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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 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.

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