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Open for discussion: Graham Hancock and Rupert Sheldrake from TEDxWhitechapel

Posted by: Tedstaff

UPDATE: Please see our new blog post Graham Hancock and Rupert Sheldrake, a fresh take, which replaces the x-ed out text below.

To discuss the talks, view them here:

The debate about Rupert Sheldrake’s talk
The debate about Graham Hancock’s talk

After due diligence, including a survey of published scientific research and recommendations from our Science Board and our community, we have decided that Graham Hancock’s and Rupert Sheldrake’s talks from TEDxWhitechapel should be removed from distribution on the TEDx YouTube channel.

We’re not censoring the talks. Instead we’re placing them here, where they can be framed to highlight both their provocative ideas and the factual problems with their arguments. See both talks after the jump.

All talks on the TEDxTalks channel represent the opinion of the speaker, not of TED or TEDx, but we feel a responsibility not to provide a platform for talks which appear to have crossed the line into pseudoscience.

UPDATE: Please find Rupert Sheldrake’s response below the video window.

According to our science board, Rupert Sheldrake bases his argument on several major factual errors, which undermine the arguments of talk. For example, he suggests that scientists reject the notion that animals have consciousness, despite the fact that it’s generally accepted that animals have some form of consciousness, and there’s much research and literature exploring the idea.

He also argues that scientists have ignored variations in the measurements of natural constants, using as his primary example the dogmatic assumption that a constant must be constant and uses the speed of light as example. But, in truth, there has been a great deal of inquiry into the nature of scientific constants, including published, peer-reviewed research investigating whether certain constants – including the speed of light – might actually vary over time or distance. Scientists are constantly questioning these assumptions. For example, just this year Scientific American published a feature on the state of research into exactly this question. (“Are physical constants really constant?: Do the inner workings of nature change over time?”) Physicist Sean Carroll wrote a careful rebuttal of this point.

In addition, Sheldrake claims to have “evidence” of morphic resonance in crystal formation and rat behavior. The research has never appeared in a peer-reviewed journal, despite attempts by other scientists eager to replicate the work.

Response to the TED Scientific Board’s Statement

Rupert Sheldrake
March 18, 2013

I would like to respond to TED’s claims that my TEDx talk “crossed the line into pseudoscience”, contains ”serious factual errors” and makes “many misleading statements.”

This discussion is taking place because the militant atheist bloggers Jerry Coyne and P.Z. Myers denounced me, and attacked TED for giving my talk a platform. I was invited to give my talk as part of a TEDx event in Whitechapel, London, called “Challenging Existing Paradigms.” That’s where the problem lies: my talk explicitly challenges the materialist belief system. It summarized some of the main themes of my recent book Science Set Free (in the UK called The Science Delusion). Unfortunately, the TED administrators have publically aligned themselves with the old paradigm of materialism, which has dominated science since the late nineteenth century.

TED say they removed my talk from their website on the advice of their Scientific Board, who also condemned Graham Hancock’s talk. Hancock and I are now facing anonymous accusations made by a body on whose authority TED relies, on whose advice they act, and behind whom they shelter, but whose names they have not revealed.

TED’s anonymous Scientific Board made three specific accusations:

Accusation 1:
“he suggests that scientists reject the notion that animals have consciousness, despite the fact that it’s generally accepted that animals have some form of consciousness, and there’s much research and literature exploring the idea.”

I characterized the materialist dogma as follows: “Matter is unconscious: the whole universe is made up of unconscious matter. There’s no consciousness in stars in galaxies, in planets, in animals, in plants and there ought not to be any in us either, if this theory’s true. So a lot of the philosophy of mind over the last 100 years has been trying to prove that we are not really conscious at all.” Certainly some biologists, including myself, accept that animals are conscious. In August, 2012, a group of scientists came out with an endorsement of animal consciousness in “The Cambridge Declaration on Consciousness”. As Discovery News reported, “While it might not sound like much for scientists to declare that many nonhuman animals possess conscious states, it’s the open acknowledgement that’s the big news here.” (http://news.discovery.com/human/genetics/animals-consciousness-mammals-birds-octopus-120824.htm)

But materialist philosophers and scientists are still in the majority, and they argue that consciousness does nothing – it is either an illusion or an ”epiphenomenon” of brain activity. It might as well not exist in animals – or even in humans. That is why in the philosophy of mind, the very existence of consciousness is often called “the hard problem”.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hard_problem_of_consciousness

Accusation 2:
“He also argues that scientists have ignored variations in the measurements of natural constants, using as his primary example the dogmatic assumption that a constant must be constant and uses the speed of light as example.… Physicist Sean Carroll wrote a careful rebuttal of this point.”

TED’s Scientific Board refers to a Scientific American article that makes my point very clearly: “Physicists routinely assume that quantities such as the speed of light are constant.”

In my talk I said that the published values of the speed of light dropped by about 20 km/sec between 1928 and 1945. Carroll’s “careful rebuttal” consisted of a table copied from Wikipedia showing the speed of light at different dates, with a gap between 1926 and 1950, omitting the very period I referred to. His other reference (http://micro.magnet.fsu.edu/primer/lightandcolor/speedoflight.html) does indeed give two values for the speed of light in this period, in 1928 and 1932-35, and sure enough, they were 20 and 24km/sec lower than the previous value, and 14 and 18 km/sec lower than the value from 1947 onwards.

1926: 299,798
1928: 299,778
1932-5: 299,774
1947: 299,792

In my talk I suggest how a re-examination of existing data could resolve whether large continuing variations in the Universal Gravitational Constant, G, are merely errors, as usually assumed, or whether they show correlations between different labs that might have important scientific implications hitherto ignored. Jerry Coyne and TED’s Scientific Board regard this as an exercise in pseudoscience. I think their attitude reveals a remarkable lack of curiosity.

Accusation 3:
“Sheldrake claims to have “evidence” of morphic resonance in crystal formation and rat behavior. The research has never appeared in a peer-reviewed journal, despite attempts by other scientists eager to replicate the work.”

I said, “There is in fact good evidence that new compounds get easier to crystallize all around the world.” For example, turanose, a kind of sugar, was considered to be a liquid for decades, until it first crystallized in the 1920s. Thereafter it formed crystals everyehere. (Woodard and McCrone Journal of Applied Crystallography (1975). 8, 342). The American chemist C. P. Saylor, remarked it was as though “the seeds of crystallization, as dust, were carried upon the winds from end to end of the earth” (quoted by Woodard and McCrone).

The research on rat behavior I referred to was carried out at Harvard and the Universities of Melbourne and Edinburgh and was published in peer-reviewed journals, including the British Journal of Psychology and the Journal of Experimental Biology. For a fuller account and detailed references see Chapter 11 of my book Morphic Resonance (in the US) / A New Science of Life (in the UK). The relevant passage is online here: http://sciencesetfree.tumblr.com/

The TED Scientific Board refers to ”attempts by other scientists eager to replicate the work” on morphic resonance. I would be happy to work with these eager scientists if the Scientific Board can reveal who they are.

This is a good opportunity to correct an oversimplification in my talk. In relation to the dogma that mechanistic medicine is the only kind that really works, I said, “that’s why governments only fund mechanistic medicine and ignore complementary and alternative therapies.” This is true of most governments, but the US is a notable exception. The US National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine receives about $130 million a year, about 0.4% of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) total annual budget of $31 billion.

Obviously I could not spell out all the details of my arguments in an 18-minute talk, but TED’s claims that it contains “serious factual errors,” “many misleading statements” and that it crosses the line into “pseudoscience” are defamatory and false.

UPDATE: Please find Graham Hancock’s response below the video window.

HANCOCK
Graham Hancock’s talk, again, shares a compelling and unorthodox worldview, but one that strays well beyond the realm of reasonable science. While attempting to critique the scientific worldview, he misrepresents what scientists actually think. He suggests, for example, that no scientists are working on the problem of consciousness.

In addition, Hancock makes statements about psychotropic drugs that seem both nonscientific and reckless. He states as fact that psychotropic drug use is essential for an “emergence into consciousness,” and that one can use psychotropic plants to connect directly with an ancient mother culture. He seems to offer a one-note explanation for how culture arises (drugs), it’s no surprise his work has often been characterized as pseudo-archeology.

TED respects and supports the exploration of unorthodox ideas, but the many misleading statements in both Sheldrake’s and Hancock’s talks, whether made deliberately or in error, have led our scientific advisors to conclude that our name and platform should not be associated with these talks.

Response to the TED Scientific Board’s Statement

Graham Hancock
March 18, 2013

(1) TED says of my “War on Consciousness” presentation: “…he misrepresents what scientists actually think. He suggests, for example, that no scientists are working on the problem of consciousness.”

The only passage I can find in my presentation that has any relevance at all to this allegation is between 9 mins 50 seconds and 11 mins 12 seconds. But nowhere in that passage or anywhere else in my presentation do I make the suggestion you attribute to me in your allegation, namely that “no scientists are working on the problem of consciousness.” Rather I address the mystery of life after death and state that “if we want to know about this mystery the last people we should ask are materialist, reductionist scientists. They have nothing to say on the matter at all.” That statement cannot possibly be construed as my suggesting that “no scientists are working on the problem of consciousness,” or of “misrepresenting” what materialist, reductionist scientists actually think. I am simply stating the fact, surely not controversial, that materialist, reductionist scientists have nothing to say on the matter of life after death because their paradigm does not allow them to believe in the possibility of life after death; they believe rather that nothing follows death. Here is the full transcript of what I say in my presentation between 9 mins 50 seconds and 11 mins 12 seconds: “What is death? Our materialist science reduces everything to matter. Materialist science in the West says that we are just meat, we’re just our bodies, so when the brain is dead that’s the end of consciousness. There is no life after death. There is no soul. We just rot and are gone. But actually any honest scientist should admit that consciousness is the greatest mystery of science and that we don’t know exactly how it works. The brain’s involved in it in some way, but we’re not sure how. Could be that the brain generates consciousness the way a generator makes electricity. If you hold to that paradigm then of course you can’t believe in life after death. When the generator’s broken consciousness is gone. But it’s equally possible that the relationship – and nothing in neuroscience rules it out – that the relationship is more like the relationship of the TV signal to the TV set and in that case when the TV set is broken of course the TV signal continues and this is the paradigm of all spiritual traditions – that we are immortal souls, temporarily incarnated in these physical forms to learn and to grow and to develop. And really if we want to know about this mystery the last people we should ask are materialist, reductionist scientists. They have nothing to say on the matter at all. Let’s go rather to the ancient Egyptians who put their best minds to work for three thousand years on the problem of death and on the problem of how we should live our lives to prepare for what we will confront after death…”

(2) TED says of my “War on Consciousness” presentation: “… Hancock makes statements about psychotropic drugs that seem both non-scientific and reckless.”

I profoundly disagree. In my presentation I speak honestly and openly about my own damaging and destructive 24-year cannabis habit and about how experiences under the influence of Ayahuasca were the key to breaking this habit. I also say ( 3 min 46 seconds to 3 min 50 seconds) that “I don’t think any of the psychedelics should be used for recreation.”

(3) TED says of my presentation: “He states as fact that psychotropic drug use is essential for an “emergence into consciousness,” and that one can use psychotropic plants to connect directly with an ancient mother culture.”

Nowhere in my talk do I state as a fact that psychotropic drug use is “essential” for an “emergence into consciousness.” Nowhere in my talk do I state that “one can use psychotropic plants to connect directly with an ancient mother culture.”

(4) TED says of my “War on Consciousness” presentation: “He offers a one-note explanation for how culture arises (drugs), which just doesn’t hold up.”

I refute this. What I say (between 1 min 06 seconds and 1 min 54 seconds) is that some scientists in the last thirty years have raised an intriguing possibility — emphasis on POSSIBILITY — which is that the exploration of altered states of consciousness, in which psychedelic plants have been implicated, was fundamental to the emergence into fully symbolic consciousness witnessed by the great cave art.

(5) TED says of my “War on Consciousness” presentation: “… it’s no surprise his work has often been characterized as pseudo-archeology.”

Of what possible relevance is this remark? Many different people have characterised my work in many different ways but at issue here is not what people have said about my work over the years but the actual content of this specific TEDx presentation.

Comments (2158)

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  • Astral Projectee commented on Mar 28 2013

    TED is biased agaist Graham Hancock.

    • Jim Ryan commented on Mar 28 2013

      No, today’s flat earth society is against any that dare challenge their authority.

  • DES MEINTJES commented on Mar 27 2013

    The elephant in the room here is Hancocks’ explanation of the ability of ayahuasca to treat addictions. The illegal drugs trade is the second largest industry on earth after the legal arms trade, although they are often two heads of the same beast. The policing and incarceration of people using illegal drugs is another huge industry whose existence is parasitic and needs serious drug addicts to exist. Anyone with Hancocks’ access to mainstream media who begins to speak about a way to break an individuals addiction to these unspeakably profitable drugs is bound to meet up with flak from the vested interests behind the illegal drug trade.

    With all the drones and satellites they have above Afghanistan the CIA know exactly how many acres of poppies are being cultivated- with resolution down to individual plants, and exactly where and when they are harvested. They also know when the convoys of opium start to move. In spite of this knowledge the opium production in Afghanistan has increased 1000% since 2001 when the US military invaded.

    If TED want to try to convince people that Hancocks talk was censored/ moved/ etc due to a lack of scientific evidence then they should do the following- find a scientist who has access to data on the use of ayahuasca, Ibogaine, psilocybin mushrooms to treat addiction- and allow them to speak at a TED event. This is my proposition to TED. Chris Anderson please consider this for a future TED talk. If there was EVER an idea worth spreading- this is it.

  • DES MEINTJES commented on Mar 27 2013

    Graham Hancocks’ closing statement illuminates the system that would seek to hide the individuals experience of conciousness- not scientific truth, but experienced knowledge. Take for example colour blindness. Scientists may be able to measure a blue wavelength and seek to convince someone that what they are looking at is blue. However the fact that this is percieved by most people as ‘blue’ is due to accepted ‘mainstream’ knowledge. This does not disqualify the way a colour blind person may percieve the colour. We have a scientific explanation for it now, but for 99.9% of human history there was none.

    Closing passage from the talk-
    “I stand here invoking the hard-won right of freedom of speech to call for and demand another right to be recognised and that is the right of adult sovereignty over consciousness. There’s a war on consciousness in our society, and if we as adults are not allowed to make sovereign decisions about what to experience with our own consciousness while doing no harm to others, including the decision to use responsibly ancient and sacred visionary plants, then we cannot claim to be free in any way and it’s useless for our society to go around the world imposing our form of democracy on others while we nourish this rot at the heart of society and we do not allow individual freedom over consciousness”

    • Manric Gottfried commented on Mar 29 2013

      Interesting views Des.

      There are a few things in that closing statement that can hit some nerves. Apart from dismissing the ultra-orthodox church of status-quo and social stagnation, the frase: “to use responsibly ancient and sacred visionary plants”, where the word SACRED could be taken as a spiritual term, even though it is by definition a carnal term.
      Sacred, from the blood and heart, the life that flows inside.
      No evidence suggests that consciousness arose solely because of visionary plants, although they could of very well played a role.
      The accepted theory of the development of consciousness for the last few hundred thousand years seems to be based on the notion of clever (various species) developed hominids with very basic technologies that needed to communicate in real time while developing certain skill sets and tool use for survival. After establishing a basic communication and use of tools they figured out a way to record certain ideas using objects and drawings. To consume any of the many visionary flora would have been very probable since it is widespread. It is not necessary to call them sacred, but there is a profound point still to be made to understand all the complexity of the evolution of hominid consciousness.

      The fact that the productive world of capitalism doesn’t need such information should be of no concern to people researching the subject.

  • Waldemar Mrozinski commented on Mar 27 2013

    The TED headline is “Ideas Worth Sharing”, which I believed encompassed many diverse topics ranging from technology and mainstream science through to the arts, humanities, politics, psychology, economics and personal experience. It might be more appropriate after this shameful debacle for the TED headline to read, “Ideas approved for a general audience by a committee of narrow-minded intellectual bigots”.

    • Enopoletus Harding commented on Mar 28 2013

      Define “bigotry”. A respect for evidence is not “bigotry” by my definition.

  • Jaeda Vite commented on Mar 27 2013

    Would be good to put some names to the actual accusers behind this travesty. OR even better, lets see a good old fashioned, head-to-head discussion/debate between Sheldrake and those who accused him of spouting pseudo-science, or between Hancock and his accuser-garblers.

    It seems to me that since the decision to suppress both presentations was based on specific accusations, and now those accusations have been clarified by direct responses from both Sheldrake and Hancock, the only logical and sensible thing for TED to do is either to respond to Hancock and Sheldrake, or put their talks back online.

  • Erik Ven commented on Mar 26 2013

    I think, considering or understanding what these presentations convey requires an open mind and a mind, perceptive to the non-material world. Science as we know it is not very much into that. So I don’t find it insulting that the “panel of scientist” rejected these ideas and labeled it pseudoscience. In fact I hope that they will never embrace them and by that, confine them within the archaic walls of the traditional scientific community. I hope these guys would not give into that temptation even if the opportunity presented itself. Old fashioned science served its purpose, and it will either evolve or go extinct, and we’ll need a new word to name the new processes that will take over the helm of the researching and understanding of our Universe. And TED has done so much good, gave space to so many interesting and entertaining ideas, let’s not beat them up just cause on this one they aligned themselves with the old school. It would have been nice if they open their imagination on these ones too, but hey, we are still conversing on a forum that they gave birth to, so it’s all good. Different people have different opinions and that’s what makes life interesting.

  • Pingback: Conscious Criminal Graham Hancock’s TED talk Censored | Anarchy and ChAos

  • Rus Bowden commented on Mar 26 2013

    I understand that the scientists in the secret TED board were trying to discern what these speakers were referring to that had to do with scientific findings. It is not that anything has been refuted, because it is all done in secret. I showed earlier that the atheist Dan Dennett’s talk would not stand up to the rigors of a similar spiritual board. Now that I understand that there is a challenge to debate that the TED is refusing, let’s look into what might pull the science-based TED into such a refusal.

    In order to be a practicing scientist, a person needs to adopt a particular way of thinking, to hold spirituality and deity to zero. Our formulas for chemistry have no god in them. We don’t say that 2 atoms of hydrogen plus one of oxygen plus god makes up a molecule of water, even if that may be the ultimate crux of the situation. (But of course, the formula would be 2H + O + God –> H2O + God. God can be subtracted from both sides, especially if he (or she or it or whatever) is the catalyst of everything including all other catalysts, which yields 2H + O –> H2O.)

    Scientists must look at the physical world as if there is no god catalyst, whether there is one or not, and whether scientists or anyone else has a mind or a spirit. Scientists must adopt the pretense that there is no spirituality and there is no god. They must pretend. They must accept a position, to take a pose.

    Practicing scientists practice there being no god, therefore. Through perseveration, this can carry over into private life. It can become ober-applied, to ask what if the physical realm were the one and only explanation and cause of everything, a sort of obsessive parlor game, or private compulsion. Scientists are only human, after all. This aspect of science makes it a haven for atheists, a place where people who have a bent to think this way, can find brother- and sisterhood, a place where they are valued for thinking the way they do. And it seems we find them protecting this social safe haven by not letting even evolutionary creationists in the door, or whenever they can be outted, humiliating them into either silence, conversion, or quitting. In TED’s case, we find, at first an out and out censoring, following by relegation to second-class publication.

    In this age of technology, this can carry over into the tech fields. No one needs to believe in God for 40 hours a week plus overtime making software or hardware, or practice being IT specialists and the like. In fact, while working, they would do best to focus on the task at hand, and be concerned about the politics of the workplace and the rigors of only materialism, not whether they are suffering spiritually. They too can perseverate this socialized mode of being, this non-theist way of being into their personal and private lives. All they need to do it look at the way their co-techies adapt to this atheistic culture.

    People who admire scientists and software engineers, and other engineers, may try to take on the ways of thinking and speaking of those they admire, and adopt an atheistic mode themselves. Pseudo-geeks would adopt atheism along with techie and scientific lingo. Teachers of science and technology need to have their students adopt an atheistic style of thinking as well, so that the answers to questions can be explored in the physical realm instead of the spiritual.

    But we are over-physicalized in this post-post-modern culture of ours. We have people like Richard Dawkins, wherein we see not only that many of the above social forces have played out in them, but a further one as well, atheists playing to immortality. If they can just be the ones who prove once and for all that atheism is not just a mode of thinking, they get to have their names go down in some kind of history, and have books talked about for ages to come, and not as quackery. Or at least to start a movement as big as any of the big religions, to be the next Buddha or Jesus, with a twist of atheism, the Right Path.

    This is taking a pathological attempt to spread atheism and argue ad infinitum about it, in order to set the stage for a future of being a big name after death. Their adherents become mostly intelligent, middle class people, scientists and technical, the more time they’ve spent working and studying, all the better for the atheistic evangelists. These are who the people behind TED seem to be following and partnering with.

  • James Toomey commented on Mar 26 2013

    No one has the right to assume (including you, TED) that they know what is right and correct for someone else to be exposed to. We are all adult human beings and will make our own mind up as the the merit of any given speech/presentation/prognostication etc. As I understand it, Hancock and Sheldrake have challenged TED to debate their speeches in a public forum and if TED declines or continues to hide from responding to the challenge then, I’m afraid, their reputation will be damaged considerably. Do yourself a favour and accept the debate challenge, TED.

  • Heather White commented on Mar 26 2013

    Both Graham Hancock and Rupert Sheldrake have presented opinions that are clearly challenging to the majority of the current scientific power base. At the heart of both talks is the issue of conciousness – is it a brain or a spiritual function? Clearly, the definitive answer is, as yet, unknown. Maybe we should consider it to be an unanswerable question – but a question that people will continue to ask, all the same. After all, “Who am I?” is the foundation of philosophy and the question at the core of humanity.

    What is unforgivable, in my opinion, is TED’s decision to remove these talks. Both are well presented and clear argued. Neither are rude or offensive. I believe that TED has reacted so badly because both presenters are scientists, rather than “people of faith”. It is all too easy to mock and disregard people of faith – especially those form a fundamentalist perspective. However, TED has been unnerved by these two presenters because they are scientists.

    Not all scientists are atheists – indeed – some of the best scientists have a faith or consider themselves to be agnostic. I would go are far to say that only bad scientist would consider themselves to be atheists, because they are closed minded and “certain”.

    • Terry Allen commented on Mar 26 2013

      Hi Heather

      Rupert Sheldrake is an outstanding Scientist and Graham Hancock is a brilliant Investigative Journalist. Together they have rocked TED to its foundation and we have seen how the people at TED have responded, like the High priest at the Spanish Inquisition.

      Indeed many of the world’s best scientists were indeed an assortment of Theist, Pantheist and Deist. Materialist, especially Dawkins have been running around for many years now presenting a distorted view which is downright mendacious and the late Professor Antony Flew took Dawkins to task because of it!

      DEISM
      Deism is the belief that reason and observation of the natural world are sufficient to determine the existence of God, accompanied with the rejection of revelation and authority as a source of religious knowledge. Deism became more prominent in the 17th and 18th centuries during the Age of Enlightenment—especially in Britain, France, Germany and America—among intellectuals raised as Christians who believed in one god, but found fault with organized religion and could not believe in supernatural events such as miracles, the inerrancy of scriptures, or the Trinity.

      Based on natural reasoning, Deist see the Creation itself as the only possible word of God. Deism, therefore, has no “holy” books. There is not a book written by man that can even begin to compare to the beauty and intense magnificence of the Universe. And there is not a human who ever existed who could have designed and created the Creation.
      Bob Johnson

      “My religion consists of a humble admiration of the illimitable superior spirit who reveals himself in the slight details we are able to perceive with our frail and feeble minds. That deeply emotional conviction of the presence of a superior reasoning power, which is revealed in the incomprehensible universe, forms my idea of God.”
      Albert Einstein

      The word of God is the creation we behold and it is in this word, which no human invention can counterfeit or alter, that God speaketh universally to man.
      Thomas Paine

      “A common sense interpretation of the facts suggests that a superintellect has monkeyed with physics, as well as with chemistry and biology, and that there are no blind forces worth speaking about in nature. The numbers one calculates from the facts seem to me so overwhelming as to put this conclusion almost beyond question.”
      Fred Hoyle (British astrophysicist)

      “Amazing fine tuning occurs in the laws that make this [complexity] possible. Realization of the complexity of what is accomplished makes it very difficult not to use the word ‘miraculous’ without taking a stand as to the ontological status of the word.”
      George Ellis (British astrophysicist)

      “There is for me powerful evidence that there is something going on behind it all….It seems as though somebody has fine-tuned natures numbers to make the Universe….The impression of design is overwhelming”.
      Paul Davies (British astrophysicist)

      “I find it quite improbable that such order came out of chaos. There has to be some organizing principle. God to me is a mystery but is the explanation for the miracle of existence, why there is something instead of nothing.”
      Alan Sandage (winner of the Crawford prize in astronomy)

      “We are, by astronomical standards, a pampered, cosseted, cherished group of creatures.. .. If the Universe had not been made with the most exacting precision we could never have come into existence. It is my view that these circumstances indicate the universe was created for man to live in.”
      John O’Keefe (astronomer at NASA)

      “As we survey all the evidence, the thought insistently arises that some supernatural agency – or, rather, Agency – must be involved. Is it possible that suddenly, without intending to, we have stumbled upon scientific proof of the existence of a Supreme Being? Was it God who stepped in and so providentially crafted the cosmos for our benefit?”
      George Greenstein (astronomer)

      “I would say the universe has a purpose. It’s not there just somehow by chance.”
      Roger Penrose (mathematician and cosmologist)

      “Do not be afraid to be free thinkers. If you think strongly enough, you will be forced by science to the belief in God.”
      Lord Kelvin

      “As to the cause of the Universe, in context of expansion, that is left for the reader to insert, but our picture is incomplete without Him [God].”
      Edward Milne (British cosmologist)

      “Who created these laws? There is no question but that a God will always be needed.”
      Barry Parker (cosmologist)

      “It seems to me that when confronted with the marvels of life and the universe, one must ask why and not just how. The only possible answers are religious. . . . I find a need for God in the universe and in my own life.”
      Arthur L. Schawlow (Professor of Physics at Stanford University, 1981 Nobel Prize in physics)

      A religion old or new, that stressed the magnificence of the universe as revealed by modern science, might be able to draw forth reserves of reverence and awe hardly tapped by the conventional faiths. Sooner or later, such a religion will emerge.
      Carl Sagan, Pale Blue Dot

      “When it comes to the origin of life there are only two possibilities: creation or spontaneous generation. There is no third way. Spontaneous generation was disproved one hundred years ago, but that leads us to only one other conclusion, that of supernatural creation. We cannot accept that on philosophical grounds; therefore, we choose to believe the impossible: that life arose spontaneously by chance!”
      George Wald nobel laureate

      • Gregory Wonderwheel commented on Mar 26 2013

        As far as titles for categoris go, I like “panentheism.”

    • Enopoletus Harding commented on Mar 30 2013

      Hancock’s talk did not have a clear argument. The statement in his talk that materialist scientists are the last people to be consulted on the question of the origin of consciousness was clearly offensive to materialist scientists. I am certain enough there are no flying spaghetti monsters and magic pink unicorns.

      • Terry Allen commented on Mar 30 2013

        I don’t care if materialist scientists were offended by such a fantastic talk. It proves they are dinosaurs lost up their own inflated backsides.

  • Dave Hurtig commented on Mar 26 2013

    I always appreciated Ted as an open minded forum for all idea’s. Needless to say I’m highly disappointed in this action. It reminds me of how so many visionaries were chastised and censored by the “experts” only to be proven correct later. Remember the surgeon who proposed that they surgery occur in a sterile environment and was ridiculed? I’m certainly glad the “experts” of his day were later ignored.

  • Paul Burley commented on Mar 26 2013

    The Hidden Agenda Exposed – It appears that TED’s mission statement does not quite correlate with TED’s actions. The following statements are taken word for word from http://www.ted.com/about/pages. Phrases in parentheses are mine as I understand TED’s mission to be based on its actions as referenced above.

    Our mission: Spreading ideas (with which we agree).

    We believe passionately in the power of ideas (we hold to be true) to change attitudes, lives and ultimately, the world (as we intend it to be). So we’re building here a clearinghouse (of censored information) that offers free knowledge and inspiration (about TED’s understanding of the universe) from (people who TED wants you to believe are) the world’s most inspired thinkers, and also a community of curious souls (unconscious as those souls may be . . . hmmm, then are they really souls?) to engage with (those censored) ideas and each (like-minded) other. This site, launched April 2007, is an ever-evolving work in (support of dogmatic western scientific) progress (re: regress), and (if you do not support our agenda) you’re (not) an important part of it. Have an idea? We want to hear from you (but only if you agree with and support our cause).

    • Terry Allen commented on Mar 26 2013

      Great post Paul and I will repost it with the correct attribution to the Boycott Ted FB page link below:

      http://www.facebook.com/groups/boycott.ted/

      All censorships exist to prevent anyone from challenging current conceptions and existing institutions. All progress is initiated by challenging current conceptions, and executed by supplanting existing institutions. Consequently, the first condition of progress is the removal of censorship.”
      George Bernard Shaw

    • Gregory Wonderwheel commented on Mar 26 2013

      The link didn’t work for me. Does it really say “souls”? If it says “souls” that is also a statement of pseudo-science.

      • Marcus T Anthony commented on Mar 26 2013

        It’s only pseudo-science if someone applies the scientific method to the problem and does so in non-rigorous fashion. The concept itself has no intrinsic connection to science. A direct experience of transcendent consciousness and a discussion of the experience requires no connection with science. Sheldrake has identified a significant issue, in that there is a philosophical assumption amongst some that direct scientific investigation is suitable for the investigation of all phenomena, and that those things which cannot be investigated in such a way do not exist. This position is illogical, and deeply impoverished.

        • Jim Ryan commented on Mar 26 2013

          What evidence is there for the Big Bang?

        • Terry Allen commented on Mar 27 2013

          Some would say dopplers redshift and the claim that the universe is expanding. Also the background radio noise is they claim the noise from the explosion. I don’t believe it I agree with physicists Tom Campbell and Nick Bostrom et al that we are in a simulated virtual reality:

          http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2012/10/11/physicists-may-have-evide_n_1957777.html?utm_hp_ref=fb&src=sp&comm_ref=false

          the universe is a virtual reality created by information processing, and furthermore this concept is supported by findings of modern physics about the physical world.
          Thomas Campbell

  • Phillip Schaeffer commented on Mar 26 2013

    Of course, TED is not censoring, only publicly embarrassing a researcher because his ideas don’t conform to what they think is appropriate. After doing this they shamelessly say they are for new ideas, but to have innovation we need to be able to explore new ideas without fear of being thrown into a ghetto.

    In fact, this is much worse than censorship, this is conditioning people to conform, to ridicule any person with ideas we think outlandish. It’s a breeding ground for intolerance, totalitarism and fanatism. It would be better if TED had actually censored the talk straight away…

    • Enopoletus Harding commented on Mar 28 2013

      Actually, it’s a breeding ground for respect for evidence.

      • Terry Allen commented on Mar 28 2013

        Pithom you are a joke, how can they respect the evidence when in Hancocks case his evidence is empirical and veridical. Those at TED hide behind anonymous scientists and deny Hancock’s own experiences and worse deny his right to exercise sovereignty over his own mind.
        You are defending the indefensible, hence you are failing miserably!

        There are more things in Heaven and Earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy.
        William Shakespeare

        • Enopoletus Harding commented on Mar 28 2013

          Where does TED “deny Hancock’s own experiences and worse deny his right to exercise sovereignty over his own mind”? Do you have an argument?
          “To guild refined gold, to paint the Lilly, is just f***ing silly”
          William Shakespeare, as paraphrased by Tim Minchin.

        • Terry Allen commented on Mar 28 2013

          They have closed down his talk to vast members of the TED audience they don’t want the people to see what he is saying and hence they are denying him his right to free expression based on his own veridical and empirical experiences.
          You are a troll defending the indefensible you must be someone with a vested interest the number of post and amount of time and energy you have spent on this thread. A troll employed by TED nothing would surprise me with that lot anymore.

          “For I have sworn thee fair, and thought thee bright,
          Who art as black as hell, as dark as night.”
          William Shakespeare

        • Enopoletus Harding commented on Mar 28 2013

          TED isn’t denying Hancock’s right to free speech-it’s expressing its right to free speech. What is freedom without property? I have no relation at all to TED-I look down upon its mission of superficiality. My “vested interest” is demonstrating that there is still a Skeptical voice in the world. If you claim I am defending the indefensible, you are a fundamentalist; thus, I have no need to continue dialogue with you.

        • Terry Allen commented on Mar 28 2013

          Of course it is like I told you before even the TEDx people have written an open letter to TED posted to this forum which righly complains they have censored Hancock’s talk. You can sit their like the paid schill that you are Pithom and try and defend the indefensible but you are not convincing anyone with your nonsense spam helpings.

        • Enopoletus Harding commented on Mar 28 2013

          I didn’t know you knew anything about my finances; Terry! Do you know my web history as well? What about the future?

        • Noah Vickstein commented on Mar 28 2013

          I think you’ve hit on a very revealing point, pithom. Property is sacrosanct under the materialist paradigm. Take intellectual property: Are your thoughts really yours? If not, how can it be said you “own” anything at all. This is a fundamental problem for vested interests to acknowledge (or not, as the case may be).

          The rest of your comment is pretty vapid, as I’ve come to expect from you.

        • Enopoletus Harding commented on Mar 28 2013

          “Intellectual property” isn’t property; it’s a government-granted monopoly privilege. Domain names and website space, however, are property.

        • Noah Vickstein commented on Mar 28 2013

          Can you elaborate on the distinction? I was under the impression that IP has to do with ownership because of what the P stands for in its name. Are you suggesting it’s inappropriately named?

        • Noah Vickstein commented on Mar 28 2013

          That’s a political document. Libertarians by definition believe in the sovereignty of property. That they find a way to explain that IP is government-sanctioned and therefore unconscionable is hardly surprising. Maybe you can use your own words on this one.

        • Enopoletus Harding commented on Mar 30 2013

          If somebody else uses words I like, I feel little to no need to use my own words.

        • Noah Vickstein commented on Mar 30 2013

          So you’d end on a thought-terminating cliché. It’s probably just as well. For the record I don’t accept that the sovereignty of personal property is a self-evident premise. We’ll just have to accept that we fundamentally disagree.

        • Enopoletus Harding commented on Mar 28 2013

          My previous comment should have been with an “http”, not an “https”.

  • Phillip Schaeffer commented on Mar 26 2013

    Right, you’re not censoring, only publicly embarrassing a researcher because of his ideas.

    What are the chances of anyone putting forward any new ideas when someone is treated in this manner because he questioned a few dogmas in a 20min talk?

    By only accepting the people who conform to the club of good guys the tendency is to things to get worse. Well done…

  • Martin Kelleher commented on Mar 26 2013

    I don’t think it quite matters whether one is a materialist, a sceptic or, as James Randi might put it, a woo woo, as surely no strong minded and strong willed organisation would show such fear in the face of views contrary to its own, as fear it must be. Debate and the right to express opposite views is the noblest battleground of a civilised society, so long as there is no hatred or incitement, which in this case seems unlikely. I would be far more on the side of science, while believing it does not have an explanation for everything, and I am highly dubious about many alternative medicines and their practice. But one can’t merely grant free speech to another on the condition that they must agree with the content of that speech.

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  • Gary Florence commented on Mar 25 2013

    I’m very proud of Sheldrake’s calm and rational response to these unsubstantiated accusations. He’s used to it. It’ll just be difficult for me to take TED very seriously going forward, as it’s clear they didn’t properly consider the matter before making a decision. Wouldn’t it have made sense for them to read his work and ask questions of him before going forward with this? A proper review of the material would have properly vetted Rupert Sheldrake’s claims, but that clearly wasn’t done. Very disappointed.

    • Gregory Wonderwheel commented on Mar 25 2013

      Yes, the best practices response would have been to have the discussion before segregating the videos, not after.

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