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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 29 2013: This chart may prove helpful in formulating some TED guidelines.
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        Mar 29 2013: There was a time when the History Channel actually sought to promote intelligent interpretations of history instead of tabloid stuff about Nostradamus and the paranormal and shows such as "Ancient Aliens" and "The Bible" miniseries (of which you'll be glad to know you can catch the last episode on Sunday). There was also a time when the National Geographic brand implied cutting-edge scientific research, rather than shows such as "UFO Hunters" and "Doomsday Preppers." There was also a time, not so long ago, when TED and TEDx were associated with high qualiity discourse on the latest and most compelling ideas in technology, entertainment, and design (as if anyone still remembers the initial meaning of the acronym). The web has become filled with vast quantities of pseudoscience and pseudohistory, from enthusiasts of the film "What the Bleep Do They Know?" (and of J.Z. Knight, Ramtha, and Masaru Emoto's water crystals) to aficionados of "Zeitgeist" and "Thrive" and countless conspiracy theorists raving about Zionists, chemtrails, and mind control. Does all of this merit a stamp of approval from the TED brand? Is it the destiny of TED go the way of the History Channel, parodied in an episode of South Park? Is this the way of all popular "intellectual" aspirations? How sad.

        South Park - A History Channel Thanksgiving
    • Mar 29 2013: Yeah, but as I told you John, however much you hate the fact, psychedelics exist. This is not in doubt and your insistence that they be treated as some kind of unproven phenomenon tells us that you are so out of touch with reality that you might not even know, eg, what the word "dreamer" means.
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        Mar 29 2013: However much I hate the fact? Get real, Steve. It is you who cannot even accurately perceive the reality of what I have said and think. Talk about out of touch.

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