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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 3 2013: of course, TED would not allow this kind of pseudoscientific bunk on TEDx, thank goodness for Youtube :)

    ESP and Psychic Spies Explained - Russell Targ, PhD
    ~ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pyuL9d70mPM
    • Apr 3 2013: I am still careful about Russel Targ and his claims. Seems a bit too good to be true, for me. I found something interesting at a sceptics website. I wonder if this is fabrication? Doesn't disprove all what he says, but inserts some caution, for me.


      The Project Alpha Experiment: Part one. The First Two Years

      "What would happen if two young Conjurors posing as psychics were introduced into a well-funded university parapsychology laboratory?

      Generous funding doesn’t make scientists smart . . . Nor are they able to detect trickery without help.

      James Randi"
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        Apr 3 2013: Amfortas Titurel: I've watched your posts, and you're a thoughtful guy. I'm uninterested in hijacking this thread as it's about the cancellation of TEDx WestHollywood. And although Russell Targ's a big boy and can take care of himself, you could consider reading his latest book, "The Reality of ESP," or any of his other materials, and find out for yourself instead of relying upon a hand-waver like Randi. Randi's reputation for good science is, for me, exactly similar to that of a Theocratic Rightist. Earth wasn't created 6,000 years ago. And because Randi doesn't like something and waves his hands from a gilded soap box isn't a reason I'm going to believe him.

        Among the things Targ has done is to offer systematic evidence of abilities our kind have already used for millennia. There are traditions around the world that show us that. Occidental science is a new invention. Because it came along doesn't mean it can explain everything or anything. It can only explain what it can explain, no more and no less.

        Turn that proposal around and ask how much of the physical universe can science explain. I'm told 4%. The other 96% are ascribed by physicists to "dark matter" and "dark energy." And, while your at that, consider nosing around in the scientific attitudes from the Orient or Asia.

        Now, as you've already surmised, I have many more opinions about these matters than I'm mentioning here. My opinion is mine, and has nothing to do with your own. My point in writing this for you is to provide an alternative for your consideration beyond the usual Flat-Earther approach you'll often see from most of Western science, which must depend upon its reputation for its research funding. Very few in Western science will risk their reputation to speak a truth they feel they can't support. And when reputations or livelihoods depend upon what's said or written, none of us are often willing to rock that boat.
        • Apr 3 2013: Dark matter has nothing to do with this question, or anything what mainstream science claims, sorry. It is about the credibility of Targ, Puthoff, Randi, Banachek and what really happened then. I also would like to see additional sources for his claim Jimmy Carter commended him for helping to find the downed Russian bomber. If it is to be found in the book, fine, I will buy and read it, but I would also like some independant confirmation from trustworthy sources. I googled to no result. I feel this is relevant for the discussion, also possibly for Chris Anderson in deciding about the future coarse of TED. I don't have to apologize for not believing where I have to be sceptical. I would actually like to believe this, so please explain this to me, give some support for these claims. Your comment feels a bit as if you are trying to pull me over the table to the "right side". First, I am on no one's side. I support Rupert Sheldrake ideas, as a hypothesis with some probability. He is credible for me. I respect my feelings on a case-by-case basis. It is what it is, regarding certain RV claims, but I am open for new info.
        • Apr 3 2013: Whatever Randi is or did, he has a valid point here. Stage magicians can create amazing illusions, and as a scientist in this field of research you have to be very aware of this, you should be extra, extra, extra, extra careful. This is just a good argument, no matter whether he believes the earth is flat.
      • Apr 3 2013: I think you missed part of the story. The scientists did informal preliminary testing, which the two young conjurers took advantage to dupe the scientists.

        However, when given formal testing with much stricter standards, both failed miserably.
        http://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=2&cad=rja&ved=0CDwQFjAB&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.aiprinc.org%2Fpara-c05_Thalbourne_1995.pdf&ei=S5tcUaiBA8mwiQK76ICYDw&usg=AFQjCNGV9F5cbKbzKSAhS15b4E9L01tDnQ&sig2=KKywQzWCvXuA5vjT4WFpQw&bvm=bv.44770516,d.cGE (pdf)
        • Apr 3 2013: Banachek (Steve Shaw) claims it took them 21 month to find out, which would be more than "preliminary tests", and they received several suggestions from Randi in this time on how to improve their setup. When he was at some point leaking some rumours they might have been hoaxed, they finally changed it, and then it all was brought to light. I don't know which story is true, but I can imagine this being very, very embarassing for the reseachers... and therefore possibly not to be told correctly. I read accusations of Randi being a liar and so on, but still, this sounds as s story hard to make up completely, so... I think he is right at least in that stage magicians can do amazing things too, and it is not easy to escape all trickery, whether being a scientist or a common person. I fully agree with this. So, I really think parapsychologists should cooperate with professional magicians in this, probably not Randi and his partners, but there may also be more reliable (and even psi-agnostic) types among them.

          I will read your link now, thanks.

          Science Versus Showmanship: A History of
          the Randi Hoax
          On January 28, 1983, the professional conjuror James Randi announced that he
          had masterminded a hoax against the McDonnell Laboratory for Psychical Research at Washington University in St. Louis. In this paper, the hoax is described and discussed in some detail, along with some of the controversial methodological and other scientific issues to which the episode has drawn attention.
        • Apr 4 2013: Didn't Uri Geller trick them? He is not claiming to posess special psychic powers anymore, right? Actually I think someone like Randi is invaluable for the field, as long as there are frauds happenning. Not to say that there are no genuine unexplained phenomena or genuine psychics. Most probably there are. Just to say that there is also a lot of BS out there, so it is important that people stay critical and go after the frauds if they get suspicious, from their individual expertise.
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        Apr 3 2013: Amfortas Titurel: Did you know that one of the TED Brain Trust, Daniel Dennett, once debated professional friends of Targ, Ed May and Stephan A. Schwartz? In front of an ABC audience of management and staffers, Dennett was made speechless and, "...left as soon as he could."

        That example is one among many why TED would *never* agree to a fairly-refereed debate with the most widely-known parapsychologists (notice I didn't write, "best." It's not about my opinion). It's possible the Randi or Coyne tribe would be shown their lack of understanding of the mysterious 96% of the universe, and possible they'd feel humiliated. Now, *my* interest isn't anyone's humiliation. My interest is the truth as I see it for myself. I'm not here to prove anything to anyone. I'm here because it's fascinating and I can be here. Simple.
        • Apr 3 2013: I'm fine with this. I will read the book, check the sources and make up my mind, for myself. I have no clear picture of this. Maybe it isn't even possible to clear this up. I think the attitude "us and them" is not helpful in bringing this area forward. It is set up as a false alternative. "Either you are with us or you are with the pseudoscientists/dogmatists/whatever", we must overcome this polarization. Please read what I quoted from Whitehead below about "the spirit with which to approach the problem of science and religion".
        • Apr 4 2013: Do you have a link for this? Would love to watch it.
      • Apr 3 2013: As I understand it, project alpha was largely a failure inasmuch as while the experimenters were initially intrigued by the conjurers they became a bit suspicious and never actually published anything supporting psi as a result. For a similar thing done to a mainstream discipline check out the Rosenhan experiment - what, if anything, should we conclude about psychiatry on the basis of such things?
      • Apr 4 2013: You seem interested in exploring the insane byzantine controversy surrounding psi. Having gone down this path myself, I can offer you this:

        Be skeptical of both sides. If you don't trust parapsychology, don't trust skeptics either. Follow the evidence and ignore everything else.
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        Apr 4 2013: Amfortas Titurel: From Russell Targ's book, "The Reality of ESP," is this section of its Foreword by Stephan A. Schwartz on page xv:

        "Along with Ed May, I once debated with Daniel Dennett, a prominent critic of ESP research, at an event produced by ABC News for station news staffs and station managers. We debated along for about thirty minutes, with Dennett making dismissive and disparaging remarks to anything Ed or I said, but always in generalities. Finally I said to him: 'Let's pick an experiment we both know, and you tell me what it wrong with it, and I will respond.' Without a moment's hesitation he shot back in the most deliberately condescending act I have ever witnessed, saying, 'You don't actually think I read this stuff, do you?' There was a moment's silence, the laughter began, first as giggles, then as chuckles, and finally, as guffaws. It suddenly dawned on Dennett what he had said. He blushed and sat down, and left as soon as he could."
        • Apr 4 2013: "AIR evaluation of remote viewing:
          In 1995, the CIA hired the American Institutes for Research, a perennial intelligence-industry contractor, to perform a retrospective evaluation of the results generated by the remote-viewing program, the Stargate Project. Most of the program's results were not seen by the evaluators, with the report focusing on the most recent experiments, and only from government-sponsored research. One of the reviewers was Ray Hyman, a long-time critic of psi research while another was Jessica Utts who, as a supporter of psi, was chosen to put forward the pro-psi argument. Utts maintained that there had been a statistically significant positive effect, with some subjects scoring 5%-15% above chance. According to the official AIR report there was insufficient evidence of the utility of the intelligence data produced.

          PEAR's Remote Perception program:
          Following Utt's importance on replication and Hyman's challenge on interlaboratory consistency in the AIR report, the Princeton Engineering Anomalies Research conducted several hundred trials to see if they can replicate the SAIC and SRI experiments. They create an analytical judgment methodology to replace the human judging process that was criticized in past experiments. The results of the experiments were consistent with the SRI experiments

          Anyone challenging these results?

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        Apr 4 2013: Marcus Urruh: Although TED's interests here won't be to examine data or studies, I'd suppose you could send Jessica Utts an e-mail and simply ask her politely and courteously if you really want to know that answer. Utts is Chairwoman of the Department of Statistics, and a Professor at University of California, Irvine.
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      Apr 4 2013: CChaos CChaos: Hard at first for me to tell you were joking about, "pseudoscientific bunk." But that vid of Russell Targ produced by Stephan A. Schwartz is *very* good.
      • Apr 4 2013: Michael, i thought it was obvious that i was being sarcastic :)

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