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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: I don't know Hancock's work. I do know TED's reputation and now its perspective. After listening to this just this one of Hancock's talks, it has *nothing* to with good science or bad science. TED's suggestion - "Is this an idea worth spreading, or misinformation? Good science or bad science? What’s the evidence for either position?" - is nearly meaningless to me in this case.

    Hancock's talk crosses interdisciplinary boundaries into impassioned spirituality. I wouldn't necessarily call it science. I might call it philosophy. So, TED, when will you remove Billy Graham's talk from rotation? He might have been OK with people listening to big pharma who constantly recommend their especially damaging, especially dangerous, over-prescribed, off-schedule psychiatric drugs, or even alcohol from a daily glass of wine. I'm not.

    TED, your sponsors from their untouchable, virtual corporate states, and your anonymous scientistic board who don't have the courage of their reputations at stake have spoken. You have done their bidding. Aside from the many references to ayahuasca which seem like a polite sales talk, I'd rather put my faith in people with courage, like Hancock, to notice what's happening to the only planet capable of supporting life.

    And now, in some respects, TED is simply doing what any other big business does. It's protecting its sponsors and the party line. It doesn't make any difference that TED is a 501(c)(3). You're now acting like a corporation in which the primary mission is to perpetuate the dominant paradigm. All you have to do to find out how that's worked out for us is to look around you, and see a planet in peril from our ecocidal behaviors. Science hasn't solved what Hancock talked about, and it won't. Our values, or lack of them, are what power us.
    • Mar 22 2013: " So, TED, when will you remove Billy Graham's talk from rotation? "

      That would be a good idea.

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