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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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  • Apr 2 2013: "They read all the sacred texts and call themselves scholars.
    They make a thousand pilgrimages to the Hall of Science,
    and add the suffix Ph.D to their names.
    They wield their words bravely like a sword
    and imagine themselves warriors.
    In Truth, they have done nothing."
    We should give John Hoopes credit for stamina if nothing else. At times he must have felt like an antelope in the veldt being attacked by hyenas. Even if his arguments were often weak, opinionated, full of logical and even factual errors, he held up well, A bellweather, described as that ball in spray paint that stirs the paint when the can is shaken.
    As for "Ideas worth sharing"? This debate has touched into the most important matters of human existence.

    From the beginning there are those among us who have sought answers to life's great questions. As humans we've gone through the available pharmacy, experimenting with whatever's on the shelf - drumming, whirling, breath techniques, singing, symbolic ritual - and yes, an enormous variety of psychotropic substances many of which can be found right outside your door - barley, Syrian rue, mushrooms, cacti, datura, even many common grasses. There are more powerful substances than Ayahuasca in use - Verola, Yopo. Toad sweat. The road is a confusing one, the rules largely hidden. Trails may appear promising only to lead to dead ends. . .or chasms. The strength and clarity of the travelers intent seems to be the crucial factor. It's said there are teachers who know the way. We all have our favorite guru, guide, professor, shaman or priest. Hidden schools. Unfortunately the real ones are far fewer than we might like . Yet it's not all BS. As for the role of science in the search, I'll let Einstein answer that - "The intuitive mind is a sacred gift and the rational mind a faithful servant. We have created a society that honors the servant and has forgotten the gift."

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