Click here for part 1 of this article.
Part 4 of this letter is in response to the recent letter to all the TEDx organizers, posted by Chris Anderson, the head of TED. The original letter proposed certain “red flag” topics, among them health hoaxes and the medicinal value of food but also the general area of pseudoscience.
Please read the following responses from accredited scientists and others in the consciousness communities, who have their own responses to the issues at hand:
TED asks, “Imagine a speaker arguing, say, that eating five Big Macs a day could prevent Alzheimer’s,” as an example where a science board would feel justified in excluding that topic as a TEDx talk. The claim flies in the face of common sense so no further examination is necessary. Right?
But what if there were scientifically valid experiments published in mainstream, peer-reviewed journals that supported the apparently outrageous assertion? What if the experiments were repeatable and observed in independent laboratories over decades? What if the underlying phenomena were reported outside the laboratory throughout recorded history, and across all cultures, and by a broad range of university scientists and scholars? Would that topic, however challenging it may seem, still be excluded from TED? How many credible challenges are required before the balance tips between knee-jerk exclusion of bold and risky ideas vs. timid and safe pabulum?
This is exactly the situation for a class of consciousness-related phenomena. They are labeled telepathy, clairvoyance, precognition, and psychokinesis. These phenomena do challenge naive assumptions about the relationship between mind and matter, but there is no rational justification for continuing to exclude this line of research if TED is really interested in promoting genuine science. Empiricism must trump theory, otherwise it’s no longer science that’s being defended. It’s dogma.
Dean Radin PhD
Co-Editor-in-Chief, Explore: The Journal of Science and Healing
Adjunct Faculty, Department of Psychology, Sonoma State University
Institute of Noetic Sciences
625 Second St., Suite 200
Petaluma, CA 94952 USA
The Society for Consciousness Studies Statement:
The Society for Consciousness Studies is disappointed with the recent policy of exclusion by the TED Talks organizers, who have taken it upon themselves to classify several well-known scholars and researchers as “pseudo-scientists” and have removed them from TED Talks. It is our view as an organization of professional scholars and scientists that such a policy amounts to a latter day McCarthyism in which a few influential individuals have taken it upon themselves to decide which ideas and facts are suitable for all of us.
The Society for Consciousness Studies is a strong advocate for freedom to express research findings and scholarly ideas without seeking approval from purveyors of unwritten biases or worldviews, or from the self-appointed keepers of conservative intellectual culture.
Allan Leslie Combs, Ph.D.
Doshi Professor of Consciousness Studies; CIIS
Director: Center for Consciousness Studies, CIIS
President: The Society for Consciousness Studies
I have gone through the lecture of Rupert Sheldrake that is withdrawn by TED and available on YouTube. I am protesting this decision of TED as I feel that the TED movement is one of the historic events in the human civilization, and it is contradictory to the fundamental establishment philosophy of TED to stop the voice that extremely politely seeks the re-evaluation of the morality of the scientific practice. When majority of the scientific principles are assumed ad hoc, only to fit the experimental results with the “hand in tools”, arguing to change the way we look at the practice is not a sin. However, in contrast, trying to stop that voice is unscientific and does not match with the very foundation of science, which stepped ahead only because we made it liberal. The historic TED act to me is in no way different than those who gave poison to Socrates or burnt Bruno alive, if decision makers in TED think that they understand science then they should dare to answer the open question put forth by Rupert Sheldrake.
We have universal constants; if there is a change even at the eighth decimal, the world will be re-designed completely; who wrote that, and how, and what are the factors contribute to that change? We have a five hundred years old science, still we cannot solve a three body problem – two balls are fine, not three or more. Isn’t the science we practice primitive? We all know what games scientists play in quantum chromodynamics to fit the result, patterns have no explanation, magic numbers no explanation, lists are many, but if somebody argues to destroy the blind religious faiths of the scientists, he is non-scientific? I do not understand, on one hand, we have experimental proof that two quantum mechanically entangled particles communicate with 100,000 times the velocity of light, and on the other hand we have faith that nothing can move faster than the velocity of light. We all know that for Nature, there is no classical or quantum – it is a division created by us.
These ridiculous scenarios of science will give birth to a new kind of science. Rupert Sheldrake has started to ask and many people will join him. Whether TED gives him a platform or not, the truth will come out, and the days for the existing science are numbered. It will change. The coin is tossed; and therefore, it is better for TED not to indulge in shameful acts and then later prove itself as the “Scientific Church” that validates the religion of “Scientific Mafias.”
Senior Scientist, National Institute for Materials Science, Japan
Some of the ideas expressed by Rupert Sheldrake may look like pseudoscience indeed, as the talk has some marks of bad science, as described by TED organizers.
For me, the talk looks like a skeptical approach to the actual methodology of science. This raises an important issue: is TED a proper stage for out of the box ideas, or new hypotheses in science? Why does the vision of Rupert Sheldrake have less value than the story of Thandie Newton?
Ovidiu Brazdau, PhD
Research Director, Consciousness Quotient Institute
Since the Scientific Revolution, when empirical discoveries began to undermine religious doctrine, tension grew between those who sought truth through rational inquiry based on observation and those who accepted truths based on the authority of religious dogma. While the liberation of science from religion resulted in tremendous advances in science and technology, it also led to the fragmentation of knowledge and to a science no longer engaged with the big questions: what it means to be human, to be conscious, to be a seeker of meaning amid the vagaries of life.
We believe the time has come for the fragmentation of knowledge we have seen over the last four hundred years to give way to a new paradigm in which science and spirituality reenter into a meaningful dialogue with one another. Spirituality need not be at odds with scientific inquiry — a new kind of integration is possible. What is required for this reintegration is an empirically-responsible spirituality, one that is not beholden to dogma or authority, and a more humanistic non-dogmatic science willing to consider the big questions of life. We would only expect that forward thinking organization such as TED would support and advance this dialogue.
Zaya & Maurizio Benazzo
Founders, Science and Nonduality Conference
Follow Deepak on Twitter
Photo credit: NASA