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The debate about Graham Hancock's talk

Please use this space to comment on the debate around Graham Hancock's TEDx talk, as described here:



Closing Statement from TED

Thanks to all who participated in this conversation on TED's decision to move Graham Hancock's talk from YouTube to TED.com. It was scheduled as a 2-week conversation, and has now closed. But the archive will remain visible here.

We'd like to respond here to some of the questions raised in the course of the discussion.

Some asked whether this was "censorship." Now, it's pretty clear that it isn't censorship, since the talk itself is literally a click away on this very site, and easily findable on Google. But it raises an interesting question about curation. Should TED play *any* curatorial role in the content it allows its TEDx organizers to promote? We believe we should. And once you accept a role for curatorial limits, you have to accept there will be times when disputes arise.

A number of questions were raised about TED's science board: How it works and why the member list isn't public. Our science board has 5 members -- all working scientists or distinguished science journalists. When we encounter a scientific talk that raises questions, they advise us on their position. I and my team here at TED make the final decisions. We keep the names of the science board private. This is a common practice for science review boards in the academic world, which preserves the objectivity of the recommendations and also protects the participants from retribution or harassment.

Finally, let me say that TED is 100% committed to open enquiry, including challenges to orthodox thinking. But we're also firm believers in appropriate skepticism, or critical thinking. Those two instincts will sometimes conflict, as they did in this case. That's why we invited this debate. The process hasn't been perfect. But it has been undertaken in passionate pursuit of these core values.

The talk, and this conversation, will remain here, and all are invited to make their own reasoned judgement.

Thanks for listening.

Chris Anderson, TED Curator

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    Mar 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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