Letter dated 15 March 2013 from Graham Hancock to TED by Graham Hancock

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Letter dated 15 March 2013 from Graham Hancock to TED
By Graham Hancock

Graham Hancock
“…By far the most usual way of handling phenomena so novel that they would make for a serious rearrangement of our preconceptions is to ignore them altogether, or to abuse those who bear witness for them.” – William James

To all those who are interested in freedom of speech, a non-materialist approach to the mystery of consciousness, and the negative attitude of a powerful lobby of self-styled scientists towards visionary plants...

Please study the documents below which concern the removal from wide circulation of two TEDx presentations, one by myself one by Rupert Sheldrake, and the subsequent framing of these presentations in a negative and defamatory light by senior TED staff on TED's own website. These actions by TED have stirred up an internet furore (see, for example, the -- at time of writing -- 700-plus comments on TED's actions here: http://blog.ted.com/2013/03/14/open-for-discussion-graham-hancock-and-rupert-sheldrake/ ). TED continues to ignore this criticism and to behave as though it has done nothing wrong.

The two TEDx presentations that Ted removed from wide circulation were my "The War on Consciousness" which had received in excess of 132,000 views on the TEDx Youtube channel in the three weeks before TED deleted it, and Rupert Sheldrake's "The Science Delusion", which had received in excess of 35,000 views on the TEDx Youtube channel in the three weeks before TED deleted it. TED removed both talks from their Youtube channel on 14 March 2013 on the following grounds: "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." After being taken out of wide circulation in this way, thus foreclosing the possibility that the existing 160,000-plus viewers might further share the URL, and after widespread reaction on the internet accusing TED of censorship, TED reposted the videos (where they cannot be searched for or easily found) in an out of the way corner of their blog -- thus hoping to defuse the charge of censorship -- prefacing the videos with a hostile and negative commentary and at the same time inviting discussion. So far, despite the relative obscurity of the talks' new location (http://blog.ted.com/2013/03/14/open-for-discussion-graham-hancock-and-rupert-sheldrake/) TED have received 700-plus comments, more than 90 per cent of which are deeply critical of TED's actions. They have also received a detailed refutation, from me -- posted on their blog and emailed directly to TED -- of the damaging and defamatory way in which they now preface my talk and of their false characterisation of what I actually say in the talk. So far they they have not replied to my refutation although one imagines if their reasons for removing my talk from their Youtube channel had any merit they would quickly be able to substantiate what they have said about me. Rupert Sheldrake has likewise refuted the misleading way in which TED preface his presentation and has likewise received no answer.

For background info on my position and all the statements that have gone back and forward, please have a look at the full documentation of this affair that is set out below.


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:

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 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.

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