The Weiler Psi

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

TED Do Over In Progress: Two New Discussions Open Up

TED has created two new threads for discussing the videos, separating them, even though the issues surrounding them are identical.    A point that seems lost on TED.  Divide and conquer?

Here are the links:

The debate about Rupert Sheldrake’s talk
The debate about Graham Hancock’s talk

Related posts:


Sheldrake weighs in:  (and my reply comment)

I appreciate the fact that TED published my response to the accusations levelled against me by their Scientific Board, and also crossed out the Board’s statement on the “Open for discussion” blog.

There are no longer any specific points to answer. I am all in favour of debate, but it is not possible to make much progress through short responses to nebulous questions like “Is this an idea worth spreading, or misinformation?”

I would be happy to take part in a public debate with a scientist who disagrees with the issues I raise in my talk. This could take place online, or on Skype. My only condition is that it be conducted fairly, with equal time for both sides to present their arguments, and with an impartial moderator, agreed by both parties.

Therefore I ask Chris Anderson to invite a scientist from TED’s Scientific Board or TED’s Brain Trust to have a real debate with me about my talk, or if none will agree to take part, to do so himself.

  • This is a very, very good point. You’re being put through a Kafkaesque Double Secret Probation here where you’ve been accused of a crime but you don’t even know the charges.

    Perhaps TED would be so kind as to at least provide Mr. Sheldrake with the reasons for this tribunal, uh debate?


3 comments on “TED Do Over In Progress: Two New Discussions Open Up

  1. marcustanthony
    March 22, 2013

    The TEdx Whitechapel team posted a response to TED here:

    It might be a bit hard to find as the thread is so huge, so I cut and paste it here. It’s quite long, but worth sharing, I think.

    Amrita Bhohi commented on Mar 22 2013 Reply
    **OPEN LETTER FROM TEDxWHITECHAPEL TEAM** Please join our call to TED to take the best course of action for all.

    Dear Chris, Lara, and the TED team

    We, the TEDxWhitechapel team – the initiators and co-curators of the event – have deeply reflected on your actions to remove the talks of two of our speakers Rupert Sheldrake and Graham’s Hancock from the official TEDx Youtube channel. We wish to clearly and openly express our views on the matter with the intention of constructively contributing to the discussion as well as to highlight potential pathways for moving forward which are mutually beneficial to all parties involved; our speakers, the TED corporation, and the TED community.

    We want to begin by sharing what TED means to us.

    We have been genuinely transformed through many of the inspiring TEDTalks; they have profoundly challenged our perceptions of and assumptions about the world, opening us up to new perspectives outside of the established mainstream thinking. Moreover, we really believe TED to be an ingenious medium to spread ideas across the globe. As such, TED represents the free and open flow and exchange of ideas globally, enriching and empowering an increasingly connected global community.

    And it is with this passion that we decided to host a TEDx event with the theme “Visions for Transition: Challenging Existing Paradigms and Redefining Values (for a more beautiful world)’. We believe that in order to deal with the diverse and complex crises converging on our planet, we need to challenge the dominant thought paradigms and radically reassess the values which govern our world. In line with Einsteins wisdom “problems cannot be solved with the same level of thinking that created them” we saw TED as a truly special platform.

    You can understand therefore, how shocked and saddened we were when we were alerted to the news that you had decided to remove Graham and Rupert’s talk from the TEDx Youtube channel and furthermore the disrespectful way in which they were treated publicly on the TED blog where you moved them.
    We would like to offer our insights to you, as to why we chose to invite these speakers. We were guided by the advice that TED gives for identifying great speakers, which was as follows.

    To build a powerful speaker program, seek out extraordinary voices in your local community who have a unique story or an unusual perspective — and who can convey it in a dynamic way.

    Local voices that few have heard before

    People who can present their field in a new light

    Perspectives that the global TED community may not have access to
    Speakers whose work fits your event theme

    Furthermore, tips for speakers include:
    Dream big. Strive to create the best talk you have ever given. Reveal something never seen before. Do something the audience will remember forever. Share an idea that could change the world.

    Controversy energizes!

    We find that Rupert and Graham meet this criteria extremely well. Please also note that Rupert Sheldrake addressed his concerns to us that in the 18 minute format, he would not be able to give a comprehensive explanation of the complex and extensive research and ideas explored in his book. To quote from our response to him, “TED is not supposed to be a source of knowledge, but one of ideas and creativity, which inspire and stimulate to further engage with them.”

    Naturally, we don’t expect TED to agree with the content of the talks, nor are we suggesting that they represent the ‘truth’. We think science offers us a kind of lens with which to view an unfathomably complex world. These speakers challenge the mainstream scientifically accepted viewpoints and this is exactly where their value lies. TED is a platform where these different points of view can be shared, debated and challenged so that we can collectively keep evolving and developing in our understanding.

    In fact, in light of this situation, we are now even stronger in our conviction that these are valuable ideas that need to be discussed and debated widely. The massive response from the TED community and the conversations which this has sparked, tells us that there is much interest in these ideas and therefore that they are highly valuable to the science debate. Indeed, if they were so totally radical and ridiculous as you suggest they are, it leads us to wonder why they have they been worthy of so much attention? Both talks have simultaneously been supported and challenged, which for us reflects a model of how the progression of scientific understanding develops and flows.
    Therefore, we do not support your actions to put the talks on separate blogs where they are hidden from the TED community, cannot be shared, and where the conversation is limited. We also oppose the lack of integrity with which they have been treated. In particular, It is obvious that the content of many of the other existing TEDtalks would not hold up to scrutiny were the same criteria applied to them. Furthermore, we hope that you would grant your community the respect to use their own faculties of discretion and reasoning with regard to the ideas and content of the talks.

    As such, we request and urge you to re-upload the talks not only to the TEDx youtube channel, but also on the official site, including links to the discussions taking place on the TED blog. We also see this as a vital opportunity for TED to enhance their reputation as a forum for the free flow and sharing of ideas and open debate and an opportunity to win back the trust which may have been lost.

    We think the controversy over these talks is a wonderful opportunity for TED to clarify and strengthen it’s commitment to free thought, especially in the face of pressure from highly committed ideological interests from the blogosphere. Otherwise, we fear that TED will take a lot of criticism for censorship. Several of the other speakers, even if they don’t fully agree with Sheldrake’s and Hancock’s positions, are quite upset that their videos were removed. At our urging, they have been holding back from going public, waiting to see how this plays out. It would be a shame if this ends up causing negative publicity.
    We hope that you will consider this as an opportunity to become a resilient and remarkable organisation: one that has the capacity to be self-reflective, self-critical, adapt to change, evolve and grow with its communities and the challenges it faces. Most of all, that you can stay true to your values as a democratic and open platform for ideas worth spreading.

    It seems to us that enhancing Radical Openness by accepting our invitation to reinstate the talks publicly online, is an outcome that can benefit all parties involved.

    We appreciate your time to consider our message.
    With hope for a positive outcome for all

    Amrita, Stefana, Jennifer

  2. Thomas Bryson
    March 21, 2013

    Advances in science come when the context is expanded, just as personal issues are healed when they can find a place in a larger context.

    All the perspectives are true within their own contexts, including strictly mechanistic science! It has its place, it just isn’t enough when the context is expanded to include Relativity Theory. But then Einstein found ‘that spooky action at a distance’ in quantum physics to be unsettling.

    And Quantum physics is inadequate to describe the role of consciousness in what David Bohm called a Holographic Universe, where everything is inter-dependent and inter-penetrating.

    Expanding the context is threatening to a narrowly defined identity and will be resisted. Rightly so, from the perspective of short-term survival. Wrongly so, from the perspective of long-term survival. Can humanity move to long-term strategies? Not easily. Only with pain and suffering probably.

    In my opinion the TED blogs, whether combined or separate, serve no purpose. It is not a dialogue or exchange of information. It seems more to be a series of monologues, mostly left unheard and unheeded.

  3. Anthony McCarthy
    March 20, 2013

    Why does the phrase “divide and ignore” come to mind?

    TED gave in to Meyers and Coyne, they rewarded their campaign of intimidation. The only way they can get out of it is to repost the videos on YouTube and to publish an honest explanation of why they did what they did. It’s obvious what that is but they have made that necessary for the excuse they gave already.

    I’d not hold my breath waiting for that to happen.

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