The organizers of TEDx have decided to remove the talks of Rupert Sheldrake (discussed here) and Graham Hancock (discussed here) from the TEDx YouTube channel and put them on a separate page. This is a victory for good science and a defeat for fulminating woo. TEDx’s decision, published here, is this:
After due diligence, including a survey of published scientific research and recommendations from our Science Board and our community, we have decided that Graham Hancock’s and Rupert Sheldrake’s talks from TEDxWhiteChapel should be removed from distribution on the TEDx YouTube channel.
Both talks have been flagged as containing serious factual errors that undermine TED’s commitment to good science. The critiques of these talks need much clearer highlighting.
So instead, we’re placing these talks here [JAC: on the page with the decision], where they can be framed to highlight both their provocative ideas and the factual problems with their arguments. See both talks after the jump.
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.
The TEDx link also gives the reason why each talk was sequestered away from the regular ones. In both cases it involved the presentation of unsupported material, false material, or claims that “stray beyond the reasonable bounds of science.”
There are those who will cry “censorship” about this (they’re already mewling and puking on the TEDx comments page), but I don’t see it that way, especially because the talks are, after all, still up. They’re just not allowed to rub elbows with the talks about real science.
And remember that the TEDx rules say this:
Speakers must tell a story or argue for an idea. They may not use the TED stage to sell products, promote themselves or businesses. Every talk’s content must be original and give credit where appropriate. Speakers cannot plagiarize or impersonate other persons, living or dead.
Speakers must be able to confirm the claims presented in every talk — TED and TEDx are exceptional stages for showcasing advances in science, and we can only stay that way if the claims presented in our talks can stand up to scrutiny from the scientific community. TED is also not the right platform for talks with an inflammatory political or religious agenda, nor polarizing “us vs them” language. If Talks fail to meet the standards above, TED reserves the right to insist on their removal.
Thanks to those of you who weighed in along with me on these talks, including not only some readers but also Carl Zimmer and P. Z. Myers.