Petition to TED.com

ted-protest-petition-and-4-demands

 

 

 

 

 

Paul Revis
Founder: Set Science Free.org

The following statement is from TED’s website.

“Today, TED is best thought of as a global community, welcoming people from every discipline and culture who seek a deeper understanding of the world.”

We challenge TED to follow their own principles, and as scientists and scholars who care about scientific integrity and accountability, we request that the (Rupert Sheldrake, Phd) TEDx talk, “The Science Delusion” be fully reinstated into the main searchable database of videos on TED.com.

On April 2, 2013, TED finalized their decision to remove Rupert Sheldrake’s TEDx talk, “The Science Delusion” from their main database of searchable videos and placed it into a segregated and somewhat hidden section of their website. According to TED, this decision was based on the recommendation of their anonymous scientific board.

Here is a statement from TED explaining why they made this decision.

“All talks on the TEDxTalks channel represent the opinion of the speaker, not of TED or TEDx, but we feel a responsibility not to provide a platform for talks which appear to have crossed the line into pseudoscience.”

TED’s Anonymous ‘Scientific Board’ had initially challenged the scientific validity of the talk but failed and their objections were ultimately retracted. Yet despite being unable to find any reasonable justification, they proceeded to remove it.

The ongoing crisis of limited rationality reflected in TED’s action in removing Sheldrake’s lecture does not support scientific progress or the scientific spirit. The germ theory of disease – now well established as scientific canon – was once thought to be pseudoscience. Science, and therefore society, moves forward when the full body of scientific research is open and accessible to the public, which is one of TED’s objectives as an organization.

Any attempt to segregate, hide or suppress new research in science should be confronted and exposed. The idea of pushing psi research to the margins or cloaking it in secrecy is outdated. Bringing this research into the open will allow for greater informed criticism from the scientific community as well as the public. Asking questions, proposing theories, and conducting research is how scientific knowledge is acquired. We, as a scientific community, hereby request that you reconsider your actions.

We, the undersigned, hereby fully endorse Rupert Sheldrake’s reinstatement onto your website as well as the other recommendations named in this petition. We advocate for the respect of all fields within the sciences, and acknowledge that Sheldrake’s lecture did present a cogent, rational position based on real (as opposed to any form of pseudo-) scientific research. We agree with TED’s mission statement that the public should have open access to all useful and innovative ideas from every scientific discipline. However, it is unfortunate this very mission statement was not adhered to in practice by TED itself, vis a vis the removal of Sheldrake’s lecture from the main body of lectures on its website.

Our recommendations are as follows:

1. Reinstate Rupert Sheldrake’s Talk “The Science Delusion” into the main database of searchable talks on TED.com. Desegregate it and display it equally, among other talks, as it does not lack any quality or qualifying factors that other talks have demonstrated. The caliber of scientific research behind Sheldrake’s talk is solid, and he should not be rejected purely due to (what we believe are) paradigmatic differences based in the dogmas of various scientists, vs. any actual scientific justification.

2. Publish the names of all members of TED’s anonymous scientific board. Members of scientific boards and scientific journals must be public without exception because they are accountable to their peers and to their readers. The anonymity of TED’s scientific board lends credence to the idea that its scientists may be biased against good science that leads to conclusions which do not fit neatly into the common scientific paradigm. If TED’s scientific board members were not anonymous, they would presumably make themselves known, such that they could be engaged in an honest intellectual challenge such as the debate that has stirred around Sheldrake’s lecture.

TED, we agree with your mission and we advocate for open access of ideas. We simply ask that you put your own principles to practice in your distribution of information.

“There is a single light of science, and to brighten it anywhere is to brighten it everywhere.” – Isaac Asimov

SIGN THE PETITION BY ENTERING YOUR INFORMATION UNDER THE “SIGN THE PETITION” MENU HEADER which is at the top of the right column, or by sending an email to signpetition@setsciencefree.org. ENTER YOUR NAME, EMAIL, AND A CREDENTIALS LINK.

12 Comments

  1. Heather Podrow

    So the Powers That Be at TED are showing their real face by running for cover-what a cowardly, disappointing and sad, sad way to respond to genuine enquiry. They are mocking their own invention-this is the real travesty.

    Reply
  2. Lisa

    The most important vital part of man is his ability to convey ideas that challenge and enhance our understanding of mankind. If we only accept what is the norm. We atrophy and die. It is what we never believed possible gives us the impetus to exceed and break through all the past barriers and create new frontiers. This is how we evolve, grow and thrive.

    Reply
  3. Lisa

    Step up and hold the honor you first presented with the first Ted talks. This was the truth and the foundation of it all. Don’t forget

    Reply

  4. I hope this call to accountability for TED will be widely subscribed to. Still to come is a call to TED on behalf of Larry Dossey and Russell Targ, other thought-shapers from the scientific domain who were subjected to its bullying. Best for the greater good that TED not engage in the narrow-minded thought-control they exhibited in their abusive handling of Sheldrake and of the whole West Hollywood program, where Targ and Dossey spoke: http://www.TEDxWestHollywood..com.

    Reply
    • Pablo Vainstein

      It’s a real shame that the proscription is directed against the scientific Rupert Sheldrake, in the
      21! century!

      Reply

  5. Open Letter to Rupert Sheldrake:

    “Dear Rupert, As you know, I and other skeptics such as Dan Dennett think the TED board should never have banned your talk. While I myself didn’t think the talk was helpful or illuminating, I didn’t find it particularly objectionable (and it was much less offensive to truth than your talk on the “extended mind” at Hay last year!). The TED board, by their heavy handed actions, have clearly done their own cause a lot of harm, and unwittingly done yours a lot of good.

    So, as a matter of principle, I’m prepared to sign the petition. I agree that reinstating your talk and making the board members publically accountable would both be sensible moves. At the same time I want to make it clear I do not support the extended protest , which looks in danger of being hijacked by people who don’t just want to criticise the TED establishment but actually want to push the agenda of psi research and – as I see it — related pseudo-science. Brian Josephson’s name as a signatory does nothing to reassure me.

    Best, Nick”

    Reply
    • Nicholas Humphrey

      Rupert writes to tell me I should not have called his lecture on the extended mind “offensive to truth”, because it suggests I think he was dishonest. Let me correct that. What I meant to suggest was simply that I think several of the claims in the lecture were untrue.

      Reply

  6. Psi research and hypotheses that challenge “materialism” are not pseudoscience – they are an attempt to explain difficult-to-reproduce yet common and seemingly anomalous observations, primarily based on phenomenology (subjective observations). In one poll, 71% of Americans reported having a “paranormal” experience of one kind or another: http://www.livescience.com/16748-americans-beliefs-paranormal-infographic.html. Dismissing such phenomena as delusion is only one hypothesis – one which, in fact, inhibits further scientific inquiry into these phenomena or relegates such research to neuroscience.

    Rupert Sheldrake has promoted the use of science and the scientific method to study paranormal phenomena. Attempting to discredit or invalidate his work because “…we all know it is impossible” is not science, it is scientism, pure and simple. Science should not a platform for promoting religious-like adherence to a particular worldview. Science should be open to free inquiry towards the study of common paranormal experiences insomuch as we are able to collect such data as promoted by Sheldrake.

    Science regularly pursues the possibility of nonlocal effects, multidimensionality, and other bizarre concepts. Anomalies are often the door to new and important scientific discoveries including quantum physics. Sheldrake’s hypotheses may be personally distasteful to those attempting to defend their worldviews, but are really not that strange when placed in the larger context of modern scientific thinking and should not be dismissed by TED without just cause.

    Reply

    • Thanks to Ed Lantz, who was one of the speakers at Ex TEDxWestHollywood (www.TEDxWestHollywood.com), for that cogent comment. Here are talks by Larry Dossey and Russell Targ that TED objected to in our program: http://tinyurl.com/kwwpvks and http://tinyurl.com/oe8bogr. Would appreciate comments to validate how appropriate they were. (We let the talks go longer when we weren’t TED anymore.) I am out $40,000 from TED’s knee jerk reaction to whatever pressure they were under in taking the precipitous action, two weeks before our delivery date, of illegally cancelling our license for our fully funded program, from which all sponsors then withdrew. They did it without even seeing anything that would have informed them about what the talks actually consisted of. And then, what a low blow they delivered after TED was no longer even sponsoring it, in getting Livestream to cancel two days before we went on, as if the world had to be protected from this information. Pressure on Chris Anderson to reimburse me and to publicize my wonderful program (here it is in its entirety: http://tinyurl.com/oj8j8e4) would be appreciated. This is his email: chris@ted.com.

      Reply
      • Dr. Brian L Scipioni

        Suzanne’s treatment was shameful – this seems to be a worldwide trend – quashing all but the status quo. What is everyone afraid of?

        Reply
  7. David Anick

    I’m sorry, TED, but bullying is not an “idea worth spreading.” Intimidation, hiding behind anonymity, and refusing to discuss difficult topics are NOT ideas worth spreading. These methods for dealing with uncomfortable emotions or for getting what you think you want in the short run have been spread much too much already. Too bad you let someone spread them to you!

    TED, you acted rashly out of fear. No big news there — you’re human. Now is the time to embrace the high side of your humanity: gather some courage, swallow some pride, start negotiating honestly with Rupert and Suzanne and the setsciencefree folks, and find a mutually acceptable solution.

    Reply

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