Saturday, April 13, 2013

letting more hot air out of TED...,

realitysandwich | The cause of our concern: while the original criticism against Hancock and Sheldrake was later retracted -- literally crossed out on the blog page -- after the speakers rebutted it, the initial decision to remove the videos still held. Statements from TED staff implied that the presentations were "pseudoscience," but no specific allegations were made. Both Rupert Sheldrake and Graham Hancock offered to debate a member of the anonymous science board, or any other representative, about actual criticisms, but got no response. To an outsider, TED's actions are baffling.

In your personal statements you say that TED is not censoring the videos, since they are available on a back page of your site, and technically that may be true. But by relegating them to obscure blogs that are not indexed as part of the regular pool of TEDx talks, the unequivocal message is that these talks are not fit to be seen among the thousands of other presentations that TED offers through YouTube. Somehow they were mistakes that slipped through and need to be quarantined from the "good" TED talks, to keep them from contamination. Given TED's influence, this treatment is unfairly damaging to the reputations of the speakers singled out.

The subsequent cancellation of TEDxWestHollywood's license, apparently due to the involvement of three of its speakers, who were named in a letter from TED staff, seems to be a continuation of the same baffling behavior. Again, the only reason given was a vague reference to "pseudoscience."  But why these speakers? What had they done to justify reprimand -- especially since TEDxWestHollywood had been in development for a year and was only two weeks from taking place?

The five people identified as problematic by TED work in different fields. Rupert Sheldrake is a biologist. Graham Hancock is a journalist who has written about archeological ruins. Larry Dossey is a doctor. Russell Targ is a physicist. Marylin Schlitz is a social anthropologist and consciousness researcher. The one subject they all have in common is a shared interest in the non-locality of consciousness, the possibility that consciousness extends beyond the brain. Each speaker has devoted many years to the rigorous study of consciousness through the lens of their respective disciplines, and they have come up with provocative results.

Through its actions, TED appears to be drawing a line around this area of investigation and marking it as forbidden territory. Is this true? In the absence of any detailed reasoning in TED's public statements, it's hard to avoid this conclusion. It would seem that, despite your statement that "TED is 100% committed to open enquiry, including challenges to orthodox thinking," that enquiry appears to not include any exploration of consciousness as a non-local phenomenon, no matter how it may be approached.


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