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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:

http://blog.ted.com/2013/03/19/the-debate-about-graham-hancocks-talk/

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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 24 2013: To simplify this debate and remove some of the clutter getting in the way of a resolution
    It is important to identify with both sides. It is clear that TED has a lot to lose (40 some
    Million dollar organization - correct me if I'm wrong) the hallucinogenic tryptamine DMT IS
    an illegal schedule 1 substance and lies at the heart of this controversial talk. For TED to
    take a stance showcasing Graham's talk it "could" reverberate negatively on its business
    model. Certainly that was the underlying reason behind the talk being removed even though
    it was touted as Pseudoscience (this is obviously just my personal opinion) the offer was made
    to debate this topic between Graham & TED's anonymous scientific advisors which by doing
    so would invite the same negative reverberation, something that arguably could hurt the entire
    movement. Now lets look at Graham's side - why would an altered state of consciousness damage
    a science movement? One could argue that some of the greatest minds got their inspiration in
    an altered state of consciousness - Einstein's miracle year, he supposedly said the ideas just came
    to him & he can only take credit for writing them down (obviously a humble man, or was he?)
    Tesla would go into deep hypnotic trances & would visualize his inventions in working detail. Rammunajan
    Came up with incredibly advanced mathematics despite almost no formal training - unheard of & only now
    Being better understood. Davinci was known to use altered states of consciousness through breathing &
    Meditation/focusing the mind. So we can see that an altered state of consciousness is perhaps the catalyst
    for profound change or breakthroughs. Haven't we also learned from Einstein who said "the definition of insanity
    Is doing the same thing over & over & expecting a different result"?
    Perhaps it's time to do something different, something that requires each of us to face our fears & depart from
    The safety of a lab? What do you say TED, is it time?

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