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Discuss the note to the TED community on the withdrawal of the TEDxWestHollywood license.

For discussion: http://blog.ted.com/2013/04/01/a-note-to-the-ted-community-on-the-withdrawal-of-the-tedxwesthollywood-license

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    Apr 4 2013: This is an important turning point for the TED community. The debate between good science and bad science is not an open and shut case. Rupert Sheldrake has a long track record and so does many people who I assume are invited to speak at TEDx events. What would be more interesting is to let the community decide i.e. by voting the videos up or down on the TEDx website. In the case where an entire event is cancelled, I expect a rigorous debate like this to take place.
    • Apr 4 2013: I agree fully Ramon. The problem being that nobody from TED will really debate the issue officially. Instead they just keep hanging these pages out there and then paying no heed to the vast majority view. Moreover, the only point made by most of those with TED badges under their name (you being a notable and refreshing exception), is that TED can decide whatever it wants to promote and that's that. Yet nobody is disagreeing with that. The issue being discussed is whether TED's decision was the right one. Yet when this is roundly rejected, nobody from TED will stand up and defend it with anything other than name-calling and patently false claims. Thus many now feel there isn't any genuine debate at all but merely a pointless blog and an already made decision/policy the real reasons for which are not on display and certainly not up for debate.
      • Apr 4 2013: TED indeed is paying heed to the vast majority view of TEDx organisers, speakers, attendees and viewers. That's why events like the west holloywood event will not go ahead under the TEDx brand.
        • Apr 4 2013: Well the vast majority you refer to hasn't been in evidence here or in the previous debates over the last few weeks.
        • Apr 4 2013: And apart from this vast majority's lack of presence on these threads, which is self-evident, wouldn't we need some survey data or something?
      • Apr 4 2013: Well some perspective. TEDx is a media organization with over 1 billion views of it's content. This conversation does not even have 50 participants. The vast majority of TEDx organizers, attendees and viewers probably doesn't even know there IS a debate and even if you were to corner them and force the issue three seconds of checking their credulities before dismissing you is likely all the consideration you will get. TEDx staff on the other hand have taken this debate seriously and have put their best and considerable effort into devining the lines between good science, bad science, pseudoscience and "ideas worth spreading" and those that are not.

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        Apr 4 2013: Steve, I'd give you a thumbs up, but TED has disabled that option for me. I wonder what other dirty tricks TED will use in it's failed bid at damage control?
        • Apr 4 2013: Yeah, I keep getting the response that I can't thumbs up someone who is sharing the same internet connection! You, eg, (and about 3 others) are supposed to be sharing the same internet connection with me.
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          Apr 4 2013: Dear Sandy and Steve,
          I also could not give thumbs up today, and got the message that I cannot rate someone sharing the same internet connection.....which, of course, is not the case. No need to get our nickers in a knot....I'm sure it's probably a technical challenge:>)
        • Apr 4 2013: Thanks Colleen, knickers duly untangled.
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        Apr 4 2013: I did send two messages to TED about it, but they haven't answered. It seems rather suspicious that I can thumbs up someone like John, but not you. Almost as if they are trying to manage who gets thumbs up in the conversations now.

        EDIT: You're right Colleen. And it seems to be fixed now. (I just wish I could respond to individual posts, like Colleen's).
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        Apr 4 2013: hehehehehe....

        He hasn't got anything nice to say about TED, so they aren't going to help him out. I'm not sure if he likes anyone or anything.
        • Apr 4 2013: I actually voted up one of John's comments. It was the one where he mistakenly thought Krisztina 'Z' Holly was having a go at TED and criticised her when, unbeknowst to him, he actually supported with what she had said.
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        Apr 4 2013: Yes, I've noticed that he does get confused. hehehehe....

        I guess between editing Wikipedia to say what he wants it to, and making sure no one reads Nature articles he doesn't agree with, John has trouble keeping track of everything.
        • Apr 5 2013: Thanks for the laugh!

          Speaking of Wikipedia, there used to be an article on "alternative history", which was deleted and now redirects to pseudoarcheology. This is what passes for neutral point of view now on Wikipedia. As always, the Talk and History pages are a must read on controversial subjects. You get to see who does most of the writing and how they think.

  • Apr 3 2013: Personally, I believe that TED has every right to withdraw speakers or events as they see fit. It's their brand and they have a right to manage it. But where things get sticky, from my point of view, is when they discredit speakers, many with impecable credentials, as a way to justify their actions. It's brand management gone wild. It seems obvious that TED has an opinion in the debate of reductive materialism. Let's face it. You don't give James Randi (a man with 0 scientific credentials and a sketchy history of bending the truth, and supporter social Darwnism) the stage while decrying the presence of Dr. Sheldrake without making a bold statement of what your brand supports. If TED wants to be a mouth piece for the James Randis and Michael Shermers of the world, fine. That is their right. But they should be ashamed by dragging others through the mud to justify their actions. Or at least do the proper thing and facilitate a public debate. Let the public decide, or at least be exposed to some differing ideas on either side. Is it censorship? I suppose it could fit the definition, but why get hung up on that word? Maybe hostile brand management is a better term. I don't know. But it seems obvious TED is having trouble owning up to their position, which is a shame. It's not the character one would expect from a venue touting out the brand of open dialogue and exciting ideas.
  • Apr 3 2013: Chris Anderson: '...We're all committed to open enquiry. But also to appropriate skepticism. Those two things can occasionally conflict. And when they do, we make our best judgement...'

    Chris, are you aware, you are censoring scientists (Targ, Dossey, Sheldrake, Schlitz, etc.) who have conducted proper long-term scientific lab research while allowing TED speakers such as James Randi, Michael Shermer, etc. talking upon subjects they are completely unqualified to comment upon since their research is unscientific and practically non-existent!
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        Apr 3 2013: Yes, it is censorship. I know you've skirted around the issue by pretending that it isn't *really* censorship, but you are editing what the public is allowed to see for all intensive purposes.

        Do you really think censorship is the way to promote TED as the place for sharing ideas? Are Jerry Coyne's ideas the only ideas worth spreading now?

        Russell Targ's research was published in Nature, one of the most mainstream forums for scientific work there is. And he was singled out by TED as somehow inappropriate. It's hard to imagine that work published in Nature back in the 1970's is far too advanced for TED.
      • Apr 3 2013: What you are doing is somewhat similar to soft censorship. Soft censorships is generally thought of as something that governments do, but in a world where NGOs and transnational corporations hold increasing power, I believe the term can be applied to actions by organisations who are taking over roles traditionally held by governments.

        Censorship in the book burning sense can not exist in a world that has an open and free internet. Either the word becomes archaic or it's meaning changes to suit the new situation.
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    Apr 2 2013: TED has taken appropriate action in this case. The language used to market the event was not compatible with TED's branding, ethos, or values. For this reason alone it was appropriate to revoke the license.

    What people keep forgetting is that TED has no obligation to lend its brand to any event, or to publish any idea at all. TED has reserved the discretion to decide what content it wishes to associate with its brand. Those who disagree with its decisions should go start their own media companies and conferences that can highlight whatever ideas they like.

    As an organizer of a major TEDx event (TEDxMidAtlantic) I appreciate the steps that TED is taking to defend its brand from fringe ideas and pseudoscience. Our team puts substantial effort into our event, and frankly, I don't want our hard work to be associated with a brand that would have sanctioned an event like the proposed TEDxWestHollywood.

    You can say that I am closed-minded or not open to radical ideas — but you'd be wrong. I love a good romp through radical ideas as much as the next person. But I also know the difference between science and fantasy, and between rationality and imagination. The fact is that fringe, unproven, propositional ideas don't belong at TED.

    If that comes as a disappointment to some, so be it. Perhaps you thought TED was something it is not. Ideally, those sufficiently let down will launch their own media company that lends its brand to practitioners of fantastical pseudoscience. Indeed: irrational conjectures worth contemplating.
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      Apr 2 2013: Thank you for stating these key points so clearly.
    • Apr 2 2013: @Dave
      The problem with what you say is that you appear privy to knowledge nobody in the scientific community has. That is, as it stands the evidence for psi is perplexing - nobody can explain it. And yet you seem to think it is imaginary, or a fantasy. Interested to hear how you arrived rationally at this conclusion. It seems to me your views are very anti-science.
      Since you agree, I would also be interested in hearing how the "truths" espoused by Dave were reveled to you.
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        Apr 2 2013: Steve — I claim no knowledge of that topic, and don't think it's the issue at hand. I think the marketing for the event was unclear, poorly written and reflected negatively on the TED brand. The fact that TED could not resolve efforts to clarify the branding with the organizers was sufficient cause to revoke the license.
        • Apr 2 2013: You do claim knowledge. You talked of things being imaginary, and fantastical pseudoscience, and irrational conjectures. How do you know these things?
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        Apr 2 2013: No, I don't claim knowledge, and please do not attempt to draw me into a discussion of parapsychology, because I won't participate in it.

        What I said was that a curatorial direction which was based on a specious and poorly written theme was likely to include presentations which would fall into those categories.
        • Apr 2 2013: Well now it's far from clear what you're actually talking about. Indeed, your initial post now seems to fall within the realm of uninformed and irrational conjecture.
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        Apr 2 2013: No. I said that the marketing materials were badly written, didn't make any sense, and were off-base for the TED brand — and sufficient cause alone for the revocation of the license.
        • Apr 2 2013: You said much much more than that. If that was all you had said I should have said nothing about it, but it wasn't so I did.
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        Apr 2 2013: Yes, Steve, I wrote more words. Those words are my opinions. However, my opinions were not necessary to justify the single sufficient reason for the revocation of the license.

        Therefore, attacking my opinions doesn't change the fact that revoking the license was justified.
        • Apr 2 2013: I didn't really attack them - I was simply perplexed by their oddity and suggested a problem which I thought required clarification. Clarification you don't want to provide it seems. Fair enough.
    • Apr 2 2013: I agree TEDx can lend it's branding to whoever it chooses and I understand TED's largest audience is people like you, but you are not TEDx's only audience, Rupert Sheldrake's video has 200,000 views and they are TEDx customers with an opinion too, not just you. And yes, people can create their own events to present their own ideas, it's already being done, one poster rather hopeful at the possibility,

      "perhaps exTED will become a badge of honour for future events rather than TEDx?

      and eventually a bigger organisation than the lack-lustre lackeys of TED?

      or maybe just BETTER THAN TED for openness, honesty and


      see, already some ideas are happening to improve on the TEDx platform - "BETTER THAN TED for openness, honesty and truth" Like it? :)
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        Apr 2 2013: I love it, Gary! I hope that happens. However, the TED brand is a registered trademark, and could not legally be used in this context.

        I suggest that whoever wants to embark on this come up with fresh and original branding, and create a brand that stands for ALL ideas, no matter their provenance, "reality-status," or focus.

        The notion that TED should not spawn competition (or should be scared of it) is patently ludicrous. Go forth and compete! Build an audience around whatever ideas YOU enjoy!
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      Apr 2 2013: Dave writes, "Ideally, those sufficiently let down will launch their own media company that lends its brand to practitioners of fantastical pseudoscience. Indeed: irrational conjectures worth contemplating."

      Of course, it will have to compete with several media enterprises that already exist, including:

      Coast-to-Coast AM

      21st Century Radio

      Unknown Country

      Gnostic Media

      Reality Sandwich

      Prison Planet

      Perhaps the individuals clamoring for "alternative" ideas on TED feel that there is already too much competition for a new brand ("CRED"?) to be viable in an already overtaxed marketplace of fringe ideas. Perhaps they want to avoid the ideas that they think are worth spreading from being tainted by association with other ideas that they themselves identify as not worth spreading. Despite the clamoring for TED to get into the realms of pseudoscience and pseudohistory (oops, "science" and "history"), the fact is that there is a plethora of other outlets for these ideas that, quite frankly, have little credibility and are just not worth spreading.
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    Apr 5 2013: This is getting ridiculous.

    If "Ideas worth spreading" exist exclusively in the scientific method, then I'm off.

    Science is the servant of the imagination - not the master. Science will just disappear up its own fundamental orifice, if it carries on like this. And I'm afraid to say, so will TED if it doesn't change its idea of what it is that's worth spreading.

    Open up, for God's sake. Sheldrake and Hancock are working hard at the cutting edge of science. Just because their work often shuns the stagnating boredom and safety of certainty, doesn't mean there's no outstanding value in it.

    One has to put up with the inconveniences of being wrong, sometimes several times, in order to arrive at a cutting-edge 'right'. Most great scientists were great because they had the courage and determination to doubt conventional 'certainties' to arrive at new hypotheses and theories.

    Dare to embrace imagination and creativity - and dare to be wrong. That's where the cutting-edge lies.
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      Apr 5 2013: *Very* funny, and true, Allan Macdougall. I'm going to use one of your phrases.
  • Apr 1 2013: I am grateful and very appreciative of your efforts to look out for TED's focus which in turn shows respect for your presenters, attendees and followers...this is specially significant for me because I am a teacher and often play your conferences for my highschool students...your neutral, informative focus works exceptionally well in class since it opens their minds to the infinite possibilities around them...Thanks and much luck, Alexandra
    • Apr 2 2013: Neutral? Opens their minds to infinite possibilities? Shows respect for your presenters?

      By removing talks of scientists with lab evidence? Specifically, why do you think these talks should have been removed?
  • Apr 7 2013: TED might as well start deciding on what is really art or whether people should carry out radical ideas because some group or other thinks that it shouldn't be done, such as make use of solar energy or teach women to be entrepreneurs because it isn't the proper behavior in their culture. I am ashamed of TED for its decision in this matter. Maybe Lister was a pseudoscientist because he thought there were germs that were killing patients who were operated on.
  • Apr 4 2013: TED has made its position clear: videos like Richard Dawkin's "Militant Atheism" contain "ideas worth spreading," while the videos of people engaged in scientific inquiry like Larry Dossey and Rupert Sheldrake do not.

    It's become clear also that TED doesn't have a good sense of fair play or interest in discussion. Anonymous members of its science board get to veto any video that comes along without listing specific criticisms or coming forward to identify themselves and debate.

    So this is a platform for dogmatic materialism, mechanistic medicine, and militant atheism, but not scientific inquiry.

    That is fine with me. It is a free country, and there is plenty of room for militant atheists, dogmatic materialists, and others who like to blur the line between myth and science.
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    Apr 3 2013: There are several issues that get jumbled in these conversations. TED can sanction whatever it wants, BUT to yank my event, with no warning, a little more than two weeks before it was to go, is wrong from all perspectives. We have no money from TED, although when this stuck pig squealed there was talk about reimbursing “sunk costs” – i.e. money we’ve already expended. We’re told the “policy” is no money that would allow the event to proceed. So, my pocket or no event. And TED has ceased communicating about financial reimbursement. We were sponsored, selling tickets, and ready to roll when we lost sponsorship, had to refund ticket money to a TEDx event, and must take money out of our pockets to deliver to what becomes a questionably-sized live stream audience without TED’s promotional help.

    TED could have avoided ALL of the trouble by following its own stated practices. A mentor is supposed to come with the territory – what the 160 page manual says will be available. As we were diligent in following what was clear in the manual, we asked – begged – for someone to help us. All sorts of things come up that the manual doesn’t account for, and our job would have been made easier and more efficient with a TED hand to hold that could have steered us off any wrong course we were perceived to be on. Our emails to people in our area, who seem to show up as helpful in the vague ethers that float around, haven’t even been returned, and there was no TED help to find someone. We were on our own to conceive our program, and almost all questions we tried to run by TED weren't answered. So, look what happened. I’m not saying anything about what we, on our own, came up with – about how first-rate our program is – but let’s get TED’s culpability on the table. This dialogue could have been avoided had TED minded its own store, which also would have helped us in this monumental volunteer project we took on.
    • Apr 3 2013: Just to play devil's advocate Suzanne,you may get a comment akin to this - you say "our job would have been made easier and more efficient with a TED hand to hold that could have steered us off any wrong course," and yet TED says they held talks with you from December 2012. TED is a non-profit organization, they have to run a tight ship, surely TED's decisions on answering, (what sounds like numerous from you), emails are a matter of TEDx, either formally or imformally, ranking it's importance for action and dealing with it accordingly. What sort of emails were you sending and how many did you send!? You sound needy, can't you make an executive decision? because surely TED did answer the IMPORTANT questions, the ones that may affect their choice on their invovlement with the West Hollywood event.
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        Apr 4 2013: I'm just sayin'. Some good steers for TED here. A mentor from day one should be essential. The number one thing that would improve everything the most. Newbies are adrift in a sea of requirements. To get what TED wants it's elemental there needs to be better assistance. What TED was for us was speed-bumps on our path,

        Do you want to stick with me sounding needy? Doesn't sound nice. Nor does your certainty about what you don't know.
        • Apr 4 2013: No,I do support you, just a trial run for you in science debating
      • Apr 4 2013: Here's what I don't understand. Maybe I missed it, but if TED has been holding talks with Suzanne and West Hollywood since 12/12, how did they not know they needed to pull the plug until late March? And why only since 12/12, if this has been under development for nearly a year.

        It just seems like this decision came awfully late in the game and is suspiciously timed, given what immediately preceded it.
    • Apr 4 2013: This debacle is of your own making, and could have been avoided by you not trying to use the TED brand to promote pseudoscience.
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        Apr 4 2013: Peer-reviewed articles in journals like Nature are not "pseudo-science".
      • Apr 4 2013: Nonsense. TED is about Ideas worth spreading. Let those who have ears to hear, hear; and then decide what is "pseudoscience". All new realities are ridiculed until they are found to be self evident.
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      • Apr 4 2013: Again your logical fallacy is, these discussions have generated record interest.

        Why ignore the subject if its clearly such an important one? Or are you determined not to look at any perspective but your own?
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    Apr 2 2013: Dave's point below sums up my feelings. But one point worth adding:

    Although I'm sure Larry Dossey and Rupert Sheldrake relish in playing victim here (as evidenced by Larry's post below) because they will get more attention to their work, speakers were not "singled out" here. It was the overall theme and approach of TEDxWestHollywood that drew concern, and TED did not simply make an immediate decision - they consulted with the organizer and could not find a mutually agreeable path forward. The event will still go on under a different branding, and nobody's work is being censored.

    As Dave said, TED is under no obligation to license its brand out, and if it has concerns about an event's program, it very much should discuss with the organizer and revoke the license if necessary. For the long-term good of the TEDx community and ensuring some level of quality in an open system, I'm really pleased with TED's approach here. Moreover, they were transparent about the process and reasoning behind the decision.

    Kudos to Lara Stein and the TED team for standing up for the rest of the TEDx community and making a tough decision.
    • Apr 2 2013: Nate Mook says: Although I'm sure Larry Dossey and Rupert Sheldrake relish in playing victim here (as evidenced by Larry's post below)"

      What? Larry's playing victim? Could you explain the evidence you're presenting?

      "perhaps exTED will become a badge of honour for future events rather than TEDx?

      and eventually a bigger organisation than the lack-lustre lackeys of TED?

      or maybe just BETTER THAN TED for openness, honesty and
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        Apr 2 2013: I was specifically referring to this comment from Larry, which yes, claims that TED is attacking him personally:

        "I can add my name to those of Rupert Sheldrake and Graham Hancock as speakers who find themselves in TEDx’s crosshairs."
    • Apr 2 2013: Wow Nate, saying that really screams victim. An unfortunate use of language maybe, but hardly screaming victim. Anyways I reread his post, I see now now it is full of vitriol and hard feelings end to end (sarcasm).
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    Apr 1 2013: Thank you, Lara, for taking this difficult step to protect the integrity of TED and TEDx!

    In doing so, you are defending not only an important brand, but the work of thousands of TEDx organizers around the world. We put our hearts and souls into this movement and feel partial ownership of it. It's the values of TEDx, upheld by important decisions like these, that makes it all worthwhile.

    With much appreciation,
    • Apr 2 2013: Hearts and souls? Surely you mean biological brains with no souls, for all TED have done is to listen to political pressure groups who are opposing evidence for phenomena that doesn't neatly fit their world view.
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    Apr 1 2013: I normally don't weigh in on these issues as I trust the TEDx team to make the appropriate decision. However, I want to commend Lara and her team for acting responsibly and removing the license. As an educator, I use TED videos almost daily in my classroom; my students have come to expect quality, authenticity and interesting views without any commercial aspect. As a TEDx organizer, I have made clear to my presenters that I will not allow any of the TEDx rules to be violated and ask to see their presentations, including visuals, ahead of time. While it is nice to want to have a specific theme at a TEDx, the reality is that we have signed a license willingly with full knowledge of what is in the agreement. As with any legal agreement, TEDx has every right to hold us to the terms of that agreement. It bothers me when commentators argue this is censorship as it is not - like any branded organization TED has a responsiblity to its viewers/users to uphold the brand and as organizers we have the same.
    • Apr 2 2013: As an educator, are you educated on the actual scientific experimental lab research of those TED has decided to remove without valid reason?

      If this is all about branding and nothing to do with experimental evidence (which Targ, Sheldrake, Schlitz and others being censored have) then TED is merely adopting a prejudiced branding.
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    • Apr 5 2013: Thanks Debbie, I couldn't agree more
    • Apr 5 2013: "Among other things, the language must not be spiritual. This is a powerful form of censorship."

      It's a powerful form of censorship and would eliminate some of the greatest minds in the history of science. Einstein? Gone. As Sheldrake points out, he would also not have qualified for TED because of his lack of scholarly credentials when he did some of his greatest work.

      Albert Einstein ~ "The most beautiful and most profound experience is the sensation of the mystical. It is the sower of all true science. He to whom this emotion is a stranger, who can no longer wonder and stand rapt in awe, is as good as dead. To know that what is impenetrable to us really exists, manifesting itself as the highest wisdom and the most radiant beauty which our dull faculties can comprehend only in their primitive forms - this knowledge, this feeling is at the center of true religiousness."
  • Apr 4 2013: I have never heard of Sheldrake nor Hancock before. Never heard of most the TED and TEDx speakers either before i heard of them. I like ideas though, especially when they can help us push our personal and collective understanding of who we are and what surrounds us. Does materialism and spiritualism are so exclusive that one has to reject the other to embrace one fully? The one who can say that god does not exist and science can and should explain everything is a fool. The one who says that god does exist and he alone is the maker of all things is a fool. But why bother debating? What is the risk of opening up to unconventional scientific ideas? How one defines progress? Where does it start?
    Not long ago questioning our beliefs in the irrefutability of the effectiveness of antibiotics and the inability of microbes to adapt to environmental threats and affirming that these will result in what we know now would have been considered pseudo-science. Perhaps allowing to question our beliefs and foundations of such system of beliefs should be allowed more often, and TED has been that vehicle for a long time, hasn't it?
    Here is a good example (I think): microbes do communicate with one another. No, they react chemically to change. Well, they do, but taken outside our body and individually, this phenomena cannot be replicated. The human microbiome contributes some 8 million unique protein-coding genes or 360 times more bacterial genes than human genes. But if you suppress (in an unhealthy individual) say 20% of the 10,000 different microorganisms that make our body (note that we use to say inhabit), they will only contribute to 4 million pcgs. An old Indian from the Amazon would have told you that. And perhaps the great vine would have taught him that. What's wrong with that?
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    Apr 2 2013: What strikes me as somewhere between painfully ironic and a bit funny about much of this conversation is that we're only having this conversation because TED has built a strong media brand around making highly selective choices of speakers and for their events -- and now this is suddenly the trigger for complaints. Kindly remember, those often difficult curatorial choices are what has driven TED talks into the kind of well-known media that some of us are now squabbling over. If TED and TEDx were known as having the standards of the revoked TEDx event for speakers, it would never have achieved the widespread audience that it now has. Does everyone agree with TED and TEDx's choices? No. Should they stop making tough curatorial decisions and stop being highly selective? No. Will TEDx and TED learn lessons from this so they can more clearly identify and work through curatorial problems better going forward? I do expect so.

    As Lara Stein's letter put it "we made the curatorial judgment that the program was not appropriate for TEDx." She went on to offer well-wishes to the team with their event. I add my well wishes to hers.
    • Apr 2 2013: Well how do you imagine the curatorial decision to have gone? And there was concern over speakers. I would love to know what they were. Did you know it is TEDxers who want the westhollywood event to go ahead. 130,000 youtube views (in what? less than two weeks?)for the Rupert Sheldrake talk before it was taken down (and now over 200,000 apparently). Those 130,000 are TEDxer's mate, who would have LOVED to have seen Russell Targ at a tedxwesthollywood, TEDxers, so what does THAT say about what TEDx's media brand is or should be?
    • Apr 2 2013: TED can't maintain it's prestige by maintaining the same curatorial parameters it always has. Times change, people become interested in different things, and different areas of knowledge progress at different rates.
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        Apr 3 2013: Lewis, I agree with your point that curatorial parameters both need to evolve, and in my experience they do. The change in theme from year to year is one obvious example of this.
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      Apr 2 2013: Cancelling an event at the eleventh hour, after a year of planning, is not a curatorial choice that fits a standard of appropriate procedure, or even, as we are advised, is within TED's legal rights as a public corporation. What concern TED expressed over our program never went along with a threat of withdrawal, with the potential consequence only being that talks TED didn't like wouldn't go up on its YouTube channel. Silly us, just sailing along, sure TED would like all our talks. Look at our outstanding speakers: http://www.tedxwesthollywood.com/speakers-3/speakers/. And watch our Live Stream on April 14: https://new.livestream.com/extedwesthollywood
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        Apr 3 2013: Suzanne, I believe TEDx Director Lara Stein's letter indicated you had been corresponding since December, and you might have had more flexibility earlier on, though I can see your change in plans has seemed very abrupt and I sympathize. There are countless events that are very successful without any support from TED, and I know of cases where people have simply chosen to move on to a new format than TEDx out of a desire for more freedom to include questions and answers, or longer interpretive sessions that run an our or more, or to have the host provide extended and improvised interviews, or to meld their TEDx into an unconference, all of which hold fascinating potential but are not possible within the TEDx guidelines.
        • Apr 3 2013: Phil - As this has unfolded, it seems clear to me that the withdrawal of West Hollywood was a falling domino coming after the Sheldrake/Hancock video debacle. After banning Sheldrake and Hancock, TED could hardly allow West Hollywood to go forward. If Ted had taken Coyne and Meyer's criticism from whence it came, none of the subsequent ill-considered actions would have followed.
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          Apr 3 2013: Agreed about ability to be out from TED;s restrictive yoke, but TED gets us sponsorship and eyeballs. We have two weeks with nothing to cover costs and no donated venue.
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    Apr 6 2013: [Elisabeth Sahtouris can't get signed on and asked ime to post this for her.]

    TED Guidelines: “Your event must maintain the spirit of TED itself: multidisciplinary, focused on the power of ideas to change attitudes, lives and ultimately, the world.”

    In this spirit I was invited to give two TEDx talks, in Hamburg www.youtube.com/watch?v=n1mvI2hEzlA and in Marrakesh www.youtube.com/watch?v=iSNbtXEop0Q
    In both cases I identified myself as a scientist and quickly proceeded to challenge the very foundations of western science. The very things about which I spoke—crucial to deciding just what is, and what is not, scientific—now seem to be overlooked by the TED team making such decisions. Here they are:

    Science necessarily rests on unprovable foundational axioms or assumptions about the universe and how it can be studied. Without such assumptions it is impossible to make theories about how the universe works. Try making a theory without having any idea what you are theorizing about! Scientific assumptions are a set of statements that appear completely obvious to those making them, and, believe me, they are very culture-bound, as I will show.

    Unfortunately, scientists rarely refer to these assumptions, although they identify science along with the rigorous methodology demanded to qualify as science. We distinguish religion and science as the former gets its information through revelation and the latter through research. We might say, however, that both have a Creation Story, which in science is precisely its fundamental assumptions about the nature of its universe.

    It is increasingly evident in the scientific literature and through many public debates that scientists no longer all adhere to the same assumptions (story) and many believe the evident differences indicate a historic paradigm shift of the kind Thomas Kuhn’s classic The Structure of Scientific Revolutions described. I know no scientist who rejects Kuhn’s analysis of ...continued in next post
    • Apr 7 2013: Interesting talk - I note she talks of many scientists thinking of the universe as being alive (an organism) - something that TED specifically objected to in their announcement of cancellation of license. Looks like those talks will have to go into the naughty corner with all the others.
  • Apr 3 2013: in a related topic...

    watch this TEDx talk by Alex Grey because it might get pulled by TED too if they apply their filter consistently. just sayin'.

    "In the TEDx Talk embedded above, visionary artist Alex Grey gives a touching and humorous account of his journey as an artist, his metamorphosis from depressed loner to spiritually fulfilled family man, and the power of creativity, spirituality, and art in transforming our world through the transformation of human consciousness. It is inspiring and thought-provoking. And, if the recent TED debacle involving talks by Graham Hancock and Rupert Sheldrake are anything to go by, it will soon be removed from YouTube by TED, due to Alex discussing 'pseudoscientific' ideas such as psychic energies, global consciousness and the power of prayer, as well as 'promoting' the use of illicit drugs such as LSD and ayahuasca."

    ~ http://www.dailygrail.com/Humanity-Plus/2013/4/We-Need-Talk-About-TEDx
    • Apr 3 2013: "metamorphosis from depressed loner to spiritually fulfilled family man" Is SCIENCE having something called a spiritual transformation?
    • Apr 3 2013: I spent a few days with Alex a few years back.. amazing guy. Great art too.
  • Apr 3 2013: I see that Mr. Hoopes has finally completely lost it and is now comparing the proliferation of unorthodox beliefs to Nazi Germany, the solution to which is somehow interfering with the free marketplace of ideas?! The little people can't be permitted to think for themselves because that, what, invites tyranny? The public must be protected from itself for fear of the next authoritarian regime? Am I understanding this correctly?

    Well. My irony meter just caught fire. I'm gonna need a lot more coffee to make it through this thread.
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      Apr 3 2013: "the solution to which is somehow interfering with the free marketplace of ideas?!"

      Yet another utterly bizarre interpretation. Interfering with TED (as has been proposed by so many here) is actually interfering with the free marketplace of ideas. I have not suggested interfering with the free marketplace of ideas at all.

      "Am I understanding this correctly?"

      Absolutely not. That's a significant problem.
      • Apr 3 2013: John, why not just state clearly what relevance the holocaust has here. What, eg, is the analogous situation in Nazi Germany that is represented by TED's decision to cancel the license? What are the causal links here, if any, that you feel are analogous to the causal links in Germany? Nobody can understand the particular mapping between the two situations and every attempt we make you say is wildly wrong. So, how, specifically, are you mapping the events in Germany to the events here?
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          Apr 3 2013: Thanks for asking. Unfortunately, I don't have time to respond at length right now. I won't go into the extensive history of Nazi support of pseudoscience from the Studiengruppe für germanisches Altertum (Thule Society) to the Forschungs- und Lehrgemeinschaft das Ahnenerbe e.V. (Ahnenherbe) to the theories of Aryan superiority and Nazi eugenics that became the underpinnings of the ideology of the Third Reich. People can Google that stuff on their own. The bottom line is that, in the context of the Nazi's rise to power--which resulted in the Holocaust--a whole host of strange and often dangerous theories moved from the fringe to the mainstream, where they were openly and enthusiastically supported by a significant enough proportion of the German people to become accepted doctrines. In the process, academics and others who protested lost their jobs and often their lives. As with Stalin's purges, it's the intellectuals who--even in small minorities--voice dissent about popular opinion who are often the first to be shipped off to the concentration camps and gulags. If there's anything to be learned from history, it's that the spread of wrongheaded ideas (including pseudohistory and pseudoscience) is a legitimate concern.

          Since I don't have time, I'd like to encourage you to read this brief summary of the story of Hanns Hoerbiger's WEL, which explains how a fringe theory moved from the fringe to the mainstream (even after the death of its proponent).

          The Story of Hanns Hoerbiger's Cosmic Ice Theory

          I believe there are actually ideas that are not worth spreading and there are lessons to be learned from what can happen when those ideas become tools in the hands of ideologues and even thugs (intellectual and otherwise).

          History has demonstrated over and over and over again that the general public often makes bad decisions and that knowledge is not something that advances on the basis of popular opinion.
        • Apr 3 2013: Precisely.

          Pithy. Well-stated. I'm out of thumbs, so I had to write it out.
        • Apr 3 2013: At least we know that Godwin's law is a predictable and reliable hypothesis.
      • Apr 3 2013: Mr. Hoopes, I awakened this morning to a stream of comments from you so hyperbolic and deranged I nearly choked on my coffee. I'm gladdened to hear that you are not, in fact, calling for the censorship of ideas... at least not anywhere but on TED.

        And I have noticed that you ratcheted down that hyperbole, about which I'm also relieved.

        Still, seeing this morning that you were still on about eugenics and implying that "people making up their own minds" leads to things like genocide was... concerning. http://www.ted.com/conversations/17348/discuss_the_note_to_the_ted_co.html?c=641676

        Of course reading that opposing materialism leads to things like the Protocols... wow! Now that is some special hyperbole. (You also mischaracterized criticism of the theory as "demonizing" it, but that's just... so... you. And it leads to, you guessed it, hyperbole.) http://www.ted.com/conversations/17348/discuss_the_note_to_the_ted_co.html?c=641821

        But it does give me a wonderful opportunity to play more of that association fallacy game you've popularized.

        John Hoopes: Targeting "materialsim" lead to the Protocols which laid at the heart of the ideology that resulted in the Holocaust. People making up their own minds leads to things like Nazi eugenics and genocide

        Ben Stein: Evolution is a dangerous theory because it's the basis for Nazi Eugenics.

        Pretty solid comparison between you and Mr. Stein I think.

        This, however, remains VERY concerning:

        Hoopes: I happen to think that the world could benefit from superior pedagogy. I must be an idealist as well as an elitist.
        Grobbelaar: Didn't Hitler also think that?
        Hoopes: Yes, I suppose so. Does that make it bad, or do the details of the pedagogy matter as well?

        Ideologues scare me because they think they're right and know what's best for other people, rather than believing that people can be presented with a range of ideas and decide.

        Benevolent dictatorship, benevolent pedagogy... It all creeps me out
        • Apr 3 2013: Religion will not advance without the cooperation with science and its purification from outgrown traditional imagery, or "literal truth of the bible". Parapsychology will not advance without the cooperation with sceptics, to protect it against fraud, experimentor bias and so on. I do believe in God (in some sense) and the reality of (at least some) psychic phenomena. This does not entitle me to accept any (for me, so far) outlandish claims, like there are alien bases underground and similar. I prefer to make up my own mind, listen to many views and learn from both sides of the camp, also experiment with these phenomena myself, by doing psi experiments, meditating, training Qigong and other practices. I was, for example, rather sceptical about the effectiveness of homeopathy but I gave it a chance and it now has helped me in so many cases against throat infection (and at surprising - better than antibiotics - timescales) it's beyond reasonable doubt, personally.

          This is also the power of philosophy, it does not have to appeal to authority or external soures, but refers to first-hand inner experiences and rational investigation in matters.
      • Apr 3 2013: "The bottom line is that, in the context of the Nazi's rise to power--which resulted in the Holocaust--a whole host of strange and often dangerous theories moved from the fringe to the mainstream, where they were openly and enthusiastically supported by a significant enough proportion of the German people to become accepted doctrines."

        So you are saying, as I initially suggested, that belief in fringe theories leads to holocausts. Thus, if Targ and Dossey speak, and the public believe them, the bodies will surely pile up. yes, yes, it's an interesting thesis, but not one I am able to subscribe to.
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          Apr 3 2013: "So you are saying, as I initially suggested, that belief in fringe theories leads to holocausts."

          Well, no. That would be what Time Walker calls hyperbole. It's another example of your tendency to commit an either/or (a.k.a. false dilemma) fallacy and to entertain probabilities of only 1 or 0.

          False dilemma

          Belief in *some* fringe theories led to the Holocaust. (Actually, at the time, theories at the basis of antisemitism were quite mainstream.)

          Fortunately for all of us, many fringe theories are relatively benign.
        • Apr 3 2013: I get his argument, but this equally can happen with ideas currenctly acceptable for discussion and theoretical and experimental investigation, both to the scientific mainstream and TED, like that the universe is nothing but a giant computer and that we are literally living inside a computer simulation, or that we are "nothing but chemical scum on a medium-sized planet" (quoting Stephen Hawking), that could potentially lead to gross abuses, gross neglection of the inherent valueness of life. Who cares about life on earth when the universe is effectively dead, anyway? Providing for an easy cop out. Or look at the "artificial life" camp and those claims for providing immortality (for the lucky few, I guess) by technical means soon.

          Or those that like to give up on saving the environmental or social problems here and leave earth, favoring space migration instead.

          Frank Tippler comes to mind, I watched his talk on TED, he proclaims giving scientific proof for the future "singularity", that will all save us as software simulations in some giant computer that will inevitably be developed .. for me this is outlook into a far more dangerous pseudo-religion, which could potentially lead to many people sacrifying their lifes/souls in equating themselves with some computer simulation.

          On the other hand, Rupert Sheldrake with his ideas is giving me much hope for possible reconcilation between these two essential evolutionary forces in human history, science and religion. Maybe Einstein was right in stating that "science without religion is lame", but this can also describe a double-edged sword.

          To give some provoking idea myself:

          At least Hitler had *some* values. As he didn't like the idea of an all-destructive atomic bomb, because he didn't want to destroy the world, but to rule it (and euthanise away all "unworthy life").

          While there is no place for human values in radical materialism. Here the universe is running blind, with no purpose, no good or bad whatsoever.
      • Apr 3 2013: So what was the purpose of bringing up the holocaust? What possible relevance can it have to the situation here? And I haven't offered a false dilemma because I haven't offered an either or. What is your point?
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          Apr 3 2013: Sorry, Steve. I give up. I'm just too dense to pursue this with you any further.
      • Apr 3 2013: I know, but why not just tell us what the holocaust has to do with anything? I ask because it seems to me that you just brought it up as an offensive slur on anything/one you don't agree with by trying to associate your opponents' (position) with those hideous events in some way.

        So, I ask you again: How does the holocaust map onto the situation here? I have no interest in another of your lengthy posts solely about Nazi Germany which avoids any attempt at mapping the events there to the events here. Moreover, if you will not comply then I would ask you to seek out all the posts where you mention the holocaust and delete them because such an associations without justification is outrageous.
        • Apr 3 2013: Godwin's law, association fallacy, argumentum ad misericordiam (yet another logical fallacy)... take your pick. That and more apply. I'd hate to see them deleted though. I have a weakness for dark comedy.
  • Apr 3 2013: TED gives incredible freedom to TEDx licensees. In return, we agree to some rules to maintain the value of the brand. So I have been a little surprised by the exaggerated use of the word "censorship" as it has been casually tossed around. Get real – TED is not the government. TEDx is a platform for sharing and publishing ideas worth spreading. A publisher has the right to set basic editorial policy. That is not censorship, it is called having standards. This is especially important for recent TEDx licensees, as it is the reputation of the brand that enables us to attract excellent speakers without paying them. The same goes for creating interest among the public to become participants. It is likewise instrumental in drawing amazing and dedicated volunteers to staff our teams and events. Brand integrity is a precious and invaluable asset for the entire TEDx community. It would be a detrimental for us if TED and TEDx had no standards, and that is what this is really all about.

    We organizers are trying hard to become better curators and raise our standards, not lower them. When TEDx organizers talk with and support each other, these kinds of problems can be worked out or avoided entirely. It is only when we refuse to listen to each other that we ultimately fail. Those who don't agree with the standards are always free to develop their own "anything goes is worth spreading" platform.

    I appreciate that the TED staff cares not only about the TED/TEDx brands, but also about what we volunteers have helped build.
    • Apr 3 2013: I don't think that anyone is suggesting that TED completely drop its standards. TED would come to be something more like Youtube if that were the case.

      The debate is over the nature of the standards, not the level of them.
    • Apr 3 2013: Jay the question is not whether TED should have standards, irrespective of what they are it must apply them equally. Furthermore those standards should reflect its motto "Ideas worth Sharing". The interest and support for subject material is now beyond doubt as confirmed by the amount of outrage being expressed at TED's DOUBLE STANDARDS.
    • Apr 3 2013: Jay - The word 'censorship' was accurately applied to the removal of the Sheldrake and Hancock videos from the YouTube channel. I have not seen it mentioned in response to the withdrawal of the West Hollywood license.

      These two are connected because if TED had not created the firestorm over the videos, the West Hollywood event would have occurred as planned.

      If TED's actions regarding West Hollywood are based on applying or raising standards, the organization has done a woefully poor job of presenting that to the public, One the hand, TED produced a set of written standards that apply while simultaneously claiming that those standards do not apply. To be specific, the written standards that TED says justify its action refer to individual speakers, nothing about curatorial direction. Then, TED says the individual speakers are all qualified, but the grouping of them in a single program is the problem. The Catch-22 is: "Larry Dossey is well qualified and approved to speak at a TEDx event, but if he does, TED will withdraw support for the entire event."

      Watching the value of the TED brand crumble before your eyes cannot be a pleasant sight. Through a series of heavy-handed missteps, the viewing public is coming to read "Ideas Worth Spreading" as "Ideas Worth Suppressing."
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        Apr 3 2013: TED has the established and repeatedly discussed ability (and the editorial freedom) to choose which talks appear on the TED website, and which of it's licensed events fulfill it's expressed guidelines. That is absolutely not censorship. As has also been repeatedly said by a number of people, the event's license was revoked not on the basis of any speaker but on "the overall curatorial direction of the program."
        • Apr 3 2013: It becomes censorship when the stated reasons for removing the videos are crossed out and not replaced with anything. http://blog.ted.com/2013/03/14/open-for-discussion-graham-hancock-and-rupert-sheldrake/.

          "Overall curatorial direction of the program" is not an established criteria. The criteria that the organizers were given were:

          "We disallow speakers who use the language of science to claim they have proven the truth of ideas that are speculative and which have failed to gain significant scientific acceptance."

          It is glaringly obvious that the firestorm created by removing the Sheldrake and Hancock videos on flimsy grounds, raised the question, "What about Targ? What about Dossey?" TED management recognized the hypocrisy of pulling down the videos while allowing the West Hollywood event to proceed. Instead of admitting a mistake, TED compounded it by inventing a new criteria on the spot. They used this previously non-existent "overall curatorial direction" excuse to do further damage the organization's reputation.
        • Apr 3 2013: Of course it's censorship.

          "Standards and Practices is the term most American networks use for what many, especially in the creative community, refer to as the 'network censors.' Standards and Practices Departments (known as Program Practices at CBS) are maintained at each of the broadcast and many of the cable networks." ~ http://www.museum.tv/eotvsection.php?entrycode=standardsand

          You really don't see the similarity?
    • Apr 3 2013: "So I have been a little surprised by the exaggerated use of the word "censorship" as it has been casually tossed around. Get real – TED is not the government."

      Mr. Klaphake, I think you're confused as to the meaning of the word "censorship." You appear to be conflating censorship with First Amendment, free speech rights. Censorship is not the exclusive domain of the government. Companies such as, say, television networks employ censors. It's the job of a censor to ensure that content complies with network "policy" and "standards" just as you claim TED is doing.

      "A publisher has the right to set basic editorial policy. That is not censorship, it is called having standards."

      Except that, yeah, it is. Censors disallow certain content. That's their job. Censors for a particular network don't prevent people from expressing that content elsewhere. They disallow that content from being expressed under their auspices.

      "Standards and Practices is the term most American networks use for what many, especially in the creative community, refer to as the 'network censors.' Standards and Practices Departments (known as Program Practices at CBS) are maintained at each of the broadcast and many of the cable networks." ~ http://www.museum.tv/eotvsection.php?entrycode=standardsand

      Now tell me again how this isn't censorship.
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    Apr 1 2013: Lara good to see this hard decision taken in such a professional way. Keep up the good work!
    • Apr 2 2013: Can you say specifically what is professional or 'good work' about this discriminatory decision?

      I see your profile describes yourself as an atheist. Is this the reason? These researchers are doing science, not religion. Any perceived overlap by those unfamiliar with their research doesn't not make it religion.

      An atheist is a person who disbelieves in models of God that no one else can agree the meaning upon. Whatever God means, the atheist disbelieves it, unless it all begins with an undefined accident. It may, therefore, be wiser to adopt the term 'agnostic', the term 'atheist' is a statement of faith.
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        Apr 2 2013: Hola Katie,

        TED is about "Ideas worth spreading". It is up to the TED organization to determine which ideas they consider worthy of being spread through the various TED channels, including website, YouTube channel, TEDx events, etc.

        The WestHollywood group is free to pursue their event in the same venue, on the same date, with the same content, and the same speakers. But TEDx is exercising their right to disassociate their brand from said event.

        My religious convictions, or lack thereof, are unrelated to this matter. I think it is about a group trying to bring credibility to their ideas by using the TEDx brand, and the TEDx organization being unwilling to let them do so.

        Well done Lara & team!



        PS: Agnostic vs. Atheist. Agnostic is someone who doesn't know whether God (in its various forms) exists or not. An Atheist thinks God does not exist. Although we can´t be 100% sure (just like we can't be 100% of the Law of Gravity) I think that the odds of God existing are so small that calling myself an Agnostic is disingenuous and inaccurate. Although imperfect, the Atheist label (as much as I dislike labels) better represents my current thinking.
  • Apr 1 2013: Well, I know this wasn't an easy decision (although looking that description it wouldn't have been a hard one for me). I appreciate the effort that TED puts into protecting their brand in this manner as it also protects mine. I'm blessed to live in an area that boasts a large number of technology and research universities, and being able to recruit speakers from them is critical to the success of TEDxRochester. If too much woo gets injected into TEDx, it dilutes all of us.
    • Apr 2 2013: Are you aware the derogartory term 'woo' is an insult? The term emerged in the 1980s from political atheist/materialist groups to insult others, by using it your are aligning yourself with such groups.

      Do you really wish to insult physicist Russell Targ, biologist Rupert Shekdrake, social scientist Marilyn Schiltz, etc. who are trained scientists who have conducted scientific studies under the strictest of controls?

      When you say it 'wouldn't have been a hard one for me', what is this judgment actually based upon? Are you familiar with their decades of lab research? And if so, can you specifically say why their opinions based upon lab evidence should be labelled 'woo'
      • Comment deleted

        • Apr 2 2013: Stephen Fry is a member of political athiest materialist pressure groups such as being on the board of the UK 'skeptic magazine' . He has done no scientific research on such topics.

          Can you provide me with non-political sources please.
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        Apr 2 2013: the person does not count, just included it to give credit. it was posted as my opinion, expressed using borrowed words. if you are offended, i could not care less. a statement is either true or not. if you are offended by the truth, that is your problem. if the statement is wrong, it is the major problem, not that you are hurt.
        • Apr 2 2013: Most people, do care about whether they offend another person. Since it can easily be avoided, I'll leave it as an exercise for you to work out, and has something to do with distinguishing a person from their ideas.

          "a statement is either true or not", is false. Again I'll leave it as an exercise in reasoning to find examples.
      • Apr 2 2013: The implication of my aligning myself with the freethinker/skeptic/atheist movements being what? That I should be ashamed of that association? As a freethinking, skeptical atheist, I take offense at your implication. See, I can play the offense card, too. And, it's just as meaningless when I do it.

        I'm not familiar with Schiltz, although about 20 seconds of googling her leads me to believe she's just as full of woo as the others, but I'll happily insult her alongside them. Being scientifically trained does not necessarily mean it sank in. I work in IT with a large number of people with experience and training that I wouldn't trust to change the batteries on a calculator. There are always people in every field who manage to make it in despite not being qualified. It's the curse of being human. Michael Behe claims to be a microbiologist, but he's still a creationist who denies evolution. Just like the others you mentioned, he's a fraud.

        It wouldn't have been a hard decision to pull their license because I read the description of their theme. Quantum theory doesn't say the universe is a connected organism, and there's nothing in the theory that could even be reasonably claimed to do so by anyone capable of cogent thought. Misrepresenting valid scientific theories to promote woo is a common practice in the pseudoscience community. Using the terms of science does not make a claim scientific.

        No, I'm not familiar with their decades of lab work. So what? If they've done decades of lab work and haven't produced a single article that can stand up to peer-review scrutiny then they've wasted decades of time, nothing more. Perhaps their time would be better spent at McDonald's? At least then they might produce some tangible results. But, I doubt it.

        Finally, it's not my job to provide evidence. You're the one making extraordinary claims, or are at least trying to defend them. It's up to you to provide extraordinary proof. That's how it works.
        • Apr 3 2013: "there's nothing in the theory that could even be reasonably claimed to do so by anyone capable of cogent thought"

          Like, for instance, Alfred North Whitehead, in his Philosophy of Organism? Of course, physics is not using this language. But it is also not against anything in quantum theory, that the universe as a whole could be considered as being alive. And you will also notice there is a "-" in between what "quantum physics tells us" (namely, that the universe is an interconnected whole) and what Suzanne adds to this, which is not incompatible with anything in science.

          I recommend Whitehead's "Science and the Modern World" for a historical account and why this idea of a living universe could help to defend rationalism against materialism.
          Not an easy read and from beginning of last century, but relativity and quantum theory is already covered.
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    Aja B. 20+

    • +5
    Apr 8 2013: Hello all,

    This topic is being closed one week early, due to an overwhelming level of personal attacks and other violations of our community rules. As several members have pointed out, there are a number of venues available for anyone who would like to continue this discussion outside the bounds of civil and constructive conversation; you are welcome to take a look through the many links below.

    Thank you,

    Aja Bogdanoff | TED.com
    Online Community Manager
  • Apr 8 2013: Pseudoscience is a scientific claim and all scientific claims require proof. If no proof is forthcoming, then the claim is invalid.

    TED has provided no proof of its claims of pseudoscience. Therefore the claim is invalid until such evidence is produced.

    This requires disproving all the thousands of studies that are the parapsychology evidence. Good luck with that.
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    Apr 7 2013: I'm thinking we've identified many naughty people, both speakers and those who comment, with whom to start something of our own. We are shooting the goings on at Ex TEDxWestHollywood looking at doing a documentary -- when you want the world to know something, you make a movie, as I already have done. My latest one got a good review in The New York Times, in case anyone might think it's just glam to say I am doing a film.
  • Apr 7 2013: By continuing to post a link to Josephson's website, and telling other people they don't know what they're doing when they try to, Hoopes has shown he's clearly trolling. Same goes for his constantly deleting posts so that the discussion becomes completely disjointed. Aja or someone from TED needs to step in and get this person under control. Or maybe this is what TED wants; not a substantive discussion but a cartoonish one.
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      Apr 7 2013: TED have already shown themselves to be uninterested in actual scientific method, and thoughtless, emotional trollery is business as usual for them.
  • Apr 5 2013: I don't know how many times I've seen the word pseudoscience used in connection with Russell Targ in this conversation, but saying it often doesn't make it true. I've seen one individual use it so often it might as well be a mantra. Actually, I prefer "Thought terminating cliché". Yeah, that's it.

    "The language of the totalist environment is characterized by the thought-terminating cliché. The most far-reaching and complex of human problems are compressed into brief, highly reductive, definitive-sounding phrases, easily memorized and easily expressed. These become the start and finish of any ideological analysis."


    Thanks to the person who originally posted it on another debate.

    The problem though is if Sheldrake, Targ, Persinger, and so many more working scientists doing real scientific work are called pseudoscientists, then the word has no meaning. It's only purpose is to terminate any meaningful discussion.

    "But they've been saying it's pseudoscience for years!" Well, so what?
    • Apr 5 2013: Yup, definitely a boy-who-cried-wolf situation I think.
    • Apr 5 2013: I think your "thought terminating cliche" is right on the money. I said earlier that I thought it was used such that "if we can get the pseudoscience label on it we don't need to think about it at all." This is why the word "woo" is thrown about so much now.
  • pal rao

    • +5
    Apr 4 2013: It has been interesting and sad to read TED's history and see this issue develop, it's like a case study in how not to handle controversy (despite knowing it's inevitability). Basing their rejection of Sheldrake on pseudoscience TED called a "careful rebuttal," then unrepentantly asking for a fresh take and shuttling the conversation to a place where no significant rebuttal of Sheldrake was to be found (I haven't followed the Hancock side), followed by this announcement (which involved withdrawal of promised money only two weeks before the event months in the making) seemingly born on advise from the same pseudoscientist rebutter are the actions of an organization set not generating trust, but ruining it, sending a message to organizers and speakers (and public) that not towing their (very fuzzy) line will get you exTEDmunicated (TM pending).

    TED's videos are Creative Commons, meaning that by design they are free to share with attribution and so not censorable like most media; had a firm stance against these talks been made from the start (rather than the impression it might change), a, "We want nothing to do with it anymore, but it's free by our design!" would have helped mitigate the frustration. TED has a tome for organizers (impelled by past scuffles with "pseudoscience") but no follow through, nor a coherent response for addressing controversy- more signs of an organization in disarray, shepherding/curating itself to irrelevance.

    All this despite the inspired and bright people who comprise the TED faithful, driven no doubt by the religious nature of all inspiring spoken words to better humans with information, yet if it’s only 'ideas people don't find objectionable' that TED supports, combined with knee-jerk and last-minute reactions, their slow withering to becoming proprietors of the bland has already begun, and with it any networking under their guise.

    As TED passes, I hope the vacuum it leaves will be filled by less hackneyed and more dynamic forums.
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    Apr 2 2013: There is so much I would have to say, but if I don’t spend the time getting our event to happen it never will. The really important thing is to watch our Live Stream on April 14: https://new.livestream.com/extedwesthollywood. I suggested TED promote it so we could argue about the talks as they are. If the talks are terrible enough to lose our license over, it should be a great validation of TED's infinite wisdom. If not, TED's willingness to have egg on its face would stand it in better stead, as being open to being corrected, than the reaction it’s getting now to its hatchet job proclivity. But, even beyond TED and more important than the mess it has created for me is the valuable conversation their recent activity has generated. As the culture has been victimized by the committed skeptics’ activities, the dialogue has afforded an opportunity for so much focus on their reprehensible behavior by such an intelligent public, where whatever credibility they used to muster I would think has been undermined now.
    • Apr 3 2013: Hello Suzanne, good to see you engaging here! Warm welcomes!
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    Apr 2 2013: For our second dangerous speaker, here's Larry Dossey (all speakers here: http://www.tedxwesthollywood.com/speakers-3/speakers/)


    I can add my name to those of Rupert Sheldrake and Graham Hancock as speakers who find themselves in TEDx’s crosshairs.

    I was scheduled to speak at the West Hollywood event. But my scientific credibility was questioned by TED's science advisory board in their decision to withdraw support and revoke the license of TEDxWestHollywood.

    I’ve lectured at dozens of top-tier medical schools and hospitals all over the U.S. for two decades. Although my colleagues don’t always agree with my points of view, this is the first time my scientific credibility has ever been questioned.

    My TEDx talk would have dealt with the correlations between spirituality, health, and longevity, for which there is immense evidence; and recent experimental findings that point toward a nonlocal view of consciousness for which, again, there is strong and abundant support. In view of our lack of understanding of the origins and destiny of consciousness, and considering the demographics of the TEDx followers, I thought this information would have been of considerable interest.

    As a board-certified physician of internal medicine, former chief of staff of a major hospital, author of twelve books and scores of papers on these subjects published in peer-reviewed journals, a recipient of many awards, a frequent lecturer at medical schools and hospitals, and executive editor of the peer-reviewed journal, Explore: The Journal of Science and Healing, I’d be interested in knowing from TED where I came up short.

    “A clash of doctrines is not a disaster, it is an opportunity,” Whitehead said. It should not be a reason for censorship.
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      Apr 3 2013: I'm curious, Suzanne. Do you still believe that crop circles could be the work of extraterrestrials?
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        Apr 3 2013: Some Americans believe that a guy was killed on a cross and rose from the dead many years ago. In fact, they feel so strongly about that belief that there are major religions which celebrate that event to this day. Does that belief prevent them from organizing TED events now too? Or does TED now only allow atheists to be involved with the organization?
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          Apr 3 2013: Good question. Especially because it raises the issue of which beliefs are religious/spiritual ones and which ones are not. I could be mistaken, but I think Suzanne would describe her belief that crop circles could be the work of extraterrestrials--if she still holds it--as one based on scientific evidence. I'm fairly certain that claim is not made with respect to the guy on the cross.
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          Apr 3 2013: TED allow people of faith to speak. here's Rick Warren's talk http://www.ted.com/talks/rick_warren_on_a_life_of_purpose.html . TEDx events also do, I've had a Rabbi, a Priest, and an Imam speak at my TEDx event. Also, agnostics, and atheists.
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        Apr 3 2013: Watch my movie: http://www.CropCircleMovie.com. You'd be in good company. The New York Times llikes it! http://tinyurl.com/7chal9m. Touche, Sandy. But then again, the crop circles are an unsolved mystery -- other fodder for our lovely skeptics.
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        Apr 3 2013: Well, Phil, then why would Suzanne's personal beliefs preclude her from organizing a TED event? That seems to be the gist of John's argument's against her.

        I'm not religious, and I don't share some of the beliefs of many Christians. But I wouldn't ridicule them for having different beliefs either.
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          Apr 3 2013: But you'd identified Richard Dawkins' "sexism" as an issue? Do personal beliefs matter or don't they? Or is it only those beliefs with which you personally disagree?
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        Apr 3 2013: Bad behavior is bad behavior. It's a separate issue from belief.

        I can agree with someone's belief system while still recognizing they have moral or behavioral shortcomings. I can also disagree with someone's beliefs without taking any issue with their behavior.

        Dawkins, who has been given a forum at TED, is a poor representative of the TED "brand", unless that brand supports the idea that it's OK to sexually harass women.
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          Apr 3 2013: "Bad behavior is bad behavior. It's a separate issue from belief."

          I have a feeling many religious people would strenuously disagree with that.

          "I can agree with someone's belief system while still recognizing they have moral or behavioral shortcomings."

          But can you disagree with someone's belief system while still recognizing that they have moral or behavioral successes? I think that's the critical test.

          What other kinds of bad behavior would you eliminate? Smoking? Eating animal flesh? Looking at pornography? Serving in the military? Being a convicted felon? Dressing in ugly clothes?
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      Apr 3 2013: Suzanne Taylor discusses crop circles | Open Minds Radio

      Crop Circle Mysteries with Suzanne Taylor

      And of course:

      What on Earth? Inside the Crop Circle Mystery, a film by Suzanne Taylor
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        Apr 3 2013: Answer to my prayers could come from this TED situation, where people would watch my film and get beyond the media hatchet job for a more balanced story. And, more listeners for my talking about such an interesting phenomenon. Whoopee!
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        Apr 3 2013: "Aliens" isn't what you'd come away from my movie or my radio shows with. Hoaxes aside, we don't know where they are coming from, but the scientific evidence suggests it's "not us."
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          Apr 3 2013: Maybe *some* of us?

          John Lundberg, Rob Irving, and Mark Pilkington, for example?
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      Apr 3 2013: June Cohen here, from TED. I posted on this previously within the comments, but wanted to re-emphasize here what we've also communicated to Larry Dossey personally: The withdrawal of the TEDxWestHollywood license was based on the overall curatorial direction of the program, not on the individual speakers.

      We've posted about this on the TED Blog here: http://blog.ted.com/2013/04/01/a-note-to-the-ted-community-on-the-withdrawal-of-the-tedxwesthollywood-license/.
      • Apr 3 2013: So TED didn't say this in its letter to TEDx Hollywood:

        "We will be especially interested to hear about the ideas that Marianne Williamson, Russell Targ, Larry Dossey, Paul Nugent, and Marilyn Schlitz will be presenting.We feel that the pseudoscience struggle is an important one. TED and TEDx cannot be platforms that give undo legitimacy to false evidence and selective logic — regardless of brilliant packaging".
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        Apr 3 2013: TED seems to be backpedaling once again.
      • Apr 3 2013: Hi June, you've put a conversation thread on the back of the statement, "The withdrawal of the TEDxWestHollywood license was based on the overall curatorial direction of the program, not on the individual speakers," and I'm wondering what we're meant to converse about? That TED can make curitorial decisions? Well that's answerable in one post - yes, of course they can. So what do we talk about for the next 12 days 19hrs now we've answered that?
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          Apr 3 2013: Gary, thank you for recognizing that TED can make curatorial decisions -- that is the point that Suzanne and maybe others are not understanding, because they continually raise the false claim that her speakers were the issue for TED in regards to her license revocation. The speakers were not the issue, the way the program was being curated was the issue. Maybe there are some clues as to why the program's curation was an issue in the crop circle films that she produced, or maybe it will remain another unsolved mystery.
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          Apr 3 2013: We can talk about pulling the plug on a program that was more than a year in the making, two weeks before the delivery date.
      • Apr 3 2013: And did TEDx also say this?

        In an email to Suzanne Taylor, the organizer of TEDxWestHollywood, a representative of TED outlined the objections:

        (…) And when we look at your speaker line-up, we see several people who promote — as fact — theories that are well outside what most scientists would accept as credible. We’re not saying all the speakers are off-base. Perhaps you could make a case for each of them individually. But when we look at the program as a whole, it’s clear that it doesn’t meet our guidelines.The problem is not the challenging of orthodox views. We believe in that. We’ve had numerous talks which do that. But we have rules about the presentation of science on the TEDx stage. We disallow speakers who use the language of science to claim they have proven the truth of ideas that are speculative and which have failed to gain significant scientific acceptance.

        More than 2000 TEDx events will take place in the year ahead. If your program is allowed to proceed, it will truly damage other TEDx organizers’ ability to recruit scientists and other speakers. (Indeed many in the TED and TEDx communities have already reached out to us to express their concern.)

        We have reluctantly concluded that your program is not appropriate for TEDx, and we have to therefore terminate your license. You are of course welcome to still hold an event with these speakers. You just can’t associate it with TEDx. We are happy to work with you to figure out how to smoothly transition it into an event under a different name. I’ll be happy to speak with you directly to facilitate this.

        This line in particular is telling:

        Perhaps you could make a case for each of them individually. But when we look at the program as a whole, it’s clear that it doesn’t meet our guidelines.
      • Apr 3 2013: June - There is a glaring inconsistency between TED's published criteria:

        We disallow speakers who use the language of science to claim they have proven the truth of ideas that are speculative and which have failed to gain significant scientific acceptance.

        and the rationale for withdrawing the West Hollywood license:

        The withdrawal of the TEDxWestHollywood license was based on the overall curatorial direction of the program, not on the individual speakers.

        Technically, "overall curatorial direction" is not a criteria for withdrawing a license. Perhaps you can explain. If all the speakers as individuals pass muster, on what basis does combining them into a single program violate TED's guidelines?
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    Apr 2 2013: Unfortunately there is a vocal group out there trolling for every opportunity to pigeonhole TED into a "materialistic/atheist" bucket. They are playing the victim card and it's polarizing and tiring.

    But contrary to these allegations, TED is open on its beliefs, it's just firm on its values.

    Thanks, TED, for being authentic and true to your values. Ignore the pitchforks; your supporters who matter appreciate the challenging job you face upholding your standards across thousands of events worldwide. It's what enables us TEDx organizers to get some of the brightest minds in the world on our stages and in our audiences.

    TED cannot be all things to all people. Or it becomes nothing.
    • Apr 2 2013: You're right, there are some very vocal pitchfork-wielding trolls out there trolling for TED to become a materialist/atheist front - Jerry Coyne, for one, and PZ Myers for another. And yes, they do play the victim card - the card in question being that if scientific evidence that contradicts their ideology is allowed to be heard then civilization will fall. Unfortunately, TED appears to have swallowed their alarmist rhetoric whole, and has taken quite a few steps to becoming the materialist/atheist front those bloggers desire. At least we kinda know where TED stands now, and in which direction it is moving.
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        Apr 3 2013: That impression is mistaken, Steve. We embrace lots of different views here. We get lots of heat from atheists and from creationists, from the left and from the right ...from pretty much everyone, come to think of it. That's OK. Ideas matter. They're worth arguing over. There's no hidden agenda or direction. Just a passion to learn.
        • Apr 3 2013: Chris - Having followed this drama with great interest, I can understand why TED is being seen as being less than honest with their decision.

          The initial criticisms of Sheldrake and Hancock were withdrawn and replaced with nothing. No representative from TED has been forthcoming with a coherent explanation of why Sheldrake, Hancock, Targ, et al. are banned. The accusation that Rupert Sheldrake engages in pseudoscience has been soundly rebutted. The members posting to the discussion have represented a broad range of viewpoints, except for their near unanimity that TED's censoring of the Sheldrake and Hancock talks was a mistake.

          If you have a passion to learn, you have certainly been schooled by this debacle. Yet, you seem to be unwilling to address the substance of the controversy, either by defending your position or correcting your error. It creates the appearance in the opinion of many that there is a thinly concealed agenda behind your actions.
        • Apr 3 2013: Chris, I appreciate your response and don't want to sound unduly critical, but I do think there is an agenda, albeit not a hidden one. That is, it seems pretty clear that you've decided to operate, where science is involved, from a world-according-to-Jerry-Coyne perspective. I think that is a mistake.

          That being said, I do understand that you have to walk a fine line and that you will never please everyone, but I do think the route you have chosen is unnecessarily restrictive. There is a very great difference between Rupert Sheldrake and Dean Radin on the one hand and Derek Acorah and Russell Grant on the other. Jerry Coyne sees no difference, indeed he probably dislikes Sheldrake and Radin more because they are actually doing proper science and getting results he, for one reason or another, desperately wants not to be true. I think, then, that TED could likewise make a distinction and allow talks on such subjects only from those with solid published research behind them.

          I would therefore ask you to watch this video and ask yourself whether you really think there should be no place in TED for a carefully worded discussion of such things from carefully selected cautious advocates.

          Or simply look at the papers cited above discussing telephone telepathy. How can those intriguing ideas possibly not be worth sharing in a cautious manner.
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      Apr 2 2013: Namecalling is out-of-line and unproductive, 'Z'. Your criteria for identifying trolls could probably be applied equally well to the numerous and vocal groups clamoring for support of fringe ideas that are definitely not worth spraeading. Strong-armed strategies were used to keep Hörbiger's pseudoscientific theories alive. History shows how these tactics work. They don't belong on TED.
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        Apr 2 2013: I think TED was very transparent in the Sheldrake-Hancock affair. You don´t seem to agree.. why?
        • Apr 2 2013: "I think TED was very transparent in the Sheldrake-Hancock affair."

          Jose, can you then maybe please try to explain how TED's science board remaining anonymous equates transparency?

          [Keeping in mind, this still after having had Sheldrake and Hancock address TED's initial sloppy critiques on their censored TEDx talks, and TED then remaining silent.]

          Doesn't transparency = openness, communication, accountability?
        • Apr 2 2013: Jose - Some of the reasons the TED is not being perceived as transparent are:

          1. The claims of pseudoscience against Sheldrake and Hancock came from anonymous sources.
          2. Sheldrake and Hancock responded point-by-point to the criticisms showing them to be factually inaccurate. TED never followed up with credible criticisms of the two videos.
          3. After opening the threads, TED management went invisible. They promised to review the contents of the discussion pages and render a final decision. Instead, they have been silent.
        • Apr 2 2013: Transparent?! TED still hasn't provided its reasoning for removing those two talks. It had to cross out the first set of reasons because they were so thoroughly refuted. We still don't know why, to this day, the super-secret science board deemed the talks so faulty as to require removal. Either their reasons were always demonstrably false or TED took very bad dictation when it proffered its first set of reasons.

          Both authors offered to debate anyone TED would put forward and allow them the opportunity to prove their work. TED indirectly, through a spokesperson, to a reporter, declined.

          TED avoided the discussion threads of both those talks like. the. plague.

          That's what you call transparent? I don't think that word means what you think it means.
        • Apr 3 2013: What is transparent about a decision by an anonymous "science board", anonymous for the "obvious reasons", without giving reasonable arguments? Or was it really the concern about "kids flying to Brazil trying Ayahuasca", for example? Why no response to Sheldrake's and Hancock's rebuttal of the initial accusations and Sheldrake's offer for debate, from any official at TED?
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        Apr 2 2013: how cool is that? here is the conversation in a nutshell:

        G: Is transparency a TED value?
        C: You don´t seem to agree.. why?
        G: I could certainly go into this, but I don't want to hijack this thread

        • Apr 2 2013: But see: Ms G's first post was a question about whether transparency was a TED value, and the response was not to answer this straightforward question but to bring up a specific instance which Ms G had already said she didn't want to go back to. Then Ms G explained that she didn't really want to discuss that specific issue and asked again about the general point. Then you came in with your incorrect summary. And then I came in and corrected you.
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          Apr 2 2013: Wian:

          TED has the right to decide what ideas they want to spread. They clearly indicated why they changed the distribution channel and explained the reason and the mechanics of the decision = That is transparency.

          Your profile has no photo and it is blank except for your (fake?) name = that is not transparency.

          You understand the difference now?
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          Apr 2 2013: Steve:
          I have rephrased my question to avoid deflection. See above. But I'd like to point out that you have made an extraordinarily large amount of comments (about 400 in the last 10 days or so) ALL about these two issues. You hide behind a blank profile, a fake name, and photoshopped image. You show no interest in TED beyond bashing it on this particular issue. A better example of a cowardly troll you would struggle to find.

          Debbie Gallagher and I may differ on one or two issues but she is a real member of the community expressing her views in a constructive way. That is a debate worth engaging in.
        • Apr 2 2013: Jose, I understand what you're getting at, but no, I don't have amnesia, so I know my own name: it's Afrikaans, like me, from South Africa. I have attended two TEDx conferences and I don't see why I must be compelled to upload a profile picture to be eligible for debate. Silly proposition.

          It seems like you're now addressing the TEDxWestHollywood's licence withdrawal. For, TED's explanation of the "reason and the mechanics of the decision" to censor Sheldrake and Hancock's talk certainly wasn't transparent.

          I'll simply be repeating myself here as you're not addressing my (and Dan Booth Cohen's) initial comments above appropriately.

          I was addressing your question to Debbie on why she doesn't agree with you in saying that "TED was very transparent in the Sheldrake-Hancock affair."

          [It's so funny, a previous actual troll who eventually got deleted also accused Steve of being a troll earlier. He was challenged to actually, wait for it, READ all of these 400 comments, and then come back and label Steve as a troll again, with a straight face,,, Care to take the challenge, Jose?]
        • Apr 2 2013: Jose
          You appear to have a touch of the conspiracy theorist about you. That's the first point. The second point is that if you look above (and elsewhere) you will see I made a number of helpful suggestion for TED. The one above is basically this: sort out your internal processes and when things go wrong act with a bit of dignity instead of trying to lay the blame on blameless individuals and then holding them up in public while TEDdies (like you) throw all manner of insults their way. As regards the rest of your post, what was it, I've forgotten already and can't really be bothered going to all the trouble of scrolling up.
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        Apr 2 2013: Debbie:
        I thought it was clear, just in case, I'll spell it out = I think TED is an organizations that values and practices transparency.
        Though I appreciate you not wanting to go back to the other subject, yet my question stands. How is TED not being transparent on the WestHollywood issue?
        They have the right to revoke a license, they did so and explained why. I get that you don't agree with the decision, but I don't get why you think it wasn't transparent.
        • Apr 2 2013: Jose - The explanation TED gave for cancelling West Hollywood is:

          "We disallow speakers who use the language of science to claim they have proven the truth of ideas that are speculative and which have failed to gain significant scientific acceptance."

          They they went on to say, "Our decision was not based on any individual speaker, but our assessment of the overall curatorial direction of the program."

          Here is the lack of transparency: The criteria is "we disallow speakers..." The decision is "not based on any individual speakers." Presumably, none of the individual speakers is claiming to they have proven the truth of ideas..., but the overall curatorial direction of the program is.

          This can be understood as saying, "Russell Targ is qualified to speak at a TEDx event, but if he does, it can not be a TEDx event." If this is not a lack of transparency, can we call it a Catch-22? (a paradoxical situation in which an individual cannot avoid a problem because of contradictory constraints or rules)
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        Apr 2 2013: "because I understand that TED has a board of anonymous advisors"

        i wonder what would happen if the names were public. don't answer that, rhetorical question. we know what would happen: quote mining their life of work and all other material they might have ever published. ad hominem attacks on their personality, views on unrelated issues. citation of unfounded allegations, in forms of dozens of links to verbose websites. army divisions marching to call them out on their own blogs, websites, and on forums they attend. barrage of emails "requesting a fair debate". army divisions appearing on any public talk or discussion they happen to be invited to, reciting the same stupid accusations framed as questions.

        so is ted open for this? can we ask for a little transparency?? we, the sheldrake zealots deserve it!
        • Apr 2 2013: You again assume too much.

          It's about integrity, look it up. Contextually here = to be willing to elucidate on your actions to your community/audience.

          Why not try empathizing for a change, Krisztián? Imagine you were invited to do a talk on your life's work only to afterwards discover the talk being relegated and unjustifiably pre-framed to fit somebody else's subjectively biased worldview. You then attempt to reasonably address their criticisms point by point only to be met with silence and the whole fiasco seemingly bordering on character assassination.

          It's this "silence." That's the gist. Where's the accountability? Transparency simply can't be claimed.

          What may also happen in your sketched scenario, Krisztián, is that the science board members would have the opportunity to act with integrity - stand by their decisions and elaborate there on. So that, progress can actually be met. The trolls can and will probably be moderated away.

          The science board (or maybe just one member professionally related to the issue) have a good enough of a head start to analyze all the comments and constructive criticisms from the past few weeks.

          Anything less would just be cowardly.
        • Apr 2 2013: What, exactly like what you tried to do to Sheldrake you mean. The Pinter doth project too much.
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        Apr 2 2013: Hola Debbie,

        Too much transparency would be bad, as is the case with all good things.

        "Making personal medical histories of TED employees public" would be more transparent but a bad idea. This silly example should make my point that what we want is not FULL transparency, but the best balance possible between the interests of the different parties involved. An example of this is that I like the fact that the TED profile does not publish my email. The question is what level of transparency is best for the TED community/organization as a whole.

        As I understand it TED has to go out and ask for opinions on specific technical/scientific issues, these experts/scientists are not paid for their time and effort. If their names and opinions were made public, then I suspect they might be less candid or less inclined to give an opinion at all. The TED team would lose a vital element to help them make a decision.

        Well, in spite of your previous protestations in your second paragraph you go back to the "other" issue of "Vetoed"/"Censored" talks. The fact that they explain why they changed the communication channel for these talks is what makes it transparent. The fact that some people don't agree with the explanation does not make it any less transparent, it makes it debatable.

        Going back to WestHollywood. They discussed it privately with the licencee, but failed to agree on the content. So they clearly explained to the public why they pulled the WestHollywood license. That is transparency at its best.
        • Apr 2 2013: "Too much transparency would be bad, as is the case with all good things."

          This is your opinion, is it not?
        • Apr 2 2013: Jose
          I don't think anyone is asking for DNA samples to be made available. Rather, I think there is some genuine doubt as to whether TED even has (or had) a science board and thus people are interested in its make up (assuming it exists). It's also obvious that TED having to cross out everything the "science board" wrote about the two previous censored talks calls into question their expertise. One argument I made previously (when I wasn't just trolling) was that prospective speakers would probably like to know the stance of TED's board - particularly if they are going to risk having their names dragged through the mud on account of some half-baked assessment by this shadowy anonymous group.
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        Apr 2 2013: Debbie, the list of advisers you claim is secret and that leads you to believe TED does not practice a healthy transparency has been published in the "About Us" section of the website for years. See the list of the "Brain Trust" at http://www.ted.com/pages/about

        Can you now accept that TED is acting in a healthy transparent way?
        • Apr 2 2013: Can you then now without any doubt say that that "Brain Trust" is precisely who TED is referring to when talking about their "Science Board"?
        • Apr 2 2013: The problem is that the brain trust you suggest is(?) the science board was already there when TED announced the science board would be anonymous for "obvious reasons". Thus if that's them why did TED not just say so, and if it isn't then who is.
        • Apr 3 2013: The "brain trust" has a smattering of people in science-related fields and lot of other people of other backgrounds. Nowhere does it say anything about a "science board" per se. And, as Steve notes, TED has said point blank that they are keeping identities of the science board secret. How does this list in any way answer the question asked?
        • Apr 3 2013: "Tedstaff" initially wrote:

          "[W]e’ve appointed a board of scientific advisers. They are (deliberately) anonymous, for obvious reasons [sic], but they are respected working scientists, and writers about science, from a range of fields, with no brief other than to help us make these judgements. If a talk gets flagged they will advise on whether we should act or not."
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        Apr 3 2013: Debbie, thanks for the kudos, much appreciated. I'm engaging in a debate with you because you seem like a reasonable person, with an honest question (meaning you will change your mind if shown evidence) :)

        Regrettably when I got into this discussion earlier I failed to realize that a group of trolls recently joined this community with no interest in it beyond bashing TED because they are unhappy their idols were "disrespected". I regret having "fed" them which keeps them trolling on a bit more ... :(

        But to answer your reiterated question: Remember that TED is a very small organization (see list of staff) ... Who else could they be referring to?

        Looking at that list gives you a clear indication of the range of people advising TED and you can infer what kind of advice TED is getting.

        Also having met and talked with most of the TED management and staff at the different conferences I'm convinced they are honest, dedicated and hard working people trying their best to spread great ideas around the world.

        TED could not exist if it did not curate its talks. And there will always be people unhappy that TED cut this or that idea (which I assume is your case).

        But I think its unfair to say the TEDx team was not transparent their revocation of the WestHollywood TEDx license, or that TED is not a transparent organization. Can we agree on that?
        • Apr 3 2013: So the posts above which already refute your suggested explantion.
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        Apr 3 2013: Hola Debbie,

        Your comment: "it gave an impression of a TED board dancing to the tune of a particular kind of world view". Is loaded and unkind. The TED organization is nobody's puppet, they make up their own mind and have started a worldwide revolution in the distribution of ideas.

        Neither Jerry Coyne nor the CEO of Koch Industries are on the TED Brain Trust, nor affiliated with the TED organization. So why use them to question TED transparency?

        You claim the pulling of the TEDx license from WestHollywood was not transparent, but...

        You know WHAT happened: WestHollywood lost the TEDx licence.
        You know WHY the pulled the licence: Content of the talks.
        You know WHO pulled the licence: TEDx team.
        You know HOW they pulled the licence: by informing the licencee.
        You know WHERE they pulled the licence: TED's NY office.
        You know WHEN they pulled the licence: March 2013.

        I agree the decision is debatable, and here we are, debating it ad-nauseam.

        But it was a transparent decision!
        • Apr 3 2013: "As a note: Please know that whether or not you have time or energy to contribute here, the talk is also under review by the TED team. We're not requiring your volunteer labor -- but we truly welcome your input. And we're grateful to those who've written about this talk in other forums, including but not limited to Jerry Coyne, PZ Myers, Kylie Sturgess and some thoughtful Redditors." http://www.ted.com/conversations/16894/rupert_sheldrake_s_tedx_talk.html

          Mr. Coyne clearly has more sway with TED than do the many, many, many people who protested these decisions.

          March 23: Jerry Coyne complains about the TEDx West Hollywood event.

          March 30: Jerry Coyne crows about the revocation of West Hollywood's license and urges his readers to keep the pressure on.

          In contrast, Graham Hancock and Rupert Sheldrake so thorughly refuted TED's stated reasons for removing the lectures, TED had to retract them and cross them out. But they still haven't restored the lectures to the main platform.

          In the crossed out explanation, btw, was yet another reference to Jerry Coyne, more specifically to his blog post on the subject, and to the "careful rebuttal" by Sean Carroll that Coyne posted. Ironically, as Mr. Sheldrake pointed out, Carroll's rebuttal actually VALIDATED Sheldrake's points, as per the speed of light. If reason had won the day, at that point, TED would have apologized and reinstated the talk. But its fealty to Coyne's discredited blog post seems to have won the day despite its demonstrable incorrectness. http://blog.ted.com/2013/03/14/open-for-discussion-graham-hancock-and-rupert-sheldrake/

          So, please, let's not pretend that TED isn't paying a lot more attention to Coyne's commentary, despite its being demonstrably false, than the many people who corrected the record.
        • Apr 3 2013: Jose, here's a,little history lesson. Shedlrake and Hancock give talks in January (which go down a storm) and they are then posted to YT (where they go down a storm). The pick up huge amount of views (over 150k in three weeks) and nobody makes a peep. Someone in TED must have noticed these very popular but still no peeps. Jerry Coyne makes a blog post about Sheldrake's talk and that talk comes down almost immediately. A day or so later Coyne makes a blog post about Hancock and his talk comes down almost immediately.
          TED's "science board" then gives reasons for removal which include specific false claims about both talks identical in content to specific false claims made on Coyne's blog (plagiarism is often uncovered by identical errors fwiw). Emily Mcmanus (from TED) thanks Coyne publicly and goes to Coyne's blog to thank him and asks for the further help of Coyne and his followers to cleanse TED of talks they dislike.

          Meanwhile, back in West Hollywood in early January (or earlier) TED grants a license (no doubt after many formal TED processes have been completed) to TEDx West Hollywood and a programme is put together and announced online. For two months nobody makes a peep. Jerry Coyne blogs about West Hollywood and TED almost immediately cancels the license.

          Now, in such a case, it is legitimate to ask whether one particular blogger is perhaps exerting too much influence. And adding to the concern are the wacky views of the blogger in question, and the fanatical content from both blogger and readership often found on the blog - the AAAS it is not.
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        Apr 3 2013: Hola Debbie,
        I was not aware of Mr. Coyne being referenced by TED, I'll look it up, but that debate really belongs in another thread.
        Happy that we can agree ref WestHollywood.
    • Apr 2 2013: Kristina 'Z' Holly - the TEDx Rupert Sheldrake talk had over 130,000 views before it was controversially taken down from youtube. They are TEDx customers too. You say TED is open on it's beliefs. What does an organisation that is open on it's beliefs look like? Does it look like TED? You say TED is firm on it's values. Well I can't really comment on that because I don't think I've seen a TEDx page that lists it's values.

      and this - "your supporters who matter?" well yes, we know who TEDx's supporters are who DON'T matter, - quite a large group, a group the size of 200,000 youtube views size group.

      You say TED cannot become all things to all people. I tend to agree, and I am not aggrieved as TED is not a place I would really go to to view innovative, cutting edge thinking.
      I am not trolling to put anyone in a materialist bucket, though if that is the bucket you are in then say so.
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        Apr 2 2013: Hi Gary,

        Views does not equal supporters. Most viewers of the talk will probably continue to be a part of the TEDx community.

        I'd venture most of those viewers will understand TEDx is free to curate which talks it wants on its site, by whatever standard the TEDx team considers best.

        So you don't think TED is innovative or cutting edge ... What is it that you like about TED and TEDx?
        • Apr 2 2013: There's nothing I like about TED really, I watched a few talks a while back and found them minimally interesting, I think I saw a good one on happiness I think. I don't even know why I'm here except for the Sheldrake controversy and a love of thinking and messageboarding, lol