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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 19 2013: Part 1: Yes, TED is censoring Graham Hancock’s talk. TED is denying they are censoring because they do not admit that placing the talks in a separate section with criticism by a “community” rising up against those views is censorship. However, it is the censorship of apartheid-like segregation; it is just not the censorship of outright prohibition. The review posted by the official “Tedstaff” is itself as much a “one-note explanation” as it claims Hancock’s views to be. While “Tedstaff” would like us to believe that Hancock’s error is his science, I believe that TED’s real problem with Hancock is his exposing of the “unholy alliance” of psychiatric science, big pharma, and law enforcement. We are supposed to believe that the nameless “community” of TED has risen up against Hancock on the basis of science, but it is much more probable that it is the monetary backers of TED who have ties to big pharma, scientific grants, and law enforcement in the phony “war on drugs” that is what is behind the censorship of Hancock’s views. Because in fact, Hancock has not made “many misleading statements” as Tedstaff claims.

    I do criticize Hancock in some respects. In telling his tale of his personal journey he speaks of the visions of ayahuasca revealing a universal experience of “the encounter with seemingly intelligent entities which communicate with us telepathically.” Only someone who has no education in the non-materialistic science of analytical psychology founded by Carl Jung could make such a statement as to suggest that what is encountered are external entities communicating with us “telepathically.” From the perspective of psychological science, the “entities” are the archetypes of our own mind (not just “hallucinations”), and there a seemingly independent existence is because they are independent of our ego complex, not because they are independent of our mind.

    Continued in Part 2.
    • Mar 25 2013: I guess "later editions" are examples of "censorship" as well, according to the implications of your comment.

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