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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 29 2013: Hancock's talk lacks the reference to the rigorous scientific research which would make his argument absolutely sound. So, however, do almost all TED talks. On these grounds TED has applied a double-standard in regards to the organisation's decision to distance itself from the talk. TED labelled the talk pseudo-scientific, perhaps not entirely unfairly, yet the organisation's accusation does not seem to be based on the content of the talk alone. In the context of the talk Hancock predominantly makes mere allusion to any outright claims (other than those claims which are thoroughly uncontroversial). Much of his language seems to be based around telling a narrative in order to let the audience infer what they will. This in itself could be viewed as problematic, but again, such a characteristic is not only a feature of Hancock's TED talk. Does this, once more, illustrate the TED organisation's use of double standards? The very fact that the, generally controversial, field of discourse runs against the status quo of scientific thought and research is no reason to effectively censor Hancock, yet in this case it seems to be the underlying cause of TED's application of a double standard, certainly I can see no other.
    • Mar 29 2013: I think TED has made a shameful effort to make an example of Hancock as a pseudo-scientist who is not welcomed in the community.

      The only sin he committed was to challenge people to think for themselve rather than conform to the dogmatic gate keepers of knowledge in the scientific community (TED).

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