The Weiler Psi

Parapsychology Journalism: The People, The Theory, The Science, The Skeptics

TED Chased by “Army of Passionate Supporters” Escapes Into TARDIS

This is a follow up to two previous posts:  The first was: The Psi Wars Come to TED  The second was: TED Swings the Banhammer: It Rebounds Into Their Face

For those of you who are not Sci-Fi fanatics, here’s Wikipedia to the rescue:

The TARDIS[nb 1][1] (/ˈtɑːdɪs/ (Time and Relative Dimension in Space)[nb 2] is a time machine and spacecraft in the British science fiction television programme Doctor Who

“Not only can we go back in time and reverse the criticism, we can also hold our TED talks in here! Double win!”

Under unrelenting pressure soaring to over a thousand comments, as well as a great deal of negativity on the web where the psi blogosphere united to condemn the censorship, TED finally realized that it wasn’t going to blow over or go away and relented . . . sort of.  They’re hoping to jump into their time machine for a do over.  Here’s the relevant passage in the blog post TED put out today:

What happened next was unfortunate. We wrote to the TEDx organizer indicating our intention and asking her to take the talks off Youtube so that we could repost. She informed the speakers of what was coming, but somehow the part about the talks staying online got lost in translation. Graham Hancock put out an immediate alert that he was about to be “censored”, his army of passionate supporters deluged us with outraged messages, and we then felt compelled to accelerate our blog post and used language that in retrospect was clumsy. We suggested that we were flagging the talks because of “factual errors” but some of the specific examples we gave were less than convincing. Instead of the thoughtful conversation we had hoped for, we stirred up angry responses from the speakers and their supporters.

We would like to try again.

We plan to repost both talks in individual posts on our blog tomorrow, Tuesday; note a couple of areas where scientists or the community have raised questions or concerns about the talks; and invite a reasoned discussion from the community. And there will be a simple rule regarding responses. Reason only. No insults, no intemperate language. From either side. Comments that violate this will be removed. The goal here is to have an open conversation about:

– the line between science and pseudoscience

– how far TED and TEDx should go in giving exposure to unorthodox ideas

We will use the reasoned comments in this conversation to help frame both our guidelines going forward, and our process for managing talks that are called into question.

Army of passionate supporters?”  Huh?  TED seems to think Hancock has a bunch of groupies that follow him around and hang on his every word.  Same with Sheldrake.  While these are both fine gentlemen, I’m sure, and I would treat them to dinner if they ever came this way, (Buck’s Restaurant is way cool) I, and nearly every other protesting commenter were not motivated by our undying love for them.  Rather, we were reacting to a clumsy and obvious skeptical power play hell bent on suppressing these two talks.  That’s the real reason that everyone was so pissed off.

Sheldrake was not fooled either.  In his response he wrote:

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.

The original discussion area has been revised to include Sheldrake’s and Hancock’s full responses and cross out the criticisms for both Sheldrake and Hancock.  Can’t argue with that response.  It’s a pretty fair thing to do.

TED is also distinguishing between scientists, on the one hand and the community on the other.  Just a head’s up TED;  the rabble is amazingly well educated.  That community is full of scientists.

The blog, if you take the time to read it, reeks of backpedaling and revisionist history.

Nowhere do they explain why their science board cooked up their ridiculous reasons for taking down the videos in the first place.  I mean, seriously?  None of these fine, exceedingly well educated people thought to, you know, go through the videos to see if their accusations were true?  Or, here’s a thought, ask the presenters for more information?   So poorly thought out were these reasons that Hancock destroyed them with two words: “Show me.”  Unsurprisingly, Sheldrake was able to produce the mysterious studies that the science board believed didn’t exist.  And on and on.  The reasons for taking the videos down in the first place were pure crap and everyone knew it.

It is glaringly obvious that this “scientific board”  decided first that the videos were unscientific based on their emotional prejudices, and then went looking for reasons to justify this action.  It is not especially explainable any other way.

The good news is that TED is hopping in their time machine for a do over.  The bad news is that they may be looking for other, more supportable, but ultimately crap reasons for taking the videos down.  I say this because I have seen no hint of change in the overall condescending attitude.  They will be back where they started if they do that, but they don’t know it yet.

To TED’s credit, they are continuing the dialog instead of just shutting it all down.  Half-assed censorship is way better than full censorship and they deserve credit for that.

Either way, what has been happening is just incredible.  First, a shout out to all the amazing blogs that have been covering this:  (Thanks to Sandy for collecting a lot of these.)

(If I’ve missed any, let me know and I’ll add them.)

Second, here’s a shout out to all the people who have been commenting and have been pressuring TED to not kowtow to these skeptics.

We’ll have to do this again.  And again, and again.  Each time we’ll have more people on our side and we’ll make a little more noise.  At some point, we’ll be loud enough that our wrath will be more unpleasant than allowing us a place at the table.  It’s a long road, but we just took a big step.  I’ve never seen anything like it.

37 comments on “TED Chased by “Army of Passionate Supporters” Escapes Into TARDIS

  1. Pingback: The Way Out of the TED Mess, #1: The Problem | Conscious Life News

  2. Pingback: The way out of the TED mess, #1: The Problem | MindFutres

  3. Excellent article! Great list of coverage on the issue. Here’s a lengthy blog post I wrote with my thoughts on the whole things:

    THANKS TED, for giving Mother Ayahuasca her big break! 🙂

    It’d be lovely to have it included on your list! 🙂

    • craigweiler
      March 26, 2013

      I had actually already seen your article and bookmarked it for inclusion, but got sidetracked.

      Thank you. You’re added.

  4. marcustanthony
    March 23, 2013

    I have also been covering this issue fairly extensively:

  5. Fran Theis
    March 22, 2013

    Looks like Russell Targ will be doing a TED talk April 14!!

    • Michelle
      March 22, 2013

      I hope it comes to pass! But how long will the talk be up until TED is pressured into censoring that as well?

      I hope it doesn’t happen and that no controversy follows his talk.

      • Suzanne Taylor
        March 23, 2013

        Talk has solid evidence. Controversy could be good. Pressure for sanity. Wondering about collecting talks that snuck by before the thought police came on duty. Arguments for a different worldview, that it would behoove us to be talking about.

        • Sandy
          March 23, 2013

          You have to wonder how much more of this will the TEDx organizers put up with before they go rogue and post censored material on their own websites. There is already pressure to stop the Hollywood TEDx from even taking place. Those talks will fortunately be streamed live, but after that they will likely disappear unless someone defies the TED people and makes a break from the main organization.

  6. oikiodu
    March 21, 2013

    Great post!

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  9. Anthony McCarthy
    March 20, 2013

    Someone more familiar with the obvious campaign by the “Skepticism”/atheism industry needs to give us a linked index of things like Myer’s crowing about his fan boys “editing” Wikipedia and the Myers/Coye/Carroll attempts to censor and blacklist. I see it as a continuation of the Paul Kurtz alphabet soup of “groups” doing the same thing, often involving the same atheist inquisitors. We need an organized resource documenting this kind of thing.

    One thing I’d like to know is who funds the more respectable face of the effort, things like “Big Think”. Someone has paid for all of those professionally produced videos, nearing the 10,000 mark soon. It has to be a pretty expensive effort. It’s clear there’s been a takeover at TED, as well. I think it should be a requirement that there be complete transparency in funding and support of these clearly ideological propaganda campaigns in the guise of science and intellectual inquiry. As we can see, their openness is largely an illusion and they do have real effects in culture. I’m old enough to remember the pre-CSICOP university before the level of intellectual intimidation and coercion reached new highs. The “Skepticism” industry is neo-Stalinist, I’ve long guessed its more organized form may have been funded by the actual Stalinist, Corliss Lamont. His buyout of the more genteel original “Humanists” was a real dividing line, bringing Paul Kurtz into leadership that he parleyed into his empire of shell corporations and alphabet soup “groups”.

    • craigweiler
      March 20, 2013

      It’s an interesting proposition and worth looking into.

      This is not something I’m going to pursue personally. I’m going in a different direction.

      My experience is that there are probably more mundane explanations. Funding is easy for skeptics to come by, as they control the machinery. And they are inclined to work together because this seems to be part of their authority belief system.

      • Anthony McCarthy
        March 20, 2013

        It was one of the things that Marcello Truzzi gave as one of the reasons he left CSICOP, that Kurtz and, as I recall, the others, said there would be a wall separating CSICOP from the “Humanists”, which was known t to be in the pocket of Lamont. That wall of separation never really appeared. I have long suspected that Kurtz got some of his seed money from Corliss Lamont. The more I looked into his activities, the more damage I thought he produced for liberalism in the United States. If I had the time and ability to look for documentation, I would like to trace his funding and the damage it did. The unfair association made to him certainly didn’t do his nephew’s Senate run any good, which was too bad.

        The role Kurtz played in the “Skepticism”/atheism industry is a major and largely untold story. He liked to hide behind celebrities for a lot of it. The major documentation of it is, ironically, through the skeptics Dennis Rawlins and Richard Kammann. Truzzi could probably say a lot more than he did, too bad he was so mild mannered. I’m glad to see Sheldrake isn’t falling into that habit.

  10. Anonymous
    March 19, 2013

    Love the Bullshit Amplifyer / Detector and it’s off-the-scale reading! Genius!

  11. Red Pill Junkie
    March 19, 2013

    The TED brouhaha was discussed on Mysterious Universe’s episode 710 (for subscribers only)

    I also added it on my Red Pills of the Week –but it’s OK if you don’t add this one on your list of ‘amazing blogs’ covering this story, as mine hardly qualifies 😉

    • craigweiler
      March 19, 2013

      Thanks, I added The Red Pill blog post to the list. Even if you’re not getting a ton of views, (we’ve all been there) it still serves to help demonstrate the level of interest.

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  13. Howard Christian
    March 19, 2013

    Thanks for the ping back, I’m honored to have my post featured here. Namaste.

    • craigweiler
      March 19, 2013

      Glad to provide it. I think it makes a difference. I’ve been trying to get the S.F. Chronicle to pick up the story and it helps to show a boatload of blogs that have done so already to demonstrate the interest level. So far, it’s not working, but there may come a time . . .

  14. been following all this rigamarole with intense interest over the last several days. awesome, news-worthy, weird, etc. i hope some larger circulation news blog picks it up but my breath will not be held.

    i’m a fan of both rupert and graham. i like how they speak, i don’t lose sleep over whether some of their views are not accepted by consensus. i also don’t lose sleep whether those views are right or wrong, true or false. i love ideas that stimulate thought and i am fully aware that there is simply too much out there/in here for any one person to confidently know. so off to the buffet of ideas i go ! it’s all delicious. bring it on, i say.

    i do not know what all this means to the future of science and psi. i do hope that one day all fields of inquiry will be accorded equal respect. i have faith 😉 that science needs no gatekeepers.

    i also would like to stress that throwing out false binaries like skeptic/proponent is a good idea. i do not consider folks who insult others as either skeptical or reasonable. i know many skeptics who do not stoop so low as to dismiss things out of hand. there must be another word to use. i also get upset when the word scientist is used as if to refer solely to the status quo, heck even hancock has used the word as if its dirty. the fringes are swarming with scientists. let us all be careful of the words we use, employing qualifiers and adjectives whenever we can.

    thanks for your posts, craig. keep up the good work. found your blog via paranormalia, btw.

    • craigweiler
      March 19, 2013

      Thank you for the compliments. I understand your hesitation about using terms like skeptics and proponents, but we are stuck with them. People take sides and we need an easy identifier. Typically, though, the term pseudo skeptic is used to indicate a hardcore irrational resistance to psi, thus sparing the word skeptic from carrying all of the baggage.

      • thanks for the reply.

        i must admit a bias towards psi and my recent investigations on the web reveals to me that the whole pseudo skepticism VS pseudo science affair appears unable to reach resolution.

        this is what i understand so far.
        scientific investigators have every right to call out pseudo skeptics as such, if such skeptics have revealed their bias almost fanatically.
        the said skeptics froth at the accusation at worse or ignore the opinion of those they disdain at best.
        skeptics who charge researchers into psi, etc as dealing with pseudo science appear ignorant of the field(s) they dismiss, making blanket statements.
        genuine skeptics investigate, poke around, make friends, start reasonable discussions, etc., even if they don’t/won’t for one second entertain certain realities.

        i for one am baffled by any notion of mutual exclusivity between science and spirituality. i believe the method of science is fully applicable to most phenomena.
        i am also of the mind that some natural phenomena may be somehow able to evade regular or systematic study. i can understand such things being outside of the domain of science. but anything outside said domain should not be ridiculed. that’s not science either.

        i get upset when reading scoffing articles by some skeptics. i am also aware that the many people who read the same articles do not get upset. they may even feel happy that so-called ridiculous notions are being put down. these same people may be generous, smart, funny, etc. i like the right/left brain connotations here.

        all that said, the pseudo sciences out there do not include the genuine sciences called such by pseudo skeptics.
        the pseudo skeptics out there do not include the genuine skeptics that are allies of the genuine sciences mentioned above.

        i’m waiting for genuine skeptics to get louder, calling out the people tarnishing that label.
        i’m waiting for more (mainstream ? courageous ?) scientists to stand up for their colleagues in parapsychology and the other sciences that investigate the unknown.

        sorry for the out pouring. i’ve held back from commenting on all the myriad comment streams this last week.
        forgive any over wordy elaboration. next time it’ll be all bumperstickers !

        thanks again

        • Fran Theis
          March 19, 2013

          I’ve mentioned this book before on Craig’s blog, but I think it’s worth repeating, because you seem ready for Dean Radin’s epic meta-analysis of scientific psi research entitled The Conscious Universe. This book is a giant in the field of parapsychology/consciousness/psi/spirituality and will definitely help bring you up to speed.

        • craigweiler
          March 19, 2013

          I totally understand where you’re coming from. It’s one of the stages of dealing with parapsychology.

          I’ve learned that this is war. While that seems harsh, this is the product of experience. This has been going on for 140 years and the only way to bring an end to it is to fight. That’s what’s going on with TED.

          People have stopped being agreeable and understanding and started to get in the faces of skeptics. No one is going to give this to us or be reasonable, we have to take it.

          • i read you loud and clear.

            i find it so sad to have to fight for something proven and true. but same goes for womens rights, kids rights, animal rights and a constellation of social justice and environmental issues that keep getting dragged back to the dark ages.

            gotta encourage people to feel/listen to their subtle bodies, which i’m confident is occurring in some quarters.

  15. moniquestevenson
    March 19, 2013

    Saying ‘militant atheist’ does not EVER help your case…but on the other hand, this is freakin’ awesome. Pure. Win.

  16. John Dabbs
    March 19, 2013

    Thanks for your efforts to (en)lighten the dark corners of the inquisition. “Pseudo intellectuals, not worth the effort.”

  17. Frank43
    March 18, 2013

    I couldn’t stop smiling as I read Sheldrake’s response. He destroyed them and made them look like a bunch of idiots. It was a thing of beauty. 🙂

  18. Fran Theis
    March 18, 2013

    Now if only TED will invite Dean Radin to do a presentation!! His data, logic and common sense is needed at this point in time!!!

    • Sandy
      March 18, 2013

      That won’t happen if Jerry Coyne is the head of TED’s anonymous science board.

  19. Sandy
    March 18, 2013

    Thank you for putting up my list! TED had disabled the links, so it was nice of you to make it available. It was an intense 20 minutes worth of work, lol. (TED shut down my conversation 5 days early and gave me a very limited amount of time to enter my final comment, less than 20 minutes to get it done.)

    • craigweiler
      March 18, 2013

      You made my job a lot easier. Thank you. Did you notice that there were more additions?

      • Sandy
        March 18, 2013

        I didn’t check them all out, but I knew there were more links than what I had room for on my last TED post. I was limited by space as well as by time. I needed a Tardis!

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This entry was posted on March 18, 2013 by in parapsychology, Psi Wars, Skeptics and Skeptic Arguments and tagged , , .
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