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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 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."

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