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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: Please spread the word to tune into the daylong Live Stream at http://TEDxWestHollywood.com on April 14. It's themed the same way White Chappel was, with its own roster of outstanding people, and is being barraged by the same attackers who went after Sheldrake and Hancock: http://whyevolutionistrue.wordpress.com/2013/03/22/oy-vey-tedx-continues-the-woo-now-with-more-self-help/. How torqued it becomes to try to draw the line between pseudo and real science, and, for that aspect of the TED process, a better criterion for a TED talk would be to appreciate anyone who can make a brilliant case about anything!
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      Mar 24 2013: I looked at the programme and speakers and was shocked. Nothing "TED lke" here just a load of self promoting lightweights pedaling their books, training schemes. etc
      Personally I dont need to hear from Marianne about her new book THE LAW OF DIVINE COMPENSATION: On Work, Money and Miracles.
      • Mar 25 2013: Fortunately, you have the capability to pick and choose which videos you'd like to watch ahead of time. Pretty neat, huh?
      • Mar 25 2013: Peter, your views are surprisingly closeminded. Do you realise that in our present state of affairs, where money drives research and forms the mainstream scientific views, there is a danger that all scientific advancement will be sponsored projects for the interest and marketing plans of large corporations? As this is inevitable for areas which require funds, at least lets be more open to ideas. No real harm can be done. If you don't want to then just don't watch the talks. Also, because you seem a bit biased, it would be good for you to check out a very well made site, skeptiko.com . It tries to bring closer the materialistc and more spiritual (or non-local/quantum mechanical) views of the cosmos.
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        Mar 25 2013: Then, Peter Martins, you and your buddies might want to walk on by without further comment, and avoid trying to protect everyone you don't know against themselves. Your protection would be anything but welcomed. I know well the work of no less than four of the "self promoting lightweights" you mention who will deliver fabulous TEDx WestHollywood talks, and they're *anything* but what you've dismissed. I'd stack their work up against anyone's anywhere in the world as the best available among anyone's perceptions and delivery of reality. They were decades ahead of TED in observing and creating new paradigms. But TED has done some larger things. Thus they need each other.

        And I don't have to be the only one to opine those things, as the TEDx WestHollywood presenters already had their work accepted, reviewed and applauded by many, including people much smarter and more compassionate than you or I. TED isn't the only organization in the world which has a corner on the market for realities.

        So, based only on your one comment, one could easily assume you've made a sweeping generalization - a hand-waving term - which has exactly nothing to do with the real substance of the works you've summarily dismissed without thoughtful investigation and review.

        Now, Peter Martins, a rhetorical question for you - meaning I don't necessarily want to see your reply: are you your comments? Are you more than your interpretation in the moment of someone whose work you know exactly nothing about? I'd say you are much more than that. Thus I'd prefer you instead act like a sensible, compassionate person who actually allows for the fact that there will be others in the universe who know more than he does about fields other than his own.

        There will be *many* of us who feel and see very similar things to what I've written for you. And we'll see if any of them show up here. But I know they exist, because I've met many of them and talked to others of them on the phone or Skype.

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