TED Conversations

Mike Aparicio

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Is Freedom of expression growing?

Is there an obvious conflict of opinion about Expression and Communication Freedom, with strong ethical implications.
What do you think?
I think it is highly relevant to have a conversation on the topic!
Do you?


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    Aug 16 2013: You need some definitions Mike. Let's start with the country about which you are asking. Is it the USA, or Cuba, or Guatemala, or North Korea, etc.? Also define the distinction you are making between "Expression" and "Communication Freedom".
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      Aug 16 2013: Well Edward:

      My question is really eclectic in nature. You might take it as global.

      I think of "expression" as the faculty to convey our own ideas and emotions to the external world.
      "Communication" in the sense of the ability to transfer, pass and receive information from external sources, either with the idea of spreading it or to collect it.

      Is that clear enough?
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        Aug 16 2013: Thanks for your patient explanation. I do think the answer will vary with the political climate of the nation being discussed. In some nations freedom of expression is growing, while in others it is suffering loss if not total suppression.
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          Aug 17 2013: All right Edward!

          I see your point! I suspect what is implied is the idea countries like mine might be more repressive than highly developed countries.
          You might be surprised on the contrary!
          For instance, in Guatemala there is no fear to write articles on alternative medicine, neither doctors suffer from repression for advising usage of traditional natural medicines or treatments.
          It seems 1st world countries control too much what is said about many subjects.
          Remember in the US, long time ago, all kind of medicines were advertised and people could speak and publish articles about the benefits or herbs and other things.

          On the other hand, in 3rd world countries political expressions or social conflict communications get exposed to the dangers of being attacked on the street to be silenced! although President assassinations are not that frequent as in major countries.

          In 1st world countries, repression takes place by being disbarred, licences cancelled, defamation in scientific circles, labeled as Quack, and of course, if herbal products which once were known and still are good for certain illnesses, are labeled with the ability to cure something, very quickly they will get the FDA and other authorities on top of their heads.

          Internet sites are forced to publish disclaimers, when speaking of medicine properties, and if you happen to appear in a show or Internet forum explaining about psychoactive substances you will be banned and removed instantly!

          All in the name of "society" or science. Are governments and scientific institutions adopting a paternalistic attitude, even with the possibility of spanking someone here and there?

          It looks to me as a return to monarchic tyrannies....
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        Aug 18 2013: Nothing implied about Guatemala. I mentioned it simply because you live there. Your views seem well thought-out as though based upon personal experience. Thanks for sharing them. Perhaps off-topic, but do you think marketing claims that are unproven, exaggerated, and even known to be false should not be minimized with regulatory controls? Do you see such control as "monarchic tyranny"?
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          Aug 19 2013: Edward: You are using three words which are quite relative.


          Is it OK then to restrict expressing ideas on unproven things?
          The first to fall would then be scientific assertions, which get "proved" and later contradicted.
          I think unproven things should be taken as seriously as "proven" ones.
          Have scientists proved the Self is a product of brain activity? Totally unproven!
          So, "monarchic tyranny" should ban all talks on the subject...


          What is the measure for an exaggeration? How can we really know if a fact is exaggerated if communications on the subject would be restricted? Maybe the "exaggeration is really something astonishing, ironic or never thought about before!
          But: Aren't we entitled to decide if something is exaggerated or not? Do we need Government offices to tell us what is exaggerated and what is reasonable?

          "Known to be false?"

          Known by whom? Falsity is also a relative word. The idea of Government protecting the "interests of society" could be false. At least it looks like!
          So if the system "knows" something is "false" it is OK to set boundaries on it's discussion.
          Are we so lucky of having censors taking care of what we are given as "true"or "false"? Where is our criteria?
          We don't need it then!

          What today is unproven, might be proved tomorrow. What is now exaggerated might be simplistic tomorrow, what is false today might be true tomorrow....

          Who really knows?
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        Aug 19 2013: RE: "Edward, you are using. . . ". Words have meaning Mike. The three expressions should be interpreted in their common , reasonable application. "Unproven" means a claim or assertion which has no historical supporting evidence. "Exaggerated" is a specific application of the term "unproven". "Known to be false" means a claim or assertion is in clear disagreement with accepted-as-true data (which certainly can change). Again, do you think no claims or assertions deserve to be referred to by any of these terms? Do you advocate for a policy of 100% unrestricted public dissemination of claims or assertions?
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          Aug 19 2013: Hi Edward!
          I am sure we both understand the meaning of those words.
          Precisely because of those meanings is I find unacceptable to apply "restrictions".

          Who is the viable authority to restrict based on which criteria?

          True science claims to be unable to prove a thing. It is possible to demonstrate the feasibility of something or the high probability of being certain about a theory. But to "prove" it beyond doubt is impossible. Except for pure mathematics.

          I could start listing here hundreds of cases where "proven" scientific concepts ended up contradicted by new discoveries. I guess those who discovered the error and launched a radically different theory initially thought the original theory was unproven!

          If you think censorship is justifiable, could you please answer the questions on my previous post?

          I do advocate for Freedom of Expression. If someone thinks a claim is unproven, exaggerated or false he is entitled to say it and to publish it but not to endorse political powers to repress it!

          Such repression can prevent discoveries, rectification of errors and further research into the unproven, exaggerated or supposedly false.

          That is my view!
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        Aug 19 2013: RE: "...I am sure we both understand..." Would you throw yourself, or a beloved family member, from a high cliff on the basis that it cannot be proven beyond doubt that you will die? For all intents and purposes some things are proven. Only in the etherial world of philosophy can it be ruled logical to hurl yourself into the abyss and not expect to die. Imagine someone claims to have a process to change lead into gold. They claim any investment will be returned 100-fold. Do you really oppose the regulation, or repression as you call it, of such a blatant lie meant to rob the ignorant and unsuspecting? Do you really advocate for the rights of such charlatans?
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          Aug 19 2013: Hey Edward!
          You really are pulling the subject to the limits!
          We can see movies, read books and even talks about "throwing yourself into the vacuum and fly". Should we ban all those?
          I don't think any sensible person, forum, or entity would sponsor a "serious" conference on the advantage of flying without wings! Lol!
          But it is anyway happening within performing arts and I don't see why they should be "persecuted"...
          Common sense "proven" things are not the scope of my conversation. It would be really silly from my part. Please don't take me as a radical.
          On the other hand, serious medical magazines speak of the "wonders of chemotherapy and radio"! No matter their actual rate of survival is seriously inflated and twisted. At the same time, non orthodox treatments, supported by hundreds of testimonials, known to work, are forbidden and repressed from publication.
          Also, I don't think an idiot who actually is capable of believing "lead can be turn into gold" should be "protected" by governments, in the sense of forbidding such claims.
          If it actually happens and the subject is a dummy enough then there are Laws against swindlers and con artists. Let the Law act.
          I don't see why if a fantasy fan writes and publishes methods to actually convert lead or cheesecake into gold should be censored.

          We must not accept all laws are fair and just. There are serious mistakes in legislation. The problem now is the introduction of the concept of "conspiracy and intention to commit a crime".

          If you speak the word "bomb" in an airport it will lead you to kiss the ground and have 4 gorillas on top of you, no matter you were telling to a friend the story of Hiroshima!

          Daring to think against the established trend of thought is becoming a bad behavior, and we are subject to repression (not yet by the arms of Law) but repression anyway.

          Do you think Rupert Sheldrake deserved the humiliation he got just by challenging the supremacy of current science?
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        Aug 20 2013: RE: "You really are pulling the subject. . ." I'm just trying to get your answer to a simple question I have asked you twice now: Do you really advocate for the rights of such charlatans? (The charlatans to which I refer are those typified in my examples above, NOT Sheldrake, or any actual person!). Your question as posted, and your comments herein seem to indicate you oppose any form of regulation of expression. You can put it to rest by saying yes or no to my question. Permit me one final attempt please: Do you oppose any and all regulatory effort regarding free expression of information? Please have the last word (I do hope that word ie either "yes" or "no"). I am withdrawing to the sidelines from where I will watch for your answer. Thank you for a vigorous, if trying, episode of free expression!

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