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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: I want to thank this entire community of people, including the organizers of TED, for making these talks available and for having this debate. I found both talks very worth watching and wish that the organizers of TED would reverse the views they have taken, and restore both speakers to fully endorsed status.

    The organizers had every opportunity to review both speakers published works before their talks, and that was the time to make the decision about whether or not to sponsor both speakers. I do not believe anyone at TED is claiming that either speaker pulled a "bait and switch" move, giving the impression they would talk about one thing and then in reality talking about something else. Am I correct about that?

    So therefore, to invite both speakers to speak, and then take down their talks on the basis of what seems to me like flimsy arguments, reflects badly on the TED organizers however you look at it. At a minimum, the conference curators should admit they erred when selecting these speakers, if in fact, that is what they think, and they should explain what process they are putting into place to prevent this kind of "error" from happening again.

    Given that these were removed after the talks were published, It would be even better if the organizers of TED provided a much more thorough explanation and critique of why they took down these talks. Referring to anonymous sources gives the impression of hiding behind the TED brand.

    I suspect that the people behind these actions at TED are feeling very defensive over this issue, feeling protective of their brand, and feeling unwittingly caught in the cross hairs of a debate they in fact created.

    I have one simple suggestion to resolve the debate: Restore both videos to their fully endorsed status, and include all the detailed comments from these anonymous science advisers who expressed their concerns.
    • Mar 31 2013: Danger while I respect your right to opinion on the spekers in question I have to challange your assumption that Hanckock or Sheldrake did not qualify. The only thing that can be challenged here is the dicussions themselves. This is something that so far been unsucessfull. I find it Ironic and patheticaly tragic reality is that the reason for trying to supress them is because of the truth they expose. Peal the onion and you will find find its meristem.

      Both thier dicussions are about the freedom to seek truth. And this is why the motives behind all this supression is sinister. if it wasent they would have simply engage them in debate.
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        Mar 31 2013: I would like to respond to your comment but I do not understand it. I apparently assumed that "Hanckock or Sheldrake did not qualify". May I ask you to add more to that sentence? Did not qualify for what?
        • Mar 31 2013: Your sugestion that TED "erred when selecting these speakers" implies that Hankock and Sheldrave qualifiy because of a flawed process; if amended, future embarising exchanges can be avoided?
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        Mar 31 2013: I think you misunderstood me - perhaps my grammar was awkward. I said, "...the conference curators should admit they erred when selecting these speakers, if in fact, that is what they think..." The part I believe you are missing is the part after the comma: "if in fact, that is what they think".

        A better sentence would have been: "If the the conference curators think they erred when selecting these speakers, then they should admit they erred."

        I did not mean to assume that the TED organizers erred. The key is "If they think they erred", then they should have taken a different action.

        I hope that clarifies my position?
        • Mar 31 2013: my humble apologies I read it as posted above
    • Mar 31 2013: Good suggestions Danger Lampost.

      These talks clearly touched a receptive nerve. I think we should encourage a bit more maturity, widen our horizons and stop being disingenuous about mysticism, yoga and magick.

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