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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 (2157)

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  • Jim Ryan commented on Apr 8 2013

    Everyone uses censorship, you and all those saying the same things are doing it right now. Sheesh

  • Tymothy Smith commented on Apr 8 2013

    I strongly agree that this form of censorship reflects poorly on TED. This is simply reprehensible and is illustrative of the lack of proper consideration that is due both of these fine presentations. It is further unfortunate how ‘out of the box’ presentations are allowed when Biology is not a consideration, yet when this field is approached the paradigm is antiquated and frankly anti-science (ie. anti-curiosity).
    Lastly, who is this ‘science board’? If these individuals are so proud of their opinions, let them come forward with their relative thinkings, rather than a couple of biased bloggers (in Sheldrake’s case).
    As Darwin noted evolution is borne of necessity, and we as a humanity need speakers who challenge the mindset of previous generations. It is the hope of many, including myself, that TED would be at the forefront of such discussion, it is unfortunate that is not the case.

  • Katharine Austin commented on Apr 8 2013

    I’m sorry to hear that there was any controversy about Rupert Sheldrake’s talk, and that it was removed from Youtube TedX. I agree that the names of committee members who concluded the talk was “pseudo science” should be made public. His talk presents IDEAS! These ideas should be heard and discussed. Dr. Sheldrake questions, stimulates, and causes one to reconsider almost everything one thought one knew. And he reminds us that we DON’T know, but so often think we do! We don’t know what consciousness is, or where it is. We don’t know where memories are stored, or whether “constants” are constant, or whether nature is purposeless. He’s brilliant, eloquent, erudite and he opens discussion UP. Why would anyone at TED even consider trying to close him down? I’m deeply disappointed to hear about this.

    • Jim Ryan commented on Apr 8 2013

      As bad as Ted is, did Sheldrake or Hancock offer anything new for science?

    • Frank Matera commented on Apr 8 2013

      TED showed their hand when they openly publically thanked 2 radical extremist Atheist bloggers Jerry Coyne and PZ Meyers for “bringing the talks to their attention”.

      The removal of these talks had nothing to do with Pseudoscience it had everything to do with religion and the personal materialistic belief systems of the people at TED. The sad thing is they aren’t even trying to hide it.

      • Jim Ryan commented on Apr 8 2013

        Why should they, Ted is getting so much free press from people just like you, that don’t have anything more than riteous indignation, that isn’t even riteous. Ignorance reigns.

    • Enopoletus Harding commented on Apr 13 2013

      Is Holocaust denialism worth spreading? Is Global Warming denialism worth spreading? You fail to use the word “evidence” in your comment. You fail.

  • Jim Ryan commented on Apr 8 2013

    Did Sheldrake or Hancock bring any new thinking to science? If so, what was it!

    • Frank Matera commented on Apr 8 2013

      Critical thinking? See scientists love to be critical of anything that falls outside of their existing belief systems and ego… yet as Sheldrake rightfully pointed out in his talk and his book “The Science Delusion” there are many many things within science that are accepted but when viewed critically fail to stand up to proper scientific scrutiny because of the dogmatic beliefs within science.

      The fact his talk was removed only proved that he was 100% correct about how dogmatic most of science is. I don’t expect you to agree of course because that would mean accepting Sheldrake was right.

      • Jim Ryan commented on Apr 8 2013

        What new scientific thinking did Sheldrake bring? What new thinking have anyone of you brought. Ted is just like school, its for people that are middle of the road. Have any of you offered any new thinking for science? Has teds board of scientists offered one bit of new thinking for science?

        All of us were taught all throughout school, to basically, copy and paste. If that’s not true, tell us of one school that taught kids or college grads, to think for themselves. Science is just like religion. You are taught faith, without knowing how to think for yourselves.

        Quit whining and bring something new to science.

    • John Cunliffe commented on Apr 11 2013

      Do you have any original thought? If so what? All I see you repeating the same assertions and questions…are you a recording or parrot perhaps?

      • Jim Ryan commented on Apr 11 2013

        How many would you like?

        Immunology
        by Jim Ryan

        In the following I would suggest that science study children that rarely wear shoes or don’t wear shoes at all. I would divide the study into different nations or groups of nations with basically, the same diseases.

        I would divide the shoeless– because of intense poverty, from the people and children that choose to go shoeless and those that rarely or almost never go without shoes.

        I might look at the data as the mostly shoeless by desire as mentally and possibly physically, stronger and therefore, more resistant to disease, unless science finds differently.

        It may be that kids and people exposed to the pathogens in the dirt, grass and mud puddles on a constant basis, build stronger immune systems, at least for those that choose to go barefoot.

        The science of running by Jim Ryan.

        Yes, I used to run 10 miles a day for about 2 years. For whatever reason, I started counting a cadence in my head, that matched the cadence of my footfalls and my breathing, which synced body and mind, helping me to get into a trance like state, allowing me to run mile after mile without stress and the last mile I could run almost flat out.

        I know they teach different things today, but give my method a try, I think you’ll like it. By the way, keep your eyes focused just in front of you, on the ground.

        The cadence in running I used to use was, “one two three one”, ” one two three two”, “one two three three”, and keep going.

        It’s a 4 count breathing in and then a 4 count breathing out.

        Happy running.

        Would you like more?

      • Jim Ryan commented on Apr 11 2013

        Science will never give me credit for any or all that I have contributed, even while a board of doctors in England stole my thoughts on dyslexia, but only using the parts to make money with.

        I know animal psychology that none others do, but since I’m not part of the corrupt system, I keep much to myself.

      • Jim Ryan commented on Apr 11 2013

        Now that I’ve shown new thinking, will you support me in the Ted prize for 2014?

      • Jim Ryan commented on Apr 11 2013

        I have much more new thinking in quite a few areas, like animal psychology, how cells in our bodies possibly match the speed of the earths spin, just a theory of mine and–

        Testing spin on bacteria

        Another thought.

        More science by Jim Ryan

        Testing!

        What if science gave extra spin to more creatures, great and small, even bacteria, would bacteria incorporate something else to deal with the extra spin? Could scientists see any differences under a scope, after spinning?

        What could science offer bacteria to deal with the extra spin?

        Another thought

        I think we’ve all seen schools of fish swimming in circles, surely that has something to teach about spin and differences between creatures that purposely move in circles, especially tight circles, that dizzy and sicken so many others.

        • Jim Ryan commented on Apr 11 2013

          I would ask all of you to help me, to help myself, animals and mankind, unless some here can show me that what I think is wrong.

          Thank you

        • Jim Ryan commented on Apr 11 2013

          Spin dizzy earth

          Science by Jim Ryan

          Ask any person to spin around 30 times and see what happens as they spin on their feet at maybe 3 miles an hour.

          Then all we need do is consider how the earth is spinning at 1,000 miles per hour in a circle and yet, none show signs of dizziness or sickness from such.

          The above implies that our cells are spinning to match the earths amount of spin or everybody would be sick and dizzy.

          Any extra spin creates dizziness at the least, implying a pretty delicate balance, but hey, can you or science or anyone give a better reason for such.

        • Jim Ryan commented on Apr 11 2013

          My hypothesis on dyslexia was that the cells that start out under the brain and rise to the top of the brain, control our internal balance. In those who’s cells don’t rise or rise very little, they will not be able to crawl, walk or be productive members of society, unless science can artificially transfer those cells from where they are, to where they must be and there’s no proof it will work, unless experiments can be done.

          In cases where the cells rise, but not quite enough, while that form is not severe, it causes internal imbalances, that so many experience. These things happen because of left and right handed people creating babies.

          Right hemisphere and left hemisphere dominate are seen in right handed ness and left handedness. Even without cellular problems, if a right handed person demands that a very small child immulate a righty, that can create a form of dyslexia.

        • Jim Ryan commented on Apr 11 2013

          Apologies. In my last post I ment to say, if a righty demands that a very young left handed child is forced to immulate the right handed person, that can create a milder form of dyslexia.

        • Jim Ryan commented on Apr 11 2013

          A righty teaching a lefty creates many insecurities, leading to many problems, just as a dad that shouts at a child and scares that child, can cause stuttering and more insecurities.

      • Jim Ryan commented on Apr 11 2013

        PBS news hour, premature babies and oxygen therapy that leads to blindness on the high side and death on the low side, according to hemoglobin saturation, between 85 and 95%. I can add to what those doctors and research scientists are missing.

        Are you or any here interested in hearing what and why?

  • John Shields commented on Apr 8 2013

    What the most recent controversy over Rupert Sheldrake and Graham Hancock reveal is how much science and religion are alike. There is a hallowed orthodoxy, blindly defended from new and different ideas, in both mainstreams. People who propose ideas that contradict or supersede the orthodox positions.
    When I watched Sheldrake’s TED talk, I found it stimulating. I have a general familiarity with the materialist position in science, which is accurately presented in his presentation. I can see that shining the light of publicity on the narrowness of that mode of thinking would be challenging to those who want to cling to a flawed worldview.
    The new cosmology has superseded the old materialist assumptions. The vigour of the attack on new thinking is a sign of how threatened the proponents of orthodoxy can be.
    In the arena of open discussion, TED would be better served if it allowed and fostered countering debate rather than suppressing one side that some do not want to hear. When people use terms like pseudoscience to attack new ideas or positions that do not come from the orthodox mainstream, they are only saying “he does not think like me.”

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  • CChaos CChaos commented on Apr 6 2013

    oh, and btw, 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

  • CChaos CChaos commented on Apr 6 2013

    On Chris Anderson’s Closing Statement…

    Never mind that TED have not responded to Sheldrake’s rebuttal to their justification of “censoring” (oh, sure, let’s call it *suppression*) Sheldrake and Hancock’s talks. Never mind that TED never apologized for their inflammatory statements against Sheldrake and Hancock. Never mind that the overwhelming majority of the people who participated in the TED Conversations did not agree with TED’s decision to pull out the talks and have asked TED to reconsider and reinstate the videos in their rightful distribution channels. There was not much of a debate coming from the TED staff or Chris Anderson. It’s just a re-statement of TED’s knee-jerk and intellectually indefensible decision.

    more context here:
    ~ http://www.c4chaos.com/2013/03/the-ted-saga-continues-on-the-sheldrake-and-hancock-debates/

  • Jason Valenti commented on Apr 6 2013

    1) Language is a purveyor of limitation. We must all remember that when attempting to communicate, particularly in writing.

    2) Being hostile and violent in thoughts & attitude toward TED will perpetuate the long upheld dualistic nature of good vs. bad and smart vs. stupid mentalities, which only leads to more polarization and more dueling factions both inside and outside the scientific community.

    3) The EGO tripping really needs to be laid to rest. Humility can and will energize & take dialogue to new levels and/or breakthroughs that are necessary to resolve misunderstandings and conflicts. No matter how much a person thinks they know (or how right they are about something) is of little consequence in garnering public (or private or scientific) support if arguing with others in order to be “right” is placed above humility. In other words, “You’ll catch more flies with honey than with vinegar.” I’m not recommending rolling over and just “taking it”, I’m saying that if we can’t get our audience to at least HEAR our message, then why are we debating at all? Do we want our point to get across and get agreement, or do we just want to FEEL right within ourselves, “proving” the other side wrong with malicious wording, American Idol style?

    4) Making one’s self open to the possibility that there are agents and non-physical phenomena responsible for what we observe with our five senses will be the very thing that grants us deeper understanding of the observable universe. The mechanistic model is outdated in some circumstances and does not serve us beyond the first few stages of good scientific observation. That doesn’t make it of any less value, it just means it’s not the only kid on the block that should be considered. The theories that address what we *think* we know about the nature of reality and how the universe works will be the domain whence our answers arise. Therefore, the “boldly going where no one has gone before” kind of attitude flavoring the scientific process should be praised and encouraged as we have so much to learn and are in need of many solutions to our current challenges as a species!

    5) The “Quantum World” is where the systemic processes and foundations for everything we have ever known, or will discover, originate. The logical conclusion is to plot courses anywhere and everywhere that the “unseen territory” calls our hearts to; our long term survival depends on our ability to discover and learn from what EVERY type of exploration brings us.

    6) If we have not explored ourselves and the universe the way that the presenters in Whitechapel discussed in their talks, how can we possibly form scientific (or even personal) opinion on the subjects presented? To pretend that we have explored something that we have not does nothing to prove or disprove anything except our own lack of experimentation.

    7) TED ~ THANK YOU for taking these talks down! In one fell swoop, you inadvertently made these two videos the most popular, talked-about presentations ever given in your name, and brought more attention to consciousness research than these talks ever could have done, had you left them up!

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  • Jason Orion commented on Apr 4 2013

    I am deeply disturbed by TED’s censorship of Sheldrake and Hancock’s TEDx talks. It reminds me of what the Church used to do in the Middle Ages with all rational knowledge that originated from ancient Rome: they locked it away.

    The irony here is that suppressing a dialogue that was already allocated to an aspect of TED meant to “challenge existing paradigms” simply makes it more controversial than it ought to be. By labeling it as pseudoscience and filing it away where fewer people will see it, TED has in actual fact drastically expanded the number of views of these talks.

    The philosophy of material reductionism is being challenged all over the world, along with its long held institutions. And that’s what this censorship is about: those institutions suppressing a growing sentiment. People are getting sick of being told they are just machines and there is nothing more to this universe than mechanics.

    If anything, this controversy proves that people are beginning to intellectually fight back against the status quo. So, TED can censor this all it wants, it doesn’t change the global awakening that is happening. And unlike in the Middle Ages where there was one authority for knowledge – the Church – the internet makes it possible for people to circumnavigate the institutions of authority of knowledge and begin delving into the many alternative views that exist.

    The fact that TED and its unnamed committee of scientists are threatened just proves that the way people have been taught to view reality is changing, and the dinosaurs are trying to hold on for dear life.

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  • DAVID JANSSEN commented on Apr 3 2013

    Dear TED,

    In regards to your censorship of Hancock and Sheldrake:

    We are faced with the paradoxical fact that education has become one of the chief obstacles to intelligence and freedom of thought.

    Collective fear stimulates herd instinct, and tends to produce ferocity toward those who are not regarded as members of the herd.

    Love,
    Bertrand Russell

    • Enopoletus Harding commented on Apr 3 2013

      What is censorship? Is it a bad thing? How is the movement of videos across the web “censorship”? You fail to use the word “evidence” in your comment. You fail. Bertrand Russel was a provisional (though not an ardent) materialist and atheist. You fail at that as well.

  • Benjamin Christie commented on Apr 2 2013

    I have sent TED talks an email, and you should as well if you feel it will help bring awareness to this planet’s people

    I am writing this letter regarding the dangerous action undertaken by TEDx to censor Graham Hancocks speech about the WAR on consciousness. If we are to truly idealize an open-minded society with its roots deeply grounded in the Spirit of Science, then we cant honestly consider this genuine and healthy interest in the nature of the mind to be separate and inappropriate for a community of compassionate intellectuals (which before this censoring I had believed TEDx to be). This seemingly small issue actually casts a shadow over the free-minded system that has the potential to bring about enormous change and bliss to humanity….is this not why this foundation of knowledge called TED exists? We must not limit this source of Wisdom with a ruthless attachment to the dogmas of materialist science…can you honestly discredit Graham’s work after nearly 100 years of scrupulous investigation and advancement in humanity’s understanding of the quantum nature of reality. If we are to consider the nature of the mind as irrelevant, regarding our consciousness as reality, then we might as well say that the planets aren’t connected to the sun. This dualistic view of reality is rooted in our conception that we come into this world to make sense of it rather than the fact that we are obviously already deeply united with our environment. To consider that such a rigid mindset isn’t subject to any of the conditioned dogmatic thinking that has taken place in human history over and over again, is truly limiting our potential to flourish. See the wisdom that he brings to this banquet of ideas and re-post his talk. It involves you on a level that many can barely comprehend…but there is still a choice to be made…rarely analyzed by the ego.

    • Jim Ryan commented on Apr 2 2013

      Who might sensor Ted, why and how. Do drugs kill and maim people, even doing them once? Perhaps for Mr. Hancock, it was a mystical healing journey for him. Who might that same drug kill, by an allergic reaction? How many might it kill? How many are killed by legal drugs?

      • Noah Vickstein commented on Apr 2 2013

        I assume you are talking about Ayahuasca. It’s a little misleading to compare it with the category of pharmaceutical drugs, which, to my understanding, are synthetically produced isolated compounds. The neuropharmacology of Ayahuasca is interesting because it seems to mimic what can already occur endogenously. I am not aware of any overdose threshold. Having said that, there could be reactions when used concurrent with certain admixtures or doctor prescribed “medications”. I am not aware of any possible allergic reactions. Perhaps I am wrong, though. Do you have any evidence to support that its use may be inherently dangerous?

        • Jim Ryan commented on Apr 2 2013

          Did you know that peanuts can kill some people? Why do doctors prescribe medicines that can kill their patients, when a swab or scratch test could stop the deaths?

        • Noah Vickstein commented on Apr 2 2013

          I’m not sure if I understand your drift. Yes, I know about peanuts. Are the components of peanuts generated endogenously? I’m not sure in what way you are interpreting my comment.

        • Terry Allen commented on Apr 2 2013

          This guy actually validates what I was saying a couple of weeks ago about Light and sound being vibration. This is an excellent interview everything he says resonates with my own experience and learning or should I say re-remembering!

          There is but one mind, every man is an inlet to that one mind…..He then learns that going down into the secrets of his own mind he has descended into the secrets of all minds.
          Ralph Waldo Emerson

        • Jim Ryan commented on Apr 2 2013

          I’m not here to play games. You said,”I assume you are talking about Ayahuasca. It’s a little misleading to compare it with the category of pharmaceutical drugs, which, to my understanding, are synthetically produced isolated compounds. The neuropharmacology of Ayahuasca is interesting because it seems to mimic what can already occur endogenously”.

        • Noah Vickstein commented on Apr 2 2013

          You said: “I’m not here to play games”

          I’d prefer not to play guessing games either.

        • Jim Ryan commented on Apr 2 2013

          The human body produces compounds for pain and yet people die from taking those endogenous compounds.

        • Noah Vickstein commented on Apr 2 2013

          Although I don’t claim to be an expert, I’m not sure if that’s a fair comparison. For one, how are those compounds produced, and in what quantity are they ingested? With something like Ayahuasca, I am not aware of any case attributable to overdose. I surmise it would be quite difficult to do, unless one were to, again, isolate the “active” compounds via extraction. I find it difficult to imagine it can be done any other way since Ayahuasca acts also as a purgative, and its ingestion is moderated by a degree of self-titration.

        • Jim Ryan commented on Apr 2 2013

          Doctors claim to be experts and yet, the prescribe medications that kill people, when they could perform a simple swab test. I don’t care about so called experts, I care about facts and care.

          Hancock advocates a drug that has the potential to kill, especially the uninitiated, weak minded, paranoid and those that are allergic to the drug.

        • Noah Vickstein commented on Apr 2 2013

          I agree that there are fundamental problems with prescription culture.

          But I’m not so sure I see the connection with Ayahuasca. There is a long history of use, and to my knowledge, no deaths confirmed from overdose, or allergies.

          I am certain that people have died, probably due to complications connected with the reasons I already outlined. Your comparison is forced. People just don’t die from drinking Ayahuasca like they do from pharmaceutical drugs.

        • Jim Ryan commented on Apr 2 2013

          So all of a sudden you’re an expert and can say definitively, that drug won’t cause allergic reactions?

          Many endogenous drugs kill.

        • Noah Vickstein commented on Apr 2 2013

          I specifically said I am not an expert.

          I disagree with your claim that Ayahuasca kills in a comparable way to pharmaceutical drugs.

          I have empirically investigated the matter, and your suggestion does not conform with my personal observations, nor with the considerable literature on the issue in question.

        • Jim Ryan commented on Apr 2 2013

          Another death

          WADE DAVIS / GETTY IMAGES
          Drug tourism is not rare to parts of the Peruvian rainforest, where travelers from North America and Europe come to sample the supposed healing qualities and hallucinogenic effects of ayahuasca, a traditional herbal medicine.

          For Kyle Nolan, an 18 year old from northern California, the trip was fatal. He has been found dead after reportedly consuming the hallucinogenic drug in a ritual at a retreat in Peru.

        • Noah Vickstein commented on Apr 2 2013

          Yes. And where does it say the cause of death is from ingesting Ayahuasca? It merely suggests a correlation — not causation. As previously mentioned, there could be complicating factors, such as other drugs. This is not ruled out.

          But even if it was, that’s one death compared to the thousands and hundreds of thousands attributable to pharmaceutical drugs. There simply is no comparison that I can see. This will be my last post on the matter.

        • Noah Vickstein commented on Apr 2 2013

          I’m aware of that story and my understanding is that cause of death is as yet unknown.

        • Jim Ryan commented on Apr 2 2013

          Oops, posted same death twice. How many go unreported? That shaman hid the body. Some actions speak for themselves. If the shaman never had anyone die from it before, why did he try to hide the body?

        • Terry Allen commented on Apr 2 2013

          More people die from cars and accidents in the home. I have no idea what you are banging on about Jim regarding the jungle brew millions are dying from big pharma, lets put that house in order first.

        • Jim Ryan commented on Apr 2 2013

          My point is simple. Any org that has credibility and that advocates drug use or someone speaking in their venues advocates drug use, is putting themselves at serious risk. From my perspective, Ted tried and caught heck for it. All of us are subject to the exact same things.

        • Terry Allen commented on Apr 2 2013

          Life is a risk you are not my parent and you don’t have the right to tell other adults what to do. Get off your high horse Ryan you don’t hold the moral high ground, you are not my keeper and I at 52 will decide what I ingest its down to me!

        • Jim Ryan commented on Apr 2 2013

          When you learn to speak to the words written, do let us know.

        • Terry Allen commented on Apr 2 2013

          When you stop projecting your puerile crap on to me let me know and I will clap and cheer you condescending prick.

        • Jim Ryan commented on Apr 2 2013

          Lol. You and all those that are telling Ted what to do and not to do think you can make them do what you want, by your combined censorship. Your just too ignorant to understand it.

        • Terry Allen commented on Apr 2 2013

          Can you show everyone where I have told TED what to do. You are projecting again Ryan, you are the one telling others what they should and should not do. You seem to be a control freak giving out unsolicited advice. Well speaking for me only I don’t want or need or appreciate your advice. I am a big boy and will make my own decisions I have got this far in life with out your help and will carry on regardless of your asinine comments.

        • Jim Ryan commented on Apr 2 2013

          My apologies, I mistook you for an adult. Bye

        • Terry Allen commented on Apr 2 2013

          Adults don’t need some control freak like you to tell them what to do.
          Indeed goodbye and do get some psychotherapy for that problem you have.

    • Enopoletus Harding commented on Apr 3 2013

      What is censorship? You fail to use the word “evidence” in your comment. You fail. Materialism isn’t a dogma as it has never been falsified.

      • Noah Vickstein commented on Apr 3 2013

        It is a dogma. It is unfalsifiable.

        • Enopoletus Harding commented on Apr 3 2013

          Sure it is. If such an ability as sight without visual organs by humans were confirmed, materialism would be falsified.

        • Noah Vickstein commented on Apr 3 2013

          Prove it.

        • Enopoletus Harding commented on Apr 3 2013

          What do you mean?

        • Noah Vickstein commented on Apr 3 2013

          I mean you can’t prove that materialism is unfalsifiable, because it isn’t. Your example “If such an ability as sight without visual organs by humans were confirmed, materialism would be falsified” fails because you assume too much.

  • CChaos CChaos commented on Apr 2 2013

    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/

    • Enopoletus Harding commented on Apr 3 2013

      What militant atheist has had a talk recorded by TED. “Militant” has a meaning. Remember this. How is Jerry Coyne bigoted? What’s wrong with being right and pointing this out? How is critical thinking fundamentalism? Learn to spell the name “Myers”.

      • Noah Vickstein commented on Apr 3 2013

        Here’s how my dictionary defines ‘militant’:

        “combative and aggressive in support of a political or social cause, and typically favoring extreme, violent, or confrontational methods”

        Examples:

        James Randi http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c0Z7KeNCi7g

        Michael Shermer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b_6-iVz1R0o

      • Jim Ryan commented on Apr 3 2013

        Ya know what’s really funny, is that the science board at Ted, allows so very much ignorance to remain on their board. Too funny!

        • Enopoletus Harding commented on Apr 3 2013

          Do you have an argument? If so, present it.

        • Jim Ryan commented on Apr 3 2013

          Ah, so this wonderful science board can censor or remove it?

        • Enopoletus Harding commented on Apr 13 2013

          They haven’t removed anyone else’s comments.

      • Jim Ryan commented on Apr 3 2013

        This is aimed at Ted.

      • Noah Vickstein commented on Apr 3 2013

        Let’s not forget that Dawkins himself is featured on the TED youtube channel. See here, giving a talk titled, interestingly enough, “Militant Atheism” – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VxGMqKCcN6A

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