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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 2 2013: TEDx has made the following statement: This language alone raised a red flag. (Characterizing the universe as a single organism is not a tenet of quantum physics.) As more details became available, we made the curatorial judgment that the program was not appropriate for TEDx. Our decision was not based on any individual speaker, but our assessment of the overall curatorial direction of the program.

    TEDx has not given the community any of the details of their decision to be debated, the statements being, "As more details became available," and "Our decision was not based on any individual speaker, but our assessment of the overall curatorial direction of the program."

    Well what does that leave the community to discuss on this conversation thread other than to say "we trust you TED and we trust you have made the right decision, thanks (and the psots on that one are already flying in), " or to say "we actually need the details of your decision before we can actually HAVE a conversation about the withdrawl of West Hollywood license AT ALL."

    This is exactly the same problem we faced in the conversation on the Sheldrake talk in that sure, we could have a fine old time discussing whether Sheldrake is a charlatan or a scientist, but we were never privvy to any of the details of TEDx's decision to move the Sheldrake talk so that we could take on the intellectual rigor of TEDx and the Science Board themselves.
    • Apr 2 2013: Seriously, to what end? So that you could give reason after reason why Sheldrake wasn't a fraud? What do you think that would change? The price of admission to having scientific validity is evidence. Period. It's not "Your argument must be this good'. Sheldrake has some anecdotes. The plural of anecdote is not data.
      • Apr 2 2013: With respect Tony I am not afraid to talk evidence because there is plenty, but the thrust of my post is in getting TEDx to post THEIR evidence for the decisions they make so that these conversations can be more than just an exercise of patting TED on the back.
        • Apr 2 2013: First, if you have evidence, provide it. Citations must be from valid, peer-reviewed journals.

          Second, I think you're confused. It's TED that made the decision to pull these licenses and videos, not the TEDx community. The TEDx community merely agrees with the decisions (aside from a few outliers, of course). It's their brand, they're more than welcome to do so. They've made the decision to not foster and promote bad science, and since TEDxWestHollywood and Sheldrake were full of both, they pulled them. TED isn't a scientific organization, they are merely advocates of good science. If folks want to peddle snake oil, they're more than welcome to peddle it elsewhere.
      • Apr 2 2013: To call Sheldrake a fraud is outrageous. The scientist is perfectly entitled to offeralternative hypotheses.

        Also in error, you are implying Sheldrake has no evidence. Sheldrake has experimental lab evidence for anomalous cognition, it is has been replicated by many others. Combined together (even after removing potential biases) the 'sense of being stared at' experiments have astronomical odds against chance expectation.
        • Apr 2 2013: Sheldrake is a fraud. There, I did it again. A scientist is always welcome to offer alternative hypotheses, but you forget they're not welcome to offer them as valid, confirmed science without actual evidence. If Sheldrake has some peer-reviewed experiments that have been published in valid journals backing up his claims, great. Let's see them. But, seeing as his claims (or others similar to his. His are not new ideas.) haven't been duplicated in proper studies, I stand by my calling him a fraud.

          Okay, maybe he's not a fraud. Maybe he's just participating too frequently in his drug testing.
      • Apr 2 2013: With repsect Tony Sheldrake's evidence is ample and if you want me to go away and link numerous peer reviewed journals to you then i suppose I could, but do I really want to just for you, it's a bit of work you know. And of course yes he has had results replicated, anyone who has researched Sheldrake's work finds that out, you are making unfounded accusations before you have done even the most basic of reading.
        • Apr 2 2013: Actually, I have done the research. This Sheldrake controversy's been going on for some time now, I've have plenty of time to turn up nothing, and the fact that you still haven't provided any is telling.
      • Apr 2 2013: Actually Tony I thought of a quick one. Read Shedrake's book, The Science Delusion. You will find some references to published peer-reviewed literature in there.
      • Apr 2 2013: Tony
        One of the things I think is damaging TED's reputation is having people like you, who clearly know nothing of the subject under discussion, lining up to bad mouth someone like Sheldrake for what appears to be ideological reasons. Who exactly are you? What's your great contribution to the sum total of human knowledge? Next to none I should imagine. Whereas Sheldrake, by contrast, might just have thought up a ground-breaking theory. Maybe he hasn't, but for every so-many Sheldrakes one will have thought up such a theory, and that's one of the main ways science progresses. Thus it ill behooves someone like you, a claimed supporter of science, to throw shrill accusations of fraud (without even looking at the evidence!) at someone who has sincerely tried to further the scientific enterprise and has devoted his life to that effect.
        • Apr 2 2013: "One of the things I think is damaging TED's reputation is having people like you, who clearly know nothing of the subject under discussion, lining up to bad mouth someone like Sheldrake for what appears to be ideological reasons. "

          You're probably correct to a certain degree. I'm sure people like me will get the woo-woo crowd to stop coming and trolling here, but I'm sure TED won't be sorry to see you go. I sure as heck won't be. As for the subject of Sheldrake, I actually DID do some research when the issue of him first came up a month or so ago when his TEDx video was pulled. The results of my research: he's a crank and a fraud. I'm not sure how my denial of his beliefs is ideological since all I want is some falsifiable evidence of his claims.

          "Who exactly are you? What's your great contribution to the sum total of human knowledge? Next to none I should imagine."

          Possibly, but that would still amount to about 2 iotas more than Sheldrake and about 50 more than you. Unless, of course, you have some evidence of your great contributions?

          "Whereas Sheldrake, by contrast, might just have thought up a ground-breaking theory. Maybe he hasn't, but for every so-many Sheldrakes one will have thought up such a theory, and that's one of the main ways science progresses."

          Um, no, that's not how science progresses at all, sorry. Science doesn't progress simply because someone comes up with something ground-breaking. Science progresses because someone comes up with something ground-breaking AND THEN PROVIDES EVIDENCE THAT IT'S REALLY A THING. It's the second part that you and the other Sheldrake drones are missing. If Sheldrake could prove in any way that telepathy is a thing, it would be the greatest scientific discovery of all time, and I'd be behind his work in a heartbeat! But, it's not a discovery, is it? It's an idea. It's an idea that Sheldrake and millions of other paranormal believers have believed in for millenia. I'm not sure what's so hard to un
        • Apr 2 2013: understand about all of this. Provide evidence, I'll believe you. Provide opinions, I won't. Really that simple.

          "Thus it ill behooves someone like you, a claimed supporter of science, to throw shrill accusations of fraud (without even looking at the evidence!) at someone who has sincerely tried to further the scientific enterprise and has devoted his life to that effect."

          No, it ill behooves me to stand on the sideline and see peddlers of pseudoscience be given credence. That's what happened with Wakefield, and babies died. I'm done letting the woo-wangers have their ideas being given the same level of validity as real science. Since getting my TEDx license, I've made friends of a circle of researchers, all of whom I respect and whose work is invaluable to the advancement of humankind. To lump Sheldrake in with them is an insult to each and every one of them. These people are producing tangible results, with the evidence to back them up. Sheldrake is a loon preaching to loons.

          As for looking at the evidence...what evidence? You, Katie, and Gary still haven't provided any.

          Don't bother replying unless you're going to also link to some actual evidence from Sheldrake. Without it, you're just attacking me which does nothing to advance your cause. After all, who am I? Right?
        • Apr 3 2013: Thanks, Steve. Important point.
      • Apr 2 2013: What would you like evidence for - if you checked out Sheldrake then you'll have seen the evidence that's been published in peer-reviewed journals and you wouldn't be saying (falsely) there was none. Anyway, a list of his published work is here
        http://www.sheldrake.org/homepage.html

        And yes, science does indeed progress by people thinking up new theories, but it helps if they are not then attacked by people with a religious axe to grind (eg, you) on the basis of some strange argument about babies dying.

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