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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: By TED's initially proposed criteria for rejecting these controversial talks, Einstein would have been pulled from the site for many of his scientific theories merely because they challenged what was commonly accepted. It seems they had a lot of hate mail about then and the lawyers got involved and brand protection took priority over free and/or theoretical thinking.
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      • Mar 22 2013: I don't think anyone could argue with that. It wasn't my intention to suggest that the scientific merit, scope or importance of their works are comparable, but rather to illustrate that even a great mind like Einstein may have been denied... say... a report published in a distinguished journal had the same reasoning been used in relation to the academic status quo in his time.
    • Mar 22 2013: Others who come to mind are Nikola Tesla and Carl Jung.
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      Mar 22 2013: The difference here is that Einstein's peers could prove him wrong or right with empirical evidence and math. Einstein was challenged as a matter of fact. The very reason his Theory of Relativity is a household name (at least here in Nerdville) is because of a famous experiment in 1919 that proved it. It was headline news. How would we prove, or even test Hancock's assertions?

      Now if we consider his ideas from a strictly non-scientific viewpoint, well then there could be room for discourse about spirituality in human culture. I believe that's an important conversation to have actually.
      • Mar 22 2013: First identify the offending assertions (TED's attempt was unsuccessful). If you can't do that, then I'm not sure how to answer you because you appear to be begging the question.

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