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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 (2155)

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  • steve young commented on Mar 14 2013

    Yes there is such a thing as “bad science” and Rupert Sheldrake points it out marvellously! It is when we treat science as a worldview, rather than just a method of inquiry.

    Science does not answer the question “what” – it only answers the “how” and the “why”. The “what” is consciousness – it’s always consciousness. Everything is consciousness, and for an increasing number of people, this is just known, it’s obvious. Becoming aware of this fact is the so-called “awakening” that is happening all over the globe.

    For the rest, they are blinded to this obvious truth by scientific or religious dogmas which have infiltrated every mainstream channel of information for decades.

    Until now I thought TED was right on the pulse of this global consciousness shift. But with this you have proven Graham’s point that there really is a “war on consciousness”, and you’re one of the bad guys.

  • Toby Randel commented on Mar 14 2013

    Why is this post called “open for discussion”? It is obvious that TED does not give a damn what people think, except for a few skeptic (what a joke) bloggers. They have already decided that censorship is the way to go so what’s to discuss?

  • Branko Rabi commented on Mar 14 2013

    This is exelent stuff! State of consciousness of this time is making people sick mentaly and fisicly. This talk will not change flow of thinking, but it’s sign of change toward beter ;)

  • Toby Randel commented on Mar 14 2013

    This is very disappointing. It would be interesting to know if the “scientific team” at TED includes more than just the blogger Jerry Coyne. The way I see it, this move to censor ideas is going to backfire. The management at TED obviously believe that they are too big to fail, but I hope they are mistaken. By allowing sceptic activists to determine which ideas are allowed to be spread, TED has lost all credibility. I don’t need people like Jerry Coyne to do my thinking for me, so I will not be looking at any more TED videos – it will be the end of an era for me, but I’m sure that it won’t matter a damn to TED. Ideas worth spreading – my arse.

    • Enopoletus Harding commented on Mar 14 2013

      Blogger and Professor Coyne. PZ Myers and Carl Zimmer also contributed. TED has actually gained credibility by its removal of videos.

  • steve young commented on Mar 14 2013

    I’m extremely disappointed and quite baffled by this decision, which seems like it must be personal in nature. As a long time follower of TED, I thought that these two talks, and the Charles Eisentein one from Whitechapel, were the best, most profound and paradigm shifting talks i’ve ever seen.

    Some years ago when I was PhD student studying quantum physics, I independently reached many of the same conclusions that are discussed in these talks, and it was such a pleasure to see two highly credible and distinguished speakers present these issues so eloquently and concisely. They are most certainly not alone in thinking this way, both Sheldrake and Hancock are pillars of truth and integrity, willing to risk ridicule and attack in the name of progress.

    The objections that TED have raised contain no weight whatsoever – everyone knows this, probably even the person who wrote it – and I do not expect we will ever see more detailed explanations. To me this reeks of an idealogical and emotional response from someone whose worldview has been threatened by the content of these talks.

    I used to think TED was a genuine force for the evolution of human consciousness, and that it had no idealogical bias, but I am now beginning to suspect it is just a grooming platform for a small materialist elite to get first dibs on smart people with commercially profitable ideas.

    I used to sing TED’s praises to everybody I met, but no longer.

  • Steve Stark commented on Mar 14 2013

    Your mission statement currently reads:

    “We believe passionately in the power of ideas to change attitudes, lives and ultimately, the world. So we’re building here a clearinghouse that offers free knowledge and inspiration from the world’s most inspired thinkers, and also a community of curious souls to engage with ideas and each other.”

    May I suggest the following:

    We believe passionately in the power of establishment ideas to spread the TRUTH(TM), to control and limit thinking, and to bring the world into line with western materialist doctrine. So we’re building here a platform that promotes mainstream views and received wisdom from some carefully vetted establishment mouthpieces, and also a community of people who already know all the answers and simply want to hear them repeated ad nauseam.

    • Enopoletus Harding commented on Mar 14 2013

      Do you have even a single argument against materialism? There is no “western” materialism”. There is no “southern” materialism. There is no northern materialism. There is no eastern materialism. There is only materialism. From where did you get the idea that materialists like us “know all the answers”? We don’t!

      • Steve Stark commented on Mar 14 2013

        A single argument against materialism. LOL – here’s one – it’s actually a meaningless metaphysical term bandied around by those who advocate it as if it actually meant something (Wittgenstein – earlier and later I believe, but for different reasons). Here’s another – physics can’t find any actual matter – the closer they look the more it disappears. And here’s a third – if we give the term any reasonably specific meaning it becomes false immediately, and if we don’t then there’s no way it could be true.

        • Enopoletus Harding commented on Mar 14 2013

          These are conclusions/bald assertions, not arguments. Citations, please?

        • Steve Stark commented on Mar 14 2013

          Re the below request for a citation – read Wittgenstein’s Philosophical Investigations (sections 1-120 (only 40 or so pages)) and then get back to me in about three years (if you’re lucky).

  • Cory Warshaw commented on Mar 14 2013

    Wow everyone, calm down the videos are still up, and can be found on any google search or any other means that someone would ordinarily find it. I know making a public move like this does make a statement regardless of whether or not you think the talk was censored, but lets keep level heads here.

    Regardless, everyone should accept that there is at least such a thing as bad science, and that there are things that we can say are not true at least with a high degree of certainty. I understand your frustration, but science has been wildly successful over the millenniums, and just as many of you are urging to keep an open mind, I urge you to keep the option open that the establishment isn’t always wrong. I would write a more exhaustive reply, but I think at this point the damage is done. I’ll just leave you with this talk from my own event which examines the physiological effects of meditation in what I think is a rigorous and scientifically valid manner.

    • Steve Stark commented on Mar 14 2013

      I think people might calm down a bit when TED removes the ridiculous lies about what they claim Hancock said from the pompous pseudo-justification currently on offer (or at least when someone from TED has the balls to defend what was written – how could they though – by responding to Graham Hancock’s reasonable requests for clarification.

    • Toby Randel commented on Mar 14 2013

      Hi Cory, I hope you checked with Jerry Coyne before you posted this video. He might label you as woomister as well.

      Science has been very successful but not because of censorship. I do hope that you can see that.

    • Dimitri Spice commented on Mar 14 2013

      Cory, did you even re-watch the video and compare it with the claims Ted has made against Hancock? As Hancock pointed out, none of the claims they made hold up, and he never says such things.

    • Drew Fitts commented on Mar 15 2013

      I think you’re missing the point of why and how the videos were taken down. You’re making a personal judgment what is acceptable as ‘science’ and what is not. That is a subjective conclusion. It is a grave error to claim that materialist science has the final word.

  • Troy Tice commented on Mar 14 2013

    Matthew Kent hit the nail on the head. Hear, hear.

  • Andrew Mucha commented on Mar 14 2013

    I thought TED was a fantastic site for free- thinking on the edge debate why have the following videos not been removed – Wade Davis: Dreams from endangered cultures, Jonathan Haidt: Religion, evolution, and the ecstasy of self-transcendence?. Both have a related thought provoking relevance to Both Sheldrake and Hancock’s thread and polymath relationship to lot’s of connected ideas. All share as do a lot of your talks a cross-cultural anthropological connection.I really hope TED see’s the grave error made here – it’s just like Thomas Kuhn’s The Structure of Scientific Revolutions -when “Science” historically has always been about censoring the new “paradigm” and eventually when the the threatening paradigm is accepted a more open and accepting science is born. Why is TED acting like a closed religious order I thought you were positive free thinkers not persecutor’s of the followers of Galelio!.

    • Dave Morgan commented on Mar 14 2013

      Everyone citing Kuhn here is entirely missing his point. Kuhn asserted that scientific progress REQUIRES that a paradigm be unforgiving of new ideas!! If every crackpot idea was equally entertained, too many resources would be wasted on investigating dead ends, arguing over basic premises, and deciding which questions are worthy of asking. To be effective, science MUST cling to a paradigm that excludes fringe ideas. It is only when a theory is on the verge of collapse (due to mismatch between theory and experiment) that it needs to start to consider alternatives to the paradigm. I’m pretty sure 99.99% of scientists would agree that neuroscience is not in a Kuhnian “crisis” state. So despite cries here of scientists being close-minded here, they are actually behaving in EXACTLY the way that Kuhn suggests they must. (Or at least always DO, if you don’t feel he was being prescriptive in TSoSR.)

  • Sima Chowdhury commented on Mar 14 2013

    Yup definite War on Consciousness

  • Aaron Sekulov commented on Mar 14 2013

    Personally, as I do not agree with what Hancock nor Sheldrake propose. However, what I agree with based upon what I understand – which is in turned based upon what I am comfortable with – is irrelevant to the progress of truth and scientific discourse. Galileo was persecuted for his ideas, Newton for his, Einstein ridiculed for his. All these men, among many other people, lest we not even delve into the demonstrability of proponents and opponents of slavery based upon ‘scientific evidence’, were praised and/or ridiculed based upon a changing understanding of established theory in relation to the new ideas brought forth. This, according to the philosopher Thomas Kuhn, is how scientific progress unfolds. Is TED honestly trying to cop out on that progression?

    • Dave Morgan commented on Mar 14 2013

      Newton was never “persecuted”, and Einstein really only “ridiculed” by anti-Semites… very few scientists took issue with relativity.

  • Jesse Dunn commented on Mar 14 2013

    My mind can absorb radical theories without blaming TED for minor discrepancies of human perspective. Censorship is deleting, re-editing/re-posting & pre-framing information.

    • Enopoletus Harding commented on Mar 14 2013

      Is it not spreading ideas not worth spreading?

  • Future echoes commented on Mar 14 2013

    The one problem with science is human ego!

    To TED: Your excuse for binding the accessibility of these videos is unsubstantiated. You can now considered yourselves no better than the inquisition that tried Galileo for heresy.

    I’m not even saying Graham Hancock is correct. HE doesn’t even say he is correct! In his video he presents us with possibilities and theories. He does not argue in ‘absolutes’ but rather ‘what ifs’ and this is what you punish his work and this video for. This is a very close minded approach, and there is no room for it in scientific study and pursuit of knowledge, i don’t care how pseudo you think these ideas are. (I cannot comment on the Sheldrake video because I have not seen it).

    Anyway, it’s not about if his theory is correct, it’s about stifling debate, and the freedom of discussion. Cornering these videos into a shadowy back-alley of your website, removing them from exposure on your YouTube channel and other media outlets, stating your reasons for doing so on false claims. This is not a very scientific process! More a process that stinks of personal prejudice, and fear of polemic ideas. It’s the act of human bias!

    Make these videos as open and as accessible as any other video. It is not for you to decide on behalf of millions, what should be seen and what should not.

    If these videos are to remain in seclusion then there are a whole host of other videos on here that have not undergone the same bias that are worthy of it draconian judgement.

    TED, today you have lost my respect.

  • Travis Bodick commented on Mar 14 2013

    I used to have a lot of respect for TEDx, and think it was a good resource for information…. But all this censorship, and the sad attempts to fix it afterwards just goes to show how narrow-minded and controlling TEDx really is. Last time I watch one of your vids TEDx…..

    Graham and Sheldrake – loved the presentations. I watched both of them before the censorship, and enjoyed them then as well. I will keep posting updates and sharing your vids so that others dont miss out!

    • Enopoletus Harding commented on Mar 14 2013

      “Censorship” as used by you=”not spreading ideas not worth spreading”.

  • Steve Stark commented on Mar 14 2013

    Virtually not one word you attribute to Sheldrake or Hancock in trying to justify your decision was actually said by them. It’s one thing to remove the talks, but it’s quite another to blatantly lie, and do little else, as a justification for doing so.

    Here, on Hancock, for example, Ted says:

    “He states as fact that psychotropic drug use is essential for an “emergence into consciousness”” – lie, he says no such thing.

    “He suggests, for example, that no scientists are working on the problem of consciousness” – lie, he says no such thing.

    He says “one can use psychotropic plants to connect directly with an ancient mother culture” – lie, he says no such thing nor anything even remotely like it.

    “He seems to offer a one-note explanation for how culture arises (drugs)” – lie, he says no such thing.

    What a shameful performance.

  • Richard Coldman commented on Mar 14 2013

    Your Science Board’s decision to hide these videos of Sheldrake and Hancock here may well cause the first serious dent in TED’s reputation. It won’t be the last, because your action only reveals a mindset at odds with the growing wave of disaffection with what is perceived as the “bought junk science” of corporatism. You really have blown it today.

  • Matthew Kent commented on Mar 14 2013

    I don’t actually have any issue with TED choosing to take down talks that are found to be fundamentally inaccurate and misleading but the choice to take down these two is honestly quite baffling.

    You have not responded to Hancock’s reasonable request for evidence (that should be easily offered) to support your accusations against his talk. As far as your dismissal of Sheldrake, your argument is paper-thin and the fact that you link to Jerry Coyne’s derogatory and childish critique of Sheldrake’s talk as your means of giving access to Sean Carroll’s “careful rebuttal” re: the speed of light is utterly ridiculous.

    Sheldrake’s talk is not based on ANY factual errors because his critique is one of a philosophical nature! Even if all of Sheldrake’s scientific hypotheses are all wrong and even if he made generalizations that do not express the views and opinions of every scientist on the planet, that in no way undermines the entire point of his talk which was a critique of the dogmatic assertions of certainty around a variety of assumptions the scientific community makes, a priori, that are actually open to questioning.

    If TED is going to do something as extreme as removing these talks from being easily viewable by the general public (which is essentially censoring them, no matter how you slice it) I would expect a LOT better of an argument, featuring extensive documentation of the allegations that motivated such an extreme reaction.

    It is my opinion that the way this is being handled – in terms of the lack of transparency and responsiveness on the part of TED – runs contrary to your claims of wanting to engage in an open and honest dialogue with the public about this.

    Very disappointed.

    • commented on Mar 14 2013

      Well put. TED/Chris Anderson, are you even reading these replies on your so-called “discussion”????? Or will you brush us ALL off as ‘hordes of Hancock fans’ while you rely solely the illogical, inane and phenomenally shallow critiques of those few people with an obvious bias and agenda?

      The level of mindlessness and non-interaction with TED fans here is truly astounding.

  • Danielle England commented on Mar 14 2013

    What more should we expect in a world run by extremely well educated [or is the word really "indoctrinated?"] people of average intelligence?

    No more TED or TEDx talks for our family.

  • Kev McKenna commented on Mar 14 2013

    Taking direction or capitulating to the demands of financially invested dogmatists like Coyne has ruined the whole concept of Ideas Worth Spreading.

    TED has ventured into an unsavory arena, badly damaging its credibility. Others will be along soon to take its place.

  • Danghiz Post'Umas commented on Mar 14 2013

    I absolutely Loved both Graham’s Talk, and Rupert’s talk. These are both ‘out of the box’ thinkers. TED is more square than I thought, tis a shame, the moment has been recorded digitally for posterity. TED you’ve hosted beautiful things, and I’m sure you’ll continue to do so.. But on this issue you’ve shown us a really ugly side of yourself. Who’s interest was it in to take down these talks? Isn’t real science about letting people make up their own minds?

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