Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Scientists Intervene in TED Controversy

There was a stunning intervention in the TED controversy by 19 leading scientists. In brief it looks like TED Curator Chris Anderson opened Pandora's Box -- further details below -- when he authorised the removal of talks by myself and Rupert Sheldrake from the TEDx Youtube channel. Rupert's talk was entitled "The Science Delusion", my talk was entitled "The War on Consciousness", and both can be viewed, in context -- scroll down on this TED blog page
The reason the talks are still on the TED website at all (even if sequestrated to the blog) is because of the internet furore that erupted following the removal of the talks from the TEDx Youtube channel. Let me put on record here how deeply grateful I am for the solidarity and intelligent, well thought-out intervention of many members my online community. Without this I believe TED would have been able to sweep the whole matter under the carpet. And I note how dismissive and insulting TED were: "Graham Hancock put out an immediate alert that he was about to be 'censored' [and] his army of passionate supporters deluged us with outraged messages". See here.

There's a lot to be learnt about TED's attitude towards the general public from that short phrase, which does not recognise the intelligence, integrity and independent thought of the thousands who wrote to them but instead lumps all together as an "army of passionate supporters". I for my part feel honoured to have been given that support but I recognise that it was never about me; rather it was about the ideas and principles that are at stake. Even so, TED demonstrated its contempt by refusing to answer the appeals that I and Rupert Sheldrake made for an open, live debate on the core issues (see here, and here) and by ignoring all the thousands of posts put on their blog by members of the general public (SEE HERE: http://www.ted.com/conversations/17190/the_debate_about_graham_hancoc.html
AND HERE: http://www.ted.com/conversations/17189/the_debate_about_rupert_sheldr.html
AND HERE: http://blog.ted.com/2013/03/14/open-for-discussion-graham-hancock-and-rupert-sheldrake/
AND HERE: http://blog.ted.com/2013/03/18/graham-hancock-and-rupert-sheldrake-a-fresh-take/)

Perhaps by turning a deaf ear to criticism TED hoped they would get away with it. But it is clear now that they are not going to be allowed to do so.

The mainstream media picked up the story on 7 April with this article in one of Britain's leading national newspapers, the Independent on Sunday. The article also appeared in the Belfast Telegraph three days later on 10 April.

Then the following happened in quick succession:

(1) On 18 April an open letter to TED deeply critical of TED's decision to remove talks by myself and Rupert Sheldrake from the TEDx Youtube channel was published in the Huffington Post. The letter was written by Deepak Chopra, MD, Stuart Hameroff, MD (Professor of Anesthesiology and Psychology, Director of Consciousness Studies, at the University of Arizona), Menas C. Kafatos, Ph.D (Fletcher Jones Endowed Professor in Computational Physics, Director, Center of Excellence, Chapman University), Rudolph E. Tanzi, Ph.D (Joseph P. and Rose F. Kennedy Professor of Neurology at Harvard University and Director of the Genetics and Ageing Research Unit at Massachusetts General Hospital), and Neil Theise, MD (Professor, Pathology and Medicine, Beth Israel Medical Center -- Albert Einstein College of Medicine, New York). 
(2) On 19 April Ted Curator Chris Anderson replied in the Huffington Post with some slick, evasive PR-speak (coupled with a pinch of the give-away sneering and high-handedness that he has resorted to again and again throughout this controversy).

(3) The same day, 19 April, Chopra, Hameroff, Kafatos,Theise, and a stunning array of 15 other immensely qualified and experienced scientists, came back with a devastating response to Anderson's letter


John Anderson said...

Wow...just wow. What a satisfying turn of events!!

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