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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: Debbie, I stand by my remarks. I said I used the wrong word - these presenters were not "sleazy." It's the web, I said it, and I can't take it back. Enough said.

    My other point was not pointing fingers, just raising a possible correlation. Many TED speakers have books in the marketplace, but most know how to handle it. A breakdown occurred here, and TED is listening, and they will make adjustments. I disagree with you on one point: while there is always a risk with authors on the TED stage, it is the ones who have reviewed the guidelines, understand the TED brand, and who have rehearsed appropriately that will never face any backlash from the TED (or TEDx) community. As this is my final point on the matter, I again am sorry for turning you "sideways" on this. As a long-time TEDx organizer, where I come out on this is that I would not risk the brand by considering a talk in this genre of topics. Other TEDx organizers can handle differently, but that is how I will curate my events as long as I am an organizer. There are plenty of exciting topics to explore that are "ideas worth spreading."
    • Mar 20 2013: I had three published books when I gave my TEDx talk in 2011. I was so used to referring to my books in my previous speaking engagements that it had turned into an automatism. It took quite some rehearsing to undo the automatism, and I am glad I didn't come even close to referring to my books in my TEDx talk. It was difficult, but possible. Moreover, I find the guideline of NOT referring to one's own books entirely reasonable and legitimate. All this said, and without the intent of providing any excuse for what is simply a failure to comply with guidelines, I can sympathize with an author who lets his tongue slip here, because of the 'automatism.' I suspect this might have happened to Rupert.

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