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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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  • Stef W

    • +6
    Mar 24 2013: TED. Ideas worth stifling? A shocking display of nonsensical censorship!

    There's plenty of evidence that some hallucinogens therapeutically alter the brain and the idea that early religious/spiritual ideas might have been influenced by altered states is hardly worth banning! On the contrary, it's quite interesting, worth considering... perhaps even spreading!

    http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=do-psychedelics-expand-mind-reducing-brain-activity

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-17666589
    • Mar 25 2013: How is the movement of a video from one site to another a form of "censorship"? If presented skeptically, the idea is, indeed, interesting.
      • Stef W

        • +1
        Mar 25 2013: Because it infers that the hypothesis is not worthy enough to be where it was
      • Mar 25 2013: Censorship is impossible and TED knows it, but the approach they have taken frames it in a way that suggests that "if censorship were possible, these videos would be worthy of it."
      • Stef W

        • 0
        Mar 25 2013: taking down the video from the main site is the censorship. And the ridicule is a bit strange:

        TED ridicules Hancock about DMT users experiencing entities that 'seemingly communicate telepathically' but then does state that Graham makes no claim to the reality status of these entities. So not really that controversial.

        TED continues that Graham's view that they can teach and heal us are well outside orthodox scientific thinking. I agree they're not mainstream but what did they expect when they invited him for the talk, given his background?

        There's plenty of evidence that some of the hallucinogens can heal us of addictions as I have already pointed out. What these hallucinogenic experiences might teach us is obviously subjective - but if they have a role to play in curing drug addictions, presumably they are teaching us something about ourselves. And we do know a bit about the e.g. Native American cultures that use hallucinogens as rites of passage in ritual context. Presumably they are learning something - or don't you agree?

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