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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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  • Manric Gottfried commented on Mar 14 2013

    Ok. Allow me to moderate a bit. It seems what had to be said has been said up to now. Lets allow fist-timers to look over the conversation and chime in with their feelings. Lets rest and take this up tomorrow, depending how things go.

    To those directly responsible for this “utter contempt towards the principles of methodological curiosity” and science, just apologize already and fix it. This is getting way serious and you do not want a huge wave of people starting to thin…k hang on, do you?

    Ok,someone please tell me this was (not?) just a social experiment!

    Because I know the internet and these kind of things get “buzzy”, serious stuff. So if this is not a social experiment, apologize and get this behind you. TED is amazing! Don’t ruin the flavor!

    • Frank Matera commented on Mar 15 2013

      Too late for that. They had a discussion open about the merits of removing Rupert Sheldrake’s talk, and it was overwhelmingly positive in favour of it staying.

      You had the hardline skeptics coming up proclaiming things about Sheldrake and PSI which were false and that they could not back any of it up when asked… the skeptics were destroyed. They were used to arguing their position against “Light and love” psychics and instead ran into a bunch of very scientifically aware proponents of PSI that HAVE done their studies (unlike the skeptics).

      The fact that in spite of what the majority wanted they still went and removed the talk speaks volumes.

      PS: I also noticed they don’t allow “Thumbs up” on comments in this thread. That is because in the other thread people were so overwhelmingly supporting the “Sheldrake stay” posts… that I am guessing they can’t have that again in here.

  • John Telencio commented on Mar 14 2013

    I can’t believe TED, an organization that I had held in such high esteem would sensor the TED talk of Graham Hancock. I was shocked. His talk was extremely profound, and moreover historically and scientifically accurate. This action speaks volumes regarding the true face of TED. I, like many others whom have been discussing this move on various websites are extremely disappointed and will never look at TED the same way again. This specifically, is extremely disheartening as there are so many profound TED speakers who’s messages will be sullied by the actions of a person or persons within the TED organization whom obviously cannot grasp the concept of what it means to be able to freely explore and discuss ideas. I will be a mistake to treat the TED audience as if we are children. In conclusion, I just want to state that all you have done by censoring this content is brought it to the attention to a wider audience than it would have had other wise (google: barbra streisand effect), and that I will actually thank you for.

  • Dimitri Spice commented on Mar 14 2013

    Can anyone else not watch the video on vimeo or am i the only one? It works int he embedded version, but its non-existent on their site

  • Jack Webbor commented on Mar 14 2013

    Hi TED.
    Today was the first day I heard the name Graham Hancock. I was actually drawn here by the rumor that you censored one of your own talks. Now I find out that you’ve actually censored two.
    Well, they’re not actually censored. Instead you’ve hid them away here with an introduction that is, at the very least, insulting.
    Was it your intent to reinforce his talk with an object lesson? If so, well done.

    • Kim Tapio-Nuzzo commented on Mar 15 2013

      Exactly! — Reinforcing the object lesson that there is indeed a “war on consciousness” — or at least a war against any discussion of it unrelated to neuro-imaging and EEGs.

      So, today is the first day you’ve ever heard of Graham Hancock? Lucky day, then. May I recommend Hancock’s “Fingerprints of the Gods,” “Message of the Sphinx” (co-authored with Robert Bauval), and finally his “Mars Mystery.” I certainly hope that you watch his TEDx talk – it just makes you think, is all.

  • John Ratcliff commented on Mar 14 2013

    The time for ‘Ted Talks’ to prevent these talks from going out was before these individuals were *invited to speak*!!!!

    So, let me get this straight, ‘Ted Talks’ was ‘tricked’ by Hancock and Sheldrake? Because these two have done such a great job keeping their real fringe views a secret?

    ‘Ted’ was blindsided by the evil Sheldrake and Hancock when they showed up and talked about the same things they have talked about in their books and speeches for years?

    Poor, poor, poor, little ‘Ted Conference’ for being tricked by these evil paranormal bad boys.

    But, here’s the thing. Once ‘Ted’ slipped up and let these two nutters speak, well, that’s it. It’s done. They spoke. Now make the presentation available to the public and let the public make up their own mind.

    But, you cannot apply this arbitrary after the fact censorship under pressure from some group of scientific thought control police.

    If that is going to be your policy, then you need to remove absolutely every single ‘Ted Talk’ you have ever published that explored speculative thought and mystical experience not backed up by rigorous scientific evidence.

    And, if you do that, there will be a whole lot of popular talks missing and the ‘Ted Conference’ will lose all relevance.

    But, hey, thanks for treating *invited* guests so rudely. Thanks for protecting the general public from their dangerous ideas and words.

    Great job, really great job. You should be so proud of yourselves. I’m quite impressed.

    John

  • Toby Randel commented on Mar 14 2013

    I hope everyone who is against TED censorship will sign the petition

    http://www.change.org/petitions/ted-stop-the-censoring-of-the-graham-hancock-tedx-talks-video#share

    There have already been over 200 signatures, and it is only starting. I’m sure it won’t matter to TED even if there is a million signatures, but it will get the message out that censorship of ideas is not something we condone in the modern world.

    • Barry Conchie commented on Mar 15 2013

      Toby, I wonder if, when you are done with this petition, you could also start one about the way scientists have failed to deal with measurement variation in the speed of light and how, to Sheldrake’s point, they are all completely wrong?

      This might be a really novel way to completely change how science works. Rather than do all that hard “sciencey” stuff, we just decide on all this by getting a pulse of the populous.

      Be in no doubt, this is exactly what your arguments are about.

  • Toby Randel commented on Mar 14 2013

    I’ve been a fan of TED since 2006, and I’ve watched hundreds (?thousands) of their videos. It is a shock to find that this source I’ve trusted for most of my adult life would do something like this. I loved this website because it encouraged me to think but now they are trying to tell me what to think. I’m not sure if this has always been the case, but it is obvious that TED has now been hijacked by a group of dogmatists. TED is turning into a cult instead of a venue for people who are curious about the world.

    Yesterday I heard the sad news that the Google RSS Feed Service will end in July. I’ve also used this for years in order to stay informed. I will not feel sad to hear that TED disappears in July – there is enough censorship in the world already.

  • Joe Anderson commented on Mar 14 2013

    It’s kind of remarkable how shameless TED has been in grossly misrepresenting the talks by Sheldrake and Hancock. It’s been a real eye opener. Having said that, I’ve found a couple talks where I think there are some errors. Can you tell me how to get in touch with your Science Board so I can have them removed? Thanks in advance.

    • Kyle Martin commented on Mar 15 2013

      Yeah there are talks up that I have watched that are pretty much entirely opinion and or experience report.

      We can garner a lot of information about the reality of the motivations behind the removal of these videos upon contrasting them to other, clearly less scientific talks.

  • Daniel Gill commented on Mar 14 2013

    This is disappointing to me . I am a medium . In 2004, I was in college, and a young girl there told me about her interest in reiki. I was skeptical, but being born in 1985 and growing up in the 1990s, had already been familiar with leylines and people who could channel. I didn’t believe in this back then, but the possible connection between reiki and Shinto intrigued me. So you know what I did? I tried it. I tried doing it by myself, the way I thought someone who was interested in Shinto would – I attempted to commune with the numinous. Back then, I did it on instinct- on feeling. When I was a child, I loved the Unsolved Mysteries television show, and I loved stories about aliens. When I was a child, this was good science. Why say more? I will continue. It gets better.

    I had a kundalini emergence psychosis. I was hospitalized. And I succeeded.

    All that said, now that I am older, wiser, and in University, and forever changed irrevocably by this experience. I underwent the self-loss. I made a sacrifice. And I initiated as a medium. From knowing very little about it to nothing at all . But I did know what the movie Ghostbusters was, and what Poltergeist was.. I was familiar enough with this sub-culture of people to know that they exist, and believe strongly and sincerely that magic is real. It is out there for us to investigate. As skeptics. To experience and to learn about. So anyway… I started taking books out of Concordia University’s library (I live in Montreal, Quebec). So far, I have read all of these, this is my research. Investigate my research. It is worthwhile. I promise.

    The Darkened Room: Women, Power, And Spiritualism In Late Victorian England. by Alex Owen.

    Kut : Happiness Through Reciprocity. by Hyun-key Kim Hogarth

    Korean Shamanism Muism. by Dr. Kim Tae-kon and Dr. Chang Soo-kyung

    The History Of Spiritualism. by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

    Occult Japan: Shinto, Shamanism, Or The Way Of The Gods. by Percival Lowell

    The Essence Of Shinto: Japan’s Spiritual Heart. by Motohisa Yamakage

    Ghosts Of War In Vietnam. by Heonik Kwon

    Spirits Without Borders. by Karen Fjelstad

    When God Talks Back. by T.M. Luhrmann

    Sinister Yogis. by David Gordon White

    The Idea Of The Holy by Rudolf Otto

    The Varieties Of Religious Experience. by William James

    I learned that my psychosis experience, from a sacrifice of ectoplasm or ch’i or prana or whathaveyou, is common all over the world. Be it Vietnam, Korea, Japan, China, India, even Yoga has spirit placation involved. I learned that through this kind of communion, that Christians do as well, that incredible spiritual experiences can take place.

    and it is scientists like Dr. Rupert Sheldrake who continue this research. He is a hero of mine. He helped me to understand what happened to me. and I owe people like this a debt of gratitude for opening me to the wider world. A world in which spirituality, can exist in harmony with the liminal world, and us, that it brings us wholeness, that it helps society .

    and that people are not crazy. This is real. This is my research. It happened to me. And this is the anthropology that confirms that what happened to me is normal.

    Read my research. It is not pseudoscience. It exists.

    • Kyle Martin commented on Mar 15 2013

      Provide us with your methodology and give us from evidence a sample with a valid number of individual data sets.

      Have you ever studied statistics, have you ever had to design a study?

      • Kyle Martin commented on Mar 15 2013

        *some evidence from

    • Kyle Martin commented on Mar 15 2013

      What you claim to be research is not research. You misunderstand the actual definition of the term.

      • Daniel Gill commented on Mar 15 2013

        Dude whatever I am just saying that I had a spiritual emergence psychosis, as a direct result of my interest in Shinto and reiki (more like therapeutic touch). I could write a book right here about all of this studying of mine that I did but I will try to be brief but more clear in the sense that Vietnam, Korea, Japan, all of these cultures, including the spiritualists all considered mania to be a rite of passage, and in William James Varieties of Religious Experience are stories of psychotic awakenings as well. Some of those books are real classics. If you read Rudolf Otto you will see why my experience as a child of watching Unsolved Mysteries was very important to me . but you need to read the references I posted to see what I am talking about. If you don’t want to learn about such standard common sense stuff then fine dont. But the experience of clairaudience, telepathy, is extremely common in ancestor venerating cultures. This is the kind of anthropology texts you ought to read if you want to learn about where Dr. Rupert Sheldrake is coming from. and yes, he is familiar with the stuff I am talking about.

    • Barry Conchie commented on Mar 15 2013

      Sorry Daniel. This is complete pseudoscience.

      • Daniel Gill commented on Mar 15 2013

        I posted legitimate anthropological research, some of which was written by psychiatric professionals. Go seek out this research before saying it is incorrect and see for yourself the kind of thing that is out there . The link between the self-loss, psychosis, shamanism, initiation, and cultures like Vietnam or Korea is well known. but in order to know this, you have to read .

  • JT Torr commented on Mar 14 2013

    The problem with people accepting Hancock’s view is that if you haven’t tried psychedelic drugs, it’s simply a frame of reference you can’t imagine. If you’re against using ‘drugs’, you’re going to form a bias and it’s sad because you miss out on a great experience of life. And it’s just that – an experience. It can’t be put into exact words. You have to experience it to understand it, you can’t just explain it.

    It saddens me deeply that so many people are missing out due to a bias that they didn’t even form themselves – it was more pushed onto them. One day we’ll evolve.

  • Frank Matera commented on Mar 14 2013

    So Prof Dean Radin was right all along… and TED and it’s science board has just proven it.

    There IS a taboo within the Science community around this subject. All of Radin’s points are 100% factually correct now. The science community are so worried about “professional peril” and “ridicule” that most of them would rather ignore the field than investigate it.

    What a joke of an organisation. I am going to make sure every single person I know hears about this… and it just only further proves what I tell them about Science being full of egotistical narcissists.

  • Joe Anderson commented on Mar 14 2013

    The damage done to TED by a few closed minded employees is irreparable. It’s been about 12 hours and they have yet to rebut what Hancock said (guess they need to form a committee to do that) and the charges against Sheldrake are simply laughable. The fact you didn’t even have the decency to give Sheldrake or Hancock a chance to respond to your charges before removing their talks and labeling them pseudoscientists is telling.

  • keithharmon snow commented on Mar 14 2013

    Who are the people on TED’s Science Board?

    We don’t know who the TED science board is. Do we?

    We can see who the advertisers are — the multinational corporations, for example, that sponsor some of the TED talks (TED-X or TED it doesnt matter).

    For example, the SHELDRAKE talk begins with branding by XEROX corporation — a fortune 500 — and several investment funds or banks. Well, big business does not like to be confronted with anything that does not serve its interests, and its interests are to keep people unconscious about where their tax dollars go, where their paper comes from, how much their directors get paid, what sweatshop labor they use in China or Philippines of Nicaragua, etc etc etc.

    The fact is that Sheldrake and Hancock shared IDEAS. Their ideas, whether people like them or not, are their ideas.

    Why doesn’t TED censor other speakers who are far more disturbing in their political, philosophical, ideological, cosmological or ontological perspectives?

    For example: This NATO GENERAL who brings a machine gun on stage and then argues that Guns are the Way to Peace? http://www.ted.com/talks/peter_van_uhm_why_i_chose_a_gun.html This general’s statement is full of racism, and it is based on the very mechanistic worldview that Sheldrake and Hancock have questioned. Why isn’t this guy sanctioned, censored — why isnt the video pulled? Why is his war mongering violent perspective ALLOWED to be perpetuated without challenge?

    Well, I challenge it. It is not factual. For example, the argument that diplomacy failed to stop WW-II. That is complete nonsense: diplomacy was never tried. His presentation is based on irrational emotional sloganism and jingoisms about freedom and democracy. His presentation is full of historical fictions that have actually made their way into the history books. But because he is part of the establishment capitalist mainstream reductionist mechanistic worldview, he is not challenged, and certainly the TED talk is not pulled and relegated to “ideas not worth spreading”. Indeed, his patriotic, nationalistic and fascistic views are not worth spreading. His lies about war — show that he is actually insane. He is actually a mouthpiece for arms sales by western multinational corporate “governments”.

    He asks: WHY HAS VIOLENCE DECREASED — meaning in the modern era. Well, it has not. He cites people who are extremely unconscious to make his shallow fascistic arguments. It is offensive. The man is actually insane.

    Rupert Sheldrakes work is very significant. It is often cited by psychologist Stanislav Grof, whose own consciousness work is phenomenal.

    Hancocks personalized message is the most important message I have seen in 16 minutes in my entire life. Even if he is 10% wrong, he is 90% right. My experience validates his experience.

    These two people call for a radical revisioning of our understanding of consciousness. They ask for an awakening.

    The same shallow arguments were used to censor them as were used to censor Jim Viera, and the censoring of Jim Viera also came from the SCIENCE people at TED, who ever they are.

    I’d like to know WHO the SCIENCE BOAD is at TED.

    Id like to know if any one of them has EVER tried Ayuwasca? I wonder if they do Yoga? I wonder who payes their salaries? What they have published? What they have INVESTED in, in the course of their lives.

    David Ehrenfeld wrote the book on the problem we are facing in this discussion, in these incidents of censorship, and in our societies in general: THE ARROGANCE OF HUMANISM. People are stubborn. They have invested in theories and ideas and hypotheses and their credibility relies on these long careers in mainstream science. But the scientific establishment is killing the planet. Promoting technologies that are wiping out people of color in Congo (10 million or more since the US invasion of 1996, all for minerals used in aerospace and defense).

    And white people are not immune to our scientific rationalistic insanity. And this hits the problem on the head differently: whiteness. Arrogance. Imperialism.

    Sheldrake and Hancock deserve to be heard and are far more deserving that at least 60 % of all TED talks out there. There’s a lot of innovation, creativity, passion, truth, beauty, courage and intelligence in the TED community on line, but there is also a lot of noise, shallowness, and outright ignorance. (The TED talk by the scientist saying we need to colonize MARS now suddenly comes to mind as another example of wrong headed thinking — in this case it is also IMMORAL and UNETHICAl. But will TED’s Science Board ever censor him?)

    Let the videos stand. There is no argument that can be made to remove them that is honest.

    My profound blessings and thanks to Graham Hancock and Rupert Sheldrake.

    keith harmon snow

    WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR?
    TED-X Shelburne Falls
    November 2012

    P.S. It seems that Chris Anderson from TED has just now made this statement below in reply to Graham Hancock (wherein he also comments that Hancock and the thread should be calmed down, since Hancock has apparently whipped his supporters into a fury. I had not ever heard of Hancock until two hours ago):

    “I’m currently tied up at National Geographic in DC helping launch the TEDxDeExtinction event (which, by the way, is an indication that we have no problem with radical scientific ideas per se.)

    If Chris Andersen at TED thinks that National Geographic is a “radical scientific” anything, he is rather making it clear that there is no hope for Sheldrake or Hancock — or any non-mechanistic thinking — in the TED community. National Geographic is the very problem, not the solution. My exposes on the Nat Geo as an institution of propaganda and imperialism can be found on line.

    • Joe Anderson commented on Mar 14 2013

      Yes, we have no idea who comprises this “Science Board”. Why not let people know who at TED objected to these talks and got the ball rolling when it came to getting them removed? What was the vote among the Science Board members? How many of them were there? Are they paid TED employees? I hope the folks at TED actually start answering some questions, because all this talk of “radical openness” is looking a bit farcical at the moment.

    • Frank Matera commented on Mar 14 2013

      Yes you are doing what I have just started doing. I’m going through every TED science talk to find “opinions based on no evidence” and “mistakes”.

      I reckon 90% of the videos on TED would need to be removed when I am finished with them, and if they aren’t I will be making it public and contacting some influential friends within the mainstream media that will make sure it is made public. Each and every one of your sponsors will also be made aware of what is going on and if they want to also ignore it and continue sponsoring you then they will be linked publically as well.

      Absolute Hypocrisy.

      • keithharmon snow commented on Mar 14 2013

        Indeed, but, alas, it is not worth your time. We both know what you will find, and people who are mechanistic — well, what we are talking about is outside their capacity to understand. Thank you

    • John Campbell commented on Mar 15 2013

      “Chris s Andersen at TED thinks that National Geographic is a “radical scientific” anything, he is rather making it clear that there is no hope for Sheldrake or Hancock — or any non-mechanistic thinking — in the TED community. National Geographic is the very problem, not the solution. My exposes on the Nat Geo as an institution of propaganda and imperialism can be found on line”

      Bravo! Well said! I’d only add that there’s no hope that TED will ever have any interesting talks on science, since the real interesting stuff is happening outside the mainstream. Nothing interesting ever comes out of National Geographic, and if Mr. Robinson thinks they’re radical, well, at least we know what TED stands for and that’s Orthodoxy and dogmatic thinking, at least when it comes to science.

      • John Campbell commented on Mar 15 2013

        Oops, I meant Mr. Anderson. Apologies to Mr. Robinson, whoever he is. ;-)

    • Mysterious Stranger commented on Mar 17 2013

      TED’s Science Board probably consists of hardcore materialist atheists like Richard Dawkins and his ilk… whose heads explode the moment you even suggest the possibility that humans may not be merely biochemical robots or chunks of matter without intentionality…

  • Michael Larkin commented on Mar 14 2013

    Well, Well, TED. You have just shot yourself in the foot. I used to love (most of) your videos, but because of your mishandling of Sheldrake and Hancock, I have discovered a different take on you: in the opinion of Eddie Huang on the Rogan show, you are behaving like a weird cult. Whether that’s true or false, I wouldn’t have come across that if you hadn’t engaged in censorship of someone I greatly admire and respect, Rupert Sheldrake. And please, don’t try to pretend that you haven’t–it’s just insulting.

    This is a genie you won’t be able to put back in the bottle. It remains to be seen how much damage you will sustain, but there could be a sizable number of folks who will be hoping that as a result of this your reputation will be terminally tarnished and that you will fizzle back into the ether whence you came.

    • Toby Randel commented on Mar 14 2013

      My guess is that the management at TED believe that they are too big to fail. I too predict that they are wrong. The internet has allowed us to break through the walls of censorship around the world, and I doubt that TED will be able to turn back this tide. It is not only people who like Sheldrake or Hancock who are angered by this attempt to restrict knowledge.

  • Darin Arrowood commented on Mar 14 2013

    LOL And thus begins the fall of TED! The “scientific advisors” at TED are absolute idiots. Unbelievable!

    • Toby Randel commented on Mar 14 2013

      I suspect that the “scientific advisors” is a fancy way of saying – one influential “skeptic” blogger.

      • Joe Anderson commented on Mar 14 2013

        Jerry Coyne? I noticed that he complained Sheldrake and then complained about Hancock and surprise, surprise- look at what got removed. The TED employee who opened up a “discussion” about the Sheldrake video a week ago (in the spirit of radical openness- LOL!) even thanked Coyne for bringing it to her attention. Anyway, pretty sad state of affairs when TED is taking orders from a ridiculous blogger who is obsessed with cats. HaHa!

        • Toby Randel commented on Mar 14 2013

          Jerry Coyne is a complete hypocrite. He has called for censorship twice in the last week, but he also says:

          “Censorship like this is not good for academic discourse; it serves only to protect the weak bastion of theology from the cannons of reason.”

          One of the downsides of the popularity of blogs it allows a non-entity like Coyne to develop a following. The guy gave up on science a long time ago, so that he could focus on attention seeking within the “skeptical movement”. He obviously found that it is easier to make a name for himself this way than actually trying to add to human knowledge.

  • Frank Matera commented on Mar 14 2013

    What an absolute joke. Pseudoscience? I cannot belive TED wrote THIS in regards to Rupert Sheldrake.

    “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”

    Really guys? Are you seriously suggesting it is generally accepted that animals have some form of consciousness and there’s MUCH RESEARCH exploring the idea.

    How about TED now back up THEIR claims. Show us this research where Sciecne accepts animals have consciousness. That is absolute rubbish and nothing but baseless proclamation.

    Human and Animal Consciousness is one of the most important if not THE most important question that could ever be answered by science… yet please show me the figures as to what percentage of the scientific community is currently ACTIVELY involved in studying this?

    Why don’t you do a poll of scientists and ask them how many believe humans and animals have consciousness that is not all illusionary and created by the brain.

    It’s time you started showing your evidence.

  • Isaac Takeuchi commented on Mar 14 2013

    Before today I was a huge TED fan I had never heard of Graham Hancock. Now I am just exceptionally disappointed in an organization that I thought had an absolute commitment to spreading new ideas. I thought the motto was “ideas worth spreading” not “theories proven”. I do not see how this kind of relegation of certain ideas to a separate portion of the website is anything less then fear driven gate keeping. Judging from the response from YOUR fans, it seems the demeaning gesture it’s only embarrassing you and indicative of your intellectual biases. I can’t help but think if that this is the work of an entity indoctrinated in Western imperialism and a spiritual phobic scientific community. I thought the sciences have progressed beyond classical mechanics? Spiritual consciousness is no longer a flight of whimsy in our quantum world and it’s time that we start taking these pioneers of greater consciousness seriously.

  • Isaac Takeuchi commented on Mar 14 2013

    Before today I was a huge TED fan I had never heard of Graham Hancock. Now I am just exceptionally disappointed in an organization that I thought had an absolute commitment to spreading new ideas. I thought the motto was “ideas worth spreading” not “theories proven”. I do not see how this kind of relegation of certain ideas to a separate portion of the website is anything less then fear driven gate keeping. Judging from the response from YOUR fans, it seems the demeaning gesture it’s only embarrassing you and indicative of your intellectual biases. I can’t help but think if that thus is the work of an entity indoctrinated in Western imperialism and a spiritual phobic scientific community. I thought the sciences have progressed beyond classical mechanics? Spiritual consciousness is no longer a flight of whimsy in our quantum world and it’s time that we start taking these pioneers of greater consciousness seriously.

  • Conor O'Higgins commented on Mar 14 2013

    “He states as fact that psychotropic drug use is essential for an “emergence into consciousness,” ”
    Excuse me, but he actually said, “researchers led by David Lewis Williams at the University of wiswatisrand in South Africa, and many others, have suggested an intriguing and radical possibility, which is that this emergence into consciousness was triggered by our ancestors’ encounters with visionary plants and the beginning of shamanism.”

  • Trevor Oswalt commented on Mar 14 2013

    Oh … little Rupert pissed off your “science board”? They don’t like being criticized? – don’t like a boy painting outside the lines? Good idea to take your ball and shun the freaks to the “blog website”, change their video url’s … as if you’re afraid of support or conversation that might be catalyzed by their radical ideas. What are we, five? I think your audience can make up their own mind about the accuracy and efficacy of the content. Get off your big brother thrown and let content be free, open, and diverse. Goodbye TED.

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