Open Letter to Chris Anderson and TED

Dear Chris and TED:

I am actually thankful to TED for in some way what happened with this whole incident is bringing out some long-simmering issues in the scientific community, what is legitimate science at least as science is practiced today, how science may evolve, and other related issues; and also, and this is relevant to TED’s apparent policies (I say apparent because it is not clear to me how the decision to remove the talks was reached and who was involved) how groups of self-appointed zealots are taking upon themselves to use labels and aggressive language to discredit what may after all turn out to be legitimate science. I won’t repeat what many others already pointed out but science is evolving because of the change of the paradigms not by defending existing views. The latter, belongs to the realm of dogmatic belief systems.

Using terms like “goofballs” and “pseudo-science” doesn’t really address the real issues at hand. There are so-called “scientists” who use these terms to promote their own cherished views and I am afraid, dogmas. Who is pseudo-scientist after all?

Someone who is trying to expand the horizons of science and is doing research at the intersection of different fields? If that is the case, then anyone doing research in consciousness, its relationship with fields like physics and psychology, and yes, neuroscience, should be labeled pseudo-scientist.

Or someone who has other agendas and using anonymity and labeling others, promotes his or her agenda? If that is the case, I submit to you, this is not science. Such attacks by so-called skeptics have been used at some universities to weed out unwelcome views (in the minds of the skeptics) and in the process adversely impact the careers of colleagues. We scientists are skeptics by the nature of inquiry but we should not use the methods of the self-labeled “skeptics”.

Such methods belong to the history of some religious past to shut up “heretic” views. Today “defenders of the faith” don’t burn heretics at the stake, they label them and try to exclude their views.

Science advances by dialogue, inquiry and exchange of ideas. Today dialogue is even more important than in the past, the community problems and issues that science is facing need the best of minds, and hearts, to come together. Science and philosophy, science and metaphysics, are complementary activities. Fields like global climate, neuroscience and consciousness and even quantum field theory, advance through intersection of ideas and methodologies, not by censorship.

I am a quantum physicist, cosmologist and Earth scientist, so I know these issues. We are now facing a grand revolution in scientific thought, through the dialogue between quantum theory, consciousness work, biology, and philosophy and psychology. TED has a great opportunity to help advance this transformation. I hope you do.

Menas C. Kafatos

Fletcher Jones Professor of Computational Physics

Chapman University

Orange, CA

-Taken from this article on Huffington Post

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