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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: 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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