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

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


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  • Apr 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!?

      Ramtha's School of Enlightenment

      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

      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

          NOVA Online - Kidnapped by UFOs
      • 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.

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