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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 (2154)

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  • Stephen Reynolds commented on Apr 21 2013

    Wow TED thank you for the object lesson about how closed minded and broken this culture of “pseudo science” is.
    TED YOU ARE PATHETIC

  • CChaos CChaos commented on Apr 21 2013

    Ben Goertzel’s reaction to TED’s censorship of Rupert Sheldrake and Russell Targ.

    “I have spoken on my AI and bioinformatics work at multiple TEDx events, and up till now I’ve had nothing but praise for the wonderful work of the TED organization.

    For this reason, I was rather disappointed to observe the recent actions on the part of the TED administration, removing TEDx conference talk videos by Rupert Sheldrake, Russell Targ and others, due to criticisms by certain self-appointed “skeptics” and accusations of “pseudoscience.” Apparently the issue is that their work touches on psi phenomena, commonly known as the “paranormal.”

    In my own view, as a scientist with 25 years professional experience in multiple scientific disciplines, the work of these individuals is absolutely not pseudoscience, and would be better characterized as “frontier science.”   Yes, their work  is controversial and in some respects speculative.  But it is based on carefully gathered experimental data, analyzed thoroughly by thoughtful and educated people.  It might prove wrong in the end, but it’s not pseudoscience.”

    ~ http://ieet.org/index.php/IEET/more/goertzel20130420

  • Graham Mitchell commented on Apr 21 2013

    Galileo, emphatically did not believe in magic. Galileo has no time for supernatural explanations of any kind – indeed, when he goes wrong, as he did when he rejected the idea that the Moon causes the tides, it’s because he resists the right explanation because it just sounds too strange or magical.

    This is what TED are doing

    Idiots

  • Pingback: TED, atheists, censorship… | Harmonia Philosophica

  • Shammie Pspiralife commented on Apr 20 2013

    .

  • Shammie Pspiralife commented on Apr 20 2013

    Obviously the reason that these videos have been censored is because they are too close too the truth. They do a far too good of a job of questioning orthodoxy.
    Do the people in power want the masses to be enlightened and question things? Do they want them to be conscious??? Did they ever? NO & NO! Simple. TED was forced to do this in one way or another.

    • Shammie Pspiralife commented on Apr 20 2013

      Science is a relatively new way of observing the universe. It is in its infancy. How can we rely on science alone to explain everything? You cant. Its stupid to think that you can ( so far ), and it is stupid to say that because science cant prove something, that it must be bullshit. . . . .

      • Shammie Pspiralife commented on Apr 20 2013

        Lets also not forget that topics of science and their content, are themselves censored.
        So “Actual Science”, can never be 100% reliable. Its controlled.

        • Shammie Pspiralife commented on Apr 20 2013

          How is this not like in the dark ages where the people that wished to keep their power over the masses, (Christians) travelled overseas in search of libraries and book sellers having information about ideas and truths ( anatomy for example ) and then confiscating the information within the books?

  • Pingback: Stunning intervention in the TED controversy by 19 leading scientists | Lila

  • Chris Cole commented on Apr 19 2013

    I just want to thank TED for holding to their commitment of not allowing TED to become a stage for people to simply stand on a soap box, reciting their personal and professional beliefs in opposition to other scientists, groups, or ideas.

    I am fascinated by the topic of consciousness, and the hypothesis that it can exist outside what seems to be the instrument of it’s production, the brain. So I was excited about the idea of a TED talk with a scientist researching the topic, because I wanted to hear what, maybe new, and exciting scientific research findings he would be presenting at the talk.

    But as I watched the talk, I was rather stunned at the fact that so much of the talk, wasn’t spent arguing FOR an idea, or presenting evidence, and research data in favor of an idea, to back that idea up, but that so much of the talk was spent arguing AGAINST, and making claims in OPPOSITION to, another respected scientist, a whole group of people (atheists), and making claims that science holds 10 dogmas, which must come from a solely *personal belief*, because no studies, research, or data was presented to back those beliefs up.

    A publisher that decides not to publish an authors book under the name of that publisher, because it doesn’t think it meets their standards, isn’t “censoring” the author.

    And if TED didn’t set standards for their talks then the next thing you know TED would have a speaker from Scientology on to discuss his challenge to the existing paradigm of Psychiatry, and that Dianetics lays out how “militant psychiatry” prevents the science of Scientology from being taken seriously.

    Maybe they can have a talk where a creation “scientist” can spend 20 mins discussing how “evolutionists” have hi-jacked science, and how “militant atheism” prevents creation science from being taken seriously.

    Maybe some climate change deniers will share their opinions about their belief that science is wrong.

    I would have loved to see some actual science presented about the topic of consciousness, but instead I got a mans personal opinion regarding richard dawkins, “militant atheists”, and a conspiracy of materialists controling science.

    And honestly, calling this “censorship” is just ignorant, and an insult to people in countries where actual censorship takes place.

    • Terry Allen commented on Apr 19 2013

      Complete poppycock from start to finish Sheldrake clearly spelled out the Dogmas in his book. I would bet my house on the fact you have not read the book. This is censorship and to try and equate it with other countries is asinine, we in the West are having our freedoms attacked, whilst you want to defend the indefensible. Adults have the right to listen, read and disseminate information as they see fit. You and Anderson the faceless TED science board have no right to tell others what they can and cannot see.

      • Chris Cole commented on Apr 19 2013

        “Complete poppycock from start to finish Sheldrake clearly spelled out the Dogmas in his book.”

        I didn’t realize “spelling it out in a book” constituted science.

        “This is censorship ” Only if you have no idea what censorship actually is.

        “You and Anderson the faceless TED science board have no right to tell others what they can and cannot see.”

        Oh I’m sorry, is TED trying to prevent you from reading his books? Are they calling his publisher to have it stopped printing?

        “West are having our freedoms attacked” You’ve got to be kidding me.

        • Jim Ryan commented on Apr 19 2013

          People that are smart enough to judge others should want to be recognized. When you feel you have to hide as Teds science board, tell us why. If you were thought to be that smart, wouldn’t you deserve recognition?

        • Terry Allen commented on Apr 20 2013

          This is to that idiot Chris Cole who wrote:

          I didn’t realize “spelling it out in a book” constituted science. “This is censorship ” Only if you have no idea what censorship actually is.

          You don’t realize that scientists can explain science through the mediumship of the written word. Are you living in the dark ages Cole or are you really just that obtuse you never knew it.
          Its you that clearly does not understand what censorship is. It is you that is defending TED not me.

    • Rus Bowden commented on Apr 19 2013

      Chris,

      You said, “I am fascinated by the topic of consciousness, and the hypothesis that it can exist outside what seems to be the instrument of it’s production, the brain.”

      We do not know that to be so.

      Also, I have been staying clear of all these people who have been demanding that people define what they mean by using English words we use every day. But, just before your post, I clarified the use of the word “censor”. In removing the videos from their place, censoring took place by definition.

      • Chris Cole commented on Apr 19 2013

        “We do not know that to be so.”

        Which is why I made the point to say it “seems” to be so, considering there’s abundant evidence that conscious experience, and how it’s experienced, is linked to the brain. introduce a drug to the brian like LSD, changes conscious experience, damage the brain in a specific way, specific alteration of conscious experience, damage the entire brain to the point of complete non-function, and there seems to be no trace of consciousness. That link, seems pretty well established. Now maybe that’ll change and someone will discover that consciousness can be separate from the seeming, instrument of it’s production. And that will be a great finding.

        If we call what TED did censorship, then we can say Random House deciding not to publish an authors work through Random House, is censoring the book. But we don’t, because it’s not censorship. TED sets it’s own standards, and they publish their videos, and use their name to do so, and if they decide they don’t want to, it’s not censorship.

        • Rus Bowden commented on Apr 19 2013

          If you want the evidence to be that it points to conscious experience coming from the physical matter that we observe, then you will think it so. But this would be a prejudicial investigation.

          There are no probabilities on this issue. It either is or it is not the case that any or all conscious and therefore our spiritual beings derive from the physical. Metaphysically speaking, for instance, what we each know is that our conscious experiences exists as such. This is not so for the physical. We are so very far away from being able to make such as statement, even of assumption, that our conscious experience derives from what we observe in the physical realm that appears before us.

          It is an interesting exercise, however, to see how much we can find of physical explanations for conscious experience. These explorations, when done with science and not prejudicial pseudoscience, can lead to advances in understanding both how we tick on a day to day basis, and medical advancements as well. But there remains for any forseeable future, an incredibly great divide to leap over, to say that even if we found a lifetime more of such explanations, that these would be the only ones.

        • Noah Vickstein commented on Apr 19 2013

          There already are great arguments why consciousness can correlate with brain states and yet not be produced by them. That there is a link does not imply causation one way or the other. There are also plenty of cases where brain damage actually leads to more extraordinary level mental skills.

          http://www.popsci.com/science/article/2013-02/when-brain-damage-unlocks-genius-within

          This seems to suggest that, rather than produce consciousness, the brain may limit or constrict it to a localized body-construct.

          There is no evidence that suggests that the brain causes consciousness (so it’s kind of a stretch to suggest it ‘seems’ to do so here). It’s merely a metaphysical dictum taught to be regarded as self-evident. The temptation is to think that it’s true until proven otherwise, but there is mounting cause to question its compliance with the principle of parsimony in science.

    • Noah Vickstein commented on Apr 19 2013

      “Militant atheism” is Dawkins’ own self-identifier, the importance of which he impressed upon his audience in his own TED talk on the matter. A lot of science going on there.

    • Jim Ryan commented on Apr 19 2013

      You say, “I am fascinated by the topic of consciousness, and the hypothesis that it can exist outside what seems to be the instrument of it’s production, the brain. ”

      I ask, what first fascinated you about how consciousness can exist outside the brain, because someone truly interrested in such, would surely have something positive to offer, especially when you judge others, right?

      The after affects of my circumcision were enough for me to remember.
      What I remember was something white on my penis and that it itched a lot. If I just touched the itch, the itch stopped.

      So what do you have to offer?

    • Christoffer Haugen commented on Apr 19 2013

      In it’s tag line TED has the word “ideas” central. Ideas is not the domain of science foremost, but the domain of philosophy. And it is in this domain Sheldrake’s talk is.

      Rather than presenting his research into consciousness, his talk is pure philosophy of science which is a natural thing to talk about when the theme of the show is paradigms. He does not do anything radical; he does what many lectures in philosophy of science do when they teach about the different scientifical traditions and the conflicts between them. As a normal lecturer do, he presents it from the tradition in which he stands.

      From his tradition one would find massive literature with the same critic about dogmas, in the same way as it exist massive literature which criticize Sheldrake’s position. This discussion has existed as long as western philosophy.

      The reason that people see it as censoring is that it already was published when removed from youtube, and the reason for the remove was not satisfactory. If a book publisher publish a book and then removes it from the market without an adequate reason, it risk being seen as censoring, and the history show it has actually happen many times.

  • James Frame commented on Apr 19 2013

    Chris Anderson TED has fortunately grown well beyond you, your vision and beliefs. And ironically in the context of what we are talking about has taken on it’s own consciousness. I echo every statement that Rupert Sheldrake presents from the faceless “scientific” board at TED to him offering to replicate the scientific concepts he presents. If anything this is the exact novel thinking that TED should be embracing and dare I say it funding. This is the only true way to prove him wrong or right… and would that not be a game changer for TED and the world.

    As I said TED has its own consciousness and no one individual, even if they are the founder, or group “scientific board” have any rights to censor anymore. You are administrators and promoters, that is your sole role. Administrators and promoters of an amazing organization that has the potential to be even more amazing, ground breaking and world changing, however now the TED community (consciousness) are the only judge, critic, appraiser of the content.

    You have drawn the best and the brightest from all walks and of all opinions and it is amongst this true democracy of thought that acceptance, rejection or dare I say it further research will take place.

    Chris if you want TED to have the legacy upon which you appear to have founded it. Then leave it alone and focus on what you are good at – administration and promotion.

  • CChaos CChaos commented on Apr 18 2013

    yes, TED. this issue will keep pestering you…

    “One of modern science’s great strengths is that any questionable finding dies a quick death if it’s invalid. The safeguards are mainly two: Your new finding must be repeatable when other researchers run the same experiments, and peer review by qualified scientists subjects every new finding to microscopic scrutiny. So it surprised the millions of admirers of TED, whose conferences attract wide attention to new, cutting-edge ideas, when that organization decided to practice semi-censorship.”

    ~ http://www.huffingtonpost.com/mobileweb/deepak-chopra/dear-ted-is-it-bad-scienc_b_3104049.html

  • Alan Page commented on Apr 18 2013

    Thank you Dr Sheldrake for your talk questioning these dogmas. I’m reading your book “Science delusion” and it’s like poetry…

  • Tom Zinser commented on Apr 17 2013

    I have followed the Ted talks for quite some time. Every now and then I think I will write, and then I don’t. The Hancock/Sheldrake controversy finally roused me. What I always intend to write about is the obvious and nearly complete omission of the paranormal, psychic, and spirit phenomena as Ted topics, unless it is to denigrate them. It’s as though these nonphysical entities and dimensions don’t exist, which of course, for the materialist, they don’t. This bias in the Ted talks goes unspoken. It is Ted’s perfect right to have a board of scientist and use a materialist standard and to adhere to it. I don’t think it is all right, though, for Ted to presume its board of scientists has some kind of last word on the nature of reality, the existence of incorporeal beings, and dimensions of consciousness—of what is possible and what is not.
    If true science is a part of Ted’s mission, then an honest treatment of these phenomena is called for. The Hancock/Sheldrake talks are really just the tip of this iceberg. The evidence is growing everyday. It has been growing for more than a hundred years, and more intensely in the last forty years. Just looking at the number of comments that this issue has garnered should tell you something. (Like I said, it finally got me writing.) There’s an elephant in the middle of the room Ted. I can go on ignoring it – I enjoy so many of the Ted talks ¬– but the specter of this divide seems always looming behind the scenes for me.

  • Tim Pize commented on Apr 17 2013

    Interesting conversation here. It seems to me that the matter isn’t about censorship, it’s more basic than that. It’s simply an ego thing: fear of ridicule, of losing credibility by posting videos that wouldn’t be taken seriously by a large audience. And they have every right to take the video away from their own site or their youtube channel.

    And that’s all they should have done, simply take the video away. Having the need to semi-justify themselves by striking Hancock in every comment is more disturbing.

    Actually I don’t see the point of a debate here. You have to understand that archeology, unlike other sciences, is vastly composed by hypothesis. Archeologists have to create models, that obviously will always be refined or disproved by new evidences (unless we build ourselves some time machines). And that’s exactly what Hancock is doing, trying to build a model with hypothesis from new evidences he found. There’s a big chance he’s wrong, as many before him.

    Archeology is a really young science at the scale of human history. When someone takes his work seriously, we really shouldn’t rush into calling his propositions “pseudo-science”, however weird or controversial they may sound.

    • Chris Cole commented on Apr 19 2013

      It’s pseudoscience if it hangs on almost solely belief and intuition, and goes no further and can’t provide evidence.

      • Tim Pize commented on Apr 20 2013

        Indeed. And in this case it can provide evidence.

      • Obiwan Kenobi commented on Apr 21 2013

        The evidence you wish for is available and awaiting your critique. All you have to do is intrepidly embark on some scientific research of your own as Richard Dawkins also states he would be open to

        All you’re doing presently is relaying other peoples’ opinions that happen to agree with your own prejudices into this field. Until such time as you have carried out your own research, your prognostication of “pseudoscience” holds no credibility.

  • Vegard Gjerde commented on Apr 16 2013

    A serious blow to Ted’s credibility.

  • Max Vasher commented on Apr 16 2013

    TED, Thank you for having the courage to print these speakers rebuttals to your censorship somewhere on the web. I find it unfortunate that your critique and subsequent censorship uses the same false claims and lack of research that many others employ in evaluating the work of these two great researchers. I appreciate how far you have pushed the boundaries of knowledge and applaud you for making an attempt to do so with said speakers (Sheldrake and Hancock), but I find it quite disturbing that you would stoop to the level you did to censor these two. Whatever pressure you got to take this action in the way that you did should be the focus of your research, not simply towing the line they have told you to do. The motives of those who pressured you into this action is highly suspect and not scientific whatsoever.

  • John Hill commented on Apr 16 2013

    Oh no. TED, your credibility’s shot if you don’t name your science advisers. Anonymous accusations? How underhanded. You should feel bad.

    Is exploring consciousness prohibited by your anonymous accusers? Do they have consciousness figured out? If so, please share. Otherwise, you are on the evil side of Hancock’s War On Consciousness. And since you purport good intentions, you are also traitors.

    Announce your science advisers, and then increase their breadth.

    TED’s Cred’s Dead :(


    “The day science begins to study non-physical phenomena, it will make more progress in one decade than in all the previous centuries of its existence.” -Tesla

    • Jim Ryan commented on Apr 16 2013

      You hurt Ted more than help, quit while you’re behind.

      • John Hill commented on Apr 22 2013

        “You hurt Ted more than help, quit while you’re behind.”

        That’s the same sour attitude expressed to Sheldrake and Hancock. I’d gladly keep their company.

        I revised and expressed my thoughts – now with added civility and 100% less emoticons – in a new post.

        -John Hill

        ;)

        • Jim Ryan commented on Apr 23 2013

          Thank you. However, Ted is censoring me for nothing more than bringing new thinking to science. I wrote the following to show a Ted fellow that I was more than just talk and Ted removed it, too funny, wouldn’t want to make Ted feel jealous.

          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.

    • Chris Cole commented on Apr 19 2013

      “Is exploring consciousness prohibited by your anonymous accusers?”

      Not at all, but not providing ANY scientific backing is.

      • Terry Allen commented on Apr 19 2013

        Yet More Poppycock from Cole the own goal. I bet you have not even bothered to read Supernatural the book in which Hancock puts forward his hypothesis. Because if you had of done you would know that Hancock is the messenger and is reporting the science of David Lewis-Williams cognitive archaeologist.
        Don’t shoot the messenger Cole it makes you look vacuous.

        • Chris Cole commented on Apr 19 2013

          Ah yes, the hypothesis that the visions of supernatural beings, when your brain is pumped with hallucinogenic drugs……are actually real? Brilliant.

          Any headway made on that? or is it still in the “gut feeling” stage.

          Here’s science….. There were these guys who made this crazy claim, they claimed that there was a mysterious unseen particle that is the source of matters mass, and instead of writing a book, they built a seventeen mile longer collider and let the science do the talking. thats science.

        • Terry Allen commented on Apr 19 2013

          I would call it projection and I am not the only one, you materialist are dinosaurs and like then you will soon die out:

          Every year new, short-lived elementary particles are discovered. Frequently their existence is predicted before their discovery. It has been seriously suggested that these particles are being produced, rather than discovered, by the sustained mental efforts of physicist around the world. Although we have been conditioned to accept naive realism by our scientifically based education, such an idea cannot be dismissed out of
          hand.
          Professor A.J. Ellison

        • Marcus T Anthony commented on Apr 19 2013

          Chris, I’m assuming then that you are impressed with the experiments which have led to the verification of non-local mind beyond all reasonable doubt. After all the ganzfeld, EEG correlation experiments and so on were initiated to test the enormous number of anecdotal and historical reports of things like ESL, clairvoyance, telepathy, precognition and so on.

          You can’t have it both ways. You can’t only be impressed with science that supports your beliefs, while rejecting a priori that which falsifies it. That would be dogmatism, not rationality.

      • Jim Ryan commented on Apr 19 2013

        The police are always saying that if people have nothing to hide, then they don’t need to hide, you low, like a science board that hides the names of the board.

      • John Hill commented on Apr 22 2013

        Rupert has the scientific backing.

        Here are Rupert’s papers:
        http://www.sheldrake.org/Articles&Papers/papers/

        My main qualm with this is that non-traditional ideas are being sheltered for being non-traditional. That, to me, is closing the door of possibilities, restricting imagination, and damaging critical thinking. If they’re wrong, then they’ll join the ranks of the other people who came out on the losing side. But I know full and well that TED’s Science Board doesn’t have the winning answers, so in a talk basically called “Possibilities”, all possibilities should be allotted their say.

        If TED only wants to display working technology and theories that have been proven, then they shouldn’t have invited Sheldrake and if they don’t want people expressing the benefits of psychotropics, then they shouldn’t have invited Hancock.

        To have a “Challenge The Paradigm” themed conference, and then ban certain talks for challenging the paradigm too much makes me suspicious of the intentions behind removing the published talks after a month.

        I get the idea of atheism trying to destroy religion, but atheism falls short of explaining higher consciousness experiences
        which have been well documented in culture. Just in the past 50-ish years, science is getting into the mix of studying it. Thus, science is late for the bus and wanting us who’re already on board to wait for them? Just because science doesn’t understand the mechanics yet, doesn’t mean the mechanics aren’t in play. And people like Sheldrake and Hancock are using imagination and experience to help science can get on the bus.

        Per Hancock being banned, the whole thing reeks of the Drug War. I bet there are a few Big-Pharmas on TED’s anonymous science board. That’s why TED needs to disclose who they are. Are we being penned lies from a pro-Drug War agenda? Remember that for over 80 years cannabis has been banned because of propaganda. So convince us your board isn’t a propaganda machine.

        If you need to, put up a graphic on the lectures saying “Not Yet Proven” or something to that extent. But don’t ban them for offering a different point of view. We’d still have a flat earth if it were up to some people.

        I like TED, but the non-transparency is extremely troubling. The ideal TED would be pro-imagination, pro-science, and pro-transparency.

        Sorry if I was brash in other posts. I know that we work better as a team; I’ll work on it.

        -John Hill

        • Jim Ryan commented on Apr 23 2013

          Ted displays a lot that is not working theory. How dare we challenge them, right? The flat earth society still exists.

  • CChaos CChaos commented on Apr 16 2013

    on a somewhat related note, gotta watch this before it gets pulled by TED. don’t tell Jerry Coyne and PZ Myers :)

    “Stuart Hameroff is an anesthesiologist and professor at the University of Arizona known for his studies of consciousness. For nearly forty years, Dr. Hameroff’s research is centered on how the pinkish gray meat between our ars produces the richness of experiential awareness. A clinical anesthesiologist, Hameroff has studied how anesthetic gas molecules selectively erase consciousness via delicate quantum effects on protein dynamics. Following a longstanding interest in the computational capacity of microtubules inside neurons, Hameroff teamed with the eminent British physicist Sir Roger Penrose to develop a controversial quantum theory of consciousness called orchestrated objective reduction (Orch OR) which connects brain processes to fundamental spacetime geometry. Recently Hameroff has explored the theoretical implications of Orch OR for consciousness to exist independent of the body, distributed in deeper, lower, faster scales in non-local, holographic spacetime, raising possible scientific approaches to the soul and spirituality.”

    ~ http://youtu.be/1d5RetvkkuQ

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  • April Reeves commented on Apr 15 2013

    I had no problem with this talk by Sheldrake. In fact, it stirred a great deal of thought inside of my “conscious”… and isn’t this what Ted is suppose to be about? These talks are not here to be approved by the general populous: they are here for each of us to choose to ignore or to open up the mind/spirit/conscience and ask those really tough questions that more people on this planet should be doing? After digging into some of the science Sheldrake defunked, I actually found a deeper level of truth in some of his words. I also know, to be true, that science will never be able to prove the greater Universal truths and mysteries of our existence. Science can only try to explain the physicality of them: separate, yet so much a part of each other… Sadly, we are about to put on a Tedx event, and I am somewhat ashamed of it. It’s looking as if I may not visit Ted any more. I also find a very hypocritical juncture when Bill Gates can speak on agriculture, even though he’s never had dirt under his nails and props up Monsanto, and that’s OKAY? But Sheldrake isn’t? I’ve also been privy to being beat up by Ted drones for some of my comments, which were not poor or abusive whatsoever: just asked some tough questions. It just doesn’t look good for Ted to do this, especially to those of us that are, shall I dare to say, “conscious”…

    • Jim Ryan commented on Apr 15 2013

      Well thought out and said. Its good to see people that don’t let their emotions get the better of them, even though I have been very guilty of it in the past. I would add that Monsanto has poisoned villages and towns from Alabama, to West Virginia, to Massachusetts to France and more. It figures gates would go to bat for such.

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