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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 25 2013: Excerpt from my blog at: http://ventusetmare.tumblr.com/

    "Clearly, a lot of people are upset that their beloved TED has censored Hancock’s and Sheldrake’s talks. Some because they’re “dreamers” and they understand the importance of those ideas at a deeper level. Others because they simply oppose censorship and dislike how TED chose to act as a gatekeeper of what seems like controversial, yet interesting information. I was very disappointed too, but I’m beginning to feel VERY optimistic about the situation. I’m beginning to think that this whole thing will strongly work out in our favour (by our I mean humanity’s favour).

    Based on the extent of the debate that is going on, we can see that huge numbers of people are being exposed to these ideas for the first time. And let’s remember that a lot of these people are very intelligent, wisdom-seeking people - they are avid TEDTalk watchers after all. So this seems like Ayahuasca’s much-anticipated “big break” into mainstream society (after being so poorly depicted and made a joke of in Hollywood’s “Wanderlust”).

    In the past few years, La Medicina (the medicine) has rapidly worked its way through underground veins all the way from the Amazon to the majority of the western world. It has been introduced to mainstream culture by people like Dr. Gabor Mate, a renowneddoctor from Vancouver who made a compelling documentary about treating his substance-addicted patients with Ayahuasca. Now that I think of it, it’s interesting how CBC, a Canadian Government-owned and operated communications company, was open to featuring Mate’s documentary on a reputable scientific program called “The Nature of Things” hosted by respected Canadian academic, science broadcaster, and environmental activist David Suzuki, while TED, an organization founded on the principle of “ideas worth spreading” arbitrarily decided Ayahuasca is just not one of them."

    More at: http://ventusetmare.tumblr.com/
    • Mar 25 2013: Excellent analogies. I really enjoyed that whole blog, including the pics. Very, very good. I think Graham Hancock would approve as well. (HE's a witch!! He turned Chris Anderson into a newt! It got better!) a little Monty Python to lighten things up. Thank you for a great blog piece!
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        Mar 25 2013: Thank you so much Linda! I'm so glad you enjoyed it. I hadn't written anything in a long time... but when I read about what happened and began reading the comments here, I suddenly felt an urge of creativity that I hadn't felt in years! I just had to share my thoughts and knowledge about Mother Aya with the world. I hope many others find it useful and entertaining, especially those who are coming across the subject for the first time. Much love.

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