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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: 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.

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