about exactly which state of consciousness we are putting into service in the name of science?

    • Mar 20 2013: You sound like someone I wish were my best friend. Thanks for the great response, and good lookin' on the reference to Jungian psychology.
    • Mar 22 2013: You have hit several nails on the head, if I do say so myself. Insightful analysis of this event, as well as the talk itself. Thanks for sharing!
  • Zoe S

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    Apr 2 2013: The problem I believe here is that Ted's board is made up of scientists who are anonymous and that Ted is a staunch supporter of Bill & Melinda Gates who promote western medicine, vaccines and GM crops. So any speaker whose talks question western scientific methods and allopathic medicine will no doubt be censored. I wouldn't be surprised if Bill Gates helps fund Ted.

    I suggest for the sake of Ted's future credibility and transparency, that the names and allegiances of all the people who fund and send donations to Ted and their entire board of scientists be published to ensure that it is fair and representative of all views.

    I believe this has more to do with politics, industry and profit than truth and 'Ideas worth spreading'. There are many facts of life and results that occur (especially in the field of health and consciousness) that are NOT proven with scientific double-blind studies either because of the subjective nature of our consciousness or due to the disinterest in these studies due to the fact they are non-profit producing for the industries that have the means to fund such studies.

    It is important in this day and age that we move from scientific dogma and believing that something is non-credible if it cannot be proven with double-blind studies to embrace our ever-changing consciousness and higher intelligence so humanity can advance. After all, even after all these studies have been conducted and their results imposed on the public, most people including scientists are still only using less than 4% of the capacity of their brains.
  • Mar 29 2013: Mr. Hoopes,

    As an expert in ayahuasca, with over forty years of interest in this Amazonian brew, numerous publications on the subject in several languages, and personal experiences in various contexts, as a participant, as an anthropologist, and as a facilitator, I have no objections to Graham Hancok’s statements. Encounters and communication with seemingly intelligent entities under the effects of the brew do occur frequently, and indeed in people from all over the world. During the last fifteen years I have been gathering statements from persons belonging to nearly fifty nationalities, including African and Asian countries, and this is a common motif (these materials are currently under examination by a doctoral student from the California Institute of Integral Studies). There are of course cultural variations regarding the appearance or manifestation of these entities, and they are often interpreted as spirits of nature or ancestral spirits, as is the case among traditional societies. They may even include figures from world religions: Virgin Mary, Lord Shiva, Odin, etc. Such experiences have often a great emotional impact, and they may put into question the ideas one may have about the nature of reality and especially about consciousness –still a mystery even to reductionist scientists. These experiences deserve attention and cannot be dismissed in the name of a narrow conception of what science should be about.
  • Mar 25 2013: I just want to ad my voice to those who feel both Hancock and Sheldrake have important and valid contributions to make. As their views can in no way be defined as hate speech or unfounded any attempt at censorship smacks of predatory dictatorial behavior and is not in the interests of an open free society. A sad day IMO.
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    Mar 25 2013: I am relieved to see that this debate is coming out of the closet. How long have really smart and intelligent people been afraid to speak about what they know and experience? Why should reality be limited to what is measurable when we all know that a taste, a smell, an intuition cannot be measured and yet they constitute a great deal of our daily experience? To me science that will not acknowledge what is staring it in the face or even kicking it in the groin, is asinine! Yet the power this has over real enquiry and the evolution of the human experience is dreadfully tragic. This clinging to a fixed way of thinking and judging what is, does not garner any respect from the really smart and forward thinking people in our world. But it is perpetuated by the academic ivory towers who believe that they have the corner on reality, and anything else is fiction. They, like any good ego will fight tooth and nail to hold on to their control since loss of power, loss of face...is LOSS of job!@ They are the reason drugs taking one into other realms of experience are illegal. They are the reason that we produce children from our schools who barely know how to function because they are so one dimensional. They are the gatekeepers of what is REAL. The joke has been so obvious, the elephant in the room, for so LONG now... why has it not emerged before now? But thanks to Hancock and Sheldrake for piercing the veil of illusions. They link everything up to what has been going on on our planet for millennia, but we contemporary folks have been shut off from our illustrious and creative lives by the limitations of science. The academics who censored this talk are antiquated farts intent on preserving their livelihoods at the expense of evolving. Get over it... mad scientists. Humanity will evolve in spite of you.
  • Mar 24 2013: Graham Hancock deserves a hero's medal for his profound public challenge to one of the greatest errors ever made by the political establishment of the USA: The Drug War. If anything is to be prohibited in a country where the "prime directive" is freedom and the pursuit of happiness, it is prohibition itself.

    The solution to the issue is simple. Create and issue a psychonaut's license for appropriately educated adults. Create and establish a series of centers where psychonauts who may not have a safe place to explore altered states may, in a safe mental and physical setting, experience any of the classical or modern biochemical tools for altering consciousness.
  • Mar 22 2013: Experience is not a logical proposition. We can talk about and interpret it, but we cannot prove experience -- we cannot say that an experience is true or false. When somebody tells us that they see a pink elephant... we can call him crazy and analyze why he might seeing a pink elephant, but to him the experience is very real... he sees a pink elephant.

    Mr. Hancock made no scientific claims in his talk. In fact, he was very objective about how what he says might come across. He also, in effect, mentioned that a clergy of 'scientific advisors' are perhaps the last people to turn to for insights into this discussion. But, it seems that this is exactly what has happened.

    I was blown away to discover that "TED’s scientific advisors" were in charge of what can, cannot, should and should not be put up for consideration. It changed my view of TED as a progression platform to one that is, well, subject to... a scientific advisory board... really?

    With this kind of censorship it feels like TED tries to tell its viewers they are naive and need to be fed only industry-standard meals of knowledge. Next, they might well have to challenge talks calling for 'compassion' or 'kindness' because scientists have yet to discover a verifiable basis for these experiences as well.

    Last I heard, scientists don't have clue what consciousness is, and even less 'reality'. They talk about it, try to interpret it... which is all Mr. Hancock is doing. A scientific advisory board... (really?)... has no right to tell him he cannot, or even worse... that we cannot hear what the has to say.

    I love and support what TED does. Otherwise, I wouldn't bother commenting on this issue.
    • Mar 22 2013: I agree with you. You got my vote. I was confused during and after the talk because I couldn't make out what the controversy was. Testimonials from our elders whom have a track record of honesty are not suppose to be taken seriously? Please. I don't even understand how one could or would comment negatively on it unless you've actually tried it yourself. Speaking of which, when is the the next Shaman coming to Sacramento, ca. I'm actually into teas myself......
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      Mar 22 2013: Very well thought and written, Thomas Kruger.
  • Mar 21 2013: TED promises 18 minutes of "the talk of their lives." I have been a follower and have loved the TED forum. Of all the TED talks I have enjoyed - Graham Hancock's "The War on Consciousness" is the most courageous!!

    If TED chooses the path of censorship - I WILL GO ELSEWHERE!!
    • Comment deleted

      • Mar 22 2013: TED is private and you have presented a reasonable definition of censorship. That much you have right. However, TED has removed Graham's talk ostensibly due to inconvenient content. Does that fit within your definition censorship? Or, do you prefer to ignore that fact? Also, we are not discussing Mr. Hancock's rights - we are discussing his talk and its content.
  • Mar 21 2013: Prof Richard Schultes of Harvard whose expeditions has earned him a place in the pantheon along with Charles Darwin had a single advice for his students heading down to South America “Do not return without trying Ayahuasca.” He used to talk about this vine’s mystical powers. I experienced that power first hand and this humble looking vine brought me down to my knees compelling me to feel my humanity, my own insignificance and my ignorance of reality and simultaneously flashing Schopenhaur’s words before my eyes that “[e]very man takes the limits of his own vision for the limits of the world.”
    Of course, Ayahuasca (or Le Medicina as known in the Amazon) is a great threat to humanity and its sense of superiority and entitlement. It is a threat because it can easily deconstruct a human mind and might not even care to rebuild it. Le Medicine showed me my own insignificant as well the insignificance of such establishments as Tedtalks and its advisory board. Imagine humanity without fear. How could such humanity be controlled?
    I dare the advisory board to take a full cup before any further discussion. You can all come down to Switzerland as my guests where Ayahuasca is now a legal herbal remedy.
    • Mar 21 2013: Ayahuasca is now a legal herbal remedy in Switzerland? Could you please share more information, e.g. a link? Thanks
  • Mar 20 2013: I don't think it was fortunate that Graham's talk fell under "science". After all he's no scientist but a great researcher and an inspirational speaker. How about restoring original talk on youtube and placing it on TED's website under global issues? There's an actual issue the guy addressed and I believe, as many others, that his inquiries are definitely worth spreading, if only to get actual scientists motivated to get busy on the subject.

    Also, if Rupert's talk is still too difficult for TED's scientific board to comprehend from scientific point of view, then since it proposes quite some questions about science itself (which is after all, as we see here, a global issue at the moment) why not restore it and move to "global issue" section too, then both with original commentary though, to leave the whole censorship game behind us?
    • Mar 20 2013: Not fortunate perhaps, but easily rectified surely. I'd imagine there's a drop down menu somewhere in TEDLand that would do the trick.
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      Mar 21 2013: Graham has an honors degree in sociology--unless I'm mistaken that is considered a science.
      • Mar 21 2013: It's a social science. I'd say it's in that grey area between empirical science and the humanities.
      • Mar 21 2013: fair points. but i'm afraid we'll have to check with the infallible science board as to the status of this and official definition of science. in the meantime then, would be great to just move the talks to where they belong - global issues section.
  • Mar 19 2013: "The Net interprets censorship as damage and routes around it."

    Censorship now is virtually impossible. Once the videos have been made available, they will remain available, as anyone can host them. TED is likely very aware of this fact. Thus, rather than censoring them outright, they have done the best that they can - quarantined them. Placed them in a purgatory, or limbo, where the ideas expressed will be framed in a context of mistrust.

    If this is not censorship by it's dictionary definition, it is something rather similar to all intents and purposes.
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      Mar 20 2013: How is a specific TED Blog post and a TED Conversation purgatory? TED has promoted the talk on two of its powerful platforms. It's done more to promote open discussion about this talk than thousands of others.
      • Mar 20 2013: No one asked for that.
        Just to let the talks stay on the official TEd(x) channel.
        Or give some thourough explanatiion why these talks
        are removed from the official channel.

        That is why all this turmoil is happening. Cause TED is not giving answers just some flawed cynical remarks by mr Anderson.
      • Mar 20 2013: So long as it is kept separate from the 'normal' talks, it is in purgatory. It is segregated. Quarantined. It's an exhibit. No man's land. It's status is contested. Etcetera.
  • Mar 19 2013: I have been thinking quite a bit about the genesis of this controversy. TED curator Chris Anderson stated in the comments to “Graham Hancock and Rupert Sheldrake, a Fresh Take” that the removals had nothing to with “radical atheists.” While it is true that atheism might not have played a role in the TED staff’s decision, it certainly motivated the bloggers who forced TED’s hand. Jerry Coyne even makes this explicit in one of his blog posts on Sheldrake: http://whyevolutionistrue.wordpress.com/2012/02/06/the-guardian-touts-sheldrake-again-pigeons-find-their-way-home-ergo-jesus/ Jerry Coyne and the other bloggers who started the firestorm are atheists and adherents of philosophical naturalism. They believe that the only real things in the universe are material things, that human beings are “wet robots,” and that free will is an illusion. Moreover, they believe that science has vindicated this metaphysical stance, and that every scientist, if he wishes to be intellectually honest, must subscribe to it. Of course, this is not to say that all scientists are atheists or philosophical naturalists, but a large proportion are, and the percentage is even higher among elite scientists. This article on the reaction to philosopher Thomas Nagel’s recent book, Mind and Cosmos: Why the Materialist Neo-Darwinian Conception of Nature is Almost Certainly False, makes that point clear: http://www.weeklystandard.com/articles/heretic_707692.html?page=1 Nagel’s sin, if you will pardon the pun, was to question the physicalist worldview. Despite being an atheist himself, he was excoriated for “[bringing] comfort to creationists and fans of Intelligent Design. I feel like something similar is going on here. Although neither Sheldrake nor Hancock bring up God in their talks, their criticisms of physicalism and discussions of the alleged irreducibility of consciousness smacks of religion in their critics’ eyes . Again, I am not saying that TED acted as it did because it is atheistic, but
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      Gail .

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      Mar 20 2013: TED has commmitted the most despicable things that an atheist could ever do. It has proven that TED's atheists are actually Atheists - member of a religion. The moment that TED denies legitimate science, picking and choosing what science it will allow to be viewed or heard about - is the moment that it is exactly like christianity picking and choosing Bible verses to explain its worldview.

      Will Christians take advantage of this "proof" that some atheists are really Atheists? Will they now be able to rationally argue that if Atheist evolution can be taught in school, so too should Christian creationsim because both are a religion?

      Welcome to the endarkening. The age of enlightenment is over at TED. Bring on the inquisitors!
  • Mar 19 2013: To call this a discussion is a lie. The video's are removed from the official channel which is censorship based on unstable arguments that come from a dysfynctional Science Board, that acted under pressure without any research.

    There is science and there is pseudoscience. And there is a thin line. You ask us to help define this thin line further. But you do that after you have made your decision that these talks are pseudo science. So why ask us?

    So this is not a debate page since TED wil not reply in any scientific sense. Only with childish fawlty reasoning.

    It is very dissappointing and actually unbelievable narrowminded.

    TED has no problems using retarded Dark Age methods when it doesn't like its contents or is pressured by someone or something. And suddenly logical questions are not answered anymore. This so called debate is not a debate because TED is not debating here. It is a silly playground on which TED hopes this little inconvenience will fade out and die.

    Unfortanately TED shows in all plain sight a very dark side.
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    Mar 19 2013: Part 5 of 7: Hancock’s real violation in the context of TED is that he makes a direct frontal attack on the sacred cow of our culturally worshipped state of consciousness called the “problem solving state of consciousness” which is “good for the more mundane aspects of science; it’s good for the prosecution of warfare, it’s good for commerce; it’s good for politics.” It is Hancock’s direct assault on the corporate control of our culture by the use and the sale of certain profit making drugs--while demonizing the drugs that would challenge that very corporate structure--which is his true crime in the eyes of Tedstaff who feel it is necessary to belittle his talk as pseudo-science and relegate him to the bantustan of an apartheid location.

    Actually, Hancock’s talk is not really about “science” at all, but is about states of consciousness. His criticism of materialistic science for not adequately exploring states of consciousness is well founded. That criticism and Hancock’s other critical statements do not stray “well beyond the realm of reasonable science,” as Tedstaff claim, unless one holds the view that science cannot speak of consciousness beyond materialism. In fact, when science speaks of consciousness it can only do so from either the physical or psychical view of the world. When science sees consciousness as an expression of the neurophysiology of the body, it is a materialistic science. When science sees consciousness as an expression of the mind or psyche, it is a psychological science. Unfortunately, while Hancock has a valid criticism of materialistic science, he seems to not yet have discovered the perspective of the psychological science of archetypal psychology.

    Continued in part 6.
  • Mar 19 2013: What TED is doing with these talks is dark and despicable. It's no surprise that your science advisors don't like criticisms of science. But guess what? If you want to prove them wrong, provide evidence. If you don't have the evidence to disprove what Sheldrake and Hancock are saying, put the talks back up on the main TED page where they rightfully belong!!!
    • Mar 19 2013: That is to simple, if I say there is a purple dragon dancing on a planet orbiting around Sirius, you would have a hard time to disprove that. I really need to come up with some evidence to make my claim even a little.

      To this science board these talks are exactly the same as my example of the purple dragon.

      The difference is that conciousness is not a purple dragon but something I have and you have.

      I think in the end there are 3 topics that are totally not done in science and if you dare to touch these subjects you are banned for life.

      those topic are, life after death, atlantis, and ufo's. You are doomed as a scientist when you enter these topics with an open mind.
      • Mar 20 2013: His topics of this talk had nothing to do with life after death, atlantis, or ufo's you twit
        • Mar 20 2013: Well life after death means that consciousness is not produced by the brain which is a fundamental suggestion of mr Hancock. The other two area's are examples in which you can expect the same discontent of the scientific community.

          I suggest you learn to read and think before you reply to anything.

          And it is Sir Twit to you.
    • Mar 25 2013: No, what TED is doing with these talks is good and responsible. I do agree of the need to provide evidence, but Coyne and Myers and the commentators on the blogs of those people have already provided it.
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    Apr 2 2013: Just out of interest, I would like to know the scientific credentials of the TED Science Board. Come on, TED, let's see a bit of honesty and transparency from you in this increasingly more bizarre witch hunt.
  • Mar 30 2013: I'm just catching up here with the implications of what the TED team is up to ~ "website of shame?!"

    I am incredulous. I did not realize they had censored Rupert Sheldrake as well. This is appalling.

    I have listened to several versions of the "Science Delusion" lecture. The best one I have heard is on the Schumacher College Open Evening website. He also delivered an excellent interview on LondonReal.

    This is scandalous and unacceptable. No debate? I wonder what Index on Censorship would have to say?

    So what is the agenda here? American exceptionalism? Do we have to be atheists to talk on TED? Once this precedent is set, what next? Will they ban Satish (Kumar) and Polly Higgins, Vandana Shiva, Dr Mae-Wan Ho or any one else who departs from the genetically engineered grain of truth? I thought science was supposed to be independent?

    For that matter, Hancock's position is entirely coherent so long as he remains open to legitimate criticism. All he is presenting is an inspired perception of intelligence in nature. Jeremy Narby and many others have ventured into this "occult" realm, with high competence. Is it a thought crime to rehabilitate "magick" then? Are we still struggling with old demons and inquisitorial standards of acceptable debate?

    If so, then these self-professed architects of innovation are simply in cultural denial, since all conscious design, moral intent and technical action falls under the rubric of willed change. Arthur C Clarke made that clear enough. End of argument. We must distinguish between learned occultism or magick, and mere illusion. Perhaps it is time to go study a little deeper, and think outside of the prescribed boundaries ~ but isn't this precisely what TED purports to advocate and promote?
  • Mar 26 2013: It is interesting, but also saddening, to see the decline of rationalist, reductionist materialist philosophy from a tool for seeking truth into a consensus based, dogmatic, pseudo-religion, principally serving egos and tenurial pursuits, masquerading as received wisdom. In the case of both Sheldrake's and Hancock's presentations the threat is obvious. Dogma requires that they must be wrong and thereby censored. Failure to accede to dogma ipso facto disqualifies one one from being taken seriously.

    Heaven forbid that Dean Radin should figure out how to condense his multiple volumes of meta-analysis into a 20 minute TED talk. Some type of exorcism might have to be performed on the entire Internet to satisfy the dogmatists. After all, his data shows conclusively (several decimal points beyond current proof of relativity) that multiple "psy" phenomena are real, yet those phenomena CANNOT (or should we say MUST not) be real in the reductionist materialist model.

    If one studies the history of science, civilization and philosophy, the scientific and religious consensus is pretty much ALWAYS wrong, from the perspective of later centuries. We are all familiar with the stories of Socrates, Lister and Galileo, and dozens of others, but perhaps less so with their opponents, who had the equivalent of "respectability," tenure, and "authority" in the respective centuries where one could literally be burned alive for refuting or even questioning dogma.

    I submit that it it is irrational, uncivilized and backward, in every sense of the words, to substitute mainstream consensus for free exchange of ideas, and that TED is at an interesting crossroads, philosophically, and historically, when it yields to hysteria about apostasy rather than encouraging the free exchange of ideas. After all, in 500 years, virtually all current scientific beliefs will be seen as outmoded, but, if civilization survives, the open, free expression of ideas will be still be seen as the cornerstone.
    • Mar 26 2013: I had to laugh at the thought of the exorcism. I can imagine Dawkins and Dennett presiding over the ceremony as back issues of the Skeptical Inquirer are intoned while little Jimmy Randi sprinkles some unholy water (he keeps in his pocket in case he has to perform a switcheroo during a homeopathy test).
    • Mar 26 2013: Douglas you have put this perfectly.

      I am often frustrated at how the scientific 'authority' always seem to lack foresight. Science
      has once again fallen to power of the ego rather than the search for truth.

      Graham Hancock is one of many groundbreaking thinkers who's ideas are squashed and belittled
      by the 'authority'
  • Mar 26 2013: Let's have the debate! The free market of information can no longer be contained by the traditional gatekeepers of government, academia, and mainstream media. TED, I ask you to rise to the challenge of these amazing and paradigm changing times or be remembered as just another elite control mechanism in the dustbin of history.
  • Mar 26 2013: After having read all the pertinent points made by TED’s alleged “science board,” in their inaccurate portrayal of what was expressed by Graham Hancock, and Rupert Sheldrake; it became painfully obvious that though Hancock and Sheldrake wrote articulate rebuttals, TED may remain biased against any viewpoints considered controversial by “mainstream” and dogmatically rigid institutionalism in the science community.
    Should TED accept the debate challenge, which I would watch and sell tickets for others to watch, I might change my mind.
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    Mar 26 2013: Have you guys noticed how this and Sheldrake's debate have hundreds of more comments (697 & 963 respectively as of now) than any other recent debate on TED's page, and still, they're NOT listed under the "Featured" debates page and now they've moved way down the page under the "Most Active" debates category, even though they are CLEARLY the most active? Is TED really thinking of simply ignoring all of our comments as well as the detailed responses provided by Sheldrake and Hancock to their accusations? Every day I come to this page hoping to see TED has said something, anything, but I find nothing. Chris Anderson personally humiliated Graham Hancok on this blog by making unfounded accusations, and now he just disappears? Whatever PR company is advising TED and its curators of dealing with this crisis this way should be fired right now, as they're doing TED a GREAT disservice.
  • Mar 24 2013: I think TED is entering the realm of policing ideas and that scares me. TED argues that its justifications for re-locating the talks and couching them in some kind of editorial "warning" is due to the fact that Graham's talk "suggests a world view in which DMT can connect users directly to “seemingly intelligent entities which communicate with us telepathically", yet TED has an entire section devoted to the topic of religion and features prominently the Reverend Billy Graham. From a "scientific" perspective, I'm having trouble seeing the real difference between Hancock's DMT induced spiritual worldview and that of the Reverend Billy Graham's Christianity - a religion in which many leaders like Rev. Graham himslef claim to routinely converse psychically with Jesus! Seems that the only criteria that TED uses to define which idea's are "worth spreading" is basically arbitrary and based on popularity? My suggestion to the TED Scientific board - Stop wasting time censoring ideas that you find uncomfortable to your own world views, and challenge yourself a bit... hell, maybe even take some DMT and see what happens!
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      Mar 24 2013: That's a mighty good response, Nicholas. Personally, I would have left out the bit about taking the DMT as many conservatives who you might as enjoy as your friends will find it off-putting. But, hey, you were respectful. We're all working inside cultures which practice symbolic, ritual cannibalism (Christian communions) and there will be as many curious practices they do which make perfect sense to them, but once you move outside the context of their religion, they sometimes think no one else could possibly have a similar experience in a different tradition.

      I agree that it's curious that most Christians are absolutely fine with the idea *they* can "talk" to god, or their religious leader can "talk" to god. But many of the most conservative King James' types get pretty upset when someone from outside their tradition does it using different words or practices with which they're unfamiliar.

      Like many things, it seems to me that our kind spend soooo much time looking for differences when instead we could look for similarities in our experiences. If there was one, huge take-away from Hancock's talk, that would be it for me.
  • Mar 24 2013: The scientist who first synthesized LSD in 1938 as well as the first person to take it in an act of self experimentation in 1943 was Albert Hoffmann who, at the time, was a highly respected chemist working for Sandoz Pharma. His description of his experience in the first chapter of his book "LSD: My Problem Child" included this:

    "This self experiment showed that LSD-25 behaved as a psychoactive substance with extraordinary properties and potency. There was to my knowledge no other known substance that evoked such profound psychic effects in such extremely low doses, that caused such dramatic changes in human consciousness and our experience of the inner and outer world."

    Like Hancock, his description of his trip was entirely subjective with no peer reviewed certitude. According to TED's implied rules, Albert Hoffmann would have been censored if he had given a talk for them based on his conclusions.

    Hoffmann goes on to say: "I was aware that LSD, a new active compound with such properties, would have to be of use in pharmacology, in neurology, and especially in psychiatry, and that it would attract the interest of concerned specialists. But at that time I had no inkling that the new substance would also come to be used beyond medical science." Claims such as these would have disqualified Hoffmann from a TED presentation.

    Hoffmann died at the age of 102 in 2008; he had taken his last dose of LSD five years earlier.

    His book can be found here; http://www.psychedelic-library.org/child.htm

    I'm afraid that the anonymous censors have done a great diservice to TED and consequently the community at large regarding this issue. And it would appear that they've learned nothing from the experience given their lack of input or explanation here.
  • Mar 24 2013: How passive are otherwise intelligent people willing to be to accept this censorship and spin?

    For me, it's not easy to walk away from an institution that's helped me grow. But the censorship, the coverup, the spin, and the bait-and-switch tactics are negatives I hadn't imagined as part of the TED organization.
    If stifling rational inquiry is the byproduct of the organization's structure or some hidden plank of its mission, seems like it's time to build new.
  • Mar 21 2013: So, TED had a talk by Billy Graham on here. Billy Graham believes the world was created in seven days by an entity with no provenance at all, who is either invisible or, despite having no biological parents, is inexplicably male. This tripartite entity created man out of dirt and told him it was his job to go around dominating all the other things, (which man did with great gusto) but got really mad when he ate an apple, and kicked him out of the house. Then, after a whole lot of stuff went terribly awry, this entity came in the ear( ooh gross) of a poor, virgin fourteen-year old girl and knocked her up, so that the resulting offspring, who, confusingly, was also actually the same entity...talk about incest! would be tortured to death some thirty-odd years later. This was apparently so that this timeless entity would somehow find it within "His" heart to forgive the man for being so naughty. And then, after a whole lot more stuff went unsurprisingly wrong, he decided to fix it all by creating Republicans, who can have personal chats with Him - you know, talk to the invisible Spirit..... Now, I wonder what it is about Billy Graham's ideas that make them more spreadable that Graham Hancock's?

    I used to tell people all about TED, how you could hear all sorts of interesting stuff on there, even find people like, I don't know, people named Graham spreading crackpot ideas. Oh Well......
  • Mar 21 2013: Whether the establishment likes it or not people out there are exploring their consciousness. The uproar TED is facing now is a testimony to that effect.

    As a person who has experienced about 300 altered states of consciousness sessions I can tell you that there are entities out there and that whichever level of ontological reality you wish to grant them, if any, is another question altogether. And they do communicate, telepathically or otherwise.

    Not surprisingly, they are far more interesting to listen to than your average TED talk or the parroted pseudo-skeptic arguments that clutter this page.

    Happy psychonautics to all :)
    • Mar 25 2013: The plural of "anecdote" is not "data". Hallucinogenic drugs are, perhaps, the best proof consciousness is a physical phenomenon. How am I a "pseudo-skeptic"?
  • Mar 21 2013: Real science is precisely the business of challenging and overthrowing prevailing orthodoxy. Otherwise, let's give science to the church, whose expertise in enforcing orthodoxy is far superior. The dynamics of petrifaction that create orthodoxy are inimical to open-minded, honest, scientific inquiry. That Hancock's claims "are well outside orthodox scientific thinking" RECOMMENDS them from a scientific POV, far from serves as reason for censure.

    That DMT can connect users directly to "seemingly intelligent entities which communicate with us telepathically” so consistently across diverse populations constitutes a scientifically interesting trend, not grounds for "caution." That is, if scientific curiosity, not scientific orthodoxy, is what's at stake. Apparently, TED and its "advisors" are curiously un-curious, even anti-curious. Just let me know when they start swapping lab coats for vestments...
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      Gail .

      • +1
      Mar 21 2013: The vestments might be coming. Look at the title banners they apply to their names. The hierarchy is in place. The dogmas have been established.

      anti-curious indeed!!!
  • Mar 20 2013: Rupert Sheldrake has responded and he made an excellent point:

    There is nothing to debate.

    There have been no new reasons for not putting up the videos put forth by the science board so there is nothing for either of the authors to reply to.

    They are caught in a Kafkaesque Double Secret Probation where they have been hauled in for a crime, but don't know what the charges are.
    • Mar 21 2013: yeah exactly and they also crossed out their original reasoning for removing them from the youtube channel? Why have they not put them back up? Chris... we are still waiting
  • Mar 20 2013: Suppressing or censoring a talk, and attempting to label it as pseudoscience, falls far short of the scientific method.

    Both talks could have been a great example for science to show with clarity, how it can logically and reasonably assess controversial subjects.

    While science is agnostic and without bias, it is a shame that some people who proclaim its strengths are not, and either can't be bothered, or are unable or unwilling to do so.
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    Mar 20 2013: PART FOUR

    In the West, we clearly have a massive social problem with drug addiction and alcoholism, while much of psychedelics as well as other treatment modalities, if used in a therapeutic setting (as studies suggest), may be effective in overcoming addiction as well as helpful in treating other disorders. In addition to this we have to remember that such sacred drink as ayahuasca may be a part of spiritual or religious practice (and indeed, it has been for centuries in non-European peoples). DMT as an essential component of ayahuasca is prohibited in many countries, while, as Graham Hancock points out, various forms of alcohol (which by some estimates is among the top dangerous drugs including such narcotics as heroin and cocaine) are socially accepted for recreational use.

    In Russia, which has some of the strictest laws and prohibitions regarding psychedelics, there is an epidemics of alcoholism and heroin addiction (with a DECREASING attention being paid to the overall development of the nation’s mental health—each day marks the situation’s becoming worse for psychiatric and psychological institutions there).

    Such anthropologists as Erika Bourguignon and others distinguish between what may be called monophasic and polyphasic societies. In polyphasic societies a perceptual diversity and a diversity of altered states of consciousness (including trance states, sacred states, meditative states, etc. both mediated and non-mediated by plants) is allowed. In fact, it may be argued that this diversity is used by society as a means to offer its members the rites of passage and initiation, which may have been necessary for a healthy growth of consciousness in human beings and their positive involvement with society. The lack of such rituals of altered states of consciousness conducted in a safe setting, in my opinion, may be one of the reason why masses of adolescents undertake drugs use, drinking and other harmful activities around the world.

    Cont'd in Part 5
  • Mar 20 2013: Well, all this only shows that big money is not compatible with freedom and the free flow of ideas. Surprised ?
  • Mar 20 2013: If anyone is interested, I have a conversation going to gauge interest in TED hosting more talks on psychedelic research.


    I apologise if anyone feels this is some kind of spam or self promotion; I merely see it as cross-polination between related threads of a collective weave.
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      Mar 20 2013: Check out Roland Griffiths' talk from TEDxMidAtlantic! He's doing some really interesting research.
      • Mar 20 2013: I was lucky enough to hear Roland Griffiths give his report on his research at an event called Entheogenesis Australis several years ago. He is part of a wave of new research that I am very optimistic about. I look forward to more related TED talks.
  • Mar 19 2013: this is TERRIBLE! why are we debating Hancock's presentation? all you have to do is watch it to know what it says. the debate is about TED's actions and statements, not Hancock's presentation.

    this is way too after the fact and only going to piss a lot of people off and not gain any ground towards a resolution.

    wow, this MercRx in Pisces sure has had its way with TED.
  • Mar 19 2013: I wonder had Steve Jobs, Sir Francis Crick or John Lennon gave TED Talks extolling the value of psychedelics, would they have been similarly censored?
  • Apr 2 2013: The salient point in this debate  is whether the human brain is a transmitter of consciousness or a receiver . I met Graham Hancock at a conference last Oct in Melb AU.His research is boundary pushing ,as is mine.  He is a very eloquent speaker with much knowledge and wisdom to share . Thank-you Graham ! And Thank you Ted for banning his talk ! Notwithstanding the cred you have lost by the invalid censoring of valid challenges to orthodox scientific thought
    you can take solace in the fact that you have opened the debate we must have to aid in ushering in a new scientific paradigm .The old paradigm has serious shortcomings that need redress . The Newtonian physics model is passed its use-by date . Objectivism and empiricism leaves no room for exploring subjective non ordinary states of consciousness that are valid tools for healing and teaching Debating over whats science and whats pseudoscience is an irrelevant distraction driven by the clash of academic egos ! Imbibing the Aya brew shatters your ego to a million pieces-a valid exercise for all skeptical rationalists that would see them switch sides quick smart! Calling Hancocks/Sheldrake's work pseudoscience is pejorative , The Ted board could be humble and plead ignorance and not pass judgement on these valid. Non ordinary states of consciousness provided by psychotechnological tools like Ayahuasca . Orthodox Scienc
    empirical models / instruments  arent advanced enough to measure consciousness or the subject/object split . Poppers theory of falsifiability is flawed or at best, past its use by date . Quantum physicist Prof. Amit Goswami argues convincingly in his doco 'The Quantum Activist '  the importance of ushering in a new scientific paradigm which  address   that to progress and become smarter science must start embracing the subjective . Professor Ben Shanons  'Antipodes of the Mind' is a comprehensive book on the ayahuasca experience , he went into the jungle an atheist but wasn't one when he came out!
  • Apr 2 2013: Finally in retrospect, I feel I owe it to all the people who have contributed such valuable opinions to this discussion, to recommend Rupert Sheldrake's conference talk on Science Set Free at ELECTRIC UNIVERSE 2013: The Tipping Point, in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

    Part 2 is particularly eloquent and learned, a great discourse by a brilliant mind.


    If TED's advisory board deem this high level of intellectual competence somehow inadequate, then I have nothing but contempt for their blinkered poverty of thought, and the sheer, perverse absurdity of the patronizing arrogance they are displaying in promoting such a skewed mental landscape.

    Tant pis!
  • Apr 2 2013: Thank you Steve. Petty much half of the world of research will be demolished if we stick only to what is considered orthodox science. Philosophy for a start would be eradicated. Qualitative research has is just as important as quantitative and both should be used to compliment the other. But people should never let them selves be blinded with science; even leading physicists work primarily with equations using filler information that they only assume but cannot prove is accurate.

    Thanks for sharing the link to my TI page John. Although i rarely visit that site and only originally joined in the hope of finding research participants. The blog I promote on there is no longer available as I was concerned about legal ramifications.

    You can find out more about me via my website www.kerryrowberry.co.uk or search for me on facebook. I will happily add people providing i get a little message of introduction. I am kerry_rowberry on twitter.

    if anyone here is from the UK and has been involved with ayahuasca, Kambo/sapo, and salvia (chewed not smoked) use and would like to be interviewed anonymously for my research please do get in touch. I am looking into the cultural aspects of amazonian shamanism withing the UK. i consider four main areas of interest beliefs, motives, impact and value. I am particularly interested in the migration of cultural phenomena into a starkly different cultural landscape.
  • Mar 27 2013: I believe any one who "judges" on what is scientific and what is not should be able to "understand" and explain the implications of at least this 4 subjects, or just be quiet.

    1-Fractal Geometry
    2-Chaos Theory
    3-Quantum Entanglement

    Science is the Myth of our times, since not everyone is able to traduce perception and experience to numbers, geometry or equations directly, we use our limited word language to try to communicate infinitely complex stuff.

    So if the subject is not completely enclosed and fragmented with assumptions and treated by subjects that share the same specific language and the same dept of understanding, then everything in TED is just more Mythology in the end.

    The real issue here is that TED is AFRAID!!! as maybe we all are of the Mafia based reality we live in thanks to our designed ignorance and lack of courage. War on drugs, war on freedom, war on consciousness war on Ecology.....just to keep the outdated green paper flowing to the top of the paranoid pyramid.

    I will stop sharing and promoting TED... or best of all, just post about this issue every time a share a TED video.

    Things are getting interesting....
  • Mar 24 2013: TED this is a joke, the funny thing is the substances Hancock were referring to in his talk have been used for thousands of years. Probably longer than any form of science we know.
  • Mar 24 2013: The preponderance of people on this discussion of a debate are positively for Hancock and they have the thumbs up to prove it.
    How many thumbs up do the dissenters have?
    If this were a democracy the yay-sayers would prevail.
  • Mar 23 2013: One of the more honest, inspiring, and profound presentations I've seen yet. Despite what one thinks regarding human consciousness and plants that allow for that exploration, this should not have been banned. Allow people to question, explore, and make decisions on their own. Mr. Hancock delves and elaborates on an aspect of modern-day western society in such a direct and clear way - he explains it in words as how I've been feeling it; that there is something very wrong and perhaps cataclysmic going on in today's world...and unlike many, he presents a solution. Whether you agree with it or not, it's still a possible solution, and one that deserves looking into. I'm very grateful to have seen and heard this presentation; I'm continuously viewing it - it's that good! ;)
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  • Mar 22 2013: Your comment is so typical of TED and its supporters. You haven't watched the actual talk. You're not interested in the subject matter or informed about the background. But you're very ready to dismiss it, based on...?? What...?? Your own disinterest?? Sorry if other people have interests beyond yours. I, for one, find the chemistry of ayahuasca very interesting. In part, because the shamans who work with it aren't chemists. They say they were told to put these plants together by plants themselves. But, I guess, you have to have an interest in shamanism to care about that. Lots of people ARE interested in shamanism. For instance, the many anthropologists who have immersed themselves in indigenous cultures to study their beliefs and practices? Does anthropology and its discoveries not matter in this forum? Only scientists matter?

    'I felt turned off by the tone and mixing of “science” and conjecture.'

    Also, in keeping with TED in this matter, you don't seem to know how science works. It doesn't start and end with conclusions and things that have already been proven. Scientists "conjecture" all the time. Otherwise no new research would ever happen. No new ground would ever be broken. Some conjecture is testable, at which point it becomes hypothesis. Sometimes it remains as conjecture, but it still has a place in science. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Conjecture) If scientists never conjectured, the recent discovery of a probable Higgs boson could not have happened. (http://www.sciencealert.com.au/opinions/20132203-24181.html)

    It's not about what people "want to believe." It's about what they do believe based on their experience. To say that Graham Hancock's experience, or the experience of anyone else in this thread, is invalid and offers nothing to our understanding of reality is not science. It's scientism. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scientism)
  • Mar 21 2013: "Ideas Worth Spreading"

    I've spent some time looking at previous comments, and it's beautiful seeing so much support for Graham Hancock's talk and the ideas he has presented.

    What frustrates me the most is that his message is simple, we've lost our connection with the Spirit, and we're pummeling down this whole because of it. That's a powerful statement. I find his whole talk is fascinating, but that's my own opinion. What I think is an idea worth spreading can be found in 15:40-16:00.

    "...when I ask shamans about the sickness in the West, they say it's quite simple. You guys have severed your connection with Spirit, unless you reconnect with Spirit and do so soon, you're doing to bring thew hole house of cards down around your heads and ours."

    Now that's an idea worth spreading.
    • Mar 21 2013: The problem is that the language used to convey that idea belongs to a world and a culture that some people are hostile to - people who are central to the scientific paradigm questioned by Hancock and Sheldrake.

      The materialists, radical atheists, whatever you want to call them, appear to believe that some of the words used by GH and RS are meaningless, such as 'spirit', and that others may only be used by themselves. When people try to use words from the former group, they are considered unscientific, probably superstitious. When they try to use words from the latter group, they are considered pseudoscientists.

      These territorial claims over language are, I think, a big source of conflict between centre and fringe. In the case of psychedelics it is particular significant - these things have been illegal and demonized for so long that the language of their proponents, who have been driven underground where they have formed alternative communities, has grown so distant from that of the mainstream that native speakers of it have trouble expressing themselves to the mainstream, and when they try to invoke mainstream language the mainstream considers them quaint and backwards. Ultimately if the psychedelic community wishes to engage with the mainstream (if the mainstream won't initiate engagement, which I don't think it will) then the psychedelic community is going to have to work out how to 'write back to the centre.' Parallels could be drawn between this and the post-colonial situation, but that's another story.

      Ultimately the effect is that when someone well versed in the psychedelic literature, or who is a participant in psychedelic culture watches Graham's video, they hear something somewhat different to what a materialist scientist might. Neil Degrasse Tyson said "when you're scientifically literate, the world looks different to you." He's right, but I think there are other forms of literacy to which this can be extended - psychedelic literacy not least.
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    Mar 20 2013: I feel that pretty much anyone who digested this talk properly within Graham's context would assimilate that Mr. Hancock is mostly asking questions; and asking the listener to ask questions. Few objective statements were made, and most of those were about the state of the planet and the impact humanity has imposed.

    Most of what Graham shared was not solely his opinion. No, these practices and traditions with psychedelic substances are at least centuries old. Fact is nobody knows how old, but OLD. Ancient is a good word for it. You would think that could be substantial for some credit. Apparently not in the eyes of the court of nameless people who feel this is too fringe for their brand. Cut the shit. Graham didn't declare anything. He did not say "everyone needs to take this drug to fix the world." He simply invited the willing. He shared his experience, and reported on the history and culture of this sacred medicine.

    Mr. Hancock was not wreckless at all and did not state any science facts. To me it seems as if Graham just wants this to be a topic of conversation and cautiously invited anyone willing to check this out for themselves. It is disgusting that nameless people are trying to label and defame this man because he wants to induce conversation.

    I am not surprised by this action at all though. Seems pretty obvious that there is a directive, governed by who knows, to suppress psychedelics and their inherent capabilities. The group telling you that this ancient brew and marijuana are the worst things in the world for you, is the same group telling you that cigarettes and alcohol currently get a thumbs up. They know cigarettes and Mc Donalds can kill, they just don't care; but they do care if you use psychedelics.

    This is not about Graham Hancock and whether or not he is a credible scientist. This is about information and minimizing conversation. This conversation will close in 13 days, 7 hours and 23 minutes on April 2, 2013.......for some reason......
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    Mar 20 2013: I think that the TED organization decided to focus on the wrong information. Their selection of information to bring into question, was his ideas about "higher beings that talk with us telepathically. They posed the doubt that this is misinformation. What is glaringly clear, is that the organizers at TED are using their analytical part of their brains. Their credentials are steeply based on building up the analytical, rational and point to point thought organization. With creativity being secondary and marginalized in favor of feeding their left brain counterpart. Grahams talk was about how this type of mental structure is reflected in the way we treat each other and how we treat the planet. It is no coincidence that the country with the most consumption, the most environmental destroying actions is also the same one that got their recognition as western medicine, western thought, the U.S. This macro global problem is reflect in this micro social process that is happening right now within the TED community. This TED issue is a benchmark that will determined, just how far their collective consciousness is evolving. Stop censoring free speech. Just present the raw data. Don't assume that we are not capable, not responsible enough to decide for are selves what is true and what is not.
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    Mar 20 2013: There have been a great deal of comments on this thread - and personally I think it speaks to TEDs transparency that the talks are online (and have perhaps been viewed even more now than they would have been elsewhere) and that they can be the topic for debate on science and pseudoscience. Contrary to some of the comments to 'man up and make a decision' I think it has sparked debate, shared some ideas worth spreading, even if they aren't always ideas that are shared.

    Hancock's talk is spirited and I appreciate him sharing his personal journey and connection to a topic he clearly feels very passionate about. As a scientist I am not shut off to discussions that challenge traditional ideas, but I would ask that they stand up to evidenced-based enquiry. Hancock discusses many individual stories about communities using DMT - but I need more than anecdotal evidence to be convinced of the effectiveness of these methods in treating the various conditions he discusses, without data I can't judge a theory's merit and so by definition it passes into the realm of pseudoscience.
    • Mar 20 2013: 1. Perhaps you should read Benny Shanon's Antipodes of the Mind, or Rick Strassman's DMT: The Spirit Molecule, or check out some of the literature on Soma or the kykeon, or even watch the TEDx talk by Roland Griffiths on the effects of psylocibin. Then you might find that what Hancock says is fairly well in line with current scientific research on the history and effects of hallucinogens, and would not have to guess (wrongly) about the lack of support for what he says.

      2. You seem to imagine that your lack of knowledge of the data in some way translates into an actual lack of data, and thus your definition of pseudoscience is pretty much everything that you don't know about. See point (1) above for details.

      3. Which traditional ideas do you take him to be challenging?
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        Mar 20 2013: Steve - I was commenting on Hancock's talk and its contents. I will look up the references you suggest, and will read the study posted by Noah with interest. And yes, then I will evaluate to the best of my ability whether or not what Hancock says is supported by evidence. So thanks for the suggestions.
        However, I think the comment stands that he used mainly anecdotal evidence in his talk. Now I understand that this builds the narrative of the piece, fair enough, but in that context (of Big Pharma versus alternative medical practices) I think it was worth discussing.

        And no, I don't assume pseudoscience to be "pretty much everything that I don't know about."
        • Mar 20 2013: Of course he used anecdotal evidence in his talk. It was an 18 minutes informal talk that ranged over many topics and was primarily socio-political in nature.
          My point about your definition of pseudoscience was that it relied heavily on the notion of what data you have and what judgement you can come to, when that has nothing much to do with it at all. This would be reasonable enough if the discussion was purely theoretical, and were it not for your definitive statement that Hancock's (not-even-attempting-to-be-science-in-any-event) talk was pseudoscience. It's a very nasty accusation to make against a professional man who has given up his time to talk for free at a conference, and not the kind of accusation I think should be made willy-nilly. I gather, sadly, that TED as an organisation has no such qualms, and some even think Hancock should be appreciative of such abuse coming from an organisation like TED, but I do not and think it would be reasonable if you withdrew your accusation (using the edit function) until such time as you were able to assess the evidence.
  • Mar 20 2013: Are people suggesting that Hancock does not feel that DMT connects him directly to “seemingly intelligent entities which communicate with us telepathically.”

    If that is how he feels, who am I, or anyone, to disagree. Now I've heard scientists claim that they should decided what someone else is experiencing (unconscious telepathy?) and whether this is worthy of scientific enquiry.

    I'd rather decide for myself.
    • Mar 20 2013: And it's not just Hancock. In Rick Strassman's DMT: The Spirit Molecule, he talks at length about the various entities that people encounter, many of which communicate telepathically. The chapter, Contact Through the Veil - 1, has much information about this.
  • Mar 19 2013: I must agree with the out cry. The fact a rep for TED stated aggravation about Facebook followers were being called into action seems myopic. Why would it matter if people came from Facebook or through Ted forum. Do these channels of communication not exists to hear your audiences thoughts on the matters you have published. The statement reminded me of persecution original thinkers and leaders in innovation have suffered throughout history. What a tragic mis-step for TED this has been. IT was greatly disappointing reading the responses of TED. TED your statements were not objective, they reminded me of the great theological debate. The statements released by TED on this matter, show many disturbing things by the measure of behaviorism and communication. This has been disappointing. To allow yourselves to fall prey to the same follies we strain to teach our children and educators alike.
    • Mar 19 2013: TED also publicly thanked Jerry Coyne who had called on his blog for an army of his followers to comment in order to show TED the way the truth and the light.
      • Mar 20 2013: Your point being? If any one of the presenters had their talk challenged removed and then had TED go on to state things by the same nature as the comments left by TED, would call to there supporters that got them the recognition, to present for you in the first place. Also This is the point of the forums and the very reason we allow facebook to be linked to the person. In fact TED uses this to raise awareness to all its followers and audiences. In fact we have created a new market with in the last decade revolving around it. Where does that justify the responses to not only his follower as individuals! or respected humans that are free to believe whatever we choose to. The comments not only conveyed frustrations but carried tones of ridicule for speaking out, which is not easy to do over text. Why say those things about people who care enough to show support. Who are you to say to what extent those people are showing support for. The actual presentation or the very fact they did not like the way it was handled by a forum and community that prides itself to non prejudice ideas.
  • 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:

      • 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.
  • Mar 19 2013: This is right in your "About TED" page.

    "Our mission: Spreading ideas.

    We believe passionately in the power of ideas to change attitudes, lives and ultimately, the world. So we're building here a clearinghouse that offers free knowledge and inspiration from the world's most inspired thinkers, and also a community of curious souls to engage with ideas and each other. This site, launched April 2007, is an ever-evolving work in progress, and you're an important part of it. Have an idea? We want to hear from you."

    Nowhere above does it say the requirements for having a good idea depend on intensive scientific research.

    Was Graham Hancock spreading an idea? Yes.
    Can the power of his idea change attitudes, lives, and ultimately the world? From my experience - definitely.
    Is he an inspired thinker? Yes.
    Would a community of curious souls be interested in it? Yes.

    So for what reason should his talk be censored, moved, or removed other than the fact that his idea may be "unpopular" within the current paradigm we operate under?

    Unless of course TED is now a popularity contest among leading scientists and entrepreneurs. In that case they should probably make some updates the website info as it's a little outdated.
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      Mar 19 2013: TED has always made decisions about what content it wants to share under its brand. Just as the New York Times receives thousands of op-ed submissions and decides what to publish. If the New York Times decided not to publish your op-ed is it censorship? No. You are free to post it elsewhere.

      TED is a media company and can decide what content it's comfortable sharing under its direct brand. In this case, TED is drawing special attention to Graham's talk and Rupert's talk, so it certainly isn't trying to censor them.
      • Mar 19 2013: What would you call it if the New York Times invited someone to write an article about challenging existing paradigms, printed the article, distributed it to 100,000 people, then after receiving criticism from people deeply rooted in the paradigms being challenged, stopped the presses and moved the article to a little-known informal publication with a fraction of the visibility?
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          Mar 19 2013: TED didn't invite Graham to speak, the organizers of TEDxWhitechapel did. And TEDxWhitechapel is free to post the content wherever it wants. But TED gets to decide what content is shared on the TEDx channel - just like the NYT decides what to publish in its newspaper and on its website.
        • Mar 20 2013: @nate, re your reply to me.
          Your response seems disingenuous, dealing as it does with a minor technicality, and ignoring the whole point of the example. OK, so the the temporary sports editor of the NYT ask you to write a piece...

          I must say that I have been astonished by the amount of wriggling around TED supporters have done to try to evade, rather than address, honest concerns.
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          Mar 20 2013: Steve: I assure you that the managing editors for the New York Times opt not to publish hundreds of stories every month that get written or submitted by freelancers.

          There's no evasion here, it's pretty simple: TED has always made curatorial decisions about the type of content it wants to share under its brand. There are never any guarantees that speakers at TEDx events (nor TED conferences) will get their talks posted on TED's media channels. The same holds true for hundreds of media companies out there, including the NYT.
      • Mar 19 2013: Yeah, and imagine instead that the NYT invited you to write a piece, which you then did, for free, and which the NYT then published. Then imagine that following a few silly and abusive complaints about the piece you wrote, the NYT decided it would be a fine thing to bad mouth you to the world, publicly thank the abusive complainants, and invent a load of false allegations in order to ingratiate itself further with the complainants. And then finally imagine that after you had written a reasoned response the head honcho at the NYT publicly taunted you about some irrelevant nasty stuff about you he dug up in Wikipedia. How would you feel? What would you think of brand NYT?
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          Mar 19 2013: TED didn't invite Graham to speak, the organizers of TEDxWhitechapel did. And TEDxWhitechapel is free to post the content wherever it wants. But TED gets to decide what content is shared on the TEDx channel - just like the NYT decides what to publish in its newspaper and on its website.
      • Mar 19 2013: Relying on the distinction between TED and TEDx is passing the buck. You can replace "New York Times" with "someone who was licensed to represent themselves as the New York Times-x, for the benefit of the New York Times" and nothing changes in the analogy.
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          Mar 19 2013: Many talks on the main TED stage also never make it to the website. TED never makes any guarantees it will post talks from its conferences. It has been this way from Day 1. TED has always made editorial decisions about what content it feels comfortable associated with its brand.

          And it has shared TEDx talks about psychedelic research before, such as Roland Griffiths' talk from TEDxMidAtlantic. In this specific case of Graham's talk, it felt the talk was not rooted in proper scientific study, which is a valid concern.
        • Mar 20 2013: @Nate
          You are missing the point. The point was about the false accusations, defamatory comments, innuendo of dishonesty, and general abuse TED hurled Sheldrake and Hancock's way because they had the temerity to give a talk at a conference organised under the TED/TEDx banner. The particulars of the contracts are not really the issue.
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        Mar 20 2013: Nate, you are absolutely correct here, and I am glad to see you are jumping into the foray. At the end of the day, Hancock and Sheldrake should be thanking TED for the incredible social media promotion they're getting. Negative PR is still PR.....as a former media executive, I should know : )
        • Mar 20 2013: So if I go on the internet and make outrageous uncalled for allegations about you, you'd be just fine with it? If no, then why should Hancock/Sheldrake thank TED for it? And if yes, then have a word with Chris and ask him to drop the ban on abuse and we can see if you're willing to put your money where your mouth is? Deal?
        • Swati T

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          Mar 20 2013: "Negative PR is still PR.....as a former media executive, I should know : )"

          Are you kidding?

          What fundamentally flawed statement.

          You don't have to be a former media executive to instantly realize that there are simply far too many examples that contradict that...why? Because that is a flawed statement.

          Ruining a person's reputation does just that...ruins a person's reputation.
        • Mar 20 2013: Al, so you should be thanking Sheldrake and Hancock as well for the massive negative PR you are getting.
        • Mar 20 2013: Al, as a former marketing manager I strongly disagree with your statement. How would you feel if defamatory statements about you would be spread over the Internet? Bad PR is of course PR but it is what it is: bad, not good for your reputation.
  • Mar 19 2013: To pretend like these compounds are not beneficial to us in some way is ignoring the very "science" evidence TED now claims to be enforcing.
  • Mar 19 2013: quote "Our advisors recommended that the talk be should not be distributed without being framed with caution. "
    the above sentence requires sub-editing

    In defense of Graham Hancock - if the man on the stage has a problem with the way he is represented I feel that TED has a duty to listen to his grievances.
    I agree that his thoughts on ayahuasca (DMT) are far from the conservative common ground of the scientific community.
    I challenge his critics to actually try it (ayahuasca) in a shamanic setting then publicly state what they have learnt from it.
    DMT is not a recreational drug nobody does it for fun
  • Mar 19 2013: I have been following this discussion since day 1 and I can't say much more on this subject that hasn't already been said, but I do want to add my 2 cents. I agree with the point that this IS censorship - I know it, TED knows it (every time they begin this 'discussion' under a different url they are further censoring them) and obviously everybody else knows it too. Until both videos are put back in their original locations with sincere apologies and even the 'health warning' you claim is needed, this issue will never be solved to ANYONE'S satisfaction. I still have the original YouTube page on my favoites bar and I've been checking it everyday, just praying that TED would come to their senses.
    I will never look at / think of TED the same - I am so utterly disappointed in them. I originally found TED when Jill Bolte's talk was new and I fell in love with them. There were so many great videos. All these other videos that people are stating need to be removed from the TED sites, due to a double standard, these are the kinds of videos I come to TED to watch. Talks like Graham's & Rupert's are the entire reason I even visit TED or TEDx. This is an atrocity. I hope someone else hurries to take advantage of this downfall of TEDs and create a new site that does NOT have a secret board of mainstream scientists (BigPharma minions) that have the power to nix what they don't like. Since I will no longer frequent TEDs sites, someone needs to hurry :-)
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      Mar 19 2013: "everybody else knows it too"

      i don't. just sayin. count me out. i don't think it is censorship. in fact i'm kind of sure it isn't.
      • Mar 19 2013: "Censorship is the suppression of speech or other public communication which may be considered objectionable, harmful, sensitive, or inconvenient as determined by a government, media outlet, or other controlling body."

        His talk was censored fromTEDx youtube.
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          Mar 19 2013: i find that definition lacking. if i write a poem, and then decide not to put it on my blog, according to your definition, i censored myself. you can define the word that way, but it immediately loses its sharpness then. this kind of censorship can be totally acceptable.
      • Mar 19 2013: Yes that is called self censorship..

        So how do you define removing Graham's talk from the TEDx youtube channel ?
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          Mar 19 2013: it does not matter what the label is. ted is an independent organization. it has owners. it has staff. they decide what they do, and that is it. you can criticize it if you so desire. but since you can decide what do you write on your own blog, and what do you do with your own poems, ted can decide not to publish something even without reason or explanation. if you don't agree to that policy, don't cooperate with ted.
  • Mar 19 2013: All you are doing is trying to dilute the argument, and avoiding making an apology. I'm sure if there are lots of comments here, you will make another blog and dilute it even further.

    The sheer hypocrisy in your reasoning is there for all to see. You allow a talk condoning Mescaline but lampoon a talk about Ayahuasca (where it was made clear that it wasn't a recreational substance).

    All of this could have been avoided if you just prefaced the video with a simple statement of "TED does not necessarily support the arguments in this talk, but it's there to stimulate debate". After all the conference in question was labelled "Challenging Existing Paradigms".

    Instead you chose to listen to some influential bloggers, rather than stand up for the ideals that TED is supposed to stand for. Such a shame.
  • Mar 19 2013: In Graham's words " TED Curator Chris Anderson telling me that yet another of their famous Blog pages has now been set up, this one apparently as a special standalone ghetto for discussion of my “War on Consciousness” presentation. "

    So what is it with TED? Corporate giants afraid of consciousness raising and the truth of our world that their ultra-rich patrons control? If people are happy and connected the "TED-POWERS-THAT-BE" can't abuse them anymore or are they afraid of the enlightened rats fleeing the sinking ship that is the corporate-American-powered empire that's crumbling? Do they really want the soybean farms replacing the Amazon jungle?

    Eddie Huang on the "Joe Rogan Experience" a podcast I trust now more than your TED facade, painted the house your brand lives in to a tee. Here's the link if you got the "balls" to watch http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_hwLMBdnbXk.

    I am adult and these TED talks WERE something I told everyone about. Now your emperor's clothes have dressed as another BRAND (fake-douche-bags if you don't understand my drift) and everything you do is suspect. People with great ideas 'begging" for money? 12 hour shifts? Stupid meetings where these ideas can be bought out?

    As Peter Joseph of the Zeitgeist movement stated and you've proven true "Everything is one Massive corruption." Thanks for fitting in Ted. Thanks for breaking my heart and joining the cause of money and greed and death. For you it's the worst kind of death you are trying to manipulate. The death of an IDEA. Luckily it can never die.

    Watch for the Guy Fawkes masks now TED. We know what we have here.
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      Gail .

      • +1
      Mar 20 2013: I can't begin to tell you how saddened I am as well. It feels like the death of a loved one that I will miss terribly. At least I now understand why the one who calls herself "HOST" of this forum puts out warning labels on certain questions, and tells the questioner that answers from TED people are not reliable, while directing them to the physics forum that is least qualified to answer the questions.

      When I challenged her, she said that her daughter has taken some physics classes on a college level. (Apparently her only qualification to judge questions.) At least I know why she insults those who answer questions she doesn't want us to think about and misleads questioners. It's a TED thing.
  • Mar 19 2013: Who the hell said that Graham was giving a talk on Science ??
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    Mar 19 2013: Part 1: Yes, TED is censoring Graham Hancock’s talk. TED is denying they are censoring because they do not admit that placing the talks in a separate section with criticism by a “community” rising up against those views is censorship. However, it is the censorship of apartheid-like segregation; it is just not the censorship of outright prohibition. The review posted by the official “Tedstaff” is itself as much a “one-note explanation” as it claims Hancock’s views to be. While “Tedstaff” would like us to believe that Hancock’s error is his science, I believe that TED’s real problem with Hancock is his exposing of the “unholy alliance” of psychiatric science, big pharma, and law enforcement. We are supposed to believe that the nameless “community” of TED has risen up against Hancock on the basis of science, but it is much more probable that it is the monetary backers of TED who have ties to big pharma, scientific grants, and law enforcement in the phony “war on drugs” that is what is behind the censorship of Hancock’s views. Because in fact, Hancock has not made “many misleading statements” as Tedstaff claims.

    I do criticize Hancock in some respects. In telling his tale of his personal journey he speaks of the visions of ayahuasca revealing a universal experience of “the encounter with seemingly intelligent entities which communicate with us telepathically.” Only someone who has no education in the non-materialistic science of analytical psychology founded by Carl Jung could make such a statement as to suggest that what is encountered are external entities communicating with us “telepathically.” From the perspective of psychological science, the “entities” are the archetypes of our own mind (not just “hallucinations”), and there a seemingly independent existence is because they are independent of our ego complex, not because they are independent of our mind.

    Continued in Part 2.
    • Mar 25 2013: I guess "later editions" are examples of "censorship" as well, according to the implications of your comment.
  • Apr 2 2013: Well, as with Sheldrake's talk, we have reached the end of the road and no real reasons have been given for removing this talk. TED's science board's initial complaints had to be crossed out and neither they, nor anyone here, has been able to come up with any substantive problems with the talk. The community has spoken by about 10-1 in favour of reinstatement.

    Here's the talk

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    Mar 30 2013: I have to admit I am so tired of the denial of the alternate realities. So many people in the world whether through meditation, journeyng or visioning can access other realities.
    Why are people so afraid to explore these other realities?
    Are we as a people so afraid of being 'out of control'or what?. It is so stifling to observe so much fear especially from the scientific community. Can they not access through quantum physics, parallel universes in physics or string theories? They need personal therapy to get out of their own rigid belief systems.They are STUCK.
    Many decades ago I took LSD when I was 15 years old. It woke me up to how aware I already was. I have been on a personal growth journey ever since. I am now in my early 60s and plan to go to Peru later this year and take ayahuesca for the first time. This is not recreation but spiritual. I have been working with a Shaman here in Florida as my paintings constantly reveal other realities and I want to deepen that connection. This is exciting stuff. Are we so arrogant that we think 3 dimensions is all there is? Can we get off these stupid judgments?
    I have always respected TEDs intention of bringing us great talks and minds...so enjoyable. BUT I am extremely disappointed that their egos and intellects are screwing things up badly concerning this issue. They need to suck it up and apologize!
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      Mar 30 2013: Join the club, Denny. There are also plenty of people who are tired of the denial that Jesus is Lord or that Allah is One and Muhammad is his Prophet. I don't think an argument based on numbers is in your favor.
  • Mar 30 2013: As a young and concerned member of your species, I am deeply saddened to see this TED talk removed...

    The only example of a concern TED's reputable scientists gave was:

    For example, it suggests a world view in which DMT can connect users directly to “seemingly intelligent entities which communicate with us telepathically.”

    Thus, by eliminating the validity of this concern I expect a prompt reconciliation and restoration of the TED talk to regular viewings status.

    Graham states that his anecdotal evidence is just that, personal experience. Yet, TED is concerned that Graham is proposing the scientific validity of the intelligent entities he speaks of. Wouldn't the most skeptical scientist assume that the entity experienced is not a concsious being, but an illusion created by the mind of the tripper? If this is assumed, than Graham is simply suggesting that psychedelics may assist in self-healing, allowing the mind to reveal aspects of itself as beings that may support the better intentions and desires of the individual.

    So then, is TED suggesting that it is far outside scientifically accepted reasoning that people can recognize negative tendencies and alter behavior under different states of consciousness?

    I do not think so. Whether or not I fully agree with the relationship between Graham's experiences and the reality of things is besides the point. The point that should be asked, is whether or not the distilled message of his talk is supportive of the betterment of life and the expansion of bliss.

    If this is in question and you have no personal experience with psychedelics, then I encourage you to talk to the intellectuals you know who do have experience. I believe you will find a consensus that supports, in essence, the views of Mr. Graham Hancock: The illegality of specific mind-altering substances is damaging society, and the legality of such substances would lead to the betterment of life by ultimately increasing happiness and decreasing suffering.
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      Mar 30 2013: You write, "TED is concerned that Graham is proposing the scientific validity of the intelligent entities he speaks of. Wouldn't the most skeptical scientist assume that the entity experienced is not a concsious being, but an illusion created by the mind of the tripper?"

      Yes, but that is not what Hancock thinks. In his book "Supernatural: Meetings with the Ancient Teachers of Mankind," he asserts that these entities are real and communicate with humans from a parallel universe. He does not believe they are illusions, but actual beings.
      • Mar 30 2013: He doesn't actually - he offers a number of possibilities for us to consider. Possibilities that are every bit as reasonable as (probably much more reasonable than) the incoherent rubbish you promulgate.
      • Mar 30 2013: Okay, so because he believes something due to personal experience that is currently impossible to back up with scientific evidence, especially with the illegality of experiments, he is not only wrong, but his loosely related talk must be totally discredited and banned from being viewed by the masses?

        My rational friend, please explain your line of thinking...
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          Mar 30 2013: Well, it definitely hasn't been banned from viewing by the masses. Even if it weren't available on the TED site (which it is), it would still be widely reproduced on YouTube. Nothing has been banned. The question is whether the iffy, fringe-y, woo-woo nature of the poor quality talk diminishes the value of the TED brand under which it appears. I think it does.

          For me, it's an issue of quality control, which I think TED has every right to exercise in whatever way it sees fit. Public clamor has little to do with quality, IMHO.
        • Mar 30 2013: The problem being though John, that you can't actually find anything wrong with the talk. Your beef is entirely about Hancock the man. Thus your endless off topic stuff about other things he has(n't really) said. And when you did try to talk about this talk everything you said was hopelessly uninformed and often times just plain false.
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          Mar 30 2013: Wrong again, Steve. You lie a lot.
        • Mar 30 2013: Not at all John. Most of your posts here have been attempts at character assassination based on stuff unrelated to the content of the talk. On the few occasions you talked about ayahuasca every word you said was wrong. You argued for hours, eg, that ayahuasca was not used all over the world and only finally conceded it was when some real experts came in and told you you were spouting nonsense. You also tried to deny the ayahuasca visions have any universal aspects to them in anything like the way Hancock suggests, and here again you turned out to be wildly off the mark. You then tried to pull some stroke about Hancock speaking in code which was laughable. Thus you returned to Hancock's other works and more attempts at character assassination.
        • Mar 30 2013: John Hoopes - "For me, it's an issue of quality control, which I think TED has every right to exercise in whatever way it sees fit. Public clamor has little to do with quality, IMHO."

          John I cant believe you can be so naive.

          What you say above could so easily be said this way, by just replacing the word "quality" with the word "mind". see below:-

          For me, it's an issue of MIND control, which I think TED has every right to exercise in whatever way it sees fit. Public clamor has little to do with quality, IMHO

          Whether you are aware of it or not. That is the reality.
      • Mar 30 2013: Aye, although I must agree with you in principle, I disagree on the application of that principle in this circumstance.

        There is nothing per say, unscientific, about his talk, as it is expressed as personal experience.

        I believe your strong disagreements with Graham Hancock's personal views and other writings distorts your perception of this situation.

        Hopefully, you and TED can recognize the general consensus of the intellectuals on this forum, and see the overwhelming support both in the comments here and the cheering in the video.

        Sadly, there is no rational argument for the subjective area of taste, so if you believe that TED censored this video for quality control, than there is no argument I can make.

        I hope you have the opportunity and willingness to give psychedelics a try, so we may gain another highly intelligent and respected supporter of an extremely important movement.

        So, I bid you good luck in discovering the light ;)
        • Mar 30 2013: You got it. Well done.
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          Mar 30 2013: I appreciate your good wishes, Laser Nite, but I'm curious why you presume I haven't tried psychedelics. I've actually used several different ones, many times at that. Your implication that I haven't "discovered the light" is a bit condescending and presumptuous. It's ironic that I get charged with academic elitism when there are so many psychedelic elitists about. Do you think it's due to a natural desire to feel superior? Good luck with that.
      • Mar 30 2013: John, we seem to be at risk of being snared by a critically misundertsood issue here: namely, whether entheogenic experience is illusionary, or can open the brain-mind to direct intelligent externalities, that are demonstrably independent, and thus conscious, and not mere "projections" of the self. In simple language, angelic agencies.

        Have you an adequate explanation of such a profoundly esoteric "imaginal" neuro-phenomenology? It is a highly significant and important question, since almost all religion is virtually based on this fundamental premise ~ namely, the existence of "spiritual" entities.
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          Mar 30 2013: I don't have a good explanation myself, David. At least not a complete one yet. I'm an archaeologist, not a neuroscientist, so I'm most comfortable dismissing "ancient aliens" (to whom Hancock alludes) and ETs as absurdities. However, I do try to follow cognitive neuroscience a bit and I think Peter Brugger, whose group is based in Zurich, is probably on the right track with his suggestion that imagined entities may be "phantom people" produced by cognitive errors similar to those that produce a "phantom limb" effect. His research is thoughtful, deliberate, and credible. I think you and others should consider it. Olaf Blanke, who has been doing research on out-of-body experiences, has also been able to demonstrate and replicate such cognitive errors. The science is getting closer to explaining these phenomena. When it's there, assertions about spirit entities will make for endearing folklore, but not science.

          Peter Brugger

          Olaf Blanke's TED talk
        • Mar 30 2013: On problem, of course, John, is that according to physics we live in a phantom world conjured seemingly out of (almost) nothingness by our consciousness. Unclear, then, how sharp a distinction can be drawn without circularity.
      • Mar 30 2013: Mr. Hoopes, By your own admission, you haven't been able to get through his books. If you had actually read Supernatural, you'd know that you are mistaken. He offers a number of possible explanations. That they are real beings in non-ordinary reality, an actual place at least as real as this one, is a shamanic view. That is one possibility. Due to my own non-psychadelically driven shamanic practices, it's the one I'm most inclined toward. So you can call me loon if you want. They can also be viewed as archetypes. They can be viewed as delusions or mental projections that are somehow helpful to the healing process.

        Just read the book and stop putting words in Hancock's mouth. Once again, you've taken something he's speculated about but not drawn a final conclusion on, something based on the views of shamanic cultures he's discussing, and stated it as if it's an assertion of fact of which he is trying to persuade people. It's a fallacious interpretation.
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          Mar 30 2013: I have no doubt that belief in spirits, shamanic entities, guardian angels, the healing power of faith in Jesus Christ as your personal Lord and Savior, and the infinite grace of an almighty God can be reassuring and therapeutic. However such beliefs are the result of faith, not science, and as beneficial and fulfilling and inspiring as such witnessing may be, I do not think that TED is an appropriate forum for religious/spiritual evangelism.
      • Mar 30 2013: @ John Hoopes, You write: " I have no doubt that belief in spirits, shamanic entities, guardian angels, the healing power of faith in Jesus Christ as your personal Lord and Savior, and the infinite grace of an almighty God can be reassuring and therapeutic. However such beliefs are the result of faith, not science, and as beneficial and fulfilling and inspiring as such witnessing may be, I do not think that TED is an appropriate forum for religious/spiritual evangelism. "

        So, your criticism of this talk is basically in line with the atheist view that got it banned. Talking about a spiritual experience you've had is not the same thing as evangelism. Evangelism attempts to convert. Hancock isn't trying to convert anyone.

        I don't think Jill Bolte Taylor was trying to convert anyone either when she talked about her experience of the numimous. Should her talk be removed as well?

        A question: When shamanic cultures talk about interfacing with the spirit world, whether its with aid of plant teachers or other methods, do you think they believe they're hallucinations or do you think they believe the helping spirits are real?
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          Mar 30 2013: I think they believe the helping spirits are real. It think they believe that because they (and to a certain extent we) lack the knowledge that would help them/us to understand these phenomena in ways that more closely approximate reality. There was a time when the weather, crop growth, diseases, earthquakes, volcanos, electricity, etc. were attributed to supernatural causes, spirits, maleficent magic and the like. As Arthur C. Clarke said, "Any sufficiently advanced technology is industinguishable from magic." (I think many people actually do consider their smart phones, tablets, and digital technogies to be "magic.") A correlary might be, "Any sufficiently scientifically inexplicaple phenomenon is indistinguishable from the supernatural." Just because we lack adequate understanding of cognitive neuroscience to explain "spiritual entities" doesn't mean they are deities or angels or spirits. As with magnetism and electricity in the 19th century and genetics in the 1950s, they are a phenomenon whose comprehension is in its infancy.

          People forget that we have been here before. What's happening with Hancock is a revival of 19th century Spiritualism, which at the time had the attention and support of such luminaries as Alfred Russel Wallace and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Before that, it was "animal magnetism" and mesmerism.


          Animal magnetism

          We now know that the odd behavior of magnets is actually not due to supernatural powers. I'm confident that a more advanced understanding of psychopharmacology and cognitive neuroscience will demonstrate that ayahuasca does not conjure spirit entities from a parallel reality. But that's just my own opinion.

          I also think that TED should be the venue for discussing new avenues of scientific research that "draw back the veil" on phenomena attributed to supernatural forces and entities, not one for reinforcing Medieval or Pre-Medieval beliefs.
      • Mar 30 2013: @ John Hoopes, "I think they believe the helping spirits are real. It think they believe that because they (and to a certain extent we) lack the knowledge that would help them/us to understand these phenomena in ways that more closely approximate reality."

        So, then, how would shamanism be discussed in a TED talk -- something you said down-thread you're not opposed to. Would it be discussed from the perspective of, "Look, these people who don't understand how the world really works have some funny beliefs?" Because that seems to be your view. It strikes me as an awfully ethnocentric view for an archaeologist. I just don't share your contempt for the beliefs of indigenous peoples.

        "I'm confident that a more advanced understanding of psychopharmacology and cognitive neuroscience will demonstrate that ayahuasca does not conjure spirit entities from a parallel reality. But that's just my own opinion."

        Conjure is not an accurate term for what occurs in a shamanic journey. To conjure is to produce something out of nothing or to materialize something here that wasn't. In shamanic practice, you don't bring anything here. You go there.

        But more to the point, it is, as you say your "own opinion." You are absolutely entitled to hold that opinion. Where we get into trouble is in the assertion of such things as fact and marginalizing as "pseudoscience" anyone who disagrees with that view, be they shamans or Graham Hancock, even when they never were claiming "science" in the first place.

        Hancock is nowhere near as certain of the reality of the spirit world as praciticing shamans are but he's being dismissed as a quack for acknowledging a religious view shared by people all over the planet. He's a westerner trying to make sense of a world view totally alien to his upbringing but which all the same brought him tremendous healing. And he does a great job of describing it from that vantage point.
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          Mar 30 2013: Personally, I think any serious discussion of "shamanism" must begin with critical analysis of the life and work of Mircea Eliade, who played a key role in defining that concept for Western audiences. "Shamanism" is not an indigenous term, but a Western one. For me, uncritical use of it is ethnocentric and disrespectful of indigenous belief systems, which have their own concepts and terminologies (which are often quite different). How much do you know about Eliade?

          Mircea Eliade

          This short book by anthropologist Alice Kehoe is quite good:

          Shamans and Religion: An Anthropological Exploration in Critical Thinking
        • Mar 30 2013: Beautiful.

          @John Hoopes

          First off, thanks for pointing out the elitism I exhibited, a common but avoidable error on my part. More to the point, if you are being honest about your psychedelic use (DMT, Psilocybin, Mescaline, or LSD) then I would be curious to hear your experiences. I have never encountered an intellectual who after experiencing the effects of such chemicals, has stuck die-hard to materialism. Although materialism is not totally unacceptable, I find it curious that you are so opposed to alternative scientific and philosophical inquiry. You are likely to say that you do support inquiry, but that Hancock's speech is unscientific and irrational. Unfortunately the evidence you provide to back up this claim is references to other materials he has written that you disagree with, not an error in reasoning in the video. You relate Hancock's views to those of any common religion, yet the relationship is totally unfair. Hancock proposes views and experiences, and lays them out for scrutiny, neither denying or accepting the absolute truth of anything he is saying.

          You believe that neuroscience will show us that the mind is conjuring illusory beings and not contacting parallel dimensions or universes, yet you have no evidence to back up your claim. Thus, you are as dogmatic and religiously faithful as those you criticize. Perhaps you think you are in the right because your view seems more "normal", yet neither science nor logic can back up any of your claims.

          I do not claim to know what is going on. I claim to not know, but to be open to rigorous inquiry. The only evidence currently available is personal experience, and until these substances are decriminalized and thoroughly researched there is no way we can know the true nature of these experiences.
      • Mar 30 2013: @ John Hoopes, shaman is an indigenous term if you're from Siberia, but, yes, it became the overarching term for similar practices around the globe.

        As to Eliade, I know the name, but I'm not terribly familiar. Harner was my gateway drug and from there I got acquainted with practicing shamans and other native teachers. For me, at this point, it's more about the practice than the theory, but I'll keep your recommendation in mind.
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          Mar 30 2013: If you haven't considered Eliade's "Shamanism" (Fr. 1951, Eng. 1964), you really should. It's the foundational text for understanding ideas about "shamanism" in Western culture. Note the publication date of the English edition. It became a favorite of Ken Kesey, Jim Morrison, and other counterculture icons of the Sixties.

          Yes, "shaman" comes from the Tungus in Siberia. Kehoe argues that it should be restricted to that and related Siberian cultures. Native Americans I know have come to despise the term "shamanism" and won't use it (though it does have commerce for some in the New Age marketplace). Anthropologists will often roll their eyes at it or use their fingers to put quotation marks around it (as I do).
      • Mar 30 2013: @ John Hoopes: I don't disagree with you as to the word shaman. But changing it would be a bit like trying to put toothpaste back in the tube. And there really is no better term available for the universal elements of so many indigenous practices. At the same time I appreciate the concerns of native peoples that being lumped under shamanism is a form of cultural genocide. I don't think there's an easy answer to any of it.

        Thanks for the book recommendation. Jim Morrison, not really my go to on these matters, but I take your point.
      • Mar 30 2013: @ John Hoopes, I didn't say they were universal. I said there were universal elements. But I think we'll have to agree to disagree as to whether there are both core similarities and important cultural differences.
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          Mar 30 2013: You mentioned that your interest stems from Michael Harner's work. I think we probably will have to agree to disagree if you're not willing to participate in a critical examination of his theory about "core shamanism."
      • Mar 30 2013: Yes John, I'm quite aware of many of the limitations of Harner's work. And I'm well aware of much of the criticism. Some of it comes from my own teachers. I still think he's done quite a service because the healing techniques work. The brain works the way it works, no matter what culture you're raised in. No, I don't think all religions are the same or all shamanism is the same but, yes, I do think there are important universal elements simply because we are all human. I've heard a number of shamanic teachers of different traditions and cultures say basically this same thing, "This is original teaching." They believe it comes from the spirit world and from the earth itself, not cultural peculiarity. I have one teacher who clears everything through her tribal council to ensure that she's only teaching the universal elements and not the things that are specific to her nation and traditions. But many of these teachers make themselves available to westerners because they think the survival of the world depends on it, not because they're being exploited by anthropologists, new age merchandizing, or plastic shamans.
  • Mar 29 2013: I have watched Graham Hancock's presentation several times now and I don't understand why you removed it. I have read your arguments and I still don't understand why. So why?

    What is it that is so controversial? Mr Hancock is talking about something shamanistic cultures has done for thousands of years. They use so called "visionary plants" as a part of their culture. They use it to get insights and advice. So did Graham Hancock. This isn't about misuse of drugs or glorifying anything that would potentially be addictive. It is simply research.

    Would you let a recognized MD speak about the benefits of certain pharmaceutical drugs that has been approved by authorities but still are criticized by many scientists and researchers for side effects that hasn't been proven or researched in a long term way? Of course you would! Why? Because it is socially acceptable. It is within norms in society and stamped with the word "approved".

    It is truly a disgrace what you have done and it stinks of the spanish inquisition...
  • Mar 28 2013: The elephant in the room here is Hancocks' explanation of the ability of ayahuasca to treat addictions. The illegal drugs trade is the second largest industry on earth after the legal arms trade, although they are often two heads of the same beast. The policing and incarceration of people using illegal drugs is another huge industry whose existence is parasitic and needs serious drug addicts to exist. Anyone with Hancocks' access to mainstream media who begins to speak about a way to break an individuals addiction to these unspeakably profitable drugs is bound to meet up with flak from the vested interests behind the illegal drug trade. With all the drones and sattelites they have in Afghanistan the CIA know exactly how many acres of poppies are being cultivated- with resolution down to individual plants, and exactly where and when they are harvested. They also know when the convoys of opium start to move. In spite of this knowledge the opium production in Afghanistan has increased 1000% since 2001 when the US military invaded.

    If TED want to try to convince people that Hancocks talk was censored/ moved/ etc due to a lack of scientific evidence then they should do the following- find a scientist who has access to data on the use of ayahuasca, Ibogaine, psilocybin mushrooms to treat addiction- and allow them to speak at a TED event. This is my proposition to TED. Chris Anderson please consider this for a future TED talk. If there was EVER an idea worth spreading- this is it.
  • Mar 27 2013: How to tell good science from bad science? After some 40 years of work at the research department of a big chemistry company (on the very rationalist or even technocratical side of science, indeed), my answer to this question has become quite simple altogether: Whatever you gained through your research (how "elegant" or "consistent" a solution may ever appear), it must work in practice. If it turns out to be a failure, you have to reassess it and improve it and, if this doesn't help, to abandon it and to develop something new - that might do it ...
    No doubt, the prohibitive politics on so-called "drugs", which are more or less the same in all western industrial nations today, don't work in practice at all. Graham Hancock has been absolutely right to point this out, passionately, with personal engagement and with rhetorical brilliance. Unfortunately, he aimed more to edify the followers than to proselyse the sceptics. The latter one, of course, had inevitably to be done by presenting boring statstics, reports and worse things for hours and hours. And, believe me, these would have been most fatiguing hours.

    P.S.: If you want to create a better world, then a) ban the lobbyists from the political scene, b) ban the advertising industry from the media and c) ban the consultants from the companies' executive boards. If there will ever be TED talks on these matters, don't delete them from your Youtube site, please! Amd, please, put the videos of Graham Hancock and Rupert Sheldrake back there.
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      Mar 27 2013: "If you want to create a better world, then a) ban the lobbyists from the political scene, b) ban the advertising industry from the media and c) ban the consultants from the companies' executive boards." I would add to that ban the commercial promoters of sensationalist fringe theories from serious intellectual discussions. There are good reasons why the headline stories of the Weekly World News are not reported on PBS.
  • Mar 27 2013: I think Glen Reese makes very good points. But he also illustrates the dichotomy in science by pointing out that quantum physics smashes many paradigms. No kidding. Nothing in recent centuries touches it for shaking up our views of Universe. Nothing. But . . . Not all disciplines are as open to novel ideas as theoretical physics, as a general rule. And activists in atheism, or other religious dogma are just that. Activists. Whether they hide behind "skepticism" or "scripture".

    It is said that sarcasm is the lowest for of humor. I think the pseudo-skepticism that masquerades as true skepticism, and is really knee-jerk naysaying, is the lowest form of public scientific debate, and the most common.

    The so-called "caricature" of science Glen speaks of is well within the experience of many educated people. For example, how many doctoral candidates conceal their revolutionary ideas until after they get tenure? I have read interviews with several who did that because they would never have a career otherwise. I have had countless discussions with educated minds that are unconsciously wrapped up in the beautiful facts they have been given "A's" and honors and recognition for regurgitating on tests. These minds are literally placed in a fight-flight mode when basic "facts" they got rewarded for regurgitating are questioned. A lot of this is quite unconscious, of course. Cumulatively, this results in huge biases in research grants, peer reviews, and what people are afraid to say or ask about, especially where financial and political pressure is applied. Then the educated mind finds comfort in saying "there's not enough solid data" to conclude anything novel. Of course not. Paradigm busting findings break too many rice bowls as they say in Vietnam. They don't get follow-up studies. Or they get hatchet jobs, such as what was done to "replicate" Linus Pauling, to name one shining example.

    "Science advances one funeral at a time." - Max Plank
    • Mar 27 2013: Excellent, Douglas. I've seen the same sort of subtle (and not so subtle) behavior mod in academia. In one egregious case, a friend - quite famous - was castigated by colleagues for his appearance on national TV where he brought up the forbidden subject of the possible health benefits of certain entheogens. That part of the interview was cut from the broadcast, by the way. He refuses now to discuss the matter in mixed company.
      • Mar 28 2013: I once asked a recently minted PHD professor of geology (friend) what he thought of Velikovsky, and he trashed the man like a spawn of Satan. It was plain he had never read a word V. had written. So I said something about continental drift being predicted by Velikovsky, and he simply denied this. Astoundingly, he said that people he trusted had trashed Velikovsky so the debate was over. Even refused to let me show him the passage in the book about continental drift, which I had in arm's reach. I saw the same reaction a pious person has if you offer proof a bible passage was forged, or ask a question the answer to which contradicts their dogma.

        He is now a department head at a medium to large sized State University. I don't have much to say to him anymore. Zealots are tedious.
        • Mar 28 2013: Isn't it the truth. True believers are incredibly tedious, and they love to quote scripture.
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    Mar 26 2013: Fyi, this situation has repercussions. I'm the organizer for www.TEDxWestHollywood.com, and this is making my main fiscal sponsor nervous. It was heartening to read what Craig Weiler wrote, about the timetable for the end of materialism being stepped up by the opportunity this is affording to focus on what keeps materialism in place: http://weilerpsiblog.wordpress.com/2013/03/23/the-real-meaning-behind-the-ted-controversy. Do watch our Live Stream on April 14, 9-6 pacific time. "Brother, Can You Spare a Paradigm?" will deal with other things that could contribute to prompting the change of worldview for which we are overdue.
    • Mar 27 2013: Suzanne, (thanks for the compliment by the way. ) from a business perspective, I do not understand what TED hopes to accomplish by dragging itself through all of this. While materialist scientists struggle to keep out psi, they are so much in the minority that any organization reaching out to a wider public cannot afford to tie their horses to that wagon.

      Some 75% of the public in the U.S. believes in some form of psi and around 50% have had some sort of psi experience. They badly want science to catch up with the world that they actually experience. When I give talks on psi stuff, people are riveted. They want to learn more. There are WAY too many people who are interested to be blowing them off or ignoring them.

      This is just self sabotage on TED's part. Nothing good for TED can possibly come out of this. Allowing the videos is better than creating all this bad blood. It doesn't make sense to me.
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        Mar 27 2013: Oh Craig – I am such a fan of yours. Every time someone else appreciates you, I want to be that person’s friend. You are the best sense-maker.

        You don’t know the half of it – well, actually you only know half of it. They want to cancel my program. Reason: “We are not comfortable with it.” I kid you not. That’s all. Repeated over and over on the phone as to why. No more, except there are objections to some speakers, but, “We’re not naming names.” I must be joking, right? Can an organization have Alzheimer‘s? Doesn’t it know this adds fuel to its fire? Something we don’t understand is going on.

        Am fighting with TED. More later.
        • Mar 28 2013: Dear God. That is lunacy.

          If you like, I can get a blog post out about this and get the word out. I have quite the following these days. It's big news and it will travel fast.

          That is, of course, somewhat of a bridge burner, so it's something to think over carefully before you go that route.

          Judging by the flavor of comments I've seen from TED staff on these comments, they seem incredibly tone deaf and arrogant. Businesses normally respond quickly and positively to this much outrage. These are, after all, customers.

          Not only that, but the kind of people making a fuss on these boards are not followers, but trend setters. They're the first people to explore new things and new ideas and they influence other, more conservative people around them. That's the worst sort of group to piss off; they take a lot of people with them.

          I can be reached at craig @ weiler . com (just remove the spaces.) if you're interested.
  • Jo Mo

    • +6
    Mar 26 2013: I would like to see Ted debate Hancock. Ted have crossed the line by censoring him and many of my colleagues and friends feel the same. It raises the question, who is running Ted and who are their masters.
  • Mar 26 2013: The worst that can be said about Graham Hancock's talk is that he didn't provide any scientific studies to back up his assertions. That has never been a cause for censorship before, so why now?
    Given the highly illegal status of DMT in many countries, and the lack of scientific data, it is more than reasonable to say that Graham Hancock's talk should be made more available if anything, as it warrants scientific attention, and his personal experiences and his assertions should be evaluated and tested by the scientific community.
    Science is a process, and not for TED moderators to decide on and censor.
  • Mar 26 2013: The judgment of TED's scientific advisors has, alas, little scientific value. After all, they could but did not promote a serious course on the very important topic of the criminal controlled demolition of the twin towers, which Architects and Engineers for 9/11 Truth and other outfits have demonstrated at the high school level.

    Given this background, they can hardly be trusted to provide a sound judgment on the much more complex topics that Hancock brings.

  • Mar 24 2013: Dear TED Talks: now even your own organization (TEDx Whitechapel) opposes your reprehensible act of censorship. Time to grow up and return the legitimate talks of Hancock and Sheldrake to their fully deserved positions at TED YouTube and front and center on TED.com.

    Face it TED. You blew it big time and the fix is to humbly admit you were WRONG.

    • Mar 25 2013: I don't think it's quite right to characterise TEDx Whitechapel as an organisation of TED, though I agree Whitechapel's response is important and appreciable.
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    Mar 24 2013: Steve Jobs of apple has also given talks where he talks of his LSD experiences, is he to be removed from TED too?
  • Stef W

    • +6
    Mar 24 2013: TED. Ideas worth stifling? A shocking display of nonsensical censorship!

    There's plenty of evidence that some hallucinogens therapeutically alter the brain and the idea that early religious/spiritual ideas might have been influenced by altered states is hardly worth banning! On the contrary, it's quite interesting, worth considering... perhaps even spreading!


    • Mar 25 2013: How is the movement of a video from one site to another a form of "censorship"? If presented skeptically, the idea is, indeed, interesting.
      • Stef W

        • +1
        Mar 25 2013: Because it infers that the hypothesis is not worthy enough to be where it was
      • Mar 25 2013: Censorship is impossible and TED knows it, but the approach they have taken frames it in a way that suggests that "if censorship were possible, these videos would be worthy of it."
      • Stef W

        • 0
        Mar 25 2013: taking down the video from the main site is the censorship. And the ridicule is a bit strange:

        TED ridicules Hancock about DMT users experiencing entities that 'seemingly communicate telepathically' but then does state that Graham makes no claim to the reality status of these entities. So not really that controversial.

        TED continues that Graham's view that they can teach and heal us are well outside orthodox scientific thinking. I agree they're not mainstream but what did they expect when they invited him for the talk, given his background?

        There's plenty of evidence that some of the hallucinogens can heal us of addictions as I have already pointed out. What these hallucinogenic experiences might teach us is obviously subjective - but if they have a role to play in curing drug addictions, presumably they are teaching us something about ourselves. And we do know a bit about the e.g. Native American cultures that use hallucinogens as rites of passage in ritual context. Presumably they are learning something - or don't you agree?
  • Mar 24 2013: Whether or not you agree with Graham Hancocks presentation and its content. Surely TED viewers are able to make their own decisions to watch or not watch. Perhaps we can all learn something new from approaching problems from different perspectives (perhaps not). But we will never know if we are to afraid to even explore the idea of it.

    People are perfectly capable of discernment. I agreed with some of what Hancock said, and disagreed with other parts of it. Life is just like that.
  • Mar 24 2013: Has Ted ever answered Graham Hancock's rebuttals/ refutation?
    • Mar 24 2013: I think that TED, its scientific board, and those bloggers that complained, all have a duty to each provide an explanation, as a basic courtesy to both the speakers, and the public. It will also provide a level of accountability and transparency, all of which are currently lacking, and diminishing TED's reputation.
  • Mar 23 2013: Thanks Amrita Bhohi for your comments explaining the thinking and mindset of the people who organized this Tedx event and set the theme for the speakers.

    I hope there’s more organizers out there like you, wanting to explore these challenging areas (human consciousness) which so many of us find fascinating.

    The real problem we have in front of us now though, is that a science board has critiqued a talk which is about consciousness, something science knows almost nothing about. The tools of science just can’t yet test or measure consciousness. We have a gap in our knowledge in this area. Science calls consciousness “the hard question” because it doesn’t yet know what consciousness is, how the brain creates it, or even if the brain creates it.

    Some well known scientists are starting to explore this area. Two who are probably making the most headway right now are Sir Roger Penrose and Stewart Hameroff with their Orch Or Theory. Here’s a link for anyone interested. It’s not yet proven nor disproven for the reasons already mentioned above.
    www.youtube.com/watch?v=3WXTX0IUaOg&feature=share Sheldrake also dares to go here too.

    Richard Faynman, one of our greatest scientists famously said years ago that the very first step in creating any new laws of science is to “make a guess”. After that comes the hard work of trying to prove that guess. We are still somewhere in the middle of that process when it comes to the kinds of issues Hancock addresses and explores in his talk. This is why removing the talk on the basis of a scientific assessment of the material is wrong and has caused so much upset.

    Please, let’s see these talks go back onto the main Ted platform. Further debate can go on there. More importantly though, Hancock’s talk encourages further discussion and understanding of what it means to us to be human beings, exploring our personal, subjective and universal experience. Asking the big questions just as science does but using different techniques.
    • Mar 23 2013: "Making a guess" is what fuels the scientific process. We guess... we throw an idea out there and then we violently strive to disprove that guess... falsification.

      To suggest that one person's guess is worth less than somebody else's is dangerous. Especially considering that many of the greatest strides made in science started out as a guess that was thought to be crazy, out there, unreasonable, etc. Even today, when we listen to a talk on quantum physics, new ideas - new interpretations - come up constantly. We find in the mathematics some predications - for example, that there are perhaps multiple universes, different or relative realities... pretty crazy stuff if you ask most people.

      The vast majority of us are completely clueless about the science behind things like String or M-theory, but we indulge in the wondrous possibilities it opens up... and we've done so on TED!

      Most of it remains, at the end of the day, guesswork - our interpretation of things as they stand. Ideas the likes of Mr. Hancock's makes us think... make us explore new paths... allow us to throw a new guess out there.

      Long story short, Kristen mentions our, and our scientific tools' inability to approach the event of consciousness, and that Mr. Hancock is asking one of those 'big questions'... 'but using different techniques'. Very good insight, Kristen. In this case, experience, subjective as it is (or is said to be, who knows?), is what compels Mr. Hancock's enquiry, as opposed to a discovery in a lab (as I elaborated on in an earlier post).

      A guess is a guess, no matter what brought it about. What remains is Mr. Hancock's great concern: that the very thing which we cannot explain - our consciousness - is given even less of a chance at being explained in a context where we are not able - not allowed - to explore and examine 'it'.

      This, to me, is a very real and reasonably concern. So, yes please...' let’s see these talks go back onto the main Ted platform'!
      • Comment deleted

        • Mar 23 2013: Almost as laughable as it is to guess what it's like to be a bat.
  • Mar 23 2013: TED should apologize publicly for what they did period.
    • Comment deleted

      • Mar 23 2013: I'm tiring of you spamming this discussion, 'Lime Crime', with your baseless accusations and unsupported claims. Once you provide evidence I might read what you have to say. But so far you have contributed very little to this discussion, and are a disgrace to the "skeptical" community you represent.
      • Mar 24 2013: @Lime - IMHO - your last sentence here is untrue. YOU're still here ;-)
      • Mar 24 2013: No they didnt....The people at TED are trying to hold on to the old way of thinking, the old paradigm that dosent work anymore....You are afraid of the unknown, just like some of these TED organizers. Grahams talk, got "to real" for the conservative folks there..... You and the rest of them, are nothing more than stubborn scientist, with holding information from people....Its sad that you think that way.

        Its interesting to note, that out of all the TED talks I seen, this one was the only one to touch apon psychedelics and there uses in history... And they ruined there slogan, of "ideas worth spreading" because TED is now behaving like some sort of thought police........

        You sir should research, Terence Mckenna, Graham Hancock, shamanism, the sacred mushroom and the cross- John marco Alegro, etc.... Then come tell me these amazing people are quacks.

      • Mar 24 2013: you sound like a very angry person, Lime. If you could at the very least support your argumentation, perhaps it will useful, i say perhaps, because from what you're expressing, i doubt you can. please prove me wrong.
  • Mar 21 2013: I've been reading all of the comments on this subject for days. I think Graham Hancock's talk was excellent. IMO there was nothing in his talk that was without merit if you are listening with an open mind and are not restricting yourself to mainstream views where belief in the spirit realm is a non-sequitur. Graham said it clearly at:

    17:30 “And I stand here invoking the hard won right of freedom of speech to call for and demand another right to be recognized, and that is the right of adult sovereignty over consciousness” 17:43

    Obviously, the hard won right of freedom of speech is still a problem in some venues. Perhaps, Mr. Hancock your words are too incendiary for the "mainstream reductionist" sheeple. I doubt the debate with members of TED in participation is ever going to happen for Mr. Hancock or Mr. Sheldrake. They have too much to offer and know their topics too well. TED would be hard pressed to respond coherently in any timely fashion. Notice how Graham Hancock gave his speech with the utmost urgency, hardly taking a breath because he had so much to say in just a short 18 minute window. He has the strength of his convictions behind him and is an intelligent, well-spoken visionary. TED will have serious problems attempting to debate him honestly and with integrity. I envision them covering their ears while mumbling "nani nani boo boo."
  • Mar 21 2013: Anthropology, Archaeology, Earth Sciences, and indigenous life ways, have offered a multitude of natural resources to expand and deepen our connection to ecology. In a paper I wrote on Arundo Dunax and DMT contained within the ney flutes of the sufis, I found a lot many interesting hidden parallels to the Sufi rights and rituals which align with ecstatic states of consciousness. My hypothesis is, it takes nine years to dry the grass containing the DMT to turn them into the flutes, the entheogenic compounds were discovered and integrated to be ingested as part of the dervish dances. http://www.academia.edu/1412653/Dance_and_Psychedelics_Dancing_with_the_HeArt.

    I feel the talk Graham share's definitely should be considered an "idea worth spreading." I'd say for anyone curious about the validity of such claims, go on a quest, and without question you may find the proof is in the pudding. If you have more of a logically approach about you, do more research. An "idea" inspires individuals to look further, and many times affirmations from a scientists empower individuals to research concepts they may have never heard before.

    Within the scientific community, there's a lot of papers never getting published, and even if they do, no one ever sees the publications in the mainstream. I feel TED has a social responsibility to get scientific concepts through to the mainstream.
  • Mar 21 2013: The debate about TED is a diversion and the real debate should be about the main thesis of Graham's talk. That the west is severely sick and unless it heals immediately we may all suffer. The lack of access to the ancient sacred plants is a war on consciousness and this must come to an end. The real debate It is about sovereign rights and the right of humanity to take charge of its own evolution and destiny. We are in real danger if the people who create and fund wars are not brought into humanity's sacred traditions of spiritual understanding and practice.
  • Mar 21 2013: Is TED committed to "normal science" -- or "revolutionary science"?

    After reading their guidelines it would seem to be the former. Unfortunate. TED could be dead if that's the case.
    • Mar 25 2013: The fact is, Hancock and Sheldrake did not present evidence for their claims. You clearly prefer style over substance.
      • Mar 25 2013: Please specify which claims are objectionable and why. It is incumbent on you to present a coherent case against Hancock and Sheldrake. Neither man is obligated to defend their talk until you articulate an argument. If you cannot do so, then there is no substance to your accusations.
  • Mar 21 2013: If you ask me these frigid TEDsters need to get with the beat and empathise
  • Mar 21 2013: IMHO, TED is now a global brand. For it to be continually successful it has to be pro-establishment and stay within the bounds of the status quo. Since TED is pro-establishment this, naturally (and for obvious reasons), bias the organization to be on the government side of the *War on Drugs* (Hancock eloquently framed this in his TEDx talk as a *War on Consciousness*).

    Notice the example TED provided about “a parent whose kid went off to South America to drink ayahuasca because TED said it was OK.” Really?! This is a straw man argument. This line of reasoning will get people like Rick Strassman (who published research on DMT) and Dr. Roland Griffiths (who published research on psilocybin) censored from TED. Should TED ban Rick Strassman and Roland Griffiths from presenting on TED and TEDx for fear that kids might do DMT and psilocybin willy-nilly? Never mind that some of the high profile TEDsters (e.g. The Google guys) are Burners (as in Burning Man enthusiasts). I’d love to see a poll of TED Fellows asking them questions about their experience with psychedelics.

    Speaking of Roland Griffiths, here’s his TEDx talk on the effects of psilocybin. I rest my case.
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    Mar 21 2013: This talk is not scientific, but it is important because it points to a divide in our paradigm that many people choose to ignore. The divide between objectivity and subjective experience. In the tradition of empiricism, science has always striven toward objectivity. This has lead to a pursuit of the laws of nature which has broken through dogmas of the past. Part of this process is the purging of subjectively held belief. A scientist must overcome their own bias, see past cultural presumptions and focus on the empirical data and experimentation. This is how scientific progress is made.

    However, human experience is innately subjective. All of the most important aspects of our life, the joys and pains of childhood, pride in our accomplishments, love of our family, fears and anxieties, grief over our losses, our passions and our vices, are all subjective.

    Consciousness is at the crux of this divide and is still mysterious in many ways. Though neuroscience is getting very advanced in its ability to correlate brain activity with subjective experience, it is still mysterious what subjective experience actually is and why we have it at all. Increasingly our personal struggles are being medicalized into mental illness. Is social anxiety or drug addiction a mental illness or a subjective struggle in the narrative of our lives?

    While many will argue that pharmacology is the only objective cure to mental illness, others believe that subjective journeys such as meditation and self realization give us the means to cope inner struggles. Both paradigms have their place in the diversity of human consciousness, but only one is scientific.

    Graham points to profound subjective experiences that people are having which are empowering them to overcome their problems. They are subjective solutions to subjective problems. Not all truths are scientific truths. Not everything can be understood through objectivity and science.
  • Mar 20 2013: It seems to me that those arguing against Hancock's talk fall into three main categories:

    Those who have a beef with his previous work rather than this talk - irrelevant.

    Those who are completely unfamiliar with the current state of research on ayahuasca/hallucinogens and so take Hancock's claims on the matter to be wild and unsupported as opposed to straightforward (albeit strange) well established - ignorant.

    Those who are determined to make stuff up about the talk that Hancock never said - ignorant and irrelevant.

    Thus we arrive, after many days of talk, at square one: has anybody got any complaints about the talk that relate to something Hancock actually said in this particular talk and that is not merely a function of their own lack of knowledge of the topic? I should add that one of the key attributes an idea worth sharing should have is that not everyone already knows it full well. Thus the ignorance displayed here by the detractors on this fascinating topic actually argues in favour of reinstating the talk and disseminating it widely.
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    Mar 20 2013: PART FIVE

    I remember how, when I studied at middle school in St. Petersburg, many boys and girls started drinking at the age of 12 or 13 (I refused to conform to this and avoided drinking). I heard about the similar accounts from my friends who studied in other Western cities and countries. Had there been more knowledge on the nature of states of consciousness, both ordinary and extraordinary, both personal and transpersonal, both harmful and blissful, in the society, I believe, much of these damaging habits (which at a later stage may evolve into, e.g., binge drinking) could have been avoided.

    But presently we don’t understand our human nature, our psychophysiology, our consciousness on a larger social scale. For instance, as the research conducted by L. Spivak and D. Spivak and their research team at the Human Brain Institute in St. Petersburg shows, altered states of consciousness seem to be a natural adaptive mechanism of human psyche (for instance, it was shown that women during child labor often experience such altered states of consciousness as spatial depersonalization [out-of-body experience]). We do not recognize this fact in our societies, we do not speak about it. There is, indeed, a war on consciousness which is led by our own ignorance and self-misunderstanding.

    Cont'd in Part Six
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    Mar 20 2013: PART THREE

    But even though I started to be disenchanted by the factual social praxis of science and the way it appears to be conducted in many places, I did take seriously my own phenomenological studies of consciousness and its altered states.

    In the course of my deepening of my self-understanding I participated in several ayahuasca shamanic ceremonies conducted by two different shamans (one from Peru, the other a European who spends half his time in the Amazon, learning from the local shamans). I am also increasingly interested in the so-called contemplative sciences that represent a discipline of awareness, attention, mind, and psychosomatic regulation that in its numerous forms has been practiced in both Asian and European cultures (most notably, such places as India, Tibet, South-East Asia).

    In my counselling and psychotherapy practice I use many references to awareness, consciousness, and spontaneous non-psychedelic altered states of consciousness.

    I also founded altstates.net, an international website devoted to academic studies of altered states of consciousness.

    So, back to Graham Hancock, there is already much literature being published on ethnopharmacology and specifically ayahuasca. I refer you to the works by Dennis McKenna, an American ethnopharmacologist (see, e.g., his article “Ayahuasca and Human Destiny”), Stanley Krippner (Professor of Psychology at Saybrook University), as well as those of others. There has been an upsurge of studies that suggest that the current worldwide politics in regards to psychedelics has been too harsh (see the activities by MAPS). I also recommend listening to what Dr. Gabor Maté has to say on the topic of ayahuasca and addiction: http://beamsandstruts.com/bits-a-pieces/item/1164-gabor-on-ayahuasca

    Cont'd in Part Four
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    Mar 20 2013: My own diagnosis here is that TED ended up in an awkward (unwinnable?) position because Hancock's talk is part passionate anecdote, part testable scientific hypothesis, and part supernatural, but all related to a schedule 1 controlled substance.

    Had the speaker been an academic discussing environmental degradation as a symptom of our non-creativity, the loss of dreamers in our society, and research on the psychological benefits of serotonin receptor agonists such as DMT, I think the talk would have faced little resistance from TED. But TED specifically disallows anecdotes about alternative medicine 'cures.' And supernatural contact through illicit substance use is just not a topic in TED's purview.

    TED is a curator, and whether we agree with TED's actions or not, hopefully we can accept that this talk was particularly difficult for them to field.
    • Mar 20 2013: If that is indeed their problem them let them say that and then we can discuss it with an appropriate level of sympathy for the situation in which they find themselves. Up until now such a point has not even appeared on the radar in any meaningful form, or if it did it was drowned under the torrent of hogwash they have chosen to build their two official cases around.

      As regards the unwinnable nature of the situation, I happen to think the situation is actually rather simple to resolve. Reinstate the video(s); apologize to the speaker(s); write a brief non-offensive, non-false disclaimer to accompany the talk(s) (and all TEDx talks); develop a proper internal process of monitoring TEDx based on whatever the brand wants to be; and do it now rather than continuing with the pole-squatting, shilly-shallying and beating around the (burning) bush.
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    Gail .

    • +6
    Mar 20 2013: Graham Hancock's talk was about an idea well worth spreading. Though a caution flag is understandable if TED wants one, its objection to what was said is irrational and narrow minded - the opposite of TED's claim to fame. It's as damaging as censorship can be.

    I want to repeat something from Gregory Wonderwheel's post (Part 1): "Only someone who has no education in the non-materialistic science of analytical psychology founded by Carl Jung could make such a statement as to suggest that what is encountered are external entities communicating with us “telepathically.” From the perspective of psychological science, the “entities” are the archetypes of our own mind (not just “hallucinations”), and there a seemingly independent existence is because they are independent of our ego complex, not because they are independent of our mind."

    I would like the TED board to be better educated.
  • Mar 20 2013: Stick to the facts, TED please 'show yourselves' i.e. who made the comments about Hancock & Sheldrake (hiding in the shadows and throwing invectives really is not appropriate here) - and then approach the subject with a 'Wise people discuss, fools argue' attitude towards a civilized, enlightening discussion and respond to Sheldrake's and Hancock's responses. I.e. keep the dialogue going please.
    And then let's go back and forth in a dia-logue that hopefully will 'shed light' on the provocative and interesting ideas that Sheldrake and Hancock presented. Isn't that really in alignment with the original idea behind TED? to allow provocative and a bit 'edgy' ideas?
    Let's stick to the actual facts...no presumptions, prejudices (whether from Scient-ism or Material-ism or Spiritual-ism, or Psychedelia-ism...let's leave the 'isms' put of it...respond intelligently, respectfully with and to each other with the common goal of a deeper understanding and enjoying new ideas - maybe the old Greeks could even be a bit proud of us in following their ideals....one could hope.
    Let's have an honest, open, non prejudicial i.e. no prejudging...but real 'search for truth'.
    Surely we could agree on that point as rational, reasonable persons.
  • Mar 19 2013: DS - wow thank you for sharing! Those are some beautiful insights, and it's always a pleasure to read the Ayahuasca experiences of others, particularly people with scientific training.

    It's fascinating because we are dealing here with a kind of sacred knowledge which is essentially impervious to the scientific method. Any scientist who takes the Ayahuasca, will immediately (and paradoxically) be deemed by his/her peers to be unfit to make an objective judgement of it's effects. But taking it is the ONLY way to understand it's effects.

    So it's implicitly subversive, you don't get to know about it until you have the courage to confront it!

    I used to be like Graham, thinking that this secret MUST BE KNOWN BY EVERYONE, but now I don't mention it unless asked about it, I just express it into my music, and let the music carry that energy into the world for me. This is the first time i've discussed it in a public forum for about 3 years.
  • Mar 19 2013: This debate should be about TED's poor handling of the matter.

    Yes of course Graham's talk should be out back on the TED you tube channel and then TED should publicly apologise for blatantly censoring it in the first place.

    All Censorship is wrong.
  • Mar 19 2013: Under the guise of "science", TED has become a platform for the bourgeoisie to stifle (rather inconsistently) the voice of decent and has damaged the genuine intellectual effort for a paradigmatic shift in thinking. I am confused. Are you censoring Graham because of alleged "pseudoscience" or because of his medicinal use of ayahuasca?

    Why wasn't Elizabeth Gilbert's talk about creativity flagged for pseudoscience? Or Tim Brown's talk for his proposition of mescaline?

    I agree with Nassim Taleb's statement: "[TED is a] monstrosity that turns scientists and thinkers into low-level entertainers, like circus performers." Graham apparently did not jump through the proper flaming hoops to earn your approval, but at least this whole debacle shines a light on how disingenuous this "forward thinking" group has become.

    TED as an organization has such an over inflated sense of importance that is has inverted the priorities here. Speakers (like Graham & Nassim) do not need platforms (like TED) to be brilliant. Platforms (like TED) need brilliant speakers (like Graham & Nassim) to be considered important.
  • Mar 19 2013: "Our advisors recommended that the talk be should not be distributed without being framed with caution. So… this is that caution."

    If your anonymous, authoritative advisors recommended framing Hancock's video with caution, why didn't you follow their advice rather than completely removing it and its comments until being scolded for it?

    Also - I was not aware until this point that Ted had 'scientists' on the payroll making sure that I don't see anything too outside of their comfort zones of dogmatic materialism. Clearly I will need to seek progressive thought on the future of consciousness from a different source (might I suggest for the fellow incensed, Reality Sandwich.com, where I first saw Hancock's video).
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    Mar 19 2013: Part 2: Hancock then relates a story of his “cannabis habit” as if it were some kind of morality tale told in a cannabis anonymous meeting. Unfortunately (because he blames cannabis), he couldn’t hear the messages that cannabis was giving him, and instead he admits that he was abusing it not just using it. But since he “heard the messages” that ayahuasca gave him, he now places ayahuasca on a pedestal. Thus he “blames” the drug cannabis as “leading” him to behave toward others negatively. This is a materialistic objectification of consciousness as detrimental as any scientific materialism. He admits to becoming “more and more paranoid, jealous, possessive, suspicious” and “subject to irrational rages.” Yet none of those are symptoms of cannabis use per se, when such cannabis use is done under “the set and setting” of responsible use and not used for either mere recreation or for emotional avoidance.

    Hancock’s report of the “kicking” he received from “Mother Ayahuasca” is the report of a true believer who has still not seen through the experience to the essence of mind that is not contained in the conception of consciousness. The “confrontation with death” reported by Hancock as part of the ayahuasca encounter is an integral and necessary station of the mythic “hero’s journey” which can be understood by any reader of Carl Jung or Joseph Campbell. Being “taken to hell” is another part of that journey and is known as the deeper level of the confrontation with the shadow in Jungian terminology.

    Continued in Part 3
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    Apr 2 2013: Just listened to the Skeptiko interview between Alex Tsakiris and Rupert Sheldrake. The words 'goal' and 'own' spring to mind. Nice one TED. Your 'Science Board' really do look very silly indeed.
    • Apr 2 2013: I liked his talk of the "naughty corner".
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        Apr 2 2013: And I admire his calm rationality in the face of such unprecedented absurdity - well, unprecedented, that is, since the Middle Ages. First rule of holes, TED: When you're in one, stop digging.
  • Comment deleted

    • Apr 2 2013: Sheldrake's book that caused the stir, A New Science of Life, was published in 1981. It is interesting therefore that Marks and Kamman should be able to discuss/dismiss its contents a year before its release. This is surely a case where the primary sources should be checked (if for no other reason than to verify the psychic powers of the authors in reviewing something not yet published). Re Kammann, it is interesting that he subsequently resigned from the pseudoskeptic organisation CSICOP due to the lack of integrity with which their only actual investigation of "paranormal" phenomena was conducted.

      Details are here:


      For the inside story on the fiasco, here is another member of CSICOP who resigned, Dennis Rawlins. It is a bit long and heavy-going but Rawlins' initial summary is worth quoting here for obvious reasons.

      "I USED to believe it was simply a figment of the National Enquirer's weekly imagination that the Science Establishment would cover up evidence for the occult. But that was in the era B.C. -- Before the Committee. I refer to the "Committee for the Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal" (CSICOP), of which I am a cofounder and on whose ruling Executive Council (generally called the Council) I served for some years.
      I am still skeptical of the occult beliefs CSICOP was created to debunk. But I have changed my mind about the integrity of some of those who make a career of opposing occultism. I now believe that if a flying saucer landed in the backyard of a leading anti-UFO spokesman, he might hide the incident from the public (for the public's own good, of course). He might swiftly convince himself that the landing was a hoax, a delusion or an "unfortunate" interpretation of mundane phenomena that could be explained away with "further research."

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      Apr 2 2013: "As for not reading the latest books by people like Sarah Palin et al, you may not need them to draw conclusions . But your conclusions will be far more accurate if you do."

      That's correct, Debbie. Far more accurate if I do, but not invalid or even incorrect if I don't.

      "How do you know your secondary source has faithfully recorded your primary source?"

      In scholarship, it's a judgment call based on other knowledge and the value of intuition (something that is ironically lauded in fringe and pseudoscience but disparaged when used in mainstream science--ironic.)

      "Always work on a primary source if it is possible."

      I would agree with that. However, someone who works on *only* the primary source and privileges it over critical material is likely to succumb to any inherent errors, fallacies, illusions, and propaganda it may contain. After all, we're only human. Before approaching any primary source, it is essential to consider it within in as complete and representative a critical framework as possible. Knowledge and scholarship progresses. At least, in many areas.
  • Apr 2 2013: in a related TEDxWestHollywood issue... here's a kick ass response from Russell Targ. oh, snap! where are your anonymous TED Science Board members now? this thing just got more interesting. popcorn please!


    Russell Targ speaks out

    “In cancelling the TEDx event in West Hollywood, it appears that I was accused of ‘using the guise of science’ to further spooky claims (or some such),” said physicist Dr. Russell Targ in “The debate about Rupert Sheldrake’s talk” on TED Conversations. (Targ was/is scheduled to speak on “The Reality of ESP: A Physicist’s Proof of Psychic Abilities” at ExTEDWestHollywood.)

    “People on [the TED Conversations] blog have asked what I was going to talk about . That’s easily answered. I was co-founder of a 23-year research program investigating psychic abilities at Stanford Research Institute. We were doing research and applications for the CIA, Defense Intelligence Agency, Air Force and Army Intelligence, NASA, and others.

    “In this $25 million program we used ‘remote viewing’ to find a downed Russian bomber in North Africa, for which President Carter commended us. We found a kidnapped U.S. general in Italy, and the kidnap car that snatched Patricia Hearst. We looked in on the US hostages in Iran, and predicted the immanent release of Richard Queen, who was soon sent to Germany. We described a Russian weapons factory in Siberia, leading to a U.S. congressional investigation about weakness in U.S/ security, etc.

    “We published our scientific findings in Nature, Proc. IEEE, Proc. AAAS, and Proc. American Institute of Physics. I thought a TED audience would find this recently declassified material interesting. And no physics would be harmed in my presentation.”

    ~ http://www.kurzweilai.net/ted-removes-tedxwesthollywood-license-speakers-failed-to-gain-scientific-acceptance
  • Mar 31 2013: by revoking the TEDxWestHollywood license, TED has now made it official that they will not allow voices from the fringes to be on the TED/TEDx platform. TED has no interest of "spreading ideas" by the likes of Russell Targ, Marilyn Schlitz, and Larry Dossey. the TED platform is only big enough for "skeptics" and scientific materialists. disappointing, yes but hardly surprising. as i said before, their slogan ought to be changed to "Status Quo Ideas Worth Spreading."

    speaking of Russell Targ... he is often lumped with New Age and "pseudoscience" by people who don't his background. never mind the fact that Targ's (and his colleague Hal Puthoff) research work was good enough to be funded by the CIA. incidentally, Targ has just published a new book where he has divulged declassified information in the CIA remote-viewing program. TED will never dare touch this material. so you and i will just have to rely on our own research and other alternative news sites to be informed.

    case in point: here's a good interview with Targ on The Paracast.

    "Gene and Chris present the ever-elusive Dr. Russell Targ. Dr. Targ and Hal Putoff led the team at Stanford Research Institute that created the "remote viewing" protocols in the early '70s, about which many stories have been written. Targ's latest book is The Reality of ESP: A Physicist's Proof of Psychic Abilities."

    ~ http://www.theparacast.com/podcast/now-playing-march-10-2013-dr-russell-targ/
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      Mar 31 2013: A sequel to "The Men Who Stare at Goats"?
  • Eko Qui

    • +5
    Mar 30 2013: I never EVER comment on videos, but I must say I feel very obligated to support Graham Hancock and this video. The fact that TED seems to have taken such a negative position on this video is appalling. Many blogs, podcast, and personal friends have been talking recently about how TED has begun to show a dark and cold under belly unable to adjust to realities they do not or refuse to acknowledge. The incident with Eddie Huang not to long ago and now this incident with Graham Hancock and Rupert Sheldrake have shaken my willingness to speak of TED in a positive manner. Whenever TED is brought up in conversation anymore the discussion seems to turn to the fact that TED is willing to censor those that do not adhere to TED's "orthodox" perception of what is right and wrong, worthwhile and not. It's disgusting and brings much sadness to those of us that can see the very obvious problem with that TED has done and seems more then willing to continue to doing. TED please fix these problems before it is too late and you become part of the ongoing problem in our society,

    Much love to Graham Hancock and Rupert Sheldrake. Thank you so much for putting yourselves through this to try to help those you knew you would reach. My friends and family truly appreciate what you do, we know you'll keep up the good work.

    -Devin Quinn of Iowa City, IA
  • Mar 30 2013: Arthur Schopenhauer famously said that all truth passes through three stages. First, it is ridiculed. Second, it is violently opposed. Third, it is accepted as self-evident.
    What more could I add to that?
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      Mar 30 2013: That they laughed at the Wright Brothers but that they also laughed at the Marx Brothers?
      • Mar 30 2013: Back to denying the existence and well documented effects of psychedelics I see.
    • Mar 30 2013: Well you seem to be. I mean you keep calling the well documented phenomenological aspects of the psychedelic experience woo. They exist alright. Unclear why you can't come to terms with that.
  • Mar 30 2013: as of this writing, there are only about 3 days left before this "debate" thread closes for good. so far, i haven't seen a convincing argument from the TED staff, TED Curator (Chris Anderson), TED Science Board, or TED Brain Trust regarding a valid justification for pulling out Sheldrake and Hancock's TEDx talks from their official distribution channels.

    Sheldrake and Hancock have issued a public challenge for a debate on this issue. so far their challenge has fallen on deaf ears. no one in TED has the courtesy and integrity to respond.

    i don't think TED is serious about *real* debates on Sheldrake's and Hancock's talks. and this leads me to speculate that:

    1) the people at TED were not interested in a real "debate." they just wanted a holding place for people to vent their frustration until they get tired and move on.

    2) they knew that they made a mistake of pulling the videos but cannot afford to admit this mistake in public.
    they cannot apologize to Sheldrake and Hancock lest they will receive the wrath of the Skeptic community.

    3) they know that they are on the losing side of the debate if they accept Sheldrake's and Hancock's challenge.

    4) so it is best to just stay mum on this and let this fiasco pass.

    maybe Jerry Coyne was right all along when he said:

    "Besides, TEDx did not remove their videos—they just relegated them to a “website of shame.” And that’s exactly where they belong."

    ~ http://whyevolutionistrue.wordpress.com/2013/03/22/oy-vey-tedx-continues-the-woo-now-with-more-self-help/

    i just wish that if there are no takers from TED to accept Sheldrake's challenge, maybe TED can arrange for a Sheldrake-Coyne debate.

    IMHO, if given the opportunity of a fair public debate setting, Sheldrake will rip Coyne's arguments apart. Coyne is good at name-calling. but i don't think he has what it takes to make a convincing case against Sheldrake. just sayin'.
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    Mar 29 2013: Hancock's talk lacks the reference to the rigorous scientific research which would make his argument absolutely sound. So, however, do almost all TED talks. On these grounds TED has applied a double-standard in regards to the organisation's decision to distance itself from the talk. TED labelled the talk pseudo-scientific, perhaps not entirely unfairly, yet the organisation's accusation does not seem to be based on the content of the talk alone. In the context of the talk Hancock predominantly makes mere allusion to any outright claims (other than those claims which are thoroughly uncontroversial). Much of his language seems to be based around telling a narrative in order to let the audience infer what they will. This in itself could be viewed as problematic, but again, such a characteristic is not only a feature of Hancock's TED talk. Does this, once more, illustrate the TED organisation's use of double standards? The very fact that the, generally controversial, field of discourse runs against the status quo of scientific thought and research is no reason to effectively censor Hancock, yet in this case it seems to be the underlying cause of TED's application of a double standard, certainly I can see no other.
    • Mar 29 2013: I think TED has made a shameful effort to make an example of Hancock as a pseudo-scientist who is not welcomed in the community.

      The only sin he committed was to challenge people to think for themselve rather than conform to the dogmatic gate keepers of knowledge in the scientific community (TED).
  • Mar 28 2013: With respect, it seems that the discussion is drifting into the picking of nits, which I see as a distraction from the core questions.

    Science is such a beautiful implement that words do it an injustice. But it is still just an implement. Like most really productive tools, such as harvesting machines, or internal combustion engines, there is a lot of inefficiency in the processes of science. Perhaps the most glaring inefficiency is the tendency to discard anomalous data, as R. Sheldrake so clearly elucidated. Yet the greatest breakthroughs in science often come from gleaning new ideas from the discarded data. Darwin, Einstein, Newton, Mendel, Galileo, Dirac, Tesla, Pauling, Curie and, perhaps, the majority of the Greats all looked the subtle data anomalies, and found profound insights. Outside of the physics community, all met with precisely the kind of criticisms one sees of Hancock and Sheldrake, for the same reasons, one suspects.

    I propose that there should be a branch of the sciences which formally attempts to both find and carefully examine anomalous data, and to deliberately eschew hyper specialization, 2 dimensional, "either/or", reductionist thinking, taxonomic analysis, and all the other identifiable shortcuts science uses to make most of its "brute" progress. These are excellent tools. Yet they leave behind potential jewels of insight, by the nature of their structure. Analogous to battlefield triage. Excellent tool, but not as good as being at a first class trauma center.
  • Mar 27 2013: The accusation that either Hancock or Sheldrake practices "pseudo-archaeology" or "pseudo-science" is difficult to understand, for the very reason that "pseudo" denotes "fake" and, thus, that the person accused of these practices is engaging in activity that does not follow commonly-accepted scientific protocols for gathering, interpreting, and disseminating information. "Pseudo", in these cases, also encompasses an understanding that the accused is either willfully not following commonly-accepted scientific protocols, or simply does not know what scientific protocols are. What's more, "pseudo" here also implies that the conclusions MUST be incorrect, simply because the conclusions (or 'further questions') reached by the individual practicing "pseudo"-whatever were not arrived upon using commonly-accepted scientific protocols. The problem with all three of these implications is that Sheldrake is a trained scientist, and by accusing him of practicing "pseudo-science" one also accuses him of either ignorance of commonly-accepted scientific protocols (which he has a proven track record using), intentional disregard of those protocols (again, which he has a proven track record using), or complete and total impotence in arriving at a correct conclusion, simply because he did not make the same decisions when interpreting an enormous body of evidence that "common" scientists do. It is more constructive and understandable to say that he (Sheldrake) is "wrong" in his interpretation and his conclusion, rather than he is practicing "pseudo-science". (Hancock, not being a trained scientist, but a journalist, may be accused of being "wrong" as well, either through ignorance of scientific protocols, intentional disregard of those protocols, or a basic inability to arrive at correct conclusions due to his use of protocols that are not identical to common accepted scientific protocols. Labeling him a "pseudo-scientist", however, takes a great deal of non-scientific arrogance.)
  • Mar 26 2013: Whatever PR company is advising TED and its curators of dealing with this crisis this way should be fired right now, as they're doing TED a GREAT disservice.
  • Mar 26 2013: Debate now!
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    Mar 26 2013: What Graham Hancock is talking about is basic and elementary to many indigenous cultures around the world. Using ayahuasca to allleviate addiction, along with many other plants like Iboga, is well-documented by those few scientists prepared to risk their careers as they face the censor of the ongoing Inquisition.

    The controversy that this stirs up in this forum can be instructive as to the cultural operating systems and presumptions that the "TED Leadership" partakes in and which many of us share. As a student of deep cultural dynamics and how they impact neurological expression, and the impacts of cultural conquest on human intelligence - it's become sadly banal to see how the Inquisition and Witch Hunts play out today and perhaps instructive that they were just as "reasonably" conducted in previous epochs in cultures where it's largely forbidden to KNOW FOR ONESELF, without genuflecting to priesthoods of religious or scientific charlatans masquerading as "curators of Truth."

    A quick perusal of the comments, however, shows that many of us DO appreciate different perspectives especially ones like this that propose a reconnection with THOUSANDS of years of very specific, precise, careful and response-able explorations of human consciousness by peoples whose memory of their human adventure stretches much farther than the very rough sketch most Europeans have of their own two or three thousand years of history - most of which is not even of their own ancestry but that of the Greeks and Romans.

    Those with an "open mind," in turn, are faced with the challenge of ALSO using critical thought and daring to be daring in their own explorations!

  • Mar 25 2013: I posted this a few days ago... but to my horror, the link to my paper was broken. Fixed now........KTP

    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).
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      Mar 25 2013: I don't know your work, Katherine, but I do find some appeal in the idea that emotion could actually be an entire sense. From long personal experience, I could easily fit that idea into how the world works. So now that the notion has occurred to me, I'll see how it could be integrated.
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    Mar 24 2013: Blogger Marcus Anthony has his say:

    "TED’s decision to remove public talks by Rupert Sheldrake and Graham Hancock from YouTube and the main section of their web site has created quite a furore. To date there has been well over 1000 supportive comments posted on TED’s discussion pages. The latest page opened regarding the topic on the TED site is here. TED initially made quite a mess of the entire process. The first announcement they released was incredibly sloppy, and almost all the statements they made about the content of the two videos was inaccurate. It looked like the writer had either not watched the videos, or merely skimmed them."

    "The massive backlash against TED indicates something else of great importance. People are getting smarter"
    • Mar 24 2013: "Conservative thinking in science wants us to accept the benefits of science and the great knowledge it has granted us. But many in the scientific community fail to grasp that the general public, especially those educated in the “leftist” ideologies that emerged from the 1960s, are now armed with a host of concepts akin to Flynn’s short-hand abstractions which make them far smarter than their parents. The very concepts of “worldview”‘, “paradigm” and “ways of knowing”, for example, mean that masses of people are now able to pry behind the machinations of science to ask deeper questions about how our knowledge is produced and communicated. Sheldrake and Hancock, and their army of supporters (as well as a huge number of people looking on from the outside) are just too informed to buy what they are being sold by TED and experts in the scientific community without questioning it."

      This is key.
      I used to be slightly confused about the way 'skeptics' like to diss Derrida, Foucault, etc, but it is increasingly clear to me why they hate the whole postmodern school: it provides the perfect tools for dismantling the paradigm on which they depend.

      Oh to have Foucault speak on TED..
  • Mar 23 2013: I think it is worthwhile to continue to conduct discussions here, but I am also afraid that once the time they have set for this discusion ends then it will be all over. At the end of the day, I suppose it is their organization, although I would sugest to them that it is the less noble course of action.
    Perhaps to get the results we want we need to talk about this not only here but in other forums and platforms where we may have a voice and where we can reference this conversation. Maybe even a facebook post like "Disillusioned with TED talks after they railroad Graham Hancock and Rupert Sheldrake. So much for free discusion"
    Holding out some hope though that TED will come out on the side of discussion and rational debate. All of us on all sides of this are human and nobler impulses can hold sway at unexpected junctures...
    • Mar 24 2013: David, do you have time? I notice it's 2 women in the last week who've volunteered to help start an alternative platform.
      • Mar 24 2013: Well I'm not sure I have all of the time but good chance I'd have some of the time needed. Is there something specific in the works? Let me know what you have in mind!
  • Mar 22 2013: Let's have a debate and we will all learn something. If all sides are so passionate about their perspectives (the sanctity of orthodox science/the exploration of consciousness and alternate theories) then yes let's please have a properly moderated debate. Wouldn't that be more constructive than a flame war (as erudite a one as it may be)?

    To debate whether the topic is worthy of debate seems wasteful, when the level of activity here clearly indicates that this is the way to go.

    Will be tough to find appropriate moderators mind you, but yes to a debate and better understanding all around!
  • Mar 22 2013: dear TED,

    let me make my points clear, simple, and in bullet points:

    - you made a mistake of (soft) censoring Rupert Sheldrake and Graham Hancock's TEDx talks. please restore those videos to their original distribution channels.

    - you owe Sheldrake and Hancock a sincere apology.

    - moving forward, please don't be bullied by a couple of ideological atheist/skeptic bloggers. they're not worth it. they've done more damage to your brand than the speakers you have censored in the past.

    - Sheldrake and Hancock have issued a public challenge to debate anyone from the TED Science Board and/or the TED Brain Trust. TED will look *really* bad if you don't take this challenge. 

    - no more tricks. no more excuses. no more insulting our collective intelligence. we saw through this shenanigan since day one.

    thank you very much. i'm hoping that you will do the right thing.
  • Mar 21 2013: "Knowledge is Power" - Sir Francis Bacon. Knowledge without wisdom is dangerous. Wisdom is knowledge based on experience. In our current state of science we are practicing reciting others visions and discoveries. We as individuals dont invent anything. Instead we discover knowledge from a source that releases it to the one who has the capacity to understand, integrate it and help society evolve. In order to evolve we all must do the work inside to connect to this source. There are many paths one can use which also includes intense meditation and focus. Many of us in our distracting lives don't have this luxury of time as others do that run our economy. What we call drugs can be medicine or poison. To determine the difference requires an authentic intention on WHY we are taking it. Without intention we are operating unconsciously which is nothing more than destructive. This argument is all about consciousness. Do plants have consciousness? Is the Earth itself conscious? Can we learn from them outside of shallow observation with only two eyes? If consciousness is vibration or frequency then we could conclude yes. We support theoretical science when we spend billions of dollars on a particle collider to find theoretical stuff missing from the universe. We don't explore the possibility that its consciousness that expands or retracts it. It could be frequency then observation itself that is the driving force that governs all energy and matter. Quantum mechanics can support many arguments made here that mainstream science refuses to look into because we are only focused on matter which is only a part. I have had visions which I call experiences that have shown me truths about myself and humankind as a whole. Why do we as a society reject this way? It makes me question why we try and wipe out indigenous cultures and their rituals that include plant medicine. Anyone truly intelligent who is upset about this talk and wants it removed should experience it for themselves first
  • Mar 21 2013: I think having this debate simply furthers understanding on all sides. Please add my voice to a call for a debate.
  • Mar 21 2013: Is TED finally coming to its senses? They have several pingbacks ala "TED backs down to people power over censorship of videos" in the comment section here: http://blog.ted.com/2013/03/19/the-debate-about-graham-hancocks-talk/

    Still the talks need to be restored on YouTube. And I would love to see the debate offered by Sheldrake and Hancock.
  • Mar 21 2013: This is a war on consciousness. However, watching this debate, reading Grahams responses and all (most) of the comments, I can't help but feel excited. People - we are coming together. TED is irrelevant if they decide to keep censoring the public's voice. Regardless of their decision, there is a tidal wave of consciousness spreading across the globe and the archaic branches of the military industrial complex cannot stop it.

    "Dissolve your boundaries" - Terence Mckenna
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      Mar 21 2013: I have to say, I find this heartening as well. I think TED expected after a few annoying complaints, this would quietly go away. I also think TED underestimated the intelligence of it's audience. The people speaking out against the censorship of Sheldrake and Hancock are doing so very eloquently.
  • Mar 21 2013: Manipulation of the web is a form of censorship. Even separating comments and video, disabling embedding, not using YouTube. This is all limiting the spread and is thus censorship. Boycott TED. Unscientific bunch of dramatists.
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    Mar 21 2013: Petitions in support of the authors:

    There are original petitions on these matters that are still relevant since the issue is hardly resolved and the fact that after close to 200k views and many comments, there's no word if the YouTube videos will be restored.

    Also find links to some of the principle parties and a timeline of events:


    • Mar 21 2013: In your petition papers you name Terry Anderson as the TED curator, I think it is Chris Anderson, if so, you should redo the petition. Thanks.
  • Mar 20 2013: There's a really basic solution to quality by TED: TED, which I can't imagine being financially poor, needs to spend the money to audit all TEDx videos before allowing them to be posted. Quality assured.

    As for Graham Hancock's topic, it's also pretty simple: use science to prove or disprove the ideas. Throwing the baby out with the bathwater is an egotistical way to approach a challenging idea. It's what bullies do. Instead use it as motivation to conduct a study to prove or disprove the statements.

    In fact, I'll challenge someone here to start watching TED videos to find other videos that should be removed for the same reasons given Graham Hancock's was removed. I bet there are dozens. I'm happy to be proven wrong, but if I'm right, TED needs to further justify why it decided to pick his talk to make an example.

    I've got lots of theories why this topic was picked on, but the funny part is, it's only serving to spread the idea further.

    Graham should be having the last laugh!
  • Mar 20 2013: TED is suffering from a failed attempt at a sucker punch...they waved their hand over this way a few times, said " look over here" and then faltered in the follow through. (Sheldrake and Hancock are still standing!)
    A huge crowd has gathered to discuss events and much has been said many ways that has been a great lesson for all...
    BUT, almost everyone is still incensed that they have not shown any class and apologized for the name calling that began this brouhaha!
    This is a direct request that Chris respond and apologize for the impolite( and impolitic) way he handled things at the very beginning.
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    Mar 20 2013: PART SIX

    Therefore, I believe that the ideas and concerns that Graham Hancock is voicing in his TEDx talk are worth spreading. In fact, we are in a desperate need for a deepening of our understanding of our individual and collective consciousness. We spend billions of dollars on Human Genome Project, but we need to allocate equal amount of funding to a Human Consciousness Project. We also need to relax our attitude to the varieties of altered states of consciousness the way they manifest in healthy ordinary people of all cultures and backgrounds (from a religious experience of a Bible-belt believer to an inspirational breakthrough of a scientist to a profoundly luminous presence of an experienced Tibetan meditator).

    I argue in favor of the importance of an integral experiential pluralism for furthering development of our democratic societies.

    Eugene Pustoshkin

    Specialist in clinical psychology (a graduate of St. Petersburg State University, Russia)

    Bureau Chief / Associate Editor for Russia at Integral Leadership Review
    • Mar 20 2013: Here Mr. Pustoshkin makes several valuable contributions to this discussion. The ability of Graham Hancock to give a TEDx presentation is a remarkable step forward in the scientific culture of today. Taking Hancock's, and Sheldrake's talks off the main area and putting them in another area only highlights their controversial nature and removes them from the Catholic cannon of approved TEDx doctrine.

      Why then is it that the interior state of human beings is so highly sought, feared, revered? Good TED or TEDx talks should raise these kinds of important questions. What is of ultimate concern? Why are we here? Can I hold an idea that I don’t agree with in my head and try it out?

      At any rate Pustoshkin states clearly, it is equally important to have a consciousness research project as well as a human genome project. Where science can expand its typical materialist boundaries into (any) area of human interest. In this way, it is human nature to fear, remove, punish, or limit the ideas of fringe thinking. But since when did that stop science from unleashing the destructive/generative power of nuclear energy? What about controversial ideas like genetic engineering, or cloning, or the like? What if teenagers see the TEDx talk and go take ayahuasca? The authorities at TED and TEDx should rightly be concerned about what context and content the material they transmit has.

      And yet debates and discussions such as this one are essential to the process of acceptance of human evolution, or unfoldment. Many great thinkers seem to “ruffle feathers.”

      So, an Integral Methodological pluralism type approach would best cover this problem and offer ways of letting all of them get their proper voice.

      Thanks Eugene!

    • D S

      • +3
      Mar 20 2013: That was excellent! Thanks for taking the time to write it all out.
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    Mar 20 2013: PART TWO

    I also asked them whether they are religious or not. 9 out of 10 patients I did a comprehensive open interview with said they were religious, and the one patient who didn’t say he was religious reported that he had experienced lucid dreaming and various peak experiences. Obviously, this preliminary finding requires a continuous investigation.

    I did some observation of how these patients were treated, and I must say that in the course of their treatment absolutely no reference was made by clinicians to these extraordinary phenomena (including the religious attitudes) which may in fact assist their treatment and compliance. I doubt that most clinicians are aware of such altered states of consciousness as lucid dreaming (see Stephen Laberge) or transpersonal transformative experiences (see the works of Stanley Krippner from Saybrook University).

    I wasn’t satisfied with my own diploma research project (and I don’t like to ever refer to it—would be happy if it can be completely redone), because it was done hastily and in a pilot form and is still somewhat an embarrasment for me, because, ironically, I was quite depressed at the moment of conducting it. I was depressed because I realized that there is a war on consciousness, and I have to leave academia for a private practice as a psychotherapist in order to make a reassessment of where I want to go now and what I can do with life.

    I didn’t want to spend my life in an endless battle with reductionistic scientists who tend to act as gatekeepers to innovative research by proposing that behaviorism is the only research methodology there is (while in fact there is a methodological pluralism in science that involves subjective, intersubjective, and objective methods; and I consider myself a proponent of an integral methodological pluralism that requests to combine different research modalities). I seek passion and inspiration of scientific quest rather than poverty and scarcity of mindset.

    Cont'd in Part Three
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    Mar 20 2013: Dear TED community,


    Today, I’d like to stand up and speak in favor of the observation that the ideas presented in Graham Hancock’s TEDx talk “The War on Consciousness” are worth spreading. I know from my own experience that the war on consciousness is real and happening right now in its many forms.

    When, in 2005, I became a university student in order to study clinical psychology in St. Petersburg, Russia, I was 18 years old. My aspiration was to study the brain and consciousness, I wanted to become a neuroscientist.

    During the course of my education there my interests have shifted. When I tried to propose a semester project that would have consciousness and its numerous aspects investigated, this perplexed the still behavioristically minded professors a lot. I learned that “consciousness” was still a taboo term in a Russian university academia by the end of the first decade of 21st century; and from surveying the literature I also learned that it was a kind of taboo in much of Western studies as well.

    By the end of my education for receiving a Russian degree of Specialist in Clinical Psychology I insisted on studying consciousness in a clinical setting and refused to work on anything else. So my professor proposed a compromise: He offered me to write a diploma research project on the topic “Self-consciousness in patients with psychotic depression.”

    I hesitated but agreed, because I saw this as an opportunity to do a pilot research into pathologically altered states of consciousness. I added a qualitative methodology as a part of my pilot study of the patients with bipolar and unipolar affective disorders. I included a questionnaire that asked patients about the existence of such altered states phenomena (not necessarily unhealthy and most often healthy) as peak experiences, depersonalization, dissociative experiences, lucid dreaming.

    Cont'd in Part Two
  • Mar 20 2013: I don't think this is an issue of censorship. TED is privately managed. For me this is an issue of PRETENSE. It has become VERY clear through this debacle that TED is not what it pretends to be. It's always good to have more clarity moving forward. And sometimes it takes time and real tests to reveal these things.
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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.
  • D S

    • +5
    Mar 19 2013: Implications of spiritual experiences to the understanding of mind–brain relationship

    While there has been a large increase in scientific studies on spirituality, there has been too few of studies of the core of spirituality: spiritual experiences (SE), which often involve altered states of consciousness, reports of anomalous experiences and of consciousness beyond the body. This paper argues that SE, although usually neglected in debates regarding mind–brain relationship (MBR), may provide the much needed enlargement of the empirical basis for advancing the understanding of the MBR.

    This paper briefly presents and discusses recent scientific investigations on some types of SE (meditative states, end of life and near death experiences, mediumship and alleged memories of previous lives) and their implications to MBR.

    Neurofunctional studies of SE have shown that they are related to but not necessarily caused by complex functional patterns in several brain areas. The study of meditative states, as voluntarily induced mind states that influence brain states has been a privileged venue to investigate top-down (mind over brain) causation. End of life and near death experiences offer cases of unexpected adequate mental function under severe brain damage and/or dysfunction. Scientific investigations of several types of SE have provided evidence against materialistic reductionist views of mind.

    The recent trend to scientifically investigate SE has already produced interesting and thought-provoking findings that deserve careful further exploration. Because of their potential implication, these findings may also contribute to the understanding of MBR, which remains an important, yet poorly explored way to investigate human nature.
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    Mar 19 2013: TED isn't censoring the talk, but they're not validating it either – largely because it's a subjective topic that can't be validated. (This is also one way to know that it's not science, either: it can't be falsified.)

    A more interesting exploration would be to talk about DMT, and other serotonin receptor antagonists like LSD, and why and how they work.

    For example, it would be trivial to give a rigorous talk about psychedelics: 1) explain the mechanism of action, 2) offer current theories as to why serotonin-blockers cause hallucinations, 3) offer some ideas about why humans perceive spiritual experiences under their influence, 4) offer that in the author's personal experience it led to spiritual outcomes.

    What many may find objectionable is an attempt to downplay the mechanism of action (science) and overplay the subjectively-perceived outcome (opinion).
    • Mar 19 2013: Graham did not say he was talking about Science. He was presenting his opinion. An idea he felt was worth sharing.
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        Mar 19 2013: I think many would agree that an opinion backed up by some science (there's no shortage of it available) would be a lot more interesting and valuable. "Opinions a few people think are worth sharing" is a pretty low bar to meet, and were it the only ethos TED aspired to, it would lead to some very questionable (and arguably very boring) content.

        This talk is available for anyone who wants to find Graham's unsupported, unscientific opinion.
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        Mar 19 2013: 130K views is a niche audience in today's online video marketplace.
        • Mar 19 2013: It's 2-3 orders of magnitude more than most of the videos on the TEDx channel.
        • Mar 20 2013: @Dave, 130k views is excellent for even an official TED (not TEDx) video -- especially in a mere matter of weeks. There are official TED videos that don't get near that in six years.

          To compare an 18-minute lecture of a substantive/intellectual nature to Gangham Style or Hulu replays of Dancing with the Stars is pointless and misleading.
    • 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.
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        Mar 19 2013: I'm not a TED employee, and I'm not speaking on TED's behalf.

        I didn't say this talk was pseudoscience. I'm saying without any real science, it's just not very interesting or useful information. It's an opinion, and it's currently available to anyone who wants to find it.
        • Mar 19 2013: You 're joking! It's like saying that it is not racism to exclude coloured people from let's say a hotel. Of course they can be found outside.
          These kind of arguments only show low level of seriousness Dave.
        • Mar 19 2013: "without any real science" there was some science but it was not real? isn't that the same as pseudoscience, oh wait you said you didn't say this talk was pseudoscience.

          How come you TED guys are so good in flawed reasoning?

          Is that how you came to the conclusion that these talks were not real science, uh i mean pseudocience oh I never said that. Did you even listen to the talks and then read the allegations? and the replies of Mr Hancock and Mr Sheldrake? Did you check there answers?
        • Mar 20 2013: At least 130k people disagree with you, David, about it being useful/interesting information. There are plenty of TED talks that are not science-based. Hancock's in particular was more on the philosophy of science, as has been said many times before, and all of the controversial statements in question were very carefully framed. So again, I don't quite understand the controversy.
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        Mar 19 2013: No, that's a specious comparison.

        This is no different from the New York Times declining to print an op-ed in its Sunday edition and instead including it in its online edition, as a courtesy. Not printing it at all is not censorship, and allowing it to be published is clearly not censorship.

        If you disagree with TED's editorial stance, start your own media company that has a different set of editorial guidelines.
        • Mar 19 2013: The beauty of the human spirit is that you seem to be inspiring just such an endeavor!

          Using your comparison, is there any reason why TED can't release the "op-ed pieces" (e.g. videos) back to the authors so that they can be viewed by their fans with a warning that they were presented at a TEDx event, but later removed by TED, are in no way endorsed by TED, etc.?
        • Mar 19 2013: OK Dave, I agree, but please accept that TED will stop being what most of us thought it was.
          To delete any ideas, except in extreme and known situations, shows a lower level of civility and respect for mankind in general.
          TED will lose countless supporters and these dates will be remembered for a long time.
          Because in the end, you said it, it is a company, with specific interests, sponsors, agenda. And in a way it's really nice this was exposed to the world these days.
          And BTW, ideological racism the way it happened here, is fundamentally much worse than just censorship, which is practically ineffective too. Just read the arguments in the blogs if you have the courage. So many talks about similar subjects, and some even more 'extreme', just go over them. It's a disgrace really. I was supporting TED but no more...
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          Mar 19 2013: Pandelis: From day 1 TED has decided what talks to share and which not to share. Even in its current conferences, TED doesn't post all of the talks up.

          As a media company, TED makes decisions about what talks it wants to share. It never claimed to simply allow every idea to go live on its site.

          If you disagree with that, fine, but don't claim it was any different before.
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        Mar 19 2013: There is no technical reason they couldn't, but from a business and branding perspective, it would get pretty messy.

        Likewise, there is nothing to prevent the author from simply recording the talk again on their own terms and in a different venue?

        TED is not obligated to lend its brand to anyone.
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        Mar 19 2013: Pandelis, I think it's terribly naïve to think that there is any media channel that does not have its own point-of-view, which is honestly all that I believe TED is expressing here. If every idea pitched to TED (or TEDx) events was given equal voice, I can assure you TED would be nothing but noise. An editorial position is vital to creating quality, interesting, and yes, even challenging content.

        It's easy to get wound up about conspiracies and sponsors pressuring those decisions, but I truly think that's reading far too much into this situation. This is just good editing. And if you disagree with the editors, you can express that here and promote other ideas and videos elsewhere. It's a big wide world out there, with plenty of outlets for everyone.
        • Mar 19 2013: Dave, TED dissapointed a great part of its supporters these days, becasue they feel cheated. They felt, like me, that TED was not just a media channel. They felt it was a really open forum.
          The problem for you guys is that this incident relates to the handling of ideas, censorship of philosophical ideas and in the end, the promotion of a specific agenda to the world. Such matters are qualitatively and systemically very deep and important. I think that you are going to find them in front of you one day and maybe you will regret what happened.
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        Mar 19 2013: I am, like you, Pandelis only a third-party observer.

        TED has made many choices in the past that have angered and disappointed various people about various talks. This is an inevitable part of making decisions about content. What I would suggest to you is that the TED team, on net, tries to do the right thing, and more often than not gets it right.

        If you find yourself consistently disagreeing with its decisions, as I've said: there are many media outlets out there, and many more to come. TED doesn't have to be everything to everyone, but it can't be anything to anyone if it doesn't remain true to its beliefs and attempt to make the best curatorial decisions possible.

        Perhaps it can do a better job of that in the future, but really, how could that not be otherwise?
    • Mar 19 2013: "TED isn't censoring the talk"

      But they did intend on censoring it. The email sent to the TEDx organisers demonstrated this. It was ONLY because of the backlash that a concession was made.

      It's like having an art gallery, placing a piece in the basement out of view and then saying "Well we're not censoring it, it's still in the gallery".
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        Mar 19 2013: TED like any media outlet has a right to decide what to include and not include, and they made a decision to handle it this way. Start your own competing organization that makes different decisions if you don't like theirs.
        • Mar 19 2013: All I'm saying is don't make claims of non censorship, when it's clearly a false claim.
        • Mar 19 2013: Again someone from TED that likes to respond with an agressive undertone?

          Why is that, isn't there enough real science in these hordes?
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        Mar 19 2013: It's not censorship. The talk is published. Even if they had chosen to take it down, it wouldn't be censorship, but just an editorial decision.

        Why don't you write an op-ed for the New York Times and send it in? If it's not published, is it censorship? Or did they simply decide that it failed to meet their editorial guidelines or level of quality? It's obviously not "censorship." It's simply a decision to pass on distributing content – one they have every right to make (and make routinely). TED is no different.
        • Mar 19 2013: "Even if they had chosen to take it down, it wouldn't be censorship"

          That statement says it all.
        • Mar 19 2013: Well placing a talk on your official youtube channel and then remove it and not explain it with hard evidence or a sincere dialogue

          That is censorship my dear fellow read your dictionary. Instead of this agressive undertone or the strange cynicism from your Boss mr Anderson you could investigate this But you don't.

          You take the easy way and just pretent to be insulted.

          That is an old machiavellan trick... doesn't work. You guys have a real hard time to find out admit and write TED made a mistake here and a big one too.
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          Mar 19 2013: Your argument doesn't work because TED didn't put the talk up in the first place. The organizers of TEDxWhitechapel did.

          TED doesn't review talks that go up on the TEDx channel before they are posted, however it's possible they might start to do so now because of situations like this.

          I'd say they are doing the opposite of censorship here -- they are calling special attention to this talk (and Rupert Sheldrake's) and inviting discussion.
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        Mar 19 2013: Censorship is when governments intercede to block the transmission of specific content. You're conflating "censorship" with curation and exertion of editorial control by a private media company.

        While TED certainly aims to promote the free flow of ideas, I don't believe it aspires to be the exclusive platform dedicated to that goal. There are countless others, and there will be countless more. Many ideas belong on other platforms, but TED made a decision it has every right to make by deciding how and where to present this idea on its platform. They could perhaps have done it more gracefully and with better communication, but the hue and cry over this is more than a little overblown.
        • Mar 19 2013: Ah so only governments can censor. Every other time it's curation and acceptable.

          Got it.
        • Mar 19 2013: ...You're conflating "censorship" with curation and exertion of editorial control by a private media company....
          What a low level of an argument is this?
        • Mar 19 2013: Read your dictionary it says nothing about governments.
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        Mar 19 2013: See above. You have bad info there.
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        Mar 19 2013: Yes, I made the statement that a government must be the entity that conducts censorship, because in the United States (thanks to the First Amendment, and where TED is located), no other entity can possibly do so. Everyone is entitled to speak their mind, and it's easier than ever today thanks to the Internet. The idea of a private media company "censoring" is illogical and impossible in such a context.
      • Mar 20 2013: Refusing to have your name on something really isn't censorship.
  • Mar 19 2013: FYI: TED audience sits approximately 2000 - each seat costs $8000.00 - that's $16,000,000.00 - and they pay the speakers NOTHING!!
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    Mar 19 2013: Part 1: As a TED Senior Fellow and a rock art researcher, I wanted to comment on Graham Hancock’s talk. I think it is important to frame this comment by saying that I am a big supporter of TED (pretty obvious since I am a TED Fellow LOL!) and that I really admire their willingness to let us have this conversation. To me, true censorship would have been if they pulled down the talk and never mentioned it again. I also wanted to say that having done a 4 minute Fellows talk and a 3 minute main stage talk at TED Global 2011 plus recently having done a 18 minute TEDx talk, I totally get how hard it is to get across your ideas clearly and accurately in such a short time span, and I am sure that Graham felt the same way. Much of his talk is about his personal journey and his opinions about governmental control of certain substances (don’t necessarily disagree with a lot of what he said about drugs that are currently illegal – I am from the West Coast of Canada and the legalization debate is alive and well in my part of the world) and I don’t have any comment on that, but I would like to take a couple of moments to clarify some of the remarks he made about Ice Age rock art at the beginning of his talk.

    This art was created between 10,000 and 40,000 years ago by our distant ancestors, and the truth of the matter is that we have no idea why they did the art, nor are we ever likely to know for sure since the people who made it have been dead for at least 10,000 years, so there is no one for us to ask (modern peoples who still make art do it for a variety of reasons, so it’s not like there is some universal explanation that we could easily extrapolate back that far). I was happy to see that Graham was careful in how he mentioned that it was only a possibility that shamanism could explain the art, as this is also the stance taken by rock art researcher David Lewis-Williams (who Graham mentioned).

    Continued below…
    • Mar 19 2013: But they did intend to take down the videos completely. They intended to censor the talks. This is evident in the email that was sent to the TEDx organisers.

      It was only because there was a PR backlash that they reconsidered. And even then they misrepresented the speakers and so far have failed to issue an apology.
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        Mar 19 2013: Not so. The initial letter said explicitly that we were not removing the talks from the web. There was crystal clear intention from the start NOT to censor the talks. Crying 'censorship' on the web is like shouting 'fire' in a cinema. It creates havoc whether or not it's true. Tis a pity.
        • Mar 19 2013: It's RACISM Chris - pure ideological RACISM, wake up!
          Before any discussion about the talks' content they should go up again, don't you get it?
        • Mar 19 2013: The videos were removed from the YouTube channel posted in a corner on your website. On top came defamatory remarks. Sounds more like ideas suppressing rather spreading?

          How many more hundreds of comments do you need? We can think for ourselves, thank you. No need for a judge, evaluator, censor. Be a neutral platform.
        • Mar 19 2013: The video's are removed from your official youtube channel that is plain censorship. They are on vimeo now, but they are restricted so you can not search the video's in vimeo's search engine.

          Which means it is being censored.
        • Mar 21 2013: The TED letter states:

          After due diligence, including a survey of published scientific research and recommendations from our Science Board and our community we have decided that Rupert Sheldrake's and Graham Hancock’s talks from TEDxWhiteChapel >

          Both talks have been flagged as containing serious factual errors that undermine TED’s commitment to good science…

          TED respects and supports the exploration of unorthodox ideas, but the many misleading statements in both Sheldrake’s and Hancock’s talks, whether made deliberately or in error, have led our scientific advisors to conclude that our name and platform should not be associated with these talks.
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        Gail .

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        Mar 20 2013: @ Pandeis: I don't think Chris (the self-proclaimed inquisitor) gets it. But perhaps TED staff is lying as they put out their talking points - that by themselves explain the presence of lies.
  • Mar 19 2013: I am shocked at the decision to first remove the talk..and then to relegate it to this obscure location. Its simply the same old persecution of New Thinking that has gone on since the Middle Ages. I have seen so many Ted and Tedx talks that make some pretty wild assumptions...but because those assumptions are in line with Orthodoxy there is no problem for TED admins. Shame on the Inquisitor that made this decision.
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      Mar 19 2013: A location so obscure it has attracted more comments in a few hours than the main talk posted on our home page.

      Signed, the Inquisitor. ;-)
      • Mar 19 2013: Instead of being a bit serious in front of a world audience shocked by what you did, you play the cool guy...
        I do not envy you at all...and the saddest thing is that you probably do not grasp the importance of what is happening right now for TED.
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          Gail .

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          Mar 20 2013: Either the inquisitor lies or he really doesn't have the ability to grasp the importance of what has happened here.
      • Mar 19 2013: Chris, there are so many comments her - despite the obscure location - because people do care about freedom of ideas, speech and thinking for themselves.

        We want TED to remain a neutral platform, not as an evaluator, judge, censor. This might Ba a turning point for TED, to remain progressive and broad-based or become narrow-minded and conformist.
      • Mar 19 2013: Mr Chris Anderson you seem to only answer questions were you can display cynicism.
        Why is that? Perhaps a thourough scientific answer is wasted on the minds of these low IQ hordes?

        You are an inquisitor indeed in this matter.

        Perhaps now you understand how easy that is to take that role when you have some power.

        It is interesting that you don't show any interest for any serious debate to uncover pseudoscience. You just base everything on here say.

        I greet you mr Inquisitor who likes to be cynical to the demanding internet hordes.

        I will spread your tone and tell that your idealism somehow seems to override parental control over children who are now hopping on a plain to south america to indulge in ayahuasca.

        I also wish you much luck "since the new set of guidelines are active" with removing all the other talks that seem to enthouisast youngsters to their doom.
      • Mar 20 2013: Its not the location that has attracted the comments, clearly. Its the issue. In every Age Orthodoxy seeks to marginalise anyone whose worldview challenges it. People look back at such Inquisitions in the Past, throw their hands up in despair and wonder how people were ever so stupid. Yet, here we go again. Same Old Story. Except for one big thing. There are enough people awake to such tactics to raise their voices for Freedom. Freedom of Thought and Freedom of Expression. That is what attracted so many comments, not the location. Enjoy your policing of Orthodoxy for as long as it lasts Chris, it doesnt serve anyone well, other than those with vested interests in the Status Quo.
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    Mar 19 2013: Part 4 of 7: So, in rightly criticizing scientific reductionist materialism, Hancock makes the equal and opposite error of spiritual materialism when he says, “This is the paradigm of all spiritual traditions, that we are immortal souls temporarily incarnated in these physical forms.”

    When Hancock speaks of a “soul that survives death” we can know that he has not yet experienced the direct awareness of mind outside the framework of consciousness. That is, he has not yet experienced the Great Death himself. How can we know this? Because having the conception of an “immortal soul that survives death” is a conception that stands squarely on the basis of objectified consciousness as it looks into the abyss of death and sees the reflection of its own ego-complex and calls what it sees “an immortal soul.” This is how archetypes function. The archetype of the “immortal soul” is as much an aspect of the structure and function of consciousness as is the scientific archetype of “matter.” The concepts of “matter” and “immortal soul” are both materialist conceptions of consciousness at the opposite ends of the same spectral continuum.

    Now Hancock’s perspective, leaning as it does toward spiritual materialism, should not be taken to mean his criticism of scientific materialism is wrong. On the contrary, Hancock is spot on with his attack on the war on consciousness. Hancock’s criticism of the war on the drugs that facilitate dreaming and visionary states--as well as the war on dreams and visionary states by the use of other “approved for profit” drugs controlled by the corporate drug companies--is a criticism that is well founded. Also Hancock’s pointing out of the love affair of U.S. society with alcohol and stimulants is dangerous to the majority of the TED community who themselves are up to their lips in alcohol and stimulant use, if not abuse.

    Continued in Part 5.
  • Mar 19 2013: The act of removing the Hancock talk was simply unbelievable to me. There is very little to add. Maybe just that it will certainly not be forgotten by the whole community of free thinking people. It will haunt TED for years.
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      Gail .

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      Mar 20 2013: It will haunt more than TED Lovers. It will haunt the very atheists that the TED board thought it was protecting. By picking and choosing which scientific studies are permissible and which are not, it has successfully framed TED as a religious body, and as it is an Atheist religion (note the sudden capital on Atheism - because it is now a religion), it has harmed the many atheists who do not want to see prayer in school, creationism as science, and the continued progress toward anti-intellectualism that TED now endorses.

      Imagine the fun that Christians will have when they argue that Atheism now fits the model of a religion, and as such, it is Constitutionally unlawful for government to support Atheist evolution without also allowing Christian creationism.

      TED standing for anti-intellectualism. I never thought that I would see the day. I am greatly grieved, as I am when someone I loved turns out to be dishonest and untrustworthy.
  • Apr 2 2013: TED in my mind is supposed to be a platform to showcase “Ideas worth Sharing” the range and depth of the ideas should not be limited by conformity but purely the merit of the ideas themselves. Having multiple perspectives on a subject enhances wisdom.

    I think it was Jacque Fresco,who in conversation with Albert Einstein asked whether he believed in God? “Which one?” was Einstein’s reply. When he asked what Einstein’s views on reality were, he replied “It’s a matter of perspective”.

    There is nothing wrong with skepticism or doubt but no amount of it can dismiss duly verified evidence or the perspectives it supports. To do this you must produce contradictory evidence.

    Sheldrake and Hancock have been accused of skirting the line of science, sailing too close to the wind and looking at the blurred boundaries to form their hypothesis and ideas. As if this form of enquiry should justifiably disqualify their interpretations. I strongly disagree and argue this is precisely the approach that developmental science must adopt if it is to make any new advances.

    For those who feel that this is a storm in a tea cup by some alternative movement and TED management has every right pull the discussions. Truth is not convenient, the only embarrassment and discomfort being caused is by TED’s Administration not willing to apply one set of standards equally. If they are not up to its task then they should resign and make way for others willing to do so. If they try and hide behind the title of authority then it must be removed from them. Failure to do so will only taint everyone else associated with the organization, reducing its profile to that of corporate soapbox.

    Continued below .......
  • Apr 1 2013: As of this writing there are only about 23 hours left before the “debate” threads on TED Conversations close for good. So far I haven’t seen any convincing arguments from the TED staff, TED Curator (Chris Anderson), TED Science Board, or TED Brain Trust regarding a valid or persuasive justification for pulling out Sheldrake and Hancock’s TEDx talks from their official distribution channels.

    Sheldrake and Hancock have issued a public challenge for a debate on this issue. But, so far, their challenge has fallen on deaf ears. No one in TED has the courtesy or integrity to respond. This leads me to speculate that:

    1) The people at TED were not interested in a real debate. They just wanted a place holder for people to vent their frustrations until they get tired and move on.

    2) The people at TED knew that they’ve made a mistake of pulling out Sheldrake and Hancock’s videos and framing it with poorly crafted justification, let alone the slanderous accusations that TED leveled at both Sheldrake and Hancock. However, TED cannot afford to explicitly admit this mistake in public. As a corollary, TED can’t issue a public apology to Sheldrake and Hancock for fear of backlash from the “skeptical” and scientific materialist communities.

    3) The people at TED know that they are on the losing side of the debate if they accept Sheldrake’s and Hancock’s challenge.

    4) Therefore, it is best for TED to just stay mum on this issue and let this fiasco pass and die down.

    Maybe Jerry Coyne was right all along whenhe said that Sheldrake and Hancock’s TEDx talks are now “relegated” to TED’s “website of shame.”

    see the rest of my post here (which also covers the TEDxWestHollywood fiasco)

    ~ http://www.c4chaos.com/2013/03/the-ted-saga-continues-on-the-sheldrake-and-hancock-debates/
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      Apr 1 2013: What about possibility that:

      5) The people at TED will be drawing upon and considering the comments in this debate, which was initiated by them and which closes in less than 24 hours, in formulating a reasoned response?

      If your speculation #1 is correct, why was this TED conversation started in the first place? Why not assume instead that TED staff was interested in a thorough, honest, and lively debate on their website, one that would be most valuable to them if it unfolded without their direct participation (which would have been likely to result in lots of direct confrontation rather than a thoughtful discussion of the issues)?

      You may well be right about #4, but for reasons other than that they are "on the losing side of the debate" (which I don't think they are). Why would that be a bad strategy?
      • Apr 1 2013: #5 is plausible. and i hope that is truly the case. however, the non-participation of TED people on the "debate" threads plus the way TED phrased their reasoning for revoking the TEDxWestHollywood license leads me to speculate that #5 is unlikely. I'd love to be proven wrong though.

        that said, if #5 correct: "The people at TED will be drawing upon and considering the comments in this debate...." then TED ought to restore the videos, issue a public apology, and maybe host a debate between Sheldrake/Hancock and their accusers (Coyne and Myers). about 95% of the comments I've seen on both "debate" threads are in support of Hancock and Sheldrake.
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          Apr 1 2013: The staff of TED would be wise to prioritize the quality over quantity with respect to comments. Isn't one of the implications of Hancock's talk that the advancement of knowledge is not a popularity contest and that often majority opinion is wrong?

          I don't see any reason why TED's content should be decided by popular vote. The value of "ideas worth spreading" may have little to do with democratic decisions. The re-election of George W. Bush should have made that clear.
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      Apr 1 2013: You're right, Debbie. I went too far by using the phrase "other prominent 2012 hucksters." Yes, that would be a correct example of an ad hominem. I regret having said that.

      A more accurate observation would simply be that Hancock is in the business of selling books, videos, and lectures that, as Time Walker has pointed out, are often sold using sensational characterizations of their contents as endorsed by the authors. (I have provided an example of this as used for Hancock's book "The Sign and the Seal" on his own website in another post.)

      I withdraw my use of the term "huckster" and leave it to others to draw their own conclusions.
      • Apr 1 2013: No. Calling Hancock a huckster is not ad hominem. It's an insult and an unfair characterization. Ad hominem is a logical fallacy in which one focuses on "the man" rather than what he is saying in a specific rhetorical event. The term ad homimen applies well to most of what of what you've written here. To single out one insulting term from that and retract it does not make your entire argument any less ad hominem.
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          Apr 1 2013: I agree with you. Calling someone a "huckster" is an insult and went too far. I'm sorry for using that term.

          However, I disagree with you about the ad hominem fallacy Here's a definition:

          Fallacy: Ad Hominem

          "An Ad Hominem is a general category of fallacies in which a claim or argument is rejected on the basis of some irrelevant fact about the author of or the person presenting the claim or argument. Typically, this fallacy involves two steps. First, an attack against the character of person making the claim, her circumstances, or her actions is made (or the character, circumstances, or actions of the person reporting the claim). Second, this attack is taken to be evidence against the claim or argument the person in question is making (or presenting)."

          You would have to demonstrate: 1) that the facts I've been presenting about Hancock are irrelevant, and 2) that I've been attacking his character, circumstances, or actions. (Although "actions" would have to exclude his assertions of ideas, since it's the ideas that are under discussion.) You may have some purchase with saying I've been attacking his "actions" if that were to mean writing books, making films, and giving lectures, but I think that's splitting hairs. A person must perform some kind of "action" to make their ideas known in the first place, without which the argument being critiqued couldn't have been made.

          I don't think I've been presenting irrelevant facts and I've been trying to avoid attacking Hancock's character. Attaching his credibility and its relevance for assessing the quality of his arguments is another matter altogether.
      • Apr 1 2013: I went to school for this, John. I know what ad hominem means. There are better definitions than you've provided, but I'd have to drag out my books and I really don't want to invest that kind of energy.

        You're attacking a lecture based on past books of his that have nothing to do with the subject at hand. You've repeatedly misrepresented his written record and imputed beliefs to him that he does not hold, as has been pointed out repeatedly, most recently by me. Your criticisms have been extremely personal and critical of him as an individual, even if we exclude the word "huckster." You've attacked him for his past marijuana use, which I'm pretty sure qualifies as an action.

        I could go on but do I even need to?

        Yes, I feel quite confident in characterizing your argument as ad hominem.
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          Apr 1 2013: The issue of the speaker's reliability (his use of "pseudoscience") was one of the original criteria for TED's decision about Hancock's talk. It is is not irrelevant, with "nothing to do with the subject at hand," which from the beginning has been TED's decision, not the validity of Hancock's line of argumentation.

          How have I misrepresented his written record? What would be some examples? You are as entitled to your opinion as I am to mine, but your simply saying that Hancock doesn't hold certain beliefs is not sufficient. i have not been personal nor critical of him as an individual, I have been critical of his publications, films, and lectures.

          I have most certainly not attacked him for his past marjijuana use, though I did suggest that it was his heavy ingestion of cannabis and state of being "permanently stoned" that may have affected the content of his books--content that is relevant to the issue of his reliability and credibility. (To go a bit further, I think cannabis and certainly psychedelics can be implicated in apophenia.) My discussion was based entirely on a verbatim quotation from his TEDx talk in which he admits and describes what he himself characterizes as a long-term cannabis "addiction."

          Regardless of how confident you feel--and you are entitled to that subjective feeling--I respectfully disagree.
        • Apr 1 2013: John, if the people you are in the room with all sugest you are halucinating and attacking a cartoon. Thake it into consideration.
      • Apr 1 2013: @ John Hoopes

        "How have I misrepresented his written record? What would be some examples? You are as entitled to your opinion as I am to mine, but your simply saying that Hancock doesn't hold certain beliefs is not sufficient."

        Are you serious?!! You've claimed that he has beliefs that he's said in plain English he doesn't.

        Your statements about his cannabis use were offsides and not relevant. As I pointed out, many great writers have been wasted throughout much of their careers. And unless you can draw specific examples of his writing that were distorted in a manner consistent with marijuana intoxication, your statements are irrelevant and prejudicial. But you can't because you haven't read his books, only poked around them and then misquoted and misrepresented them. I have read his books and I have smoked marijuana and no.
      • Apr 1 2013: @ John Hoopes,

        I also skipped one very important ad hominem component of your argument against Hancock. You employed an association fallacy when you compared his work to Robert Cornuke's when there is no evidence at all of any relevant association between them. They covered the same subject matter in one instance. They're both non-archaeologists writing on archaeology topics. That's the extent of the comparison and yet you repeatedly used this specious comparison to impugn Hancock. That's an association fallacy -- a form of ad homimen. http://www.logicallyfallacious.com/logical-fallacies/12-ad-hominem-guilt-by-association
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          Apr 1 2013: They have both undertaken and written about their searches for the Lost Ark of the Covenant and other ancient "mysteries." They have both written extensively about the implications of a past global cataclysm on ancient civilizations. They both invoke references to supernatural entities. They are both non-archaeologists writing on archaeology topics. They both make a living by writing books, making films, and giving lectures. They both witness frequently and in public venues about personal metaphysical, revelatory experiences that transformed their lives. They both speak passionately in public about their personal beliefs, moral issues, and the "truth." You can disagree if you like, but I think the comparison is both apt and instructive.
      • Apr 1 2013: @ John Hoopes:

        "You can disagree if you like, but I think the comparison is both apt and instructive.

        You can think what you like but it's still specious and it's still an association fallacy -- and not even a good one.

        "They both invoke references to supernatural entities."

        Anyone who talks about religion at all does that.

        Hancock's references to supernatural entities under the influence of ayahuasca came well after The Sign and the Seal and had no bearing on that project. He doesn't talk about anything of the kind in that book except in terms of the beliefs of the peoples he was writing about. It's not a remotely religious book.

        "They both make a living by writing books, making films, and giving lectures."

        Oh good golly. They must be two of only a handful of people who do that!!

        I mean, really John, you're reachin.' Two authors cover similar subject matter in a couple of instances? That means one should be judged by the other? Really?

        I shudder to think how many people you'd have to cobble together if that's your criteria.

        Let Cornuke's speak for Cornuke. Let Hancock speak for Hancock. To use one to try to impugn the other is incredibly faulty and, yes, ad hominem.
      • Apr 1 2013: @ John, Let me try to put this more simply. If two people write books on the same subject matter and one book is good and the other is bad, you can't use the bad book to discredit the good one. That's an association fallacy. That they've both covered the same subject matter is irrelevant to judging them as authors.

        I say that taking no position on the quality of Cornuke's books, which I haven't read. But clearly you don't respect his work and seem to think that associating him with Hancock makes Hancock look worse or you wouldn't have brought it up. It's text-book association fallacy. That they've both covered the same material says nothing about how well or how credibly one or the other has done so. Nor does comparing their belief systems, which you keep doing, even though by your own admission they're quite different.
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          Apr 1 2013: On what is your opinion that I "don't respect" Cornuke's work based? It's true that I don't think his interpretations of archaeological evidence are valid and that he's a practitioner of pseudoscience, but there are other criteria (his ability to sustain an audience, sell books, make films, provoke dialogue, raise funding, win converts to Christianity, and even provide quality entertainment, etc.) on which respect can be based. I haven't said that I don't respect Hancock, even though I vigorously dispute the validity of his assertions. He's clearly been able to parlay his specific interpretations into a successful career in writing, film, and lecturing. Isn't that something to admire and respect?

          How would you assess how well or how credibly each has done what they do? I really haven't compared their belief systems other than to note that they both have similar interests in the ancient past, both draw upon specific ideologies, that they both invoke supernatural entities, and that they are probably quite different from one another, not necessarily in general aspects but certainly in specific details.

          I'm not using Cornuke's work to discredit Hancock. To the contrary, I'm arguing that they are both quite similar with respect to their interests, strengths, strategies, and successes as well as the ways in which their respective interpretations of archaeological evidence lack scientific rigor and detract from their credibility--at least among archaeologists and others who consistently demonstrate a preference for scientific methods and approaches to understanding the distant past.
      • Apr 1 2013: @ John Hoopes, No you don't disrespect either of these men. You just think they're both pseudosicentists -- despite the fact that they're claiming to be scientists -- and you're just comparing their work for the hell of it in your argument supporting TED's decision to yank Hancock's talk. Oh come now.
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          Apr 1 2013: One doesn't have to claim to be a scientist to be doing pseudoscience. One just has to give the appearance of doing something scientific when it's not.

          You seem to have a problem with the concept that it's possible to respect someone while utterly disagreeing with them. That happens in academia--and scientific archaeology--all the time. In fact, I think it's essential to academic discourse.

          If a peer-reviewed journal published something that was subsequently demonstrated to be substandard, they would typically issue a disclaimer. The norms of "publishing" for online video formats such as TED's is different, but I still support the organization's ability to correct inadvertent errors that it makes. In this case, I think it's unfortunate that the TEDx presentation occurred in the first place, but I also think removal was appropriate.
      • Apr 1 2013: Mr. Hoopes, I have a problem with the fact that your assessment of Hancock has been disrespectful and untruthful.

        "One doesn't have to claim to be a scientist to be doing pseudoscience. One just has to give the appearance of doing something scientific when it's not."

        Hancock doesn't claim to be doing anything scientific. He claims to be a journalist reporting on research by other people that he finds interesting.

        This isn't academia. Many lectures on TED don't purport to be academic research. Authors aren't even supposed to reference their published works in their talks. They're supposed to talk about their ideas. That's what Hancock did. That people disagree with him is all well and good. That they state them as objectively wrong and remove them isn't.

        TED's critique was refuted and crossed out. Your critiques have been rather thoroughly rebutted, most recently by Steve Stark. Reasonable people can disagree. That doesn't mean they get to silence each other or push each other off into thought ghettos.
  • Apr 1 2013: In his ongoing crusade to discredit Hancock by any means, rather than get to grips with the actual content of Hancock’s censored TEDx presentation, John Hoopes quotes from Hancock’s “Fingerprints of the Gods” as follows: “Like the Ancient Maya whose descendants all across the Yucatan are convinced that the end of the world is coming in the year 2000 y pico (and a little), the Hopi believe that we are walking in the last days..." (p. 502).

    Hoopes then writes: “In his uncritical scholarship and hype, Hancock grossly misrepresented the beliefs of both the Mayas and the Hopis, resulting in Maya leaders having to make countless statements to the press in attempts to rectify his errors and the problems that they caused.”

    Yet Hoopes fails to reveal that the passage he quotes is footnoted by Hancock, and when we follow the footnote we find that the source of Hancock’s text here is the renowned Mayanist Michael D. Coe who is MacCurdy Professor of Anthropology and Curator of Anthropology in the Peabody Museum at Yale University. I think we can safely say that Professor Coe, author of “Breaking the Maya Code” and many other scholarly works on the Maya knows a lot more about the Maya than John Hoopes does. And if we refer in full to the passage from Coe that Hancock cited here, we find it reads as follows: “Perhaps we are all headed for destruction. The Maya Wise Men all across the Yucatan predict that the world will end in the year 2000 y pico – ‘and a little’. How many years will that ‘a little’ be? The Great Cycle of the Maya calendar which began in darkness on 13 August 3114 BC will come to an end after almost five millennia on 23 December 2012... A katun prophecy in the Book of Chilam Balam of Tizimun reads: ‘Then the sky is divided, then the land is raised, then occurs the great flooding of the earth. Then arises the great Itzam Cab Ain. The ending of the world’…” Source? Not Hancock, but Professor Michael D. Coe, “Breaking the Maya Code,” Epilogue, pp 275-276.
    • Apr 1 2013: Oh, John. Please stop embarrassing yourself. You're writing this under your own name!

      Hell. For all I know you're really a disgruntled student of the real John Hoopes who's tied up in a utility closet somewhere.
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      Apr 1 2013: Yes, Simone, that's correct. The statements can be traced to Coe and before him to other credentialed academics. However, when I said that Hancock's work was uncritical, I meant just that. He presents Coe's idiosyncratic and unsupported interpretations--which they are--at face value. It may come as a surprise, but highly qualified and lauded scholars, including named distinguished professors at Ivy League universities, occasionally get things wrong. I was the first to point out Coe's error and have critiqued it myself for years. Coe himself decided to remove the passage that Hancock quotes in the second edition of "Breaking the Maya Code." The fact that Coe got it wrong doesn't excuse Hancock from seizing upon and amplifying his error with sensational speculation. That's been part of his methodology, which detracts from the credibility of Hancock's work. In Coe's case, it was a couple of specific errors. In Hancock's work, the errors are abundant.
      • Apr 1 2013: Thank you John. But your admission that you knew all along that the source of this passage in Fingerprints of the Gods was the Mayanist Michael Coe, and not Hancock, makes it even stranger that you hid that source when you attributed the passage to Hancock without also referencing Coe. Fingerprints of the Gods was published in 1995 and Hancock fairly and accurately cited Coe’s views and Coe’s findings in the only edition of Coe’s book that existed in 1995. I see nothing wrong in that. What I find disturbing is your failure to mention Coe when you took Hancock to task on this, only giving us the full story when I called you out on it.
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          Apr 1 2013: Simone, my point was about Hancock's uncritical scholarship, not Coe's. Hancock did cite Coe's statement, but he did not make any effort to verify whether Coe's interpretation was consistent with that of any other source. In fact, I think part of Hancock's flawed methodology has been cherry-picking evidence (including quotations from Coe) to present a specific interpretation. I'm sorry that you find my failure to mention Coe "disturbing". The reality is that I have discussed Coe's error in several academic publications, ones with which you are apparently unfamiliar. I have also pointed it out to him directly in person and in an invited presentation I made at the 11th European Maya Conference in Helsinki this past December. I certainly have not been hiding my opinions about Coe's assertions. Here are some links to relevant articles:

          Mayanism Comes of (New) Age

          Seventies Dreams and 21st Century Realities: The Emergence of 2012 Mythology

          The Hidden History of 2012
      • Apr 1 2013: Thank you again John, but my concern is not what you’ve published elsewhere. My concern is what you’ve put on the record here and the impression of Hancock you manufacture in the process. If you’d admitted from the outset that a statement you seek to discredit Hancock for was in fact a direct citation by Hancock of the work of a leading Mayanist (who was in turn citing ‘Maya wise men all across the Yucatan’) than I wouldn’t have raised the matter in the first place. The more you tell me you knew about Coe before you posted to discredit Hancock (but somehow failed to mention Coe) the more disturbed I am frankly.
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          Apr 1 2013: Why? My point was not about Coe, who (unlike Hancock) only made two brief statements in two books and who spent a great deal of time and effort to deny that he ever took any supposed Maya belief about 2012 and an "end-of-the-world" scenario seriously as anything other than ancient mythology. My point was about Hancock, who used assertions about a Maya prophecy of future destruction as a core premise of a major book in which the issue of an end-of-the-world scenario is discussed seriously and at length.

          There were plenty of other authors besides Coe, including ones who hyped the 2012 mythology even further. However, the commercial success of "Fingerprints" (which still sells well today) is what makes Hancock's work stand out.
  • Mar 31 2013: Mr. John Hoopes (who I can only assume is advisor to the TED science board based on his unflagging attempts to affirm TED's logic of discrediting Hancock, the man) says this:

    "Yes, a *perceived* experience whose interpretation is the result of revelation and whose actual cause may have nothing to do with telepathy."

    It's no secret that perception is, under materialism, hallucinatory -- not to be trusted. I could go on about how it serves the status quo to convince laypeople their perceptions are fundamentally unreliable. But I won't.

    I will suggest the following study as appropriate to the discussion:


    SD summary: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/03/130327190359.htm

    Your position might oblige you to interpret the experience from within the materialist framework, but materialism is not the only framework (nor the best) with which to interpret these data.

    "To me, we're looking at the problem in the wrong way. I see the brain as the image of a self-localization process in the fabric of mind, like a whirlpool is a self-localization of water in a stream. If our consciousnesses weren't localized, it would make no sense to speak about 'memory retrieval': All reality, past, present, and future, would be a simultaneous experience. There would be nothing to recall because whatever could be recalled would already be in the present experience. So the active process here is the localization -- the forgetting -- not the recalling. People with 'good memory' are simply people who can relax the localization process more or less at will, allowing back in what is already fundamentally available to awareness anyway, beyond space-time constraints. There is no need to 'store' anything anywhere because everything is already at hand. Recall is more akin to removing blinders than reaching out for a drawer." B. Kastrup

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      Apr 1 2013: Noah says, "John Hoopes (who I can only assume is advisor to the TED science board..."

      Thanks for the compliment, but if you can only assume that, you're destined for error. I am not an advisor to the TED science board. Would you nominate me? ;-)

      I agree with you that perception is not to be trusted. In an earlier post, I mentioned this fascinating (though maybe somewhat dry) TEDx presentation by Olaf Blanke on out-of-body experiences (actually, the perception thereof):

      Out-of body experiences, consciousness, and cognitive neuroprosthetics

      I'd also recommend this essay on "phantomology" by Peter Brugger:

      Phantomology: The Science of the Body in the Brain

      I don't think "materialism" is the correct descriptor for their approaches, since I'm sure "science" is adequate. They have been devising and performing clever, replicable experiments that have revealed a great deal about cognition in the past couple of decades. I have confidence that ultimately their work, when combined with that of scientists such as Roland Griffiths of Johns Hopkins and responsible researchers affliated with the Mutidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS), will provide us with some well-founded, non-metaphysical theories for the complex interactions of cognition, memory, sensory perception, biochemistry, psychopharmacology, and even philosophy and cosmology.

      I hope that some worthwhile scientific research is presented at the upcoming Psychedelic Science 2013 conference in Oakland in a couple of weeks (April 18-23).


      I think it would be worthwhile to pay attention to new research and recommend effective speakers to TED staff. In the meantime, it's worth considering that this past Friday was the 51st anniversary of the famous Marsh Chapel Experiment at Harvard. How far have we come?

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      Apr 1 2013: Note that the Marsh Chapel Experiment was testing whether psilocybin would produce mystical or similarly gratifying spiritual experiences in religiously predisposed subjects. In a 25-year followup, Rick Doblin noted that this experiment cast "considerable doubt on the assertion that mystical experiences catalyzed by drugs are in any way inferior to non-drug mystical experiences in both their immediate content and long-term effects." Roland Griffiths has come to the same conclusion.

      One reasonable interpretation of Hancock's presentation is that it was based on his own personal "spiritual" revelations as a result of ritual consumption of ayahuasca. I don't see any reason to regard its effects on him any differently than a non-drug religious experience similar to the kinds described by Bob Cornuke, a fundamentalist Christian who, like Hancock, is an enthusiast for non-scientific explanations of the ancient past. Here's a link to one of Cornuke's videos:

      In Search Of Noah's Ark, Part 1

      In Search of Noah's Ark, Part 2

      In Search of Noah's Ark, Part 3

      In Search of Noah's Ark, Part 4

      Cornuke, like Hancock, is an enthusiastic and passionate speaker. However, his ultimate message is not about spirit entities from a parallel universe nor Mother Ayahuasca, but salvation in Jesus Christ.


      Would his ideas be worth spreading on TED? As with Hancock's theories about a "lost civilization," Cornuke's theories have been sharply criticized by his peers, both religious and secular.

      Life and Land - Bob Cornuke

      Beyond Hancock's orientation to New Age spirituality and Cornuke's to fundamentalist Christianity, is there any meaningful difference in the nature of their respective approaches?
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      Apr 1 2013: Cornuke's organization:

      BASE Institute - Bible Archaeology Search and Exploration Institute

      Like Hancock, Cornuke has been involved in a search for the Lost Ark of the Covenant:

      "The fate of the lost Ark of the Covenant is perhaps the greatest historical mystery of all time. In Search for the Ark of the Covenant, Bob Cornuke, a biblical investigator and real life Indiana Jones, searches around the globe in hopes of discovering this important relic from the Bible. With footage from Israel, Egypt, Ethiopia, and England, this DVD reveals startling new information as to the exact location of the ark and includes photographic evidence never before seen by the world. As part of the Bible Explorer Series, this family documentary follows Cornuke on just one of his exciting adventures that uses the Bible as a road map for uncovering its ancient mysteries. Be amazed as this series helps support God's Word with modern archaeological evidence."

      Hancock's book:

      The Sign and the Seal: The Quest for the Lost Ark of the Covenant

      "After ten years of searching through the dusty archives of Europe and the Middle East, as well as braving the real-life dangers of a bloody civil war in Ethiopia, Graham Hancock has succeeded where scores of others have failed. This intrepid journalist has tracked down the true story behind the myths and legends -- revealing where the Ark is today, how it got there, and why it remains hidden.

      "Part fascinating scholarship and part entertaining adventure yarn, tying together some of the most intriguing tales of all time -- from the Knights Templar and Prester John to Parsival and the Holy Grail -- this book will appeal to anyone fascinated by the revelation of hidden truths, the discovery of secret mysteries."

      Is there any meaningful difference between their methods?
      • Apr 1 2013: I think that, once again, you err when you use the copy from Amazon to draw conclusions about Sign and the Seal re: Hancock's methods. I can't speak to Cornuke because I'm not familiar. But the copy you posted is extremely hyperbolic and makes claims Hancock doesn't make. Reading other people's reportage and reading marketing copy does not prepare you to critique a book or an author, let alone to compare authors.
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          Apr 1 2013: Okay, here's the copy from Hancock's own website:

          "A journalist and travel writer in the employ of the Ethiopian government in the early 1980's hears mention that the great lost treasure of the Jewish race - the ark of the covenant in which Moses placed the ten commandments - is reputed to be held in a church somewhere in Ethiopia...

          "The same man later sees the Hollywood blockbuster 'Raiders of the lost Ark', and an idea begins to find shape in his mind which will take some years to come to fruition...

          "In 1989 at Chartres Cathedral, France, he is drawn to a small, seemingly insignificant carving which mysteriously hints that the tale he heard in Ethiopia may be true - that that may, in fact, be the last resting place of the Ark ...

          "The man is Graham Hancock - and the story of his quest to discover the truth behind the legends is the breathtaking real life adventure of The Sign and The Seal. the book that launched Graham into the bestseller lists worldwide.

          "Following obscure clues found within ancient stories and Biblical tales, through the occult knowledge gleaned from the coded Grail epic of Wolfram Von Eschenbach, and the obscure and secretive workings of the enigmatic Knights Templar, Graham traces the Ark from its source in ancient Egypt, to Jerusalem, and from there to its final resting place in Africa.

          "This is a tale worthy of Indiana Jones himself! A real modern day quest set against the lost knowledge of the ancient world and the political intrigues of the contemporary one.

          "Here is the first inkling that the technology of ancient Egypt, that produced the Ark, was something mysterious and powerful - a legacy, perhaps of something older and forgotten - here is the seeds that would flower in Fingerprints of the Gods. Was Moses an initiate of the lost Egyptian wisdom - the lost wisdom of the survivors of a cataclysmic flood?"

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          Apr 1 2013: Here's a link to a discussion of Cornuke's search for the Art of the Covenant from his own website:

          Here's a link to a discussion of his search for Noah's Ark, which supposedly came to rest in the mountains of Iran after the cataclysmic Flood that was described in the Book of Genesis:

          He and Hancock actually have a great deal in common, though I strongly suspect Cornuke's attitudes about cannabis and psychedelic use would be quite different.
      • Apr 1 2013: I think you've missed my point, John. You keep talking about Hancock and his work as if you're really familiar with it. You're not - not if you haven't read his books. It makes you sound a little foolish and it calls your own credibility into question. If you're going to take on such a tirade, criticizing a person for his poor research and lack of scholarship, you should at least do your due diligence and read his work. Otherwise you're the one who looks like a poor scholar. He's a journalist. You're a college professor. Whom do you think that hurts more?

        From reading through Corunuke's page, I'd say his motivations for doing this research are different. His appears to be a religious interest. Hancock's was not. It also appears that his interest is rather singularly focused on Biblical lore as all of his research seems to be focused on Biblical sites and artifiacts. Hancock's is not. That's a pretty big difference. But I'd still be cautious about conclusions because I know nothing of Cornuke. I haven't read his books.

        I have read The Sign and the Seal and while the copy you provide from his site is better and doesn't misrepresent the book it's not even Cliff's Notes. It's eight very short graphs. I used to write marketing copy for books. It's used to sell them. Period. One hopes, when writing it, that it doesn't distort the meaning. But I certainly never would have hoped to convey in a few graphs what a writer put across in an entire book. That would be a) impossible and b) negate the purpose of writing the copy in the first place, which is to get people to buy the book. Why buy something if you already know enough about it to go around telling everyone what's in it and what the author's methods were.

        To imply that everyone who has an interest in looking for the Ark of the Covenant is basically the same is ludicrous. To imply that simply because Cornuke's path is similar to Hancock's is also ludicrous because his book follows Hancock's by nearly 10 years.
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          Apr 1 2013: But I *have* read his work, Time Walker. I just said I hadn't read all of it cover-to-cover. I've got a copy of "Fingerprints of the Gods" sitting right here and recently quoted from it verbatim with page numbers.

          I obviously don't think it's ludicrous to compare Cornuke with Hancock, regardless of the chronology. Cornuke is not literally following Hancock, since their research goes to different places. However, they are both non-archaeologists using the methods and approaches of pseudoarchaeology to appeal to poorly informed, uncritical audiences on ideological grounds and--with effective ad copy--to sell lots of books and videos and lectures.
      • Apr 1 2013: John, you said yourself that you can't get through his books, which is entirely fine, unless you're critiquing them. I've read most of his books -- cover to cover -- and it's clear to me that you're misrepresenting them. It gets even worse when you quote him as you did in the comment you're so proud of on Fingerprints and it turns out you're quoting a quotation in the book, not citing the primary source, and stripping it of its context.

        And, I'm sorry, journalists can't write books on archaeology now? Hancock isn't claiming to be an archaeologist and he always credits the archaeologists whose work he draws from. It think it's likely your quarrel is more with his sources than with him. He's not writing scholarly books, nor is he claiming to.
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      Apr 1 2013: Just because Hancock uses cannabis and ayahuasca while Cornuke uses fervent prayer, is there any reason to regard these two writers in different ways? If Hancock can make strong political points, why not Cornuke (even though their beliefs and orientations may prove to be quite distinct from one another)?

      I think it would be indefensible to give Hancock a forum while denying one to Cornuke just because they have different fan bases and practice different forms of spirituality.
      • Apr 1 2013: Is it customary that "skeptics" adopt the Gish Gallop in debate these days?

        It would seem you betray a woeful lack of philosophical knowledge, Mr. Hoopes. I guess I was expecting more from you.

        Materialism is predicated on the notion that the 'real' world lies outside anyone's mind. It's therefore unfalsifiable -- hardly meeting the definition of 'science.' To postulate that 'objective' reality lies beyond empirical verification may in fact violate the same Occam's Razor you invoked in an earlier comment.

        Subjective experience is implied to be a kind of hallucination modulated by physical brain processes, according to materialism. This is a philosophical assertion, not a scientific one. I'm quite astonished that a professional of your stature can operate unaware of any of this.

        As for your myriad other remarks, I'm not sure I understand their relevance.
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          Apr 1 2013: I'd like to see a citation for your definition of "materialism." It's apparently a word that has multiple interpretations. Yours is quite different from mine, which is more like this one;


          Are you sure you're not thinking of "idealism"?

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          Apr 1 2013: As for my other remarks, their relevance is that I'm arguing that Hancock and Cornuke are both avid practitioners of pseudoscience with respect to the distant past. They are each ideologically driven to make claims based upon their respective, but quite different, interpretations of mythological and metaphysical phenomena as manifest in the human past.

          If Hancock's ideas have merit, then why not Cornuke's? I see little difference between them with respect to the kinds of arguments they make, the methodologies that they use, the strategies they employ for marketing their books, videos, and lectures, and their appeal to respective audiences seeking materialist confirmation of idealist beliefs. Hancock appeals to a New Age audience and Cornuke to a fundamentalist Christian one. Other than that, they are actually quite similar in their approaches and probably also their goals.
      • Apr 1 2013: From wikipedia: "To materialists, matter is primary, and mind or spirit or ideas are secondary, the product of matter acting upon matter."

        On one end of the spectrum, you have reductive materialists (mind reduces to matter) and on the other you have eliminative materialists (mind does not exist). It follows that subjective experience is a hallucination generated by physical brain processes. The world of matter, that exists apart from mind, is all that can objectively exist to a materialist. You probably got confused because you're laboring under the mistaken assumption that it is idealism that says reality is a hallucinated illusion. This is a popular misconception, so I understand your confusion.

        Can I safely assume you to be a materialist? If so, then I trust you'll have no objection if I characterize your "relevant" comparison as the result of apophenia.
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          Apr 1 2013: Sorry, I do object to your mischaracterizing the comparison as the result of apophenia. The similarities I'm identifying are not a meaningless pattern, no matter how much you may wish them to be. The force of confirmation bias is strong in you.
      • Comment deleted

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          Apr 1 2013: Oh, please. This is not an ad hominem attack on Hancock and his character. It's a critique of his scholarship and his credibility, which are directly relevant to the issue at hand of whether his ideas are "worth spreading" on TED. I'm not saying Hancock is a dishonest person or that he has any moral shortcomings. I'm saying his *ideas* and his his arguments are flawed, of poor quality, and even harmful. Please learn what "ad hominem" means. It's one of the most misunderstood fallacies in online discussions.

          Ad hominem

          The "War on Consciousness" talk has not been censored. It is available on the TED site for you to watch right now by clicking on a link at the top of this page.
      • Apr 1 2013: John - one big difference is that we can test Hancock's claims here easily enough and pretty much all of them turn out, on inspection, to be correct. Thus whether credible or not what he says in this talk is almost all true, albeit unknown to many. Almost the definition of an idea worth spreading.
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          Apr 1 2013: What you consider to be true and correct and credible is baffling to me. I have the same experience with religious fundamentalists. That's the nature of subjectivity.
      • Apr 1 2013: @ John Hoopes "I have the same experience with religious fundamentalists. That's the nature of subjectivity. "

        Subjectivity and fundamentalism are not the same thing. We're all subjective even when we strive for an ideal of objectivity. When you conflate having an ideology with being an ideologue -- as you have below -- and having a subjective viewpoint with religious fundamentalism and dogmatic world view, you show us just how blinkered you are. Do you think you're "objective?" People who think they have an objective world view; those are the real ideologues because they think they know "the truth."
      • Apr 1 2013: @ John Hoopes, Debbie is absolutely using the term ad hominem correctly. Her point is that this debate is supposed to be about the lecture and its content -- not Hancock, the man. Your beef is clearly with the man and a lot of his previous work which has no bearing on the talk itself. The only book of his that is on point in this discussion is Supernatural and only in as much as it provides a little context for a talk that tried to compress a lot of that information into 18 minutes. But much of the talk is about things that have happened since he wrote Supernatural.

        Yes, ad hominem is a widely misused and abused phrase, often applied to all insulting language. That's not how Debbie is using it here. Her point is that is your argument is "to the man" not to the content of the talk itself. It's a point many have made to you since you started this tirade.
  • Mar 30 2013: I wonder who flagged the talk? Non-sense Graham Hancock had over 100 thousand views when I watched it about a month ago and the likes were almost a 100%. Which is far better than many TED talks I have watched. This is nothing more than PTB not wanting this to spread because God forbid if the masses started waking up to the fact that we have been kept in this tiny box of just enough consciousness to be worker slaves and get the job done but not enough to realize our full potential and the scope of our reality. At that point we wouldn't be able to be controlled. So what the TED board is saying here is move along nothing to see go back to watching jersey shore.

    shame on you TED ideas worth censoring!
  • Mar 29 2013: I think Mr. Hancock did a wonderful job at analyzing the disconnect between western culture and natural rhythms, even sensitivities to nature, that have lead to the widespread deterioration of biodiversity. There is plenty of evidence for this. There is plenty of evidence that this brew, perceived as sacred by its creators, can have beneficial effects including the realization of said disconnect. Just because the evidence hasnt been peer-reviewed does not mean it doesnt exist, cant be found, or should be neglected.

    Furthermore, I find the resistance to illuminating the topic of sacred hallucinogens used in a ritual context and its potential benefit for western society fascinating. Why are people so opposed to this, having never had such an experience?

    Is it fear of the big bad term 'illegal drug' as if all illegal drugs are the same?
    Is it the skepticism of the authenticity of the experience due to the negative attention psychedelic drugs received from the sixties and seventies? Skepticism of the authenticity of the experience could be justified, if the skeptics would but HAVE the experience, and remain skeptical.

    Personally, I think the resistance to a topic like this is the result people who have not had a sacred experience like the one Mr. Hancock describes, and therefore focus on everything EXCEPT the content of the experience, completely missing the point altogether.

    Some human capacities are simply beyond the reaches of science. What about love? Is it not one of the most satisfying, wholesome, consciousness altering, life affirming reactions? Maybe not. Can anyone find a peer-reviewed article that confirms this?
  • Mar 28 2013: Wrong points in John Hoopes’ post:
    "…people all over the world don't use ayahuasca." On the contrary, ayahuasca ceremonies take place all over the world, there is a globalization of ayahuasca (see Kenneth Tupper’s paper in Int J Drug Policy. 2008, 19:297-303).
    "Hancock generalizes from his personal beliefs about the supernatural." Benny Shanon's book Antipodes of the Mind (Oxford University Press, 2003) attests in depth to the universal/transpersonal nature of ayahuasca experiences.
    "…as if these were objective reality." Hancock didn’t say that. He stayed at the phenomenological level. He certainly knows that giving ontological significance to those entities would be too much for general audience, though there are efforts for neuro-ontological interpretations (see Ede Frecska et al. Neuropsychopharmacol Hung. 2006, 8:143-53).
    “These are essentially statements of faith.” No. Those are coming from transpersonal experiences (the last word emphasized) which share cross-cultural commonality.
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      Mar 29 2013: Actually, Shanon distinguishes between the qualities and the content of the experiences, acknowledging that the latter is conditioned by the prior memories and experiences of the user. Someone who's been in rainforests will identify rainforests. Someone who's imagined castles may experience castles. Someone who hasn't done the massive, eclectic reading of a Terence McKenna won't gain similar insights into philosophy, language, alchemy, etc. I imagine GIGO (garbage in, garbage out) applies as well.
      • Mar 29 2013: No, Shanon is quite clear that many people from many cultures see very similar things and there are many near universal aspects to the ayahuasca experience, including those mentioned by Hancock. Again, you appear to be simply making stuff up.
  • Mar 28 2013: Come on TED. People are interested in this stuff. Whatever happened to free speech.
  • Mar 26 2013: This is so disappointing... True war on consciousness. TED is sold...
  • Mar 26 2013: Now this will be truly interesting. I look forward to a rich dialogue in which different viewpoints are presented giving me, the listener, the opportunity evaluate and to think for myself! That's when real learning can take place!
  • Mar 26 2013: I too would love to see the debate.
  • Mar 26 2013: I really want to See this! TED please do it! For the good of the community!
  • Mar 26 2013: Fully agree here. Such a debate could help resolve the issue. I guess this reinforces that the real problem today is not religious fanatics. Whatever strength they had in the past to censor doesnt exist to any significant degree in the west anymore. Today censorship comes from materialist fanatics.
  • Mar 26 2013: Until now I have been a big TED fan and recycled many a talk by Dan Pink, Matt Ridley, Ken Robinson, Jill Bolte-Taylor and many others. I have also been reading you Graham since Fingerprints of the Gods, and TED might like to note that you were the only person in 35 years of BBC Horizon to legally win against their pathetic (but serious) attempt to debunk your "pseudo-science" in that instance.

    Of course travels in our subjective conciousness can never be objectively verified, a point very well made by Dr Thomas Campbell in his book MY Big TOE (Theory of Everything), which I have not read but where I saw a (TED-like) recording in 18 YouTube parts when delivered to The London School of Economics in 2008.

    Think carefully TED, your reputation for offering ideas worth spreading (or not) is on the line here, and I for one will stop relying on your judgements if you mess this one with Graham up.

    P.S. I'm also something of a LinkedIn nut, and Cancer Cures with THC can also be explored here...


    ...for those who are likewise LinkedIn
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    Mar 24 2013: Please spread the word to tune into the daylong Live Stream at http://TEDxWestHollywood.com on April 14. It's themed the same way White Chappel was, with its own roster of outstanding people, and is being barraged by the same attackers who went after Sheldrake and Hancock: http://whyevolutionistrue.wordpress.com/2013/03/22/oy-vey-tedx-continues-the-woo-now-with-more-self-help/. How torqued it becomes to try to draw the line between pseudo and real science, and, for that aspect of the TED process, a better criterion for a TED talk would be to appreciate anyone who can make a brilliant case about anything!
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      Mar 24 2013: I looked at the programme and speakers and was shocked. Nothing "TED lke" here just a load of self promoting lightweights pedaling their books, training schemes. etc
      Personally I dont need to hear from Marianne about her new book THE LAW OF DIVINE COMPENSATION: On Work, Money and Miracles.
      • Mar 25 2013: Fortunately, you have the capability to pick and choose which videos you'd like to watch ahead of time. Pretty neat, huh?
      • Mar 25 2013: Peter, your views are surprisingly closeminded. Do you realise that in our present state of affairs, where money drives research and forms the mainstream scientific views, there is a danger that all scientific advancement will be sponsored projects for the interest and marketing plans of large corporations? As this is inevitable for areas which require funds, at least lets be more open to ideas. No real harm can be done. If you don't want to then just don't watch the talks. Also, because you seem a bit biased, it would be good for you to check out a very well made site, skeptiko.com . It tries to bring closer the materialistc and more spiritual (or non-local/quantum mechanical) views of the cosmos.
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        Mar 25 2013: Then, Peter Martins, you and your buddies might want to walk on by without further comment, and avoid trying to protect everyone you don't know against themselves. Your protection would be anything but welcomed. I know well the work of no less than four of the "self promoting lightweights" you mention who will deliver fabulous TEDx WestHollywood talks, and they're *anything* but what you've dismissed. I'd stack their work up against anyone's anywhere in the world as the best available among anyone's perceptions and delivery of reality. They were decades ahead of TED in observing and creating new paradigms. But TED has done some larger things. Thus they need each other.

        And I don't have to be the only one to opine those things, as the TEDx WestHollywood presenters already had their work accepted, reviewed and applauded by many, including people much smarter and more compassionate than you or I. TED isn't the only organization in the world which has a corner on the market for realities.

        So, based only on your one comment, one could easily assume you've made a sweeping generalization - a hand-waving term - which has exactly nothing to do with the real substance of the works you've summarily dismissed without thoughtful investigation and review.

        Now, Peter Martins, a rhetorical question for you - meaning I don't necessarily want to see your reply: are you your comments? Are you more than your interpretation in the moment of someone whose work you know exactly nothing about? I'd say you are much more than that. Thus I'd prefer you instead act like a sensible, compassionate person who actually allows for the fact that there will be others in the universe who know more than he does about fields other than his own.

        There will be *many* of us who feel and see very similar things to what I've written for you. And we'll see if any of them show up here. But I know they exist, because I've met many of them and talked to others of them on the phone or Skype.
  • Mar 24 2013: To simplify this debate and remove some of the clutter getting in the way of a resolution
    It is important to identify with both sides. It is clear that TED has a lot to lose (40 some
    Million dollar organization - correct me if I'm wrong) the hallucinogenic tryptamine DMT IS
    an illegal schedule 1 substance and lies at the heart of this controversial talk. For TED to
    take a stance showcasing Graham's talk it "could" reverberate negatively on its business
    model. Certainly that was the underlying reason behind the talk being removed even though
    it was touted as Pseudoscience (this is obviously just my personal opinion) the offer was made
    to debate this topic between Graham & TED's anonymous scientific advisors which by doing
    so would invite the same negative reverberation, something that arguably could hurt the entire
    movement. Now lets look at Graham's side - why would an altered state of consciousness damage
    a science movement? One could argue that some of the greatest minds got their inspiration in
    an altered state of consciousness - Einstein's miracle year, he supposedly said the ideas just came
    to him & he can only take credit for writing them down (obviously a humble man, or was he?)
    Tesla would go into deep hypnotic trances & would visualize his inventions in working detail. Rammunajan
    Came up with incredibly advanced mathematics despite almost no formal training - unheard of & only now
    Being better understood. Davinci was known to use altered states of consciousness through breathing &
    Meditation/focusing the mind. So we can see that an altered state of consciousness is perhaps the catalyst
    for profound change or breakthroughs. Haven't we also learned from Einstein who said "the definition of insanity
    Is doing the same thing over & over & expecting a different result"?
    Perhaps it's time to do something different, something that requires each of us to face our fears & depart from
    The safety of a lab? What do you say TED, is it time?
  • Mar 22 2013: Any response from TED regarding Sheldrake's and Hancock's invitation to a debate ? Will TED just ignore them ?
  • Mar 22 2013: PART 2:

    If you are someone who is interested in exploring revolutionary paradigm-changing ideas TED is no longer (if it ever was) the place for you. TED is being very clear about it, while at the same time protecting their image for those who can’t take a (loud) hint or have a more materialistic/mainstream view of life.

    You also need to understand that TED cannot be completely upfront about this, in our topsy-turvy world honesty is not something that TED as an organization (say business) of its size can (or believes it can) afford.

    Having said all this, there’s much positive that has come out of this. TED’s true colours have been revealed, so those of us who had any doubt as to what TED’s goals and objectives are need wonder no more. We can move on to another platform.

    Graham Hancock and Rupert Sheldrake’s ideas have gained increased exposure thanks to TED’s handling of the matter. It’s also my impression, that regardless of the slanderous and defaming claims originally made by TED, Sheldrake and Hancock’s reputations have not suffered; but on the contrary, as it is TED who has refused to answer their questions and act respectfully towards them.

    From TED’s point of view, and based on what they really stand for, I can see how they feel this is preferable than to allow Sheldrake and Hancock a platform where their ideas can gain even more credibility in front of an even wider audience.

    Those people that are comfortable and satisfied within the limits of the currently established mainstream perspective will now feel safer with the TED brand.

    For those of us who truly want to explore any and all “ideas worth sharing”, there is no need to dismiss TED altogether as a brand or organization. I am certain that there are still many interesting talks to come; you may just be wise not to expect anything too challenging of the scientific and social status quo.
    • Mar 22 2013: Well said. Just like with any info you never want to be content with a single source.
  • Mar 22 2013: PART 1:

    No matter what is said or proposed in this blog, or anywhere else, TED will not reinstate Graham Hancock or Rupert Sheldrake’s talk. They will not setup any debates where Hancock and Sheldrake can further explore and share their findings, they will not answer their questions… in short, they will not do anything more than what they have already done.

    TED has no interest whatsoever in exploring any ideas that stray beyond the limited scope of established mainstream science or that are too challenging of our currently and generally accepted social paradigm. They have made this very clear here: http://blog.tedx.com/post/37405280671/a-letter-to-the-tedx-community-on-tedx-and-bad-science

    It is totally irrelevant to TED and the people who run the TED brand, how much evidence or reason is provided here, or anywhere else; and/or how solid any arguments presented by anyone (no matter who they are) in support of what was said by Sheldrake and Hancock -- in their talks and/or about their work/views in general -- are.

    The TED slogan “Ideas Worth Spreading” is simply a catchy phrase used for marketing; outside of that is absolutely meaningless.

    You need to understand that this situation is very simple. TED has to answer to its corporate partners and sponsors, and also to the organizations that provide it with capital and financial support. A simple search on Wikipedia will reveal that Chris Anderson (TED’s curator) is married to Jacqueline Novogratz, who is the founder and CEO of Acumen Fund. Acumen Fund owes its existence to organizations like the Rockefeller Foundation and the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation.

    These people are vested in protecting the current mainstream, generally accepted, perspective that we are nothing more than very sophisticated machines.
    • Mar 22 2013: OH :-( You just just broke my heart - cause I'm afraid you're right
      • Mar 22 2013: Hi Aimee,

        I think I simply expressed what many of us already know but are having a hard time admitting to ourselves. If we are here is because we like TED, we like how their platform has served as a space for many interesting and thought-provoking talks up until now. It has been enjoyable and stimulating. I for one am grateful about this.

        However, having said this, we must be honest about what is happening and about what this is showing us in regards to where TED wants to go as an organization.

        We can be adults, and let go of romantic ideas of what TED is or should be. TED is not ultimately a platform for the most revolutionary thinkers in the world to share and explore their ideas with humanity. Through their recent actions and statements, TED is making clear what their limits and boundaries are, and what their platform should and will be used for moving forward.

        TED is in essence no different to most large international organizations out there. They must abide by, and respond to the interests and bias of their partners, sponsors and financial supporters. Those who founded it, feed it and keep it alive are the most important to TED.

        Being honorable, acting ethically or treating its speakers fairly is secondary to staying in line with the agenda of those people who constitute TED's lifeblood.
  • Mar 21 2013: By TED's initially proposed criteria for rejecting these controversial talks, Einstein would have been pulled from the site for many of his scientific theories merely because they challenged what was commonly accepted. It seems they had a lot of hate mail about then and the lawyers got involved and brand protection took priority over free and/or theoretical thinking.
    • Comment deleted

      • Mar 22 2013: I don't think anyone could argue with that. It wasn't my intention to suggest that the scientific merit, scope or importance of their works are comparable, but rather to illustrate that even a great mind like Einstein may have been denied... say... a report published in a distinguished journal had the same reasoning been used in relation to the academic status quo in his time.
    • Mar 22 2013: Others who come to mind are Nikola Tesla and Carl Jung.
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      Mar 22 2013: The difference here is that Einstein's peers could prove him wrong or right with empirical evidence and math. Einstein was challenged as a matter of fact. The very reason his Theory of Relativity is a household name (at least here in Nerdville) is because of a famous experiment in 1919 that proved it. It was headline news. How would we prove, or even test Hancock's assertions?

      Now if we consider his ideas from a strictly non-scientific viewpoint, well then there could be room for discourse about spirituality in human culture. I believe that's an important conversation to have actually.
      • Mar 22 2013: First identify the offending assertions (TED's attempt was unsuccessful). If you can't do that, then I'm not sure how to answer you because you appear to be begging the question.
  • Mar 21 2013: What's with this divide and conquer approach with Sheldrake and Hancock? They were both booted by the maneuvers of same status quo guardians, and it makes TED look spineless. This decision flies in the face of what I thought TED was all about.
    We want both of them back, please.
    • Comment deleted

      • Mar 22 2013: Anti-science? Or critical of your philosophy? I think it's incumbent on you to provide evidence if you're going to claim that the talk is anti-science.
      • Mar 22 2013: Ideas worth spreading. Was it surprise when Hancock began his speach. They don't know what the speakers are going to talk about before hand?
  • Mar 21 2013: I've been watching this issue unfold during the past week and would now like to add my support for Graham and Rupert's request for an open debate on this whole issue, with a member, or members of the TED science board. However, given the despicable tactics employed by Chris Anderson thus far I won't be holding my breath whilst waiting for their response. Mr Anderson, surely you must see that you have treated your audience like children in deciding what you think we should and shouldn't be exposed to, and as Graham has pointed out in a previous post, your decision is completely inconsistent with other talks that have remained on your site. It is clear that many of us feel you have made a grave error in judgement with this issue, and agreeing to the debate may be your only redemption.
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    Mar 21 2013: TED needs to start apologizing. What else is there to say?
  • Mar 20 2013: I used to like following Ted Talks but now after treating Graham like he was some sort of crack pot just because he doesn’t tow the flawed mainstream view is reminiscent of stone age tactics and intellectually bankrupt. To remove a whole debate and not let the public judge for themselves and giving it a blanket excuse like “pseudoscience” instead of just refuting the argument given just weakens the mainstream view as being more obsolete daily. It’s sad that Ted Talks choose the route of their “science advisers”. I thought they were a little more ahead of the curve. I guess not and I won’t be watching as another collectivist group edits debates and opinions when it doesn’t fall in line with their "pseudo-progressive" agenda. Truly sad………..
  • Mar 19 2013: I think it is a great idea to debate Graham Hancock's presentation.

    But first, we should debate the merits of the TED talk by a lingerie model who flipped through some racy photos of herself while alternately celebrating and lamenting the fact that she's a pretty white woman who gets free stuff.

    After that, it is indeed imperative to return to the discussion of the scientific merits of Hancock's urging of inquiry into the relationship between consciousness and psychoactive compounds.
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      Mar 19 2013: You clearly missed the point about Cameron Russell's talk. Then again, you are not a daughter, mother, nor have you dealt with the issues Cameron raises, so it's no fault of your own. But you also shouldn't just make a flat judgement that women all over the world don't deal with such issues on a daily basis.
      • Mar 19 2013: No, actually I enjoyed her talk. I just framed it similarly to the way that Hancock's and Sheldrake's talks have been framed, to make a point which you apparently missed.
        • Mar 20 2013: Point missing seems something of a TED speciality.
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    Mar 19 2013: I don't mean to slander anyone. I know its a tough job to come up with original ideas and even harder to bring them to the world.I know many many great ideas from the margin and places seen by those conventional realm "high preists" as disreputable and heretical quarters. So Thank you Graham. Thank you

    I know also the age we live in has many memes operating and my views are temporary truths. My comments were putting a reasonable if to some unpalatable balance into the argument. Yet here i am now marginalized by some as "linier" and "Slanderous". Interesting.
  • Mar 19 2013: @ Sarah Parcak .. if you knew about Grahams views on the the Great Pyramid ( and Robert Bauvals for that matter ) you would know that they do not advocate the notion that aliens built the pyramids for goodness sake .. you are commenting from a point of obvious ignorance. Do your homework. Also it has nothing to do with the issue on hand so why you bring it up is a mystery.
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    Mar 19 2013: (2) We operate according to a real and knowable universe, with set rules (gravity is not up for debate). Pseudo scientists are different than real scientists in that most will not change their opinions when faced with a mountain of evidence to the contrary. You all have your opinions, and will not change them based on blog entries here---given that a number seem to be pro-Hancock--- yet I challenge everyone here to think based on scientific evidence versus an instant+ deep gut reaction to an organization that you may consider to be elitist/out of touch/cultish (which, it is not-I teach at a public uni, and was welcomed at TED Long beach). I am open to diverse views, but I also function in a science-based world (e.g., if you understand Egyptian architectural history there is no way you can believe pyramids were built by aliens). The science talks are awesome on ted.com-and heavily vetted (many main stage TED talks don’t make it there for many reasons—and why they are open to amazing TEDx talks for ted.com). Shouldn’t all TEDx material be vetted generally? If you want to say anything go put it on youtube, it is a free country. TED=a brand we associate with high quality. That is the tradeoff.
    (3) There is lots of garbage on “learning” cable TV channels, and few critical thinking programs---which TED talks encourage (how many of you have benefitted from those talks?). However, even top journals make mistakes. Did TED make a mistake by retracting/drawing attention to this talk? Maybe ---but TED is most well known for encouraging dialogue/discussion, and making people think, which is what this dialogue is doing (I hope!). Pseudoscience has no place in archaeology/science-but it is something we deal with daily. Good science wins in the end, every time-that’s what the history books show us. TED is not immune to these debates, yet it is providing a forum for all types (scientists/members of the public/Graham Hancock himself) to engage. That is cool, and very much welcomed
    • Mar 19 2013: They called you a bit late. All of your arguments have been debated very effectively in the forums around here.
      The fact remains that what happened was completely unacceptable, it was a terrible mistake and TED's status will be hurt after this.
      You deelpy know it very well, as all of you TED people who came to the rescue, that it was a monumental mistake to discriminate IDEAS, especially after they have been presented to the public. It makes one cry and laugh at the same time :)(
      • Mar 19 2013: Agreed Pandelis, Sarah you truly know nothing of who Graham Hancock is and what he believes. You come in here with old talking points and ad hominem attacks that have no bearing on who Graham is or his work. It is actually pretty sad and has only furthered my negative opinion of TED. Nice work.
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        Mar 19 2013: On the contrary, anyone who cares both about science and about giving unorthodox thinking a fair hearing can be really proud of what has happened here. It's understandable that people who don't know the full story are upset, but in the end, truth will out.
        • Mar 19 2013: The vast majority of the people arguing here are very respectful of science and I am sure that most of them are in fact scientists. The great dissapointment with TED is that you seem to not respect this at all, that scientists would like to belong to platforms which respect all ideas equally, and let the community decide.
          The handling of the issue by TED was disgraceful to say the least, in terms of moral standards. It has transformed you overnight to a 'media company' (using the words of a supporter of yours here) supporting 'Ideas Worth Marketing' (words of someone in here-Spot ON! )
        • Mar 19 2013: You still haven't explained why these talks are removed from your offiicial youtube channel.
          well you didn't came with valid reasons i have checked youre arguments but I could not find it in the talks,

          There were even logical questions about this from mr Hancock, but you did not answer them...

          Still itchy about the lack of intelligence of your horde mr Anderson? Is that why you magically change the subject of censorship into pseudoscience?

          Nice trick by the way, but a bit transparant though
        • Mar 19 2013: Proud? I certainly would not be proud of those original (now retracted) comments. Your staff, board, whoever it was; created a blatantly false summary of his presentation as an explanation for removing it from your main platform - and this:

          "..it’s no surprise his work has often been characterized as pseudo-archeology."

          It's one thing to be falsly/overly dismissive of his presentation but that's a plainly derogatory and irrelevant remark he's received after giving his time away to share his ideas with those who came for just that - controversial and unorthodox ideas. Do you call this slating a fair hearing?

          I think you'd have a leg to stand on in that regard if the initial review had been remotely truthful, why was it did you say those comments were made? Because of haste or something? It seems absolutely disgraceful to me that someone can devote their time to an event like that and receive something as false and disrespectful as your retracted comments in response.

          Curiously, have you made a public apology for that? It seems your thinking is vaguely along these lines.."At first our board said it was bad/psuedo science and this opinion was made into a defamatory caution sign, now it turns out they were wrong to be so heavy handed and we're not exactly sure what the content falls under - why don't you all have a discussion about it?"

          This is a lot better than dismissing the whole thing, I'll give you that, but it still seems like you're deliberately missing out the bit where you or whoever was responsible for the inital slating needs to apologise for 1) making those false and disrespectful comments in the first place, and 2) the defamation to him and the ideas covered in the presentation that they could have easily caused.
        • Mar 20 2013: I find it strange that you're implicitly characterizing TED as a forum for orthodox thinking (except in designated corners), because that's the opposite of what I thought it was until recently. So many of the other TED(x) talks are unorthodox in so many ways, the actual motivation and influences in this case are pretty transparent. Looking back, I suspect you should have just ordered the removal of the videos with no excuses given. That's probably what the presenters were assuming would happen, anyway.
        • Mar 20 2013: Chris/TED, your comment about your understanding that "people who don't know the full story are upset" sounds patronizing.

          What about all our TED audience who is upset and followed the whole discussion from the very beginning: the three different discussion boards, over 1000 comments, Facebook petitions etc.?

          Are you listening to your audience responding to your call? Have you counted how many demand the resorting of the videos and an apology to Sheldrake and Hancock?
    • Mar 19 2013: TED Exposed...
    • Mar 19 2013: I want you to consider that many people whom are upset about the action TED has taken are upset NOT because they are supporters of the lecturers, but due to the obvious bias that these talks were dealt with, and the damage this type of "pick and choose" publication will cause the TED name. I love TED, I believe they have made a critical error here, not only in initial judgement, but their continuing efforts to reduce the transparency of this great organization.
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        Mar 20 2013: Mark: TED from day 1 has always made decisions about the talks it decides to share. It's always been that way.

        If you go to a TED Conference, you'll see around 80 talks. TED may only post 40 or 50 of those. That's just the way it works as a media company making curatorial decisions about what it wants to share under the TED brand.

        TED would never have become what it is today if it just shared everything with no editorial decisions, just as the New York Times doesn't publish every single article on its front page.
        • Mar 20 2013: So I can assume that if I spend $7,500, only about 50-60% of the content will approach the quality shown on the web? The rest isn't even worth the trivial effort of uploading, and might even make TED look bad? That's useful to know...
      • Mar 20 2013: Pick and choose publication is why TED works.
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    Mar 19 2013: I engaged pretty actively (perhaps too actively) on the relevant blog post yesterday. I said some good things, and some less wise (and was rightly called out for them).

    I can't for a moment accept that what TED has done can be labelled as censorship. Any reasonable definition of that word involves suppression and removal of something from the public sphere, stifling conversation about it. TED have done quite the opposite, providing a public place, separate from all other talks, where both this talk and Sheldrake's can be discussed openly. Further, this matter is being widely discussed elsewhere.

    Certainly, I understand the presenters are upset that their talks are no longer on the TEDx channel on YouTube, but now, they've most likely been seen by rather more people than would ever have if they quietly sat where they were (there are talks from my events on that channel that have just a couple of hundred views, as a comparison).

    I support TED's position that talks addressing matters across the sciences must have a reasonable level of veracity and meet minimum levels of scientific integrity. Given the breadth of scientific material published across many disciplines that is both controversial and very early in its development, I don't believe that in any way, these boundaries impose an unreasonable limitation. So too, TED has to be the ultimate decision authority on what they publish or not. Presenters sign an agreement at TEDx events to that end. We as members of its community can agree or disagree, but we certainly can't make the call for them.

    Overall, the discussion over both of these talks has been beneficial, and TED will learn from it, though many chose to comment in a very demanding or intemperate way, damaging the chance for consensus. Agreeing to disagree is also good - it represents a realistic, mature position that is perfectly acceptable.
    • Mar 19 2013: Please stop debating using 'smart' arguments and restore the talks first. Then a real, open, free discussion can start, and why not as a TED conference?
      What happened cannot be supported by people who want to claim that they have integrity and morality.
    • Mar 19 2013: If you don't see it as a problem, then you really aren't following what TED has done here. I personally believe TED is SO important that I feel compelled to speak up, as this action by TED is essentially perpetuating degradation of the will and logic they have built into and with their brand.
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        Mar 19 2013: Mark, not for a moment is this not a problem. It's certainly that. And it needs a better solution all around. But battling through an imperfect one where mistakes are made on all sides is a useful learning experience.
    • Mar 19 2013: But they did intend on censoring it. The email sent to the TEDx organisers demonstrated this. It was ONLY because of the backlash that a concession was made.

      It's like having an art gallery, placing a piece in the basement out of view and then saying "Well we're not censoring it, it's still in the gallery".
    • 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 suppressed from that public domain. (the tedx channel is public isn't it?)
      They are on vimeo now, but with restrictions which mean not visible in the search engine. Google has an excellent way of showing video's that are on vimeo. But this all is not possible because of this restriction.

      So the video is censored from vimeo's search engine / google and your official youtube channel.

      This discussion here is not valid because it is not about whether these talks are pseudoscience.
      The decision that it was (based on flawed premisses) was already made by the scienceboard and dear mr Anderson.
      Purely based on the shallow investigation of the reputations of both speakers not on the content itself which is why no one from TED comes with substantial answers.

      And you didn't even now it.
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        Mar 19 2013: Bart, I'm well across the several processes that have taken place. TEDx organisers as a group (and not all of them agree with TED's actions) have been briefed several times as TED has taken each step.

        I certainly take a different view as to what, in aggregate or in specificity, amounts to censorship. I don't see it here, but I understand and accept others do (though I disagree with them).

        As to the matter of pseudoscience, TED is using an understood and accepted definition. Again, some (like me) accept that the talks in question fall within that definition, and others will not. I don't have a problem with that.
        • Mar 19 2013: Of course and I am glad i hear a reasonable TED voice. And no cynicism this time very appreciated.

          The issue is that no one from TED seem to really invest effort in stating were exactly these talks are pseudoscience. Why are the talks pseudoscience? While the speakers did make an effort to defend themselves with reasonable questions which are never answered. Al we have are cynical remarks by mr Anderson. and three blog pages... the answer from TED is actually: "Well... it just is pseudoscience."
          And of course when someone refers to research which is no where to be found. Yes those are big indicators. And we are not asking to disprove some wild idea like orange dragons orbiting Tau Ceti.

          If these talks are really pseudoscience on the edge difficult to recognize. it should be made very clear why.

          That is all.
  • Mar 19 2013: wow i hope the amazon and all the Shamans that work with light are ready for the influx of humans wanting to experience ayahuasca. Maybe a lot of you geeky scientists need to work on the virtue of courage and give it a crack and surrender to the fact that you all know jack shit !
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    Mar 19 2013: (Part Four)

    See also Dr. Roland Griffiths work with psilocybin and terminal cancer patients/end-of-life care (one of the very few studies that has been permitted in the past 50 years). The majority of the participants reported the experience as being among the top 5 most profound/significant in their entire lives (birth of children, marriages, professional accomplishments included). Most also lost their fear of death and lived much more happier/anxiety-free lives from then on. "Heal us," indeed! He even gave a TEDx talk about it:


    See, also, the amazing potential of the psychedelic Ibogaine in treating severe addictions to the hard/habit-forming narcotics like heroin and methadone after only one administration (with subsequent follow-up support):


    And that's hardly the only example. There's a harrowing documentary called "Detox or Die" featuring the filmmaker's own struggles with those substances in which he makes the measured decision to take this medicine:

    Detox or Die Pt. 1 of 5

    His treatment comes in during Part 4. He has also been "clean" ever since (8+ years) and has become an advocate for it's further study. And that's the thing, why isn't this being officially studied?! Like, at all? You'd think something with these kind of results would at the very least call for a few studies. Is it because it didn't come out of a pharmaceutical lab? Is it because it's a dreaded "psychedelic"? Is it because it's - quite often - a one-time use cure? If the scientific community were honest about being open-minded, they would throw their support behind its study. This, then, could "scientifically" substantiate the claim that these substances "can teach and heal us." But how do you expect to gather evidence, for it to become part of "orthodox scientific thinking," if science absolutely refuses to study them?
  • Mar 19 2013: The only thing unnecessarily insulting and intemperate I see is TED's exhaustive and continuing efforts in trying to suppress this information. How disappointing and unscientific...
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    Mar 19 2013: Part 3: While he is totally entitled to his opinion, having read his book Supernatural I know that he has read a lot of the literature from my field and is aware that this interpretation is not as clear cut as he made it sound. (This could again have to do with the time constraint and he may have stated this differently if he had more time to elaborate). Now all of this doesn’t mean that the question of whether shamanistic practices inspired some of the ancient art isn’t worth exploring, and in fact I happen to be currently working on a project that is asking that exact question. My area of specialty is the geometric signs found at Ice Age rock art sites in Europe, and since some of the images most closely associated with trance visions are abstract (grids, lines, dots, zigzags, spirals, etc.) and are universal based on what our eyes are hardwired to see while in an altered state, this question interests me. These shapes are called entoptics, and in his research, Lewis-Williams brings in literature from the field of neuropsychology to suggest that this hardwiring might allow us to understand the motivations of ancient people since their eyes would have worked the same way as ours. I am testing this hypothesis by looking for the presence of entoptic shapes in the caves, and while you will have to stay tuned for my final conclusions since the study is ongoing, I can say that the results so far are mixed (e.g. spirals are almost non-existent this far back). If you are interested in learning more, the TEDx talk I did last November happens to be about how an archaeologist like me could approach such a subjective research question, and while the TEDx organizers were having some sound problems that day, it is watchable, so feel free to check it out: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4Zgwz_m7sRs

    Thank you TED for giving me a venue to participate in this discussion and thank you Graham for giving me an excuse to talk about my favorite subject!
    • Mar 19 2013: So you support the deletion of the talk from Youtube?
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        Mar 19 2013: Pandelis - I am going to ignore the tone of your second comment other than to note than I am a full time mother and full time PhD student and I don't think that a 2-3 hour delay in responding on a weekday afternoon is an unreasonable length of time.

        In regards to your question about TED's right to delete a talk off of a youtube channel affiliated with them, I don't pretend for a moment to know the whole story of what went into that decision, but I do think that as a private organization they have the right to maintain curatorial control of content associated with them. The beauty of the internet is that it is wonderfully vast and there is space for all sorts of ideas to be shared, but I don't think that a private individual or organization should be forced to include content on their website that they are not comfortable with (whatever the reason).
        • Mar 19 2013: Of course. But please accept that for many, a great part of the former TED community, this action profoundly changed the image of TED. Representing, I guess, a great many people from this community, I feel cheated by TED promoting openness and out of the box thinking, especially in what concerns philosophical matters, and I am reffering to the Sheldrake talk. Now if TED thinks that losing a part of its audience and true supporters after such a radical action is a positive thing then I guess it's OK for all of us here in the end. The fact will remain and these dates will not be forgotten as dates of censorship.
          Now TED, and you, are using the private organisation argument knowing that if for example a university would do this it would have been condemned in history. Sheldrake at least clearly belongs to the academic community since the 70s and nobody dared to silence him or throw him out of it. On the contrary. So does TED want to be known as an Ideas Worth Marketing organisation? It seems so in the end...
    • Mar 19 2013: I am to afraid to watch it, before i know i go to caves and use some altered state of mind and become religious again because TED says so. :-)
    • Mar 19 2013: So, Genevieve, you are higher than us who try to defend the case for the defence of all philosophical ideas irrespectfully of one's view towards them...What an aristocratic attitude from a TED fellow...
  • Mar 19 2013: I was still disappointed about the "Fresh Take" move. I like how TED only crossed out their original remarks and added the rebuttals/defenses/questions of the two speakers, but the "fresh take" post made no apology or response to the gracious speakers. It just spelled out some nonsense about the unclear definition of pseudoscience (which in my opinion should be disproven by science first to be called pseudoscience; new ideas that seem stretched from "mainstream" science shouldn't automatically be called pseudoscience) and how they have new "guidelines" for the TEDx organizers, which when you clicked on the link it said Page Not Found. But at least they were somehow conceding that what they did was wrong, without fully admitting to it.

    Now, what is this? And why would they change the comments situation? Obviously a HUGE amount of the most intelligent and well formed arguments and comments on the other posts were in the speakers' favors. This is just pathetic, TED.

    I can't wait for a new "ideas" platform to take your place. And I really hope new speakers decline invitations to give FREE talks for your cause.

    As long as you keep diluting this problem, I'll be making my comment on the new blog post. I'm sure many others will do the same.
  • Mar 19 2013: You asked, hundreds of commentators answered:
    Restore fully Sheldrake's and Hancock's talks! No need to hide them in discussion boards, people can think for themselves.
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    Mar 19 2013: Part 3 of 7: To me, Hancock comes off as a true believer after a conversion experience, not as a true investigator after a reversion experience. He is describing a “personal transformation” which is the gist of the conversion experience. He is not describing the awakening that transcends or sees through all personality and which comes from turning the light of awareness around to the source of consciousness itself, so that there is no longer any separation of subject and object, internal and external, personal and impersonal, etc. Hancock describes a kind of liberation, but it is the partial liberation of conversion to a new view, not complete liberation from all views.

    Hancock says, “I was shown the path that I was walking—the abuse of cannabis and the behavior associated with it was going to lead me to be found wanting in the judgment.” This is a very telling statement because it means that the person has not got passed the judgment of the Great Death. In other words, he has but only seen one end of the tunnel and has not passed completely through the tunnel to the end to experience the complete stripping off of the individual framework of body and mind. As he relates it, “Mother Ayahuasca” gave him an “encounter with death.” The most important point missing of the mythic journey is that he does not say that he died the Great Death.

    As he shifts from his “personal transformation” to discussion of consciousness, Hancock is entirely correct to point out the deficiencies of scientific materialism or materialistic science, but he creates the false opposition between seeing consciousness either as a byproduct of our meat-sack or as the expression of a soul, as if these are the only two options. Being restricted to these two options is the dilemma of materialism as it swings between scientific materialism and spiritual materialism.

    Continued in Part 4.
  • Mar 19 2013: Creating new blogs to avoid dealing with an absence of apology?
    Certainly have a debate on this process but firstly, man up,and apologize for the "clumsy" and erroneous claims that started this fooferah!
  • Apr 2 2013: Rupert Sheldrake talks about his TED experience... btw, no response yet from TED on Sheldrake's debate challenge. go figure.

    "Dr. Rupert Sheldrake: I think this whole controversy and the people who have weighed-in in favor of TED’s actions do indeed confirm what I’m saying. These dogmas are ones that most people within science don’t actually realize are dogmas. They just think they’re the truth. The point about really dogmatic people is that they don’t know that they have dogmas. Dogmas are beliefs and people who have really strong beliefs think of their beliefs as truths. They don’t actually see them as beliefs. So I think this whole controversy has actually highlighted exactly that."

    ~ http://www.skeptiko.com/rupert-sheldrake-censored/
  • Apr 2 2013: Mathematical proof reveals magic of Ramanujan's genius.

    PROOFS are the currency of mathematics, but Srinivasa Ramanujan, one of the all-time great mathematicians, often managed to skip them. Now a proof has been found for a connection that he seemed to mysteriously intuit between two types of mathematical function.

    The proof deepens the intrigue surrounding the workings of Ramanujan's enigmatic mind. It may also help physicists learn more about black holes - even though these objects were virtually unknown during the Indian mathematician's lifetime.

    Born in 1887 in Erode, Tamil Nadu, Ramanujan was self-taught and worked in almost complete isolation from the mathematical community of his time. Described as a raw genius, he independently rediscovered many existing results, as well as making his own unique contributions, believing his inspiration came from the Hindu goddess Namagiri. But he is also known for his unusual style, often leaping from insight to insight without formally proving the logical steps in between. "His ideas as to what constituted a mathematical proof were of the most shadowy description," said G. H.Hardy (pictured, far right), Ramanujan's mentor and one of his few collaborators.

  • Apr 1 2013: The thing with ayahuasca, and other drugs, especially psychedelics is that one can not really comment on their effects unless one has experience in digesting them. I am conducting a PhD research project that is taking an ethnographic perspective of ayahuasca (and other Amazonian shamanistic rituals and practices) as used here in the UK, This is not a subject that can, or even should be explained in a positivist or reductionist way. Even if the benefits are only faith based, that faith works. There is a lot of emerging research into the power of belief in healing oneself. If ayahuasca assists in this then i cannot see this as a negative thing. In addition i have spoken to many who have experienced ayahuasca and read many accounts on the experience it brings on, added to my own experience too. The idea of telepathic communication with some external presence is always there for me personally and has been explained by so many others too. Visually seeing entities is very common too but not always guaranteed. This is unlike any other psychedelic known. There is no other substance that provides such synchronicity across experiences like this. This is impossible for someone, especially a positivist, reductionist to understand unless they too have participated in its use. I was massively impressed that Ted had decided to let Graham talk on this subject and incredibly pleased that such a large audience were being treated to a brief and succinct education on ayahuasca. I am not surprised at all that Graham slipped into making non-evidencable claims since anyone who has experienced ayahuasca would agree - the experience is so profound and so strong it is pretty difficult to pass it off as mere folly. Especially when countless others report similar experiences. Science may assert that it should be able to explain everything but really it cannot. They don't even know what more than 50% of our universe (dark matter and dark energy) is. Psychics claims are not censored like this.
    • Apr 1 2013: Thanks Kerry, you are now the third person with specific academic experience in this field to comment here and all have sided with Hancock. Perhaps TED needs to expand the expertise of its science board.
      • Apr 2 2013: Thank you Steve.

        I would be really grateful if you could point me to the other posts you referenced please.
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      Apr 1 2013: Temple Illuminatus - Kerry Rowberry's Page
  • Mar 31 2013: Thanks for censoring this talk! It ignited a debate we finally need to have in the public.
    One major issue is that the people who have experienced Ayahuasca aren't always taken very seriously by the public. How do you explain water to a fish? How do you explain cosmic consciousness to a human? The human mind uses concepts to label things, but cosmic awareness doesn't work with concepts….. it just works! How do you explain something that can't be explained with concepts? In our days we need somewhat of a middle man! There are so many different kinds of altered states (some more accepted then others) and it seems to me we need another alternate state that points us to the actual and natural state of being! If someone understands this or not. With all the men made stimuli there needs to be something real or natural someone can rely upon which centers us in the present moment of our lives. We're raised to believe in this or that from the moment we are able to perceive without knowing how genuine any belief is and nobody (or let's say very few people) realizes that there is a completely different dimension which doesn't contain any belief or thought whatsoever. (Alan Watts, Adyashanti, Buddha, Dalai Lama, Eckhart Tolle, Meister Eckhart, Pema Chödrön) Each of us needs to realize that science and spirituality are researching or contemplating the same source and that there are a myriad of ways to access “it”, not just one right way. Hancock, Terrence & Dennis McKenna (Entheogens), Rick Strassman - (The spirit molecule) have researched, written and talked about DMT + so called psychedelics quite scientifically, which makes them, in my opinion, the pioneers of modern times. They've shown that plant medicines and certain native rituals can help loosen the grip of illusion on humanity if someone likes to hear this or not! 
    • Mar 31 2013: True enough Oliver.

      The travesty is that such pioneer explorers get flack from both sides, religious apologists and devotees of scientism .

      The idea that truth is directly accessible is frightening to many.
    • Apr 1 2013: I actually understand what you are trying to say. I also understand how hard it is to communicate something so subtle and ineffable through words.
  • Mar 31 2013: I congratulate everyone who has taken so much time to contribute to this valuable and memorable discussion.

    The common denominator that has apparently so offended the TED divines is the notion of telepathy.

    This is clearly taboo "woo" for TED, otherwise why ban Rupert Sheldrake, whose "Science Delusion" is a perfectly legitimate and timely re-evaluation of alleged a priori scientific principles? Rupert challenges mainstream (corporate-funded) science ~ rationally. Great. Bravo for that. Independent science is virtually crushed out of existence in today's market-driven world; impossible to conduct with any degree of adequacy. Should anyone dispute this contention, I suggest they consider the preposterous exemption from regulation Monsanto has engineered into "law" in the US.

    Graham presented an idea, not a hypothesis. This idea has three powerful components: (1) spirit entities can manifest to consciousness, (2) when Ayahuasca is ingested and, this (3) occurs telepathically.

    Fantastic! What could be more interesting and compelling than that?

    TED's committee is effectively saying that idea is just unacceptable, that humans can't talk to, nor even talk about conjectured Nature entities because this endorses neo-Victorian paranormal charlatanism.

    That is extremely arrogant and presumptive for two reasons. Firstly it precludes the possibility of engagement with Nature by "non-ordinary" means; and secondly, it dismisses in a click of the digital mouse, reams of anthropological and esoteric discourse.

    I suspect Sheldrake is being posthumously "excommunicated" ~ expelled from the TED community ~ because of his former association with Terence McKenna (and Ralph Abraham) & his "morphogenesis" theory; what else can it be about, since the Science Delusion is a perfectly credible work? How dare these people presume to pass arbitrary judgment about such important questions?

    It's disgraceful and contemptible; laughable were it not so heinous.
    • Mar 31 2013: I'd take issue with your assessment of what Hancock is saying. In this talk he is very clear that he is describing the phenomenology of the experience. Thus the decision to censor the talk is even more disgraceful since they cannot even claim to countering unscientific claims since what Hancock describes is well-established stuff.
      • Mar 31 2013: Well I'd have to agree Steve, although I only meant to suggest the phenomenology he describes can be broken up into those components and the controversy is largely due to the implied contention that Ayahuasca "spirits" may be imminent and possibly transcendent simultaneously ~ a bit like "spooky action at a distance."

        Seems like TED just isn't ready for such innovative concepts as quantum bi-location.
        • Mar 31 2013: I know, I only said it because there are people who will jump all over that as a reason to censotr the talk. (See below.)
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      Mar 31 2013: David, you note: "Graham presented an idea, not a hypothesis. This idea has three powerful components: (1) spirit entities can manifest to consciousness, (2) when Ayahuasca is ingested and, this (3) occurs telepathically."

      By saying this was not a hypothesis, are you affirming that it is not testable or falsifiable? That it is not a scientific idea? That it is pure speculation?

      Why does Hancock's idea merit any more attention than any other product of human imagination with "powerful components"? For example, the idea that: (1) angels can "manifest to consciousness", (2) when earnest prayers are answered, and (3) this occurs thanks to God's grace?

      Can you explain how Hancock's idea is not analogous to a statement of religious faith?

      What makes for "powerful components"? The fact that they have intuitive appeal to people who share the same beliefs?
      • Mar 31 2013: David's assessment was wrong on the very point you now attack. This has been explained to you countless times. p-h-e-n-o-m-e-n-o-l-o-g-i-c-a-l-l-y
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          Mar 31 2013: That's your interpretation, Steve. I see it as m-y-t-h-o-l-o-g-y and even f-a-n-t-a-s-y.
      • Mar 31 2013: The's only because you don't know what phenomenological means. As you were told by experts when they appeared a few days ago - Hancock's take on the phenomenology of the experience tallies with the facts whereas your anti-science denials do not.
      • Mar 31 2013: So mythology should never be discussed in a TED lecture? So if Joseph Campbell were alive today, no way should he have been allowed to do a TED talk? That's what you're saying?
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          Mar 31 2013: I think that would have to depend on the content, Time Walker. Analyzing myths is very different from affirming them. Campbell's work has problems, too.
      • Mar 31 2013: It's not about beliefs John it's about Ayahuasca! a description of a perceived (neuro-)phenomenological experience that has revealed to him what he interprets to be telepathic intelligence in Nature.

        If I'm not mistaken, Graham is just saying ~ something therapeutically interesting is going on here that is worthy of deeper investigation. So yes, that is certainly not a falsifiable hypothesis in the Popperian sense.

        Steve: I am not clear what you mean by phenomenology, are you talking about Kant or Varela?
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          Mar 31 2013: Yes, a *perceived* experience whose interpretation is the result of revelation and whose actual cause may have nothing to do with telepathy.

          The effects of ayahuasca can be tested. Telepathy can be tested. Both phenomenology and mythology can be analyzed from many different perspectives.

          I can say that my grandmother's ghost appeared to me in the kitchen--a phenomenology that many have experienced--but the reality of ghosts is not something that should be implied or affirmed by TED approval, no matter how intuitively appealing it is to how many people as a powerful and moving experience.
        • Mar 31 2013: The phenomenological aspects of the experience are just the brute way the experience is experienced by the experiencer. By framing things in this way we can talk, eg, about the phenomenology of dreams including, say, flying. This is why Benny Shanon's book was subtitled "charting the phenomenology of the ayahuascsa experience".
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          Mar 31 2013: A critical evaluation of Marian apparitions, witnessed by and changing the lives of millions, is very different from testimony that the Virgin Mary actually drops in from time to time.
        • Mar 31 2013: @Hoopes
          But John, you are back once again to (deliberately) ignoring what Hancock said. He said straightforwardly that he was making no reality claims about these entities. Thus to continue banging on as if he didn't say this, or as if he said the contrary, renders your entire argument irrelevant. Red herringesque in its strawmanlike wild gooseness.
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          Mar 31 2013: By the way, I once went to hear a presentation by Bob Cornuke, the "Christian Indiana Jones."

          He admitted that he wasn't certain that what he had found high in the mountains of Iran was actually the remains of Noah's Ark, but that finding them had been a revelatory, transformative experience. He then proceeded to explain how this revelation was significant and could radically change perceptions of reality and help people in need.

          Apart from the fervent prayers, altar call, passing of collection plates, and sales of his books and DVDs in the lobby of the megachurch where he spoke, the structure of his presentation was quite similar to Hancock's.

          Should Cornuke be invited to do a TED talk? If he had, should this kind of talk have had the TED stamp of approval? Cornuke, like Hancock, is a well-published, popular, and passionate speaker.

          (I should mention that his presentation was followed by a tirade by the pastor against mainstream science and the truths it denies--almost identical to ones posted here.)
        • Mar 31 2013: Irrelevant disanalogy. Next!
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          Apr 1 2013: I'm beginning to think there's a typo. Shouldn't it read Steve Snark?
        • Apr 1 2013: Possible, possibly also John Hopeless. Nehext!
      • Mar 31 2013: What?! Test it. Its very test able less you be scared to have your own paradigm shift.
        Re;How does one objectively test the
        existence of spirit entities and Mother Ayahuasca?
        Pull out "Ye old spirit meter" and see if it clicks..... Other wise get you some waska tea to sip on, render your analysis and see if you have a similar experience. Then maybe it's all just hallucinations but maybe not. Quit assuming and go get you sum!!! Y eah!!
        • Mar 31 2013: Correct. Hancock's claims can be tested very easily if not legally.
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          Mar 31 2013: How does one objectively test the existence of spirit entities and Mother Ayahuasca?
        • Mar 31 2013: One doesn't need to as regards this talk. As regards this talk, one only need test the phenomenology of the experience. And that has been done by, eg, Shanon and Strassman, who agree with Hancock. Next!
      • Mar 31 2013: @ John Hoopes, Of course Campbell's work has problems. Everyone's work has problems. So TED should wait only for perfect speakers, with whom no argument can be made, and no discussion is necessary? Damn, but those would be some quiet conferences. They'd be bloody empty.

        The problem with TED's decision and it's defenders is over and over again, they find something wrong with what was stated, but instead of debating it like grown-ups, they aim to silence it.
        • Mar 31 2013: Right - because you can be all about new ideas or you can be all about received wisdom but you can't really be all about both. This is why the middle ground TED will try to walk - a sort of new ideas (as vetted by John Hoopes and co) - will be about as interesting as listening to the teacher in Charlie Brown and as new as the hula hoop.
  • Mar 31 2013: Well put. But we do need to leave room for, well, the unforeseen. One of my best friends - Marty Hewlett - is a good example of what you describe. He is a reknowned virologist and evolutionist who has participated in numerous debates with creationists. He is also an avid Catholic who is co-author of the texts on evolution used in Catholics seminaries. That's an unusual mix in itself. Some months ago he was invited to give a lecture on evolution at a conference of mullas in Cairo. Apparently the mullas were undecided on how Islam should treat the the matter. 'How'd it go? 'I asked when he returned. 'Well. . .' he replied sheepishly. "My talk was greeted respectfully enough.Very polite, they were. But afterwards a group of mullas cornered me and said, 'But Professor Hewlett, you never mentioned...' and they went on to enumerate half a dozen Muslim sages whose work on evolution predated Darwin's theory by centuries.'
    To his credit Marty immediately researched the matter. He now includes the names of various ancient Moslem thinkers into his own talks.
    • Mar 31 2013: That's really awesome. Should make the headlines! "Muslim sages were first to discover evolution, centuries before Darwin!"
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    Mar 30 2013: I am deeply disappointed in TED's attempts to censore this. I must have misunderstood what TED was about - the sharing of great and groundbreaking ideas. Instead it seems more important to be politically correct. Well TED, if you study history you'll see where that road leads to: Stagnation.
  • Mar 29 2013: What ever hapened to the power of "disclaimer " I think TED could have saved itself and us a lot of anguish if it merely makes the statement that" the views expressed by its speakers are not necessarily shared by TED". That is more than sufficient. But to try to censor or filter relevant mature inquiry into the human experience is just patronising.

    IMO, TED will be better served in trying to take the WOO out of the BIG BANG!
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      Mar 29 2013: I agree with you. The critical issue here is whether what was presented was actually "relevant mature inquiry" or pop spirituality from a huckster of fringe pseudoscience. I don't see what occurred as censorship so much as editing. It's unfortunate that it did not happen before it publicly embarrassed Hancock, though I doubt it's had a negative effect on his income. As P.T. Barnum said, "There's no such thing as bad publicity."
  • Mar 28 2013: They'll continue to tow the party line and keep with the establishment. TEDs afraid of losing a little credibility from its very respectable brand. I can understand that. Sheldrake and Hancock lost a whole lot of that when they pursued the work they do, but in the greater interests of curiosity and truth, stoically chose to persevere. TED is far too concerned with its image to make an honest distinction between science and whats acceptable for TED and pseudoscience and what is not acceptable for TED.
  • Mar 28 2013: I don't mean to post again.......but many quantum physicists have claimed that the Vedas has helped them come up with their theories. Things such as Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle have real world implications, yet we don't heed to them. Even german scientists say that Sanskrit as a language is powerful. Vocalizing certain phrases is healthy to the throat and vibes with universal frequencies. If you don't believe me, why is NASA recruiting tons of Sanskrit speakers?

    For example, take a look at the Quantified Self Movement. We try to correlate two factors together to get a better sense of what we are doing, but are most people aware of the "third variable problem" and the "directionality problem" in psychology or the "curse of dimensionality" in statistics?

    Or take a look at the censorship of Wilhelm Reich's orgone research done in United States.......

    I don't think the TED talk is talking about legality of drugs.....it is showing that our collective society is not using the scientific method properly....we have lost curiosity, we only really care about maximizing a derivative at the end of the day.....
    • Mar 28 2013: Keeping posting. However, I feel a bit distressed loosing you to the banking world.
  • Mar 28 2013: 1) I am a junior undergraduate student studying Math major, Phil/Psych double Minor at Swarthmore College. I have been struggling with school lately because the classroom setting isn't conducive to my natural learning anymore. With that said, I have a tough time with school for papers because I am not good with citations and my writings seem to be too abstract and not linear in thought. My objective work such as math is just dull because I realize that much math these days isn't done out of curiosity, rather top-notch talent is advancing math by sending them to finance, consulting, and other profit-maximizing activities.

    b) I recently landed a good internship that pays well. I realize that they are paying well to maintain top talent after college students graduate. I am lucky because I will be loving what I am doing. However, for a banking intern, what if he does not find it interesting work? He may still take upon a job at the bank because it reduces monetary stresses for "adult responsibilities." Money in this world is just creating a dense cluster of where our young top minds are going.

    2) Attached are two writings that are in rough draft form. One deals with how Unpredictability should be embraced in life and the other is how the quantification is a curse. I urge people to read this to give comments on it as well :)

    a) http://www.scribd.com/doc/112376380/Un-Pre-Dic-Ability

    b) http://www.scribd.com/doc/116306825/Curse-of-Quantification

    3) Take a look at Geert Hoefstede's Cultural Dimensions. He states that US is short sighted and metric driven with a focus on divide and conquer (individual)

    a) What Mr. Hancock wants to say is that look at our society. Collectively we view alternative approaches to learning and lateral thinking as false and not helpful. Spiritual or not, we need to review our "ideal" scientific method and understand that even Descartes understood unpredictability.

    Have we found an immovable and firm point yet?
    • Mar 29 2013: Hi Sudarshan,
      I just wanted to say that I hope you persist with your thinking and writing and don't occupy your whole future with whatever bankers occupy themselves with.
      The world needs you.
  • Mar 27 2013: Psychedelics-based therapy is very promising field with strong early results - surely an idea worth spreading. A much better case than this talk could be made for it.

    There is hard evidence that psychedelic experiences can heal PTSD and addiction more successfully than the standard treatments can. I suggest TED or some TEDx event invites Rick Doblin to present it in proper fashion.
    • Mar 27 2013: Agreed Daniel - I see headlines on a semi-regular basis (in mainstream media sources) that also present these findings. Interesting that what's done in the lab is "scientific", but what's done in the rainforest is "psuedo-scientific", even when the chemicals being implemented, and the brains receiving them, are basically the same: psychedelic, and human.
      • Mar 27 2013: There are quite clear criteria on what is science, and where it is done has nothing to do with them.

        You are either ignorant of science's definition of itself, or deliberately misrepresenting it.

        Consequently, I expect to gain no new insights from further discussion with you.

        Prove me wrong.
  • Mar 27 2013: Difficulty here. For a valid discussion both parties ought to be aware of what is being discussed, wouldn't you think? This leads one to suggest that all parties should have as a starting point at least one experience with Ayahuasca (in an appropriate setting, of course.) Note: In getting together the varied specialists from different branches of the 'sciences' (biology, chemistry, mathematics, economics and so forth) , the founders of New Mexico's Santa Fe Institute - top scientists by any definition - imagined that a common language would be found in math only to discover that the only folk who truly understood math to the depth needed were the theoretical physicists. Math can be said, among other things, to be a short hand for describing natural relationships. The long hand description would be certain forms of art, myth, fairy tales and spiritual teaching stories. Pure rationalists have trouble with this last just as the more subjective types have trouble with pure reductionism.
    • Mar 27 2013: Good point. I've always been intrigued by the relationship between physics/maths and what one might call the higher levels of reality in which we live. Science may have as little need for the notion of, say, the spiritual, as it does for the rules of baseball, but that doesn't mean that the rules of baseball, or the spiritual, are not exactly the "long hand" we need to get about our lives. After all, if one was to write out the physics of a baseball game on A4 paper, font size 12, one could probably fill the pacific ocean with it. One might need an airplane to get from the description of the first pitch to the description of the second innings. And that's assuming such a description is even possible in the first place.
  • Mar 27 2013: It behooves every man to remember that the work of the critic is of altogether secondary importance, and that, in the end, progress is accomplished by the man who does things.
    Theodore Roosevelt
    Both Sheldrake and Hancock are very courageous men, and do not deserve this bullying type of behavior by the extremists. They in the end will be remembered, not those small men with hateful words who started their attempted smear campaign with a silly temper tantrum.
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      Mar 27 2013: Hancock may be courageous, but so is Kent Hovind (a.k.a. Dr. Dino). Should he be debated as well?

      Kent Hovind

      He also has a website:

      Creation Today
      • Mar 27 2013: Somewhat disingenuous to compare Graham Hancock with a blatent young earth creationist. He doesnt argue from that camp, period. He may be off the mark or overenthusiastic with some of his assumptions but even Jason Colavito admits that interesting unanswered questions are raised that should be engaged with rather than dismissed out of hand .. which is pertinant to the issue here. Lots of anomalies exist within the archeological pardigm that should be addressed rather than swept under the carpet because they dont fit in with the existing conclusions. Gobekli Tepe for instance is something that shouldnt exist but does and it has a story to tell and I for one am very interested in that story.
        • Mar 27 2013: The archaeological stuff is actually of very little consequence for the talk being discussed here. That being said, it is interesting to note, as you do, that a major prediction of Hancock's - that evidence of advanced stone-working communities would be found dating back many thousands of years prior to the date accepted by mainstream archaeologists - has been confirmed by the existence of Gobekli Tepe.
      • Mar 27 2013: Steve I agree with you that the archeological stuff is not directly relevant here, interesting though it is. It seems that the few people who have spoken against Graham Hancock on this thread cant help themselves and refer to it as a way of discrediting his views per se. Not only has he been associated with creationism but also with ancient alien stuff and so on. All this proves is that his detractors are misinformed from the outset as to his position in such matters. Everything is debatable, and intelligent debate is what will hopefully lead us to the truth in such matters.
  • Mar 26 2013: I support a fair debate......it seems quite odd that TED would not be open to this
  • Mar 26 2013: I had to laugh at the image of the dismaying Randi with his unholy water. I know several people who have had him pull the old switcheroo on their challenges, with constantly moving goal posts, ludicrous conditions, etc.

    After Jaques Benveniste was reinstated by the French Academy of Sciences, and given a new lab, because his water signal work had been multiply replicated, (that detail was absent from Wikirepudia the last time I checked) I had the rare privilege of spending half a day with him - his last meeting with the public before a heart valve operation which was successful, but resulted quickly in death by infection. We really hit it off, and he showed me some of the unpublished results he had literally stumbled upon. Next to the portable building his new lab was housed in was a multistory building which had formerly been his lab. When he was found to be apostate, they gave the huge lab to some fellow who was "safe". When Jaques was reinstated, they could hardly shut down the new guy, so they gave hime some admittedly nice temporary buildings in the parking lot of his old domain.

    It was interesting to see him struggle with the cognitive dissonance of his adherence to scientific dogma, particularly about "psi" stuff and the survival of consciousness - and the how that dogma was twisted by those around him, not mention challenged by his own unpublished findings. I told him about Dean Radin, and he was skeptical, but intended to read up on it and decide for himself.

    Apropos of nothing, Benveniste said he had a US patent on a radio frequency delivery system that would have the effect of Roundup using only small antennae in the fields, at very low output HAM frequencies. Monsanto had just visited him, and he showed them what he had invented, but they had no interest in buying the patent. Their representative said something incongruous like "The man who sold this technology could make a lot of money." Benveniste died shortly thereafter.
  • Mar 26 2013: A debate is definitely in order here. Step up to the challenge TED or I will discontinue my previously held support and lump you in with all the others who bend to the satus quo's view of the "norm"! It's now 2013 in case you haven't noticed...times they are a-changin!!
  • Mar 26 2013: It is my understanding that there are no heretical beliefs in science. In a free and open society all topics worth investigating should, at the very least, be open for debate. Those who believe science to be a method of investigatiion must forever guard against the tyranny of orthodox belief. Great breakthroughs in our understanding of the world around (and inside) us are often made by those who are not from within the circle of accepted "experts". If the Wright brothers had listened to accepted wisdom on the subject of flying they would never have gone ahead and flown anyway!
  • Mar 26 2013: Bring on the open and fair Debate. The way TED has conducted this conversation so far has only added proof to Rupert's points on the dialogue in the halls of Science and Graham's call for taking responsibility for consciousness.
  • Mar 26 2013: TED-

    A debate would be the most appropriate response to this controversy. It would allow both viewpoints to be fairly presented and free you from being the censorial biased organization that people are perceiving you to be.

    Thank you for your consideration.
  • Mar 26 2013: Excited to see the debate. Ideas worth spreading?? What ideas and messages are you spreading now? TEDx is loosing respect by the second in the minds of many as you continue this ridiculous attempt to stifle information like this. It is laughable. By attempting to hide or conceal information like this does nothing to actually hide it but does enormous amounts to expose you for the fraud that you really are. I had respect for this organization until i learned that it was conducting itself in this manner.
  • Mar 26 2013: Mainstream Science has been bought like other large segments of America over the past 100 years especially; to challenge the old paradigm scientists is crucial if we are ever to regain true exploration of our existence without blinders (for whatever reason or whoever put them on us). In my view this discussion is not about the drug war we all should know has been a failure (for all the right reasons!), but preserving the open mind approach to Science that has become extinct. Since Graham Hancock has a long track record of exploration into the human existence, who better to honor with a lead role?
  • Mar 26 2013: Srart the debate, who is afraid and why do they fear an discussion of such clearly presented ideas that need exploration
  • Mar 25 2013: Lewis, given the state of the world I couldn't agree more. My main point is that serious thing you mention. This IS serious business and should be looked upon as such. On another matter, I personally don't blame the TED folk for their shortsightedness. Most institutions (even beneficial ones) are like most people in that they have a strong, at times even violent reaction to any assault on their assumptions. They seem to be handling it better than most. Interesting to see if this conversation has any affect on their policy.
  • Mar 24 2013: TED organization, though for years a magnificent resource [and I have to say, an icon for me], is now quacking like antique establishment. I'm reading THE INQUISITION AND THE MAKING OF THE MODERN WORLD, and the censorship events that launched this debate quack a lot like Inquisition.

    With crowd-source funding and other social media, given TED's move toward orthodoxy, why not...step away?
    Why not fire up a new platform?
    Why not let the commercial interests keep what seems to be a tightly-held brand, and grow something truly independent?
    It's so much easier to do now than when TED started.
    Why not start something new, and stay independent of corporate funding to be free of corporate influence?
    Repeat: crowd sourcing for funding and promotion are making revolutions of every scale happen. Why not start something new? Let TED be the corporate product its boardroom and some of its local presenters want it to remain --and invite the local presenters, authors, thinkers, and community who see through the spin and want a platform that isn't compromised lead the migration...
    • Mar 24 2013: I agree.
      Although I think TED remains important, we're seeing it's limitations here.
      We need something like TED that has the same distinction from it as Wikipedia does from a traditional encyclopaedia. Sure an open model is less predictable, potentially unreliable at times, but for the discerning, critical viewer, the open model offers so much more.
  • Mar 23 2013: The subjective experience is your best friend because science will fail you when the going gets tough...

    "From the information we have, we don't know of an asteroid that will threaten the population of the United States, but if it's coming in three weeks, pray,” Bolden said.

    If an unknown large meteor or asteroid were on a collision course with Earth, NASA chief Charles Bolden told a US House of Representatives Science Committee hearing Tuesday March 19, then praying is all America or anyone else could do.

    In other words the subjective experience is best for dealing with the unknown!
    A scientist said it so it must be true!
  • Mar 23 2013: I had to pause several times getting through this because that argument-less tirade was - quite honestly - immensely tiresome to listen to.

    The main flaw with this talk is that it contains no facts, no arguments, no reasoning... nothing at all. It states some mundane knowledge (that there is prehistorc and early history art); that people have an altered state of mind when under the influence of drugs; that our civilization is doing damage to ourselves and our living conditions...

    ...and then says it can all be fixed if we just dope ourselves. The claim is that everyone will do "the right thing" if we just get ourselves drugged.

    Seriously, what are we to make of this?

    Well let me put it this way: if mr Hancock can get himself a study, where he can prove that getting doped on this drug somehow corrects your moral compass... by all means... I might be inclined to try it.

    But until then there is nothing in this talk we havn't heard a thousand times over by people trying to hard to be "alternative" and failing miserably, their argument failing to be in the least coherent.

    - There is no weight to the saying humanity is committing "wrongs". His wrongs are not everyone's wrongs. His priorities are not everyone's priorities.

    - There is no weight to the claim that the shamans of the amazons have diagnosed the "problem" correctly and that they know the "cure".

    - There is no weight to the claim that this civilization he have now is the worst of all states and that it's doing nothing to correct the situation. (On the contrary there are plenty of indicators to the opposite).

    - There is no weight to the claim that we can communicate with other entities in this drugged state.

    - There is no weight to the claim that this drug is the Silver Bullet that fixes all ills.

    The beauty of the scientific method is that it allows mr. Hancock to prove his claim. All he needs to do, is to do just that: prove the claim. He did not do that in this talk.Therefore it's rubbish.
    • Mar 23 2013: "The main flaw with this talk is that it contains no facts, no arguments, no reasoning... nothing at all."

      Let TED remove all non-scientific talks from their platform then.

      "a study, where he can prove that getting doped on this drug somehow corrects your moral compass"

      http://www.plosone.org/article/info:doi/10.1371/journal.pone.0042421 ("Analysis of life attitudes showed higher scores on the Spiritual Orientation Inventory, the Purpose in Life Test and the Psychosocial Well-Being test.")

      Also, I would suggest you consider the difference between offering up a speculation and making a scientific claim. Nowhere in the talk do I recall Hancock suggesting that his speculations were necessarily true or proven. To be consistent, you should lobby TED to censor all talks that make reference to anything not already scientifically proven.
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        Mar 23 2013: While I appreciate what Michael Karnerfors has written, Noah Vickstein, I think I'd prefer to follow the line of thought you present. Especially the bit where you suggest that TED "remove non-scientific talks."

        Michael Karnerfors: A fan of psychopharmacology I'm not. And Hancock's talk isn't any more scientific than Billy Graham's or any other individual known for their inspirations to large numbers of people in the conspicuous absence of science. Instead it seemed to me to be more of an impassioned, philosophical plea. But to each, his own, eh?

        From long study and experience it looks to me like "civilization" is still ignoring the suffering of our own kind, while continuing to commit ecocide against our own home and other species. Hancock would likely agree with that. By our own hands, Earth passed carrying capacity in around the 1980s. Look up what Lester R. Brown has researched and written about it if you like.

        Take a look at what Shell Oil company did in Nigeria, and most importantly to the Nigerian people and their ecosystems, for a good example of what passes for civilization. We continue to ignore the 200,000 year old fact that we're embedded in Earth systems, and inseparable from them. I don't see nearly enough indicators to show that we're making change at a rate quickly enough to counteract our kind's negative impacts.
        • Mar 23 2013: Yes, Michael, there's no denying it's the only consistent course of action left for TED if they choose to stay the course. That would necessarily deprive them of their most popular content (arguably their best) as well as reduce their web footprint considerably. They might have to rethink some of their slogans, and their brand would undeniably undergo a transformation. But it would be safe -- if diminished. The good news is, by shedding their reputation for innovation, they remove any possibility of courting controversy.
        • Mar 24 2013: @Michael Austin: "By our own hands, Earth passed carrying capacity in around the 1980s", "Take a look at what Shell Oil company did in Nigeria"

          I contend that neither of these two problems will be solved by doping ourselves with mind-altering drugs.
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        Mar 23 2013: Noah: for grins I nosed around the PLOS One research site. Very impressive, and I didn't know about it.
      • Comment deleted

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          Mar 23 2013: Lime: now, with your consistently tiny-minded comments, which provide exactly zero thought and maximum opinion unsupported by reasonable thought, I understand why others like Lewis Smart might instantly reply to the kind of comments you make. And whatever TED wants, it can have, and in fact get.

          If TED wants sound-bite, inadequate opinions unsupported by facts and instead prefers drive-by comments from users (and an anonymous scientific board) - who haven't the courage of their own opinion to use their own names - they can have that. That would mean, of course that TED can have its own club. Then it might resemble a closed-loop virtual corporate state, a little like Monsanto, which makes many pretty public statements and instead encourages you into *very* short-sighted actions. But, don't worry your pretty little head about it, Lime, because that kind of thought might be uncomfortable for you or too complex to act upon. You'd still be the kind of person who might resort to name-calling because you don't like change, you like what you have, and prefer the status quo to growth.

          That might be the TED which results from conversations like these. Then will come to mind companies like IBM, or Microsoft, or any other large corporate franchise - TED will have reached a steady state with which it's comfortable. Other companies will also arise and take some of its market share. This week I had a conversation with the kind of person who could start and make successful just such a company. They brought it up. Not me.

          TED might become just another big company which has outgrown its original mission. Google accomplished roughly that same thing with Microsoft, which was was unwilling to change. But over time, it's worth noting who has greater prospects for growth. It's not Microsoft.

          You can have that all that. And it's not up to me or you. It's up to TED's crowdsourcing, its marketing, and its clever but now transparent marketing spin.
        • Mar 23 2013: 'Lime Crime',

          Please provide evidence for your claims that:

          a) This talk is "quacky"

          b) That you are to be included among reasonable people

          c) The belief that anybody other than you will exhibit "crazy" behavior in this discussion

          d) That the censorship argument is nonsense (it may not be)

          e) That any of this vindicates TEDs handling of the situation
      • Mar 24 2013: @Noah Vickstein: "Let TED remove all non-scientific talks from their platform then."

        Your acerbic response doesn't add anything to the discussion... it's more like an emotional response to unwelcome criticism against as talk you seem to have appeciated.

        Let me clarify: Hancock's talk is not only unscientific but it is also does not contain any ideas worth spreading, in my not very humble opinion. Rambling attacks on the modern way of life is nothing new. New Agers have been doing it alot. Proponents of "alternative medicine", homeopathy, anti-vaccers and similar as well. It's nothing new.

        Not only that but assertation that the the offered "remedy" of the supposed problems is... vague and weak at the best. He's making a really poor case and offering nothing substantial. All he has is his own opinion and third-party testimony that essentially boils down to a statement with the meaning "The shaman said it is so, so therefore it is true".
        • Mar 24 2013: My response is acerbic? Your entire original comment reads like an emotional response to Hancock's talk, and yet you have the gall to point fingers. Where is the evidence for your "opinion". I find its lack extremely disconcerting, especially as people who share your point of view have taken it upon themselves to dictate TED's policy on the matter. I agree, Hancock's talk is unscientific. Why is it being treated as if it were? His claims about Ayahuasca have tentative support in the literature. Have you not put forth an effort to read the study I graciously linked for your convenience? Please support your arguments that the talk approaches being "poor", "weak", and "offering nothing substantial". (I consider vagueness a necessary evil in giving a timed presentation) Until then, all I see is your not very humble opinion.

          If TED can find no concrete evidence supporting their selective suppression of this talk then, the way I see it, they owe Mr. Hancock a much deserved apology for public defamation.
      • Mar 24 2013: @Noah Vickstein: "My response is acerbic?"

        That's how I interpret the tone, yes. A cranky, defensive quip that if Hanckocks talk can't be there then no non-science talk can be there.

        "Your entire original comment reads like an emotional response to Hancock's talk"

        I think I argued beyond my emotions why I thought that talk was a poor one. It's not only that he lacks the science... he also does not provide any new, insightful, or even thought provoking ideas.

        If there is litterature supporting his ideas, I suggest you give it to Hancock so he can write up a better talk, or why not make one yourself and present it at a TED meet.

        The talk above however is pretty much trash.... it cannot be repaired now. It is not worth having on TED... which I would think of any talk that only makes claims without bringing support for them to the presentation.
        • Mar 24 2013: The suggestion in my "cranky, defensive quip" is perfectly consistent with the logic of the complaints you bring up in your comment given the context. It is extraordinary and revealing that you extrapolate so much information out of it.

          As expected all you have to offer is more invective with no evidence whatsoever. If you can support your opinions with evidence, I might be inclined to pursue a dialogue.

          As it is, Mr. Hancock is not obligated to defend his talk until such time some actual substantiated objections are raised. If you cannot provide any, then your opinion remains merely an opinion. I will not respond to you any more until you have something substantive to say regarding the presentation under discussion. My ability to discompose you is not what's on trial.
      • Mar 24 2013: @Noah Vickstein: "I will not respond to you any more until you have something substantive to say regarding the presentation under discussion. "

        Well that is your perogative... I have stated my piece and I stand by my opinion: the talk is not TED quality, for reasons stated in my original post.
        • Mar 24 2013: Perhaps if you could specify where in the talk Mr. Hancock made the offending assertions we can discuss the merit of your conclusion.
      • Mar 27 2013: @Noah Vickstein: "If TED can find no concrete evidence supporting their selective suppression of this talk then, the way I see it, they owe Mr. Hancock a much deserved apology for public defamation."

        You just took a big leap into fanboi territory. Being on TED is not a right, it's a priviledge. Having one's TED talk re-issued with caution is not defamation, it's an adjustment of that priviledge when you have shown that you weren't worthy of it in the first place.

        "Perhaps if you could specify where in the talk Mr. Hancock made the offending assertions we can discuss the merit of your conclusion."

        Perhaps you should read my argument properly then so we can actually discuss it and not have you reply to somthing you have imagined I said instead of the actual thing.

        The argument I put forth was not that what he said was offensive, but that what he said was not backed up by anything substantial. He makes claims but does not bring anything to base them on. It's not what he says that is the (major) problem, but what he does not(!) say.

        I go by the by the David Humeian and Laplace principles of judging the veracity of a claim: "proportion [the] believef to the evidence", and "the weight of evidence for an extraordinary claim must be proportioned to its strangeness".

        And Hancock does bring a very strange claim to the talk: that by getting doped, we can talk to spirits and become better people. He does not bring the corresponding evidence. That is the problem with the talk.

        Apart from that it's also tiresome to listen to because it's soaked with tired ol' anti-consumerism plattitudes.
        • Mar 27 2013: Michael:

          "You just took a big leap into fanboi territory."

          I'm not a fan of TED, nor am I fan of Graham Hancock. Your characterization is irrelevant. Are you certain you're not the fanboy here?

          "Being on TED is not a right, it's a priviledge. "

          Absolutely. No objection there. TED can curate their brand how they want.

          What you're overlooking, however, is the fact that TED did not simply take the talks down. They attempted to justify doing so, and in the process smeared two guests, who had been invited to speak, for free, by making attributions that were demonstrably false. In doing so, TED accepted the onus for publicly demonstrating the invalidity of the talks. Many of us are merely pointing out that not only have they failed to do this, but they have not apologized for potentially damaging the professional reputations of these two men in so public a way, which is inexcusable, even for TED.

          "Having one's TED talk re-issued with caution is not defamation, it's an adjustment of that priviledge when you have shown that you weren't worthy of it in the first place. "

          Whether or not Hancock's talk is appropriate for TED, TED has an obligation to get their facts straight. If TED had merely re-issued the content with a 'health warning' I doubt there would be such an uproar. But the fact is, neither talk has been shown to be unworthy at all. If they had been, this discussion would not be taking place.

          "Perhaps you should read my argument properly then so we can actually discuss it and not have you reply to somthing you have imagined I said instead of the actual thing. "

          I will be happy to look over your reply and document every case I can of fallacious reasoning, if that will satisfy you.

          The fact is, your grounds for rejecting Hancock's talk is personal preference. TED pretended that there was a scientific basis. If TED criticize Hancock's talk for not being scientific enough, integrity obligates them to apply that same rubric to their back catalog.
    • Mar 23 2013: There are a variety of studies completed and ongoing which substantiate the idea that the psychedelic experience can have a positive effect on the moral compass and motivation for social and environmental engagement of it's participants. Many of these studies have already been linked and discussed in the threads surrounding this video. Hancock didn't go into any of this in depth, but that doesn't mean that the research doesn't exist. Forgive him for assuming you were up to date with that particular field. His talk was given from a place of personal experience in the context of this emerging public awareness of the benefits of entheogenic / psychedelic practise.
      • Mar 24 2013: @Lewis Smart: "There are a variety of studies completed and ongoing which substantiate the idea that the psychedelic experience can have a positive effect on the moral compass"

        "Can have" is not good enough. In order for Hancocks proposition to be valid it *must* have that and it must also be proven to be safe.

        Also we also run into the problem of deciding what constitutes the "right" moral compass. Who's going to do that?
        • Mar 24 2013: It can never be proven safe in an absolute sense. It can never be proven a universal and automatic cure, because it isn't. There is no such thing. Have a look at our current psychiatric medications and tell me they're perfect - would you have them banned, or a talk on them banned? The fact of the matter is that the studies I mention have demonstrated that psychedelics are generally far safer and more effective than current medications.

          Only individuals can decide on what's right for them. We're talking morality here, not ethics.

          It's not hard to think about how psychedelics might effect personal morality. They put you in a position where you tend to look at your past actions, your habits, your judgements of people. To the degree that we have naturally occurring sympathy for others, we can't maintain attitudes towards others that cause them pain once we're aware of them. Thus, morality change.
      • Mar 24 2013: @Lewis Smart: "It can never be proven safe in an absolute sense."

        I didn't ask for that either so it's moot of you to reply as if I did.

        "It can never be proven a universal and automatic cure, because it isn't."

        Well then... in that case I think we're pretty much done because that is - although thinly veiled - pretty much what Hancock claimed. Thank you for the chat.
        • Mar 25 2013: If he claimed it, show us how. Tell us how you know that what he said is just a veil and what he meant is something else.
    • Mar 23 2013: "- There is no weight to the claim that this civilization he have now is the worst of all states and that it's doing nothing to correct the situation. (On the contrary there are plenty of indicators to the opposite)."

      Are you kidding ? I don't know in what kind of "state of consciousness" someone could say that, but I know some "alteration" would do it some good :)

      Sadly, and possibly lethally, having no conscience is too common a state of consciousness ...
      • Mar 24 2013: @Alexandre Letellier: "I don't know in what kind of "state of consciousness" someone could say that"

        Well your lack of knowing that is your problem, not mine.

        "I know some "alteration" would do it some good"

        Oh you can "alter" your mind with any(!) kind of drug. But "alteration" is not the same as "improvement".
    • Mar 23 2013: "Well let me put it this way: if mr Hancock can get himself a study, where he can prove that getting doped on this drug somehow corrects your moral compass... by all means... I might be inclined to try it. "

      Here you go : please read it, it's perfectly legal to read studies about illegal substances.


      One of MANY researches conducted on the subject. If you had any scientific honesty you would know that already.
      • Mar 24 2013: As I said above: "change" is not - by a longshot - necessarily the same as "improve".
        • Mar 25 2013: If you look at the study on which the article is based, you will find that the changes were considered positive by the subjects and the researchers. The results were considered desirable. Quality of life was improved.
    • Mar 23 2013: This idea that Hancock's political ideas have to be proven scientifically is laughable. When did science ever say anything about politics. This is one of the most outrageous myths of scientism. The idea that the society we have now is thanks largely to science. Yes, the technology we have is due to science. But the laws, the social structures, the education system - these things have nothing whatsoever to do with science. These things are the result of people's hard work in a whole variety of other disciplines which fall under the general heading of the humanities - something supporters of scientism despise fwiw. And yet, those same supporters of scientism, who tell us everything has to be proven in a lab, and who tell us if we disagree then we should hand back our medicine or out televisions etc, have no intention of putting their own money where their own mouth is and refusing, eg, money for research given to them out of the pot generated by the non-scientific act of taxation. Nor will they refuse the protection of the law (the law!) because it is not the result of any scientific investigation. So next time you complain that people who make socio-political points must prove it in a lab, remember that without non-scientists thinking up non-scientific social policy far away from anything that could be called a science lab, there wouldn't be any science labs in the first place. Science has a place, but when it comes to politics, that place in 750th in the list of good/sensible ways to proceed. That's the first point.

      Re the specifics of your claims, you are wrong in almost every respect. There is, eg, for example, copious evidence that the phenomenology of altered states includes communication with entities.

      And so once again, sadly, we have a critic who has not bothered to inform himself of even the basics before coming here and telling everyone what's what. What is it with you guys, if you don't know about it it's not true
      • Mar 24 2013: Your comment is as poor as mr Hancocks talk. It's just an assertation that science is poopoo and next to useless in building a society, and that there is (scientific?) evidence for spirits or other entities.

        I disagree. Science does not provide the answers and moral compass, that is true, but it does provide us with the tool we need to examine reality and society so that we can get the facts and models we need to make rational decisions.

        And this is where mr. Hanock run into an obstacle.... because a scientific look at Hancocks proposition will - most likely - not give the kind of fact he needs to make other people reach the conclusion that his proposition is a good and safe one.

        He needs to show that 1) the use of the drug is safe and (sufficiently) free from harmful side effects and 2) that the effects are beneficial.
        • Mar 27 2013: Your intransigence when faced with contrary evidence is astounding.

          "1) the use of the drug is safe and (sufficiently) free from harmful side effects and 2) that the effects are beneficial."

          Both conditions have been tentatively confirmed by initial investigations. Please refer to the study I had linked several days ago, which, I can only assume, you have yet to read.
  • Mar 22 2013: Graham Hancock should invite Chris Anderson to his next ayahuasca journey. then Chris Anderson should give an 18-minute TED talk describing his experience.

    just a thought.
  • Mar 22 2013: Bad Science = Anything the mainstream scientific community identifies as challenging or incongruent with established scientific thought.

    TED wouldn't have removed these videos if they did not perceive them to be a threat. I have enjoyed some good talks on TED, but I can't say that I'm surprised by them removing these videos, especially after I looked to see the type of people who fund TED. I guess it's reasonable to assume that these are the same people on their mysterious "Scientific Board" being all scientificky. You know the type of person, when you ask him how he met his wife and he answers, somewhat tentatively, "Chemical chance?"

    If modern scientific thought had answers to any substantial question about the human experience, scientists would relish having someone like Graham Hancock or Rupert Sheldrake on TED so they could actually practice the scientific method and explore all the avenues of possibility. Alas, modern science has no such answer, and it's torch bearers are afraid of anyone who claims to point to an alternative possibility. The very Terms "Bad Science," "Pseudo Science," and the like were coined after people did EXACTLY what TED has done by removing these videos and attempting to defame the work and reputation of the speakers. This whole thing is so "unscientific" it makes my head hurt. TED should be ashamed
  • Mar 21 2013: If this is already repeated, then it must be highly relevant. Paraphrasing I know not who made this original observation:
    "If a primitive people are suddenly introduced to a powerful new technology, then for all intents & purposes for the primitives, it will be magic &/or miraculous."
    This is surely what Rupert & Graham are doing here at TED, being 2 of many pioneers at the forefront of the exploration of consciousness, & by obvious extension, the infinite Universe itself.
    TED needs to avoid a latter-day inquisition against 'free-thinkers', as the religious history of Gaia is replete with the tragedy of this occurrence to people who dare to consider the reality that 'REALITY is INFINITE', & in infinity, by definition, all possible barriers to being, or parameters to measurement are irrelevant.

    Having a truly open mind can be an extremely dangerous occupation...


    Another 15th century scientific polymath, Blaise Pascal, famously said "Imagination decides everything"...& this is another DEEP truth...only 100 years ago we were imagining space travel, imagining the future of medicine, imagining the epic advance of scientific knowledge, & look at us today !!!
    Even if Rupert & Graham are just imagining their theories, that is enough & they should be overtly ENCOURAGED by TED, as this is the start of everything & anything that has ever been manifested into physical dimensions.

    I'm very glad it seems this big debate about censorship appears to have resulted in TED largely seeing the error of their way...good on you TED for overcoming your egotistical arrogance & getting back to the radical roots of science.

    NOW it is for TED to take up the batten of Grahams challenge he posted on this forum minutes ago:

    "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 20 2013: a huge black mark for TED. in the past they did have good ideas worth spreading but their conservative nature has shown itself. It reall does that there are other realms of consciousness that may lead us to save this planet, but that is sadly NOT an IDEA WORTH SPREADING!
  • Mar 19 2013: "The people working the weaving machines in the 17th century... now they didn't see the steam engine coming. One invention... Industrial revolution. I mean Encyclopedia Britannica didn't see Wikipedia coming. Great thing don't happen in little increments, they happen when someone thinks completely differently... and all you geniuses... you're just... you're just modifying algorithms." - Phillip Ghallagher
  • Mar 19 2013: Graham Hancock is one of my personal hero's and I think this debate is not about his wonderful talk that he took out of his time and life to share, its about TED's blatant disregard of censoring a true idea worth sharing.
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    Mar 19 2013: Part 2: Lewis-Williams has suggested that shamanistic practices could explain some of the art some of the time, but has never claimed that it will provide some sort of grand unified theory that would explain all of it – so thank you Graham for being accurate in your phrasing :). One thing that I do wish that Graham had mentioned though was that much of L-W’s ethnographic work comes from his research on the San People from South Africa who still actively produce rock art, and while they themselves say that the art is the result of shamanistic visions, they do not do drugs to reach this altered state. They use rhythmic drumming and ritual dance, which leads to my point that there are many ways to achieve an altered state of consciousness, and there is currently no evidence for Ice Age peoples from Europe having ingested mushrooms or any other type of mind altering substance. (By evidence I am referring to the lack of pollen samples from archaeological layers - we have been able to identify lots of other plants this way). Now this didn’t mean that they didn’t take hallucinogenics, just that we have no proof and anyone who has spent any time in caves can tell you that they make pretty excellent sensory deprivation chambers all on their own!

    Also, some of the imagery often associated with shamanistic visions like hand prints on the wall might have been done for other reasons (hunting sign language, signature mark, etc.), and there is even one example in France of a toddler’s handprint high up on a wall (and there are other handprints made by kids). I doubt that they were feeding their small children hallucinogenics, so this goes back to my earlier comment that shamanism probably does not explain all of the art all of the time. The only statement that Graham made in relation to rock art which I do disagree with is when he said that the art clearly details people’s visions.

    Continued below… (the next post is the last one I promise!)
  • Mar 19 2013: Come on TED this is getting VERY silly.
  • Mar 19 2013: Ahh TED .. the more you push this into a dusty obscure corner the more transparent you become .. for an organisation that prides itself on its intelligence you are acting in a most ignorant and juvenile way .. shame on you.
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    Mar 19 2013: Part 6 of 7: Sure, Hancock is a true believer for advocating the use of ayahuasca, but that limitation in his presentation should not be used to denigrate his message that our culture’s war on drugs is about the enforcement of certain states of consciousness over other states of consciousness, and the fear that if people discover the state of consciousness that supports “the sacred, magical, enchanted, infinitely precious nature of life on earth and the interdependence of material and spiritual realms” that somehow our materialistic dependence on commerce, war and politics will be weakened if not destroyed.

    Now, I may criticize Hancock for overemphasizing (as a new convert does) the role that ayahuasca must take in consciousness change, as opposed to non-drug related methods of consciousness change. But I support 100% his analysis that it is the fear of the change of states of consciousness that is behind the war on drugs and is behind the current materialistic hegemony on science that the big corporations hold.

    Continued in Part 7.
  • Apr 2 2013: Best wishes to everyone. Tough road ahead - but exciting. Rold? Embarrassing.
  • Apr 2 2013: Debate conclusions TED ? Anyone wishing to represent TED ? Your attempts to shut out these kind of talks has only made the subject more prominent. Good luck!
  • Apr 2 2013: Continued from above.....

    I hope the TED Fellows who have given us their ideas and time so generously, demand this of TED’s management and if the management fails to comply, they tar and feather them with scorn.

    Unlike in our reality and free from its predatory bears, the salmon of ideas should be able to swim freely in the stream of knowledge. Allowed, unhindered to seek out fertile beds of inspiration. Then spawn fourth abundantly, the hatched fry struggling equally in the currents of understanding, to reach the sea of wisdom.
  • Apr 2 2013: Here's a recent talk by String Theory Physicist John Hagelin on how he thinks science, (specifically physics) and consciousness might actually link together.
    The field experiments he refers to are interesting.

  • Apr 1 2013: 3) STORYTELLING

    I am going to make a pitch for the positive side of what Graham is talking about. Some people can enter altered states to retrieve myths that are useful for our people: it’s a gift. I’ll give you a mythic Easter example. A long time ago a tribal shaman saw our children were starving. When they chased rabbits past duck eggs they caught nothing; when they chased ducks the ducks lead them away from their nests. The shaman told them to chase rabbits to find their eggs and they ate. Now we celebrate rabbits that lay eggs on Easter.

    We need new myths. Myths can be the Trojan horse for indoctrinating our children in science. Here are three first cut examples of science and technology myths we could develop for our children:
    1) Mendel was a very lucky hero who picked 7 attributes on the pea plant that has 7 chromosomes. Today we understand why our children look like us.
    2) Einstein was a hero who imagined chasing light at the age of 15 and related our mechanical universe with our electromagnetic fields so we would understand.
    3) Steve Jobs was a hero who experienced success, hubris, pride and redemption. We all seem to believe he has mythic lessons for us.

    As much as we need a set of rational stories for out children, we also need myths to instill the set of life’s lessons in them they will need to survive in a technological era. Here is the start for some myths I’m thinking about (first cut):

    1) I enter a cave where two dragons are fighting. In the corner sits the Buddha in silent meditation. Who is telling the truth?...
    2) The Borg began as silicon spreading across the land from a valley where people chanted don’t be evil, wear our glasses, life will be better.…
    3) We don’t know who told us; we only know that when the swirling rainbow comes we remember the path of integrity, intimacy, clarity and faith that we must walk to dissolve our chains…

    Thank you for giving me space to share my thoughts.

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      Apr 2 2013: It's nice to have a Native voice in this conversation. Thanks for adding yours, jr.
    • Apr 2 2013: Your post appears to be pure woo. It certainly does not look like Science. Why should we not have it removed? Is it an idea worth sharing? Who decides?
  • Apr 1 2013: My uncle was on SRI's board back when. He told me about this sort of research. I was a 'No way' skeptic when he first mentioned it. An immensely practical man in all other ways, he was always regretful he was not allowed to speak about it in public. Times do change - thankfully.
  • Apr 1 2013: Hi, well after reading through things here, I didn't find much debate, but a lot of finger pointing at TED. Which is weird. I've been enjoying TED videos for years and years now, and unless you just found TED, you have too. Of all the sources of unique videos on the web, TED is the best. And I'd like them to stay the best. So when TED, responded to some quality control issues, rather than be thankful, (like you would for any other quality control issue in your life, your cell phones for example or raw meat.) you attack them instead of thank them. Someone is looking out for a higher standard of intellectual rigor than you are, on your behalf. You owe them a thank you, not a page full of insults and conspiracies. Even if you think Sheldrake's talk is perfect, reacting with outrage just shows that you aren't personally ready for debate, hence all the insults at TED and the vapid debate here.
    • Apr 1 2013: Clearly you have NOT read all the comments here.
    • Apr 1 2013: This is the page about Hancock, not Sheldrake. Thus perhaps, you are not ready to post, let alone debate. Anyway, re your points, we don't believe TED's decision is a quality control issue. We don't think they're looking for intellectual rigour (there was certainly none on display from the TED science board who had to cross out every word they wrote when it turned out to be garbage). We think, by contrast, that TED has taken a hasty political decision in order to cozy up to a few fundamentalist atheists who would twist science to support the religious commitments. Thus we don't feel TED is looking out for us at all, but rather, that it is now advancing an ideology under the guise of quality control. And given that I've pointed out the folly of your views and you can now take steps to rectify them I think you owe me a big thank you.
      • Apr 1 2013: sorry wrong page, but you proved my point perfectly already, that was fast, ty. Attack TED and offer conspiracy. I think you attacked me too when you said, "perhaps, you are not ready to post, let alone debate" So thanks for the insult, but you didn't take into consideration that I was just looking for the debate, to see it, not to debate. But wow, you really proved my point.
        • Apr 1 2013: I was responding to your attack on all of us when you said that none of us were ready for debate. If you don't like it don't do it. And if you can't find the debate, look harder. Many people here have offered many different defenses of Sheldrake and Hancock's talks at almost every conceivable level. Thus for you to claim you "didn't find much debate" suggests you are just making it up in order to insult us again by calling out contributions "vapid" . All the points I made about the talk, fwiw, unlike yours, can be supported with evidence. For example, why did TED have to cross out every word of the complaints they made against the two videos and why have they been unable to produce anything subsequently to properly justify their decision? My answer is because they first ones were slapdash nonsense which were quickly whipped up to provide an excuse for a political decision that had been taken without reference to the actual content of either talk, and they've been unable to come up with anything better because their decision has nothing at all to do with quality control.
    • Apr 1 2013: Leroy TED's past popularity is not contested, what’s has upset people is their deception in professing to be a platform to promote ideas worth sharing. Now they have been exposed their undefendable reasons have confirmed this guilt!

      Lets not have two stets of standards, rather one set equally applied; allowing for as many defended interpretations until the evidence suggest otherwise.
    • Apr 1 2013: @ Leroy Low, So let me get this straight, after "reading through things here" you failed to notice you were on the Graham Hancock page? (From the same comment posted to the Sheldrake thread "by error, i posted this on Hancocks debate, boy did those people explode. I meant to put it here, sorry!!")

      Forgive me if I don't put much store in your perceptions of either thread. You either don't read very carefully or there's a little problem with your reading comprehension.
  • Apr 1 2013: The Magic of Science,

    Magic is what discovery is all about and science enjoys one of society’s frontier pedestals in terms of prestige. The very method and founding principals upon which it is based and developed should equally apply then to any interpretation of data collected by the same accepted standard. What we have here is a recurring example of so called authority jumping to conclusions on interpretations of data that doesn’t fit or compliment their own. Rather then investigate these ideas to see if they are valid, or will lead to new discoveries which history shows they often do. They desperately try to suppress these ideas. There is nothing wrong with being sceptical. But it is only by further testing and analysis that the validity of interpretation can be determined. Not by holding your hands over your eyes and hysterically screaming for everyone else not to look. This only locks us into their self incarcerated reality and the distortions they perpetuate.

    We all live under the spell of the magicians at the heart of the academic establishment beleving they are pure and noble. Sometimes this is merely a spell of deception and one that is desperately being used here to stop us from following the normal scientific accepted standards that have been used to debunk or confirm any perspective.

    If the shoe was on the other foot, would people be willing to accept Sheldrake or Hancock’s refusal to engage in open debate. No, they would rightly be ridiculed and deserving of the criticism currently expressed. So why then should the those at the centre be treated any differently?

    Funny how this doesn’t seem to bother many of those who claim to believe that science can explain everything. Mysteriously they are asking us to exonerate their perspective as if it is some divine constant. Their delusion is simply this if they can’t apply their own standards to themselves, their beliefs are groundless pseudoscience and woo woo.
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      Apr 1 2013: "1. When a distinguished but elderly scientist states that something is possible, he is almost certainly right. When he states that something is impossible, he is very probably wrong.

      "2. The only way of discovering the limits of the possible is to venture a little way past them into the impossible.

      "3. Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic."

      Clarke's three laws

      I'm neither distinguished nor elderly, but I'd like to suggest it is possible that controlled and effective use of psychedelics would be an example of a sufficiently advanced technology that is indistinguishable from magic.
      • Apr 1 2013: Yay! John we are finding some common ground. Nice post
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          Apr 1 2013: Thanks, Adrian. I've been noting with interest the subtle use of language in these threads. A lot of ayahuasca proponents have been choosing the words "drug" or "drugs" when I think the words "medicine" or "medicines" would be more appropriate. What think you?
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    Mar 31 2013: This is a message for any of the anonymous scientists that expressed their concerns over this talk, and thereby set this whole thing into motion, as I presume some of you are monitoring this debate. Have any of you weighed in on this debate in this forum? This is a huge debate and I admit I have not read through all several thousand messages here, so it's quite possible I missed your comments, in which case I humbly apologize and ask you to show me your comments.

    If not, your lack of response speaks volumes.
  • Mar 31 2013: People all over the world have spiritual experiences through plant medicines which are more real then anything they've ever felt before that it even changed their lives to the extend that they consider themselves spiritual beings. Because the majority of the western world is so afraid of anything out of the so called ordinary, we are having a debate about censoring this and other talks. Good luck btw trying to keep those people from telling about Ayahuasca :)  Some humans have been waking up from the collective dream throughout history and have presented their teachings to experience a higher consciousness to the rest of the world, but what has men done instead of listening to them? What is the public doing today if someone tells us there might be something we've been missing out on our whole lives, which was there all along right in front of us. We say: Oh well, it's a little to occult or to far fetched!? How could we have missed it? Not a credible source anyway, right!? Nothing to worry about. Put it in that pseudo drawer over there and keep snoring. That's just another way the human mind tries to neglect reality once again. We've reached a point where we can't afford living solely in mind made structures or systems that have been outdated for decades and we need to allow people like Hancock, or Sheldrake to present what they have researched/experienced because in the end, they are a representation of the public interest. This Ted debate might be over in a couple of days, but in truth, the real talk just started! The people who know that Ayahuasca showed them truth won't stop spreading the message. If Ted is in or not! Quote: "Not for one moment do i believe that such an awakening would deprive us of energy or social concern. On the contrary, half the delight of it - though infinity has no halves - is to share it with others, and because the spiritual and the material are inseparable this means the sharing of life and things as well as insight! Alan Watts Namaste
  • Mar 31 2013: Just to eliminate any possible personal misunderstanding I have listened to Rupert Sheldrake's "forbidden lecture" yet again, as I've heard several versions of his talk elsewhere.

    It is brilliant, witty, entertaining and moreover profoundly thoughtful and thought provoking. A splendid example of what a TEDx delivery can and should entail. They take issue with his statement that governments do not fund alternative (ie non-allopathic as Bruce Lipton calls it) medicine. OK, fine, that's a legitimate criticism, so what?

    I am sorely tempted to draw a "morphically resonant" parallel between his description of the international committee of metrology's averaging methodology for calculating the speed of light "constant" and the Swiss bank of international settlements, as perhaps ironic circumstantial evidence of mutual blind-siding. Then of course there is the curious notion of "big G" that is strangely reminiscent of freemasonic symbolism. Plenty of conspiratorial woo-woo scope there!

    More seriously of course there was another wonderful "woo-woo" TED talk about time and gravity that was perfectly acceptable http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eaV-GeAPSlE
    presented by the Dutch physicist, and former astronaut Wubbo J. Ockels. The fact that he is Professor of Aerospace Sustainable Engineering and Technology at the University of Delft evidently did not prevent him from delivering "...his mind-bending" TEDxAmsterdam talk explaining "how time is created by human beings, as a way our brains can make sense of gravity. The speed of light is constant, because it is made by us: it's the clock by which we have calibrated our existence. Based on this premise, Ockels proposes a new way to explore life in our galaxy..."

    Would that be intelligent life? a galaxy peopled by sentient time-generating telepathic entities with creative consciousness, by any chance?

    The only eternal constant we seem to be witnessing here, is the habitual prejudice of double-standards.
  • Mar 31 2013: The work of the Muslim savants certainly anticipated Darwin, though without Darwin's experiential and more extensive scholarship. Arab and Moorish influence on the west, during the period of al Andalusia in particular, is immense. Many of the West's greatest minds at the time learned from Arab scholars - Raymond Lull, Roger Bacon, Thomas Aquinas, St. Francis. Thinkers from all over the civilized world came to study in the great Moorish learning houses of Spain, in Bagdad's House of Wisdom. If not for the Arabs - and to some extent St.Patrick and the Irish monks - Aristotle would have been lost, Plato, Pythagoras, countless other treasures from the ancient world. And yet the extraordinary range of their influence is largely written out of our own history books. This isn't the first time irreplaceable knowledge has been deleted from the historical record. It's happened time and again - the ignorant sacking of invading barbarians, the focused destruction of zealots, the mindless looting of mobs, natural disasters. Today the culling goes on, often (but not always) by more subtle means. Which is one reason why I strongly support the work of folk like Graham Hancock and Rupert Sheldrake. What has been lost? What are the methods in use today to block certain kinds of research? What's left to find? These are important questions, even if we disagree with the answers some may provide.
  • Mar 30 2013: Just did a quick check on YT and it seems Sheldrake and Hancock's talks have been viewed over 100,000 times in the few weeks since TED tried to censor them. To put that into perspective, that's more than 4 times as many views as the first 40 TEDx videos (more than a week old) added together.
    • Eko Qui

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      Mar 31 2013: That's wonderful, by trying to silence Graham & Rupert TED has essentially given them more exposure. That would be good if that was their intention, but it obviously wasn't. This genuinely is just pathetic TED, it's just too bad. Absolute power, absolutely corrupts. You've lost my support TED. Get it together and remember what this really was initially all about.
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      Mar 31 2013: The Streisand Effect
      • Mar 31 2013: It's not really, the talks were hugely popular even before the attempt at censorship. Thus the attempt at censorship has failed and the talks are as popular as ever.
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          Mar 31 2013: Popular, yes. Intellectually rigorous and appropriate for TEDx, no.

          I fail to see how "censorship" applies, especially given that both the videos and vigorous discussion of them are readily available on this website.
      • Mar 31 2013: Let's be clear - Sheldrake's talk was to a standard of intellectual rigour and sophistication that you could only dream about attaining. Hancock's talk, by contrast, was a very straightforward talk and its intellectual rigour was perfectly adequate for the points made.

        Re censorship, yes, you don't understand. That much is clear. They were censored inasmuch as there was an attempt to remove them from public view and hide them away for a brief time while TED supporters beat on them (oh how that backfired), but the internet makes censorship almost impossible. Nonetheless, as with giving presents, it's the thought that counts.
  • Mar 29 2013: How is archaeology a science?

    Mr. Hoopes makes reference to "scientific archaeology (both its methods and its theories)" -- but it seems the whole point of these two talks is that theory-crafting and model-building are distinct from science-as-method, particular when one extrapolates ontological truths from a paucity of data by means of induction.

    Contrary to what many seem to be claiming (here I am looking at Mr. Brian Akers' comments in the Sheldrake debate thread), making this kind of observation does not logically imply surreptitious intent or the insinuating of some competing theory into a conversation about legitimacy.

    The distinction is entirely valid, in my view, and it is that distinction that lies at the heart of both these presentations.
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      Mar 30 2013: Noah, you ask how archaeology is a science. Have you ever studied archaeology? It uses deduction (hypothesis testing) as well as induction.
      • Mar 30 2013: I apologize if I appear thick, but are there any examples of deductive reasoning that do not ultimately rely on general observations arrived at through induction?

        Furthermore, I would think that the conditions archeology studies severely restrict its ability to perform proper tests and experiments.
  • Mar 29 2013: Has anyone seen the much adored TED video by Ken Robinson titled, "Ken Robinson Says Schools Kill Creativity"? There is absolutely nothing "scientific" about this talk, yet TED has made it #1 on it's "must watch" list.

    So if TED will remove Hancock's video for not being "scientific" then shouldn't the same standard apply to all speakers?

    I thought TED was about "Ideas Worth Spreading." Has Mr. Hancock not presented a fascinating topic that is worth being discussed?

    I'm truly baffled.
  • Mar 29 2013: John what makes you think it has embarrassed him in the slightest. I'm confident he still stands by what he said in the discussion and it is TED who should be embarrassed.

    Is pop spirituality taboo? tell me John who gets to decide what is mature and relevant you? The Pope? TED? or would it not be in our own best interests to decide that for ourselves? The precise point of Hank's discussion.
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      Mar 29 2013: Maybe he's not embarrassed. I don't have any information either way. I guess I was being presumptuous to think so, given how I myself would probably feel at having a talk of mine treated in the same way.

      It is neither I nor the Pope who gets to decide, but yes, the folks who manage TED. With this forum, they have indicated that they are interested in our input on this issue. Is there something wrong with providing that?

      They ask: "Is this an idea worth spreading, or misinformation? Good science or bad science? What’s the evidence for either position?"

      Aren't the answers to those questions what's actually being discussed here?

      Is pop spirituality taboo? Of course not. Should TED provide a forum for self-promotion of spirituality salesmen and the hawking of the intellectual equivalent of snake oil? I don't think so.

      Are Hancock's ideas worth spreading on TED? I don't think so.
      • Mar 29 2013: John whether you think Hancock's ideas are worth spreading is IMO irreverent, whatever an individuals spiritual inclination is, is the sanctity of their own and must be respected as such. Because their views, beliefs don't compliment yours does not make the any less real to either party. What is at issue here is one group who after going through (what appears like some considerable effort on both sides to publish a discussion (so surely it has merit), then proceed to censor it. That is IMO removing our right to make up our own minds. In so doing this you could just as well be forcing us to adhere to your beliefs.

        This is the fallacy of your argument. You could just as well be preaching religion.
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          Mar 29 2013: Irreverent or irrelevant? Maybe the former (was that a Freudian slip?) but certainly not the latter.

          Whether I think Hancock's ideas are worth spreading or not is directly relevant to the question posed by the creators of this thread: "Is this an idea worth spreading?"

          If the word you meant to use was "irreverent," it seems as if you are asking me to revere Hancock while at the same time implying that one shouldn't be preaching religion. More delicious irony.
  • Mar 29 2013: For TED to censor or outright banish the talks by Rupert Sheldrake and Graham Hancock revives the memories of the hearings in the US Senate back in 1966 wherein Dr. Timothy Leary was questioned by Senator TED Kennedy about the dangers of LSD use. TED was badgering Tim over the issue "Is LSD dangerous??!!" and Tim was trying to answer as a scientist in terms that any grade school aged child could understand but was clearly over the head of TED's understanding. The whipsaw effect of Dr. Leary's answers being mis-understood and taken out of context led to the eventual laws placing LSD on Schedule 1 without any scientific inquiry by qualified researchers. The wise leaders of TED are acting in a similar way - "If we don't understand it let's ban it!" TED did not understand in 1966 and TED does not understand now in 2013.
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      Mar 29 2013: I disagree, Jim. I think the staff of TED removed Hancock's talk precisely *because* they understood it for what it was.
      • Mar 29 2013: LOL seriously John, I and many others here don't buy that BS.
  • Mar 29 2013: Don't knock it till you try it. All you can go by are personal experiences or testimonials and if you take testimonials how many good experiences to bad ones and if there is any persons words you can take as genuine would it not be our elders and even more so the ones allowed to speak on Ted? Does not Ted have a pre screening for all there talks to at least know a little something before hand? It just really shows an agenda on there side.
  • Mar 28 2013: I've read that Ayahuasca, if considered a religion, is the Only religion that invites and welcomes Skepticism. Talk, Debate, Argue........don't allow death to creep up without having experienced it.
  • Mar 27 2013: This is the Hypocrisy of so called modern science. It will be quick to attack new ideas but allow thieves to hide behind its shield.

    Monsanto Protection Act' slips silently through US Congress

    "The US House of Representatives quietly passed a last-minute addition to the Agricultural Appropriations Bill for 2013 last week - including a provision protecting genetically modified seeds from litigation in the face of health risks.

    The rider, which is officially known as the Farmer Assurance Provision, has been derided by opponents of biotech lobbying as the “Monsanto Protection Act,” as it would strip federal courts of the authority to immediately halt the planting and sale of genetically modified (GMO) seed crop regardless of any consumer health concerns.

    The provision, also decried as a “biotech rider,” should have gone through the Agricultural or Judiciary Committees for review. Instead, no hearings were held, and the piece was evidently unknown to most Democrats (who hold the majority in the Senate) prior to its approval as part of HR 993, the short-term funding bill that was approved to avoid a federal government shutdown.

    Senator John Tester (D-MT) proved to be the lone dissenter to the so-called Monsanto Protection Act, though his proposed amendment to strip the rider from the bill was never put to a vote."


    Lets continue to beat the messenger with our ores while the canoe goes over the waterfall.
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      Mar 27 2013: Modern science is not quick to attack new ideas. It is quick to attack new ideas that are utterly unsupported by reliable data but are sensationally asserted as if they were.
      • Mar 28 2013: Hi Mr. Hoopes, I apologize if you've already answered this elsewhere, but can you specify which claims Mr Hancock sensationally asserted as if they were supported by reliable data? It's my understanding that he was very careful to stress that some of his speculations were just that: speculation. Thanks.
  • Mar 27 2013: the debate isn't between you and me , but between Mr Hancock and those of the scientists of TED who now think that his ideas are pseudoscience (his ideas were not secret when they hosted him, quite the contrary) Those other venues didn't make a 180 degree turn and practically called him a phoney
  • Mar 27 2013: TED is heading down a dark road, by censoring contributions that have value and merit in transforming a corrupted reality, its actions will call into question the merit and and value of all its future posted discussions. If they don't see the folly of their actions the name TED will sadly mean The Egotistical Dummies.

    Why should we be filter fed??????? Are we too feeble to make up our own minds!!!! Its that kinda mentality that has got the world into the state we now find ourselves. This consequences of this action only helps to reinforce the conventional direction that got us into the cul-de-sac.

    I have to ask myself why is it that they would want to filter alternative views, ideas, approaches? Surely the audience can make up its own mind as to what has merit and what does not. Truth is revealed by removing contradiction, ignoring contradiction only preserves fallacy.
  • Mar 27 2013: Although it is discouraging to see TED effectively ban these discussions, it is EXACTLY the kind of discussion that is needed.

    God forbid anyone challenge the dogmatic status quo of the TED community, lord knows nothing ever came of someone challenging the norm! Apparently TED should more appropriately be called "The Church of Dawkins"

    If TED refuses to present a debate on this issue, then aside from proving intellectual cowardice on the behalf of TED, it will prove that Graham and Sheldrake have hit the nail on the head: TED and their golden boy Dawkins quite LITERALLY don't have an answer to the mysteries of consciousness! (and how COULD they, really?)

    “A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds.”
    ― Ralph Waldo Emerson
  • Mar 27 2013: i thought debate in an open and respectful environment is the cornerstone of democracy Denying this seems an act of fear, or of weakness of arguments. The legitimacy issue - you accept someone as your peer if you choose to debate him- is a valid one, but that choice was made when TED chose to host Mr Hancock ideas. Lastly, the evolutionists only choose to believe they gain something when they deny debating antievolutionists. Check the polls with the percentage of the Americans who reject evolution, and you 'll get my point
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      Mar 27 2013: I don't think debate is being denied at all. This forum is evidence that it is occurring. In my opinion, it was a poor decision to give Hancock a forum on TEDx, one that implied that he was a peer with respect to quality of thinking and scholarship as compared to other distinguished TEDx presenters. The error of that poor decision does not need to be compounded by providing him with an additional TED-sponsored debate, especially when he has so many other venues in which he can make his ideas and opinions perfectly clear (and also profit financially from so doing.)
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    Mar 26 2013: Okay so instead of just expressing here on the debate's page our desire of a proper response from TED curators & their scientific board maybe we should contact TED directly using their contact form (by clicking on contact on the bottom of the page)? If we send them direct messages asking why they haven't yet responded to Sheldrake & Hancok rebuttal of their accusations or to any of the hundreds of comments on this page, I assume it's their responsibility to respond? Or will they choose to ignore direct messages too? Let's find out.
    • Mar 26 2013: I've had no response to my email sent over a week ago.
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        Mar 26 2013: Really eh? Yet another disappointment.
      • Mar 27 2013: I got a response linking me to the "A fresh take" page and letting me know that links could be found there to the conversations, which I am welcome to join.

        Thanks TED.
    • Mar 27 2013: Camila, thanks. Consider me an avid fan of both your writing and your intelligence. Keep up the work.
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        Mar 27 2013: Thanks Barnard! Truly appreciate it.
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    Mar 25 2013: Excerpt from my blog at: http://ventusetmare.tumblr.com/

    "Clearly, a lot of people are upset that their beloved TED has censored Hancock’s and Sheldrake’s talks. Some because they’re “dreamers” and they understand the importance of those ideas at a deeper level. Others because they simply oppose censorship and dislike how TED chose to act as a gatekeeper of what seems like controversial, yet interesting information. I was very disappointed too, but I’m beginning to feel VERY optimistic about the situation. I’m beginning to think that this whole thing will strongly work out in our favour (by our I mean humanity’s favour).

    Based on the extent of the debate that is going on, we can see that huge numbers of people are being exposed to these ideas for the first time. And let’s remember that a lot of these people are very intelligent, wisdom-seeking people - they are avid TEDTalk watchers after all. So this seems like Ayahuasca’s much-anticipated “big break” into mainstream society (after being so poorly depicted and made a joke of in Hollywood’s “Wanderlust”).

    In the past few years, La Medicina (the medicine) has rapidly worked its way through underground veins all the way from the Amazon to the majority of the western world. It has been introduced to mainstream culture by people like Dr. Gabor Mate, a renowneddoctor from Vancouver who made a compelling documentary about treating his substance-addicted patients with Ayahuasca. Now that I think of it, it’s interesting how CBC, a Canadian Government-owned and operated communications company, was open to featuring Mate’s documentary on a reputable scientific program called “The Nature of Things” hosted by respected Canadian academic, science broadcaster, and environmental activist David Suzuki, while TED, an organization founded on the principle of “ideas worth spreading” arbitrarily decided Ayahuasca is just not one of them."

    More at: http://ventusetmare.tumblr.com/
    • Mar 25 2013: Excellent analogies. I really enjoyed that whole blog, including the pics. Very, very good. I think Graham Hancock would approve as well. (HE's a witch!! He turned Chris Anderson into a newt! It got better!) a little Monty Python to lighten things up. Thank you for a great blog piece!
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        Mar 25 2013: Thank you so much Linda! I'm so glad you enjoyed it. I hadn't written anything in a long time... but when I read about what happened and began reading the comments here, I suddenly felt an urge of creativity that I hadn't felt in years! I just had to share my thoughts and knowledge about Mother Aya with the world. I hope many others find it useful and entertaining, especially those who are coming across the subject for the first time. Much love.
  • Mar 22 2013: Its common knowledge that the witchhunt was all about plants and spices that were put in drinks but the catholic church didnt approve of it, so anyone who would make these potions was called a witch, plus some casualties.

    this comes down to the fact that pagans and druids knew which plants could heal and which could destroy. these days we dont know anything and make plants illegal. PLANTS!!! we rather buy pills and syrups, go to therapists and get even more depressed. and the money spills out of our pockets to CEOs who buy ferrari's and fur coats.

    Im not explaining it scientifically, but yes, im damn sure humanity would be better off if we would have the possibility (which doesnt mean everyone will go nuts) to wander off into our own minds, find our deepest self, find our personal goal and live the life we want.

    the world will get a bit more honest by that.
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      Mar 22 2013: Gone are the days of the spiritual dandelions i use to see as a kid, there was something free about them, now we are locked into this digital dance and ritual where even your personal life and thoughts are a part of your c.v. I wonder when it will be your genome as well. That part of us that is inhuman will agree this is the next step, it will be justified by resource allocation and energy expenditure, sad.
      • Mar 23 2013: personally, i think all this will soon be put back into its rightful place. you cant prohibit plants and natural growth forever ( i thought it would be an awesome joke to sow hemp in parks and forests). within ten to 20 years marijuana will be legal again, i suppose. and after that its only a matter of time before that happens to other plants as well. the flow of information has become huge, and with that the people who dont agree with the way things work right now.
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          Mar 23 2013: There is a part of me that is hesitant as i have an addictive persona but not with drugs yet it is all the same regardless of the medium. I got hooked on this energy drink that took 2 litres of water a day to replace the urge for the taste and i have drug and alcoholics in the family, they fight not the substance but the fear of the absence of them, only they themselves can change the rudder though they are not bad people. Are we mature as a group yet? I've seen too many young friends change from too much use and it has dampened their lives rather than enhance it. There is nothing wrong with friends sitting around in a relaxed atmosphere where they are comfortable and are in deep discussion and out pops a Dube but it is unhealthy when a group is trying to attain total absence from reality.

          My peoples shamans did not use anything when they went up into their mountains to ruminate on a problem, they did not eat during this time, they took the hard path to attain what they wanted (We had no natural plants like hemp here in Nz at the time) and the mindset was all about speed of reaction with the warriors and the shamans were about the lines of the unknown, sometimes a chief would follow the shamans walk aswel.
  • Mar 22 2013: Experience is not a logical proposition. We can talk about and interpret it, but we cannot prove experience -- we cannot say that an experience is true or false. When somebody tells us that they see a pink elephant... we can call him crazy and analyze why he might seeing a pink elephant, but to him the experience is very real... he sees a pink elephant.

    Mr. Hancock made no scientific claims in his talk. In fact, he was very objective about how what he says might come across. He also, in effect, mentioned that a clergy of 'scientific advisors' are perhaps the last people to turn to for insights into this discussion. But, it seems that this is exactly what has happened.

    I was blown away to discover that "TED’s scientific advisors" were in charge of what can, cannot, should and should not be put up for consideration. It changed my view of TED as a progression platform to one that is, well, subject to... a scientific advisory board... really?

    With this kind of censorship it feels like TED tries to tell its viewers they are naive and need to be fed only industry-standard meals of knowledge. Next, they might well have to challenge talks calling for 'compassion' or 'kindness' because scientists have yet to discover a verifiable basis for these experiences as well.

    Last I heard, scientists don't have clue what consciousness is, and even less 'reality'. They talk about it, try to interpret it... which is all Mr. Hancock is doing. A scientific advisory board... (really?)... has no right to tell him he cannot, or even worse... that we cannot hear what the has to say.

    I love and support what TED does. Otherwise, I wouldn't bother commenting on this issue.
  • Mar 21 2013: The American Taliban --that's where I was brought up-- under absolutist imperatives strictly reenforced in every sermon, Sunday School lesson, church activity, and at every prayer at every meal at home, is hard at work 24/7, preaching and teaching millions of Americans to devalue education, science, and the most dreaded liberty of all, Free Thinking. Also devalued by today's American Fundamentalist Christian Taliban where I spent 20-odd years inside, are the arts [demonized as Satanic secularism and the product of demons acting on the human mind], basic human rights, civil society, and psychological or consciousness inquiry in any form. When one realizes that the majority of seats in The House of Representatives, plus many governorships and school boards are held by public officials openly endorsing or practicing most of these anti-questioning, absolutist and religionist belief systems' principles, the importance of a TED Talks organization, at least according to its original mission, becomes increasingly crucial and cherished by so many of The Rest of Us.

    I finally found liberation and awakening via college studies and the help of cautiously, thoughtfully taken psychedelics to break through decades of extreme, reductionist, absolutist, and it must be said, totalitarian, programming. So imagine my shock when I heard about this TED Talks censorship, which seems to represent another step toward Talibanization of the American mind, and censorship of both entire fields of valuable inquiry and the thoughtful visionaries who navigate beyond established paradigms.

    As apparently many of us understood it, the wrap-around functionality of TED's mission was to eliminate from the Talks and their after-market products, both commercialization and abject chaos...rather than controversy. And after all, TED Talks has already featured Rev. Billy Graham.

    Or is it time for a new brand?
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      Gail .

      • +1
      Mar 21 2013: Time for a new brand, but how does one get such a thing going? I'll help - for free.
      • Mar 21 2013: How to get an alternative to TED going? How about a Kickstarter campaign?
        1.Set up FaceBook page with very brief, but not snarky, self-evident 3 bullet mission statement to start the fire. Naturally, some full-on mission statement can be drafted more globally and exhaustively, over other campfires at a much later date...by which time, such windy balderdash will no longer be needed.
        2.Launch Kickstarter Campaign to generate micro-funding.
        3.Subscribe to one of the new client relations management services in the cloud, integrating em, vm, texting,social media to make sure there's coordinated, ongoing follow-up and outreach to all respondents.
        4.Sign up some prominent scientists, philosophers, inventors as Friends Of, who help build brand and offer their own networks to swell the tribe list of The New TED Talks Alternative...then serve as early days presenters.
        5.Run a naming campaign on FB.
        6.Support FB naming campaign with Tweeting and major media press release.
        7.Run a Google Hangout Session, inviting...the world to co-create the Thinking Person's TED Alternative.
        8.Secure an endorsement from the ACLU, and quote it everywhere.
        9.Get a lawyer to write a great disclaimer highlighting the lovely difference between the presentation of discussion about an act and the act itself, and add a salient bit about the protection of public discourse in the US as a for- instance. Post disclaimer not-in-small-print, everywhere.
  • Mar 21 2013: Let me preface this by saying that I don't think either of the videos in question are particularly scientific in nature, they are largely philosophical and subjective, but anyway- TED's "letter to the TEDx community on TEDx and bad science" and the guidelines contained therein are, I think, dangerously dependent on the idea that the mainstream of science is the most valuable science.

    It IS important to recognise that mainstream science largely is where reliable, trustworthy, and useful science can be found. The mainstream can be thought of as the resting point where ideas go to once they are accepted and their uses are well established (and where they often remain past their use by date, it must be said). However, much of what is now well accepted - Einstein's theories; our most basic astronomical understandings; the existence and dangers of bacteria and viruses; evolution - began not in the mainstream, but in the tributaries, far out and visibly separate from the mainstream.

    Many of those who are used to the mainstream, ideologically dependent on it, or some way have a vested interest in it, are resistant to ideas in the tributaries. This has always been the case, and it only makes sense. We can only be so open minded, and it takes time and effort to maintain awareness of what is going on on the fringe so as to be able to judge fairly the worth of different things going on there. It's hard to maintain that effort if you're heavily vested in what's going in the mainstream - say if you're trying for tenure with some mainstream institution, or you're relied upon as a source of reliable, mainstream knowledge.

    This situation isn't surprising, but I think that it causes a great deal of conflict, and it holds us back. Our most progressive, pioneering individuals are alienated in this situation. I am sure that many of them simply give up, or lack the support they need to really develop their ideas.

    I think that TED's policy is likely to perpetuate this situation.
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    Mar 20 2013: For me this whole thing boils down to process.

    Back in 2009, in the spirit of radical openness, TED opened up and created the TEDx platform. As a result, they turned thousands of TED enthusiasts all over the world into TED activists. A mere four years later the conference has become a movement, impacting the lives of millions. The benefits have been self-evident for a while but potential problems are only now beginning to surface.

    But how do you maintain innovation of a scale as vast as this? Our experience at TEDxSoweto tells us that there are five important balancing acts that will determine the future success of TEDx, and TED itself.

    1. Volunteerism vs. Sustainability:
    TEDx works because good people are willing to become active participants for no apparent financial gain. As the stakes become higher their resources will be put under considerable strain.

    2. Independence vs. Accountability:
    While most TEDx organizers are fiercely independent free spirits, they are smart enough to understand that for the big idea to work they will need to allow themselves to be accountable to the broader TEDx community.

    3. Guidelines vs. Rules:
    Each TEDx takes place in it’s own unique environment. That requires a fair amount of flexibility in approach to allow for all potential variables. The guidelines and rules that TEDx uses to manage this are sometimes too loose, and other times too rigid.

    4. Accessibility vs. Exclusivity:
    TEDx has turned a very exclusive club into a more accessible one. At what point will this runaway success begin to cannibalize the exclusivity that made the original idea special in the first place?

    5. Virality vs. Control:
    Ideas want to be free. But are we happy for any idea to be free? Should some ideas be freer than others? How much control do we want to have over which ideas go viral in our name?

    Our team at TEDxSoweto grapples with these issues everyday. This debate has made their resolution more urgent.
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      Mar 21 2013: I was listening to a broadcast of a controversial issue on Voice America today. They prefaced the show by stating that "the views expressed by the host and guest of this program are not necessarily those of the network, staff and management".

      How difficult is that?
      • Mar 21 2013: this ^^
      • Mar 21 2013: This is it. TED use a disclaimer like this.
        RESTORE the videos on the YouTube channel and include them on the TED homepage as #1 commented talks.
  • Mar 20 2013: Let's be honest here.... TEDx lawyers advised it was too risky to advocate taking illegal drugs, so you banned it, cloaking said decision in this 'discussion'.

    Don't get me wrong, TEDx is a fantastic concept... but defying this type of self-censorship is definitely an idea worth spreading.
  • Mar 20 2013: Dear TED,
    you state that your mission is "spreading ideas", it looks to me that you are censuring a "worth spreading" inspiring message of peace.

    Not a long time ago if you said "the earth is spherical" you probably received a lot of criticism from the 'respected scientific community' also.

    You have the right to do what you think right, just don't be surprised when TEDs fame changes to the same of those of the big companies and governments.
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      Mar 21 2013: Yes, TED can take the videos down. No, TED doesn't have to provide adequate justification for doing so. Even if it makes TED look terrible. TED has every right to make itself look terrible.

      But TED doesn't have the right to make false statements about Sheldrake and Hancock or their work. That's called libel and it's against the law.