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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 31 2013: Thanks for censoring this talk! It ignited a debate we finally need to have in the public.
    One major issue is that the people who have experienced Ayahuasca aren't always taken very seriously by the public. How do you explain water to a fish? How do you explain cosmic consciousness to a human? The human mind uses concepts to label things, but cosmic awareness doesn't work with concepts….. it just works! How do you explain something that can't be explained with concepts? In our days we need somewhat of a middle man! There are so many different kinds of altered states (some more accepted then others) and it seems to me we need another alternate state that points us to the actual and natural state of being! If someone understands this or not. With all the men made stimuli there needs to be something real or natural someone can rely upon which centers us in the present moment of our lives. We're raised to believe in this or that from the moment we are able to perceive without knowing how genuine any belief is and nobody (or let's say very few people) realizes that there is a completely different dimension which doesn't contain any belief or thought whatsoever. (Alan Watts, Adyashanti, Buddha, Dalai Lama, Eckhart Tolle, Meister Eckhart, Pema Chödrön) Each of us needs to realize that science and spirituality are researching or contemplating the same source and that there are a myriad of ways to access “it”, not just one right way. Hancock, Terrence & Dennis McKenna (Entheogens), Rick Strassman - (The spirit molecule) have researched, written and talked about DMT + so called psychedelics quite scientifically, which makes them, in my opinion, the pioneers of modern times. They've shown that plant medicines and certain native rituals can help loosen the grip of illusion on humanity if someone likes to hear this or not! 
    • Mar 31 2013: True enough Oliver.

      The travesty is that such pioneer explorers get flack from both sides, religious apologists and devotees of scientism .

      The idea that truth is directly accessible is frightening to many.
    • Apr 1 2013: I actually understand what you are trying to say. I also understand how hard it is to communicate something so subtle and ineffable through words.

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