Graham Hancock Refutes TED’s Allegations, Defends Reputation

Letter dated 15 March 2013 from Graham Hancock to TED. The letter and series of supporting documents below it are self explanatory. It will be necessary to take a look at them all and to follow some of the links given in order to arrive at an informed opinion of what has happened here but for all concerned with freedom of speech, and the negative attitude of a powerful lobby of self-styled scientists towards visionary plants, the exercise should prove worthwhile.

Dear TED

I wish to protest officially the damage to my reputation and my good name as a prominent author and public speaker currently being perpetrated by TED on its own website — see here — http://blog.ted.com/2013/03/14/open-for-discussion-graham-hancock-and-rupert-sheldrake/

I require TED either to substantiate the damaging allegations made there against me by TED or to retract them and publish a full and unconditional public apology.

The substance of my complaint is contained in my letter to Chris Anderson that I posted on the above blog page this morning replying to an earlier letter to me posted by Chris Anderson in the same place on 14 March.  I set out for your convenience below my signature the full text of my letter with minor typographical errors corrected and ask you to treat this as an official complaint and investigate it and take immediate action.

Yours sincerely

Graham Hancock (Official letter of complaint follows below)

Letter to Chris Anderson, Curator TED Conferences.
From Graham Hancock 15 March 2013

Chris, your reply is very strange and does no credit to you in your role at the Curator of the TED Conference or to TED as a whole.

Quite simply the issue is this: TED has defamed me by making a number of accusations against me in this public forum on the TED website – accusations that are highly damaging to my reputation as an author and public speaker. I have asked you to substantiate those allegations which surely should be a matter of the highest priority to you if you have a genuine commitment to science and to truth. Yet instead of doing so you dodge my reasonable request for substantiation by telling me you are attending an event in DC, posing a number of irrelevant questions to me, making a reference to Wikipedia, and asking those you see as my “supporters” to “calm down a little.” This is all sleight of hand. All that is required of you here on the public record is simply to substantiate the grave allegations that TED has made against me in the introductory remarks to this page of the TED blog, or, if you cannot substantiate those allegations then retract them and apologize. Your present tactic allows the allegations to remain in the prominent opening statements to this blog page while you “reach out to see” if any of your advisers are “able to go into more depth” in answering my specific questions and while you yourself “sign off” until Monday.

This is not good enough and I demand that TED – either in the form of you personally or those “advisors” you refer to – either substantiate the defamatory allegations you have made against me forthwith or remove those allegations at once and post a full, public and unconditional apology.

I note that the text of TED’s introductory remarks to this page have undergone some editing since they were originally posted. Therefore I will set out again the allegations TED has made against me in these remarks as they stand today (at 09:50 GMT and as confirmed by a screen shot I have taken), and my reasonable questions in which I ask you to substantiate these allegations.

(1) TED says of my “War on Consciousness” presentation: “…he misrepresents what scientists actually think. He suggests, for example, that no scientists are working on the problem of consciousness.”

I would like TED to identify where exactly in my talk they believe I say that “no scientists are working on the problem of consciousness”? Also in what other specific ways does TED believe I misrepresent what scientists actually think?

The only passage I can find in my presentation that has any relevance at all to this allegation is between 9 mins 50 seconds and 11 mins 12 seconds. But nowhere in that passage or anywhere else in my presentation do I make the suggestion you attribute to me in your allegation, namely that “no scientists are working on the problem of consciousness.” Rather I address the mystery of life after death and state that “if we want to know about this mystery the last people we should ask are materialist, reductionist scientists. They have nothing to say on the matter at all.” That statement cannot possibly be construed as my suggesting that “no scientists are working on the problem of consciousness,” or of “misrepresenting” what materialist, reductionist scientists actually think. I am simply stating the fact, surely not controversial, that materialist, reductionist scientists have nothing to say on the matter of life after death because their paradigm does not allow them to believe in the possibility of life after death; they believe rather that nothing follows death. Here is the full transcript of what I say in my presentation between 9 mins 50 seconds and 11 mins 12 seconds: “What is death? Our materialist science reduces everything to matter. Materialist science in the West says that we are just meat, we’re just our bodies, so when the brain is dead that’s the end of consciousness. There is no life after death. There is no soul. We just rot and are gone. But actually any honest scientist should admit that consciousness is the greatest mystery of science and that we don’t know exactly how it works. The brain’s involved in it in some way, but we’re not sure how. Could be that the brain generates consciousness the way a generator makes electricity. If you hold to that paradigm then of course you can’t believe in life after death. When the generator’s broken consciousness is gone. But it’s equally possible that the relationship – and nothing in neuroscience rules it out – that the relationship is more like the relationship of the TV signal to the TV set and in that case when the TV set is broken of course the TV signal continues and this is the paradigm of all spiritual traditions – that we are immortal souls, temporarily incarnated in these physical forms to learn and to grow and to develop. And really if we want to know about this mystery the last people we should ask are materialist, reductionist scientists. They have nothing to say on the matter at all. Let’s go rather to the ancient Egyptians who put their best minds to work for three thousand years on the problem of death and on the problem of how we should live our lives to prepare for what we will confront after death…”
(2) TED says of my presentation: “He states as fact that psychotropic drug use is essential for an “emergence into consciousness,” and that one can use psychotropic plants to connect directly with an ancient mother culture.”

I would like TED to identify where exactly in my talk they believe I state as a fact that psychotropic drug use is “essential” for an “emergence into consciousness.” I would also like TED to identify where exactly in my talk I state that “one can use psychotropic plants to connect directly with an ancient mother culture.”

Having carefully reviewed my presentation several times I can find nowhere where I make such statements.

(3) TED states that there are many “misleading statements” in my presentation.

I would like TED to indentify where exactly in my talk these alleged “misleading statements” occur.

(4) TED says of my “War on Consciousness” presentation: “He offers a one-note explanation for how culture arises (drugs), which just doesn’t hold up.”

Again I would like TED to identify the point in my talk where I state this. Do I not rather say (between 1 min 06 seconds and 1 min 54 seconds) that some scientists in the last thirty years have raised an intriguing possibility — emphasis on POSSIBILITY — which is that the exploration of altered states of consciousness, in which psychedelic plants have been implicated, was fundamental to the emergence into fully symbolic consciousness witnessed by the great cave art? I can cite a wide range of respectable peer-reviewed scientists who have suggested this possibility and I do not see how reporting their work, which I have every right to do, can be construed as offering “a one-note explanation for how culture arises (drugs).” Besides is every talk that touches on the origins of culture obliged to consider all possible factors that might be involved in the origins of culture? How could any speaker be expected to do that in one 18-minute talk?

(5) TED says of my “War on Consciousness” presentation: “… it’s no surprise his work has often been characterized as pseudo-archeology.”

Of what possible relevance is this remark? Many different people have characterised my work in many different ways but at issue here is not what people have said about my work over the years but the actual content of this specific TEDx presentation.

So there are the damaging and defamatory allegations TED has made against me in its website, and here again is my request that you either substantiate these allegations forthwith, or withdraw them and apologize to me prominently and publicly, allowing no further time to elapse to worsen the harm and damage you have already done.

The background to the above letter of complaint is set out in a series of posts I made on my facebook author page (http://www.facebook.com/Author.GrahamHancock?fref=ts) between 14 and 15 March. Those posts are set out in datal order below.

Post 1, March 14th, 2013

Urgent call for help against an attempt to censor my work.
I have received notification today that my recent 18-minute TEDx video presentation, “The War on Consciousness” (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9WaeMyC86Dw), which has at time of writing received more than 132,000 views, is to be deleted from the TEDx website because what I say in that presentation allegedly “strays well beyond the realm of reasonable science”, and because I allegedly make “non-scientific and reckless” statements about psychotropic drugs. I am fighting these charges from TED’s Science Board which in my opinion are untrue and amount to nothing more than an ideologically driven attempt to censor my work. All the indications, however, are that my presentation will be deleted some time today. In order that what I said can be preserved, and that an independent record is maintained, I would ask internet-competent members of this community to download and save my presentation before it is deleted and lost forever. I do not know how to do this myself and my son Luke, who runs my Youtube channel for me, is today out of contact and I cannot reach him. Once again the URL for my presentation is http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9WaeMyC86Dw. Will someone kindly please save it in a form in which I can later re-upload it to my own Youtube channel (where it is presently only embedded, not independently uploaded). I don’t intend to allow this bizarre transgression of my freedom of speech on the part of an institution – TED – for which I once had the highest respect, to pass without a fight.

Post 2, March 14th, 2013

Following my last status posted here two hours ago, thanks and deep appreciation to all who have now independently downloaded and saved my presentation “The War on Consciousness” (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9WaeMyC86Dw) that is threatened with deletion from the TEDx website. Please keep these saved copies on file and disseminate and distribute in any way possible. Meanwhile I have managed to find my son Luke who runs my Youtube channel and we do now have an independent copy of the video which we will upload on my channel if it is deleted from the TEDx website.

This is a sinister and in my view deeply disturbing move by TED, whose name, I believed until now, was associated with the free flow of ideas. Furthermore it is not only my “War on Consciousness” presentation that is threatened with deletion but also the excellent presentation “The Science Delusion” (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kO4-9l8IWFQ) by Rupert Sheldrake which was given at the same TEDx conference in Whitechapel, London in January 2013. I believe that a free and open public record around these issues is healthy and to this end publish the relevant paragraphs from the letter from TED that was received yesterday by the organisers of TEDx Whitechapel and that was passed onto me, and to Rupert Sheldrake this morning.

The TED letter states:

After due diligence, including a survey of published scientific research and recommendations from our Science Board and our community (https://www.ted.com/conversations/16894/rupert_sheldrake_s_tedx_talk.html), we have decided that Rupert Sheldrake’s and Graham Hancock’s talks from TEDxWhiteChapel should be removed from the TEDx YouTube channel and any other distribution platform currently hosting the videos.

Both talks have been flagged as containing serious factual errors that undermine TED’s commitment to good science…

SHELDRAKE
Rupert Sheldrake appears to make several major factual errors, which undermine the arguments of talk. For example, he suggests that scientists reject the notion that animals have consciousness, despite the fact that it’s generally accepted that animals have some form of consciousness, and there’s much research and literature exploring the idea.

He also argues that scientists have ignored variations in the measurements of natural constants, using as his primary example the dogmatic assumption that a constant must be constant and uses the speed of light as example. But, in truth, there has been a great deal of inquiry into the nature of scientific constants, including published, peer-reviewed research investigating whether certain constants – including the speed of light – might actually vary over time or distance. Scientists are constantly questioning these assumptions. For example, just this year Scientific American published a feature on the state of research into exactly this question. (“Are physical constants really constant?: Do the inner workings of nature change over time?”) Physicist Sean Carroll wrote a careful rebuttal of this point.

In addition, Sheldrake claims to have“evidence” of morphic resonance in crystal formation and rat behavior. The research has never appeared in a peer-reviewed journal, despite attempts by other scientists eager to replicate the work.

HANCOCK
Graham Hancock’s talk, again, shares a compelling and unorthodox worldview, but one that strays well beyond the realm of reasonable science. While attempting to critique the scientific worldview, he misrepresents what scientists actually think. He suggests, for example, that no scientists are working on the problem of consciousness.

In addition, Hancock makes statements about psychotropic drugs that seem both nonscientific and reckless. He states as fact that psychotropic drug use is essential for an “emergence into consciousness,” and that one can use psychotropic plants to connect directly with an ancient mother culture. He seems to offer a one-note explanation for how culture arises (drugs), it’s no surprise his work has often been characterized as pseudo-archeology.

TED respects and supports the exploration of unorthodox ideas, but the many misleading statements in both Sheldrake’s and Hancock’s talks, whether made deliberately or in error, have led our scientific advisors to conclude that our name and platform should not be associated with these talks.

We request that you, as the TEDx licensee responsible for this talk, delete the videos from YouTube and inform Sheldrake and Hancock that the videos have been removed

(End of quote from TED letter)

Rupert Sheldrake is presently travelling in India with limited communications but will be responding in due course. I too am formulating a full response. But meanwhile I would like to make some points here.

(1) The TED letter says of my presentation: “…he misrepresents what scientists actually think. He suggests, for example, that no scientists are working on the problem of consciousness.”

I would like TED to identify where exactly in my talk they believe I say that “no scientists are working on the problem of consciousness”?

(2) The TED letter says of my presentation: “He states as fact that psychotropic drug use is essential for an “emergence into consciousness,” and that one can use psychotropic plants to connect directly with an ancient mother culture.”

I would like TED to identify where exactly in my talk they believe I state as a fact that psychotropic drug use is essential for an emergence into consciousness. I would also like TED to identify where exactly in my talk I state that one can use psychotropic plants to connect directly with an ancient mother culture.

(3) The TED letter says of my presentation: “He seems to offer a one-note explanation for how culture arises (drugs), it’s no surprise his work has often been characterised as pseudo-archeology.”

Again I would like TED to identify the point in my talk where I state this. Do I not rather say that some scientists in the last thirty years have raised an intriguing possibility which is that the exploration of altered states of consciousness, in which psychedelic plants have been implicated was fundamental to the emergence into fully symbolic consciousness witnessed by the great cave art? I can cite a wide range of respectable peer-reviewed scientists who have suggested this possibility and I do not see how reporting their point of view, which I have every right to do, can be construed as offering “a one-note explanation for how culture arises (drugs).” Besides is every talk that touches on the origins of culture obliged to consider all possible factors that might be involved in the origins of culture? How could any speaker be expected to do that in one 18-minute talk? I also see no relevance to any of this in the statement that my work has often been characterised as “pseudo-archaeology”. Many different people have characterised my work in many different ways but at issue here is not what people have said about my work over the years but the actual content of this specific TEDx presentation.

In informing us that they are about to delete our talks from the TEDx Youtube channel, TED also state in their letter: “The talks won’t simply disappear from the web. Instead, we propose to feature them in a new section of TED.com that allows for debate, in which talks are carefully framed to highlight both their provocative ideas and the problems with their arguments.”

I find this last concept both worrying and insulting since it implies that TED feels the need to act as arbiter of the context in which our work is received rather than simply putting what we have to say before an intelligent public and letting the public decide. It also suggests that TED may believe the public are incapable of making up their own minds about our arguments without approved scientists first highlighting “the problems” with our arguments. Would TED, we wonder, put talks by, for example, Richard Dawkins, in the same proposed new area of its website?

We shall see. Meanwhile I hope that the public outcry that has already been generated as a result of TED’s letter will be enough to cause TED to think again and keep both my presentation and Rupert Sheldrake’s presentation live on the TEDx Youtube channel where everyone can make up their own minds. Once again, “The War on Consciousness” will be here http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9WaeMyC86Dw and “The Science Delusion” will be herehttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kO4-9l8IWFQ unless and until TED delete them.

Post 3, March 14th, 2013

Further to my last two statuses I am disgusted to report that TED has indeed hidden my “War on Consciousness” presentation and Rupert Sheldrake’s “Science Delusion” presentation on the TEDx Youtube channel. Both videos are now marked as private and so no member of the public can now view them or make up their own minds about them. If this is how science operates, by silencing those who express opposing views rather than by debating with them, then science is dead and we are in a new era of the Inquisition.

Post 4, March 14th, 2013

In attempt to brush up their severely tarnished image after censoring my presentation “The War on Consciousness” from the TEDx website today (on the grounds that I was “unscientific”) and also censoring the presentation “The Science Delusion” by my colleague Rupert Sheldrake for the same reason, TED have now rushed to create a remote corner of their website, which I imagine they hope no-one will see, where our talks have been put back online and may be debated: http://blog.ted.com/2013/03/14/open-for-discussion-graham-hancock-and-rupert-sheldrake/ This gesture, they claim, is in response to my suggestion that they had censored us and should be taken as evidence of their “spirit of radical openness”.

All I can say is this is extremely devious behavior on TED’s part. On the one hand they take down two videos from Youtube that had generated enormous public interest and traction (mine had received over 130,000 views and Rupert’s over 35,000 views). Then as soon as TED is tagged for censorship (did they hope we wouldn’t notice?) they put the videos up again in a remote place, which cannot benefit from URL sharing by any of the previous 160,000-plus viewers and which is, thus, to all extents and purposes invisible.

Worse, rather than allowing those viewers who do find this remote corner of the TED website to make up their own minds about our presentations, TED feel the need to “frame” our talks in a way, they say, that can “highlight both their [i.e. Hancock’s and Sheldrake’s] provocative ideas and the factual problems with their arguments.” I find this manoeuver disingenuous in that (1) I see no “framing” at all of our “provocative ideas” but plenty of “framing” of what TED claim are the factual problems with our arguments; this “framing” occurs in the lengthy introduction that TED has published to our videos. (2) TED did not approach either Rupert or myself in advance for any refutation of the “factual problems” they allege in our presentations. In fact I refute all these so-called “factual problems” with regard to my own presentation, and have now posted these refutations on the TED blog (http://blog.ted.com/2013/03/14/open-for-discussion-graham-hancock-and-rupert-sheldrake/) in the form of a series of questions to TED to which I expect answers. (3) The whole concept of this manoeuver by TED is worrying and insulting. It implies that TED believes it has the right to act as arbiter of the context in which my presentation and Rupert’s presentation is received rather than simply putting what we have to say before an intelligent public and letting the public decide. It also suggests that TED believe the public are incapable of making up their own minds about our arguments without approved scientists first highlighting “the problems” with our arguments. Would TED, we wonder, treat many of the provocative talks by, for example, Richard Dawkins, in the same way?

I hope that many of my wonderful and supportive facebook community who see this post will go to the TED URL linked above (again — http://blog.ted.com/2013/03/14/open-for-discussion-graham-hancock-and-rupert-sheldrake/) and register to post, and add comments there. I believe this is an important issue and it is important that TED do not get away with what (regardless of how they try to finesse it — “spirit of radical openness LOL!!) is after all censorship.

Post 5, March 14th, 2013

The more I wade into the morass that is TED the more horrified I become at the illusion of openness this organisation has wrapped around itself, when the truth as I have now learned from direct experience is so very different. TED talks a good talk about itself, its nobility, its achievements. “We believe passionately,” TED boasts, “in the power of ideas to change attitudes, lives and ultimately,the world. So we’re building here a clearinghouse that offers free knowledge and inspiration from the world’s most inspired thinkers, and also a community of curious souls to engage with ideas and each other.” (see here:http://www.ted.com/pages/about).

But the truth is quite different. Over the matter of the censorship on Youtube of my “War on Consciousness” presentation and Rupert Sheldrake’s “Science Delusion” presentation, TED is closed minded, operates with an extremely limited view of what is scientifically orthodox, wishes to stay safely within that orthodoxy, and is patronising and disparaging about those who question their policies. As TED Curator Chris Anderson (http://www.ted.com/speakers/chris_anderson_ted.html) writes here (http://blog.ted.com/2013/03/14/open-for-discussion-graham-hancock-and-rupert-sheldrake/) in response to comments criticising TED for censoring my presentation: “Right now this comment section is over-run by the hordes of supporters sent our way by Graham Hancock. It would be nice for you to calm down and actually read some of the criticisms of his work so that you can get a more balanced view point. And meanwhile, we’ll be reading the views of anyone who’ll be patient enough to express them in a reasoned way …as opposed to throwing around shrieks of censorship when nothing of the kind has happened.”

Mr Anderson seems to have plenty of time to pour scorn on those who disagree with the way TED has handled this matter, but so far, more than five hours after I posted them he has not found the time to answer the four simple questions I asked him on page 1 of the public forum he set up (http://blog.ted.com/2013/03/14/open-for-discussion-graham-hancock-and-rupert-sheldrake/) supposedly to foster open discussion of the presentations by myself and Rupert.

Here are those four simple questions again:

(1) TED says of my “War on Consciousness” presentation: “…he misrepresents what scientists actually think. He suggests, for example, that no scientists are working on the problem of consciousness.”

I would like TED to identify where exactly in my talk they believe I say that “no scientists are working on the problem of consciousness”? Also in what other specific ways does TED believe I misrepresent what scientists actually think?

(2) TED says of my presentation: “He states as fact that psychotropic drug use is essential for an “emergence into consciousness,” and that one can use psychotropic plants to connect directly with an ancient mother culture.”

I would like TED to identify where exactly in my talk they believe I state as a fact that psychotropic drug use is essential for an emergence into consciousness. I would also like TED to identify where exactly in my talk I state that one can use psychotropic plants to connect directly with an ancient mother culture.

(3) TED states that there are many inaccuracies in my presentation which display a disrespect both for my audience and for my arguments.

I would like TED to indentify where exactly in my talk these alleged “many inaccuracies” occur.

(4) TED says of my “War on Consciousness” presentation: “He offers a one-note explanation for how culture arises (drugs), which just doesn’t hold up.”

Again I would like TED to identify the point in my talk where I state this. Do I not rather say that some scientists in the last thirty years have raised an intriguing possibility — emphasis on POSSIBILITY — which is that the exploration of altered states of consciousness, in which psychedelic plants have been implicated, was fundamental to the emergence into fully symbolic consciousness witnessed by the great cave art? I can cite a wide range of respectable peer-reviewed scientists who have suggested this possibility and I do not see how reporting their work, which I have every right to do, can be construed as offering “a one-note explanation for how culture arises (drugs).” Besides is every talk that touches on the origins of culture obliged to consider all possible factors that might be involved in the origins of culture? How could any speaker be expected to do that in one 18-minute talk?

For those who have missed this developing story during the day here are links to my earlier relevant posts in order of appearance:

http://www.facebook.com/Author.GrahamHancock/posts/10151551245272354

http://www.facebook.com/Author.GrahamHancock/posts/10151551393237354

http://www.facebook.com/Author.GrahamHancock/posts/10151551414982354

http://www.facebook.com/Author.GrahamHancock/posts/10151551604052354 (the first link in this post is broken and should read: http://blog.ted.com/2013/03/14/open-for-discussion-graham-hancock-and-rupert-sheldrake/)

Post 6, March 15th, 2013

Open letter to Chris Anderson, Curator TED Conferences.
From Graham Hancock 15 March 2013
This letter is a reply to a letter to me that Chris Anderson has posted here on the TED blog page (http://blog.ted.com/2013/03/14/open-for-discussion-graham-hancock-and-rupert-sheldrake/) and that I have also responded to in the same place. For convenience after posting my open letter below, I also post the full text of Chris Anderson’s letter to me.

(1) My open letter to Chris Anderson, Curator TED Conferences, posted on the TED blog page at 09:50 GMT on 15 March 2013

Chris, your reply is very strange and does no credit to you in your role at the Curator of the TED Conference or to TED as a whole.

Quite simply the issue is this: TED has defamed me by making a number of accusations against me in this public forum on the TED website – accusations that are highly damaging to my reputation as an author and public speaker. I have asked you to substantiate those allegations which surely should be a matter of the highest priority to you if you have a genuine commitment to science and to truth. Yet instead of doing so you dodge my reasonable request for substantiation by telling me you are attending an event in DC, posing a number of irrelevant questions to me, making a reference to Wikipedia, and asking those you see as my “supporters” to “calm down a little.” This is all sleight of hand. All that is required of you here on the public record is simply to substantiate the grave allegations that TED has made against me in the introductory remarks to this page of the TED blog, or, if you cannot substantiate those allegations then retract them and apologize. Your present tactic allows the allegations to remain in the prominent opening statements to this blog page while you “reach out to see” if any of your advisers are “able to go into more depth” in answering my specific questions and while you yourself “sign off” until Monday.

This is not good enough and I demand that TED – either in the form of you personally or those “advisors” you refer to – either substantiate the defamatory allegations you have made against me forthwith or remove those allegations at once and post a full, public and unconditional apology.

I note that the text of TED’s introductory remarks to this page have undergone some editing since they were originally posted. Therefore I will set out again the allegations TED has made against me in these remarks as they stand today (at 09:50 GMT and as confirmed by a screen shot I have taken), and my reasonable questions in which I ask you to substantiate these allegations.

(1) TED says of my “War on Consciousness” presentation: “…he misrepresents what scientists actually think. He suggests, for example, that no scientists are working on the problem of consciousness.”

I would like TED to identify where exactly in my talk they believe I say that “no scientists are working on the problem of consciousness”? Also in what other specific ways does TED believe I misrepresent what scientists actually think?

The only passage I can find in my presentation that has any relevance at all to this allegation is between 9 mins 50 seconds and 11 mins 12 seconds. But nowhere in that passage or anywhere else in my presentation do I make the suggestion you attribute to me in your allegation, namely that “no scientists are working on the problem of consciousness.” Rather I address the mystery of life after death and state that “if we want to know about this mystery the last people we should ask are materialist, reductionist scientists. They have nothing to say on the matter at all.” That statement cannot possibly be construed as my suggesting that “no scientists are working on the problem of consciousness,” or of “misrepresenting” what materialist, reductionist scientists actually think. I am simply stating the fact, surely not controversial, that materialist, reductionist scientists have nothing to say on the matter of life after death because their paradigm does not allow them to believe in the possibility of life after death; they believe rather that nothing follows death. Here is the full transcript of what I say in my presentation between 9 mins 50 seconds and 11 mins 12 seconds: “What is death? Our materialist science reduces everything to matter. Materialist science in the West says that we are just meat, we’re just our bodies, so when the brain is dead that’s the end of consciousness. There is no life after death. There is no soul. We just rot and are gone. But actually any honest scientist should admit that consciousness is the greatest mystery of science and that we don’t know exactly how it works. The brain’s involved in it in some way, but we’re not sure how. Could be that the brain generates consciousness the way a generator makes electricity. If you hold to that paradigm then of course you can’t believe in life after death. When the generator’s broken consciousness is gone. But it’s equally possible that the relationship – and nothing in neuroscience rules it out – that the relationship is more like the relationship of the TV signal to the TV set and in that case when the TV set is broken of course the TV signal continues and this is the paradigm of all spiritual traditions – that we are immortal souls, temporarily incarnated in these physical forms to learn and to grow and to develop. And really if we want to know about this mystery the last people we should ask are materialist, reductionist scientists. They have nothing to say on the matter at all. Let’s go rather to the ancient Egyptians who put their best minds to work for three thousand years on the problem of death and on the problem of how we should live our lives to prepare for what we will confront after death…”

(2) TED says of my presentation: “He states as fact that psychotropic drug use is essential for an “emergence into consciousness,” and that one can use psychotropic plants to connect directly with an ancient mother culture.”

I would like TED to identify where exactly in my talk they believe I state as a fact that psychotropic drug use is “essential” for an “emergence into consciousness.” I would also like TED to identify where exactly in my talk I state that “one can use psychotropic plants to connect directly with an ancient mother culture.”

Having carefully reviewed my presentation several times I can find nowhere where I make such statements.

(3) TED states that there are many “misleading statements” in my presentation.

I would like TED to indentify where exactly in my talk these alleged “misleading statements” occur.

(4) TED says of my “War on Consciousness” presentation: “He offers a one-note explanation for how culture arises (drugs), which just doesn’t hold up.”

Again I would like TED to identify the point in my talk where I state this. Do I not rather say (between 1 min 06 seconds 1 min 54 seconds) that some scientists in the last thirty years have raised an intriguing possibility — emphasis on POSSIBILITY — which is that the exploration of altered states of consciousness, in which psychedelic plants have been implicated, was fundamental to the emergence into fully symbolic consciousness witnessed by the great cave art? I can cite a wide range of respectable peer-reviewed scientists who have suggested this possibility and I do not see how reporting their work, which I have every right to do, can be construed as offering “a one-note explanation for how culture arises (drugs).” Besides is every talk that touches on the origins of culture obliged to consider all possible factors that might be involved in the origins of culture? How could any speaker be expected to do that in one 18-minute talk?

(5) TED says of my “War on Consciousness” presentation: “… it’s no surprise his work has often been characterized as pseudo-archeology.”

Of what possible relevance is this remark? Many different people have characterised my work in many different ways but at issue here is not what people have said about my work over the years but the actual content of this specific TEDx presentation.

So there are the damaging and defamatory allegations TED has made against me in its website, and here again is my request that you either substantiate these allegations forthwith, or withdraw them and apologize to me prominently and publicly, allowing no further time to elapse to worsen the harm and damage you have already done.

Signed Graham Hancock, 15 March 2013 at 09:50 GMT

 

(2) Letter from Chris Anderson to Graham Hancock posted on the TED blog page on 14 March 2013 to which the above open letter is a response:

Graham, greetings, and thanks for engaging here personally. We’ll try to get you some more detailed comments early next week. I’m currently tied up at National Geographic in DC helping launch the TEDxDeExtinction event (which, by the way, is an indication that we have no problem with radical scientific ideas per se.)

I understand why you’re upset at the talk being pulled off Youtube, but we’re quite serious in saying we’re not censoring you. The talk will live here as long it takes for this conversation to work itself out, and perhaps indefinitely. I must say, you’re a compelling speaker and I personally enjoyed the talk quite a bit. I can understand why you and your books have attracted a huge following.

It would help your cause to let this whole discussion calm down a little. You seem to have whipped your supporters up into a bit of a frenzy. There’s no conspiracy out to get you. We just have certain guidelines for our TEDx events that weren’t fully implemented in this instance, and it’s OK to have a public discussion about that.

So here’s a suggestion. While I reach out and see if any of our advisors is able to go into more depth in answering your specific questions, perhaps you could help me understand why your work is widely characterized as pseudo-archeology, as in the current version of this wikipedia page: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pseudoarchaeology

Is that a distorted description of your views? Is mainstream archaeology simply misguided? Or is there some other explanation?

Do you agree that we should have *some* form of guidelines for our TEDx organizers as to what constitutes credible science, or do you think our approach should be let anyone put anything they want out there and just let the public decide?

I’m signing off now till Monday, but truly I would value your and your supporters’ help in turning this into a more constructive discussion.

Thanks, Graham.

END OF TEXT OF LETTER FROM CHRIS ANDERSON, CURATOR TED CONFERENCES posted on the TED blog page (http://blog.ted.com/2013/03/14/open-for-discussion-graham-hancock-and-rupert-sheldrake/) 14 March 2013.

,

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Brandon-Nelson/1426280830 Brandon Nelson

    ted talks are becoming the voice of mainstream, conservative, reductionist, materialistic, narrow-minded semi-science.

    hancock and sheldrake are brilliant minds, on the cutting edge of many sciences, and deserve to be heard. censorship (or whatever ted calls it) has no place in a world wide forum that can open so many minds and hearts.

  • http://www.sacredgeometryinternational.com/ Camron Wiltshire

    Here is the censored talk archived by BEN S at Vimeo.com

    The War on Consciousness- Graham Hancock at TEDxWhitechapel

    http://vimeo.com/61808955

    Thank you Graham. Just like the Horizon scandal, you will triumph over those who would seek to malign your good name and message.

  • Monkey See Monkey Do

    This cult of TED has really been exposed thanks to Graham Hancock, for what I initially saw as a platform for engaging in scientifically reasonable inquiry has quickly showed itself to be nothing more than a corporate-funded elitist platform where every now and then someone with a new idea makes its way through the filters. …This cult is a 7 day retreat with billionaires and political players, where you are paired with someone of their choosing and are not allowed to leave at all for the 7 days, constant seminars & pamphlets on how to network with billionaires and how to join powerful clubs, & and no payment for your work & presentations, like you should be honored to be invited or something – Sounds like a fucking cult too me. Not too mention the punters are slugged for thousands of dollars to attend, the deluded rich. Quote from TED “He offers a one-note explanation for how culture arises (drugs) which just doesn’t hold up.”” – actually he elaborates on a theory laid about by many prominent anthropologists and psychologists many of whom have revolutionized their respective fields. Rather than drugs exclusively the theory lies in altered states of consciousness and its contributions into the formation of early human culture. Pioneers in Sociology-anthropology and psychology have well reasoned and thought-out theories on this, such as Jean Langdon, David Lukoff, Marcel Mauss, Claude Levi-strauss & the list goes on and on. Its common knowledge among the psychological social sciences. So this isn’t only an attempt to censor Graham Hancock but also whole array of academic disciplines that do not fit the model that TED is trying to sell to people.

  • http://www.zazzle.com/fantoccini* Chaos_Dynamics

    Graham = water. TED = oil.

    • Earth Star

      TED = snake oil! I have been disgusted at the pompous air and elitist attitude at TED events for a long while now. I hope this thing dies off soon, but it probably won’t :(

    • Earth Star

      TED = snake oil! I have been disgusted at the pompous air and elitist attitude at TED events for a long while now. I hope this thing dies off soon, but it probably won’t :(

  • http://www.zazzle.com/fantoccini* Chaos_Dynamics

    Graham = water. TED = oil.

  • http://www.facebook.com/shanel.cuthbert Shanel Cuthbert

    The fact that TED are flagging this for removal speaks for itself. This act is more about protecting and retaining the respect of peers in order to retain a TED membership and respect. Why not leave the material untouched and let others question its integrity and leave it for ‘open’ intelligent debate.

    But true ‘openness’ requires an ability to go beyond the mainstream and question the very foundations of which science has been built on – to question the method itself – as is discussed here.

    But this too dangerous for an organisation which once had my vote but now hasn’t. True evolution of man requires we challenge and question everything despite who or how it may upset others and the subsequent effect that may have on membership.

    A big cross TED from me. I’m no longer a subscriber

  • http://www.facebook.com/shanel.cuthbert Shanel Cuthbert

    The fact that TED are flagging this for removal speaks for itself. This act is more about protecting and retaining the respect of peers in order to retain a TED membership and respect. Why not leave the material untouched and let others question its integrity and leave it for ‘open’ intelligent debate.

    But true ‘openness’ requires an ability to go beyond the mainstream and question the very foundations of which science has been built on – to question the method itself – as is discussed here.

    But this too dangerous for an organisation which once had my vote but now hasn’t. True evolution of man requires we challenge and question everything despite who or how it may upset others and the subsequent effect that may have on membership.

    A big cross TED from me. I’m no longer a subscriber

  • http://www.facebook.com/shanel.cuthbert Shanel Cuthbert

    The fact that TED are flagging this for removal speaks for itself. This act is more about protecting and retaining the respect of peers in order to retain a TED membership and respect. Why not leave the material untouched and let others question its integrity and leave it for ‘open’ intelligent debate.

    But true ‘openness’ requires an ability to go beyond the mainstream and question the very foundations of which science has been built on – to question the method itself – as is discussed here.

    But this too dangerous for an organisation which once had my vote but now hasn’t. True evolution of man requires we challenge and question everything despite who or how it may upset others and the subsequent effect that may have on membership.

    A big cross TED from me. I’m no longer a subscriber

  • http://www.facebook.com/Gabrieldroberts Gabriel Roberts

    This all came as a shock to me to see that both Hancock and Sheldrake were targeted in this way. According to Sheldrake’s newsletter:
    “Meanwhile a big controversy has erupted about my Whitechapel, London TEDx talk on The Science Delusion/Science Set Free. TEDx is a franchise system from the American media corporation TED, whose slogan is “ideas worth spreading”. The video of my talk was posted online about a month ago, and all went well until last week, when two militant atheist bloggers in the US, Jerry Coyne and P.Z. Myers, denounced it and urged TED to remove it from their web site.”
    So this whole thing is because two dudes didn’t like this? They must be powerful wizards who know better than TED, or anyone else and wield such power as to cause the removal of these fine mens talks.

    • Matt Staggs

      PZ Myers is getting to be the Ziggy Stardust of the Skeptic movement.

    • Matt Staggs

      PZ Myers is getting to be the Ziggy Stardust of the Skeptic movement.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=742104313 Adam Goodwin

    It should be clear that linking science with money and the state will yield these results. There would be no money and state if the reductionist, materialist paradigm were overturned. Keep on truckin’ Graham.

    • drokhole

      “The content of the mystical experience is thus inconsistent with both the religious and secular concepts of traditional Western thought. Moreover, mystical experiences often result in attitudes that threaten the authority not only of established churches, but also of secular society. Unafraid of death and deficient in worldly ambition, those who have undergone mystical experiences are impervious to threats and promises. Moreover, their sense of the relativity of good and evil arouses the suspicion that they lack both conscience and respect for law. Use of psychedelics in the United States by a literate bourgeoisie means that an important segment of the population is indifferent to society’s traditional rewards and sanctions.” – Alan Watts

      http://deoxy.org/w_psyrel.htm

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=742104313 Adam Goodwin

        You flatter me with such confirmation!

        • drokhole

          Happy to oblige! :)

      • Juan

        Exactly correct. The various keepers of orthodoxy (archons) are scared shitless of entheogens for the very reason that they tend to wake people up and make them start to look around and begin to ask very uncomfortable questions viz the current oppressive, destructive paradigm. Can’t have the zombie hordes waking up, it’s bad for bidnez.

  • Andrew

    “Symbolic consciousness” is an oxymoron.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=742104313 Adam Goodwin

      Maybe it’s more aptly described as a tautology, e.g. chai tea.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=742104313 Adam Goodwin

      Maybe it’s more aptly described as a tautology, e.g. chai tea.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=742104313 Adam Goodwin

      Maybe it’s more aptly described as a tautology, e.g. chai tea.

      • Calypso_1

        Well done, both of you.

      • Calypso_1

        Well done, both of you.

      • Calypso_1

        Well done, both of you.

      • Calypso_1

        Well done, both of you.

      • Calypso_1

        Well done, both of you.

      • Calypso_1

        Well done, both of you.

  • Trevor Smith

    As sad as all this is, its really not surprising after seeing Eddie Huangs video exposing the cult of ted

    Not to mention the other banned ted talk, on how we should tax the rich. LOL http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=CKCvf8E7V1g

  • NarwhalNecropsy

    Let me be clear, I am definitely on Mr. Hancock’s side here, and I do believe TED to be in the wrong, but he does tend to state theories and ideas as fact from time to time.

  • NarwhalNecropsy

    Let me be clear, I am definitely on Mr. Hancock’s side here, and I do believe TED to be in the wrong, but he does tend to state theories and ideas as fact from time to time.

  • http://twitter.com/DanielReasor Daniel Reasor

    1. Alter the nervous system with chemicals. Experience altered sensory input.
    2. Somehow fail to learn the lesson that consciousness derives from the material brain.
    3. Prophet!

    • Nirvanasteve

      Consciousness and conscious experience are two completely separate ideas. It’s the difference between what you consider self (the “I”) who perceives and interprets, and what you are experiencing through sensory organs. Psychedelics very much target the latter but this does not explain the former.

    • Nirvanasteve

      Consciousness and conscious experience are two completely separate ideas. It’s the difference between what you consider self (the “I”) who perceives and interprets, and what you are experiencing through sensory organs. Psychedelics very much target the latter but this does not explain the former.

  • http://www.facebook.com/mike.goodbaum.9 Mike Goodbaum

    Ted is shit. Haven’t watched any of their programming for years since it became the Bill & Melinda Gates show.

  • http://www.facebook.com/mike.goodbaum.9 Mike Goodbaum

    Ted is shit. Haven’t watched any of their programming for years since it became the Bill & Melinda Gates show.

  • Jesse

    A good scientist has freed himself of concepts
    and keeps his mind open to what is.

  • Jesse

    A good scientist has freed himself of concepts
    and keeps his mind open to what is.

  • Nungy

    Go Graham – I hate how the ‘establishment’ scoffs at you all the time. Am a big fan of Fingerprints of Gods and Underworld and love your theories and the way you explain them to the reader. Yes you’re not a ‘scientist’ with loads of letters after your name but you work hard to investigate and formulate all of your ideas just as a scientist would approach his/her subject.

    Dogma of any kind should be what’s scoffed at and viewpoints from A – Z should be considered with equal respect regardless of personal opinions, this is what the scientific community should accept instead of having a holier than thou attitude.

  • Guest

    “War on Consciousness” censored?
    Oh the irony

  • Guest

    “War on Consciousness” censored?
    Oh the irony

  • InAwe

    “War on Consciousness” censored?
    Oh the irony :)

  • MaryBatiste

    til I looked at the receipt which was of $7197, I have faith
    …that…my brothers friend was like they say actually earning money part-time
    on their apple laptop.. there friends cousin has been doing this 4 only about
    twenty two months and resantly cleard the debts on their condo and got Ford. we
    looked here, jump15.comCHECK IT OUT

  • MaryBatiste

    til I looked at the receipt which was of $7197, I have faith
    …that…my brothers friend was like they say actually earning money part-time
    on their apple laptop.. there friends cousin has been doing this 4 only about
    twenty two months and resantly cleard the debts on their condo and got Ford. we
    looked here, jump15.comCHECK IT OUT

  • http://www.facebook.com/camila.mendes Camila Mendes

    After years of experiencing a frustrating writer’s block, I suddenly felt an
    urge to write down my thoughts on this issue, as I’m obviously very
    passionate about it. For the first time in a very long time, words just
    poured out of me and I was able to complete my first blog post
    ever.

    I’ll post the beginning of it below, and you can read the rest here: http://ventusetmare.tumblr.com/

    THANKS TED! For Giving Mother Ayahuasca her Big Break! :)

    Let me start by saying that, as suggested by the
    “Mother” in front of “Ayahuasca”, this is a post that disagrees with TED
    and supports Graham Hancock. If you’re curious as to why, good!
    Curiosity is great. So keep an open mind… and read on.

    My two-cents (more like 2 bucks) on the TED/Hancock debate:

    There has been a heated debate going on
    online regarding writers Graham Hancock, Rupert Sheldrake and the TED
    organization (behind TEDTalks). In this post, I’ll be focusing more on
    Hancock’s talk on the “War on Consciousness” where, amongst a few
    things, he talks about Ayahuasca and the psilocybin mushroom (links at
    the end of the post). Hancock’s talk became popular on YouTube quickly
    reaching 130,000 views. Since it went live in January, the talk gathered
    hundreds of comments and drew the attention of spiritual-seekers and
    atheist’s bloggers alike.

    Recently, the video was taken down from the
    TEDx YouTube channel, along with all the original comments. TED’s
    mysterious Scientific Board (nobody really knows who it is comprised of)
    labeled both talks as “pseudo-science”, and therefore, they arbitrarily
    decided they were NOT “ideas worth sharing.” Hancock responded in
    detail to every one of TED’s accusations, along with questions of his
    own. But TED curators provided nothing more than a red herring response.

    TED’s founder and head curator, Chris
    Anderson, has personally engaged on the debate on TED’s blog but so far
    has provided nothing more than, in my opinion, hollow, deflective, and
    even disrespectful comments directed at Hancock as well as TED fans who
    happen to disagree with TED and support Hancock on this debate. For
    instance, he once suggested that “the hordes” of Hancock supporters
    should “calm down a little.” Not really the eloquent and professional
    response you may expect from the founder of TED.

    For many fans of TEDTalks, this has been a
    huge disappointment. As suggested in a comment on TED’s blog, our
    disappointment mainly comes from our romantic view of what we hoped TED
    was – an uncorrupted, boundary-pushing global platform for the sharing
    of the most powerful and innovative ideas that have the potential to
    propel the human kind forward. As it turns out, TED might just be like
    any big corporation out there. As popular and far-reaching as they are,
    they might have to answer to a few sponsors and institutions that at the
    end of the day, are unfortunately interested in maintaining the status
    quo.

    Our disappointment also stems from the
    hypocrisy and contradiction of projecting themselves in one way, and
    acting in another. As it has been pointed out in the active conversation
    happening on TED’s blog right now, after noticing the popularity of
    these talks on YouTube and the conversations happening in the comment
    box, instead of removing them from YouTube, TED curators could’ve done
    two simple things to avoid this whole mess: first, they could’ve changed
    the category of the talks from Science to Global Issues or another more
    appropriate category if the claims made by the presenters were based on
    “bad science” (as TED defines it). Second, they could’ve added a simple
    disclaimer stating that “the opinions and views of the presenters do
    not necessarily reflect those of the TED network.” Instead, they chose
    censorship.

    As many others have also pointed out, there
    are numerous other TEDTalks, some of which are quite popular, that would
    have to be censored as well if held to the same “good science”
    standards that caused these two specific talks to be removed.

    On another note, it’s impossible to miss
    Hancock’s photos of big corporations like Redbull and Starbucks and his
    reference to drugs mass-produced by “Big Pharma” during his
    presentation. He compares our socially-accepted, often destructive,
    alternative states of consciousness induced by pharmaceutical drugs,
    alcohol, coffee, and sugar, to currently socially-unacceptable, often
    healing, alternative states of consciousness induced by psylocibin and
    Ayahuasca.

    It doesn’t take a conspiracy-nut to wonder if maybe, just maybe,
    the sharing of Hancock’s message on such a powerful platform like TED
    poses a lil’ too much threat to the core beliefs that are keeping the
    current system in place. After all, for those of us who have experienced
    it, a world where Ayahuasca is globally legalized, studied by
    mainstream science and taken seriously by mainstream society, is
    undoubtedly a VERY different world from the one we have today.

    Metaphor # 1:

    Let’s pretend the TED organization happened to be around in the 16th-century. Their mission was to organize “Agoras” all over Europe. Let’s
    say Nicolas Copernicus, Johannes Keppler, or Galileo Galilei happened
    to give a TEDx talk on heliocentrism. Based on the recent events, is it
    reasonable for us to assume that no matter how forward-thinking and
    revolutionary the idea of the sun being the centre of our solar system
    might be, TED curators would have stopped printing transcripts of the
    talk and sharing it with the public as soon as they realized the
    potential consequences of being affiliated with such a controversial
    subject?
    Fearing the judgement of mainstream
    scientific minds and the masses of the time, would TED curators maybe
    move on to dismiss the idea as “pseudo-science” and “pseudo-astronomy”?
    Would they maybe leave one single record of the idea tucked away
    somewhere on their vast library, so as to protect themselves from the
    accusation of censorship by the minority of supporters of a heliocentric
    view of the world? What ya think?

    … Read the rest here: http://ventusetmare.tumblr.com/

  • MichaelTheRed

    I’m appalled that anyone is surprised that the TED people called this sort of thing pseudoscience. As a business student I’ve been subjected to now numerous TED video’s as part of digital and e-commerce classes. One video in particular I found utterly appalling and that’s the talk about the first 5000 hours of the internet and then what the next 5000 hours will bring or some sort of rubbish like that. Anyway, what this man giving the talk got all excited about was the promise of the internet becoming it’s own entity and all our mobile devices would become like “windows” into this connective entity that will “literally” know “EVERYTHING” about us. It will predict our every move and calculate our every desire. Of course the computing power necessary for this is still some years away, but not long…probably just over a decade. It scared me, I mean it. It finally hit me what this unconscionable and unsustainable economic drive has been all about…it was to create this “thing” that will literally demand our soul in order to participate in this great web of connectivity. “Nothing” will be private…the “thing” wont’ stand for it. I’m being completely serious go look at the video if no one believes me. This is the path of technology that TED is pushing…so naturally any kind of research that may hint at the fact that humans are perhaps more than we’ve been led to believe, this will be squashed. We are literally just over a decade away from a worse existence than even Orwell imagined.

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