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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: As such, we request and urge you to re-upload the talks not only to the TEDx youtube channel, but also on the official TED.com site, including links to the discussions taking place on the TED blog. We also see this as a vital opportunity for TED to enhance their reputation as a forum for the free flow and sharing of ideas and open debate and an opportunity to win back the trust which may have been lost.

    We think the controversy over these talks is a wonderful opportunity for TED to clarify and strengthen it’s commitment to free thought, especially in the face of pressure from highly committed ideological interests from the blogosphere. Otherwise, we fear that TED will take a lot of criticism for censorship. Several of the other speakers, even if they don’t fully agree with Sheldrake’s and Hancock’s positions, are quite upset that their videos were removed. At our urging, they have been holding back from going public, waiting to see how this plays out. It would be a shame if this ends up causing negative publicity.

    We hope that you will consider this as an opportunity to become a resilient and remarkable organisation: one that has the capacity to be self-reflective, self-critical, adapt to change, evolve and grow with its communities and the challenges it faces. Most of all, that you can stay true to your values as a democratic and open platform for ideas worth spreading.

    It seems to us that enhancing Radical Openness by accepting our invitation to reinstate the talks publicly online, is an outcome that can benefit all parties involved.

    We appreciate your time to consider our message.

    With hope for a positive outcome for all

    Amrita, Stefana, Jennifer
    • Mar 22 2013: Perfectly put Amrita, Stefana and Jennifer!

      In response I would urge TED to look closely at the tone and content of your letter and compare it with that of the criticisms that sparked this controversy. I can only add, if the current paradigm isn't robust enough to handle the content of these two 18 minute talks then it isn't robust enough to be a paradigm, let alone the current one.
      • Mar 22 2013: The current paradigm has handled the content of those talks, and shown them to be false.
        • Mar 22 2013: If this were true, it might be a fair statement. It is NOT true. I have never seen ANY evidece that has convinced me that consciousness is false!
        • Mar 22 2013: I can only assume that the current paradigm you're referring to is some variant of physicalism or materialism, in which case it is not scientific -- it is a philosophy. That you fully expect the talks to be scientifically debunked by a philosophy is a pretty ironic reveal of your belief bias.
        • Mar 23 2013: The current paradigm has not shown the content of the two talks to be false, it hasn't even engaged it a proper debate but suppressed it.
      • Mar 22 2013: Aimee, nobody denies that consciousness is false.
        • Mar 23 2013: You confuse me?? I just did. And I am not alone.
    • Mar 22 2013: Thankyou!!
    • Mar 22 2013: *Bravo!*
    • Mar 23 2013: Kudos the TEDx Whitechaple team. Your letter is spot on, maybe main TED can learn from you. How if they'd let you organize a global TED on this paradigm challenging topic?

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