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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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    RJ Thomas

    • +13
    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.

        http://blog.tedx.com/post/37405280671/a-letter-to-the-tedx-community-on-tedx-and-bad-science
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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.


          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pseudoarchaeology
  • 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: Censoring?
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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.
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          Apr 3 2013: do you have a blog? because i have an article and i want to publish it on your blog. if no, facebook page will suffice.
      • 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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    Dave Troy

    • +10
    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.
      @Phil
      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
      truth?"

      http://weilerpsiblog.wordpress.com/2013/03/30/ted-not-satisfied-with-current-censorship-tedxwesthollywood-is-taken-down/

      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
      http://www.coasttocoastam.com/

      21st Century Radio
      http://21stcenturyradio.com/

      Unknown Country
      http://www.unknowncountry.com/

      Gnostic Media
      http://www.gnosticmedia.com/

      Reality Sandwich
      http://www.realitysandwich.com/

      Prison Planet
      http://www.prisonplanet.com/

      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
      truth?"
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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,
    Z
    • 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.
  • Comment deleted

    • 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
          http://www.skeptictank.org/files//evolut/cosmicic.htm

          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
          http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/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!

        Regards,

        Jose

        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.

    • +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."

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thought_Reform_and_the_Psychology_of_Totalism

    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.
  • 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.
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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/)

    http://www.tedxwesthollywood.com/larry-dossey-speak-on-teds-blog/

    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
      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bucnR4A7-zg&sns=em

      Crop Circle Mysteries with Suzanne Taylor
      http://www.blogtalkradio.com/gic/2012/09/03/crop-circle-mysteries-with-suzanne-taylor

      And of course:

      What on Earth? Inside the Crop Circle Mystery, a film by Suzanne Taylor
      http://www.cropcirclemovie.com/
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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.
          http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wtNUIUr4fYw

          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

        o_O
        • 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."
          http://blog.ted.com/2013/03/18/graham-hancock-and-rupert-sheldrake-a-fresh-take/
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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.
          http://whyevolutionistrue.wordpress.com/2013/03/23/tedx-west-hollywood-garbage-in-garbage-out/

          March 30: Jerry Coyne crows about the revocation of West Hollywood's license and urges his readers to keep the pressure on.
          http://whyevolutionistrue.wordpress.com/2013/03/30/ted-revokes-license-for-tedx-west-hollywood-event/

          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.
        Saludos,
        Jose
    • 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
  • Apr 7 2013: just when i thought that the Sheldrake-Hancock TED controversy is dying, i read this on The Independent.

    "With over 500 million YouTube views, TED Talks have attracted guest speakers such as Bill Gates, Richard Dawkins and Julian Assange and in the process, made conferences cool again.
    But in recent weeks TED Talks – with their mantra - ‘ideas worth sharing’ - have been accused of censorship after two British speakers had their talks removed from TED’s official website.

    The row involves two British speakers, the journalist and author Graham Hancock and Cambridge and Harvard University lecturer Rupert Sheldrake. Both speakers have been deemed as ‘provocative’ amid accusations of ‘pseudoscience’ at lectures they gave at a TEDx talk – a franchised spin-off of the main TED Talk brand. Hancock describes a ‘war on consciousness’ that prevents the world from gaining a higher state of awareness through shamanic principles and psychoactives like the South American potion, ayahuasca."

    ~ http://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/gadgets-and-tech/news/ted-conference-censorship-row-8563105.html
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      Apr 7 2013: The comments section is rather interesting. It's good the conversation can spread into places not controlled by TED.
      • Apr 7 2013: exactly. the discussion on The Independent is not only interesting but also more factual! i'm still waiting for this issue of TED "censorship" to go viral. maybe if it does go viral TED will be forced into a position to admit their mistake and do the right thing. honesty is the best PR policy.
      • Apr 7 2013: i've seen the comment thread on the Independent. Chris Anderson is still trying to fan the fire by doing intellectual contortions. it really pains me to see him get pummeled by people who are on the correct side of the argument. and i'm saying this as a fan of TED.

        to the TED Staff, i repeat. honesty is the best PR policy.
      • Apr 7 2013: and here's another comment i posted on the Independent. i do feel sorry for Chris Anderson getting pummeled by people (present company included) who have the facts to back up their claims.

        ~ http://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/gadgets-and-tech/news/ted-conference-censorship-row-8563105.html#comment-855424178
  • Comment deleted

    • Apr 6 2013: "Sir Low: It is I, Sir Low.
      I have arrived, but know not where to go. "

      Love it!
  • Apr 5 2013: Continued from above………

    “which preserves the objectivity of the recommendations and also protects the participants from retribution or harassment”

    Secrecy does not preserve objectivity it corrupts it.

    “Finally, let me say that TED is 100% committed to open enquiry, including challenges to orthodox thinking. But we're also firm believers in appropriate skepticism, or critical thinking.”

    What does “we're also firm believers in appropriate skepticism, or critical thinking.” mean? Scepticism is only dispelled when critical thinking is applied to data. It is only by this method that scepticism can be transformed into certainty. This is something you and your board refused to do.

    “Those two instincts will sometimes conflict”

    I don’t think they conflict the one is the tool by which you transform the other; it’s not its opposing force. The transformation of scepticism into certainty leads to enlightenment.

    Seek the truth for it shall set you free.
    • Apr 6 2013: Well Said Adrian.


      I'd like to comment on this:

      "But we're also firm believers in appropriate skepticism, or critical thinking.”

      This is a bit of a shocker. Where and when in the last three weeks has anyone from TED provided any kind of critical analysis? I've seen no evidence of critical thinking or "appropriate skepticism" from TED. In fact, Sheldrake's talk is itself a shining example of both. He begins with an examination of fundamental assumptions of orthodox science, and asks if these assumptions stand up to closer scrutiny. So he's skeptical of the assumptions, and then critically evaluates them based on evidence he's gathered from various sources. If he's completely wrong, then it should be a simple matter to show where he's wrong. This hasn't happened and won't.

      And then you withdraw support from the TEDx West Hollywood event, citing concerns about the quality of the speakers but rather than looking at each, you've tarred them all with the same brush. You've betrayed one of your own dedicated members who spent a year putting together an event, then decide that they and the TEDx group are not worthy of your support two weeks before the event?

      So much for "appropriate skepticism, or critical thinking.” You should just come out and say that your science board are now the TED equivalent of Wikipedia's (ir)rational skepticism project, making the world safe from "dangerous ideas".
      • Apr 6 2013: Thank you John, and yes I couldent agree more with your sentiments
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      Apr 6 2013: "So much for 'appropriate skepticism, or critical thinking.'"

      What a load of rubbish.
      • Apr 6 2013: Sceptical, critical thinking has to be self-applied to stay scientific. See also the life and work of Wolfgang Pauli, co-founder of quantum theory, the famous "conscience of physics" who became highly interested in psi and psychology in his search for a unified "unus mundus".
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          Apr 6 2013: Yes, and Isaac Newton had a serious interest in alchemy. There are many other examples of prestigious and highly respected scientists whose work crossed the line into pseudoscience.

          For example, Alfred Russel Wallace, whose pioneering work came close to scooping Darwin's in the explanation of descent by natural selection, devoted the latter half of his life to Spiritualism, giving many lectures on contact with spirits of the dead, séances, and the like.

          Louis Leakey, perhaps the greatest paleoanthropologist of the 20th century for his own pioneering work on the fossils and artifacts of human ancestors and Olduvai Gorge, towards the end of his life encouraged credence and support in interpretations of Calico Hills, a geological site in San Bernardino County, California, as the location of evidence for human presence in the Americas at least 100,000 years ago. However, professional archaeologists have explained the evidence at Calico as the result of pareidolia, the spurious identification of naturally broken rocks as artifacts. (Note that the name of this site on Wikipedia reinforces its misinterpretation.)

          Calico Early Man Site
          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Calico_Early_Man_Site

          A less well-known example of a good scientist who later produced pure pseudoscience is Barry Fell, a professor of invertebrate zoology at the Harvard Museum of Comparative Zoology whose credentials on starfish and sea urchins were impeccable. Towards the end of his career, Fell became obsessed with the idea that there had been ancient voyages from Europe to the Americas. Although he had no training in archaeology or epigraphy, he began "translating" hoaxed and spurious texts in support of his theories. His books sold well to the general public but were panned by archaeologists.

          Barry Fell
          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Barry_Fell

          I think Fell's case is the most like Targ's. Targ is a physicist whose laser research was high quality but whose psi research is regarded as pseudoscience.
      • Apr 6 2013: Einstein spent half of his life trying to prove quantum theory was wrong, as he didn't like the idea of "God playing dice" with the universe. Well, it looks like he was wrong. Was he also crossing the line to pseudoscience with this?
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          Apr 6 2013: No. Science that comes up with nulls is not pseudoscience just because the results are null.

          The problem is when only probabilities of 1 and 0 are considered valid, rather than probabilities of 0 > p < 1.
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    Apr 5 2013: "Every organizer deals with the potential loss of sponsorship at the last minute or due to a wide range of foreseeable and unpredictable circumstances." Forgive me for laughing at such a terrible juncture, but you can't be serious with this comment. My unforeseeable circumstance was TED withdrawing my license. I am not a TED organizer dealing with anything, but a private citizen who had all her sponsorship because she was producing a TED event. Please whatever passes for god in the TED world, forgive me for any rudeness in my response, but it is a ridiculous comment.
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      Apr 5 2013: Suzanne, I hope you are able to go ahead with the event anyway.

      Please keep us updated on what is going to happen. Could you post the live stream link again?

      Once the event is over, will you be able to post all of the talks on a youtube channel? That would be really great!
  • Apr 5 2013: Extraordinary evidence requires calm and unbiased inspection.
  • Apr 5 2013: "In 1964 John Bell published his now famous inequality showing that a reformulation of the EPR experiment could be experimentally tested. In 1982 Alain Aspect carried out the Bell experiment and found that quantum physics was correct and Einstein wrong. Quantum properties are not real and hidden, but instead are created in the act of measurement.

    In 2003, Nobel Laureate Anthony Leggett published a more rigorous version of the Bell experiment. A Leggett inequality experiment was carried out recently in the Institute for Quantum Optics and Quantum Information at the University of Vienna and published in Nature in April 2007. Reporting on this New Scientist said:

    Their results, published in 2007, suggest "…that there is nothing inherently real about the properties of an object that we measure. In other words, measuring those properties is what brings them into existence." (New Scientist, 23 June 2007) Or as quantum researcher Vlatko Vedral of the University of Leeds puts it: "Rather than passively observing it, we in fact create reality."

    Quantum mechanics is now telling us unambiguously that consciousness creates reality. And since quantum physics is at the root of everything, this has profound consequences for the interpretation of our own nature, the universe, and, yes, even why it may make more sense to trace everything back to a conscious intelligence rather than inanimate fields and forces.

    http://www.scientificexploration.org/talks/27th_annual/27th_annual_haisch_quantum_mechanics_consciousness.html

    ABOUT THE AUTHOR(S)

    Bernard Haisch, Ph.D., Calphysics Institute, is an astrophysicist and author of over 130 scientific publications. He served as a scientific editor of the Astrophysical Journal for ten years, and was Principal Investigator on several NASA research projects. After earning his Ph.D. from the University of Wisconsin in Madison, Haisch did postdoctoral research at the Joint Institute for Laboratory Astrophysics, University of Colorado at Boulder a
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    Apr 5 2013: Hello Ted,

    I'm curious, how many people reside on your board of decision makers? Can we view some type of documentation, like the minutes without names of people, that shows the progression of ideas during your discussions about these current pressing issues (Sheldrake, revoking license, etc.)? All this info might be somewhere on the internet, but I have no clue where to begin. I feel this might be helpful in showing the fairness of your teams decision making. I love your work and I will continue to, but I want to spread the idea of fairness as well when I recommend ted.com as a helpful resource.
    • Apr 5 2013: I second this, all we asking for is some transparency, and equally applied standards.
  • Apr 4 2013: the TED Conversation Team deleted my comment and asked me to re-write it in a more constructive way. ok, fair enough. take two.

    Dear TED Conversation Team,

    Just when I thought that the Sheldrake-Hancock TED controversy was about to die down, TED made another controversial move when it revoked TEDxWestHollywood’s license because their program was unscientific.

    Then TED named names with the word “pseudoscience” in the same paragraph.

    "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."

    I’m familiar with most of the names mentioned above but I don’t know enough details about their work to agree or disagree with TED’s assessment. However, I strongly object to lumping Russell Targ into the category of “pseudoscience.” The fact that TED has pointed a finger to Russell Targ leads me to speculate that the TED staff are dismissive of the Remote viewing literature.

    I understand the remote viewing protocol — it’s double-blind. The late Ingo Swann was instrumental in designing the protocol. Then it was taught to a few intelligence personnels in the military. I’ve always focused my attention to the original people who started it all because they did solid research on the phenomenon and they’re the ones who designed the original protocol. Russell Targ and Hal Puthoff had a deal with the CIA and the Defense Department that in return for funding they helped the military with intelligence work. Another condition was that Targ and Puthoff were given free rein by the military to publish their work in scientific journals.

    for more context, see my post "The Psi Wars Just Went Nuclear on TED"

    ~ http://www.c4chaos.com/2013/04/the-psi-wars-just-went-nuclear-on-ted/
  • Apr 4 2013: I applaud TED for having the guts to go through with what must have been a difficult decision. I would lose all interest in TED were it to become a platform for quackery and woo.
    • Apr 4 2013: Here is the evidence for telepathy. I'm assuming that since you think it's quackery and woo that you will have read up on all the evidence and are able to intelligently argue why you make this statement.

      Have at it and good luck at refuting it because you'll need scientific peer reviewed studies to prove your point:
      http://weilerpsiblog.wordpress.com/2012/12/14/telepathy-has-been-scientifically-proven-to-be-real/
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        Apr 4 2013: Is NeuroQuantology a reputable journal? To whom?
        http://www.neuroquantology.com/index.php/journal
        • Apr 4 2013: John,

          is Nature reputable enough for you?

          Information transmission under conditions of sensory shielding
          RUSSELL TARG & HAROLD PUTHOFF
          http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v251/n5476/abs/251602a0.html

          oh, how about IEEE?

          ^ Puthoff, H.E. and Targ, R. "A Perceptual Channel for Information Transfer over kilometer distances: Historical perspective and recent research." Proc. IEEE, Vol. 64, no. 3, 329-254. (1976)

          i guess nothing would ever convince you if your mind is made up already. just sayin'.
        • Apr 4 2013: "Is NeuroQuantology a reputable journal?"

          What, it doesn't sound like one?
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        Apr 4 2013: I think you're fetishizing peer-reviewed journals. Ultimately, the bottom line is that *any* piece of research must stand or fall on its own merits and nothing more. Just having been published in Science or Nature doesn't make it so. The research must be replicable and must hold up to repeated testing and scrutiny. Getting something in print is just the beginning of that process.

        Are you familiar with this paper on quantum physics?

        Transgressing the Boundaries: Towards a Transformative Hermeneutics of Quantum Gravity
        http://www.physics.nyu.edu/sokal/transgress_v2/transgress_v2_singlefile.html

        It's a peer-reviewed article that deals specifically with, among other things, Sheldrake's concept of the morphogenetic field.
        • Apr 4 2013: I think you were fetishizing peer-reviewed journals when you asked whether NeuroQuantology was a reputable journal. You can't have it both ways. Sauce for the goose and all that.
        • Apr 4 2013: As usual, the skeptics don't examine the evidence, present no counterarguments and resort to logical fallacies to support their arguments.

          I present an article with links to six meta anayses covering a large number of studies conducted by over 50 researchers world wide over a number of years and the skeptics just blow right on by it.

          Deal with the evidence. Right now you guys are all hat and no cattle.
        • Apr 4 2013: I think it's "skeptics" who fetishizes peer-reviewed journals.

          you can't have it both ways, sir. that's called moving the goal posts. the works of Targ, Puthoff, Ingo Swann had not only been replicated but also validated by other scientists. e.g. Persinger's experiments with Ingo Swann.

          so replicated. check, published on peer-reviewed journal. check. what other criteria you want to add to the ever-elusive moving goal posts by "skeptics" and debunkers?
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        Apr 4 2013: Steve, your thinking is fallacious yet again, with the same kind of "all or nothing" logic. You also imply that I would fetishize a reputable journal when I would not. Recognizing that there is a ranking of journals from ones that strive for absolute objectivity to ones where the editor, editorial board, reviewers, and authors are all working within their own subjective paradigm is important.

        Are you aware of the fact that there are perr-reviewed journals of Mormon research staffed by Mormons and publishing exclusively on Mormon-related topics? They work within a paradigm that begins with the premise that the Book of Mormon is an ancient document that was revealed to Joseph Smith by an angel and transcribed from writing in "Reformed Egyptian" on golden plates.

        Similarly, there are peer-reviewed journals that publish articles on postmodern theory vetted by postmodernists and on psi phenomena vetted by believers in psi. "Peer-review" doesn't insure objectivity.

        It's ironic that the same individuals who have been lambasting science for its flawed paradigms flog its virtues and embrace the trappings of science in a disingenous and fetishizing way when it suits their needs. There is zero credibility in that.
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        Apr 4 2013: Are you familiar with the case of Piltdown Man? That's an example of spurious data that became the subject of scientific discussions, peer-reviewed articles, and even made it into mainstream textbooks until its legitimacy was utterly discredited. It's an example of the power of wishful thinking, which I think also pervades research on psi.

        Piltdown Man
        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Piltdown_Man
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        Apr 4 2013: Well, Steve, I wasn't fetishizing peer-reviewed journals. Your thinking is fallacious. Do you really not know what "reputable journal" implies? There is a difference between fetishization and objective evaluation. Just because something is published in a reputable journal doesn't mean I attribute absolute (or supernatural) authority to it and what it represents in the way of powers of perception.

        Fetishism
        http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fetishism
        • Apr 4 2013: Yeah, but your point seemed to be (ie, was) that in the first case the journal was not credible so the the evidence could be discounted on that basis alone (ie, you were fetishizing credible peer-review right there every bit as much as the person was who you subsequently criticised), and then when a better journal was offered you suggested the importance of the credibility of the journal was overplayed (yes, by you, one post earlier, as noted). Thus your first point was largely a red herring which was shown to be very red, and mostly a herring, when you immediately rejected a key reason for making it with your second response.

          Also interested to know what psychic abilities you are utilizing in your assessment of psi research. That is, you claim there's a lot of wishful thinking in the area but you clearly know nothing of the area so it's unclear how you could know whether, and how much, if any, wishful thinking is involved. One might, with greater justification, say that your assessment is based on a priori ideological commitments which means you don't actually need to see the evidence at all because it won't make a blind bit of difference to you. This also neatly explains the constant red herrings you cook up like the one identified above.
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        Apr 4 2013: The quantity of spurious research is constantly expanding and that has been true of claims about psi (such as "animal magnetism" and spirit rappings) for over two centuries. Madame Blavatsky was railing on about close-minded scientists in 1877 and that continues to this day.

        "Scientific" papers aside, psi will remain the object of skepticism, ridicule, and derision until there is clear and persuasive evidence that it "works," that it is good (or bad) for something.

        I don't think that there can be any doubt that it is good for the imagination, as evidenced by mountains of books, films, graphic novels, artwork, music, etc.

        Is it good for anything else? Can it be used in engineering? Medicine? Law enforcement? Why, besides entertainment and religious/spiritual value, is it important? To return to TED's core interests, what does psi offer in the way of technology? Anything?
        • Apr 4 2013: Your last post is interesting - mainly because that exact move was predicted many years ago. That is, for many years people have been saying that as soon as the evidence for psi gets to a certain level pseudoskeptics will then demand the effect be stronger than they are and that it be good for something. So again you make the unscientific step of demanding a phenomenon be some way rather than just looking and seeing the way it it. A bit like saying I want gravity on earth to cause objects to accelerate at 20 m/s2 or I'm not interested. Or how about, if gravity existed then people might fall to their deaths from high places and I wouldn't want to believe in a force so wicked. That's another one of yours.
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        Apr 4 2013: You're proving my point, Craig. It doesn't work as, "so replicated. check, published on peer-reviewed journal. check" when that's happening within a closed community of believers, as is found in Catholic, Jewish, or Mormon research. Non-believers must be persuaded as well. With psi, they've remained unpersuaded for centuries. How much longer will the claims continue? Forever, I'm sure.
        • Apr 4 2013: As Max Planck said, "A new scientific truth does not triumph by convincing opponents and making them see the light, but rather because its opponents eventually die, and a new generation grows up that is familiar with it".
        • Apr 4 2013: Just deal with the evidence please. All this hand waving is meaningless.
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        Apr 4 2013: Steve, you accurately say, "Yeah, but your point seemed to be (ie, was) that in the first case the journal was not credible so the the evidence could be discounted on that basis alone."

        The critical phrase here is "seemed to be" (and thanks for getting that right). It was actually not my point, which is where you committed a fallacy. Thanks for spelling it out ("seemed to be (ie, was)"). You slip from "seems" to "was" all the time. Whether something is in a reputable journal or not is one in a constellation of relevant variables. It is not an all-or-nothing deal breaker, as your all too frequent "probability of 1 or 0," either/or logic would claim. It's just one example of the fallacies in your thinking, which apparently also contribute to your belief in psi.

        One of the best-named businesses in audio recordings is "Sounds True."

        http://www.soundstrue.com/

        Just because something sounds true doesn't mean it is. Just because something seems to be doesn't mean that it is. You make many such fallacious assumptions about what I say.
        • Apr 4 2013: My point here, which you have not yet grasped, is that you moaned about the journal and then when a better one was found (because of your request) you then suggested they were fetishizing PR journals. They weren't, they were just responding to your red herring. Thus my point is that your suggestion that the person in question was fetishizing PR journals was unjustified or could, with as much or as little justification, be leveled at you.
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        Apr 4 2013: Debbie, you got it right. Doubt everything. That's what critical thinking is all about. It's really not difficult to understand.

        Psi proponents often go on and on about the value of intuition except when it comes to scientists. If scientists' own intuitions run counter to the desired beliefs in psi, they count for nothing. How ironic.
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        Apr 4 2013: "Or how about, if gravity existed then people might fall to their deaths from high places and I wouldn't want to believe in a force so wicked. That's another one of yours."

        What? Another spurious claim from you. What twisted fallacies you weave.
        • Apr 4 2013: Not at all - why only yesterday you were ranting and raving about tsunamis and murder and why you refused to believe in psi if it didn't help protect fully against these things. It's not my fault your views are so ridiculous that even you see their lunacy when they are handed back to you.

          So let me be clear: you are constantly making anti/unscientific demands that a phenomenon be a certain way. Gravity is what it is, psi is what it is, and no a priori demands have to be met in either case. Clear?
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        Apr 4 2013: Craig, when the evidence comes from believers, it loses credibility. That's a lesson to be learned from studies of the Shroud of Turin, another black hole of biased research. (Yes, with lots if peer-reviewed articles on BOTH sides.)

        Shroud of Turin
        http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shroud_of_Turin

        Both the shroud and psi are destined to remain matters of faith.
        • Apr 4 2013: "Both the shroud and psi are destined to remain matters of faith."

          I often wonder how it is that the skeptics who scream the loudest about the importance of the scientific method, empiricism, and dispassion, are so much more certain about the future than any psychic.

          "Destiny. Destiny. No escaping that for me." ~ Young Frankenstein
        • Apr 4 2013: All the talk in the world won't make the psi studies go away.

          We are not her to talk about the Shroud of Turin.

          Just deal with the evidence and spare me the preaching.

          Although by now, I'm guessing that you have never seen the evidence, have no idea what it is and pretty much try to hide that fact by changing the subject or blindly deriding it.
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        Apr 4 2013: Steve, the fallacious statements from you are neverending. I made no a priori demands. I asked some valid questions that remain unanswered. Anyone can read my post and see that for themselves.
        • Apr 4 2013: Yeah, they can read it, they can read it here:

          "I think that if humans have psi, the ones who have it must be the most insensitive and cruel people on the planet. Take the 2004 earthquake and tsunami in the Indian Ocean, for example. The estimates are that 230,000 people died. Where were the warnings from clairvoyants that could have saved lives? Where is the documentation that they accurately saw what was coming and made efforts to warn people?"

          Thus you are DEMANDING that if psi is true it must be such that we can receive sufficiently clear warnings of future disasters to be able to warn people in the appropriate location and thus save lives. A bit like demanding that earth's gravity must pull the atmosphere down to ground level.
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        Apr 4 2013: No, I'm not. You are "creating your own reality," which is a misrepresentation of the one that we and all of the other participants in this discussion share.

        In the passage you quote, I am asking two questions, for which the answers have been far from forthcoming. Rather, your strategy is to avoid the questions entirely and mischaracterize them as being something that they're not. They are not demands at all.

        A simplified, hypothetical question and possible answers:

        Q1: If humans have psi, why don't we receive warnings?
        A1: Because the effects are so subtle that it is not possible to give warnings.
        A2: Because warnings are given but have been routinely ignored.
        A3: Because clairvoyants are reluctant to reveal their powers to anyone.
        A4: Because those who can do psi are sadistic psychopaths who enjoy seeing thousands of people die.
        A5: Because the practice of psi comes at great costs that psychics are reluctant to pay.
        A6: Because there is a conspiracy on the dark side to kill psychics as soon as they are revealed.
        A7: Because you, John, do not really understand what's meant by "psi", let me explain...

        Those hypotheticals should make it clear that I am not DEMANDING anything. I am REQUESTING answers that you seem incapable of providing, choosing instead to divert the discussion towards ad hominem insinuations and fallacious interpretations.

        Reality is not as you demand it, Steve. Sorry.
        • Apr 4 2013: That's just the story you're making up now. But, you say: "if humans have psi, the ones who have it must be the most insensitive and cruel people on the planet", and that presupposes that people with psi must have sufficiently clear psychic impressions to give accurate warnings otherwise there would no justification for calling them "insensitive and cruel". That is, your criticism of those people only makes sense if we accept something like A3 or A4 (A4 is virtually identical to the premise I quoted) and makes no sense if A1 is the case. Thus you are ignoring A1 and demanding psi be something other than what it may be.
        • Apr 4 2013: And I answered your question above immediately you asked it. I said that it seems something like A1. I then pointed out you shouldn't really make demands on phenomena by presupposing how the phenomena must be - as you did by stating something ("cruel and insensitive") only consistent with not-A1.
      • Comment deleted

        • Apr 4 2013: When you say "psi is destined to remain a matter of faith" and we take you to be saying that psi is destined to remain a matter of faith, you can't really complain at our interpretation because that's precisely what you said. Thus it is perfectly reasonable to ask, as TW did, how you can be so sure. And it is no answer to tell us we misunderstood when the answer, if what you say now is true, is that you simply misspoke. So, instead of having a go at us for taking what you said seriously, why not just try to be a bit clearer the first time round.
        • Apr 4 2013: @ JH, Sorry if you thought I was singling you out. It wasn't personal. I was more musing really about something more general your statement brought to mind, hence my use of the words "often wondered" and "skeptics" (plural.) And you're right. Your comment isn't even necessarily the best example of it. But it is something I've seen a lot of, using lots of words or just a few, that speak to a certainty of something that is absolutely not possible and will never be proved, so why waste research dollars on this blah, blah, blah pseudoscience. When in fact there's tons of anecdotal evidence and research results so promising that even Richard Wiseman admits it's been proved to a normal standard of evidence.

          But I have to ask, John, why it is you get so testy when people infer meanings from things you imply AND when you're read literally. What is the proper way to read your statements? Is there a guide one can purchase?
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        Apr 4 2013: Steve, you're making multiple errors. For example, I asked the question:

        "Is NeuroQuantology a reputable journal?"

        You characterized this by saying, "you moaned about the journal."

        Can you not see that you are fabricating a reality that does not exist? Others can.
        • Apr 4 2013: What, then, was the point of such a question? That is, are we to believe that someone cited an article and you decided to just ask, just out of general interest, whether the journal in question was reputable? I think not. I, and everyone else, knows full well what you were doing. You were refusing to look at the evidence and justifying your refusal by questioning the credibility of the journal. And that interpretation is backed up by the lack of comment from you about the content of the article. The article you didn't read because of the credibility of the journal. And the article you "announced" you weren't going to read by questioning the credibility of the journal.
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        Apr 4 2013: Time Walker, you wrote, "I often wonder how it is that the skeptics who scream the loudest about the importance of the scientific method, empiricism, and dispassion, are so much more certain about the future than any psychic."

        I have not yet ceased to wonder why you and Steve and others insist on interpreting my comments as being far more literal and absolute than they are ever intended.

        In writing:

        "Both the shroud and psi are destined to remain matters of faith."

        What I actually meant was:

        "Based on my perception of the longstanding debates over the correct interpretation of the Shroud of Turin, which include numerous peer-reviewed articles drawing conclusions in support of both sides that cannot all be correct, and on my perception of the dogged determination of psi supporters and opponents, it seems extremely unlikely that these issues will ever be resolved and are more likely to always remain ones in which opinions based on faith continue to prevail."

        I'm sorry that my original statement was phrased in such a way that you would interpret it as an absolute (=1) instead of a statement of probability of
        • Apr 4 2013: I'm confused. Did this comment move or did I respond to the wrong comment? Anyway. My response is above.
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        Apr 4 2013: "All this hand waving is meaningless."

        Well, yes, if you don't also say "abracadabra." Hasn't that been scientifically proven?
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        Apr 4 2013: Steve, you write: "Thus it is perfectly reasonable to ask, as TW did, how you can be so sure."

        You seem to be having another verbal hallucination. Where did Time Walker ask how I can be so sure?
        • Apr 4 2013: He wondered aloud how (people like) you, who said what you just did, came to be so certain about it while allegedly supporting the scientific method.

          That is, after all, the question from TW you were answering/rejecting when you said this:

          "Based on my perception of the longstanding debates over the correct interpretation of the Shroud of Turin, which include numerous peer-reviewed articles drawing conclusions in support of both sides that cannot all be correct, and on my perception of the dogged determination of psi supporters and opponents, it seems extremely unlikely that these issues will ever be resolved and are more likely to always remain ones in which opinions based on faith continue to prevail."
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        Apr 4 2013: Steve, you write, "He wondered aloud how (people like) you, who said what you just did, came to be so certain about it while allegedly supporting the scientific method."

        Yes, he did. What he actually wrote was:

        "I often wonder how it is that the skeptics who scream the loudest about the importance of the scientific method, empiricism, and dispassion, are so much more certain about the future than any psychic."

        How, exactly, is that asking "how can I [John Hoopes] be so sure?"
        • Apr 4 2013: Because you (John Hoopes) were, in this particular case, the example of the "skeptic" who screams loudly, and who is so certain. It was your (John Hoopes') comment he was responding to after all. That's why you (John Hoopes) answered him as if he had been asking you (John Hoopes). And that's why you (John Hoopes) admonished him for misinterpreting you (John Hoopes), and why in response you (John Hoopes) clarified what you (John Hoopes) had said.
        • Apr 4 2013: And even you, John, took him to be asking you how you were certain. That's why, in admonishing him, you said:

          "I have not yet ceased to wonder why you and Steve and others insist on interpreting my comments as being far more literal and absolute than they are ever intended."

          Before going on to clarify that you hadn't meant to sound as certain as he took you to be. Thus I only interpreted him in exactly the way you did before you decided it would be better for you if you pretended otherwise.
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        Apr 4 2013: Steve, you wrote (about the question and hypothetical answers):

        "And I answered your question above immediately you asked it. I said that it seems something like A1. I then pointed out you shouldn't really make demands on phenomena by presupposing how the phenomena must be"

        What you actually wrote was:

        "Thus to answer your question as best I can, it is because psi at the moment seems fleeting - enough, say, to let us guess a one in four chance at nearer one in three but not, as you demand, four in four. Hey ho, sometimes I play a good round of golf, sometimes I don't - my putting well when driving well ability being particularly fleeting."

        But you claim that it was essentially the same as:

        "A1: Because the effects are so subtle that it is not possible to give warnings."

        Can you see why I'm having trouble understanding you as you think you are understood? The reverse also seems to be true, that you cannot understand me. We are just not communicating well, which is why I've characterized your interpretations as "verbal hallucinations." Am I the only one seeing this problem?
        • Apr 4 2013: I think you're manufacturing a problem because your arguments are being dispatched the instant they appear and your only way out is to quibble endlessly about what was (obviously) meant. I mean, everyone else who argues with you has pretty much the same interpretations of everything you've said and yet you always tell us we're all wrong. Eg, dreaming, nazis, globalization of ayahuasca, certainty about psi (above), and numerous others where people have all taken you to be saying much the same thing and yet you always say we are all always wrong. And this then gradually spirals inwards until you have nowhere to turn and then you start a new thread and we go through the whole palaver again.
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        Apr 4 2013: Steve, you write, "Because you (John Hoopes) were, in this particular case, the example of the 'skeptic' who screams loudly..."

        Well that's your interpretation. Have I really been screaming?

        Your assertion that I posted a statement that was not an answer to a question after a post that did not actually contain a question but was rather a musing statement beginning with "I wonder..." and not specifically mentioning me but only "skeptics" somehow results in there having been a question specifically addressed to me and then answered by me when it was not is a fascinating post hoc reconstruction of what actually occurred in order to justify a pet interpretation.

        I think we have the logic of psi results there in a nutshell.
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        Apr 4 2013: Steve, is this reading of invisible text between the lines intended to be a demonstration of your psychic powers? If so, it's been utterly unconvincing.

        Another fallacy in your bag of tricks:

        Post hoc ergo propter hoc
        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Post_hoc_ergo_propter_hoc
        • Apr 4 2013: As I explained, you initially took TW to be asking exactly what I took him to be asking. So much so that you admonished him for asking it and then clarified what you had said in light of the question you took him to be asking and which you are now saying I misinterpreted him as asking.
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        Apr 4 2013: But the fact that he wasn't actually asking anything of anyone in the first place is inconsequential, right?
        • Apr 4 2013: Well he kinda was. He was wondering aloud with you as the example. And given that it was your statement that caused him to wonder aloud, it is not a case of post hoc ergo propter hoc, and more a case of absolutely obviously true to anyone who understands English.

          17s

          http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0VheeCoEU2I
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        Apr 4 2013: I've noticed that "kinda" is your fudge for fudging.

        As in, "Remote viewing kinda works."
        • Apr 4 2013: No. Saying A kinda is X, just means that anyone not hell bent on denying A was X would agree A was X.
    • Apr 4 2013: But ex-TEDxWestHollywood is not, was not, all quackery and woo anymore than Galileo and Copernicus were quackery and woo.
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      Apr 4 2013: This is the abstract of the article in Nature you just cited:

      "We present results of experiments suggesting the existence of one or more perceptual modalities through which individuals obtain information about their environment, although this information is not presented to any known sense. The literature and our observations lead us to conclude that such abilities can be studied under laboratory conditions."

      The conclusion is that there is data *suggesting" (not concluding) something and that something "can be studied." Not exactly jaw-dropping results.
      • Apr 4 2013: dam john . not that i agree but you got some serious skills man.. juss sayin.
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          Apr 4 2013: Does that count as looking at the evidence? One down. How many hundreds to go? Or will blowing out the bottom cards bring the whole house down?
    • Apr 4 2013: I agree Craig. If people want to peddle woo, do it off TED's stages. If you want to preach Jesus, do it off TED's stages. If you want to tell the world about your alien conspiracy theory, do it off TED's stages. Keep TED free of bad ideas, keep bad ideas on YouTube where they belong. And Steve Stark, please don't insult me personally. Feel free to attack ideas, but mind your manners please when speaking to me. Thank you.
      • Apr 4 2013: TED is on YouTube. So is Billy Graham on TED on YouTube.
        http://youtu.be/90mj79GqWhc
      • Apr 4 2013: There may be some strawmen in that statement.
      • Apr 5 2013: The problem here is the definition of woo. So far, the only woo I see is coming from the skeptics, who don't deal with the evidence. All I see is faith and belief without any scientific inquiry.
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    Apr 3 2013: I think it's unfortunate that TED couldn't come to an agreement with TEDx WestHollywood about its event. I saw many of the communications between TED and TEDx WestHollywood. Although both sides weren't as pure as white lillies, and the tone from both sides was sometimes unnecessarily personal and cranky, I'd still opine it was unnecessary to revoke TEDx WestHollywood's license. But what TED did is not to be undone, and no one or organization will be perfect this week. Maybe next week ;-)

    And yet, as long as Billy Graham's talk remains on the TED site, the earnest work of people like Suzanne Taylor, Hancock or Sheldrake is still being singled-out as suspect or inappropriate. It's clear that TED is sometimes making choices based in scientisms, personal values, bias or unintentional oversight.

    Graham is anything but a Technologist, Entertainer or Designer. Nor are Taylor and *most* of her presenters. The TEDx WestHollywood disagreement happened while TED still allows regular, vituperative, comments from TED-sanctioned trolls like Krisztián Pintér, whose behavior should have encouraged TED to ban his consistent behavior from its site several times over.

    Watch Graham's TED talk here for yourself, at http://www.ted.com/talks/billy_graham_on_technology_faith_and_suffering.html

    Among other things, Graham cites the Christian bible (the King James' is a poor translation of a good canon) as a source of good information. Graham also provides personal opinion from his own experience in religion, biblical figures, Jesus, Christ, god and souls. Graham asks lots of questions and provides no substantive answers other than his conviction in the idea of faith, but instead expresses his feelings and deeply held *belief* in god.

    And TED will still keep doing the overall good work it does, making a few mistakes along the way as it has done with Sheldrake, Graham, Hancock or Taylor.
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      Apr 3 2013: I think if Graham's talk had claimed scientific evidence for God, that would have been a problem, mostly because it would probably not have been credible to nonbelievers. It is one thing when people of faith who are obviously talking about their religious beliefs discuss issues of faith. It is yet another when people claim that what they are talking about is neither faith nor religion but science when it is not. The fundamental issue there becomes one of credibility and perhaps even honesty. Graham is perfectly credible in describing his own beliefs. He is probably being honest as well, although that's always more difficult to tell. I think both credibility and honesty should be significant criteria in the selection and hosting of TED and TEDx talks.
  • Apr 2 2013: TED is a business, and as such it can 'do what it wants'. However, its prominent position in the popular culture as a disseminator and curator of knowledge is such that it exercises power over the direction of culture and society. People see this, and they react as they would towards anything else of power and influence - with concern. Nobody refrains from voicing their concern because they think "well, TED is privately owned, so I'm just going to let it go ahead and do what it wants" any more than they think that about the businesses removing the tops of the Appalachian mountains, clearing the Amazonian rainforests, profiting from child labour or selling arms to commiters of atrocity and genocide.

    The balance of power and influence over the direction of global society is more and more moving away from traditional structures like nation states and towards corporations, transnational corporations and brands. Partly I think this is great, as it represents the beginning of boundary dissolution and a more interwoven global culture. However, there is a major problem that needs to be addressed, which is that corporations are not democracies. Not to the degree that a nation state can be, anyway. A world where power is increasingly in the hands of corporations, if those corporations are unwilling to engage with the concerns of the public but rather dictate their own agenda, means a world where power is increasingly out of the hands of the public.

    TED will play a role in this process whether it wants to or not. I just hope it plays a role that leads to more fulfilling and contented lives for all of the world's citizens.
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      Apr 3 2013: Thanks, Lewis. We're committed to doing our best in that regard.

      We're not really a business, by the way, we're a non-profit. And a small one at that. 10 years ago it was just me and 2 or 3 others. Now there's a small team of fewer than 100 people based in New York. We love what we do. 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... and invite others, like your good self, to join the debate.
      • Apr 3 2013: Chris, will you maybe please clear up for us whether or not TED's "Brain Trust" is the same as TED's "Science Board"?
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          Apr 3 2013: It's not. The science board are five volunteers from a variety of scientific disciplines, and a lot of wisdom on dealing with complex scientific issues of public interest. They give us informal advice when asked, and we make our own decisions taking that advice into account.

          If this was a public board a) they would probably all have to give up their day jobs to participate given all the incoming comments, suggestions and criticisms they'd have to deal with and b) the quality of their advice could be compromised as they would, in part, have to play to the public. This is why there is a long tradition of private advisers and referees in numerous organizations.

          I hope that helps.
      • Apr 3 2013: Yes, thank you.

        Edited: Thank you also for being so transparent. Transparency = openness, communication and accountability.

        Having said that, can you consider how this institution of private (anonymous) advisers in itself may possibly compromise the quality of their advice in that the very process decreases transparency?

        Moreover, I’m not really sure if you are 100% aware of how this controversy is being construed by a sizable proportion of the TED community. Please refer to the following for just one interpretation,
        http://weilerpsiblog.wordpress.com/2013/04/02/the-loud-and-clear-message-that-the-ted-controversy-is-sending/

        Taken contextually wrt the above, to a lot of people it seems like TED has decided to 'take sides' in such debates. Materialists believe that consciousness is 'only' an emergent epiphenomenon of a sufficiently complex brain. Some on your Brain Trust would simply change the definition of consciousness itself (on which there is no real consensus re a definition) to make it out as 'just' another so-called soft problem of consciousness. This, whilst a lot of other respected scientists and philosophers would argue that, to the contrary, it is actually still a 'very' hard problem. Others see it not so much as a 'hard' problem, but an 'impossible' one - within the established confines of materialist science. It goes on and on and the debate is actually still very open.

        It also just doesn't seem very scientific or sincere to believe that someday some way the exclusive material cause of consciousness WILL be proven. Seems more like wishful thinking to me...

        What's your take on this divide? Have you/TED actually made a choice? Because that is, unfortunately, precisely the way it seems to be here. Will you/TED please be more transparent re your believes so that the community and future speakers can be more aware of the ideologies behind the organization they choose to support with their time and attention?

        Regards, a true TED fan
      • Apr 3 2013: Chris does the Science Board's wisdom also include the critique of Rupert Sheldrake's and Graham Hancock's talks where their wisdom was so poorly devined that it had to be struck out on rebuttal? This a demonstration of the quality of their advice? Probably the last time they will venture into public?
      • Apr 3 2013: And oh oh Chris, can you tell us about your phone conversation with Rupert Sheldrake and how that went? Sorry about rupert's shortness in his opionion, oops.

        Dr. Rupert Sheldrake: I do see Chris Anderson’s point of view and indeed, I had a long conversation with Chris Anderson on the telephone. We got on perfectly well. I wasn’t particularly angry with him or anything like that. It was a reasonable conversation. They do have a point. There’s a lot of rubbish and there has to be some kind of filter. So I’m not against the idea of a filter but what I am against is the idea of applying the filter in a very partial kind of way.

        There are lots of things up on the TEDx website which are controversial. For example, there are a lot of talks by militant Atheists which a lot of people find controversial. A lot of people disagree with what they say and think they’re actually wrong in a variety of ways. But those haven’t been flagged up or put in the Naughty Corner. Those have been allowed absolutely free run on the Internet. They’re put up on the main website, talks by people like Richard Dawkins, for example.

        The difference here is that my talk was flagged up as being pseudo-scientific because Jerry Coyne didn’t like it. Well, Jerry Coyne is a very bigoted man who writes very loud-mouthed things on his website. I don’t take him very seriously. I mean, he’s a polemicist, a kind of Dawkins-type polemicist. So they pay a lot of attention to what Jerry Coyne and PZ Meyers said on their websites. If there had been a similar attack by, for example, Christian Fundamentalists on Dawkins they would have ignored it. But if it’s by scientific fundamentalists then they pay attention, and what’s more don’t just pay attention but dig themselves into a hole trying to justify this.
      • Apr 3 2013: Thanks for your point about not being a business, Chris. I do understand the distinction between a non-profit and a commercial organisation, although I think that my point about businesses is still important, as it's my understanding (correct me if I'm wrong) that TED does depend on sponsorship, etc, and that the need to maintain the funds to do what TED does necessitates maintenance of the approval of those who supply those funds. In this way a non-profit is still very much a part of the world of profit and suffers influence from it (while hopefully having a positive influence on it too).
      • Apr 3 2013: Hi, Chris. Thanks for choosing to engage with us here. I do have a question about the science board. How did they come to be selected? I'm especially curious if they were sought out at someone's behest or were referred as possible candidates to approach, if they themselves volunteered, or if you personally pursued them for what you perceived as their expertise.

        I know some people have been nonplussed by the lack of opportunity to dialogue so I appreciate your doing so here.
      • Apr 3 2013: Surely though you take into consideration whether your content will bother your sponsors?
  • Apr 2 2013: i appreciate TED defining their brand and being consistent in its alignment to it. it's no different than my trust in companies that i buy food from. i know certain one's don't add certain ingredients which makes shopping easier. however, i recommend TED update is conceptual notion of its aim. for example, what is 'language of science'? science is a method, not a value set or a language or a community. can't determine the value of things. there seems to be a great confusion on the difference between a claim made by Science and a scientist. Science can never tell us anything of value — that's determined by humans and is in itself wholly unscientific. Technology is not science. Education is not science. Design is not science. Yes, they may USE science, but all science does is measure and and compare. it cannot make judgements.
    if you haven't studied philosophy, this may be difficult to understand. if Science has a language, it is mathematics. when you speak of 'scientific language', you're talking about a translation of a method mathematics into English with all its prose and poetry and rhetoric.
    i NEVER assume anything ANYONE is telling me is more than their interpretation of their perceptions. to reject "talks that present one spiritual view as the 'truth'" and then to say there is one scientific truth shows a philosophical bias of spiritually as relative and science as absolute— both become opinion when interpreted through humans

    my suggestions for improvement:
    •add both philosophers of religion and science to your advisory board
    •list the 'ingredients' of each talk — warning: this TEDx has may make unverifiable claims or states opinions as fact
    •allow more divisive talks. no teacher should be showing their class a talk they haven't previewed or not discussing the legitimacy of its claims with the class after. i WANT to here people make claims as truth, even spiritual, like they did in the old days instead of this modern 'everyone is right' rhetoric
    —thanx
    • Apr 2 2013: Listing 'ingredients' is a brilliant idea (so long as the terms for ingredients don't carry bias, such as listing 'woo' as an ingredient, or something. unfalsifiability is fine, as people should be thinking about that.)
  • Apr 8 2013: I note TED has a talk up by Richard Dawkins. Dawkins was the originator of memetics - a well known pseudoscience http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Memetics#Criticism. Time for the ban-hammer. Get Dickie in the naughty corner.
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    Apr 7 2013: Another blog about TEDx West Hollywood:

    http://www.c4chaos.com/2013/04/the-psi-wars-just-went-nuclear-on-ted/
  • Apr 7 2013: I just deleted a comment and it didn't take a reply already existing to it with it down, instead it did link the reply into the containing thread.
  • Apr 7 2013: You have to draw the line somewhere.

    "Scientists like Targ and Dossey [Sheldrake, Radin, et al.] are in a very difficult spot. Right in the middle of a war with dogmatic atheists on one side and fundamentalist religions on the other side. It's a pretty scary middle ground to walk on, but they do. They do the scientific work that the dogmatic/fundamentalist "believers" at either end of the spectrum don't want anyone doing."

    The emergence of a science of consciousness that splits the territory of the scientific/religious worldview into three demands too much from TED admin and its corporate funders.

    TED has drawn the line. There are only two sides, not two plus one. Their formula for adjudicating controversy about claims of pseudoscience is: If it is not mainstream materialist science it is non-scientific religious belief in magical fantasy. There is no distinction between the Noah's Ark story being real and consciousness outside the brain being real. It is all fantasy-woo-creationist-nonsense.

    TED will not enter the middle ground where the nonsense of What The Bleep Do You Know is distinguished from the solid evidence of the Ganzfeld experiment. It is too messy and controversial. Easier to say anything James Randi doesn't approve of is banned from the TED franchise.

    You have to draw the line somewhere. There is a big drawback to this position, but TED is willing to live with it. The drawback is that when science is contained by the boundaries of what is already known and agreed to science ceases to advance. TED's motto can be reworded in regard to the line they drew. Science in support of consciousness outside the brain becomes Ideas Worth Suppressing. Everything else the TED brand now stands for are Ideas Worth Recycling.
    • Apr 7 2013: I think you're spot on Dan. The problem for TED being that the line they've chosen to draw is inconsistent with the stated aims of the organisation. But, since they really like the stated aims of the organisation, they have to try to justify the line in those terms but cannot really do it. Thus all the things that have had to be crossed out and TED's failure to replace them with anything of substance.
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      Apr 7 2013: "Bleep was conceived and its production funded by William Arntz, who co-directed the film along with Betsy Chasse and Mark Vicente: all three were students of Ramtha's School of Enlightenment."

      What the Bleep Do We Know!?
      http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/What_the_Bleep_Do_We_Know!%3F

      Ramtha's School of Enlightenment
      http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ramtha%2527s_School_of_Enlightenment
      http://www.ramtha.com/

      Is Ramtha a member of TED? Has J.Z. Knight ever been invited to speak at a TED or TEDx event? If she were to speak, would it be best if she spoke as herself, channeled Ramtha, or both?
      • Apr 7 2013: Thanks for restating my point, John, As I wrote, What the Bleep is nonsense.

        You are bring clarity to this debate by illustrating how Skeptics who neither examine nor understand what they reject instead throw a blanket of criticism on top of the entire subject.
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      Apr 7 2013: Dan, you write: "Science in support of consciousness outside the brain becomes Ideas Worth Suppressing. Everything else the TED brand now stands for are Ideas Worth Recycling."

      It's unfortunate that you see things that way. I find new and stimulating ideas on TED practically every day. I don't think whatever science is being done on "consciousness outside the brain" is being suppressed, but I do think there is a great deal of that research that is either poor science or pseudoscience.

      Take theories of intelligent design, for example. Those draw upon a concept of consciousness outside the brain but are not taken seriously by mainstream cosmologists or evolutionary biologists. Should Michael Behe (author of "Darwin's Black Box", a key book on intelligent design) be a TED or TEDx speaker? If someone were to propose a TEDx event with the theme of research on intelligent design theory, should it be rejected by TED on the grounds that it is pseudoscience? Do you think intelligent design is an "idea worth spreading"? Why or why not?

      Intelligent design
      http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Intelligent_design

      Michael Behe
      http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Michael_Behe
      • Apr 7 2013: John - Here is where I agree with you fully: "I do think there is a great deal of that research that is either poor science or pseudoscience." I am not up-to-speed on Michael Behe, but I strongly reject Christian theology masquerading as science. Biblical "natural science" has been falsified by science to my understanding.

        Up until TED gave James Randi and his followers intellectual control of its curatorial direction, I considered the TED brand to a credible filter for distinguishing between poor science/pseudoscience and well conducted research that stretches the boundaries of scientific knowledge.

        This question is of great personal interest to me because I work day-in-and-day-out with a method of clinical psychology that employs consciousness outside the brain. I have accumulated a file of several hundred clinical cases that convincingly falsifies the conjecture that the entirety of consciousness can be explained by brain function. I am one of several thousand clinicians, many licensed professional throughout the world who use this method. In total the validity of consciousness external to the human brain has been demonstrated tens of thousands of times.

        Now, these are all clinical cases, not controlled studies. However, there are a vast amount of controlled studies - those not counted in your accurate assessment of a "great deal of this research" - that support this clinical evidence. I credit you for not claiming 100% of this research is poor science.

        TED would do much better to use its science board to evaluate what is good science and what is poor science. The failure of the board to make any statement throughout this controversy does great damage to its credibility. It really looks like anything and everything that touches on non-materialist science is rejected without being examined in its particulars.

        Sheldrake on Morphic Fields and Family Constellations http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JydjryhEl5o
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          Apr 7 2013: Thanks, Dan. Given the way you are interpreting your clinical data, I'm curious to know what you think of the research by the late Harvard psychiatrist John Mack on alien abduction experiences. If I understand his research, Mack concluded (as you seem to) that there was something "real" behind the experiences he was documenting. I do not know whether Mack ever asserted that people were being abducted by aliens, but there are certainly many people who have concluded that his research supports that.

          John Edward Mack
          http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Edward_Mack

          NOVA Online - Kidnapped by UFOs
          http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/aliens/johnmack.html
      • Apr 7 2013: John
        You're just listing a whole load of things you don't like without the slightest discrimination. This is exactly the point Dan was making - there is a difference and there are some easy distinctions to be made. The fact that your means of dealing with it is to throw a blanket over everything is merely testament to your refusal to engage with topics that challenge your world-view. Did you never stop to think that maybe the reason a Nobel prize winning physicist is open to things you are not is because he actually knows a little bit more than you about the way physics actually works. He is, for example, not hampered by a Newtonian world-view that you seem unable to move beyond, and is therefore aware of the possibilities thrown up by the 20th century.
  • Apr 6 2013: exTEDxWestHollywood is moving forward with their event. it will be livestreamed for FREE here:
    ~ https://new.livestream.com/extedwesthollywood

    and here's a preview of Russell Targ's upcoming ex-TEDxWestHollywood talk in LA April 14
    ~ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZeUA9Ryp2r0
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    Apr 4 2013: Russell Targ is an accomplished scientist. His entire body of work is a testament to the qualities that would make him a great TEDx speaker!

    Russell Targ and Lawrence Ames, "Lidar wind sensing at cruise altitude for flight-level optimization," Proc. SPIE Aerosense-96, Orlando FL, April 8-12, 1996.

    Russell Targ, Roland Bowles, Michael Kavaya, and R. Milton Huffaker, "Coherent Lidar Airborne Windshear Sensor: Performance Evaluation," Applied Optics, 20 May 1991.

    Russell Targ, Bruce C. Steakley, James G. Hawley, Paul Forney, Robert G. Otto, Philip Brockman, and Sarah R. Harrell, "Coherent lidar airborne wind sensor II: flight test results at 2 µm and 10 µm," Applied Optics, 20 December 1996.

    Targ, R. and Puthoff, H. (1975) “Information transfer under conditions of sensory shielding.” Nature, 251, 602-607.

    Puthoff, H.E. & Targ, R. (March, 1976). “A Perceptual Channel for Information Transfer over kilometer distances: Historical perspective and recent research.” Proc. IEEE, Vol. 64, no. 3, March, pp. 329-354;
  • Apr 3 2013: Chris Anderson, thank you for being so transparent earlier (below). Transparency = openness, communication and accountability.

    Having said that, can you consider how this institution of private (anonymous) advisers in itself may possibly compromise the quality of their advice in that the very process decreases transparency?

    Moreover, I’m not really sure if you are 100% aware of how this controversy is being construed by a sizeable proportion of the TED community. Please refer to the following for just one interpretation,
    http://weilerpsiblog.wordpress.com/2013/04/02/the-loud-and-clear-message-that-the-ted-controversy-is-sending/

    Taken contextually wrt the above, to a lot of people it seems like TED has decided to 'take sides' in such debates. Materialists believe that consciousness is 'only' an emergent epiphenomenon of a sufficiently complex brain. Some on your Brain Trust would simply change the definition of consciousness itself (on which there is no real consensus re a definition) to make it out as 'just' another so-called soft problem of consciousness. This, whilst a lot of other respected scientists and philosophers would argue that, to the contrary, it is actually still a 'very' hard problem. Others see it not so much as a 'hard' problem, but an 'impossible' one - within the established confines of materialist science, that is. It goes on and on and the debate is actually still very open.

    It also just doesn't seem very scientific or sincere to believe that someday some way the exclusive material cause of consciousness WILL be proven. Seems more like wishful thinking to me...

    What's your take on this divide? Have you/TED actually made a choice? Because that is, unfortunately, precisely the way it seems to be here. Will you/TED please be more transparent re your believes so that the community and future speakers can be more aware of the ideologies behind the organization they choose to support with their time and attention?

    Regards, a true TED fan.
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      Apr 3 2013: Wian Grobbelaar: I generally like your comments. And if asked to choose a side, I'd be inclined toward that of Ex-TEDx WestHollywood's. But, so far I'm not a fan of *all* of Mr Weiler's comments: although I feel has good intentions, I'm not sure the effects of his kisses and slaps help either him or Ex-TED WestHollywood. This comment comes from someone who doesn't always "pull" his own verbal punches on his own Website. I've even had site visits from shadowy, right-wing spinmeisters like Counterpoint Strategies.
      • Apr 3 2013: Hi Michael. Thank you.

        I only linked to Mr Weiler's blogpost as a case in point of a single interpretation of how this controversy is being construed by a sizeable proportion of the TED community -- specifically one interpretation against TED's actions which analyses it paradigmatically to make my point.

        It shouldn't matter whether or not we all agree with *all* of each other's views. What I'm getting at is whether or not TED is willing to be transparent enough towards their community re the believes they hold.
  • Apr 3 2013: Thank you for the opportunity to comment on this subject, I am a professional scientist with 30 years of experience in top laboratories including Caltech 1976-1981, MRC LMB Cambridge 1982-86, and CSIRO Australia 1987-2010. Much of what the TED admin writes is not true. While it is true that (a) Suzanne or others are not professional scientists, and (b) most professional scientists would not agree with what they might have to say, it is certainly not true that they are promoting 'pseudo-science' as several noisy critics claim. Personally I have been studying crop circles in a scientific sense since 2002. Even a child or border collie could verify factually, that certain of them were not made by local humans here on Earth. That is really a momentous result, which ought to be discussed factually in the scientific community. Millions of Amercan citizens snould know this, if the Bill of Rights counts for anything at all? Yet it has been effectively been censored by TED. Weblinks are not allowed here, but if you search on Google for "hard factual evidence for three paranormal crop circles" or "a summary of the best puzzles in crop circle history", then you may actually learn something, which the TED admin seemingly does not want anyone to know. Please read those links, and then you will learn the facts.
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      Apr 3 2013: "Even a child or border collie could verify factually, that certain of them were not made by local humans here on Earth."

      Would that be a red collie?
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    Apr 3 2013: Reality Sandwich on the TED controversy:

    http://www.realitysandwich.com/tedxwesthollywood_license_revoked_ted

    "TED's refusual to offer detailed reasons for its withdrawl of support, or to give TEDxHollywood an opportunity to defend the scientific grounding of its program, is in line with its previous vague criticism of Hancock and Sheldrake."

    "TED's termination of TEDxWestHollywood's license seems to an effort to remain consistent in lieu of the Hancock/Sheldrake incident. Their enforcement of a zero tolerance policy towards talks that explore ideas outside of the materialistic point of view has caused many to question how genuine their "ideas worth spreading" motto really is. "
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    Apr 3 2013: The podcast Skeptiko weighs in on the TED censorship controversy:

    http://www.skeptiko.com/rupert-sheldrake-censored/

    "Alex Tsakiris: The irony of this is, if not hilarious, certainly inescapable. A reputable Cambridge biologist publishes a book claiming science is dogmatic. He’s then censored by an anonymous scientific board. You can’t script that any better. What does this say about how science can be dogmatic without even realizing it’s dogmatic?

    Dr. Rupert Sheldrake: I think this whole controversy and the people who have weighed-in in favor of TED’s actions do indeed confirm what I’m saying. These dogmas are ones that most people within science don’t actually realize are dogmas. They just think they’re the truth. The point about really dogmatic people is that they don’t know that they have dogmas. Dogmas are beliefs and people who have really strong beliefs think of their beliefs as truths. They don’t actually see them as beliefs. So I think this whole controversy has actually highlighted exactly that.

    The other thing that is highlighted is that there are a lot of people, far more than I imagined actually, who are not taken in by these dogmas, who do want to think about them critically. One of the remarkable things about these discussions is lots of people are really up for the discussion of these dogmas. They really want it to happen, far more than I’d imagined, actually. I’m impressed by that and I think this TED debate has actually helped show that the paradigm is shifting. There’s no longer a kind of automatic agreement by the great majority of people to dogmatic assertions by scientific materialists."
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    Apr 2 2013: It's pretty sad that TED finds research that was published in the journal Nature back in the 70's too controversial and cutting edge to be allowed a voice on TED. I guess TED would prefer we go back to the dark ages.

    This whole business with anonymous science boards dictating what the public gets to see is ridiculous and insulting. I don't need Jerry Coyne to tell me what to think.

    Targ, R. & Puthoff, H. Nature 252, 602–607 (1974)
  • Apr 2 2013: As the blogger responsible for breaking this story, it's quite interesting to see how TED is officially handling it. No, scratch that. It's entirely predictable. I'm not sure what purpose this discussion is supposed to serve, so I'm just going to add my bit and go.

    TED has been very good to me. I'm serious. This whole controversy has raised my blogging profile considerably and increased my site views by 500%. So I wanted to give something back. No, I'm not being sarcastic.

    What has occurred in the past few weeks has been unique and it demonstrates a sea change in the order of the science hierarchy. As the blogger who originally publicized this thing with "Psi Wars Come to TED" I've watched it all unfold and it's given me a perspective that I'd like to share and a suggestion about how to deal with this in the future.

    http://weilerpsiblog.wordpress.com/2013/04/02/the-loud-and-clear-message-that-the-ted-controversy-is-sending/
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      Apr 3 2013: You write, "The body of evidence supporting the marriage of consciousness and physics is simply enormous and utterly convincing by any sane scientific standard."

      Thus making it clear that anyone who is not convinced by this "body of evidence" is insane. Nice.
      • Apr 3 2013: No, it just means that they are not using a sane standard for evaluating the evidence, if they look at it at all.
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          Apr 3 2013: So it's just the standard that's insane? Nice.
  • Apr 2 2013: on a related note...

    excellent response by Rupert Sheldrake on the TED/TEDx controversy.

    TED, Jerry Coyne, PZ Myers, you've been served!

    ------

    Dr. Rupert Sheldrake: I do see Chris Anderson’s point of view and indeed, I had a long conversation with Chris Anderson on the telephone. We got on perfectly well. I wasn’t particularly angry with him or anything like that. It was a reasonable conversation. They do have a point. There’s a lot of rubbish and there has to be some kind of filter. So I’m not against the idea of a filter but what I am against is the idea of applying the filter in a very partial kind of way.

    There are lots of things up on the TEDx website which are controversial. For example, there are a lot of talks by militant Atheists which a lot of people find controversial. A lot of people disagree with what they say and think they’re actually wrong in a variety of ways. But those haven’t been flagged up or put in the Naughty Corner. Those have been allowed absolutely free run on the Internet. They’re put up on the main website, talks by people like Richard Dawkins, for example.

    The difference here is that my talk was flagged up as being pseudo-scientific because Jerry Coyne didn’t like it. Well, Jerry Coyne is a very bigoted man who writes very loud-mouthed things on his website. I don’t take him very seriously. I mean, he’s a polemicist, a kind of Dawkins-type polemicist. So they pay a lot of attention to what Jerry Coyne and PZ Meyers said on their websites. If there had been a similar attack by, for example, Christian Fundamentalists on Dawkins they would have ignored it. But if it’s by scientific fundamentalists then they pay attention, and what’s more don’t just pay attention but dig themselves into a hole trying to justify this.

    read more: ~ http://www.skeptiko.com/rupert-sheldrake-censored/
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      Apr 2 2013: "But if it’s by scientific fundamentalists then they pay attention, and what’s more don’t just pay attention but dig themselves into a hole trying to justify this."

      This rhetoric sounds awfully familiar. In fact, it's pretty much the same as the rhetoric that came from the "intelligent design" camp while Kitzmiller v. Dover was being argued.

      Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kitzmiller_v._Dover_Area_School_District

      However, in that case, it was clear that the Dover Area School District lost.
      • Comment deleted

        • Apr 2 2013: Debbie, Can't you see that what Sheldrake says is just like the intelligent design people... and the World Ice Theory people... and the Nazi eugenicists... Let's please not forget the Nazi eugenicists.

          http://www.ted.com/conversations/17190/the_debate_about_graham_hancoc.html?c=641153
          http://www.ted.com/conversations/17348/discuss_the_note_to_the_ted_co.html?c=641230

          It's just like all the bad people everywhere who've been disliked by good scientists. But not like any of the good people who've met with resistance. No. Never.

          How is it the same? Well, it is. Take my word for it because I was very familiar with the rhetoric of all of them. So there.

          **********

          Relaaaax Debbie. I'm sure a detailed analysis will follow showing exactly how Sheldrake's 30 minute interview was just like the rhetoric of all those ignoble ghosts of science past. It will involve, I am sure, a comparable rhetorical artifact from each of those other three movements. I'll wait here, with my hands folded neatly on my desk and await the brilliant rhetorical criticism to follow. I wonder what methodology will be employed. I'm partial to Burke's Pentad myself, but I'm willing to take a wait and see.
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          Apr 2 2013: The Story of Hanns Hoerbiger's World Ice Theory
          http://www.skeptictank.org/files//evolut/cosmicic.htm

          "His book came out in 1917, during the First World War, and did not attract much attention. But afterward, a mass movement based on the theory appeared. Its members exerted considerable public pressure to get the theory accepted. The 'movement' published posters, pamphlets, and books, and even a newspaper, 'The Key to World Events.' One company would only hire those who declared themselves convinced of the truth of the theory. One astronomer at Treptow Observatory spent half his time answering questions on the theory. Some followers even heckled astronomical meetings, crying 'Out with astronomical orthodoxy! Give us Hoerbiger!' Along the way, the name was changed from the Graeco-Latin Glazial-Kosmogonie to the Germanic Welteislehre ('Cosmic Ice Theory'), or WEL for short. In the 1930's, the 'movement' became more and more pro-Nazi (Hoerbiger died in 1931, so we cannot tell what his opinion would have been). Supporters of the WEL said things like: 'Our Nordic ancestors grew strong in ice and snow; belief in the Cosmic Ice is consequently the natural heritage of Nordic Man.', 'Just as it needed a child of Austrian culture--Hitler!--to put the Jewish politicians in their place, so it needed an Austrian to cleanse the world of Jewish science.', and 'the Fuehrer, by his very life, has proved how much a so-called 'amateur' can be superior to self-styled professionals; it needed another
          'amateur' to give us a complete understanding of the Universe.' Alas, Hitler himself was not enthusiastic about the idea, and the Propaganda Ministry felt obliged to state that 'one can be a good National Socialist without believing in the WEL.'"
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          Apr 2 2013: A project at the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science:

          Cosmic Ice Theory – science, fiction and the public, 1894–1945
          http://www.mpiwg-berlin.mpg.de/en/research/projects/DeptIII-ChristinaWessely-Welteislehre

          "Taking a closer look at representations of the theory’s epistemic objects as they appear in the media of popularization suggests that the popularity of the Welteislehre was to a large extent the result of its subversive attraction based on an unsettling and fascinating amalgam of scientific terminology and methodology with popular images and clichés. How exactly did this differ from representations in contemporary physics and cosmology? How should fiction in science at this time be understood? Similar questions are raised concerning Hörbiger’s strategies of self-fashioning which mixed equally the fantastical and the serious, drawing on personae as disparate as Renaissance polymaths and contemporary experimentalists. By providing all the necessary clues to convince his audience that what they saw was truly 'scientific,' he produced sensations of authenticity that made the distinction between 'serious' scientific work, committed to objectivity and rationality, and mere dramatic banter about it almost impossible, at least for the broader public"

          Sound familiar?
        • Apr 2 2013: Ooh, ooh, ooh! I can play the association fallacy game too:

          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ignaz_Semmelweis

          "Ignaz Philipp Semmelweis... was a Hungarian physician now known as an early pioneer of antiseptic procedures. Described as the "savior of mothers",[2] Semmelweis discovered that the incidence of puerperal fever could be drastically cut by the use of hand disinfection in obstetrical clinics.[2] Puerperal fever was common in mid-19th-century hospitals and often fatal, with mortality at 10%–35%. Semmelweis postulated the theory of washing with chlorinated lime solutions in 1847[2] while working in Vienna General Hospital's First Obstetrical Clinic, where doctors' wards had three times the mortality of midwives' wards. He published a book of his findings in Etiology, Concept and Prophylaxis of Childbed Fever.

          "Despite various publications of results where hand-washing reduced mortality to below 1%, Semmelweis's observations conflicted with the established scientific and medical opinions of the time and his ideas were rejected by the medical community. Some doctors were offended at the suggestion that they should wash their hands and Semmelweis could offer no acceptable scientific explanation for his findings. Semmelweis's practice earned widespread acceptance only years after his death, when Louis Pasteur confirmed the germ theory and Joseph Lister, acting on the French microbiologist's research, practiced and operated, using hygienic methods, with great success. In 1865, Semmelweis was committed to an asylum, where he died at age 47 after being beaten by the guards, only 14 days after he was committed."

          Of course there are some key differencesl... but those don't matter.
        • Apr 2 2013: Okay, this wasn't my association fallacy, but it's a good one, and I think on point in this sub-thread. Ben Stein, in Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed, argued that evolution theory is bad because it fueled the Nazi eugenics movement.

          Huh? Good one, right?

          I could do this all day. It's fun.
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      Apr 2 2013: Sorry, Debbie, but drawing a comparison between two different things is not association fallacy. If it were, it would rule out any possibility of comparative analysis, which is absurd.

      Association fallacy
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Association_fallacy

      I teach at a university in Kansas and have witnessed two rounds of debates about first Creationism and then intelligent design in the public schools. I know the rhetoric about "scientific fundamentalists" well and have heard it before ad nauseam. In fact, the arguments made by Sheldrake about the barriers erected by science are not that different from the ones used to argue in favor of "intelligent design" as a viable scientific theory. A comparison of Sheldrake's "The Science Delusion" with Ben Stein's "Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed" would be instructive. No, making that comparison would not be association fallacy.

      Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Expelled:_No_Intelligence_Allowed

      If you're unfamiliar with arguments for intelligent design, here are some links:

      Intelligent Design Network
      http://www.intelligentdesignnetwork.org/

      Explaining the Science of Intelligent Design
      http://www.intelligentdesign.org/

      Questions about Intelligent Design
      http://www.discovery.org/csc/topQuestions.php#questionsAboutIntelligentDesign
      • Apr 2 2013: I wonder John, will you ever say anything relevant about the topic under discussion? I suspect not.
        • Apr 3 2013: You are right, the political atheist / materialists can't tell the difference between scientific parapsychology lab research which has nothing to do with intelligent design or creationism.
      • Apr 2 2013: Haha, what's constructive about comparing creationists and Sheldrake again?
      • Apr 2 2013: Gee, I dunno, John, I don't know what conclusions you could draw by confirming Sheldrake and creationists debate the same observations of science.
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          Apr 2 2013: Well, one conclusion might be that people of faith (as Sheldrake and creationists admit to be) have issues with science not admitting supernatural causes. That's pretty much a no-brainer.
      • Comment deleted

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          Apr 2 2013: Maybe so. Love is one of those mysterious things that defies rational analysis.

          You may not have noticed, but I do try to make a habit of providing sources with my posts whenever possible. I do that more than most (including yourself) and yet you're still not satisfied. Unrequited love is such a bummer.

          I actually like Wikipedia and find it to be readily accessible to most people. It's also free and quick to find, unlike the much of the primary material that I can access through my university library but cannot legally make available to you.

          The logic as you've laid it out here is not at all representative of my thinking. Thanks for the additional insight into yours.

          You write, "Without this demonstration, your statement amounts to little more than claiming Sheldrake's work is closely akin to that of the proponents of intelligent design."

          Well, yes. That's *exactly* what I intended. However, that is definitely not an example of guilt by association.
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          Apr 2 2013: You've asked for primary sources, so I'll provide one:

          A Correct Definition of Religion Resolves the Conflict Between Science and Religion, by John Calvert
          http://www.intelligentdesignnetwork.org/science_and_religion_can_be_reconciled.pdf

          You'll note with interest that this essay directly addresses the ideas of Jerry Coyne, a blogger who has been claimed as having had a key role in contacting TED about Rupert Sheldrake and Graham Hancock.

          The essay is by attorney John Calvert of the Intelligent Design Network.

          Happy reading!
      • Comment deleted

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          Apr 2 2013: "But it does appear to be the kind of thinking you wish to encourage."

          Well, it's not. Appearances can be deceiving, an issue at the heart of these discussions.

          I haven't suggested Sheldrake's rhetoric is "bad," it's just not good science. My point is that, like intelligent design theory, it is flawed because of its dependence upon things supernatural.

          You can stand by your definition all your like. That doesn't make it at all correct and undermines your own credibility. Why would you want to do that?

          Our respective comprehensions of reality have very important flaws, too. Fortunately, Wikipedia is always getting better. You know where the term "Gish Gallop" comes from, right? It was coined by my friend Eugenia Scott when referring to Creationism advocate Duane Gish. I think there are many similarities between Sheldrake and other pseudoscientists under discussion and Gish.

          Duane Gish
          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Duane_Gish

          Gish Gallop
          http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Gish_Gallop
      • Apr 3 2013: Mr. Hoopes, can you cite specific examples in the Calvert paper of flawed reasoning? You seem to say that it's "bad science" -- I would agree that philosophy and science are different domains. What's difficult, I think, to understand is that materialism is not scientifically credible. I'm not sure why this is so difficult to understand, but this entire debacle illustrates that it is.

        The claim, "but it works!" is true, but fails to appreciate the extent to which previous theories now discarded also work. Hence, we use Newtonian mechanics despite its being contraindicated by quantum mechanics.

        I personally don't care if TED decides to only endorse science predicated on materialist principles. That's their prerogative. My opinion, however, is that by aligning with those philosophical values, they limit themselves unnecessarily.

        Like you, I am incredulous when fantastic claims of the supernatural are bandied about. But I see materialism itself as a fantastic idea, unfalsifiable, and with no special evidential support that cannot be equally applied to other philosophies.

        I suspect there are alternate philosophies with greater explanatory power than realism, or materialism. What evidence exists from the cutting edge tentatively suggests this. As you say yourself, in an earlier comment, there are babies in that bathwater. By throwing it all out, TED may have hastened its own irrelevance. At least we know now where it stands.

        At any rate, I'm glad I got to watch and be a participant in these discussions. I learned a great deal. Mr. Craig Weiler wrote a great piece about the democratizing influence of the Internet on the emergence of a well-informed netizen subculture. I think that's an idea worth spreading.
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    Apr 2 2013: We fully support the actions taken. Our only concern is that this does set a standard that we
    believe requires significant ongoing oversight that might be very challenging for such a lean
    organization. We take the science claims very seriously and will continue our rigorous reviews
    prior to engaging speakers.
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      Apr 2 2013: I agree Jack, as with other things, the TEDx team in NY needs all the help they can get from the rest of the TEDx community. They have been very trusting in empowering the TEDx community with a large amount of control over the TED brand, it is our duty to protect, nourish and grow it!
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    Apr 2 2013: If you have followed the TED Blogs & Conversations on the Sheldrake & Hancock fiasco you probably realize there IS no two-way conversation going on with TED--they apparently can't even spare some low-level PR flack to this effort and are waiting for it to all blow over.

    They have never responded to the author's point-by-point rebuttals or requests for an honest debate on the issues:
    https://www.change.org/petitions/ted-stop-the-censoring-of-the-rupert-sheldrake-tedx-talks-video
    https://www.change.org/petitions/ted-stop-the-censoring-of-the-graham-hancock-tedx-talks-video

    If you get tired of TED Ideas Worth Repressing join the forum here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/boycott.ted/

    Some there still hope TED will see the errors of its ways, but most feel they are obsoleting their brand. It's a shame.

    To their one credit--they hosted these debates on their site and have been half restrained in censoring comments.
  • Apr 8 2013: Here's an interesting quote:

    "You present diversity as an obstacle. I claim diversity is more an asset. Only from a wide variety of ideas can we pick the ones that work."

    Seems reasonable to me.
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    Apr 8 2013: An insightful review by Steven Shapin of Michael Gordin's book "The Pseudoscience Wars" in the London Review:

    Catastrophism
    http://www.lrb.co.uk/v34/n21/steven-shapin/catastrophism

    Shapin writes:

    "Gordin sides with those – like Einstein and a number of modern sociologists and philosophers – who doubt that universal and context-independent criteria can be found reliably to distinguish the scientific from the pseudoscientific. But here is a suggestion about how one might do something, however imperfectly, however vulnerable to counter-instances and however apparently paradoxical, to get a practical grip on the difference between the genuine article and the fake. Whenever the accusation of pseudoscience is made, or wherever it is anticipated, its targets commonly respond by making elaborate displays of how scientific they really are. Pushing the weird and the implausible, they bang on about scientific method, about intellectual openness and egalitarianism, about the vital importance of seriously inspecting all counter-instances and anomalies, about the value of continual scepticism, about the necessity of replicating absolutely every claim, about the lurking subjectivity of everybody else. Call this hyperscience, a claim to scientific status that conflates the PR of science with its rather more messy, complicated and less than ideal everyday realities and that takes the PR far more seriously than do its stuck-in-the-mud orthodox opponents. Beware of hyperscience. It can be a sign that something isn’t kosher. A rule of thumb for sound inference has always been that if it looks like a duck, swims like a duck and quacks like a duck, then it probably is a duck. But there’s a corollary: if it struts around the barnyard loudly protesting that it’s a duck, that it possesses the very essence of duckness, that it’s more authentically a duck than all those other orange-billed, web-footed, swimming fowl, then you’ve got a right to be suspicious: this duck may be a quack."
    • Apr 8 2013: In the same way an innocent person accused of a crime may protest their innocence - a sure sign of guilt if ever there was one. What was it you said about witches?
      • Apr 8 2013: Indeed. I can even play association fallacy game with it.

        "But there’s a corollary: if it struts around the barnyard loudly protesting that it’s a duck, that it possesses the very essence of duckness, that it’s more authentically a duck than all those other orange-billed, web-footed, swimming fowl, then you’ve got a right to be suspicious: this duck may be a quack." ~ Shapin

        "If she weighs the same as a duck... she's made of wood... and therefore... a witch!" ~ Monty Python and the Holy Grail

        http://youtu.be/zrzMhU_4m-g
    • Apr 8 2013: All these arguments by Hoopes present the same difficulty. All claims, no evidence.
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        Apr 8 2013: This isn't an argument of mine. It's a link to and excerpt of a book review by a reputable reviewer in a respected publication. I do think it constitutes evidence of relevant opinions on the issue of pseudoscience (and "hyperscience"), both the reviewer's and that of the book being reviewed. Note that it may also reflect the opinions of TED, since Gordin's book was recommended in the memo on science/pseudoscience to the TED community.
        • Apr 8 2013: It just looks like, the bit you cited looks like, a catch-22 argument. A sort of, look how Hoopes bristled when it was suggested his work was pseudoscience, a clear sign of guilt (and had Hoopes not bristled, that would have been a clear acceptance of guilt). Thus, someone with too many peer-reviewed publications, or someone with none, or anyone in between, is clearly a pseudoscientist.
        • Apr 8 2013: You are presenting these links to support your contention that the WestHollywood speakers are presenting pseudoscience. They are your argument, which is still without any substance.
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        Apr 8 2013: Craig, that's your own opinion. You are certainly entitled to it.

        It has become abundantly clear that nothing I can say will change the minds of you, Sandy, Steve, or Time Walker. I shall therefore cease to try.

        The purpose of my posts will no longer seek to try and change your opinions, but to let others who think as I do know that they are not alone. That has actually been my chief intention from the beginning of these discussions.
  • Apr 7 2013: since TED was critical of Russell Targ and seemingly dismissive of the scientific and declassified FOIA literature on Remote Viewing, let me offer this.

    here's talk by Jacques Vallee at the International Remote Viewing Association (IRVA).

    Jacques Vallee Software of Consciousness IRVA 2007
    ~ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=40jqdrEVPX4

    and for those who don't know who Jacques Vallee is, BLAME YOURSELF!

    just kidding. Jacques Vallee is a legend in the alternative research community. and incidentally, Vallee did a TEDx talk at TEDxBrussels.

    TEDxBrussels - Jacques Vallée - A Theory of Everything (else)...
    ~ http://tedxtalks.ted.com/video/TEDxBrussels-Jacques-Vallee-A-T

    good thing his talk was not suppressed and he was not labeled as a pseudoscientist in spite of the fact that Vallee is also a UFOlogist!

    maybe Jerry Coyne and PZ Myers just missed Vallee's talk that's why it wasn't flagged :)
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    Aja B.

    • +2
    Apr 7 2013: Hi folks.

    This topic is meant to be used for respectful discussion regarding the withdrawal of the TEDxWestHollywood license, not as a general forum for personal attacks, insults, and other violations of the TED.com Terms of Use. No participants in this discussion are secret members of our moderation team. Please stay on topic.

    Also, regarding the problems linking to the Theory of Condensed Matter group: As I explained to Mr. Campbell last week, this is a glitch in the automatic spam filter we use. Attempts to correct it have met with little success, possibly due to the frequency the link is being posted.

    Aja
    • Apr 7 2013: The link to the TCM site is not really the concern here, that he is an admin is beyond question. I know it's got nothing to do with TED. Your reply last week confirmed this and I said this publicly on this site.

      What is the concern here is we watched him deleting posts en mass within a few minutes. Live, as it were.
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        Aja B.

        • +2
        Apr 7 2013: If only my team were so numerous that I might be unaware of a particular moderator's existence!

        Sadly, this is not the case, and I am quite certain that John Hoopes has not been deleting anyone's comments on this topic. Or any other on this site.
        • Apr 7 2013: Aja, with respect, and I mean that sincerely, I can prove that he most certainly has been deleting comments. I mean, we all watched him do it in action.
        • Apr 7 2013: We watched it happen and we took screenshots.
      • Apr 7 2013: Hi John, would you consider emailing me the details of what occurred here?
    • Apr 7 2013: BTW, I do want to thank you for your reply to my email earlier this week. I learned a lot about Akismet as a result.
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        Aja B.

        • +1
        Apr 7 2013: Of course! It's a great tool when it works as intended. :)
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        Aja B.

        • +1
        Apr 7 2013: Are you referring to the off-topic and insulting comments I removed a little while ago? No conspiracy there, just me trying to keep up with the challenge of maintaining a respectful debate.
        • Apr 7 2013: No, you missed a whole lot of comments before that. He started deleting at about 23:44. The comments you deleted were only the tail end of what was left of a deletion spree. At any rate, you see that notice I just got about a comment I made being inappropriate? I'm guessing you sent that, and I have no problem with it. That was the first message I've received about a comment being inappropriate. But I've had maybe a dozen comments deleted, likely more. I never once got notice. I have all relevant screenshots.

          At any rate, Aja, I do appreciate you coming here to sort this out.
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        Aja B.

        • +2
        Apr 7 2013: If this is about comments being deleted without emails being sent, I'm afraid that's also my doing. It really has been a challenge to keep up with this topic, and there's not much help in the wee hours of a Sunday morning.
        • Apr 7 2013: Are you saying the emails have to be written? Surely this is just an automated message that operates from some tick box or something. If not then adopting such a system would surely help you in your job.
        • Apr 7 2013: Aja, Do you not realize how bad it looks to have comments about deletion of comments by a secret admin deleted? It makes you look like you're part of a cover-up for TED. If you had simply left the comments in place and then argued that there is no secret moderation, you'd have more credibility. Deleting everything, off-topic or not, looks shady. It looks like just another indicator of TED's lack of transparency.
        • Apr 7 2013: This is my last comment on the matter. Aja isn't at fault here. She's been helpful and pointed out that they were using the Akismet software, and it's Akismet that's doing strange things.. From everything I can tell, she's been open and honest and missed what was going on here until she arrived after 1:00, I believe.

          I have nothing more to say on this. Some comments I posted today here after 11:00 were deleted by me due to an implied legal threat. For the record, none of my comments posted here since 11:00 have been deleted by anyone but me.
      • Apr 7 2013: John, can you think of a reason why "Hoopes" can post the link, while no one else can, that does not involve him or her having administration privileges? It seems to give him/her no shortage of enjoyment that he/she can do this.
        • Apr 7 2013: No, I can't. I've written a detailed email to Aja just now explaining very carefully, and respectfully, what happened here tonight and how I know he is an admin. I will not copy and paste this email here, but I won't discuss it much more here. But I will say that because Aja advised me that it was Akismet, I can show anyone how this aspect of it works at Wordpress sites.

          John didn't know when he posted the link that the reason it gets through is because his privileges are most definitely elevated.
        • Apr 7 2013: So most of the comments have been restored as of 5:10, though (understandably) not the ones where I was playing with him a bit. I'll admit I was, because he was outed and he panicked. After I posted the comment outing him as an admin, he deleted it. And then I started having a one way conversation with him, and he'd delete my comments but he couldn't keep up. He kept deleting my comments and many more once people understood that he was an admin and began posting about it. It was very clear then that he was the admin. We weren't getting moderator messages, they were just getting trashed.
    • Apr 7 2013: "No participants in this discussion are secret members of our moderation team."
      Hi Aja, if that's the case please explain why John Hoopes seems to be the only person who can add the link to Brian Josephson's page and everyone else who adds the link has their post automatically deleted? This is not an unimportant matter so please don't try to sweep it under the rug. It seems likely based on what John Campbell has posted that Hoopes has administrative privileges and that is why he/she has been able to post the link, delete posts, etc.
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        Aja B.

        • 0
        Apr 7 2013: I honestly have no idea why it works for his account. I'm not even able to post it. Such are the mysteries of Akismet.
        • Apr 7 2013: Aja you don't know why it works for his account and not yours because he's an admin and you're not. You're a moderator, not an admin, or don't have the same admin privileges.as he as.
        • Apr 7 2013: Explain why all the comments pertaining to Hoopes being a secret admin have been deleted, then.
    • Apr 7 2013: Hi Aja,

      " No participants in this discussion are secret members of our moderation team. Please stay on topic"

      Now do you see how the lack of transparency distorts reality? Rather the berating the audience for having doubts, become transparent.
    • Apr 7 2013: Aja
      This forum topic itself violates TED's Terms of Use and could be removed for exactly one of the reasons you are now asking us to moderate our commentary. It's a bit disingenuous to host it and then ask people not to discuss the subject matter of the talks that caused the trouble.
    • Apr 7 2013: Then you should just switch off the system now, just to send a clear signal you do not sympathize with this.



      Also, I don't understand why you did not explain this to Professor Josephson when he repeatedly tried to connect to you.

      Why is there no whitelist, for sites that are definitely *no spam*, like TCM group? What a broken system is this?

      How long is this broken? Weeks, months? Switch it off until it can be fixed.
    • Apr 7 2013: Please also consider that your site has been hacked, if you didn't actually delete all those comments as mentioned by John Campbell . Get an expert for help, immediately.
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      Apr 7 2013: Thank you, Aja. I am not an admin on this website and I have not been deleting any posts other than my own. The only reason I delete them is to make sure they are in the right place in the thread. There have been several occasions when I inadvertently posted a reply to a comment in a way such that it appeared not as a reply but as a new comment at the top of the conversation. Other times, I mistakenly reply to a different comment thread than the one I intend. When that happens, I delete the comment from the wrong place and put it in the right place. Chris Anderson did the same thing with one of his comments in this conversation last week (which also provoked needless speculation).

      I respectfully submit that the tendency of Sandy Stone, John Campbell, and Time Walker to jump to unwarranted conclusions before they have considered and evaluated all reasonable possibilities has been a significant factor in their failure to understand TED's vigilance with respect to pseudoscience. The speed with which an unsupported theory blew up into full-fledged conspiracy theory accompanied by accusations and demands is extremely troubling and indicative of the dangers of fallacious thinking. Mobs armed with pitchforks clamoring for a lynching come to mind, which is precisely why I posted a link to this website earlier in the conversation:

      Without Sanctuary
      http://withoutsanctuary.org/

      It is a collection of photographs of lynchings in the U.S. that were reproduced as postcards and distributed as warnings about the powers of a mob. The images are horrifying and unforgettable, but that's the point.

      People can be stupid and stupidity, especially in groups, can be dangerous.

      Thanks to you and TED staff for being both reasonable and vigilant.

      They’re selling postcards of the hanging.
      They’re painting the passports brown.
      The beauty parlor is filled with sailors.
      The circus is in town.
      -- Bob Dylan, "Desolation Row"
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    Apr 6 2013: Scientists like Targ and Dossey are in a very difficult spot. Right in the middle of a war with dogmatic atheists on one side, a fundamentalist religions on the other side. It's a pretty scary middle ground to walk on, but they do. They do the scientific work that the dogmatic/fundamentalist "believers" at either end of the spectrum don't want anyone doing.

    The religious fundamentalists are something everyone is familiar with. You can always find some violent person with a distorted view of faith to pin all of the problems of the world on. But it's never really that simple. Many people benefit from the sense of community faith can provide. And the majority of religious people would never substitute faith for science. It's a case of a small militant minority causing problems for everybody else.

    The radical skeptics often claim to be on the side of science, but they are being disingenuous. They aren't funding research into the nature of consciousness. They are actually working hard to suppress it. In their own way what they do is every bit as faith-based as any religion. They actually see science as the enemy, at least any science they disagree with.

    It's sad to see TED falling into the skeptical dogma as company policy. It would be just as sad to see TED become an organization dedicated to promoting the values of the Westboro Baptiste Church. I'd like to see a variety of POVs represented here, but as far as the TEDx talks goes, that won't happen. Science will not be fully represented here.
    • Apr 6 2013: Takes in a deeeep breath of fresh air, Thanks Sandy! :)
      • Comment deleted

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        Apr 7 2013: You're welcome. I wish I knew why my original reply was deleted.
    • Apr 6 2013: Spot on Sandy. The talk of "brain viruses" is surely as dangerous as any talk in human history.
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    Apr 6 2013: As I've posted here, I'm paying and we are proceeding. Live Stream April 14 is https://new.livestream.com/extedwesthollywood. This press release will go out Monday:

    Exciting Event Emerges from TEDx Controversy
    Stellar Speaker Lineup Relocated to L.A. Hotspot

    April 9, 2013, West Hollywood, CA: A roster of some 20 outstanding speakers and entertainers are on the bill for "Brother, Can You Spare a Paradigm?," 11:00 to 7:00 pdt, on April 14, 2013. Originally planned as a TEDx event, this day will feature the uncensored ideas of well-known, highly-credentialed speakers who will call attention to our outdated worldview and inspire us to interest in shifting it. They include Russell Targ, Larry Dossey, Paul Cummins, Paul Nugent, George Regas, Greg Panos, Daphne Rose Kingma, and Marianne Williamson. A limited number of audience tickets are available at www.TEDxWestHollywood.com, where more information about the event, the speakers, and the free Live Stream on the day of the event can be found.

    When TED, without warning, revoked TEDx West Hollywood’s license just two weeks before its event, it lost the sponsorship of the City of West Hollywood, which had approved the day as a TEDx affair. Veteran organizer Suzanne Taylor has moved the event from the city’s council chambers to L.A.’s spectacular Vortex Immersion Dome at L.A. Center Studios, a unique venue with cutting edge audio/video entertainment to enthrall the live audience.

    The abrupt change lit up the blogosphere with impassioned commentary that added new fuel to a fire ignited by the most commented trending topic, the ‘censoring’ of popular TEDx talks by Rupert Sheldrake and Graham Hancock as ‘ideas not worth spreading.’ A new TED blog, which is set to close 15 hours after the event ends, has been put up for dialogue about TED’s unprecedented punitive action against TEDx West Hollywood. (See next post for the rest)
  • Apr 5 2013: Dear Mr Anderson

    I appreciate the opportunity of finally having a face to address across the table, forgive me if I express my disappointment that your council did not afford us the courtesy joining you.

    I wish to look a bit more closely at your statement.

    “Some asked whether this was "censorship." Now, it's pretty clear that it isn't censorship”

    Yes, NOW it’s pretty clear censorship was unsuccessful; the facts are these discussions were only reinstated after interest in the alternative available copies rocketed. To continue to suppress them was no longer possible. That aside your initial actions still revealed your motives.

    “Should TED play *any* curatorial role in the content it allows?”

    If one is to be any curator, it is fundamental that this task be done with the utmost transparency or any values you preserve will have been perverted by the lack thereof.

    “Our science board has 5 members -- all working scientists or distinguished science journalists”

    Appeal to authority, what does that statement tell us about the value of your council? We are left to guess that the journalists are more influential and the scientists could merely be a lab technicians?
    I think when discussing the integrity of standards then they must be equally applied. Here they are clearly not we have nothing to measure against Sheldrake’s or Hancock’s pedigrees?

    “We keep the names of the science board private. This is a common practice for science review boards in the academic world”

    Appeal to tradition, this practice flies in the very face of scientific method. History shows us all secret societies are perverted. To make judgments based on the advice of faceless council with no credentials leaves me very uneasy. The “Higher Standard” that should be applied is transparency that is how contradiction will be removed.

    Continued below………
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    Apr 5 2013: "There's always a way Suzanne, make it happen without them." It IS happening -- my nickel. Fabulous venue: http://vorteximmersion.com/venues/vortex-dome-la/vortex-dome-la-gallery. And Live Stream: https://new.livestream.com/extedwesthollywood. April 14 and archived. Tune in. And please you commenters, get TED to promote this, with this blog open afterwards so we all can see if TED was justified or will have egg on its face.
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      Apr 5 2013: Thanks, Suzanne!

      I'll do what I can to get the word out.

      (I'd give you a thumbs up, but I've used up my quota.)
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      Apr 5 2013: Does the event have a new name or it is "The event formally known as TEDx West Hollywood"?
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    Apr 5 2013: @Chris Anderson,

    1) When are you going to tell us who the anonymous science board is?
    2) When are you going to apologize to Rupert Sheldrake and Graham Hancock for making unsubstantiated statements about them and their work?
    3) When are you going to realize that pulling support for a TED event less than a month before it is scheduled to occur is something that not only reflects poorly on TED, it reflects poorly on the guy in charge of making that decision.
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    • Apr 5 2013: TED Official say in an email:

      "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,"

      Wow. Russell Targ is now on the wrong side of a struggle against pseudoscience, which means that TED officials believe that Targ is not a scientist, he's a fake scientist.
      • Apr 5 2013: Is it a struggle against pseudoscience or is pseudoscience struggling? See, it wasn't clear to me. But it is important. It's definitely very important.

        Seriously, it's like something written by a child, trying to regurgitate a concept he doesn't understand in a grade school essay.
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      Apr 5 2013: Sandy Stone: that article in the L.A. Times was the first impartial one I've seen published anywhere since this whole thing was called to my attention.
  • Apr 4 2013: On a related note, somewhere further down on this page Chris Anderson said that a statement wrapping up the Sheldrake and Hancock affair would be forthcoming. I believe he said to expect it yesterday or there-abouts. Does anyone know if that was issued or where one might find it when it is?
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    Apr 3 2013: PS: I asked TED, after the cancellation, to promote our Live Stream on April 14 so there could be discussion afterwards about it. That went into the same black hole with possible payment by TED. Why doesn’t TED put the link in the heading of this conversation so everyone can see it, and then keep the discussion open longer than the 15 hours it’s scheduled to be open after our event takes place? Here’s the Live Stream link: https://new.livestream.com/extedwesthollywood
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      Apr 4 2013: Doesn't withdrawal of sponsorship mean just that? Withdrawal of promotion? Withdrawal of publicity?

      "Why doesn’t TED put the link in the heading of this conversation so everyone can see it, and then keep the discussion open longer than the 15 hours it’s scheduled to be open after our event takes place?"

      I can't say for sure, but perhaps because it would make no sense to do so after having made it clear that they do not wish to sponsor the event.
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    Apr 3 2013: From the TEDx Whitechapel FB page:

    https://www.facebook.com/TEDxWhitechapel
    ""According to some estimations, our two controversial talks by Rupert and Graham have been the most popular TEDtalks of ALL TIME by comment count !!!!!!

    "With little time to go, this “Conversations” thread is showing about 2000 comments, about 20% more comments than the next highest thread (the one discussing Graham Hancock’s talk with about 1655 comments), and nearly six times as many comments as the next highest thread with around 339 comments (on an unrelated discussion). The issue has definitely interested TED participants. Note that many individuals made multiple posts.

    The three most popular TED talks of all time, have (1) 15,480,019 veiws with 2937 comments (2) 10,741,137 views with 2425 comments (3) 10,311,697 views and 1287 comments. Two have been online for over fives years, the other for 18 months.

    Sheldrake’s and Hancock’s talks have been online for less than 4 months. There were also 1677 + 325 + 483 comments from previous combined discussions, making the average comment count (2000 + 1655 + 1677 + 235 + 483) / 2 = 3025 comments per talk.

    By this calculation, it makes both talks the post popular of all time by comment count.""
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    Apr 3 2013: Bloggers keep on talking about TED. (In not very flattering ways.)

    http://www.dailygrail.com/Humanity-Plus/2013/4/We-Need-Talk-About-TEDx
    "This week the TED fiasco got even more farcical when they pulled the plug on the upcoming TEDxWestHollywood, with a theme named "Brother can you spare a paradigm". The speakers involved included scientists such as Marilyn Schlitz from the Institute of Noetic Sciences and remote-viewing pioneer Russell Targ, and TED officials looked into some sort of (very rational!) crystal ball they have and predicted that some of the speakers would "use the language of science to claim they have proven the truth of ideas that are speculative". That statement lies at the heart of the problem with their takedown of Hancock and Sheldrake's talks as well - they seem to be extrapolating from people talking about concepts, and presenting challenges to orthodoxy, to them claiming objective truth (when, if you watch those talks, you'll see they carefully frame their talks so as *not* to do that). If TED want to present 'ideas worth spreading', then they need to begin with 'ideas worth discussing'. Not 'ideas we should probably censor'."

    "TED's recent actions have been gutless, showing a lack of leadership in the face of some rather petty criticisms, and a lack of willingness to believe in the free market of ideas, where the strong and good survive through rigorous discussion and debate."

    "Big, fresh ideas suffocate and die in controlling environments. So the real question might be: is TED on the fast-track into obsolescence? "
  • 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.

      http://www.banachek.org/nonflash/index.htm

      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
          MICHAEL A. THALBOURNE
          ABSTRACT:
          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?

          http://www.paralumun.com/remote.htm
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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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      Apr 3 2013: Debbie Gallagher: I'd be especially interested in Mr Anderson's replies to your questions, too.

      And... you've used very thoughtful and courteous phrasing, as is your custom on the TED boards. TED even permits trollery (your *lovely* word) and you don't get sucked into those discussions. I've seen people standing on both sides of the fence devolve into snarky parrying for sport. All that does it turn a discussion into a thrill-seeking tabloid. You're among the most composed of us, and for that I thank you. Good on ya.
      • Apr 3 2013: Michael, valid sentiments when you are engaged with transparent opposition on an level playing filed. But what you are asking is for us to turn the other cheek. When being confronted with faceless corporate fascism; Forgive me if I loose my composure.
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          Apr 3 2013: Nope, Adrian Sutton: I didn't write, "turn the other cheek." That assumes far too much about who I am and what I wrote.
    • Apr 3 2013: I like the fact that the so called center of authority has to hide behind anonymity while making unsubstantiated accusations. Where is the leadership? Its fine for them to jump on little guy, but when the others cant find a reasonable reason you expect them not ask this type of behavior to stop? Where I come from kids have a name for this type of behavior. They call it "Bullying" if you don't believe me read this : - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bullying and its plain to see the Big Ugly Boot fitsTED, Just like the glass slipper fitted Cinderellas dainty feet.
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    Apr 2 2013: In West Hollywood we are scrambling to save our event -- with two weeks to put it together it is herculean. No money has been given by TED. WE NEED A VENUE! City of West Hollywood was sponsoring and gave us their Council Chambers, but can't without TED.

    We have an outstanding line-up of speakers that fill all of TED's requirements. For starters (there's a limit you can put in a post -- see next one for Larry Dossey) here's speaker Russell Targ's response to TED: http://www.tedxwesthollywood.com/russell-targ-speaks-on-teds-blog/?fb_source=pubv1

    In cancelling the TEDx event in West Hollywood, it appears that I was accused of "using the guise of science" to further spooky claims (or some such). People on this blog have asked what I was going to talk about. That's easily answered. I was co-founder of a 23 year research program investigating psychic abilities at Stanford Research Institute. We were doing research and applications for the CIA, Defense Intelligence Agency, Air Force and Army Intelligence, NASA, and others. In this $25 million program we used "remote viewing" to find a downed Russian bomber in North Africa, for which President Carter commended us. We found a kidnapped US general in Italy, and the kidnap car that snatched Patricia Hearst. We looked in on the US hostages in Iran, and predicted the immanent release of Richard Queen, who was soon sent to Germany. We described a Russian weapons factory in Siberia, leading to a US congressional investigation about weakness in US security, etc. We published our scientific findings in Nature, The Proc. IEEE, Proc. AAAS, and Proc. American Institute of Physics. I thought a TED audience would find this recently declassified material interesting. And no physics would be harmed in my presentation.
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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!

    Regards,

    Jose

    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 2 2013: Jose I don't think the issue for westholloywood is credibility as all the speakers involved already have credibility by years of hard and dilligent work building up a body of scientific evidence for anyone to peruse who wishes to do so.
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        Apr 2 2013: Then why all this furor about lifting the TEDx licence?
        • Apr 2 2013: Concern from some of the community over their perception of quality control, quite a few people apparently.
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        Apr 2 2013: Looking at this thread I count only 5 people who seem unhappy. They seem to be upset mostly about the Sheldrake-Hancock affair, no so much about WestHollywood. As you are responsible for a high percentage of the comments on this page I would like to know why you think the TEDx team's does not have the right to lift the WestHollywood TEDx license.
        • Apr 2 2013: I DON'T thin TEDx doesn't have the right to withdraw a license if it wants to. I have posted that. I also said I am not aggrieved as I do not go to TEDx to view innovative, cutting edge thinking. Heck, from this, maybe even a new brand has been concieved - exTED, and it has it's OWN ideas:

          "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 truth?"
        • Apr 2 2013: Yes, you're getting a lot of drift from those other threads. There will probably be more now that those threads are closed. Reason? These decisions are obviously connected and TED continues to embarrass itself. What I've gleaned since learning about this licensing dispute?

          Let's see... Russell Targ: Research good enough for the US government to invest millions of dollars over many years. Good enough to receive a commendation from President Carter. Good enough to be published in Nature, the Proceedings of the IEEE, the Proceedings of the AAAS, and the Proceedings of the American Institute of Physics. But not good enough for TED.

          Larry Dossey: Good enough to lecture in top-tier medical schools and universities over decades. Not good enough for TED.

          Well, TED'll show'em.

          TED looks more and more ridiculous with every blinkered decision it makes at the behest of a tiny, loud, minority of atheist polemicists and a super-secret board, read: Star Chamber -- more ridiculous still when it defends these decisions making it abundantly clear that it doesn't even really understand its own reasons.

          What a joke TED has become.
        • Apr 2 2013: Jose
          I do think TED has the right to do what it wants - I said as much above, and most other have said the same thing. However, I think the manner in which they did it, for reasons i have set out at length above and elsewhere, leaves a lot to be desired. I think, eg, it's handling of the Sheldrake/Hancock issue was shameful. I also think that they have performed poorly here. And as long as TED has these blogs for comment I will comment. If TED only wants to hear sycophantic gush then perhaps a more private forum would be appropriate.

          And, fwiw, I count about 10-12 against the decision and around 10 supporting it.
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        Apr 2 2013: Gary, you say, "I don't think the issue for westholloywood is credibility as all the speakers involved already have credibility by years of hard and dilligent work."

        Although I've used it a lot myself (with reference to Graham Hancock), I think there are serious problems with the utility of the word "credibility," which simply means "the quality of being believable or worthy of trust" or "the quality of being convincing or believable." To be credible, something simply has to be believable or convincing, but to whom? Demography tells us that Jesus as Lord, Muhammad as Prophet, or the Bible as the Word of God has credibility with hundreds of millions of the faithful. Amazingly enough, American politics tell us that people such as Michelle Bachman and Sarah Palin have credibility with a portion of the electorate. So does Kim Jong Un with millions of North Koreans, for that matter.

        What, exactly, do *you* mean by credibility? Probably not the purchase an idea has with the credulous, right?

        When I use the term, I mean credibility to an objective, empirical, rational audience, preferably with a high level of intelligence, education, and even specialized multidisciplinary knowledge. However, I am almost certainly committing a fallacy with that, because when I use the term "credibility," I mean that it is something that will be believed by people like me.

        How can "credibility" be defined in such a way as to be meaningful and useful? Or is that futile?

        For me, "years of hard and diligent work" don't cut it. There are plenty of religious and nonreligious people, including fundamentalists of every stripe (including fundamentalist atheists), who have done years of hard and diligent work and are still not credible. That's not an adequate standard.
        • Apr 2 2013: years of hard work.....building a body of scientfic evidence any can peruse if they wish too.
    • Apr 2 2013: Jose, I put to you that you have no way to rationally determine the odds of god existing or not. You are choosing atheism over agnosticism for purely socio-political reasons, which is fine, but I think you do yourself a disfavour by not realising this.

      Perhaps the god of the Koran, the Bible, or the pantheons of the Norse or the ancient Greeks and Romans, yes - you could judge the odds of these, as there are texts that describe how these gods are meant to work and give ideas about how to empirically test their existence. But all you'd really be doing is testing and disproving the existence of the gods described in those texts - you'd be demonstrating the unreliability of the texts, that is all.

      I don't believe there is a way to rule out, or in, to any degree, the basic premise of a consciousness outside of or behind the universe. Even the idea that such a god should have detectable traces in the universe falls apart when you consider that such a god might have the power to consistently prevent us from detecting those traces. He might be only watching, not touching. He might only be touching very gently and infrequently in some way that appears to us to be a natural unconscious process. There is no way to determine any of this.

      I am not promoting the idea of god. I am agnostic, because to me that is the only rational stance. I have no evidence for god. I have no evidence for a lack of god. Anything else I could say about the matter would be post-rational political seasoning - it would be a personal statement. I may very well do that, because personal statements are enjoyable, useful, and can have their own rational underpinnings in terms of our relationship to society, etc.. but to me, the position of atheism is not a rational one, it is political. To that ends it may be useful, not to me, but to others, I accept. I only suggest that a better understanding of the rational and logical processes that lead to your stance might provide you with a more solid position.
      • Apr 2 2013: I always find it funny when people talk of the odds of God existing as if they've actually performed some calculation. I suspect that those who make this claim think that it gives their opinion some sciencey sounding weight without which they would just have to say they didn't believe and leave it at that. I've even asked a few times about this calculation but no details have ever been forthcoming. Thus I think there is a 0.036% likelihood that it's 50/50 that such a calculation has been done, but there's only a 1 in 3 chance of that.
        • Apr 2 2013: Exactly. It's a guessing game. Thus it's a waste of time, by rational standards at least.
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      Apr 2 2013: Gary, I don't think "years of of hard work.....building a body of scientfic evidence any can peruse if they wish too" cuts it with regard to the issue of credibility. The problem is with what's identified as "scientific evidence." The scientific creationists, Duane Gish being a classic example, argue long and hard that what they are presenting is "scientific evidence" when it's not. Simply saying that it is doesn't make it so.

      Duane Gish
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Duane_Gish

      Suzanne Taylor, the organizer of the West Hollywood event, has long claimed that she has "scientific evidence" that crop circles are not of this world and were made by extraterrestrials. Claims just don't cut it, even when you make entertaining and award-winning films about your bizarre beliefs.

      What on Earth? Inside the Crop Circle Mystery
      http://www.whatonearththemovie.com/
      • Apr 3 2013: I really don't follow the creationist debate, it's very boring, but the evidence these speakers are presenting is open to your viewing too so go look at it and make your determination.
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          Apr 3 2013: Boring to you, maybe, but Bible-believing Christians are into it. To each his own woo.

          Will there be a cool t-shirt? Will there be talk about Mayans? It seems kind of like the leadup to 2012 all over again. Will Daniel Pinchbeck be there?
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      Apr 2 2013: "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." La de dah, we'll just go right ahead an do it anyway. Ummmmm, the City of West Hollywood cannot sponsor us without TED -- we can't have their $5,600 in-kind donation of their Council Chamber. And the Library Foundation, that was matching as a cash sponsor, also had to withdraw. Hey, Jose Fernandez Calvo, how's about a check for $11,200 to make up our shortfall so we can exercise that lovely democratic freedom we have to continue?
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    Apr 8 2013: The conversation is spreading to other sites. Read the comments section.

    http://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/gadgets-and-tech/news/ted-conference-censorship-row-8563105.html

    Here is a sampling:
    :
    "TED's management of this whole saga leaves much to be desired. The debate they called for happened without them. TED's curator Chris Anderson largely abstained. The only TED 'official', a translator, verbally abused TEDx speakers and debate commentators.

    TED has failed to issue an apology for the slandering accusations made against Sheldrake and Hancock. TED also failed to provide any satisfactory substance on the reasons for the suppression of their videos. "

    "The talks were taken down shortly after complaints from Jerry Coyne, a biologist well known for his militant atheism. TED representatives thanked him for his help, and posted a link to what they called a 'careful rebuttal' of Rupert Sheldrake's claims. The link led to Jerry Coyne's personal blog. In response to cries of pseudoscience, both Messrs Sheldrake and Hancock wrote detailed refutals, and both offered their readiness to engage in public debate with their critics. To my knowledge, TED has not replied to this. But as a follower of the debates from the very start, I must say that TED have not been transparent at all with their members."

    "TED still refuses to address the substance of the arguments put forward in that forum. So, not so much a debate, really, as there was no official TED representative in them, and no acknowledgement by TED of the salient points. They still have never replaced their crossed out justification for the original removal. So, the matter is closed for TED, without their ever explaining their reasons for deleting the videos."

    "Although both Sheldrake and Hancock were talking about the philosophy of science, both have demonstrated higher scientific standards than TED."
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    Apr 8 2013: The film "A Flock of Dodos" by Randy Olson provides invaluable commentary on problems that are typical of ineffective responses by scientists to pseudoscience. It's well worth watching.

    A Flock of Dodos
    http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flock_of_Dodos

    "Flock of Dodos" Trailer
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GU8V5oTIwKM&autoplay=1
    • Apr 8 2013: I don't really see the analogy between Intelligent Design and your own work. I mean, OK, both have been called pseudoscience, but I think a stronger case needs to be made re why we should regard everything that is said about ID as relevant to our appraisal of your particular woo.
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  • Apr 7 2013: here's another excellent post on the interwebs which demonstrates how wrong TED was to lump Russell Targ with pseudoscience.

    "The research papers in this archived data are mindboggling. TED obviously has forgotten that all legitimate researchers begin with the existing literature. And it is important not to let cognitive bias prevent you from looking at research that doesn’t fit your belief system. That reminds me… I noticed the annotation for file 11841, a 23 page document, is “Quantum Physics and Parapsychology” Conference report 28 Oct 1974.” Have you read it?

    12,000 documents remain unread by far too many people. Some of them have presumed to say the research does not even exist. Six months of my life were spent annotating the files and so I beg to differ. It does indeed exist. That TED and/or TEDx would prohibit one of the key researchers from speaking about the research is appalling."

    ...

    EXACTLY.

    "More information on TED’s actions is here at the their site. Notice that, in removing the talks discussed, they also removed the opportunity to share them or to open them directly on Vimeo. TED does NOT want some ideas to spread — even if they are ideas that several governments (China, USSA, and the US) found important at the highest levels of National Security.
    That TED is censoring the formerly (and still partially) classified research is itself an idea worth spreading — or at least watching and pondering: What ideas do they approve? Which are off limits? And why?"

    ~ http://www.stargate-interactive.com/news/targ-tedx-and-the-nature-of-legitimate-research/
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  • Apr 6 2013: btw, for those who are not familiar with the scientific literature on remote-viewing, do yourself a favor. please look into the history of SRI, Hal Puthoff, and Russell Targ. don't just take the "skeptics" word for it. follow the data wherever it may lead and draw your own provisional conclusions.

    you can start with this lecture by Hal Puthofff, Russell Targ's colleague at SRI, talking about their remote-viewing experiments with the late great Ingo Swann.

    then let your curiosity do the googling. you're welcome.


    Hal Puthoff, PhD, on CIA History of Top Secret Remote Viewing (Part 1 of 4) ~ http://youtu.be/7HeZxQYEQRw

    Hal Puthoff, PhD, on CIA History of Top Secret Remote Viewing (Part 2 of 4) ~ http://youtu.be/9G_zprLOdbg

    Hal Puthoff, PhD, on CIA History of Top Secret Remote Viewing (Part 3 of 4) ~ http://youtu.be/oATr63fu1eo

    Hal Puthoff, PhD, on CIA History of Top Secret Remote Viewing (Part 4 of 4) ~ http://youtu.be/2fjV14AHRck

    speaking of the late great Ingo Swann, his psi abilities had been replicated by Dr. Michael Persinger.

    see: Michael Persinger on No More Secrets ~ http://youtu.be/9l6VPpDublg

    it only takes a Black Swan to prove the reality of psi. Ingo Swann was that black swan.

    i don't know about you. but for me, these ideas are damn worth spreading.
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      Apr 7 2013: "i don't know about you. but for me, these ideas are damn worth spreading."

      Well, yes, you do know about me. For me, they are not.
      • Apr 7 2013: John, obviously, the TED staff are with you. so bravo!
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          Apr 7 2013: Yes. Score three for critical thinking.
      • Apr 7 2013: LOL. i didn't know it's about a scoring game. i thought it was about science, evidence, and dispassionate look at data. my mistake!
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      Apr 7 2013: By the way, I'd like to get your take on this peer-reviewed article on quantum gravity by a respected physicist on the faculty of NYU:

      http://www.physics.nyu.edu/sokal/transgress_v2/transgress_v2_singlefile.html

      It begins:

      "There are many natural scientists, and especially physicists, who continue to reject the notion that the disciplines concerned with social and cultural criticism can have anything to contribute, except perhaps peripherally, to their research. Still less are they receptive to the idea that the very foundations of their worldview must be revised or rebuilt in the light of such criticism. Rather, they cling to the dogma imposed by the long post-Enlightenment hegemony over the Western intellectual outlook, which can be summarized briefly as follows: that there exists an external world, whose properties are independent of any individual human being and indeed of humanity as a whole; that these properties are encoded in 'eternal' physical laws; and that human beings can obtain reliable, albeit imperfect and tentative, knowledge of these laws by hewing to the 'objective' procedures and epistemological strictures prescribed by the (so-called) scientific method."
      • Apr 7 2013: interesting. i skimmed it. but it's basically an (educated) opinion piece. nothing wrong with that of course.

        speaking of educated opinions and speculations, here's an excellent book. it's a collection of mystical writings by the founders of Quantum Physics. enjoy!

        "Here is a collection of writings that bridges the gap between science and religion. Quantum Questions collects the mystical writings of each of the major physicists involved in the discovery of quantum physics and relativity, including Albert Einstein, Werner Heisenberg, and Max Planck. The selections are written in nontechnical language and will be of interest to scientists and nonscientists alike."

        ~ http://www.amazon.com/gp/aw/d/1570627681/
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          Apr 7 2013: Thanks. That quantum gravity article has been the subject of a huge amount of buzz since the time of its publication in a journal based at Duke.

          Is this the individual at TCM who is attracting so much interest? I see he won the Nobel prize in physics in 1973:

          Brian Josephson
          http://www.tcm.phy.cam.ac.uk/~bdj10/

          "'From the viewpoint of the theoretical physicist' here means that there is a particular concern with general principles and the way these may help to reshape one's perspective on a problem. One of my guiding principles, also, has been the scientist's motto 'Take nobody's word for it' (nullius in verba), a corollary of which is that if scientists as a whole denounce an idea this should not necessarily be taken as proof that the said idea is absurd: rather, one should examine carefully the alleged grounds for such opinions and judge how well these stand up to detailed scrutiny."
      • Apr 7 2013: when it comes to Quantum Physics/Mechanics i heed this classic quote attributed to Feynman: "If you think you understand quantum mechanics, you don't understand quantum mechanics."

        that said, it's interesting to see quantum physicists differ in their perspectives, speculations, and interpretations.

        see Physics Buzz: Zeilinger Polls Quantum Physicists on Nature of Reality ~ http://physicsbuzz.physicscentral.com/2013/01/zeilinger-polls-quantum-physicists-on.html
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          Apr 7 2013: That article's a nice refutation of the phrase "scientific dogma."
        • Apr 7 2013: @Hoopes
          Hardly, you don't seem to understand what Sheldrake meant by the dogmas of science.
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    Apr 6 2013: part 3 Sahtouris...

    unprovable assumptions, is represented by the very people TED suddenly chooses to exclude from a global conversation they themselves, as I said in starting this piece, defined as:

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

    Thanks for listening. My website is at www.sahtouris.com
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    Apr 6 2013: Sahtouris continued...
    these historic leaps in belief demanded by the results of scientific research itself! If they did, they would have to reject the Copernican revolution among others.

    Sheldrake and I, without knowing each other’s work, both wrote in the 1980s that the concept of natural mechanism (one fundamental assumption about the nature of the universe) was illogical once scientists had rejected the concept of God, since Descartes’ God was the Grand Engineer inventing the machinery of nature. Without inventors there are no machines of the sort humans build. As God had been the source of creative intelligence, it was decided that natural machinery without God had to come about by accident. My point is that all this was a matter of changing cultural belief, NOT scientific fact. Other assumptions of western science include, for example, that consciousness emerges in a non-conscious universe, that life comes from non-life and that nature can be studied objectively.

    Actually, there are a range of culturally based scientific assumptions about the universe and the means to study it upon which legitimate and successful sciences not only could be based, but on which they already are based, and these assumptions can be utterly antithetical in different sciences, such as whether consciousness gives rise to matter (Vedic science) or that matter gives rise to consciousness (western science). Two international symposia of scientists I convened in Japan and Malaysia clearly identified such differences in assumptions and gave evidence that some, such as Vedic and Islamic science, are entirely compatible with religious or spiritual beliefs.

    What we need is a legitimized Global Consortium of Sciences that recognize the impossibility of founding a science on anything other than cultural beliefs! Let’s get honest about what science is!!!

    The current paradigm shift in western science, historically necessary as a review and revision of those necessary but ...see next post..
  • Apr 6 2013: This is really no place for serious discussion.

    Theory of Condensed matter group (6 professors, 60 researchers) at Cambridge university's webdomain is still blocked at TED conversations, probably originally caused by some people mislabeling links to this site as spam or porn.

    Professor Brian Josephson repeatedly noticed TED about this 'error'. They told him via email to resend his request as URGENT, which he did. Still nothing is happening. So this can be concluded as representing part of TED's policy towards "heretical" scientists.

    So far no one from TED or participants here has defended this.

    (snark) Maybe links to Cambridge university should be all blocked here because they are still harboring 'pseudoscientists'?


    Either you are with us...


    What an attitude this displays!


    Try for yourself, rightclick copy/paste link below into new comment, remove spaces and post anywhere on TED (it first seems to work, but then does not show up after you reload browser window):

    h ttp:// www. tcm. phy. cam. ac. uk/"

    EDIT: I see John Hoopes can post proper links to this site, which is ... funny, to say the least. Please other people try, maybe there are actually different classes of commenters here??

    EDIT2: John Campbell ensured us there is nothing TED can do about this. I don't know. It is certainly in some database somewhere, so it can be changed. If this system is so open for abuse creating permanent damage, they should switch it off.
    • Apr 7 2013: it's got to be a conspiracy.
      • Apr 7 2013: By the way, Leroy, I see you didn't post the link. Go ahead Leroy, post the link. Oh, can't do it? John, you want to see to it that Leroy here can post the link? Thanks.
      • Apr 7 2013: Yeah, but maybe he will be added to the "good guys" user list by admin? Well, so far only John Hoopes was able to post this without spaces. Give it a try, Leroy. Maybe you are special too.
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      Apr 7 2013: I posted the links and they were subsequently deleted.
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      Apr 7 2013: http://www.tcm.phy.cam.ac.uk/

      Voila! Magic!
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        Apr 7 2013: But when I post them, they disappear.
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          Apr 7 2013: It's a mystery...
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          Apr 7 2013: Don't post it like this:

          h ttp:// www. tcm. phy. cam. ac. uk/

          Post it like this:

          http://www.tcm.phy.cam.ac.uk/

          No woo required, but that hasn't kept conspiracy theories from spreading like wildfire. Critical thinking is your friend.
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        Apr 7 2013: I copied and pasted exactly the same link you used, John.

        And why would the post be deleted? The only way I can make a post without having it deleted is to not have that link in it.
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          Apr 7 2013: Beats me. They must be out to get you. Be sure to check your doors and windows.

          Me, I always make sure I pay my Illuminati dues on time.
        • Apr 7 2013: I'm sure you do.

          Really John, do you not realize I have all the subsequent comments in photos?
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          Apr 7 2013: But isn't it true that screenshots can be readily photoshopped? Whether or not they meet criteria of standards of evidence depends upon the audience, right?
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        Apr 7 2013: You're an admin. That's why you could post the link.
        • Apr 7 2013: Sandy, do you see how he has wiped it all out? He's even worse than I thought.
        • Apr 7 2013: What's going on? Please post a report for all of us to see.
      • Apr 7 2013: Nice trick. Now, I tell you how you can falsify your theory that it does usually work. Create a new account under a different email. Try again.
    • Apr 7 2013: Amfortas, I'll just mention again that the problem with comments that link to the TCM site being autodeleted is not TED, it's Akismet, so there's no point in bringing this up here. I agree it's ridiculous, but this really has nothing to do with TED.

      I've already contacted Akismet about it earlier this week and still awaiting a response. Any site that uses Akismet automatically deletes the comment that contains the link to the TCM group. Go to any wordpress.com site and you'll see what I mean. Go to Craig Weiler's blog and try posting a comment that links to the TCM group. Not only will it not appear, but Craig won't even see it as admin of his own blog. He'll be completely unaware that you even posted a comment.

      I think you can find my email in a previous thread so feel free to contact me about it. I should also be reachable through my profile. I'm happy to discuss it further, but not here.
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        Apr 7 2013: Akismet: Comment spam protection for your blog
        http://akismet.com/

        If it works well, I think it would be useful here.
        • Apr 7 2013: It's useful alright, and I know a lot more about it than I did last week, even though I've been using Wordpress for years. It literally kills comments before they can be posted. Straight to /dev/null, as it were, so that even the admin of the blog doesn't know the comment was posted. The only way I was able to post a direct link to the TCM Group to my own Wordpress site or any Wordpress site was if I was admin of the site in question.

          You sir, are an admin on this site.
        • Apr 7 2013: John Hoopes, You are being told by an obvious expert that TED is using the Akismet software and your answer is, that this WOULD be useful here? You aren't that stupid, usually. Fact is, we can't post links to the TCM domain, but you can, as you proved it, above.

          People who are in doubt about this: Just try it. Select by mouse, right click copy, then paste in a new comment box, remove spaces. Submit. You see your new comment. Reload browser window. Gone.

          h ttp:// www. tcm. phy. cam. ac. uk/

          You may think I am joking, but I cannot post this without the spaces!!!!!!
      • Apr 7 2013: Seriously, John. You think Hoopes is an admin? It would certainly explain a few things.
      • Apr 7 2013: There *must* be an option for a admin to flag a false positive as "no spam" or the system is just *broken*. They were informed about this some time ago.

        From the other thread:

        Brian Josephson: "In fact I did draw the issue to TED's attention quite some time ago, resending it as suggested by marking it URGENT, and nothing has happened. You can draw your own conclusions from that."

        At the very least, there should have been a statement like: Sorry, we are working on it, not our intention etc..

        what is the big issue with whitelisting this TCM domain in the database??
        • Apr 7 2013: Amfortas, I'm deleting the comment above, but want to let you know that I can't contact you privately. You need to enable the setting that allows this.
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          Apr 7 2013: Amfortas, I didn't miss it. It's enabled. I got your email last night. Didn't you receive my reply?
      • Apr 7 2013: John Campbell has made the following argument to conclude that John Hoopes is a TED forum administrator. It is a case study in sloppy thinking and willingness to jump to a conclusion on insufficient evidence.

        He begins with the following premise: "The only way I was able to post a direct link to the TCM Group to my own Wordpress site or any Wordpress site was if I was admin of the site in question."

        And from that premise, he draws the following intermediary conclusion: "Any site that uses Akismet automatically deletes the comment that contains the link to the TCM group."

        And, using the above intermediary conclusion as an additional premise, he draws his final conclusion: "You sir [ie, Hoopes], are an admin on this site."

        But the intermediary conclusion does not logically follow from the premise. It does not follow that just because John Campbell has been unable to post the link to the TCM Group on any Wordpress site that he has tried, and can only post it as an admin on his own site, that any site that uses Akismet automatically deletes the post unless you are an admin. Furthermore, this conclusion is factually wrong. I use Akismet on my own Wordpress site, and I was able to post a comment comtaining the link to the TCM Group using an unprivileged user account.

        So, not only does John Campbell's final conclusion, that John Hoopes is a TED admin, not logically follow from his premises, the premises themselves are not even (all) true.
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      Apr 7 2013: Hoope's an admin. That's why he could post the link. More dirty tricks from TED.
      • Apr 7 2013: Occam's razor applied I would think he is. Or else there are invisibly different classes of users, maybe based on some "sceptic" score. Like, you get 10 anti-woo points for this comment. You get 50 pseudoscience points for your comment. Just speculating.
      • Apr 7 2013: What was erased? We should ensure a save base for this discussion, what about Weiler Psi blog? I like to see the comments that were deleted!
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    Apr 6 2013: Another blog about the TED controversy:

    http://weilerpsiblog.wordpress.com/2013/04/06/ted-makes-a-decision-not-technically-censorship-plus-a-recap/
    "What follows in these debates is almost always a game of whack-a-skeptic as they resort to a never ending series of rhetorical alleyways to avoid ever admitting defeat. This is the position that Chris Anderson and other TED supporters found themselves in and they were forced to support their decisions on less scientifically sound platforms, such as "TED has the right to make these decisions", (or variations of that theme.) No scientific or well reasoned answer for banning the talks was ever going to be forthcoming because there simply wasn't one."
  • Apr 6 2013: oh, and btw, on a related note... i'm still waiting for TED to censor this awesome talk by Alex Grey on TEDxMaui. surely, the essence of Grey's talk is not so different from Hancock's talk !

    (of course, i'm being sarcastic here. i don't want to get blamed if TED eventually decides to pull out Grey's talk. in any case, i've made my point.)

    Cosmic Creativity: How Art Evolves Consciousness: Alex Grey at TEDxMaui 2013 ~ http://youtu.be/0_YJToyOp_4
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      Apr 6 2013: There are quite a few TED talks that mention drug use. Think of the children!
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      Apr 6 2013: Thanks for the humor, Debbie. Your wit is obviously biased but clever and appealing.

      Those are also common characteristics of successful pseudoscience and help to explain its popularity. Entertainment frequently trumps knowledge, something well understood by the History Channel and the National Geographic Channel as well as the Weekly World News. It's reassuring to know that TED--at least for now--will not be going down the paths taken by those other enterprises.

      "There never was more woe..."

      Sadly, there was. Lots more. Pseudoscience has resulted in more woe than we can possibly imagine. That's no laughing matter.
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          Apr 6 2013: That's an interesting premise, that the suppression of ideas has caused a lot more sorrow than the allowance of foolish ideas.

          From my perspective, that's incorrect and here's the reason: It is almost impossible to effectively suppress ideas while it is abundantly clear that it is easy to allow foolish ones, many of which go on to thrive. Take, for example, the ideas for which Hypatia was killed or the ones for which Galileo was imprisoned. Those ideas were not suppressed. They are still with us today.

          The Romans went to great extremes to suppress the ideas of early Christians. They utterly failed. The Crusaders and others went to great extremes to suppress the spread of Islam and they failed. Mobs armed with tar and feathers sought to suppress the spread of Mormon ideology and failed. The Nazis (who actually do continue to merit discussion) employed some of the most extreme measures in the history of humanity to suppress the ideas of Judaism and failed. All of the forces that have been mustered to suppress Scientology, including the efforts of Anonymous hackers, have failed. In my field, I have seen constant and continuous effort to suppress the spread of ideas about ancient astronauts, lost continents, pyramid power, and the like. All of them have failed and those ideas now thrive with more vigor than anyone ever imagined.

          Debbie, can you give me examples of the successful suppression of ideas that have truly become extinct?

          On the other hand, the allowance of foolish ideas has been phenomenally successful. This includes foolish ideas about the inferiority of women, blacks, indigenous people and others that have been impossible to suppress, despite massive efforts. They still persist today and in fact continue to thrive. Foolish ideas about economics, industry, and the use of natural resources have thrived. Genocide, ethnocide, poverty, the destruction of the planet's habitats and resources, are those not the result of the allowance of foolish ideas?
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          Apr 6 2013: Furthermore, TED's decisions have not resulted in the suppression of ideas. To the contrary, they have allowed foolish ideas to spread and thrive, as so many people here are pointing out. The reason is quite basic: It is nearly impossible to suppress ideas.

          However, if TED were to allow foolish ideas on its website and in its program, it would be complicit in spreading them and bear some responsibility for their consequences. If I were Chris Anderson or a member of TED's science board, I would not want to have a hand in the spreading of foolish ideas--ideas that are NOT worth spreading. If I were to reflect upon history, I would realize that it is nearly impossible to suppress any ideas and that the merits of good ideas make them as resilient as diamonds. I would also realize that it is extremely difficult to suppress the spread of bad, harmful, and dangerous ideas (racism, sexism, antisemitism, fundamentalism, homophobia, etc.), although one can always strive to mitigate their effects. I would understand that, even if I were to make the mistake of excluding those good ideas from TED content, they would still survive and thrive elsewhere.

          I think that the risk of being complicit in spreading ideas not worth spreading vastly outweighs any concerns about mistakenly excluding some ideas worth spreading. If they are truly ideas worth spreading, they will survive despite TED. Sadly, even if they are NOT ideas worth spreading, they will survive despite TED. I think these discussions have made that abundantly clear.
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          Apr 6 2013: Debbie you write: "I would argue that the suppression of ideas has caused a lot more sorrow than the allowance of foolish ideas."

          Is it a foolish idea that genocide solves problems?
          Is it a foolish idea that some people should enslave others?
          Is it a foolish idea that blacks are inferior to whites?
          Is it a foolish idea that women will never be the equals of men?
          Is it a foolish idea that Jews seek to take over the world?
          Is it a foolish idea that Western civilization is superior to all others?
          Is it a foolish idea that capitalism is the best economic philosophy?
          Is it a foolish idea that the Earth's resources are inexhaustable?
          Is it a foolish idea that the growth of human populations can continue forever?

          If you think that any of these would qualify as a foolish idea, I would like to you explain to me how the suppression of a specific idea has caused more sorrow than allowing that one. The more concrete an example you can provide, the better.

          Of the list I have just provided, do you consider ANY of them to be ideas not worth spreading?
        • Apr 6 2013: Just flip them round and count the suppression of the negation of your claims (as has happened) as the cause. That is, eg, take the suppression of the idea Jews were not trying to take over the world, and then argue that such suppression was in no way involved in the stuff that followed.
      • Apr 6 2013: no more woe
        says Hoopes, I'll go
        the troops to rally-um
        says me, try valium
      • Apr 6 2013: Um, John, you can talk about those ideas surviving only because they have. There are other ideas that we only have fragmentary knowledge of. Christianity survived but only the form that Rome adopted. The Christianities that were suppressed are lost or fragmentary. Much of Gnostic thought is lost, because it was ruthlessly suppressed making it difficult to put what survived in context. What remains of the Cathars, who were the victims of genocide because of their "heresy," is open to wide speculation because we have so little to go by from what was left. There's no telling how many ideas we know nothing of. You can't just point to a handful that survived relatively intact and say, look, ideas survive.

        This is to say nothing of how much time and money are wasted through the suppression of ideas.

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Who_Killed_the_Electric_Car%3F

        And then, of course, there's the lives that have been wasted or ended violently because of ideas.

        I think, on balance, the suppression is worse.
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          Apr 6 2013: The issue is not whether the suppression is worse, but whether "the suppression of ideas has caused a lot more sorrow than the allowance of foolish ideas."

          If the ideas that were suppressed are lost, unknown, or fragmentary, how would one go about measuring that? You can't just point to a handful of ideas that might have existed and say, "Look, these were great!"
        • Apr 6 2013: Please teach me how one can so "readily dismiss" them. Sheldrake cites experiments that to an extent support that something strange (crystals formation, rat learning) is going on. I personally heard stories from a friend who is professionally working in a lab with crystals and she told that indeed some things going on are difficult to explain. Sheldrake also makes predictions that could be falsified and is doing his own research. It's not his fault that there are so few researchers interested in following up on this.
      • Apr 6 2013: What is so "foolish" about Sheldrake hypothesis except that it remind you at Creationism "young earth" pseudoscience (yes, I said it) in some strange way I cannot trace?
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          Apr 6 2013: Both invoke unknown, invisible forces and can be readily dismissed using Occam's Razor and Popper's falsifiability test.
    • Apr 6 2013: A Jew, an Episcopalian, and a Muslim walked into a comedy club where none of the comics were biased. Nobody was laughing.

      Wait. I told it wrong.
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    • Apr 6 2013: Hi Debbie, I highly recommend the Graham Hankock's Official website, It is one of the most scientific and relevant to be found anywhere on the web, It ranks among st my favorites. I have been visiting it for over 5 years now and i'm amazed at the quality of cutting edge articles and relevant material. Then there is its message boards that allow for any mature perspective on a range of topics that are relevant in today's society. let me just say that i am in no way associated with it, other then a frequent visitor. Again thank you to to all the TED fellows who have so generously contributed, my criticism has not directed at you. I am just disappointed that we cant have a wider range of ideas.

      http://www.grahamhancock.com/news/index.php
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        Apr 6 2013: If Adrian considers Hancock's website to be "one of the most scientific and relevant to be found anywhere on the web," then it is my opinion that he has been seriously deluded.

        For an alternative perspective on the pseudoscience about the ancient past in particular that has been promoted since the 1990s by Hancock in his books, films, and lectures--as well as on his website--please see this website:

        In the Hall of Ma'at: Weighing the Evidence for Alternative History
        http://thehallofmaat.com/

        In the "Papers" section of that website, one can find over a dozen papers that explicitly and in detail critique Hancock's pseudoscience. There are also informed critiques of the pseudoscience of extraterrestrial influences on ancient peoples by authors such as Erich von Daniken.

        In the Hall of Ma'at - Papers
        http://thehallofmaat.com/modules.php?name=Topics

        Note that the Hall of Ma'at website is completely non-commercial and features no advertisements.
        • Apr 6 2013: John If you look at the site you will see the home page, "news desk", that section I referred to is an ansanble of newly published material across the spectrum of science, biology, astronomy, history, archaeology, religion............ the list goes one. I have yet to find a better source of interesting, open minded mature perspective on current events.
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        Apr 6 2013: Yes, Adrian, and yet many people in the debate about Hancock insisted that he does not represent what he is doing as science. I wish you had been more clear in your original post, making it clear that it was the science news feed to which you were referring and not the website as a whole.

        One of the strategies of the Hancock website has been to present a credible veneer of science while promoting anti-scientific and pseudoscientific ideas, books, videos, and other products. It is a way of cloaking the actual intent of the website and making it appear scientific and reputable when it is not. Applying the title of Sheldrake's book, it is an example of an *actual* science deception.
        • Apr 6 2013: John you are beginning to sound paranoid. You fail to engage or confront them openly, while making accusations that just as easily be applied to yourself. That is cowardice.
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        Apr 6 2013: Adrian, you say that I fail to engage or confront "them" openly. Which "them" do you have in mind? I think anyone who read the Hancock debate would have a hard time agreeing with you that I failed to engage or confront anyone openly in that discussion.

        Who do you mean by "them"? People who insisted that Hancock did not represent what he was doing as science? If you don't recall those engagements or confrontations, I recommend that you read through that debate again. You have missed something and I am not going to go and do your homework for you.

        As for cowardice, I think that term is better applied to individuals who hide behind pseudonyms. My identity has been quite open from the very beginning of my participation. That's not cowardice.
        • Apr 6 2013: Your criticism was in reply to my referral of the Hancock site, but equally applies to Sheldrake. You repeatedly defended TED's actions despite their inability to engage in open debate with either party. That's what I find disagreeable.
        • Apr 6 2013: John, you didn't confront anything. You talked about all manner of irrelevant stuff and when you made the odd foray into talking about the actual talk everything you said was wrong.
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        Apr 6 2013: I disagree and I think you're wrong. However, the burden of proof is on you to make your case.

        Fallacy - Burden of Proof
        http://www.nizkor.org/features/fallacies/burden-of-proof.html
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        Apr 6 2013: No, you haven't and no, it's not.
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        Apr 6 2013: Prove what?
    • Apr 6 2013: I agree with TED on one point. If the science board were public they could be subjected to pressures by interest groups and possible consequences to them personally could bias their results. That's a fair point. However, at some point, the reasoning itself has to be transparent.

      TED also claims that it isn't the science board that makes the decisions -- that they function in an advisory capacity and TED makes the decisions. Why, then, is TED so incapable of articulating their own reasons for these decisions. I think if you make a decision that results in so many people wasting time and money -- whether it's to speak for free or to spend a year setting up an event -- TED should at least be able to explain its own reasoning for pulling the plug.
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      Apr 6 2013: Adrian writes, "Your criticism was in reply to my referral of the Hancock site, but equally applies to Sheldrake. You repeatedly defended TED's actions despite their inability to engage in open debate with either party. That's what I find disagreeable."

      Your premise is incorrect. TEDx was not unable to engage in open debate. They chose not to.

      You're certainly entitled to your opinion, Adrian. Everyone's got one. However, please don't misrepresent the facts. You may find my own opinions disagreeable, but please don't insinuate cowardice when it's not there.
      • Apr 6 2013: TED was unable inasmuch as every word they said had to be crossed out. If they had great arguments waiting in the wings then it's unclear why they held them back (are still holding them back) rather than just deploy them. The problem being that anyone can claim to have devastating arguments at their disposal which they may unleash one day or other.
        • Apr 6 2013: Unable or unwilling -- which is worse? I'm at a loss, either way. That TED thinks they don't have to validate such drastic actions is an insult to anyone who put time, energy, let alone money into building their "brand" over the years.

          All they do is co-opt other peoples' ideas without paying them anyway. And now we know that the emperor has no clothes -- certainly no ability to assess those ideas without Jerry Coyne telling them what to think.
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    Apr 6 2013: It is so odd for a high-minded enterprise to try to set parameters as TED has been doing. That a subject would be a bugaboo -- god forbid anyone talk about psi -- instead of well-respected, credentialed people being able to talk about anything, especially what's on the edge, is unfathomably short-sighted and was bound to cause TED grief. That's not to mention the disrespect TED pays to people who deserve better.
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      Apr 6 2013: You write, "It is so odd for a high-minded enterprise to try to set parameters..." Why is that so odd? Isn't setting parameters exactly what makes it high-minded?
      • Apr 6 2013: You are intentionally misrepresenting her words for a cheap rhetoric effect. Not looking very high-minded here.
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          Apr 6 2013: No, I am not intentionally misrepresenting her words. In my quotation, I truncated the words after "parameters" not to change the meaning of her sentence (which it did not), but because they were irrelevant to my point. This was not, as you describe it, "a cheap rhetoric effect."

          Whether the parameters were "as TED has been doing" or not, one of the qualities of a "high-minded enterprise" is that it sets parameters.

          That said, I would like to point out that the meaning of Suzanne's sentence is unclear. Did she intend to mean "as TED has been doing since its inception" (as I interpreted it) or did she intend to mean "as TED has been doing in its decisions regarding the Sheldrake, Hancock, and West Hollywood events" (as you may have read it)?

          The reason why I interpreted it as I did is that many of the participants in this discussion, including Suzanne, seem to think that TED should have no parameters at all for distinguishing "ideas worth spreading" from "ideas not worth spreading."
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        Apr 6 2013: Hoopes -- "It is so odd for a high-minded enterprise to try to set parameters as TED has been doing," is what I said. You distorted my meaning by leaving out the last part, "as TED has been doing." This is the typical way you make posts, where you hijack so much energy on this blog as people dutifully take you on to straighten out what you skew. No more for me.
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    Apr 5 2013: Ex TEDWestHollywood. Need all the recognition we can get in this short time. We are 9 days out and tickets aren't on sale yet -- still getting ducks in order. Press Release going out Monday and hopefully the hot spot gets us enough attention to sell the 110 tickets we have.

    I'd appreciate it if the community of intelligent contributors would pressure TED to promote our Live Stream and leave this blog open long enough for an exchange afterwards in which TED either would be vindicated regarding its opinion of our program (although nothing vindicates the last minute cancellation) or give TED and us material with which to deal with the shortcomings of TEDs operation.
    • Apr 6 2013: Suzanne, this came to my attention today and, as the archivist of 20 years' worth of research, much of which has Targ's name on it, his letter to TED about the presentation prompted me to share some documents and information in support of his assertions. Please use it as you see fit and contact me if there is more I can do. The blog is at stargate-interaective.com/news and it titled targ tedx and the nature of legitimate research. Good luck to you.
    • Apr 6 2013: I think the discussion about the other talks isn't finished either. Time to re-open it, on a wider scope?
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      Apr 6 2013: Suzanne writes, "I'd appreciate it if the community of intelligent contributors would pressure TED to promote our Live Stream..."

      However, the terms of use for TED Conversations state:

      "4. By inviting you to participate in TEDTalk comments and TED Conversations, we are seeking to build a mature online community centered around ideas that matter. Please be aware, when participating, that we will remove: content promoting pseudo-science, conspiracy theories, zealotry, proselytizing, self-promotion, product-hawking, and new-age fluff"
      http://www.ted.com/pages/conversations_terms

      Promoting pseudoscience by pressuring TED to promote pseudoscience in a TED Conversation would be a violation of the stated terms of use.
  • Apr 5 2013: Nice reply TED. Censorship dealt with. (A peek at the dictionary would have fixed that) Science board delt with. So now you only have conspiracies left. Skeptics win!!!
    • Apr 5 2013: The skeptics hardly won. In censoring two very popular talks TED simply showed themselves to be aligned with a peculiar anti-science movement, and that they will act with the same integrity and decency associated with that movement - ie, none.
    • Apr 5 2013: Funny how the "skeptics" won without debating the authors, articulating their reasons, defending their determinations, or in any way making their thinking transparent. They won simply by having the power and declaring themselves winners. How nice for them. Most of us have to justify our actions when challenged.
    • Apr 5 2013: "Skeptics win!!!"—Leroy Low

      "It's obvious that a skeptic coup has taken place."—Craig Weiler
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      • Apr 5 2013: Debbie, please stick around! See what's happened at Wikipedia? They overran the place and became the thought police. Your voice is needed!
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          Apr 6 2013: Thanks, John. Just because the TED channel will no longer show what we want to see doesn't mean we can't talk about other interesting stuff. I'm hoping Suzanne will have all of the talks from her non-TED event up online so that we can discuss them here. We can talk about what TED didn't want people to see.

          Why not? I started a discussion before, and it wasn't particularly difficult to do.
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        Apr 6 2013: Ms. Gallaghar,
        I was among the earliest ones to get disillusioned about TED. I left TED about more than a year ago and asked TED admin to completely remove my account with all my contribution, which after a point they did. I wrote a blog post titled 'DispuTED?' that explained my point of view. I started joining conversations of TED after they modified their terms of use. Even then I use my facebook account to log in and do not maintain a bio and keep myself ready to leave any day I feel that way.

        I have been following this debate closely. I feel that the TED community will miss someone as free thinking as you.
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    • Apr 5 2013: "Skeptics win!". And that just about sums up the mindset. Knowledge isn't about discovery, it's about winning.
    • Apr 6 2013: I'm surprised anyone would think this is a "win" rather than a foregone conclusion finally drawn in after being left to dangle in the name of openness. In relying on an anonymous, unaccountable tribunal which gives judgment with no explanation, and whose yea or nea can ruin a program a year in the making just weeks before it is scheduled, shows a contempt for skeptics, and an acceptance of only those uncritical of the shepherding the TED label imposes.
    • Apr 6 2013: This whole affair has concluded with quite possibly the worst possible outcome for skeptics.

      1. The speakers were supposed to be trivialized, but the exact opposite happened.
      2. The Westhollywood event was supposed to be shut down, but now it's happening and has national publicity by being banned by TED.
      3. It was supposed to improve the TED brand, but instead it continues to get dragged through the mud.
      4. The debate which was supposedly about pseudoscience raised a lot of awareness for the unfair way psi is treated.
      5. As an added bonus it raised the profile and influence of the blogger, me, most responsible for reporting on this catastrophe.

      And that's winning?
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        Apr 6 2013: Thanks for keeping people informed through your blog, Craig.

        I don't see this going away anytime soon. A community is being built because of this. Not the community TED was hoping for, but something much better and long overdue.
        • Apr 6 2013: Yes, a community "is being built because of this", Sandy. I can feel it, and I thought Craig's blog entry earlier this week articulated this well. I've been in conversation over the past 3 weeks with people I didn't know, talking about scientists I had never heard ofl. We may be coming from different perspectives and different points of interest, but we have one thing in common for sure, and that's a disgust with the tactics of those who call themselves skeptics. They are the gatekeepers at Wikipedia, and now TED.
  • Apr 5 2013: TED's closing statement on the Sheldrake and Hancock talks has been published. I think it's identical in both cases strangely enough.

    http://www.ted.com/conversations/17189/the_debate_about_rupert_sheldr.html

    http://www.ted.com/conversations/17190/the_debate_about_graham_hancoc.html
    • Apr 5 2013: Well, that's a whole lotta nothin.' Actually it's only a few graphs o' nothin.' I guess they've given up on stating their actual reasons for removing the talks.
      • Apr 5 2013: It would have been nice if they could have mustered up one complaint in three weeks that didn't have to be crossed out almost as fast as it was written. Thus, we have two completely different talks, one largely philosophy of science and one largely sociopolitical, both removed for completely undisclosed reasons, but still apparently based on an analysis by an anonymous "science" board whose only public demonstration of their prowess was so preposterous it didn't last five minutes. And all we have by way of further clarification is an (identical in both cases) nebulous allusion to skepticism and critical thinking and a further excuse (not a reason) for why the science board has to be anonymous. Oh, and it wasn't censorship.
    • Apr 5 2013: Well, that was entirely expected.

      It's obvious that a skeptic coup has taken place.
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      Apr 5 2013: Thanks, Steve: As strange as it might sound to some, I'm happy to encourage Chris Anderson in his decisions. It doesn't mean I'd agree with them, but free will and open choice are paramount values. Everyone gets to make their own mistakes and bask in their own triumphs, otherwise there's zero learning or incentive to grow and change.
      • Apr 5 2013: I think there are still serious questions to answer. One would be: if someone gives a talk and some of TED's "friends" decide they don't like it or the person giving it, is TED going to hold that person up for public ridicule by allowing an anonymous group to make unfounded/fabricated allegations about, and criticisms of, their work and character?
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    Apr 5 2013: Here's another blog about TED. I guess bad publicity is as good as any, right?

    http://www.stargate-interactive.com/news/targ-tedx-and-the-nature-of-legitimate-research/

    "Many of the research papers among the 12000 documents included in the FOIA release were written by Russell Targ and Hal Puthoff, two of the primary researchers in anomalous cognition and remote perturbation. It was therefore with surprise that I read this letter from Russell to TEDx only a half hour ago. It says:

    “In cancelling the TEDx event in West Hollywood, it appears that I was accused of “using the guise of science” to further spooky claims, (or some such). People on this blog have asked what I was going to talk about. That’s easily answered. I was co-founder of a 23 year research program investigating psychic abilities at Stanford Research Institute. We were doing research and applications for the CIA, Defense Intelligence Agency, Air Force and Army Intelligence, NASA, and others. In this $25 million program we used “remote viewing” to find a downed Russian bomber in North Africa, for which President Carter commended us. We found a kidnapped US general in Italy, and the kidnap car that snatched Patricia Hearst. We looked in on the US hostages in Iran, and predicted the immanent release of Richard Queen, who was soon sent to Germany. We described a Russian weapons factory in Siberia, leading to a US congressional investigation about weakness in US security, etc. We published our scientific findings in Nature, The Proc. IEEE, Proc, AAAS, and Proc. American Institute of Physics. I thought a TED audience would find this recently declassified material interesting. And no physics would be harmed in my presentation.”"

    " TEDx obviously has forgotten that all legitimate researchers begin with the existing literature. And it is important not to let cognitive bias prevent you from looking at research that doesn’t fit your belief system. "
  • Apr 5 2013: I hope there is still enough courage left in science to face the evidence for nonlocal mind-matter interaction, in replicating and expanding on the experiments by Dean Radin. I guess it's tough decision to face a possible public labeling as 'pseudoscience', no matter what your credentials are.
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      Apr 5 2013: I think "pseudoscience" is the new word for "witch".
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    Apr 5 2013: This entire fiasco gets sillier by the minute. Seriously, I'm left speechless . . . . . well, almost.
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      Apr 5 2013: That's good, Sandy, thanks. Curious that it's identical to the one in the L.A. Times and there's only a tiny attribution by the Baltimore Sun. I'm told there will be a new article in tomorrow's L.A. Times print edition about this, by Christopher O'Brien.
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        Apr 5 2013: It's nice to see this get attention. I think Chris Anderson thought the issue would go away if he ignored it long enough.
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        Apr 5 2013: Strangely enough, TED deleted my response and asked me to re-word it. It wasn't inflammatory in any way, and there is no way to re-word it without changing the meaning, which I stand by.

        http://forum.mind-energy.net/skeptiko-podcast/4974-207-rupert-sheldrake-censored-ted-conference-s-anonymous-scientific-board-podcast-8.html#post146484
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          Apr 5 2013: Considering the tone of many of TED's commenters, Sandy, the tone of yours have all seemed perfectly acceptable. I've watched as many, many disparaging comments have stood. Overall, this would mean to me that TED's quality of moderation and the quality of its comments vary widely.

          For a $40M public, social trust, there would be reasonably-priced software bots which could stand guard on TED's site and act instantly upon keywords. But they haven't implemented such a system.
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        Apr 5 2013: It suggests to me that Chris Anderson is the one individual that I'm not allowed to question in this conversation. That's too bad, because he has a lot to answer for.
  • Apr 5 2013: I'll take Hameroff and Penrose above of both of them, by a large extent. As he wrote, it's entertainment but possibly introducing some beautiful idea to the public, as science fiction did it, still somewhat crude, with the moon landing.

    I completely missed the segment about Ramtha, it doesn't seem to play a dominant role in the film. I watched parts oft the sequel, and no Ramtha (or else I forgot about it).
  • Apr 5 2013: This is a meta-analysis of two pseudoscience studies. It's not actual research. Thus why they say, "It is concluded that there are hints of an effect, but also a shortage of independent replications and theoretical concepts." In other words "there might be something, but someone's going to need to verify if there actually is something and then figure out what it means".

    They did not, however, conclude "Yaay! Magic!"
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      Apr 5 2013: You need to provide references.
      • Apr 5 2013: Not when I"m referring to the article in the previous comment.
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          Apr 5 2013: Look up. There is no previous comment.
      • Apr 5 2013: Here is the actual conclusion written in the paper where the langauge has changes from, "there are hints of an effect," to, "We conclude that for both data sets that there is a small, but significant effect." Interestingly both the comments come from exactly the same paper, the first from the abstract at the beginning of the paper, the second written in the conclusion toward the end of it.

        We conclude that for both data sets that there is a small, but significant effect. This result
        corresponds to the recent findings of studies on distant healing and the ‘feeling of being
        stared at’. Therefore, the existence of some anomaly related to distant intentions cannot
        be ruled out. The lack of methodological rigour in the existing database prohibits final
        conclusions and calls for further research, especially for independent replications on
        larger data sets. There is no specific theoretical conception we know of that can
        incorporate this phenomenon into the current body of scientific knowledge. Thus,
        theoretical research allowing for and describing plausible mechanisms for such effects is
        necessary.
        http://www.uniklinik-freiburg.de/iuk/live/forschung/publikationen/EDADMILSMABJP2004.pdf
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          Apr 5 2013: Thank you, Gary!
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          Apr 5 2013: "The lack of methodological rigour in the existing database prohibits final conclusions and calls for further research, especially for independent replications on larger data sets."

          In other words, "We screwed up and want more money."
        • Apr 5 2013: Do you imply that the issue is settled with this? What is this "we", these are different researchers, collective blame? You would prefer this, correct? No more experiments, let's just move on and forget about all the anomalies. This I would consider an anti-scientific attitude.
    • Comment deleted

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        Apr 5 2013: It isn't even clear which study he's talking about.
    • Apr 5 2013: Probably the two given below, but only one was meta, and no science was said to be actually harmed at SRI.
      The other was a real independent replication.

      "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."
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Remote_viewing
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        Apr 5 2013: Critique of the PEAR Remote Viewing Experiments
        http://www.tricksterbook.com/ArticlesOnline/PEARCritique.htm

        "The research departs from criteria usually expected in formal scientific experimentation. Problems with regard to randomization, statistical baselines, application of statistical models, agent coding of descriptor lists, feedback to percipients, sensory cues, and precautions against cheating. Many of the issues of remote-viewing methodology were identified by Stokes and Kennedy over 10 years ago. It is concluded that the quoted significance values are meaningless because of defects in the experimental and statistical procedures."
        • Apr 5 2013: "We should point out that we have no reason to think cheating actually took place in the PEAR research. Dunne et al. (1989) noted that positive effects come from a large portion of the subjects. However, according to their Tables E and F, Subject 10 contributed 77 trials as percipient and 167 as agent, for a total of 244 trials (i.e., over 70% of the formal trials). Because the procedures allow deception by either percipient or agent acting alone, the contribution of that subject should be considered. If we remove Subject 10’s trials from the set, the z score drops from 6.355 ( p = 1.04 x 10-10 ) to 2.17 ( p = .015, one-tailed)."

          Thank you. These are serious flaws, if true. I agree randomization of target selection is absolutely crucial. Too bad. No further studies done after this? How did the researchers respond to the critics? I think it would be straightforward to do better studies. LET'S FINALLY CLEAR THIS UP!

          I think the case for Ganzfeld telepathy is much, much better, even excellent, though. Many, many replications over 90 years by different groups. Full randomization of targets. Anyway, we were talking about remote viewing.

          "Every meta-analysis of the ganzfeld database to date has shown significantly positive results, including one by Milton and Wiseman. When meta-analyses start to show consistency across multiple authors, including skeptics, there's good reason to believe that something interesting is indeed going on." Dean Radin

          http://deanradin.blogspot.de/2009/09/skeptic-agrees-that-remote-viewing-is.html

          Do you object this?
        • Apr 5 2013: You were telling me about the "goats" film and books. It'a fictional account, though. Here may be something to set the record straight.


          Sorry, bad audio.

          http://www.scientificexploration.org/talks/29th_annual/29th_annual_alexander_real_story_of_goats.html
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        Apr 5 2013: Thanks for clarifying that. I never thought that goats could be killed just by staring at them, but other people might have.

        An actual phenomenon that may have contributed to misinterpretation.

        Fainting Goats
        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=we9_CdNPuJg
        • Apr 5 2013: Thanks for accepting this as an actual contribution intended to rationalize the debate. What do you think should be debated here if not the scientific status and credibility of "individual speakers"? Suzanne's text? Quantum theory in relation to the (belief or hypothesis of the) living universe?
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        Apr 5 2013: You're welcome. I took it as a serious contribution.

        What do I think should be debated? Well, "pseudoscience" has been a term used in TED policy and official TED discourse. I don't know for sure, but I think there may be some people who think that the use of this term is tantamount to bigotry. It may well be, if what is being articulated are religious/spiritual beliefs and not objective science. Is that so? Does pseudoscience exist? If so, how can it be recognized? Should charges of "pseudoscience" be identified as a form of bigotry, or is are they fair in the context of discussions of mainstream science vs. fringe claims? Should "pseudoscience" become a casualty of the policing of political correctness in public discourse? I think those are significant issues worthy of debate.
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          Apr 5 2013: For example, is an identification of "pseudoscience" fair when applied to all assertions about the age of the universe being no more than 6000 years old and the reality of the Great Flood as a worldwide catastrophe from which only Noah and his family and other creatures on his Ark survived? Or is it only fair when those assertions are claimed to have been confirmed by scientific evidence? Or is it never fairly applied?
        • Apr 5 2013: I didn't look at the actual arguments for Creationism in the literal bible sense (this whole U.S. debate is a total non-issue here in Germany), but I guess one could label such as pseudoscience. I have no opinion on Graham Hancock, I did not even see his talk. I strongly question the notion of all parapsychology and for example, Rupert Sheldrakes ideas as just being pseudoscience, without further detailed argument.

          As TED is supposed to be about 'ideas worth spreading' it would not be enough to point to the mainstream opinions about his *hypothesis* of morphogenetic fields/formative causation, clearly presented as such. It could be a case of "not yet" accepted, and well worth spreading, which I think it is. This cannot be decided without looking at the details.

          "And scepticism, in the sense of doubt of the validity of elementary ideas—which is really a proposal to turn an idea out of court and permit no inquiry into its applicability—is doubly condemned by the fundamental principle of scientific method—condemned first as obstructing inquiry, and condemned second because it is treating some other than a statistical ratio as a thing to be argued about." Peirce

          "A naturalistic methodology (sometimes called an "inductive theory of science") has its value, no doubt. […] I reject the naturalistic view: It is uncritical. Its upholders fail to notice that whenever they believe to have discovered a fact, they have only proposed a convention. Hence the convention is liable to turn into a dogma. This criticism of the naturalistic view applies not only to its criterion of meaning, but also to its idea of science, and consequently to its idea of scientific method." Karl Popper
        • Apr 5 2013: Do Creationists propose new scientific experiments that could possibly falsify or support these "truths of the Bible"? Do they give detailed predictions? Well, Sheldrake does so, therefore it would be science, according to Popper.
      • Apr 5 2013: I think we should take some actual TED talks and work out what the actual policy is from them. So, we could take, eg, the "aquatic ape" talk and the "my stroke" talk and various others (Tweedle-Dennett and Tweedle-Dawkins spring to mind as immediate possible red flags) and then get someone from TED, who understands their supposed policy, to comment on whether those talks pass or fail. Then we can start talking in definite terms rather than woo(lly) phrases. Too much of this discussion has been one-step removed from the actuality.
  • Apr 5 2013: No, that's not it at all. To those in the atheist/freethinking/skeptical movement, the same flawed rationale that leads to belief in gods is the same flawed rationale that leads to belief in psi.
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      Apr 5 2013: I don't believe blindly in anything. Based on the peer-reviewed published literature available on psi research, I find that there is convincing evidence to suggest that psi is a possibility.

      I'm not religious. My educational background is in science. I've looked at and carefully considered the evidence. Have you?
      • Apr 5 2013: I've looked FOR the evidence, still haven't seen any.
      • Apr 5 2013: I've done enough reading. I haven't seen any studies that didn't have significantly flawed methodologies and non-reproducible results. That last one's hilarious. The items it claims can't be explained by science (well, those that actually exist) all can and have been . I'd recommend an up to date edition might be in order, but it was making false claims even as far back as 2009...

        I do, however, love the comment: "Later sections discuss such disparate topics as memories that survive physical death, near death experiences, automatic writing and out-of-body experiences, apparitions and deathbed visions. I have only a minor quibble about the inclusion of multiple personality disorder, which is controversial and the evidence for it not strong."

        F'ing brilliant! LMAO!
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          Apr 5 2013: So you've "done enough reading"? Must be nice.

          As a scientist, I never stop reading. There are always new things to learn.

          You skeptics have it easy!
      • Apr 5 2013: I've done enough reading on THIS topic. The existence of these magical powers has been tested, tested, tested, tested, tested and retested for decades. At some point, you have to stop beating that horse. I'll stick to learning things that exist in this reality, thanks.
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          Apr 5 2013: Have you done ANY reading on this topic? Or did you make up your mind a priori?

          I have no problem with the fact that you are unwilling to read the literature. You are entitled to your ignorance on any matter you choose. It's the fact that you proclaim a book as being "bad" when you obviously haven't read it that makes me wonder how anyone could be so entrenched in a dogma that even looking at the opposing POV isn't allowed.
    • Apr 5 2013: Heck what's a "free-thinker" Tony? And why do you label yourself as one of those?
    • Apr 5 2013: Thanks. I think we all knew TED's decision-making was being driven by atheist evangelists. It's nice to have more background and insight into the thinking
    • Apr 5 2013: Tony, "flawed rationale", like first-hand experience?
    • Apr 5 2013: Free thinking skeptics? Now that's a good one.
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    Apr 4 2013: Great post in Harvard Business Review on how TED had volunteers build their empire for free:

    http://hbr.org/2013/04/when-ted-lost-control-of-its-crowd/ar/1

    The brand extension and new content TED gained by setting up a decentralized community would have cost millions of dollars to produce through traditional business means. Such a community can create value in many ways. Look at the benefits Apple reaped by opening app development to the crowd. By designing a tool kit that lowered the cost of development from $1 million to $10,000, the company harnessed the creativity of thousands of developers. Ask yourself what Apple’s business model would be without its diverse app store. When the security-software maker McAfee allowed volunteers known as “McAfee Maniacs” to offer customers answers to technical support questions, it cut overhead expenses by 5%. At Intuit, users of Mint, QuickBooks, and TurboTax serve as “live communities,” providing peer-to-peer advice for everything from special tax circumstances to competitive pay issues. To date they have answered more than 25 million questions—about 74% of all questions that have come in. “In one product line, this approach has slashed support costs by 35%,” says Per-Kristian (Kris) Halvorsen, the chief innovation officer of Intuit. And then there’s the upside of having a community of superusers built around and invested in the Intuit platform, creating a competitive moat.
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      Apr 5 2013: I could be mistaken, Suzanne, but you now seem bent on discrediting an organization whose support you were honored to have just a few weeks ago and which you have sought to keep in the past few days. Is their use of volunteers good? Bad? What message are you seeking to communicate by this? What's your point?

      Is TED to be admired only if they're on your side? Are they to be disparaged when they are not? Do you want their support or don't you? Why?
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    Apr 4 2013: Who is Russell Targ?

    http://archived.parapsych.org/members/r_targ.html

    "Russell Targ is a physicist and author who was a pioneer in the development of the laser and laser applications, and was co-founder of the Stanford Research Institute’s investigation into psychic abilities in the 1970s and 1980s. His work in this new area, called remote viewing, was published in Nature, The Proceedings of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) and the Proceedings of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. Targ has a B.S. in Physics from Queens College, and did graduate work in physics at Columbia University. He received two National Aeronautics and Space Administration awards for inventions and contributions in lasers and laser communications; and invitations were accepted in 1983 and 1984 to present remote viewing demonstrations, and to address the USSR Academy of Sciences on this research. He is co-author of five books dealing with the scientific investigation of psychic abilities: Mind Reach: Scientists Look at Psychic Abilities, The Mind Race: Understanding and Using Psychic Abilities, Mind at Large: Institute of Electronics and Electrical Engineers Symposium on the Nature of Extrasensory Perception and most recently, Heart of the Mind: How to know God without belief, and Miracles of Mind: Exploring nonlocal consciousness and spiritual healing. In 1997 Targ retired from Lockheed Martin Missiles & Space Co. as a senior staff scientist, where he developed airborne laser systems for the detection of wind shear. "
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      Apr 5 2013: Okay, but the message repeated here over and over and over again is that an argument must be based in its own merits and not on other criteria. In the debate on Graham Hancock, I argued over and over again that his past work was relevant to the issue of his reliability. I repeatedly cited his lack of scientific or academic background and past publications (none of which were peer-reviewed). However, many participants (including people in this conversation) complained and claimed over and over that none of that mattered.

      When it comes to Targ, suddenly background and past publications are relevant and the rhetoric shifts to his reliability and reputation as a basis for evaluating his suitability as a TED speaker--criteria that were claimed to be meaningless in the case of Hancock.

      One argument could be that Targ is identified as a scientist while Hancock is not. However, Hancock's talk referred to scientific concepts and evidence (human evolution, dates for cave paintings, botanical classifications, molecular chemistry, pharmacology, ecology, etc.) and he spoke in scientific terms, stating premises while also claiming to explain "the truth" (in those words). One might argue that Targ talks as a scientist when he is discussing lasers but a pseudoscientist when he is talking about ESP.

      I detect a double-standard here, especially with respect to the issue of speaker credibility, reputation, and reliability. Is it unreasonable to expect some consistency? Why? Should the TED talks that proposed speakers make or intend to make be based on their own merits or also on speakers' past work and reputations?
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        Apr 5 2013: Targ has had an exemplary career as a scientist. Why would that disqualify him from being a TEDx speaker? It shouldn't! It seems to me that only makes him more interesting.

        My argument is that a well-credentialed scientist like Targ is someone I'm interested in hearing from. How is that any kind of a double-standard?
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          Apr 5 2013: I don't think it's exemplary if he's widely acknowledged--especially but not exclusively in the scientific community--to be doing pseudoscience. That's a fairly significant taint and compromises his credentials. I don't know if you've consulted the debate on Hancock, but the double-standard issue only makes sense in light of that.
          http://www.ted.com/conversations/17190/the_debate_about_graham_hancoc.html
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          Apr 5 2013: One could say that Hancock has had an exemplary career as an author of fringe pseudoscience. Should that disqualify him from being a TEDx speaker? I think so, but others argued not. You think credentials matter in Targ's case, but others rejected them in the case of Hancock. That's what I'm referring to as an inconsistency and double-standard.
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        Apr 5 2013: Pseudoscience is just you making things up John. Kind of like the followers of Guerrilla Skepticism re-editing Wiki to suit their purposes.

        http://monkeywah.typepad.com/paranormalia/2013/03/guerrilla-skeptics.html

        In what version of reality did I ever reject Hancock's credentials?
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          Apr 5 2013: Pseudoscience is not just me making things up. Targ has been claimed to have been doing pseudoscience since the 1970s, as documented early on in this 1980 book by a scientist with impeccable credentials:

          The Psychology of the Psychic
          http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Psychology_of_the_Psychic
          http://www.amazon.com/Psychology-Psychic-David-F-Marks/dp/1573927988

          His research has since been widely debunked by others, as documented by the references for which citations are provided on these pages (if the Woo Posse hasn't removed them).

          Russell Targ
          http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Russell_Targ

          Remote Viewing
          http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Remote_viewing

          The issue is not one of rejecting Hancock's credentials but of accepting them. Frankly, I don't know or care how you feel about them. I was explaining what I meant by a double-standard.
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          Apr 5 2013: Skeptic's Dictionary - Remote Viewing
          http://skepdic.com/remotevw.html
        • Apr 5 2013: The Wikipedia article also tells me that the results from his his research at SRI have been succesfully and independently replicated at Princeton, with further improved methods. So, I don't understand why is he still labeled with 'pseudoscience'? Maybe the problem is that there are just not that many researchers or institutes (getting paid) in that field? Worthy further investigation, not conclusive but hinting at real effects, and in need of a new theory. . Yes, that's what we want to see! That's just reasonable, and why not informing the public about this exciting process currently going on in science, as with talks on TED?

          http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=what-is-pseudoscience

          "..As Gordin documents with detailed examples, “individual scientists (as distinct from the monolithic ‘scientific community’) designate a doctrine a ‘pseudoscience’ only when they perceive themselves to be threatened—not necessarily by the new ideas themselves, but by what those ideas represent about the authority of science, science’s access to resources, or some other broader social trend. If one is not threatened, there is no need to lash out at the perceived pseudoscience; instead, one continues with one’s work and happily ignores the cranks.”

          This.
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        Apr 5 2013: Targ's evidence for his work is found in peer-reviewed journals, such as Nature. You don't seem to have any peer-reviewed work backing up your claims. It's just you making stuff up. Anyone can edit Wiki, as I'm sure you know.

        http://monkeywah.typepad.com/paranormalia/2013/03/guerrilla-skeptics.html
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          Apr 5 2013: You apparently missed my comment on the abstract of the Nature article, whose results are far from impressive. There are peer-reviewed works critical of Targ's research in the articles I mentioned. I am really not just making stuff up about how Targ's work is regarded. If I were able to provide you with additional peer-reviewed work to back up my claims, would it make any difference with you? A simple "yes" or "no" will suffice.

          Did you read and understand the discussion this morning about the fetishization of peer-reviewed journals? Again, a simple "yes" or "no" will suffice.
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        Apr 5 2013: I've read all of the relevant articles, including the entire back and forth of arguments in the journal Nature. The skeptics really couldn't come up with anything better than they didn't like what the data showed, so it MUST have been wrong, even if they aren't sure how it could have been wrong.

        It's promissory materialism. You can't find a good alternate explanation for something that could suggest evidence for psi, but your argument is that some day that explanation will appear. That's hardly convincing.
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          Apr 5 2013: Some people may be lacking in imagination, but there are lots of alternate explanations something that could suggest evidence for psi. Hoaxing (which has been notoriously and successfully perpetrated on the lab at Stanford), perceptual errors (confirmation bias, apophenia, etc.), misreporting, and so forth. I can have a student in my class who I feel is probably cheating even if I don't know *how* he's cheating. Intuition actually does count for a lot in the practice of science. Ask any medical diagnostician.

          I haven't argued that someday an explanation will appear. I suspect there are myriad explanations. Some phenomena are just too complex to explain. In the case of psi, it may be that relevant data are lacking, but that doesn't mean that ESP is real.
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        Apr 5 2013: Given your apparent paranoia, no study will ever convince you, will it? Let's face it, the evidence for aspirin reducing the chance of having a heart attack is weaker than the evidence for psi.

        I've given you peer-reviewed journal articles as evidence. Your only response is Wikipedia nonsense.
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        Apr 5 2013: It's hard to take you seriously, John. It wasn't so long ago that you were concerned the West Hollywood TEDx talks could be a precursor to the next holocaust.

        You have such a sad view of the world. Your students cheat. You think people are stupid and can't be trusted. You can't believe peer-reviewed science articles because maybe it's fake. Was the moon-landing fake too John? Just curious.
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          Apr 5 2013: Your worldview seems to be that of a pollyanna, Sandy. The sad reality is that students do cheat, people make stupid decisions, claims can't be trusted, and occasionally both research results and peer-reviewed journal articles are faked. That's the way things actually are and it is the reason why good critical thinking skills are necessary.

          I cited Alan Sokal's paper earlier, but are you familiar with the Sokal Affair? It is essential to consider, because it actually happened.

          Sokal affair
          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sokal_affair

          I do not think the moon landings were fake, but I can imagine how they might have been faked. Do you have utter confidence that everything peer-reviewed journal articles, government sources, and the media tells you is true? Just curious.
      • Comment deleted

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          Apr 5 2013: Actually, no double-standard at all. By my *single* standard, each would be deemed inappropriate for similar reasons, ones that are also in line with TED policies and the decisions TED staff has made.

          The double-standard about which I'm complaining is the clamor to ignore or disallow consideration of Hancock's past publications and reputation while at the same time trumpeting Targ's past publications and reputation as the reason why he merit's TED sponsorship.

          Do you understand this yet? It is not my own personal distaste at all, which would be unfair, but the application of the same standard, objective criteria for both men.

          It is actually Sandy who has said she would use subjective, personal criteria--her interest in hearing what they have to say--as the basis for approval.
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        Apr 5 2013: John, you are quite the alarmist. Do you know what would have happened if the Sheldrake and Hancock talks had been left on the TED channel?

        The world would have gone on as per usual. TED would still be a place with "ideas worth sharing". Chris Anderson would have a lot more time to devote to things other than this one mess he hasn't been able to clean up.

        You're the one who has suggested the world needs to be protected from ideas you don't agree with. I personally am able to read the evidence and decide for myself. You're the one who thinks allowing West Hollywood TEDx to take place is a dangerous thing to do. I think you're just being silly.

        I can understand what you are afraid of. You are afraid that your world view might not hold up to scrutiny. The cracks are already there and getting bigger all the time.

        I have too much respect for science not to be curious about how things work. Anomalies are what science uses to find out where the flaws in the models happen to be. That's the first step to a better understanding to the world. It's intellectually dishonest to cover up anomalies and pretend they don't exist.
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          Apr 5 2013: Little sparks can start big fires, Sandy. I think you might feel differently about this if you had some skin in the game.

          History provides plenty of examples of academic pogroms in which professional scholars who did not toe the party line were shipped off to prisons, concentration camps, and gulags. It still happens today. History also provides plenty of examples of individuals doing iffy research who, once they gain credibility with the credulous or with ideologues, continue to do iffy research while wielding power in universities, granting agencies, and the like. You may not recognize the dangers, but I submit that is because you do not know the history of these things very well. You seem completely comfortable to ignore it.

          No, I'm not afraid that my worldview might not hold up to scrutiny. It has held up quite well for a long time now and I'm really not too worried that it won't continue to do so. I don't see any significant cracks, even if you do. However, if the history of science is any indication, most of what's reality has yet to be even imagined and a great deal of what's been imagined has yet to be proven real.

          I think curiosity about the world is a wonderful thing. If I didn't, I wouldn't do what I do for a living. Anomalies definitely are what science uses to find flaws or deficiencies in the models that happen to be. In fact, I have been discussing some fascinating ones with a colleague just this morning. If you don't think I've sought to reveal them, investigate them, learn from them, and publish the results of that, then you know nothing about my own scholarship.

          Your apparent ignorance of the relevant issues I've mentioned is neither flattering to you nor helpful to further discussion.
        • Apr 5 2013: Precisely. It's like the "remarkable lack of curiosity" Sheldrake attributes to scientists who insist that anomalous readings of the speed of light are simply errors to be ignored. What do we learn days later? Two studies show there's fluctuation. Good scientists don't just write off the outliers. It's rather like building a cabinet with one of those sets from Ikea and finding you have spare bits at the end and just chucking them. The cabinet may look fine now.... but over time, who knows...
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        Apr 5 2013: How am I ignorant of the issues, John? I'm the one who has actually read the literature on psi.

        You can't stop progress, John. You can try. You can be afraid. But change happens.

        I can understand the fear that the anonymous science board has in regards to having their names known publicly. Could they end up looking as misguided as the people who tried to suppress Galileo's work? Possibly. Time will tell.
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        Apr 5 2013: John, I believe education, free access to information, and open discussions are helpful to society, not dangerous. They can be dangerous to oppressive governments. Look at how social networking media is being used to affect change in many parts of the world. They can also be used against oppressive organizations of varying sorts.

        Maybe TED needs to use suppression of information to protect itself from the public, which seems to be turning against it.

        And maybe Jerry Coyne, and other militant atheists, need to suppress knowledge that doesn't support their organization's stated dogma.

        But the world will go on happily without these oppressive groups.
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          Apr 5 2013: To each his own. For me, your attitudes represent the oppression of knowledge.
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        Apr 5 2013: How is promoting open discussion about psi oppressing anything? Or are you just afraid that people will pull back the curtain and see what's really going on with Jerry Coyne, Chris Anderson and the anonymous science board?
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          Apr 5 2013: I did not say it was promoting open discussion about psi that was oppressive, I said it was your attitudes. That would include your tendency towards fallacious interpretations, which you just illustrated again quite clearly.

          I am not afraid that anyone will pull back any curtains on Coyne, Anderson, or TED. I am not inclined to believe conspiracy theories such as the one implied by your question.
  • Apr 4 2013: The more perspectives we have, the clearer our reality becomes
  • Apr 4 2013: Well I was going to join this conversation, but I think i'll keep waiting cause the quality is very poor. You've got one logical guy who knows what logical fallacies are (John Hoopes), and the rest of you are just making fallacies left and right degrading the conversation to a schoolyard level. Good effort John, but I think these specific people are dug in too deep to get out. Might be a good time to find another conversation.
    • Apr 4 2013: Well it's a good job you know which conversation you're in this time and have sussed out who agrees with you. I expect it helps that there's only the one relevant thread open now. Two can be so confusing.
    • Apr 4 2013: Leroy while I appreciated those are your sentiments, I just would like to point out to you reality reveals these conversations have generated record interest. There is your logical fallacy.
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      Apr 4 2013: damn, you didn't want to join, but failed :)
    • Apr 4 2013: I think you joined the conversation just by announcing, in the conversation, that you didn't want to join the conversation. You also joined the conversation a few minutes previously when you posted a comment that had little to do with anything actually being discussed. Unclear, then, why you feel the need to start off with such off topic commentary, and then follow it up with obvious falsehoods, and then follow that up with some general insults directed at everyone you disagree with. Exactly as you did on the previous conversations.
  • Apr 4 2013: Just because consciousness and its manifestations can't be explained by our science, doesn't mean there is no science to consciousness. It just means our methods of inquiry are too limited and our perspective is too narrow. Without being able to discuss new perspectives you cant develop new methods. This leaves us ignorant and guessing.

    This is in essence what is being asked to be allowed to happen, Just let the ideas be treated in the same way and their data speak for itself. If the data is contradictory perhaps its time to adopt a new perspective.

    Is that so unreasonable or difficult?
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      Apr 4 2013: How can there be a science of something that remains undefined? What's your own provisional (or not) definition of consciousness, Adrian? It's okay, you can change it as often as you like. It would be nice to at least have a starting point.
      • Apr 4 2013: See when I asked you if you accepted humans had consciousness and you said yes, that's your man.
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          Apr 4 2013: You asked me if humans had consciousness replied "Yes." You demanded that I define it and I responded, "What will you give me if I do?"

          You still haven't answered my question.
      • Apr 4 2013: The point wasn't for you to define it, it was to show that you already knew full well what was being talked about. That is, by answering yes to my first question you implicitly acknowledged having a good enough idea what consciousness was, otherwise you would/could have said you didn't know what the question meant because "consciousness" was not well enough defined. My last point ("define it") was simply to show how ludicrous and tedious your endless requests for a definition were when you already knew full well everything you needed to know to progress in the discussion you were trying to stall.
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          Apr 5 2013: But if my conception is different from everyone else's we may well be talking apples and oranges. You don't seem to think that's a problem..
      • Apr 5 2013: All kind of science is in a point undefined since it is founded in language; which is only valid at the geographical locations it is written and/or spoken.

        Benjamin Lee Whorf (1982) wrote: "We must face the fact that science begins and ends in talk. [...] As Leonard Bloomfield has shown, scientific research begins with a set of sentences which point the way to certain observations and experiments, the results of which do not become fully scientific until they have been turned back into language, yielding again a set of sentences which then become the basis of further exploration into the unknown" (p. 220-221).

        Taken so a language which does not have a western concept for time in example, what does that means for a scientific understanding of a phenomena? Is science only something which may be used in certain languages with a given set of concepts and words, meaning the results of science can not be universal? Or may science yell different results which may even goes on account with each other, but in return be a practice that is universal?

        Source: Whorf, B. L. (1982). Linguistics as an exact science (1940). In John B. Carroll (Ed.), Language, Thought and Reality: Selected Writings of Benjamin Lee Whorf. (p. 220-233). Massachusetts: The MIT Press.
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    Apr 4 2013: Russell Targ, one of the TEDx West Hollywood speakers deemed too cutting edge for TED will be on Just Energy Radio at 8PM EST tonight (April 4 2013). Find out what TED doesn't want you to hear!

    http://www.justenergyradio.com/

    (The show will be archived here http://www.justenergyradio.com/archive-pages/rtarg.htm ).
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      Apr 4 2013: Too cutting edge? I would argue instead that it's too old hat. It looks a lot like repackaged mesmerism and spiritualism to me. What's new or "cutting edge" about it?

      Animal magnetism
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Animal_magnetism

      Spiritualism
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spiritualism

      Madame Blavatsky (1877) alluded to these as "old things with new names" which she traced back not only to Classical sources but Hermetic ones and even to "root races" on Atlantis and Lemuria aeons and aeons ago (although Suzanne Taylor might trace it to a distant galaxy long, long ago)::

      "Putting aside the purely metaphysical teachings of the Kabala, if one would devote himself but to physical occultism, to the so-called branch of therapeutics, the results might benefit some of our modern sciences; such as chemistry and medicine. Says Professor Draper: 'Sometimes, not without surprise, we meet with ideas which we flatter ourselves originated in our own times.' This remark, uttered in relation to the scientific writings of the Saracens, would apply still better to the more secret Treatises of the ancients. Modern medicine, while it has gained largely in anatomy, physiology, and pathology, and even in therapeutics, has lost immensely by its narrowness of spirit, its rigid materialism, its sectarian dogmatism. One school in its purblindness sternly ignores whatever is developed by other schools; and all unite in ignoring every grand conception of man or nature, developed by Mesmerism, or by American experiments on the brain — every principle which does not conform to a stolid materialism. It would require a convocation of the hostile physicians of the several different schools to bring together what is now known of medical science, and it too often happens that after the best practitioners have vainly exhausted their art upon a patient, a mesmerist or a 'healing medium' will effect a cure!"
      http://www.theosociety.org/pasadena/isis/iu1-01.htm
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        Apr 4 2013: You are just making up nonsense, John. I can understand why you don't trust what others have to say, given your own inability to provide accurate information.

        Why don't you read Russell Targ's published work?

        Russell Targ and Lawrence Ames, "Lidar wind sensing at cruise altitude for flight-level optimization," Proc. SPIE Aerosense-96, Orlando FL, April 8-12, 1996.

        Russell Targ, Roland Bowles, Michael Kavaya, and R. Milton Huffaker, "Coherent Lidar Airborne Windshear Sensor: Performance Evaluation," Applied Optics, 20 May 1991.

        Russell Targ, Bruce C. Steakley, James G. Hawley, Paul Forney, Robert G. Otto, Philip Brockman, and Sarah R. Harrell, "Coherent lidar airborne wind sensor II: flight test results at 2 µm and 10 µm," Applied Optics, 20 December 1996.

        Targ, R. and Puthoff, H. (1975) “Information transfer under conditions of sensory shielding.” Nature, 251, 602-607.

        Puthoff, H.E. & Targ, R. (March, 1976). “A Perceptual Channel for Information Transfer over kilometer distances: Historical perspective and recent research.” Proc. IEEE, Vol. 64, no. 3, March, pp. 329-354;
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        Apr 4 2013: John, you mentioned Newton, but do you realize that Newtonian Physics is behind the times?

        Your main tactic seems to be filling the forum with as many distractions as possible to keep people away from the actual topic of conversation.

        You can't stop people from talking about the change in paradigm. The conversation is going on all over the internet. TED is falling behind, and so are you.

        And yes, I've used LIDAR data in research projects so I know what it is.. Targ has published work on a variety of topics. He is a multifaceted scientist with a number of pretty outstanding accomplishments. Just the sort of person TED audiences would enjoy hearing from.
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          Apr 4 2013: "And yes, I've used LIDAR data in research projects so I know what it is."

          Then you will appreciate the fact that the articles you cited on Targ's LIDaR research have absolutely nothing to to with psi, yet you accuse me of filling the forum with as many distractions as possible.

          "You can't stop people from talking about the change in paradigm."

          No, but as I pointed out with my earlier reference to the classic book by Charles Mackay, we have a long and colorful history of extraordinary popular delusions and the madness of crowds. It shows every sign of continuing to unfold, hopefully with less devastating consequences that those of delusions in the past (but I'm not at all confident of that).

          אֵין כָּל חָדָשׁ תַּחַת הַשָּׁמֶשׁ
          Nihil sub sole novum.
          There is nothing new under the sun.
        • Apr 4 2013: What about happax legomena?
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        Apr 4 2013: Again, you are going off on a silly tangent, John.

        Russell Targ is a respected scientist with a long list of accomplishments. Just the sort of person TED audiences would enjoy watching.
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          Apr 4 2013: Sandy, since my response to your list of Targ publications was deleted along with the original post, I'm reposting it here:

          You've claimed this research is "cutting edge," but what it is both investigating and proposing has been the subject of scientific investigations dating back to the at least the time of Franz Mesmer (1734-1815).

          Franz Mesmer
          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Franz_Mesmer

          Biologists still cite Darwin's original work. Physicists refer to Newton. Why don't psi and paranormal researchers acknowledge their own intellectual forebears?

          Why don't you read the introductory of Blavatsky's "Isis Unveiled" (1877), for which I've just provided a link? Why do the "cutting edge" interests of Targ and others remain no different from the ones that were being investigated by Victorian age Theosophists over a century ago?

          As for the publications you've just cited by Targ et al., what do LIDaR and wind sensing have to to with anything we've been discussing here?
        • Apr 4 2013: @John - they do. They refer quite often to JB Rhine when discussing parapsychology because he was the first to really undertake lab tests in the way the science of parapsychology is conducted now. And if one is interested in survival, or even mediumship, one will often see references to the early days of the SPR and the early investigators since that was what they largely focused on back then.
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        Apr 4 2013: John, Targ is an accomplished scientist. You seem to want to edit reality to fit your POV. He's published on various subjects. His entire body of work is a testament to the qualities that would make him a great TEDx speaker!

        Russell Targ and Lawrence Ames, "Lidar wind sensing at cruise altitude for flight-level optimization," Proc. SPIE Aerosense-96, Orlando FL, April 8-12, 1996.

        Russell Targ, Roland Bowles, Michael Kavaya, and R. Milton Huffaker, "Coherent Lidar Airborne Windshear Sensor: Performance Evaluation," Applied Optics, 20 May 1991.

        Russell Targ, Bruce C. Steakley, James G. Hawley, Paul Forney, Robert G. Otto, Philip Brockman, and Sarah R. Harrell, "Coherent lidar airborne wind sensor II: flight test results at 2 µm and 10 µm," Applied Optics, 20 December 1996.

        Targ, R. and Puthoff, H. (1975) “Information transfer under conditions of sensory shielding.” Nature, 251, 602-607.

        Puthoff, H.E. & Targ, R. (March, 1976). “A Perceptual Channel for Information Transfer over kilometer distances: Historical perspective and recent research.” Proc. IEEE, Vol. 64, no. 3, March, pp. 329-354;
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      Apr 5 2013: This hole that TED is digging just gets bigger and bigger!
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        Apr 5 2013: Yes, I think they are getting rather touchy about it too. A comment I made was deleted. I suggested that Chris Anderson thought the problem would go away if he ignored it. How terrible of me to say such a thing. I'm not even sure how one could re-word that without changing the meaning. (Although I'm sure Chris would like us all to either agree with him or go home).

        Apparently, it's OK for TED to slander invited guests to their events, but not OK for the public to cry foul.
  • Comment deleted

  • Apr 3 2013: Looking at the implications of science and the direction we are headed with Corporations like Monsanto, I wonder if we haven't reached a point of no return. If we think of the Genesis story as an allegory rather then historical fact. I think the Genesis story holds more relevance today then in any time during our history.

    Human evolution is now on the threshold of the door that allows us to self determine our own evolutionary path. One which could allow us to not only become gods of our planet but later of the solar system and integrate us with our galaxy. Right now we are hesitating as to whether to proceed, but how long before we are forced through it or else face extinction? have we possibly reached that tipping point of no return. The outcome of that action may not be certain. One thing that is certain when we go through that door we will be departing from the Garden of Eden.

    Imagine for the moment the tree of knowledge is the evolutionary tree, the fruit is the knowledge that we have harnessed to manipulate our DNA. I love the fact the snake is also the symbol used on the Caduceus. That they are arranged in the double helix ascending the staff or “evolutionary tree” is strongly suggested, do the wings imply salvation?

    The Garden of Eden is the world we have lived in until we began DNA engineering “creations evolution”. Man has now plucked the knowledge from the tree and this is the Genesis moment “mans evolution”.

    In the first Genesis man chose to seek independent knowledge from God, in the new Genesis he seeks to become god. In the first genesis god’s disapproval could be interpreted as a selfish or non benevolent attitude. In the second version it becomes more appropriate, would you as a parent allow your child to play with a loaded gun? Are we possibly opening a door into Pandora’s Box?

    Continued below.......
  • Apr 3 2013: : continued from above .......

    I think we are already trough the door, I hope we are up to the job.

    This decision and its implications is the greatest one we have ever faced. The only comparison that comes to mind was when we came down from the trees and walked upright....... wasn't that the fist Genesis??

    Its dogmatism and its self righteous belief, that it can impose itself on the sovereignty of others consciousnesses. That's what’s driving us out of Eden and is the real serpent in the tree of life.

    And isn't it just a little ironic that the legend of our origins not only is full of wonder and imagination but it warns us of precisely this? I suggest its resonance is spooky action at a distance.

    (I had originally posted this on The Graham Hancock Debate, thread but due to a glitch in the editor it posted incorrectly, The thread is now been closed, preventing me from correcting it.)
  • Comment deleted

    • Apr 3 2013: God mate I don't know what you're on about attracting excellent speakers. TEDx speakers are really boring! And I notice you have a lot to say about standards. Well maybe a lot will come out about standards over the next week, and maybe TEDx won't look so hot when it comes to examining their standards. Let's wait and see eh? There's a lot of bright people to to make comments yet, and they may not be as redneck as yours :)
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    Apr 3 2013: So when will we hear from the anonymous science board that decides what the public is allowed to see from now on? Will they remain a remorseless, faceless entity that can attack without fear of retaliation? Will there be no redress of grievance allowed? Will all future invited guests at TEDx events need to brace themselves for slander and censorship?
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      Apr 3 2013: as soon as you put your real name, location and photo here.
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        Apr 3 2013: Whoever runs the TED site already has my IP. That's even better than a name, location and photo. They know exactly who I am and where I am. They have that kind of information about everyone who posts here. So the anonymous science board is the only nameless, faceless entity here.
        • Apr 3 2013: "So the anonymous science board is the only nameless, faceless entity here. "

          Well they could be here, couldn't they. We don't know do we because we're not allowed to know who they are. It's a good question, actually. Is the secret science board allowed to exert its influence on the discussion of its decision without taking responsibility for that decision by identifying itself? It's an interesting ethical conundrum isn't it?
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          Apr 3 2013: you don't know much about the inner workings of the internet, do you?
  • Apr 3 2013: What are you afraid of?
    Most of those who get on soapboxes in Hyde Park are ignored. Nobody has to screen them out, and no lawyers have to sue to move them to the next corner. You must know that truly dangerous ideas need brown shirted thugs to make sure their is no derision from the audience. Not so here. All folks have to do is turn to another channel.

    And then there are the channels that allow new things to be heard, like the early appearances of societal dangers like Elvis and, even worse, that broadcast of War of the Worlds. What franchise wants to be remembered for that kind of bravery?
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    Apr 3 2013: Would TED please link to the Live Stream of the West Hollywood event on April 14: https://new.livestream.com/extedwesthollywood? If you put it in the top of the post, people can get the link to see whether you are vindicated in your thinking about our program. Also, closing this conversation less than 24 hours after our program ends isn't enough time to talk about it.
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      Apr 3 2013: So much for having a discussion with Chris Anderson. He just deleted his comment.

      Well Chris, We still haven't heard from the "anonymous science board". You know, the guys who are allowed to attack well-credentialed, invited guests to TEDx talks without having to justify anything they do or take responsibility for their actions?

      The general public doesn't need Jerry Coyne dictating what we are allowed to see. Stop insulting the people who made TED what it is... THE PUBLIC.

      The public isn't stupid, doesn't need to be told what to think or do, and is quite capable of using critical thinking skills. Why doesn't TED understand that?
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        Apr 3 2013: Bad choice.
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        Apr 3 2013: "The public isn't stupid, doesn't need to be told what to think or do, and is quite capable of using critical thinking skills."

        Would you care to debate that? Here's a relevant article from this week's news that I'd present as evidence to the contrary:

        http://m.theatlanticwire.com/entertainment/2013/04/florida-djs-april-fools-water-joke/63798/
        • Apr 3 2013: John, you‘re confusing your own elitism as being a normative form of pedagogy. Not very much dissimilar from the phenomenon pointed out by the late Alan Watts where, in western cultures, a republic can be institutionalized politically whilst simultaneously still adhering to a monarchist religious worldview.

          Everybody ‘suffers’ from such cognitive dissonances to some extent; the secret is to first realize it.
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        Apr 3 2013: I happen to think that the world could benefit from superior pedagogy. I must be an idealist as well as an elitist.
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        Apr 3 2013: Yes, I suppose so. Does that make it bad, or do the details of the pedagogy matter as well?
        • Apr 3 2013: Yes, the details matter, thus: “normative pedagogy.” So, how do you prefer we establish the normativity thereof: democratically or elitistic?

          You obviously know best, so we'll all just have to take your word for it, right?
        • Apr 3 2013: Oh, wow. The irony.
      • Apr 3 2013: I can't believe he deleted his own comment. Does anyone remember what that comment was?
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          Apr 3 2013: The comment I deleted was one about Charles Mackay that I entered twice on my iPhone and both times the upload was truncated. I attempted to edit it and that failed, so I deleted it. I waited and tried again and it uploaded just fine. Your insinuations are becoming as bizarre as Steve's. I think you should consider your inclination towards hyperactive imagination in improving your own skills of critical thinking.
      • Comment deleted

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        Apr 3 2013: So, a pedagogy based on the work of Alan Watts would not be elitist? Just asking. Or is your position one of pure anti-pedagogy?
        • Apr 3 2013: I'm not claiming that any "normative pedagogy" should be solely based on the work of Alan Watts. Don't even think he himself would have claimed that...

          I was simply pointing out his observance as basis for a fitting reference, speaking allegorically. That, also, I think, is pretty obvious.

          No, why would you 'extremize' my views? Based on what?

          I'm simply saying that pedagogy should be approached democratically instead of elitistic. Is this something you struggle to agree with?
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        Apr 3 2013: Sorry, Time Walker. Using an unspecified "his" in these threads is bound to result in error. You may want to use names to avoid future confusion.

        I don't usually delete comments, but was forced to by a hardware/software glitch. Further evidence that we must constantly be on guard for equipment failures, errors of perception, and fallacious assumptions. It was my mistake, some evidence that I'm human. Live and learn.
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        Apr 3 2013: Wian, I don't think I'm extremizing your views. I'm presenting a hypothetical of what would be an extreme view. You, on the other hand, have clearly extremized my views. Based on what?

        Whether pedagogy should be democratic instead of elitist is a significant question. Does it matter whether the democratic decisions are made by a well-informed and educated electorate or by one that has been successfully inculcated with a fallacious ideology? Should the content of K-12 pedagogy be democratically selected by children in grades K-12? Should the content of a university education be determined by students who have not yet received university degrees? Should the content of public education be determined by popular vote? How often? What, specifically, do you mean by "democratic"?
        • Apr 3 2013: Based on you saying that the public is stupid and using that as a reason why invited speaker’s talks should be censored from the public for basically challenging the status quo.

          “Whether pedagogy should be democratic instead of elitist is a significant question.”

          It is a very significant question, yes – one which democracies today institutionally have failed to address properly.

          “Does it matter whether the democratic decisions are made by a well-informed and educated electorate or by one that has been successfully inculcated with a fallacious ideology?”

          Yes, it matters. But should the proposition of whether or not an ideology (say, materialism) is “fallacious” or not, be inquired into transparently (democratically) or just by the special select few who happen to believe that their current worldview is infallible? Keeping in mind that this worldview also happens to presently paradigmatically reign supreme as established law. [Edited: rephrased to make clearer].
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        Apr 3 2013: "Based on you saying that the public is stupid and using that as a reason why invited speaker’s talks should be censored from the public for basically challenging the status quo."

        You are once again mischaracterizing my remarks. I do not think that censorship is the appropriate term and have not said that invited speaker's talks should be censored. I also do not think that any talks should be removed "for basically challenging the status quo." To the contrary, I think that talks that challenge the status quo should be encouraged. However, I do not think that simply challenging the status quo is sufficient.

        As for the other issues, I'm pleased to know that we agree on at least two. I think this discussion and many others on TED are evidence for its support of open and democratic discussion of issues, including whether or not specific ideologies are fallacious. I also think that there is clear evidence--including the success of TED--that groups of select few (such as its "brain trust" and science board) have generally made wise decisions. I'm not certain what you're asking (the phrasing of your question is unclear) but I absolutely do not think that process is infallible. I also absolutely do not think that such decisions should be made by select groups that share a common worldview which "reigns supreme as established law".
        • Apr 3 2013: I rephrased my last paragraph to make it clearer.

          Moreover, the phrase in the brackets in the first sentence reproduced below is my own opinion and I didn't mean to say that it's necessarily yours. Apologies.

          "Based on you saying that the public is stupid and using that as a reason why invited speaker’s talks should be [censored from the public for basically challenging the status quo.]"

          Still, based on your opinion that the public is stupid and these talks' exposure to them should be minimized.
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        Apr 3 2013: Thanks, Wian. I always appreciate clarification.

        My characterization of "the public" as "stupid" is a vast oversimplification of what I actually think. However, I'm not writing an article for a peer-reviewed journal or a book-length exegesis. I'm posting in a threaded online forum. So, reading more into my comments than intended is bound to result in errors.

        To clarify my own comments, I do not think that exposure to these talks should be prohibited nor do I think they should be widely advertised, heavily promoted, and seen by everyone who could possible get access to them. I also do not think that they merit the imprimatur of TED, which implies that they are "ideas worth spreading." I do not think they are worth spreading.

        It is my fervent hope--but probably an unrealistic one--that talks such as these would be seen only by people who are intelligent, well-educated (which includes training in critical thinking skills), well-informed, minimally biased, open-minded, and skilled at developing informed opinions that are not biased by harmful ideologies nor that lead them to cause harm to themselves and others. I hope that their exercise of critical thinking would lead them to undertake significant research and evaluation of primary sources, secondary sources, critiques both favorable and unfavorable, and careful consideration of detailed biographies of the speakers and their work. Virtually all of that material is available online and in bookstores and libraries to people who make an effort to avail themselves of it. Will "the public" do that? Probably not. Is that an "elitist" expectation"? Maybe so. Is it realistic? I think that, in theory, it is. However, as I've acknowledged, I'm an idealist.

        I don't think TED has ever targeted an audience comprised of a "common denominator" of the general public. I would not be surprised if the majority of the public find TED presentations elitist and either boring or incomprehensible. Is that a bad thing?
        • Apr 3 2013: "My characterization of "the public" as "stupid" is a vast oversimplification of what I actually think. However, I'm not writing an article for a peer-reviewed journal or a book-length exegesis."

          Nor are you giving a TED talk, evidently.

          I think Mr. Anderson has made it clear that TED is not interested in this discussion. Congrats, Mr. Hoopes. You've saved the day, yet again.

          EDIT: I would be very surprised indeed to learn that you're an idealist, especially after the effort you have put into defending materialism here. I jest, of course, but I hope you see the potential for confusion.
        • Apr 3 2013: John, for the most part, I agree with your third paragraph if Real pseudoscience, for example, of course, was under question. But I still feel that the inquiry into whether someone’s work is pseudoscience or not should be a wholeheartedly transparent process. This for the simple reason that the current worldviews of the ‘skeptics’ challenging this work may not actually be as infallible as they currently believe it to be (and/or propagate it to be for various reasons).

          (Notwithstanding whether or not the accused actually even claim their talk to be actual science and not a Philosophy of Science talk, questioning this very matter, for that matter).

          You wrote, “I also do not think that [these talks] merit the imprimatur of TED, which implies that they are "ideas worth spreading." I do not think they are worth spreading.”

          Of course everybody’s entitled to their own opinion. But all that’s asked here is for reasonable elucidation on exactly why this opinion is held. TED has failed to do so (and I doubt you would care to bother much) even after the invited speakers have addressed point by point TED’s initial sloppy criticism thereof, and then just left the ‘zealous army’ to debate amongst themselves. Not very transparent.

          Imo this is thus mainly a concern over transparency, as pointed out earlier in a very reasonable request by me to Chris Anderson for more clarification on TED’s ideology here,
          http://www.ted.com/conversations/17348/discuss_the_note_to_the_ted_co.html?c=641814

          As of yet, he has still failed to address this. Of course he doesn't Have to, and I know that I'm not entitled to such a response. But I just imagine that it would be kinda nice if TED was a bit more transparent regarding their believes so that the community and future speakers can be more aware of the ideologies behind the organization they choose to support with their time and attention.
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        Apr 3 2013: Not deleted. Just moved below the Gary Dudding comment it was replying to. Thanks for noticing.

        And on a side note, congrats to you and your anon friend Time Walker. At 300 comments and counting between you, you're showing spectacular staying power. But at some point, when you insist on having the last (often rude) word on every single thread, you can't be surprised to find the room emptying... Please remember to switch the light off. Thanks!
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          Apr 3 2013: People might be leaving TED, but it has very little to do with my comments. It has a lot to do with censorship, and treating invited TEDx guests deplorably. Not to mention pulling support from a planned event because you are guessing it might somehow be controversial (or might offend Jerry Coyne). For someone so opposed to the possibility of precognition, it's very surprising that you seem to be employing this very device in making policy decisions.
    • Apr 3 2013: So Chris, since you're here, maybe you can answer the question so many have been asking: Why didn't TED put anyone forward to debate Sheldrake and Hancock?
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        Apr 3 2013: The debate took place here and generated 5000+ comments. Enough! Now... back to TEDxWestHollywood.
        • Apr 3 2013: But TED didn't participate. That debate was a bit one-sided. The anti-TED side won it quite decisively, so I'm surprised that TED, or say, you, didn't show up to defend your position.

          TED still hasn't justified its decision since its original justification was refuted and struck through. And, yes, I did read your "fresh take" and, like so many, didn't see where it addressed just how those two talks were "far-removed from mainstream science" or "radical" or not "worth spreading." Calling something pseudoscience doesn't make it so.
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          Apr 3 2013: Calling something science doesn't make it so, either.

          As you know, I was a vigorous defender of TED's various decisions in the debate on Graham Hancock. I jumped in because I'm an archaeologist with more than 30 years of experience in researching and responding to pseudoarchaeology, including Hancock's. I also live in Kansas, where we've been through two rounds of debates in the Kansas Board of Education about whether to mandate the teaching of creationism (first round) and intelligent design (second round) in public school curricula. Most recently, I was a frequent consultant to news media (the New York Times, BBC, CBC, The People's Daily, NPR, Discovery Channel, National Geographic Channel, Christian Science Monitor, Associated Press, etc., etc.) about the hype surrounding spurious allegations about the Maya calendar and 2012. I've seen pseudoscience from many different angles. The most recent is this week's news that the Kansas legislature is mandating that doctors inform pregnant women about the spurious link between abortion and breast cancer. It never ends.

          While I like to think that my participation in debates and discussions educates and informs people, I do wonder if it actually brings more undeserved attention, fame (or infamy), and especially revenue to purveyors of fringe theories, many of whom make a living by selling books, videos, and lectures.

          In May 2005, scientists boycotted a debate in Kansas on intelligent design rather than give more attention to it.

          Kansas evolution hearings
          http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kansas_evolution_hearings

          I attended the hearings and the strategy worked beautifully. I think Chris has made the right decision in declining direct debate. Thing go well when I and others who think as I do exercise the same restraint, but we all have episodes of weakness. Debate honors one's opponent. That honor is often undeserved and unappreciated.
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          Apr 3 2013: Chris, when is TED actually going to address the issue of censorship? You are treating the public in the most disrespectful manner possible. Just like you've treated Sheldrake and Hancock disrespectfully. The case of what happened to West Hollywood TEDx is just more bad behavior on the part of TED.

          Isn't it time to participate in the discussion and listen to the public? We made your organization what it is. Show some respect.
    • Apr 3 2013: I'm interested in whether or not there's going to be an official follow-up from yourself or Tedstaff now that the debate conversations have closed down. I would like to know how the conversations have been interpreted by TED, and if they will inform TED's future behaviour in any way.
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        Apr 3 2013: Wrap-up comment coming tomorrow, probably...
        • Apr 3 2013: Well, I look forward to reading it. I still don't think such a statement can possibly replace a debate between TED and the speakers it removed. TED was given an opportunity to make its case and let that case stand or fall against the ideas it was suppressing. No ex post facto statement can make up for that. I think avoiding the open debate offered by those two makes TED look really cowardly.
        • Apr 3 2013: Chris,

          looking forward to your wrap-up comment.

          here's mine:

          "As I said in my very first post on this TED controversy: When all is said and done, I’d like to thank TED, PZ Myers, and Jerry Coyne for making Sheldrake and Hancock’s TEDx talks more popular than ever. Congratulations on a job well-done, science boys! I hope you learned your lessons on The Streisand Effect."

          more context here:
          ~ http://www.c4chaos.com/2013/03/the-ted-saga-continues-on-the-sheldrake-and-hancock-debates/
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          Apr 3 2013: Chris, are you finally going to apologize to Sheldrake and Hancock? Will their talks be reinstated to the TED youtube channel? Will TEDx West Hollywood go on as originally planned, with the support of TED?

          If not, then we need an honest explanation. For instance, explain who the anonymous science board is and why they are taking TED in this new direction. TED has taken sides in a debate over world views. TED should be honest and clear about which side it is on and who has ultimately made that decision. If Jerry Coyne is the new voice of TED, why keep that a secret?

          Are we all just a pack of neurons? Chris, if that is what you believe, and that is the POV you want TED to promote, then be honest about it. But don't pretend that work published in peer-reviewed journals that questions that POV doesn't exist. And don't pretend there is no debate.

          The Catholic Church took more than 350 years to apologize to Galileo. How long will it take TED to come clean in these matters?
    • Apr 3 2013: After creating the TED blog pages, Chris, you disappeared from the discussion. You hosted a fair debate, but did not participate in it. The debate, such as it was, was nearly uniformly critical of your decision to censor Sheldrake and Hancock. You retracted the initial set of criticisms when they were demonstrated to be false, but did not follow-up with a replacement. Now you have compounded your misstep by cancelling an event that has been in the works for a year. Once again, the rationale is lacking.

      You may find your audience taking umbrage against you to be unflattering. However, your attempt to host an honest debate is half-hearted and unconvincing.
  • Apr 3 2013: I should have clarified: I wanted VALID peer-reviewed journals, not made up ones from the field of parapsychology. I did look at those experiments, and every one I read (I stopped at about 10 or so in) had serious errors. For example, his telephone telepathy test had practically no method in place to control for cheating. The experimenters had no knowledge of what was occurring on the calls. The results were self-reported. Need I go on? No, I needn't because Schmidt, Müller, & Walach, replicated his study using proper controls. You know what their results were: numbers equal to chance. You know what this means? Actual scientists saw his paper, and attempted to replicate the results using proper conditions. Doesn't really sound like a community that completely bars people like Sheldrake from contributing, does it? If your assessment of the community were valid, no one would bother trying to replicate his work to see if there's something to it.

    I still stand by my statement, there's no evidence. There's Sheldrake's "version" of evidence, but it doesn't pass the test.

    As to my other statements...a) I'm an atheist, so I certainly don't carry any religious axes, unless I was doing so ironically. B) Not sure what's so hard to understand. Wakefield had his initial fraudulent study published in The Lancet lending it some level of credence despite some methodological errors (It's important to note: the editor of The Lancet called that out. There was a caveat in the publication that essentially stated "Serious problems with this experiment, but if it's true it might have grave implications for the field of vaccinations. Someone should try to replicate" The media overlooks that bit.) With credibility applied to his work, he went on a rampage decrying vaccinations and scaring people into not vaccinating their children. As a result, some of those children have died needlessly. Sheldrak's work isn't like to end in death, but not willing to take that chance.
    • Apr 3 2013: Ah, so you wanted a true Scotsman, and not some character from Auchtermuchty. I see. And I also see that in the best tradition of the anti-science pseudoskeptic you have already made up your mind. Re you atheist thus no religious axe to grind, my point was that on account of that you do indeed have a religious axe to grind.
    • Apr 3 2013: Here's two sentences from the abstract of Schmidt, Erath, Müller, & Walach's attempted replication.

      "We conclude that we could not find any anomalous cognition effect in self-selected samples. But our data also strongly suggest that there are a few participants who are able to score reliably and repeatedly above chance."

      Now, unless their experimental set up was dreadful, what more would they like than someone scoring "reliably and repeatedly above chance"?

      And here's one of their final conclusions:

      "from our results it can be concluded that this kind of anomalous cognition, if it exists at all, is not commonplace as argued by Sheldrake & Smart".

      Thus they only reject Sheldrake's suggestion that everyone is psychic, finding instead that some excellent people bump up the scores. Enigma"

      http://www.sheldrake.org/Articles&Papers/pdf/schmidt%20-%20tel%20tel.pdf

      EDITED: because it appears I did the replicators a disservice. It appears they acknowledge the replication and suggest further study based on selected individuals who demonstrate well above chance scores.
      • Apr 3 2013: Good of you to check Tony's statement Steve. So did I.
        • Apr 3 2013: It's astonishing isn't it how brazenly people will report successful replications as falsifications.Mind-boggling!
        • Apr 3 2013: Wow, this is great. I wouldn't call it successful replication though, as they got a different effect and indeed could not support one of Sheldrake's claims with their data. But still. The main thing that there is an effect! This opens up a lot of possibilitites, and calls for further research and against ridiculing something as "pseudoscience".
      • Apr 5 2013: Excellent! I'm glad you actually took the time to read the article. Always good to look at conflicting views. Of course, I reject your conclusion that "some people scored high, because psi". The paper, at best concluded not everyone has magic powers, but some people scored above chance. That does not lead to magic powers. That leads to "we need to determine why those people scored above chance". This is not a successful replication at all, in fact the authors rejected Sheldrake's basic premise that everyone's got some magic in them.
    • Comment deleted

    • Apr 3 2013: And here's your "real" scientists concluding a small effect.

      Distant intentionality and the feeling of being
      stared at: Two meta-analyses
      Stefan Schmidt1*, Rainer Schneider1, Jessica Utts2 and
      Harald WalachConclusion
      We conclude that for both data sets that there is a small, but significant effect. This result
      corresponds to the recent findings of studies on distant healing and the ‘feeling of being
      stared at’. Therefore, the existence of some anomaly related to distant intentions cannot
      be ruled out. The lack of methodological rigour in the existing database prohibits final
      conclusions and calls for further research, especially for independent replications on
      larger data sets. There is no specific theoretical conception we know of that can
      incorporate this phenomenon into the current body of scientific knowledge. Thus,
      theoretical research allowing for and describing plausible mechanisms for such effects is
      necessary.
  • Apr 2 2013: I'm pissed off. SOME TEDxers wanted to WATCH that event actually TED!
  • Apr 2 2013: Re the question this blog is supposed to be about - TED's note of withdrawal of license. I have to say I found the "Epic 404 - Article Not Found" argument wanting. I also have to say I admire the psychic prowess of all those congratulating TED for their decision as cited in the link above.
  • Apr 2 2013: Firstly let me say that TED can take whatever decisions it likes about who gets to speak and who doesn't. One thing though is that TED needs to have a far better internal process so they can stop these things before they start. This is because their current way of dealing with it: shrill objections and uncalled for personal remarks, followed by discussion pages where sundry TEDdies with badges under their names can come along and bad-mouth people and things that they, from a position of almost total ignorance it seems, dislike, is not a very professional way to conduct one's business. It makes TED look like an organisation completely lacking in integrity and decency.

    So what people here seem to be forgetting, in their haste to support TED, is that none of the various speakers who have offended TED's sensibilities were to blame for anything. On the contrary, it was TED's lack of internal processes that were to blame. And so TED should get its own house in order to ensure that the kind of public naming and shaming that is going on here (and that has just gone on elsewhere) - conducted to try to justify a policy that organizers were clearly not well enough informed about due to TED's lack of diligence - does not happen again.
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      Apr 2 2013: On March 19, Graham Hancock wrote:

      "I’m left reeling by this continual slicing down of my presentation and its context which is nonetheless cleverly done so that TED can say, effectively, 'we’re not censoring the presentation because it is on our website.' Well yes, but in such an obscure place that pretty soon no-one will be able to find it, the whole debate and furor will be forgotten and TED will be able to move forward as though this never happened."

      It seems clear from the statistics you've provided that Hancock's predictions that "pretty soon no-one will be able to find it" and that "the whole debate and furor will be forgotten" and "TED will be able to move forward as though none of this never (sic) happened" have all proven to be utterly wrong. Does that increase or decrease his general credibility?

      I think it's pretty clear that Sheldrake and Hancock have benefited rather than suffered from TED's decisions. The same will undoubtedly be true for the West Hollywood lineup. As Oscar Wilde said, "The only thing worse than being talked about is not being talked about."
      • Comment deleted

      • Apr 2 2013: So true. Sheldrake makes the very succinct points to Positive News:

        Sheldrake said he was pleased with the level of activity online: “I have been very encouraged by this debate, which shows there is a change of mood underway.”

        He told Positive News that he believed those unwilling to consider ideas beyond mainstream scientific thinking “are being challenged as never before,” and “many people seem open to new ideas.”
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          Apr 2 2013: "He told Positive News that he believed those unwilling to consider ideas beyond mainstream scientific thinking 'are being challenged as never before,' and 'many people seem open to new ideas.'"

          Challenged as never before? How quickly some forget. The challenges to mainstream science today are trivial compared to Germany of the 1930s. Sheldrake's claim is an insult to the memory of millions.

          Nazi eugenics
          http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nazi_eugenics

          Remember Hörbiger! And his World Ice Theory!
          http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hanns_H%C3%B6rbiger
      • Apr 2 2013: Sorry John, we're a lot more civil than those days, except for our words, we could do with some work there, lol
      • Apr 2 2013: My main concern is not with the damage done to speakers who are denied the TED platform (although in some cases the damage is undoubtedly real for little known speakers who won't be a focus of the controversy debates). My main concern is with the increasing rift between TED, which represents current mainstream (bordering on hegemonic) knowledge dissemination and curation, and the fringe and forefront of knowledge exploration.
        Sooner or later, some of the ideas that are currently on the margins are going to migrate towards the centre, and do great things for humanity. Some are shite, but some are shinola. TEDs response to those ideas influences the time-scale of that process.
  • Apr 2 2013: TED, will you please stop listening to political materialist / atheist pressure groupsand trust those who did the scientific research upon those subjects. The more scientific experimentation they have done on these very subjects, the more qualified they are to comment. The political materialist / atheist groups research is practically non-existant, they may pretend to own science from armchairs but unless they can quote experimentation, it is a house of cards.
    • Apr 2 2013: I agree, there's a thing called evidence
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      Apr 2 2013: TED, will you please stop listening to spiritual idealist / believer pressure groups and trust those who reviewed the scientific research upon those subjects? The higher the quality of the scientific evaluation (not quantity of research) they have done of these very subjects, the more qualified they are to comment. The spiritual idealist / believer groups' critical thinking is practically non-existent, they may pretend to understand science through intuition but unless they can undertake unbiased evaluations, it is a house of cards.
      • Apr 2 2013: Haha, where does that come from? I'm a spiritualist and able and capable to read a peer-reviewd journal thanks, and I fancy myself able to undertake an unbiased evaluation of a piece of peer-reviewed work too! lol.And I also think my critical thinking skills are fine actually, lol
  • Apr 2 2013: "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."

    Larry Dossey

    "This is the first time my scientific credibility has ever been questioned," and it's been by TEDx. So how does TEDx become the first occasion in the man's life ever to question Larry Dossey's scientific credibility?
    • Apr 2 2013: I would imagine it was because he spoke at universities and other academic/scientific bodies rather than to the pro-pseudoscience-when-it-suits-us-and-anti-science-when-it-doesn't organisation TED.
  • Apr 2 2013: Larry Dossey's response. oh, snap!

    via ~ http://www.ted.com/conversations/17189/the_debate_about_rupert_sheldr.html?c=640679

    --------

    Larry Dossey:

    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 2 2013: Hi there. June Cohen here from TED. Dropping a note about Larry Dossey's comment, which is quoted above. The conversation with Larry's comment closed before we could respond to it directly (It was a 2-week conversation and it happened to close this afternoon).

      We've reached out to Larry directly to let him know that the TEDxWestHollywood license was withdrawn because of the overall curatorial direction, NOT any individual speaker. We've written about it here: http://blog.ted.com/2013/04/01/a-note-to-the-ted-community-on-the-withdrawal-of-the-tedxwesthollywood-license/. We understand that Larry is still planning to give the talk and we wish him well with it.
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        Apr 3 2013: In an earlier conversation than the off-with-your-head final one so close to our delivery date, I was asked to justify Larry Dossey, Russell Targ, Marilyn Schlitz and Marianne Williamson. When we were axed, Lara Stein would not "name names" -- a strange position since it's usually given to protect the innocent, but here I guess it was to protect the guilty. Or what? Since there are no other speakers doing talks related to science, we can presume, don't you think, that intimating here that Larry is OK is having it both ways -- at the expense of TEDxWestHollywood? Oh transparency, where art thou?
  • Apr 2 2013: why TED has pointed a finger to Russell Targ leads me to speculate that the TED staff are ignorant of the Remote Viewing literature.

    i don't claim expertise on the subject of remote viewing but I've been familiar with the literature for more than two decades now. i understand the RV protocol -- it's double-blind. the late Ingo Swann was instrumental in designing the protocol. then it was taught to a few intelligence personnels (one of them is remote viewer #001 Joe McMoneagle). however, i've always focused my attention to the original people who started it all because they did solid research on the phenomenon and they're the ones who designed the original protocol. Targ/Puthoff had a deal with the CIA/military that in return for the funding they would help the military with intelligence work (e.g. locating people and cites of interests). another condition was that Targ/Puthoff would be free to publish their work on scientific journals. the project lasted for more than two decades. i don't know about you but i don't think Targ/Puthoff/Swann could hoax the Defense Department, CIA, and FBI for a long time, especially when millions of money were involved.

    here's Russell Targ's response on TED Conversations:
    ~ http://www.ted.com/conversations/17189/the_debate_about_rupert_sheldr.html?c=639679

    "Remote viewing is an ability that many people can easily learn. It is a nonlocal ability, in that its accuracy and reliability are independent of distance. Dean of Engineering Robert Jahn has also published extensively on his experiments at Pronceton, (Proc. IEEE, Feb 1982). I am not claiming it is quantum anything. It appears to possibly make use of something like Minkowski's (8 dimensional) complex space/time that he described to Einstein in the 1920s, and is now being re-examined by Roger Penrose. This is not necessarily The answer. But the answer will be some sort similar nonlocal space/time geometry." (read more)
  • Apr 2 2013: Russell Targ
    1 day ago: In cancelling the TEDx event in West Hollywood, it appears that I was accused of "using the guise of science" to further spooky claims, (or some such). People on this blog have asked what I was going to talk about. That's easily answered. I was co-founder of a 23 year research program investigating psychic abilities at Stanford Research Institute. We were doing research and applications for the CIA, Defense Intelligence Agency, Air Force and Army Intelligence, NASA, and others. In this $25 million program we used "remote viewing" to find a downed Russian bomber in North Africa, for which President Carter commended us. We found a kidnapped US general in Italy, and the kidnap car that snatched Patricia Hearst. We looked in on the US hostages in Iran, and predicted the immanent release of Richard Queen, who was soon sent to Germany. We described a Russian weapons factory in Siberia, leading to a US congressional investigation about weakness in US security, etc. We published our scientific findings in Nature, The Proc. IEEE, Proc, AAAS, and Proc. American Institute of Physics. I thought a TED audience would find this recently declassified material interesting. And no physics would be harmed in my presentation.

    http://www.ted.com/profiles/1792306
  • 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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    Apr 8 2013: Licence withdrawal aside (lets take this from another angle).

    Can someone provide me a list of the relevant research of the individuals which have been published as peer-reviewed papers, and if they haven't/can't, can it be explained exactly what the reason is for that, if one exists?

    I want to see what the determination on the subject is with the scientific community itself, as opposed to various sides outside of the peer-review level attempting to make that determination.
    thanks.
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      Apr 8 2013: There is a long list of peer-reviewed journal articles associated with Targ. More than could be fit into one comment box. Some of Targ's papers have already been mentioned in the conversation (so read the rest of the comments).
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      Apr 8 2013: Here's a list of the team members for the West Hollywood event:
      http://www.tedxwesthollywood.com/the-team/

      Here's a list of the scheduled speakers:
      http://www.tedxwesthollywood.com/speakers-3/speakers/

      Here's a memo from TED to the TEDx community regarding their view on bad science/pseudoscience talks at TEDx events:
      http://blog.tedx.com/post/37405280671/a-letter-to-the-tedx-community-on-tedx-and-bad-science

      An excerpt:

      Marks of good science:

      - It makes claims that can be tested and verified

      - It has been published in a peer reviewed journal (but beware… there are some dodgy journals out there that seem credible, but aren’t.)

      - It is based on theories that are discussed and argued for by many experts in the field

      - It is backed up by experiments that have generated enough data to convince other experts of its legitimacy

      - Its proponents are secure enough to accept areas of doubt and need for further investigation

      - It does not fly in the face of the broad existing body of scientific knowledge

      - The proposed speaker works for a university and/or has a phD or other bona fide high level scientific qualification

      Marks of bad science:

      - Has failed to convince many mainstream scientists of its truth

      - Is not based on experiments that can be reproduced by others

      - Contains experimental flaws or is based on data that does not convincingly corroborate the experimenter’s theoretical claims

      - Comes from overconfident fringe experts

      - Uses over-simplified interpretations of legitimate studies and may combine with imprecise, spiritual or new age vocabulary, to form new, completely untested theories.

      - Speaks dismissively of mainstream science
      Includes some of the red flags listed in the two sections below
      • Apr 8 2013: You are very passionate about your views, Mr. Hoopes, but a consistent theme in your posts is to make a lot of declarative statements, but provide no proof that they apply in this case.

        If TED can't provide proof, and you, such a passionate supporter of TED can't provide proof, then the debate is effective over. Verdict: unpersuaded that TED acted scientifically and in good faith.
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          Apr 8 2013: Short of having more information from TED staff, I don't see how this will move forward. I've got my opinions, but I'm not affiliated with TED, don't know any TED staff, and don't have any special insights into the decisions they've made. It may have to remain one of those mysteries, yet another subject for endless speculation and imaginative conspiracy theory. I don't doubt that that will continue to bloom, but I do doubt that it will ever bear fruit.
      • Apr 8 2013: There is no mystery here. TED has no evidence.
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    Apr 7 2013: I'd like to share with you all an anonymous email message that I just received. Looks as if a villager is already shaking his pitchfork.

    From:
    anonymous

    Reason:
    Other

    Message:
    "My dear brothers, never forget, when you hear the progress of enlightenment
    vaunted, that the devil's best trick is to persuade you that he doesn't
    exist!"

    Thank you for your censorial efforts. Fool.

    - A devil.

    Sender IP:
    76.216.225.96
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    Apr 7 2013: Is there a meaningful difference between pseudoscience and the scientific investigation of hypotheses that have an extremely low probability of being confirmed?

    It may be helpful to define that boundary.
    • Apr 7 2013: One problem, of course, is that knowing what has an extremely low probability of confirmation prior to experiment is a bit tricky because it is only through experiment that we will really know. Thus it's all well and good to guess what is and isn't possible from one's armchair but it's just not science.
    • Apr 7 2013: Only the theory determines what can be observed. Einstein
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        Apr 7 2013: Then perhaps the issue is testing theory for which there has been extremely little support? And a great amount of skepticism? And a high level of ideological value within a particular cultural and political context? Based on significant assumptions?

        Here's an experiment: Let's throw this woman in the water to test whether or not she's a witch. If she floats, she is. If she sinks, too bad. What? You think this research is pseudoscience? It's because you're blinded by your flawed materialist paradigm. Our next experiment will be to determine whether or not you are also a witch.
        • Apr 7 2013: Who argues like this, please? You can argue with above 5 sigma results that Dean Radin is reporting for the Ganzfeld telepathy.. and I like to go there..but this just... how is it called, a strawman? I call it cheap propaganda.
        • Apr 7 2013: Where should the support come from if not from other researchers taking up on this? Pseudoscience is your floating witch. If there is evidence, it must be false or fraudelent because no one else supports this. And if some experiments fail or some frauds are going on, and the whole science sinks with it, well too bad.
        • Apr 7 2013: Your example is nonsense. This is because it's far from clear how the test (floats or not) relates to the outcome (is or is not a witch). This is in stark contrast to testing, say, how often a person can "guess" a coin toss. That is a very straightforward test that can be conducted in a very straightforwardly scientific manner. Strangely enough, it seems humans do consistently better than 50/50. How odd, I wonder why that is? And anyone not blinded by their anti-science ideology should, it seems to me, wonder too.
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        Apr 7 2013: Einstein to Heisenberg: "Only the theory determines what one can observe."

        I've seen some good examples of that in this discussion. Especially from Steve.

        If you aren't getting my point, think harder.
    • Apr 7 2013: And to answer your initial question, of course there's a meaningful difference between pseudoscience and the scientific investigation of hypotheses that have an extremely low probability of being confirmed. All the difference in the world. Especially when initial testing seems to tentatively support the hypotheses. Then it is only right that science follow up on these things rather than shut down inquiry because some feel it is not in the public interest to investigate such things.
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    Apr 7 2013: Josephson is a smart cookie.

    http://www.tcm.phy.cam.ac.uk/~bdj10/

    However, he is supportive of a theory for the "memory of water":

    http://www.tcm.phy.cam.ac.uk/~bdj10/water.memory/ns/homeopathy.html

    Can a Nobel prize winner in physics support pseudoscience?

    Brian David Josephson
    http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brian_David_Josephson

    What about chemist Linus Pauling and Vitamin C?

    Linus Pauling
    http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Linus_Pauling

    The Dark Side of Pauling and Vitamin C
    http://www.quackwatch.org/01QuackeryRelatedTopics/pauling.html

    Vitamin C - The Linus Pauling Institute
    http://lpi.oregonstate.edu/infocenter/vitamins/vitaminC/
    • Apr 7 2013: John, you seem to imagine pseudoscience is the topic and not the method. Thus you are associating science with current scientific findings and not the method of finding them. This is a very common misunderstanding and one you seem determined to promote. This is why I think anti-science advocates such as yourself do far more damage to science than a few people conducting experiments to see whether things you are ideologically committed to are true or not. That's the rough side of science - it sometimes exposes one's cherished beliefs as wrong - and your beliefs hold no special place such that they are exempt from investigation however much you might wish it was otherwise..
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        Apr 7 2013: No, Amfortas. I am not mixing it up. I have been pointing out that there is a huge difference between beliefs of 0 > p > 1 and beliefs of p = 0 or p = 1.
        • Apr 7 2013: There is indeed a huge difference between any beliefs of things possible and beliefs of 0 > p > 1.
        • Apr 7 2013: Who needs p=1 or p=0 but mathematicians and control freaks? Above 4 or 5 sigma is generally accepted for proof in science, but not for psi, according to Dean Radin.
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        Apr 7 2013: That's very nice, Amfortas, but if someone were to draw a conclusion from your story, they would be committing a fallacy based on anecdotal evidence.

        Anecdotal evidence
        http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anecdotal_evidence
        • Apr 7 2013: Calling for investigation or support is not conclusion, you mix this up. Still I can draw a conclusion from my personal evidence. I followed the story about the nature article, not knowing about Randi, but this looked suspicious. Now a few years later, as I know it works (from personal experience, in my case, like switching on a light bulb) even more so.
  • Apr 7 2013: I like to see the proof that John Hoopes has admin priviliges here. John, can you upload the screen captures of the deleted comments somewhere and send me the link? Thanks.

    John: Campbell:

    "
    John Campbell 10+

    0

    2 hours ago: So most of the comments have been restored as of 5:10, though (understandably) not the ones where I was playing with him a bit. I'll admit I was, because he was outed and he panicked. After I posted the comment outing him as an admin, he deleted it. And then I started having a one way conversation with him, and he'd delete my comments but he couldn't keep up. He kept deleting my comments and many more once people understood that he was an admin and began posting about it. It was very clear then that he was the admin. We weren't getting moderator messages, they were just getting trashed. "
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      Apr 7 2013: John Campbell, I have not been deleting any comments but my own. When a comment on in a TED Conversation is deleted, the replies to it are deleted, too. However, I have not deleted any of my comments to which you or anyone else has replied.

      If you make false and malicious statements about me online, you are venturing into the waters of defamation.

      Defamation
      http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Defamation
      • Apr 7 2013: Well, you are innocent until proven guilty.This is possible, but we will see what's in the screen captures. That you can post linkls to TCM site bu on one else here as it seems, not even Aja TED moderator, as she stated, this is indeed suspicious, also that are using this priviledge now for these gross brush strokes.
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          Apr 7 2013: As you yourself have pointed out, suspicion (such as hypotheses about the memory of water) are different from certainty. Statements about me by Sandy Stone and John Campbell have crossed the line from suspicion to certainty. It is a form of fallacious thinking that is also manifest in their interpretations of other phenomena. It is also a hallmark of pseudoscience.
      • Apr 7 2013: Right John, well I'm out of here on that note. See you on Wikipedia.
      • Apr 7 2013: There no waters of defamation left because you emptied out the entire bath-load while splashing around in that particular tub.
      • Apr 7 2013: I saw a free-standing comment disappear before my eyes last night, Hoopes. Anyway, it's not true that replies go when one's deleted. I've responded to comments that were deleted and my replies and others were still there. Right here, for instance, Chris Anderson commented, a lot of us responded, he deleted his comment but the other comments are still there... well except for the comment of mine wherein I pointed out to you that I was commenting on Chris Anderson's missing comment, not yours. That one was deemed rude and deleted. Can't imagine why.
        http://www.ted.com/conversations/17348/discuss_the_note_to_the_ted_co.html?c=641938
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          Apr 7 2013: I'll be the first to admit I don't know much about what happens with deletes in a TED Conversation. Isn't that funny?
  • Apr 7 2013: Let's continue this discussion somewhere else. This is getting rediculus.
  • Apr 7 2013: As they say, truth dies in war first.

    But you can just look at the data, study the theory and decide for yourself.
  • Apr 7 2013: No, it does not. I tried again. Others tried it before. It just does not work, for most of us. What's so special about you on this site, Mr. Hoopes?
  • Apr 7 2013: Has there been an official response to the Hancock and Sheldrake conversation threads yet?
    • Apr 7 2013: Yes, they're at each of the debate pages.
    • Apr 7 2013: An interesting progression.

      First, they censor the Sheldrake and Hancock talks based on a specific list of false statements and unsupported claims.

      Second, they cross out the entire list.

      Third, they welcome an open debate, which produces no substitute for the grounds for censorship. The debate is nearly universally opposed to their position. Countless requests for a restatement of why the talks are pseudoscience are ignored.

      Fourth, the decision to censor the talk is made final. TED invokes it rights of poetic license to label "censorship" as "curatorial discretion." In the end, TED removes the videos without giving any reasons beyond, "We can if we want to."
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        Apr 7 2013: Dan, the Sheldrake and Hancock talks have not been censored. They are both just a few clicks away on this website.

        The issue in a debate is not the quantity of examples of a particular argument but their quality. An overwhelming majority of fallacious interpretations does not in any way diminish the fact that they are fallacious. Knowledge does not advance on the basis of public opinion.

        You seem to be arguing a double-standard, that majority opinion should dominate in the Sheldrake and Hancock debates but that it should not in the case of theories about consciousness outside the brain. There is a fundamental contradiction and inconsistency in that. Shouldn't the decision in either case be made on the basis of the quality of the data and the merits of the argument, even if it is being presented by a minority of one?

        The children's book "Horton Hears a Who!" by the brilliant Dr. Spock comes to mind. Isn't this issue what that book is about?

        Horton Hears a Who!
        http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Horton_Hears_a_Who!
        • Apr 7 2013: John - Since you enjoy posting links so much, please provide a single link from the Sheldrake and Hancock debates which demonstrates the quality of TED's arguments.

          There is no double standard. What I am saying is that a debate format obligated TED to disclosed its objections to the TEDx talks. After the initial attempt, which failed to such an extent that it was crossed out in its entirety, TED did not offer any challenge whatsoever to the quality of the data or the merits of the arguments. Same for West Hollywood.
        • Apr 8 2013: Ok, so it's not censorship in the classical sense of the word. But tell me, in the hypothetical case that TED did want to prevent people from seeing the videos, how exactly would they go about that? Because it seems to me that censorship in the classical sense is impossible on the internet, and that the route they have taken with special derogatory framing of the videos, reminiscent of the nazi's 'degenerate art' exhibitions, is probably the most effective method they could hope to employ in the absence of true censorship.
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        Apr 7 2013: Dan, please note that this TED Conversation is about the West Hollywood event, not the debates about Sheldrake and Hancock. Can you reframe your request so that it pertains to that topic?

        Before I can respond, you'll have to specify what you mean by TED's arguments. We can examine them one by one if you like, but you'll have to define the parameters.
        • Apr 7 2013: No need, John. We can stop here. Just so the readers are clear, TED never presented any substantive arguments or reasons for removing the Sheldrake and Hancock videos from their YouTube channel.

          From what I can tell, the Amazing Randi has veto power over TED content and events. If Randi calls it silly or Jerry Coyne says it's woo, that's all TED needs to hear.
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        Apr 8 2013: I posted a link to this document at the top of the conversation. I think it makes TED's thinking on pseudoscience very clear:
        http://blog.tedx.com/post/37405280671/a-letter-to-the-tedx-community-on-tedx-and-bad-science
        • Apr 8 2013: Thanks, John. This explains a lot.

          Is there a list of how much corporate underwriting TED receives and from whom? I'm interested in whether TED accepts underwriting support from Monsanto. That would explain the prohibition against any speaker who talks about GMO food.
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      Apr 8 2013: "with special derogatory framing of the videos, reminiscent of the nazi's 'degenerate art' exhibitions, is probably the most effective method they could hope to employ in the absence of true censorship"

      You can't possibly be serious. That would be a bona fide example of "reductio ad Hitlerum".

      Reductio ad Hitlerum
      http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reductio_ad_Hitlerum
      • Apr 8 2013: Do you have a response to the content of my post, or only that decoration of it?

        Here it is without the 'reductio ad hiterum'. See if my point is vastly different:

        In the hypothetical case that TED did want to prevent people from seeing the videos, how exactly would they go about that? Because it seems to me that censorship in the classical sense is impossible on the internet, and that the route they have taken with special derogatory framing of the videos is probably the most effective method they could hope to employ in the absence of true censorship.
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          Apr 8 2013: If they really did want to prevent people from seeing the videos, they would vigorously exercise their intellectual property rights. TEDx is licensed by TED. I don't know what rights the license grants, but if TED owns rights to the content of the video or any of its content (such as the TED logo), they could invoke copyright and attempt to block the video through lawsuits. TED has deep pockets.

          TED 2013 - A look at the numbers
          http://touch.latimes.com/#section/-1/article/p2p-74582999/

          However, as you note, that would probably be ineffective.

          I disagree that the framing of the videos is derogatory. TED's lawyers aren't stupid and they know that defamation is actionable, so any defamatory framing could expose TED to lawsuits. That's why it's absent. However, parties rarely pursue defamation suits unless they can prove damages (a basis for settlements). I'm certain that Sheldrake and Hancock are laughing all the way to the bank (as P.T. Barnum said, "There is no such thing as bad publicity"). Whatever "damage" has been done to their already questionable scientific/scholarly (?) reputations has been more than counterbalanced by their entertainment/popular reputations. They both have books that are selling well. So, no damages.

          I don't think there has been any censorship. TED benefits. Sheldrake and Hancock benefit. The West Hollywood event benefits. What's the problem?
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          Apr 8 2013: By the way, Barnum didn't say the other thing, which came from George Hull, perpetrator of the Cardiff Giant hoax in response to an argument he had with a believer in pseudoscientific theories about ancient giants. That was in 1869.

          P.T. Barnum never did say "There's a sucker born every minute"
          http://www.historybuff.com/library/refbarnum.html

          Cardiff Giant
          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cardiff_Giant

          Hull and Barnum both made a fortune off the fake giant and a fake of the fake giant (Hull wouldn't sell his to Barnum, so Barnum had his own giant made).

          Did you know that before Sheldrake and Hancock, there was also a removed TEDx talk about giants?

          Jim Viera's talk removed from the Internet
          http://tedxshelburnefalls.wordpress.com/2012/12/14/jim-vieiras-talk-removed-from-internet/

          This kind of stuff never goes away.

          "This way to the egress."
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    Apr 7 2013: The British Press is now covering the TED fiasco:

    http://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/gadgets-and-tech/news/ted-conference-censorship-row-8563105.html

    "Both speakers who spoke at the TEDx conference in east London last month had their speeches pulled from its YouTube channel. After complaints from Sheldrake and Hancock and many TED viewers, their videos were reinstalled, but not on the main website – ‘in the naughty corner’ as Mr Hancock described it.

    Hancock and Sheldrake have also called for the anonymous science board which advises TED on the legitimacy of speakers, to be revealed –something which TED is refusing to do, citing they are unpaid volunteers.

    At the talks, speakers are given 18 minutes to present their ideas, which range from a mixture of science and culture through to storytelling.

    But in recent months, a series of controversies dogged the not-for-profit organisation and whose acronym stands for Technology, Entertainment and Design, leading many to question the integrity of the organisation which charges audiences several thousands of pounds to watch a speech, yet pays its speakers nothing. "
    • Apr 7 2013: And you've wasted no time spreading lies over there: "The reason TED pulled the TEDx talks by Sheldrake and Hancock and cancelled the West Hollywood event was due to TED's new affiliation with the militant atheist movement."
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        Apr 7 2013: So why did they act on Jerry Coyne's say-so then?
        • Apr 7 2013: There is no rational reason to think that TED acted on Jerry Coyne's "say-so" on any of those events, or that Jerry even has any "say-so" with TED. Indeed, regarding the West Hollywoo event, a number of people—including me—had communicated with TED about it before anybody mentioned it to Jerry Coyne, and Jerry didn't know that they had de-licensed the event until I told him about it.

          And, no, I don't have any affiliation with TED either.
        • Apr 7 2013: There are some straightforward reason to think TED acted on Jerry Coyne's say so, or at the least that he exerts way to much control over TED's actions. Here are two:

          1. Sheldrake's talk, Hancock's talk and TEDx WestHollywood were all going along nicely and then Coyne complains about Sheldrake's talk and it is taken down almost immediately, then Coyne complains about Hancock's talk and it is taken down almost immediately, and then Coybe complains about TEDx WestHollywood and the license is cancelled almost immediately.

          2. The criticisms of Sheldrake and Hancock's talk included some of the same false charges that appeared first on Coyne's blog. Such factual errors give the game away (like errors in plagiarized work) because it's hard to believe people would make identical silly mistakes. A far simpler explanation is that TED just parroted Coyne's complaints.

          Call this acting on Coyne's say so or no, the fact is that TED's immediate compliance with Coyne's requests and the shoddy (copied from Coyne's site) nonsense they used to justify their decisions suggests TED's association with such a fanatical anti-science blogger is far from healthy.
        • Apr 7 2013: Whether or not TED 'acted on Coyne's say-so', it appears that TED has acted much as Jerry Coyne would act - as a militant atheist or strict materialist.
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        Apr 7 2013: Until we know who is on the "anonymous science board" we will never know the full extent of Coyne's influence here. It was Coyne's blog that precipitated TEDs actions against Hancock and Sheldrake.
        • Apr 7 2013: "Until we know who is on the 'anonymous science board' we will never know the full extent of Coyne's influence here."

          So you admit to not knowing the extent of Coyne's influence, and when I said that your statement at The Independent's blog, "The reason TED pulled the TEDx talks by Sheldrake and Hancock and cancelled the West Hollywood event was due to TED's new affiliation with the militant atheist movement," was a lie, you defended it by claiming that "they act[ed] on Jerry Coyne's say-so." Now you admit that you don't know how much influence Jerry Coyne has, which is tantamount to admitting that your statement on The Independent's blog was a lie.

          "It was Coyne's blog that precipitated TEDs actions against Hancock and Sheldrake."

          Interesting choice of words, "precipitated." Just the right amount of ambiguity there. You manage to insinuate that Jerry caused TED to pull the events without actually quite saying so. Nice touch. The fact is, we don't even know that Jerry Coyne's blog was how TED became informed of the Sheldrake and Hancock talks, but even if it was, that does not imply anything other than that TED concurred with Coyne's assessment after making their own determination.

          You claim you are a scientist. What kind of scientist are you that doesn't understand Occam's Razor or the post hoc ergo propter hoc fallacy?
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        • Apr 7 2013: Absolutely not! I'm a member of the Skeptical Militia Agenda for Atheism. We are totally opposed to the Skeptical Militant Atheist Agenda.

          [Edit: Aww, this joke makes no sense without the comment to which it was a reply. And this was some of my best material!]
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        Apr 7 2013: I see Hoopes is deleting comments again.

        My answer was that TEDs actions speak for themselves. It's very clear who they are aligned with these days.
        • Apr 7 2013: I believe that was Aja and I understand she has to do it. Since there were so many comments deleted in a short period of time, mostly between 23;44 and 1:00, she had to clean things up. I'm now satisfied that this as far as we can go with this. I'll discuss the situation elsewhere.
        • Apr 7 2013: BTW Sandy, I know it was Aja because I got notice that the comment was being moderated. Moderation is different than deletion. Moderation means the comment is still there, deletion means they are deleted. This is at least what I can figure out.
  • Apr 7 2013: So who is next? Which TEDx house goes down next? Any ideas?
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    Apr 7 2013: Just so people know, as TED is now very aggressively deleting everything I post outside of the "naughty corner", once this conversation ends it might be difficult to continue the discussion here at TED (although I do intend to keep trying).

    Just in case, I would like to point out a few safe havens for conversation:

    http://weilerpsiblog.wordpress.com/2013/04/06/ted-makes-a-decision-not-technically-censorship-plus-a-recap/
    http://forum.mind-energy.net/skeptiko-podcast/
    • Apr 7 2013: Well look at what you write. Everything you say is extremely accusatory and you are not debating anything.
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        Apr 7 2013: Leroy, tell me what was accusatory in this TED conversation propsal which was first accepted then later deleted by TED:

        Title: Giving the public a voice in science: How to use crowd-sourcing to fund innovative new work

        Full Text: Funding is what drives research these days. As grant monies become more and more scarce, scientists are looking for new ways to support the work that they do. In Canada, changes to the NSERC (National Science and Engineering Research Council) grant system now place more weight on grant proposals which have a greater potential for an economic payoff. And having industry on board to cover some of the costs adds even more credence to the grant proposal. For example, research in support of the mining industry is more likely to get financial support from NSERC than research into environmental issues.

        I think crowd-sourcing is one way to help remedy this disparity in funding. It allows people to support work that they personally find of value, rather than industrial applications which don't benefit them personally.

        I'd like to hear from people who know about interesting crowd-sourced research, as well as from those who have an opinion on whether or not this is the answer for projects that fall through the cracks of traditional funding means.
        • Apr 7 2013: mmmm, well nothing in what you posted there, but in all your other stuff, maybe someone flagged it or the fact that it is off topic might be it. But lots of other off topic stuff not deleted. so i dunno about what you shared here.
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          Apr 7 2013: That is not even Sandy's stuff. She copied it from this discussion:

          http://forum.mind-energy.net/showthread.php?p=146621#post146621

          It's anybody's guess what the original context of it was or whether this is even the full proposal.
        • Apr 7 2013: First of all, that is Sandy. It's her comment at the forum. Second, the context is she had a proposal accepted and then removed. The URL was:

          http://www.ted.com/conversations/17545/giving_the_p..is is

          This is from an email notification but the link is cut off.
        • Apr 7 2013: oh so Sandy was being dishonest? Sigh.
        • Apr 7 2013: Sandy posts something here and it gets deleted and then someone called Sandy posts a link and discussion about it on another forum. Hoopes the intrepid investigator springs into action and announces that it's not Sandy's stuff but stuff from another site (also by Sandy and clearly in reference to Sandy's post here but Hoopes doesn't notice that). No Sherlock Holmes this Hoopes, more Lestrade of the Yard.
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        Apr 7 2013: John, it is my "stuff". It is the full proposal. I have the original email from TED as well. But you are an admin here, so you already knew that. You've been deleting comments, editing comments and having a great time showing the world how messed up TED really is.
    • Apr 7 2013: And that took about, um, a minute for me to figure out, with or without the email notification.
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        Apr 7 2013: Thanks. You are much more clever than those two, John Campbell.
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    Apr 6 2013: The important thing is that TED has failed to stop this event from taking place. So we'll get to see if the world goes to hell-in-a-hand basket as predicted by some. I'm guessing things will go on, as per usual, except that some of us will have had the pleasure of seeing awesome talks from people like Larry Dossey and Russell Targ.

    Nothing is more fun that going to a prohibited event!

    The live stream of the exTED event will be shown here on April 14, 12:30 PM EDT:
    https://new.livestream.com/extedwesthollywood
    • Apr 6 2013: You can't fail to do something that you weren't trying to do.
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        Apr 6 2013: So pulling support from an event shortly before it takes place was TED's idea of helping?
      • Apr 6 2013: Some might argue that by deliberately waiting until almost the last minute to pull the plug TED was indeed trying to prevent the event from taking place. Who knows? Not you.
    • Apr 7 2013: Reasonable enough conclusion it seems, given TED's new ideological commitments.
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    Apr 6 2013: What should these great tedtalks be considered? I'm feeling conflicted because they both seem to advertise a book the speaker wrote. Is this considered grey area?.........

    http://www.ted.com/talks/a_j_jacobs_year_of_living_biblically.html

    http://www.ted.com/talks/aj_jacobs_how_healthy_living_nearly_killed_me.html

    ps: the talk influenced me to buy his year of living biblically and I was very satisfied with it......A.J. Jacobs is a great social entrepreneur to me!
  • Apr 6 2013: here's the thing. Russell Targ was good enough for the MIT Club of Northern California to be on a panel with theoretical physicists (Targ is a laser physicist by profession. so no surprise there.) but the science-loving people at TED lumped Targ with "pseudoscience." (exactly the same treatment that Rupert Sheldrake and Graham Hancock received.)

    Russell Targ @ MIT Club of Northern California
    ~ http://youtu.be/NfBqFB_hdoA

    this is not about real science. this is about TED's uncompromising allegiance to the scientific materialist worldview.
    • Apr 6 2013: It's not scientific materialism - it's anti-scientific (end of science) reductionist philosophy.
      • Apr 6 2013: i should've said pseudo-skeptical worldview posing as "real science".
        • Apr 6 2013: It's actually a very common way of talking which Sheldrake even slips into although he did give an interview where he clarified it. I think it's important because we have to be clear that science is not the enemy - the enemy is a strange philosophical view that some have conflated with science - probably without even knowing it.
    • Apr 7 2013: it's a conspiracy!! lol you guys. And pseudo-skeptic is an awesome phrase. 9-11 Truthers are pseudo-skeptics. Birthers, Holocaust deniers, and anyone who accuses TED of conspiracies are pseudo-skeptics, the guys at Skeptiko are big time pseudo-skeptics, they are the worst, ugh. So call me and others something we are not, and see how far that gets you outside of your little circle .
      • Apr 7 2013: Leroy,

        all rhetoric. no substance. no relevance. not even an intelligible rebuttal to the information offered. typical pseudo-skeptical strategy.
      • Apr 7 2013: Leroy
        I believe it was Marcello Truzzi, one of the founders of CSI(COP) who coined the term "pseudoskeptic". He coined it to refer to the members of that organisation about which he said:

        "Originally I was invited to be a co-chairman of CSICOP by Paul Kurtz. I helped to write the bylaws and edited their journal. I found myself attacked by the Committee members and board, who considered me to be too soft on the paranormalists. My position was not to treat protoscientists as adversaries, but to look to the best of them and ask them for their best scientific evidence. I found that the Committee was much more interested in attacking the most publicly visible claimants such as the "National Enquirer". The major interest of the Committee was not inquiry but to serve as an advocacy body, a public relations group for scientific orthodoxy. The Committee has made many mistakes. My main objection to the Committee, and the reason I chose to leave it, was that it was taking the public position that it represented the scientific community, serving as gatekeepers on maverick claims, whereas I felt they were simply unqualified to act as judge and jury when they were simply lawyers."

        Thus, it seems, we are using the word quite precisely in the way it was originally intended. Here's an article by the coiner explaining the term.

        http://www.anomalist.com/commentaries/pseudo.html
        • Apr 7 2013: Steve,

          exactly. it amazes and amuses me that people who identify as " skeptics" don't know the history of the Skeptical movement. note that Truzzi was also the one who coined the famous Sagan quote "extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence." Truzzi was a real *skeptic*. most "skeptics" i see online nowadays are pale reflections of Truzzi. they have hijacked the true philosophical meaning of the word *skepticism* while deluding themselves that they are the paragons of "critical thinking".
      • Apr 7 2013: Here's a passage from the article linked to above:

        Over the years, I have decried the misuse of the term "skeptic" when used to refer to all critics of anomaly claims. Alas, the label has been thus misapplied by both proponents and critics of the paranormal. Sometimes users of the term have distinguished between so-called "soft" versus "hard" skeptics, and I in part revived the term "zetetic" because of the term's misuse. But I now think the problems created go beyond mere terminology and matters need to be set right. Since "skepticism" properly refers to doubt rather than denial--nonbelief rather than belief--critics who take the negative rather than an agnostic position but still call themselves "skeptics" are actually pseudo-skeptics and have, I believed, gained a false advantage by usurping that label.
  • Apr 6 2013: No, it is not.

    h ttp://www. tcm. phy. cam. ac. uk/

    still blocked.

    When they ever fix this I may return to discussing matters here.
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      Apr 7 2013: Remove the spaces from the URL and it will work.
  • Apr 6 2013: I think the greatest danger in the world today is not pseudoscience but pens. You might not agree, but consider: it's but a small step from pens to the Pirates of Pens-anze, written by Gilbert and Sullivan no less, which is virtually Gilbert O'Sullivan, who was a song-writer, like Bobby Crush, and that's like orange crush - a drink - and another drink is Irn Bru, which is made in Scotland from girders, and girders are associated with the steel industry, and industry was associated with ship building and ships can be found at Glasgow docks, which rhymes with Ibrox (also in Glasgow) where Glasgow Rangers play - Rangers are known as the Teddy bears, which is virtually the same as the Russian bear, and that leads straight to communism and the cold war which almost led to WWIII. Pens therefore should be banned.I rest my case.

    h/t to Hoopes.
    • Apr 6 2013: Steve, I agree we delegate too much of our humanness to pens. I think pens are used to write many spells, I f you think I have lost it consider this and it will give you the perspective I mean. Reality is stranger then fiction.
      I think we struggle to accept this.

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=Zr0VWqilcGM
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      Apr 6 2013: I'll agree that pens can be dangerous, especially in the wrong hands.

      "Some will rob you with a six-gun, And some with a fountain pen." -- Woodie Guthrie
      • Apr 6 2013: I never mentioned pens. You appear to have committed a false-dichotomy fallacy.
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          Apr 6 2013: Other pens can be dangerous, too. Especially if you're a pig.

          Of course, clear definitions are essential in order to avoid errors in comprehension.
    • Apr 7 2013: Steve, that was priceless. I take it you understand Bear logic then?
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    Apr 6 2013: According to Pat Robertson, the reason more miracles don't happen in the U.S. is because of the pernicious effects of education, science, and skepticism. His thinking seems to be in line with views expressed in the online conversations about Sheldrake, Hancock, and West Hollywood. Is science getting in the way of miracles?

    As Heather Horn writes:

    "Well, we're so sophisticated. We think we've got everything figured out. We know about evolution, we know about Darwin, we know about all these things that say god isn't real. We know about all this stuff and if we've been in many schools, the more advanced schools, we have been inundated with skepticism and secularism. And overseas they're simple, humble, you tell them God loves them and they say 'okay he loves me.' And you tell them God will do miracles and they say 'okay, we believe you.' And that's what God's looking for. That's why they have miracles."

    Why Are There So Few Resurrected Corpses in the United States?
    http://www.theatlantic.com/national/archive/2013/04/why-are-there-so-few-resurrected-corpses-in-the-united-states/274681/
    • Apr 6 2013: OK, it's tough right now in Kansas, but that's a problem for the people of Kansas. I have no interest in your ongoing religious war and I don't particularly like the collateral damage your inflicting on the rest of the world.
    • Apr 6 2013: John I'm no longer following? how are Pat Robertson, Heather Horn, resurrected and corpses connected to TEDx?
      • Apr 6 2013: They aren't. That's why I decided it was time to have a go at pens.
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        Apr 6 2013: Adrian, according to Pat Robertson, the reason more miracles don't happen in the U.S. is because of the pernicious effects of education, science, and skepticism. His thinking seems to be in line with views expressed in the online conversations about Sheldrake, Hancock, and West Hollywood.
        • Apr 6 2013: Which is to say that Robertson is making as wild a claim as, say, someone arguing the holocaust was the result of the lack of proper peer-review in the journal of the SPR.
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        Apr 6 2013: Which no one has done, although errors of comprehension and fallacious interpretations may result in the illusion that they have.

        Slippery slope
        http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Slippery_slope
        • Apr 6 2013: I find errors of comprehension are avoided when one explains, rather than refuses point blank to explain, what one was saying. So, eg, if someone used, say, the nazis as an analogy, and was then asked how the analogy was supposed to work and instead of explaining simple banged on more about the nazis while resisting numerous requests for clarification, then that person loses the right to complain about being misunderstood. And so in such a case it would help, and seem a simple enough matter, for the one complaining about being misunderstood to explain how, eg, the stuff about the nazis maps onto the stuff here. That's assuming, of course, that the person complaining of being misunderstood was actually being misunderstood and was not simply evading the issue because, say, they had been called out on obvious nonsense and were simply trying to muddy the waters (as they had done 100 times before).
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        Apr 6 2013: But I have explained. You're just not satisfied with my explanation. I would have explained further, but have been disinclined to do so because of Noah's false charge of "argumentum ad Hitlerum" and other ridiculing ad hominem comments that indicated a refusal to take me seriously. If you would take me seriously, I would be happy to explain further.
        • Apr 6 2013: No you didn't explain - you refused to explain. You ended up saying you were not going to explain. I asked for the mapping and you never gave it.
        • Apr 7 2013: Thanks Steve that's how I read it, John you do that often, you refer to things to generate negative sentiments and you imply those sentiments to TEDx, Sheldrake and Hancock without providing any evidence.
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        Apr 7 2013: And my last response to you remains the same as it was before:

        "Sorry, Steve. I give up. I'm just too dense to pursue this with you any further."

        However, I'm willing to reconsider with one condition.

        You wrote:

        "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."

        If I answer, you must agree not to comment on my response. If you do, it will be deleted.
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        Apr 7 2013: As you like. Suit yourself. I withdraw my offer.
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    Apr 6 2013: I see John H. is still doing his best to take things off-topic. Addressing the actual points relevant to the case don't work, so he is making stuff up again.

    The important thing is that TED has failed to stop this event from taking place. So we'll get to see if the world goes to hell-in-a-hand basket as predicted by John H. I'm guessing